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Hyper-Man

The myth of Hero

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Well, my impression of 6th edition was that the complexity level had been pushed to nearly the upper bound of what you could do, and that a subsequent edition should probably go "back to basics" and strip the mechanics down to the simplest and most "core" concepts of the system, even possibly discarding or making completely optional certain mechanics that tend to lengthen combats(e.g. the Speed chart) or the character creation process. The 4th edition Hero System rules book was 214 pages. My guess is that a stripped down version could be done in maybe 30 pages...the length of a comic book.

 

I guess it depends on how you define complexity. I think what happened with 6e was that it continued the trajectory of 5e in which more things were broken down into even more generic building blocks, adding more abstraction. This makes the game less intuitive and harder to use even if the game has been made more "logical" on the level of its abstractions. Given its other sins, this is perhaps the least of its problems.

 

6e's biggest failure, IMO, is its presentation. It is simply composed of too many words. It is as if the game acquired 20 points of Density Increase, Always On. Combine that with the increase in abstraction and now everything takes two or three times as much page space (and verbiage, often of the cryptic systemspeak kind) to describe the same thing (as its 2nd-4th edition equivalent). I like to point to the bracing explosion of the amount of text it takes to describe Mechanon through each of his incarnations as an example of what I mean.

 

But when it comes to a remedy, I think it is nearly impossible to reach consensus here. For example, I don't understand why the Speed Chart is so maligned. It is incredibly simple to use and performs an invaluable service (it interleaves combat in a way that provides for a much finer granularity of action-taking than the crude "two attacks per round" or "three attacks per two rounds" mechanics of more primitive systems). There are far more effective ways to simplify combat than taking away the characters' ability to act more often than others in a given space of time. After all, if you're not going to use the Speed Chart, then there is no need for the SPD characteristic, and you might as well go play FATE or D&D or something.

 

I believe that the remedy is two-pronged: simplified presentation of the system combined with a really good campaign setting. The system itself doesn't need to be simplified or made even more abstract, it merely needs to be presented in a way that doesn't make newcomers run screaming back to Pathfinder or Savage Worlds (or whatever). Leave the damn system alone, I say. In fact, I say go back to 4e and re-fix some of its more glaring flaws, but without falling down the rabbit hole that became FRED (and ultimately, 6e).

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I forgot one more item: roll-under. I actually hate roll-under. One option I wish was in the game? An option to convert the system to roll-over.

 

But anyway, I guess I would have to get some more experience of the game in action, particularly when the Speed system is stripped away as I touched on earlier. The thing is, finding a HERO GM is very, very difficult online.

 

Combat is easy to make roll-over.  3d6 + OCV >= 10 + target's DCV.  Same formula as in D&D 3.5e+.  The math works the same and everything.  Skill rolls and CHA rolls might be a teensy bit more difficult, but not much more so, though I'm not particularly satisfied with it.  Which is slightly weird, because it's just the same thing; the math works out the same, etc. (CHA rolls being 9 + CHA/5 or less, turns into 3d6 + CHA/5 >= 12+; Familiarity becomes 3d6 >= 13+).  

 

For SPD, you could switch to 6 second Rounds instead of 12 second Turns, and divide everyone's SPD by 2 to get Actions per Round.  Keep fractions; SPD 3 becomes 1.5 Actions/Round.  You can disallow odd numbered SPD values if you want.  During a round, everyone just goes, in DEX order, high to low, as normal.  Once everyone has gone, everyone with more than 1 Action/Round goes, in DEX order, high to low (note that includes the ones with 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, etc.).  Once everyone with more than 1 Action/Round has gone, everyone with more than 2 Actions/Round goes.  The next round, repeat, except that after everyone goes, everyone with more than 1.5 Actions/Round goes (excluding the 1.5's), then everyone with more than 2.5 Actions/Round goes, etc.  "Post-12" Recovery happens at the end of the "more than x.5" round.  A Delayed Action can happen later in the same round, but you can't hold it from one round to the next.  

 

Edit: Crossposted with zslane.  :)  Just took a while to write mine.

