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Thumper

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  1. I'll agree that an easy victory with no challenge is not fun -- this is precisely why I like the HERO system. It's very predictable because it's very well balanced, and makes it easy to design balanced encounters that provide challenge but allow for high probability of victory, which are the most fun. That said, saying an easy victory is not fun is not the same thing as saying losing is fun, and I think the position you're defending is always going to fall prey to hinging on that false dichotomy, that there is only easy victory and losing. Obviously being challenged is rewarding, and being challenged can result in losing, but being challenged and losing are not remotely the same thing. No one, when designing game elements in HERO, is acting on the maxim "Losing is the optimal outcome." Personally, when I build anything in HERO I apply limitations using some balance between simulation concerns and readability concerns. Generally I aim to apply the least necessary limitations (and advantages) to simulate how the power or object would function in cinematic reality. I'm never designing with the goal of "losing." Sometimes I apply limitations because I really, really need some more points I also think your argument hinges on conflating "to" and "can." Adding limitations to powers can contribute to losing, but nobody is adding limitations to cause their own loss. More importantly, if losing is fun, why spend any of your points at all? Leave all your characteristics at their base (or hell, drop them to their minimums!), don't buy any skills, perks or powers, sell off your senses and movement, and play a blind, deaf and insensate lump of flesh that can barely crawl across the ground. That absolutely maximizes your chance of losing. That's what someone who really believed that being overwhelmed by challenges and failing to accomplish goals was the optimal outcome would do, so the fact that no one is doing that strongly suggests no one is building characters to lose. As for your last point, a meaningful death can certainly be rewarding -- but all that proves is that not all deaths are losses. I've had characters experience death that was cool and meaningful and made for a great story. And then there's Basilisk, a lizard-like mutant with a petrifying stare I created for the first Champions 3E campaign I ever joined. While inside Dr. Destroyer's base, he walked around a corner and into one of the base's auto-defense turrets and was vaporized in one shot. That happened about an hour into my session playing him. That was a loss, because I really liked the character concept, spent hours building the character, and then he got wasted before I even got to take a single combat action with him. I never got to use even one of his powers. I was just the tagalong background character who dies to show the audience that this base is SRS BSNS, and spent the rest of the session making my next character. And actually, that next character also demonstrates why story games are bad for narratives. That character was Dragon Master, a mystic master of the martial arts. He had KS: All Martial Arts Styles. The GM threw C.L.O.W.N. at us, and I squared off against Toe-Tapper. He hit me with his cane and caught me in a Mental Paralysis with the special effect "causes irresistible need to dance." I convinced the GM to let me use my KS to recall the repertoire of Capoeira, a Brazillian martial art developed by slaves who had to hide their practice as dance moves. This allowed me to "dance fight" and whup Toe Tapper's butt while shaking my own. That's one of my favorite HERO stories, and it only happened because of the active GM of traditional games. In a PtbA game, I would have attacked Toe Tapper with the intent to defeat him, roll to "Have A Fight," and either: Success (I defeat him.) Success with Failure (I defeat him, but am injured.) Failure (He defeats me.) There's no possibility of Toe Tapper getting a Success With Failure because he doesn't roll or make attacks. There's absolutely no possibility of "Success That Is Turned Into Failure By The Player's Quick Thinking And Cleverness." Systems like PtbA rob you, as a player, of chances to actually be clever, and replace them with opportunities to describe yourself being clever. Which, imho, is a poor substitute for the real thing.
