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Brian Stanfield

What makes a complete game "complete"?

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15 minutes ago, zslane said:

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.

 

Well, let's consider this a litmus test for whether someone (for instance me) would even want to spend the time and resources to do this. I agree, however, that it is necessary.

 

17 minutes ago, zslane said:

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.

 

I used to push for something like a "starter set," but I don't think it means for me what it means for you. There seem to be several ideas of it floating around. Regardless, I very much agree that HERO System is like graduate school for TTRPGs. It shouldn't shy away from that. I feel, however, that a non-super and non-magical version of the game such as I'm toying with here could offer a midway point between a high school diploma and a PhD in TTRPGdom. The game, including character creation, just isn't that hard when you don't have to worry about the Powers and Modifiers. All the other rules that are compounded by interpreting the Powers are also eliminated. I'm not looking to chop things down until it's unrecognizable as HERO System, merely to precisely slice things away until I'm left with exactly what is needed to play this particular genre. It won't necessarily work with supers or with fantasy. But it could be a good entry-level (not basic) game.

 

My goal isn't to create a starter set, or a generic display of what HERO System can do. I want to actually make a full game (complete game?) that could appeal to existing players, but also be less daunting to new players, which I also think is essential for the survival of HERO System. 

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It may be an interesting exercise to see just what can be cropped down.  Action Hero probably has armor piercing bullets or knives.  Does it have adjustment powers?  An adrenaline injection, venoms designed as drains (we'll have spiders, snakes and scorpions in our purview, won't we?).  Darkness (smoke grenades), Entangle (handcuffs), Flash (flash bangs; tear gas), NND/AVLD (gas again; taser), area effect (gas yet again, flamethrower).  We're not into any weird talents yet.  Do we have a "truth serum"?  Brainwashing?  Mental powers (or transform).  Flight (no one can have a falcon?), leaping, running, swimming. 

 

The list of powers and modifiers can be a lot shorter.  We can even avoid a lot of costing if we just present gear as given.  But I'm not sure that list is as short as we initially envision, and even if we take away the costs, we need the mechanics.

 

I don't see it so much as a "starter set" as a game Powered by Hero System - set the dials, determine which elements are, and are not, available and build the game.  A lot of the design mechanics can remain behind the scenes.  That's more work for the game designed,  but less for the GM and players.

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:
  2 hours ago, zslane said:

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'd argue that it is just fine for beginners provided you insulate them from the power building crunch.  Either have canned abilities / talents at fixed prices or do the work for them.

My wife is both math adverse and had only a single season of D&D 5e under her belt when I switched it to HERO.  She still refers to our Fantasy HERO Saturday game as D&D.

My daughter is only 10 and she's had no trouble picking up the player bits.  What to roll, whether or not she succeeds on a skill or attack, etc. 

 

What nobody at my table wants to even attempt is building powers/spells/talents.

Even with Hero Designer (which I love) it is far too complex.  It is along the lines of the difference between playing a D&D fighter and creating the fighter class from scratch.

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Just now, ScottishFox said:

I'd argue that it is just fine for beginners provided you insulate them from the power building crunch.  Either have canned abilities / talents at fixed prices or do the work for them.

My wife is both math adverse and had only a single season of D&D 5e under her belt when I switched it to HERO.  She still refers to our Fantasy HERO Saturday game as D&D.

My daughter is only 10 and she's had no trouble picking up the player bits.  What to roll, whether or not she succeeds on a skill or attack, etc. 

 

What nobody at my table wants to even attempt is building powers/spells/talents.

Even with Hero Designer (which I love) it is far too complex.  It is along the lines of the difference between playing a D&D fighter and creating the fighter class from scratch.

I'm in an open-table game (two actually) with a fair amount of players showing up and dropping out.  I can confirm that HERO works great for newbies when somebody else makes them a character and that character doesn't have any weird bits or excessive bells and whistles. 

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3 hours ago, zslane said:

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.

This is a very good point, and you're probably at least 90% right.  As much as I would like to attract gamers to HERO as their first RPG, it may always be a small minority of the RPGers.  I know of one person who has played Champions, but never played D&D (or any other RPG).  But he's the exception.  I'm certainly not an exception.

 

So maybe the selling method is more along the lines of, "You've tried the rest.  Now try the Best!"

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3 hours ago, zslane said:

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.

 

I would caveat that.  HERO is probably not for a group where NOONE has played TTRPGs before.  Given a good GM with HERO experience, willing to put in some groundwork, it is no worse than any other game.