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The problem with Hero is that because of its great flexibility, a lot of people want to jump right in and make use of that flexibility before they are ready.  They try and use every rule under the sun and they get bogged down.

 

Pathfinder is easy to play if you just stick to the basic rulebook.  I'm a 1st level hman fighter, I roll my stats and hit points, pick 3 feats, and pick my gear.  When I want to hit something, I roll a D20 and add my to-hit bonus.  Then I roll a D8 or whatever for damage and add my damage bonus.  No sweat.  But you get into a million different expansions and suddenly you're worried because you know there's a particular feat that came out in some magazine in 2013, and you know you need to take it at 1st level, and you know it's here somewhere but you just can't find it.

 

Hero can be the same way.  Make a superhero with a 12D6 Energy Blast and a Force Field.  You're the Amazing Zap Man.  Roll 3D6 to see if you hit, roll low.  Now roll 12D6 and add them all together to see how much damage you did.  Look at that, you blew the bad guy through a brick wall!  Awesome!  Just don't come in as a newbie and try to build some infinitely-recurring Aid loop and think that you're gonna be able to pull it off.

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I agree with you 100%, massey.

 

The thing is, the official books published for the system serve as working examples of how to use it. Looking at Champions villains and Bestiary beasts for guidance will quickly lead any new player or GM into believing that all that complexity represents the standard norm for "proper" use of the system. They don't realize that the system also allows for greatly simplified versions of any concept. How could they? The books don't show them how, and unless they know experienced players who understand what you're talking about, they'll forever believe that the Hero System is just too complicated for their style of play.

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This thread perfectly demonstrates what I noted in my first message; we can't even concur on things like what makes combat go fast or slow, whether or not character generation is fast/slow, or even whether or not to use the built-on Roll Low for Success rule or switch it around to a Roll-High mechanic. We are the problem with the Myth of Hero. We have so little consistency, even within our small online community. This is a feature though. THIS is what makes Hero attractive to us. Every single post that talks about whether or not to use Optional Rules, pare down the system to make the mechanics faster, or invert the dice rolls is an expression of why Hero is such a powerful gaming language. It is unifying in its diversity.

 

That does make it monolithic and intimidating to the newcomer though. So now for the Catch-22. If you standardize Hero and teach newcomers to play it in a certain prescribed way, does it remain Hero? On the surface, yes. When you get deeper, into tinkering with the system to make it yours, maybe not. On the other hand, at my job I always train new employees how to do things by the book and yet they always find their own shortcuts. Would the same thing happen if we had an established, standardized Hero? I think it might.

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But when it comes to a remedy, I think it is nearly impossible to reach consensus here. For example, I don't understand why the Speed Chart is so maligned. It is incredibly simple to use and performs an invaluable service (it interleaves combat in a way that provides for a much finer granularity of action-taking than the crude "two attacks per round" or "three attacks per two rounds" mechanics of more primitive systems). There are far more effective ways to simplify combat than taking away the characters' ability to act more often than others in a given space of time. After all, if you're not going to use the Speed Chart, then there is no need for the SPD characteristic, and you might as well go play FATE or D&D or something.

 

This kind of dismissive nonsense is part of the problem. When your tribe is already small and not exactly growing, dismissing any alternate ideas or desires that don't align with your own as "Might as well go play FATE or D&D or something" is killer. If just removing the Speed Chart makes the game not worth playing, or completely changes it into a different game, then there's a big problem with the game. However, I don't believe that's the case, and that the problem lies with the perception that such a change is fundamentally the same as not using HERO at all.

 

Combat is easy to make roll-over.  3d6 + OCV >= 10 + target's DCV.  Same formula as in D&D 3.5e+.  The math works the same and everything.  Skill rolls and CHA rolls might be a teensy bit more difficult, but not much more so, though I'm not particularly satisfied with it.  Which is slightly weird, because it's just the same thing; the math works out the same, etc. (CHA rolls being 9 + CHA/5 or less, turns into 3d6 + CHA/5 >= 12+; Familiarity becomes 3d6 >= 13+).  

