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Brian Stanfield

What makes a complete game "complete"?

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10 hours ago, zslane said:

I avoided trying to GM Champions in the first several years that I played because doing it--and more importantly, doing it well--is incredibly challenging and requires a mastery of the rules that I simply didn't have. It also requires one to juggle lots of balls all at once; it is hard enough to play a single superhero effectively (in combat) as a player. It is incredibly difficult to do so with an entire team of supervillains all by oneself as GM. And my philosophy is that if I can't GM well, then I'm not going to GM at all.

 

I might suggest you let someone else be GM for a while, and reserve GMing duties for when you've got a lot more experience with the system under your belt.

This tactic reads like a lunatic fantasy from my perspective. It's the same fallacious in the same way as "You need at least 5 year of industry experience to get any jobs in the industry." 

The only way I can possibly play Hero at all is to learn it and GM it for my friends. It's taken me years of shallow bites into Hero System before I could even comprehend it well enough to say that I understand the basic premises of the system. I am now gearing up to play it with m friends, and I can see all the pitfalls before I even walk into them. I wish I could just tag along in some group somewhere and learn how they handle damage maximums or CVs or SPD. 

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10 hours ago, sinanju said:

 

Yeah, I'd be happy to do a Session Zero character building session before a new campaign, but many players in our group--John, in particular--really likes keeping his character concept/powers/build a secret until the game starts.

Secret from the GM as well? Or just the other players? Mystery is fun and all, but as was pointed out earlier, the players have to have at least some kind of rationale for being together. That's hard to do with complete secrecy. Revelations are fun, but my players have a tendency to resort to soliloquy to "reveal" what shouldn't actually be revealed. This just sounds like a lot of extra work for the GM. 

 

Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding the situation. Wouldn't be the first time. . .

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3 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Secret from the GM as well? Or just the other players? Mystery is fun and all, but as was pointed out earlier, the players have to have at least some kind of rationale for being together. That's hard to do with complete secrecy. Revelations are fun, but my players have a tendency to resort to soliloquy to "reveal" what shouldn't actually be revealed. This just sounds like a lot of extra work for the GM. 

 

Or maybe I'm just misunderstanding the situation. Wouldn't be the first time. . .

 

Secret from the other players, not the GM. We use a Google group to email one another about the game(s), and discuss characters. He doesn't want his character sheet posted, or for anything more than the bare minimum about his character to be revealed until the game begins. His rationale is that PCs should learn about one another by interacting in the game, which I understand, but it does make it harder to create a cohesive group--especially beforehand.

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37 minutes ago, sinanju said:

His rationale is that PCs should learn about one another by interacting in the game, which I understand, but it does make it harder to create a cohesive group--especially beforehand.

Both are good points, but some concession ought to be made for the group rationale for being a group. But in all honesty, I've played with the idea where everyone starts the first session with no idea about what they can do, so they're a mystery to each other as well as to themselves! Kind of like Marvel's New Universe back in the '80s, where a global incident happened and people began manifesting strange powers, but knew nothing about what was happening or was going to happen. It would be fun to build characters as they play. But that's a whole different logistical problem: why do they get together in the first place. I'd still like to try it though. 

 

I'm dealing with the secrecy thing right now in my Pulp HERO group. They're all new to gaming for the most part, so they don't really have any benchmark expectations, which helps me greatly. But trying to keep the veil up while they learn to roleplay (while also learning to roll play) is challenging. Learning what to reveal and what to keep secret is a delicate balance. I had to create an artificial rationale to put them together, sort of a Dirty Dozen type of motif where they've been hand-selected by a mysterious benefactor, and they each have a very particular skillset to add to a group. I had to coach them up for an appropriate way to do introductions. As long as they keep learning and having fun, no skin off my nose!

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16 hours ago, Shoug said:

This tactic reads like a lunatic fantasy from my perspective. It's the same fallacious in the same way as "You need at least 5 year of industry experience to get any jobs in the industry." 

 

 

 

 

 

16 hours ago, Shoug said:

It's taken me years of shallow bites

 

See?  _This_ guy (I assume; apologies if I'm too badly wrong ;)  ) gets it!  Small bites!  I don't know that it will take years, but there again:  I will _never_ know, because like so many of us old fossils, I started with 1e, played a couple of years, 2e came out, played it for a couple of years--- you see where this is going.  I _had_ those years, and the _only_ way to learn back then was to take small bites, so.....

