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zslane

Hero System Basic vs. Champions Complete?

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So as I understand it, Champions Complete contains within it the core Hero System rules combined with superhero genre material like the Champions rulebooks of old. I'm curious how the system rules in CC compare to the rules in Hero System Basic. Both sound like streamlined versions of the "full" rules found in 6E1/6E2, but how do they differ?

 

As a side question, are Fantasy Hero Complete and Star Hero Complete intended, conceptually anyway, to be like Champions Complete in structure, at least insofar as they contain the system rules in addition to genre material? If so, is it just me or does this sound very familiar (i.e., Champions, Fantasy Hero, and Star Hero from the 3rd edition era)? In order to get the genre treatments, you end up with multiple copies of the same system rules, yes? I can only conclude that Hero Games has discovered that the majority of its customers only play one genre and so only ever buy one rulebook. Is that the case nowadays? And if so, is this perhaps a marketplace refutation of the value of universal, genre-spanning rules systems?

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Yes. Fantasy Hero Complete is conceptually the same as CC.

 

Hero Basic removed a "lot" of rules (search the forums--this has been discussed). CC is streamlined and contains all of the rules, just not all of the examples, edge cases, etc. Think of it as the BBB. Derek has documented the changes in CC in the forums as well (again, use the search function).

 

And in general, your entire question about the direction DOJ is taking was recently answered by Jason himself: http://www.herogames.com/forums/topic/87409-i-wonder-how-many-have-stopped-using-championshero-for-similar-reasons-to-this/?view=findpost&p=2378182

 

 

(edited slightly for clarity)

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Ok, I've done some search fu and read a bunch of old threads covering this subject (and more), and here are my general thoughts:

 

1. I regret not getting back into RPGs sooner, back when all the discussions were still raging and relevent. I am realizing that nobody is interested in talking about many of the issues that are now very much on point for me (I'd be accused to rehashing old debates, beating dead horses, etc.). I guess that's what I get for showing up so late to the party.

 

2. I really like the idea behind Champions Complete if only because the 4e hardcover is my favorite RPG product of all time (by any publisher) and it combined the system rules with superhero genre material under one cover. However, the 4e era also was the era that first made the clean split between the system rules and genre books. The Hero System Rulesbook was, to my mind, the next best book in the line-up even though hardly anyone bought it (understandable given the undeniable appeal of the BBB). I still think the idea of a system book and separate genre books is my favorite approach, though I understand that today's marketplace has voted otherwise with their wallets.

 

3. If I could wave a magic wand and wish a new publishing scheme into existance, I would take Champions Complete and give it a BBB-style hardcover treatment. Then I would offer the system rules section and the supers genre section as separate POD softcover options. And I would do the same with Fantasy Hero Complete (offer it as a big, beautiful hardcover and the fantasy genre material as a separate b&w POD softcover). For genres with less marketplace traction (sci-fi, pulp), solo genre books could be published, again, as POD softcovers for those who like that format and already have the core rules in one of the other volumes. I think the marketplace gets the best of both worlds that way.

 

I can't say I have much in the way of thoughts regarding MHI since it's not really my thing, but bringing its system rules text to parity with CC would be a good start (at which point you could also turn the setting material into a separate POD softcover). The idea of offering POD softcovers seems like a no-brainer since they incur no inventory costs. Hero Games gets to offer buying options with essentially zero cost or risk on their end.

 

4. As for the changes between previous editions and 6e, I can only speak for myself when it comes to resistance to embracing the new rules. One of the reasons people dislike change is because when you take something they've become experts in and change it, they no longer feel like experts. After so many years of experience playing the older editions, I've internalized the vast interconnected web of costs and mechanics. You can't just change things like characteristics costs without doing tremendous violence to that internalization and the intellectual shortcuts they provided. What might seem like a simple change to someone who has played 5e for only a short time, is a source of intense irritation for someone who has spent 20+ years digesting the game and its evolution since 1982. Someone like me has to weigh the benefits of the new, more logical rules against the effort required in undoing decades of calcified and optimized internalized expertise with the older rules, however "flawed" they may have been.

