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Brian Stanfield

What makes a complete game "complete"?

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Oh no! Here we go again, right? I've followed and participated in lots of different discussions where people wish that HERO System would release complete games rather than genre books or campaign settings. But I'm a bit unclear what would be considered a "complete game," and what would make it appear to be "complete." I'm all for it, but I'm not entirely sure what it means. I know, I'm bringing up that same thing that routinely gets brought up, but I think it is valuable to at least be clear on some of the nomenclature that gets used so we can be clear on what people actually want to see from HERO System.

 

Let me start with a few definitions/categories:

  • Rulebooks and rules supplements: 5e, 6e, APG I & IIChampions Complete, Fantasy Hero Complete, Champions Now
  • Genre books: Champions, Pulp HERO, Fantasy HERO, etc.
  • Campaign settings: Hudson City, Turakian Age, etc.
  • Enemy/organization/character/creature books: Enemies, VIPER, Champions Villains Vols. I, II, III, etc.
  • Power/equipment books: Champions Powers, HERO System Grimoire, HERO System Equipment Guide, etc.
  • Adventure books: Well, as everyone points out, there just aren't any of these anymore. There used to be.

 

So, I'm going to try to summarize some recurring points, and ask some questions, I guess in a sort of scholastic way:

Proposition 1: The 6e (or 5e, depending on who you ask) rules are too big for beginners to learn, and too cumbersome for system mastery! 

  • Nearly 800 pages of rules, rulings, options, buttons, dials, etc. make for a monstrous toolbox.
  • Is there a way to pare down that toolbox to the bare essentials that can be taught? Something other than Basic Rulebook?

Proposition 2: HERO  System needs more complete games. 

  • Champions Complete and Fantasy HERO Complete are marketed as "complete" games, but they lack campaign settings and adventures.
  • Without campaigns and adventures, players are left in the wild with these so-called "complete" yet unsupported games.

Proposition 3: A complete game should be ready to play.

  • It should ideally be learnable in a weekend, and playable with new players in an evening (probably a pipe dream, but an honorable goal).
  • It should have a setting and plenty of adventures, or at least a couple of adventures and plenty of seeds for homemade adventures.

Proposition 4: The lengthy powers builds inhibit a streamlined game experience.

  • Several lines of a power build, with all the Advantages and Limitations, make the game too mathy for some people.
  • The complex builds also make the character sheets sloppy and hard to read. There should be a simplified player interface for new players that doesn't scare them off with all the HERO jargon. 

Proposition 5: What is the definitive, DOJ-supported edition anyway? 

  • Some people stick with 5e because it most resembles the original game(s), enough so that it's still supported in HERO Designer.
  • Some people prefer 6e, but others can't stand it because it retools some fundamental HERO stuff.
  • The new Complete books: aren't they just streamlined 6e?
  • Champions Now: the rules have been so completely gutted, and powers even renamed in awfully confusing ways, why is this even supported by DOJ?
  • Are any of these things actually supported by anything other than 3rd party efforts at this point?

I know I'm forgetting some things, but I'm sure they'll come up! 

 

So here's what I'm a bit confused about: how can you get all these things together in one "complete game" without it also becoming 700 pages long?

  • The Complete books are around 250 pages long, but some would argue that they don't have complete settings and adventures. So are they even "complete games" in and of themselves?
  • Perhaps there needs to be more Campaign and Adventure books? But then you're making the books INcomplete when you require other books to make the "complete" books playable.
  • Hall of Champions offers some new content, but is any of it "complete" in the sense that they can be used with complete settings in an ongoing campaign?
  • Should a "complete game" be depending on 3rd party content to be playable?

 

I know there are economic considerations driving the actual content that DOJ offers. This is more about the "wish lists" that people keep submitting. What are people actually wishing for? What would an actual complete version of Champions Complete or Fantasy HERO Complete actually look like?

