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GreaterThanOne

GM Suggestions for a Normal People With Super Powers Campaign

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Hello everyone, 

 

I started a campaign with 3 players that are completely new to TTRPG's. I completed my world design partially based on suggestions from here. A world in which an ongoing Cosmic Ray event has resulted in electronics and microchips ceasing to function. Any electronic device that was in operation was ruined, anything not operating or directly connected acquires the Burnout limitation with a Blast Side Effect based on the active cost of the item on a critical failure on the burnout roll. The event also created supers and monsters. I am starting the players individually so they all can enjoy a solo Origin Story experience and learn the rules without too much distraction.

 

I want to capture a setting of normal people with powerful, often uncontrollable super powers. People that might be able to kill with a single thought but that accidentally can do it if startled or angered even when they try not too. Clothing doesn't stretch or go with you when you transform or go invisible. Most characters will have Skilled or Competent level characteristics, at most and perhaps only a few very high levels powers. I do not want characters to be "Well-Wounded" I want their powers to be both a curse and blessing.  

 

Now the questions:

 

What GM Rules, Optional Rules, Advantages and Limitations (or implementations of them) would add to or help foster this feeling?  

 

I was considering having them create characters based off of a Competent Normal Template; 100 Total Points (30 from Complications) and then provide an additional 200 points (30 from power related complications) solely for powers. Has anyone done something like this?

 

I do not own Dark Champions but would it address some of these ideas and issues? 

 

Thanks in advance to everyone.

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I like the ideas you have; this is shaping up to be quite interesting.

 

First, I have a question of my own.  I _think_ I know what you're trying to say here (something to the effect of they don't shrug off attack after attack; getting fired on has a high likelihood of mortal injury?), but to be certain we're all on the same page, can you clarify this:

 

On October 4, 2019 at 8:35 PM, GreaterThanOne said:

I do not want characters to be "Well-Wounded"

 

 

 

Quote

I want their powers to be both a blessing and a curse

 

The easiest (and generally least-exciting for the players) way to do this is to build the powers yourself.  Make them sharp and pointy and undeniably dangerous.  Certainly you can have the players make them, if they are familiar enough with the rules and are willing to make powers that are actually scary to use.  Essentially, make sure that powers-- particularly the higher-point powers, _are_ dangerous to use: Killing Attacks, Penetrating, Piercing, etc-- things that really either ramp up the damage or that cut the defenses.  Establish "minimum blocks" of power: must be used at a minimum of X AP, for example, or require Limitations like "Full power only." 

 

This will require the players to really think about how they are going to use these powers if they are the CVK type heroes.  (you may accidentally discover some of your players are not CVK ;)   )

 

That's where I'd at least start looking.  Other things that can make offensive powers more dangerous than some players realize are Advantages like Area of Effect and Explosion.  NND is a no-brainer, but you'd need to add something to give it some Body damage if you're looking for genuinely dangerous powers.

 

 

Quote

 

What GM Rules, Optional Rules, Advantages and Limitations (or implementations of them) would add to or help foster this feeling?  

 

Guess I jumped the gun with the Advantages and Limitations.  Sorry about that.   Consider weird side-effects, too:  using Power X causes an Area of Effect Drain: CON or something like that to anyone near you.  Honestly, powers that are fueled by Drains should always make a player hesitant to use them, particularly if there is no guarantee that the Drain is only going to affect the bad guy.

 

Depending on how much complexity you want to add, the Hit Location Chart can turn pretty much any sort of KA into a one-hit kill against a normal, and even against a _lot_ of low-level supers.  Your call, of course, as it is an optional set of rules; I don't care for it too much myself.

 

Power Limitations like Uncontrolled or-- better, No Conscious Control or even Trigger (something that will go off under certain conditions whether the player wants it to or not-- and in this case, I'd treat Trigger as a Limitation instead of an Advantage) puts pressure on him to avoid those circumstances lest lots of people get hurt or worse.

 

Mental powers can be nasty with their Line of Sight range and the fact that, if I understand you correctly, people are not typically going to have over-the-top EGO scores.

 

Some of the nastiest "Grimdark" campaign rules I've seen set limits on Defenses that are two-thirds, half or even less the limits on damage.  That gets ugly _fast_.  (Again, not something I care for, but I'm not the biggest fan that Grimdark ever had)

 

 

Quote

I was considering having them create characters based off of a Competent Normal Template; 100 Total Points (30 from Complications) and then provide an additional 200 points (30 from power related complications) solely for powers.  Has anyone ever done something like this?

