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What happened to HERO?

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4 hours ago, zslane said:

 

Quite possibly. However, Hero Games lacks the resources to pursue either.


well, all I’m saying is that there’s still an opportunity here with the new community content approach. but finding the right factors to capitalize on a boom can be tricky. Look at all the would-be gaming industry giants that didn’t make it in the d20 era.

 

in addition to reawakening the Hero market, we should continue with initiatives that create a new generation - something like the character creation cards they came out with, perhaps? 
 

in any case, I’m eager to see what people come up with, and if there are hard market numbers out there that can give insights. Starting to feel like this is all armchair quarterbacking now.

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Trying to do my part introducing new players to HERO.  Running on Roll20:  Cthulhu HERO (Pulp), Hyborian HERO (Fantasy), Traveller HERO (Star Hero), Cyber HERO (Kazei 5), and Post-Apocalypse HERO (Using Danger International). Only 3 marathon sessions per year, but 3>0!

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1 hour ago, KawangaKid said:


well, all I’m saying is that there’s still an opportunity here with the new community content approach. but finding the right factors to capitalize on a boom can be tricky. Look at all the would-be gaming industry giants that didn’t make it in the d20 era.

 

in addition to reawakening the Hero market, we should continue with initiatives that create a new generation - something like the character creation cards they came out with, perhaps? 
 

in any case, I’m eager to see what people come up with, and if there are hard market numbers out there that can give insights. Starting to feel like this is all armchair quarterbacking now.

 

Oh it is armchair quarterbacking :yes:

 

I have been guilty a lot of it over the last few years.  But I really do believe that Hero's decline is due to a paucity of playable adventures to allow new players to get any first hand idea of how Hero actually works in play.  Once you have played at least one session, everything in the rulebook suddenly makes sense. 

 

I am currently looking through my material and seeing if there is anything that might pass.   

While I have done my share of technical writing and reports, I have never written anything for public consumption gaming'wise so I am kind of waiting for the guidelines to give me a better idea. 

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Well, it's not that Hero is completely devoid of adventures. For 6E Champions there's actually a pretty good selection:

 

https://www.herogames.com/store/product/506-evilution-unchained-pdf/
https://www.herogames.com/store/product/111-sands-of-time-pdf/
https://www.herogames.com/store/product/87-imaginary-friends-pdf/
https://www.herogames.com/store/product/94-king-of-the-mountain-pdf/
https://www.herogames.com/store/product/107-pretty-hate-machines-pdf/
https://www.herogames.com/store/product/53-the-crossroads-blues/
https://www.herogames.com/store/product/28-unkindness-pdf/
https://www.herogames.com/store/product/23-war-of-worldcraft-pdf/

 

For the pulp genre there are even more separate adventures, although most of those are for 5E. It does get thinner for fantasy, modern day, or sci-fi, but if you're willing to look at adapting adventures for older editions, or lift items from Digital Hero, there's a fair bit to work with.

 

Speaking of the latter, I might as well attach the list of the adventures from DH, broken down by genre, provided by our forum colleague JmOz. Note that most of these include maps, pregen NPCs, and in several cases PCs.

 

DH Adventures .doc

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I've found myself in the rather odd position of becoming "lore master" to the Champions Online player community. :huh:  Although I almost never play the MMO any more, in visiting the several forums devoted to it I've gotten in the habit of answering players' questions about the setting's background and history, both the Champions part and the larger past and future of the official Hero Universe (because that happens to be a hobby of mine). It's gotten to the point where players actually seek me out for info. In the course of answering I always specify which books I draw on for information and which contain more on the inquired-after subject. I've read responses indicating that's turned into a moderate number of book sales, and in at least a few cases trying out the tabletop game. I don't have any hard numbers, though.

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19 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

Well, it's not that Hero is completely devoid of adventures.

True, but the majority of 6E adventures are not beginner friendly and can be hard to use as a starting point for a campaign for a new GM. 

 

The fantasy related adventures/settings do not contain usable magic that can be used right now by a novice player that just wants to play.  What spell "lists" there are intermix high and low power spells buried in walls of build stat text rather than a simple what it does in game and a simple cost. 

