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Hero requires decent math skills which none of our group is great at including myself. I do my best to simplify things by rounding up and down and even guessing at times but players still get frustrated. Their imagination and desire to play are admirable and they are all creative but I'm afraid they are getting a bit disenchanted because of the numbers. Any ideas on how to keep them coming back?

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There are some 'hidden' sweet spots of simplicity no matter what version of HERO being used.  Besides the obvious 3, 5 and 8 characteristic breakpoints there are also good spots for active/real points when using frameworks, advantages and limitations (50, 60 and 75 as well as 1/4 1/2)  The math is not hard but it can be frustrating for folks who do not like math.  I treat HERO math as a puzzle because I like puzzles.  HeroDesigner can make creating 5e and 6e characters easier but there still needs to be a desire to solve the puzzle.

 

HM

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Once you are playing, Hero System actually requires very little proficiency with math. I hate doing math, so I simply keep a few pocket calculators or smart phones on hand to handle any calculations that need to be made during play.

 

Which edition are you running?

 

If your players are having trouble with character generation; I recommend keeping a laptop with a copy of Hero Designer nearby to using during the character generation process.

If problem is figured characteristics specifically (for 5th edition and earlier), just have players use the laptop to calculate their characteristics, and then switch to another device (such as a smart phone) for any other calculations needed during character generation. This of course assumes they can fill out a paper sheet, iff not see below.

If the problem is with character generation in general (or outputting the character onto a sheet), I suggest you break down the character generation process into a series of "Session Zeroes". Meet with each of your players individually, and help each one build their characters using Hero Designer. Once finished, output them to PDF so they can be printed or viewed digitally (on a smart phone or tablet).

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Can you tell us why the mathematics are an ongoing issue? Like Cantriped said, most calculation is in character design. Once that is done HERO is no more number heavy than most games.

 

I found that just having the numbers on the page can give players pause and so I created character building sheets and character playing sheets. I kept the building sheets for when someone wanted to spend experience or add/change powers. Most of the time those numbers were hidden.

 

In one game the powers were on index cards, separate from the main character sheet so that the players could lay them out as they wished and it left the sheet for more descriptive stuff. Lot of upfront work but it sold the players on the fact that HERO was not really number heavy.

 

Doc

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Even in D&D there is a fair amount of addition and subtraction used during play for to-hit and damage calculations. Did they have any trouble with D&D math?

 

Other than Hero character creation, what are the calculation trouble spots you're seeing? Adding and subtracting combat modifiers for what is needed to hit, like range modifiers or attacking multiple targets? Being at half DCV? The damage taken less defenses? Hit location multipliers? Using the Damage Reduction power?

 

If the math is getting in the way of the fun, maybe precalculating some things on to index cards could make it a bit easier.

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Just guessing here, but I could see where someone with a learning disability might have difficulty calculating normal damage since you use one method to calculate the STUN and another to calculate the BODY. If that's the trouble, consider using the standard effect where you do a set amount of STUN and BODY with every hit.

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In one game the powers were on index cards, separate from the main character sheet so that the players could lay them out as they wished and it left the sheet for more descriptive stuff.

 

Like the power description cards from D&D4? I wonder if they could be created by an HD export format.

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Like the power description cards from D&D4? I wonder if they could be created by an HD export format.

Well, I just pushed some text and an image through Word onto labels and printed sticky labels that I put on index cards.

 

I considered merging the text from a spreadsheet and having descriptive in one side with combat suggestion on the reverse but, as ever, my plans far exceeded my delivery... :-)

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Do not let people with sucky math skills use levels.  Levels will complicate things.  After which you can do the heavy lifting in the math without too much wear and tear.

 

If there are no levels, then everything should be pre calculate-able with regards to OCV and DCV.  You can give them a simple chart to roll against for their OCV vs 3d6.

 

Next teach them to group normal dice by 10, to calculate stun.  While they add stun, you check the number of sixes and ones they have and if you know how many dice they rolled, can figure out body.  Ask them to roll for knockback subtraction.

 

For killing attacks, just have them sum up body and then tell you the stun mod.  you can calculate the stun.

 

For skill rolls, just ask them what their skill roll is and then have them roll it.  

