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greysword

Passports, Drivers Licenses, and other Credentials under Fringe Benefits

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Oh and another point Duke. (You may want to sit down for this cause I think you’ll be a surprised as I was.) Steve Long in 6th in one of his toolkitting, he talks about not charging points for things. One example would be longevity in a fantasy game. He points out that many games don’t last long enough (in game time) for it to be an issue and spells/abilities that longevity would affect are usually rare.

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On 1/27/2020 at 8:06 PM, greysword said:

Hi Everyone,

 

I have a question about when a player should be made to purchase a credential as a Fringe Benefit and when it should just be a "free" item.

 

Do you make a player purchase the Drivers License fringe benefit if they want to operate a car, or is a drivers license a free item?  How do you differentiate the situations that govern the two costs (free vs CP)?

 

For international travel, do you make the character purchase the Passport fringe benefit if they want to fly to Europe from the US?  How about China?  If purchased with Character Points, does the Passport benefit include the Visa requirement, as well as having a passport?  If a super flies to Rio De Janeiro via commercial airline in their civilian ID, would they get a free passport, but if they flew into the city using Flight or Teleport, would they need to buy the Passport perk?

 

Does a character need to buy a Professional License (doctor, lawyer, stock broker, PI, etc) using character points if they have the Professional Skill(s) and a history in their background?  If they do purchase the license but not any professional or knowledge skills, does this allow them to make skill rolls in that profession? If not, how could they pass the bar/medical board if they didn't have the skill/knowledge?

 

In short, what does a character get when they spend 1 CP for a drivers license, passport, or license to practice a profession?  When do you give a credential fringe benefit for "free" (everyman) opposed to requiring the player to spend a CP?

 

Thanks for your help!

In general the idea is (for me) that anything somebody would "normally" have is free. So driver's license? Free CDL? possably a point, Only if it comes into play. ( Need to infiltrate the Teamsters union) So passport? Free unless you are a Soviet union citizen, then likey yes...etc

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19 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

My psy lim is that I agree totally with free stuff like Lucius idea of license cause you bought the skill however in practice I hear “spend the points. You get what you paid for!” So all my martial artists have perk: black belt and is: specific style when in reality it never comes up and I think should be then given as free.

 

GOD, this is absolutely it! ...

 

18 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

This is the slippery slope that results in my cyclical occupation of the board....

 

More than anywhere else I've ever talked Champions, this board exudes the most pressure toward "if it can be built with points, it _must_ be built with points."  It took a long time to realize that this probably isn't intentional: I expect it's the end result of years of either being asked _how_ to build something for points, or from the habit of recreationally building things for points.  Either way, when it starts affecting how I play, I disappear for a couple of years.

 

It helps. ;)

 

 

 

... this aspect of Champions really makes me Depressed as a GM.  This wishy-washy aspect of points spend or not REALLY is maddening!!!!!!  And, it really makes me not want to GM ever again. 

 

I can't understand when something should be free or be paid for.  I think I get it, but most time when I try to assert this understanding (even when GM), I'm told I'm wrong.  The other players can get it, but I don't get it.  And, it seems to be SUCH A BIG DEAL, that it causes arguments.

 

This reminds me of the Wargames quote from WHOPPER.

 

 

21 hours ago, Vanguard said:

 

Not necessarily.

 

A player may purchase a fringe bene with no thoughts of it being relevant to the game.  They're doing to just to round out and complete their character.  I've done that and my wife has too.  I know that those points I'm putting in X aren't going to be used but it's something the character should have so it goes on the character sheet.

 

21 hours ago, dsatow said:

I'm of the philosophy, the player can spend points where they like for whatever reason they like as long as it doesn't unbalance the game or concept.  Whether it makes it into play is another matter.  Just because you have a license to fly Battlestars and Vipers, doesn't mean there will be a Battlestar or Viper to fly.

 

I do this with the two character's I've been able to play.  I spend frivolously to have the character make sense.  Also, I spend on stuff the GM says I need to have in order to do something, even if I didn't;t want to spend points on that (like Computer Programing just to surf the internet and have a VPN on my super hero laptop, which I didn't pay for, BTW.  I can have the laptop for free, but not the skill to use it).

 

Thanks everyone.  Unfortunately, I'm still lost as to what is free and what should be paid for, so I'm just going to ignore the topic, just agree with whatever the players say they want, and watch my fun burn to the ground (like normal).  : )

 

Thanks for your help.

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39 minutes ago, greysword said:

I do this with the two character's I've been able to play.  I spend frivolously to have the character make sense.  Also, I spend on stuff the GM says I need to have in order to do something, even if I didn't;t want to spend points on that (like Computer Programing just to surf the internet and have a VPN on my super hero laptop, which I didn't pay for, BTW.  I can have the laptop for free, but not the skill to use it).

 

I disagree with this. Nowadays, everyone knows HOW to use a computer; surf the net, play games, and whatnot. Not everyone knows how to actually program one.

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Greysword ask your GM if instead of Computer Programming perhaps you could just spend a point on Computer Access? I’d explain it that Computer Programming is really comes into play when you change coding in a program not design a new program. But if he wants you to pay for use of Computer, then Computer Access  (for 1 pt) is the way to go.