 

Here's what I'm wondering: Doesn't this end out making the idea of "complete games" start to look more and more like the toolbox model that 6e pursued in the first place? Couldn't there be a new kind of book category, maybe a catalog of Gamebooks, that act like genre/setting/campaign/adventure books all wrapped up into one, without having to rehash all the rules in each new game?

 

Let's say I'm going to try to revise Danger International. I'm going to rename it Action HERO just to fit in with the HERO title motif (not my idea, but I like it). What should I include in this project? 

  • I don't really need to reissue the rules, do I? They've already been done several times over. Perhaps a brief summary of the rules in 50 pages, with lots of references to the appropriate 6e1/6e2 volumes? Why should I reference the rules in Champions Complete as my resource, as seems to be the inclination promoted by DOJ these days? (50 pages)
  • I can pretty much cut out the Powers section entirely. They're only really used to build weapons, gadgets, vehicles, and stuff like that anyway, so I can spend some space on those items without rehashing the entire Powers rules. I could offer a one or two page explanation of how the Powers are used to drive build all the items, perhaps even an appendix on how they're built, but I don't have to teach how to build a modern gun.
  • Again, each Gamebook would set it's own dials, as people say, and render the extraneous material in sidebars referencing the Rulebook toolbox.
  • Lists of equipment, weapons, vehicles, gadgets, etc. (5 pages, maybe)
  • In this example of Action HERO I'm choosing a modern setting in a familiar world for a very specific reason: I don't have to include a setting. It's already out there in your everyday experience (I'm stealing this, by the way, from Ron Edwards's Champions Now, because it's a great idea). Perhaps instead of a specific setting, I'd offer a "state of the world" section, and offer some adventure seeds based on all the global hot-spots and crisis situations. (Let's say 50 really detailed pages to help foster new adventure ideas)
  • There'd be an appendix with pre-gen characters ready to play. (10 pages)
  • There'd also be an appendix with some interconnected adventures that can be played right away with the pre-gens. (25 pages?)

 

This seems simple. 140 pages simple. But is it "complete"?

 

What's missing? Or does the entire idea miss the mark? Would other games (Pulp HERO, Star HERO, etc.) fit the same mold? Would each game just explain which dials and buttons are set and how? More importantly, unlike the genre books, would they simply make assumptions about the particular setting for the game? If that's the case, would there be perhaps a need for several different kinds of games in the same genre? Am I falling back into the Genre Book model if I offer too many setting options? Would Action HERO actually be better cast as several games: American AgentsGlobal Guerrillas, Mercenaries, and things like that, each with specific setting assumptions? 

 

These are just some of the things I've been thinking about. What do you see as making a "complete game," and what am I missing? 

 

Please, let's not get back into an edition war, or rules bloat debate. This is really just a brainstorming discussion, but I'd really like to hear from some of the regulars who have strong opinions about this stuff.

 

 

Edited by Brian Stanfield
I forgot that bulleted lists don't format correctly the first time posted . . .

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P1:  It's really more about awful presentation than it is size.  In a good rulebook, reading from front to back will introduce concepts and rules in the order needed to understand and play.  Sadly, very few TTRPG rulebooks have good or even decent presentation, instead spreading things out in nonsensical orders. Chargen before rules, for example. 

P1': In the past I've fit all the rules needed for combat on the front of a sheet of paper, all the rules needed for non-combat on the back, and power writeups on 3x5 cards. 

P2: Champions doesn't have a setting?  Isn't the setting just "the world, but with supers"?  I agree that an adventure or two in the book would be nice. 

P3: I'm not aware of any major product that ships "complete" with pregens, an adventure, a setting, etc.  D&D 3.5 didn't.  D&D 5 doesn't.  What you seem to be getting at is the lack of supplemental support. 

P4: This is again presentation.  It's very easy to fit a description of a power on a 3x5 card or a quarter of a page.  And you can put the formal writeup on the back! 

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

P2: Champions doesn't have a setting?  Isn't the setting just "the world, but with supers"?  I agree that an adventure or two in the book would be nice. 

 

I would say "NO". 