 

Doc

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2 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

It may be an interesting exercise to see just what can be cropped down.  Action Hero probably has armor piercing bullets or knives.  Does it have adjustment powers?  An adrenaline injection, venoms designed as drains (we'll have spiders, snakes and scorpions in our purview, won't we?).  Darkness (smoke grenades), Entangle (handcuffs), Flash (flash bangs; tear gas), NND/AVLD (gas again; taser), area effect (gas yet again, flamethrower).  We're not into any weird talents yet.  Do we have a "truth serum"?  Brainwashing?  Mental powers (or transform).  Flight (no one can have a falcon?), leaping, running, swimming. 

 

These are all good points, but easily presented in simple form, just like weapons are. Give the damage, and any odd effects relevant to it. For example, a smoke grenade would have a thrown range based on STR, an 8m circular range of -3 to sight PER for 3 turns. Everything else would be extraneous. Several varieties could be included, just like a list of standard favorite movie firearms, and a short list of different ammunition, etc. These lists could get long, of course, but we don't need to include rules for building them, just the final product without all the information crammed in. Even 10 pages of lists is not really a design flaw, or all that annoying for the reader. These were always the things that made me feel like I was playing a game with lots of possibilities, but without the analysis paralysis of the entire tool box. I have plenty of evidence of my players asking me for lists of weapons and equipment before they even think of doing anything else in character creation. I started an entire thread in the Fantasy HERO forum on this issue when a friend of mine just quit the game because the equipment lists were virtually hidden, and there were no spell lists! So, several pages in the Resource Guide part of the book seems like a great idea.

 

My thinking is that lists are fun and quick for playing the game right away. They may not be completely satisfying (what? no muzzle-loaded .50 black powder muskets?), but they serve their purpose. A couple of things can be offered here:

  • Since most firearms fall within a fairly small range as far as stats go, simply offer the players the option of renaming an equivalent weapon to whatever they want to call it, and keep the game effects the same. 
This could also be a good time to reference other books in the HERO System (such as the 6e Equipment Guide) for much more detailed lists, or even the 6e1&2 books for detailed rules on building one's own equipment. I'm totally in favor of references to other texts, without necessitating player access to them if they don't want to dig in. It's nice to pull the veil back a little bit and show where the tool box of the 6e rules could take them if they choose to take the leap. I really, really hate the idea of requiring more than one book to play the game. But it's also fair to show them that the game is actually built using the core rules, and is infinitely malleable to their own visions. 

The idea is to reel it in and pare the game down as much as possible. Yeah, no attack falcons in this game, but there's a way for you to design it yourself if you get the tool box.

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1 hour ago, Beast said:

for me 4th ed Hero system rule is a complete game book
just pick a genre and set the dials

 

This is exactly what we (as a group discussion) are trying to avoid. It's not a "complete game book," it's a "complete tool box" for creating games. There are already plenty of tool box editions for building games, but no actual games. Even Champions isn't a game, it's a genre with a collection of settings, none of which actually set the dials themselves, and expect the players to do all the work. That's great for experienced HERO players, but a nightmare for anyone else. The idea is that a "complete game" will have set all the dials and made all the decisions so that a player can pick up the game and start playing without having to make the myriad decisions that probably don't make sense anyway without total system mastery.

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35 minutes ago, PhilFleischmann said:

This is a very good point, and you're probably at least 90% right.  As much as I would like to attract gamers to HERO as their first RPG, it may always be a small minority of the RPGers.  I know of one person who has played Champions, but never played D&D (or any other RPG).  But he's the exception.  I'm certainly not an exception.

 

So maybe the selling method is more along the lines of, "You've tried the rest.  Now try the Best!"

 

20 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

I would caveat that.  HERO is probably not for a group where NOONE has played TTRPGs before.  Given a good GM with HERO experience, willing to put in some groundwork, it is no worse than any other game.

 

Doc

 

These are both great reasons to offer a "complete game" (I wish I could find a different term) built with the HERO System. If it's presented correctly, with all the dials set and the complicated decisions made, then given a decent GM anyone should be able to enjoy the game, new and experienced alike. Plenty of room for expansion with the tool box, but no need to. This is also a good way to encourage GMs to spend more time designing adventures rather than world-building and dial spinning and such. A complete game (in this case, a modern era action movie genre) will take care of so many of the settings that the GM won't have to do all that work. No Powers are needed, and a setting is mostly tacitly assumed to be our world. 

 

With much less prep time, a straightforward game system can be presented in a digestible form for beginners, a rich game experience can be presented for experienced players, and an interface with the HERO tool box can be presented for experienced HERO players. It's a win/win/win, at least the way I'm imagining it.