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2 hours ago, greysword said:

Thanks everyone.  Unfortunately, I'm still lost as to what is free and what should be paid for, so I'm just going to ignore the topic, just agree with whatever the players say they want, and watch my fun burn to the ground (like normal).  : )

 

As GM, your word is law.  This doesn't mean a law can't be repealed.  Just be fair about it.  So, if you say, people don't need to buy points in passports, don't force them to need them and pay for it later on.  But if you repeal that ruling, give them some time and explain why you are repealing the ruling.  Fair minded players won't balk at the notion.  If for instance you aren't going to press country boundaries in your game but then the PCs keep using the country boundaries to aggravate your story telling (ex: doing what amounts to terrorist acts in one country and then leaving that country to another country) then warn them there will be repercussions.  

 

 

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One last point: Every game has an everyman set of simple skills and perks for no points.  What is in that set is basically whatever the GM wants.  So, if computer surfing is an everyman skill, its in there.  

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Just now, dsatow said:

One last point: Every game has an everyman set of simple skills and perks for no points.  What is in that set is basically whatever the GM wants.  So, if computer surfing is an everyman skill, its in there.  


 

14 minutes ago, dsatow said:

 

As GM, your word is law.  This doesn't mean a law can't be repealed.  Just be fair about it.  So, if you say, people don't need to buy points in passports, don't force them to need them and pay for it later on.  But if you repeal that ruling, give them some time and explain why you are repealing the ruling.  Fair minded players won't balk at the notion.  If for instance you aren't going to press country boundaries in your game but then the PCs keep using the country boundaries to aggravate your story telling (ex: doing what amounts to terrorist acts in one country and then leaving that country to another country) then warn them there will be repercussions.  

 

 

 

11 minutes ago, dsatow said:

One last point: Every game has an everyman set of simple skills and perks for no points.  What is in that set is basically whatever the GM wants.  So, if computer surfing is an everyman skill, its in there.  

 

Thank you.  I think the player has an ulterior motive with the passport buy, but I'm not sure what he wants to get out of it.  I do think wants there to be repercussions of his travels, but when I asked his player to meet with an official from the State Dept (asked both in character and out), he balked at the idea.  I think he wants Russia to send someone to "get him", but I'm not sure. 

 

I plan to just let him do whatever and pretty much ignore it unless it allows an opening for an adventure.  I already tossed out a hook for a side adventure due to his meanderings.

 

Oh, and it's a shared world space (he and I GM in it), so I'm apprehensive to make definitive rulings that will cramp him campaign.

 

Thanks again!

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2 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

GB(i) :

 

When I get to a real keyboard, I'd like to offer you some thoughts that I think might help you, particularly with your GMing-related concerns. 

 

Later, Amigo! 

 

 

Sorry, GB(i)-- my fault entirely.  Between the lighting and the storm and trying to read that tiny little phone screen, I mistook Greyword's post for yours.  No offense intended.

 

 

So then, Greysword:

 

3 hours ago, greysword said:

 

GOD, this is absolutely it! ...

 

 

... this aspect of Champions really makes me Depressed as a GM.  This wishy-washy aspect of points spend or not REALLY is maddening!!!!!!  And, it really makes me not want to GM ever again. 

 

I can't understand when something should be free or be paid for.  I think I get it, but most time when I try to assert this understanding (even when GM), I'm told I'm wrong.  The other players can get it, but I don't get it.  And, it seems to be SUCH A BIG DEAL, that it causes arguments.

 

I've used this before, but it's a helpful calming thing to remind yourself of when deciding to listen to the "expertise" offered by relative-- or even complete-- strangers:

 

Ex:  Former.  No longer have the properties of something:  "ex-wife," "ex-convict," etc.

 

Spurt:  A small amount of fluid expelled forcefully.

 

Thus, and expert is nothing more than a has-been drip under pressure.   :lol:

 

 

Here's the thing:  If you are learning with modern materials-- i.e., one of the last couple of editions, then yeah: it's overwhelming.  Not that there's a great change to the _essence_ of the game, but there is a _massive_ leap up in terms of the verbiage!  There are just--- just...  so _damned_ many _WORDS_!  And they all seem to contradict each other!  Or go off on tangents!  Or you find a run of five paragraphs that say the exact same thing over and over and over, but with entirely different _words_!

 

Yeah.  I get it.  The newer editions are tedious and nitpicky to an almost-insurmountable degree.

 

So here are a few things to keep in mind:

 

A staggering chunk of those words exist _entirely_ for one particular niche of players.  Another chunk exists for another niche of players.  Still another is for another niche of players.....

 

You see, this "system" started out as a playable game.  Somewhere along the way, the writers realized the same thing the rest of us did:  Holy Crap!  It's universal!  We've accidentally designed something that can be used to simulate _anything_!  So right away, they started doing that:  Espionage was written during the second Edition of Champions; Justice Inc and Danger International were written during the third, as was the original Fantasy HERO.  The pirates game never made it beyond buying ad space in some gaming magazines in the 80s, and that makes me kind of sad.  :(  All of these games were Champions-- every last one of them.  There was some selection made of what to include and what not to include, some new text to flavor the game away from supers and into whatever they were publishing, and it just _worked_.  They made complete stand-alone games, each with its own unique flair.

 

Then someone thought "hey!  It's all the same basic running gear, but each of these games adds an element or two of its own. (Dude, even the -- well, how about this?  Did you know that the rules for Drowning were in an adventure supplement for Champions during the third edition?  Seriously:  _everything_ added something, sometimes for flavor, sometimes because "Wow.  Suddenly we need that."  :lol:    So someone combed through everything published at that time (officially, anyway.  Stuff from gaming mags that were not Adventurers Club-- Heck, that's another one!  That was an in-house gaming magazine for HERO Games.  A lot of what is now official rules came from a damned supplemental magazine that the bulk of the players back in the day didn't have.  Lots of us had never even _heard_ of it!--

 

anyway:  scour all the published works, pull all the rules and tweaks, and rub them together until all the flavor scrubs off and they fit together like the stones of a pyramid.  Cool!  Now that we've stopped away all the flavor, we don't really have a game anymore.....  Well, not one that will catch anyone's eye.  Let's call it a System: You can use this system to design your own campaign from the ground up, using all the features from the mighty thing that Champions has managed to become!

