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Linsolv

Western HERO and Equipment as Powers

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On 10/30/2019 at 6:15 PM, Linsolv said:

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.

 

It totally is Zen. 🙂  It's theory wank, but designers and tinkerers love theory wank!

 

GURPS is a hybrid of a "details matter" and "reason from effect" game. Equipment, the physics of actions and the world, the skills. Tons of details (differentiations). The "Powers" system of ads/disads, etc. starts with moderate details but allows you to customize with the "reason from effect" paradigm. You can take some power constructs and bend them to things you want to accomplish that don't necessarily fit the name of the power. GURPS seems more fiddly than it is because of the hybrid. Sometimes you are constructing a power that obviously the power you want. Other times you end up in a fog trying to file the rough edges of something where the details are not helping.

 

HERO is mostly all "reason from effect". It's about creating a generic framework of system bits that then cover the majority of "things you can do, things you are made of, things that can happen to you". It forgoes lots of the differentiation of similar things for flexibility. All these powers are basically building blocks you use to construct "all the things". There is a consistency then to those things. Sometimes however, these things can get "weird". So, a gun being set up as a "beam"... I'm like "that's not a beam! it's a projectile!" and HERO is like "dude, relax, it's just a mechanic. Describe it how you want to." 😄 

 

The truth is they are both great games with savvy design and TONS of thought put into them. I own tons of GURPS 4e and GM'd it for a long time (and played/GM'd a ton of HERO 5er before that!). I've moved back towards HERO because it focuses on the details I want. I love magic, powers and the like. I want the ability to customize those the most. I don't care so much for equipment lists, skill lists, or even physics emulators. HERO leans more "story-based" in this regard. In my opinion it has less calculations or laser-specific rules that just fits how I GM.

 

It comes down to preferences. Each person is going to find the parts in one of these systems they prefer over the over; and then likely choose it because it fits them. The rest of the debate is just theory, highly subjective and difficult to measure.

 

Just my two cents...

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On 10/30/2019 at 2:11 PM, GM Joe said:

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.

 

 

27 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

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.

 

I've got a guess, and I'm coming at this from a different direction than my usual "unofficial Hero System historian" one. 

 

I once wrote a retro-clone of Steve Jackson's The Fantasy Trip.  I was doing very little design, mostly trying to re-express the original game in my own terms, with enough rules changes that it wouldn't trigger any copyright issues.  (I know, you can't copyright rules, only the text.)  

 

I was doing a good bit of reorganizing, and a lot of seeing everything that was in TFT.  I discovered something pretty neat in the process.  Not just superficially, but at the DNA level, TFT is a direct ancestor to Champions and the Hero System.  I mean, superficially, sure, but not just that.  

 

The other parent was, of course, Superhero 2044 and Wayne Shaw's house rules for designing powers in there.  (Thanks, Wayne.)  

 

Looking at those two games together, I can almost mentally hear how the conversations went.  "We're playing on hexes, so of course we're going to use hexes."  "I think TFT has not quite enough stats; S2044 has a number of... weird ones.  Let's organize this, see what we've got, and what we need."  "Hey, superhero comics mostly do a lot of punching and blasting, but not a lot of slicing and dicing" (and here someone is looking over their glasses at Wolverine).  "Yeah, but I still can't figure out Superhero 2044, so let's start with TFT."  

 

TFT's stat scale is more or less on a par with that of GURPS, probably closer to Hero's Characteristic Rolls than the stat values themselves.  

 

The very basic six stats pulled from D&D, of course.  Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution, Charisma, back in the day, but since we're organizing the system, let's organize them so the groupings make sense.  Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma.  

 

Hit points?  Yeah, let's look at those.  We'll scale our hit points to the same level as the other stats.  

 

Playtesting shows that if we use hit points at this scale, and weapons or other attacks that do 1-3d6 of damage, we're seeing results all over the place.  

 

All right then.  How about some form of nonlethal damage?  Let's tweak numbers.  

 

If we scale our nonlethal damage at something like Strength + Constitution, and use Hit Points for lethal damage, how does that look?  

 

Easy.  The Hulk and The Thing will be almost impossible to put down.  So let's tweak those.  Half Strength + Half Constitution?  Too low.  Basic Hit Points should probably figure into that somehow...

 

So now our nonlethal damage works pretty well... we roll dice, subtract that from nonlethal damage capacity, and maybe roll this different set of dice to subtract from hit points... 

 

(Cue a lot of discussion, a lot of late night pizza and beer, a lot of waking up at night in a cold sweat...  I mean, we only got a small dose of this in SETAC.  They were staring into the unfiltered abyss of balancing Normal and Killing Attacks...) 

 

Okay, but shouldn't nonlethal attacks do some hit points?  How about one per die?  

 

Okay, but hey look, I just rolled a bunch of 6's on this damage roll.  Shouldn't those hit harder?  

 

Yeah, okay, but then 1's ought to not hit as hard.  

 

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

The above imagined conversation happened in my head at first over about ten seconds, then over about the two months or so I was writing the retro-clone.  I mean, the first thing I wanted to do was add nonlethal damage, and there are only so many ways to do that.  

 

Later, on the Facebook group (when I was still on Facebook), Bruce Harlick more or less confirmed to me that yes, they were playing a lot of TFT in those days.  I don't imagine there were direct lifts, but I mean, when you're playing a lot of one game, and designing another, it's pretty natural that there's going to be some filtration.  