 

A Complete Game Setting would set the dials - which optional rules are, and are not in play.  It would provide the accepted range for DCs, defenses, rDEF, SPD, CVs, etc. etc.  It might even set some mechanics as off-limits, and others as "permitted in this game world".  It would set the tone - is this a high-lethality game, a four-colour game where the Heroic Code is expected, or an exploration of complex ethical and moral issues in a world of Superhumans?  It would likely also include pre-fab powers (spells for fantasy; superpowers for Supers; equipment for Pulp or Action; weird talents for Pulp, if weird talents are in play in THIS pulp game/setting; etc.).

 

Pulp Hero is a genre.  A Pulp Hero game would be more like Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes set in the 1930's, or Call of Cthulhu, or Gangsters in the 1920s, or Two Fisted Quasi-Supers like Doc Savage and The Shadow.  It would not be the tools to build any one of these games, or even  a combination thereof.  It would be that game - complete, but without the trappings for any other game.

 

Action Hero is a genre.  A game could be a police drama, a war/soldiers game, an espionage game, etc. 

 

We could have games that cross lines - perhaps the players are normal human beings, but their foes are alien invaders infiltrating the earth a la "V", or mystical entities/monsters a la "Supernatural".

 

Adventures and sample builds (PCs, enemies, even components like powers or spells) would be helpful, but not essential, components.

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I'm with Neil.  I reckon Champions Complete would not need the full HERO rules.  First it would need DOJ to decide what their default is.  If it is Vibora Bay, fantastic, we have a measure to scale things to.  We could decide that Vibora Bay was of a particular level and focussed more on Powers than skills and provide a very cut down list of skills and a full list of powers.  We would also give very strong build advice, advice that is absolutely context driven for a particular style of play.  We could easily put in villains and a sample adventure or two because we would know precisely the kind of heroes that would be built in this game.

 

I reckon all of that is possible in a reasonably slim volume.  I would have a short annex at the back (or available for download) to say what decisions had been made to make this game using the full 6E rules and encourage those who want to to change anything or everything in the game (after they have played it as written) to do so using the full 6E rules.

 

I also think that this game would then have to be called something like Vibora Bay Champions rather than Champions Complete so that there would be room for other titles, like Age of the Machine Champions.

 

Doc

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I prefer the term "product line" rather than "game". It makes it clear that the goal is not just a single book but a whole series of books. In terms of checking all the boxes for the initial (core) rulebook, I think Vampire: The Masquerade--in its original incarnation--serves as the best template I can think of. It did it all. It provided all the core mechanics, presented in an easy to digest form; it provided the setting with just enough of both broad strokes and intimate detail to get a Chronicle started, and it provided a sample adventure (if I recall correctly).

 

But more importantly, VtM was just the first in a long line of products that expanded and added depth to "the game". The (OG) World of Darkness was not just a setting, it was a complete product line. In fact, it was five or six inter-related product lines. Being a completist was an expensive proposition, but you didn't have to buy everything to play and enjoy the game.

 

Whenever anyone wants to know what should be done with the HERO System, I point to VtM and say, "Do that." (But with a different genre/setting, of course.)

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I don't think a "complete" game necessarily has to include the full rules, but it has to be enough for you to be able to sit down and run a game.  

 

The various D&D 5e starter kits (the Starter Set, Stranger Things, Rick & Morty, Essentials) to me constitute a "complete game", because with any of those (all of which I believe include sample adventures) you could sit down and run a game.  I might also call them "minimally complete" because without other materials you can't do much more than that, but with the Players Handbook and all the free downloads (SRD, basic rules, etc.) you've got enough for years of play.  

 

Fantasy Hero Complete, with the additional electronic downloads including pregen player characters, spells, monsters, setting, and adventure, is almost a complete game.  I say almost because the Val of Stalla sample adventure isn't quite a fully fleshed out adventure, but it's pretty close.  It would need a plot of some kind and/or a number of NPCs with their own wants, needs, and conflicts brewing that the PCs can get involved in.  (Elsewhere I've said that it is complete, but I'm partially retracting that statement.)