 

Of course, the simplest advice to give someone like me is to just go back to playing 5e or 4e, and I am inclined to agree (I have a very nice PDF version of the old 4e Hero System Rulesbook that I could hand out to new players). It's just a shame that I can't, at this point in time, look upon the current incarnation of my favorite RPG and embrace it without reservation. This has not, however, prevented me from going to great expense to acquire all the 6e books. I may not like the system changes (yet), but sure do love having the books on my shelf...

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Are any of the villains in the Champions Villans 6e series incompatible with Champions Complete? Because it is a great resource (albeit a massive one) for a supers game.

 

Of course, I don't always use a published villain strictly as written. The villain writeups in that series age generally very long compared to what you would see in Champions Complete, and highly detailed about what the villain does tactically, what his or her role is in the storyline, and the sorts of schemes he or she tends to attempt. The beauty of an RPG, of course, is that you don't have to use any of it if you don't want to. You can use the villain construct and change around anything you like. Don't like Doctor Destroyer as an obsessive Nazi (and let's face it, who does?)? Change it to something more suitable (and sensible.) Think Foxbat works better for you as a guy who gets into the player's hair by being a wannabe superhero? You can do it! (and I personally think it could be darned funny.) And there are so many characters in those books that you'll only use a small fraction of them, so if Menton (for example) is incredibly overpowered in your eyes (why doesn't he already rule the world without anyone knowing it if that's what he really wants to do?), you can ignore him and not even have him exist in your version of the CU.

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Many of the mentalist villains would have problems because, "class of minds" isn't in CC.

That's not a huge stumbling block. The lack of class of minds actually makes those powers work against a broader range of targets. If it's appropriate, you can always add a limitation to represent the powers not working against everyone/everything.

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Interesting.  I have some catching up to do, I guess.  If the system rules are no longer going to be sold in a standalone format, I wonder if they've considered releasing them "open source" in a free PDF or something (say, with a Kickstarter project to fund the composition and editing).  If they did that there would still be a fixed place to go for the rules, even if they did include them in the sourcebooks like NameYourGenre Complete.  It would be simple enough to say, "This rulebook contains the complete Hero System 6e rules as found in the Open Hero v6.0 PDF, which can be found at http://www.herogames.com/...."  It seems like it would be a way to both have one authoritative place for, "canonical rules," and also sell complete and playable genre-based products.

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The relative success of licensed game worlds (Star Wars, Monster Hunters, etc.) suggests that given good material, people will buy into a system just to play in the licensed world. Perhaps the problem isn't that setting books don't sell, but that uninteresting settings don't sell.

 

The key, then, is to offer a setting that gamers can't resist and then sell them lots of support books. Takes the pressure off the core rules to be the only salable product a company has in its catalog. And it doesn't have to be a licensed world either (Hunger Games Hero? No thanks...). It just has to be really good and produced with quality.

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Jason's post only states that customers seem to want all-in-one books, but doesn't offer any theories as to why this might be the case. Having no deeper understanding of the marketplace doesn't help target future products very effectively. My hypothesis is that all-in-one books that combine core rules with an abstract genre overview gives the buyer the feeling they are getting a complete game, ala D&D. But I feel that is something of an illusion.

 

From reading the genre material in CC, I would argue that it is only marginally more "complete" a game than just the core rules themselves. A genre book is not the same thing as a setting book. A genre book still requires the buyer to do most of the campaign world building themselves, whereas a setting book only asks the buyer to construct adventures (and even that is optional if adventure modules are available, again, like D&D).

 

Thus, a product like CC for FC is still really just a core rulesbook, albeit a genre-aimed one. Customers have to be curious to try the system in order to buy into the product line, which has always been a problem for the Hero System outside of the superhero genre (which enjoyed reasonable success despite not being tied to a widely recognized superhero license). But maybe there's another approach.

 

Maybe a really compelling setting would draw people to the system. For instance, even if people weren't already playing AD&D, the Ravenloft setting would have lured a lot of players to it. Similarly, people flocked to the Storyteller system because they found the World of Darkness setting captivating. In fact, one might argue that folks merely tolerated the Storyteller system in order to enjoy access to the setting.

