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CHALLENGE: Precis HERO in 300 words or less


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It is a TOUGH gig.

 

My first attempt which may be poorly thought through, is exactly 300 words.

 

The core of the HERO system is the 3D6 roll, you roll 3D6 to determine whether any contest is a success or a failure.  The default for most rolls is to roll 11 or less on 3D6 and that can be modified up or down based on skill levels, environmental and contextual modifiers and, in some games, powers possessed by characters involved in the contest.

In combat, a success means inflicting damage against defences.  Damage (and defences) is most often defined as either energy or physical and may inflict both STUN (which counts towards unconsciousness) and BODY (which counts towards death) damage. 

Players get to build their characters in a reasonably detailed fashion.  Every character begins with a default set of abilities that represent a basic human set of abilities.  Character points can then be spent on characters’ combat abilities, skills, physical and mental attributes and a wide range of abilities that are detailed in the Powers section of the book. 

A key feature of the system is the Speed Chart.  One characteristic that is available is SPEED.  This determines how often a character acts in a game turn.  If characters have different SPEEDS the Speed Chart outlines the order in which, by default, various characters’ actions will take place. Much of the strategy in the game revolves around how players manage their character’s actions in relation to those of opponents.

The system allows an extremely wide range of options, the GMs primary role ahead of running a game is to make decisions about what options will be used from the rulebook and to provide players with reasonably detailed guidelines for players on how to build their characters.  HERO does not have built-in guidelines (no 1st level wizards) and so it falls to the GM to ensure such context exists.

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OK, I'll play - starting with Doc's summary and rearranging and editing, I get 296 words as follows:

 

The Hero System provides an extremely wide range of options.  The default system strives for cinematic reality, however various options exist to alter the system’s lethality, level of realism, etc.  The role of GMs includes deciding which options will be used and providing players with reasonably detailed guidelines on how to build their characters. 

Hero does not have built-in guidelines (no 1st level wizards) and so it falls to the GM to ensure such context exists ahead of running a game.  While Hero strives for a balanced, “get what you pay for and pay for what you get”, model, the GM must exercise a level of oversight.

Players build their characters in a detailed fashion.  Starting from a default “basic human” set of abilities, players spend character points on their characters’ abilities, skills, physical and mental attributes and a wide range of possible abilities, both for combat and out-of-combat play. 

 

Task resolution in Hero System governed by a 3D6 roll, which determines whether any contest is a success or a failure.  The default for most rolls is to roll 11 or less on 3D6, which can be modified (up or down) based on the character’s abilities, as well as diverse environmental and contextual modifiers.

 

In combat, damage is inflicted against defences.  Damage (and defences) are most often defined as either energy or physical and may inflict both STUN (leading to unconsciousness) and BODY (leading to death) damage. 

 

One unique feature of the system is the Speed characteristic, purchased in character design.  Speed determines how often a character acts in a game turn.  The Speed Chart governs the default order in which characters’ actions will take place. Strategic decisions to delay the character’s actions in relation to those of opponents is a key facet of game play.

I think the crucial inclusions are "you have to do a lot of design work to pick the options most suitable for your game and oversee character builds", "cinematic reality", "get what you pay for and pay for what you get",  "Character build is detailed and diverse options exist", the 3d6 roll, defenses, STUN and BOD.  SPD is nice, but I would sacrifice that detail to get the other concepts across.  The one issue I would consider adding is "mechanics divorced from SFX", but I think this has become more common, albeit not in the D&D world, and is subsumed in "detailed character design".

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Thanks Neil.  I note our Duke of small game books and lengthy posts recognised his limitations!  🙂

 

I am a bit disappointed noone else has had a go.  It is really about boiling down the system and should be a useful snapshot you could give people who have never played and ask "what is the HERO System?".

I am an inveterate text tinkerer and so, while I accept the changes and reasons, I have tinkered a bit for readability and emphasis.

 

I am most unhappy with the Speed bit, it is a low energy ending for an elevator pitch...but currently we have the following text.

 

 

The Hero System, by default,  strives to represent a cinematic reality but the system provides a vast array of options to alter the system’s lethality, level of realism, etc. 

 

The role of GMs includes deciding which options will be used and providing players with reasonably detailed guidelines on how to build their characters.   Hero does not have built-in guidelines (no 1st level wizards) and so it falls to the GM to ensure such context exists ahead of running a game. 

