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What makes a complete game "complete"?

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On 2/12/2020 at 11:05 PM, PhilFleischmann said:

I played D&D for years without ever thinking about a "setting" or a "campaign world".  And it was still fun.  All you need is the map of the location where the adventure takes place - the Haunted Ruins of Castle Hufarb, and maybe the village nearby where the players buy their equipment and supplies and meet up in the tavern, and all the people warn them not to go near those ruins, "No one has ever come back!"

 

All that bolded stuff is "setting".  It's not a huge setting, much less a full-blown detailed world filled with nations the PCs will probably never visit and NPCs they will likely never meet.  It's enough setting to play the game.  Of course, if the players want their own backstories, that also carries some setting.  My character can't come from a desert tribe without a desert, occupied  by some tribes.

 

What we don't need is a huge, fully realized world.  We need just enough setting to play.  More can follow, whether published or home-grown.

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On 2/11/2020 at 9:59 PM, PhilFleischmann said:

 

And the whole "What is role-playing?  What is a role-playing game?" thing should not be part of the rule book/PDF at all, but should be available for free download/viewing on the website of EVERY RPG publisher. (And no, it doesn't have to be the exact same one for each.)

 

On 2/12/2020 at 2:11 AM, Doc Democracy said:

 

I absolutely agree.  It is now a waste of paper and ink.

 

 

I don't know about anyone else, but in my experience, the average person has literally no clue whatever about role playing games.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

And no clue about palindromedaries, not that that's relevant

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2 hours ago, Lucius said:

I don't know about anyone else, but in my experience, the average person has literally no clue whatever about role playing games.

 

True.  So what lead the person who knows absolutely nothing about RPGs to buy a Hero System game?  They aren't sitting at the grocery store checkout or the bookstore waiting for an impulse buyer to grab one on a whim.

 

I think a broader "about the game" discussion (probably an expansion of the back cover text (or, viewed another way, the back cover text is the elevator pitch of the detailed "value proposition" in the book itself) would be a better focus for this brief section of the game.  You can sneak some "what is an RPG" in there, but we also get "you get what you pay for and pay for what you get", "simulate cinematic fiction" and, for this complete game, the type of game it is designed to deliver.  For the system as a whole, it's "the toolkit to customize your Hero System game, or even build your own game from the ground u".

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37 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

"you get what you pay for and pay for what you get", 

 

From the suggested POV of the elevator pitch / cover blurb aimed at creating new players, this bit is completely unimportant.

 

As Lucius pointed out, the majority of people out there don't even have a good grasp of "role playing game."  Even amongst people who _are_ familiar with roleplaying, this "get what you pay for" bit needs context: The majority of games I've read (which I in no way trying to imply are the majority of games out there, but consider this:  I have no game stores within a 90 minute drive from here.  If _I've_ managed to run across it, it's pretty wide-spread, and can assume has Wal-mart level saturation) don't use point-buy systems.  A few have points-based tweaking, but that's it.  

 

Further, it's a comparison:  "this is what makes it different from  / possibly better than other games you are familiar with."  Assuming the intent is to create / interest as wide a variety of new people / players as possible, this has no real value except to those already familiar with both randomly generated _and_ points based build systems.   It suggests to the totally uninitiated "I have to already know more than I do just to understand what the damned teaser says," already putting mental barriers between potential customers and interest.

 

Lastly:  "You pay for what you get."  The first part is "pay," which is something no one likes to do.  No matter what the end results are, the up-front part is punitive in normal context: pay taxes; pay bills; pay rent; wonder where your fun money went.  And "what you get" also has negative connotations outside of gaming:  the vague, undefined "thing you get" suggests "take it and like it" or "make do with what you've got" or the implied finisher used on children at the supper table for generations:  "and be glad you got that!  There's people in China doing with less!"

 

  I submit that "you get what you pay for; you pay for what you get" as a cover blurb is liable to create more confusion than curiosity _at best_, and complete turn-off of interest with unpleasant regularity.

 

 

The rest was pretty solid, though.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Lucius said:

I don't know about anyone else, but in my experience, the average person has literally no clue whatever about role playing games.

 

The average person watches more online video than they have read books.

 

I am not saying do not explain what RPGs are or how such things work.  I said save the precious book real estate for long term useful stuff that everyone who buys the book will read/consult multiple times rather than a section that RPG newbies might read once.

 

Have the text online, have a couple of good videos showing the game being run, characters being built and combat being run.

 

I would have no more than one side talking about RPGs in general, probably much less.  Everything in THIS game should be about THIS game.

 

Doc

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31 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

From the suggested POV of the elevator pitch / cover blurb aimed at creating new players, this bit is completely unimportant.

 

Agreed - that aspect would be part of the broader "about the game" discussion in the book, not the back cover.

 

31 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Even amongst people who _are_ familiar with roleplaying, this "get what you pay for" bit needs context: The majority of games I've read (which I in no way trying to imply are the majority of games out there, but consider this:  I have no game stores within a 90 minute drive from here.  If _I've_ managed to run across it, it's pretty wide-spread, and can assume has Wal-mart level saturation) don't use point-buy systems.  A few have points-based tweaking, but that's it. 

 

Specifically, "here is a pool of points and there is a vast array of things they can buy"?  No, that's a limited group of games.

 

But, at least in the "modern" games, we have moved from "toss some dice - you may roll a useless peasant, or you may roll Bruce Lee, Albert Einstein and Hercules all rolled into one, topped off with massive superpowers" to "players should get playable characters with an equitable distribution of utility in-game".  That means we have some form of "game currency" with which to construct those characters.

 

Pathfinder 1e and D&D 3e adopted a point-buy system for characteristics ("roll the dice" remains an option, race modifies them and you get to add points at later levels).  Then you pick a race, a class, skills, feats, maybe traits, spells, a subset of class abilities (e.g the cleric picks a deity), and specific individual class abilities (pathfinder has more of this than D&D).  I understand that, in 5e and Pathfinder, your stats are determined by your race, class, background, etc.  Oh, and you get gear, which should be consistent with your Wealth by Level (that's right, in-game currency becomes character build game currency).

 

"That's not worth one of your precious feats"; "don't waste a level dip on this class"; "that spell is weak"; "grab this class ability at the first level it is available".

 

These are all game currencies.  We could simulate it in Hero - just set a game parameter that you get X points for characteristics, Y for Skills, Z for whatever, whether across all characters or varying across choices of archetypes, but the Hero default is that character points are a "universal game currency".  That, of course, leads to "character tax" - if you want to compete, you need to invest in CON, defenses, attacks, SPD, OCV, DCV, etc. etc etc.  A lot of that is built in to the D&D model - you don't "buy" STUN and BOD or saving throw bonuses - every level brings more hit points, and your level of investment is determined by archetype - but it is still there.  And you can choose to spend other game currency (better CON; certain feats) to enhance those too.

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12 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

All that bolded stuff is "setting".  It's not a huge setting, much less a full-blown detailed world filled with nations the PCs will probably never visit and NPCs they will likely never meet.  It's enough setting to play the game.  Of course, if the players want their own backstories, that also carries some setting.  My character can't come from a desert tribe without a desert, occupied  by some tribes.

