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dsatow

Re-entering the hardbound, store-centric model

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6 hours ago, Spence said:

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. 

Yeah like my own kids. ? 

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First off, I don't think we disagree too much.  So while this might look like I am countering your arguments, I understand most of your arguments

 

On 1/11/2019 at 10:30 PM, Spence said:

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. 

Actually, I am not a lawyer and there may be valid reasons they don't do this (I unfortunately have had to proofread those silly software license documents - you know the ones you guys ignore when you click I accept).  I do know they have very lenient contracts for publishing HERO content and the contract use to be easily obtainable.  The problem I see here is that unless the core producer is producing product, auxiliary companies can't make suitable profit from selling accessories.  

 

But I really am not disagreeing this point with you just stating that there may be reasons.  I think that while the rules can be contract bound, they should let the characters made by the rules be OGL.  Think of it like using a compiler for a computer.  If you want to sell the compiler you have to sign legal contracts, but the software made from the compiler is free to distribute as your own work.  So if someone like say Marvel wanted to release Avengers in HERO, so long as they don't introduce rules into module, I would say, let them.  If they want to release Conan the Barbarian in HERO, let them.

 

On 1/11/2019 at 10:30 PM, Spence said:

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.

 

Actually, I've found this to be different with HERO.  Unlike other game systems with possibly the exception of GURPS, even when GMs use the company provided setting, HERO campaigns tend to veer away from published settings very quickly.  This is I believe one of the strengths with HERO over the competition.  You don't want VIPER in your campaign, simple, remove them.  Take what you want and leave the rest.  In Pathfinder or D&D, if you don't like goblins or orcs, you can reskin them but you can't really get rid of them in most of the modules.  Try reducing magic items in the game setting and you have to jump through hoops or the game becomes really lopsided in the monsters favor.

 

This isn't to say that the adventure arcs shouldn't be done.  I think the adventure arcs are very useful and would be in demand.  But they need to be crafted in a way to be useful to those people not running the adventure as a locked set. (see below when I respond to your points 2 and 3).

 

On 1/11/2019 at 10:30 PM, Spence said:

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. 

 

I want to agree but my brain tells me to say no.  One of the reasons I think the HERO system is so enticing is the custom crafting of your hero.  If you have 6 players, and 4 want to play a tank, if they are all alike they will miss out on part of the reason HERO is better than a lot of the competition.  But I do agree with a quickstart or beginners box and I think the way to do this is to have no frameworks and with something like Champions Powers but all set to a common power level like say 12DC.  So you can have the Fire Blast for 40, 50, or 60 active points.  And Fireball for 40, 50, or 60 active points.  Or super strength at 30, 40, or 50 active points.  

 

On 1/11/2019 at 10:30 PM, Spence said:

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.

 

I'd probably merge these to points into one.  I agree that Hero's products lately are information overload and probably should be broken out of one source book. (I think it's probably because the earlier source books did so well that they overdid it.)  As an example, let's take Vibora Bay.  Vibora Bay could be the setting for a large adventure arc. 

  1. The first module might be stopping some of the paranormal gangs in a war on the streets of Vibora Bay.  It would give you the layout of Vibora Bay and its map as well as the details of the hotspots of Vibora Bay.
  2. The second module might introduce Black Mask and Black's Mask's history when an old villain is back in a new form causes problems.  It would introduce some new NPCs, organizations, a locales in Vibora Bay.  Since this module's problems originates in the past of Black Mask, it would serve to enlighten players on the historical perspective of the city.
  3. The third module  might be a political one with a corrupt and possibly super powered politician.  It would introduce how the city is run and maybe the criminal underworld elements.  More and different locales in Vibora Bay would be explored.  Government and governmental organizations, media organizations, well to do areas of the city, etc.
  4. The fourth module would start out like the other 3, but this time the big bad is introduced.  The BB is the one who backed the villains in the other 3.  The module would be an ambush of the heroes.  Something difficult due to a prepared villain but not insurmountable.  More city locations might be explored, areas not explored in the first three modules because the BB already has a base of power there.
  5. The fifth and final module would be the fight against the BB with their elite forces.  Final information would be other jumping off points and anything not covered in the previous books.
On 1/11/2019 at 10:30 PM, Spence said:

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. 

 

I agree production values need to be there.  I would suggest color but I think one of the reasons they don't do color is because it increases the cost of the gamble in producing the book.  What they should do is introduce cool art even if its black and white.  If you look at the first half of GAC6e, it's background material. A little too much background material as you noted earlier, but I have a problem with the art.  It looks like all the art is copyright free art from the era.  I think this is a loss.  While probably cheap and easy to insert into the text, all it adds is ambiance.  It doesn't inspire you to play the game.  Better would have been comic book black and white art of the characters in action that they have from the back of the book. As an example, in GAC6e p10, they have a picture of a poster for women to work in factories.  Just for reference, pgs 7-15 are all about the comics industry in this era (side note, I think the chapter shouldn't have been in the book).  The picture doesn't even relate to the chapter.  Change this to a drawing of the cover of a 40s comic of Captain Patriot fighting Sturmvogel would have been much better.  The cost of an image is a one time cost while the cost of color pages is an ongoing cost.  

