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What happened to HERO?


Tywyll
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I remember, my first few characters were pretty lightweight as far as modifiers went.  

 

Get people rolling dice, rolling against 11+OCV whichever way you compare it, counting BODY and STUN and so on.  Once they've got a few games under their belt, and have the context for all of this stuff, then let them start modifying their characters or making their own at their own pace.

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58 minutes ago, sentry0 said:

Thinking out loud here after I had a talk with a fellow gamer in the office.  Is making comparatively dumbed down pre-gens really a good strategy for attracting new players?  I'm not saying they need to be overly complicated but what about making characters with some depth as well.  Have a mix of pregens, some comparatively simple and some with a little more crunch.

 

Show how you would make a mutant vs a person in powered armor.  Don't be afraid to add some interesting Limitations into the mix so people can see the depth and range possible in a HERO character.  What about someone who has OIAID on their powers?

 

I once made some pre-gens for a game and they were all fairly straightforward but I made sure they all had one power that was more complex then just a simple Blast.  I was trying to showcase on each character that you could do some really cool things with the system.

 

I guess my train of thought here is leading me to think that having a range of complexity in characters for pre-gens is a good thing.  Stopping well before you reach Hyperman's John Wick level of write-up for complexity of course.  Sure, some simple characters are good but you want to leave an impression on a perspective player that the system has depth, lots of it.  Don't overwhelm them but tease them.  It's a feature after all and one that I suspect we all love on some level.

 

Why not teach the game as a team, with a straightforward character for the new player, and more umm ornate characters for any experienced players but have the experienced characters at a significantly lower point cost?

 

That way he sees the players around him demonstating cool stuff you can accomplish with power advantages balnced by limitations but they dont run rings around his starting character. 

 

Use asymmetry to keep the game fun.

 

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11 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

I remember, my first few characters were pretty lightweight as far as modifiers went.  

 

Get people rolling dice, rolling against 11+OCV whichever way you compare it, counting BODY and STUN and so on.  Once they've got a few games under their belt, and have the context for all of this stuff, then let them start modifying their characters or making their own at their own pace.

 

Exactly! Get 'em in the door and interested, show them a good time, and they'll do the rest.

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12 minutes ago, GM Joe said:

 

Exactly! Get 'em in the door and interested, show them a good time, and they'll do the rest.

 

You can both get people in the door and showcase the system, I don't believe they're mutually exclusive concepts.  The trick is finding the right balance between crunch and simplicity.  I would suggest that modern gamers aren't afraid of complexity... there are plenty of video games out there that require you to build characters using levels, skill trees, action bars, and gear.  Even D&D and pathfinder have quite a bit of complexity especially when you are planning out a character. 

 

Extending my theory that modern gamers are actually quite sophisticated but uninformed about the strengths of HERO then doesn't it make sense to cater to them in a way that can engage them in a meaningful way?  Why hide all the good stuff from a new player?  They're uninformed not stupid... show them enough of the good stuff to entice them to dig deeper.

 

Anyways, it's all theoretical but if you don't play up to the systems strengths then what's the point?  There's a bunch of super RPGs out there that are good... why bother with HERO?  

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[lost my post due to a Windows Update]

Okay,  I see three things here:

 

The complete Series was not a bad approach, but was sub-optimal due to bad organization and layout. As it is it's focused, but it's not a good  product for a beginner to Hero. There is little to no chance of there being any ability to change the published rules as is, but there may be a chance to repackage the "Complete" series as re-organized as a PDF maybe (with permission). A reorganized product might be easier for beginners, but it is a large sandwich to swallow. What this re-organization would look like would have to be discussed as I have no clue what that would look like. organization is not my strong suit. This produce might be useful to someone new to Hero, but a more experienced GM.

 

There is a new product from WOTC. It's entitled Essentials Kit. It is a boxed product that contains  a 64 page rule book with ruled to cover characters from levels 1 - 6, Dragon of Icespire Peak an introductory adventure, Double Sided poster map, Dungeon Master's Screen, 6 blank Character sheets, 11 polyhedral Dice, 81 cards describing Magic items, sidekicks and more. The produce comes in a fairly substantial box and I bought it retail for $24.00 US. (the reason I bought it, was that my Nephew wants to learn how to play D&D< and this is a way to do it, without tossing him into the deep end by buying him a PHB).  The product is definitely aimed at Beginners, and includes an abbreviated rules set, but otherwise is compatible with the current 5e rules. Boxes are still a thing and work well for introductory products. Hero at the current time does not have the finances to attempt this.  But the product format is still worth looking at for design and educational purposes.