 

Well, replace "Powers" with "equipment" and you've got the basics of most high-level HEROIC games  from High Fantasy to MHI (Urban Fantasy) to Space Opera, so yes; I'd say you're in familiar territory.

 

The one thing I would like to suggest is that you give serious consideration to END, and _some_ consideration to REC.  If you want powerful, extremely dangerous abilities, they're going to need more END than just swinging a sword.  Either let these characteristics exceed normal limits as a matter of course for super-powered people in general, or expect to lose a few dice of effect in favor of Reduced Endurance advantages.  Endurance Reserves (are they pools now?  Eh.  Much like HGTV ruined the word "space" for me, White Wolf and various CCG have caused me to shudder a bit at the word "pool." ) are a good work-around, as are Charges, and they can even be used to set a hard limit on the number of times a player can use a power before he recharges, adding a bit more need for strategy to his games.

 

 

Quote

I do not own Dark Champions but would it address some of these ideas and issues? 

 

 

I proudly do not own it either, but that's mostly from distaste at the original (murderous "heroes") that has become so ingrained to the title that I just can't separate it from title even after a couple of decades.  I'm in that small camp that would have considered picking it up if it had been titled "Action HERO" or pretty much _anything_ that wasn't "Dark Champions."  Today, I am told, Dark Champions is the quintessential reference for "modern" (used  loosely) adventuring in the "real" (also used loosely) world.  It might still have a focus on vigilantism and beating faces with bullets; I don't know, but certainly it's going to be a solid reference for playing Heroic level characters, and be full of ideas on build tricks, etc.  Though honestly, both Pulp Hero and Post Apocalyptic HERO may serve just as well, if you have those.  Each of those is going to have a lot of genre info that may or may not be of any use to you, but still: they are (mostly) Heroic level stuff.

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8 hours ago, GreaterThanOne said:

I do not want characters to be "Well-Wounded" I want their powers to be both a curse and blessing.

 

Well-Rounded?

I wouldn't go out of my way to get Dark Champions unless you are really into the finer details of guns. Otherwise you might as well not bother with the superpowers.

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Good stuff, as usual from Duke.  I am going to talk game set-up.  I think it is the missing bit from the rules.  Despite there being a raft of design advice on genres etc, there is absolutely nothing about actually putting a game together.

 

You, as GM, need to sit down and think hard about how you want to constrain the system to get the game you want.

 

I had a similar game, normal people with "one" superpower.  So, the bank teller got superspeed and the priest became invulnerable and the teacher got a death glare.  None of the players knew how I built the powers but we sat down and did a 20 questions before I built them where I asked some questions about what the power meant and what its limits might be.  In effect, we got on the same page narratively.  The mechanics that came later allowed me to manage use in game as to how it affected those around them. 

 

I said "one" power because that was what I asked them for in a narrative sense.  In reality, most of the powers were an amalgam of game powers.  The priest did not mean for invulnerability to mean walking unscathed from a nuclear bomb or to be completely  unaffected by a rocket, he might be knocked out but nothing broke the skin.  The teacher did not want to instantly kill people with her death glare, she wanted to be able to make people fear death, feel death and THEN experience death.  The superspeed needed so much more than lots of running. 🙂 The mechanical details meant MUCH more to the players in game than the mechanical ones.

 

If you want blessing and curse, you need to think of the downsides.  Why do the players not use the powers at every opportunity?  I say players deliberately because the narrative reasons why the characters would not use them often go out the window when players encounter problems in-game.  Are they painful to use?  I know that would make me (real person) loath to use them, a player is likely to consider a few STUN a minor consequence for the character.  So you need to make consequences real for the player. If it hurts to use, make the player roll a PRE roll to activate the power modified by how often it has been used recently and how heroic they are trying to be (truly heroic acts should not be prevented by a dice roll). 

 

Again, explain to the players what you are trying to achieve and work through the narrative implications before building stuff.

 

This kind of game can be deadly.  If one character has a death glare and most heroes and villains have no enhanced defences, many people will die.  After all that narrative work, players will be heavily invested in their character and will not want them to just up and die at random, you need to think of how you will provide some narrative defences for the player characters that does not break the internal reality.  In my game there were incredibly few killing attacks, like A Team style stuff where 10 guys with machine guns and an exploding truck did not result in multiple casualties.  A machine gun forced people to take cover and required rolls to advance on, even though the players knew the machine guns were not deadly, the characters did not.  In another game, I had a card that indicated to the players when we were in four colour scenes and when we were in graphic novel scenes.  In graphic novel scenes, killing attacks would kill, in four colour negative BODY simply meant a visit to the hospital and missing the rest of that scene.