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On 1/13/2019 at 7:29 PM, dsatow said:

First off, I don't think we disagree too much.  So while this might look like I am countering your arguments, I understand most of your arguments

 

Also not arguing ? But I don't think I really clarified myself very well on a few points. 

 

Also I have no idea how to make this forum break up a long quote into sections.  Its the old in me.  So I will manually insert the items I want to quote below :think:

 

Quote

  I do know they have very lenient contracts for publishing HERO content and the contract use to be easily obtainable.  The problem I see here is that unless the core producer is producing product, auxiliary companies can't make suitable profit from selling accessories

 

Here I believe I was really unclear with my example. D&D has three basic ways to publish support material for their RPG. 

1. Standard Licensing

2. OGL

3. DMs Guild

They actually have a matrix on the general differences between OGL and DM's Guild.

 

Their OGL is pretty standard and allows you to use the 5th Ed rules to publish and sell your own unique world/setting/adventure.  But your cannot directly use any of their published material, such as Sword Coast, Waterdeep or Monster Manual entries.  In a broad sense you can use the SRD stuff but not the color or defined creatures/treasure/setting material.

 

DMs Guild is different.  You can use pretty much all of the setting material, monsters, classes etc.  But you can only sell it as a PDF on the DMs Guild site and must conform to the format requirements.  You retain the IP of your original material, and they retain the IP for theirs.  They also may approach you to purchase material that is really good to incorporate into the main IP.  They also get a small slice of the profit form each sale.

 

So Bob the gamer has the opportunity to create content without the need to commit to a formal license.  Mainline D&D players can easily create a short adventure in the existing D&D world and sell on the DMs Guild site to test the waters.  Is my stuff really as great as I think it is.  The caveat of WotC being able to buy it from you pretty much eliminates full blown campaigns on DM Guild, but does all initial entry.

 

OGL is OGL and requires you to be completely unique and not use any setting related material. 

 

An agreed license has requirements.  Time lines, costs, legal guarantees, etc.  It is a contract.  It might be completely super reasonable.   But it is a secret, you do not know what they entail until you enter into negotiations.  Which is fine for people in the industry and is 100% the way to go for serious projects.

 

But WotC apparently decided they didn't want to deal with small content items.  But they also realized that their is a market so they have established a pipeline to allow others to make them while maintaining control and getting a small slice of the profit for basically no effort on their part. 

Players and DM's get access to a lot of low cost material and WotC gets a few cents to a couple dollars each. I just looked at the DMs Guild and filtered to Adventures.  There are 2462 as of this post for D&D.   That does not include WotC material or licensed material.

 

Champions/Hero System on Drive Through only has 74 items listed under Adventure and most are not actually adventures Hudson City, the campaign setting that doesn't actually have any adventures.  NPCs, organization info, and some plot hooks.  But no adventures.   What adventures there are, are for Pulp Hero or mostly older editions.  You can't filter for edition, but less than 10 are for the current edition. 

 

Quote

Actually, I've found this to be different with HERO.  Unlike other game systems with possibly the exception of GURPS, even when GMs use the company provided setting, HERO campaigns tend to veer away from published settings very quickly.  This is I believe one of the strengths with HERO over the competition.  You don't want VIPER in your campaign, simple, remove them.  Take what you want and leave the rest. 

 

Not wrong, but the current, ever shrinking Herodom fan base isn't the target.  Yes, the established Hero player has their rule book.  But what else do they need?  Nothing.  One sale and done.  A person who has not seen the game before does not have anything to deviate from in the first place.  Viper?  There is a organization book.  But no adventure.  There was Vipers Nest in the early editions and we have all played it.  But Champs Complete has the write ups of The Champions and a few Villains.  But no adventure.   It isn't a case of "You don't want VIPER in your campaign, simple, remove them".  Rather "remove them from what".  There is not a playable campaign organized for novices to run Viper.  There is a 5th Edition organization book for Viper (which also does not include an actual adventure) that you can convert.  But a novice to Hero buys the current edition Champions Complete and discovers that the majority of material available has to be converted first???

 

Quote

I want to agree but my brain tells me to say no.  One of the reasons I think the HERO system is so enticing is the custom crafting of your hero.  If you have 6 players, and 4 want to play a tank, if they are all alike they will miss out on part of the reason HERO is better than a lot of the competition.

 

Yes the current 150 active Hero gamers....err 149....148... ?  Semi Joking here...

 

But on the serious side, yes that is the priority of the majority of people here.  Most of them are the same ones for years or decades.  But for that slice of gamerdom, once they but a copy of Champs Complete, they are done buying. 

 

The target needs to be the vast sea of casual gamers that are flocking to the "lame" and "derivative" works that everyone here shows disdain for, and yet out sells Hero products by magnitudes. 