 

The third thing. I was looking at Fantasy Hero Battle Grounds for Fifth Edition FH.  It's a book of  adventures,  with a fair amount of details. They are all loosely linked with some background  to make them into a whole, short campaign.  Why wasn't this idea pushed further? (probably because it didn't sell). Partly I think it should have had a more evocative title, like "Rising of the Forgotten God". But as written is looks and feels pretty solid. The only thing missing would be a set of  pre-generated adventurers, to make this something like an introductory product.  So it has been done before. If we must, it could be easily ported over to 6th Edition, but it will still need some pre-generated characters.  I could not tell from my first pass if this product was at all tied in with any other existing Hero FH Background, but it could be, I suppose.

But I think some sort of combination of What WOTC hass done, What Hero has done in the past, and what is economically feasible is what we should aim for , in attracting new talent. Now we can't have a box, or dice, or probably multiple books, but a very slimmed down, basic set of the 6e rules might work,  with an included Adventure and pre-generated characters.  All examples using those characters names and such. Maybe even splitting things out further into a GM's book, and a player's book, ala D&D, to keep the amount of effort on the new player minimal?  something like  Fantasy Hero Primer, but with more pre-generateds would work as the player manual.

https://www.herogames.com/files/file/367-fantasy-hero-primer/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, sentry0 said:

This is probably one of the most underrated docs in the download section right now.

If someone were to take the same approach for Champions I would think it would go a long way to teaching people how to build and think in HERO.

 

I missed your post, But yes,   something like that for Champions might work, but in building the Pre-generateds, build thinly disguised versions of popular superheroes. (Either from Film or  Comic), so that the new player can kind of assume.

But now, does it have to be Champions, or are we selling the system, rather than the genre?  Espionage (Marketed as Action Hero), might get more traction, maybe?

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8 minutes ago, sentry0 said:

 

You can both get people in the door and showcase the system, I don't believe they're mutually exclusive concepts.  The trick is finding the right balance between crunch and simplicity.  I would suggest that modern gamers aren't afraid of complexity... there are plenty of video games out there that require you to build characters using levels, skill trees, action bars, and gear.  Even D&D and pathfinder have quite a bit of complexity especially when you are planning out a character. 

 

Extending my theory that modern gamers are actually quite sophisticated but uninformed about the strengths of HERO then doesn't it make sense to cater to them in a way that can engage them in a meaningful way?  Why hide all the good stuff from a new player?  They're uninformed not stupid... show them enough of the good stuff to entice them to dig deeper.

 

Sure, our theoretical "get 'em rolling dice first", doesn't have to be -- and already isn't -- the only way into the system.  We have multiple points of entry that are an awful lot like walls, or at least briars and brambles, than open doors.  

 

It's not dumbing down the system.  It's not "basic Hero" to the big books' "advanced".  It would be 100% the HERO System, presented in a way that makes it easier to start chucking dice at the table.  That's all.

 

13 minutes ago, sentry0 said:

Anyways, it's all theoretical but if you don't play up to the systems strengths then what's the point?  There's a bunch of super RPGs out there that are good... why bother with HERO? 

 

You don't start with the advanced concepts first.  If someone doesn't know how to cook, you start them out browning ground beef, not making a Yorkshire Pudding.  

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41 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

Sure, our theoretical "get 'em rolling dice first", doesn't have to be -- and already isn't -- the only way into the system.  We have multiple points of entry that are an awful lot like walls, or at least briars and brambles, than open doors.  

 

It's not dumbing down the system.  It's not "basic Hero" to the big books' "advanced".  It would be 100% the HERO System, presented in a way that makes it easier to start chucking dice at the table.  That's all.

 

 

You don't start with the advanced concepts first.  If someone doesn't know how to cook, you start them out browning ground beef, not making a Yorkshire Pudding.  

 

I don't think I expressed myself cleanly in my post.  Let me say like this: what's the competitive differentiator for HERO?