 

What we don't need is a huge, fully realized world.  We need just enough setting to play.  More can follow, whether published or home-grown.

Matt Colville  has a  One page questionnaire that you can fill out at the town level and has you generating a unqiue world. The strength of typical is that collectively we can easily envision a medieval world without a lot of prep.

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22 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Matt Colville  has a  One page questionnaire that you can fill out at the town level and has you generating a unqiue world. The strength of typical is that collectively we can easily envision a medieval world without a lot of prep.

 

Give us a link and I will rep both your posts!  🙂

 

Doc

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41 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

Agreed - that aspect would be part of the broader "about the game" discussion in the book, not the back cover.

 

That would be much more suitable; I concur.

 

 

Quote

 characters with an equitable distribution of utility in-game

 

Now _that's_ blurb-worthy, providing a more exciting-- dare I say "glamorous?"-- phrasing.  Avoid grad-studies textbook, and stress excitement and adventure.

 

 

Quote

 That means we have some form of "game currency" with which to construct those characters.

 

Also good, but again:  more punch and enticement; less "everyday doldrums."

 

Quote

 

Pathfinder 1e and D&D 3e adopted a point-buy system for characteristics ("roll the dice" remains an option, race modifies them and you get to add points at later levels).  Then you pick a race, a class, skills, feats, maybe traits, spells, a subset of class abilities (e.g the cleric picks a deity), and specific individual class abilities (pathfinder has more of this than D&D).  I understand that, in 5e and Pathfinder, your stats are determined by your race, class, background, etc.  Oh, and you get gear, which should be consistent with your Wealth by Level (that's right, in-game currency becomes character build game currency).

 

"That's not worth one of your precious feats"; "don't waste a level dip on this class"; "that spell is weak"; "grab this class ability at the first level it is available".

 

 

 

Absolutely none of this is inaccurate.  I dispute nothing you've said here.  However, for a blurb, we want to avoid overload yet create excitement for _this_ product.  No other product matters for blurb purposes, save where accolades from industry sources may be quoted after the blurb:

 

"Sweetest character-building system we've ever encountered!"-- Gaming Puffin Magazine

"Holy Hit Points, Batman!  We've been flawlessly recreated!"--  Some guys with a Popular Vlog Magazine

"A captivating dungeon crawl with dice I can buy at a gas station?  Genius!"-- Fantasy Role Players Monthly

 

 

That sort of thing.

 

Quote

 just set a game parameter that you get X points for characteristics, Y for Skills, Z for whatever, whether across all characters or varying across choices of archetypes,

 

"Bring back Package Deals!"--- Hugh Neilson, renowned gaming enthusiast and system tinker.

 

:D 

 

 

Quote

but the Hero default is that character points are a "universal game currency".  That, of course, leads to "character tax" - if you want to compete, you need to invest in CON, defenses, attacks, SPD, OCV, DCV, etc. etc etc.  A lot of that is built in to the D&D model - you don't "buy" STUN and BOD or saving throw bonuses - every level brings more hit points, and your level of investment is determined by archetype - but it is still there.  And you can choose to spend other game currency (better CON; certain feats) to enhance those too.

 

 

You are, again, one-hundred-percent right, and just _terrible_ at creating an exciting lure.   :lol:    I love ya, Dude; really I _do_, but don't dive straight into "currency, Tax, and a bunch of as-yet-incomprehensible abbreviations right off the bat!   :rofl:

 

 

Though your last sentence intrigues me-- a "level-based" Package Deal, perhaps?  Present two options--- no; don't.  If we're making a "complete" fantasy game _and_ we're trying to lure Dandies, then "earn experience points to increase your level and ability within the game!   Build your starting Package, then build a "per level package," or even a "per even level" and a "per odd level" package, each one somewhat different:

 

Fighter:  Even Level:

 

+1 STR, +1 CON, +2 STUN.  +1 with any one melee weapon.  Select any 1 new Skill or add +1 INT.   +1 with any martial maneuver

 

Fighter: Odd Level:

 

+1 BODY, +1 STUN, +3 END,  +1 with any two bare-handed maneuvers.  +1 to any two Skills.  

 

Fighter:  5-level Bonus:

 

In addition to Odd Level bonuses, add +2 rDEF (player's choice), +1 DCV or DCV in melee combat.  Chose 1: Either buy off 5 pts of Disdadplications _or_ receive 5 Character Building Points to spend anywhere _or_ gain 2 Magic Item Points toward crafting / buying a Magic Item.

 

 

 

Something like that.  figure the XP costs for those-- fudge a bit, both to make them more-or-less even (I know; that probably hurt you just a tiny bit, but remember that this is a rough draft) or if you want to add things like "gold pieces" or magic items-- players save their XP in the way that D&D and most "RPG" video games have taught them, and BOOM!  "Level Up!"

 

Of course, it kind of _requires_ character classes, which was one of the (several) turn-offs (to me) that D&D came packed with.....

 

Still, it's valid, especially if we're looking to pre-set switches and build a "complete" game.

 

 

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I should probably respond individually, but I'll try to do a single response to several repeating themes:

 

On 2/13/2020 at 12:24 PM, zslane said:

Quite true.

 

However, I think the goal of any "complete game" initiative has to be much much more than just addressing "what is the minimum necessary to start playing?" The over-arching problem at hand is an inability to draw new player interest in the system, and the solution goes way beyond providing entry-level introductory material.

 

On 2/14/2020 at 12:37 PM, Chris Goodwin said:

For a long term campaign, setting is king.  I'll give you that.  

 

If all I have is a rulebook (assume Champions Complete for the sake of argument) and an adventure, I can get started playing.  If all I have is a rulebook and a setting, I still need an adventure.  If I have a rulebook and a couple of adventures, I can start a campaign.  

 

Personal experience here.  I tried to run a Champions campaign.  I had players, I had characters, I had villains, I had setting.  I didn't have an adventure.  I bombed.  I didn't turn them in to Champions players.  This was the group I'd been playing D&D with for two years, starting with the D&D 5th edition Starter Set and the 5e Players Handbook.  

 

True, the Starter Set assumes the Forgotten Realms, but it gives about a page of countryside map, not much setting other than the actual areas the adventure takes place in, monsters, spells, the minimal rules needed to play characters up from 1st level to 5th.   To me, that is a complete game.  

 

This is not me saying what I think is needed.  This me saying what experience, successful and not, has shown me is needed.  The D&D 5th edition Starter Set is a complete game, IMO.

 

 

In order to get a successful product line, we need more people playing the game.  Period.  

 

So I see Chris Goodwin and zslane as basically addressing two different issues: 1. having long-term product support to make continuous game development possible and sustainable, as well as to make the game attractive for new players to try; and 2. creating a game for people to learn quickly and easily. I've been trying to walk the line between these two concerns in this particular post, although it may be dean-man's land. It's at least my ideal goal for this particular thread. They need not be mutually exclusive, and I'm trying to play out the details of what would be both the least amount of information needed, and the most desirable presentation of that information.

