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Experiences teaching people Hero Game system


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I worked up this little sheet to help people just starting to play.  Its based on a Savage Worlds sheet someone did and I got handed when I learned that system and it was useful.  Just a quick referen

Amen! I always use simplified character sheets that focus on playability and leave out most of the math. (You need to know AP cost for Adjustment Powers, but most of the other numbers are irrelevant o

So my wife of 18 years has finally decided she'd like to try out this weird hobby of mine! I'm talking her through the basics of how RPGs work, this is how you create a character, etc. And she asks "D

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I love this topic.  Thanks for all the comments.

 

I just was introduced to the hero System through the Monster Hunter International books.  I am not a RPG novice and have created characters, played in, and GMed adventures in probably 10 diffrent systems.

 

I have character creation just about figured out and want ed to try to run through a combat sene, just to see how it worked.  My teenage boys were my willing test subects - but I could not figure it out and we all became frusterated.

 

There is a lot I like about the system so far, I just can't wrap my head around the combat. 

 

So this helps a lot thank you all!

 

@bluesguy: Where can I find a copy of the combat sheet you taled about in your original post ?  I think that would help me a lot.  I am looking for a simplified bare bones version.

 

Thanks.

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@bluesguy: Where can I find a copy of the combat sheet you taled about in your original post ?  I think that would help me a lot.  I am looking for a simplified bare bones version.

 

 

Hmm I looked at my original post and didn't see what you are talking about.  I think what you are looking for is based on using Hero Designer's export feature and exporting a set of combat records.  I have a modified combat record exporter that generates an HTML file.  You need HD to use it though.

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Melting or dissolving kryptonite(an element, isotope of iron in DC) would not stop its radiation effects.

I do love how people talking comics take on quasi-scientific stuff, apply what may be real world scientific principles and then provide quasi-authoritative responses for the quasi science.

 

When my son asks me that kind of stuff my stock response is, it depends on what the writer thinks makes for a better story...

 

It is a great response and often a decent principle when ruling in an RPG...

 

Doc

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On 7/6/2014 at 3:53 PM, bluesguy said:

Back to the main point of the thread : How have you introduced new groups to Hero.

 

I had a steady Saturday D&D 5e group for almost two years and decided since we had burned through all of the main books that we could use a change of pace.  I'd grab one of the Pathfinder Adventure paths and run us through that.

 

Since we were going to be trying out something completely new I sold the very steady player base on the idea of trying out Fantasy Hero since I like the HERO system mechanics so much better.

 

I knew there'd be some exploding heads if I didn't ease them into it so we did a couple of mock combats with characters I built for them in HDv6 based on character concepts they told me about.

 

Things went pretty well and to avoid the +10 levels with swords to make eye shots at +2 OCV issue I pre-emptively resurrected the Combat Effectiveness Calculator (Turns out it was Adventurer's Club #3 Character Rating System...) as best I could from 3 decades old memory to keep everyone relatively constrained both by campaign hard caps and a total combat effectiveness.

 

It took the players a few sessions to get their heads around attacks that do normal, vs. killing, vs. use-hit-locations, vs. don't-use-hit-locations and the much larger array of combat maneuvers that are available.

 

The one thing players really like is that their characters are 100% THEIR characters.  The lack of class constraints and the flexibility of the system is the key selling point.  The interaction of armor in Fantasy Hero (makes you resistant to damage, but slower & easier to hit) resonates well with the group as does the damage scale.  Our Dwarven Rogue Explosives expert took a single heavy longbow shot to the shoulder (11 BOD, 33 STUN minus his heavy leathers (3 DEF)) and was nearly out of the fight.

 

The current cast of misfits in our War for the Crown run:

1-  The Fire Witch (my wife) - mad social skills and the desire to set everything on fire.

2-  Arden the Witcher - Player loves this build to death.

3-  Bolin the 2nd to Last Airbender - Defensive CC expert with barrier, heals and stretching (sfx water appendages for MA moves).

4-  Udyr from League of Legends.  I spent a couple of hours in HDv6 making all of the active/passive/lingering effects work right.  Most labor intensive character I've ever modeled.

5- Darran Redbeard - Dwarven Sapper and grenade happy rogue.

6- The fallen angel Gabriel from the Prophecy movies.

 

You can't do this very easily in most games.  The players are having a blast and the hexman dice really helped with counting BOD/STUN on normal attacks.

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My experience over the last few years running Hero for folks has been: They won't read the rules. Like...at all. :(

Or at least not enough to actually seem to grok them. Experienced gamers too for the most part.

There does seem to be a kind of effect where after a point the WALLOFTEXT seems to turn off new folks brains. Like they just can't even.

Not sure why that is. It might be the character creation prior to mechanics organization of the books.