 

Doesn't matter: it takes as long as it takes, period, and not one bit longer.  I _can_ say this, because it applies to learning pretty much anything:  The more of it you try to learn at once, the harder it's going to be to learn _any_ of it.   Cut the thing down to what _you_ want to focus on.  Notice I didn't say "the basics."  That's because what's "basic" to you might not be basic to me, etc, etc.  shave it down to what your personal core is.  Try it.  Once your all comfy, add a couple more things.  Got comfy again?  Add a little more.

 

Small bites.  You don't _ever_ "must" have the whole damned system in play.  

 

 

17 hours ago, sinanju said:

 

Yeah, I'd be happy to do a Session Zero character building session before a new campaign, but many players in our group--John, in particular--really likes keeping his character concept/powers/build a secret until the game starts.

 

3 hours ago, sinanju said:

 

Secret from the other players, not the GM. 

 

Thanks for clearing that up; my GM Sense was tingling.  Okay, fine: my GM heart was seizing, but my extremities were tingling and things went kinda red-and-muddy-green there for a moment or two, and that's about the same, right? ;)

 

 

 

 

2 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Both are good points, but some concession ought to be made for the group rationale for being a group.

 

 

That.  So much _that_.  In all sincerity, unless a group has played together a few times before, I don't usually let anyone do that "eowh so dyark and mysteeryis" crap.  It never works out well, because the other players tend to just assume "Oh; he's playing a dick" and tend to sort of cut Emo Man out of the bulk of their inter-character interaction, and Emo Man never really figures out why.....

 

I find this problem far less likely to come up in groups familiar with one another, as they are usually completely able to understand "oh; he's doing a bit, and it'll all come out in the wash soon enough."

 

One of the many great things about Session Zero or Character Generation Parties is that the GM has a chance to very specifically spell out mandates and forbiddens for characters-- things like "you're character _must_ be a team player" or "willing to team up with new  people" or "not be a dick."  Those are valid.  You might even throw out "you have all known each other for about six months (in or out of costume, or both-- your choice), but you are tasked with deciding how."  _That_ stops a _lot_ of that eyowh sew mysteeryis crap right there. ;)

 

Another thing to be aware of, as this happens more often than it doesn't:

 

the player has come up with some particular power or construct that he is _supremely_ proud of.  Quite often, he tends to think that it's far more clever or far more devastating than it really is.  He is waiting for what he feels is the "just absolutely perfect moment" to break it out and show it off.

 

This goes one of two ways:  Like when you hoarde all the really good guns and really big health packs when you're playing a video game, waiting until you _really need_ that one specific thing because nothing else can do what it does as well as it does, and then suddenly the game is over, the boss is defeated, and you're going "what the heck?!  I didn't even get to _use_ that cool stuff!"

 

I've seen that happen too many times.

 

"But Duke, you're job as the GM is to make sure that each player has the upturn---  

 

Shut up!  Just shut up.  I have him fifteen opportunities, scattered throughout the course of the summer.  _HE_ didn't _UTILIZE_ them, and short of saying "Hey, Randy, this is a great time to do the thing now!", there just isn't anything I can do to make him change his mind.

 

The other side of the coin (which I have seen a lot of as well, and I hate to say this, but it makes me giggle a bit, simply because the player has generally being something of a smug jackass, knowing he had his ace-in-the-hole mega-build:

 

It doesn't work.  Or it works, but not well.  Or it just doesn't do the thing, period.  Of course, he's been super-secret about it the whole damned time, so the other players are totally lost as to why he doesn't nothing while they all get their faces eaten and he starts whining and moaning about why no one else is helping because he can't get his head wrapped around the idea that they actually have NO DAMNED IDEA what's supposed to be happening or what you're trying to do, rendering them incapable of helping even if they want to......

 

 

But your game; your rules, 

 

 

and good luck to you, Sir.

 

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

I don't know that it will take years

 

If it takes that long...or even seems like it will take that long, then the system is probably not going to be your jam. Champions can be for anyone, but it isn't for everyone.

