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What makes a complete game "complete"?


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To shift the conversation to a brighter note: 

I think one of the ways to make HERO less "unapproachable" and "hard to learn" would be to refine the character sheet.  People have commented that power writeups look like black magic chants, and we can fix that.  It's the future already, people! 

Put plain-english writeups of each power in an info box under each power and Characteristic.  Something like:

 

Blast 6d6 AoE 3" NND: Force Field

Quote

You can make ranged attacks that hit everything in an area.  Roll to hit using your OCV against the target hex's DCV of 3 [insert formula and infographic here].  Everyone inside the area is subject to damage. 

This attack only deals STUN damage.  If a target has any defense defined as a forcefield, they are immune.  Otherwise, roll 6d6 and sum the result, this is how much STUN damage that target takes.  [insert infographic here]. 

 

Even just doing it to the pregen heroes provided with a module would be a huge help to learners, because they could ignore the giant tomes and just focus on learning half a dozen pages of sheet. 

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A lot of the issue is presentation.  In Hero, we tend to see   "Cone of Frost, 6d6 Blast, Cold, Area of Effect (Cone, 16 meters, +1/2), Constant (+1/2), 60 Active Points; No Range (-1/2), Co

I would assign more faith in setting, if-  well: Millennium City Vibora Bay That college Steve has up in the store Atlantean Age Valdorian Age Turakian Age Tuala Mor

When I say starter set I'm also not referring to a beginner's set.  The D&D Starter Kit happens to use the D&D 5th edition Basic Rules, but when I played through it we used the full D&D 5e

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35 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Nope.  I didn't mean that at all.  A lot of gamers who play D&D and Pathfinder and all the other games that are selling well also have jobs and mortgages and parents and kids.  Likewise with everyone else that takes the time for any other hobby,

 

 

 

My hobbies include camping, which I had hoped to share with my kids.  They are damned near grown, and I've had time to take them _once_, when they were very, very young. 

 

They also include my bikes.  I have five, and if you've seen one of my videos, you will see two of them rotting in the yard.  The last time I was able to fire one up and enjoy was...  Eleven or twelve years ago. 

 

I play a two-hour Sunday afternoon game with a group of kids, and the only reason I can find time for that is to go out of my way to turn down work that I actually need.  I don't even particularly enjoy it; it's a bit simplified in plot and theme.  I do it to try to keep interest in role playing alive, and it's about the only time I have to spend on my own kids (who have joined the youth group game.  We've backed it down to the second Sunday of the month, because that's all the time I have. 

 

I play a "bimonthly" game that hasn't met in six months, and when it does, only about half of us can make it. 

 

When I log on here, I am on a break from work or depriving myself of the sleep I need so I can enjoy discussing a passion with like-minded people.  I have fallen asleep at my desk more than I have in my bed, just to read the thoughts of other players. 

 

You know _you_, and no one else.  That goes for all of us: none of us knows what demands are upon any of the rest of us. 

 

I do leave from time to time, for a couple of years at a stretch, when this place becomes too much frustration in exchange for the small pleasure I steal by being here.   Granted, it's quite possible I'm just lazy. 

 

 

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So do the players of all the other games that are selling well have more hours in the day than Hero players?

 

Nothing I said is an attack on anyone here.  We've al already done the work to learn the Hero system - which by the way, you only really need to learn once - you don't have to re-learn the system every time you play.  Once you've learned it, you can play it for the rest of your life.

 

I don't know why anything I said is particularly controversial.  Perhaps I misunderstood the purpose of this thread.  I thought we were talking about marketing, and increasing the market share among RPGers for the Hero System.  We're talking about various ideas that DOJ could implement to gain more players.  Was I wrong?  Is that not what we're talking about?

 

Well, assuming that is the idea here, there are many different questions we might want to answer:

Why do people play other game systems and not Hero?

Why are other game systems selling better than Hero?

Are people put off by Hero's toolkit approach?

Do people want to be "spoon fed" a game?

Are people reluctant to learn a new game, even when it's better than their current game?  And if so, why?

Do people not enjoy building their own games, game settings, characters, enemies, and adventures?

Do people prefer to have all these things built for them?

 

Laziness and whining are huge parts of the human condition.  (Myself included.)  At any given moment, there are probably at least a hundred times as many people watching TV as playing a game - any game.  And probably at least a thousand times as many people watching TV as playing an RPG - any RPG.  Why?  Because watching TV takes no work or thought or learning or preparation time.

 

I'm just trying to identify what we're up against.  None of this is intended as an insult to anyone.

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4 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

I think a lot of the problem is whining and laziness - on the part of gamers and potential gamers.  As reflected in some of the posts above.  "I don't want to have to spend a year studying the system in order to begin playing."  Back in pre-4th days, when my regular D&D group decided to try Champions (and we never went back), it took us at most a week or two to learn the system, create our characters, and set up a "module" to begin playing.

 

Back in the pre-4e days, the game was 80 pages (2e) focused on Supers gaming (many of those pages were sample characters, for example, and I recall a walkthrough building two Superheroes to spell out the character generation system.  Let's look at 6e - 80 pages into V1, I made it to the "Languages" skill.

 

I am one of those "whiny, lazy gamers" who no longer has a full day or two to read and digest a new rule book, and no longer has the time to play a few hours most evenings and all day for one or two days on the weekend.  I am no longer very interested in learning new game systems either.

 

4 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

All that being said, I sadly have no idea how to overcome this problem.  But it might help to at least acknowledge it.  All new things, no matter how good they are, need to be gotten used to.  And some of them need to be learned, and maybe even a little bit of work might be required.  Everything worthwhile in life requires some work.  Do we try to reduce the amount of work required, or do we sell the idea of the work being worth it?

