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What happened to HERO?

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19 hours ago, GreaterThanOne said:

I disagree. Never underestimate what a few highly motivated people can get done when they decide to.

 

I think the question of "What happened to HERO?" treads into territory that can't be meaningfully addressed by "a few highly motivated people" unless those people are very wealthy. I have not seen the intersection of "highly motivated" and "sufficiently capitalized" appear within the ranks of the HERO player community in all the time I've been a part of it (which goes back to 1982). That, combined with the lack of resources available to the current brand holder, is the primary reason the Hero System has not seen any measurable growth while the hobby as a whole has expanded thanks to the explosion of popularity of D&D 5e.

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3 hours ago, zslane said:

 

I think the question of "What happened to HERO?" treads into territory that can't be meaningfully addressed by "a few highly motivated people" unless those people are very wealthy. I have not seen the intersection of "highly motivated" and "sufficiently capitalized" appear within the ranks of the HERO player community in all the time I've been a part of it (which goes back to 1982). That, combined with the lack of resources available to the current brand holder, is the primary reason the Hero System has not seen any measurable growth while the hobby as a whole has expanded thanks to the explosion of popularity of D&D 5e.

 

Well said. 

Hero needs exposure to the general gaming community.  And while I know that things like Roll20 and such are the current fad and I can only speak for my personnel experience.  But while I have met many gamers that say they have tried it,  I only know a very very few, three actually, that actively game that way. 

So by exposure I mean the game being played in game shops. 

If a game is played the the shop the store will stock it.  Demand for a product will mean orders.

Now I do not have an answer that will do that.  But I do believe wholeheartedly that the Hall of Champions is a major step forward in the process. 

To me Hero is a classic example of a "chicken or the egg" vicious circle.  Building stuff in Hero and Playing Hero.  You need to play in order to really understand the build part.  But without someone that already knows the game as a guide, many (maybe most) of the new players will not invest the time needed to understand the system when they can play any number of RPG's that are far more easier to start. 

 

I believe that the HoC will provide a much needed assistance for players and GM's that may need a little help getting started. 

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8 hours ago, Spence said:

 

 

To me Hero is a classic example of a "chicken or the egg" vicious circle.  Building stuff in Hero and Playing Hero.  You need to play in order to really understand the build part.  But without someone that already knows the game as a guide, many (maybe most) of the new players will not invest the time needed to understand the system when they can play any number of RPG's that are far more easier to start. 

 

 

This.

 

With Hall of Champions I expect very different submissions from people as to what they expect is reasonable under the system. Perhaps a little foreword from each writer with "Why the characters and scenario are designed this way" and scalable options would help. 

 

 

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13 hours ago, zslane said:

 

I think the question of "What happened to HERO?" treads into territory that can't be meaningfully addressed by "a few highly motivated people" unless those people are very wealthy. I have not seen the intersection of "highly motivated" and "sufficiently capitalized" appear within the ranks of the HERO player community in all the time I've been a part of it (which goes back to 1982). That, combined with the lack of resources available to the current brand holder, is the primary reason the Hero System has not seen any measurable growth while the hobby as a whole has expanded thanks to the explosion of popularity of D&D 5e.

 

I agree with you. I worked in mining financing for years and its the same problem. There are dozens of quality mines with little or no funds for them and a few large Market Darlings. Capital or a hell of a lot of sweat equity will be required. What I meant to imply is that funding, planning and execution all require at least a few motivated persons. Financing nor motivation alone will solve the issues but I believe it is worth doing. 

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, Spence said:

 

Well said. 

Hero needs exposure to the general gaming community.  And while I know that things like Roll20 and such are the current fad and I can only speak for my personnel experience.  But while I have met many gamers that say they have tried it,  I only know a very very few, three actually, that actively game that way. 

So by exposure I mean the game being played in game shops. 

If a game is played the the shop the store will stock it.  Demand for a product will mean orders.

Now I do not have an answer that will do that.  But I do believe wholeheartedly that the Hall of Champions is a major step forward in the process. 

To me Hero is a classic example of a "chicken or the egg" vicious circle.  Building stuff in Hero and Playing Hero.  You need to play in order to really understand the build part.  But without someone that already knows the game as a guide, many (maybe most) of the new players will not invest the time needed to understand the system when they can play any number of RPG's that are far more easier to start. 

 

I believe that the HoC will provide a much needed assistance for players and GM's that may need a little help getting started. 