 

So, produce some truly compelling settings, build product lines around them, and sell those product lines. People will have to buy the core rules as the cost of entry into the settings. But while buyers only have a one-time need for the core rules, they will have an insatiable appetite for the continuing stream of high-quality setting materials (region descriptions, creature writeups, adventures, etc,) And that's where a company gets a continuing revenue stream. Hero Games could be capitalizing far more on the success of MHI than they currently are, but they may be more hampered by lack of investment funds than by lack of market interest.

 

I don't think the idea of game settings as a product lines became obsolete. I just think companies gave up trying to find/publish settings capable of really capturing the interest of buyers today. Why? Because it's haaaaaaard... (insert appropriate whining sounds)

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Jason's post only states that customers seem to want all-in-one books, but doesn't offer any theories as to why this might be the case. Having no deeper understanding of the marketplace doesn't help target future products very effectively. My hypothesis is that all-in-one books that combine core rules with an abstract genre overview gives the buyer the feeling they are getting a complete game, ala D&D. But I feel that is something of an illusion.

 

From reading the genre material in CC, I would argue that it is only marginally more "complete" a game than just the core rules themselves. A genre book is not the same thing as a setting book. A genre book still requires the buyer to do most of the campaign world building themselves, whereas a setting book only asks the buyer to construct adventures (and even that is optional if adventure modules are available, again, like D&D).

 

Thus, a product like CC for FC is still really just a core rulesbook, albeit a genre-aimed one. Customers have to be curious to try the system in order to buy into the product line, which has always been a problem for the Hero System outside of the superhero genre (which enjoyed reasonable success despite not being tied to a widely recognized superhero license). But maybe there's another approach.

 

Maybe a really compelling setting would draw people to the system. For instance, even if people weren't already playing AD&D, the Ravenloft setting would have lured a lot of players to it. Similarly, people flocked to the Storyteller system because they found the World of Darkness setting captivating. In fact, one might argue that folks merely tolerated the Storyteller system in order to enjoy access to the setting.

 

So, produce some truly compelling settings, build product lines around them, and sell those product lines. People will have to buy the core rules as the cost of entry into the settings. But while buyers only have a one-time need for the core rules, they will have an insatiable appetite for the continuing stream of high-quality setting materials (region descriptions, creature writeups, adventures, etc,) And that's where a company gets a continuing revenue stream. Hero Games could be capitalizing far more on the success of MHI than they currently are, but they may be more hampered by lack of investment funds than by lack of market interest.

 

I don't think the idea of game settings as a product lines became obsolete. I just think companies gave up trying to find/publish settings capable of really capturing the interest of buyers today. Why? Because it's haaaaaaard... (insert appropriate whining sounds)

It's a pretty big assumption to say he has "no deeper understanding of the marketplace". 

As for compelling settings, they made a lot of them in 5E.  More would have been made in 6E if the company had done better and hadn't had to downsize.  

As to claiming they don't publish more settings because they "gave up" and whined "it's hard", that's just uncalled for.  Start your RPG company and run it successfully for a while and then come back and tell DOJ everything they've done wrong.  Until you do that I'd say it's you that has "no deeper understanding of the marketplace".  

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Fantasy Hero Complete isn't on the shelves yet so we can't see what that will do in terms of market but I suspect at least some of Champions Complete's sales and embrace came from it being a cheaper and tidier way to own the Hero System rules without laying out more than 100 bucks on an encyclopedia.  In other words: smaller, cheaper version of what consumers were looking for.  Will they think that way about Fantasy Hero complete, or will they consider the reprint of the rules extraneous?  Time will tell.

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When I read threads elsewhere in response to questions like, "What is a good hard sci-fi RPG to get into?", discussion inevitably focuses on settings (ala Eclispe Phase), not systems. The quality of setting material, and the prolificness of the publisher in supporting the setting is viewed as a good indication of the system's/product line's health and vitality. I don't think that CC plus a powers book (or FC plus a spells book) sends as compelling a marketplace message as a rich, vibrant setting with lots of detailed world material.