 

Quote

But I do agree with a quickstart or beginners box and I think the way to do this is to have no frameworks and with something like Champions Powers but all set to a common power level like say 12DC.  So you can have the Fire Blast for 40, 50, or 60 active points.  And Fireball for 40, 50, or 60 active points.  Or super strength at 30, 40, or 50 active points. 

 Exactly.

 

Quote

I'd probably merge these to points into one.  I agree that Hero's products lately are information overload and probably should be broken out of one source book. (I think it's probably because the earlier source books did so well that they overdid it.)  As an example, let's take Vibora Bay.  Vibora Bay could be the setting for a large adventure arc.  -snip-

 

Yes yes yes.  Do what Pathfinder does.  Publish each adventure and then later put out a combined "Campaign Book" that puts them all into a hardback with full art and a extra chapter on GMing it as a campaign.  The Rise of the Runelords came out in 2007 and people still order it. 

 

Quote

I agree production values need to be there  -snip-

 

Pretty much...yep.  The thing is that Champions Complete does not need a rewrite.  It needs a new layout and format.  People here that already own CC or 6th Ed vol 1&2 are not going to buy it.  In fact people here are the slice of gamers that really don't buy anything from Hero anymore.  We have the rulebook, we can make it all. 

 

The target needs to be the guy holding CC in one hand and D&D's PHB or the Pathfinder Core in the other.  Which are they going to take up to the register.  When CC released and was available in general distribution, I covered/donated three copies for my FLGS. 

 

For the next couple of years...

Customer picks it up.  Puts it back.  Moves on.

When they did carry it to the counter they would ask a few questions.  The store staff would talk it up. If I was there I'd do the same with some information.  And then the "Question of Death".   They would ask "What kind of adventures are out?" followed by "Oh it's new, what are the planned releases?" Followed by a surprised "It's been out since the 80's?" and then "Adventures need to be converted from previous versions, really?". 

 

In a three year period, one sold and I now have two extra copies. 

 

Yes, the current players that frequent this board are committed to designing their own cool stuff.  

 

But they are not the target. 

The target is the new player that is scooping up D&D 5th, Pathfinder, Starfinder, Conan, Star Trek and on and on. 

 

Champions/Hero rules have been hammered and squeezed down until there is nothing left to alter.  There absolutely nothing to be gained from yet another iteration.  What Champs/Hero needs to present a reason to play it. 

 

To catch the eye and get the players into a flashing super battle. 

 

Or a rousing adventure with the Heroes saving the village from the goblin horde.

 

Or SOMETHING to ignite the prospective players creativity and wish to use Hero.  

 

Everyday I watch $60 RPG books leave the shelf.  A LOT of adventures and a never ending rotation of RPG games.  

When someone does ask about Champs they normally already have their books and if someone does ask about getting a copy, the store recommends ordering direct from Hero.  My FLGS's primary distributor is the local GTS (no shipping because they can drive there in 30 minutes) and their secondary is Alliance because they can get virtually anything not carried by GTS.  They cannot justify opening and maintaining a new account for the purpose of a single item.  And I already have multiple copies of the books and pretty much everything 4th, 5th and 6th edition.  I will spring for new material, but I just can no longer buy items just to buy.  Heck that was what CC was.  I also have most (all?) of the third party material/adventures.  But none of it is suitable for a teaching game.  Great for experienced teams and I have folded them into my games, at least a few years back I did.  But as an intro to supers adventures they are not the easiest to use, and for a novice Hero GM/player they can be daunting. 

 

Simple, introductory, playable. 

 

What is boring or blase for a veteran player can be new and exciting for a new player. 

D&D's Curse of Strahd and Storm Kings Thunder were basically updates of old adventures, Ravensloft has been retooled for multiple editions.  And yet it was new and exciting as Curse of Strahd for the current generation of players.

 

Well now I am preaching. 

Time to stop trying to hold back the dike with my pinkie :blink:

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I think we are pretty much in agreement, but I still think licensing isn't a problem if the people who own the property do not produce widely available commercial products.  The Kickstarters are nice (though overly written) but they do not have as much impact as a store placed product.

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Pretty much.  But I do think a lot of opportunity is being missed.  In some aspects perception is actually more important or relevant than the truth. 

 

For example.  I have a couple scenarios I have run many times over the years.  I trot it out once the players have graduated to their "real" PCs.  Or after the pre-gen intro and they have played out their first build attempt. 

 

It is a short "crime spree" by GRAB.  If Hero had a version like the DM Guild.  I'd have formatted Crime Spree, added the latest version of GRAB and dropped it onto "Hero Guild" for $5.  I could use it to guage opinions on my writing style and adventure structure. 

 

The $ aren't really important to me at this point so Hero taking 50% or what have you wouldn't matter to me. 

 

But an adventure via an "official" you have to pay money to get it will allow me a metric.  From reviews as well as number of sales.  A two or three similar adventures will gather enough personal data for me to decide if I want to try a more ambitious project. 

 

It allows one to test the waters.

And Hero gets a % of each sale.

 

There are plenty of old hands on these forums that would be willing to throw up One Page or short arc adventures, but do not have the time or motivation to put out a full production 2019 style/quality Adventure Book.  You know, color, art, etc.

