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Re-entering the hardbound, store-centric model

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Given the amount of superhero movies prevalent nowadays (as well as the associated marketing), is HERO planning any sort of reemergence into the game store marketplace?

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On 11/1/2018 at 7:36 PM, justdan70 said:

It's sort of sad to go into my favorite game shop and not see new Hero/Champions product on the shelf.

 

I miss the old days of 4th Edition having a new sourcebook almost monthly...

 

Couldn't agree more. I remember going into the local shop and grabbing everything I could for Hero. 

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The economics of stores in the current period, aren't conducive to static  inventory.   After the rise of CCG's sucked most of the disposable cash out of the Game store patron's pockets, the tabletop RPG commensurately shrank, and the rise of consoles and capable  computers, started to take over mind share.  Before hardbacks can be on store shelves, there needs to be a demand for them that will satisfy the store owner's that his order will sell. Before there are hardbacks on store shelves, a demand must be created.

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45 minutes ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Before there are hardbacks on store shelves, a demand must be created.

 

Given that there is the belief that tabletop RPGs are going stronger than ever in terms of number of participants, you'd think the demand would be there. Perhaps it is the medium (paper books) rather than the activity (roleplaying) that has fallen out of favor today?

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47 minutes ago, zslane said:

 

Given that there is the belief that tabletop RPGs are going stronger than ever in terms of number of participants, you'd think the demand would be there. Perhaps it is the medium (paper books) rather than the activity (roleplaying) that has fallen out of favor today?

I think it's more like the Twitter effect. in that there are a few loud voices and celebrities that have engaged in the activity, making it seem more in the public eye, but that in terms of real numbers, it's not all that common, yet.  Much like twitter mobs consisting of tiny amounts of the population forcing companies into "Getting woke", and then  allowing said companies to "Go broke", because the Twitter mob isn't the core customer base of the product or service, The celebrities playing D&D are seen as "cool" on YouTube, but in reality, most of the game stores are still mostly card shops and D&D manuals and D&D miniatures.. Formerly popular games liek the "Star Wars" ship battle game, and Warhammer seemed to have evaporated at least locally. Now it's just Magic, and Yugi-Oh.

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When I was getting back into playing HERO after a good decade or so break I called some local games shops looking for 6th edition books.  Not a single store carried any products and one had never even heard if HERO/Champions.

 

I was frankly shocked that the game I love had so little mindshare anymore.  I would love to see some books on shelves...we live in the era of super hero movies and the best super hero RPG deserves to shine now more than ever.

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6 hours ago, sentry0 said:

When I was getting back into playing HERO after a good decade or so break I called some local games shops looking for 6th edition books.  Not a single store carried any products and one had never even heard if HERO/Champions.

 

I was frankly shocked that the game I love had so little mindshare anymore.  I would love to see some books on shelves...we live in the era of super hero movies and the best super hero RPG deserves to shine now more than ever.

 

Sadly, this is true. But these days it is probably more important to have a strong internet presence. We need to find a way to get the word out online. DriveThruRPG has most of the books available these days, including the 6e1 and 6e2 volumes. It is a great resource to get the books to people affordably. But I think the days of the FLGS being our source for news and information about games is nearly gone.

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3 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

Sadly, this is true. But these days it is probably more important to have a strong internet presence. We need to find a way to get the word out online. DriveThruRPG has most of the books available these days, including the 6e1 and 6e2 volumes. It is a great resource to get the books to people affordably. But I think the days of the FLGS being our source for news and information about games is nearly gone.

 

Agreed, in a perfect world there would be both but if I had to choose I would say the interwebs is where it's at with the kids these days.

 

Not like I have a vote or anything but it's fun to dream of a day when HERO is a known and recognized player :)

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9 hours ago, sentry0 said:

 

Agreed, in a perfect world there would be both but if I had to choose I would say the interwebs is where it's at with the kids these days.

