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Christopher R Taylor

War Hero

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I wonder if there's any market at all for a Hero System sourcebook for wartime role playing.  You'd need basic rules for how to run a campaign, tips on making it gritty or cinematic, rules for things like "courage under fire" and basic command structure information.  The main book could have a specific war setting with some adventures (WW2 probably a good starting point) and you could put out sets for Napoleonic, Vietnam war, Desert Storm/War on Terror, Indian Wars in the American old West, 100 years' war, etc.  Each sourcebook would have the difference forces, equipment, timeline, history, and adventures.

 

I'd be interested, but I don't know how big a seller it would really be.

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Late 20th century warfare might live unhappily on the fringes of Dark Champions, and early 20th century warfare is more in the realm of Pulp Hero. Once you start going back to Napoleonics and earlier you are in a no-man's land that's probably nearest Fantasy Hero.

 

Maybe what we really need is a Historical Hero sourcebook?

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I find myself agreeing with Rhodri.

 

World War II and later timeframes could be covered by Dark Champions. World War I and back to Napoleonic would be more Pulp Hero territory. Before then, Fantasy Hero (non-magical Low Fantasy) would probably cover wars going back to the Crusades and earlier.

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I don't know, I think a "WAR" source book could be pretty cool. 

 

I think it would/should include/pull from existing books & expand on things like:

 

large scale combat

large scale troop movement (marching)

bases & bunkers

Kingdom rules

Vehicle combat (person vs vehicle & vehicle vs vehicle)

Expanding info and details on skills related to combat, warfare, leadership & tactics

"Super Skills" relating to warfare

Etc...

 

But I think for it to be most appealing, the book should cover warfare in all setting, not just historic & modern, but also Star Hero, Fantasy Hero, etc... 

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Yeah the deciding factor I think is the market, not the existing books.  If there's enough interest, then a separate line is justified.

 

That is a good point Red, a book that covered warfare, mass combat, and concepts of the battlefield for any setting would be more useful and have a broader market appeal.  The big advantage is that if its mostly conceptual and ideas rather than specific gritty rules for a given setting or type of campaign the more broad its appeal across gaming platforms.

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Yeah the deciding factor I think is the market, not the existing books.  If there's enough interest, then a separate line is justified.

 

That is a good point Red, a book that covered warfare, mass combat, and concepts of the battlefield for any setting would be more useful and have a broader market appeal.  The big advantage is that if its mostly conceptual and ideas rather than specific gritty rules for a given setting or type of campaign the more broad its appeal across gaming platforms.

IIRC several Hero supplements have covered mass combat to one degree or another, detailing how PCs can affect the outcome of large-scale battles as participants or leaders.

After about 1860, though, warfare began to become very different. Before then, units of regiment or even larger sizes moved and fought together. As weapon technology improved, that became less and less practical. Warfare become a larger-scale and, at the same time, more intimate affair. Rather than marching and fighting together in compact groups, large units became spread out and the concern of the soldier became, in large part, his company, platoon or squad. Units whose footprint was once measured in yards, like regiments and brigades, now held portions of the front stretching for miles.

 

This changes the way player-characters affect larger engagements. Mass combat no longer really applies on the PC scale. PC soldiers fight very small engagements, over little intermediate objectives like hills or strongpoints, and for the typical soldier death can come at any time, by any number of means, seemingly at random. You'll spend a lot of time on the attack dodging from one piece of cover to another, trying to remove physical obstacles from your path, and trying to get at, dislodge and destroy or capture the enemy while doing your darndest not to see him do the same to you,

 

You could be stuck in the meat-grinder of the Western Front in 1916, desperately struggling to take those few yards in no-man's land and survive the vicious defenses, while your commanders -- lost in megalomania and, usually, stupidity -- attempt grand scheme after grand scheme to break the deadlock that only intensify the slaughter. But that isn't exactly fun most of the time.

 

You could be a paratrooper dropping behind the lines at Normandy, largely on your own with your buddies as you try to take your objectives and secure the vital strategic points for the advancing invasion -- and trying to stay alive in the process with little prospect of help from anyone else.

 

If you want to do something more "heroic", you could be one of "the few" of RAF Fighter Command in 1940 and 1941, fighting off the blitzing Luftwaffe that outnumbers you several times over -- armed mainly with determination, elan, and what training you were able to obtain before the onslaught commenced.

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Before a certain point, maneuvers were incredibly important as well, and even up into the Napoleonic era they still had their value.  That kind of historical thing would have to be part of the rules, but it could wait for era-based sourcebooks rather than the main rules.  Stuff like the shield wall from Fantasy Hero and Roman maneuvers, Alexander's use of cavalry, the infantry square to deal with charging horses, etc.