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On 10/30/2019 at 7:15 PM, Linsolv said:

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.

OK, so a little background. I have been playing RPG's since around 1985. I played Champions for a long time but, like many, had a difficult time finding groups and almost all HERO groups were Supers related. The common belief then was that Champions had the broadest creation system (it still does) and creation wasn't random (most still are). I took a nearly 2 decade break from TTRPG's but coming back has given me a lot more perspective on the hobby.

 

I have a couple of dozen GURPS books in a box under my stairs including Man-to-man and a bunch of awesome world books that are all, without exception, excellent. GURPS does world books well, no doubt about it!

 

Their skill system is ostensibly more logical and accesible but I haven't purchased HERO System Skills yet and overall HERO may be at least as good. I will reserve judgement on that issue until I have the skills book. 

 

Now where HERO just simply destroys GURPS is in the hands of a creative Player or GM who understands the intricacies of the system. This is the primary reason I decided on HERO:

 

Think of ANY ability, power or thing and you can make it in HERO. YOU, not a Game Designer. You don't have to buy a module, learn a new sub-system or invent your own rules.  You want a Native American shaman that can put a curse on you that transforms you into a talking monkey over a month? Done. Need something like Dr. Who's Sonic Screwdriver? Done. A tank? Easy. An alien that drains-life-from-everything-around-it-even-when-he-doesn't-want-to? Done!

 

GURPS lacks (or lacked) an overall system for EVERYTHING. There are no true Rules to Make The Things only the rules and the things they make for you. It makes it difficult or impossible to compare the total power of say a mages blast to a cowboy's six-gun. HERO makes it possible (though not exact) by comparing Active Points. You can tailor HERO to the scale you want from planet eating gods to kids investigating a lemonade stand's stolen funds. GURPS handles the latter well but if you want to do the former you will likely need to buy a new book (p.s. It's GURPS Religion and a few others like Vodoo which is amazing!) or try to adapt the rules. 

 

Equipment charts and splashy art tend to get gamer's attention and often a player new to a system opens to the Weapons and Armor or Spells section, scans for the most "broken" weapon and then builds a character around that. Fine, but what if you want something that isn't in that list? How does adding Range or making it a Focus affect its power or cost? The consistency of HERO allows you to fairly easily create brand new things to the degree and detail you desire. Instead of looking for what you want you can make it! 

 

Now to the crux of your issue, and I sympathize with you because Westerns are one of my favorite gaming genres, the period is well documented, it translates to other Universes (Horror, Frontier Space, Outlands Fantasy, etc) well and it has a broad range of activities to engage in usually involving fighting.

 

Assuming you aren't just looking for period equipment lists (check HERO Equipment Guide if you are), you can create things in the world that may not be part of that world book easily by comparing similarly powered abilities or objects and simply changing the "Special Effect" and playing with Modifiers. Characters, weapons, vehicles and armor all use the same meta-rules. The specific books just go into more detail about how to achieve specific effects or address Genre specfic issues such as Time Dilation or Scalping. 

 

Example: "Two-Guns" McClintock hides from his pursuers in some abandoned Native American cliff dwellings. He lost his custom (OAF) guns in his escape but at the back of the caves finds a long dead bandido with a rusty .69 calibre 1822 US Model 1822 rifle(31/2D6 RKA!!!) with a dozen or so bullets. Because of its rust and age, the GM gives it the Activation Roll 11-, Jammed and Inaccurate, 1/2 OCV limitations. Now we have a general idea of how effective it is overall, the player can assess his risk of using it because of limitation standardization,  and because of Active Points (69!) we know how DEADLY it is when and if it hits despite the modifiers and roughly how likely it is to kill someone. 

 

The key to enjoying HERO is learning (and using) the rules. Often people say "Learning the rules is half the battle".

 

For the HERO System "Learning the rules IS the battle!" 

 

Once you learn the fundamental rules you can make anything with any series of attributes or characteristics you want in absolutely any universe you can imagine. GURPS is a collection of rules, terms and concepts but HERO is truly a creation system. Doubt it? Ask for anything here and I promise you one of these nerds can design it in no time at all. 

 

I do disagree with a lot of the players here in regards to big dice pools. Larger dice rolls are not favorable to EXCITING combat as it creates an average at high enough numbers. I'm sure some of the math people have gone into it in excruciating detail but I find the variability of low dice attacks to be perfect for the unknown. At high levels it's very easy to know if you are going to affect the target if you know their defenses. With HERO this "bloat" appears to come from the players in using what I consider extremely high values in their games a sort of Power Creep. I think this is a left over from being primarily used for super hero campaigns but it isn't inherent in the system and I'm inferring the advancement of this phenomena from looking at people's character sheets. 

 

I personally prefer a large variance in effect but many people prefer higher level "attrition" combat. Whatever floats your boat!

 

When I came back to TTRPGs I compared the two side by side and if you can deal with the lack of specific World details (outside of the Champions Universe), the system is much more adaptable. Like most things in life though, if it is worthwhile it probably takes time to master.

 

GURPS uses an exponential cost scale which inherently limits scaling (that was its intent). The idea is a natural one since it represents the law of diminishing returns but it limits its applicability to being "universal". Cost is a function of rarity or effort for a normal human and the system gets a little wonky at high levels. To retain its Universal applicability, HERO uses linear costs, i.e. +1D6 costs what the previous +1D6 costs UNLESS the GM puts a Maximum Characteristic or Active Cost limitations in place which will vary depending on the feel and style of the campaign. 