 

On 2/14/2020 at 12:08 PM, ScottishFox said:

 

One of the D&D 5e adventures (White Plume Mountain) was brought in from a non-Forgotten Realms setting.  Their advice for running it in the Forgotten Realms was a single paragraph in length.  I've run the adventure for several groups and it's always a good time.

I agree you do need *a* setting, but adventures don't have to be locked into a specific setting to be enjoyable.

 

Otherwise I do agree with you.  The products will perform better as part of a cohesive set instead of a series of one-offs with no over-arching plan.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 12:05 AM, PhilFleischmann said:

I played D&D for years without ever thinking about a "setting" or a "campaign world".  And it was still fun.  All you need is the map of the location where the adventure takes place - the Haunted Ruins of Castle Hufarb, and maybe the village nearby where the players buy their equipment and supplies and meet up in the tavern, and all the people warn them not to go near those ruins, "No one has ever come back!"  And then you need the map for the next adventure, and then the nest one after that.  You really don't need the map of the land between them, where nothing the players care about is happening.  You don't really need to know where Metropolis and Gotham City are, with respect to Chicago and New York, to play the game.

 

Don't get me wrong:  I love world-building, and I enjoy detailed worlds, and I love epic story arcs that tie all (or many) of the adventures together, but they aren't necessary to start playing.

 

You know, when I learned D&D (Basic/Expert, and then AD&D), I didn't know anything about "setting." The fantasy genre has its own particular tropes, so the classes, the monsters, etc. were sorta tacit in learning the game. Just look at the title, for crying out loud! There's setting implied right there. But we just played modules that looked cool. Their release accelerated, as I recall, in the mid-'80s, so the point that they became campaign-worthy (all the letters designating the modules indicated a series), and then came the Temple of Elemental Evil, and Ravenloft, and other actual "campaigns" for the game. By the time the World of Greyhawk came out, I was introduced to the concept of a "setting." Then that seemed to spin out of control, to the point that I lost track of what was what. And then 2nd edition came out, and I decided I'd be damned if I'd give TSR all my allowance money yet again to buy all the same stuff, all over again.

 

Besides, by then I'd discovered Champions and especially Fantasy HERO (the first edition of it). No more character classes? I can actually cross a fighter with a wizard, without weird multi-class or dual-class rules? Sing me up! I can build my own worlds, and with the Bestiary, I don't even have to do all that much work to create adventures? Sign me up! But what I did discover was that, without a setting of some sort, and more importantly, without supporting adventures and stuff it was just too much work for me, and I lost interest. Is this indicative of the HERO system as a whole? I'm not brazen enough to suggest that I represent a microcosm of the problem, but I am suggesting that it is at least indicative of the problem that would continue with HERO. 

 

On 2/13/2020 at 7:02 PM, Duke Bushido said:

To be honest, that campaign book that came with Justice, Inc?  Dude, that was positively _decadent_ in terms of setting for the games then.  But we still play it. 

 

It was forty years ago, and we are still in love, so I'm thinking that "setting is nice" might be more appropriate.  ;)

. . .

Complete?  Give me an adventure, or enough setting that I can make something appropriate to what's been give.  Don't give me two hundred pages of an entire world:  the party isn't going to walk too terribly far from the starting point, anyway, not for months.  Don't bother me with what I don't need. 

 

The most popular setting book of all time, according to some, was Greyhawk.  I owned it, as I am sure many of you did.  What was that little miniature staple-bound book, anyway?  Maybe 40 pages?  Sure, it grew, but it grew over time; it didn't beat the zeal out of me with six chapters on political intrigue and four more on tax-funded infrastructure.  I don't want to play Phantom Menace; I'll call you if I get bored. 

 

A setting is a backdrop for your adventures; it's nice scenery, and names for the places in the distance.  Other than that, at least for the first few months, it's an oil painting.  Stunning, if done well.  But no matter how well it's done, you can't play it.  Not even a little bit. 

 

So: nice, but _almost_ optional. 

 

 

I contend that Justice, Inc. is still the best game HERO System ever offered. It's helps that Aaron Allston was involved, but it was successful mostly because he suggested the mood, offered a few guidelines (weird talents if you choose, or psychic powers, or neither--the game still works). He didn't try to rehash the entire Champions system because the powers and stuff really weren't a feature of that game. The Campaign Book was really some simple and straightforward genre information (like a really short and efficient version of Pulp HERO), and then a bunch of adventures and adventure seeds. The game has a definite feel that distinguishes it from the other games, and that is what is essential for a standalone (or "complete") game. At least I think.

 

Duke, we first interacted, I think, when I was asking on some thread or other about information for Westerns through Justice, Inc. I was mistaken (because Western HERO hadn't been released yet) and realized that I used the game to create my own Western game long before I knew what it meant to use a toolbox to create a game. But that's what I did. It's called home brewing now, I guess. For me, it was just adding a layer to the already existing feel of the pulp genre.

 

Now, looking at the main rule book, it's actually 96 pages (which surprised me when I looked it up), but it just doesn't feel like 96 pages. It's simple, straightforward, and offers a complete viewpoint. And Package Deals are offered in the Character Creation section, not buried somewhere in the middle of a separate campaign section. (I can't emphasize enough how annoying that move is in all of the HERO books coming out nowadays!) The Campaign Book offers 43 pages of campaign advice and resources, including a brief timeline and slang from back in the day, and then 34 pages of adventures, including the single best idea ever presented in the pulp gaming genre: The Empire Club!. The Campaign Book comes in at 80 pages. So for a total of 176 pages, we have a complete, standalone product with enough playability to last several months, by which time everyone will have a good idea on where to go from there. The Empire Club alone presents the opportunity for an entire series of campaigns with a built-in motivation for any future adventures. Seriously, if you haven't looked at it, and you're interested in designing a game, a setting, or adventures, then it's an absolute must read.

 

On 2/13/2020 at 1:49 PM, PhilFleischmann said:

Fair enough, but that's really two different goals:  1) To make a "complete" game, and 2) to draw new player interest in the system.

 

I guess I'm not quite clear on what we mean by "complete game".  So... what do we mean by it?

 

For #2, it seems fairly obvious to me that the way to draw new player interest is with the ultimate goal of this - and every - game: to have fun.  If you have some pregen characters and a ready-to-run adventure module, then you can jump right in and start having fun.  You don't need to know the epic backstory of the world in order to start having fun.  You don't need to know all the little details of how to build powers and talents with all their Advantages and Limitations, and END costs, and Base Points and Active Points and Real Points, and how to construct new Martial Arts maneuvers, in order to start having fun.

 

I think maybe I stumbled upon a better description for what I mean by a "complete" game. Maybe it should be called a "standalone" game. That's not really as sexy of a name. I don't know what the best nomenclature is at this point, but I think that both Champions Complete and Fantasy HERO Complete are actually far from complete. At least there are electronic setting and adventure offerings for the latter, but it just doesn't have any unique character to it like Justice, Inc. does. 

 

Is that a fair comparison? Probably nothing could live up to it, but it's a great model nonetheless.