 

The Hero Grimoire is a perfect example, fantastic resource for the experience Hero player, mind melting horror for a beginner.

 

All of the current 6E Settings suffer from "here is a setting but we don't actually want to give you anything specific that can actually be used by a PC in the dice rolling part of the game" syndrome. 

 

The adventures assume that the players have access to detailed character builds elsewhere. 

 

Evermist is a cool adventure/mini-campaign but it lacks any actual how to build PCs for this adventure" details.

 

If I had never heard of Hero and bought Fantasy Hero Complete plus Evermist I would not be able to actually play it anytime soon. 

 

That is the missing piece IMO, a adventure combo that guides players into quickly (same day) playing.  Getting a product give a fully playable , fully playable and hopefully fun adventure with examples.

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You'd think that with all the experience people have with TTRPGs now, what with D&D 5e's massive popularity and all, that sandbox gaming wouldn't be such a bewildering boondoggle. At some point we should be able to treat new Hero customers as though they aren't new to TTRPGs, but merely new to the Hero System. A book like FHC does a perfectly good job explaining the system, and it shouldn't take much more than a decent setting book with some plot hooks to get a competent GM's creative juices flowing so he or she can prepare a campaign and construct the adventures the players will go on.

 

(Cries of "But I don't have time to make up adventures or craft a campaign," will be met with, "Then you shouldn't be the GM," so don't even go there.)

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6 minutes ago, zslane said:

You'd think that with all the experience people have with TTRPGs now, what with D&D 5e's massive popularity and all, that sandbox gaming wouldn't be such a bewildering boondoggle. At some point we should be able to treat new Hero customers as though they aren't new to TTRPGs, but merely new to the Hero System. A book like FHC does a perfectly good job explaining the system, and it shouldn't take much more than a decent setting book with some plot hooks to get a competent GM's creative juices flowing so he or she can prepare a campaign and construct the adventures the players will go on.

 

(Cries of "But I don't have time to make up adventures or craft a campaign," will be met with, "Then you shouldn't be the GM," so don't even go there.)

 

Hmmm...

So much wrong with this. 

Basically, if you don't have a lot of free time or don't already have experience in TTRPG then get out of my sandbox.

Yes, experienced GM's can pick up Hero and literally build anything because they have a frame of reference. 

But a game company in 2019 doesn't survive on the tiny margin of "experienced in TTRPG GM's". 

A successful TTRPG company makes new players into experienced GM's by paving the way.

This philosophy is exactly why Hero has plummeted from the #1 Supers RPG and one of the most well known universal RPG's to virtual extinction.   

But to be truthful, I a not really up to forum wars and such so I'll just bow out here.  Once the Hall of Champions opens for business I will see if I can turn my concept into reality.  Once that happens we'll find out if I am either a genius or just another idiot tripping over their own feet. 

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I popped out to a nearby village games club last night to say hello and see what was going on. There were three tables of D&D players in the local bowls club (a small venue).

They guys have a 3 hour timeslot - 18:30 - 21:30 so get straight into it. I arrived at 18:45. By this time two new players had rolled up their characters and were, more or less, good to go.

 

Hero needs this. Somehow.

 

I'll be interested to see contributions to Hall of Champions, just to see what everybody considers normal or reasonable builds/levels of power. I've always thought that the NPCs in supplements were way too overpowered (*) - certainly for my style of play,  so if I want to use them, I have to tone them down. Which equals more work, less play.

 

 

(*) exception being Mike Surbrook's stuff.

Edited by MrAgdesh
credit where due!

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For quick start of play in Heroic campaigns, I like using Templates. I provide Archetype Templates (Characteristics), Occupational Templates, and (if appropriate) Species Templates. Most offer some player choice as to the specific traits. Mix and match one Template of each type and make your choices within those Templates to make your unique hero.

 

As far as random supers, there was that random chargen system offered in Champions III... :)

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On 10/26/2019 at 1:25 PM, sentry0 said:

 

Is it?  

 

I play in a weekly D&D 5e game and it's anything but fast playing and easy to learn.  There are many, many rules, dice, and exceptions to rules just to make it appear to work.