 

Hope this made sense I have been typing in short bursts between work and cooking. 


TLDR; HERO is easier to scale than GURPS but both are pretty awesome. 

 

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On 10/30/2019 at 3:08 PM, Christopher R Taylor said:

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.

Aftermath was another game with insane combat detail.

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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..." 

 

Actually there are notable differences.  Reload time is much slower with a cap&ball pistol, some pistols have more rounds, some have a stun multiple, some are better at range, shotguns have an area effect, rifles have great long range ability, etc.  "A gun" isn't any more true than "a weapon" in Fantasy Hero.  A sword is not an axe is not a flail is not a crossbow, and so on.

 

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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. 

 

I dunno what games you've played -- I suspect few if any in the genre -- but nobody except the lawyer type who is sickly and avoids fights has a 2 PD in Western Hero.  You have the Mountain Man type who is burly as hell and outdoors all the time, so he can take a terrible amount of abuse.  You have the boxer who's trained to take a punch.  You have the Hoss type from Bonanza who's just big and tough.  And even the lean wiry cowboy is rough and ready, can take a punch really well, and has 5 or more PD.

 

2 PD?  Seriously??

 

There's tons of reasons to take 1 point in things.  1 more recovery, 5 more END, 2 more Stun, 1 more Body, it all adds up.

 

I think you guys get so focused on huge stats in Champions you lose any sense of perspective here.  this doesn't seem like any sort of "when I played it was..." so much as from the outside not seeing what is going on inside.

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13 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

I think you guys get so focused on huge stats in Champions you lose any sense of perspective here

I could not agree with you more! Honestly, it is one of the biggest issues I have with HERO. The openness of the system seems to bring out the Power Gamer in a lot of people. 

 

I can't recall where I read it but "Not all the answers are on your character sheet" is a good mentality to keep in all TTRPGs. Your point total (within a certain range) is not what determines how effective you are in resolving conflict and shouldn't unduly affect your enjoyment but if it does tailor your campaign to that. 

 

The freedom of HERO can lead you down a lonely, boring road of Overpoweredness. 

Don't forget the Roleplaying part of RPG in our never ending quest for The Perfect System. 

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On November 1, 2019 at 8:40 PM, Christopher R Taylor said:

I dunno what games you've played -- I suspect few if any in the genre --

 

Most of them.

 

Years worth of them.  It's my favorite genre.

 

If you recall, I lamented the lack of the book in PDF so much that I destroyed three of them and hired professional help to restore the art just to create the PDF that is currently in the site store.

 

I was questioned a good bit about my extremely passionate (and long) tirade on the loss of the western and the -- in my highly-opinionated opinion-- detrimental effects that has had on our culture and social expectations of each other.  My computer is sitting against a wall, the other side of which is a bookshelf that runs the entirety of the "spare room."  That book shelf contains my entire HERO collection (except the adventurer's club magazines, which are on the stand on the computer, where they were originally to be sacrificed to create PDFs for the store on this site until Jason suggested I "hold off and wait for an upcoming BOH.").  There is the three-novel Starrigger series by John DeChancie, a couple of Mercedes Lackey books that were foist upon me, Turtledove's "The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump," "Good Omens: the Nife and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch," and Gaiman book whose title I can't recall at the moment but features a baby stroller ("pram," if you speak that "other" english) with a skeletal child sitting up and shaking a rattle, and a four-foot shelf of dictionaries and medical reference books I couldn't quite part with when I finished school (including a dangerously out-of-date pharmaceutical reference.  The remains of that twenty-two foot wall are westerns.  Collected over a lifetime, most of them re-read repeatedly, all of them loved (except the "Sacketts" books.  I enjoy L'amour, but I didn't like the Sacketts.)

 

I don't collect videos, but I am thinking I could rattle off a list of them long enough to bore you, from the old musical westerns to the spaghetti westerns to the handful of 80s deconstructive westerns (I am one of those rare people that didn't like Silverado, though I _loved_ that Louis Gosset, Jr. western (whose name escapes me):

"You shot that man in the back!"

"Well his back was to me!"

 

:rofl:  :rofl:

 

even down to Django. (which was hard to watch)

 

My most successful fantasy campaign was an occult western (didn't plan it; it just sort of happened that way.  You know how that goes   ;) )

 

Easily half of my space opera stuff ends up with strong western vibes, just because I like the vibe.  (Again, I don't plan it; it just ends up that way)

 

I can comfortably state that about 2/3 of my HERO gaming has been an dead-even mix of western and cyberpunk (my other favorite genre).

 

But there _is_ a damned good chance that I don't know a stinking thing about the genre.

 

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I think you guys get so focused on huge stats in Champions you lose any sense of perspective here.

 

 

I don't think I've ever made a big secret that I don't care for the Supers genre.  I played it initially because that's what the GM was running.  I run it now periodically, mostly for youth groups; I do occasional short campaigns with my regular groups when we just want to do something different for a bit-- take a breather, if you will.  I wasn't really a comic book kid, and like most non-comic kids, I grew into a non-comic adult.  There is a reason that just... yesterday?  Day before?-- in a thread in which we both participated I commented that "by the time non-supers HERO games began to be published, we were already playing them, using Champions as the engine, and because of that, we kept a few Champions bits even after adapting the other rules (notably Fantasy HERO, as I was the first of us to actually own Espionage, and I bought it last year).  Not as fully into the whole Spandex Commando scene the way a lot of my contemporaries are.  I discuss it here because 1) I do have some knowledge as it relates to the game and 2) I come here to be social, and waiting for an extended "other genres" conversation gets might dull and dry out here anymore.