 

Well, you couldn't, really, because all you had was a system, completely devoid of worlds and benchmarks and, beyond "how to do damage," no real suggestions on how interaction with the world in general worked.  (sadly, it's still kind of like that, even with _all_ those extra words....).  The solution then was the same as it is now:  Let's publish some genre books!  Let's publish some settings!  let's toss out some sample characters!  Oh-- and let's release an additional product that is pretty much this system rule book plus the "campaign book" for superheroes all in one cover (which we all loved, wether we used it or not.  In fact, the only thing we didn't love was Jaguar  Seeker.)  Damned shame the genre books didn't sell well, because I ended up having to crib from Rolemaster to get anything _close_ to an "official" Pirate setting, and even calling it that was tenuous at the absolute _best_...

 

Anyway, this was when the problem kind of began:

 

How does the world work?  What's the world like?  What do I have to _build_ in the world?  I know walls can be broken if they take enough damage; do I need to stat them up in the system?  Wait-- there's a way to stat them up in the system?!  Crap!  Now I gotta build all the damned walls!

 

It was in there, so you _had_ to use it, right?

 

 

No.  It's not right.  It's wrong.  Fundamentally.  Chronically wrong.  And the absolute absence of guidance on the subject of how the world and character affect each other-- beyond stats and damage-- that keeps this error stuck to this flavorless system like flies on a dog turd _to this day_.  What error?  "It _can_ be done.  Since there's a way to do it, then it _must_ be done."  That's crap!   That's nothing more than an interesting unplanned result that stems from making a _generic building system_.  It's generic.  It builds things.  But when you built your character, you didn't build his teeth, his hair, or his winning personality. You simply _decided_ them.  You didn't build how tall he was, how much he weighed, or if he was stripped like a zebra on one side and like a tiger on the other:  You _decided_ that.

 

Here's a tiny example of what I mean about the side-effect of making a generic building system:  There are special rules for making vehicles.  

 

You don't need them.

 

No; seriously:  even if you want to build a vehicle, the rules are completely superfluous.  Why?

 

Because you don't pay for what your character _is_; you pay for what he can _do_.  No; that's not the same as "you pay for what your character _will_ do; but we'll get into that later.  

 

You can declare that your character is female.  You don't pay extra for the ability to produce milk during late pregnancy and through infancy.  You don't even pay extra to have breasts!    Seriously!  You can have as many as you want, no charge!  Have twelve of them!  Your character can be that three-breasted mutant from Total Recall; it's _totally free_!

 

Same if you want to be an alien, a poodle (which explains those twelve breasts, I suppose), a robot----   or even a _car_!  Yep.  Free car.  How about that.  You know what's even funnier than that?  You're going to use those same Powers from the same Powers section that you used to build your character when you decide to build your vehicle!  The difference?  "Special rules."  Dude, there is only _one_ Vehicle rule:  Total the cost and divide by 5; that's the price in points of your vehicle.  Anything else is money blown on supplements for a lot of years.  And I've got to level with you, I don't usually agree with that one _actual_ special rule, either.  What if I don't want to charge points at all?  What if I think it should be full price?  But that's for another time and place.  Right now, the point is demonstrating that the system, as presented way back in the original fifty-something pages, as presented in the modern 9-textbook edition, the system is universal.

 

You know what else?  Even though those rules exist, they tell you right there amongst them that it's not aways appropriate to use all of them:  you're not going to charge a Cowboy _any_ CP for his wagon, are you?  Do you have to stat up his horse, just because he wants one?   Well, no; that's been done in numerous bestiaries over the years, but that's beside the point:  All you need to know about the horse relates to little more than movement, encumbrance, damage-soaking ability, and flavor.  You can build _those_ with CP, but the horse isn't a character, so why bother?  Besides, you're either going to "just let him have one" or he's going to buy it with money.  Fine.  It's all good.

 

 

There you go:  The special rules; why you don't need them, why there's only one, and why the rules tell you that they're not important.

 

 

But I've drifted a bit:

 

I started off commenting that so much of the new stuff is niche fluff (and I am a poet, it seems  :lol:  ).  I stand by that.  I don't know why, but there will always be a subset of people having fun who want to make sure they are having fun the correct and approved way: they don't want _any_ vagaries, _any_ unanswered questions, or _any_ reason to have to make a decision on their own:  they want the official word on _everything_, period.  Appeasing those folks is probably 2/3 of the current verbiage.

 

Then there are those people who are more into the building stuff thing, and they want to know how _everything_ works, in absolute detail, so that they can pick just the right thing to build that one particular dimple-headed weasel pin on the sprinkler just off the fairway for the 14th hole.  Yep; it's there.  Gotta be built.

 

Then there are the math junkies-- don't get me wrong:  math is an impor  part of the game.  It just happens that there are those people for whom it's the _best_ part of the game, and there is lots and lost of "must cost this" and "must use that" and "must be done thusly" and "this mixed with this will always mean that" detail in there, to ensure that they are all using the exact same formulae.  Of course, once you're armed with that, and your favorite part of the game is the math-- well, the universe as a whole is pretty great place to practice, so let's start building stuff!

