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Brian Stanfield

What makes a complete game "complete"?

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So I just learned about a study published in in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that looked at the decision making processes of shoppers. They found that when shoppers had to choose between 6 jars of Jam or 24 jars of jam, the fewer choices there were the more people purchased. Decision paralysis is a real thing and having limited scope actually helps most people.

 

So yeah, giving most people a book that has a game with all their decisions made is far more likely to bring them to the table as it were then asking them to build it themselves. 

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14 hours ago, zslane said:

 

Agreed. Which is why I said it wasn't perfect. However, I still stand by my conviction that the HERO System is far easier to balance than non-point-based systems where very little is exposed for deeper examination.

 

Moreover, I trust the work of game designers and playtest groups over the tampering of GMs. Given the amount of heated arguments I've witnessed time and time again between players and GMs over house rules and other GM-induced tweaks and changes to the game (usually D&D), I am forced to conclude that players don't typically enjoy being guinea pigs to untested GM experimentation. It's mostly a trust issue; players tend to trust the rulebook (and by extension, the game designer(s)) rather than the GM, at least when it comes to the rules and game mechanics.

 

I'm curious what editions you played. Regardless, my own experience has been different and the evidence of 10's of thousands of players signing up to play beta versions of 5E and Pathfinder point to the opposite.

 

Yes, when the players don't trust the GM or the GM doesn't Session 0 their changes, there will always be problems. But that's a personality issue. 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Sketchpad said:

 

But they did read the 4th ed rules. Hence why they bought their own books to read and use. For me, 4th ed was my favorite version of Champions/Hero. It did what I wanted it to. 5th ed inflated things a bit, and 6th ed attempted to streamline 5th ed in some ways. There were options in the 1-3 ed versions I enjoyed, particularly the Mastermind rules, but I preferred the 4th ed rules. Agree or disagree as you will, but it's unlikely to change my opinion.  

 

The point is that they could read those fourth edition rules in the context of the game they had already played, and did not have to learn the basics from that rule book.

 

It's not a question of which version of the rules one may prefer, but how practical it is for someone to learn the game, from scratch, working with only the rules for that edition.  For 1-3, I think it was quite practical.  For 5-6, I do not think it is.  I'm still on the fence on 4e, though.  4e still presented the rules in the context of a game, which makes it a lot more digestable, in my view.

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So I am lying here in bed with my phone at entirely too early in the morning, and nodding in agreement with the whole “Analysis Paralysis” supposition. So I do think that a 3e like presentation of  a 6e based game would work. Equipment and items as just stats and description, and cash cost, sets of skills, and some background info. I think that may be the correct approach. The $64 question is what would be compelling to the market, now? Other than Fantasy, which Hero has a lot of published backgrounds for, all that have small audiences, what sort of background would be compelling?  An updated Danger International? An America in Flames background to rope in all the Bernie voters?, Something based on Altered Carbon, but with the serial Numbers filed off?  As much as it might be attractive to base a game off of a licensed media property, licenses cost money, and licenses can be withdrawn at any time.  Hall of Champions then could be some sort of incubator for such products  if HERO was amenable to complete games. 
 

 

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8 hours ago, Tywyll said:

I'm curious what editions you played.

 

Of Champions: 2-5 (but I own most of the 6e stuff)

Of (A)D&D: 1-4 (but I own the 5e core books)

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9 hours ago, Tywyll said:

 

I'm curious what editions you played. Regardless, my own experience has been different and the evidence of 10's of thousands of players signing up to play beta versions of 5E and Pathfinder point to the opposite.

D&D Little Brown Books, AD&D Hard backs, D&D 3rd (D-20 Era briefly) D&D 5e

 

Melee/ Wizard, Advanced Melee Wizard. Also FGU's "Bushido".
 

Hero System 1 -4, after 1993 mostly 3rd 4th edition Fantasy Hero and occasionally Star Hero.

 

I own a lot of 5th edition books including the big green bullet stopper. I also own Champions New millenium, , but I was out of the hobby on break (called Los Angeles) for the 6th edition and only own Champions Complete.

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On 3/3/2020 at 5:36 AM, Tywyll said:

So, I'm still not sold on Action HERO! as a genre because while I appreciate the lack of needing to establish a world, I still can't point to any really successful games set in the modern era that completely lacked any supernatural element.

