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Brian Stanfield

What makes a complete game "complete"?

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And by repeating what was done in 3e and 4e, we set ourselves up for an all-inclusive 7e.    :rofl:

I'm not picking at you, Doc; I have never had an issue with genre- or adventure-specific rules or suggestions. 

 

I just wanted to say "do you want another encyclopedia?  Because that's how you get encyclopedias." 

 

 

:D

 

 

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20 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

And by repeating what was done in 3e and 4e, we set ourselves up for an all-inclusive 7e.    :rofl:

I'm not picking at you, Doc; I have never had an issue with genre- or adventure-specific rules or suggestions. 

 

I just wanted to say "do you want another encyclopedia?  Because that's how you get encyclopedias." 

 

 

:D

 

 

 I think you missed the point - I was not suggesting more rules.  I was suggesting the basic use of the rules to create a game in a particular way.  You might create an Arthurian adventure with the stuff you need to run that in Part 1 of the supplement.  Part 2 would be the game set-up to run an Arthurian game and advice to players on creating their characters for that game, possibly even a checklist that could be given to players about what rules are or are not being used.

 

Essentially doing the legwork for a GM wanting to run that kind of game with a little bit of discussion on why.

 

Obviously GMs could use that as was or just a bloody good start...

 

Doc

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21 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

 I think you missed the point - I was not suggesting more rules.  I was suggesting the basic use of the rules to create a game in a particular way.  You might create an Arthurian adventure with the stuff you need to run that in Part 1 of the supplement.  Part 2 would be the game set-up to run an Arthurian game and advice to players on creating their characters for that game, possibly even a checklist that could be given to players about what rules are or are not being used.

 

Essentially doing the legwork for a GM wanting to run that kind of game with a little bit of discussion on why.

 

Obviously GMs could use that as was or just a bloody good start...

 

Doc

 

You know, there is a book that sorta does this. Champions in 3-D is a dimension-jumping resource book, and shows the versatility and strength of the HERO System by offering a brief chapter on each of several different dimensions. Each chapter gives an overview, gives the rationale for how the dimension works, and offers some specific builds for that dimension, followed by some adventures. 

 

This could work very well in the Hall of Champions. Make each chapter a separate document. In each document, offer some guidelines for that particular scenario, set the parameters for the characters, offer some advice, show some builds, and then offer a series of adventures to put that scenario into action. Simple enough! This would be a most excellent model for "beginning adventures," and really should be the emphasis of the Hall of Champions. More settings? Meh. More villains? What for? New adventures? Now you're talkin'! Advice on how to set up those adventures, wrapped right into the adventures themselves? Holy cow, take my money, please!

 

Unfortunately, we're the ones who are expected to do this legwork. I think maybe some creative folks need to start shaping this new model and promoting it to the point that DOJ can no longer ignore how imperative it is for the survival of HERO System.

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6 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Each chapter gives an overview, gives the rationale for how the dimension works, and offers some specific builds for that dimension, followed by some adventures. 

It included adventures? I need to go back and read it again.  I remember it including adventure seeds, but not fully developed adventures.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Shoug said:

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.

 

Yes, I'm right there with you. I'm one of those people who fell in love with the idea of HERO years ago, but have had a hard time converting that into practice. This obviously has a number of reasons, but it certainly does not help that I know not a single person who already knows HERO (which means that I'll likely have to GM), that I am a very inexperienced GM, and that I have not had a regular gaming group for a long time. Sitting down with 6E on your own without previous exposure to the system is quite the task. I'm beginning to think that one reason for that is that 6E was written for people who already knew HERO System, and just needed a presentation of the new ruleset. There are certain assumptions about how the system plays in practice that differs from a few of the other well known system, which are not very well described and the information is scattered in many various places. This gives a learner the impression that, yes, they do actually need to read back to back in order to be sure that they catch all those small, essential paragraphs that explicate the assumptions. I can give examples, but perhaps that would be better served for another thread, to reduce the derailing.

 

This means that my usual pattern have been to take the PDF's out a few times a year to ponder and wonder the amazing possibiities that HERO gives me, which D&D or Pathfinder does not, and then putting them aside, being stuck in that endless loop of not being able to put a gaming group together without having a proper grasp of the system to GM, but not really acquiring a proper grasp of the system because of a lack of context for learning and understanding how it plays out. 

 

Finally, I recently reached out to my old GM and asked if he was interested in scraping a few people together if I ran a one-shot/mini-adventure this summer. He was quite hooked (due to a lack of gaming), and I think I'll be able to put something together, but it has truly been a bite-sized endeavour. Time, energy, and obligations are naturally also obstacles for the process. I don't think it has to take as long as it did for me, but the problems in the system presentation and system-support certainly did not help.

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smoelf, you should dial it all back. Buy the first edition Fantasy Hero pdf from the store and see if you can run that.  It IS a complete game and was written to be played from that one book.  Ignore the 6E right now.