 

There have been several attempts at mass combat rules, its true, and they work but never have had a good feel to them.  Each system technically achieved its goals but didn't play out very fun and that would be where changes could be made.

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Following on from Mike, I'm not sure that PCs and mass combat mix well.  The nearest I've seen to it working is the Pendragon battle rules (which needed serious reworking, since Greg Stafford and statistics have an uneasy relationship) which essentially do brief flashes of skirmishing in the chaos of the overall battle.

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Well, I think that, broadly speaking, there are two aspects of such a product: the macro aspect--simulating warfare; and the micro aspect--exploring the natural plot elements and interactive RP aspects, opportunities for PC heroism, vendettas, etc.

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With all of the optional rules applied, Hero can be very deadly, but that works well for this kind of setting.  Although you could have a super elite force of Rambo types that never seem to get hurt much, the default would probably be high lethality.  That means you could have a high turnover in characters, unusual for Hero but it can be interesting for players; reinforcements showing up, guys being sent home from serious injury, etc.

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With all of the optional rules applied, Hero can be very deadly, but that works well for this kind of setting.  Although you could have a super elite force of Rambo types that never seem to get hurt much, the default would probably be high lethality.  That means you could have a high turnover in characters, unusual for Hero but it can be interesting for players; reinforcements showing up, guys being sent home from serious injury, etc.

I think you could "dial in" the complications of wounding depending upon the era and realism level. Pre-modern era, there's no such thing as a "simple" wound. The risk of infection, bleeding, etc. is ever-present. I mean, amputations were frequent in the Civil War era, and even beyond then the bone saw was a commonplace in the field hospital's equipage.

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Although it's more in the science-fantasy vein, one could easily imagine running a sort of reversed Star Wars campaign where the PCs are TIE fighter pilots.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGl6r5tQYPM

 

The war is big -- too big to even comprehend. You probably know nothing whatsoever about what started it, what's happening overall, and how your actions are affecting the shape of the conflict. What little information you do have is propaganda and frequently outright lies.

 

But you still have a cause, and that cause is your friends and the other pilots in your squadron. You have honor at stake, but more importantly you want to hold yourselves together and come out of this alive and mentally semi-intact. You're probably never going to meet Darth Vader or the Emperor. It's likely you'll never even meet the Captain of the Star Destroyer you're posted to (those things are big!). 

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Right, and the more distant in history you get the more opportunities for this kind of thing.  Napoleon was a horrible warmongering despot, but after over two centuries you can admire the guy for some things and imagine playing a French soldier.

 

But that is one aspect that would be good to emphasize: you don't know the big picture.  You don't even know the small picture.  You know who your friends are and where the bullets are coming from and want to get home.

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Maybe my imagination is a bit too limited but what aspect of this concept would call for a new book to be made for it? I am sorry if that comes off a bit more snarky than intended but I am curious what you all envision could be written up the address the conceptual points you have in mind. More specifically, what rules and such do you all think are lacking that would add this this specific (yet still EXTREMELY broad) genre? 

 

For example, if one is worried about realism, then just using more of the optional combat rules should correct for that. If one is needing weapon write ups and such, then using the "genre" specific books (Fantasy, Space, etc) books would be enough. If one is worried about mass combat, then the Fantasy HERO book should have you covered. If one is worried about the emotional tolls of war and such, then I think we are delving into an area of discussion that while not aptly covered in current HERO books (Horror HERO from 4th ed does lend some light on the issue, though), is a discussion so minute as to probably not warrant a book but more of a small flier PDF. Even more so since such mental rigors will be so situationally subjective as to be hard to generalize out - better left to individual players to RP than trying to create rules for. 

Again, I am not saying it isn't an interesting idea, but rather that I don't see what is lacking that would call for such a book to b created. And so far I have read some interesting things, but mostly things that point us towards using more genre specific books as "Warfare" is a bit too unwieldy of a subject matter to be called a genre or subgenre book (not in the way Fantasy or Horror are at the very least). And a database book (Bestiary, UNTIL, etc) would also not seem to fit the bill. 

 

La Rose. 

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Mostly it would be specifically applying rules to the setting and genre - its why Fantasy Hero Complete goes through the rules explaining how to apply them to that genre; there are specific concepts and ways it would be used in this setting it might not in others.

 

Plus there are rules like courage under fire and shell shock you could address specifically with the system, and a dial system to crank toward gritty realism or cinematic fun.

 

The bulk of the book I'd think would be source material, weapons, vehicles, adventure ideas, how to run soldiers in a role playing game, etc.  Its one thing to play Conan the mercenary and adventurer in Fantasy Hero, but another entirely to play Corporal Chambers in the Vietnam War.

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