 

And of course, another big chunk of all that extra verbiage is examples.  People have _never_ not appreciated examples; people have _never_ stopped asking for them.  I can't think of a single person who has ever said "thanks; no more examples, please.  We've got it down cold."

 

So the book is _filled_ with stuff about building and statting and how to use this with that and that this can only be that and on and on and on, and there is so much stuff in there that _is_ statted up that you start to think that it _must_ be statted up.

 

Ignore the crap out of all that.

 

Go back to the basic idea:  _You_ are playing your game, as are your friends.  _You_ have to be happy, as do they.  _We_ are faceless people on the internet (except for Sentry, who is a very dapper-dressing shorthaired tabby, as you may have noticed.  He's also very good at typing for a guy with no fingers).

 

If you are playing one of the latest editions, never forget that there is _no_ actual official game for them: they are the generic "HERO System," and as such, it's left entirely up to you to decide not just your world, but how it works.  How are walls broken?  Is it when they take a certain amount of damage?  Is it when they are hit twice?  is it when a character decides to smash one down?  (I'm going to level with you: Steve's decision years ago to use the power Tunneling as a means of smashing down doors and walls set a god-awful precedent for which I _still_ haven't forgiven him:  tunneling _requires_ that you know the defense, thickness, and body over every door, wall, or whatever in the universe if your character decides "me likie instant door smash power!"

 

Here's a thing, though:  You can say "no."

 

You see, in spite of all the genre and setting books published since the "HERO System" came to be, there is _nothing_ telling you what the inviolable rules of your world actually are.  In a nutshell, HERO GMs aren't designing an adventure:  They are designing _a game_.  _They_ decide how the world works.   _They_ decide what is and is not going to fly in this game.  Better still: while the official rules stop just short of admitting that they are not actually a game, they do whole-heartedly encourage you to build your own world-- your own game-- anyway you want to.  (They also stop just short of telling you that you sort of _have_ to).

 

 

So...   your GM-ing?  You're doing it pretty much correctly:  don't _ever_ think "but I have to charge points for this!"  And damn it, don't _ever_ think "I am not supposed to charge points for this!"  Because both of those are completely right and wrong, all of the time.  You, Sir (I assume; forgive me if I'm wrong), are _building a game_-- not just a world in which you will have adventures, but you are building a game-- it uses whichever HERO mechanics you chose to use, of course, but HERO didn't build the game:  _you_ did.  So straight-up, _YOU_ decide how that game works.  Go with your gut.  You'll get better at it over time.  If your gut says "having to buy with points a special permission to use a skill that I bought with points is kinda 'tarded, then _your game_ doesn't do that.  If you decide that in your game, licensing to practice the Professional Skill you bought with points is free, then it is, period.  If you decide it isn't, well then it isn't, _period_.   You don't have to waffle and wonder, because neither way is superior to the other, no matter how many math is thrown at you (yes; that's on purpose) or how much of complaints you get (that, too) from those of us outside your game that something else is better.

 

We are faceless people you will never meet who get together and argue about the rules on this board because it's not legal to vent frustration in person anymore.  :lol:   We are not running your game; we are not playing in your game; we will never be doing either of those things.  Screw _us_.  Do what _you_ feel is right for _your_ game.

 

That kind of applies to your friends, too.  I mean, don't screw _them_, or at least do it in a different sense of the word.   The key is "be fair."  Now despite what you will hear from us, "Fair" doesn't have a _damned thing_ to do with math: You have three people that you owe one item each.  You have a diamond, a hockey puck, and a live animal.  You have _no_ tools.  distribute these things fairly amongst the three people.  _Math_ says get some tools and cut each item into thirds.   It's just not always the best consideration.

 

"Fair" doesn't mean "equal portions" every time you say "fair."  "Fair," so far as I am concerned, means _equal chances_; equal opportunities.  if you decide that something works a certain way in your game, let _everyone_ know that.  It doesn't even have to be right away-- Hell, some things just don't come up, period.  I can't tell you what they are because it's different for each and every group.  But when it does come up, tell _everyone involved_, and don't waiver from it.  Those who want to do something about it will; those who don't want to do anything about it have _made a conscious choice_, and as such, will have to deal with the results (if there are any) of that choice.

 

I'm not a difficult GM.  Hell, I must be fairly decent: up until a few months ago, I was running three different groups.  I've got a "summer" group that, after summer, started just showing up at my house on Sundays, still wanting to play.  It doesn't mean I'm particularly _good_ either, but I think I'm doing _something_ right.

 

Don't sweat the whole "what do I charge for?" and "what do I don't charge for?"  Pick an answer.  Want some suggestions?  Take time to think it over.  No; you don't have to break out diagrams and run extensive "what if" testing.  Just give a few minutes to think about what impact your decision could have on the rest of the game.  Then decide.  Then stick with it.  Give it three or four or even five sessions.  if it works, write it down and keep doing it.  If it doesn't, take a mulligan and try something else-- give everyone a chance to alter their initial reactions / decisions based on your new decision.  My only suggestion there is a one-minute timer (I like the sand timers, personally, but that's just me).  If you _need_ to think it over, use that timer.  Make your decisions, right or wrong, before the timer runs out:  The only thing worse than a "bad" decision is holding up the game.  Let your players know up-front that this is a "in-the-moment fix" for the problem at hand; that you're going to continue on with this decision, but if it doesn't work out, you will change it later.  Retcon where you have to.