 

Let's rephrase that:  do we try to change the way the game is presented (that is, reduce both the actual and perceived work required before the game can actually begin) or do we try to change the perceptions, attitudes and time commitments of all of the potential players?  I will suggest that only one of these is remotely practical.   But it requires some people who are familiar with Hero to stop whining about how other gamers don't want to put in the work, and get over their laziness to design a game which will present Hero in a good light and draw in those gamers.

 

4 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Nope.  I didn't mean that at all.  A lot of gamers who play D&D and Pathfinder and all the other games that are selling well also have jobs and mortgages and parents and kids.  Likewise with everyone else that takes the time for any other hobby, golfing, fishing, music-playing, woodworking.  People find time for their hobbies, regardless of all the other stuff they have to do,.

 

EDIT:  Don't take it personally.  I'm not talking about anyone here.  We here have all put in the work to learn the Hero system.  We have all taken the plunge and tried something new, whether we came from some other system that spoon-fed us, or if we had never played an RPG before.  And presumably, we are all glad that we made this decision and put in this work.

 

I play a lot more Pathfinder and D&D over the past 10+ years than Hero.  With the same guys I also played Hero with for many years.  THEY TAKE LESS WORK TO PREPARE FOR AND PLAY, especially from the GM.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

So do the players of all the other games that are selling well have more hours in the day than Hero players?

 

No - that is why they choose to play games they can pick up and create/maintain characters for relatively quickly (which, for me at least, still includes Hero - but only because I already know the system), and for which they can get a GM.  That GM selects a system for which he can find support (like an Adventure Path) so he can spend a day or two of reading to prepare for several hours of gaming, not a week or two of design work to prepare for the same several hours of gaming.

 

That is our group defined in three lines, so I know I am not making this up.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

I don't know why anything I said is particularly controversial.  Perhaps I misunderstood the purpose of this thread.  I thought we were talking about marketing, and increasing the market share among RPGers for the Hero System.  We're talking about various ideas that DOJ could implement to gain more players.  Was I wrong?  Is that not what we're talking about?

 

I remain uncertain what the best marketing strategy for Hero might be.  I am 100% confident that a strategy of telling gamers "Hey, get off your whiny backsides and learn Hero, you lazy gamers, you" will not see Hero's market share jump.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Well, assuming that is the idea here, there are many different questions we might want to answer:

 

And we have heard a lot of experienced gamers suggest the more likely answers.  I will summarize what I hear from this and other threads.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Why do people play other game systems and not Hero?

 

Because they require much less investment of scarce and valuable time than Hero.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Why are other game systems selling better than Hero?

 

Because they require much less investment of scarce and valuable time than Hero.  In other words, their designers cater to the market.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Are people put off by Hero's toolkit approach?

Do people want to be "spoon fed" a game?

 

HELL YEAH! to both.  More to the point, they want to PLAY a game, not BUILD a game.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Are people reluctant to learn a new game.

 

Yes, they are.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

even when it's better than their current game?  And if so, why?

 

First, until they learn it and play it, they do not know with confidence that it IS better than their current game.  "This game is better" is hardly an objective, verifiable fact.

 

And they do not want to investment of scarce and valuable time (are you starting to hear that message?) in an unknown commodity, much less one they have heard has a poor return on that investment (whether or not what they heard is correct).

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Do people not enjoy building their own games, game settings, characters, enemies, and adventures?

Do people prefer to have all these things built for them?

 

People have limited time.  They would rather spend 100 hours gaming and 20 hours learning/preparing/designing than 20 hours of gaming that is TEN TIMES as fun, but requires they invest 100 hours of learning/preparing/designing.

 

100 FUN/20 LPD = 5:1

 

20*10 FUN = 200/100 LPD = 2:1

 

5:1 ROI is much better than 2:1 ROI.

 

1 hour ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Laziness and whining are huge parts of the human condition.  (Myself included.)  At any given moment, there are probably at least a hundred times as many people watching TV as playing a game - any game.  And probably at least a thousand times as many people watching TV as playing an RPG - any RPG.  Why?  Because watching TV takes no work or thought or learning or preparation time.

 

And yet you assume that it will be as easy or even easier, to change the human condition than to change the game to appeal to the human condition.

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5 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

I think a lot of the problem is whining and laziness - on the part of gamers and potential gamers.  As reflected in some of the posts above.  "I don't want to have to spend a year studying the system in order to begin playing."  Back in pre-4th days, when my regular D&D group decided to try Champions (and we never went back), it took us at most a week or two to learn the system, create our characters, and set up a "module" to begin playing.  Don't give me this "year of study" crap.  "I don't want to have to get a Ph.D. in Hero to play."  It's not brain surgery, folks.  You learned to drive a car, you learned to do your job, you've probably learned to do a lot of things that were never going to lead to anything fun.  If you put the effort in, you'll find that your brain is not full - there's still plenty of room in there.  And you can have a lot of fun.

 

4 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

EDIT:  Don't take it personally.  I'm not talking about anyone here.  We here have all put in the work to learn the Hero system.  We have all taken the plunge and tried something new, whether we came from some other system that spoon-fed us, or if we had never played an RPG before.  And presumably, we are all glad that we made this decision and put in this work.

 

Speaking for myself only, I have to say that as soon as you call what I've said "crap" you've passed over into "taking it personally" territory. There's no way to say that isn't just plain rude. Just sayin'.

 

For the record, here's what I said:

6 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

. . . There's also good evidence that new people aren't picking up HERO System because it's like drinking from the fire hose, and who is going to invest a year of solid study to get the system mastery that it would take to even begin to design a game that others may want to play? . . .

 

"System mastery" is my point here, not a nominal once-over of the rules that I hope my players make. Hell, I'm still trying to master the 6e rules after years of playing them. The 1e/2e/3e games were easy to learn and to master because they were quite brief. Anyone trying to learn the game today has to wade through a ton of rules, edge cases, extensions and extrapolations to come anywhere near system mastery. This is a serious non-starter for most gamers today. And I'd contend that one shouldn't be teaching the game if they don't have some level of competence with the rules first. Stopping and looking up the rules every time something happens is a sure-fire way to ensure that nobody will ever play again.