 

Not like I have a vote or anything but it's fun to dream of a day when HERO is a known and recognized player :)

 

It'a amazing to think about how much it influenced gaming back in the early '80s, and now it's an afterthought. It used to be that everyone knew and played the game in some form. I just don't understand why it's lost popularity, even as comics have become much more popular and widespread in the culture. Do we blame video games for that?

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You don't understand why it has lost popularity? Well, it doesn't help that you can't purchase it through Amazon Prime. It doesn't help that it isn't being marketed, advertised, or evangelized by its publisher. It doesn't help that it gets no official supplemental material from its publisher. It doesn't help that there is no organized convention play (like there is for D&D or Pathfinder). In short, there is absolutely zero effort or resources put into improving the game's penetration into the RPG marketplace. Lost popularity is a natural consequence of all these (and other) factors. What other outcome can we reasonably expect?

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5 hours ago, zslane said:

You don't understand why it has lost popularity? Well, it doesn't help that you can't purchase it through Amazon Prime. It doesn't help that it isn't being marketed, advertised, or evangelized by its publisher. It doesn't help that it gets no official supplemental material from its publisher. It doesn't help that there is no organized convention play (like there is for D&D or Pathfinder). In short, there is absolutely zero effort or resources put into improving the game's penetration into the RPG marketplace. Lost popularity is a natural consequence of all these (and other) factors. What other outcome can we reasonably expect?

 

Fair enough. What I should have said is I don't understand why it decreased in popularity and influence at the time that other games maintained and increased their own. This happened long before Amazon Prime. Even in the beginning it wasn't marketed all that much when compared to most other games. By the time 4e came around and there was a lot of support material, it got the reputation as being too "crunchy" and all that stuff. GURPS was recognized as an equivalent system, but it had the monster marketing machine of Steve Jackson behind it, and seemed to win the edition wars for people looking for universal systems. By this time, the influence Champions began to decline, and the other games (Fantasy Hero, Danger International, etc.) just didn't carry as much of a market share. Again, at a time when it was recognized as the leading superhero game, and as comics became more predominant, it just didn't have the "juice" to interest people who weren't already interested in it. I feel like they've basically been selling all the same books to all the same people who were invested in it since the first edition. Each new edition seems to have had the exact same demographic, only a decade older than when they all bought the previous edition. That's why these forums are populated by all the same people who started with the game in the '80s: it seems like nobody new ever learned the game. I'm always a little bit (cynically) surprised when someone new joins the forums and says they're learning the game for the first time. I want to ask them all where in the world did they come across it?

 

Anyway, your reasons for it disappearing are correct. I'm just a little baffled as to how Champions' reputation and legacy dwindled even as it was releasing new editions and selling tons of books.

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49 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

it doesn't help that the rules are rapidly becoming an encyclopedia, even if we _didn't_ live in a world where soundbites are considered to be actual information.

 

Heh. I missed 3rd through 5th editions, and even came to 6e about 10 years late. In all honesty, I am a fan of the huge encyclopedias because I prefer to read examples about rules interpretations on my own rather than start a forum that ends out sparking a month-long debate where no answers are actually produced! :stupid: 

 

Heh. I kid. Sort of . . .

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

GURPS was recognized as an equivalent system, but it had the monster marketing machine of Steve Jackson behind it, and seemed to win the edition wars for people looking for universal systems.

 

As I think back on the 80s and 90s, when the so-called edition wars were going on between Hero and GURPS, I feel that the main advantage GURPS had going for it was the steady stream of genre and setting books that were made available on pretty much a monthly basis. No matter what you were interested in, chances were there was a GURPS book for it. That made it a very attractive system for gamers who liked to jump around from genre to genre, or mix them together. Yes, the Hero System can do the same thing mechanically, but its support material didn't make that fact nearly as apparent to the marketplace as GURPS did. And, of course, GURPS has remained with its original publisher the whole time, a publisher I might add who appears committed to releasing material for the system until the day he dies.

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I think they should look into doing more kickstarters for updated versions of the 6e books and/or Champions Complete. 