 

I'm okay with, e.g., rulebook X plus additional material book Y equals a complete game.  

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22 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

Fantasy Hero Complete, with the additional electronic downloads including pregen player characters, spells, monsters, setting, and adventure, is almost a complete game.  I say almost because the Val of Stalla sample adventure isn't quite a fully fleshed out adventure, but it's pretty close.  It would need a plot of some kind and/or a number of NPCs with their own wants, needs, and conflicts brewing that the PCs can get involved in.  (Elsewhere I've said that it is complete, but I'm partially retracting that statement.)

 

I'm okay with, e.g., rulebook X plus additional material book Y equals a complete game.  

 

I agree with you in spirit, but not in reality.  A lot of that stuff is useless without Hero Designer. 

 

I'm willing to download and print stuff on my own dime; that's not a problem.  Buying software and then having to turn around--if the bulk of the conversations in the HERO Designer forums are any indication--learn Java and build export templates and match this and thats? 

 

No thanks.  If I had that kind of knowledge already, I'd be using it to make a living.  As I am making a living differently, I don't have the spare time to learn it.  I can barely do a weekly game session with a bunch of high-schoolers and a bimonthly with my remaining regulars.  :(

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

I agree with you in spirit, but not in reality.  A lot of that stuff is useless without Hero Designer. 

 

I'm willing to download and print stuff on my own dime; that's not a problem.  Buying software and then having to turn around--if the bulk of the conversations in the HERO Designer forums are any indication--learn Java and build export templates and match this and thats? 

 

No thanks.  If I had that kind of knowledge already, I'd be using it to make a living.  As I am making a living differently, I don't have the spare time to learn it.  I can barely do a weekly game session with a bunch of high-schoolers and a bimonthly with my remaining regulars.  :(

 

All of the FH Compete pregenned characters and monsters come in PDF and RTF as well as HD.  For that matter, the D&D Starter Kit included five pregen characters preprinted on full character sheets.  There's nothing in theory stopping us from doing the same, although handing a book-format character writeup to a high-school age player and telling them "Transfer this to this character sheet," could certainly be a good exercise for them in learning the character's abilities, learning their way around the character sheet, and so on.

 

For my own part, the book format has only slightly more info than my own notebook paper character format, and I've played characters off of notebook paper.  

 

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58 minutes ago, zslane said:

No, but (HERO) damage didn't count unless you added it up (correctly) on your own. ;)

 

You remind me of an anecdote:

 

I got into roleplaying quite by accident.   I love dice.  I mean I _love_ dice.  I had a rather extensive dice collection at one time (no; not just the pillow sack full; I mean an actual collection: dice whittle from bone certified back to the 1700s; iron dice cast and beaten into shape, actual bone "dice"  from hip bones of deer, etc.  They appear in every culture, every period.  Surely no one person travelled the globe and introduced them to everyone else.  There is something that draws us instinctively to the randomness of dice.

 

I guess it's the "randomizing" element of dice that... well, Hell; I'm too damned old to care what anyone thinks of me at this point,  I never cared much at any other point, so let me just say it:  there is something mysterious about dice.  We can predict and average and graph, but we can't tell what any individual throw is going to do.  Combine that with the history of dice-- dice-based fortune telling and even gambling seem to predate recorded history-- and you get people deciding their fortunes-- even their fates-- on one unguessable roll.  On purpose!  People who have made a decision to let the random action of the universe decide what their lives will be---

 

It's...  well, it's more than "romantic;" it's _haunting_.  I've been fascinated with them since I was just a little kid-- I mean that first board game with the colored die: move to the next space with that color.  It was spellbinding-- I controlled everything.  I could pick the die up-- I could pick it up the same exact way every time; shake it the same exact way every time.  Throw it onto the board and it was _different_.  Nothing I could do would control the result.  I had complete control of everything right up until I tossed it into the air

 

and the universe took over....

 

 

I never got away from it.  To this day, rolling dice is just the greatest mystery, and as an adult, and understanding the math-- the averages, the graphs, the potentials, the tilt of this and that and the angle or roundness of the vertices and weight and size of the die---- 

 

and knowing that when I throw them, it's all meaningless.