 

That said, I was looking at some books yesterday and found some interesting data. The Basic 6E rule book is about 95 pages, once you dump the power section. Urban Fantasy HERO, which is both a genre source book and a campaign(s...seriously it includes 3 whole settings with their own races and magic rules) guide and comes with an adventure comes in at a little over 200 pages. I think you could look at the Urban Fantasy model and, like them, include 2 or 3 campaign settings in the book (maybe even one with precreated powers) and an adventure in a 200 page book.

 

This would a) teach the rules in an easy format while also b) showing off the flexibility by showing different settings. As long as you stuck to modern based one, the world detail could be minimal. You could have a) generic action  setting (though honestly I don't know what this would even look like...what is a generic 80's movie setting?) b) a zombie/alien invastion setting and c) a hiddern monster setting (kind of like monster hunter international/MiB/Xfiles) possibly with some psychic rules or a smattering of spells. All of that for around 200 pages.

 

So this would fall under the 1b version of what I was suggesting earlier in the thread: use the genre/setting books to dial in the games while still relying on the core rules to teach the game. I'm with you on this: the Urban Fantasy HERO book is a lot of fun, and covers a lot of bases. The primary problem with all of the genre books is that they cover too many bases to count as a single game. I'm all for variety and options, but again the genre books require a lot of prior rules knowledge for the genre choices to even begin to make sense. It's a great model, I think, to introduce new settings/games for existing HERO players, and could potentially play really well in the Hall of Champions.

 

The 1a version of my original query, a one-book game, is more like the old 3e games that I cite. They teach the rules along with the specific setting and genre assumptions made for that particular game only. So a 6e equivalent to the 3e games would be more than a genre book with some settings: and adventures. The Complete books are based, from what I can see, on the 6e Basic Rulebook because they are condensed in a similar fashion, and then offer a lot of genre advice and a little bit of source material. But they stop short of being one-book games because they don't have settings, campaigns, or adventures under one cover.

 

So what I'm proposing is something that cuts down the middle: offer a condensed version of the rules, with the unnecessary stuff trimmed out, make the genre assumptions as applied to the setting, and then offer resources (lists!) and some campaign/adventure material. The reason I chose Action HERO! is purely personal, so I'm not convinced that's the best way to go, or the only way to go. I only brought it up because Danger International was supposedly being rebooted and wasn't. I was disappointed, and am curious what it could have looked like. There may not be a market for this sort of game, but maybe that's only because there are very few in existence right now to fill that niche. I can think of Gumshoe and something like One Last Job as the only contemporary examples. But what DOJ most definitely doesn't need right now is yet another version of Champions or Fantasy HERO, because they've done that many times already. 

 

I like Urban Fantasy HERO as a genre, but I think it's too unwieldy as a one-book game: It's really something like 4 or 5 individual games, depending on what you want to pursue: Vampires? Werewolves? Vampires vs. Werewolves? Aliens? Zombies? Each of these would deserve different and unique sourcebooks, and would best be served as their own individual games. I'd probably buy each of them, if they taught the rules for new players, explained the setting, has a resource guide, and offered campaigns or adventures and lots of plot seeds. Without those things, they'd be just another version of the many genre and setting books that have already been done, and very well.

 

Just a few of my thoughts on what's been covered so far. Thanks for the feedback!

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9 hours ago, Tywyll said:

So I just learned about a study published in in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that looked at the decision making processes of shoppers. They found that when shoppers had to choose between 6 jars of Jam or 24 jars of jam, the fewer choices there were the more people purchased. Decision paralysis is a real thing and having limited scope actually helps most people.

 

So yeah, giving most people a book that has a game with all their decisions made is far more likely to bring them to the table as it were then asking them to build it themselves. 

 

This pretty much sums up the problem with HERO System: they have a whole lot of genre books, each with a whole lot of choices to dial in within each book! Maybe this is the worst of both worlds according to the study!

 

Don't get me wrong: I love all of the books, and love looking at what they each have to offer. But this is definitely coming from the point of view of someone who studies the Hero System pretty intently. I love that there are so many books. But this is a problem for anyone who is new to the system (which is what is always lurking in the background of the assumptions I'm making in this particular thread).

