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Trying to dive back in ...


CrosshairCollie
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I haven't run, or played, HERO in a long time.  On those rare occasions where our bunch has actually done an RPG, it's been Pathfinder, though the vaaaaaast majority of the time we just do card/board games because nobody's really felt like running anything.

 

Anyway, to make a long story short (too late), I'm trying to get myself geared up to do a FH game, but a little more low-fantasy/Renaissance-esque than the typical fantasy game.  I'm even taking the 6e plunge, though I've only got the basic rulebook and Hero Designer to work from.  Anyway, a couple questions I had/a bit of advice I'm looking for ...

 

1. Since the game is more low-fantasy/down-to-earth, I'm considering lowering the characteristic maxima by about 25% (15 STR, etc).  What, do you think, are the pros and cons of this?  Will it create characters to similar in terms of characteristics, since there's a narrower spectrum?

 

2. How do I 'think small'?  When I run supers, I tend to huge world-spanning adventures and world domination/destruction plots.  When I do fantasy, I tend to epic quests, artifacts, big weird monsters ... I need to tone this down since the world has very few 'monsters', but every time I start thinking about stuff to do, it goes off the rails into EpicWorldEncompassingPlotVille.

 

Help?

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I think the best way to help think small and more down to earth is to keep the starting points low.  The book suggests 175 for a heroic character,but that's going to let people build established major heroes rather than beginners.  Most, if not all, fantasy players are perfectly fine with starting out at "level 1" which would be a much lower point value, as low as 75 points or below.  This will help keep stats down to a reasonably modest level and necessarily adventures would be minor and more humble.  When the city guard or an ordinary pack of wolves is a serious threat, you're going to have more down to earth adventures.

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Do you ever run modern-day adventures or street-level superheroes? Set up things like crime-fighting, local political corruption, gang activities, and the like? If so, it might help you to focus your fantasy campaign the same way. Use a large city as a base of operations, set up the local factions and power-players, and fight for the heart of the city instead of the nation, or the world.

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Do you ever run modern-day adventures or street-level superheroes? Set up things like crime-fighting, local political corruption, gang activities, and the like? If so, it might help you to focus your fantasy campaign the same way. Use a large city as a base of operations, set up the local factions and power-players, and fight for the heart of the city instead of the nation, or the world.

 

Can't say as I have ... for much the same reason, I'm not real good at thinking local like that, but yeah ... taking modern-day urban issues and converting them to a more fantasy setting could work.

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Read up on Renaissance Italy and you should be able to come up with a ton of ideas for a more "local" campaign. Even just some cursory research will give you some idea of the tensions between various merchant/political/family factions. Throw in a Church that is powerful but beginning to be challenged for primacy by more secular powers and away you go. Intrigue, power-grabs, exploration to find distant lands full of exotic goods (Marco Polo anyone) all make for good but non-world shaking adventures.

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City adventures such as theft, murder, treasure hunts in the sewers, scavenger hunts for items, investigating strange occurances, clearing haunted houses, dealing with wild animals that escaped from the King's menagerie, helping someone wronged seeking justice, discovering ancient hidden underground barrows, and so on all suggest themselves.  If you don't want city you can still go with small local events.  Try to focus on having each session one adventure, at most 2, so its short and pointed, something fast moving and self contained rather than part of a larger more impressive story.

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CC, did you ever look at Hero's Valdorian Age setting book? It's tailor-made for the kind of campaign you're talking about, even to reducing the starting Characteristics of the PCs, and other permutations of Hero System to emphasize a grittier tone. The principle focus of the book is describing a large, highly-detailed city rife with corruption and intrigue as the base for a campaign.

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Do you ever run modern-day adventures or street-level superheroes? Set up things like crime-fighting, local political corruption, gang activities, and the like? If so, it might help you to focus your fantasy campaign the same way. Use a large city as a base of operations, set up the local factions and power-players, and fight for the heart of the city instead of the nation, or the world.

And let me add that Pulp can giv e some inspiration too. Weird occults, some mad science and men dressed as monsters could both give a monster feel without monsters. I'm thinking of a movie several years back that featured a " werewolf" but it was a trained hyena and had martial arts in it. Lope garu was in the tittle.

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Brotherhood of the Wolf had an armored, trained lion as a horrendous monster, it worked well.