 

While Hero strives for a balanced, “get what you pay for and pay for what you get”, model, the GM must exercise a level of oversight.  Players build their characters in a detailed fashion starting from a default “basic human” set of abilities.  From that default, character points are spent on characters’ abilities, skills, physical and mental attributes and a wide range of possible abilities, both for combat and out-of-combat play.     

 

Task resolution in Hero System is governed by a 3D6 roll, which determines whether any contest is a success or a failure.  The default for most rolls is to roll 11 or less on 3D6, which can be modified (up or down) based on the character’s abilities, as well as diverse environmental and contextual modifiers.    

 

In combat, damage is inflicted against defences.  Damage (and defences) are most often defined as either energy or physical and may inflict both STUN (leading to unconsciousness) and BODY (leading to death) damage.     

 

One unique feature of the system is the Speed characteristic, purchased in character design.  Speed determines how often a character acts in a game turn.  The Speed Chart governs the default order in which characters’ actions will take place. Strategic decisions to delay the character’s actions in relation to those of opponents is a key facet of game play.

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

I am a fair editor, though : yeah I k kw; it makes no sense. 

 

First sentence: lose the phase "by default." it's not necessary, and is precisely the sort of thing you add as filler to your school papers when no need to fluff up the word count. 

 

I'd do more,  but I'm at work and can't really play.  :(

 

Makes a lot of sense actually.  I do a lot of editing etc in my own job, does not mean my own text is not in need a bloody good editor. 🙂

 

I would encourage more people to come up with 300 words.  I think me and Hugh have a decent start but it is a particular emphasis, other people might have equally valid 300 words that put emphasis on an entirely different look at HERO.

 

Doc

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Going to make a stab at it( I have five minutes).  Forgive the quote; time constraints. 

 

5 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

🙂

 

Quote

The Hero System portrays cinematic action with a vast array  of options, allowing infinite adjustment to the system’s lethality, realism, and flavor. 

 

The  GM decides which options will be used and provides players with  detailed guidelines on how to build their characters.   Hero does not have built-in limits (such as "no 1st level wizards" ) and the GM may design his own guidelines ahead of running a game. 

 

Hero utilizes a balanced, “get what you pay for" model, and the GM may exercise any level of oversight he desires for his games.  Players build characters up from a "regular Joe" to any level of detail or prowess they desire by spending character points to increase abilities, skills, physical and mental attributes, allowing for an infinite range of possible abilities, both for simulating combat and for playing through the story at hand. 

 

Task resolution is governed by a 3D6 roll, which determines whether any contest is a success or a failure.  The default for most rolls is to roll 11 or less on 3D6, which can be modified (up or down) based on a character’s abilities and unique situational modifiers.    

 

Defenses in HERO are _real_, and reduce damage through direct deduction. Damage (and defences) are most often defined as either energy or physical and may inflict both STUN (leading to unconsciousness) and BODY (leading to death) damage.     

 

The crowning feature of the system is the Speed characteristic, purchased by the player,   which determines how often a character acts in a game turn.  The Speed Chart governs the default order in which characters’ actions will take place, allow g players to make strategic decisions and GMs to run specific simulations simply not possible in any other system. 

 

 

Again, sorry for deliberately mis-quoting you, but have you ever tried to copy/paste a large block on a phone? 

 

(my phone doesn't count words that I can tell, so you're on your own there.  I might give it another stab tonight.) 

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3 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

First sentence: lose the phase "by default." it's not necessary, and is precisely the sort of thing you add as filler to your school papers when no need to fluff up the word count.

 

Actually, I like "by default", followed by "options to vary from that default".  That way, the GM knows what setting the dials moves him away from.

 

I could see deletion of the Speed system paragraph entirely.  It is one very specific element of the system, where the preceding paragraphs are about the system overall.  Calling in "the crowning feature" is, I think, over the top marketing hyperbole - there are numerous system elements of equal, even greater, importance.

 

I would also note that our pitch clearly targets experienced gamers familiar with D&D (1st level wizards; defences are real).  Let's play with it a bit.

 

OK, exactly 300 words.  It cost me the Speed chart (and a "The" to squeeze in those last three words), but this is my elevator pitch.