  2. In the Thumperverse (my own campaign setting), costumes came about due to a feedback loop between vigilantes and Hollywood. Basically in the 30s, instead of the "Public Enemy Era" where bank robbers became folk heroes, the Thumperverse had the "masked vigilante era," where masked vigilantes who used guns and murder to solve the problem of rampant public and political corruption became really popular. It started with one guy, he inspired copy cats, they started a trend, and suddenly by 1934 you had a dozen guys running around the country in fedoras and trenchcoats, wearing bandannas to hide their identities, taking out "untouchable criminals." Hollywood began making movies about them, but found that the bandannas made it hard for audiences to understand the hero's expression, so they changed the bandanna to a domino mask. Suddenly real vigilantes wearing domino masks started to appear. Hollywood wanted their movie vigilantes to stand out from the crowd, and limited to black and white film, started adding details like an emblem sewn into lapel of the coat or a calling card with a logo. They gave their heroes memorable names that played up the mystery, like The Crimson Crimefighter and The Ghost of Justice. Real life vigilantes followed suit. And that's basically been going on ever since, with each new generation of heroes being inspired by Hollywood's portrayal of the previous generation. Eventually capitalism got involved and now in the modern Thumperverse almost all heroes have corporate sponsors, media reps, and and licensing deals, and costumes are trademarked and registered with a international registry. Costumes started to go out of style in the 90s due to their increasingly corporate association, and for a while there was a growing number of heroes (and villains) who eschewed costumes, but generally they were so obnoxious about eschewing them that they ended up being widely perceived as hipster douchebags, which (along with the introduction of cheap, custom printed lycra bodysuits) help repopularize the traditional costume among millennial superhumans. I do really, really like the idea that costumes count as fair warning though. I can 100% see some ****bird trying to sue a superhero because he broke his hand trying to punch the guy, and the hero using the defense "I was wearing a superhero costume, he should have understood that assaulting me could cause serious harm."
  3. I don't like Fate as a game, mostly because I don't like any system that isn't HERO and I particularly don't like games that rely on GM Fiat for conflict resolution (which Fate does in spades), but I absolutely love Fate as a character creation system for HERO. In my last four campaigns I have had players use Fate to create their characters, then converted their Fate characters into HERO characters for actual game play. I find HERO works much better when the GM is the only person allowed to build game elements, since HERO is essentially a programming code interpreted by the GM. Players can (and should) contribute to the narrative and introduce story elements, but I really think the game works much better when only the person translates those story elements into game elements.
  4. Two days ago, on a different forum, there was a discussion about Story Games and whether it was possible to "lose" in a Story Game. The Story Gamers in the thread were simultaneously trying to argue that the "success with complications" was both "losing" and that it was what makes Story Games rewarding to play. I pointed out that defining the same thing as both "losing" and "what makes the game rewarding to play" was self-contradicting unless you're some kind of masochist -- nobody plays a game hoping to lose. This was a pretty devastating counterargument that demolished the argument they were making, so I was then told that I was "basically confessing that I can't contribute anything interesting to a narrative" and that I had never "played any game with an actually good group." Those are direct quotes. And the a-holes honestly thought they weren't being insulting and condescending. I have never had a pleasant encounter with Story Gamers. As soon as I tell them that I enjoy all aspects of gaming (gamist, narrativist and simulationist) and want a game that provides a balance of each, and that I find Story Games's narrow focus on narrative only removes enjoyable aspects of gaming while highlighting the fundamental flaw of narrative in games (i.e. most gamers are not great storytellers, and a randomly generated narrative constructed by a committee of mediocre storytellers tends to be bad), the only response I ever get is being told I am essentially a witless dullard and that every single person I have ever gamed with is also a witless dullard, with the strong implication that the story gamers are all brilliant storytellers who effortlessly craft griping narratives (and yet none can point to the popular works of fiction derived from Story Game sessions...) and only know other genius intellects such as themselves. I don't think they are capable of not being condescending assholes.
  5. Fair point, I hadn't considered that.
  6. I'm not saying they are bad people for enjoying a different kind of game. I'm saying that enjoying a different kind of game doesn't make them morally and intellectually superior to everyone else in the hobby. There's a big difference between saying "You suck because you like [some thing]!" and saying "You are not superior to 99% of humanity because you like [some thing]." Story Gamers don't suck because they like Story Games. Story Gamers suck because collectively they act like if you don't like Story Games the only possible explanation is that you're a worthless subhuman who should be shunned by society.
