After taking a survey of publishers who license the Hero System for the purposes of releasing their own work, we've put together a schedule for the coming year. I hope you will find it informative and continue to support their work as you have in the past.
2016 Hero System Release Schedule
Monster Mash: Draklings (New Creatures for Fantasy Hero) – Greg Elkins Design, Released
S.I.D.s Report: Psiforce – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q1
Wondrous Treasures: Belts, Sashes & Girdles – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q1
Aaron Allston's Strike Force – High Rock Press, 2016 Q1 Kickstarter
Chasing a Golden Buck Version Two - Beautifulharmony Multimedia, 2016 Q1
Realm of The White Worm (Adventure) – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q2
Monster Mash: Phase Spider & Thornleg Spider – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q2
S.I.D.s Report: Shadow Coven – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q2
Journey to the Center of the Earth! - High Rock Press, 2016 Q2 Kickstarter
[Name-To-Be-Announced Science Fiction Setting] - Beautifulharmony Multimedia, Q3
[Name-To-Be-Announced Widening Gyre Supplement] – High Rock Press, 2016 Q3
Extinction Event Campaign Guide - Mad Ferret, 2016 Q3 Kickstarter
S.I.D.s report: Zilant Project – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q3
Wondrous Treasures: Staffs & Rods – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q3
Monster Mash: White Dragon – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q3
Ghosts, Ghouls, and Golems – High Rock Press, 2016 Q4 Kickstarter
Monster Mash: Gorgon & Blink Dog – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q4
Villany Codex Two: Arcana (Sourcebook for Champions & Fantasy Hero) – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q4
Wondrous Treasure: Axe, Bows & Hammers – Greg Elkins Design, 2016 Q4
[Name-To-Be-Announced Espionage Campaign] - Beautifulharmony Multimedia, 2016 Q4
Other Possible Projects from Greg Elkins Design
Tomb Of The Shadow King (Adventure for Fantasy Hero)
Dead Orc Pass, a City Campaign Book for Fantasy Hero
S.I.D.s Report: W.O.M.E.N
S.I.D.s Report: Aces of Death
S.I.D.s Report: Ms Synster
Monster Mash: Girallon-Phase Maurader
Monster Mash: Bulette – Destrachon
Monster Mash: Hellcat & Shadow Wolf
Other Possible Projects from High Rock Press
Santa Muerte: Champions Setting Guide
In my previous Designer Diary I spoke about the sheer size of the files I had been tasked to sort and read through. Now I want to talk about the sheer size of Aaron’s universe—and it was a full universe.
Initially, when Aaron started running, there was just Earth. But that quickly changed, as Phosphene, Denis Loubet’s PC, was descended from travelers from another dimension. Aaron also had two PCs who were aliens, which meant he needed to start detailing what outer space was like. And as the campaign continued, the size and scope of the universe expanded. It soon came to resemble (in my opinion) the DC Comics universe, with multiple alternate Earths.
The major alternate Earth would be Earth-Kaiser, a place where World War II continued roughly 60 years after it had started. The members of Strike Force managed to put an end to the war, breaking Germany’s hold on Europe and ending the tyranny of the Japanese empire. They ended up visiting Earth-Kaiser multiple times, exchanging technology, knowledge, and even romantic interludes.
Another major world was Ean, home of the Blood, Phosphene’s people. Strike Force spent some time there and ended up helping break the hold Azor, the patriarch of the Blood, had on the world and its people.
There was also NiceWorld, ruled by a cabal of witches and Prey World, which had no superhumans at all.
Aside from the various parallel worlds, Aaron also created a fairly comprehensive map of outer space. Since he initially never intended to publish Strike Force, he populated with an an assortment of well-known alien races. There were numerous off-shoots of humanity: Deviants, Inhumans, Titans, the New Gods, the Kree, the Kryptonians (an off-shoot of the Kree), the people of Paradise Island, and the Tamaraneans (among others). There were also Cylons, Dire Wraiths, Shi’ar, the Brood, and so on.