 

You, with your players can set the game to deliver the experience you want, you just all need to be on the same page before you start.

 

Doc

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   It seems like what you’re going for is a little like the TV show Heroes.  Why that show had such a following where others like Powers or No Ordinary family fell by the wayside was because of the writing and characterization rather than the special effects.

   In that vein, I believe much of your game is going to rest on the personalities of the PC’s your players create.  Start by having them ask themselves questions like “what did this person want out of life before the accident.”  Remember, there were a lot of insect based superheroes in comics before Spider-Man.  What made him special was Peter Parker.

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14 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

First, I have a question of my own.  I _think_ I know what you're trying to say here (something to the effect of they don't shrug off attack after attack; getting fired on has a high likelihood of mortal injury?), but to be certain we're all on the same page, can you clarify this:

I meant to type Well Rounded. It was late but you are correct. Some may be able to shrug off energy damage or even get stronger but I don't want a bunch of CON 30, SPD 8, 3 Multipower Sets with a power for each possible situation. 

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15 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 Eh.  Much like HGTV ruined the word "space" for me, White Wolf and various CCG have caused me to shudder a bit at the word "pool." ) are a good work-around, as are Charges, and they can even be used to set a hard limit on the number of times a player can use a power before he recharges, adding a bit more need for strategy to his games.

 

I haven't used 6E enough to get the feel for END issues. I have read on some of the opinions. I will keep it in mind for the reasons you mention. I am building the powers myself right now but obviously I want the players to learn the system and That Way Min-Maxing Lies. 

 

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9 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

I had a similar game, normal people with "one" superpower.  So, the bank teller got superspeed and the priest became invulnerable and the teacher got a death glare.  None of the players knew how I built the powers but we sat down and did a 20 questions before I built them where I asked some questions about what the power meant and what its limits might be.  In effect, we got on the same page narratively.  The mechanics that came later allowed me to manage use in game as to how it affected those around them. 

This is how I created the first player's character along with them. I then added in things like Extra Time, Concentration, RAR, No Conscious Control, X4 END etc. I want them to expand from these Powers by buying off the limitations or adding new Advantages. 

 

9 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

I say players deliberately because the narrative reasons why the characters would not use them often go out the window when players encounter problems in-game. 

Exactly one of the issues I want to address. With high power games it often feels like a war of attrition against enemies.  The Powers become the fastest and easiest way for Players to "Advance" at they become crutches that detract from the more mundane stories that often make TTRPG's so much more interesting when you can't simply "Hulk Smash" every problem. 


Essentially I want to have an outline of rules that delineate why you can't just "Get Some More Mental Defense" because they are being jacked around by mentalists. I would instead guide them to perhaps make a deal with a mad scientists in exchange for a mental defense helmet for some dubious mission or learn Ancient Mindfulness from an Old Taoist Priest to help protect from the effects. 

 

Do you feel that as the campaign advances player's resent/ed the GM control over their Powers? I am leaning strongly towards this "Heavy Hand" approach as I believe it will allow them the most focus on their person. Especially if they don't actually know the Powers only the "effect". 

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4 minutes ago, GreaterThanOne said:

Do you feel that as the campaign advances player's resent/ed the GM control over their Powers? I am leaning strongly towards this "Heavy Hand" approach as I believe it will allow them the most focus on their person. Especially if they don't actually know the Powers only the "effect". 

 

I think the players do not really care about the heavy hand of the referee on the rules as long as they get some freedom in the use.  Most resentment comes when you have a stick that grants light but the referee does not allow them to use the stick as a mast “ because that is not how it was built”.  

 

The players will only feel the GM controls the powers if you artificially constrain their narrative, allowing mechanics to define the powers rather than the narrative.

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5 hours ago, Tjack said:

   It seems like what you’re going for is a little like the TV show Heroes.  Why that show had such a following where others like Powers or No Ordinary family fell by the wayside was because of the writing and characterization rather than the special effects.

   In that vein, I believe much of your game is going to rest on the personalities of the PC’s your players create.  Start by having them ask themselves questions like “what did this person want out of life before the accident.”  Remember, there were a lot of insect based superheroes in comics before Spider-Man.  What made him special was Peter Parker.