  7. Oh, poor you. You poor unfortunate soul. You're playing a Story Game that is Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA). Several years ago Vincent Baker (developer of kill puppies for satan: the rpg) released an utterly garbage post-apocalyptic game called Apocalypse World with a "game engine" called "Powered by the Apocalypse" It has been since adapted to every genre you can imagine. It's extremely easy to convert to other genres because, as you've noticed, the mechanics are an absolute joke and have zero substance. The use of "Moves" and the "2d6+Modifiers to resolve everything" mechanics are the hallmarks of PbtA. Monster of the Week is one of the more terrible versions of the PtbA system, but they get even worse -- just be glad you aren't playing Monsterhearts, which is basically Monster of the Week but one of your primary "Moves" is to have sex with the villain. There's a popular superhero Story Game called City of Mist that is supposed to be like a Dark Champions, noirish superhero game. One of the moves is Investigate. The way the rules are written, you can literally just ask any random person about the case and if you roll high, they tell you the answer to any question you ask. Arrive at a murder scene, turn to another PC, ask "Who killed them?" and, RAW, if you roll an 11+ the other PC tells you who the murderer is. There's no Streetwise skill, no Interrogate skill, no Forensic Medicine, no Contacts. The player doesn't have to put any work into an investigation, doesn't have to think about how they can apply their skills to the solution. All characters can just roll 2d6, add their Power Modifier, and investigation is over. The sick thing about Masks is that you can complete an entire adventure with three dice rolls: Investigate to learn the identity of the villain, Investigate to learn the location of the villain, Kick Some Ass (it's called something else but works exactly the same) to defeat the villain, adventure over. Three good roles and you win! Story Games are based around the premise that having to learn rules is hard and that all combats are "slogs," and that only old, fat, socially maladjusted grognards could ever enjoy something as arcane and complicated as a "hit location chart." Story Gamers operate under the assumption that the only part of roleplaying games that is enjoyable (to normal people, like them, as anyone who disagrees with them is mentally damaged in some way) is the collaborative creation of a narrative. Like they don't want to game out a fight, they want to resolve the fight with one roll and then just described what happens based on the three broad possible outcomes. Mostly all Story Games accomplish is highlighting how most people aren't really that great of storytellers. My experience of story gamers is that they really, really hate HERO gamers. We are their absolute enemy for two reasons, the first of which is fairly obvious. HERO, with it's rulebooks thick enough to stop bullets, is basically the antithesis of what they consider a good game. They can't comprehend why a GM might want a game system that models physics and answers questions like "What happens to Character X if Character Y throws Charter X into Object Z?" They don't understand why GMs and players want clearly defined powers that are balanced. The second reason they hate us, and us in particular, is more subtle. Story Gamers love to believe that they invented whole new innovative concepts that rocked the gaming world and completely revolutionized gaming. They've "introduced" concepts like "Stunts," where players get bonuses to their rolls for creatively describing attacks and actions, and "Metagame Control" or "Director Stance" where players can force add story elements to the GM's game world. The problem is that Champions introduced all of these ideas 40 years ago. Hunteds and DNPC? Metagame Control. They allow players to create Villains and NPCs and insert them into the campaign. Stunts? Yeah, HERO literally invented that, it's called "Surprise Move." HERO's whole core concept of a combat system that discourages player morality and makes it more likely players will be captured than killed is narrative supporting game mechanics. Hell, HERO introduced the whole idea of narrative supporting mechanics to gaming. And that's why they hate HERO gamers and HERO System. Because they can lay all these complaints about how D&D doesn't support narrative focus and encourages hack'n'slash murderhoboing with its arcane rules, but HERO doesn't fit their patterns. HERO has always cared about story and supporting story, and has always had built in mechanics to support an ongoing narrative. Which means the only real criticism they can level against HERO is that "reading is hard" and "math is hard," which, uh, doesn't really support their whole "we're the smartest guys in the room" mentality. Tell your friend that you like him and find his setting interesting, but that Powered by the Apocalypse lacks depth and that the game is repetitive and boring, and you're not enjoying yourself. Make it clear that it's not him or his setting you dislike, but the game system itself. Then teach him how to play HERO.