 

Anyway, a game that is played by gamers sells game books.  Games only attract new players by hype from people playing it. Right now in 2018/19 RPG play is driven by readily available adventures.  Yes, the bulk of the current playing Hero now people only use their own custom adventures and generally play in private (read invisible) game. But Hero needs NEW players.

 

Hero needs their rulebooks to POP, direct adventure support and a series of adventures for a regular "league" style play.  D&D simply ensures one of their Adventure books is available for sale each calendar period to be bought by the DM (sometimes the shop).  Modiphious and Pelgrane provide free adventures for their "League GMs". 

 

The key common denominator is that there is a pregenerated adventure for the GM to run.  Everu single time a GM has announced they were running a "league" or "organized play" game, regardless of system ( D&D, 13th Age, CoC, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.) their tables have been full and people buy the books.  I have personally run CoC, Star Trek and Conan, Fear Itself and Night Black Agents using their organized play or published adventures.  Everytime my table was filled to capacity and everyone bought the rulebook and more if available.  The key was many like to play, few like to run and those that will run have limited time.  I ran the games I did because I didn't have to create everything whole cloth.   I didn't need to digest  400 page setting book to figure out what I needed to know to build an intelligent adventure. 

 

A good organized play/league usable adventure is a micro-snapshot of the setting with pre-gens that can be used if desired.  But allows players to build PCs if the wish.  As a gm, one read through plus a glance at the pre-gens tells me exactly the guidance I will need to give to players if they are building their PCs. 

 

Most of the games I have run or played in recently have been these types.

 

They encourage and allow play by eliminating the need to design an adventure design. 

 

The FLGS RPG league/organized play engine, from the rigid semi-dictatorship of Pathfinder to the almost structureless Star Trek RPG organized play all accomplish the same thing.  Gets their games played at the table in a shop every week like clockwork with a regular cycle of new players that buy the books. 

 

People that PLAY willBUY.

 

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13 hours ago, Spence said:

Hero needs their rulebooks to POP, direct adventure support and a series of adventures for a regular "league" style play.  D&D simply ensures one of their Adventure books is available for sale each calendar period to be bought by the DM (sometimes the shop).  Modiphious and Pelgrane provide free adventures for their "League GMs".

 

The key common denominator is that there is a pregenerated adventure for the GM to run.  Everu single time a GM has announced they were running a "league" or "organized play" game, regardless of system ( D&D, 13th Age, CoC, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.) their tables have been full and people buy the books.  I have personally run CoC, Star Trek and Conan, Fear Itself and Night Black Agents using their organized play or published adventures.  Everytime my table was filled to capacity and everyone bought the rulebook and more if available.  The key was many like to play, few like to run and those that will run have limited time.  I ran the games I did because I didn't have to create everything whole cloth.   I didn't need to digest  400 page setting book to figure out what I needed to know to build an intelligent adventure. 

 

A good organized play/league usable adventure is a micro-snapshot of the setting with pre-gens that can be used if desired.  But allows players to build PCs if the wish.  As a gm, one read through plus a glance at the pre-gens tells me exactly the guidance I will need to give to players if they are building their PCs. . . .

 

People that PLAY willBUY.

 

 

This of course brings the conversation back around to how we could better teach HERO games to new players and GMs. I’ve brought this up so many times in other forums that I’ve stopped writing about it much, because I just end up banging my head against the stubborn wall of inertia with DOJ. But really, there needs to be a ”beginners box” of some sort that:

  • Provides a nice looking, eye catching, self-explanatory product on the flgs shelf.
  • Gives just enough of the rules to make the game playable. But with plenty of references to the other products and the larger toolbox that makes it tick. Don’t make them drink from the firehouse out of the box; but pique their curiosity and they’ll be hooked.
  • Make pre-gen characters and villains, again with just enough information to make them usable, but not the full write up of a 6e character sheet. Make it clear that character generation will come later once basic familiarity is built up (his could be a great way to integrate the new character creation cards . . .).
  • Give a new GM just enough of the 6e2 rules to lead a game. Don’t worry about all the options. Again, not a fire hose, but a drinking straw. Make plenty of references to all of the resources available to a GM once he gets his feet under him.
  • Provide more than one adventure. Not a whole campaign, not a whole setting, just several adventures. They could even be designed to cover different aspects of game play in a progressive way.

 

I know this won’t happen, but seriously, I’d be at my flgs every week running games for newbies if I had this sort of support to work with. Conventions would be a great setting for this approach too. Those “learn to play”sessions are always popular.

 

Take a look at Justice, Inc. Even the great Aaron Allston provided a quick “choose your own adventure” in the rules to run you through the use of the rules. And it was put in a box with a whole book of adventures and plot seeds. It’s a beautiful model that should have been reproduced with every single game. Of course, we can debate that this was only possible before the 4e rules, but I’m not convinced of this. If we boil down the 6e rules in the way I’m proposing, they’d look an awful lot like 3e in a box, with all the references needed to grow into a full 6e experience. 