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2 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Perhaps I misunderstood the purpose of this thread.  I thought we were talking about marketing, and increasing the market share among RPGers for the Hero System.  We're talking about various ideas that DOJ could implement to gain more players.  Was I wrong?  Is that not what we're talking about?

 

No worries. Lots of things have come up. Let me rein it back in a bit.

 

My contention in the original post is that people don't pick up Champions/Fantasy HERO Complete and feel like they're ready to start a game. They are, possibly, ready to learn how to create a game once they decide on a setting, maybe a magic system, an adventure possibly leading into a campaign, and so on. These are the sorts of decisions that it takes experience to make in lieu of supporting material, even if it's just some sample adventures or pre-gen characters or whatever. They games are "complete" only in the technical sense of "everything's there." But they aren't really ready to be played without a great deal of preparation.

 

Of course, some of your questions are entailed in the post, but it's not really a thread about marketing, or about why people don't play the game more. Those threads are numerous and have been done plenty. What I haven't seen done is actually hammering out what a "one book game" might look like today, given the 6e ruleset. Yes, there is an assumption that the "one book game" will change the perception of HERO System, and that it will hopefully draw in more new people. It's clearly not a thread about experienced HERO players. I'll leave those issues in the background, and in other threads. I'm just playing with the toolbox to see what can be done.

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5 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Back in the pre-4e days, the game was 80 pages (2e) focused on Supers gaming (many of those pages were sample characters, for example, and I recall a walkthrough building two Superheroes to spell out the character generation system.

Which is why I suggested making an 80-page Champions book for 6th edition.

 

5 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

I am one of those "whiny, lazy gamers"

No, you're not.  You've already put in the work to learn the Hero System, and you come here and discuss it and contribute to it.  That's the opposite of lazy and whining.

 

5 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Let's rephrase that:  do we try to change the way the game is presented (that is, reduce both the actual and perceived work required before the game can actually begin) or do we try to change the perceptions, attitudes and time commitments of all of the potential players?

That's not really a rephrasing at all.  The first part rephrases my first part - Can we do something to make learning and preparing a game less work?  But my second part was about selling people on the idea that the work they'll have to do is indeed worth it.

 

6 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

I am 100% confident that a strategy of telling gamers "Hey, get off your whiny backsides and learn Hero, you lazy gamers, you" will not see Hero's market share jump.

And no one has said otherwise.

 

6 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

More to the point, they want to PLAY a game, not BUILD a game.

Well, maybe it's just that I'm an outlier.  I LOVE the toolkit!  And I LOVE building a game!

 

6 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

And yet you assume that it will be as easy or even easier, to change the human condition than to change the game to appeal to the human condition.

I assume no such thing.  I have no idea how you got that from what I wrote.  I think I said something close to the exact opposite.

 

5 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Speaking for myself only, I have to say that as soon as you call what I've said "crap" you've passed over into "taking it personally" territory. There's no way to say that isn't just plain rude. Just sayin'.

Well, I'm sorry.  But it really does not take a year of study to learn the Hero System.  IMO, such a claim goes beyond the realm of mere exaggeration,into the realm of a lie.

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8 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Well, I'm sorry.  But it really does not take a year of study to learn the Hero System.  IMO, such a claim goes beyond the realm of mere exaggeration,into the realm of a lie.

 

So what you're saying is "Sorry, but not sorry," followed by calling me a liar? Please get a grip, and tone down your ad hominem attacks. Or really, just don't do that at all. Please.

 

Rather than insult you, as you keep doing to me, I'm going to assume that you are familiar with the term "system mastery," which is what I keep saying as opposed to "learn the HERO System," which is what you keep saying. Because they mean two very different things. Either you're exaggerating my position to create a straw man (you are), or you're just being obstinate and don't want to interpret what I'm trying to say in a charitable fashion (seems like you are). Please stop either or both. I'm going to assume that you learned an earlier edition of the game as most of us did. It used to be easy to learn when it was fewer than 100 pages, and could be quickly learned in one sitting and mastered in a matter of several game sessions. 6e is not that, and most people simply cannot sit down and read two volumes of rules and master them, let alone learn them quickly. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I still haven't mastered 6e. I'm competent in it, but jumping from 3e to 6e for me is like learning a different game in many, many ways. Why would I expect anyone new to the system to be able to master the rules in any short amount of time? Especially as adults with very little free time to devote to this sort of activity?

 

Let me offer a non-hypothetical, non-exaggerated example. I've been playing GURPS for almost two years now with a group of guys who can only meet once a month. I participated pretty regularly until I got cancer a year ago and had to take a couple of sessions off while I dealt with chemotherapy. Before the first game session, I looked up GURPS online and found their 4e GURPS Lite PDF, which they offer for free and offers a wonderful overview in 32 pages. I felt ready to play the game with other players who know what they're doing and can help me along. But there are half a dozen other genre books that I need to really learn what we're doing, along with their two core rulebooks. We shifted from fantasy to Traveller at one point, so I had to read and learn several other books entirely (which I didn't). I "learned" the basic rules enough to play, but I am not even close to "knowing" the rules, let alone have any sense of mastery of them. If they told me that I had to run a game next week, I'd quit. I'm not competent enough to create a game in GURPS that is playable. I wouldn't even know how to start.  And no, I'm not exaggerating and certainly am not lying. 

 

8 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Well, maybe it's just that I'm an outlier.  I LOVE the toolkit!  And I LOVE building a game!

You're not an outlier here. You're on a forum with a whole lot of people who love the toolkit as well. But I think maybe it would be best not to confuse your love of the toolkit for what new people not on this forum want to, or can learn. I love the toolkit too, but I'm certainly not going to teach it all to my new players. And I certainly don't expect them to build a game in order to play it the first time. Again, that's graduate level HEROdom. I'm looking for a different model that people can learn quickly and easily in a weekend. 

