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Sell me on Hero System


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The "6th is the best, mechanically" and "signature setting" threads seemed to be bleeding and drifting and I was curious...

 

 

________________________________________________

 

"Hi! I'm a theoretical 5e D&D player. I'm pretty experienced (3 whole years!) but I've mostly played Adventurer's League stuff at my FLGS. I've run some of the hardcovers for my (minimally-interested\don't-read-the-rules) girlfriend and buddies and now I'm looking to try another system that isn't 5th Edition D&D."

"Can you sell me on using Hero?"
"How is Hero better than 5th Edition D&D?"

 

"Some things I don't think are valuable are:"

"High levels of char-gen flexibility. My players aren't going to read the rules so I'm going to make their characters for them. The PCs are likely to be archetypal types of various flavors."

"Toolkit approach\flexible game mechanics. My players aren't going to read the rules and I don't really want to *adjust* anything (what would I even be adjusting to\from?), I just want to play a different game than D&D and get a sense for mechanics\flavor of Hero."

 

"Sell me on Hero System! :D :D"

 

_________________________________________________

 

I ask because I was reading a reddit thread about, "Why won't the players read the rules?", which led me to believe that....players basically don't learn the rules.

This was interesting because it seemed system agnostic. And one of the common complaints about Hero (and GURPS, and...) is that it's "too complex" or "too crunchy".

But if no player ever really reads the rules then....that's at least a bit irrelevant, right?

 

Similarly if most GMs and players "just want to game\play" then stuff like "roll your own rules" and "endless depth of character creation (subject to points, genre rules, players, GMs, world, etc, etc, etc)" aren't really interesting either.

 

But those are the things we Herophiles here on the Hero Boards seem to prize the most about Hero.

 

So if those aren't draws....then: Why Hero System?

 

PS: I didn't find a thread along these lines. There was a "Hero Does it Better" thread from about a year or two ago, but not quite the same.

 

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Let's say you've been playing D&D all these years, and want to try a different genre.  Modern espionage, or supers, or post-apocalyptic.  Let's say you've tried reskinning D&D for all of those and none of them were satisfactory to you for one reason or another.  Further, when you tried different systems, your players balked; you couldn't get any of them to sit through more than one session because it was too different.  

 

If you're playing Hero, you don't need to learn a new system to switch genres.  

 

(edited some of the above)

Edited by Chris Goodwin
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If you've been playing D&D 5th Ed for several years (especially the dumbed-down Adventurer's League version) then here are some things you'll get from Fantasy HERO:

1-  Hit locations - These really spice up the randomness of combat.

2-  Realistic Armor Interactions - Armor makes you safer at the cost of being slower, clumsier and easier to hit.

3-  Monsters and Enemies are scary - The unlimited build potential for villains means players can't rely on their innate knowledge of the Monster Manual to know what is happening.  Each creature can be a terrifying and unique thing with custom powers.

4-  Character Creation is INCREDIBLY open-ended.  There are endless character concepts you just can't do in D&D.  In HERO - You can do them.  My Current saturday group:  Fire sorceress (pretty straight forward), a witcher built on the Witcher 3 model, Udyr from League of Legends, an Air Bender, a dwarven explosives expert and a dragon born priest with powers based on cold

5-  Combat overall feels more engaging with a larger number of moves and a limited number of hit points.  Did you take an arrow - in the eye?  You're down and dying.  Weapons are actually scary.

 

The only REAL drawback about HERO that my players continue to gripe about is that character creation is painfully open-ended.  They know what they want, but not how to model it.

 

My two tables alone have resulted in at least 3-4 additional sales of Hero Designer.  Players love being able to make their character the way they imagine it and not being constrained by classes.

 

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Anything which fits the genre but not the game system.

 

For instance, I want to play a beholder as a character.

Or 

I want to start off with a pet dragon or unicorn and have it with me in combat.

Or

I want to be an immortal like in Highlander.