 

Case in point:   There's a play-by-post going on (a couple of them, I think) on this board right now, GM'ed by the guy who wrote the San Angelo stuff (some of the all-time most successful 3rd party Champions campaign settings and supplements for Champions).  _He_ took a mulligan:  Early on, one of the characters transformed into an "anime magic girl."  The GM had NPCs working with this-- referring to the infestation of these things in some part of the setting.   Some time later: "Mulligan."  There are no anime magic girls-- at least, no _other_ ones.  You know what?  The players ran with it.  No problem.  (and it saved me from having to look up what an anime magic girl was to keep following the story, so... win/win?  )

 

 

_Don't_  worry about not being happy with your decision at first.  if you're not, probably the players aren't, either, and if you have to change it, then it's quite likely they will be okay with it.   _Do_ remember the stuff they liked _and_ the stuff they didn't like.  Both of these things are invaluable going forward, as they will help you guide your decisions in the future.  

 

And above all else, remember that you're not going to get better at being a GM without actually _being_ a GM.

 

Oh, here you go:

 

There's a guy with an unusual voice on youtube-- Puffin something or other.  He has _tons_ of horror stories about his early experiences as a GM.  Most are animated, and none are particularly long.  If you need a confidence boost, I _totally_ recommend you check out some of his stories.   These days?  Well it turns out he's still a GM, and apparently a pretty good one.   ;) 

 

 

I tell you all this-- way more than I intended to-- because if there is one thing that this hobby needs more than anything, it's good GMs.  Unfortunately, none of us start out instantly good; we just like to remember it that way. ;)

 

 

 

3 hours ago, greysword said:

I do this with the two character's I've been able to play.  I spend frivolously to have the character make sense.

 

Everyone should.  Not everyone does, but I've always felt it was important for aesthetic reasons as well as plausibility:  it happens all the time in real life.  I have two degrees-- spent years earning them-- spent thousands on them.  I don't use them.  Seriously: my job is so damned far away from my education that it's mind-numbing, but here we are.  (for the record, I like my job, so it's all good).  I work with a kid who went to school on the company's dime to get a CDL.  He doesn't use it.  The company has no need for him to use it; he has no interest in using it.    Every human being I have ever met has talents and abilities that they simply do not use, ever.  It's an interesting study into the people you know: what they _thought_ they might want to be.  Perhaps even what they want to be, but for whatever reason probably never will be.

 

I think a lot of the reason some people don't do this with their characters is their own personal tendency to focus on something else:  the math.  Or "effectiveness."  Or perhaps they just didn't have the points to do everything they wanted to, and plan to grow the character with some EP down the road.  It doesn't matter; the point is they don't do it, and I always find it a bit disappointing.  :(  I mean, if nothing else, it says so much about the character's background, hints at their personalities, and suggests some potential role-playing points.

 

There's another thing that I don't hear mentioned on this board very often, so I'm going to mention it here to you:

 

You will see a _lot_ of "if the player took x skill or x power, then he should get value for that and I have to arrange it so that blah blah blah."

 

No; you don't.  You can try to incorporate it-- you can plan a couple of opportunities for everyone to get a spotlight here and there.  The problem is something that no one talks about _seriously_-- they talk about it, but only as an in-joke:  

 

The story-- what happens-- is almost entirely up to the players, and the players will _routinely_ screw themselves out of opportunities:   "this player took Forensics so I know that he expects to get the chance to go over a crime scene with his keen eye and intellect and maybe get a scene or two in a lab--"  Yeah; enough of that.  I have had _so_ many players take "forensics" and "detective work" that you'd think I was running a table-top TV drama sometimes.  In thirty years, I can count on my fingers the number of times those skills were actually _used_.  Seriously:  i'll set something up, and they will steadfastly refuse to follow the strings.  I don't want to railroad them, so I let them go where they want.  It's almost never to the crime scene to look for clues.  At least, not with either of those skills.  "I go to the crime scene and look for signs of Doctor Possum!"  Well Doc P ain't in this game, so they don't find signs of him.  Though they almost never go to the crime scene, or a lab, or even review the police file-- you know: they don't do anything where these skills come into play.  "I slap him around a bit"  (that was in a cyberpunk game; it was appropriate) is _not_ "forensics," no matter how you slice it.  Really old fashioned detective work?  Possibly, but the character in question didn't have that.  (He _did_ have computer programming, though, but it was an everyman in that game.)

 

If I'm running Arabian Knights HERO and you decided to buy "Barnstorming" for your character....  Well, you'd better get damned busy building barns, oil wells, fuel refineries, and airplanes, otherwise it just ain't happening.  However, I am totally fine with the idea that your character is a retired barnstormer who came here for adventure.  Whatever, Dude.  Again-- I file this one under "interesting things my character knows how to do" and "part of my character's background."

 

 

 

3 hours ago, greysword said:

Also, I spend on stuff the GM says I need to have in order to do something, even if I didn't;t want to spend points on that (like Computer Programing just to surf the internet and have a VPN on my super hero laptop, which I didn't pay for, BTW.  I can have the laptop for free, but not the skill to use it).