 

To go back to 

16 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Perhaps I misunderstood the purpose of this thread.  I thought we were talking about marketing, and increasing the market share among RPGers for the Hero System.  We're talking about various ideas that DOJ could implement to gain more players.  Was I wrong?  Is that not what we're talking about?

Perhaps you have. It looks like maybe you're looking for a different discussion. This isn't a discussion about why we love building games. I love the two volumes of 6e, and I love fiddling with it on the forums here. But it's unwieldy for beginners, let alone being out of printChampions/Fantasy HERO Complete are attempts to condense things down to manageable levels for newbies (not us), but they still aren't games yet, only rules for building games. That distinction is what this thread is about, and how a new book could be presented as a game as opposed to a set of rules for building games. 

 

For example, you're suggestion of reissuing the earlier boxed set of Champions is more along the lines of what I was thinking. I've given up on the possibility of any idea of a boxed anything, but going back to the earlier days of one-book games is in the spirit of what I'm trying to investigate here in this particular thread. The things you offered, such as some villains, some adventures, character sheets, and so on, are all in line with what I'm talking about. But I also set the parameter for what I'm looking for outside of Champions and Fantasy HERO, just for the sake of this particular thread. 

 

I like the open discussion, but please folks, let's keep it civil and try to keep it on track. 

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As to System mastery, here’s two points I’d like to point out. All civil I promise!

 

1) I’ve seen several videos for new GMs for D&D is get the basic rules and run. If you forget a rule during play, just make something up and look it up after the game. So D&D (and mind you Afaik they are fan based not WotC) aren’t asking you to know all the tiles first nor master them.

 

2) I’ve been saying for awhile that just because 6e or the Completes have have more options than say 2e, you can RUN a game similar to 2e in build complexity.  Yeah It should probably have  a sheet that shows all the dials turned (mostly off 😜) And have a note saying that when you want to add more complexity in what area you want you can.  I believe that 6e is intimidating because the notion is that you MUST know all the rules first before play. I say phooey! 

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23 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

2) I’ve been saying for awhile that just because 6e or the Completes have have more options than say 2e, you can RUN a game similar to 2e in build complexity.  Yeah It should probably have  a sheet that shows all the dials turned (mostly off 😜) And have a note saying that when you want to add more complexity in what area you want you can.  I believe that 6e is intimidating because the notion is that you MUST know all the rules first before play. I say phooey! 

 

I agree that it's possible . . . for an experienced player who knows how to fiddle with the dials. We can build a game similar to 2e in build complexity, but I don't expect a new player to be able to do it. The Completes make almost all of the options available, so knowing which ones to include or exclude already presumes system mastery. I believe that anyone on these forums can do it, but that's not what this particular thread is about. 6e is in fact intimidating because if you don't know all the rules, then someone's going to pop open the book and tell you three different ways that you're wrong. Because those books are full of lots of applications and variations and whatnot. Not only are you now responsible for the core rules, but you need to understand all the options, which ones to include or not, and why, and also contend with other players who may have the books themselves. The Complete books are better, but they are still frameworks, not games. 

 

I say phooey too, but not to the toolbox. I say phooey to expecting new players to have to learn all the stuff right out of the gate. They need to ease into the game, but they need to actually have a game to play before they can ease into learning the complexities of the toolbox (i.e. system mastery) and make their own adjustments. So to run a game of 2e complexity requires someone to actually know how to build the game at 2e levels in the first place. 

 

33 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

1) I’ve seen several videos for new GMs for D&D is get the basic rules and run. If you forget a rule during play, just make something up and look it up after the game. So D&D (and mind you Afaik they are fan based not WotC) aren’t asking you to know all the tiles first nor master them.

 

So there's the solution, right? D&D actually has basic rules in a convenient box with some adventures and character sheets and stuff. You can start with very simple rules, and then expand into the larger books. HERO System doesn't have that. And we've all discussed the "rules lite" or "beginner box" thing to death, so I don't want to rehash that. We need to try a new alternative: try producing already-built games that aren't stripped down versions of the rules (basic, lite, beginner's box, or whatever) so that people don't have to learn all the rules in order to decide which ones to include or exclude. That's way beyond what a beginner should be expected to do, even if they are experienced in other systems. 

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Also for the record I not suggesting a rules lite. What I said is to have a module that tells the GM what are the specific minimal rules needed to play. You know a tool box. Does a character need Accurate Leap  for example? No, not for a beginner game. FWIW we don’t use it either in our games. It’s only on some sheets cause we have that one GM if it’s an option then he’d force it.  It’s an option there so that if a group wants to use it later, it’s there to be added in.

 

Also when I brought up the D&D thing, the Youtubers weren’t talking about D&D basic. They were talking about using for your first game the bare minimum rules and characters to get you to GM and players to play.

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I have seen a lot of games in recent times that are essentially extended adventure packs.  They use a ruleset that folk are broadly familiar with but tweaked for the game.  It looks to me that the expectation is that you can be up and running quickly, there is enough in the "game" to run five or six sessions.

 

At the end of that the GM might go on to do his own, or he might go out and buy a different game, that would also be good for five or six sessions.

 

At a price of $50-60, this is exceptionally good value.  For two nights entertainment for two people, this would be good value.

 

As such, I reckon that kind of book would be a decent model.  A full game, powered by HERO.  Essentially a taster of the kind of game you "could" build yourself.

 

This month we play Teen Titans, next month we play A Team, the month after we play Firefly.  Each one, fundamentally the same system with the same gameplay (3D6, skills, damage resolution) but with differences.

 

It is a long term way to sell product, each game has a few gaming sessions built in to utilise the game to its best effect.  It provides an experience to the time poor and novelty seekers.  It provides insight and example to those system masters who own the Big Blue Books...

 

Brian's book sounds, to me, something along those lines. 

