Jump to content

Western HERO and Equipment as Powers


Recommended Posts

Before I get too far into the weeds, I know next to nothing about Hero. I am, these days, mainly a GURPS player, but every so often, someone tells me that Hero is the superior choice, more fun to play with better character design and so on. I'm interested in looking into that somewhat, but I have a snag.

 

I don't know how better to do a comparison between the two than to look at GURPS Old West and Western HERO, since I love Westerns, but having only read Western HERO and the 6th Edition Basic Rules, I was confused about the treatment of guns in Western HERO, which seems just like it might be treated in GURPS or anything else.

 

Am I missing something? Was this an edition change thing? Or, for the sake of simplicity in the setting, was that particular part of character creation ignored for this one particular genre book? Am I going about this all wrong and ought to be trying something else to compare the two on somewhat level ground?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 53
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

For the most part, in Hero, we don't really care whether our target dies, as much as we care whether our target is "out".  Whether that's dead, unconscious in GM-discretionland, unconscious by 1 and s

That's why I like to remind people that, despite it being roughly in the crotchal region in terms of where it lies on the chart, "vitals" refers to any particularly vulnerable and weak hit location.

I agree; I believe there is some confusion here.  I'd like to touch on that in a moment, but to do so, I would first like to go over a couple of points I think might be creating some of that confusion

I'm not quite sure what you're asking, but I'll give it a shot.  (No pun intended...)

 

Why aren't the guns in Western Hero built with Powers?

 

In Western Hero, and most "heroic" level campaigns (Fantasy Hero, Pulp Hero, etc.), "mundane" equipment for the setting doesn't cost points.  It's treated more or less like equipment in any other game.  There's no edition change; really, it's more of a power level toggle.  All the way back to the first non-superheroic Hero System game (Espionage!) in fact. 

 

If it was something special within the setting -- for instance, a magic item in a fantasy game -- it's very probable that it would cost points and would be built with Powers.  

 

We've got at least two threads going on in other parts of the forums talking about almost this very issue, and some participants (meaning me) can't seem to make up their minds about it.  :D Except not really, it just gets into deep theoretical system discussion.  

 

The general rule, though, is that in non-superheroic genres, mundane equipment doesn't cost points and often isn't statted up with Powers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Equipment in heroic games isn't built showing all the powers and such because its not going to come up (the active points of a Winchester '76 rifle is irrelevant; nobody is going to dispel or drain it).  They're just presented as basic equipment with stats.  Western Hero was very vague in its presentation of weapons, without much detail beyond caliber.  The new edition coming out in a bit will have more specific things about particular guns, since that's pretty interesting to most players.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There were a few game-centric books some years back ("The Armory" (which was so popular it was reprinted almost immediately with higher-budget cover), "Guns! Guns! Guns!" (usually referred to as "G3" or "3G3" owning to some weird graphics with the title arrangement),  "More Guns!", and... "Edge I'd the Sword, Vol. 1" (still waiting for Volume 2).  The Armory is available as a PDF scan right here on this site, and all but one of of the others are still available PDF from BTRC.  This are but a few of the many third-party weapons supplements for RPGs from way back when, all of which featured stats for numerous popular gaming systems (or "Games," as they were called way back then ;)  ), but these four featured HERO stats among their offerings. 

 

There were even formulae for figuring out how to determine the damage of any weapon if you could provide certain data about the weapon. 

 

Unfortunately, these books served primarily to illustrate the HERO is a superhero system when everything is said and done.  It really breaks down at the low or "heroic" scale in that the granularity isn't there.  Several hundred weapons, all within a die of each other. 

 

Honestly, had GURPS been a big thing when these were written, I think these books would have been more than just "interesting." 

 

Without the granularity of a system specifically for that lower power level, there isn't any useful distinction between one gun and another, save Jamming or Clip capacity.  The lack of game-Stat differentiation ultimately makes flavor distinction a matter of do what you want. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

True, HERO's not a good choice for people for whom pages of realistic weapons, each notably different than the rest, is a primary determinant of whether they will enjoy the game.