 

This. It doesn't matter how good the products look if no one buys or plays them. I personally believe the best thing at this point would be to make the system free and sell the modules, miniatures, etc. Using Unreal Engine as an example, they were able to quickly dominate the market because they a) Made a product that was easy to learn, hard to master, and b) they let everyone and their mom make mods, systems, games, add-on and plug-ins for free and retain a percentage. 


We are still following old models in a very much changed world but there are some excellent opportunities with long range playing advancements, VR, etc. But we have a lot we can do now. Maybe we need a Hall of Heroes where GM's share resources for new players and coordinate for conventions? I just came back from a long hiatus so there may be a bunch of resources I am missing but first we have to run the games so people can see that it isn't that hard.

 

Also we should probably stop telling each other that what we are doing is "hard". It isn't. It's a set of logical rules which anyone can learn with some patience and diligence. No, you can't learn Hero by flipping through a few pages and scanning a weapons chart but it can be learned without much fuss if your IQ is anywhere near average. 

 

I spent most of yesterday at a sponsored event which had a series of short games. One of the games is new and being released and we each got a character sheet, some dice and a quick overview of what was on the sheet. We played. The launch is in a few months and it was an excellent way to spread the game but it is a COORDINATED effort not some lone Urban Gamer trying to revitalize a system. 

 

Anyhow, I for one am here for the long haul. 

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21 hours ago, Spence said:

 

Well said. 

Hero needs exposure to the general gaming community.  And while I know that things like Roll20 and such are the current fad and I can only speak for my personnel experience.  But while I have met many gamers that say they have tried it,  I only know a very very few, three actually, that actively game that way. 

So by exposure I mean the game being played in game shops. 

If a game is played the the shop the store will stock it.  Demand for a product will mean orders.

Now I do not have an answer that will do that.  But I do believe wholeheartedly that the Hall of Champions is a major step forward in the process. 

To me Hero is a classic example of a "chicken or the egg" vicious circle.  Building stuff in Hero and Playing Hero.  You need to play in order to really understand the build part.  But without someone that already knows the game as a guide, many (maybe most) of the new players will not invest the time needed to understand the system when they can play any number of RPG's that are far more easier to start. 

 

I believe that the HoC will provide a much needed assistance for players and GM's that may need a little help getting started. 

 

Part of the issue with that is that many gaming stores (at least in my experience) believe Champions/Hero to be dead. The three shops I have locally do not acknowledge it's existence, nor are they willing to stock it because "nobody plays it". HoC may make some difference, but only if the products are visibility-friendly and draw people in. In my experience, blocks of text do not do that. 

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25 minutes ago, Sketchpad said:

 

Part of the issue with that is that many gaming stores (at least in my experience) believe Champions/Hero to be dead. The three shops I have locally do not acknowledge it's existence, nor are they willing to stock it because "nobody plays it".

 

Exactly.  That is the major hurdle Hero faces.  Another is that the books are not available in general distribution (by general distribution I mean one of the major distributors that also carry all of the current big sellers) meaning that the shop will have to open an additional account to be able to buy the books.   But if people run the game in the shops then they might feel it is worth it.  HoC will facilitate this by making material available more readily available.  At least that is the working theory. 

 

25 minutes ago, Sketchpad said:

 HoC may make some difference, but only if the products are visibility-friendly and draw people in. In my experience, blocks of text do not do that.

 

Agreed, I have mentioned the sterile textbook vibe before.  In the past I was firmly in the "art and color and such" do not matter if the game is good.  But over the last ten years I have come to realize I was wrong and that the layout and art of a modern gaming book are critical to success. 

 

 

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13 hours ago, GreaterThanOne said:

 

This. It doesn't matter how good the products look if no one buys or plays them. I personally believe the best thing at this point would be to make the system free and sell the modules, miniatures, etc. Using Unreal Engine as an example, they were able to quickly dominate the market because they a) Made a product that was easy to learn, hard to master, and b) they let everyone and their mom make mods, systems, games, add-on and plug-ins for free and retain a percentage. 


We are still following old models in a very much changed world but there are some excellent opportunities with long range playing advancements, VR, etc. But we have a lot we can do now. Maybe we need a Hall of Heroes where GM's share resources for new players and coordinate for conventions? I just came back from a long hiatus so there may be a bunch of resources I am missing but first we have to run the games so people can see that it isn't that hard.

 

Also we should probably stop telling each other that what we are doing is "hard". It isn't. It's a set of logical rules which anyone can learn with some patience and diligence. No, you can't learn Hero by flipping through a few pages and scanning a weapons chart but it can be learned without much fuss if your IQ is anywhere near average. 