 

I don't tend to get the impression new folks look at a D&D players guide and just can't even. You don't have to learn all the spells and effects up front. In fact that stuff is all listed in the back of the book.

I think the delicious point-based freedom of Hero tends to melt brains because of a generalized lack of specific guidance (like D&D or other class\level or archetype or what have you based games) once you hit the powers section.

Like in 5e D&D you can pick from a pretty small list of options, all of which have nice clear evocative names. And start with easy, simple, level-matched pre-built abilities that give you a general sense of the class and the system.

In Hero we just keep repeating, "Whatever you can imagine!", which is true, but not helpful for new folks because they'll need guidance on how "whatever I can imagine" integrates to "actually playing an RPG".

 

I think this causes problems even for experienced gamers. And I think the separation of rules from world\game info causes problems as well.

At least conceptually, for folks new to Hero, by comparison to other RPG products.

I can see how my 1st level Fighter stats compare to a 1st level Wizard. And I only have to remember by 1-2 1st level abilities in order to play. AND I can get a sense of how the game and the world and the mechanics are kinda interact from that. My starting Chain mail is "ok" and I can clearly see in the book that there is better stuff. I can see how much damage I can do and also see what it's likely to grow to over time.

For Hero, "It could be anything! Depends on the campaign!".

 

Which again, is true, and I like that very much, personally, but in terms of teaching new folks the rules isn't super helpful.

 

There's at least a perception of a large upfront cost to having to learn ALL of Hero before you can really play or even start building characters and having them fight monsters\smash evil\save the galaxy.

And I think a lot of folks, even experienced gamers, would rather make a cool lil dude to play in the game and then go fight monsters than they would read an entire set of rules, end to end, before being able to even start doing that and then have to spend a good chunk of time making their lil dude and still not really have solid guidelines for if the characters they are making or good or "right".

 

So, IME recently, it's more what I said in the first line, me running Hero for other people. Not so much all of us playing Hero. Which is mostly fine. I've had players in D&D games that wouldn't really read the books and still didn't quite understand which dice to roll when and so forth after several sessions of play.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Toxxus said:

 

.

 

The one thing players really like is that their characters are 100% THEIR characters.  The lack of class constraints and the flexibility of the system is the key selling point.  The interaction of armor in Fantasy Hero (makes you resistant to damage, but slower & easier to hit) resonates well with the group as does the damage scale.  Our Dwarven Rogue Explosives expert took a single heavy longbow shot to the shoulder (11 BOD, 33 STUN minus his heavy leathers (3 DEF)) and was nearly out of the fight. 

 

 

 

 

And this is how I'm pretty much always able to sell folks on playing. THEIR characters. And the potential ability to rearrange the rules to support different play styles.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Toxxus said:

The current cast of misfits in our War for the Crown run:

1-  The Fire Witch (my wife) - mad social skills and the desire to set everything on fire.

2-  Arden the Witcher - Player loves this build to death.

3-  Bolin the 2nd to Last Airbender - Defensive CC expert with barrier, heals and stretching (sfx water appendages for MA moves).

4-  Udyr from League of Legends.  I spent a couple of hours in HDv6 making all of the active/passive/lingering effects work right.  Most labor intensive character I've ever modeled.

5- Darran Redbeard - Dwarven Sapper and grenade happy rogue.

6- The fallen angel Gabriel from the Prophecy movies.

 

Character sheets or it never happened ❤️

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I tend to build characters for them the first time.  Then just say "if you're rolling to hit, or to make a skill roll, you want low numbers.  If you're rolling damage, you want high numbers".  I walk them through their character sheet and explain what each thing means, very briefly. "With a 15 strength, you're an athletic male, like a high school football star.  Not a bodybuilder though.".  Exact accuracy isn't really important, letting them grasp the gist of it is.  Tell them what segments they act on, and a quick explanation of half-move, attack, dodge, and block.  Then they're ready to play.  Takes about 5 minutes.

 

Are they gonna know everything about the system immediately?  No.  But they don't have to be.

 

One guy wanted to play Beast Boy from the Teen Titans.  A Multiform/VPP character for a first time player?  What a headache, right?  It actually worked out really well.  I just gave him a character sheet for like 10 different animals.  Each one had a specific uses that were easy for a new player to understand.  I kept Speed changes to a minimum (I think everything mostly went on the same phases).  "Okay, so the elephant is big and tough, and it does the most damage.  But it's slow, you don't get as many actions in that form.  You see how you normally go on phases 2, 4, 6, 8, etc?  Well the elephant only goes on 4, 8, and 12.  If you switch to it on a phase it doesn't go on, you have to wait.  So only switch to an elephant on 4, 8, or 12."  I think he had elephant, tiger, rhino, eagle, mouse (good for sneaking around but not something you use in combat), shark, electric eel, bat, dog, and monkey.  And he grasped it really fast that certain forms weren't really for fighting.  The dog can track people by scent, the bat has sonar, the monkey can climb, etc.  Everything could still do some damage (I think the dog had a 6D6 Armor Piercing Hand Attack bite -- not lethal but it hurt like hell).  And the guy had a blast with it.