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On 2/10/2020 at 7:27 PM, Brian Stanfield said:

Oh no! Here we go again, right? I've followed and participated in lots of different discussions where people wish that HERO System would release complete games rather than genre books or campaign settings. But I'm a bit unclear what would be considered a "complete game," and what would make it appear to be "complete." I'm all for it, but I'm not entirely sure what it means. I know, I'm bringing up that same thing that routinely gets brought up, but I think it is valuable to at least be clear on some of the nomenclature that gets used so we can be clear on what people actually want to see from HERO System.

 

Let me start with a few definitions/categories:

  • Rulebooks and rules supplements: 5e, 6e, APG I & IIChampions Complete, Fantasy Hero Complete, Champions Now
  • Genre books: Champions, Pulp HERO, Fantasy HERO, etc.
  • Campaign settings: Hudson City, Turakian Age, etc.
  • Enemy/organization/character/creature books: Enemies, VIPER, Champions Villains Vols. I, II, III, etc.
  • Power/equipment books: Champions Powers, HERO System Grimoire, HERO System Equipment Guide, etc.
  • Adventure books: Well, as everyone points out, there just aren't any of these anymore. There used to be.

 

So, I'm going to try to summarize some recurring points, and ask some questions, I guess in a sort of scholastic way:

Proposition 1: The 6e (or 5e, depending on who you ask) rules are too big for beginners to learn, and too cumbersome for system mastery! 

  • Nearly 800 pages of rules, rulings, options, buttons, dials, etc. make for a monstrous toolbox.
  • Is there a way to pare down that toolbox to the bare essentials that can be taught? Something other than Basic Rulebook?

Proposition 2: HERO  System needs more complete games. 

  • Champions Complete and Fantasy HERO Complete are marketed as "complete" games, but they lack campaign settings and adventures.
  • Without campaigns and adventures, players are left in the wild with these so-called "complete" yet unsupported games.

Proposition 3: A complete game should be ready to play.

  • It should ideally be learnable in a weekend, and playable with new players in an evening (probably a pipe dream, but an honorable goal).
  • It should have a setting and plenty of adventures, or at least a couple of adventures and plenty of seeds for homemade adventures.

Proposition 4: The lengthy powers builds inhibit a streamlined game experience.

  • Several lines of a power build, with all the Advantages and Limitations, make the game too mathy for some people.
  • The complex builds also make the character sheets sloppy and hard to read. There should be a simplified player interface for new players that doesn't scare them off with all the HERO jargon. 

Proposition 5: What is the definitive, DOJ-supported edition anyway? 

  • Some people stick with 5e because it most resembles the original game(s), enough so that it's still supported in HERO Designer.
  • Some people prefer 6e, but others can't stand it because it retools some fundamental HERO stuff.
  • The new Complete books: aren't they just streamlined 6e?
  • Champions Now: the rules have been so completely gutted, and powers even renamed in awfully confusing ways, why is this even supported by DOJ?
  • Are any of these things actually supported by anything other than 3rd party efforts at this point?

I know I'm forgetting some things, but I'm sure they'll come up! 

 

So here's what I'm a bit confused about: how can you get all these things together in one "complete game" without it also becoming 700 pages long?

  • The Complete books are around 250 pages long, but some would argue that they don't have complete settings and adventures. So are they even "complete games" in and of themselves?
  • Perhaps there needs to be more Campaign and Adventure books? But then you're making the books INcomplete when you require other books to make the "complete" books playable.
  • Hall of Champions offers some new content, but is any of it "complete" in the sense that they can be used with complete settings in an ongoing campaign?
  • Should a "complete game" be depending on 3rd party content to be playable?

 

I know there are economic considerations driving the actual content that DOJ offers. This is more about the "wish lists" that people keep submitting. What are people actually wishing for? What would an actual complete version of Champions Complete or Fantasy HERO Complete actually look like?

 

Here's what I'm wondering: Doesn't this end out making the idea of "complete games" start to look more and more like the toolbox model that 6e pursued in the first place? Couldn't there be a new kind of book category, maybe a catalog of Gamebooks, that act like genre/setting/campaign/adventure books all wrapped up into one, without having to rehash all the rules in each new game?

 

Let's say I'm going to try to revise Danger International. I'm going to rename it Action HERO just to fit in with the HERO title motif (not my idea, but I like it). What should I include in this project? 