 

As for defense 2-3?  Yes.  We're fairly reasonable like that.  We might have a 4 for a trained boxer or even a former combat veteran, or even an unusually large man.  Highest we ever saw, so far as I can recall right now, was a 5.

 

As to a "mountain man:"

 

A bear (or a "bear-like animal," using the 3e book) has a PD of 9.  It weighs between 400 and 800 pounds (with reports of unusual specimens up to 1500 pounds).  A PD of _9_.  The 4e bestiary reels that in to an 8 (and up to a 10 for Polar Bears-- the coolest and most dangerous of marine mammals), but it also states that this high PD includes added-in bonuses from Density Increase.   No human specimens have been found with muscle mass or bone structure remotely comparable, or an amount of tissue density high enough to qualify as an actual power, no matter what mountain he comes from.

 

Now in all fairness, Western HERO was a 4e book, and the 4e HERO / Champions rules were the first exposure to official Normal Characteristics Maxima for a _lot_ of people.  Pulling from that book, it lists maximum human PD at 8.  Or, the way I look at it: the same as the bear with his Density Increase and thousand pound build.  Now there are endless threads out here about where NCM gets wonky or open to problems; I think we can agree on that.  Personally, I think it's because of its origins in Fantasy HERO, with more-than-human adventurers who could go toe to toe with a phalanx of men and emerge victorious.  High end fantasy is low-end supers.  However, I don't expect us to agree on that  (and that's okay.  We're different people with different ideas of what we want out of a game).

 

I would _like_ to think that we can agree that at no _realistic_ point will a 200-pound man _ever_ be as hard to hurt as a damned bear!  For what it's worth, I work with a four-hundred pound man.  He's physically stronger than me. Briefly.  Turns out he gets winded easily and his knees are for crap.  He's just a little bit taller than me, so I'd put him at about six-three.  No; he's not one bit harder to hurt than I am, and I don't claim to be anything more than average.

 

My choice for "mountain man" is a guy I am now working with again (worked him for years some time ago; I now do weekend work with him).  He's the same height I am (six-one), and I swear to you he's damned near twice as broad.  He's got calves the size of his head, and thighs that could easily be the torsos of smaller people.  Sure: he's got a belly, but the man under it is just short of a gorilla.  (PD 5, 4e HERO Bestiary).

 

For us, this gives us an expected range for what we can realistically expect to see in a sampling of the human race:  2 through 5.  

 

Perhaps that sounds outrageous to you.  Let me go just a bit further:

 

Westerns, and our rare Danger International games.  These are the genres in which we stick to this guideline.  Why?  Because these are the genres that we feel are the "most real."  That is, the genres in which the people were just people, using their wits and their tools to make their way through their adventures.  The stories are about _people_.  Real people.  Not Olympians, not mythic figures.

 

Fantasy?  Pulp?  Cyberpunk?  Sure.  those are just stylized supers, when you get down to it.  Run them how you want.

 

But if you're playing a western where a mountain man shrugs damage the way a bear does-- 

 

you _also_ have a compelling western-themed fantasy game going, and I hope you are enjoying it as much as I did mine.

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I think there's a bit of confusion here.  First off, a bear has resistant defenses on top of their PD.  So, you know, its not 8 or 9, its like 10 or 12. 

Second, 8 PD is boxer level, that's what you give heavyweight boxers.  Its not superhuman.  Back when normal characteristic maxima were used, that was within the normal range.

Third, if your bears are not tougher than that... the bear is poorly built, not the PD of a tough cowboy.

 

Seriously, there's nothing "olympian" and superheroic about that level of defenses.  I think I see why you have a problem with Western Hero, because it appears that you have completely inaccurate, confused standards for stats.  And there's the source of confusion in a nutshell.

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13 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

But most of all:  It's called "Killing Attack," and not "Stunning Attack."

 

Right. That brings to mind the admonition in the 4e rules that, "Characters should realize that a Killing Attack is just that - a killing attack. Characters who don't want to seriously injure or incapacitate their opponents should probably choose another Power."

 

Or, as stated in 3e:

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Killing Attacks aren't used as often in comics as normal attacks like Energy Blast or punches. Heroes who have Killing Attacks have to use them with great care; they might hurt an innocent person, or kill a villain, which would cause problems."

 

So maybe it was thought that any balance issues would be addressed by the legal and social implications of KAs.

 

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Those are great things to say, but they're not backed up by gameplay. 

 

Even a piddly 6d6 Blast rolling average will put a bystander in the hospital for a month.  A 12d6 will slam them straight down to Dying. 

And when's the last time you saw a villain carting around less than 15 RDEF?  I skimmed a villains book just now and it went 20 35 20 15 Whatever the PCs have 20 Regeneration yadda yadda.  A 4d6 is going to put a bit of BODY through but not accidentally kill a villain. 

KAs are less nonlethal but they're not big scary murderattacks unless the GM decides to throw a guy in just to **** the players.  And we all know how Gilt Complex went over. 

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Those are great things to say, but they're not backed up by gameplay. 