 

I had forgotten about Heroes! I agree I am very much a "Simulationist" player with a strong, strong emphasis on character development. I will be sharing some of the Heroes and Villians here as we go on but I know not all players have these objectives. I want to ensure that if they want to spend game time collecting money, or food or conquering a city that is fine. My job as GM is to delve into the "Why" and "How" and provide the environment and conflict that their wishes will entail. I am a big believer in Consequences. 

 

I basically did as you mentioned and asked them to design the person and then very general idea of powers. it worked exceedingly well with the first player who is 12 years old but with the adults they may feel too constrained. 

 

sorry for the mess in the responses I haven't figured out how to erase a post yet. 

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So long as you are up-front with your players during the planning and introduction, you can minimize push back and complaints.  Tell them straight away that this is the idea you are planning on exploring -- not "I intend to be heavy-handed" bit; more the "your powers are deadly and narrow in scope.  As you progress, you may learn to widen that scope, but they will still tend to carry a certain focus.  If you shoot energy beams, you may learn to create varied effects with them, but you will likely never be able to turn them into Force Fields."  That sort of thing.  Let them know up-front that you will be pretty strict about enforcing this, at least until you feel the players have a solid grasp of what you're tying to create.

 

But make sure you tell them this _up front_.  Nothing gets push back faster than a group of people who have an entirely different "grasp" of superheroes.

 

As an example of push-back:  Until recently, I ran a sic-fi Space Opera type game that started back in '86 or '87.  Periodically, a player would leave or a player would come in.  Some time in the mid nineties, we had a player introduce a new guy-- who eventually became a good fit, and played for nearly six years (he moved after he finished his degree).  But _I_ had thought his friend-- the player that brought him along initially-- had given him a rundown on the game we were playing.  His friend thought _I_ was going to take him aside and give him a rundown.  So here we are, playing high Space Opera in the tradition of the Atari Force and Alience Legion (without the "you are in the military, period) comic books of the time (sorry; they are the only comic book examples I know for the type of "life is everywhere and there are a bajillion aliens" type setting.  Most importantly:  not Star Wars.  :lol:

 

At any rate, there were four sessions before we figured out neither of us had been working with this guy:  every damned time there was a sensor probing, or a missile, or pretty much _anything_ that could be bad, this guy wanted to "modify the shields."  You know: turn them into radiation screens, UV filters, rubberized projectile repellant, good food, and beautiful women.

 

We didn't have shields.

 

Not a one.

 

The closest thing we had was a rift caster, which opened small multiversal tears (at an extreme power expense):  if you were fast enough, and lucky enough, you could open a brief tear in the universe between you and the missile coming your way.  If you timed it just right, no more missile.  (but don't go to the universe to which you sent it; they might be mad.)  This was my concession years prior to players wanting an energy-screen type defense, which was a technology I just didn't want in my universe.  Force Fields and globes existed, but didn't work well beyond "covers about ten people" size; sand casters and the like: no problem!   But _not_ Star Trek shields.

 

Obviously, this kid was a big STNG fan (gag), and just assumed that "science fiction means Star Trek."  His friend and I held him a bit after a session, and we went into great detail about what the game universe was and was not.  He confesses that he had totally misunderstood, asked if he could re-do his character, to which I replied "we don't have Jedis, either," to which he got downright pissed.  "Why the Hell not?!"  Well, for one, everyone at this table except Marcus thinks they're pretty damned stupid as a sci-fi concept. (Midochlorians hadn't happened yet, and the only person whose mind was changed was Marcus: he decided that they were, in fact, pretty damned stupid.)

 

So he left, and we didn't see him for about three sessions; figured he was not interested in playing something that he hadn't seen on video or something.  Then one night he showed up and started asking some questions (before the game, obviously) and pitching a third character concept.  As I said, he played with us for about six years and a bit; no more problems.

 

 

 

Short version?

 

Get everyone on the same level of understanding before the game starts.  It's just easier that way: if there is something that the majority is unhappy about, then you can work out something that works for all of you _before_ the game starts.

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

So long as you are up-front with your players during the planning and introduction, you can minimize push back and complaints.

 

Amen to that! One of the first things I tell the people that ask about the game is: "This is not a costume and cape game about super heroes. It is about normal people with extraordinary powers." I believe that creating a normal then saying "Now what happens when they get X power" provides the clearest route to understanding and produced results I just don't have actual "Rules" established which as the campaign goes on might help new players.

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Don't sweat the rules:

 

It's a new campaign, you've built the powers; the players know they are making "normals" for a world filled with normals.  You have everyone on the same page.