 

When I think about it too hard, it's scary, in a humbling "we are but specks in an infinite cosmos" sort of way.

 

When I just enjoy waiting for the next roll, guessing what it will be, and waiting-- over and over again-- until I'm right....   There's a childish joy; my joy, from the child in me that still remembers how exciting that first colored die was---   and I _love_ it.

 

 

 

At any rate, I had a rather extensive dice collection by the time 77 or 78 rolled about.  I had moved, made new friends, and had dice randomly displayed here and there.  "Oh, cool!  You must really love games!"

 

Well, I like dice.

 

"Dude, you have a _lot_ of dice!  Have you ever role played?"

 

I did a couple of stage productions in school.

 

"No; I mean like where you and your friends-- have you ever heard of Dungeons and Dragons?"

 

Ehhh...  _sort of_....?  Nothing great.  I don't really think that's my thing.  I'm not really into hobbits and elves and crap.

 

"No; I mean the way you play: you make up a character and act out like what that character would do or say of how he would react; have you ever done that?"

 

I did a couple of stage productions in school.

 

"No; Dude; you are not getting this.  It's like making up an adventure movie, only you come up with your own lines and stuff as you go."

 

So...  like a party game?

 

"Kinda; yeah.  But then you want to do something, right?  So you can't just decide that you _do_ it; you just say you _want_ to do it, then you check your skill level"

 

My what, now?

 

"You have like skill levels and things that tell you kinda how good you are at stuff.  If something is sort of easy, then you get bonuses; if it's hard, then you get penalties."

 

Penalties?  You lost me.  If I'm good at it, why are there penalties?

 

"Because you need a target number."

 

And what's that?

 

"Well you have to roll that number or better on the dice--"

 

Dice?

 

"Right.  When you want to try to do something, you roll the dice, and they will tell you if you can do it or not."

 

The dice decide?

 

"Right.  You take your target number and your bonuses or penalties and then you let the dice decide---"

 

Tell me more.  No; wait!  _Show_ me......

 

"Sure!  My buddies Kevin and Jim have been itching to get a Traveller game up, but we haven't finished the D&D module yet--- Hey!  Do you like science fiction?  Like spaceships and aliens and stuff?"

 

 

And that did it.  Right there.  I didn't sit down because I wanted to be the next Conan or Legolas; I didn't want to be the next Magic Space Wizard.  I wanted to let the dice decide my fate.....

 

 

And I've never regretted it.  :)

 

 

Now over the years-- between friends, family, nieces and nephews, moving, giving things away, -- life in general, very little of my once-prized dice collection remains (I have a couple of hammered iron dice, a couple of antler dice, and a very few others still left), but it's amazing how many _more_ dice I have now than ever before!  :lol:

 

I just _love_ dice.  :)

 

This only seems to apply to dice, though.  Card games suck the blue ones on a donkey.  >:(   They freakin' _wish_ they were dice!

 

 

Dude, I am _really_ sorry about that.  I may have to erase all of it and just start here, at the actual anecdote:

 

I once had (and still have most of) a set of about two-dozen bright yellow dice with oversized black pips.  When I was teaching new players, I would insist they use these dice, as they were _much_ easier to read, meaning that I or any of the other players could help them determine their successes and failures until they got the hang of it.  One player jokingly referred to these dice arranged in a neat rectangle as "the school bus," and the name has just stuck, given that they were used mostly for the purposes of education (no one picked them on purpose:  they were called "the school bus;" that should tell you immediately just how damned unpleasant they were to look at!  :lol:  ).

 

 

I had a problem player many years ago-- you may have heard me mention Davien a time or two.  It was absolutely _astounding_  how phenomenally well he rolled, and how his success always seemed to be proportionally to both the smallness of his dice and his distance away from other players.  (Weird, right?!).  I got sick to death of it, and one day I stumbled across a set of twelve dice in "school bus" colors---  30mm dice.  :)

 

"Here, Davien.  You wanna play; you use these dice.  Period."