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14 minutes ago, massey said:

I tend to build characters for them the first time.  Then just say "if you're rolling to hit, or to make a skill roll, you want low numbers.  If you're rolling damage, you want high numbers".  I walk them through their character sheet and explain what each thing means, very briefly. "With a 15 strength, you're an athletic male, like a high school football star.  Not a bodybuilder though.".  Exact accuracy isn't really important, letting them grasp the gist of it is.  Tell them what segments they act on, and a quick explanation of half-move, attack, dodge, and block.  Then they're ready to play.  Takes about 5 minutes.

 

Are they gonna know everything about the system immediately?  No.  But they don't have to be. 

 

 

 

This is my experience as well. Build their guys for them, tell them what to roll, tell them when to roll, give them a general sense of their stats\powers\skills. And, yes, sure, we can play at that point, but I don't really think they have been taught the Hero System at that point, you know?

That, for me at least, is kinda the sticking point.

Getting them from, "it's a skill, roll low, check your sheet under skills", to actually, say, building their own characters, using campaign guidelines, without needing much\any guidance or handholding, that seems harder.

 

Partly that's just the nature of RPGs. Most campaigns last a while, so most players only end up with one character, so they don't tend to spend a lot of time making characters for fun and pleasure.

 

Similarly once I've built their dudes for them they usually don't tinker with them much (again, partly game related, since characters aren't being redesigned very session or gaining enough XP to buy new and exciting powers every time...not much to tinker with once play begins).

And\or because I built their characters they'll just tell me what they want to do with their XP in general. Again, no real tinkering or learning the rules.

 

But then if I don't assist them in doing those things...they probably just won't happen.

 

The games are fine. The players are enjoying themselves. I don't have any particular issues with it because I know the rules and I'm running the game. But...doesn't seem to really help players learn the actual system.

 

Combat is kinda the same way. All these options available, combat maneuvers and such, all the fun Hero stuff. But the players don't know, so they don't try to use them, and if I suggest they use them then....they don't really learn them, they just say, "ok, sure, sounds good".

Like using Brace or Set or something. "Your character can Brace\Set\Dive for Cover in this situation, it works like this." = "Yah, ok". But it's not like they are asking, "Can I brace my gun on a wall to reduce my range mod?" or "I saw that Brace is a move I can do, will that work here?".

 

It's tricky to get it in to bite-sized chunks that players will actually swallow.

 

By comparison if I wanted to read ALL of the Paladin abilities in D&D I can read through the level progressions, look at the spells by level, and stuff like that. Or in Vampire or something I can just read this or that vampire discipline (and there are probably only 5 things to read and none of them are going to be in code like "RKA, +1 Stun Mod, NND, No Range, RSR")

 

I'm certain players can undertake this same activity in Hero. Just read the skills section. Now just browse the combat moves. Now construct a wizard VPP and play around with 30AP powers. But...they don't seem to.

 

 

So on the one hand I think helping the players\doing the work for them can certainly get a group playing in minutes (like any RPG, "Here's a sheet, let me know when you want to do stuff and I'll tell you what to roll") but on the other hand I think it may actually be detrimental to getting them to learn the rules.

But then on the third flipper I think that given how GM control and campaign guidelines work in Hero often it may be easier for the GM to do most of the work. Like I'll always know if I consider a new character balanced and effective, and I won't be trying to cheese anything for points or build abusive game-breaking stuff.

 

 

It's almost...like...if somebody likes what Hero embodies you won't have to teach them the system, they'll do it themselves (I see new forum users here basically doing this, mostly GMs, obvs) and if they just want to play a fun game where they can make THEIR character THEIR way and not pick from lists and stuff then...do they really need to learn Hero? Or just know what to roll and when?

 

 

 

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There does seem to be a kind of effect where after a point the WALLOFTEXT seems to turn off new folks brains. Like they just can't even.

Not sure why that is. It might be the character creation prior to mechanics organization of the books.

 

 

Younger people are not very experienced in reading longer form text, they like things in short, 140 character bursts and anything else is intimating and they tend to glaze over.  Especially if there aren't many pictures or video with lots of repetition.  Its not really their fault, learning to read books and longer text is a skill which must be taught and if no one will do so...

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33 minutes ago, TranquiloUno said:

 

This is my experience as well. Build their guys for them, tell them what to roll, tell them when to roll, give them a general sense of their stats\powers\skills. And, yes, sure, we can play at that point, but I don't really think they have been taught the Hero System at that point, you know?

That, for me at least, is kinda the sticking point.