 

18 hours ago, zslane said:

 

It turned out to be an exceptional way to get people playing the entire line of World of Darkness games. If it can work for that, it can work for any game setting, regardless of its underlying mechanics, provided it is conceived, written, and produced well enough. Oh, and provided it really catches people's imaginations. I'm not saying this is easy, only that it is necessary.

 

Yes, sorry, I was assuming that campaign play was the norm for most players. The disconnected, one-off convention style play feels like the sideline, not the main attraction. The very roots of TTRPGs were inextricably tied up in the notion of ongoing campaign play in an established fictional setting (Blackmoor, Greyhawk, etc.). AFAIC, that has not changed in 45 years.

 

Well, not in this case. We don't have the luxury of a large player base to sell new products to. Instead, the product line has a different job here. It's job, from a marketing perspective, is to bring in new players, just like VtM did. The World of Darkness had no established player base. It had to create one, which is more or less the same position that the HERO System is in now.

 

So, the original quotes that you're responding to aren't coming through in my quotes, but Chris Goodwin suggested we need more players playing the games, to which you suggest that instead we need to bring in new players. I'm not sure how these aren't the same thing. I suppose maybe you're talking about creating an entirely new setting and game which will draw in new people who've never played HERO before, which would be the ultimate goal for any of this (for me at least, and I'm guessing you too). I think we can all agree that this is the best possible outcome. But outside of catching lightning in a bottle, or somehow getting exclusive licensing rights from DC, Marvel, Disney, and whoever else, we likely won't see anything like Vampire: The Gathering or World of Darkness, or whatever else. I'm still somewhat (actually, completely!) baffled that Champions wasn't able to capitalize on 20 years of superhero movies in the public consiousness. Seriously! How could that possibly have failed? 

 

One guess: crappy artwork. But that's another issue (and I think we all agree on this one, so let's not keep rehashing it). Really, the artwork should look like the comics. Champions: New Millennium at least made the valiant attempt to capture the proper mood. Somehow, even that didn't work. So I guess it comes back around to brand familiarity (DC and Marvel) and licensing, as well as a good setting. 

 

By the way, I think perhaps in this day and age, convention play is going to be the main driver for new players. I go to Origins every year, and there are always HERO System games there, and always some people who have always heard of it but never played it. They show up to learn, but the games, at least in my experience, have always suffered from the burden of a full ruleset, inscrutable character sheets, absolutely ZERO teaching of the came other than "roll three dice under that number on your totally confusing character sheet." I think HERO System could benefit GREATLY from some dedicated games with simple adventures (say, the first one offered in the game book) so that people can try the game in a controlled, easy-to-comprehend atmosphere. Word of mouth counts at these events. I've seen dozens, if not more, people who were hopeful that they'd like a HERO game, and walk away shaking their heads because they still didn't understand how the To Hit roll was calculated. Seriously. More damage than benefit has been done by word of mouth. That ABSOLUTELY has to change, and DOJ needs to facilitate that type of intentional shift. 

 

I can't tell you how many games I've played at conventions, only to run to the merchant area afterwards to buy the books for the game. And better yet, have the game designers who were there presenting their game actually autograph the books that I just bought. Yet HERO System as absolutely NO marketing presence at conventions; not even from High Rock Press. Lot's of Dresden Files stuff, and not one HERO game. How can anyone get excited about A. learning a new game; and B. buying the new game on the spot, if they aren't actually learning the game, nor able to actually buy the game. 

 

Ugh, I've got to stop ranting on this particular problem . . . for now.

 

13 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

All that bolded stuff is "setting".  It's not a huge setting, much less a full-blown detailed world filled with nations the PCs will probably never visit and NPCs they will likely never meet.  It's enough setting to play the game.  Of course, if the players want their own backstories, that also carries some setting.  My character can't come from a desert tribe without a desert, occupied  by some tribes.

 

What we don't need is a huge, fully realized world.  We need just enough setting to play.  More can follow, whether published or home-grown.

 

I totally agree with this. Turakian Age is a fantastic setting, but you just about have to cloister yourself to your study to absorb that setting in its entirety. To play a Fantasy HERO game, you really only need something like Fantasy HERO Battlegrounds, with it's starter adventures and some suggestions on where they may be located in the larger setting, and not the entire setting. Like the early days of D&D, as long as you had some idea of what lays outside one's door (Dungeons? Dragons? Sign me up and point me in the right direction!), everything worked just fine for most of us.

 

Of course, I was the one who always wanted to wander off the provided maps and see what was out there in the uncharted areas. Nowadays storytelling games do a great job of incorporating this into their games. Maps aren't as important as mutual world-building. There's at least something to learn from this, and I believe this is the ultimate goal of Ron Edwards's Champions Now project. Maybe some good will come of it. I don't know. But I do know, from reading his blogs, that he is diametrically opposed to the "official universe" impulse to shmeer everything into one flavor. I'm all for this as well, myself, and so when I'm looking for a "complete" game, I'm looking for just enough setting to get the imagination hooked, to maybe sketch out some of the known areas, and suggest some of the unknown areas, and then offer some adventures that can bring those two together in the future.

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3 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

 

True.  So what lead the person who knows absolutely nothing about RPGs to buy a Hero System game?  They aren't sitting at the grocery store checkout or the bookstore waiting for an impulse buyer to grab one on a whim.

 

I think a broader "about the game" discussion (probably an expansion of the back cover text (or, viewed another way, the back cover text is the elevator pitch of the detailed "value proposition" in the book itself) would be a better focus for this brief section of the game.  You can sneak some "what is an RPG" in there, but we also get "you get what you pay for and pay for what you get", "simulate cinematic fiction" and, for this complete game, the type of game it is designed to deliver.  For the system as a whole, it's "the toolkit to customize your Hero System game, or even build your own game from the ground u".

 

2 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

From the suggested POV of the elevator pitch / cover blurb aimed at creating new players, this bit is completely unimportant.

. . .

Further, it's a comparison:  "this is what makes it different from  / possibly better than other games you are familiar with."  Assuming the intent is to create / interest as wide a variety of new people / players as possible, this has no real value except to those already familiar with both randomly generated _and_ points based build systems.   It suggests to the totally uninitiated "I have to already know more than I do just to understand what the damned teaser says," already putting mental barriers between potential customers and interest.

 

2 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

Pathfinder 1e and D&D 3e adopted a point-buy system for characteristics ("roll the dice" remains an option, race modifies them and you get to add points at later levels).  Then you pick a race, a class, skills, feats, maybe traits, spells, a subset of class abilities (e.g the cleric picks a deity), and specific individual class abilities (pathfinder has more of this than D&D).  I understand that, in 5e and Pathfinder, your stats are determined by your race, class, background, etc.  Oh, and you get gear, which should be consistent with your Wealth by Level (that's right, in-game currency becomes character build game currency).

 

So what if there are one-page advertising blurbs for different audiences, carefully place in the gaming equivalent of the grocery store checkout line? (I'm not sure what that would be, but it would most likely be online venues, conventions, crossover commercial sites, etc. I don't know, but this is where some real creativity is needed by DOJ so they can break out of their long-worn rut.)