 

Quote

Tired of playing, or running, someone else's game?  Hero System’s vast array of options allows infinite adjustments.  As a GM, you use Hero to power your own game.  You decide the genre, power level, lethality, realism and flavor to craft your unique game. 

 

Hero uses a single task resolution mechanic, a 3D6  roll, to determine success or failure.  Chances of success are improved or reduced based on a character’s abilities and an array of situational modifiers.  The bell curve reduces the impact of random chance, making success and failure much more dependent on player and character choices.

 

In Hero, defenses directly reduce damage, most often defined as either energy or physical.  Attacks may inflict both STUN (leading to unconsciousness) and BODY (leading to death) damage.

 

Similarly, players enjoy vast flexibility in character creation.  Hero has no built-in constraints (like "wizards don't wear armor").  This versatility carries some complexity - there are no ingrained limits (like "1st level wizards" ).  The  GM selects which options will be used and provides guidelines on how players will build their characters, making the game a cooperative process between players and the GM.

 

Hero balances abilities on a “get what you pay for" basis.  The GM may add any level of oversight desired in customizing their games.  Players build unique characters from a "regular Joe" template, adding any level of detail or prowess they desire by spending character points to increase abilities, skills, physical and mental attributes.  An infinite range of possible abilities can be crafted, both for simulating combat and for playing through the story.  Hero characters are unique, customized individuals designed to realize their player’s vision, not constrained to selecting the closest options available from a limited list, updated (but never with that exact desired ability) with unending supplemental rulebooks.

 


Be a Hero!

 

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I would suggest rephrasing the "you get what you pay for" part to emphasize fairness.  Something like, "While two different players buy two completely different power sets, they are balanced with each other, having spent equal points."  Obviously, that's not the best way to phrase it either, but something along the lines of "two players build on equal points are equally powerful despite their vast differences in abilities."  That second one is better.  Maybe "even with" instead of "despite their".  Maybe say, "No one ability or set of abilities dominates all the others."  "A character can be very different from the usual archetypes, and still be competitive."

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11 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

I dont know... 

 

It does sort of give away that there is no actual game in there.... 

 

I don't see a ton of benefit luring them in with expectations that will not be met.  If we believe the buyer wants an actual game, make an actual game and write a pitch for that specific game.  Hero System is a toolbox to build games, not a game itself.

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2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

Amazing how much play I have had with something that has no game in it....

 

 

And you started _when_, Doc?

 

I have to assume when there was a game in it-- something to get you started on your way; something to help you establish your earliest benchmarks as you designed characters and built worlds?

 

Obviously, I have no way of knowing the actual answer, but I'm betting "yes" is pretty close. ;)

 

 

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@Hugh Neilson - Smashing job!! 

 

I stole yours and updated / modified;

 

Quote

Tired of playing, or running, someone else's game?  Hero System’s vast array of options allows meaningful customization.  As a GM, you use Hero to power your game.  You decide the genre, power level, lethality, realism and flavor to craft your desired play experience. 

 

Hero uses a single task resolution mechanic, a 3D6  roll, to determine success or failure. Chances of success are improved or reduced based on a character’s abilities and an array of situational modifiers.  The bell curve reduces the impact of random chance, making success and failure much more dependent on player and character choices.

 

In Hero, defenses directly reduce damage, most often defined as either energy or physical.  Attacks may inflict both STUN (non-lethal) and BODY (lethal) damage. Combat values determine how well a character can attack or avoid being hit.

 

Similarly, players enjoy vast flexibility in character creation.  Hero has no built-in constraints (like "wizards don't wear armor").  This versatility carries some complexity - there are no ingrained limits (like "1st level wizards" ).  The GM selects which options will be used and provides guidelines on how players will build their characters. Character creation is a cooperative process vs. a proscribed one.

 

Hero balances abilities using a point-buy system. The higher the value the more impactful the ability.  Players build unique characters from a "regular Joe" template, adding any level of detail or prowess they desire by spending character points to increase characteristics, abilities, talents, perks and skills.

 

An infinite range of possible abilities can be crafted from powerful martial capability to fantastic super powers. The system outlines the generic game mechanics with suggested special effects and sample powers. Hero characters are unique, customized individuals designed to realize their player’s vision, not constrained to selecting the closest options available from a limited list.