 

Doc

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Brian you have totally missed my point. I suggested that a module or even a short adventure has already all the dials set and a note why they are set that way. 

 

1 hour ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Here’s the thing Brian say you do build this Action Hero with no powers then what? How is going to help the newish GM expand into other games if she wishes? Are you expecting then additional support material to include more rules? 

 

You're right, I did miss your point. To be fair, as far as I can see on looking back at your post, you didn't actually say anything about a module. It may have been implied, but if so I totally missed it. Sorry about that.

 

So I've discussed this in a couple of my longer posts, and you may have overlooked them. It could be that modules are where the dials are set. I suggested it would have to be a bit more involved, perhaps as a setting book with all these things decided, and then a campaign and some adventures included. Either way, That's in line with one of my "not one-book game" options I suggested.

 

As for the Action HERO game, remember, this comes primarily because High Rock Press never followed up on its announced reboot of Danger International. There's no reason it has to be this genre, but I was offering it as a model of something that hasn't been done in 30 years because, well, it hasn't been done in 30 years. Champions and Fantasy HERO have been done, many times, so there's no need to reboot them. As for not including the Powers, I mentioned that they will not be included, but they would be mentioned as the source for how the game is built, with lots of references to the appropriate rule books that would allow one to fiddle with the game. But there's no reason to include that wall of text in a game where they aren't even needed. So yes, there is the option of other books involved, but unlike today's model, there is not the necessity for other books. I'm all for people taking the leap to the entire toolbox, but that should come after learning how to play the game. Again, this is just my opinion, and it's a completely undocumented, though partially founded, hypothesis on my part. I may be entirely wrong.

 

Even D&D nowadays requires multiple books, and so many new splat books, that it's become unwieldy for a new player. Hence their introduction of the D&D Basic box. But I really don't want to compare anything to D&D anymore, because that's just not a relevant comparison, given the market share they have. I'm looking for doing something different. I appreciate that they have lots of support material, and YouTube channels and live play podcasts and whatnot, but this again is a crazy amount of third-party support that HERO System will (probably) never have.

 

Let me restate my original purpose: What is the least amount of material needed to make a game complete and ready to play in a single book? The Complete books aren't actually complete. The old 3e books of the games I mentioned were, so I'm looking to them for inspiration. I'm also using a modern adventure setting for the genre because it is easiest to simulate, and everyone is familiar with the source material, and the rules can be pared down quite a bit when we don't have to include Powers (or spells, etc.). 

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9 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Which is why I suggested making an 80-page Champions book for 6th edition.

 

Well, I'm sorry.  But it really does not take a year of study to learn the Hero System.  IMO, such a claim goes beyond the realm of mere exaggeration,into the realm of a lie.

 

I disagree.  You are speaking from the perspective of someone who has had almost 40 years to learn the rules.  I learned the 1e rules, then the tweaks of the 2e rules.  Did I play like everyone else?  Probably not.  I recall an old Adventurers Club survey that asked about campaign norms.  They had games with 12-15 DC attacks and defenses that capped out below 20.  Other games had 8-10 DC attacks and defenses in the 25-30 range.  These would be very different games, just with the 64-80 page 1-2e rules.

 

I never played 3e - I don't think I even bought it.  But I played right through to 4e (one of our players bought it at GenCon, much to our delight).

 

4e was pretty easy to learn.  We already knew the rules, and we already had the dials set, so we could ignore a lot and just learn that subset of changes that affected our games.  Ditto 5e and 6e.  As we never used impaired or disabled rules, we never bothered to read them.  Lots of other examples probably exist.

 

But we still played less and less Hero.  It takes more work to set up and run a game.  And we were not faced with learning it all from scratch.  We knew which parts we actually needed to learn.

 

9 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

No, you're not.  You've already put in the work to learn the Hero System, and you come here and discuss it and contribute to it.  That's the opposite of lazy and whining.

 

Yes, I am.  Despite having learned those rules, not needing any more work in that regard, I am still too "lazy" to invest my scarce gaming time in designing and customizing a game instead of playing a game I can purchase, plug in and play.  How much less inclined is someone who has never read the rules, does not know the basic concepts, and cannot start their game design with many of the dials pre-set in their minds? 

 

9 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

And no one has said otherwise.

 

I assume no such thing.  I have no idea how you got that from what I wrote.  I think I said something close to the exact opposite.

 

Well, I'm sorry.  But it really does not take a year of study to learn the Hero System.  IMO, such a claim goes beyond the realm of mere exaggeration,into the realm of a lie.

 

It seems like everyone replying reads what you wrote as being very different from what you think you are saying.  I don''t think what you are writing conveys what you believe you are saying.

 

9 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

That's not really a rephrasing at all.  The first part rephrases my first part - Can we do something to make learning and preparing a game less work?  But my second part was about selling people on the idea that the work they'll have to do is indeed worth it.

 

When you focus on "it is not that hard, you are just being a lazy whiner" and "we need to drag them from their cave into the light by making them know the work is worth it", the phrasing sounds very different to me.  Maybe those are not the comments you intend as your primary message, but they are emphatic and repeated, so they are what grabs your reader's attention, and it is what we perceive as your primary message.

 

9 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Well, maybe it's just that I'm an outlier.  I LOVE the toolkit!  And I LOVE building a game!

 

And, apparently, you have the time to do so.  I don't think this is a "maybe"..  Sales show that Hero's "build your game" model has not sold, over many years and at least two editions.  It was a lot more widely bought and played back in the 1e-3e "separate games" days than in the 5e/6e "monolithic toolkit" days.  4e was initially presented as Supers, so there was a transition in that period.

 

The reality we hear from gamers now is "wow - I opened these books, they were a huge wall of text and I have no idea how to play after investing way more time than (I think) should be needed to learn and start a new game".