 

For SPD, you could switch to 6 second Rounds instead of 12 second Turns, and divide everyone's SPD by 2 to get Actions per Round.  Keep fractions; SPD 3 becomes 1.5 Actions/Round.  You can disallow odd numbered SPD values if you want.  During a round, everyone just goes, in DEX order, high to low, as normal.  Once everyone has gone, everyone with more than 1 Action/Round goes, in DEX order, high to low (note that includes the ones with 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, etc.).  Once everyone with more than 1 Action/Round has gone, everyone with more than 2 Actions/Round goes.  The next round, repeat, except that after everyone goes, everyone with more than 1.5 Actions/Round goes (excluding the 1.5's), then everyone with more than 2.5 Actions/Round goes, etc.  "Post-12" Recovery happens at the end of the "more than x.5" round.  A Delayed Action can happen later in the same round, but you can't hold it from one round to the next.  

 

So, you roll 3d6 + your OCV vs their DCV + 10. I like it. Simple enough. How do we make that work with Charisma or Skill rolls? If the math works out the same, there shouldn't be any problems? What all do we need to do to make it happen?

 

This is fully an aesthetic thing, of course. It's just a particular (very strong) preference I have, especially when you have roll-high damage and effect.

 

As far as SPD goes, I'd honestly rather remove multiple actions per Turn entirely. I don't like them, and don't see much of a need to have them in any game, really. Even speedsters and the like (or Dragon Ball warriors, like I want to do) can model this sort of thing with various effects and maneuvers, rather than having lots of discrete actions per turn. This would speed things up (so to speak) in combat and also streamline some of the stuff I don't much like in my games anymore. Do you have any ideas for alternatives to multiple actions? I really like what you suggested here, although I would rather just like to get rid of multiple actions per turn in general.

 

This thread perfectly demonstrates what I noted in my first message; we can't even concur on things like what makes combat go fast or slow, whether or not character generation is fast/slow, or even whether or not to use the built-on Roll Low for Success rule or switch it around to a Roll-High mechanic. We are the problem with the Myth of Hero. We have so little consistency, even within our small online community. This is a feature though. THIS is what makes Hero attractive to us. Every single post that talks about whether or not to use Optional Rules, pare down the system to make the mechanics faster, or invert the dice rolls is an expression of why Hero is such a powerful gaming language. It is unifying in its diversity.

 

That does make it monolithic and intimidating to the newcomer though. So now for the Catch-22. If you standardize Hero and teach newcomers to play it in a certain prescribed way, does it remain Hero? On the surface, yes. When you get deeper, into tinkering with the system to make it yours, maybe not. On the other hand, at my job I always train new employees how to do things by the book and yet they always find their own shortcuts. Would the same thing happen if we had an established, standardized Hero? I think it might.

 

I think there's plenty of room to change things while still remaining true to the HERO core identity. For example, if the game was slimmed down even significantly, I think you could still keep what makes it so great. Shoot, M&M 3E does a lot of what HERO 6E does, but its ranks and measures are a lot more manageable and the effects are typically doing the same thing without quite so much detail. As one example I mentioned earlier, movement.

 

Right now, in HERO, can you make a character who flies at escape velocity (about 25,000 MPH)? Sure! But what do you have to do to get there? You have to buy Flight, of course, but you also have to calculate your travel speed based on your Flight level plus how many phases/segments you move (via the Speed Chart). It's an unintuitive headache for someone like me. In M&M, I buy 13 ranks of Flight. I can fly 16,000 MPH with a single move action, or up to double with a full move. A single move action lets me fly up to 30 miles. That's very easy to figure out, look at the Ranks & Measures table, and intuit. M&M is using slightly more broad levels (like the old DC Heroes AP system, from which it liberally borrowed), but the trade is much faster and easier to deal with in play. If for some reason it's necessary, I can just use my Flight rank 13 as a modifier on a roll, such as in a tense aerial race. I can also apply Extras and Flaws to my power in much the same way; if somewhat less detailed, it's also significantly less work to craft these things.