 

That depends a lot on the GM's world and gameplay.  This will vary from campaign to campaign.  The current Champions Universe is very heavy on rPD.  It didn't used to be, and if you look at most comic book settings, they aren't either.

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19 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

I think there's a bit of confusion here.  First off, a bear has resistant defenses on top of their PD.  So, you know, its not 8 or 9, its like 10 or 12. 

 

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.  If you will put up with it, I'm going to attempt to manufacture quote boxes for clarity.

 

 

 

From 1e:



DAMAGE RESISTANCE

 This power allows the character to use his PD and/or ED versus Ki11ing Attacks. The character uses half of his PD or ED versus Killing Attacks according to the following chart

 

[chart redacted.  We know Damage Resistance has changed over the years; this is all to present that evolution and not learn different editions. :)  ]

 

Example: A character with a PD of 15 has Damage Resistance versus hand-to-hand and ranged Killing Attacks.  An agent with an auto carbine shoots the hero, doing 7 BODY and 21 STUN.  The hero subtracts 1/2 of his PD of 15 from the BODY done by the attack: 7-8= -1, so no BODY damage was done to the hero.  The hero subtracts his full PD from the STUN down by the attack: 21-15= 6.  The hero takes 6 STUN.

 

Damage Resistance my be purchased twice, thus allowing the character to use his full defense versus Killing Attacks.

 

That was the original "Resistant Defenses," right there.  Certainly Armor, FF, etc-- were all listed as being Resistant as well, but they did two things that Damage Resistance did not do:

1) They could be bought one point at a time.

2) They added to your DEF.

 

Damage Resistance did neither of those things: you bought the ability to make either half or all of your _current PD or ED_ work versus the BODY of a Killing Attack.  You didn't get any extra for your trouble.  Given the cost, if you had high DEF already, it was a real bargain, too!  Fifteen points to get half of your DEF Resistant; 30 to get _all_ of it Resistant.  (We tended to by Armor and FF, as you got to add DEF as well as them being Resistant by default.  :lol: )

 

Still, there were a few vagaries (do you get PD?  ED?  Do you choose one?  Do you get both?  The example shows PD, but the description says and/or....  Can we select a ratio?)

 

Maybe 2e would address this.

 

 

From 2e:

 

DAMAGE RESISTANCE



 This power allows the character to use his PD and/or ED versus Ki11ing Attacks. The character uses half of his PD or ED versus Kiilling Attacks according to the following table1

 

[redacted; same reasons]

 

Hand-to hand Killing Attacks lnclude such things as knives and claws. Ranged Killing Attacks includes such things as bullets and shell fragments. Energy Killing Attacks would be lasers, acetylene torches, etc. The character with Damage Resistance uses half his defense versus the BODY done by a Killing Attack, and he is allowed his full defense versus the STUN done by a Killing Attack. Damage Resistance may be purchased twice, thus allowing the character to use his full defense versus Killing Attacks. Damage Resistance costs no END to use .

 

No real clarification, but the expanded definition of what is a Killing Attack suggests a character made 1/2 (or all) of _both_ PD and ED Resistant.  Still, that world "or" persists.  Perhaps he can only use one at a time as Resistant?  Likely not.  Still, some clarification might be wanted for those not willing to simply make a call and run with it.  Along comes 3e...

 

 

From 3e:

 

DAMAGE RESISTANCE


This Power allows the hero to use his PD or ED against Killing Attacks. Damage Resistance doesn't add any to the hero's defenses, just enables him to use his existing defenses against Killing Attacks. There are several ways Damage Resistance can be bought, as shown on the Damage Resistance Cost chart.

 

The same chart as both previous editions, and the example from 2e with a few more details changing "agent" to VIPER agent.  Other than that, it's a PD example (again).

 

However, we specifically see something that was implied in the previous 2 editions is now stated explicitly:  Damage Resistance does _not_ add to your DEF.  It improves what you already have, but it does not _stack_, as there is nothing to stack.

 

 

Then we got what is quite possible the most famous, most revered, longest-reigning king of Champions / HERO!

 

From 4e:

 


DAMAGE RESISTANCE
With this Standard Power, the character may use some or all of his normal PD or ED against Killing Attacks. Damage Resistance doesn't add to the character's defenses; it just enables him to use his existing defenses against Killing Attacks. The cost is 1 Character Point. per 2 points of normal defenses. This damage resistance must be bought with all the advantages on the nonresistant defenses.

 

This is _huge_ compared to what went before.  Not only is a _huge_ change, as you can now buy your Resistance point by point, to make as little or as much of your existing PD or ED as you care to work as fully-Resistant DEF.  With the idea that you would by it point-by-point comes a hard suggestion that you would buy it _separately_ for PD and ED.  You don't have to read it that way, but it does seem implicit in the write-up.  Explicit in the write-up is the idea that these points do _not_ stack on top of any other DEF you have: "Damage Resistance doesn't add to the character's defenses".  The most amazing change, for me, at least, was that all of this new clarification came in a clean, concise writing style that actually made the definition somewhat _shorter_ while containing more information.  :lol:

 

There was one other bit in 4e, but it's really more "new rule" than clarification, and likely introduced because of the new "buy it by the point" model:

 


Damage Resistance must be bought with all the Power Advantages of the defense it is bought for.