 

Another idea, you can switch out all the 3d6 rolls with a 1d20.  OCV becomes their bonus to hit.  DCV+10 is the armor class.  For skills, just subtract 10 from the skill value and this is their bonus to a 1d20.  This mechanic might make them feel more comfortable.

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Good on you for trying to meet your players where they are rather than where you might want them to be.

 

I had a player in my last campaign who was seriously math challenged. He called it Art Major Math. We all knew that, so whoever sat next to him would crunch the numbers for him. But that might be harder to do if you have more than one person to worry about.

 

If the issue is character creation, the answer is Hero Designer.

 

If the issue is changing Powers, etc. on the fly, then avoid VPPs and limit Adjustment Powers (unless you're willing to do all the calculations yourself).

 

If Attack Rolls are a problem, pre-add OCV+11 on the character sheets so it works just like a Skill Roll, i.e. subtract 3d6 from this number and tell me how much you made it by. I agree with limiting CSLs in favor of just buying up CVs. Some people find addition easier than subtraction so consider reversing the Attack Roll formula to work that way.

 

If the issue is adding dice, try using die roller apps they can run on their phones.

 

If switching between Normal & Killing Attacks is a problem, then convert all Killing Attacks to Normal AVAD attacks. (I.e. a 3 DC HKA rolls 3d6, damage is calculated as if it were a Normal Attack, but applied like Killing Damage.)

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Speaking of Apps... if they are truly incapable of even the basic math required for combat: there is an app for that too. There is an app on Google Play called "Dice Roller" (its icon is three white d6s showing results of 5). It is a super simple app, but Dice Roller can roll some basic Hero System dice. It can do basic Attack Rolls (if you input your OCV it will report the DCV you hit), and it can roll Normal or Killing Damage (though it cannot do Hit Locations). It can also sort of do Activation and Success Rolls, but it doesn't allow you to enter your threshold of success, so it cannot report margin of success or failure, so for the math challenged it isn't any better than just rolling dice.

I mostly just used said app to show players how Normal Damage was calculated (because it reports both the individual die results as well as the BODY & STUN totals).

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I had a player in my last campaign who was seriously math challenged. He called it Art Major Math.

 

I was an Art Major (technically "Fine Arts" but whatever)... and we almost universally sucked at math in my department (Animation). We rarely had to do any calculations at all (which is good because I hate math).

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The group I last gamed with had guys with degrees in History, English, Accounting, Computer Science, and a couple that didn't have degrees.  In terms of the best mathematics ability, it was probably me (Computer Science), the History major, the guys without degrees, the English major, and finally the Accounting degree.

The accountant blamed the fact that he was always using a calculator for him not being able to do simple arithmetic . . . or even to count the pips on his dice correctly.

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I've got a mixed bag in my current group.

 

One player doesn't understand the math. The problem is, he's not so much stupid as willfully ignorant. His eyes don't have the time to glaze over; if you try to explain the math, he'll simply interrupt and flat-out ask you: Can he do the thing with the points he's got? He also considered the Champions Powers book a much "better" resource for buying powers than the main book because the things in there do the things he wants.

 

One player does get it, and is quickly veering into early 2000 Champions minimaxer territory. He's looking to get as much out of the points available to him as possible. At least his excesses tend to be story-driven; the "combat stapler" that autofires soporific darts starts as a joke in-game.

 

And one is just happy to have her helicopter. To go with her motorcycle. And no, she started out as a sonic-based character. I don't think she's put much thought into the direction of her character beyond her next disastrous date.

 

Meanwhile, the question had been stuck in my head how to best balance combats to their capabilities, and by taking into account OCVs, DCVs, SPDs, CONs, and defenses, I have a quick-ish program that I can plug in values and run from a shell. And it works, too; it takes longer to edit in the values than to run the programs and get the results. So far I've written it in Swift and Ruby; Python is next, and Java may come shortly after that. (I happen to like math.)

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To those who consider this only a character creation issue, when rolling 12d6, it can take quite a while for a math-challenged individual to add up the dice, even ignoring BOD. "Group in 10s" only works if you have an intuitive grasp of which groups sum to 10. Match 6 to 4? OK. But 2 3s and 2 2s? Not so much for the math challenged.

