Thursday, May 28, 2020

Hero System as a Gaming Engine

Been playing a lot of Star Hero, and with some other new Hero System campaigns potentially spinning out of that regular play -- it's time to capture some thoughts about the system.

We're fond of playing in a mixture of roleplaying scenes and some hardcore, dangerous combat situations -- currently under the flavor of a principled, militarily influential, star nation in another galaxy.

The Hero System is really something akin to a computer game's physics engine. Not only does it handle a lot of environmental effects with internal consistency, it also allows you to model almost any effect you want (given its roots in a system that attempted to simulate the bonkers physics of a super-heroic universe). And like any toolkit, there's usually more than one way to build something.

We've used it to create a reality where more militaristic, but no less powerful "jedi" run through the battlefield wielding beam sabers (Old Imperial tech). Their weapons do massive damage, and make for interesting combat against hordes of crazed HTH aliens AND impossibly powerful powered armor suits with area effect weaponry.

Multi-armed aliens with infantry training wield squad support weapons and HTH weapons when fighting off crazed hive-mind drones. Crystal-shaped telepaths (with telekinetically controlled 'hands') wield standard issue military rifles.

Drones zip ahead of the squads, and the team's combat armor allows for active sensor arrays to gather intelligence on their opponents -- who may just have the right combat tech to counter ours.

So, I suppose I'll be generating a series of posts that highlight some combat tactics that we like to follow (based on our training packages and our equipment) to showcase the capabilities of the Hero System -- to reward combat tactics with more than just simple bonuses to hit or cover. It really has a depth that rewards teamwork, planning, using the environment to your advantage, and so on, without abstracting to a simple advantage or disadvantage to a roll.


  1. This seems a most intriguing setting and use of the system.

    I must confess, as much as I love Champions I've often found running anything but Superheroes with the Hero System difficult. It just felt wrong somehow. Partially because I generally prefer simple, less crunchy systems and Champions/Superheroes is the exception that goes against my rule.

  2. Well, I suppose the genre we're after is a more military feel -- heroic military genre, to be sure -- but one where decisions equipment, position, and tactical choices (including teamwork) matter.

    We also have a semi-enforced rule that you have 30 realtime seconds to make your decision in Combat turns, to (1) enforce the feel; (2) prevent incredibly drawn out discussions about tactics in-combat; and (3) encourage the long strategy and tactical discussions to take place pre- or post- game.

    I'm curious though... what do you use for games like espionage or post-holocaust campaigns?

  3. Sounds like an awesome campaign. HERO is my favorite system and I like it for both superheros and fantasy (though only got to run a few sessions of that game). Never got to play Star Hero but always wanted to. Can't wait to see what you share.


That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.