If there’s one thing that could be said of any of the HERO system genre books, it would have to be that they are relentlessly thorough. Star HERO‘s latest incarnation for the 6th Edition of the HERO System is no exception to this rule.
Star HERO continues the tradition of HERO genre books with it’s encyclopaedic treatment of the subject matter. I do not exaggerate when I say that the HERO system’s genre books are an incredible help for any GM looking to make a campaign of a particular genre. In this case, GMs looking to make a sci-fi campaign will find something that will be of use to them in this massive book.
The book opens with a discussion of the Science Fiction and it’s related subgenres. Each Subgenre is given a broad description, and a breakdown of the various elements that are often iconic of the subgenre in question. Each entry a particular subsection finishes with a few notes on the typical power level of campaigns on this type for the HERO system.
This listing is nothing to sneeze at, since each profile is well done, peppered with examples and the elements all make sense. The various quotes that are liberally scattered across the text make for interesting reading as well, despite the occasional typo.
Not just satisfied to talk about subgenres, Star HERO also discusses the effect of various Meta-Genres in the context of science fiction, tackling Comedy, Horror, Mystery, Romance and Tragedy. Each meta-genre is an excellent discussion that can inspire many different takes on what would be a cookie-cutter sci-fi setting.
After the Subgenres comes the talk of crossing Sci-Fi with other Genres, from Supers, Fantasy, Pulp, Swashbuckling and Westerns. It’s fun to see just how many variants one can come up with just by making these genre hybrids.
This is the point at which the books starts referring to HERO system specific information.
Character creation is handled in one chapter, detailing various species and profession templates, as well as genre-specific skills, perks, talents powers and limitations.
Not just content to wave everything else, as “Space” Star HERO goes on to detail galaxies, star sectors, star types, planets and pretty much everything else out there. The level of detail in these sections is staggering but is never to the point at which the reader is put off. I was also pleasantly surprised that all of these discussions aren’t bogged down with complex rules, contrary to popular belief.
I do like the fact that the book also takes an entire chapter to discuss the Earth’s solar system in detail. While one could say that this information is easy enough to look up over the internet, having everything you will possibly need is a hallmark of the HERO system line of books.
The next portion of the book details various Future Civilization types, from utopias to dystopias, as well as Alien Races, alien societies and the impact of having multiple species existing in a single society. The discussion of alien religion, culture and intermingling of such is admittedly very interesting reading, and the details are all presented in a fashion that can be used in any Sci-Fi game.
HERO is famed for being able to build pretty much anything, and Star HERO proves this with the technology chapter. Players can find pretty much anything here, from blasters to robots, and the succeeding chapters go into space ships, mecha and space stations. There’s a LOT in this book and I would definitely recommend taking time out to read each and every entry.
At this point Star HERO drifts towards two interesting forks of sci-fi, Time travel and Psionics. Each chapter details the whys and wherefores of it, building nicely from the real world theory and samples before ramping up towards the options available for games.
The final portion of the Star HERO book brings up GM resources, including discussions on running sci-fi games, the respective subgenres and tips on playing sci-fi villains. The handy instant plot generator is here as well for GMs who are feeling uninspired for any particular reason.
The book wraps up with the Argos Exploration, a set of sample Player Characters that are ready to use for a HERO campaign, as well as a Minion Gallery that has several generic character sheets for minor NPCs and enemies that might be encountered in a Star HERO campaign.
Star HERO is a great example of the crazy level of detail present in every HERO genre book. It covers a huge amount of the genre, and has something for everyone.
Even if you weren’t a HERO GM, it would still be possible to learn something new and interesting that you could use in your game with this book.
Overall, it’s a giant book at 358 pages, but what you’re paying for is the density of information. Whether you’re looking for source material for cyberpunk, space opera or hard sci-fi, Star HERO has you covered.