  • I don't really need to reissue the rules, do I? They've already been done several times over. Perhaps a brief summary of the rules in 50 pages, with lots of references to the appropriate 6e1/6e2 volumes? Why should I reference the rules in Champions Complete as my resource, as seems to be the inclination promoted by DOJ these days? (50 pages)
  • I can pretty much cut out the Powers section entirely. They're only really used to build weapons, gadgets, vehicles, and stuff like that anyway, so I can spend some space on those items without rehashing the entire Powers rules. I could offer a one or two page explanation of how the Powers are used to drive build all the items, perhaps even an appendix on how they're built, but I don't have to teach how to build a modern gun.
  • Again, each Gamebook would set it's own dials, as people say, and render the extraneous material in sidebars referencing the Rulebook toolbox.
  • Lists of equipment, weapons, vehicles, gadgets, etc. (5 pages, maybe)
  • In this example of Action HERO I'm choosing a modern setting in a familiar world for a very specific reason: I don't have to include a setting. It's already out there in your everyday experience (I'm stealing this, by the way, from Ron Edwards's Champions Now, because it's a great idea). Perhaps instead of a specific setting, I'd offer a "state of the world" section, and offer some adventure seeds based on all the global hot-spots and crisis situations. (Let's say 50 really detailed pages to help foster new adventure ideas)
  • There'd be an appendix with pre-gen characters ready to play. (10 pages)
  • There'd also be an appendix with some interconnected adventures that can be played right away with the pre-gens. (25 pages?)

 

This seems simple. 140 pages simple. But is it "complete"?

 

What's missing? Or does the entire idea miss the mark? Would other games (Pulp HERO, Star HERO, etc.) fit the same mold? Would each game just explain which dials and buttons are set and how? More importantly, unlike the genre books, would they simply make assumptions about the particular setting for the game? If that's the case, would there be perhaps a need for several different kinds of games in the same genre? Am I falling back into the Genre Book model if I offer too many setting options? Would Action HERO actually be better cast as several games: American AgentsGlobal Guerrillas, Mercenaries, and things like that, each with specific setting assumptions? 

 

These are just some of the things I've been thinking about. What do you see as making a "complete game," and what am I missing? 

 

Please, let's not get back into an edition war, or rules bloat debate. This is really just a brainstorming discussion, but I'd really like to hear from some of the regulars who have strong opinions about this stuff.

 

 

1 the 4th ed Hero system book book did it in 256 pages
   but it lacked examples that the 6th ed books had in spades
  the Basic Rule Book(in effect 5th ed Sidekick) covered 90% of everything and for most beginning played is fine to learn over a weekend

 

2 The complete books would be around 600 pages total in 1 book if you added the likes of the Fantasy Hero or Champions
   there is plenty in the free downloads area or these and forums of this website and plenty of others for starting a campaign
   or you can read various books to get an idea for 1(wild cards, Ex-Heroes, LotR, MHI, or any other game they might have played)

3 size of the book will have a say in this
  are we talking people who have played RPGs before or totally new to RPGs?(totally new to RPGs might need a hand at guidance)
  what you are really asking is how lazy and poor are these new people to Hero or do they have a clue as to what they are getting in

 

4 is a GM problem, the lack of having Hero designer, a computer  or any  combo of these

   

5 pretty sure there is a lexicon for Hero shorthand/ slang in the books

 

6 DOJ supports CC, and CC coming out has been the format they have been using

   Steve Long uses the big blue and yellow books when answering questions on his part of the forum
   5th ed questions are answered by who ever speaks up in these  forums
  CN hopefully will be supported by it's author and those that use that system
  as there is only 1 person running DOJ now, new money is probably needed to do any new books(I would love to see new or updated 3rd or 4th ed books like Pirates,Mythic Egypt,Vikings,Horror Hero... done)

Yep a bit of a mess

 

Complete for me is just the rules and a few examples(Starburst,Randle Irons,etc)
CC,FHC do this for me as I'm really just a PC not a GM and the added stuff is wasted(I do buy villain, setting, and gear books for my collection and for examples to point to GMs  what Hero say are legal to them
adding settings may be something they may or may not need or want(so why make the book huge if you don't want that?)
spreading things out adds content for those who want it and makes the cost spread out

 

Has anybody put out a COMPLETE game and setting in 1 book that was at least medium crunch?
and IF they did how long did they last w/o support (we are  saying COMPLETE)
putting all the info for 1 setting in 1 book makes it a 1 off for the producer  and no future profit
  

 

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On 2/11/2020 at 11:36 AM, Duke Bushido said:

 

I agree with you in spirit, but not in reality.  A lot of that stuff is useless without Hero Designer. 