  • Never played an RPG: Have you ever finished your favorite [fill in the genre] book, and wanted the adventure to continue? Maybe you'd be into a Role Playing Game where you can actually be the character, and make the decisions for yourself. It's like a Choose-your-own-adventure book (probably a dated reference), but with a limitless number of choices!
  • Read (or watch) comics/fantasy/science fiction: You ever think of making your own superhero? You ever think of becoming that character in your own story? Maybe you'd be into Champions Role Playing Game . . . etc.
  • Play D&D or Pathfinder: Hey, are you tired of being forced into the narrow confines of someone else's character classes? Sick of realizing your skill tree dead-ends long before you get to the good stuff? Have you ever wanted to create a character with absolutely no constraints other than what your imagination can concoct? Tired of buying dozens of splat books to figure out how to make the character you really want to play? Maybe you'd like Fantasy HERO. Try this book and the adventure provided. You can even use these provided characters so you can jump right in and learn how the game works before you dive in and create the character you've always wanted to play!

 

The "what is a Role Playing Game" blurb in every RPG book doesn't have to be more than a page or two. There could even be two blurbs: if you've never played before, go to page 1. If you have, but have never played HERO before, go to page 2. That's enough to get them up to speed. They should be catchy and well-written enough to spark the imagination. Let's move on into how to play the game, assuming you've survived the one page of reading and are still interested in learning how this all works. If you aren't interested enough by the end of one page, then we were never gonna get those players anyway.

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5 hours ago, Lucius said:

I don't know about anyone else, but in my experience, the average person has literally no clue whatever about role playing games.

And how do we expect them to learn?  By walking into a brick-and-mortar game store, picking up a HERO System book, and reading the first page?  By first buying a HERO System rule book (at a brick-and-mortar store, or online), and only then reading the first page so they can find out what they just bought?  I'd say at least 99.99% of people who have bought a HERO System book, already know what a role-playing game is.

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10 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

And how do we expect them to learn?  By walking into a brick-and-mortar game store, picking up a HERO System book, and reading the first page?  By first buying a HERO System rule book (at a brick-and-mortar store, or online), and only then reading the first page so they can find out what they just bought?  I'd say at least 99.99% of people who have bought a HERO System book, already know what a role-playing game is.

 

There is also the point that if you do an excellent job of an online blurb that everyone can watch, you might get those interested to pick up HERO first.  Rather than being in a $50 book...

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So let me go back to my original idea: resuscitate Danger International, but in a more updated manner that can catch the modern eye. Although I love that title, it really does have an '80s feel to it. In the global, multinational, and online world today, throwing "international" into the title doesn't carry the same feel that it once did. I like whoever once suggested Action HERO. Everyone knows what that means, and it really captures the cinematic quality of the game. The blurb on the back cover: Ever wanted to be an Action HERO, but were too afraid to try? Now you can, and still get home in time for your regular job! (ok, it's cheesy, but you get the idea)

 

Anyway, let's look at how it was originally presented. It follows the format of Justice, Inc. pretty closely: 39 pages of character creation, although it throws Package Deals on page 127 with only a passing comment on page 11 that they come "later" in the book. This would be a bit confounding for a new player, but I'll move on. The first few pages give a great overview of the character sheet and briefly explains how the game is played in the broadest terms possible so that Character Creation will at least have some context.

 

The game rules run from 41-95. Very simple! Why? Because there are no rules for Powers and Modifiers. This is the primary reason why I want to focus on this particular game. It can be a model for other games to build on. One of my quibbles with this section is that there are random weapons lists in the Combat section, but there are other equipment lists later in the book. I'd ideally like to see them all together in one section.

 

The Campaigning section, 97-127, covers the basics you'd expect, including the sub-genres that could be part of this game. I don't think we need separate games for spies, cops, detectives, and mercenaries. That seems a bit too nitpicky. Just spend a few pages explaining the differences, and suggest that some choices should be made as to what they actually want to play. This is common sense. The GM should be telling players, or at least asking players, which kinds of adventures to expect. Want to do police procedurals? Ok, here are a few brief suggestions, and some appropriate templates for that. Like John Wick? Here's a few details for the world of gun fu. These don't need to be more than a few pages. People know the source material, which is why they looked at the book in the first place. 

 

The Sourcebook section is 129-145 and basically explains the setting(s) for the game. They are mostly familiar to us, as it's in the modern world that you see every day. Nothing special here other than the heroic deeds of the players in exceptional stories set in the world we already know. There are a few pages of the political hotspots and other kinds of plot seeds, but nothing too drastic is needed here. Again, just watch the news for 5 minutes and you'll get some ideas. There's also a bibliography for the different genres if you want to get more detailed. We don't need to take up all that space here. If you find yourself invested in the game, you'll want to research stuff anyway. This is also the section where the other equipment is listed. I think all of the different equipment, weapons, and vehicles should be listed here. (Hey @Duke Bushido, while flipping through Danger International I think that I found most of the source material I used to convert my own Western game. I think I merged this with Justice, Inc. to devise my own assumptions about historical weapons. I think I finally solved my own mystery!!!)

 

Pages 147-174 are the Adventures. There's a variety here. Again, just enough to cover a few of the different cinematic styles. I think with enough plot seeds and stuff in the Sourcebook, this would be sufficient for ongoing play for a while. 

 

One fun note: these old books always included advertisements for the other books available. It seems obvious, but that sort of cross-platform support doesn't seem to exist anymore. Maybe it doesn't need to with the online store, but it's still a nice touch. Maybe I'm just nostalgic for those old mail-order forms that you'd cut out and send in for other books! But this could be a GREAT way to list the HERO Games site, their presence on DriveThruRPG, and the Hall of Champions project for other adventures and potentially settings. 

 

So why is this a valuable project? Several reasons:

  • There is not much need for the suspension of disbelief when the game is based not the world we already know. There's no need for a lot of world building and setting exposition either. It's quick, easy, and intuitive to play the game.
  • No Powers or Modifiers. This is may be the easiest genre to teach because character building is much more limited, with fewer points, and far fewer edge cases to interpret.
  • It would be a "complete" game of its own, with no need for any of the other books. In fact, when I pulled DI off my shelf, I discovered my old world map from the '80s. This was all I needed for a "setting." And let's face it: research on this stuff is so much easier today than ever before. We don't need too much in the way of setting information. Trust people to come up with their own ideas after the first series of adventures.
  • This is as stripped down of a game as is humanly possible for the HERO System, while still being an actual game and not just a generic set of rules. HERO Basic is shorter, but it is a non-starter for people who want to play a game. DI has all the dials and levers already set to play. There's not even any need to build the equipment as it's already provided for most situations. 

 

Is this all that people will ever need to play any game they want? Of course not. But if they want to venture into building their own equipment, or designing crazy Bond-like villainous machines, or vehicles for Space Force, they can easily follow the references in the appendix (or whatever) to learn how to venture out on their own with the tool box. Maybe it's not perfect, but it seems like it could be a great presentation of the rules for first-time players in convention or FLGS sessions so people can experience it quickly, efficiently, and with little buy-in needed to enjoy the adventure.