 

If if I had a bit more time, and the blessing of DOJ in the way that Ron Edwards did to basically re-write the 3e rules, I’d run with it. But that darned inertia. Maybe I’d have a stronger argument to create a revised box set once he finishes his book. We’ll just have to wait and see. 

 

Ok, my head hurts from banging into this dang wall. 

 

[edit: why don’t the bullets ever work on the first try?]

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

This of course brings the conversation back around to how we could better teach HERO games to new players and GMs. I’ve brought this up so many times in other forums that I’ve stopped writing about it much, because I just end up banging my head against the stubborn wall of inertia with DOJ. But really, there needs to be a ”beginners box” of some sort that:

  • Provides a nice looking, eye catching, self-explanatory product on the flgs shelf.
  • Gives just enough of the rules to make the game playable. But with plenty of references to the other products and the larger toolbox that makes it tick. Don’t make them drink from the firehouse out of the box; but pique their curiosity and they’ll be hooked.
  • Make pre-gen characters and villains, again with just enough information to make them usable, but not the full write up of a 6e character sheet. Make it clear that character generation will come later once basic familiarity is built up (his could be a great way to integrate the new character creation cards . . .).
  • Give a new GM just enough of the 6e2 rules to lead a game. Don’t worry about all the options. Again, not a fire hose, but a drinking straw. Make plenty of references to all of the resources available to a GM once he gets his feet under him.
  • Provide more than one adventure. Not a whole campaign, not a whole setting, just several adventures. They could even be designed to cover different aspects of game play in a progressive way.

 

I know this won’t happen, but seriously, I’d be at my flgs every week running games for newbies if I had this sort of support to work with. Conventions would be a great setting for this approach too. Those “learn to play”sessions are always popular.

 

Take a look at Justice, Inc. Even the great Aaron Allston provided a quick “choose your own adventure” in the rules to run you through the use of the rules. And it was put in a box with a whole book of adventures and plot seeds. It’s a beautiful model that should have been reproduced with every single game. Of course, we can debate that this was only possible before the 4e rules, but I’m not convinced of this. If we boil down the 6e rules in the way I’m proposing, they’d look an awful lot like 3e in a box, with all the references needed to grow into a full 6e experience. 

 

If if I had a bit more time, and the blessing of DOJ in the way that Ron Edwards did to basically re-write the 3e rules, I’d run with it. But that darned inertia. Maybe I’d have a stronger argument to create a revised box set once he finishes his book. We’ll just have to wait and see. 

 

Ok, my head hurts from banging into this dang wall. 

 

[edit: why don’t the bullets ever work on the first try?]

 

I'm wondering if there is not an opportunity here for the community to step up and fill that gap.  

 

I'm working on a quick one shot Fantasy HERO adventure right now complete with pre-gens.  I would never claim to be the best GM  and the thought of putting myself out there in that way is intimidating for sure.  However, I would consider it if there was an actual demand for this type of thing.

 

When you look at the 800lbs Gorilla (D&D) you can find plenty if paid and free fan made adventures.  I would submit that HERO is so tiny these days that the paid option would not be feasible but free would work.  We even have a delivery mechanism available to us via this site and the download section.

 

If we're feeling really ambitious and there's real interest maybe a peer review forum could be requested.  That way aspiring authors could get feedback on their work before it's put up for download.

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

This of course brings the conversation back around to how we could better teach HERO games to new players and GMs. I’ve brought this up so many times in other forums that I’ve stopped writing about it much, because I just end up banging my head against the stubborn wall of inertia with DOJ. But really, there needs to be a ”beginners box” of some sort

 

 

-snip-

 

 

Ok, my head hurts from banging into this dang wall. 

 

Pretty much.

 

I had given up a couple years ago. 

 

But recently I just got irritated and started again.

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1 hour ago, sentry0 said:

 

I'm wondering if there is not an opportunity here for the community to step up and fill that gap.  

 

I'm working on a quick one shot Fantasy HERO adventure right now complete with pre-gens.  I would never claim to be the best GM  and the thought of putting myself out there in that way is intimidating for sure.  However, I would consider it if there was an actual demand for this type of thing.

 

When you look at the 800lbs Gorilla (D&D) you can find plenty if paid and free fan made adventures.  I would submit that HERO is so tiny these days that the paid option would not be feasible but free would work.  We even have a delivery mechanism available to us via this site and the download section.

 

If we're feeling really ambitious and there's real interest maybe a peer review forum could be requested.  That way aspiring authors could get feedback on their work before it's put up for download.

 

Yep.  But you need a combo. WotC has the perfect trinity.

 

DM Guild

OGL

Traditional License

 

The DM Guild is where the majority of those free and paid fan made adventures come from. 

 

The traditional license has fixed expectations and (more importantly) timelines. 

 

Both DM Guild & OGL do not have any expectations for the development/creation process.  The timeline itself is 100% yours.