 

Now, it may just be me, but I do think HERO could endure a streamlining along somewhat similar lines and still remain HERO. It could still keep its most unique features, and have more detail than its brethren without having significantly increased workload. As much as I really want to use HERO — for a wide variety of games — there's a lot of investment needed. For me that's not necessarily a problem (I do a lot of writing for games anyway, since all I play is PBP), but I actually need a calculator or HERO Designer when it comes to figuring out more intricate powers and stuff. Again, not a problem for me, but it does feed into this perception of HERO as this dense beast that's very difficult to get into.

 

At any rate, I think I'm going to make a thread dedicated to some of the simplifying options I'd like to bring about.

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I remember going to a local gaming convention back in early 1989 that had a Champions event. 4e was still about six months away at the time. What I found impressive was that everyone who participated in the event understood the RAW, played by the RAW, had no problem with the RAW, and wasted no time arguing over rules, or learning custom house rules used for the tournament, or any of that. Yes, a tremendous amount of time was saved by using pre-created characters, but there was nothing that impaired the usual, smooth flow of play once the adventure began.

 

I think it is revealing that the impetus to change the system in fundamental ways has become stronger with each successive edition of the rules. It is disappointing to me that the game has become so inscrutable that a substantial number of new players would rather dismantle the design rather than embrace it. I truly believe that 95% of the core system is perfectly sound and playable and doesn't need further refinement or streamlining.

 

If you want to speed up play, pull out a chess clock or egg timer and force players to make up their minds and take their actions before 2 minutes expires. Trust me, the biggest problem with the game is not the system mechanics, but the inability of players to use game time efficiently and make up their minds about what to do.

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Poor time and turn management by players is lethal no matter what you do, definitely. I still have some problems (and they're just preference) with certain mechanics, but slow players can't be fixed by any trick of the rules, that's for sure! As far as the game becoming inscrutable, I suppose so. It's very intimidating to a lot of new players. Combine that with the general trend toward more simplified and streamlined mechanics, and away from heavily-detailed simulation systems, plus tons of alternative options for supers gaming or whatever genre, and you have this perceived difficulty with getting people into HERO.

 

The question is how do you dial it back without losing that robustness and flexibility? I'm sure there's an answer in there somewhere.

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This kind of dismissive nonsense is part of the problem. When your tribe is already small and not exactly growing, dismissing any alternate ideas or desires that don't align with your own as "Might as well go play FATE or D&D or something" is killer.

 

I see it as being protective, in a sense, of a perfectly sound system.

 

One could, for example, propose altering the rules of chess so that captured pieces get added to one's own arsenal which one can introduce onto the board in place of a normal move, and allow any piece to become promoted upon reaching the opponent's back rank. This might be regarded by its proponents as a great streamlining of the game. This would not be chess, however. It would be shogi. An entirely different, though related, game.

 

I love shogi every bit as much as I love chess. I would not endorse proposals to add the rules of shogi into chess. Shogi is shogi and chess is chess. There is no need, in my view, to transform one into the other. Of course nothing is stopping anyone from doing so when they play, but if you are asking a forum of Hero System veterans what they think of the idea of altering the system so that it is something else, expect to get some degree of push back.

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The question is how do you dial it back without losing that robustness and flexibility? I'm sure there's an answer in there somewhere.

 

Oh indeed there is. Lots of interesting answers and ideas. This subject has been discussed in depth over and over, and a lot of really good suggestions have emerged over the years. I'm sure a number of folks will offer their approaches. I can't because I have not found a need to do such a thing, and I am usually leery of endorsing the practice until long after someone has become an expert in the system as written and knows the impact of each and every thing they change.

 

It's just that I bristle when I hear that the Hero System's reputation for complexity has led to the popular counter-myth that it needs to be changed in order to be playable.

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I see it as being protective, in a sense, of a perfectly sound system.

 

One could, for example, propose altering the rules of chess so that captured pieces get added to one's own arsenal which one can introduce onto the board in place of a normal move, and allow any piece to become promoted upon reaching the opponent's back rank. This might be regarded by its proponents as a great streamlining of the game. This would not be chess, however. It would be shogi. An entirely different, though related, game.

 

I love shogi every bit as much as I love chess. I would not endorse proposals to add the rules of shogi into chess. Shogi is shogi and chess is chess. There is no need, in my view, to transform one into the other. Of course nothing is stopping anyone from doing so when they play, but if you are asking a forum of Hero System veterans what they think of the idea of altering the system so that it is something else, expect to get some degree of push back.