 

I'm willing to download and print stuff on my own dime; that's not a problem.  Buying software and then having to turn around--if the bulk of the conversations in the HERO Designer forums are any indication--learn Java and build export templates and match this and thats? 

 

No thanks.  If I had that kind of knowledge already, I'd be using it to make a living.  As I am making a living differently, I don't have the spare time to learn it.  I can barely do a weekly game session with a bunch of high-schoolers and a bimonthly with my remaining regulars.  :(

 

HD is not needed
I love it and use it for all my characters, but if I didn 't have it I would just write them up on a character sheet I designed  back in the 80's and photocopied
as for templates the one I use most was done by RJM and really works well for me as an RTF for any genre I play in, when I need a hard copy

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12 minutes ago, Beast said:

Complete for me is just the rules and a few examples(Starburst,Randle Irons,etc)
CC,FHC do this for me as I'm really just a PC not a GM and the added stuff is wasted(I do buy villain, setting, and gear books for my collection and for examples to point to GMs  what Hero say are legal to them
adding settings may be something they may or may not need or want(so why make the book huge if you don't want that?)
spreading things out adds content for those who want it and makes the cost spread out

 

Yeah, that's pretty much why I'm avoiding Champions and Fantasy HERO in this particular thread. I think those vary too much by setting, and so there can't possibly be one single "complete" book in the sense that I'm talking about here. The biggest problem for Fantasy HERO 6e, for example, is that is was a genre book that offered so many options, and opened so many possibilities, that there was no single game presented but rather a toolbox for building a dozen fantasy games! Champions may be even more varied. These require very, very experienced GMs to make the decisions and trim the rules down to one game. 

 

16 minutes ago, Beast said:

Has anybody put out a COMPLETE game and setting in 1 book that was at least medium crunch?
and IF they did how long did they last w/o support (we are  saying COMPLETE)
putting all the info for 1 setting in 1 book makes it a 1 off for the producer  and no future profit

 

The two examples I've given Danger International and the best of them all, Justice, Inc., are 2e games. They had everything needed in one book (or in the JI instance, one box) and could be played easily in a weekend if everyone set their minds to it. Unfortunately there has been no support for them in, say, 30 years!

 

Which is why I'm using them as the model for a new game with all the rules complete in one book, with all the other stuff needed to play, including adventures. These are great examples for a new "game template" because they eliminate all the myriad options of Champions and Fantasy HERO. The idea is to eliminate analysis paralysis for folks learning the game, but maintaining the core rules (other than Powers) so that the game is sufficiently sophisticated, keeping its HERO System quality.

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32 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

This is exactly what we (as a group discussion) are trying to avoid. It's not a "complete game book," it's a "complete tool box" for creating games. There are already plenty of tool box editions for building games, but no actual games. Even Champions isn't a game, it's a genre with a collection of settings, none of which actually set the dials themselves, and expect the players to do all the work. That's great for experienced HERO players, but a nightmare for anyone else. The idea is that a "complete game" will have set all the dials and made all the decisions so that a player can pick up the game and start playing without having to make the myriad decisions that probably don't make sense anyway without total system mastery.

 

then you are looking at a 600+ page book that only a 1/3 of it will be for the players
Look at MHI a 60$ book that has everything you need for an MHI setting and rules, but has small amounts of setting and background in 304 pages for a book series that is now 10 or so books and was 5 when it came out

the Champions setting book has all the dials set and the villain books are the filler
there will always be players and GM's who want to build there own
pretty much every GM I have played with over the past 34 yrs has made the universe theirs using some, not even a majority of the Champions universe
the first dial everybody sets is what genre do they want to play
setting what power level is next
these are pretty simple dials to set
DnD just sets you to start at 1st level and you work up from there

Hero system is a medium to high crunch system
for me I had 10 yrs of DnD, Traveller, RuneQuest under my belt before Champions in 1985
I don't expect this to be a first RPG for a group unless 1 has played before for a little bit
Basic Hero I could see being a beginner game(limit how many advantages and disadvantages to 2(2xa, 2xd 1xa-1xd, etc)
But these are GM setting dials

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13 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

The two examples I've given Danger International and the best of them all, Justice, Inc., are 2e games.

 

 

I'm not here to bust your chops, Sir.  I am here to deliver amusing information, but in order to do that, I have to point out that both of those are actually _third_ edition games.  Danger, International really got no support: there was "Here There be Tigers," an adventure published in 1986 claiming to support both Danger International and its predecessor: Espionage! (the exclamation point, apparently, is mandatory), which, like the majority of HERO games support material, introduced new "core rule" things like Skills in addition to a couple of bestiary contenders.

