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OK...So I'm in the early stages of a low fantasy Fantasy HERO campaign. My group consists of me and 5 players. My players are accustomed to playing mainly d20 systems, particularly D&D and Pathfinder. They also tend to min-max everything in those systems. Nobody in my group, including myself, has much experience with HERO system. To avoid them completely min-maxing the characters and so that the characters have some background (as opposed to being nothing more than a collection of combat statistics), we tried something different this time around. We spent our first couple of sessions using the FATE system's campaign and character creation process. The end result was this: The campaign is going to be centered around fighting "organized crime" in a city state set in a vaguely early iron age / very early medieval time period. Additionally, there's the looming threat of war with a neighboring city state. The setting is low magic -- magic exists, but it is very rare, time-consuming, and complicated -- you're not going to see anyone hurling fireballs or lightning bolts every few seconds in combat. I'd like to run a fairly "gritty" campaign where the PCs don't completely outclass everything they face. For example, we did some play-testing of my first draft of the characters (with only 4 of 5 characters) and they faced four City Guards (from the back of the Fantasy HERO 6E book) armed with spears, swords, shields, and chainmail. It was a tough fight, but the City Guards eventually won when they managed to knock out the toughest of the PCs and the rest of the group decided to surrender (it was just play-testing and it was toward the end of the evening)...And this is the type of feel I want to have. I don't want the PCs to look at an equal number of city guards and assume it's going to be a cake-walk. I want the threat of defeat to be real. Next we developed the character concepts and some background material. Anyone not familiar with FATE's character creation process, you start by coming up with you character concept and one "aspect" that complicates his life. Then you write a short story (a paragraph or two) from his background that demonstrates some of his abilities. Based upon that story, you define another "aspect" of the character. "Aspects" should generally be double-edged swords: helpful in some situations, problematic in others. Then, you hand your back-story off to another player, who then writes their character into your backstory...and in so doing, they define an aspect of their character, while you do the same on someone else's. The idea is to create in-character ties to the other player's characters and create an interesting background that helps define the character you want to play. You do two rounds of writing your character into someone else's background. Next, you identify skills and abilities that your character should have and at what level (one at "great", two at "good", three at "fair", and four at "average"). You also define three "stunts" (think special maneuvers/traits) that your character will use from time to time. I then took this information and attempted to build HERO characters from them. Here are the basic campaign guidelines we're working with: Characters are being built on 125 total points (75 base points + up to 50 points from complications). Normal characteristic maximums are in effect (normal max = 20) Speeds will normally range from 2-3, max in campaign = 4 Combat Values will be in the 2-6 range (average around 4) Damage classes will be in the 2-8 range (average 4-5) Skill rolls will generally be in the 8- to 12- range Defenses/rDefenses will be in the range of 4-8 / 0-6r with expected average being around 6 / 2-3r I'm still on the fence about whether or not Combat Luck will stack with armor. Part of the reason I'm posting this is I'm not particularly happy with the builds I've put together...most of them are simply too vanilla and don't show much in the way of creativity on my part. Some of this stems from a lack of experience with the system; but one of my objectives in trying to run HERO with this group is to explore and demonstrate it's flexibility and adaptability...and with these initial builds, I feel like I've fallen well short of my own expectations and haven't done much to demonstrate the capabilities of the system. Any advice and suggestions on how to improve these characters will be appreciated. So, here's how I'm going to approach this: for each player, I'm going to give a brief player personality assessment based upon at least 3 years of gaming with the player on a weekly basis. Then I'm going to present their character concept. I'll also attach the PDF (HERO Designer export) for the character I created based upon what the players indicated they wanted for their characters. Due to the points budget, I wasn't able to build everything that was requested for every character. "Player1" -- This player is one of the better role-players in the group. He's one of the few actually willing to put effort into developing background material. He's one of the few I don't have to worry too much about going all munchkin on me with his character. He wants to player a character who is a member of an elite group of sword masters. These sword masters don't have official law-enforcement powers, but generally their presence helps to keep the peace. In addition to peacekeeping, they provide combat training to members of the guard. The organization only allows ten people to hold the title of "sword master" at one time. To become a swordmaster, you must either defeat a current swordmaster in a duel (not necessarily to the death), or you can compete to fill the slot of a retiring swordmaster. Skills: Great: Sword; Good: Defensive fighting, Courtly; Fair: Weaponsmith, Acrobatics, Persuasion; Average: History, Dancing, Seduction, Law. Stunts: Disarm, Subdual / KO (club weapon [sword]) "Player2" -- This player is the least experienced player in our group. He's bright, but somewhat awkward. He's relatively good with numbers, with a strong tendency toward unbalancing characters. To his credit, he tries to roleplay, but his attempts tend to be somewhat ham-handed and overly-simplistic. He also tends to have an unrealistic expectation about the effectiveness of certain skills and abilities...For example, if he made his skill roll "by enough", he'd expect to be successful at using a Persuasion skill to convince a