 

And I disagree with the idea that modifying one part of a toolkit system (indeed, touted as the toolkit system) is somehow fundamentally altering the game. That goes against HERO's core aspects, really, and is no more changing HERO into a different game than removing Attacks of Opportunity would be changing D&D into something completely different.

 

Worse still, this kind of pushback is what's going to turn away a lot of players. If I'm a new player looking to get into HERO, and a bunch of grognards try to dismiss any idea of modifying a toolkit system in any significant way, I'm going to put down that game and go somewhere a little more receptive. Especially when HERO already looks so intimidating based on its size and density. This kind of attitude will ensure that the game dies a slow death, rather than accepting any form of change at all. See also: Palladium games and the refusal to adapt, and the fall from prominence, relevance, and good word of mouth. And even then, Siembieda finally licensed out Rifts to Savage Worlds. If there's hope for Palladium, there's hope for HERO, but it doesn't start with insisting that any change destroys the game's identity and purpose.

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Palladium has a crappy system that was last changed 1993 or so. And even then they (few) guys I knew back then who liked Rifts basically ignored most of the system. I have actualy heard that Siembieda also houserules his games (if he is still gaming that is - considering the troubles he had to go through keeping his little boat afloat).

 

The Palladium system started out as a "better AD&D 1st Edition" with a new world, new character classes (that kept increasing on number and power), new races (wanna play a kobold, troll or wolfen?), evil (or at least supremacist) elfs, different magic systems etc. - so it was quite innovative without rocking the boat.

I started playing supers with Heroes Unlimited 1st Edition - never have supers been more limited than in this "unlimited" supers game!

 

So I switched to Champions - WOW!

Knockback rules, powers that you could build yourself, disadvantages to get more points - that was really UNLIMITED! Even creating and re-writing/ re-designing your character to make it more point effective became a "game" of its own ("Goodman says - don't waste them points! - And don't give them to Foxbat!", good design was kind of a sport in my group ("Sure, I can build that 12EB, A.P., area effect 1hex- power with 9 points - and save 4!").

 

We had good times. But - we also had TIME for these shenenigans. And all was new. Today, I don't see myself spending hours designing and redesigning a character.

 

Back to Palladium, HERO and hope: I was pleasently surprised to see Monster Hunters as a HERO game. May be the first license the system ever used. Champions (the characters) was licensed to a MMORP gaming company (I think because they didn't get the DC-license) - and that shows how strong the Champions background is.

But there are no other licenses - no Conan, James Bond, Star Wars etc. - and there is nothing like Rifts. There is no other setting that really makes the game unique like Deadlands, Lost Realms, All for One, Glorantha, The Old World.

 

Palladium is more or less down and ignored by the whole of the gaming community but these guys hold the fort, have a guy who is breaking his ass to keep his business running (from what I can tell) - heck, the fans even throw money at the company to keep it running!

 

HERO has this forum. Better than nothing - I like the community. But the last publications were mostly fan-produced. Nothing wrong with that. And Steve Long wrote more than his worth and then some for 5th edition. The game was never so well supported when it finally went under the radar.

 

It seems people like simpler games - ICONS seems quite popular for superhero adventuring. Even M&M (which eclipsed CHAMPIONS in popularity) is too complicated for most gamers.

 

When I was 16 to 18 simple did not float my boat. I wanted detail and flexibility. Today I want to have a decent system, roll dice and make merry with my friends.

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Systems matter. Waht is the point of playing a particular system and then strip it off all the things that define its main features

To me, the "main feature" of Hero and it's biggest advantage over other systems is not the individual mechanics, but the fact that it is so easily customizable to whatever type of game you want to play. It's a tool box, and I can pick and choose whichever tools best fit the specific project at hand, but I don't have to use every tool for every single project. The strength of the system is its versatility.

 

By contrast, my biggest complaint with Savage Worlds is that every SW game I've ever played has felt exactly like every other SW game, regardless of genre, tone, etc.

 

Yes, any rules system may be great if you leave out the parts that aren't.