 

Interestingly, Espionage, published in 1983, received its first bit of support material ("Border Crossing" from HERO Games) in 1983, and nothing else from HERO Games.  However, many MSPE products (notably those written by the truly talented Michael Stackpole) would continue to include "Champions" characteristic blocks for the characters inside and list themselves as being compatible with---  Espionage!, even after the publication of Danger, international.  In fact, support for Espionage continued on deep into the _FOURTH EDITION_, with the last product known as listing itself to support Espionage! being published for the first time in 1992!  (I am sorry; I do not know the date of the one reprint of that adventure).

 

Seems I'm not the only person who liked 2e the most.  :D   Thank you, Mr. Stackpole, who, with Deb Wykle, published Mugshots Number 2: Taking Care of Business,  proudly proclaiming support for 2e even after _3e_ was gone and nigh-forgotten.

 

(just try to ignore the little note in the introduction that refers you to Mugshots Number 1 for the reason that these books were seven years behind schedule. ;)   )

 

 

Yep.  That had no purpose other than to entertain you, Brian.  

 

I hope you enjoyed it.  :D

 

13 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

They had everything needed in one book (or in the JI instance, one box) and could be played easily in a weekend if everyone set their minds to it. Unfortunately there has been no support for them in, say, 30 years!

 

Which is why I'm using them as the model for a new game with all the rules complete in one book, with all the other stuff needed to play, including adventures. These are great examples for a new "game template" because they eliminate all the myriad options of Champions and Fantasy HERO. The idea is to eliminate analysis paralysis for folks learning the game, but maintaining the core rules (other than Powers) so that the game is sufficiently sophisticated, keeping its HERO System quality.

 

 

I've got to level with you:  I would think, personally, that Supers or Fantasy would be the _easiest_ to create a "complete" game for, simply because, as others have pointed out, there is so much social tradition and social consciousness behind them: we have a cultural awareness of, if you will, "what superheroes are" and what their world looks like.  Seriously:  take a survey.  Stand around at a busy mall---

 

wait.  Scratch that.  I don't think there's been one of those since Mugshots Number 2 was published....

 

Stand around a busy grocery store and see how many people will play this game:

 

Excuse me, Ma'am.  I'm taking a survey-- no; I don't need your name.  I would like to say something to you, and tell me the first name that comes to mind:  "Super hero."

 

Of course, you will have three columns on your record sheet:  Superman, Spiderman, and "other."

 

See what I mean?

 

As a general rule, we "just know" that superheroes operate in a world that is, more or less, our modern world.  All you need for "setting" is the locations of the individual scenes, and cultural awareness sort of fills in the rest.

 

Don't believe me?  When was the last time you saw someone playing "Underground?"  Yes; it was a superhero game, and I mean it was a _damned weird_ one!  Do some wikipedia on that thing, if you've got time to be both fascinated and horrified.

 

 

Same sort of thing goes with Fantasy:  One column for Tolkien / D&D; one column for Conan / Red Sonja, one column for "other."

 

All you really need to do is set the tone, imply a frequency of magic, and list a few creatures you might encounter:  "manticore, Balrog, wyvern,"  or "Horse, bear, wolf."  You've done your work.  Describe the locations of the action scenes, and done.

 

 

It's those things with which are less-aware as a culture that would present the biggest problem.  Honestly, i figured that's why Justice, Inc had such a nice campaign book in the first place, while Champions and Fantasy HERO (the early works for each) really didn't:  Supers and fantasy needed less explaining to jump in and have a good time.  

 

Anyway, I've got a few other things to take care of.

 

Enjoy your new trivia! :D

 

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1 minute ago, Beast said:

then you are looking at a 600+ page book that only a 1/3 of it will be for the players
Look at MHI a 60$ book that has everything you need for an MHI setting and rules, but has small amounts of setting and background in 304 pages for a book series that is now 10 or so books and was 5 when it came out

 

MHI is a good example of what I'm talking about: it's a complete game where all the decisions have been made, the setting has been written, and it is very clear to all involved what the game is about. I'm not exactly sure if you're offering it as a counterpoint because I'm not sure where you're getting 600 pages from. If you scroll back a bit you'll see my breakdown of the two books I just mentioned, and they are each well under 300 pages. Just about the same as MHI

 