 

Yes, the GM can hand wave it but the rules just do not allow it.

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Well, you started by saying this:

Quote

"Some things I don't think are valuable are:"

...

High levels of char-gen flexibility.

 

OK...but, do you also find flexibility in character development to not be valuable?

 

For me, this is one of the big things I LOVE about the HERO System.  In what I'll call "templated advancement" systems (like D&D) you have classes, and those classes get a fixed set of benefits as they advance each level.  For example, When your fighter gains a level, he's going to get X number of hit points, maybe a proficiency bonus increase, and maybe he'll get to choose a new feat (dependent up which level he's gaining).  You have relatively few choices...But, let's say your party has been adventuring in a foreign land, and it would be useful for your fighter to learn at least a little of the language in that land...Well, are you going to spend one of your precious feats to get that language?  Most players won't -- feats are "too precious" to "waste" on something like languages...besides, you only want to pick up the one language, NOT 3 like the feat will give you.  My point is, you have little flexibility to develop your character based upon the events and needs of the story (campaign).

 

Take another example...Let's say the adventure you're party is embarking upon pits you up against a species of creatures that are highly magic resistant, so much so, in fact that your wizard's spells are largely ineffective against them.  Well, you're wizard is likely to want (need) to work on his weapon skills if he's going to contribute much in combat.  D&D doesn't really provide a method for that to happen.  HERO does.  In HERO, you don't have to dual-class into fighter in order to gain / improve your weapon skills.  You simply allocate a few experience points to the endeavor (while practicing sword play with the party's fighter during down-time) and suddenly your wizard is halfway to being Gandalf and is at least somewhat capable of wielding Glamdring when he finds it.

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My big sell for HERO is internal consistency. D&D is full of black boxes and special cases. HERO is completely transparent and provides you with all the tools to tweak characters, monsters and spells. You can do it in D&D but the risk of introducing imbalances in the system are massive.

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7 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

My big sell for HERO is internal consistency.

 

This is a great point.  When I recently modeled several D&D spells into HERO for my players one thing that consistently happened is that the stupidly over-powered spells became hard to do without prohibitive costs.

 

"What do you mean the force wall breaks??" - HERO has some absolutes, but not many.  And this is a very good thing.

 

Not having a hard list of codified spells and monsters also keeps players on their toes.  It re-introduces the fear of the unknown and makes for a much better game, imo.

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In Hero Games, another point to make is a low experience character can tag along just fine with a high experience character. Oh, the high experience character is more versed and capable but you can still adventure together.


In D&D, you simply can't do that in D&D with a 1st lvl and a 12th lvl character; the 1st lvl might as well read a paper to the side to avoid dying often and... would he even get xp just for watching people fight?

 

Toxxus said it well with, "Monsters and Enemies are scary - The unlimited build potential for villains means players can't rely on their innate knowledge of the Monster Manual to know what is happening.  Each creature can be a terrifying and unique thing with custom powers." 

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I'd have to sneak it to you.  I really don't think I could plop down the current library and say "You're going to love this! First, brush up on Character Creation...."

 

I'd either start you with 6e Basic (Why is that not Sidekick?  That worked _twice_ before! )  or a much older edition (likely 2, but possibly 3) and make a couple of characters, play a couple of scenarios...

 

I'd keep the "real books" hidden until I knew you liked it.

 

 

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Ok, so here it goes from a person who has only been playing/GMing for a couple of years.

 

1) As mentioned, you can have any hero you want.  Classes don't exist, so mix & match whatever power and skills you want to get the correct effect.

 

2) Play is fast and easy, character creation takes the most math.  However, using the Hero Designer program (sold and supported on this site) makes this easy and pretty fun, too.  You can spend minutes creating a character or days, it depends on how involved you'd like to be.

 

3) It isn't d20. It uses small and large groups of d6's, so the dice are not "weird" for casual players.