 

Fortunately there are a lot of other things to like about HERO when used for heroic-level play, as any fan of Danger International or Justice, Inc. can attest. :)

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The difference between a Champions campaign, and a Western Hero (or Justice Inc., Dark Champions, etc) is that superheroes have to pay for their attack, defense, and movement powers along with their skills and characteristics.  Western Heroes pay for the skills and characteristics only, which allows them to access weapons and transportation (horses and wagons) they don't pay points for.  Money becomes more important when you have to buy items. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

It really breaks down at the low or "heroic" scale in that the granularity isn't there.  Several hundred weapons, all within a die of each other. 

 

This is another reason why I think the "treat all attacks as normal, and give killing an advantage to bypass unresistant defenses" approach is the best one.  Which would you rather roll, 1d6 KA or 3d6?  Which gives you a better sense of granularity, a ½d6 derringer and a 2d6+1 50 caliber Sharp's rifle... or a 2d6 derringer and a 7d6 Sharp's Rifle?  If you add in half dice, you get even more granularity.  Suddenly the weapon list really pops.

Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

This is another reason why I think the "treat all attacks as normal, and give killing an advantage to bypass unresistant defenses" approach is the best one.  Which would you rather roll, 1d6 KA or 3d6?  Which gives you a better sense of granularity, a ½d6 derringer and a 2d6+1 50 caliber Sharp's rifle... or a 2d6 derringer and a 7d6 Sharp's Rifle?  If you add in half dice, you get even more granularity.  Suddenly the weapon list really pops.

 

This was one of the suggestions I made during SETAC... and while I didn't particularly care for the idea that much myself, it was roundly, and unanimously, slapped down by everyone else in the group.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

This was one of the suggestions I made during SETAC... and while I didn't particularly care for the idea that much myself, it was roundly, and unanimously, slapped down by everyone else in the group.  

 

I'm not sure I'd be in favor of boosting the STUN total from killing attacks.

 

I'd love to hear why George MacDonald didn't choose to do it as you (much later) described, way back when he was designing Champions 1e. He must have considered it. Why use two completely different different damage throws when one (with the "bypasses unresistant defenses" proviso) would seem to do? I'd be curious if it was aesthetics or numbers.

Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Linsolv said:

Before I get too far into the weeds, I know next to nothing about Hero. I am, these days, mainly a GURPS player, but every so often, someone tells me that Hero is the superior choice, more fun to play with better character design and so on. I'm interested in looking into that somewhat, but I have a snag.

 

 

Hero scales up better than GURPS does.  GURPS probably handles the lower end of the scale a bit better.

 

Quote

I don't know how better to do a comparison between the two than to look at GURPS Old West and Western HERO, since I love Westerns, but having only read Western HERO and the 6th Edition Basic Rules, I was confused about the treatment of guns in Western HERO, which seems just like it might be treated in GURPS or anything else.

 

Am I missing something? Was this an edition change thing? Or, for the sake of simplicity in the setting, was that particular part of character creation ignored for this one particular genre book? Am I going about this all wrong and ought to be trying something else to compare the two on somewhat level ground?

 

It's been a long time since I looked at Western Hero, but generally any time you're looking at specific weapons and trying to make them accurately, you're gonna get some glitches between reality and the game system.  For instance, every "damage class" in Hero is generally considered to be twice as powerful as the previous one.  For normal (non-killing) attacks, that means a 6D6 punch is (theoretically) twice as powerful as a 5D6 punch.  In killing damage (which guns use), the steps are 1 point, 1/2 D6, 1D6, 1D6+1, 1 1/2 D6, 2D6, 2D6+1, etc.  So a 2 1/2 D6 killing attack is "twice as powerful" as a 2D6+1 killing attack.  Now, with a lot of guns, that's going to mean they are virtually identical.  A .45 ACP isn't actually twice as damaging as a 9mm (we aren't talking about muzzle velocity or grain, or even joules of energy, it's nebulous "power" and "damage").  There isn't really that much difference between most calibers, not enough to move it more than a single level of damage.  As a result, everything ends up looking the same.