 

Fantasy HERO is easy to get your head round.

 

In fact, ignore that, buy Justice Inc, my favourite of the complete games.  It is a simple task to play some pulp.  When you have played that a few times and gotten your head round the basics in there, the 6E books then just open up the opportunities to do more, or add to what you have been doing. 

 

You've gotta get your toes wet but you should not need to go out your depth to do that.  Not now all those PDFs are just sitting there...

 

Doc

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7 hours ago, Spence said:

It included adventures? I need to go back and read it again.  I remember it including adventure seeds, but not fully developed adventures.

 

 

 

I may have been a bit generous in my assessment, but there are maybe ten pages of adventures along with some adventure seeds with each chapter. They aren't super-detailed, but I think you could get at least one night out of each one. What they could use, in light of what was suggested earlier, is some advice on how to expand them into campaigns, etc., and show how things are built and whatnot.

 

Anyway, each of those chapters, if they were expanded and developed, could make great individual "how to" guides along with their own adventures or possibly campaigns. They at least offer a model to work from that seems pretty doable.

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22 hours ago, smoelf said:

 

Yes, I'm right there with you. I'm one of those people who fell in love with the idea of HERO years ago, but have had a hard time converting that into practice. This obviously has a number of reasons, but it certainly does not help that I know not a single person who already knows HERO (which means that I'll likely have to GM), that I am a very inexperienced GM, and that I have not had a regular gaming group for a long time. Sitting down with 6E on your own without previous exposure to the system is quite the task. I'm beginning to think that one reason for that is that 6E was written for people who already knew HERO System, and just needed a presentation of the new ruleset. There are certain assumptions about how the system plays in practice that differs from a few of the other well known system, which are not very well described and the information is scattered in many various places. This gives a learner the impression that, yes, they do actually need to read back to back in order to be sure that they catch all those small, essential paragraphs that explicate the assumptions. I can give examples, but perhaps that would be better served for another thread, to reduce the derailing.

 

This means that my usual pattern have been to take the PDF's out a few times a year to ponder and wonder the amazing possibiities that HERO gives me, which D&D or Pathfinder does not, and then putting them aside, being stuck in that endless loop of not being able to put a gaming group together without having a proper grasp of the system to GM, but not really acquiring a proper grasp of the system because of a lack of context for learning and understanding how it plays out. 

 

Finally, I recently reached out to my old GM and asked if he was interested in scraping a few people together if I ran a one-shot/mini-adventure this summer. He was quite hooked (due to a lack of gaming), and I think I'll be able to put something together, but it has truly been a bite-sized endeavour. Time, energy, and obligations are naturally also obstacles for the process. I don't think it has to take as long as it did for me, but the problems in the system presentation and system-support certainly did not help.

We are definitely close kin in this matter. My story is almost identical to yours. I seriously suggest getting a physical copy of the books. I've got 6e1 and 2 and Basic. Basic is really excellent, and after reading that a little bit, everything clicked for me. The game is actually quite elegant.

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@smoelf and @Shoug 

I'm right there with you. Consider using HERO System Basic for a gaming group, and get some people together to run a few simple activities. Either use pre-gen characters you build, or have them all take a whack at making simple characters. Then just run them through a battle. No backstory, no reason, just a McGuffin battle so they can all try out the system. Maybe start off first with a Skills adventure (break into the McGuffin-storage), which then leads to the battle in a second adventurelet. Nobody will care that there's no story--everyone will be more interested in kicking the tires on the system and will be happy enough to just run through some stuff. Not even "Session 0," more like "Session alpha."

 

I'd also recommend, if you haven't already, getting HERO Designer. It's immensely helpful for whipping up characters quickly. Or if you are interested in a supers game, try the Character Creation Cards. They allow you to whip up characters in minutes, and then you can go right into playing. My recommendation, though, would be to start with simple heroic-level characters and very simple challenges. The Powers in a supers game can quickly get overwhelming for new players and especially new GMs, though not impossible if you're all ok with just winging it!

 

I think if most of us look back on when we first started gaming, most of us just jumped right in to try stuff out without knowing many rules at all. Just do that. Have fun, don't look for too much accuracy, and just get them used to figuring out when to roll dice, and how many. I'm actually just now GMing my first HERO campaign ever. I have a group of entirely new players, and an entirely new GM (me), but we've met 4 or 5 times now and they have enough fun to keep coming back. I'm doing Pulp HERO in 6e, so the characters are heroic skill-based players. It makes the game so much simpler! I've been letting different characters have the spotlight (time for your detective to detect, time for your fixer to check his mob contact, and your silent film star to unload a ferocious PRE attack on the mook, etc.) and then making sure I take time out with each activity to explain the what and the why of the dice resolution. They all get to watch as well as participate, and then learn as they go. AND it helps reinforce some of the things for me as the GM as well. 