 

I got lucky in that the GMs I played with when I first discovered the game in the early '80s were experts at the game before I arrived at their tables. I don't know how they mastered it so quickly (it had only been out about a year or so), but I suspect that (a) they were exceptional GMs in general and, (b) something about Champions just spoke to them and seemed natural and easy to them. Those are the kinds of GMs who are best suited to running the game.

 

If it's a struggle to master the game, much less GM it like a boss, then maybe it's worth considering a different game system. I mean, I tried to wrap my head around the RIFTS game system once, and decided it just didn't click with my brain. You'll never see me trying to GM that one (you'll probably never see me trying to play it either).

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2 hours ago, zslane said:

 

I got lucky in that the GMs I played with when I first discovered the game in the early '80s were experts at the game before I arrived at their tables. I don't know how they mastered it so quickly (it had only been out about a year or so), 

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I suspect the speed and ease with which they mastered the game within a year of it coming out has less to do with superior talent and more to do with the fact that, after deducting character sheets, there were less than fifty pages of rules.  

 

It would be two years and a bit after that game before 2e hit the shelves, swelling that page count to a _massive_ sixty-two pages (after deducting character sheets). 

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On 3/18/2020 at 11:34 PM, sinanju said:

 

Yeah, I'd be happy to do a Session Zero character building session before a new campaign, but many players in our group--John, in particular--really likes keeping his character concept/powers/build a secret until the game starts.

 

17 hours ago, sinanju said:

 

Secret from the other players, not the GM. We use a Google group to email one another about the game(s), and discuss characters. He doesn't want his character sheet posted, or for anything more than the bare minimum about his character to be revealed until the game begins. His rationale is that PCs should learn about one another by interacting in the game, which I understand, but it does make it harder to create a cohesive group--especially beforehand.

 

My feelings are similar, and cut both ways.  I don't need or want to know everything there is to know about the other characters unless it fits the gameplay.

 

You can certainly make a game where it fits.  At an extreme "Your characters are part of a secret government experiment.  Grown in vats, you have grown up and trained extensively together."

 

But it also imposes a responsibility on the players to make characters that are likely to fit in easily (even if there are some rough edges), be prepared to fine-tune concepts to create a decent fit, or be prepared to retire that character to bring in one that will fit, if the first one clearly cannot without an unacceptable compromise to the concept.

 

With great power comes great responsibility.

 

With great power to design your character in isolation comes great responsibility to make that character fit in to the game.

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On 3/18/2020 at 8:31 PM, Brian Stanfield said:

Well, I honestly don't think you can slim the book down much more than Champions Complete. It's about as thin as you can get, and still include all the advice and such that the book covers. This is one reason why I suggest in my original post that it would make more sense to try a new experiment with something that is heroic, so it doesn't require all the powers and modifiers, something that is located locally to our everyday experiences (the "real" world), and has mostly pre-built equipment. This pretty much rules out supers and fantasy, which depend entirely upon the Powers (unless you do a magic-less fantasy game, and who really wants to do that anyway?).

 

A "complete in a book" game for Supers or Fantasy can be done.  They have been done.  But it means you get boundaries.

 

It may mean you get preconstructed powers/spells and you don't even get to see the mechanics behind them.  Perhaps our game has a "Vampirism" power that allows you to touch a target, and reduce his STUN and BOD, while boosting your own, and a "Siphon STR" power that allows you to reduce a target's STR at standard range.

 

Want a ranged Vampirism power, a Siphon DEX power, a slower recovery rate, or any of a myriad of a number of options?  Tough beans - this game has Vampirism and Siphon STR.

 

Want more powers and abilities?  Buy the entire system to craft your own, or buy the splatbooks and hope the author also thought that would be a cool addition.

 

Mutants and Masterminds is one example.  It has a lot of flexibility, and a lot of abilities, but nowhere near what "Full Hero" affords.  Marvel Supers (FASERIP) pretty much created new powers every time it created a new character - but you had to pick from the list.

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13 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

It would be two years and a bit after that game before 2e hit the shelves

 

Your timeline differs from mine. 1st edition came out in 1981 and 2nd edition came out the next year in 1982. I started playing in 1983 and I'm not sure this particular group ever played 1st edition.

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{EDIT}

 

I had something else here, but it occurs to me that there is no point in discussing that aspect, since having played second instead first still does not invalidate the point that there was a crap load less to learn and master.  Like, move-a-decimal less.