 

There used to be individual one-book games back in the day, and they sold. But that was before there was a HERO System toolbox. They were marketed as being built with the HERO System, but the system itself hadn't yet been published. I'm curious what that would look like today, where the system has been published (along with a gazillion other books!). I think a one-book game would look good being taught and played at conventions, and in marketing of some sort. This would probably all be online because I don't really think HERO System will ever make a good showing at game shops anymore. But that's part of what can hopefully be figured out by the folks who are carrying the torch for DOJ and are interested in doing the work that the owners apparently aren't able to do. This is, of course, a whole other can of worms that we should probably save for another thread.

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At this point I'm probably only halfway through this thread, so I'm not sure where the discussion has moved by now, but I just wanted to share this: 

 

 

 

Earlier in the thread there was some discussion on the importance of setting in promoting a system. I think Monte Cook's kickstarter is an interesting example of that. First of all it indicates that good settings can sell well, as there is quite a good interest in it (and there are still 16 days to go). Second, it has a very interesting model, where they sell two versions of their setting. One updated to D&D 5E and another that uses their own system: Cypher. Backers can choose either or both of these versions. I don't know Cypher, but reading about it does present some HERO similarities: http://cypher-system.com/what-is-the-cypher-system/

 

It's a very slick approach to pushing their own system, by attaching it to a (for some) well known setting from D&D 3.5E and presenting it as an option. Is it worth it? A quick scan shows that only about 5 % of backers select the Cypher-only version. It's not a lot in itself, but it's still a few hundred people - even if we don't know how many of them are already Cypher players and how many are risking trying out a new system for a cool setting. 

 

Obviously, Cypher has some advantages in that it seems to build on similar assumptions to D&D (otherwise it would not make sense to use both systems for the same setting), so it might be difficult to pull off a similar stunt for HERO, but I find it to be an interesting case.

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

There used to be individual one-book games back in the day, and they sold.

 

They sold mostly because at that time almost any new RPG with decent production values would sell. The problem with most of them, with the exception of Champions, was that they never went much beyond their one book. They never became sustained product lines, and as a result, none of them have any enduring legacy or any ongoing revenue generation.

 

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3 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

For the 6th edition and only own Champions Complete.

 

Pick up Basic if you don't pick up anything else.  Seriously.  I have all nine or ten of the blue books, and have read them exactly once.  For most discussions on the board here, I find myself referencing Basic far, far more than the primary textbooks. 

 

If you don't get any other part of 6e, Basic is worth the price. 

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1 hour ago, smoelf said:

I don't know Cypher, but reading about it does present some HERO similarities: http://cypher-system.com/what-is-the-cypher-system/


I’m not sure if you realize that Monte Cook got his start at Iron Crown Enterprises working on various HERO games. So the similarities are not incidental. One thing he does really, really well is create specific settings for his games, and then present them with lavish artwork that is undeniably eye-catching. When was the last time (if ever) you could say that about any HERO game?

 

 

Never!

 

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

Pick up Basic if you don't pick up anything else.  Seriously.  I have all nine or ten of the blue books, and have read them exactly once.  For most discussions on the board here, I find myself referencing Basic far, far more than the primary textbooks. 

 

If you don't get any other part of 6e, Basic is worth the price. 

i will dig for it, as I am now getting into 6edition games on TTS, and possibly at local cons (though the local cons may be running 3-4 edition XD)

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1 minute ago, Duke Bushido said:

If you come up dry, give me a shout.  I _think_ I can lay hands on another copy.

They have it as PDF in the shop, for $14.00. Thought i tend to like Physical copies to carry around.

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13 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

So this would fall under the 1b version of what I was suggesting earlier in the thread: use the genre/setting books to dial in the games while still relying on the core rules to teach the game. I'm with you on this: the Urban Fantasy HERO book is a lot of fun, and covers a lot of bases. The primary problem with all of the genre books is that they cover too many bases to count as a single game. I'm all for variety and options, but again the genre books require a lot of prior rules knowledge for the genre choices to even begin to make sense. It's a great model, I think, to introduce new settings/games for existing HERO players, and could potentially play really well in the Hall of Champions.