  8. In Rhûne, my Fantasy HERO campaign setting, I use the following rules: All characters with Weapon Familiarity begin with up to 2 free weapons they are proficient in, usually a melee weapon and a missile weapon. All characters with Armor Familiarity begin with 1 free suit of armor they are proficient in. All characters with Shield Familiarity begin with 1 free shield they are proficient in. All characters with Riding (Equines) and TF: Equine begin with a free riding horse (not a warhorse). All characters begin with an additional 3d6 x 5 GP with which to purchase starting equipment. Players may choose to accept 50 GP in lieu of a roll. A character may purchase the Money perk up to 15 points. Each point of Money grants an additional 3d6 x 5 GP in starting equipment. This is the only advantage Money provides. After character creation, it has no effect and points spent on Money are lost. Characters can find treasure while adventuring. This treasure can be used to purchase equipment and property. Treasure is simply another form of equipment. It has encumbrance, it can be lost or stolen, etc. It cannot be converted to character points, and generally cannot be purchased with experience points -- I might allow a player to spend an experience point and declare that they "won big in a game of cards" or something like that, if they were really desperate for cash, in which case they would gain 2d6 x 10GP. Typically characters in my game do not find large treasures and collecting treasure is not an important goal. Most parties have a patron (Contact) that covers their daily living costs, covers the cost of replenishing arrows and the like, and whom they can wrangle money from if they have need to make significant purchases (successful Contact roll if its a cost unrelated to accomplishing the patron's agenda). In the last campaign I ran, which ran for about a year, one character made one significant purchase after character creation -- he bought an axe after losing his initial axe in a sewer. Otherwise, every character ended the campaign with literally the exact same gear they began with.
  9. No, it has a 14- attack roll, and you can't take a Requires a Attack Roll limitation on an attack power, since the need for an attack roll is already assumed in the cost of attack powers. The attack roll can be conceptualized as an Activation Roll, but it cannot provide a Limitation since its a special effect. You could argue that by having the attack do nothing at all, the player is missing out on the chance to do at least some damage with a near miss, but at the same time the nature of the trigger is essentially giving the character this power for free: Pressure Sensistive Trigger: Clairsentience (Touch Group), Reduced Endurance (0 END) (30 Active Points); Only to Trigger Land Mine, Fixed Perception Point (Land Mine), IAF (Land Mine); Total cost: 7 points Yeah, but that obviously doesn't make sense for a "land mine" power, especially if the trigger is "when sufficient pressure applied." It would be pretty silly to have a spot 6m away from the land mine blow up if the trigger is stepping on it. That's why I would adjudicate a miss as a "fails to go off." I also wouldn't build a land mine the way the book suggests, as the trigger condition is poorly formulated and doesn't square with the rules (because, seriously, how does it miss with that trigger? I can't wrap my head around it). I would build it like: Land Mine: 2d6 Explosive RKA (6m), Trigger (100+ kg Target Within 2m) (45 Active Points); No Range, Extra Time (Extra Phase to Activate), Charges (1), IAF (Land Mind), Real Weapon Total cost: 9 points I only assumed a OCV 3 as that's the base OCV, and thus presumably the most common, though in a heroic campaign where land mines are equipment bought with the Real Weapon limitation, I would probably limit land mines to the base OCV of 3 (because its the mine attacking, not the character) and only allow characters to add CSL's bought as +1 OCV with Placed Weapons (2 points) and Overall levels.
  10. Technically a Land Mine would have to hit DCV 0 to hit the "hex" it is in. Assuming an OCV of 3, that means the Land Mine would need a 14- or less to hit its own space. I would probably require the roll, and adjudicate a failure as "the target failed to activate the land mine," essentially treating the Attack Roll as an Activation Roll. Build the Land Mine with an inherent +3 OCV and it will only miss on a roll of 18. In that case, I'd probably rule it automatically hits (but, of course, still allows a Dive For Cover).
  11. You want Accurate, not Selective.
  12. The most recent member to join the Magpies, Kayla Anderson aka Crackerjack, is a mutant with limited control over metals. Her powers cause metallic objects to warp and distort chaotically, allowing her to easily destroy guns, vehicles and most modern technology. Amelia's mutant talents are very powerful but have very limited utility due to her inability to control the distortions she creates. Her instructors seem convinced that with practice Kayla could control her distortion field and reshape metals with her mind the way a sculptor shapes clay with his hands, but so far she has yet to display that level of control. She does exceptionally well against conventional criminals armed with guns and reliant on technology, but she has no real ability to attack -- or defend against! -- supers with innate powers, a fact of which her instructors constantly remind her. Kayla's feelings of inadequacy and general insecurity lead to her agreeing to join the Magpies, who wanted to use powers to crack a safe. While hesitant to participate at first, Kayla's powers were perfectly suited to the task and made short work of the police who responded, impressing the group and earning her their praise. Now she is torn. She knows that what the Magpies are doing isn't just harmless fun and is wrong, but she's so good at it, and feeling competent for a change is addictive.