 

On possibility towards both this and volatile damage is to set some number of DCs (say 3) to be rolled, and the rest are standard effect (and that means, for me, 3.5 per d6, so the character's averages are not eroded). So a 12d6 Blast does [9 x 3.5 = 31.5, round to] 32 + 3d6 STUN and 9 + 3d6 BOD.

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Similarly, if the players are willing to forgo the chance to roll exceptionally high, they could purchase some or all their powers as Standard Effects.

Alternatively, the GM could simply declare as a house rule that characters may take the Standard Effect result in lieu of rolling in order to speed up gameplay. That way that can still choose to roll if they need a better result than Standard Effect gives in order to succeed.

If using either option, it would behoove the GM to calculate the Standard Effect results of their powers in advance, and have the players note them on their sheet.

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Meanwhile, I've made progress in my question of "average damage," for the sake of balancing combats, and I came up with a program that accepts the attacker's OCV, SPD, the damage class of an attack and an optional stun modifier if that's a killing attack, a defender's DCV, CON, and relevant defense in both regular and resistant forms, and it calculates:

  • Probability the attacker hits,
  • How many hits on average the attacker should land per turn,
  • Damage inflicted on average, both per attack and per turn, from a normal attack,
  • Chance the defender would be Stunned per normal attack,
  • Chances the defender wouldn't take BODY or STUN from the normal attack,
  • Damage inflicted on average, both per attack and per turn, from a killing attack,
  • Chance the defender would be Stunned per killing attack, and
  • Chance the defender wouldn't take BODY or STUN from the killing attack.

I have it running in a standalone Swift app (obviously I'm using a Mac), but the standalone Java app is an eventual target for which I have Netbeans locked and loaded. I wonder if people might actually want something like that, either as a standalone Java applet running alongside the other Hero Games product, or if it could be introduced as a plug-in.

 

...

 

I bring this up because I have to admit a deep sinking in my heart when I first saw this thread. I know of the type of players you folks speak, but owing to my own understanding of the game's probabilities and maths, I have some trouble putting myself in that frame of mind. People who can't add or even make groups of tens with a fistful of d6s? Yeah, I know people who literally couldn't do the math on advantages and limitations to save their lives, but I know at least one person who can and has who picked it up having seen nothing earlier than 6th edition, and I know that people who played it back then (myself included) could do all that with scrap paper — calculators could get expensive for students, and Java hadn't even been invented then, so no Hero Designer.

 

I wrote in a comment on someone's website once that "The original RPGs are capable of running on the same hardware today as they could back then, or they would be if the modern processors didn't have less capacity and were prone to overheating." It was kind of a joke at first. Now I'm not so sure. Clearly given the above, I have to admit I'm not normal, but there's this nagging feeling that some folks are settled in at the other end of the curve and won't budge for nothin'. I lurrrves me some modern story games (I'm currently also running a Gumshoe game that's displaced my Fate game), but I keep coming back to this one. (And I want to run a GURPS campaign at the local store, but that's a story for another time.)

 

Math isn't some sort of genetic gift, like the ability to digest dairy or lick your eyebrows. It's a skill, like playing the guitar or reading bookcase assembly instructions, and that means it can be learned and developed. Or neglected. And hiding from it falls into the latter category. So does running from it screaming. Please note, it's not my intention to denigrate those who can't learn basic math skills. Not having the skill, though, is not the same as not being able to learn it.

 

I feel I should also warn against sanding off too many of the game's sharp edges for new players. Do that too often, and you're left with something far less than you started. I mean, cripes! That's how we ended up with Fuzion!

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First off, while math is a skill that can be developed, there are natural aspects to your ability to learn it as well.  For some people it is a lot more difficult to develop than for other (like any other skill...I consider myself to be quite capable of learning, but foreign languages are a weak spot for me)

 

One REAL simple thing to do is to change the attack roll (kind of)

 

Write OCV as (11+OCV).  So if OCV is 9 you would write it as 20-

 

Then you subtract the 3d6 roll, this becomes the Max DCV you hit.  Make a note of what "1/2 DCV" means...ie 1/2 dcv=-5

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