 

You have time to create your rules, even after the game starts.  You have your guidelines in mind already; share those (I assume you have).

 

Then do things like figure how what is the strongest or most powerful power that exists in this world, and what's the closest a character may ever come to that level.

 

What's the fastest, and how close-- etc.

 

What's the most amount of defense a character can have through powers? Through technology?

 

That's your absolute basics, right there, and you've got time to wing them before your players get anywhere near them.

 

 

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1 hour ago, GreaterThanOne said:

 

I had forgotten about Heroes! I agree I am very much a "Simulationist" player with a strong, strong emphasis on character development. I will be sharing some of the Heroes and Villians here as we go on but I know not all players have these objectives. I want to ensure that if they want to spend game time collecting money, or food or conquering a city that is fine. My job as GM is to delve into the "Why" and "How" and provide the environment and conflict that their wishes will entail. I am a big believer in Consequences. 

 

I basically did as you mentioned and asked them to design the person and then very general idea of powers. it worked exceedingly well with the first player who is 12 years old but with the adults they may feel too constrained. 

 

sorry for the mess in the responses I haven't figured out how to erase a post yet. 


 

     It’s funny, the younger players always seem to get that these games are just “let’s pretend” with enough rules to figure out who got who first.  The adults are the ones who have a hard time at first acting out in public.

     Have you tried “Blue Booking” so that they can write down all the characters emotional baggage in private for you to read later?

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1 hour ago, Tjack said:

 It’s funny, the younger players always seem to get that these games are just “let’s pretend” with enough rules to figure out who got who first.  The adults are the ones who have a hard time at first acting out in public.

     Have you tried “Blue Booking” so that they can write down all the characters emotional baggage in private for you to read later?

 

I'm not familiar with the term. I asked a series of questions after the initial description and then after about a 30 minutes back and forth I left them with some Hard to Answer Questions and Food For Thought. Then on the day of the first run we completed the character. Except for the secret powers. I chose some "Secret" Complications for example he doesn't know it yet but his END requires that he drain electricity at least once a day and decided his girlfriend is a DNPC. 

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47 minutes ago, GreaterThanOne said:

 

I'm not familiar with the term. I asked a series of questions after the initial description and then after about a 30 minutes back and forth I left them with some Hard to Answer Questions and Food For Thought. Then on the day of the first run we completed the character. Except for the secret powers. I chose some "Secret" Complications for example he doesn't know it yet but his END requires that he drain electricity at least once a day and decided his girlfriend is a DNPC. 


 

     If you can get your hands on the Champions supplement Strike Force by Aaron Allston it will help you a lot.

    It Includes the story of how the use of a supply of small blue exam books helped players keep a running narrative of their characters personal thoughts, emotions and storylines.  They allowed players who weren’t comfortable expressing those aspects of role play out loud a way to bring a lot of creativity out on paper.

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4 minutes ago, Tjack said:


 

     If you can get your hands on the Champions supplement Strike Force by Aaron Allston it will help you a lot.

    It Includes the story of how the use of a supply of small blue exam books helped players keep a running narrative of their characters personal thoughts, emotions and storylines.  They allowed players who weren’t comfortable expressing those aspects of role play out loud a way to bring a lot of creativity out on paper.

 

Brilliant! I really like that idea.

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11 hours ago, GreaterThanOne said:

 

Brilliant! I really like that idea.


      Agreed, I only wish it was my idea.
  Seriously,  Strike Force is in my opinion the best training manual for starting out GM’s ever written.   Along with being a standard style sourcebook,  Aaron Allston goes into detail about the real world history about his campaign.   In it he deals with subjects like, meeting players needs,  how to deal with players dropping out and new ones coming in and most of all how to keep a game fresh over the years.

    I’ve suggested this book to so many new GM’s on this site I’m either gonna start wanting a kickback or a job in the sales dept.

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+1 to Tjack's recommendation of Strike Force (and I'd add a lot more "+'s" if it made a difference). So much of the gaming advice in that book has been adopted as SOP by subsequent game writers, most people don't realize this is where it originated.

 

The original SF book is actually available in PDF form for only $10.00 US, including on this very website. It was also recently updated and expanded in a new hardback edition in glorious full color. And there's much supplementary material for it as well.

 

https://www.herogames.com/search/?q="strike force"&type=nexus_package_item&updated_after=any&sortby=relevancy

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2 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

+1 to Tjack's recommendation of Strike Force (and I'd add a lot more "+'s" if it made a difference). So much of the gaming advice in that book has been adopted as SOP by subsequent game writers, most people don't realize this is where it originated.

