Fantasy HERO Complete Kickstarter Coming Soon!

Great news to HERO fans! HERO games has just announced that they’ll be launching a Kickstarter campaign for Fantasy HERO Complete, an all-in-one book similar to their Champions Complete book that will allow for groups to run Fantasy HERO games off just a single book.

I’m personally a fan of the HERO system, and I have good memories of playing HERO so this is definitely something I’m looking forward to. Check out the full announcement here:


12 Campaigns of Christmas #5 Dragon Chasers

Partially inspired by Monster Hunter and Shadow of the Colossus, The Hunters will be a traditional fantasy RPG with the players assuming the role of Dragon Chasers, courageous adventurers who travel the land to observe, study and stop / kill dragons and other titanic monsters who stray too close to human civilizations.

Dragons and other creatures are treated as natural disasters, and it’s up to the player characters and their know-how and courage to find ways to stop them from causing massive damage to the human population. One part storm-chasing and national geographic to one part monster hunter, the game will revolve around phases centered on study and observation (and survival) and coming up with a plan of action to stop or kill the offending monster.

Add rival guilds, opposing kingdoms, and the rediscovery of Beast Magic that can control such things and you get the opportunity to spin the game off into a more political campaign while still keeping the monster hunting core of the campaign.

I can see this campaign working very well with Fantasy Craft, but HERO can certainly pull this off as well.

[HERO 6th] City of Champions – Teen Conflict

One of the things to consider when running a teen supers game is the idea of making certain that there’s a good mix of conflicts that matter to the protagonists. Given their age, this conflict can come from several sources: friends, family, society and the occasional super-villain.

I’m currently trying to build momentum for my HERO game, and doing so means that I’ll have to consider how to introduce a wide array of conflicts and plot hooks that don’t always involve punching bad guys in the face. Thankfully teen games are full of melodrama and even the most trivial things can be a matter of life and death. I’ve been musing about which issues might be worth exploring and here’s a short list of what I’ve come up with:

  • Peer Pressure and Bullying – An ugly topic to be sure, but one that is relevant in any educational institution. While the classes in Claremont Academy are small, there’s enough students around to jockey for dominance. This can take the form of physical and psychological bullying. Embarrassment  physical harm, intimidation and other tactics can be an issue I can bring up.
  • Sex– Sex is a pretty big deal to teens… and to everyone else. It’s a powerful motivator for teens of both genders and everyone wants to be desired, especially at an age where everyone feels awkward. That said, this is a touchy issue, and I’m still on the fence if I want to bring up the more hot-button issues of date rape and teen pregnancy onto the table just yet.
  • School Shootings / Suicides – Another unpleasant issue that can be brought up in the context of play. There aren’t any easy answers to these, but it’s a significant and possibly life-changing event for any person, whether teacher or student.

While this list might seem to be perhaps a little too dark and grim, I think the actions of the Player Characters should serve as a means to uplift the setting towards a brighter future. Teens might idolize adult heroes, but seeing a fellow Teen pull off something amazing galvanizes them to action.

Obviously I’ve only touched on the bigger issues, but there are several smaller hooks that can be used in the game. Not everything has to be depressing, but I don’t think I want to whitewash the setting either.

[HERO 6th] City of Champions – Character Hooks

Today I’m looking at the player characters in my ongoing not-so-serious HERO campaign. Despite an attempt to try to lighten the mood somewhat of this campaign, I still find myself falling to old habits of dredging through the histories and concepts of my players in order to find interesting plot hooks that I can work with. At this point my players all have potentially strong hooks hiding in their backstories, and so I figure I might as well do some poking around to see what falls out:

  • Ishtar (Chloe Smith, played by Silver Countess) – As a young Djinni Princess, Ishtar is a walking plot hook. Aside from the usual amusements of having someone who doesn’t quite understand the modern world, her unique magical background gives a lot of opportunities to introduce Magic villains as well. From the Sahir that enslaved her long ago, to various other demons or supernatural creatures. Possible plot hooks involve her kidnap / capture to turn her as a slave, force her real father into servitude or to turn her into a magical component in some complex ritual.
  • Mr. Flight / Mr. Fight (Jeremiah Jackson, played by Paulo) – As the team’s mysterious experiment gone wrong, Mr. Flight / Fight has a lot of potential to work the mad science angle. From shadowy science organizations that are interested in the experiments done to him, to other survivors of similar experiments, there’s a lot of potential of going nuts in a science facility of some sort. Already, I’m seeing a surplus of Science Villains in this character’s future.
  • Deadweight (Jensen McCormick, played by Mappy) – Being the son of a retired Hero, Deadweight’s stories come from dealing with stepping out of his father’s shadow (and his father’s enemies.) Normalcy would have been nice for Jensen, but he knows that he needs to learn to take care of himself right away if he plans to be anything but a liability for his father. He’s also new to Detroit, making him a good outsider character trying to fit in without being as alien as Ishtar. Legacy Villains make for a perfect fit for this character.
  • Key (Alex Graham, played by Hikkikomori) – Struggling to overcome his shyness while being the team’s pointman has Key caught in a balancing act of being in the spotlight while trying to avoid it. His powers are remarkably useful in his normally subtle approach, but he’s not afraid to pull out the big guns if the situation warrants it. The rejection / avoidance behavior of his parents is a good source of stories for him, and I can imagine that situations that give him a chance to “fit in” to a group is perhaps the one that will resonate the most. Of course, not all these groups are “good” for him. Key is a type of character that doesn’t normally earn villains, but does have a lot of potential for more human stories of a teen struggling to find a place for himself.

Given this sort of group, most of the stories in this game should revolve around situations that the characters could reasonably be involved in. While the occasional higher-level crisis or villain might show up, I should remember to scale down to threats that make sense in the character’s world view and not just rely on the city destroying threats all the time.

Next up, I’ll see if I can start slapping together some villains into a rogues gallery for each of the player characters.

[HERO 6th] City of Champions – Roll Call

The HERO game has been officially started with the full roster of player characters in already. There’s still time to tweak the character builds over the next few weekends, but what we’ve got so far has been promising. The group has shrank to 4 players so hopefully this will mean that the game will be more manageable. Add the fact that only one character has a Speed of 4, and combats seem to proceed briskly with little of the slowdown that HERO was originally despised for.

I’ll be updating the names as soon as I get to the character sheets, but off the top of my head, the concepts are:

  • Ishtar (Chloe Smith) – A Djinni princess rescued from a cruel Sahir by the renowned adventurer, Red Smith, Ishtar took on the mortal name of Chloe and was enrolled in the Claremont Academy to learn the ways of mortal in this modern age. As a girl out of time, Chloe is always an interesting source of odd observations and an outsider’s view of things. As a Djinni, Ishtar is a being of “smokeless fire” and has the ability to manipulate that element, as well as cast various Spells that can be used to aid her team, including her Flying Carpet, which serves as the team’s primary mode of fast transport.
  • Key– (Alex Graham) – A child of 2 very popular musical performers, Alex was shunted away to the Claremont Academy the moment his parents realized that he had the power to manipulate Sound, fearing the backlash and negative publicity that having a metahuman kid might bring to their “talent.” Despite being wealthy, Alex is a shy and retiring type, preferring to stay in the background and relay battlefield information rather than to charge into the front lines. Alex’s closest adult guardian is Clyde, a roadie that works for his parents.
  • Mr. Fight / Mr. Flight (Jeremiah Jackson) – An escaped experimental subject on awakening the potential of latent metagenes, Mr. Flight was one of the project’s greatest successes. It was unknown what procedures were performed on the young man, but his psychological condition of suffering multiple personalities based on various stressors, specifically triggering the Fight or Flight response allows the boy to switch Power Sets. As Mr. Flight, he gains extra speed and a host of survival and stealth abilities. As Mr. Fight, he gains incredible strength and durability. While a very difficult individual to deal with socially, his merits in combat and usefulness cannot be underestimated. Samantha Jones is the only adult that Mr. Flight / Mr. Fight can speak to with any degree of trust, as she served as a Social Worker that helped him into his new home and place in the Claremont Academy.
  • Deadweight (Jensen McCormick) – As a son of another superhero, Deadweight knows the irony of his codename. His powers centered on the ability to increase or decrease his density (and weight) at will, giving him an edge in hand to hand combat. As a legacy hero, he has the extra perk of being trained on off hours by a parent that can understand and appreciate his powers. However the murder of his mother by Primordius, his father’s nemesis, has left Deadweight emotionally scarred. In order to help start over, Deadweight and his father have moved to Detroit and Deadweight was enrolled in Claremont Academy.