 

If you had one chance to show people why this system is the best (I know, I'm biased :)) then how would you do it?  You can make a Brick or an Energy Blaster in M&M and any number of other superhero games.  If I can do that in those other systems why would I bother looking at HERO?  What's the hook for a new player to play Champions vs M&M?

 

A friend of mine gave me some good advice about a project I was working on; show, don't tell.

 

Again, I'm not suggesting making mind melting exercises in creative accounting... it's about showing them enough of the system that it actually grabs their attention.  It's a very delicate and challenging proposition but I think it's achievable.

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1 hour ago, sentry0 said:

I don't think I expressed myself cleanly in my post.  Let me say like this: what's the competitive differentiator for HERO?

 

I have this one rulebook.  I can play a superhero game.  Using the same ruleset, I can play a fantasy game, or a science fiction game, or an old west game, and while I may want to choose different toggle options when putting the game together, I can look at the characters and know exactly what they can do.  I don't have to try to guess whether a special ability is going to balance with others, or whether it's going to break my game, and 99% of the time my assessment will be correct.  I can do all of that without having to learn a new ruleset, or even open a new sourcebook.  

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1 hour ago, sentry0 said:

 

I don't think I expressed myself cleanly in my post.  Let me say like this: what's the competitive differentiator for HERO?

 

If you had one chance to show people why this system is the best (I know, I'm biased :)) then how would you do it?  You can make a Brick or an Energy Blaster in M&M and any number of other superhero games.  If I can do that in those other systems why would I bother looking at HERO?  What's the hook for a new player to play Champions vs M&M?

 

A friend of mine gave me some good advice about a project I was working on; show, don't tell.

 

Again, I'm not suggesting making mind melting exercises in creative accounting... it's about showing them enough of the system that it actually grabs their attention.  It's a very delicate and challenging proposition but I think it's achievable.

 

Showing why it is the best is a different prospect from teaching them to play quickly,  and not neccesarily best addressed at the same time.

 

Unless they have played other RPG systems. 

 

One of the things that makes Hero System the best has been brought up on this thread repeatedly as though it were of necessity a negative. 

 

A strength Hero system has (which is appropriate for Superhero and detective genres in particular is the the ability to make a character harder to kill with out necessarily making that same character equally difficult to knock out. Capture, death traps, and all sorts of genre conventions are enabled and enhanced by the way the system works to do that. It does make for one more step in combat,  but the trade off is being able to replicate certain genre specific tropes much better.

 

Jim Rockford  and Mannix would have died before the middle of their first seasons if they were D&D characters,  as often as they got hit on the head. 

 

But demonstrating that strength doesn't get people into a game faster.

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27 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

I have this one rulebook.  I can play a superhero game.  Using the same ruleset, I can play a fantasy game, or a science fiction game, or an old west game, and while I may want to choose different toggle options when putting the game together, I can look at the characters and know exactly what they can do.  I don't have to try to guess whether a special ability is going to balance with others, or whether it's going to break my game, and 99% of the time my assessment will be correct.  I can do all of that without having to learn a new ruleset, or even open a new sourcebook.  

 

That's very true but let's dig a bit deeper... why is it so flexible?

  1. is scales well
    • you can run low level action games to cosmically powered games in one system
  2. it has a finite set of powers you build with... it's a lot like playing legos
    • Application of advantages and limitations turn this finite list into infinite possibilities
  3. it separates SFX from mechanics
  4. it has no class systems; build what you want, how you want
  5. the only constraints are your points and imagination
  6. it's a genre chameleon

Can any of this be shown in an effective way via an introductory adventure scenario for Champions?  I mean, one could tell people this but I think it's more effective to show them if at all possible.

 

Just asking the question at this point mostly because I think it would be a disservice to not show people the strengths of the system.  The last thing that I would want to see is some homogenized set of pre-gens that make the system look boring or like an academic exercise.

 

15 minutes ago, Solitude said:

 

Showing why it is the best is a different prospect from teaching them to play quickly,  and not neccesarily best addressed at the same time.

 

Unless they have played other RPG systems. 

 

One of the things that makes Hero System the best has been brought up on this thread repeatedly as though it were of necessity a negative. 

 

A strength Hero system has (which is appropriate for Superhero and detective genres in particular is the the ability to make a character harder to kill with out necessarily making that same character equally difficult to knock out. Capture, death traps, and all sorts of genre conventions are enabled and enhanced by the way the system works to do that. It does make for one more step in combat,  but the trade off is being able to replicate certain genre specific tropes much better.