 

I think Paizo has the correct model for the business.  HERO should do the same for Champions but not Fantasy Hero (as most fantasy supplements from other games can and will undermine FH sales).  I think the Champions line has such a strong following and presence in the market place as to dominate the market place.

  • Create and publish the core books then add supplemental books to drive the market and keep the game relevant and alive.  
    • Publish Core books with corrections as need demands.  Keep stock low but available or possibly only print once every 10 years or so after older used stock gets beaten up by their owners.
    • Publish modules in an overall arc, then bind the arc to make an adventure path with some new material.
    • Create a pre-painted miniatures line for the adventure path.  Random blisters pack can include well known existing Champions villains and NPCs.
    • Create printed poster sized maps for the adventures.
  • Support a community of gamers to keep games being played and standardized. (i.e. Pathfinder society)

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2 hours ago, dsatow said:

I think they should look into doing more kickstarters for updated versions of the 6e books and/or Champions Complete. 

 

I think Paizo has the correct model for the business.  HERO should do the same for Champions but not Fantasy Hero (as most fantasy supplements from other games can and will undermine FH sales).  I think the Champions line has such a strong following and presence in the market place as to dominate the market place.

  • Create and publish the core books then add supplemental books to drive the market and keep the game relevant and alive.  
    • Publish Core books with corrections as need demands.  Keep stock low but available or possibly only print once every 10 years or so after older used stock gets beaten up by their owners.
    • Publish modules in an overall arc, then bind the arc to make an adventure path with some new material.
    • Create a pre-painted miniatures line for the adventure path.  Random blisters pack can include well known existing Champions villains and NPCs.
    • Create printed poster sized maps for the adventures.
  • Support a community of gamers to keep games being played and standardized. (i.e. Pathfinder society)

 

 

To be fair, pretty much all the successful and popular games do the same.  D&D5th, Modiphius has 5 or 6 RPG's, Savage World and Chaosium is on the way back though without the miniatures.  And there are many others.

 

But you actually left out one of the key factors on why their games are exploding in popularity.   The ability for anyone to create an adventure or supplement without need of a specific contract.  All the currently successful games have some version of an OGL or a "here are the guidelines and you can sell your creation as long as you meet them".   D&D 5th has their "DM Guild" for example. 

 

They also realize that the concept of "GM's only like to run their own settings adventures and will not buy pre-built settings and adventures" is utterly false.

 

The true statement is "GM's really prefer to run their own settings adventures but usually wind up using pre-built settings and adventures, except a lucky few."

 

D&D 5th and Pathfinder adventure books are constantly selling.  And not just those from WotC or Paizo, but the 3rd party adventures are also in demand.  The D&D 5th adventure books sell out every week, and I don't mean just the new one, but my FLGS finds it hard to any of them in stock.

 

I personally like home-brews far more than bought adventures, but due to little pesky things like real life I have run and played far more bought material in the last ten years than anything created by me or a friend.

 

While I fully acknowledge I am not privy to company details, in a general sense this is what I would do.

 

1) Release a Quickstart.  Basic rules, pregenerated PC's and a small adventure.  Notice there is no mention of character generation.  This is the biggest mental block/blindspot of Hero and Hero fandom.  Character creation rules are not playing the game.  Yes they are a great part of the Hero system.  But they are NOT playing the game.  A Champions Quickstart, a Fantasy Quickstart and so on.  Something that will showcase the game for people that have never played and walk a "I have never GM'd before" GM through the scenario for the "I have never played an RPG before" players.  The D&D 5th and the PF both have starter boxes that show polished versions. 

 

2) Release a setting book around a city.  Hero already has them, but they need to be paired down from the "super information overload" versions that Hero became famous for.  The existing books are WAY over detailed.  Also, you must have a map.  An actual usable city map that you can see and read the names of the streets.  For modern settings like Champions the Hudson City color map is perfect and always gets compliments.  I would love to use Vibora Bay, but never had time to build the map that does not exist.  For Fantasy just look at WotC/Paizo and their cities for inspiration.