 

The Hero System uses points to try to balance powers, and makes some determinations on what should be effective in an average combat.  But the Charges limitation doesn't really take into account the fact that one gun might be easier to reload than another.  Is a rifle that holds 17 rounds in a tube magazine really that much better than one that holds 16?  Normally that's a larger advantage (16 rounds is a +0 Advantage, 17-32 is a +1/4).  Since in a heroic game, nobody is paying points for these weapons (you just buy them at the general store like everything else), they didn't try to make the weapons follow the Powers rules exactly -- they just defined how they function.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I'm not sure I'd be in favor of boosting the STUN total from killing attacks.

 

Somewhere on here I have the rundown of the numbers when you do the system that way, and its not a notable increase.  Why?  Because KA's take a +¼ advantage, so their active cost compared to the active cost of the normal attack ends up making the DCs very similar in stun damage except at the very low level.  It works out extremely well and has many other advantages besides (such as making it easier for new players so they don't have to learn two kinds of damage and damage classes and all that).

Link to post
Share on other sites

For the most part, in Hero, we don't really care whether our target dies, as much as we care whether our target is "out".  Whether that's dead, unconscious in GM-discretionland, unconscious by 1 and staying down, whatever.  For genres where the primary attack type is Killing, we can pretty much get all of that from Hit Locations plus sectional defenses.  It's not laid out for you right in front, and it's not a Champions-style or even D&D-style slugfest.  You have to take advantage of cover, you have to Brace & Set when you can, you have to use CSLs, and most importantly you have to have a team.  

 

I'm aware of how... vociferously... IRL gun enthusiasts discuss the... vast differences between, let's say, a 10mm round and a .40 S&W... and, I mean, is there really?  

Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

I'm aware of how... vociferously... IRL gun enthusiasts discuss the... vast differences between, let's say, a 10mm round and a .40 S&W... and, I mean, is there really?  


Well... yes and no.  Watching Forged in Fire and seeing the subtle differences in types of very similar weapons is fascinating to me, there really are differences between a bowie knife and a kukri, between a falchion and an arming sword.  Each one has its own little characteristics: better against this kind of material, worse at slicing, holds its edge better under these circumstances, on and on.

 

But in game terms, they're both basically the same weapon with quite minor differences (mostly reflected in PD and ED, Body, that kind of thing).  Its the same with ammo, they really do have differences but when it comes down to playing an RPG, they aren't honestly that different.  The main differences in guns are in things like range, strength minimum, reload time, and capacity.  Anything beyond that is going to be beyond the realm of Hero RPG rules.

 

There was a game called Phoenix Command which was insanely complicated and yes, every single different kind of bullet for every single different gun was different and mattered.  The problem was that it was ...unplayable.  It was beautiful in its design and the way damage was done, the weapons were awesome in their completeness but it took a scientific calculator and five minutes with tables to figure out a single roll to hit.

Link to post
Share on other sites
49 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

I'm aware of how... vociferously... IRL gun enthusiasts discuss the... vast differences between, let's say, a 10mm round and a .40 S&W... and, I mean, is there really?  

 

Not compared to the differences between a guy who shoots lightning bolts and one who has napalm breath.  When you compare those two guys, the two bullet calibers look identical.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just my $0.02:

 

I find it depends on the story you are telling.  If you are telling a story like "Xena: Warrior Princess", where the hero always has their trade marked sword, staff and chakra, then it makes sense that they should buy the items.  If you are doing a more traditional RPG style approach (especially those which promote murder hobos), then the building of the weapons is not necessary so long as you have a good idea of how powerful the items are relatively to each other.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

This was one of the suggestions I made during SETAC... and while I didn't particularly care for the idea that much myself, it was roundly, and unanimously, slapped down by everyone else in the group.  