 

Just another 2¢ nugget. I hope it helps you get over the first hurdle of trying to get through that first game. Let me know what you think, or how it goes, and what you think would help for the first time players. I have all sorts of pages from the PDFs printed off and laminated for their reference, but I never know what they really need (and neither do they, since they don't know what they don't know . . . know what I mean?). 

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1 hour ago, zslane said:

I think it was Quark Xpress?

 

I forgot about Quark. Someone else suggested Adobe InDesign. Does anyone have any experience with these, or with layout in general, enough to give a recommendation? 

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5 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

I used to _love_ InDesign, way back when.  Haven't dabbled in any of them for a decade or so now.  I know I fakin' _detested_ Microsoft Punisher!

 

Never did anything with Quark, but I heard a lot of good things.

I had a girlfriend two girlfriends now that I think of it (not at the same time, God help me!) who did layout for newspapers using Quark. I also worked in a print shop and they used Quark. This was all 15 years ago or more, so things have probably changed. I don't hear people talking about it much anymore. Adobe has pretty much got a stranglehold on everyone's computer these days with Acrobat auto-updater taking over every 15 days or so, so I figure it's probably the new standard, whether we actually like it or not.

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I was, at one time, interested in InDesign for doing covers and layout for my books, but that was before they went to a subscription model. To hell with that. If I can't *own* the software, I'm not interested. I ended up learning GIMP for doing book covers, and I used Jutoh for formatting ebooks for a long while. Now I'm using Draft2Digital's website to format my ebooks. They have a pretty decent system, it's free, and Amazon accepts them. I might eventually look into Vellum, but not yet. I'm not sure I'm really interested in publishing anymore.

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33 minutes ago, sinanju said:

I was, at one time, interested in InDesign for doing covers and layout for my books, but that was before they went to a subscription model. To hell with that. If I can't *own* the software, I'm not interested. I ended up learning GIMP for doing book covers, and I used Jutoh for formatting ebooks for a long while. Now I'm using Draft2Digital's website to format my ebooks. They have a pretty decent system, it's free, and Amazon accepts them. I might eventually look into Vellum, but not yet. I'm not sure I'm really interested in publishing anymore.

Ugh! I HATE subscription models! It's a scam. I don't want to keep paying to use the program that I payed for to use. 

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14 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Ugh! I HATE subscription models! It's a scam. I don't want to keep paying to use the program that I payed for to use. 

To be fair, subscription model software is often both product and service.  Your initial purchase is paying for the product, the software.  Every dollar after that is paying for the service, the steady flow of updates and patches. 

The alternatives are rolling versions that require repurchases "FIFA 2020 is out!  FIFA 2019 is obsolete!  Buy FIFA!  Again!", donation funding "Please please please have you considered donating to Wikipedia?", in-software advertisements "Your game will start shortly, after this two minute message from our sponsors.", or discontinued support "Yes, we know the program crashes when you make the right pane blue.  We can't do anything about that.  We have no money.".  Or worse, there's actually some nastier alternatives that I refuse to mention in polite company. 

Or FOSS.  FOSS is pretty great. 

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1 minute ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

To be fair, subscription model software is often both product and service.  Your initial purchase is paying for the product, the software.  Every dollar after that is paying for the service, the steady flow of updates and patches. 

The alternatives are rolling versions that require repurchases "FIFA 2020 is out!  FIFA 2019 is obsolete!  Buy FIFA!  Again!", donation funding "Please please please have you considered donating to Wikipedia?", in-software advertisements "Your game will start shortly, after this two minute message from our sponsors.", or discontinued support "Yes, we know the program crashes when you make the right pane blue.  We can't do anything about that.  We have no money.".  Or worse, there's actually some nastier alternatives that I refuse to mention in polite company. 

Or FOSS.  FOSS is pretty great. 

 

Nope. No subscriptions. It's nothing but a money grab.

 

If I buy Software 1.0, and it serves my purposes, I don't need or want anything more. IF and when I find it lacking, I can *choose* to pay for an upgrade (Software 1.1 now with flavor!) or a whole new iteration (Software 2.0). But I'm NOT going to pay a monthly or annual subscription just to maintain access to a product I bought.

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On 3/25/2020 at 6:22 PM, Brian Stanfield said:

I forgot about Quark. Someone else suggested Adobe InDesign. Does anyone have any experience with these, or with layout in general, enough to give a recommendation? 

 

I use InDesign in both my day job and for my company work regularly. As far as I know, it's the standard in most publication companies. I've been using it since 2.0 up to present day, and will continue to use it due to how useful it is. There are free layout programs, and inexpensive, non-subscription based programs (Affinity for example). I've tried a bunch and found them lacking. I've used Quark and really dislike it. It's been a decade or two, however, and things may have changed. But InDesign works with native Adobe formats, can create a good layout for a book, and I find is easier to use. 