 

It took about fifteen minutes before someone coined the phrase "the short bus."    :rofl:

 

 

 

{EDIT}:  Thread Tax:

 

What makes a game "complete?"

 

Damned if I know.  But I know when it ain't!   :lol:

 

 

seriously though:  having everything you need to play a game:  An understanding of the world-- mood, attitude, grimness--- Look at HERO 6e: all the talk about having a hundred dials and switches you can throw and twist and boom!  Instant game!

 

Well a "complete game" is one that has _done_ that already:  It has all the switches thrown and dials set to create a defined world and a defined tone and gives you enough setting and background to place yourself _in_ that world, at least enough to feel like you are a part of it.  There is enough "here is how the world works" to get you going (I really don't need every single detail; just give me enough to get the feel for it; I can wing the rest), preferably some sample characters and information on them; enough NPCs to people at least one adventure, and ... well, _at least one adventure_.  Two or three is better, even if they are short and simple, because they tend to reinforce what the world is.  Sure, if there's only one adventure, it's better to be a bit more detailed, and preferably open-ended so I can just sort of bump along continuing it until I can get something together on my own.

 

Instead of fifteen optional ways to do something, I want something that says "in this world, it's done this way."  Less generic; more specific.  If HERO core rules get any more "universal and generic," they won't need cover art; they will need a white cover with black letters that says "Game Rules."  Package it in white box labeled "Game; boxed set" and include a 36x48 sheet of white paper that says "Map" and white-covered book of Mad Libs that says "Scenario."

 

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For a "complete" game, you need:

 

* Pre-generated characters for the players.  You don't need to explain all the chargen rules, or even talk about point costs at all.  Just a character sheet of all the things about the character that aren't necessarily part of any other character.

* Rules that cover all the things that the characters can do.  You don't need all the rules governing each power and skill and talent, or how any of them are built..  Character A has a 8d6 Armor Piecing Blast, so you explain that when you hit, you roll eight dice for damage, and the target only gets to subtract half his defenses.

* Rules of general combat that apply to everyone in the game (including NPCs).

* Rules of non-combat stuff that apply to everyone in the game (including NPCs).  Everyman skills and such.

* In case players are not familiar with what role-playing is, maybe some explanation of that.  "You are a person, and you can do whatever a person can do.  You get to decide.  You aren't limited to a set of predefined moves like in a video game.

* An adventure module to play, complete with enemies or whatever other NPCs are involved.  And any other rules for the setting.

* Maybe one or more additional adventure modules, with different kinds of adventures.  In one, you foil a supervillain and his henchmen trying to rob a bank.  In another, there is no villain, and you simply must rescue innocent civilians from a burning apartment building.  In a third, a series of crimes has already been committed, and you need to figure out whodunit and bring them to justice.  etc.

 

The author of such a "complete" game can do all the pre-play math for the players, and not even bother showing it to the players.  (Obviously, the players will have to add up their own dice,  subtract damage from their STUN/BODY, track their own END, etc., during play, themselves.)

 

You do not need a setting.  No, you don't.

 

Once the players get through this.  You can delve into the details of how their characters are built, and how each of their powers are built, and how other kinds of powers could be built.  And you can let them use all these rules to build their own characters.

And then you can tell them that these adventures they've been having all take place in this larger world, where various stuff is going on that they might be interested in.

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Let me recalibrate my original post: I'm not necessarily talking about a beginner's set or anything like that. That is an old discussion that led to many of my questions here:

I'm more thinking about what is the proper alignment, or realignment, of the product line to facilitate complete games that can stand alone for a complete game experience, at least until the players are ready to create their own content to play. Although I brought up the issue of minimizing the page count, it was primarily based on some complaints that have repeatedly come up in other discussions. 

 

I just want to head off the HERO Basic ideas before they take over!