The point isn't that some parts aren't great, but that not all parts fit all games. I have probably used just about every tool in the Hero toolkit at some point or another, but I don't use all of them for every game. (Hmm...Now I kinda want to go through 6ed and see if there are any tools that I haven't used and figure out what game would need them...)

 

Keeping track of END, STUN, BODY, when to act on the Speed-chart, hit-locations etc.was something that made me a HERO-player originally. BUT it is quite a lot more than you have to cope with than in other system

Yes, even using STUN is optional.

But I guess using dice is then optional too - why not just narrate combat by looking at the stats and deciding what is "coolest" or "blastest" for the adventure.

If that's the game you want to play, then why not indeed?

 

But you seem to view this as some sort of binary question where you must either use ALL the rules or else no rules at all. I'm pretty sure there's a happy medium in there somewhere, and it doesn't have to be the same for every game.

 

BUT: HERO is front-loaded and combat (especially CHAMPIONS) takes a lot of time (many options with high-powered characters) and heroic combat can quickly become complicated because of ALL THE OPTIONS. Period.

Only if you assume that all the options have to be used. They don't.

 

And if basically the world tells you that they shun the system because the systems seems too complicated and that is based on their experience then it just might be that - from their perspective - there is something that makes HERO less approachable than three trillion splat-books for PF!

I agree with this and the rest of your post; but again that's a marketing failure, not a rules failure. IMO Hero's biggest fail, starting with 5ed and compounded with 6ed, is they assumed gamers would look at the Big Tool Kit and think "Hmm, I could use this one for that game and those two together, don't need that one today..." rather than "MUST USE ALL THE TOOLZ!" And while the rules explicitly state not to do that, they haven't done as good a job of showing people how to make those choices. IMO, that's where the setting books should've earned their weight, by "hard-coding" a lot of those sorts of choices by default (while obviously still allowing customization for personal preference). But again, we're talking marketing and selling the system to new player, which is a different issue than experienced users selecting which elements to use for which games.

 

I don't mean to pick on you, but I feel like I have this conversation a lot, and it always goes the same:

 

"I love Hero, but I want to play something simpler."

"Well, if you narrow down some of the options, Hero is actually pretty simple..."

"But I like all those options!"

[shrug] "OK, then you should use them..."

"But then things are too complicated! I want something simpler."

"OK, so try narrowing down some of the options and you can eliminate much of the complexity..."

"But I like all those options..."

 

Lather, rinse, repeat, and I'm left baffled and shaking my head every time.

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I believe that the remedy is two-pronged: simplified presentation of the system combined with a really good campaign setting. The system itself doesn't need to be simplified or made even more abstract, it merely needs to be presented in a way that doesn't make newcomers run screaming back to Pathfinder or Savage Worlds (or whatever). Leave the damn system alone, I say. In fact, I say go back to 4e and re-fix some of its more glaring flaws, but without falling down the rabbit hole that became FRED (and ultimately, 6e).

I would agree with this, tho I don't think it's necessary to "go back to 4ed" in terms of mechanics. You could easily do a streamlined presentation of 6ed - basically what CC/FHC did but taken even a step further - and get it down to a manageable size. I'm not saying I wouldn't make any changes to the mechanics - we all have our pet list of changes - but the mechanics aren't the problem - presentation and Too Many Words are the problems.

 

As far as SPD goes, I'd honestly rather remove multiple actions per Turn entirely. I don't like them, and don't see much of a need to have them in any game, really. Even speedsters and the like (or Dragon Ball warriors, like I want to do) can model this sort of thing with various effects and maneuvers, rather than having lots of discrete actions per turn. This would speed things up (so to speak) in combat and also streamline some of the stuff I don't much like in my games anymore. Do you have any ideas for alternatives to multiple actions? I really like what you suggested here, although I would rather just like to get rid of multiple actions per turn in general.

The problem with eliminating multiple actions per Turn is that you then have to make massive changes to the way END and REC work. The simpler method is simply to give everyone the same SPD - typically 3 or 4 - and then you can just ignore the SPD Chart and give everyone a free REC after every 3 (or 4) Phases. Simpler to hide the mechanic than to break it altogether.