 

Be a Hero!

 

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7 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

And you started _when_, Doc?

 

I have to assume when there was a game in it-- something to get you started on your way; something to help you establish your earliest benchmarks as you designed characters and built worlds?

 

Obviously, I have no way of knowing the actual answer, but I'm betting "yes" is pretty close. ;)

 

 

I started in 1981.  It took me a year from buying the book to running a game.

 

I do not think there is any less of a game in 6E than there was in that early, black and white, poorly typeset book back then.

 

Obviously I would have been more intimidated by 6E but I think there is more help in 6E to set benchmarks (I am just well past wanting to read that many words because I have enough experience to do it in my head).

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I see. 

 

I think more than anything that parenthetical statement goes a long way toward an ability to "find the game" in 6e.  ;)

 

Experience allows understanding and interpretation based on what you knoe- the entirety of that knowledge-- a filling in of the blanks, if you will.  This goes along with this, that relates to that, I can use it thusly in this situation... It makes it easier to overlook what's missing, because you already have that in your head. 

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I remember not finding a game in the original book.  That's what took me so long to run a game.  I was completely lost.

 

I think that lost feeling is where most of the additional text has come from - the accumulated requests of "how do I...." that have come in over the decades, the arguments over abstruse points that caused havoc in some gaming groups and not in others.  A desire to provide all the widgets that people want.

 

Obviously the size of a book makes a difference and obviously a generic system is even more abstruse than one obviously aimed at playing superheroes (as Champions was).

 

HERO went a particular direction when it decided to go generic and really be a play what you want system.  I think the biggest issue now is that entrypoint.

 

I would be all for Champions being a selected version of the current toolkit.  All you need to play a superhero game (at a Teen Titans style game).  It would provide the settings for the game at that point and pointers on how to very it.  It would probably have a cut down skill list and be missing a chunk of other things.

 

[Duke just posted while I am typing - gonna post before I read - too much invested in this line of thought!!]

 

That would be accompanied by similar (but different) selections for Fantasy HERO, Star HERO etc.  These should better enable a game to be started and for the GM to pick up the HERO Advanced GM Toolkit, which would be the full rules (possibly stripped down to rules with very little in the way of explanations and setting advice) for those GMs that really want to add more than the genre game provided them.

 

I would even like very specific games.  All Flesh Must be Eaten style, one book, very constrained elements and template characters with a bit of customisability and the necessary elements of playing the game.  That would allow a group to be up and running after the GM had taken the book hoe and looked it over in a couple of days.

 

I would want all these things to be playable for the time constrained and the HERO uninterested with the idea that those select few that chafe at the edges, wanting to know how to do something that "is not in the rules" to go looking for that holy grail of the Advanced GM Toolkit.  The thing that would allow you to do mods on the game you enjoyed playing and add a demonic overlay to the zombie game, or a little bit of magic.

 

To me, HERO has NEVER given me a game.  I have ALWAYS had to go digging for it and that, I think, constrained the mass appeal of what is really a pretty simple game to play. 

 

Doc

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Looking back at Champions 1e/2e, I think it was pretty comparable to other games at that time.  It did not provide a heap of NPCs or a series of adventures, but you had some guidance on character-building.  IIRC, there was a walkthrough on building one or both of Crusader and Starburst, Ogre was in there as well, and they had a sample combat.  Then there were a few more characters in the back of the book (who were tougher than Crusader and Starburst - the intent may have been that these villains could fight a team, not one on one, but I found most players built to Dragonfly/Green Dragon standard, not Crusader/Starburst).

 

Other games were pretty similar. 

 

Champions was supported.  It had the Enemies book, the Island of Dr. D., Stronghold - not a ton of support, but that was the norm back in the day.  By 2e, we got a box with Viper's Nest - a series of short scenarios.  That was the classic '80s boxed game - one (or two) rule books, a scenario book and off we go.

 

I could definitely see a "complete Supers game" today being Hero Rules relevant to that game, a bunch of pre-fab powers instead of the "design your own" model, guidelines on CVs, attacks, defenses, etc., a few character sheets using those pre-fabs and illustrating any customization provided for in the pre-fabs, and an adventure (probably a series of short scenarios, ideally with each illustrating some facet of the rules) using those sample characters.

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