 

The original SF book is actually available in PDF form for only $10.00 US, including on this very website. It was also recently updated and expanded in a new hardback edition in glorious full color. And there's much supplementary material for it as well.

 

https://www.herogames.com/search/?q="strike force"&type=nexus_package_item&updated_after=any&sortby=relevancy

 

Help a guy out. What is the difference between that version and the $20: Aaron Allston'sStrike Force PDF aside from price of course.

 

 

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   It must be twice as more betterer........and I’m still lookin’ for that kickback.                     
      I’ll just go outside and stand by my mailbox and wait.    Maybe I’ll bring a cookie, I may be there a while.

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1 hour ago, GreaterThanOne said:

 

Help a guy out. What is the difference between that version and the $20: Aaron Allston'sStrike Force PDF aside from price of course.

 

 

 

Obviously the more expensive version is written to be compatible with the current version of HERO.  More pertinent is the following sentence in the product description "This updated Strike Force sourcebook includes never-before-seen material detailing Aaron's multiversal superhero setting, compelling characters and villains, and updated and expanded advice from Superhero RPG veterans like Steve Kenson and Sean Patrick Fannon for how to run a campaign using "the Strike Force method."

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The new edition reprints most of what was in the original, updated to Sixth Edition Hero, plus expanded background, timeline, and characters from Allston's campaign, with input from other respected gaming professionals. It features improved graphics and color artwork; and the hard copy is hardback and printed on quality glossy paper. It's also supported in Hero Designer.

 

As wonderful as the new edition is (I'm a proud owner myself), if someone's interest is in nuggets of campaigning wisdom the original is just as useful.

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On October 6, 2019 at 2:00 PM, GreaterThanOne said:

 

Help a guy out. What is the difference between that version and the $20: Aaron Allston'sStrike Force PDF aside from price of course.

 

 

 

 

I think I can answer this reasonably objectively, since I am one of the rare guys who didn't find Strikeforce all that helpful. 

 

Now to be fair to the book, I didn't own or even read it until six or seven years ago, and given that I've been running groups since the 80s, by the time I did read it, well-  one way or another, I had already been exposed to or stumbled into on my own the majority of ideas in it. 

 

That being said, I expect it would be a great reference to newer GMs, as I can see it potentially  eliminating a lot of the trial-and-error that a lot of us went through in the old days. 

 

Being fair to everything else, there are a lot of other equally-good books out there on the subject of being a game master, world building, and running your best game, many websites dedicated to the same, and i am convinced that most of us have some good ideas that aren't found anywhere in Strikeforce. 

 

 

These days I own both the original Strikeforce and the updated one. 

 

While I have no doubt that there will be disagreement, I would suggest the first book is the subjectively the "best" book as a reference.  The second book, while it includes all the good stuff of the first, is filled with more material, but most of that material is both from the original author and omitted from the first book by that very same original author. 

 

It's a lot of extra campaign history, character info, etc-  and I won't lie: amongst long time fans of rpgs in general and Hero games in specific, even those of us who never met the author considered him to a friend.  Yeah; it sounds strange, but he was always so open and available to the community, and his writings so personally inclusive that you really felt that you had just spoken with him a few days ago.  :lol:

 

At any rate, the second edition of the book includes _tons_ of stuff that we, as Allston fans, were thrilled to see.  Realistically, though, the additional stuff gave a never-before-seen insight into Aaron Allston and his games and campaigns, but none f the additional material contained anything that made this revised edition a better resource for new GMs. 

 

With that in mind, I have to say that "the better choice" depends on your motives for buying the book:  if you're a HERO collector, get them both!   :lol:    If your an Allston fan (or even a Surbrook fan; I believe he compiled and penned the newer version), then get the newer one.  If you want a thinner, easy-to-thumb reference of helpful ideas, get the older edition. 

 

As a note on world building, I'd strongly suggest you pick up [EDIT:  Lands of Mystery] from the 3e era (also by Allston).  Yes, it focuses primarily on the fantastic idea of the Lost World, but there is a _lot_ of what he posits as important considerations for building a lost world that is helpful for building _any_ world, even if he didn't realize that at the time he wrote it.  The man had a gift for gaming and game design, and it is my sincerest hope that nothing I said here in any way belittles that. 

Edited by Duke Bushido
Replaced incorrect book title with correct title

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