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Champions Universe, along with the villain hardcovers, are exactly the kind of products I'm referring to (along with books like Millenium City). Whether or not that setting can hope to compare/compete with more deeply developed superhero settings such as the Marvel or DC universes is a subsequent conversation. But at least there's been some effort put in there (though not nearly as much as in the 4e era).

 

But aside from MHI, we have yet to see a 6e setting of any substance for any other genre come from Hero Games, or any major third party publisher either for that matter. This is primarily due to the fact that it takes considerable resources (and access to considerable writing talent) to produce full-blown settings with ongoing support comparable with settings like Dark Sun, Dragonlance, The Third Imperium, Star Wars, etc. But those are the kinds of product lines that are going to keep a company thriving in the long run. Core system books with genre sections tacked on isn't going to cut it.

 

In fact, it seems to me that MHI is a working example of my point. It is a richly developed setting with some decent post-core-book support. Let's see the same sort of thing for epic fantasy and sci-fi (they don't have to be licensed from books, but that approach is certainly a tremendous production shortcut). In the absence of a highly compelling literary setting, a highly compelling home-grown setting will suffice. But like I said before, that is really hard. Which is why you don't see it succeed that often in this hobby, even when it is attempted.

 

The point is that the product strategy for the Hero System has to, IMO, get away from focusing on core rules and basic genre advice, and shift towards developing killer settings and committing to supporting them in a major way. And no, I don't feel that the 5e "Age" books were convincing examples of what I'm talking about.

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What's Hero's long-term strategy is is, at the moment, something only Hero knows. The RPG market has changed a lot lately, as has the state of the art in RPG design. Hero has steadfastly avoided certain concepts (like pools of points used to affect outcomes in favor of PCs as opposed to "You rolled what you rolled -- deal with it") that have become mainstream.

 

Our impact on their decisions is based on what we spend our money on. And we are the die-hards. There are a lot of people out there who aren't and still buy RPGs.

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What's Hero's long-term strategy is is, at the moment, something only Hero knows. The RPG market has changed a lot lately, as has the state of the art in RPG design. Hero has steadfastly avoided certain concepts (like pools of points used to affect outcomes in favor of PCs as opposed to "You rolled what you rolled -- deal with it") that have become mainstream.

 

Our impact on their decisions is based on what we spend our money on. And we are the die-hards. There are a lot of people out there who aren't and still buy RPGs.

Actually Hero Points that do just that were introduced in Pulp Hero in 5E and were in the core rules in 6E.

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I would gladly spend myself into insolvency if Hero Games produced a sci-fi setting as deeply developed and richly supported (with product) as, say, White Wolf's World of Darkness setting. But I can't vote with my wallet when there is no such product to buy. I can't have any appreciable impact on their production decisions if they don't give me the opportunity to purchase the products I want to see. Build it and they will come (and spend), I say. Honestly, the lack of spending by Hero players in the past is not evidence of their lack of interest in game settings. It is evidence of their lack of interest in weak (and weakly supported) game setting offerings.

 

You'll notice that WotC wouldn't dream of launching any new D&D edition without at least one major setting and a solid roadmap of support for it. They wouldn't bother if the marketplace had changed so much that it no longer cared for good published game setting material.

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So now every setting in 5e was "weak"?  Seriously?  That's your stance? 
Also, DOJ launched Hero 6E with "at least one major setting", Champions, which is their best selling and most well known setting.  So now you are saying they should have done what they actually did.

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When did the Hero System ever have a strong fantasy setting? Never. When did it ever have a strong sci-fi setting? Never. Horror? Pulp? Never and never.

 

That's fine if the only thing Hero Games ever wants the Hero System to be known (and purchased) for by the broader roleplaying audience, is superheroes. But if they ever want the system to be embraced for any other genre, they are going to have to step up and offer a setting that makes folks take notice. So far, that hasn't happened, though MHI is certainly a step in the right direction.

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