 

Yeah.  About that:  by time time I type this (or read what was posted between my last log-off and this log-in), someone will likely already discussed the issues with this, but I want to bring up a couple of things here just as "teachable moments"  (I hate that term:  moments are not teachable:  they learn nothing, so you can't teach the moment.  You can't learn a moment, because it can't be captured and studied.  There is no interpretation of that phrase that means what the phrase itself means.  Sound bites are for idiots! ):

 

everyman skills:  These are things everyone can "just do" if they decide that they want to.  The list is massive, and the only reason that such skills might be listed in the rules books with pricing and such is because there will be those types of games in which these particular skills will not be common as flies.  It is _those_ games in which these skills should cost a bit:  if I were running Renaissance HERO, I would expect you to pay dearly for Hang Gliding as a skill.  If I were running Hospital HERO, I wouldn't charge a dime for CPR; I would assume that all characters in the game knew that one.  I wouldn't (and didn't) charge more than a single point for any pirate to be able to navigate by the stars, know the constellations, have extensive knowledge about the lore of the constellations-- all in a single one-point bundle.  The only reason I charged at all was because not all the characters were sea-faring veterans: there were a couple of new "recruits" and a foreigner on working passage.  Only two veteran seamen.  The _plan_ was to make this bundle free, but you know players.... ;)

 

In our space opera, _everyone_ gets Vac Suit Operations at 11-.  Everyone. It's a travel-heavy game in a travel-heavy setting; every NPC has it at 8 or less.

 

In your game, it's up to _you_ to decide what's an everyman skill, and what isn't.  Same with equipment.  And of course, computer programming is _not_ the internet.  The last two computers I wrote programs for were an Apple IIe and a C-64. (Mail Order Monsters was _the_ game, by the way ;) ).  Yet here I am, surfing the internet, and not using HeroDesigner because the help forum has demonstrated to me that you pretty much have to be able to write code to use the damned thing anyway, so even if I wanted it, it would be useless to me.

 

"The laptop was free" is liable to start a fight on this board, where we still can't agree if smartphones are free or if they cost eighty-six points.  :lol:  (they're free at my table; not at others' )

 

Anyway, I highlighted this and picked at it to make a point:  if you want to GM-- and I can't recommend it enough: I became a GM the way I think a lot of people did:  our GM moved, and we still wanted to play.  However, no one wanted to be the GM: they all wanted to play.  I bit the bullet because I wanted to play to, and I figured someone else would also want to GM eventually, so i'd get to play when that happened.  It never happened (well, it _rarely_ happened / happens), but you know what?  I have come to really enjoy it.  It's been a much greater creative outlet than being a player ever was, and I think it's even helped my writing over the years-- it's given me a sort of insight for what people do and don't want to know about a story or situation.  It's helped me appreciate the background plots that must remain running-but-hidden and when and how to drop clues.  It's helped me hone an ability to jump back and forth and just drive players nuts when they realize that they have everything they need but that one little detail that holds everything together....  It's just been great, and I think everyone should at least take a stab at it.  :D

 

 

 

3 hours ago, greysword said:

Thanks everyone.  Unfortunately, I'm still lost as to what is free and what should be paid for,

 

No; you're not.  You're at a loss for confidence to make a decision, I think, but there's only one way to work on that, and to work on it, you have to remember that it's _your_ game, and you get to decide those things as carefully or as arbitrarily as you want, and so long as you're fair about it, and you are conscientious about learning from bad decisions as you go forward, and are willing to own up to a bad decision and _change it_, then I promise: you _will_ get better, which will bring more confidence, which in turn will make you better, etc, etc, etc.

 

You've already got some experience:  look at what your GM decided: computer programming to surf the web.  How do you feel about that decision?  What would you do differently in his place?  If you had been the GM to make that decision, would you be willing to change it, and how would you do it?  What player input would solicit in making such a decision, and how would you solicit it?  How would you present the decision?

 

See?  Experience, and you didn't even have to do _anything_ to get it.   :lol:

 

 

 

3 hours ago, greysword said:

so I'm just going to ignore the topic,

 

Please don't.  No RPG on the market has _ever_ had enough GMs.  Stick around.  Ask questions.  Listen to advice.  Decide what you use and what to ignore.  Hell, even that decision is practice for GMs.  :D  Besides, you'd be missing out on a lot of fun.

 

 

 

 

3 hours ago, greysword said:

just agree with whatever the players say they want, and watch my fun burn to the ground (like normal).  : )

 

 

Only you can solve that, Sir.  Stick with your guns, advise them that if it doesn't work out, you will try something else.   Be honest with them:  Tell them you are learning how to GM. Solicit feedback after the third game (never the first or second:  they'll be too happy to try to "play" you with their characters that fresh), and every third game or so after that until you feel you have a handle on your group.

 

 

If you are still around, keep posting.  But don't give up!  That's only practice for getting good at quitting. ;)

 

 

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Greysword the thing is (and I wished they would’ve expressed this better) in 6th you have a lot of options and “contrary” advice so you build the game you want. I can easily build a game that runs like 2ed no problem. If I want to make the game more in-depth, I can pick and choose what I want and to what level I want it at.

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20 hours ago, Greywind said:

 

Nowadays, everyone knows HOW to use a computer; surf the net, play games, and whatnot. Not everyone knows how to actually program one.

 

I sort of agree with this.  In a campaign set in today's world,  Computer Programming skill for simple day-to-day usage is overkill and unnecessary.

 

However, if for some odd reason, your campaign is set in the 1980's when computer usage was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is today, I would insist that you take some amount of Computer Programming if you want to do anything with a computer.

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39 minutes ago, segerge said:

 

I sort of agree with this.  In a campaign set in today's world,  Computer Programming skill for simple day-to-day usage is overkill and unnecessary.

 

However, if for some odd reason, your campaign is set in the 1980's when computer usage was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is today, I would insist that you take some amount of Computer Programming if you want to do anything with a computer.

Which illustrates exactly why new to Hero gamers can sometimes have problems learning it.

 

To stay with the computer flavor.