 

I spent most of yesterday at a sponsored event which had a series of short games. One of the games is new and being released and we each got a character sheet, some dice and a quick overview of what was on the sheet. We played. The launch is in a few months and it was an excellent way to spread the game but it is a COORDINATED effort not some lone Urban Gamer trying to revitalize a system. 

 

Anyhow, I for one am here for the long haul. 

There's a "HERO in 2 pages" PDF on drivethrurpg.com.

 

With some layout/art/presentation updates it could be a snazzy 4-page (one folded 11x17 piece of paper) intro to HERO.

 

Add some character sheets and boom.

 

Think Beginner Boxes like for 5e D&D, Pathfinder, Starfinder, Spectaculars, and others. Done right, high production values.

 

Inside, "Now that you've enjoyed playing the Champions (Defender et al), design your own hero with Champions Complete, available at gamestores everywhere!"

 

Onward and more HEROic!

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On 11/3/2019 at 7:02 PM, Sketchpad said:

 

Part of the issue with that is that many gaming stores (at least in my experience) believe Champions/Hero to be dead. The three shops I have locally do not acknowledge it's existence, nor are they willing to stock it because "nobody plays it". HoC may make some difference, but only if the products are visibility-friendly and draw people in. In my experience, blocks of text do not do that. 

Based on my own experience at game stores across different cities in two different states within the past five years or so, am inclined to also support that observation. The Champions and Hero System related materials have been typically kept in the used game book section to be sold at a reduced rate. When asked to order a Champions or Hero System product, the game store cannot order it from any of its distributors. Champions and/or Hero System books have either been print or download on demand or ordered via eBay or Amazon through a book or game vendor clearing its old inventory. 

 

I guess that's why I've been gunshy of running Champions at game conventions in recent years or at my local game store because if the players get interested and want their own set of game materials, I have to refer them elsewhere and not my local game stores that I support. They cannot order it from the store we're playing in. By contrast, other superhero RPG demos that I previously ran have gone so well (e.g. Icons) that the players went out and bought their own copy of the rules as a reference and to start up their own campaign when they return to their home state or area after the event. 

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I am, and always have been, a big proponent of the digital revolution. But at the same time I still love physical books, and I think a lot of other people do too. Digital publishing may be a growth industry, but when it comes to RPGs it seems that being on game store and book store shelves is still perceived as a major indicator that an RPG is "for real", and is worth investing time and money into as a player (or group).

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On 11/3/2019 at 10:38 PM, Duke Bushido said:

There was an MHI styled HERO intro as well.

 

What happened to that thing?

 

 

I know there were 2 additional books for that, but Steve & Larry ended up converting it for Savage Worlds due to marketability and greater ease of play with the latter system.

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DoJ was formed to buy Hero Games from Cybergames. DoJ published 5e and lots of books. Those books stopped selling. To try and increase sales, they put out 6e. 6e didn't sell well enough and a decision was made at DoJ to de-emphasize Hero and focus on Indie Press Revolution which DoJ had purchased after handling much of IPR's warehousing and order processing. This was the point at which Darren Watts parted ways with the company and Steve Long was no longer full time as the Hero line developer. I think that was around the end of 2011. So, it's been about 8 years since the HERO System was really the focus of DoJ. We're about where things were in the late 90s (maybe a little better), but unless there are changes in priority at DoJ or they sell the system to a group that does what DoJ did in the early 2000s, it's probably best to consider Hero System to be a fringe RPG system that is largely being propped up with what is basically fan material.

 

Is there hope? Personally, I doubt it. Other than D&D, which is always more of an exception than a rule, are there really any other traditional RPGs for which companies are publishing regular materials. I think the increase in RPG sales is larger due to D&D and Pathfinder. Other than that, I think any increase in interest is in lighter and more narrative driven systems.  That, and tailored indie-style RPGs which are really designed to give players a specific experience and not really for long-term campaign play --- more something you pull out, generate characters, and play for a few hours to create a specific type of story.

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On November 7, 2019 at 10:52 PM, grandmastergm said:

 

 ended up converting it for Savage Worlds due to marketability and greater ease of play with the latter system.

 

After faithfully buying and reading the last couple of editions of HERO, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to considering changing to SW myself, for precisely the same reasons.  :(

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1 hour ago, rjcurrie said:

Other than that, I think any increase in interest is in lighter and more narrative driven systems.  That, and tailored indie-style RPGs which are really designed to give players a specific experience and not really for long-term campaign play --- more something you pull out, generate characters, and play for a few hours to create a specific type of story.

 

It's interesting to examine Champions Now in that light.

 

First, it's mechanically lighter than 5e/6e, mainly due to its specific genre focus, but partly because of streamlining. On the other hand, it still can't be described as light.