  13. Noir, also known as Amelia Waterstone, is the oldest member of the Stunners and wears a pair of jet black opera gloves that grant her control over the Shadowforce. This mysterious extra-dimensional "matter" absorbs light and can easily shift from solid to desolid state, allowing Noir to create "solid shadows" that she uses to form barriers, entangle foes and project blasts of force. Naturally she can create a field of gaseous darkness that blinds her enemies without hindering movement. Noir can see through her own darkness fields (and all other forms of darkness), pass through her own barriers, and can even "merge with shadows," becoming desolid within her own darkness field. Because her shadowforce can pass through physical objects, she can use this ability to walk through walls. Amelia is thoroughly addicted to her powers and lives almost constantly as Noir, much to the consternation of her teammates. Amelia has grown more cold and aloof since gaining her powers, and has disturbing tendency to mock her companions good intentions and suggest the many ways the quintet could use their powers to grow rich and powerful, allowing them to truly enjoy their gifts. As Noir, Amelia wears her magical opera gloves, a slinky black dress, a black mink stole, and wide brimmed hat with a lace veil.
  14. This is Arachnoid. Archanoid is a minor villain who specializes in second-story work, often in the employ of more powerful crimelords. Archanoid, whose Secret ID remains unknown, is considered low-priority by most heroes due to his well known code against killing. Archanoid seems to be in it for the fortune and glory, and may be a thrillseeker. Whatever his motives, he is known for only using non-lethal weaponry and has risked capture to avoid causing injuries to civilians. He seems to have no interest in testing his mettle against heroes, and will flee from any encounter -- a large part of why his identity remains unknown. Archanoid is assisted in his burglaries by a suite of high tech devices and sophisticated stealth battlesuit. It is unknown if Archanoid built the suit himself or stole it, though the latter seems a safe bet. If he did steal it, the original owners have not made the theft public knowledge. Like most things involving the superpowered thief, the answers are shrouded in mystery. Arachnoid's primary attack is his Web Gun, which he uses both to incapacitate opponents, create web barriers to block his escapes routes and to create a grapple line for quick escapes. He also uses gas grenades that produce either a thick, obscuring fog (which he can apparently see through) or a mild sedative gas that knocks opponents out, and carries a wide range of useful gadgets for overcoming security systems . His Battlesuit produces an jamming field that disrupts security systems and allows him to avoid detection by cameras and most sensors, as well as providing limited protection from small arms fire. His helmet includes a suite of sensors, granting him nightvision, the ability to monitor police frequencies, and a "backscatter scan mode" that produces low-level x-rays and allow him to see into the floors and walls of buildings, revealing hidden security systems and the like, as well as respiration system that filters out gases (including his own knockout gas) and filtering lenses and ear protection that protect his senses from flash attacks. Mentalists who have encountered Arachnoid claim his helmet also includes very sophisticated anti-psionic shielding and that his mind is unreadable. His boots incorporates sound-absorbing soles, improving his natural stealth, and -- along with his gloves -- contains retractable nanoscale hooks that allow him to cling to any surface less slick than glass.
  15. The Rules As Written also say: You are entirely correct, the easiest way to model this would be a VPP that granted Skills. Without even running the point, I can see Tom and Gnome's solutions are going to be ugly, exorbitantly overpriced kludges to avoid doing it the easy and obvious way. I think it's absurd to even try to find an alternate way when the answer is so obviously a Skill VPP. A GM presented with a player who wants to create this Minky Momo character has essentially two options: approve a Skills VPP or disallow the character concept entirely. A "GM" who makes a player buy 50+ points of abilities to kludge together a character when the obvious, elegant solution is right there isn't a "Game Master," they're a "Giant Meanie." That's just a bad, immature and obnoxious way to play the game. Here's how you build that ability: Assume Profession: VPP, 22 base + 11 control, Powers Can Be Changed As A Half-Phase Action (+1/2), No Skill Roll Required (+1); Only General Skills, Only at 17- (-1 1/2) Total cost: 28 points Two General skills at 17- is 22 points. This ability is 28 points. That feels reasonable to me.
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