6 minutes ago, Beast said:

the Champions setting book has all the dials set and the villain books are the filler
there will always be players and GM's who want to build there own
pretty much every GM I have played with over the past 34 yrs has made the universe theirs using some, not even a majority of the Champions universe
the first dial everybody sets is what genre do they want to play
setting what power level is next
these are pretty simple dials to set

 

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but you're being a bit vague. Champions is a genre book, and as DukeBushido pointed out on the first page of this thread, there are a dozen setting books. Again, I'm not sure which you're talking about. There are zero decisions made in Champions, except for the genre itself, but even that is wide open with no real decisions made. Each setting book makes some decisions, but not very many. Usually only a history is given and some backstory, but not much in terms of what is expected of the PCs. There's way too much for the GM to decide before session 0 even begins. 

 

Similarly, Fantasy HERO is extremely vague, without even a standard magic system offered. Fantasy HERO Complete is better, but it doesn't offer a setting, so there is still the need for the GM to make a whole lot of decisions and do a whole lot of work to even be able to play. The settings for 6e may be workable, but they tend to be information overload for anyone learning them. Go look at the Turakian Age thread for an example of what I mean.

 

Again, I agree that MHI is a better example of what I'm discussing in this thread. What you are bringing up probably fits better in a different discussion.

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28 minutes ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

 

 

 

The two examples I've given Danger International and the best of them all, Justice, Inc., are 2e games. They had everything needed in one book (or in the JI instance, one box) and could be played easily in a weekend if everyone set their minds to it. Unfortunately there has been no support for them in, say, 30 years!

 

Which is why I'm using them as the model for a new game with all the rules complete in one book, with all the other stuff needed to play, including adventures. These are great examples for a new "game template" because they eliminate all the myriad options of Champions and Fantasy HERO. The idea is to eliminate analysis paralysis for folks learning the game, but maintaining the core rules (other than Powers) so that the game is sufficiently sophisticated, keeping its HERO System quality.

Here I would say you are wrong as 4th ed made all the rules the same just and gave power levels
During 5th ed we got Dark Champions and the Ultimate Skill to add more gun porn/weapons and more crunch to skills

"analysis paralysis" is gone when you set the power level and the genre pretty much gives you that
you are way over thinking this
more that is needed is a checklist of what people want to play
something the GM hands out and everybody marks what they want
GM tallies up what the players want and goes from there

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4 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

those are actually _third_ edition games.

 

Yeah, I wondered about that when I wrote it. I didn't check the dates, so bad on me.

 

5 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Yep.  That had no purpose other than to entertain you, Brian.  

 

I hope you enjoyed it.  :D

 

Yup, always.

 

6 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

I've got to level with you:  I would think, personally, that Supers or Fantasy would be the _easiest_ to create a "complete" game for, simply because, as others have pointed out, there is so much social tradition and social consciousness behind them: we have a cultural awareness of, if you will, "what superheroes are" and what their world looks like.  Seriously:  take a survey.  Stand around at a busy mall---

 

Other than the fact that malls aren't busy anymore, I think that more people are familiar with, say, action movies than any other genre out there. Some people hear "fantasy" and think I'm being kinky. Some people hear "comic books" and think I'm a geek (well, not that I'm not). Most people hear "action movie" and they know exactly what you mean, and probably have their own favorite franchise. I mean, Rambo just got re-released for godsake! 

 

As for ease, I can't think of anything harder to introduce than Powers. Now if you mean pre-build powers, or spells, or whatever, I can see that. But nothing DOJ ever offers that has Champions or Fantasy HERO in the name will ever exclude the Powers rules. So ay new game would be no different than what's already been done. This is why I was wondering if maybe the setting books would be better ways to present those two genres as complete games, with isolated and unique decisions particular to their settings. The books would be a little longer, but they would indeed be complete at that point.

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13 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

I'm not here to bust your chops, Sir.  I am here to deliver amusing information, but in order to do that, I have to point out that both of those are actually _third_ edition games.

 

I call them "first-gen" or "pre-4th edition stand alone games".  When I say "FH 1e" I mean the first stand alone Fantasy Hero book; FH for 4th edition is called "second edition" on the front matter.  

 

I don't think there were much in the way of Champions edition changes that were reflected in those games.  The spell design system in Fantasy Hero 1e was based on the Champions power creation system but used its own costs and had its own quirks; Star Hero 1e was probably the closest to being a Hero System "3.5 edition".  