 

The 1a version of my original query, a one-book game, is more like the old 3e games that I cite. They teach the rules along with the specific setting and genre assumptions made for that particular game only. So a 6e equivalent to the 3e games would be more than a genre book with some settings: and adventures. The Complete books are based, from what I can see, on the 6e Basic Rulebook because they are condensed in a similar fashion, and then offer a lot of genre advice and a little bit of source material. But they stop short of being one-book games because they don't have settings, campaigns, or adventures under one cover.

 

So what I'm proposing is something that cuts down the middle: offer a condensed version of the rules, with the unnecessary stuff trimmed out, make the genre assumptions as applied to the setting, and then offer resources (lists!) and some campaign/adventure material. The reason I chose Action HERO! is purely personal, so I'm not convinced that's the best way to go, or the only way to go. I only brought it up because Danger International was supposedly being rebooted and wasn't. I was disappointed, and am curious what it could have looked like. There may not be a market for this sort of game, but maybe that's only because there are very few in existence right now to fill that niche. I can think of Gumshoe and something like One Last Job as the only contemporary examples. But what DOJ most definitely doesn't need right now is yet another version of Champions or Fantasy HERO, because they've done that many times already. 

 

I like Urban Fantasy HERO as a genre, but I think it's too unwieldy as a one-book game: It's really something like 4 or 5 individual games, depending on what you want to pursue: Vampires? Werewolves? Vampires vs. Werewolves? Aliens? Zombies? Each of these would deserve different and unique sourcebooks, and would best be served as their own individual games. I'd probably buy each of them, if they taught the rules for new players, explained the setting, has a resource guide, and offered campaigns or adventures and lots of plot seeds. Without those things, they'd be just another version of the many genre and setting books that have already been done, and very well.

 

Just a few of my thoughts on what's been covered so far. Thanks for the feedback!

 

I'm agreeing with your idea, just offering up ways to make it (possibly) more appealing to mass market. Namely, have the default rules for modern day gaming in one book with predefinied equipment with hidden builds, etc. Dump all the nonsense like building bases and vehicles and the power system.

 

BUT...

 

Also include some default settings in the book. Yes, an urban fantasy campaign setting could take up a whole book...but also it could be done in 20 pages or less. You exist in a world with monsters that you secretly hunt. Here's your organization, here's some monster stats, here's 10 spells a black witch could learn. That's enough to start playing with. As with everything else in the book, you don't let the player or GM need to pursue their version, you decide for them.

 

Ditto with a Zombie outbreak setting. Here's how it started, spread, and here's several zombie stats. Few roleplayers need more than that to grok a zombie setting. 

 

Etc, etc, etc. Some I'll agree are too complicated for this approach, but others are so much part of the cultural landscape that I don't think they need more than 20-30 pages to be playable. 

 

These mini settings don't have to be big to get people playing, but they do allow the rules to be used by people who would pass over a game set in the modern day that most people don't seem to be interested in.  I suppose that, if this were a kickstarter, these could be the stretchgoals, but I really think you want to have this in the book to appeal to a broader audiance. There is little reason to make an easily digestible and approachable version of HERO if no one picks it up because they aren't interested in the default setting. 

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11 hours ago, smoelf said:

I don't know Cypher, but reading about it does present some HERO similarities: http://cypher-system.com/what-is-the-cypher-system/

 

Obviously, Cypher has some advantages in that it seems to build on similar assumptions to D&D (otherwise it would not make sense to use both systems for the same setting), so it might be difficult to pull off a similar stunt for HERO, but I find it to be an interesting case.

 

As a fan of Cypher and having ran it a few times, it has as much similar to Hero as D&D does. Could you use Hero to emulate Cypher? Yup, just like you could with D&D. But Cypher uses a different resolution system, it has players making all of the rolls, difficulties are assigned in stages of 3, etc. 

 

10 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

I’m not sure if you realize that Monte Cook got his start at Iron Crown Enterprises working on various HERO games. So the similarities are not incidental. One thing he does really, really well is create specific settings for his games, and then present them with lavish artwork that is undeniably eye-catching. When was the last time (if ever) you could say that about any HERO game?

 

  Hide contents

Never!