 

Jim Rockford  and Mannix would have died before the middle of their first seasons if they were D&D characters,  as often as they got hit on the head. 

 

But demonstrating that strength doesn't get people into a game faster.

 

I'm advocating for both getting them in quickly and showing the strengths of the system.  I want it all!  I think it's achievable with a bit of carefully placed advantages and limitations on the pre-gens.  Just enough to show a new player that there's something interesting going on here... nothing too fancy.

 

Like I said, tease them with some of the more interesting build concepts not necessarily lecture them about it or make a character so complicated that it's unapproachable for a new player.

 

 

 

 

 

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In terms of the learning curve...the basics of combat, yes, you can pick up in one session.  Character creation, you're not going to get all of it in one session, but enough to be able to read your sheet and make a very basic character.  Building to concept without GM assistance?  That's a matter of weeks or months.  Character creation is the most complex part of the game--I mean, that part of 6th ed is like 400 pages long.  Combat is relatively straightforward by comparison.  "Simplifying" or "Streamlining" Hero is primarily about finding a way to streamline the character creation process, which is the one aspect of the game that can be intimidating or daunting for new players, especially if they come from a D&D type background, with a basic set of character classes, races, etc to choose from, stats to roll up, and a basic selection of equipment, skills, etc. that are basically handed to the player.  In Hero you start from scratch.  So, yeah, by comparison, it IS more complicated than a lot of traditional systems like D&D or simplified systems like Storyteller.  

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Pre-gens are helpful.  We still get to the question of "maybe the character creation section of our universal rpg system should clock in at less than, say, 400 pages".  Like, 40-60 pages.  Could we simplify the system to keep most of the flexibility while losing a lot of the verbiage and a layer or two of math?  We might have to burn the whole thing down and start over using first principles.  

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48 minutes ago, megaplayboy said:

Pre-gens are helpful.  We still get to the question of "maybe the character creation section of our universal rpg system should clock in at less than, say, 400 pages".  Like, 40-60 pages.  Could we simplify the system to keep most of the flexibility while losing a lot of the verbiage and a layer or two of math?  We might have to burn the whole thing down and start over using first principles.  

 

It's 2019.

Even boardgames are using apps to do the math and upkeep.

It has made a tremendous difference in trying to market heavier games like Mansions Of Madness.

 

The phone I am typing on is not a premium phone.

But it's as powerful as the computers that the hero software was designed to run on.

 

Why not have apps for the tablets and phones that most players probably own instead of gutting the math for people who don't want to or cannot do the math in their heads?

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1 minute ago, Solitude said:

 

 

 

Why not have apps for the tablets and phones that most players probably own instead of gutting the math for people who don't want to or cannot do the math in their heads?

Because good software development is it's own expensive nightmare of a project.  and the design phase is the most important.  Do we cede tabletop, because we don't have a decent phone app? Then I guess it's ceded.

 

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45 minutes ago, Solitude said:

 

It's 2019.

Even boardgames are using apps to do the math and upkeep.

It has made a tremendous difference in trying to market heavier games like Mansions Of Madness.

 

The phone I am typing on is not a premium phone.

But it's as powerful as the computers that the hero software was designed to run on.

 

Why not have apps for the tablets and phones that most players probably own instead of gutting the math for people who don't want to or cannot do the math in their heads?

We have Hero Designer.  It does "the math" for you.  But if I'm a new player, it's still 100 pages of character creation(4th edition) or 200-400 pages(5th/6th).  The math is only a portion of what makes character creation complicated.  There are dozens of powers, each with at least a half page writeup/explanation, some with a multipage explanation.  There are dozens of power advantages and limitations.  There's over 100 skills.  Martial arts is replete with options.  All of these have their own text descriptions and explanations.  Ditto for perks, talents and so forth.  Nobody looks at a 2 inch thick rulebook on character creation and thinks "oh that looks easy to learn".  

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28 minutes ago, megaplayboy said:

We have Hero Designer.  It does "the math" for you.  But if I'm a new player, it's still 100 pages of character creation(4th edition) or 200-400 pages(5th/6th).  The math is only a portion of what makes character creation complicated.  There are dozens of powers, each with at least a half page writeup/explanation, some with a multipage explanation.  There are dozens of power advantages and limitations.  There's over 100 skills.  Martial arts is replete with options.  All of these have their own text descriptions and explanations.  Ditto for perks, talents and so forth.  Nobody looks at a 2 inch thick rulebook on character creation and thinks "oh that looks easy to learn".  