We all (or most of us) have played a computer game.  You buy it, load it and play.  But very few of us could start from scratch and program one.

 

90% of the RPGs out there are like that. The company that puts them out used an unreleased "program language" to write the part they released to us for play. All those unbalanced "munchkin supplements and adventures" come from writers who were not privy to the hidden "metarules".

 

Hero is one of the different games, that small percentage that is not actually a playable game, but rather a set of core metarules you use to write your game.

 

The requirement for Computer Skill is dependent on several things.

 

Time period.

1990ish through present - no skill to use, but a skills required to repair or mess with network. Possibly multiple related depending.

 

1980 through 1990ish. A Familiarity to use, a Skill for anything more in depth.

 

1960 through 1980.  A Skill is definitely required, and in earlier decades complimentary skills such as electronics and maybe even sciences such as electromechanical engineering.

 

A character that does buy multiple items for a 60s or 70s campaign opens up other decisions for the GM. If you let a player spend points there, then you will need to give them the opportunity to use them. So you will need to have computers figure prominently in your adventure.

 

Hero is a very open game, campaign/adventure'wise.  But that just places the decision burden on the GM.

 

Long story short.  Unlike practically every other RPG on the market, the only real advice Hero will offer is this.  You, the GM decide whether to require anything.  But if you require the players to get something, you will also need to give them something to do with it.

 

A tad wishy-washy, but unfortunately it's all ya got.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 1/27/2020 at 11:06 PM, greysword said:

I have a question about when a player should be made to purchase a credential as a Fringe Benefit and when it should just be a "free" item.

 

If most people in the campaign have one (driver's license), then it's free. If the character doesn't receive a definable benefit from it (license to practice medicine, a passport in a game without much international travel), it's free. If it's absence makes the game less fun, it's free.

 

The flip side of this is that a perk that costs points should let the character do something significant that others cannot. A press pass lets the character into public briefings and ask questions. A law license can let the character talk to prisoners ("I'm his lawyer.") Local police powers let you arrest people, and so on.

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I'm a player in Greysword's game. And also in the game run by the player whose PC is flying around the world and having off-screen adventures. I want to say I appreciate Duke Bushido's long response to Greywind, because I think he's right on the money.

 

It's your game. You make the rules. Things cost whatever you think they should cost.

 

Also, you're going to make mistakes. Deal with them, learn from them, and move on. I'm running a Champions game as well. Mine is the only one in our gaming group that ISN'T part of the multi-GM campaign. We have characters in Evergreen City, OR and Zion, FL as well as San Angel, NM (that campaign folded, but the characters and events are part of the collective campaign background), and Gotham, NY. They're set in the Champions Universe, with the baggage that entails. I didn't want that, so my game (based on the Wild Cards novels) is set in Hudson City, NJ following the release of the Wild Card virus on July 4th, 2019. Separate world, with no history of costumed supers. One of the PCs had, among other powers, Healing with Resurrection. But he got in the habit of using it to revive anyone who was killed during an adventure, and that cheapened death and made the stakes a lot lower. You failed to save the hostages? No problem! Just bring them back to life! You weren't cautious enough with your phenomenal cosmic power and killed some bystanders? No problem! Just bring them back to life!

 

That was my mistake. I allowed that power. So I took that power away from him, and let him spend the points on something else. So there are technically NPCs walking around alive in Hudson City who should still be dead. Whatever. I fixed my mistake and moved on.

 

 

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Does a passport require any special qualifications? Does it give you privileges other characters don't get? It seems like something most people spend some money on and show their identity documents and just get. In that sense it's not much different than airline ticket itself or an apartment rental. If lacking one is something that's going to come in game, and there is some reason the character can't just get one, that seems like a Social Complication, maybe with a matching Hunted.

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Computer Programming...my take is, remember that these rules are somewhat dated.  Basic computer operation is definitely an Everyman skill if your setting is anything close to recent, and assuming your world setup is roughly equivalent to today in its mundane aspects.  Personally, I'd go further, and say you can build simple spreadsheets by yourself.  

 

My take, more broadly, is that the player should only have to spend points for skills that will aid in combat, or in solving challenges.  Conversation can be used to extract information without the target realizing it...at least initially.  So that can be used in a challenge, instead of, say, doing a B&E to hunt for clues.  If you don't take it...that doesn't mean you're painfully shy and can't talk to anyone.  In a Supers campaign, it means some skills are fundamentally never worth buying...Animal Handler, Riding, and probably Trading and Transport Familiarity.  Some others become really borderline...Inventor and Weaponsmith.  The gear has its own cost, these skills are simply justification for saying "I can do this myself."  I say borderline, because these two *could* be construed as affecting the build time, and that would loosely be a challenge aspect...failure would have some consequences.

 

The perks follow the same notion.  Does a CDL matter?  Unless it's a core, deep part of the cover story...the group runs around in a big ol' semi together...I can't see why.  Same with license, passport, or black belt.  I *do* consider buying Passport, but for a specific reason:   dual citizenship.  And...overall?  In a superhero campaign, VERY few of them are really meaningful.  Security Clearance can mean simpler access to information.  License to Kill and Diplomatic Immunity can be protection from reprisal.  Possibly police powers...but that's commonly part of the campaign background.  If the characters are heroes, they have to have the right to detain.  But remember, Hero tries to be adaptable to ANY genre, and the fringe bennies are particularly weighted with genre-specific stuff.