 

 

Well, you wouldn't want useful granularity to get in way of tradition, would you?!    :rofl:

 

Seriously though: that's a damned shame.  I've done some truly horrible things over the years to try to make Heroic level stuff a bit more granular, if only so that various characters and attacks and equipment actually _felt_ different: so that characters felt like individuals as opposed to "I'll be Ken; you be Ryu!"

 

Of all the things that were changed, that one would have been the most appreciated by me.  Granted, I'm only one guy, but I'm wiling to bet in the grand scheme of things, I'm not the _only_ guy.

 

So for the two of you who have done the "Killing Advantage" thing, care to shed some details?

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sadly I've not been able to playtest in actual game play how it plays out, but I know my players would be glad to roll more dice.  rolling 1d6 or d6+1 or d6-1 all comes down to the same thing: its one die.  And as we all know from combined centuries of experience between us all, the single die roll sucks.  Even 2 dice is bad, but its slightly better because then you start to get the rudiments of a curve.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since I seem to have attracted an audience in spite of myself, I hope it's not too much trouble to ask.

 

I often hear a great deal about the flexibility of Hero, and then someone asks what differentiates it from GURPS and you get some responses that it's better for higher power where GURPS struggles to scale up, where GURPS provides better granularity at lower power, where most Hero characters end up rolling against 11- for almost everything.

 

The other thing I hear is a lot about effects based, flexible design. But I don't understand the difference. Isn't that precisely how GURPS Advantages work? I would like to understand because this feels like some sort of Zen koan.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/30/2019 at 10:31 AM, Duke Bushido said:

Unfortunately, these books served primarily to illustrate the HERO is a superhero system when everything is said and done.  It really breaks down at the low or "heroic" scale in that the granularity isn't there.

 

Ain't that the truth.

 

It can be worked with but, playing heroic scale sure hammers home Hero's "Superhero" roots . . . 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Weird, I find that Hero is often at its best at the Heroic level.  Especially Fantasy Hero.

 

 

 

question.  It's the lack of a feeling that one thing is different from another.  When you can make a sizeable difference in a weapon--going from a small hold out to a Naval Colt or a cap and ball rifle and the mechanical difference is, say... A single pip of damage?   It's _almost_ a push against putting the work into flavor, when players can just as easily say "I'll get a gun; maybe 2". And the next player says "yeah, I guess I'll get a gun, too..." 

 

And defenses?  If your playing a western, you PD is 2.  You might put a couple of points into it, but across a party of six players, odds are you will only find 2 different PD scores, and within a point of each other.  The other characteristics suffer the same "bunching up," partly because "this is the range of mere mortals" and partly because there is no incentive to buy _one_ point of something. 

 

You don't see it as badly in Fantasy simply because Fantasy is low-level supers: the genre restrictions on "real" are way, way out there. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On October 30, 2019 at 5:11 PM, GM Joe said:

 

I'm not sure I'd be in favor of boosting the STUN total from killing attacks.

 

Well I generally don't, even as written.  It defaults (in my house rules) at x1 Stun and players may by up to x3 Stun (though I'm thinking of dropping the default to zero stun per a comment i made in a thread a few months back, after having learned some interesting things-- mostly about the goal of a "perfect sword" in ancient japan: evidently the perfect sword would remove a limb so cleanly that the target wouldn't notice it right away.  :lol:.  And a few other things from stories told by survivors of this or that).  If I do drop the default to x Zero Stun, I will probably lower the multiplier cap to x2.  I have two beefs as-written versus common usage:

 

1) I find in Heroic games it's purchased more for the specific goal of ignoring non-resistant DEF.  Certainly there are justifications for KA:  it's a freakin' heavy sword that I keep remarkable well-edged.  It's a gun.  They kill things.  Etc.  But when you hear the players during specifically say things like "oh, yeah; you'll want that!  You can cut right through the low-level guys because they never have resistant defenses-- well, it rankles.