Getting them from, "it's a skill, roll low, check your sheet under skills", to actually, say, building their own characters, using campaign guidelines, without needing much\any guidance or handholding, that seems harder.

 

 

That's still the first step though.

 

You know how long I played D&D before I actually read the books?  I think it was years.  This was back in 2nd edition.  I picked it up in bits and pieces.  I'd read just enough to build the character I needed (and sometimes not even then).  I remember being really surprised when somebody told me that thieves couldn't take weapon specialization.  This was, of course, halfway through a game where I'd taken the specialization like two levels earlier and suddenly the GM noticed.

 

Somebody who is playing one character over the course of the campaign will learn things about the system when they are ready to spend experience points.  "How do I make my energy blast bigger?  Oh it's here on page 206?  Okay..."  Or they'll want to add a power or a new skill.  Let them digest it in bits and pieces, that usually works well.

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1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

Younger people are not very experienced in reading longer form text, they like things in short, 140 character bursts and anything else is intimating and they tend to glaze over.  Especially if there aren't many pictures or video with lots of repetition.  Its not really their fault, learning to read books and longer text is a skill which must be taught and if no one will do so...

 

I'm not disagreeing with you but I'm talking about folks in their late (very late) 30s who have been gaming since they were kids and read actual books and stuff in their spare time.

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1 hour ago, massey said:

 

That's still the first step though.

 

You know how long I played D&D before I actually read the books?  I think it was years.  This was back in 2nd edition.  I picked it up in bits and pieces.  I'd read just enough to build the character I needed (and sometimes not even then).  I remember being really surprised when somebody told me that thieves couldn't take weapon specialization.  This was, of course, halfway through a game where I'd taken the specialization like two levels earlier and suddenly the GM noticed. 

 

Somebody who is playing one character over the course of the campaign will learn things about the system when they are ready to spend experience points.  "How do I make my energy blast bigger?  Oh it's here on page 206?  Okay..."  Or they'll want to add a power or a new skill.  Let them digest it in bits and pieces, that usually works well.

 

Definitely agree it's the first step.

I just find that most of my players (and also in the past, when new non-Champs folks would join Champions groups (again, adults, gamers, who don't mind reading, or playing other complex RPGs and boardgames)) don't make it past that step to actually learning the system.

And that's kinda what I mean about, "read just enough to build the character".

In AD&D 2e you can just roll stats, pick a race and class, and a weapon, that's all you need to know to build a PC at 1st level.

 

In Hero that seems to me to be much less true. The general guidelines in the character creation section for sure point the way (and provide, uh, guidelines) but in terms of stuff like, "Did I do this right?", less so.

 

Like your example, Rogues can't take Weapon Spec. In D&D. But in Hero they sure can. Or not take it. Or spend way more points on it than the "Fighter" did and end up being much of a Rogue, but then in Hero there is no "Rogue" for that matter. And so on.

 

Like I said, I agree with you. Gotta start someplace and you can totally game without knowing the whole system. For sure.

 

I just think the way Hero is setup it discourages folks from engaging fully with the rules because they, kinda sorta, need to know most all of them.

 

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I would say the "success stories" above - I build the characters and the players only learn the rules as needed, not en masse - is a "game powered by Hero System".  They are not learning the system (at least not out of the gate).  They are learning the game that the GM designed using the Hero system.

 

To me, that is a big part of the challenge - Hero is not a game.  It is a game design system.  Champions 1e/2e/3e was a game.  So was Fantasy Hero 2e/3e, and Espionage, and Justice Inc.  They took those aspects of Hero System needed to create the game, set the ground rules and campaign expectations, and often built the abilities as pre-fabs.  You could then sit down and play the game.

 

Hero System 4e brought all the rules you might need into one big rulebook.  5e and 6e continued that movement.  But we no longer had "a game".  We had a game design system that was genre and system neutral, and some sourcebooks on how to use that system to build a game/setting in a specific genre.

 

But we did not have a game.  Hero lets you build your own game.  As a result, there is a significant up-front investment needed by someone, whether everyone in the group or at least the GM, whose "Game Powered By Hero System" will be played.

 

I wonder whether the 6e volumes should have been swapped.  Vol 2, which has the game play rules, might have a brief discussion (no point costs) of Characteristics, Skills and very limited discussion of Powers et al, so players have the basics of what makes a character, but  not the design system.  Then they learn how to play the game - the combat mechanics, skill resolution system, etc.  Vol1 - character construction - is more like a GM Guide - you can use this to design the abilities available in-game.  If you have an experienced player, or group, they can be allowed to design their own powers, spells, feats, talents - whatever is appropriate to the game you are playing.  This would make it more clear that the System itself is not a game, but a system with which you build your own game.

 

Then, hopefully, we also publish some games - which have pre-fab abilities, expected power levels, etc. built into the game itself, and do not focus on the design mechanics, but on the game itself.

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