 

As for starter scenarios, I have a Supers one I use that woukd fall directly under the WotC DM Guild guidelines.  But I frankly don't have a solid enoufh predictable schedule to commit to a written contract.  And a license is a written contract.  Heroes may be "really reasonable", but that is a subjective description.  If it was a standard one I could review I'd be more interested.  But I doubt anyone will grant a license for an unspecified adventure sometime in the next few years. 

 

My supers intro is a short series of thefts by GRAB called Crime Spree that starts with simple pregen Heroes. 

 

If there was a HERO Guild I probably would update it to 6th and put it out there.  Especially for constructive feedback.  But I've noticed free gets you thanks and wow's, but no usable feedback.  But charge 2 to 5 bucks and they will write a wall of criticism. 

 

 

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Bravo, Spence! You said what I meant earlier than I did.   All your points about the utility of the OGL keeping the systems in the public eye. All these old farts here could earn a couple of bucks reformatting thematically linked pieces of their old campaigns. 

 

One thing that I will keep flogging, is that the game needs to be exposed to new players. Either at conventions, or more efficiently on virtual table tops. 

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Has it been six months already? I guess I'll say what I always say.

 

What is needed is a killer campaign setting that sells the system to new players. The Hero System, as good as it is, simply can't sell itself the way it did in the 80s. Properly written and presented, such a campaign product line could (should?) also serve as a "starter set" for the game system.

 

The hard part, of course, is coming up with a campaign setting that intrigues, fascinates, and attracts players the way that, say, White Wolf's World of Darkness did back in the 90s. There is also the economic challenge of producing an on-going product line. A single campaign book is insufficient.

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I'm in the process setting up a introduction Champions game using Crime Spree and pregens at my FLGS.  The problem is ruleset. 

 

I don't have enough 4th edition rulebooks (1 HB, 3 SB) to sustain a game. 

 

I am better with 5th Ed (2 Freds, 5 Character Creation Handbooks and 3 Sidekicks).

 

6th is an option, but I only have 2 Core Sets. 

 

I guess the biggest reason I am dragging my heels is my inability to get any books on the shelf.  Neither GTS or Alliance carry Hero.

 

Anyway, I have also derailed in prep'ing a Fantasy demo. 

 

Rule edition is the sticking point.

 

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1 hour ago, Spence said:

 

Yep.  But you need a combo. WotC has the perfect trinity.

 

DM Guild

OGL

Traditional License

 

The DM Guild is where the majority of those free and paid fan made adventures come from. 

 

The traditional license has fixed expectations and (more importantly) timelines. 

 

Both DM Guild & OGL do not have any expectations for the development/creation process.  The timeline itself is 100% yours.

 

As for starter scenarios, I have a Supers one I use that woukd fall directly under the WotC DM Guild guidelines.  But I frankly don't have a solid enoufh predictable schedule to commit to a written contract.  And a license is a written contract.  Heroes may be "really reasonable", but that is a subjective description.  If it was a standard one I could review I'd be more interested.  But I doubt anyone will grant a license for an unspecified adventure sometime in the next few years. 

 

My supers intro is a short series of thefts by GRAB called Crime Spree that starts with simple pregen Heroes. 

 

If there was a HERO Guild I probably would update it to 6th and put it out there.  Especially for constructive feedback.  But I've noticed free gets you thanks and wow's, but no usable feedback.  But charge 2 to 5 bucks and they will write a wall of criticism. 

 

 

 

I have to admit I don't know much about the DM Guild guidelines so I can't comment on that.  I'm somewhat familiar with the OGL having had to deal with it for an app I develop.

 

My comment was specifically in reference to community made content without the "official" blessing of the company, not canonical, and not for monetary gain.  Building a pipeline of peer reviewers and using the site to distribute the fanmade module is the main takeaway from my comment.  I suspect DoJ would have little qualms with this so long as you're not trying to make a buck of their IP and the quality of said module is relatively "good".  One thing these forums is not short on is opinions so I imagine finding people interested in giving criticism would not be hard, even if there is no money in it for them...that's your QA process. 

 

Just an idea, I'm a DIY kinda guy in general so this approach appeals to me.

 

Now if there was a way to get it officially reviewed and blessed by DoJ that would be something else entirely.

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15 minutes ago, zslane said:

The 4e Hero System Rulesbook exists in PDF form (not simply a scan of the pages, either), so you shouldn't have any trouble with inventory there.

 

Most people here game with physical books.  I have everything PDF.  Just not the same.

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Maybe you could ask Jason for permission to print the old 4e rulebook POD? If you only use them for in-store demonstrations and "learning games," he might give you his blessing to print some as long as they aren't sold to customers.

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3 minutes ago, sentry0 said:

 

I have to admit I don't know much about the DM Guild guidelines so I can't comment on that.

 

In a nutshell this is difference in a broad way.

 

OGL = I make a fantasy adventure using the D&D rules, but cannot set it in the Forgotten Realms or use any specific setting information published by WotC.

 

DM Guild = I can make a fantasy adventure, set it in the City of Waterdeep and directly use information from the Monster Manual and the Sword Coast Guide.  But I can only sell it as a PDF through the DM Guild portal on DriveThruRPG and WotC gets a %.