 

Now I don't know about you guys, but this was the point at which we decided "screw it" and made "Resistant" a Power Advantage, applied to whatever amount of PD and ED you wanted to be Resistant. ;)  This new model just kind of paved the way for that anyway.

 

5e didn't last too terribly long before being tweaked into re-five, so let's just skip straight to that (that, and I left my 5e book downstairs, and I'm rather comfy right now. ;)  )

 

 

Now I know that 5e  (and probably every single new edition before that, but without the internet, how would we know) caused a stir with its changes: people loved it, or loved "this" about it, or they hated it, or hated "that" about it. But I think we can all agree that the single greatest change that 5e brought us (though the magic of computer-assisted document creation) was that _incredible_ index....  Oh, that was fantastic.   Oh, how I've wanted to pull apart my PDFs of older editions and create one for each of them....   Oh, it was so very, very sweet....

 

And it let me know to skip right to page 145.   :lol:

 

 

re-Five:

 

 A character with Damage Resistance may apply some or all of his normal PD or ED against Kill- ing Attacks. Damage Resistance doesn’t add to the character’s defenses, it just converts some of a char- acter’s Normal Defenses into Resistant Defenses. Damage Resistance costs 1 Character Point per


2 points of Normal Defenses converted. Damage Resistance does not cost END to use.

 

So it works just like it did in 4e (and why not?  It was better-suited to tailor your character: the build-exactly-what-you-want mantra).  It states explicitly that even after twenty years, it doesn't stack onto DEF; it converts DEF.

 

Apparently there was still some question on how Advantaged DEF affected Damage Resistance's costing, because he had to repeat it three times:

 

If a character buys Damage Resistance, the Advantages on his base PD and/or ED and the Damage Resistance have to match.  If the base PD and/or ED already has an Advantage, the Damage Resistance has to have it, too; if he wants to apply an Advantage to his Damage Resistance, he has to apply it to his base PD and/or ED as well.

 

If you don't get it after that, you're just not going to get it, period.  :rofl:  Fortunately, we avoided this problem by making Resistant an Advantage, inspired by the new structure of the power in 4e.

 

 

 

Then follows an example of a guy trying to Harden his Damage Resistance but not his PD (the penalty for mis-matched Advantages is now clear, though: the Advantage has no effect if not replicated on both DR and regular DF.  

 

 

But there's only one more to go, so let's get going.  Besides, that index has somehow outdone even the 5e index, and is hands-down the best part of 6e, and probably the single greatest thing ever done under the HERO brand.  Sadly, I find the pale blue damned hard to read.  :(

 

 

 

6e:

                       

 

That's right.  I can't quote it from 6e because in 6e, Damage Resistance doesn't exist.  Instead, there are two options:

 

The "make your regular DEF function as Resistant" option is now Advantage that can be applied to your normal PD or ED (or any other Defense to which you may wish to apply it).  But let's look at that anyway:

 

 



This Advantage, primarily intended for PD and ED but also available for Flash Defense, Mental Defense, Power Defense, and any other Defense Power the GM allows it for, converts points of Normal Defense into points of Resistant Defense. It doesn’t increase the number of points in the defense, it just makes them Resis- tant so they can be applied to reduce the BODY of Killing Damage attacks (see 6E2 103).

 

So it functions like 4e and 5e: you select how much of your already-existing DEF you wish to make Resistant, and buy it with the Resistant Advantage.  It doesn't give you more DEF, but it makes what you have more effective.  Sweet.

 

 

The other option to get Defense that was usable against the BODY of a Killing Attack was to get Armor, Force Field, or Force Wall as a defensive power.  Those are gone, too.  But we'll look at their replacements.  Well, we're not going to look at Barrier, because _why_?

 

so we turn again to 6e:

 

 Resistant Protection provides a character with points of Resistant Defense. Examples of Resistant Protection include suits of armor, a superhero’s personal force-field, a cop’s bulletproof vest, or a spell of protection against fire. Resistant Protection is Persistent and does not cost END to use.

 

Then there are several paragraphs on how to allocate your Resistant Protection and proportional usage and such other things that I am _not_ going to type.  I'm going to skip to the last paragraph:

 

 Resistant Protection provides points of of Resistant Defense _in addition_ to the character's standard PD and ED.  If a character just wants to make his standard PD and ED Resistant, he should by the Resistant (+1/2) Advantage for them (see 6E1 147).

 

So at heart, the only thing that has _ever_ really changed about Damage Resistance / Resistant is the way it's purchased.  I did all this to be perfectly clear, just so you, I, and anyone who may still be watching will understand where I'm coming from when I say  

21 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

a bear has resistant defenses on top of their PD.  So, you know, its not 8 or 9, its like 10 or 12. 

 

 

Unless your bears are steel-plated, I am pretty damned sure that's wrong.

 

 

 

21 hours ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Third, if your bears are not tougher than that... the bear is poorly built,

 

It may well be.

 

But there are two problems there, too.

 

1) I didn't build it.

 

2 ) it's in _great_ company:

 

 

 

1279048572_ScreenShot2019-11-02at7_20_21PM.png.961705843f16b074d408ee7e3a304bbb.png

 

 

Now I had wanted to throw up all of them, but I don't have enough image allowance, it seems.

 

At any rate, here's a quick run-down:

 

Bestiary 3e:

 

Grizzly bear has 12 PD, 2 of which are Resistant.