 

I particularly like Ron Edwards' take in Champions Now.  From page 57 of the PDF (and yes I know most of you don't have it):

 

Quote

You don't use points for most things concerning the hero's personal, social, or economic identity.  Whatever you want, say so, and it's free.  That includes any and all wealth and skills that pertain to work and play, where they're from, or what job they may have, or what they want out of life.

 

There's even a very good reason for this, IMO.  Let the player think of the things he wants to do, and he'll have a better character.  If he's got to sweat points, his focus tends to be on the points.  Even if you think of them as freebies, they're more like payment for building up a backstory/well-rounded character, rather than a 2-dimensional set of numbers.

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:)

 

Agreed.  Your comments reminded me of something that amused me considerably some years ago: a review in Space Gamer Magazine of the original Champions game: the reviewer extolled the wonders and high marks of the game, then spent over half of his column complaing that there was no money system, no charts for jobs and work schedules nor any way to determine you secret IDs income or standard of living, etc. 

 

I don't know why that was so critical to him, but I thought it was Hilarious at the time.  I suppose "that is entirely up to you" is more than some people want to deal with.  :lol:

 

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On 2/21/2020 at 9:49 AM, unclevlad said:

 

  Let the player think of the things he wants to do, and he'll have a better character.  If he's got to sweat points, his focus tends to be on the points.  Even if you think of them as freebies, they're more like payment for building up a backstory/well-rounded character, rather than a 2-dimensional set of numbers.

 

I came around to this point of view late last year getting TASK FORCE characters ready for their Hall of Champions sourcebooks.  Starforce in particular was carrying three music-related professional skills (Piano playing, Piano tuning, and Singing) that while used in various stories and fit with his background were never used in combat*.  Based on that realization, I removed them from his character sheet.

 

* The closest he came to combat usage of these was "Operation Phoenix" when he wanted to see if Doctor Destroyer's piano was in tune rather than join in storming Destruga's Master Mile, and in the climactic battle of "The Island of Shadow Destroyer" when he realized the entity claiming to be Doctor Destroyer -- unlike the original -- was completely tone-deaf.

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4 minutes ago, Greywind said:

Skills don't have to have a combat use to be on the character sheet.

 

Agreed, skills bought like this can have role playing aspects or problem solving aspects.  In some instances too, these "wasted" skill points can help solidify the vision of the character.

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12 minutes ago, segerge said:

 

I came around to this point of view late last year getting TASK FORCE characters ready for their Hall of Champions sourcebooks.  Starforce in particular was carrying three music-related professional skills (Piano playing, Piano tuning, and Singing) that while used in various stories and fit with his background were never used in combat*.  Based on that realization, I removed them from his character sheet.

 

* The closest he came to combat usage of these was "Operation Phoenix" when he wanted to see if Doctor Destroyer's piano was in tune rather than join in storming Destruga's Master Mile, and in the climactic battle of "The Island of Shadow Destroyer" when he realized the entity claiming to be Doctor Destroyer -- unlike the original -- was completely tone-deaf.

 

A kinda complex power set I've got is a carbon manipulator...armor, higher Body, Str.  There are graphene-based batteries, so that led to an HA.  One thing I found while thinking about this guy:  cellulose, most proteins, and most fats are basically combinations of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen...CHNO.  That's it.  Cotton is about 90% cellulose, IIRC.  Wool and silk are similar.  Kevlar is similar.  Wood has trace elements...but is mostly cellulose.  IOW, the family of materials that can be derived from this is HUGE.  

 

So a power that can make this stuff literally from the air itself is very cool to me.  BUT it's fairly expensive...I went with a 1m radius major Transform, and the only limitation is Extra Time , which makes some sense here, as he's actually got to draw the carbon from a fairly significant volume of air to get, say, 100 grams...which'd translate to maybe 300 grams of whatever he's making.  Until I want to use it in combat, is it worth 20, 25 character points?  Now, ok, If I wanna toss in doing a slow kind of Entangle...then it's combat.

 

Mind...he's also got a Detect...Analyze Composition.  This IS worth paying for, IMO, as it has forensic/intelligence aspects.  (TNT is made up of nothing but CHNO;  most plastic explosives are actually basically NO.)  

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11 minutes ago, Greywind said:

Skills don't have to have a combat use to be on the character sheet.

 

But should they require points expenditure?

 

That's the question.

 

EDIT:  we already hand-wave skills to some degree anyway.  Modern Everyman skills are fairly extensive.  Lots of things don't matter *until* we get into combat-related use.  I can say my 23 Dex led me to be a good gymnast in school...without bothering to pay for the Acrobatics to do it on a battlefield.  I have most of the Champions Now system coded up in Java...the advantages and limitations are much more specific, so it wasn't that bad.  It'd be an interesting project for a team of students.  That's Computer Programming...but it's not worth points.

Edited by unclevlad
clarification

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1 hour ago, segerge said:

 

I came around to this point of view late last year getting TASK FORCE characters ready for their Hall of Champions sourcebooks.  Starforce in particular was carrying three music-related professional skills (Piano playing, Piano tuning, and Singing) that while used in various stories and fit with his background were never used in combat*.  Based on that realization, I removed them from his character sheet.

 

* The closest he came to combat usage of these was "Operation Phoenix" when he wanted to see if Doctor Destroyer's piano was in tune rather than join in storming Destruga's Master Mile, and in the climactic battle of "The Island of Shadow Destroyer" when he realized the entity claiming to be Doctor Destroyer -- unlike the original -- was completely tone-deaf.

I'd personally have condensed that into "PS: Pianist and Singer".  I feel that Background Skills are way too narrow generally for what you spend. 

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