 

Where D&D shines is the ease of making a level 1 character.  Once you get a few levels and archetypes, features, and spell slots come into play it frankly becomes a mess of horribly balanced spells, feats, and exercises in accounting.  I play a simple Fighter (Cavalier) without spells or flashy abilities and I'm super underpowered compared to everyone in the group.  My choice, but someone needs to take the hit.

 

HERO, in comparison, has a painful character creation process rife with math.  It's so time consuming and error prone that we've been using computer programs to do it for decades.  Once you're in game, things are pretty straightforward I would argue.  At the very least I would assert it's no worse than modern D&D.

 

When I've evangelized the system at conventions and game stores, I've noticed that the fact that you have to roll low for attacks and high for effects/damage can be off-putting to players familiar with Dungeons and Dragons- I've seen at least 6 veteran players rage-quit the system since I started evangelizing in 2012.  Weirdly enough though, that was not the case for non-D&D players.

 

From what I heard, D&D's sales grew like 800% of something crazy like that since the new edition started; and I do think that it has the overwhelming market share.  The trend of RPGs this decade has been to go "rules light," while HERO is certainly rules heavy.  Still, I think HERO's rules do make sense and are detailed enough to cover just about every situation.

 

I do think that D&D's class balancing is much better for this edition than the beloved 3rd/3.5, with 3rd edition and 3.5 one of the least balanced RPGs that I played.  4th edition had great balancing, but was too combat-focused and elevated mechanics over RP for at least half the fanbase- which led to its disastrous failure.

 

HERO has declined this decade, which is a shame given the quality of the 6th edition.  I think the Great Recession really damaged things, but HERO just doesn't have the visibility of D&D.

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On 10/27/2019 at 8:29 PM, Spence said:

 

Oh it is armchair quarterbacking :yes:

 

I have been guilty a lot of it over the last few years.  But I really do believe that Hero's decline is due to a paucity of playable adventures to allow new players to get any first hand idea of how Hero actually works in play.  Once you have played at least one session, everything in the rulebook suddenly makes sense. 

 

I am currently looking through my material and seeing if there is anything that might pass.   

While I have done my share of technical writing and reports, I have never written anything for public consumption gaming'wise so I am kind of waiting for the guidelines to give me a better idea. 

 

I've considered turning a setting and some adventures I've run into playable materials.

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For everyone pointing out that D&D has the fattest slice of the money pie, let's remember that when the big slump was going on, D&D suffered, too.

 

And D&D was not saved by D&D (because I don't know who all owned it between TSR and Wizards); it was saved by Piazzo with their Pathfinder products.  I don't know how much money they lost at first, pumping out actual physical product and putting in >gasp< regular book stores as well as hobby shops, etc-- but I recall a fairly long period when if you saw folks playing D&D, they were playing Pathfinder.

 

What has happened with this Hall of Heroes thing is that everyone on earth has the chance to do the same thing for HERO:  make something interesting, and figure out how to get it seen.

 

Honestly, if we could get a whole bunch of housewives to condemn it on national television, we'd have it made.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

And D&D was not saved by D&D (because I don't know who all owned it between TSR and Wizards); it was saved by Piazzo with their Pathfinder products.  I don't know how much money they lost at first, pumping out actual physical product and putting in >gasp< regular book stores as well as hobby shops, etc-- but I recall a fairly long period when if you saw folks playing D&D, they were playing Pathfinder.

 

 

I blame 4e for that.

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2 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

For everyone pointing out that D&D has the fattest slice of the money pie, let's remember that when the big slump was going on, D&D suffered, too.

 

And D&D was not saved by D&D (because I don't know who all owned it between TSR and Wizards); it was saved by Piazzo with their Pathfinder products.  I don't know how much money they lost at first, pumping out actual physical product and putting in >gasp< regular book stores as well as hobby shops, etc-- but I recall a fairly long period when if you saw folks playing D&D, they were playing Pathfinder.

 

What has happened with this Hall of Heroes thing is that everyone on earth has the chance to do the same thing for HERO:  make something interesting, and figure out how to get it seen.