 

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1st and 2nd were 64 pages and 80 pages, respectively, including sample characters and a sample combat.  I don't see any real difference between learning those two editions.

 

hmmmm...we moved the fall of the year I bought 1e, when I was in

redacted and now I feel old

.  That was definitey 1981.

 

Different Worlds #23 was published August/82 [https://www.mycomicshop.com/search?TID=22079647] and featured an interview with the Champions designers who discussed the changes from 1e to 2e.

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I’ve almost given up trying to explain my thoughts over the years.  It is almost as if I speak a different language.

 

I don’t understand the constant referral to the need to change the rules as they are written.  5th Ed, 6th Ed, Basic Rulebook (both rulesets), Fantasy Complete and Champions Complete.  They are all fine as written.  The rules are fine.

 

I say again.

 

THE RULES ARE FINE.

 

The problem is not the rules themselves. 

The problem is that understanding how the rules actually work in play is not straight forward.  They are easy, once they click.  For some people that is not an issue, they get it just from reading the book.  Some people get it from reading a super battle walk through.  Some people get it from a detailed description of a power build. 

But the majority don’t. 

 

The issue is not another rewrite of the rules. 

 

The issue is the need to add the missing chapter.

 

A short pre-generated micro-campaign with pre-generated PC’s, equipment, adversaries and so on.  Initially presented with NO POINT BUILD TOTALS VISIBLE.  Just the in-play stats. 

 

The idea is for the new to hero players to read through the playing rules, NOT THE BUILD RULES, and then play.

 

I’ll expand using Fantasy Complete, mostly because I can crib off of D&D and everyone will get my meaning.

Reorganize the rulebooks, not by rewriting, but by reordering.  Or at least to limited editing to make the flow work.  Basically move “Core Concepts And Game Basics” (page 7-10) and “Character Creation” (page 16-152)(not pages 153 & 154) behind “Combat” page 187. 

 

The book order would change from:

·        Table of Contents

·        Introduction

·        Core Concepts

·        Core Concepts and Game Basics

·        Character Creation

o   Results and Recognition

o   Heroic Action Points

o   Experience Points

o   Movement

·        Characters and the World

·        Combat

·        Equipment

·        Swords and Sorcery — Fantasy Roleplaying

·        Appendix 1: Playing Other Genres

·        Appendix 2: Summary & Reference Tables

·        Index

To a the new order of:

       ·        Table of Contents

·        Introduction

·        Core Concepts

·        Core Concepts and Game Basics

o   Results and Recognition

o   Heroic Action Points

o   Experience Points

o   Movement

·        Characters and the World

·        Combat

·        Micro-Campaign

·        Character Creation

·        Equipment

·        Swords and Sorcery — Fantasy Roleplaying

·        Appendix 1: Playing Other Genres

·        Appendix 2: Summary & Reference Tables

·        Appendix 3: Micro Campaign Build sheets.

·        Index

 

All of the chunking dice actual playing rules would be presented first and just before the “micro-campaign”.  While all the “how we build characters and stuff” would fallow on the heels of the “micro-campaign”. The micro-campaign would have all of the setting, creatures, equipment and pregen characters plus prebuilt advancement abilities to allow the PC’s to advance on a loose equivalent of first through third “level”.   All presented as end items with NO BUILD POINTS DISPLAYED.  An added appendix would have all that for when the new players become curious. 

 

The idea is:

·        New players buy book.

·        They read the “rules”.

·        They PLAY the micro-campaign.

·        They then read the Build Rules and Campaign Build advice.

·        They then go on the either expand the micro-campaign or build their own unique world now that they actually can see how thing work in play.

 

In my opinion this is why Hero is fading fast. It placed the cart before the horse and is too proud to admit everyone is driving cars. 

Anyway, my 2 cents.

Again......

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3 hours ago, Spence said:

Reorganize the rulebooks, not by rewriting, but by reordering.  Or at least to limited editing to make the flow work.  Basically move “Core Concepts And Game Basics” (page 7-10) and “Character Creation” (page 16-152)(not pages 153 & 154) behind “Combat” page 187. 

 

4 hours ago, Spence said:

The problem is that understanding how the rules actually work in play is not straight forward. 

