Hero System: Taking Combat Out for a Test Drive
I spent some time talking to folks who really like Hero, and they convinced me to give a sample combat or two a try before I worry overmuch about the mechanics that I think might be less than ideal. I will say that the system proved to be more robust than I gave it credit for, and I've compiled my results into a little PDF documenthttps://www.dropbox.com/s/td0h6n1n1fvdnmu/Hero%20System%20Combat%20Example.pdf that I hope will be useful to others out there. It's in two columns, with the left side dedicated to the fluff and the right to the mechanics.
- The ability to abort a future action to block avoids the issue I was having with fights being decided entirely by a single die roll. Not only do you get an active defense that way, you get the natural back and forth of control over the fight, and a successful parry opens up the opportunity for a less dextrous fighter to retake the offensive.
- I find myself fond of the breakdown between stun and body for keeping track of damage. A hit that doesn't penetrate armor does more ephemeral damage in the form of stun, which can be regained during combat, while a more thorough hit does body, which requires non-combat time to recover from (barring the use of powers).
- Endurance that is used enough to wear out the characters in a natural way, and eventually slow things down until folks take a breather is a nice addition, and feels very smooth in play. It's less aggressive than +Douglas Cole's Last Gasp rules are about movement, which leads to a more potentially dynamic battlefield, but the fact that turns are 12 seconds long and even the fastest "normal" fighters typically can only move up to 48 meters during that time is already relatively self-limiting.
- The speed statistic, which dictates number of actions in a 12 second turn, leaves me wanting something different. If an average joe has a speed of 2, and he acts on the 6th and 12th segments of each turn, what's he doing for the other five seconds out of every six? Is he really taking six seconds to attack? I'm not sure what the answer is there yet. It may be a level of abstraction I'm just always going to be uncomfortable with.
- I missed the ability to reduce my opponent's defenses through feint or deceptive attack, but have found that one of the supplements (the book Hero System Skills) has a new skill called Feint that appears to do a nice job covering both options. Something to add in next time.
- Updated to add: one on one combat, with both fighters having the same SPD doesn't really show off the nuances of the speed system, and it doesn't lend itself well to exploring how useful CSLs can be in finely tuning your character's balance between offense and defense.
Overall, I was pretty impressed. I look forward to putting it through a few more fights, some two-on-threes and some higher tech battles, to see how it holds up.