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Meta-Concepts

Following are several documents that discuss an array of variations on the typical HERO System usage, particularly around alternate character definition and / or advancement methods.

Most of these concepts originated as posts on the HERO Games Forums many years ago; the common underlying idea was ways in which the HERO System can be utilized to support more narrative or modern styles of play with a focus on "organic" character growth.

Unfortunately the various threads where these approaches originated and were discussed by the community are no longer easily discoverable due to various upgrades to the forum software and reindexing of the pages. However, the documents stand alone without the original discussions.

  • Alternate Character Design Methods
    • Trait Driven HERO: rather than engage in HERO System character design, players provide the GM with a list of weighted traits that describe their character, and the GM is responsible for statting those characters. Ideally, the players never see the HERO System version of their characters and interact with the GM using their character's traits as the context of communication. The GM uses HERO System mechanics in the background for resolutions, and translates the outcomes into more general language to convey back to the players. This approach is intended primarily for play-by-post games where the minutia of the HERO System (particularly the Speed chart and combat resolution) can be a significant impediment.
    • Shtick Driven HERO: players define between three and ten "shticks" that define their character concepts. Unlike Trait Driven HERO, the players still design and use full Hero System characters; the definition of shticks is an ancillary effort. For each session rather than the normal method of awarding experience points (xp) characters gain xp based upon how often their shticks affected the session. Supports a more character concept based approach to xp rewards, and also provides players with a concrete agenda during play sessions which can lead to more focused sessions.
    • Planned Phases HERO: rather than gain xp and spend them on character growth in the normal fashion, players instead write up multiple versions of their character ranging from "starting" to "final idealized version". As play progresses, the GM periodically hands out a higher pointed version of a character at an appropriate time, allowing for a stair stepped progression. Different characters might be up-versioned at different times, leading to a more natural jagged development of characters within a party rather than the typical parity usually maintained.
    • Event Driven HERO: at character creation, players define some number of significant life events that are important to their characters and a chunk of potential xp is attached to that event via negotiation by the player and the GM. During play, characters using this method receive a reduced amount of normal xp, but gain large chunks of xp when they manage to accomplish their various significant life events. This allows for a combination of some gradual progression non-deterministically interspersed with significan power ups as events resolve. It also provides players with long term strategic goals, and provides the GM with a form of collaborative campaign development as he knows what sorts of things a given player wants to see included in the campaign.
  • Alternate Character Advancement Methods
    • Meta Accounting HERO: standard HERO System characters have a number of character points available to them equal to a campaign determined number of "base" points, points from disadvantages up to a campaign determined maximum limit, and any experience points accrued. This methodology simply describes an accounting trick GM's can use to adjust the base points and maximum disadvantage points limit over the course of a campaign to organically increase the overall character points available to characters, and commensurately the power level of the campaign.
    • GM Hold Back HERO: this method just formalizes a practice some GM's employ, which is to award players some amount of xp that they can spend immediately if they wish, but hold back some of the xp which is then doled out in a larger lump sum later to correspond with significant events in the emerging story of a campaign.
      • Subsidized Buy In HERO: this is a math-oriented accounting method that is essentially just a variant of the GM Hold Back method. It allows players to opt into a sort of interest bearing savings account for some or all of their xp, and then make lump sum withdrawals later to pay for significant character progression such as entirely new abilities or story-driven growth. Offered as a way to address the observed problem that the constant gradual progression of the HERO System's xp model makes it difficult for characters to undergo radical changes.
    • Bundled Powerup HERO: less of a "methodology" or concept, this document just describes the option a GM has to give individual characters a power up of some kind, at their discretion. There is no "system" or structure to it; this is something GM's have the option to do in just about any RPG if they see fit; it was included in the general discussion of alternate character advancement for purposes of completeness.
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