dragon to simply walk away from its treasure hoard ("Hey, I made the roll!"). This player also can't handle adversity. If something doesn't go his way, he tends to throw a bit of tantrum and turn all sulky. He's one of the many rules lawyers in the group. He also has to be the center of attention...When I'm running a scene which his character is not involved in, he routinely interrupts and tries to come up with some excuse -- no matter how far fetched -- to introduce his character to the scene...And the leaps of intuition he tries to make (most of which tend to be wrong) using player knowledge instead of character knowledge are simply...astounding... This player basically wants to play a bard. My initial challenge with the character backstory and concept is that I really have nothing that I can use to motivate him to fight organized crime...yet. What makes it harder is that if I try to motivate the character by inflicting some sort of adversity caused by organized criminals, I run the risk of the aforementioned tantrum. His concept (basically the "face" of the group) is fine. But he expects skills to basically have the same effect as some form of limited mind-control powers. He originally indicated that his character would have NO (zip, zero, nada) combat capabilities, but I refused to go that route, because I know my group...There's going to be combat, and a fair amount of it...and I don't want one of my players sitting on the sidelines bored (and complaining), when I can avoid it. Skills: Great: Performance; Good: Persuasion, Subterfuge; Fair: History, KS: Music, PS: Bard; Average: Dagger, Perception, Craft - Instrument, Diplomacy Stunts: Feint, Distract "Player3" -- Player 3 is one of the more experienced players in the group; however, he tends to not be fully engaged in the game, often playing games on his laptop or smart phone. Like the rest of the group, he tends to min-max characters, though not to the extent of the others. He's very rational and tactical, and role plays very well when you can get him engaged. He also likes to explore unusual concepts but tends to focus strictly on advantageous abilities / powers -- and once he has them, he'll go out of his way to use them. This player's character concept is a streetwise cat burglar. I'm faced with a second character who currently has no reason to go against organized crime; so, once again, I have to build an in-game story just to get the character involved with the main story. Skills: Great: Burglary; Good: Streetwise, Acrobatics; Fair: non-lethal combat, Perception, Evasion; Average: fencing stolen goods, fast-talking (player didn't provide the other two skills, nor did he provide any "stunts"). "Player4" -- Player4 does not engage in role-playing. While not exactly a power gamer, he pretty much prefers to play fighter types and mainly enjoys combat. This player openly dislikes HERO because "there's too much math." This player's character concept is basically a ranger who makes a living as a guide / caravan guard and generally doesn't like or trust other people, but can't not help someone truly in need. Skills: Great: Bow; Good: Tracking, Stalking; Fair: Land Navigation, Skinning, Haggling; Average: Longsword, DCV/DEF, KS: Wilderness, Cooking. Stunts: none provided by player. "Player5" -- Player5 is another decent role-player, but he also has strong tendencies to min-max characters and almost always focuses on enhancing combat abilities above everything else. He does OK at developing character backgrounds, though generally, he tends to try to use background creation simply to justify over-the-top combat capabilities. This player's character concept is basically a streetwise urban tough (brawler) who can dish out a fair amount of damage, but can generally absorb a ton of punishment (think Marv from the movie "Sin City"). His current occupation is as an "enforcer" / "collector" for an organized crime family (though he's trying to get out of the business). Skills: Great: Toughness; Good: Brawling, Seduction; Fair: Streetwise, Athletics, Perception; Average: Haggling, Subterfuge, Strength, Romance Stunts: Roll with Punch, Uppercut, "Bedroom eyes" Note, the attached character sheets are basically the 2nd or 3rd revisions of these characters. After play-testing two combats (since my group tends to be combat-centric), some adjustments were made that didn't necessarily match the original character concepts. So, since I'm asking for help improving the characters, here are some of the things I'm struggling with along with my own critiques of the builds: Base OCV/DCV vs. Combat Skill Levels. Most of the builds in the books tend to favor base OCV / DCV instead of skill levels. I tend to think of CSLs as combat training; but, because they're cheaper and more flexible, I had a tendency to load characters up with CSLs even when they don't have any real combat training. I also probably over-used martial arts in the character builds. Player1's character is woefully under-powered for a swordmaster. That could be entirely the result of the points budget, but I think I should be able to get more capabilities for my budget than I did. Player2's "mood music" ability needs some adjustment. What I was after was the ability of the character to alter the mood of groups of people through his music / performance (given time to perform). This isn't any ability that would be used during combat, but might be used just prior to "gin up" the troops. It originally started as an idea to increase a listeners presence, only for purposes of resisting fear effects / presence attacks; but given the ability of music to affect a range of emotions and take a person from laughter to tears, I wanted to make it more general...Maybe I should build it as multiple abilities, rather than trying to lump it all into one...not sure. Other than this one ability, the character is pretty plain and ...well...boring. Player3's character is OK...just a bit "vanilla". I'd like to spice the character up a bit. Player4's character is also OK, though the player feels that 4DC RKA is under-powered. I'm willing to make adjustments, but I don't want every fight to be a foregone conclusion. He's also pretty vanilla. Player5's character seems over-powered for the campaign so far (and is the reason I'm considering ruling that Combat Luck doesn't stack with armor). In spite of this, the character is pretty "vanilla" as well. Player1.pdf Player2.pdf Player3.pdf Player4.pdf Player5.pdf