 

Honestly, if we could get a whole bunch of housewives to condemn it on national television, we'd have it made.

 

 

 

If you're truly putting the sole savior on D&D with Paizo/Pathfinder, keep in mind it was more than rules and concepts. The art and design of the products really elevated the style and look of their books, making them some of the best looking games on the market. I don't know if they're the sole savior in this case, but they did stand out. Something to think about for Hall of Heroes. 

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It appears to be a combination of factors, as others have mentioned: 

  • There is nothing in the core book where you can print out pregens and run through a starter adventure, like many other RPGs do.
  • The most complex part of Hero is character generation, making the above issue worse.
  • Hero is an old-school system that likes to codify everything, while the current trend is for 'looser' systems.
  • Hero doesn't really have a good meta-currency on par with Fate points, Inspiration, and the like.  I've found every attempt at Hero Points to be clunky and not as intuitive as similar meta-currencies in other systems.
  • There is a lack of promotion due to the company's current state, making it less visible than D&D, Fate, Shadowrun, etc.

I'm sure that only scratches the surface, but it's what comes to mind when I think of the reasons Hero isn't more popular these days.

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19 hours ago, Sketchpad said:

 

If you're truly putting the sole savior on D&D with Paizo/Pathfinder, keep in mind it was more than rules and concepts. The art and design of the products really elevated the style and look of their books, making them some of the best looking games on the market. I don't know if they're the sole savior in this case, but they did stand out. Something to think about for Hall of Heroes. 

 

I think you are on the right track here.  In my opinion one of the biggest problems with Hero has been the artwork.  Back in the days of 5e the art was terrible and that didn't lead people to pick up the books.  Perhaps we, as avid fans would buy them but it did little to draw new fans in. 

 

I really thought that with the IP getting bought by Cryptic (and them sharing their art) there would be a big push to get great art out there but it didn't come to pass.  Instead they stuck with the basic blue cover for most of the books. 

 

I get that people don't buy an RPG for the art but it does get interest going.  Look at Mutants and Masterminds, they were able to get a large following based on good looking products.  I'm not a fan of the system but the art was good.  I am a big fan of the Dark Champions genre and honestly I was very upset with the art that they chose to put in the 5e book Predators.  It was embarrassing for me to show the players.

 

I would be interested to find out how many copies of the BBB sold with the George Perez cover vs. Fred with the black cover.  I would think that there is a correlation.  The art won't do you a lot of good without a good game but Hero is a great game that should be far more successful than it is.

 

I don't pretend to know the ins and outs of the industry or the company.  I just find it a shame that such a great game is struggling to stay afloat.

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5 hours ago, Deadman said:

I get that people don't buy an RPG for the art but it does get interest going.

 

I'm not sure that's true....

 

Certainly people don't buy an RPG *just* for the art but I have also certainly bought any number of RPGs over the years sheerly based on cover and interior art. 

 

I think any pile of words can be a functional game system. I don't think people buy RPGs because of the words.

 

I think the book has to spark something in the person. Blue and yellow don't spark nuthin' for me.

 

Dr. D vs Seeker made me want to play that game without ever reading it.

 

I remember loads of Classic Enemies based on their art.

I remember buying Champions in 3d based almost solely on the cover art.

 

Since we're a bunch of Hero nerds here I know we all love our system of choice but I don't really think a system has ever sold a game.

I think art sells games.

 

Art invokes creativity.

Art informs potential buyers\players about all kinds of things about the game without them having to read a proverbial thousand words.

Art actually gets potential players to read those thousand or more words of the rules to actually play the game.

 

Shadowrun? Battletech? Bought 'em for the art.

Warhammer\40k? Art. In fact Warhammer and it's family are probably the best case for art being the only thing that really matters. IMO.

All those terrible Palladium games I used to play? It was the art that did it for sure.

Talislanta? Barely remember the system. Loooooove the art and the world and still wanna play that game solely based on the art.

 

Rules are bullshit (to an extent)\no plan survives contact with the enemy.

 

But pretty pictures are always pretty.

 

Art sells product.

 

IMO at least.

 

Gets pricey tho!

 

 

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