 

 

One of the reasons Monte can do that is name recognition. He also worked on 2e and 3e D&D for quite some time, and built a reputation from Malhavoc Press, which, IIRC, originally co-produced Ptolus. Most of his books are Kickstarted, and make some serious money, allowing him to have a real art and design budget. I would love to see Hero have this kind of budget, but I believe  it would also require some serious design changes that may make some long term fans unhappy.  Stat blocks should change a bit and become a bit more organic, fonts may have to change in style and size, and book organization may be a bit different depending on the designer. On the other hand, art should emulate the genre, and the books should have a unified look that carries through a genre (fantasy books should have a similar branding that's different from supers, for example). Raising the graphic standards of the books would be a bit pricey, but the books would veer away from looking like a Word document and more in-line with what's on the market. Additionally, resources like design files, could be shared with the Hall of Heroes contributors like so many other companies do. 

 

23 minutes ago, Tywyll said:

I'm agreeing with your idea, just offering up ways to make it (possibly) more appealing to mass market. Namely, have the default rules for modern day gaming in one book with predefinied equipment with hidden builds, etc. Dump all the nonsense like building bases and vehicles and the power system.

 

I don't  think that that dumping vehicles/bases and the like is necessary. Instead, I think they need to be simplified and streamlined. In a book about zombies, it would be nice to have base rules to represent fortifications, or vehicles to use and modify in hopes of escaping an infested area. The power sections could also be simplified, having only what was needed rather than a bunch of listings that weren't needed. Again, in the case of a zombie game, give the basics of powers needed to create the zombie horrors you need, plus maybe a few powers that heroes might access (psychic/magic/etc.), but leave the rest as Talents that PCs can access. 

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2 minutes ago, Sketchpad said:

 

As a fan of Cypher and having ran it a few times, it has as much similar to Hero as D&D does. Could you use Hero to emulate Cypher? Yup, just like you could with D&D. But Cypher uses a different resolution system, it has players making all of the rolls, difficulties are assigned in stages of 3, etc. 

 

That's fair. My thoughts on similarity mostly pertained to the generic/multi-genre presentation of it - rather merely as an alternative approach to simulating the high fantasy of D&D (and Ptolus).

 

4 minutes ago, Sketchpad said:

One of the reasons Monte can do that is name recognition. He also worked on 2e and 3e D&D for quite some time, and built a reputation from Malhavoc Press, which, IIRC, originally co-produced Ptolus. Most of his books are Kickstarted, and make some serious money, allowing him to have a real art and design budget. I would love to see Hero have this kind of budget, but I believe  it would also require some serious design changes that may make some long term fans unhappy.  Stat blocks should change a bit and become a bit more organic, fonts may have to change in style and size, and book organization may be a bit different depending on the designer. On the other hand, art should emulate the genre, and the books should have a unified look that carries through a genre (fantasy books should have a similar branding that's different from supers, for example). Raising the graphic standards of the books would be a bit pricey, but the books would veer away from looking like a Word document and more in-line with what's on the market. Additionally, resources like design files, could be shared with the Hall of Heroes contributors like so many other companies do. 

 

Definitely! The reputation of the Ptolus setting as such likely also plays a big part, so it is not like it would be simple for DOJ to do something similar. But it's still an interesting approach. As I said, I had never heard about the Cypher system before. The setting looks cool, so I've thought of backing it, and if I do, it would likely be at a level, where I'd get both versions in PDF, which would place me in a position to dip into the Cypher system, if it looks interesting. The set-up has made me curious about the system, while the model increases the chances of financial success.

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11 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

They have it as PDF in the shop, for $14.00. Thought i tend to like Physical copies to carry around.

DrivethruRPG has them as POD along with the PDF for $20. Totally worth it. I have a couple of physical copies for my table on game days. 
 

 

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4 hours ago, Sketchpad said:

 

I don't  think that that dumping vehicles/bases and the like is necessary. Instead, I think they need to be simplified and streamlined. In a book about zombies, it would be nice to have base rules to represent fortifications, or vehicles to use and modify in hopes of escaping an infested area. The power sections could also be simplified, having only what was needed rather than a bunch of listings that weren't needed. Again, in the case of a zombie game, give the basics of powers needed to create the zombie horrors you need, plus maybe a few powers that heroes might access (psychic/magic/etc.), but leave the rest as Talents that PCs can access. 

 

Well, to me that stuff is cruft, even in a survival horror setting. Because players aren't going to build a base with points but with stuff they find in the wilderness, the construct would exist narratively instead of mechanically...like they do in almost every other rpg. Sure, you could add that in via the full rules, but this is about making a stripped down version for quick play.