So from the point of view of most character roles, we have two blasters and two bruisers, with one bruiser moonlighting as a speedster. It’s an interesting mix, that can certainly work out, and I’m doing what I can to review my notes, and start working on the various storylines that I can introduce. Given that it’s a high school game, there’s plenty of opportunities for the team to get into interesting situations without the need for combat, but as a supers game, it’s kind of expected to have a few crazy fights now and then.

Supers On The Brain: Tone and Expectations for City of Champions

After the previous campaign, I figure I might as well spell out what my expectations and tone will be for the City of Champions campaign starting this weekend.

Overall, the campaign will be lighter in tone from a lot of the other games I run. The theme of “great power comes with great responsibility” will be the backbone of the campaign, but it will also deal with the difficulties of being a teenager.

In many ways the supers genre is naturally compatible with being a teen. Putting it in a supers game where the said awkward teenagers are given superpowers just allows for the melodrama and situations to be writ large.

I won’t be dealing with a lot of super-serious situations, but will try to keep myself grounded on the things that matter so much to teens: dates, social standing, how they look, what people think… these are all soul-crushing dilemmas to teens, and I hope to play those up.

That said, this is a supers game, so I expect there will be some amount of fisticuffs as compared to my previous campaign. I expect lots of cinematic action to go along with it.

I expect players to play according to their concepts. Teens are prone to making rash decisions due to emotions, so that is appropos for this game. Death is a MAJOR event for teens and I’ll be holding off on lethal adversaries as much as I can until the game has a chance to mature.

I hope that players also contribute to the game’s fun and talk to me and the other players to come up with interesting situations and ideas to keep the ball rolling. I’ll be doing my job as a GM but having players that are keen on trying new things or suggesting new situations will always be appreciated.

I’ll try to keep the game moving briskly, even with HERO’s reputation for combat taking forever. With any luck we’ll be able to breeze through those encounters and still keep to the cinematic feel.

City of Champions – HERO 6th Edition

Given the sudden end of my previous campaign, I figure I might as well pitch something new. To veer away from the rather serious tone of L5R, I decided to move on and try running something a little more uplifting in spirit. Given that Supers is often the most optimistic of genres (along with Pulp) it seemed like the best choice. I decided to resurrect and old campaign that I once ran in M&M 2nd Edition and give it a bit of an update and run it with the HERO 6th Edition Rules.

The City of Detroit, Michigan. Also known as the Motor city, and the City of Champions, Detroit was the face of the American Automobile Industry, the birthplace of Motown sound and an important element of America’s “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War 2.

Sadly, Detroit is now a city in decline. Once a proud symbol of progress, the city is rife with unemployment, crime and urban decay. Abandoned buildings and homes stand as a testament to just how far the mighty city has fallen. As of 2010, Detroit ranked as the Most Dangerous City in the United States for 4 years in a row, according to the FBI. The City had significant rates of violent crimes: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

But all of that is about to change. With the recent election of Mayor Samuel Hayes, the former costumed crimefighter known as The paragon, Detroit has begun to change into a new vision of the future.

Enacting drastic pro-metahuman measures, Mayor Hayes hopes to attract a significant metahuman population to live in Detroit. Further benefits are extended to powered individuals who volunteer for positions of public service such as the police and emergency services. This led to the founding of the Claremont Academy’s Detroit Branch. A rival to Ravenwood Academy in San Angelo, Claremont Academy trains young students with potential (or a legacy) to harness their abilities and grow up to be responsible metahuman adults.

As part of the first batch of students in the Claremont Academy, the player characters are Freshmen students with high hopes, crazy dreams, and powers beyond that of their normal peers.

This will ultimately be a story of adolescence in a city struggling to get onto it’s feet. While insulated from the worst of the urban decay of Detroit by the fact that they’re all living in the dorms of Claremont Academy, the students will have their fair share of experience out in the streets. I want this story to still be about being a force of change in the world, of how the new generation of supers do more for their communities than just punch villains in the face.

At the same time, this is a great chance for me to try running with the HERO system again. My last campaign was very successful and people still talk about it, so I probably was doing something right. Here’s hoping that this game gets the same kind of enthusiasm.

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