 

2 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

2) I’ve been saying for awhile that just because 6e or the Completes have have more options than say 2e, you can RUN a game similar to 2e in build complexity.  Yeah It should probably have  a sheet that shows all the dials turned (mostly off 😜) And have a note saying that when you want to add more complexity in what area you want you can.  I believe that 6e is intimidating because the notion is that you MUST know all the rules first before play. I say phooey! 

 

You can, if you already know where to set the dials to achieve that result.  A gamer new to Hero does not know where to set those dials.  A Game Powered by Hero does not need to identify the other possible settings for the dials.  It only needs the rules needed for THIS game.  Want to keep playing this game?  You don't need new dials.  Maybe later supplements (if this game really flies) offer occasional options to re-set a dial or two.  Maybe new games use different dial settings.

 

And, if you really want to move from "playing this game" to "modifying this game" or all the way to "making your own game", then you buy the same system that the designers of that game you've now enjoyed for a few months used to create it.  But you don't have to learn the entire design system all at once.  You don't even have to see that design system to play Action Hero, or any other Powered by Hero game.

 

1 hour ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Brian you have totally missed my point. I suggested that a module or even a short adventure has already all the dials set and a note why they are set that way. 

 

Where I would envision not explaining any other optional dial settings.  Perhaps a document online that says "Hey, if you play Action Hero and are now looking at the 6e System as a whole, or you already know the 6e System and are looking at Action Hero, here is how we set the dials and why."  But that is not "required reading" to play Action Hero.  It is actually counterproductive as it makes learning Action Hero more intimidating.  Strip it down to "a game".  Not "a game" with half a dozen optional rules for every element of the game,  ONE game.

 

55 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Here’s the thing Brian say you do build this Action Hero with no powers then what? How is going to help the newish GM expand into other games if she wishes? Are you expecting then additional support material to include more rules? 

 

I think that the "6e/Action Hero Transition Document" would include builds for Action Hero abilities and gear, smoothing the transition.  If Action Hero succeeds and people want more, then it's time to consider gear books, enemies books, modules, new character ability books, maybe new settings that change a dial or two, or new optional rules.  New to Action Hero players, anyway.  But they don't get the "system design" rules unless they want them, and delve into the Hero System Game Design Toolkit (yes, let's rename it to call it what it really is!

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31 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

As such, I reckon that kind of book would be a decent model.  A full game, powered by HERO.  Essentially a taster of the kind of game you "could" build yourself.

 

This month we play Teen Titans, next month we play A Team, the month after we play Firefly.  Each one, fundamentally the same system with the same gameplay (3D6, skills, damage resolution) but with differences.

 

It is a long term way to sell product, each game has a few gaming sessions built in to utilise the game to its best effect.  It provides an experience to the time poor and novelty seekers.  It provides insight and example to those system masters who own the Big Blue Books...

 

Brian's book sounds, to me, something along those lines. 

 

Yes, exactly. I mentioned the line of Powered by the Apocalypse books earlier as a fantastic model for what I'm thinking. There are so many PbtA games out there, and once someone learns one they've basically learned the formula for each game, although there are different applications of the rules for each game. You don't need to buy the Apocalypse World rules to play any of the other games, nor should you have to. But if you want to make a game that is powered by those rules, you can build it yourself based on the model, and even get the licensing to have it marketed as a PbtA game on their web site. 

 

Seems like a toolbox like HERO System could benefit from a similar approach. It actually did something like this in the '80s. It seems totally doable, and perhaps even in line with how the market is driven nowadays. 

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7 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Even D&D nowadays requires multiple books, and so many new splat books, that it's become unwieldy for a new player. Hence their introduction of the D&D Basic box. But I really don't want to compare anything to D&D anymore, because that's just not a relevant comparison, given the market share they have. I'm looking for doing something different. I appreciate that they have lots of support material, and YouTube channels and live play podcasts and whatnot, but this again is a crazy amount of third-party support that HERO System will (probably) never have.

 

Let me restate my original purpose: What is the least amount of material needed to make a game complete and ready to play in a single book? The Complete books aren't actually complete. The old 3e books of the games I mentioned were, so I'm looking to them for inspiration. I'm also using a modern adventure setting for the genre because it is easiest to simulate, and everyone is familiar with the source material, and the rules can be pared down quite a bit when we don't have to include Powers (or spells, etc.). 

 

I think D&D remains relevant from the perspective that there are REASONS they have that market share.  Some we cannot duplicate - history and huge P/R budgets.  But clearly their model of "here are the rules, now go play" has sold far better than Hero's "here are many different rules you can choose to design your own game, then go play" model.

 

They have even recognized that bringing in new blood mandates stripping their detailed rules down even further to provide an "entry level" version of the game.

 

To a large extent, that is what Action Hero  would emulate for the Hero System.

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5 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

I think D&D remains relevant from the perspective that there are REASONS they have that market share.  Some we cannot duplicate - history and huge P/R budgets.  But clearly their model of "here are the rules, now go play" has sold far better than Hero's "here are many different rules you can choose to design your own game, then go play" model.

 

They have even recognized that bringing in new blood mandates stripping their detailed rules down even further to provide an "entry level" version of the game.

 

To a large extent, that is what Action Hero  would emulate for the Hero System.

 

That's funny; I considered rewriting the part where I said D&D is not a relevant comparison because I know it actually is relevant, but more from the standpoint that it can show some of what is going wrong for "us" and what's going right for "them." As you say, we can't duplicate what "they" do. They simply have a monstrous budget, a huge market share, and the benefit of being synonymous with RPGs to most people on the outside. 

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Brian, I would say we can't duplicate everything they do.  As you note, we can take some lessons from their success and apply that to a better approach to selling Hero.  Your own comments about presence at Cons are an even easier example than a "one book game".

 

We always crow that "all you need is one set of rules and you have everything", but D&D had built their empire on selling book after book of new rules, the opposite to the Hero approach.