As you may guess from the previous paragraph, Aaron liberally borrowed from published sources. He freely used ideas from DC and Marvel Comics, as well as other publications (I came across a reference to Doc Savage and Buckaroo Banzai, for example). In fact, his rationale for creation of the various off-shoots of humanity was to use the Celestials from the Marvel Universe. He also placed the Avengers and the Defenders in his campaign (along with a number of other well-known superhero teams), as well as Doctors Fate and Strange. In fact, Aaron’s version of the Avengers might be one of the most powerful super teams ever created, with a membership at one point that consisted of Captain America, Blue Beetle, Iron Man, She-Hulk, Starfire, the Thing, Tigra, the Wasp, Wonder Man, and Wonder Woman. Curiously, this team never really over-shadowed the members of Strike Force, and once Strike Force reached a certain size (and level of power), disbanded, letting the PCs become the premier super team of Aaron’s Earth.
If you're interested in learning more about Strike Force, have a look at the new High Rock Press YouTube channel. It contains videos and interviews about the upcoming Strike Force project with Steven S. Long, Darren Watts, Ross Watson, Rod Currie, Shane Harsch, Michael Surbrook, and Jason Walters.
In 1989, I found myself admiring an RPG I had never seen before. It was what I like to call “the big blue book.” The title splashed across an awesome George Perez cover art said: Champions. It was the 4th edition of the game, and it captured me like few other games ever had. Little did I know that one of the supplements for this game, published one year earlier, would change the way I played RPGs forever.
That supplement was called Strike Force, and it was penned by a man I came to know as a friend and a very talented, creative writer: Aaron Allston. Strike Force was not just a setting book, or an enemies book, or a GM’s book. It was all three, and yet it was also something more than the sum of its parts. Strike Force was the first book that ever taught me what it was like to run a long-term RPG campaign, to seize the superhero tropes and themes and make them fit into the experience of a role-playing game. Strike Force was the first time I was taught that different players want different things out of a gaming experience – common knowledge these days, but a revelation back then.
Aaron used Strike Force as a way to introduce people to his world, to his style of gaming, to his very immersive approach to cooperative storytelling. Strike Force told me about engaging players into rich scenes that I had never seen before. I was fascinated by the idea that games like Aaron’s long-running campaign were possible, that people were actually playing this way. Long before the internet, Strike Force introduced me to the idea of a gaming community beyond my hometown, where other people were taking the ideas and techniques of roleplaying and applying them in new and exciting ways.
From the genesis of his campaign, to the unexpected challenges that Aaron overcame while running Strike Force, all the way to “top 10 ways to RUIN your campaign,” the advice in this book broadened my young mind. It would be years later that I would learn how to apply many of Aaron’s techniques –foremost amongst them, “blue-booking,”—but when I did, I was able to build an RPG campaign that has lasted ten years so far. To me, that’s the ultimate proof of Aaron’s approach: it works.
Just a couple of years ago, in 2014, Aaron Allston told me about an update to Strike Force. A new edition that he was working on. I was incredibly excited about the idea of introducing a new generation to this landmark world and the “Strike Force Method” of running superhero RPGs. Tragically, Aaron died that year… but thanks to Jason Walters and High Rock Press, we have an incredible opportunity to finish what Aaron started. I’m honored to be involved in the new version of Aaron Allston’s Strike Force, and I can’t wait to share this amazing book with all of his fans!
It’s one thing to hear a campaign has been run for twenty years; it’s another thing to see it. When I first received the files for Aaron Allston’s Strike Force campaign, I was astounded. I had been given a 600 MB zip file, which eventually unpacked itself into 872 MB and over 5,800 items. And once everything had been unpacked, I started to poke through this extensive collection of files….
And what did I find?
First, many of Aaron’s contributions to the HERO System APA Rogues Gallery. This was of immense importance to me, as many of these articles were about Aaron’s Strike Force setting and the characters he’d created for it.
Second, the collected Chronicles for Aaron’s gaming group. This included not only the Strike Force campaign, but also Aaron’s Zorandar campaign (seen in Lands of Mystery), his martial arts campaign (created for his work on Ninja Hero), his Age of Heroes campaign (created for his Mythic Greece sourcebook), and many more (including campaigns created and run by some of his Strike Force players).