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

P1:  It's really more about awful presentation than it is size.  In a good rulebook, reading from front to back will introduce concepts and rules in the order needed to understand and play.  Sadly, very few TTRPG rulebooks have good or even decent presentation, instead spreading things out in nonsensical orders. Chargen before rules, for example. 

P1': In the past I've fit all the rules needed for combat on the front of a sheet of paper, all the rules needed for non-combat on the back, and power writeups on 3x5 cards. 

P2: Champions doesn't have a setting?  Isn't the setting just "the world, but with supers"?  I agree that an adventure or two in the book would be nice. 

P3: I'm not aware of any major product that ships "complete" with pregens, an adventure, a setting, etc.  D&D 3.5 didn't.  D&D 5 doesn't.  What you seem to be getting at is the lack of supplemental support. 

P4: This is again presentation.  It's very easy to fit a description of a power on a 3x5 card or a quarter of a page.  And you can put the formal writeup on the back! 

 

Oy! Don't even get me started on the presentation! That's an entirely different problem, best left to a different thread maybe. . . . Or maybe not. I'm willing to listen to constructive ideas.

 

I have a friend, Drew Tucker, who was an artist for one of the first (if not the first) sets of Magic: The Gathering. I should know, honestly, but truth be told, I knew Drew for 15 years before I ever knew this about him! He's a fantastic artist, and I have some of his work diplayed at home without realizing how incredibly freaking famous he is! I say all this because I once asked him if he could do a few sketches for me if I ever got around to doing a Fantasy HERO Basic manual of some sort, and he agreed without pause, and offered the art for free. He mentioned he did some work for most of the game companies (did some stuff for one of the D&D monster manuals, maybe from 2e?), and that's when I learned just how accomplished he is! So I have access to his work, and a whole lot of ideas, and can probably get some great art to use. But I need something to put the art in first . . . . 

 

Which may or may not have something to do with this thread.

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11 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Action Hero is a genre.  A game could be a police drama, a war/soldiers game, an espionage game, etc. 

 

So, looking at Danger International, one of the "complete games" of yesteryear, actually takes on all of those sub-genres in one game. Perhaps it's too generic for any one of them, but as the book is presented they all pretty much blend together seamlessly. The whole book has pretty much a consistent feel throughout, although it may lack some of the super-spy qualities of James Bond or Mission: Impossible. I'm not sure that there would need to be separate games for each, although perhaps supplements centered around the core game that tease out each sub-genre would work. Sort of the opposite of what the genre books do now. As I said earlier, I'm just spitballing here, but I think Action HERO is a great place to start because there is a gap in the product line these days, and it also is the simplest (i.e. most "real life") rendition of the game without all the Powers and Modifiers to muck up the presentation.

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7 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

I also think that this game would then have to be called something like Vibora Bay Champions rather than Champions Complete so that there would be room for other titles, like Age of the Machine Champions.

 

Whoa! I hadn't thought of it this way. It's not exactly what you're saying here, but you made me think of something different. What if each of the settings was presented as its own game? So there would be the core genre book for Champions, or maybe Champions Complete, to show all the possibilities. But what if the setting became the place where all the dials and levers from the toolbox were tuned for the setting, and then campaigns and adventures were included? So the "game" would be integrated into the setting. Vibora Bay would be it's own Champions game, and so would San Angelo, etc. They'd each be their own standalone games with their own presumed settings, sharing the same core rules. All the special rules, power settings, custom builds, etc., would be unique to each game this way. 

 

Just a thought. . .

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7 hours ago, zslane said:

I prefer the term "product line" rather than "game". It makes it clear that the goal is not just a single book but a whole series of books. In terms of checking all the boxes for the initial (core) rulebook, I think Vampire: The Masquerade--in its original incarnation--serves as the best template I can think of.

 

Wouldn't that be nice?! A whole product line! I think we all know that's not going to happen, but it would be, as you say, ideal. I've never looked at VtM, but I guess now it seems like a must. Thanks for that suggestion.

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6 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

I don't think a "complete" game necessarily has to include the full rules, but it has to be enough for you to be able to sit down and run a game.  