 

I can't build my own spells in D&D (or at least there are no rules for that), but there are lots of pre-fab spells, more every book, and players seem to prefer picking from the list to designing their own.  Even the ones that go online looking for a spell (feat; class; race; whatever) that can "do this". 

 

Where we see "system mastery" as "I can simulate anything in reasonably game-balanced fashion", a lot of D&D players are seeking that "broken combo" - system mastery lets you pick the good choices and not get tricked into the bad ones.  A very different approach, and not the style I think we want to emulate, but it sure sells.

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7 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

So what you're saying is "Sorry, but not sorry," followed by calling me a liar? Please get a grip, and tone down your ad hominem attacks. Or really, just don't do that at all. Please.

 

Rather than insult you, as you keep doing to me, I'm going to assume that you are familiar with the term "system mastery," which is what I keep saying as opposed to "learn the HERO System," which is what you keep saying. Because they mean two very different things. Either you're exaggerating my position to create a straw man (you are), or you're just being obstinate and don't want to interpret what I'm trying to say in a charitable fashion (seems like you are).

I made no ad hominem attack.  I did not attack you. I attacked the thing you said.

 

Your exact words were:

 

"...who is going to invest a year of solid study to get the system mastery that it would take to even begin to design a game that others may want to play?"

 

"System Mastery" is not the same as "the system mastery to begin to design a game that others may want to play".  If someone wants to invest a year of solid study into the system before they begin to design a game, let alone play, they certainly can.  But I doubt anyone has ever done this.  As I said before, it took my group no more than a week or two of "study" to begin playing - including character creation.  And it didn't take much longer than that for any of us to begin GMing.  Yes, GMing takes more learning than playing.  And designing a setting/genre/story arc takes longer than that.  But you really don't need "a year of solid study" to start actually GMing the game in your own game/world. You learn and gain mastery by playing, by jumping in with both feet and doing it.

 

I may be a bit overly sensitive to this kind of thing.  I occasionally encounter people whining that it's too hard to learn to play simple card games like 6 Nimmt, or simple board games like Tsuro.

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3 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

I disagree.  You are speaking from the perspective of someone who has had almost 40 years to learn the rules.  I learned the 1e rules, then the tweaks of the 2e rules.  Did I play like everyone else?  Probably not.  I recall an old Adventurers Club survey that asked about campaign norms.  They had games with 12-15 DC attacks and defenses that capped out below 20.  Other games had 8-10 DC attacks and defenses in the 25-30 range.  These would be very different games, just with the 64-80 page 1-2e rules.

So you think it *does* take a year of study to learn the Hero System?  Granted the 6e books take longer to read than the 1e book.  But you don't have to read it cover to cover to start playing, or even to start GMing.  And also granted, if you devote one hour of study every other week, due to the schedule of your life, then it might take you a year to learn the system, but that's not a year of study, that's 26 hours of study.  And granted again, that the 6e books (or 5e, or even 4e) might not be organized in the most efficient way to get people to quickly acquire enough mastery of the system to begin playing/GMing - but that's not the fault of the system, but the way it's presented.

 

And whether you or your group plays like everyone else is not really relevant.

 

4 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

It seems like everyone replying reads what you wrote as being very different from what you think you are saying.  I don''t think what you are writing conveys what you believe you are saying.

That's certainly possible.  I appreciate the opportunity to clarify:

 

When I say, "many players and potential players are lazy whiners," I do not mean, "DOJ's marketing strategy should be to call their potential customers lazy whiners."

 

When I say, "laziness and whining are part of human nature," I do not mean, "The easiest approach is to change human nature."

 

When I say, "Some people have to be dragged, kicking and screaming to try anything new," I do not mean, "We have to force people to play Hero."

 

When I say, "selling people on the idea that the work they'll have to do is indeed worth it," I do not mean "Make them do the work, and then convince them that it was worth it."

 

When I say, "All that being said, I sadly have no idea how to overcome this problem.  But it might help to at least acknowledge it." I mean "I don't know how to overcome gamers' natural resistance to a new system and the work required to learn it.  I don't know how to overcome their laziness, or to get past their whining.  But we need to understand the nature of the problem."

 

If you've ever worked in a job where you deal directly with customers, you've probably had "difficult" customers occasionally.  The way to deal with them is not by telling them they're "difficult customers".  This thread is not intended as an advertisement for Hero.  What I, or anyone else, says here is not intended as a sales pitch.

 

I strongly believe in the Hero System's superiority over all other RPG systems I know about*.  It seems to me that the aspects of Hero that I found to be better than other systems, would also be appreciated by other gamers.  I think there is a market out there for game systems that don't spoon-feed you a limited menu of "classes" and other specific options to choose from.  There are gamers out there who, like me, want a system that allows for complete freedom in character design, character advancement, genre, world design, powers/magic design, etc.  It may be that this market is smaller than the market of gamers who prefer to be spoon-fed.  But markets can be changed by effective marketing.

 

*(Granted, I don't know about all of them.  In fact, my knowledge of many other systems may be very limited, because, having found Hero, I haven't actively looked for other systems to play.)

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48 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

As I said before, it took my group no more than a week or two of "study" to begin playing - including character creation.  And it didn't take much longer than that for any of us to begin GMing. 

 

This year thing may have come from me.  I bought Champions in 1982 at the behest of my friends who wanted to play superheroes.

 

I read it again and again.  It was at least a year before I felt competent to run a game.

 

So while I did not study for a year, I was reading it and trying to get it in my head for a full year.  Even that small book caused me to hesitate and delay.  I was 16, prime time for buying and playing new games. I had run both D&D and Runequest games by that time.

 

Doc

 

 

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9 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

*(Granted, I don't know about all of them.  In fact, my knowledge of many other systems may be very limited, because, having found Hero, I haven't actively looked for other systems to play.)

 

Let's restate that - you have been too lazy to learn a new system, or many new systems, which might be better than Hero.  You are, instead, happy with the system you have found.