 

Yes, one of the biggest problems I've always had with the books, even the older 3e games, was the layout order! The problem is exacerbated when the character creation stuff is spread over different chapters. For example, the standard charges stuff always leads the book, but then the templates and setting details are always somewhere near the back of the book. So new players picking up Fantasy HERO Complete have no idea as they start reading that there is anything like "character classes," equipment, and the other stuff they're used to finding up front in a D&D book. There are many ways to skin a cat, but the HERO layout has always seemed backwards to me. 

 

I like your arrangement. I also like your micro-campaign idea. Aaron Allston put a "choose your own adventure" type of game example in the Campaign Book for Justice Inc. It's admittedly very brief, but not too far off what every game should offer. It's a guided tour through the game mechanics, not simply an example of combat. He guides you through some choices, and they lead to different resolutions (skills, combat, etc.). A more developed version of this to lead new players and GMs would be a most excellent idea. 

 

4 hours ago, Spence said:

In my opinion this is why Hero is fading fast. It placed the cart before the horse and is too proud to admit everyone is driving cars.

I'm in total agreement here. As I've said before, I'm not interested in rewriting the rules. But I think they need a serious overhaul in how they're presented. It was easy and efficient when the books were virtually pamphlets compared to what we have now. But that same format was used as the books ballooned in size with each edition. They really needed to be reorganized at some point, although one major problem is that the 6e1/6e2 rules, for example, would make a mini-campaign virtually impossible because they are universal, so no assumptions are made about anything that could be played. The problems with being universal is that, while anything can be made with the rules, nothing has been decided on for how to demonstrate the rules. 

 

I think DOJ could really benefit from a remodeling of how they present their games. This should also include an online presence, like through the Tabletop Simulator mod that @Brennall has been working on. That's of course way beyond this particular thread, but it's time to come into the 21st Century! So many games now can be played in one night. There's no reason a game "Powered by HERO" can't live up to modern expectations, if it's laid out correctly. 

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4 hours ago, Spence said:

The idea is for the new to hero players to read through the playing rules, NOT THE BUILD RULES, and then play.

 

I don't disagree with your general thesis, but I have to say that designing/building characters was as fun as playing them for me. The build rules were half the game, and half (maybe more) the reason I was addicted to Champions. I don't think I would have been so utterly consumed by the game if my first introduction to it was through an example of play minus the build rules (i.e., a "micro-campaign" with pregen characters). And while I acknowledge that removing the, er, stress of learning how to make a character may help a lot of newcomers try the game, I strongly believe that only those who immediately gravitate towards the build rules (and probably would have been quite comfortable with them right from the start) will stick with the game long term.

 

In other words, I am unconvinced that putting Champions on Easy Mode will help retain new players, in any significant numbers, even if it succeeds in getting them to give it a try.

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On March 20, 2020 at 5:40 PM, zslane said:

That's interesting because my 1st edition has a copyright date of 1981. How did you manage to get a copy before 1981?

 

I didn't own a copy until some time in the late 90s.  My GM had 1e.  When 2e came to our local hobby store (second printing, according to the boilerplate, but still dated 82, I believe.  I only remember that because it didn't land in our shop until fall of '83), I bought that and much like -- was it Tasha that decided 5e was "her jam" for HERO?-- 2e was my own "sweet spot," with a small selection of things borrowed from later editions (mostly Disadvantages and Power Modifiers), I've stuck with it.

 

I can't tell you what Jim's copy was dated or where he got it (I always just assumed it came from the same fabric store that my Traveller stuff had come from-- the lady with the fabric and hobby store let her grandson set up a shelf of games in one corner.  That was our "game store" for six years-- he was riding the RPG wave of that era to help with his college tuition, as I remember) because it never occurred to me to ask; I always figured either he brought it with him from California (he had just moved to the neighborhood literally a month before he was hanging out at the "game store" recruiting for players) or he had picked it up at the Craft Corner.   Much like every single book I have ever bought or just read-- all the up through today, it never occurred to me that it might be important forty years later to know what the boilerplate said, so I never bothered asking.  I don't even know if there was a whole book, as he had mimies of abbreviated Powers, Skills, Modifiers, and Disads lists that he had type up, mimied, and passed out to new players so we could follow along as he explained things.  