 

If you don't want monsters in your game, just people work fine.  We do plenty of evil without needing monsters to blame it on.  But I didn't see anything in his request that mentioned avoiding monsters or needing it to be a historical campaign.  Just keep the power level low and focus on personal matters rather than huge world changing ones.

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I agree that the Valdorian Age could work well for you.  I used VA for my last campaign.  The city of Elweir is about 70% of the material in the VA book.  The book has a bunch of details about local history, characters and where everything fits with the larger world.  The book gives a huge number of jump off points for adventures around politics, skulduggery, spying, and even potential 'dungeon' crawling.

 

This is a world where monsters are extremely rare and magic is also rare.  My players ran into no more than a dozen monster encounters over 3 years of gaming.  Mostly they dealt with human foes.

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VA is a fun setting, and the city can be easily tweaked to fit a particular taste. Sticking to mainly human enemies with the occasional monster is a good mix. One thing to consider though is if the players are fine with only being humans. It is possible to do Swords & Sorcery with additional races, but in that case consider setting aside a portion of the town for that race to make its home. It could make for some interesting social interactions.

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VA is a fun setting, and the city can be easily tweaked to fit a particular taste. Sticking to mainly human enemies with the occasional monster is a good mix. One thing to consider though is if the players are fine with only being humans. It is possible to do Swords & Sorcery with additional races, but in that case consider setting aside a portion of the town for that race to make its home. It could make for some interesting social interactions.

One of my players played a dwarf.  I had a few people ask "Can I play an elf?"  And I said "Well no one has seen an elf in thousands of years and most likely human's would kill an elf on sight." (Read the background material for VA).  It was one of the things about the setting that I loved (I strongly dislike elves and the players who love them).  :eg:

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I looked at a few reviews for VA.  Looks like something I could mine for ideas, but not something I'd want to use wholesale.  Definitely not wanting the whole 'magic is evil' thing going (well, at least ALL of it ...), for instance.

 

As far as humans-only goes, the setting is actually the opposite ... no humans. :)

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One of my players played a dwarf.  I had a few people ask "Can I play an elf?"  And I said "Well no one has seen an elf in thousands of years and most likely human's would kill an elf on sight." (Read the background material for VA).  It was one of the things about the setting that I loved (I strongly dislike elves and the players who love them).  :eg:

 

And even VA dwarves aren't like their D&D cousins, or even the D&D-esque ones from the Turakian Age. The millennia since the destruction of the TA world, and the decline in magic, were not kind to them, physically or mentally.

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I looked at a few reviews for VA.  Looks like something I could mine for ideas, but not something I'd want to use wholesale.  Definitely not wanting the whole 'magic is evil' thing going (well, at least ALL of it ...), for instance.

 

As far as humans-only goes, the setting is actually the opposite ... no humans. :)

 

It's not so much that all magic is evil. It's just costly to the wielder. VA sorcery requires bargaining with supernatural entities to get them to do stuff for you; entities which care nothing for humans or what they value. That's a marker that's going to be called in, sooner or later. Unless you can persuade or trick someone to take on your debt. :eg:

 

And that no-humans remark... was that in reference to the Valdorian Age? Because VA is nearly the opposite. Non-humans still exist, but they've become marginal in the world, not typically mingling with humans, and most are probably dying out.

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Brotherhood of the Wolf had an armored, trained lion as a horrendous monster, it worked well.

Note that this might be "small" regarding supernatural creatures, but it's still quite a formidable opponent, both in the movie and probably in HERO. This hits a particularly raw spot for me, as I once tried a watered-down version of this to test a new system's lethality. Let's put it this way, you don't want your players to remind you of being killed by a slightly drugged up ox, used by some tax-dodging peasants years after the fact...

 

My current campaign does quite well with a characteristic limit of 15 and 125 points in total. Although I'm seriously thinking about rejiggering characteristic and skill costs, maybe even with separate pools.

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I think CC means that the Humans of VA aren't very humane.

 

No, I meant there are no humans, and never have been, in the game world.  None of the reviews of VA I read mentioned anything about nonhuman races, so I was assuming that, even if not humans-only, it was humanocentric.

 

As far as the magic goes, that's just not the kind of magic I want as the default.  I tend to think of magic as more of a science (Clarke's Law and all that), something you can learn that, while it may have its drawbacks and dangers, one of those isn't an extradimensional entity calling in due markers.  Pretty much just going to use the FH Grimoires, and my 4e FH stuff with a bit of selective editing on what's available (no NCM/Megascale Teleports, for instance).

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