 

With OGL versions each group has to first learn the setting and PC options.

 

With DM Guild you can just build an adventure in an already familiar setting with already existing PCs.

 

A version of it for Hero would be.

I create an adventure with the PCs trying to stop Grond from escaping a Stronghold transfer in Millennium City using standard Champions Universe PCs. 

 

I can only sell it as a PDF via Heroes DriveThruRPG portal and Hero gets a %.

 

Notice I said DriveThruRPG and not the Hero Website. Roleplayers do not browse Hero for RPG ideas unless they are already playing it. 

 

NEW players are the target. 

 

Want to produce a physical adventure? Get a license.

 

Want to produce a PDF adventure or other, go unique (OGL) or Champs Universe (Hero Guild).

 

 

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Spence said:

 

In a nutshell this is difference in a broad way.

 

OGL = I make a fantasy adventure using the D&D rules, but cannot set it in the Forgotten Realms or use any specific setting information published by WotC.

 

DM Guild = I can make a fantasy adventure, set it in the City of Waterdeep and directly use information from the Monster Manual and the Sword Coast Guide.  But I can only sell it as a PDF through the DM Guild portal on DriveThruRPG and WotC gets a %.

 

With OGL versions each group has to first learn the setting and PC options.

 

With DM Guild you can just build an adventure in an already familiar setting with already existing PCs.

 

A version of it for Hero would be.

I create an adventure with the PCs trying to stop Grond from escaping a Stronghold transfer in Millennium City using standard Champions Universe PCs. 

 

I can only sell it as a PDF via Heroes DriveThruRPG portal and Hero gets a %.

 

Notice I said DriveThruRPG and not the Hero Website. Roleplayers do not browse Hero for RPG ideas unless they are already playing it. 

 

NEW players are the target. 

 

Want to produce a physical adventure? Get a license.

 

Want to produce a PDF adventure or other, go unique (OGL) or Champs Universe (Hero Guild).

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's good to know, I sort of suspected the DM Guild was something like that but it's good to have it explained.

 

My comment isn't really about attracting new players specifically, it's about injecting some fresh fan-made content into the ecosystem.

 

I think attracting new players will require money for a marketing campaign ultimately.  There's a ton of setting, genre, and other books available from HERO that a new player could choose to buy.

 

Anyways, I wasn't trying to derail the conversation.

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19 minutes ago, sentry0 said:

 

That's good to know, I sort of suspected the DM Guild was something like that but it's good to have it explained.

 

My comment isn't really about attracting new players specifically, it's about injecting some fresh fan-made content into the ecosystem.

 

I think attracting new players will require money for a marketing campaign ultimately.  There's a ton of setting, genre, and other books available from HERO that a new player could choose to buy.

 

Anyways, I wasn't trying to derail the conversation.

 

No derail in it.  Getting fresh fan-made content is actually not far from attracting new players. 

 

Some of us beat the drum sporadically about the need for playable adventures, but the primary Hero inertia is the myth that no one ever ever ever plays pregenerated adventures. 

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3 hours ago, zslane said:

Has it been six months already? I guess I'll say what I always say.

 

What is needed is a killer campaign setting that sells the system to new players. The Hero System, as good as it is, simply can't sell itself the way it did in the 80s. Properly written and presented, such a campaign product line could (should?) also serve as a "starter set" for the game system.

 

The hard part, of course, is coming up with a campaign setting that intrigues, fascinates, and attracts players the way that, say, White Wolf's World of Darkness did back in the 90s. There is also the economic challenge of producing an on-going product line. A single campaign book is insufficient.

 

A neat campaign setting is great, but...

 

If all I have is the rulebook and a campaign setting, I still need adventures to run. 

 

If all I have is the rulebook and adventures to run, I can run the game with or without a campaign setting.  

 

Ideally, the adventures would be generic enough to slot into most campaign settings... which has its own issue, that being that those are generic adventures and tend to work best in generic settings.  Alternately, the adventures would themselves describe or imply a campaign setting... not unlike how the B/X D&D adventures described and implied what became the D&D Known World.  

 

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When I talk about a product line, I am talking about a complete game ecosystem in which you have a core system (the Hero System, obviously), a campaign setting, pre-written adventures, and lots of support books like bestiaries (with creatures specific to the setting), gazetteers, grimoires (if the setting is fantasy), equipment books (with gear specific to the setting), etc. There should be nothing generic about any of it. It should all be setting-specific. The goal of the Hero brand should not be to provide generic material anymore; that's the strategy that has put the Hero System in the moribund state it is in now.

 

 

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58 minutes ago, zslane said:

When I talk about a product line, I am talking about a complete game ecosystem in which you have a core system (the Hero System, obviously), a campaign setting, pre-written adventures, and lots of support books like bestiaries (with creatures specific to the setting), gazetteers, grimoires (if the setting is fantasy), equipment books (with gear specific to the setting), etc. There should be nothing generic about any of it. It should all be setting-specific. The goal of the Hero brand should not be to provide generic material anymore; that's the strategy that has put the Hero System in the moribund state it is in now.

