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zslane

Hero System Basic vs. Champions Complete?

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The Love/Hate issue that HERO has with settings is that many GM's turn to it when they want to do a homebrew setting as it can be molded to handle such a wide variety. Setting books for HERO are non essential to running a game - similar to 'splat books' for other systems in that regards.  Selling them is still a requirement to the company's long term success though.

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Right, but when people talk about evolving the system so that it attracts new players, they're talking about players that aren't your traditional Hero gamers who like to homebrew everything. For that kind of player having a setting they are drawn to and which doesn't require a lot of prebuilding stuff, beyond perhaps the demands of the adventure plots, is crucial. These players aren't going to embrace the Hero System just because we think it is great; they'd have done that by now if the system itself were a major selling point for them. It's not, and no amount of tweaking its last 1% is going to change that, IMO. What could change that, however, is giving them a reason to use the system that has nothing to do with the system itself: i.e., an irresistable setting with lots of robust support.

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First off I have been playing Champs/Hero since 1982 and I consider it both the hands down best RPG ever designed and the only RPG that has successfully prevented itself from becoming popular. 

 

What do I mean by that?

It is not playable “Out of the Box” and there is a conscious effort to not comprehend it.

 

Take the upcoming Fantasy Complete (assumptions based on CC and what information has been released via the Kickstarter and these forums)  .

 

D&D, Pathfinder and the several other “mainstream” fantasy setting are pretty much the same setting with superficial name changes.  They all have the same core races (Human, Halfling, Elf, Dwarf) with a few extras thrown in so they can claim to be different.   They also have the same core “classes/archetypes” (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric), also with some superficial name changes and extra unique classes/archetypes to promote the claim of being different. 

 

What they all have in common is a simple prebuilt set of defined class/archetype abilities/spells/gear that can be used immediately to play within 2-3 hours of picking up the book from the store. 

 

Yes, within 2-3 hours.  And the book contains an adventure allowing a group to immediately PLAY. 

 

The ability to immediately play a session is what sells a game. 

 

Now take CC or FH. 

  1. They have all the rules.
  2. They have all the advice and guidance to create a campaign world.
  3. End. 

 

I cannot pick them up and PLAY.  I can only pick them up and then invest the days/weeks needed to create a campaign world and then hope that I can find players willing to invest the time to create PC’s and hope they understood the ramifications of the bazillion options available.  

 

I’ve argued the point of creating a complete generic setting, akin to D&D and Pathfinder, that can be played immediately and allow the players and GM to wrap their minds around the system.   Once the Hero System clicks in play, the customizability and overall flexibility of it will just explode to both players and GM’s.

 

Its major problem is that a person really cannot understand the system without at least a little time playing the game, but there is no published product that allows someone to get that experience.  Most (not all) of Hero players were introduced by another Hero player. 

 

Pulp Hero is one of the best source books I have ever seen (I own multiple copies), but it falls short of actually establishing a campaign.  It leaves ALL of the option decisions to the GM and the Players instead of establishing self-contained playable out of the box campaign.

 

The big resounding battle cry from the  established old-guard is that people do not want published campaigns.  That GM’s prefer to create their own unique worlds.

 

Absolutely true!  But the part they all ignore is that they all build their unique worlds AFTER they learned the game using the published campaign worlds. 

 

I don’t post here that much anymore because it is painful to watch my favorite system strangle itself to death.   I live in the hope that I can hand my copy of Fantasy Hero to one of the gamers in my circle and just say “here is a character sheet, turn to page XXX, pick an archetype (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard etc) and make a character.”  And they will be able to just by following the pre-designed options. 

 

But I really really doubt it….

 

:nonp:

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I just looked through my new Fantasy Hero PDF and I'm surprised and excited by the number of templates for quick character design - something like 15 customizable racial and modification (like aquatic or lycanthrope) templates, several cultural templates, and 10 professional templates mirroring common classes. Most fans of traditional systems should be able to make characters they're comfortable with in short order.

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First off I have been playing Champs/Hero since 1982 and I consider it both the hands down best RPG ever designed and the only RPG that has successfully prevented itself from becoming popular. 

 

What do I mean by that?

It is not playable “Out of the Box” and there is a conscious effort to not comprehend it.

 

Take the upcoming Fantasy Complete (assumptions based on CC and what information has been released via the Kickstarter and these forums)  .

 

D&D, Pathfinder and the several other “mainstream” fantasy setting are pretty much the same setting with superficial name changes.  They all have the same core races (Human, Halfling, Elf, Dwarf) with a few extras thrown in so they can claim to be different.   They also have the same core “classes/archetypes” (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric), also with some superficial name changes and extra unique classes/archetypes to promote the claim of being different. 

 

What they all have in common is a simple prebuilt set of defined class/archetype abilities/spells/gear that can be used immediately to play within 2-3 hours of picking up the book from the store. 

 

Yes, within 2-3 hours.  And the book contains an adventure allowing a group to immediately PLAY. 

 

The ability to immediately play a session is what sells a game. 

 

Now take CC or FH. 

  1. They have all the rules.
  2. They have all the advice and guidance to create a campaign world.
  3. End. 

 

I cannot pick them up and PLAY.  I can only pick them up and then invest the days/weeks needed to create a campaign world and then hope that I can find players willing to invest the time to create PC’s and hope they understood the ramifications of the bazillion options available.  

 

I’ve argued the point of creating a complete generic setting, akin to D&D and Pathfinder, that can be played immediately and allow the players and GM to wrap their minds around the system.   Once the Hero System clicks in play, the customizability and overall flexibility of it will just explode to both players and GM’s.