 

The various D&D 5e starter kits (the Starter Set, Stranger Things, Rick & Morty, Essentials) to me constitute a "complete game", because with any of those (all of which I believe include sample adventures) you could sit down and run a game.  I might also call them "minimally complete" because without other materials you can't do much more than that, but with the Players Handbook and all the free downloads (SRD, basic rules, etc.) you've got enough for years of play.  

 

Fantasy Hero Complete, with the additional electronic downloads including pregen player characters, spells, monsters, setting, and adventure, is almost a complete game.  I say almost because the Val of Stalla sample adventure isn't quite a fully fleshed out adventure, but it's pretty close.  It would need a plot of some kind and/or a number of NPCs with their own wants, needs, and conflicts brewing that the PCs can get involved in.  (Elsewhere I've said that it is complete, but I'm partially retracting that statement.)

 

I'm okay with, e.g., rulebook X plus additional material book Y equals a complete game.  

 

Let's get away from the starter box ideas, at least for now (believe me, I sympathize because this has always been a pet idea of mine; see the link above for the thread I started). I'm thinking more along the lines of what I know is one of your favorites, Danger International. One book was all I needed, and I was off and running. Can we reproduce that anymore? 

 

I agree that Fantasy HERO Complete does include all the stuff if you get the electronic downloads, but seriously, some people don't even know that the PDFs even exist! They should have been included in the book, although I understand that they were Kickstarter goals or some such thing, so maybe not intended to be published. But the Complete books are just lacking in . . . I don't know what. Verve? Like Gnome BODY (Important!) said, the presentation is just tone-deaf! The font alone in Fantasy HERO Complete is simply atrocious! They are "complete," but so devoid of guts and feeling that they seem like dehydrated versions of games. How can they be presented, all under one cover, but also usefully organized?

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

You remind me of an anecdote:

 

Your long, rambling anecdotes are worth their wait in gold (ha! see what I did there?)! Time well spent, my friend. Thanks for sharing, as always. Consider your Thread Tax paid.

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

Instead of fifteen optional ways to do something, I want something that says "in this world, it's done this way."  Less generic; more specific.  If HERO core rules get any more "universal and generic," they won't need cover art; they will need a white cover with black letters that says "Game Rules."  Package it in white box labeled "Game; boxed set" and include a 36x48 sheet of white paper that says "Map" and white-covered book of Mad Libs that says "Scenario."

 

This is pretty funny, and not so far off from the truth!

 

1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

Well a "complete game" is one that has _done_ that already:  It has all the switches thrown and dials set to create a defined world and a defined tone and gives you enough setting and background to place yourself _in_ that world, at least enough to feel like you are a part of it.  There is enough "here is how the world works" to get you going (I really don't need every single detail; just give me enough to get the feel for it; I can wing the rest), preferably some sample characters and information on them; enough NPCs to people at least one adventure, and ... well, _at least one adventure_.  Two or three is better, even if they are short and simple, because they tend to reinforce what the world is.  Sure, if there's only one adventure, it's better to be a bit more detailed, and preferably open-ended so I can just sort of bump along continuing it until I can get something together on my own.

 

This is more like what I'm thinking. 6e has some real potential if the two volumes remain in the background as sourcebooks and not as the games themselves. Most of those volumes are examples, rulings, suggestions, and all sorts of collected wisdom from 30 years of HERO, and are invaluable as far as I'm concerned. But they don't need to be presented, or re-presented en toto in each new game! Just enough is all we need.

 

You've given me plenty to think about in your usual rants about 2e vs. 6e. I'm starting to lean your way in terms of your desire for simplicity. But I also love the 6e rules, and believe that they can be presented in simpler form. This is why I'm looking at a way to try to present them in a new game where the Powers and Modifiers don't need to be presented, and the equipment and such can be given in lists (yay lists!) rather than "builds." 

 

Remember what it used to be like to get a new game and go directly to all the equipment and skills lists to see what the game could let you do? Wouldn't that be nice, without having to grind through all the Powers and Modifiers? Just a thought . . . 

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