 

For what it's worth, _everything_ from the 3e Bestiary was reduced in characteristics going forward, and no mammals retained builds that included "Armor" (like the bears had in 3e)

 

Bestiary 4e:

 

Grizzly Bear has 10 PD, 2 of which are Resistant from Density Increase (always on).   The grizzly listed in Western HERO is this exact same write-up.  The bison listed here only has an 8.  Evidently he's exactly as hard to pummel as is a boxer.  Who knew?

 

Bestiary 5e:

 

Grizzly Bear has 9 PD, 2 of which are Resistant

 

Bestiary 6e:

 

Grizzly Bear has 9 PD, 2 of which are Resistant

 

SO what do we know from this?

 

We know that if you can get a 10 STR man drunk enough to spend a couple of hours beating a bear across the shoulders with a tee ball bat, that bear will never be seriously hurt.  That man can deliver _at best_ 6 BODY: two dice of STR and a bonus die for the tee ball bat.  He might consider working the bear in the gourd for a bit to get that damage multiplier for a head wound, but beating him about the shoulders / torso isn't going to phase that bear until the STUN catches up to him.

 

You give a boxer 8 PD, you're telling me the same thing: you can beat him all across the shoulders all day and it won't do any serious damage.

 

Nope.  You can kill a man like that, and pretty quickly.  Any man.  Mike Tyson at his prime could have been beaten to death with a tee ball bat wielded by a high-school kid.  Granted, Mike would have had to _let_ him, but that decision is not a function of PD.

 

As to the mountain man argument, I will happily cede that a 12 or 15 or even a 20 PD could in fact belong to a man made of mountain.

 

But never to one made of flesh and bone.

 

 

As to the confusion I promised I would address earlier:

 

Yes; I agree.  There is some confusion.  The confusion is generated by the fact that we are playing two different games.  As I mentioned, I _love_ the western genre, and enjoy playing in it.  Evidently you do, too.

 

But even then, there are variations:

 

I enjoy playing realistic characters, determined as best as is possible by the benchmarks available to me (i.e., what sort of damage can they take, and for how long, and what would kill a normal person?  Or a bear?).  When I'm doing Westerns, I find the realism makes the gun fighting that much more treacherous and exciting, and really ups the need for finding other resolutions to lesser problems.

 

You enjoy playing a more romanticized or fantastic version of the western than do I.

 

And that's fine, too.

 

The fact is-- as I've alluded to before, what with comments like "we're using the same rules, but we are not playing the same game"-- that (except for resistant defenses stacking with other PD on non-amored bears), neither of us is wrong.

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

Those are great things to say, but they're not backed up by gameplay.

 

Keep in mind those quotes are from the 80s. I'm hypothesizing about how the original designers may have seen things in the early years, based on what they were saying at the time.  And as @Christopher R Taylor  said, the original Enemies books featured a lot less resistant defense than we're used to seeing in the Steve Long era.

 

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2 hours ago, Linsolv said:

Well, now the question of what is the correct interpretation of PD is about as clear as mud. 🤔

 

 

Which brings me to the second point I wanted to address about confusion, but it's far too late tonight to tackle it.  Short version is that I found something in the bestiary with a PD of 20.  It was a gigantic thing that weight something like a quarter-million tons and stood --- was it eighty meters high?

 

I will give a short version, though:

 

There are levels within levels:  "Heroic" isn't a one-size fits all.  Just because a Fantasy character might, by genre convention, go around sporting a 10 PD and a bit of armor to boot doesn't mean that this is appropriate within all kinds of "Heroic."  

 

There are no (still!) real guidelines for a world-- with the exception of supers and fantasy, there aren't even any "official" worlds which we can look at to pin benchmarks.  Sure, we all say "bit the beauty is that we aren't shackled, either!"  And trust me, I agree with that.  But _still_, if I want to build a campaign around around the French trenches in WWII, what should my guys look like?  Should a tough guy have a PD 5, able to soak up blows from pretty much any normal guy he encounters?  Or is it "reasonable" in some way to justify him having a 12 or a fifteen because "he's a big ol' boy?" and "it falls within "normal characteristics Maxima!"

 

The only things we have for benchmarks, really, is damage itself (what can he ignore?  What's it take to drop him?) and whatever genre-appropriate beasties might already be written up.  I've got to level with you, the only thing that I really appreciate about the last two editions has been that most of the bestiaries and equipment were written by the same guy who wrote the rules, so I can at least feel justified in accepting some sort of consistency there.  But it's not the same as having actual "official worlds" with "official guidelines."

 

I submit that maybe it wouldn't be a _bad_ idea to further divide power levels:  Super, Heroic, and Realistic.

 

Just a thought mind you, but one I think is worth thinking.

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I base low end "heroic" level combat on relative human ability.

 

For example, when a normal person hits someone, they do 2d6 damage (10 STR), roughly.  How do you respond to that?  Well a regular person (2 PD) takes a pretty good hit from that, an average of 5 stun or ¼ of their total STUN.  They're 3 hits from down on average.  They aren't going to be stunned, even a 12 only does 10 STUN through their PD, but they feel it.  But a boxer, someone really tough or trained to take a hit -- one of those guys you give a good shot and they kind of chuckle and take off their jacket -- they can take a hell of a shot from a normal person and it doesn't really bother them much.  They can take that hit all day long.   Or a really skilled fast fighter can duck a shot so it doesn't hit them very solid, it just doesn't do much to them.