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Just now, Sketchpad said:

I use InDesign in both my day job and for my company work regularly. As far as I know, it's the standard in most publication companies. I've been using it since 2.0 up to present day, and will continue to use it due to how useful it is. There are free layout programs, and inexpensive, non-subscription based programs (Affinity for example). I've tried a bunch and found them lacking. I've used Quark and really dislike it. It's been a decade or two, however, and things may have changed. But InDesign works with native Adobe formats, can create a good layout for a book, and I find is easier to use. 

 

I should also note, this is one of the reasons why I have issues with Hero books. I've found them to be getting less like game books and more like text books. Look at the competition and see their layout, the color images, and the fancy structure of the book. 

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While I admire the artistry inherent in the page layout and design of modern RPG books like D&D and Pathfinder, I also find them difficult and unpleasant to read. All those background textures and small typefaces and random pieces of artwork create a wildly cluttered page. As spartan as it may appear, I still feel that the 4e BBB hits the sweet spot in terms of clear presentation and appealing aesthetics.

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1 hour ago, zslane said:

While I admire the artistry inherent in the page layout and design of modern RPG books like D&D and Pathfinder, I also find them difficult and unpleasant to read. All those background textures and small typefaces and random pieces of artwork create a wildly cluttered page. As spartan as it may appear, I still feel that the 4e BBB hits the sweet spot in terms of clear presentation and appealing aesthetics.

Unfortunately, you are in the clear minority, in that regard, as many modern textbooks are equally as cluttered. Two column with quarter page illustrations in black and white or worse, gray scale sketches look antique, or worse , boring to the modern audiences. For better or for worse, Paizo has set a high bar for appealing and attractive product for a young and modern audience. It’s forcing me to abandon ink line illustrations for digital painting so I can still get work. 

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On 3/27/2020 at 1:09 PM, zslane said:

While I admire the artistry inherent in the page layout and design of modern RPG books like D&D and Pathfinder, I also find them difficult and unpleasant to read. All those background textures and small typefaces and random pieces of artwork create a wildly cluttered page. As spartan as it may appear, I still feel that the 4e BBB hits the sweet spot in terms of clear presentation and appealing aesthetics.

 

On 3/27/2020 at 3:12 PM, Scott Ruggels said:

Unfortunately, you are in the clear minority, in that regard, as many modern textbooks are equally as cluttered. Two column with quarter page illustrations in black and white or worse, gray scale sketches look antique, or worse , boring to the modern audiences. For better or for worse, Paizo has set a high bar for appealing and attractive product for a young and modern audience. It’s forcing me to abandon ink line illustrations for digital painting so I can still get work. 

 

The BBB was great for its time. Many books appeared in a similar fashion back in the late 80s and early 90s. But the bar has been risen from a few companies, and not all of them use the techniques you've noted. Keep in mind, however, that most of your books out these days are being sold on two markets: physical and digital.

 

[WARNING - Design Geek Rant] Speaking primarily as a digital publisher, I've found that having a solid typeface like Arial around 10-11 points makes a simple compromise between the two formats. I've found books from Green Ronin to be clean for the most part and easy to read.  That said, there is something eloquent about Paizo's books.I like how they organize their stat blocks, and some of the borders they use around their pages. But the textures they use on some of their pages can make the text difficult. What's worse is when someone tries to do the same thing on a black and white product. The times I've seen this, the designer either hasn't made the white of the "readable section" opaque enough, or  the text isn't bled correctly on the page. In any case, it makes it hard to read. Another company that I recommend for their design is Modiphius. Their Conan line is gorgeous! The stat blocks are easy to read, and the books just look great. Unfortunately their STA line suffers a bit for folks that don't like white text on black backgrounds. But it does emulate some of the Trek style nicely. [End Design Geek Rant]

 

I've stated this before. Hero books should look less like text books and more like game books. This requires a few things to complete, however. First, its time to update the stat block. Sure it's nice to keep using a familiar stat block from the 80s, but it's time for a face-lift that is cleaner. I remember when I was starting out as a designer and I begged Dave Mattingly to let me re-do the stat blocks in Unkindness. Man, did I ever learn a lesson there. Second, lean into color more. 6th ed was nice because of the color, but it needs to be a standard these days. Most game books have at least some subtle color elements on glossy paper, and almost all modern PDFs are in color. Lastly, decrease the book sizes a bit. This goes back to the text book appearance. The main books should be a good size, but not necessarily "bullet stopping" in nature. Heck, a nice Champions Hero Guide and Champions Masters Guide would be great, but make them the around same size as the PHB and DMG. Need more powers? That's what a powers book is for. Need bad guys? Enemies. Wash, rinse, add some detergent, and repeat. 

 

 

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