 

9 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

When I say, "Some people have to be dragged, kicking and screaming to try anything new," I do not mean, "We have to force people to play Hero."

 

When I say, "selling people on the idea that the work they'll have to do is indeed worth it," I do not mean "Make them do the work, and then convince them that it was worth it."

 

You have not , from your comments, eagerly invested the time and effort into a different system.  What qualifies you to say that this investment in a different system may, indeed, have been worth it?

 

9 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

So you think it *does* take a year of study to learn the Hero System?  Granted the 6e books take longer to read than the 1e book.  But you don't have to read it cover to cover to start playing, or even to start GMing.  And also granted, if you devote one hour of study every other week, due to the schedule of your life, then it might take you a year to learn the system, but that's not a year of study, that's 26 hours of study.  And granted again, that the 6e books (or 5e, or even 4e) might not be organized in the most efficient way to get people to quickly acquire enough mastery of the system to begin playing/GMing - but that's not the fault of the system, but the way it's presented.

 

Is it a year of devoting, say, eight hours a week (a very long game session at this stage of my life) enough to really learn the system?  I don't know that we can measure anything that precisely.  Does it take a lot longer to read the 6e Tomes and assemble a game in a specific genre than it took to read Champions 1e or 2e (64 or 80 pages, complete with two sample characters designed from the ground up, a sample combat and several more example characters, all phrased in terms consistent with the Supers genre) than to read the 6e tomes (80 pages in, we reach Language Skills, so we have a bit of character creation, and a long way to go)? 

 

Yes  Absolutely yes.

 

Is it harder to envision the mechanics and rules presented in 6e in the context of a specific genre or game? 

 

Absolutely - it goes out of its way to NOT be specific to any genre.

 

We have no stats, of course, but I would be curious how many gamers learned Hero through the 5e or 6e Tome of Game Design, compared to how many trace that learning back to a 4e or prior game created with a "single game" book - and I will include Champions 4e, as it was still presented as the Hero Supers Game.  "Learning with the tomes" means no player in the group had Hero knowledge before from an actual Hero game. 

 

I'd bet it is not many.  The system has survived because new players learn from old players as much or more than reading the rules.

 

9 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

And whether you or your group plays like everyone else is not really relevant.

 

4e/5e/6e present suggested damage and defense levels.  This is one of the few areas where they provide more guidance on "the game you will play" than prior editions' "game-in-a-box".

 

9 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

I strongly believe in the Hero System's superiority over all other RPG systems I know about*.  It seems to me that the aspects of Hero that I found to be better than other systems, would also be appreciated by other gamers.  I think there is a market out there for game systems that don't spoon-feed you a limited menu of "classes" and other specific options to choose from.  There are gamers out there who, like me, want a system that allows for complete freedom in character design, character advancement, genre, world design, powers/magic design, etc.  It may be that this market is smaller than the market of gamers who prefer to be spoon-fed.  But markets can be changed by effective marketing.

 

I think that there is a lot of scope between old 1e D&D classes lacking any real customization and the full "design it yourself from the ground up" system design model.  I will also note that most threads discussing builds and games encourage the GM to set limits, such that players do not have that "complete freedom" you describe.

 

And I think there are a lot of gamers who may wish to have much or all of the design work done for them, but would still value the ability to pick and choose their characters' abilities, at creation and as they advance, the balance Hero provides and the system under which a Hero game runs.  That can be demonstrated by a game Powered by Hero, such as Brian envisions.

 

Some of those gamers might even value, or come to value, the ability to customize abilities to a greater extent with a mechanical basis behind that customization, or even to create their own game from whole cloth.  They may find Action Hero their gateway into that broader Hero universe.  Other may be quite content to play in Brian's sandbox, and await the next things he adds in an Action Hero supplement.

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 There is so much in all of this I would like to address, and so much in all of this that I would like to quote and so much I would like to rep---

 

That I just can't.  I just dont see a way to do it in a reasonable timedrame or a reasonable piece of reading material for folks to read before bedtime.   :lol:

 

I would to address an Idea put forth by many people in this and other threads that the Powers section is a stumbling block and that it is or is not necessary for this game or that game. 

 

 

Rename it.  Simplify it and rename it.  Simplification is the key: go back to 4e or further and make it work in thirty pages or less.  It did once before.  All the rules are now is hyper-specification to answer edge cases and Fringe questions and for that segment of folks that want Conformation that they are playing it like everyone else or that they are playing it "right." 

 

Frankly, I don't _care_ if anyone is playing it the way I am; I do t even _understand_ why _anyone_ would care: are you having a good time?  Great!  Rock on!  As Hugh points out, there is no "wrongbadfun." 

 

My suggestion is to both simplify it and rename it.  Call it "elements." These are the element from which you can pick and choose to build items and gear for your game.  You don't _have_ to use any of it; you don't have to use any more of it than you want to achieve your goal.  Elements and Element Modifiers. 

 

Include a section of how to combine the element to make the thing.  In fact, if you're. It playing supers, I wouldn't even put point costs on them,  if you are looking to build a "complete" non-supers game.  Want to build a fun?  Here are two, three funs- maybe even a list of guns for certain campaigns, "and here is a look at how we used the Elements to build guns A, B, and X."

 

Want to build some powered assault frames for your space marines?  Well, here's a list of the types of things your marines might be issued, and here's a look at how we used the elements to build this one and that one." 

 

Talents?  Pick two, and here's a look at how we built them using the elements. 

 

Psionic abilities?  If you want prefens, by all means include them, and show how one or two can be built with the elements. 

 

You don't need an entire text book on Powers to create an understandable, enjoyable game unless you can't let go of the idea that someone is playing wrong.  If they're having fun, who cares how they are doing it?  Do you want more people supporting HERO, or an army of absolute strangers doing exactly what you're doing? 

 

Give them something they can put to use quickly, that provides that exposure to the whole system, then stop standing between them and a good time. 

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