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I don't mean to pick on you, but I feel like I have this conversation a lot, and it always goes the same:

 

"I love Hero, but I want to play something simpler."

"Well, if you narrow down some of the options, Hero is actually pretty simple..."

"But I like all those options!"

[shrug] "OK, then you should use them..."

"But then things are too complicated! I want something simpler."

"OK, so try narrowing down some of the options and you can eliminate much of the complexity..."

"But I like all those options..."

 

Lather, rinse, repeat, and I'm left baffled and shaking my head every time.

 

Absolutely no ridicule taken - especially since that IS the weak line in my argument.

 

BUT: Maybe it is just a marketing question but if that is the case then it even blurrs my vision of the game - even after decades of active gaming!

 

"Toolkit" - well, yes and no: I agree that there are rules that you can or should do without according to the genre.

 

For instance I think that all traditional four color superhero camapigns should not use hit locations because they are too deadly (12D6 EB to your face and you are almost instant toast). But you could use them in gritty street level campaigns.

Bleeding, Impairing/ disabling etc is basically a matter or taste but let's go for extremes:

STUN? Can you play without taking it out of the box? - Well kinda, sorta. But then CON is also like a dump-stat.

BODY? You could dump it and let CON do the job.

Skills? I guess you could just roll under your attribut.

 

Okay, the game is pretty flexible. But at least for me it stops being HERO at some point and is becoming Action! System  something else - basically a cut-away, crippled rump of the game.

 

Certain systems have to include certain rules. Take D&D: no AD&D 2nd without the THAC0, Magic Missile (1D4+1) and Swords +1, no D&D 3.5 without feats, roll high and Magic Missile (1D4+1). But Fourth Edition spawned Pathfinder and other games (espeiciall all the OSR games like Osric, LL, S&W etc) because a lot of (if not most) fans didn't think that Fourth Edition was still D&D. It wasn't necessarily a bad game, it was simply misnomed.

 

Same with HERO. If you cut it down too much it ends being HERO. I always understood the "toolkit"-aproach as: Build it yourself, use the rules according to  the genre, learn the rules just once. But a lot of the options - at least in my mind - ARE what makes HERO HERO.

 

Can't take the Magic Missile out of D&D.

 

P.S.: Can say I agree with you on SW feeling the same in every genre - simply because i have gmed only Solomon Kane so far. From that I CAN say that it is fast, fun, furious (as advertised). Could I use HERO? - Sure. But why bother when the game runs as smoothly as it does.

But I will see as soon as I finished SK and start something new - maybe WW1, WW Rome, Tour of Darkness or even Pulp or (unlikely but maybe) Supers.

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Coming back to HERO:

Keeping track of END, STUN, BODY, when to act on the Speed-chart, hit-locations etc.was something that made me a HERO-player originally. BUT it is quite a lot more than you have to cope with than in other systems.

Yes, even using STUN is optional.

But I guess using dice is then optional too - why not just narrate combat by looking at the stats and deciding what is "coolest" or "blastest" for the adventure.

Why not, indeed.

 

Perhaps more to the point, if you want a game focused around social interaction, you probably want a more granular "social conflict resolution" mechanic than rolling a single skill roll that either succeeds or fails. However, if the concept is social, not physical, conflict, why not reduce physical combat to a single opposed roll, with skills such as "fisticuffs" and "dueling", rather than the granular resolution mechanism we have now? For a game of courtroom drama, do we need to break physical combat down into second by second actins, with each punch accounted for?

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BUT: Maybe it is just a marketing question but if that is the case then it even blurrs my vision of the game - even after decades of active gaming!

Agreed. Saying it's "just" a marketing question doesn't mean it isn't a significant problem.

 

 

But at least for me it stops being HERO at some point and is becoming Action! System  something else - basically a cut-away, crippled rump of the game.

Fair enough. I guess I just see the system as a means to an end, the end being "the kind of game I want to run." I don't really care if I'm being "faithful" to the system or not. YMMV.

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Fair enough. I guess I just see the system as a means to an end, the end being "the kind of game I want to run." I don't really care if I'm being "faithful" to the system or not. YMMV.