 

4) If you buy a book to start get Champions Complete (for superheroes), Star Hero (for sci-fi), or Fantasy Hero (for D&D or other medieval style game).  The books are smaller than the three tombs of D&D and contain all of the rules you need to play the game (full stop).  They won't scare your players, and they might even want to thumb through the books at the table (or outside of the session).

 

5) Hero is a sandbox.  Once you learn the rules, you can have any adventure anywhere for any genre.  This sounds overwhelming, but it is liberating.  For instance, say your group saw a movie (The Matrix, for instance), and want to recreate it.  No problem in Hero.  Just use the tech skills and change the special effect of the power/abilities to match the setting (such as the Change Environment power is what the team does to get a special item, or bullet time is a boost to the Speed ability (# of times a character can act in a turn).  It is a pretty effective system.

 

6) Normally, people get jazzed when they play a superhero that can fly through the air or pick up a bus and slam it into a bad guy.  The players may get more excited about playing, too.

 

Oh, and the current system creator, Steve Long, answers questions in the Rules forum himself, and the discussion forums are pretty friendly.  D&D doesn't have this sort of customer service.

 

See if a group in your area is using the Hero system, and drop in for a look.  Good luck.

 

Good luck!

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This'll be unpopular, but there's no reason to switch.  There is no way that Hero does D&D better than D&D.

 

You switch to Hero because you want a system that does superheroes well, and if you are going to do fantasy or sci-fi, because you want complete control over how to do weird things you can't do in other systems.  But if you think role-playing is just a normal dungeon crawl, there's no reason at all to use Hero.

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I can't disagree with Massey.  There are things D&D does not do well, but there are also things it does well.  D&D is prepackaged - Hero requires more work.

 

As has been set out well above, Hero provides more options and greater flexibility.  WIth this comes an unavoidable increase in complexity.

 

If the players are happy with their elves, dwarves, wizards, clerics, fighters, rogues, etc. all advancing on pre-designed paths, selecting from pre-designed feats, paths and spells, etc., then there is no reason to change.

 

If the players are asking why their Dwarf can't be more skilled in woodcraft than mining (he's just a dwarf raised in the forest) or their wizard can't wear heavy armor, or their fighter can't know three spells (a first level, a third level and a seventh level) and  no more magic, or they can't attempt to trip, or block those incoming attacks, or Dive for Cover to avoid that dragon's breath - if they are looking for greater flexibility - then a change merits consideration.

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Yeah, if you just want to play a regular wizard, or a fighter-wizard, or something like that, D&D has you covered.  But what if you want to play a guy who uses a bastard sword, wears no armor, and can hypnotize people who meet his gaze?  He's known far and wide as a powerful wizard, but he doesn't have a spellbook.  In D&D terms he's basically got one really powerful spell-like ability, and that's the whole of his "magic".  With Hero that's really easy to do.  With D&D you've got to get GM permission to sort of cram it together and just make up the rules as you go.

 

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On 6/11/2019 at 3:03 PM, Chris Goodwin said:

Further, when you tried different systems, your players balked; you couldn't get any of them to sit through more than one session because it was too different.  

 

If the players balk at a different system being too different, I’m not sure that introducing them to another new system would solve anything. Not trying to be argumentative, Chris, so maybe I’m missing your point here . . . ?

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10 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

If the players balk at a different system being too different, I’m not sure that introducing them to another new system would solve anything. Not trying to be argumentative, so maybe I’m missing your point here . . . ?