 

Its major problem is that a person really cannot understand the system without at least a little time playing the game, but there is no published product that allows someone to get that experience.  Most (not all) of Hero players were introduced by another Hero player. 

 

Pulp Hero is one of the best source books I have ever seen (I own multiple copies), but it falls short of actually establishing a campaign.  It leaves ALL of the option decisions to the GM and the Players instead of establishing self-contained playable out of the box campaign.

 

The big resounding battle cry from the  established old-guard is that people do not want published campaigns.  That GM’s prefer to create their own unique worlds.

 

Absolutely true!  But the part they all ignore is that they all build their unique worlds AFTER they learned the game using the published campaign worlds. 

 

I don’t post here that much anymore because it is painful to watch my favorite system strangle itself to death.   I live in the hope that I can hand my copy of Fantasy Hero to one of the gamers in my circle and just say “here is a character sheet, turn to page XXX, pick an archetype (Fighter, Rogue, Wizard etc) and make a character.”  And they will be able to just by following the pre-designed options. 

 

 

 

This. A thousand times this. I know this thread is a couple months old, but it pretty much sums up HERO. I'm returning after 15 year time of not playing and its almost painful to figure out the rules again, unlike back in the day where I had someone walk me through them.

 

Plus, I've picked up the setting books around and they are interesting.....but not what I want. None of them feel what I want and I already have an idea on what teh world will be. However, again, dreading teaching people how to create characters....which is why I'll have(eventually) a dozen already made up and they will get characters for the first set of characters......

 

5th edition D&D has the right idea. Pathfinder as well. Shadowrun.....beginners boxes to get you going them transition outward.

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I agree, a ready-to-run product seems like it would be a sure-fire way to increase the customer base.  There was a recent and extensive discussion of the same idea over on the SJGames GURPS discussion board.  But it appears that those of us on the outside don't have the complete picture, because in both cases the companies who own the game don't see sufficient reason to create such a product.

 

My conclusion is that, essentially, D&D is the "starter set" for the whole industry, just as it always has been. That's the entry point for most people.  And many of them will never go on to anything else. But those who do will be looking for a system that does what they want it to. I can imagine that many of them really will want to create their own settings, or import a setting from some other game. So they'll want to buy a set of rules and a genre book, and not much more.

 

That's my assumption as to why the folks at Hero Games and Steve Jackson Games don't produce the starter product many fans think they should produce, anyway.

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Settling for the crumbs spilling off of D&D's table seems an odd way to approach marketing, but perhaps the payoff for an entry-level product is too small and risky for the capital available to a smaller publisher.

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"Ready to Run" products in the Hero line would be adventure modules. Modules, which historically, don't sell very well.
 

The biggest stumbling block with Hero seems to be that most people don't want to sit and read the book. This is why D&D is, and always will be, the path of least resistance. They may change some things, but at the heart the system is the same.

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Settling for the crumbs spilling off of D&D's table seems an odd way to approach marketing, but perhaps the payoff for an entry-level product is too small and risky for the capital available to a smaller publisher.

 

Entry level gets people involved. Then they stick around for the long haul(hopefully). The beginner boxes for the 3 I named get you in and let you expand on yoru own afterward- 5th edition box is great for beginners or experts. I've seen conversion that take them in various directions.

 

 

"Ready to Run" products in the Hero line would be adventure modules. Modules, which historically, don't sell very well.

 

The biggest stumbling block with Hero seems to be that most people don't want to sit and read the book. This is why D&D is, and always will be, the path of least resistance. They may change some things, but at the heart the system is the same.

Spoken like someone thats been in the game far too long. I played for almost 10 years before RL got in the way and now am trying to come back. But even with some old characters laying around as templates and many books from past and present, its STILL a difficult time. And frankly as much as I love the absolute flexibility Hero offers, I still see it as a barrier to entry of getting BACK in, much less for the first time.

 

Saying folks dont want to read the books isnt the problem. Simple examples and ease of getting started would be really helpful.

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I keep seeing "they need to do this" and yet I'm not seeing anyone willing to do it.

 

Hero has an extremely liberal licensing agreement.  If folks think a compelling campaign setting is what is needed to sell the product then start working on one and make it ready for sale.  I am sure Hero would be happy to sell it from this site.

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It would take substantially more than what one person is capable of producing to generate the calibre and volume of new setting product/content necessary to make a difference. That's why we look to a company to lead the charge, not a well-meaning, passionate individual. That individual could be the line editor, I suppose, but he would need a sizeable budget and access to a team of talented writers and playtesters.

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It doesn't have to be Hero Games themselves. Nor is it ever likely to be. The (3rd party) company that is to step up to the plate and do what it takes most likely doesn't exist yet. And given the lack of monetary/marketplace incentive, probably never will.

 

The reality, as I see it, is that the most effective approach to taking the Hero System to the "next level" of popularity and casual RPGer acceptance is simply not feasible given the prodigious resources required. It's fun to talk about I suppose, but that's all it's ever going to amount to.

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It would take substantially more than what one person is capable of producing to generate the calibre and volume of new setting product/content necessary to make a difference.

 

Or time.  Many of the famous game settings were created by single individuals who spent years developing them.  Harn, Greyhawk, and Glorantha all come to mind.

 

Christopher Taylor (who posts regularly on this board) has been working on a campaign world for a long time.  He has been publishing parts of that world and selling them on this site.

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