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11 minutes ago, Beast said:

Here I would say you are wrong as 4th ed made all the rules the same just and gave power levels
During 5th ed we got Dark Champions and the Ultimate Skill to add more gun porn/weapons and more crunch to skills

"analysis paralysis" is gone when you set the power level and the genre pretty much gives you that
you are way over thinking this
more that is needed is a checklist of what people want to play
something the GM hands out and everybody marks what they want
GM tallies up what the players want and goes from there

 

I'm not so sure of that. I gave a copy of 6e Basic to all my players so we could play a Pulp HERO game, and it prepared them for absolutely nothing for the game. First, they didn't really read the rules because once they hit the Powers section, they just gave up trying to understand how it works. Sure, experienced HERO players would have no problem, but my player who wanted to play a private eye with WWI experience in small arms and counterintelligence, couldn't figure out how to even begin to present it in game terms. Sure, I could refer him to at least 3 other books (Pulp HEROEquipment guide, Hudson City), but those are non-committal to which rules apply to a game as well.

 

I've had to create everything for the game from scratch, which is fine because I've got the experience to do it. But the whole point of this thread is about how nice it would be if there was one single book that had all the relevant information in it. Yes, 4e, 5e, and 6e all offer toolboxes, but that means absolutely nothing to inexperienced players. I sat in a session at Origins with some guys who wanted to learn the HERO System, and they came out of the 4 hour session having learned nothing other than that you probably shouldn't be playing it if you don't already know how to play it. And that, in a nutshell, is the problem I'm trying to address. Justice, Inc. and Danger International were complete games, and I didn't need anything else to learn them or play them. The toolbox system is great for folks who like to fiddle and build their own games. It's genius at that! But it's not a complete game, and it doesn't help anybody new learn the game.

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37 minutes ago, Beast said:

Hero system is a medium to high crunch system
for me I had 10 yrs of DnD, Traveller, RuneQuest under my belt before Champions in 1985
I don't expect this to be a first RPG for a group unless 1 has played before for a little bit
Basic Hero I could see being a beginner game(limit how many advantages and disadvantages to 2(2xa, 2xd 1xa-1xd, etc)
But these are GM setting dials

 

By the way, I'm really in agreement with you on much of what you're saying. It's really not all that hard, but HERO System is not teachable en toto. It has to be absorbed over time. It's no accident that most of the people who aspire to system mastery, the folks on these forums, have been playing for decades.

 

My concern is that HERO System is going to die out, and DOJ is not helping prevent that because they won't offer anything like they used to in terms of full, self-contained games. Hall of Champions is a great idea, for people who already know the system. It's not going to bring in anyone new because it already assumes system mastery.

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28 minutes ago, Beast said:

Here I would say you are wrong as 4th ed made all the rules the same just and gave power levels
During 5th ed we got Dark Champions and the Ultimate Skill to add more gun porn/weapons and more crunch to skills
 

 

We got a 5e revamp of Dark Champions (and Dark Champions: the Animated Series).

 

We got Dark Champions in 4e  (there's a rather scathing review of it in Dungeon Magazine #197 because of the gun porn / murder hero angle; I can't say I disagree with it).

 

seriously, though: the edition thing---   it's all in my sig line (the cataloguing thing).  Click the link; you want page 2 of the spreadsheet; pages 1 and 3 are just workspaces to keep the other space clear.  It's all sorted by "HERO System" Edition, alphabetical within the editions.  It's a work in progress, so cut me some slack.  Feel free to PM me if you find errors or omissions.

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3 hours ago, Beast said:

for me 4th ed Hero system rule is a complete game book
just pick a genre and set the dials

 

I would agree that the 4e HSR expresses a complete set of game mechanics. But it isn't a complete game in and of itself because the reader still has to do all the work of creating a setting, creating a crisis or adventure hook, creating all the antagonists, creatures, people and places, etc. For those rare few left today with the time, experience, and talent for all that world-building, they only need the mechanics/toolkit. They don't need the HERO System to provide them with an actual game to play; they are essentially going to create that themselves. But most first-timers today aren't going to do that. The brand needs to recognize that fact and do a lot of that work for them, freeing the players up to merely tweak and adjust to taste and then get on with the business of playing out the quests/missions/etc.

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Like I said, I don't want to rehash the edition wars thread. But if 3e was the first time they started marketing the "HERO System," (copyright 1984), then the two games I keep discussing are examples of how the "system" could be pared down to genre specific games. That was their whole point in the first place. As I point out in the original post, things have gotten very widespread in terms of the types of books presented, but what is not included nowadays are "complete games" that stand alone. Yes, the marketing says CC and FHC are "complete" games, but as I also tried to show in the original post, they are far from "complete" and without need for any other product. 

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