 

Ditto with removing the powers. Zombie stat blocks would contain all the mechanics for any power they possessed, listed in normal language. How it interacts with the power system would be unneeded and somewhat detremental to this exercise. 

 

That said, I would love to see a simplified and streamlined version of Hero, but that is a different project I think.

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On 3/4/2020 at 1:14 AM, Tywyll said:

I'm curious what editions you played.

 

D&D:  AD&D1, B/X, D&D 5e.  

 

Hero:  Champions 3e, Danger International, Fantasy Hero, Robot Warriors, a number of off-genre games using Danger International (sci-fi, Battletech, western). Champions 4e.  Champions Complete/6e. 

 

I've played a lot of DI games without powers.  S. John Ross once wrote how he used DI to get back into the Hero System after the BBB and 5e, and that's partly what directly led Hero Games to come out with Sidekick under 5e.  

 

HERO System without Powers.  Would it sell?  Probably not.  (But would adventures sell?  Probably not.  Yet I still assert they're necessary.)  

 

See also GURPS Lite, and the number of RPGs "powered by GURPS" that use Lite as their basis.  There've been a number of them.  GURPS' power build system is about as extensive as Hero's, only more so, with more special cases and instances of SFX built into the mechanical construct, but they do quite well without having to package it into every single game and genre.  

 

The full HERO System Powers rules are a barrier to entry to the game.  I'll keep saying it until I'm blue in the face.  Hell, put it on my tombstone, if and when that time comes. 

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1 hour ago, ScottishFox said:

 

Are you potentially immortal, sir?  If so, are you sharing the secret?

 

I'm reminded about the joke about the optimist who fell off the top of the Empire State Building.  "Going great so far!"  :D 

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14 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

D&D:  AD&D1, B/X, D&D 5e.  

 

Hero:  Champions 3e, Danger International, Fantasy Hero, Robot Warriors, a number of off-genre games using Danger International (sci-fi, Battletech, western). Champions 4e.  Champions Complete/6e. 

 

I've played a lot of DI games without powers.  S. John Ross once wrote how he used DI to get back into the Hero System after the BBB and 5e, and that's partly what directly led Hero Games to come out with Sidekick under 5e.  

 

HERO System without Powers.  Would it sell?  Probably not.  (But would adventures sell?  Probably not.  Yet I still assert they're necessary.)  

 

See also GURPS Lite, and the number of RPGs "powered by GURPS" that use Lite as their basis.  There've been a number of them.  GURPS' power build system is about as extensive as Hero's, only more so, with more special cases and instances of SFX built into the mechanical construct, but they do quite well without having to package it into every single game and genre.  

 

The full HERO System Powers rules are a barrier to entry to the game.  I'll keep saying it until I'm blue in the face.  Hell, put it on my tombstone, if and when that time comes. 

 

I think its worth mentioning that GURPS has lost a dramatic amount of market share, at least according to Steve Jackson's qurterly reports. It seems systems to build games are suffering all over. 

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3 hours ago, Tywyll said:

 

I think its worth mentioning that GURPS has lost a dramatic amount of market share, at least according to Steve Jackson's qurterly reports. It seems systems to build games are suffering all over. 

That’s not surprising. I think the universal systems are faltering in unintended ways. And yet Powered by the Apocalypse games are multiplying like rabbits. It’s not the universal system that is a problem; it’s what people are (or aren’t) doing with it that seems to sell. This came up a few pages back. Compact and focused games are popular now because there’s little investment of time or capital, and people can easily try out a lot of different games each week. Consumers in our online e-conomy these days expect to be able to pick things up quickly, follow their curiosity, and then move on to the next shiny shiny. 
 

I think DOJ should seriously consider their own “Powered by HERO System” approach, with smaller, easily learned games that can also be modified in limitless ways. One-book games don’t have to be the ultimate goal, but they can be gateways to folks who might be interested in investing in the larger system after they see it in action in a smaller scale. HERO System should be trying to spark people’s curiosity rather than presume to give them everything they ever wanted. Lost of smaller samples seem more practical. And then we show them the larger system, devised as a way to modify what caught their fancies in the first place. 

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