 

By the way, I see that Scott Ruggels did some of the artwork in this book, which I always enjoyed! But these days I think we all agree that we need more cinematic artwork that mimics the source material in more sophisticated ways. This can still be done in black and white, but it can be done a lot better for sure. It seems to be virtually necessary for the success of a new product, and for the potential for a product line in the future.

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44 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

There is also the point that if you do an excellent job of an online blurb that everyone can watch, you might get those interested to pick up HERO first.  Rather than being in a $50 book...

 

I'm starting to see your point here. I wasn't totally seeing it at first, but I sort of wrote it into my last post. Advertising in a world of new media seems like it could be done in short blurbs tacked to the beginnings of online actual play videos or podcasts, and things like that. DOJ needs to get a lot more clever on how to get the information "out there," and we see the models that are being used already. It may be debatable whether they work (let's face it, we all click on the "skip this ad" as soon as possible), but even a little bit of air time could lead to more of an audience. 

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3 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

There is also the point that if you do an excellent job of an online blurb that everyone can watch, you might get those interested to pick up HERO first.  Rather than being in a $50 book...

Exactly.  And it would also be nice to get to new role-players first, rather than as refugees from that other system.  If we can get people so understand the flexibility of the HERO System, and see the the whole spectrum of role-playing possibilities, instead of having their ideas all focused into the narrow box of that other system.  The idea that you can build and play exactly the kind of character you want.  And you can play in exactly the kind of world you want.  You don't have to beg for new options, and humbly wait for another dozen feats you can take, and say, "Oh thank you for allowing me to play a character that's slightly closer to what I originally had in mind."There's no finite menu of classes you have to conform to, no specific way that magic *has* to work, and no reason why you have to have the X ability before you can have the Y ability.

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8 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

And it would also be nice to get to new role-players first, rather than as refugees from that other system.  If we can get people so understand the flexibility of the HERO System, and see the the whole spectrum of role-playing possibilities, instead of having their ideas all focused into the narrow box of that other system. 

 

I don't know. Does it really matter where they come from, as long as we get new players? Refugees may actually have a deeper appreciation of the options if they're coming from a system that didn't give them the flexibility they wanted. A brand-spanking new role player may never have considered the possibilities and so may not venture as far "out of the box" as someone who's been to the dark corners of that box and found it lacking.

 

Regardless, I just want new players! Bring 'em on!

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I see that everyone has been focusing on the genres that are more complex (supers) and perhaps depend more on settings than other genres (fantasy). I'm really thinking more along the lines of system-agnostic games. However, I'd like to bring up a couple of setting issues.

 

First, there is a glut of settings for both of these genres. (See Duke's list above!) More settings, or more developed settings, probably aren't going to solve any problems. They may actually be causing more problems if we look at it in terms of how they may be competing with each other for more eyeballs among an already dwindling pool of players. Now I'm all for variety, and I'm not particularly sold on any one particular setting in either of these genres. The only setting I've ever really enjoyed and used is Hudson City, since it is versatile enough for different genres. And it happens to have an excellent large scale map which makes it even more useful! This goes back to the issue of support for what settings are already there: in particular, there is almost none. This ought to change, although it is highly unlikely it won't, which is a shame. 

 

Be that as it may, variety is actually a good sign if the settings are being used. Any more, however, they just look like a lot of experiments that didn't work out and got left behind. This may be more cynical than necessary, but just look at the list!

 

So as far as a "complete" or "standalone" game goes, would it make more sense for each of those settings to be an independent game? I brought this up before, but let's look at it a little more. Someone earlier mentioned that Action HERO is not a genre, but rather a whole array of genres and so is too vast for a single game (sorry, I'm too lazy to go back and find who said it). This is actually a good point, but on the other hand, does it really make sense to have a dozen individual games that are so similar? Wouldn't they cannibalize each other as the settings already do? I mean, Super-Spy HEROSecret Agent HEROPrivate Eye HERO (dare I say Dick HERO???), Cop on the Beat HEROPolice Detective HEROSmall Arms HEROMercenary HERORecon HERO, (by the way, go look up the old Paladium game Recon if you'd like to see an extremely simple and effective "complete" game), and, well, you get the point.

 

Doesn't it make more sense to create one game with a pool of all the similar equipment and other builds in a single central location, and allow each player to have a take on which to focus on? Really, that's only a matter of perhaps several different kinds of lists, but not that much more. Or just let templates take care of the differences, and let the GM embellish from there. After all, the whole point is to have a game that players can open up, crank out a character with the least amount of trouble (at least to begin with), and then get going. We don't need to get pedantic about explaining all the nuanced differences between James Bond and Jason Bourne. Seriously! Trust the GM and players to figure it out in the tone they choose.

 

There is, however, perhaps a really good model on the above approach that I brought up before (I think in response to Doc Democracy's post?). What if each setting for the more complex genres (supers & fantasy) were actually self-contained games? Rather than say "Here's Champions Complete, now go find a setting and play," we say "Here's Vibora Bay, and here are all the rules that apply to this game, and all the builds and power levels and other assumptions in how the rules apply, and here's some background on all the key features of this game world." This way it's still just one game book, not two or maybe three, depending on what else you decide that you need.

 

As it stands now, we assume that players have the core book (Champions Complete, or simply 6e1 & 6e2, but Champions alone does nobody any good here for actual play), and then proceed to very tightly define what the parameters are for this particular setting, who's in it, where it is. The problem is that DOJ seems to be pushing Champions Complete rather than the full tool box of 6e1/2, which I think is a mistake. There are enough minor differences between the two rule sets that it makes it a little more of a problem to define how a setting works if we don't have a commonly assumed rule set. 

 

Champions Complete, or Fantasy HERO Complete would better be imagined as their own independent games with their own unique game worlds. They should then include specific setting information and present the rules as they apply to their specific settings. Want to fiddle with those settings? No problem, but you'll have to go to the tool box to do that. But this is starting to get too confusing, I think, or at least a little too vague since the Complete books are imagined to be the rules for games, not the games themselves. At least I think that's the case . . . the problem is that they are treated a little bit too much as games in themselves, but then don't really commit to any one setting or anything, and then don't offer any support for any of the settings to go with the so-called games. I don't know, now I'm just chasing my tail, which I think is the whole point here: are we being setting neutral? Are the settings themselves too neutral in their treatment of the rules? The whole system seems to be celebrating neutrality without committing even when they're appearing to commit . . . .

 

So why not just re-present each setting as its own game? Is this just crazy? Or is this maybe what the original intent was with the core rule books and genre books (i.e. use them as the core rules sources, and then let the settings define the differences)? There seems to be some merit to this approach, which would also solve some problems of how HERO System appears a bit too sterilized, a complaint which comes up quite a bit, and I'm just now starting to appreciate.

 

How far do we push this? There is a potential for too many games which overlap too many ways. Do we need 15 different settings, each presented as an independent game which presents the rules all over again? Or is it better to just keep it as it is: core rules, and 15 different settings that only vaguely present themselves as unique games?