 

 

 

They actually did do something like that in 5th with The Turakian Age, a setting I feel is almost criminally underrated.  I personally feel that the setting should be resurrected and improved and expanded upon.  There's so much potential for that setting just bursting from the pages of the main supplement.

 

I don't know why the line was cut but I suspect it's at least partially because superheroes are really this systems high card.  The market has changed dramatically since TA had it's original run; I worry that a golden opportunity is just passing HERO by.  Seriously, it bothers me.  I want HERO to conquer the world ?

 

The CU is well defined and stable although it would be nice to see an updated setting book...I think the last one came out over a decade ago now???  Regardless, this is where I think the game designers should double down on.  As much as I personally love TA there's a bazillion fantasy games out there and cutting through all that noise would be tough.  It's what the system is really known for I would argue anyways.

 

All if this is moot if there's no money for new books, I doubt they can even think about a marketing budget.  No matter how good your product is, if no one knows about it, you're done.  Word of mouth is pretty important in the RPG space, I wouldn't have played most of the games I love (including this one) if it wasn't for it.  Still, with no physical presence in stores to entice gamers you need to be able to get word out about your product lines somehow.  

 

 

 

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On another issue,I will discuss is art. First, without color, few will pick it up. Even the interior art of the Pathfinder 2 playtest, though sketches, is tinted reddish brown, on a fake parchment colored paper. The PHB, is lush with color. The comics, that which inspired Champions in the first place, have color that is improving year by year. Now color, good color is expensive to print, and requires Glossy paper, which adds to the shipping weight.  But color is compelling. In the current market color Illustrations are mandatory for shelf space. Black and white in 2019, looks halfassed and amateurish. That say not to judge a book.by its cover, because everyone does. 

 

The next thing is the art itself  The art style must match the subject matter. The Champions line needs to have somewhat contemporary comic style art with precise inks, and digital colors. The artists chosen should represent a Champions house style, or consistency within the project (s). Standards should be as high as practicable, but Some veteran comic book artists are approachable and charge reasonable prices. The politics wave coursing through Marvel right now, has rendered several comics pros unemployed due to not being politically correct by word or deed or tweet, and might be available for work. Hey, if Champions rule book featured George Perez artwork, back then, who would be good now?

 

Like it or not, WOTC, and Paizo have set the bar fairly high in terms of interior art in their respective products. In general the expected art is a high key,, dynamically posed, topic illustration, averaging two illustrations per spread (facing pages), in quarter or half page increments. The advantage of this is it decisively breaks op the otherwise intimidating wall of text and pads the page count nicely.  Art for fantasy games may be more important than for superheroes, because the art defines the height and weight of monsters, what The sword of Giant Slaying looks like, what the fashionable people wear in the cities of Caskardan, and inspire ideas of adventure and heroism.  Here though the publisher is at an advantage, as there are thousands of artists all over the world honing their skills as game illustrators, and video game concept artists, who are available for commission, with their art and contact information spear across web sites like Art Station, Deviant Art, and Polycount. It’s that sort of art that attracts the eye of the neophyte gamer. As was stated above, perception may be more important, because this is a commercial product, and it must seduce the consumer for them to part with their cash. 

 

We we know the words are good. The editing and proof reading has been mostly done. It’s time to pour that into a new , Art rich layout. Paying artists, colorists, and page designers may be hard, but in a PDF, color is free. 

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2 hours ago, zslane said:

 The goal of the Hero brand should not be to provide generic material anymore; that's the strategy that has put the Hero System in the moribund state it is in now.

 

 

Not entitled sure I agree with you. I think the moribund state was caused by the publishing breaks, and s lack of monthly new material. As others have said, few people have the time to home brew any more, and the law school tome that the core rules have become is also too intimidating to the new player. Kids these days are different than we were 35 years ago. The now have less time and less patience We want the system to continue, and ready to run adventures might be the RPG equivalent of McDonalds, compared to home brew, barbecue steaks, but the kids, they gotta eat, before they learn to cook for themselves. 

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44 minutes ago, sentry0 said:

 

They actually did do something like that in 5th with The Turakian Age, a setting I feel is almost criminally underrated.  I personally feel that the setting should be resurrected and improved and expanded upon.  There's so much potential for that setting just bursting from the pages of the main supplement.

 

I don't know why the line was cut but I suspect it's at least partially because superheroes are really this systems high card.  The market has changed dramatically since TA had it's original run; I worry that a golden opportunity is just passing HERO by.  Seriously, it bothers me.  I want HERO to conquer the world ?

 

 

All if this is moot if there's no money for new books, I doubt they can even think about a marketing budget.  No matter how good your product is, if no one knows about it, you're done.  Word of mouth is pretty important in the RPG space, I wouldn't have played most of the games I love (including this one) if it wasn't for it.  Still, with no physical presence in stores to entice gamers you need to be able to get word out about your product lines somehow.  

 

 

 

 

This is why Spence brought up the alternative licensing tasks. Any good product is better than no product. 

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