 

Second, it pushes towards deep characterization through its Situations (Complications/Disadvantages, basically). These are more likely to be thoroughly explored in a longer game than a shorter one.

 

On the other hand, it deliberately allows for a more narrativist style of play. It's not the only way to play it, but it's there.

 

So it doesn't really fit the model above.

 

Another issue it has is that it is hard to provide supporting products for it. It has a very strong DIY ethos, which such products would tend to undermine. In fact, I suspect that in order to do so, a fairly conscious rejection/modification of that ethos might be necessary.

 

So it has "niche product" written all over it. A shame, because it's good.

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On 11/25/2019 at 10:21 PM, assault said:

 

It's interesting to examine Champions Now in that light.

 

First, it's mechanically lighter than 5e/6e, mainly due to its specific genre focus, but partly because of streamlining. On the other hand, it still can't be described as light.

 

Second, it pushes towards deep characterization through its Situations (Complications/Disadvantages, basically). These are more likely to be thoroughly explored in a longer game than a shorter one.

 

On the other hand, it deliberately allows for a more narrativist style of play. It's not the only way to play it, but it's there.

 

So it doesn't really fit the model above.

 

Another issue it has is that it is hard to provide supporting products for it. It has a very strong DIY ethos, which such products would tend to undermine. In fact, I suspect that in order to do so, a fairly conscious rejection/modification of that ethos might be necessary.

 

So it has "niche product" written all over it. A shame, because it's good.

Champions Now is what Ron Edwards wants Champions to be. Nothing more. Nothing less.

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On 11/25/2019 at 10:11 PM, Duke Bushido said:

 

After faithfully buying and reading the last couple of editions of HERO, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to considering changing to SW myself, for precisely the same reasons.  :(

I picked it up myself for that reason. It’s not a bad game however unless you’re able to divorce Champions outta your system, SW can be a real jolt to the mind. The best way to describe it is characters have a lot of talents (Champions) which they call Edges and not all Edges are available to the player depending on game.  For example, there is a martial art Edge which allows you to ignore penalties facing a knife wielding opponent. In the Super Hero Companion, that is already a ground rule so that Edge isn’t used. Plus the Edge Extra Action doesn’t allow you to move again just attack. (I heard that the 3rd ed they were going to change this.) The really quirky thing is that some  sample Powers in the Core book (I have Explorer’s Edition-2e) aren’t available in either Necessary  Evil or Super Power Companion ( and those two books aren’t 100% compatible with each other. Example in Core rules, there is a Flash Power however if you want to build it in SPC -it’s a kludge. There is nothing that a good GM could not house rule but the system is different enough that it might trip you up a little.

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Exploding dice can be lots of fun as "wild cards," but not so much fun outside of supers or high fantasy, where they just come off as bizarre.   

 

The deck of cards thing, though....  That's always been kind of a turn off to me every time it comes up. Maybe because so many rules-lite games use a deck, and the worse the game the more they seem to rely on it.....  Perhaps it's psychological.  

 

Or maybe it's because I have a pillow case full of randomizer all ready, why do I need a deck of cards?  Dice give nice curves of resulta: cards are always one I. Fifty-two (or fifty four). 

 

 

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On 11/27/2019 at 9:21 AM, GM Joe said:

In the future, everyone will design and publish their own Champions.

 

As humorous and heart warming as that is, I admit to having a "perfect" version od Champions that is pretty much 2e with excerpts of Champs II and III, my own vehicle / giant robo rules, and a small "discussion entry" of new powers from later editions that is essentially 'how to do this with 2e rules."

 

Given that there is currently this.   "Champions Now" project and of course a floundering current edition, I doubt I could even get it into the Hall of Champions. 

 

I suppose it will forever remain my private "I hope to make a Lulu book" dream... 

 

 

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An interesting fact is that while D&D5e is perhaps the most successful edition of D&D ever, it hasn't brought popularity to a long tail of secondary RPG systems  in its wake. Leaving Hero aside, there has been NO superhero game in the last decade which has capitalised on the popularity of superhero movies. (The Marvel RPG of a few years ago was not all that successful).

 

I find that quite remarkable - in a world where comic book movies and characters are mainstream, and where I can buy Dungeons and Dragons again in toystores in my mid-size town for the first time since the 80s, I can't reach out to the shelf next to D&D and find any superhero RPG. Since that is the case, it's hard to argue it's an anomaly the Hero isn't being played in force these days. Even Mutants and Masterminds has had its day - it was much more popular 10 years ago. Weird, but there it is.

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