 

But most of all:  It's called "Killing Attack," and not "Stunning Attack."  I've got players who have been in the group over twenty years; a couple of them have been in the group over thirty years.  Every now and again, right up until I instituted a cap, I would have to reject "Killing Attack, x6 multiplier, Does No BODY."   I bought it the first couple of times (Sci-Fi campaign in which, _now_ "Tazer Grenades" exist.   :rolleyes:.  )

 

Oh-- just for the curious:  the Tazer Grenade is a highly-charged chaff-type grenade.  It explodes, releasing a bajillion little foil bits into the explosion area, all the while arcing electricity from the capacitor in its core.  31/2D6 RKA, x5 STUN multiplier,Explosion (double radius),  Reduced Range (throwing distance) with a Linked 2D6 Flash v Sight, AOE, double radius, Reduced Range (limited to position of grenade at time of explosion).

 

And they are a _way_ bigger pain in the ass than you would think!

:lol:

 

I finally had to outlaw them on civilized worlds and in cities-- the players went after them the way nutso warlords go for land mines!  I know: it doesn't stop them from having a couple, or making them (damn you, Skills section!), etc, but it makes them harder to find and riskier to use. ;)

 

 

If I had it to do all over again, I'd have shot that down and suggested an NND _normal_ attack instead..... 

 

Live and learn, I suppose....

 

 

Quote

 

I'd love to hear why George MacDonald didn't choose to do it as you (much later) described, way back when he was designing Champions 1e.

 

Me too, but I can't lean on him too hard about it:  first attempt and all that.  There were several things that were changed immediately in 2e, and a few more that got tweaked in 3e (Endurance Battery, anyone?   :rolleyes:  )  I'm assuming that it worked more or less the way he envisioned it.  My personal beef (beyond the Stun Lottery) was the "free" bypassing resistant defenses.  I mean, I _get_ that, but 1d6 RKA does not equal 3d6 Energy Blast when the EB is reduced by defenses that the KA ignores.  Especially when the cap on KA was essentially x5 Stun multiplier: there was a possible (unlikely, but possible) chance of 30 Stun with _Killing_ Attack (doing the same 6 BOD that 3D6 EB could _potentially_ do), while the EB was never going to do more than 18 Stun, period.  And of course, _all_ defenses were removed from damage done by EB...

 

But I digress.  I don't want to dive too deeply into that.  I would like to know the perceived layout of "Killing Advantage," though, because it _sounds_ like something I could totally get behind. 

 

 

Quote

Why use two completely different different damage throws when one (with the "bypasses unresistant defenses" proviso) would seem to do? I'd be curious if it was aesthetics or numbers.

 

 

My guess is, at least for the first few editions, it worked more or less the way he saw it working.  Not everyone was going to max out the Stun multiplier, after all.  I have often noted--   Damn.  How to slide into this...

 

Okay, we all have various little tweaks or changes or house rules that we have found useful over the years.  Some of them may actually be Universal to all of us; who knows?  (I'm pretty sure "Upscale"  (what we called MegaScale before there was a MegaScale) was universal as a house rule, at least the core idea.  Sometimes someone who either has a rule and wants to discuss it-- or, more commonly in discussion-- proposes a rule or variant.  There is usually a camp of support, a camp of rejection, and a fairly large camp of ambivalence.  :lol:

 

Quite often, the naysayers point out potential abuses, potential problems, etc.  (And it seems that most often is has to do with math.  Not always, but more often than not, from what I've seen).

 

Then someone will come along-- sometimes several-- who have actually been _using_ an idea identical-- or at least similar enough-- to offer genuine play test experience with the idea. Many times, the report from the "been there; done that" camp _is_ negative, but sometimes...  Well, sometimes it's _not_ negative.  Sometimes, it's downright _positive_.  The problem with discussing _potential_ is that ultimately, anything can be broken, if you twist hard enough.  But if no one wants to break it, or if it actually doesn't make enough difference to bother breaking it-- well, sometimes it works _fine_.

 

I suspect that's why KA remained as it was for so long.  Nothing in George's feedback ever suggested it needed changing.

 

Just a guess, mind you, but it seems reasonable.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...