 

I wish I had more that I could tell you about it, Z, but I really don't.  Once I bought 2e, I started trying my hand at GM-ing, and he "upgraded" his own game to 2e, using my box set until he finally got one of his own.  When 3e came about, he upgraded again, and I didn't.  When 4e came out, we both bought it; neither of us "upgraded," though I think he adopted the Reduced Endurance rules (I didn't).

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On 3/19/2020 at 9:04 PM, Duke Bushido said:

 

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I suspect the speed and ease with which they mastered the game within a year of it coming out has less to do with superior talent and more to do with the fact that, after deducting character sheets, there were less than fifty pages of rules.  

 

It would be two years and a bit after that game before 2e hit the shelves, swelling that page count to a _massive_ sixty-two pages (after deducting character sheets). 

 We all figured it out pretty quickly after Pacificon 81, and were playing by the time School started, So our weekends were  all Champions all the time. You learn pretty quickly.

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42 minutes ago, zslane said:

 

I don't disagree with your general thesis, but I have to say that designing/building characters was as fun as playing them for me. The build rules were half the game, and half (maybe more) the reason I was addicted to Champions. I don't think I would have been so utterly consumed by the game if my first introduction to it was through an example of play minus the build rules (i.e., a "micro-campaign" with pregen characters). And while I acknowledge that removing the, er, stress of learning how to make a character may help a lot of newcomers try the game, I strongly believe that only those who immediately gravitate towards the build rules (and probably would have been quite comfortable with them right from the start) will stick with the game long term.

 

In other words, I am unconvinced that putting Champions on Easy Mode will help retain new players, in any significant numbers, even if it succeeds in getting them to give it a try.

 

This is not doing anything like an Easy Mode, nor is it removing any of the build rules.  Just a re-order of presentation and adding the completely missing play part. 

 

Everything that you liked and preferred is still there. The only difference is that new players will have actual context on how the rules actually interact before trying to build. If a new player will not read the build chapter after playing the mini-campaign, then they will never have bothered to read it as is. 

 

But the current method of what is basically simply repeating the exact same thing and expecting a different result isn't working.  There really isn't anything wrong with the rule system, which leaves changing presentation.  Both information and visual.  I am only referring to the information side based on what I have personally experienced.

 

Most of the gamers that I know and have tried to sell on Hero simply don't read further than the first part of CharGen. 

But a player that plays a game is much more to likely to read the rest of it.

 

This is mostly babble of course and I don't have any great magical insight.  But I do know that people now approach things entirely different than we did. No computers, no internet and somewhere between 3 and 30 channels that you could only watch real time unless you recorded them on a tape.  In the winter I can remember going to bed early because I'd finished my last book and there was nothing (as usual) interesting on TV.  Wading through a textbook was nothing to stave off boredom.  Today?  There is no boredom, not like there was.  You have access to thousands of informational feeds from a multitude of sources today.  

 

Either the difference is acknowledged and the method of delivery is adapted to the new realities or we just give up. But to be candid, having Hero types constantly falling back on "I didn't do it that way and anyone that isn't up to my personal vision is just not worth having as a gamer" doesn't help.  We are at the point where there needs to be change.  I had hoped that the creative commons would open that door, but instead it is a crippled version of creative commons that will not produce adventure material taking place in the actual Hero settings. 

 

I really don;t know why I keep returning for more self punishment.

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22 hours ago, Spence said:

To a the new order of:

       ·        Table of Contents

·        Introduction

·        Core Concepts

·        Core Concepts and Game Basics

o   Results and Recognition

o   Heroic Action Points

o   Experience Points

o   Movement

·        Characters and the World

·        Combat

·        Micro-Campaign

·        Character Creation

·        Equipment

·        Swords and Sorcery — Fantasy Roleplaying

·        Appendix 1: Playing Other Genres

·        Appendix 2: Summary & Reference Tables

·        Appendix 3: Micro Campaign Build sheets.

·        Index


I’m always fiddling with new layouts in my mind, and can never come up with a good plan that is significantly different than how it’s already been done. I like that you’re at least trying to rearrange things in a meaningful way. 
 