 

3) Start with one well written multi-scenario adventure per supported line a year (similar to Adventure Paths, Plot Points, etc.) with a minimum of 6 parts.  More and bigger as time goes on.

 

4) Unleash the fandom with a version of OGL or similar that allows them to create and sell PDF adventures.  Looking at WotC D&D 5th OGL and DM Guild differences are a perfect set up.  Reserve larger and hard-copy products for traditional licenses.  But an RPG gets popular when people PLAY it and have fun.  Get the game out there.  

 

5) Reformat the product to appear like it was published after the 1800's.  The rules are good.  There is no need for yet another tweak.  But there is absolutely nothing that will make it leap off the shelf.  The cover was OK, but the old school black and white textbook look prompts 99% of current gamers to put it back on the shelf. 

 

In the end the target audience is not the people on this forum, it is the gamer that is not a Hero player.  The Herophile that is on the "I only play my original material and all the current fantasy settings are lame" program is not going to do anything for Hero, once they buy the one rulebook and they are done. 

It is time to attract the mainstream tabletop gamer that routinely plays pre-generated adventures because they have pesky things like jobs or families and such with the associated lack of spare time. 

 

Simple adventures such as a series of robberies by a small group of super-thieves.  Simple, teaches the system and can be literally dropped into any kind of campaign or game.  Ensure the villains are also "generic" enough to fit into any game.  Leave the "cool" and "unique" weirdness to the GM's out there that are inspired.   

 

A simple fantasy adventure where the PC track down goblins that have been raiding local villages.

 

In the end the target audience is not the majority of the people on this forum.  That majority have already bought the rulebook and have pontificated for years about how they will never buy anything again.  After all they do not buy pre-built "insert product of choice" because real GM's don't buy pre-built products.  So once they have the rulebook, what is left?

 

So they are a wash.

 

Time to get the players and GM's that are constantly buying those same evil pre-built adventures week in and week out. 

 

It is time to realize that it is 2019 and that the conclusions reached in the late 90's early 2000's are 20 years out of date.

 

For proof?  WotC, Paizo, Pelgrane, Chaosium, Modiphius, Troll Lord and Evil Hat just to scratch the surface. 

Settings and Adventures. 

Settings and Adventures.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Spence One thing I would add (and been saying for awhile) is have some of the adventures kid friendly. 

 

 

 

Definitely this!

 

Not saying "everything must be such-and-such;"  But there should definitely_ be some kid / family friendly adventures.

 

Right now, I've got two groups set in the home-brew campaign background my original group fleshed out starting in '82. (Yeah; I'm old).  We were younger, and had time and energy to spare.  Those groups right now are pretty much an "autopilot" set-up: we all know the setting intimately, and everyone an help initiate the occasional (and rare) new guy get acclimated.  Stamping out villains and plots is super-easy, because I know what they like, what they expect, and when and how to toss them a surprise  ("Wait a damned minute.  Are you saying this ancient Aztec emperor they've been struggling to bring back to life is....  a LUCHADOR?!  What the Hell, Man?!")

 

The youth group-- the fun lark I got conned into (and have thoroughly enjoyed)-- that's stinkin' _hard_, Dude.  I haven't been a kid in a long, long time, and I find it's actually become difficult to keep things from getting...  stabby.  You know: underhanded deals, over-sophisticated plots, and truly twisted lunatics as villains.  Don't get me wrong: I don't run a grim and gritty anything, but have spent a few decades running for _grownups_.  I find myself getting just a bit too "Spongebob" with the youth group, and am working my butt off in my very little spare time trying to find something in that "sweet spot" of family-friendly but not childish.

 

In my prime, I would have mocked anyone telling me that I would one day say this, but the fact is I would stack up some pre-generated pre-published family-friendly material right now, just to reduce my workload and the strain of keeping it where it needs to be.

 

 

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2 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Spence One thing I would add (and been saying for awhile) is have some of the adventures kid friendly. 

 

A very good point.  I am a cranky old f....er...fart and don't deal with kids often so they are not really on my radar.  But I know a lot of those who do. 

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