 

I'm curious what y'all, who have thought about these things for years, have to say about these different models.

 

 

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34 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

I don't know. Does it really matter where they come from, as long as we get new players? Refugees may actually have a deeper appreciation of the options if they're coming from a system that didn't give them the flexibility they wanted. A brand-spanking new role player may never have considered the possibilities and so may not venture as far "out of the box" as someone who's been to the dark corners of that box and found it lacking.

 

Regardless, I just want new players! Bring 'em on!

Fair enough.  But judging by all the Fantasy Hero editions I've seen, they do seem to all make an effort to conform to many of that other system's concepts, as if always trying to emulate it for the people that can't get out of that box.

 

There was a big, long thread about "Ideas from D&D that ain't necessarily so".  The idea that there are four basic character archetypes:  Fighters, Wizards, Clerics, and Rogues.  The idea that there is "arcane" magic, and "divine" magic.  That the various "schools" of magic form a short list very similar to the types in D&D.  That you wake up and put on your plate armor every morning to go about your daily business.  That there are tons of magic items lying around in "dungeons" waiting to be claimed by whoever slays the monsters guarding them.  That there are "magic stores" where you can buy and sell magic items for well-established market prices.  I could go on all day.

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9 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Further, it's a comparison:  "this is what makes it different from  / possibly better than other games you are familiar with."

 

You're onto something here.

 

When I first started playing Hero (it was Champions), the GM at the time explained what it was and he said "for me, the best part about the game, which makes it better than D&D, is that you can create the character YOU want.  Right out of the gate".

 

So this is something that could be focused on.  The pros of the game system and what makes it unique/different from the "mainstream" games out there.

 

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7 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Is this indicative of the HERO system as a whole? I'm not brazen enough to suggest that I represent a microcosm of the problem, but I am suggesting that it is at least indicative of the problem that would continue with HERO. 

 

I think it is.  I think most of us (well you guys really since you're WAY more knowledgeable about, and been with Hero a lot longer than I have :))  had the time in the misty pasts to use Hero to its full toolkit and create-from-scratch glory but now as life has moved on, the spare time just isn't there anymore.  The "prebuilt" stuff that wasn't really needed/necessary back "in the day" is now something that would be really, really useful.

 

And Hero doesn't have it.  Other systems do but Hero never, truly, developed that kind of game system support.  They're trying to remedy that with the Hall of Heroes (i think that's what they called it) but I don't know if it's too little too late or what.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

That would be much more suitable; I concur.

 

Now _that's_ blurb-worthy, providing a more exciting-- dare I say "glamorous?"-- phrasing.  Avoid grad-studies textbook, and stress excitement and adventure.

 

Also good, but again:  more punch and enticement; less "everyday doldrums"

 

Absolutely none of this is inaccurate.  I dispute nothing you've said here.  However, for a blurb, we want to avoid overload yet create excitement for _this_ product.  No other product matters for blurb purposes, save where accolades from industry sources may be quoted after the blurb:

 

You are, again, one-hundred-percent right, and just _terrible_ at creating an exciting lure.   :lol:    I love ya, Dude; really I _do_, but don't dive straight into "currency, Tax, and a bunch of as-yet-incomprehensible abbreviations right off the bat!   :rofl:

 

I'm still back in "what does the game  need"?  I think it needs that "what is the game" discussion right up front, and that this is where the back cover blurb is drawn from, as well as setting the context for the rest of the game.  But we can't draft the larger discussion, or the blurb, without some knowledge of the game itself.  Is it Supers?  Fantasy?  Pulp? Modern Action Hero?

 

6 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

So let me go back to my original idea: resuscitate Danger International, but in a more updated manner that can catch the modern eye. Although I love that title, it really does have an '80s feel to it. In the global, multinational, and online world today, throwing "international" into the title doesn't carry the same feel that it once did. I like whoever once suggested Action HERO. Everyone knows what that means, and it really captures the cinematic quality of the game. The blurb on the back cover: Ever wanted to be an Action HERO, but were too afraid to try? Now you can, and still get home in time for your regular job! (ok, it's cheesy, but you get the idea)

 

It's a genre people are familiar with that does not have dozens of immediate competitors, so this seems as good a genre as any to place our game in.

 

6 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

Anyway, let's look at how it was originally presented. It follows the format of Justice, Inc. pretty closely: 39 pages of character creation, although it throws Package Deals on page 127 with only a passing comment on page 11 that they come "later" in the book. This would be a bit confounding for a new player, but I'll move on. The first few pages give a great overview of the character sheet and briefly explains how the game is played in the broadest terms possible so that Character Creation will at least have some context.

 

 

OK, so we open with "what is this game all about?".  That's the introduction.  Then we are in to character creation.

 

6 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

The game rules run from 41-95. Very simple! Why? Because there are no rules for Powers and Modifiers. This is the primary reason why I want to focus on this particular game. It can be a model for other games to build on. One of my quibbles with this section is that there are random weapons lists in the Combat section, but there are other equipment lists later in the book. I'd ideally like to see them all together in one section.

 

The Campaigning section, 97-127, covers the basics you'd expect, including the sub-genres that could be part of this game. I don't think we need separate games for spies, cops, detectives, and mercenaries. That seems a bit too nitpicky. Just spend a few pages explaining the differences, and suggest that some choices should be made as to what they actually want to play. This is common sense. The GM should be telling players, or at least asking players, which kinds of adventures to expect. Want to do police procedurals? Ok, here are a few brief suggestions, and some appropriate templates for that. Like John Wick? Here's a few details for the world of gun fu. These don't need to be more than a few pages. People know the source material, which is why they looked at the book in the first place. 

 

Here, I disagree.  The goal is a GAME, not a bunch of dials you can set and knobs you can twist to design your own game.  It needs some setting/background, and an adventure, right out of the box.  Is that a spies, cops, detectives or mercenaries adventure?  Will it be designed around quasi-realistic cops/soldiers or Bruce Lee and John Wick?  It does not matter which one you pick, but it definitely matters that we pick one.  That sets the parameters of our game.

 

6 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

The Sourcebook section is 129-145 and basically explains the setting(s) for the game. They are mostly familiar to us, as it's in the modern world that you see every day. Nothing special here other than the heroic deeds of the players in exceptional stories set in the world we already know. There are a few pages of the political hotspots and other kinds of plot seeds, but nothing too drastic is needed here. Again, just watch the news for 5 minutes and you'll get some ideas. There's also a bibliography for the different genres if you want to get more detailed. We don't need to take up all that space here. If you find yourself invested in the game, you'll want to research stuff anyway. This is also the section where the other equipment is listed. I think all of the different equipment, weapons, and vehicles should be listed here. (Hey @Duke Bushido, while flipping through Danger International I think that I found most of the source material I used to convert my own Western game. I think I merged this with Justice, Inc. to devise my own assumptions about historical weapons. I think I finally solved my own mystery!!!)

 

Pages 147-174 are the Adventures. There's a variety here. Again, just enough to cover a few of the different cinematic styles. I think with enough plot seeds and stuff in the Sourcebook, this would be sufficient for ongoing play for a while. 