I’ve toyed with the idea of putting the roleplaying chapter up front (the cliché “what is roleplaying” discussion). But this only makes the most sense if you explain the game world up front as well. So that means a discussion of the setting, and roleplaying in that setting. For Action HERO! that would be a look at action films, the real world they represent, and what it means to roleplaying a character in that world. Simple enough, but I don’t want to do too much hypothetical stuff up front, so I’ll sum it up in a handful of pages. For whatever reason, HERO System has always saved a discussion of the world for last (or nearly last), as if the world is an afterthought. This is a big mistake, in my mind, because the best games on the market right now (I’m not talking D&D here, either—think Kids on Bikes or something popular these days) present a very vivid game world first, and thereby give you a desire to want to play the game in that particular world. 
 

Follow that with a discussion of core concepts for the game, a quick look at the character sheet maybe, and a discussion of how these things work together to make a game. Maybe the concept of character creation could be introduced here as well, but without all the definitions yet. For instance, explain the Characteristics, Complications, Skills, etc., only briefly, with references to later chapters where the lists and definitions are given. I’ve even considered doing these as a series of Appendices (Appendix 1: Skills, Appendix 2: Complications, Appendix 3: Equipment, etc.). I’m not sold on that idea, but it’s a way of avoiding all the definitions up front. They could just as easily be presented as chapters in the charged section, but let’s not just assume it has to be done that way simply because it’s always been done that way. I actually hate the layout now, and think it is one of the reasons for a lack of success these days (I think we all agree that artwork is another, but let’s not go there now). Hell, now that I think of it, most lists involve character creation anyway, so why not just save charges for its own Appendix, with each list included for each step, with definitions in another Appendix. I don’t know, but something different.
 

So now I’ve introduced the world in which the game is being played, what the key elements are for gameplay, and what they look like on a character sheet. Now it’s time to show how they interact: gaming in a contentious world! Skill checks, Presence attacks, combat, using equipment, giving and taking damage, etc. Give examples of each thing as we go, of course, with references to the more detailed rules.

 

Now you know how all the parents fit together. Want to try playing right away? Go to Appendix Last for pregen characters and some beginning adventures, tailored for an escort through first time play (here’s where you all meet in a Skills challenge adventure, then you have your first battle in the next adventure, or whatever). Personally I think this should be saved as an Appendix because I don’t want learning the game to depend on playing the adventures before learning the rest of the rules. But in our modern wiki-based world, I don’t think Appendices are a deal breaker at all. If they help isolate lists and definitions, they actually seem to be an advantage. I don’t know, I’m just spitballing here. 
 

This is all a bit like reorganizing the garage. It’s best just to take everything out of the space, and then re-examine everything and the different ways all the items relate to each other. Hell, I can imagine this as an entirely electronic wiki where everything is linked to everything else that is relevant, and the parts get learned by following one’s own curiosity (the best way to learn anything, really). Of course, I’m the kind of person who keeps falling down the Wikipedia rabbit hole with 20 pages open at the same time because they keep opening up new nests of ideas. I suppose a game wiki would be a nice reference tool, but probably not an ideal way to learn a game.

 

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but it’s a fun exercise. How different can we make the presentation, creating a different synergy without losing anything of value in the process. 

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On 3/21/2020 at 11:38 AM, Spence said:

I’ve almost given up trying to explain my thoughts over the years.  It is almost as if I speak a different language.

 

I don’t understand the constant referral to the need to change the rules as they are written.  5th Ed, 6th Ed, Basic Rulebook (both rulesets), Fantasy Complete and Champions Complete.  They are all fine as written.  The rules are fine.

 

I say again.

 

THE RULES ARE FINE.

 

The problem is not the rules themselves. 

The problem is that understanding how the rules actually work in play is not straight forward.  They are easy, once they click.  For some people that is not an issue, they get it just from reading the book.  Some people get it from reading a super battle walk through.  Some people get it from a detailed description of a power build. 

But the majority don’t. 

 

The issue is not another rewrite of the rules. 

 

The issue is the need to add the missing chapter.

 

A short pre-generated micro-campaign with pre-generated PC’s, equipment, adversaries and so on.  Initially presented with NO POINT BUILD TOTALS VISIBLE.  Just the in-play stats. 

 

The idea is for the new to hero players to read through the playing rules, NOT THE BUILD RULES, and then play.

 

I’ll expand using Fantasy Complete, mostly because I can crib off of D&D and everyone will get my meaning.

Reorganize the rulebooks, not by rewriting, but by reordering.  Or at least to limited editing to make the flow work.  Basically move “Core Concepts And Game Basics” (page 7-10) and “Character Creation” (page 16-152)(not pages 153 & 154) behind “Combat” page 187. 