 

The idea I think is that once you have your group in HERO then it is easier to switch genres because you will not have to overcome the “system inertia” of the group.  🙂

 

Doc

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So here are a couple of observation from Origins this week, where I was in a couple of sessions with complete beginners:

  1. They can’t understand the character sheets. Don’t try to sell them on HERO with the character sheets! I actually liked the layout of a couple of the HD templates, but I knew what I was looking at. What really helped was a separate page that explained, in plain language, what their powers could do. Emphasize this kind of simplicity.
  2. Sell them on the ease of the skill system. It’s wide open, and one set of skills is not dependent on another set of skills, so none of those meta-gamey skill trees are needed, thank you very much.
  3. Totally emphasize he flexibility of combat! It’s way cool, as long as you help them understand the core concepts (OCV, DCV, and the effects of maneuvers to these). One dice roll resolves most of it. But please, Please, PLEASE do not teach them this: 11 + OCV - dice roll= DCV you can hit. NOBODY understood what the hell this means! Seriously. I watched it happen in real time. They were able to calculate stuff and make the dice roll, but they didn’t intuitively understand why they were doing it. Teach them the pre-6th way: 11 + OCV - DCV = the roll you need to make. People get it when you are subtracting the opponent’s DCV from your OCV. It makes intuitive sense. Who cares if they know the opponent’s DCV while they are learning the game. That sort of meta-game knowledge may actually help them understand the interaction of the parts better. You can always unload the 6e formula on hem later if you want to hide the DCV. I can’t emphasize this enough. It was a deal breaker for a couple of the new folks, who never quite got the math. When players simply sit back while you calculate everything for their roll, it’s a good indicator that they’ve pretty much tuned out.
  4. While it may take getting used to, it’s exciting to roll a handful of dice for damage! People often cheer at a good die roll, but they go nuts for a good 10d6 roll!

Just a few observations from the field. God bless all you GMs who run these convention games! I couldn’t do it. 

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If none of the strengths of hero are a draw; well, you know what - I can't help you.

 

D&D is a box, it's not even a particularly creative box. You choose from cut outs, you play cut outs, and you fight cut outs. Heck, some editions of D&D barely encourage roleplaying in any sense, non-combat aspects had to be (badly) stapled into AD&D2E. D&D4E (still my favorite edition, really) is basically a board game. It comes right out and even tells you "you need these elements in a party. deviating will make the game not work."

 

Hero's strength is flexibility, versatility, and yep, does require some up front work to get going. You have to know what flavor of game you want to play, without that it's just a book full of words.

If you want a grab & go system, there's bunches out there.

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Switching to Champions (from AD&D back in the day) was a no-brainer for me because of two major aspects of the Hero System that I was immediately drawn to:

 

1. The character building system was logical and extremely flexible. I am a "builder" by nature, and so this system not only made sense to me logically and mathematically, it appealed to the engineer/designer in me. The notion that everything could be expressed in terms of Character Points was a total game changer. A further consequence of the point-build system was that the simplistic and rigid "level" system of D&D was replaced with a more user-directed and granular character progression paradigm, which was a welcome change to me.

 

2. The combat system, along with the separation of BODY and STUN (and the use of END to power, well, powers) was so much more logical to me than THAC0, hit points, and saving throws. The awkward way that AD&D tried to incorporate the concept of knocking an opponent out (rather than killing them) never really worked right with the concept of hit points, and the BODY/STUN paradigm solved this problem elegantly.

 

Basically, anyone who has played D&D for a while and has become frustrated by its over-simplifications, awkward combat mechanics, and rigid leveling system could do a lot worse than to look at the Hero System as a remedy for all those woes.

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7 minutes ago, zslane said:

the separation of BODY and STUN (and the use of END to power, well, powers) was so much more logical to me than THAC0, hit points, and saving throws. The awkward way that AD&D tried to incorporate the concept of knocking an opponent out (rather than killing them) never really worked right with the concept of hit points, and the BODY/STUN paradigm solved this problem elegantly.

 

 

I'm glad someone mentioned that.  Yes, one of the big appeals of Champions (and later HERO), at least to me, was that you could be a skilled combatant (if you wished) without having to also be a mass-murderer or serial killer.  In other words, traveling the countryside thwarting villains and monsters did not automatically turn your party into yet another pack of murder-hobos, which greatly enhanced the odds of finding players who wanted to be-- well, something _more_ than just murderous hobos.

 

 

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