 

Well, if you are coming from Squad Leader and Starfleet Battles then Hero System seems pretty straightforward. 

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5 hours ago, megaplayboy said:

We have Hero Designer.  It does "the math" for you.   

 

And while we are at it, let's rerelease the earlier versions of Hero Software (assuming licenses are still owned) so that people who buy these pdf products or have the old physical ones can get tech support if they want it.

 

I want the BBB hero maker software. Why isn't that available?

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10 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Because good software development is it's own expensive nightmare of a project.  and the design phase is the most important.  Do we cede tabletop, because we don't have a decent phone app? Then I guess it's ceded.

 

 

We also have Hero Designer which does what it's supposed to do: make characters for 5th and 6th edition.  While it's true that it doesn't work on phones or tablets it still runs on desktop and laptops which gives it a lot of device share.

 

Theoretically, I could add in the ability to actually make characters in the HERO System Mobile app but that does 2 things:

 

  1. Reinvents the wheel; for better or worse, we have Hero Designer

  2. Takes money out of Hero Games pockets as my app is free

 

The current experimental work I'm doing for reading in HD files could be expanded to write as well.  I'm just not super interested in doing it for the above reasons.  If there's a big demand than I would consider it but I've literally only had one person ever mention it.

 

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In my opinion Hero Designer suffers from the problem as HERO System books, It isn't easy to access or the everyday user.

 

one solution would be to have an online character creator (like D&D 4E did)

 

also a simple plug & play (no jave required) apps  for the major OSs (WIndows MacOS, and the phone OSs)

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Champions 2nd edition came in boxed set form, and it contained a starting adventure, a hex map, a few pre-generated heroes, and all the rules of the game. All of them. Not a single rule or mechanic was left out in the name of making the game beginner friendly. And it was a great way to get into the system. Anyone with prior TTRPG experience could get the game up and running pretty quickly.

 

So it's not like the Hero System has never had something equivalent to a boxed starter set. It's just that it never needed to reduce the rules set the way WotC has chosen to do for D&D. And such a Hero product shouldn't need to even now. It should just present the system in a more digestible manner. Of course, there are some 6e decisions I would reverse, restoring the game to something more akin to 4e + selected bits from 5e, but the bulk of the effort should be in presentation, layout, and accompanying campaign setting. That last part is absolutely crucial, in my view. Without an irresistible campaign setting to go with a fresh presentation effort, it's all for naught.

 

Would this turn Champions into the next D&D? Of course not. But nothing will. I think the best we could ever hope for is a superior core rules library, a killer campaign setting, and a modest up-tick in new players.

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21 minutes ago, zslane said:

Champions 2nd edition came in boxed set form, and it contained a starting adventure, a hex map, a few pre-generated heroes, and all the rules of the game. All of them. Not a single rule or mechanic was left out in the name of making the game beginner friendly. And it was a great way to get into the system. Anyone with prior TTRPG experience could get the game up and running pretty quickly.

 

If you recall, though, it wasn't all.  The Champions 1st-3rd edition corebooks were incomplete, even for Champions.  The Champions II and Champions III supplements added stuff: vehicles, bases, computers/AI, danger rooms, agents; additional Combat Maneuvers, Skills, Powers, Disadvantages.  For instance: Images (Light Illusions), Absorption, Reflection, Transform, Suppress (Neutralization), Damage Reduction, Multiform, Shapeshift, Variable Power Pools; Accidental Change, Dependency; Dive For Cover, Pulling your Punch, Roll With Punch, Coordinating Attacks; all of those appeared in the supplements, and not in any of the 1st-3rd ed core rules.  The corebooks had 12 Skills; Champions II added a bunch in from Espionage!, but not all of them, and the other standalone games had their own lists.  The standalone games used Hit Locations, Impairing/Disabling, advanced Bleeding, advanced firearms rules and lists (the Champions corebooks had things like "Light Pistol: 1d6 RKA, 6 shots, OAF; Heavy Pistol: 2d6 RKA, 8 shots, OAF).  

 

4th edition was the first one that contained all of the rules.  

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