 

I'm with you, but at some point you have to chalk it up and say, "This is no longer Hero but I'm okay with that fact."  

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I'm with you, but at some point you have to chalk it up and say, "This is no longer Hero but I'm okay with that fact."  

 

I'm generally with the idea of "Make it into what's fun for you!" but, yeah, we probably all have our own ideas of essential elements of Hero. For me, it'd start with having the two damage tracks and two types of damage, plus the speed chart with recovery period at the end. Get rid of those, and I'm likely to say, "I may as well play something else, then."  But I'm sure that for others, those may not be essential to Hero at all.

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I think that is absolutely a viable approach to gaming - system matters IMO and different games play differeently and have a different feel to the game.

But, like D&D 4th Edition, at some point you are really playing someting else and not a variant of the old game - it's someting new and else then.

Does NOT mean it shouldn't be done - for the reason to adapt better to thegenre for instance.

 

Speaking of which: I am not sure that Law & Order HERO would be a good game if it stayed HERO - who needs STUN in a courtroom or weapon familarities? What you need is a system to win a case (if you play a lawyer) and keep it interesting for the players.

I don'T see a lot of "heroic" potential in that for a rules-system like HERO (or GURPS, SW, Runequest, D&D, D20 etc).

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I think comparing combat mechanics to social interactions or intellectual skills is misleading. We, as a species, have been turning the complex physics of combat into playable game form for hundreds if not thousands of years. Given that RPGs as we know them grew out of miniatures wargaming, it should not be surprising that combat is the most detailed and complex form of action resolution in RPGs.

 

Even when D&D first appeared on the scene, in-game social interactions were largely expected to be handled by players roleplaying those interactions "in character", and only rolling the dice when unable or unwilling to do that. The long history of RPGs has yet to reveal a burning need to resolve non-combat activities with the same degree of operational detail as combat. At best, detailed "social combat" (or other non-physical activities) has been a subject of design curiosity and little else.

 

Besides, RPGs are typically used to play out epic/cinematic action, and so any RPG treatment of "the fight scene" is naturally going to receive most of the mechanistic attention, both in the rules and over the board. The Hero System is obviously a prime example. As they say, a boat is safest when anchored at port, but that's not what it's made for. Similarly, the Hero System can be used to resolve combat with a simple dice roll (or the reverse for social conflict), but that's not what it was made for.

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Speaking of which: I am not sure that Law & Order HERO would be a good game if it stayed HERO - who needs STUN in a courtroom or weapon familarities? What you need is a system to win a case (if you play a lawyer) and keep it interesting for the players.

I don'T see a lot of "heroic" potential in that for a rules-system like HERO (or GURPS, SW, Runequest, D&D, D20 etc).

 

 

Even when D&D first appeared on the scene, in-game social interactions were largely expected to be handled by players roleplaying those interactions "in character", and only rolling the dice when unable or unwilling to do that. The long history of RPGs has yet to reveal a burning need to resolve non-combat activities with the same degree of operational detail as combat. At best, detailed "social combat" (or other non-physical activities) has been a subject of design curiosity and little else.

Sure it has - Roter Baron needs it for Law & Order Hero. Many action/adventure movies or shows have had a tense courtroom drama at some point. Most Sci Fi shows have had tense medical issues, and time-limited scientific research, create drama in the show How do we duplicate that in the game? Saving Agent May in last weeks Agents of SHIELD, for example.

 

We have a similar issue for chase scenes - movement is actually too well scoped out in most games to make a dramatic chase scene. Persuading the King to low our quest (or just not remove our heads), or persuading the local political leader (or council) to back our objectives in some manner.

 

There are plenty of examples of tense social combat in the source material if we just look, but they tend not to be well handled in RPG's - they typically come down to one die roll meaning success or failure, where combat has incremental successes and failures.

 

Even those old war games had to be modified to handle a scale of one individual, rather than army units.

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The excitement is in the stakes. Combat is generally high-stakes, so it should be detailed. High-stakes interaction of other sorts should also be detailed. 

 

Of course, how you choose to detail it is another thing...

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