 

In other words, I try to build creatures and characters around the sort of attacks they'll be facing and how much I think it should affect them.  That's how PD works in my mind, and I think in the game,  Someone has 8 PD, they can take a hell of a hit from an ordinary person and shrug it off.   That guy is tough as all get out.  He's like that hulking German sergeant in Indiana Jones, the guy that gets chewed up by the prop.  Indy was a pretty good fighter, and threw everything he had at this guy but he was still coming and not really hurt.   Its not just fiction, there are guys really like that out there.

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The salient point that I think is missed is the definition of Heroic. Maybe I'm off base here, but what I understood was that the comparison isn't really good for realism, because it's making comparisons to cinema.
It's hard to imagine a real person who's as capable of taking a blow as a bear, assuming that they don't actually have 12 PD, of which 4 is Resistant.

 

But what about Mongo from Blazing Saddles? What about Bud Spencer's many characters, Bambino from the Trinity series chief among them? Could you imagine that they're as tough as bears?

 

These are larger than life people we're talking about. We're also talking about people who are actually rattlesnake fast, who could pull the 'put your gun away, slap him in the face, and pull your gun back out' routine. Nobody I've ever met was Speed 4. "Much faster" is certainly possible, but 200% is ludicrous. But Trinity was.

Edited by Linsolv
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Well, there's room in games like Western Hero for over the top wild stuff too, whether the steampunk themes of Wild, Wild West or crazy martial arts like Shanghai Noon, or even supernatural elements such as Jonah Hex.  I mean, if you want silly fun games you can have characters like the Waco Kid from Blazing Saddles or the first segment (and the guy the film was named for) in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.  Ordinary, historical or more romantic western stuff like the early John Wayne or Tom Mix black and white films won't have this kind of thing but its all part of the genre in its broader sense.

 

But speed 4 people exist, top end athletes, martial artists, etc.  Anyone who is very highly trained in hand-to-hand combat of any kind like a swordsman can be that high a speed

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On 11/1/2019 at 10:49 PM, Duke Bushido said:

As for defense 2-3?  Yes.  We're fairly reasonable like that.  We might have a 4 for a trained boxer or even a former combat veteran, or even an unusually large man.  Highest we ever saw, so far as I can recall right now, was a 5.

 

As to a "mountain man:"

 

A bear (or a "bear-like animal," using the 3e book) has a PD of 9.  It weighs between 400 and 800 pounds (with reports of unusual specimens up to 1500 pounds).  A PD of _9_.  The 4e bestiary reels that in to an 8 (and up to a 10 for Polar Bears-- the coolest and most dangerous of marine mammals), but it also states that this high PD includes added-in bonuses from Density Increase.   No human specimens have been found with muscle mass or bone structure remotely comparable, or an amount of tissue density high enough to qualify as an actual power, no matter what mountain he comes from.

 

Now in all fairness, Western HERO was a 4e book, and the 4e HERO / Champions rules were the first exposure to official Normal Characteristics Maxima for a _lot_ of people.  Pulling from that book, it lists maximum human PD at 8.  Or, the way I look at it: the same as the bear with his Density Increase and thousand pound build.  Now there are endless threads out here about where NCM gets wonky or open to problems; I think we can agree on that.  Personally, I think it's because of its origins in Fantasy HERO, with more-than-human adventurers who could go toe to toe with a phalanx of men and emerge victorious.  High end fantasy is low-end supers.  However, I don't expect us to agree on that  (and that's okay.  We're different people with different ideas of what we want out of a game).

 

I would _like_ to think that we can agree that at no _realistic_ point will a 200-pound man _ever_ be as hard to hurt as a damned bear!  For what it's worth, I work with a four-hundred pound man.  He's physically stronger than me. Briefly.  Turns out he gets winded easily and his knees are for crap.  He's just a little bit taller than me, so I'd put him at about six-three.  No; he's not one bit harder to hurt than I am, and I don't claim to be anything more than average.

 

My choice for "mountain man" is a guy I am now working with again (worked him for years some time ago; I now do weekend work with him).  He's the same height I am (six-one), and I swear to you he's damned near twice as broad.  He's got calves the size of his head, and thighs that could easily be the torsos of smaller people.  Sure: he's got a belly, but the man under it is just short of a gorilla.  (PD 5, 4e HERO Bestiary).

 

For us, this gives us an expected range for what we can realistically expect to see in a sampling of the human race:  2 through 5.  

 

I personally would put combat athletes around 6 unless they are freakishly strong or large specimens.

 

It's hard to figure out how all of the stats work together to simulate real-world encounters (CON, PD, STUN, etc.).

 

Anecdotally, I can offer this.  I was working one of the new TKD guys through the basics of sparring.  He had some high school wrestling so he was strong, fast and reasonably used to get hurt.

However, one of the things I had noticed over time is that during TKD sparring you're going to eventually cross shin bones like swords and it is going to HURT.

 

Sure enough, just seconds before the final buzzer we try to round house kick each other simultaneously and CRACK.  I step back with a pain in my shin so sharp its giving me chills up to my neck.  The other guy is on the ground - 1/2 DCV or less - blind to the world has he rolls back and forth holding onto his leg.

 

Is that part of PD?  Is that armor - only to resist stun damage?

 

I like some of the realism, comparatively, that Fantasy HERO has over D&D, but too much realism comes at the cost of cinematic and dramatic effect.

 

Where is the line?  I suspect it is different for each of us and moves over time.

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