 

The book order would change from:

·        Table of Contents

·        Introduction

·        Core Concepts

·        Core Concepts and Game Basics

·        Character Creation

o   Results and Recognition

o   Heroic Action Points

o   Experience Points

o   Movement

·        Characters and the World

·        Combat

·        Equipment

·        Swords and Sorcery — Fantasy Roleplaying

·        Appendix 1: Playing Other Genres

·        Appendix 2: Summary & Reference Tables

·        Index

To a the new order of:

       ·        Table of Contents

·        Introduction

·        Core Concepts

·        Core Concepts and Game Basics

o   Results and Recognition

o   Heroic Action Points

o   Experience Points

o   Movement

·        Characters and the World

·        Combat

·        Micro-Campaign

·        Character Creation

·        Equipment

·        Swords and Sorcery — Fantasy Roleplaying

·        Appendix 1: Playing Other Genres

·        Appendix 2: Summary & Reference Tables

·        Appendix 3: Micro Campaign Build sheets.

·        Index

 

All of the chunking dice actual playing rules would be presented first and just before the “micro-campaign”.  While all the “how we build characters and stuff” would fallow on the heels of the “micro-campaign”. The micro-campaign would have all of the setting, creatures, equipment and pregen characters plus prebuilt advancement abilities to allow the PC’s to advance on a loose equivalent of first through third “level”.   All presented as end items with NO BUILD POINTS DISPLAYED.  An added appendix would have all that for when the new players become curious. 

 

The idea is:

·        New players buy book.

·        They read the “rules”.

·        They PLAY the micro-campaign.

·        They then read the Build Rules and Campaign Build advice.

·        They then go on the either expand the micro-campaign or build their own unique world now that they actually can see how thing work in play.

 

In my opinion this is why Hero is fading fast. It placed the cart before the horse and is too proud to admit everyone is driving cars. 

Anyway, my 2 cents.

Again......

I couldn't agree more with this. I recently got physical copies of the sixth edition books and, after like 2 years of distant admiration and occasional futile glances at the PDF on my phone, the game finally clicked. At least, the general philosophy of the whole character point system and the very basics of combat started to make sense. I still haven't played nor do I have really any idea how I should actually use this system at the table. It doesn't help that I'm a relatively inexperienced GM when it comes to systems which require preparation, I've been playing Fate and FU all these years, and not very often.

Though, seeing as the core books already lack this "Missing Chapter," I think the next best option would be to release a kind of starter kit. I don't mean anything that would have parts or anything similar to Hero Basic, I mean... I'm talking about a magazine, on the thicker side. A magazine containing these micro-adventures with prebuilt characters and stuff. The magazine would contain 3, maybe 4, unique genre studies: Champions, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and maybe something spicy like Weird West or Psionic Zombie Apocalypse. You can copy the character sheets out of the book, but the expectation would really be that you safely tear out the pages you need to use: things like character sheets, maps, and maybe some other stuff.

 

On the one hand, it can be called a kind of stand alone short tales style adventure book made for use with Hero System, but on the other hand, it can be called a collection of educational adventures best used with Hero Basic. I'd buy one the moment I found out such a thing existed. I might not even necessarily run the adventures, just read them and get a feel for what an adventure is supposed to look like, what a character is supposed to look like, what the range of Combat Values ends up looking like, what the range of SPDs is supposed to look like, etc. I would use it like a rosetta stone just to get a basic ballpark of how I am going to put together my game.

I really wish such a thing existed.

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You know, HERO had a kind of thing for a while, adventures did not just give something for the GM to run but added something to the system, like Scourge of the Deep gave rules and hints about adventuring under water.

 

It would be a great thing if we published adventures which had two purposes.  One would be something to run.  The other would be advice on setting the game up for a particular game style.

 

So instead of a 24 page adventure book, you get a 48 page supplement.  These could build into a library of guidance on games to play using HERO.

 

This is something short of complete games, or games in a book but might meet Shoug's type of need.  A helping hand on setting the game up to play the adventure if that is the style of game you want.

 

I SO want to do something Hall of Champions related.  I need to get my group on this....we must have the skills between us to get something workable (including typesetting, design, ideas and artwork).

 

Doc

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