Third, the original 1988 Strike Force manuscript. Also highly useful, as it contained a great deal of material I would need for the 2016 version of Strike Force.
Fourth, Numerous folders and files detailing various elements of the Strike Force universe. This included 72 files Aaron had created for his proposed series of Strike Force supplements, not to mention a directory containing another 103 directories, each of which contained anyone from 1 to 72 character sheets!
Probably the most important find was the collected Chronicles itself. There were two, dated 1999 and 2001, with the first one an incredible 2,659 pages in length, while the second one was a whopping 3,290 pages. And it was my job to read all of this.
Well, not really. Most of that 3,000+ pages was devoted to other campaigns, or house rules, or martial arts notes, or other subjects I didn’t need at this time. What I really wanted to look at was the collected Strike Force play sessions. Aaron was a meticulous note taker, and each session of any game he ran was eventually typed up and saved, allowing me to read what happened in every play session he ran, be it for Strike Force, or Zorandar, or Twilight Falls, or… well… you get the idea. And he ran a lot of sessions. For example, The Empire Club ran for 48 sessions, Zorandar also ran for 48 sessions, Twilight Falls for 122 (or so), and Strike Force ran for at least 260 sessions.
This last item, all 797 pages of it, was pure gold. It covered every play sessions of Strike Force, from their first game (run August 21, 1981) to session 251 (run December 02, 2000). In it I found Strike Force’s first encounters with Overlord; Phosphene’s initial discovery of his Blood relatives (such as the Affrighter); the events leading up to, occurring during, and after World War III; the fight to save Earth-Kaiser; the invasion of the planet Valhalla; encounters with extra-dimensional monsters; and fights with innumerable supervillains.
I thought I could read all of this in a week or so… but I was very, very wrong. I ended up spending around a month reading through the Chronicles, taking extensive notes on Strike Force’s history, as well as noting down what each of the files contained so I could easily reference them later.
And once I was done reading, it was time to write….
Over at the Play Better Podcast you can hear Ross Watson of Evil Beagle Games and Michael Surbrook of High Rock Press interviewed about their work on the upcoming 2nd edition Aaron Allston's groundbreaking Hero System supplement Strike Force! This project will be launched on Kickstarter on February 1st of this year.
New from Greg Elkins! S.I.D.s is short for Super-powered Individual Database. This is a database that various government agencies are starting to use to keep track of all the various villains and heroes. Over the last few years the number of super-powered individuals has skyrocketed.
It has become a full time job to try and keep track of them as well as update information about the, that is the purpose of this database. The database is designed to give law enforcement as much information as possible on supervillains or superheroes they may need to call for help.
This is a series of small products that will introduce new villains and heroes for you campaign.
This installment will cover three new heroes for your Champions campaign. These heroes are:
Hydro a water wielding wise cracking hero, (originally published in Villainy Codex #1).
Ms Justice, A strong women who can fly and who secretly gained her power from Project Sunburst.
Papa Durrango, mystic extraordinaire and self-appointed protector of this realm.
Includes Hero Designer files & printable cardboard miniatures.
New from Greg Elkins! Every fantasy hero campaign needs magical treasures for the adventures to find. This series houses varies information on just such treasures.
Adventurers want to have a magical item to help them in their adventures. Here you will find over 36 items to add to your Fantasy Hero campaign. An amulet that will let you travel to various planes or a brooch that will help protects its wearer from the deadly affects of poisons. An armband that increases the wearer’s strength or a necklace that can shoot a fiery missile. Here you will find information on these items and many more.
New From Steve Long and Elvensong Street Press! Watch out for things that go bump in the night! THE STUFF OF NIGHTMARES presents nine horror monsters for use in any HERO System campaign:
--the mysterious Chupacabra, or "Goatsucker"
--the Degenerated (a.k.a. Cannibal Cultist Hillbillies)
--Dreamreavers, who can torment and kill you from within your own dreams
--Implacables, who just keep coming and coming as they try to kill you. It includes three types: the Homicidal Clown; the Masked Ones; and the Skinmask.
--Living Dolls, whose small size and cute appearance disguises their evil intent
--the Voltus Dentata, which has a lamprey-like mouth where its face should be