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Jerrod Owex

Physical Books?

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On 12/8/2017 at 10:24 AM, zslane said:

My experience with (what would become) the Hero System began in 1982 with Champions 2nd edition, back when it was extremely readable, and profoundly shorter in length. It was a pleasure to read from cover to cover, to be honest. Then again, I came from a background in wargaming where reading a rulebook was a source of pleasure, not a chore. Still, for most RPGers circa 1982, accustomed to the combined length of the AD&D PHB and DMG, Champions was almost miniscule by comparison. Even the 4th edition BBB was incredibly readable and a joy to pour through cover to cover, despite its imposing size (for its time).


However I feel all that changed with 5th edition, and its dense, bloated, and over-specified presentation only got worse with 6th edition. The Complete books bring the system back to a much more digestible form, and they deserve a lot of credit for bringing some sense back to the brand. Unfortunately, a lot of newcomers feel they must have the ~800 pages of 6E1/6E2 to get the "complete" game system, making their lives needlessly difficult. If only Hero Games would just dump 6E1/6E2 from the product line all together and replace them with a single system reference volume (SRV), streamlined and written in the same readable style as the Complete books, I think the system would be much better off.


I started with RPGs in general in 1983, with Traveller and Champions being the two that started me running games. The rule sets from that time tend to be extremely light, and the assumption was that it was up to the GM to arbitrate anything that might not be described in the rules. Hero 4th unified the various flavors of Hero gaming, but was still a relatively slim volume. That's primarily because it was a toolkit, and it required some advance preparation on the part of the GM and players to work out what rules were appropriate for their game setting.* What zslane is lamenting is a move away from the older system of allowing the GM and players to work out edge cases for themselves. 5e and 5er started the rule book bloat, where much of the text was dedicated to edge cases and the "proper" way to handle them.** 6e has carried this to an extreme in the main rule volumes (and the APGs), and that makes the rule choices an extremely difficult chore. It also means that there's a ton of stuff that has to be waded through that won't have anything to do with many games. The "complete" books are, as zslane notes, a much more readable presentation that's in the spirit of the older versions of the game, and one that I'd also love to see converted into a core system (or SRV as zslane said). 


*I generally run Fantasy Hero, so there are specific choices that I make when setting up my game world. That primarily means stripping out a lot of the stuff that's meant for Champions, and emphasizing rules that fit the genre.


**The proper way for me to run the game is to maximize the fun that we have at the gaming table. That means that any rule set is a base, but it's up to the GM and players to decide what works for them. 




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2 hours ago, Ternaugh said:

What zslane is lamenting is a move away from the older system of allowing the GM and players to work out edge cases for themselves.


Yes, very much so.


I always felt that the real beauty of the Hero System was that it provided a logical framework within which to easily interpolate a solution whenever an "edge case" came up. You didn't need the rulebook to explicitly cover every possibility because its flexible and logical architecture gave you the tools to come up with your own rule (or mechanic) with the confidence of knowing it would be consistent and congruent with the rest of the game. But I guess too many players simply lacked the confidence to interpolate, and insisted on having as many of the edge cases as possible officially addressed. I feel this actually made the game less playable, not more, and dis-empowered players rather than empowered them, making them slaves to the rules text rather than to the rules architecture.

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Let’s not forget both GM and player experience too. As a GM I had a player challenge a rule (which was in the book). Yes players should be more mature but having a rule In black in white can be better. Also from a players side. How many GM make a bad ruling? Some of course are unintentional but still. And now come to another question. What determines an edge case? What might be an edge case in my game may come up fairly often in yours.  As with many things, there is probably no singular reason why there are more rules.

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Edge cases are, by definition, situations for which the rules/mechanics do not provide an explicit answer to the question, "How do we resolve this?" There is probably no better example of the Hero System's attempt to put edge-case management in the hands of players than Special Effects. It is a powerful abstraction meant to gloss over a million fine details that would needlessly complicate the game and slow down play if addressed with explicit mechanics. You can see how the current generation of players have drifted away from the use of this handy tool by the predominance of example power write-ups that attempt to encode everything to a very fine level of granularity (via Advantages and Limitations) rather than allow Special Effect to handle the "chrome" in a less detailed, formal manner.


The Hero System demands quite a bit from its players, both in terms of maturity and a solid grasp of logic/math. It is also hellishly hard to GM well. The game is not for everyone. If a GM is routinely making bad rulings with the Hero System, then he or she probably shouldn't be GMing the Hero System (if they are routinely making bad rulings no matter the system, then they should probably let someone else GM all together). If a GM is only occasionally making a bad ruling, well, that's just part of GMing, and that gets better with experience. Mature players will just roll with it (no pun intended) and allow the game to proceed with a minimum of fuss. If you don't have mature players, then there's nothing the rules can really do to help with that; even with 6E's massive corpus of rules there is more than enough room for arguments over interpretation; only now there are about a thousand more things to argue over than before.

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