 

Crop the setting down to what we need for the adventures.  Link the adventures.  They need to be usable for our one game, not mutually exclusive examples where one sends cops out to investigate a crime in a modern city, a second features mercenaries infiltrating an enemy base to capture a bioweapon, and a third sends out FBI agents to investigate reports of disappearances in a town called Innsmouth.

 

Could we later write these other games?  Sure.  They don't even have to be separate games - they can provide more source material for their specific game, expanding on what we had in Action Hero.  Now, that may mean this is the Action Hero line, and we need to name our individual games in a manner more indicative of their nature.

 

55 minutes ago, Vanguard said:

 

I think it is.  I think most of us (well you guys really since you're WAY more knowledgeable about, and been with Hero a lot longer than I have :))  had the time in the misty pasts to use Hero to its full toolkit and create-from-scratch glory but now as life has moved on, the spare time just isn't there anymore.  The "prebuilt" stuff that wasn't really needed/necessary back "in the day" is now something that would be really, really useful.

 

And Hero doesn't have it.  Other systems do but Hero never, truly, developed that kind of game system support.  They're trying to remedy that with the Hall of Heroes (i think that's what they called it) but I don't know if it's too little too late or what.

 

In 1981, the norm for most games was a boxed set, and hope for the best.  D&D was the exception, not the norm.  TSR liked to release a few more adventures.  Villains and Vigilantes released numerous modules and enemies books.  Call of Cthulhu had ongoing adventure support.  But ongoing support was most definitely the exception, not the norm.  Champions was one of the best-supported games by far.

 

That has evolved.  We no longer accept "here's a bunch of rules and some sample characters now go forth and create your own adventures".  You state the reason perfectly above.  Today, we need to present a game Powered by Hero System, supported for ongoing play, not a system you can use to build your own game.

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14 hours ago, PhilFleischmann said:

Fair enough.  But judging by all the Fantasy Hero editions I've seen, they do seem to all make an effort to conform to many of that other system's concepts, as if always trying to emulate it for the people that can't get out of that box.


Oh my goodness, on that I have to agree. Now I see your point. That stuff irks me! I know the whole “class” system in D&D came from wargaming with different unit types, and so on. I just don’t know why it became standard, other than through sheer force of habit, and owning a huge RPG market share. 

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On 2/15/2020 at 11:13 AM, Brian Stanfield said:

But outside of catching lightning in a bottle ... we likely won't see anything like Vampire: The Gathering or World of Darkness, or whatever else.

 

Well, we won't if we never try. And by "we" I mean someone with the time, resources, and talent (or access to the talent) to capture that lightning in a bottle. As I've said countless times before, it certainly won't be easy, but it is necessary. I guarantee you that anything less will amount to a useless half-measure at best, which will result in no movement of the needle whatsoever. So far history has effectively proven me right, and I fully expect it to continue to do so.

 

Another very unpopular opinion of mine is that the HERO System is not a good system for people who have never played TTRPGs before. It should not try to become a gateway game for that demographic. It is, always has been, and should remain the game system you graduate to after you've tried something simpler, more accessible, and ultimately less satisfying (I'm looking at you D&D). The HERO System has enough to do just being a deeper, more sophisticated, superior system. It shouldn't be burdened with the additional responsibility of teaching TTRPG fundamentals to complete newbies, and getting diluted dramatically in the process. That's why I would not be so eager to put any time/resources into some kind of (misguided) "Starter Set" version of the game.

 

In effect, the goal of drawing "new blood" to the system shouldn't be one of attracting people who've never played a TTRPG before, but one of attracting players from the massive pool of experienced TTRPGers who've never given the HERO System a chance.

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On 2/15/2020 at 9:53 PM, Hugh Neilson said:

Here, I disagree.  The goal is a GAME, not a bunch of dials you can set and knobs you can twist to design your own game.  It needs some setting/background, and an adventure, right out of the box.  Is that a spies, cops, detectives or mercenaries adventure?  Will it be designed around quasi-realistic cops/soldiers or Bruce Lee and John Wick?  It does not matter which one you pick, but it definitely matters that we pick one.  That sets the parameters of our game.

 

That is one of the questions I posed earlier: how far do we cast the net? It would obviously (I think) be silly to have a separate game for each possible variation, since they're all versions of Skills + small arms combat. Bruce Lee is an edge case, but John Wick is clearly over the moon, where James Bond is already waiting. But that doesn't mean the game can't include all these possible variations; we just need to be clear on what their parameters are. 

 

I don't think it's too much trouble to have a couple of different skills lists for the different variations, perhaps each one building on the previous one, only offering more outlandish options. I guess we could simply refer players to Steve Long's Gun Fu document, but that is what I'm trying to avoid: multiple documents. Rather than offering two, three, or five books to cover one genre, and I think these really are all one genre, just with varying degrees of suspension of disbelief mixed with adrenaline. I think the Sourcebook (as it's called in Danger International) is potentially the place to offer these variations. I'm not sold on that idea yet though. It could be different Skills lists, and then a section like in Justice, Inc. that covers Weird Talents (i.e. gun fu, super genius abilities, etc.). 

 

On 2/15/2020 at 9:53 PM, Hugh Neilson said:

Crop the setting down to what we need for the adventures.  Link the adventures.  They need to be usable for our one game, not mutually exclusive examples where one sends cops out to investigate a crime in a modern city, a second features mercenaries infiltrating an enemy base to capture a bioweapon, and a third sends out FBI agents to investigate reports of disappearances in a town called Innsmouth.

 

Could we later write these other games?  Sure.  They don't even have to be separate games - they can provide more source material for their specific game, expanding on what we had in Action Hero.  Now, that may mean this is the Action Hero line, and we need to name our individual games in a manner more indicative of their nature.

 

I see what you mean here. I don like the idea of the linked adventures, as it helps develop the idea of a campaign over many sessions. But for now I'm trying to avoid having to depend on writing more source material for the game at a later date . . . mostly because that later material never seems to get much in the way of support. I'd like to get it all in under one cover if possible. But the adventures don't have to be too terribly long, either, so there's potentially room for a string of related adventures for maybe to or three sub-genres. But really, I think if we had to narrow it down to just one, a spy adventure would cover all the bases (investigation, small arms combat, globetrotting, perhaps even a special villain with some of the special abilities outlined in the Weird Talents section (I don' have a better name for the gun fu stuff yet).

 

As for setting, I'm in agreement with you on this: it's the world right out your own front door, and that you see on the news every day. It's fairly intuitive, and I trust any GM to be able to come up with any half-baked political thriller in fairly short order. What I think is essential, though, is trying to avoid different settings that don't integrate with each other. I don't want 5 games with 5 similar settings. I want one game in which they all share the same setting. I think that Dark Champions is very close to the ideal here, and Hudson City is a great setting for it. But I'd like to avoid the need for a particular city setting, as it begs the need for lots of other settings as well.

 

As far as ongoing support goes, I think if the game is complete enough, any ongoing adventures could be offered through the Hall of Champions (at least for the time being).

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