For this game we will be using the Hero system 5th Edition rules. Characters in Gothick Empires are normally built on 100 points - 50 points base plus up to 50 points in disadvantages (although you may take less if you wish). It's pretty obvious that you cannot start out as a mighty wizard or all-conquering warrior at this point level - but that's the point. Fun and interesting characters can be made at this level though (check out the NPCs if you want inspiration). All equipment - weapons, armour, mounts and so on, are provided free - assuming you can get hold of them.
The Current Game
The current game is set in a large archipelago of islands some very large that stretches over a thousand kilometers north to south and twice that east to west. Geographers call it the Su'uvenayan Archipelago after a fabled city supposedly sunk between the islands, by most people call the islands the Six Kingdoms. It lies in the southern hemisphere, several weeks sail from the continent of Lumulea, in the temperate zone so summers are warm and mostly dry and winters cool and wet. In most of the archipelago, snow is almost unknown, except in the mountains of Terrgor and Talarg - even then it is only present in winter. However, the soaring peaks of the Kijarney and Southern Cloudhead ranges are perpetually snow-covered, and the flanks of these mountain ranges are wrapped in cloud or clinging mists. The land is rich green farmlands along the coast with craggy mountains and thick forests inland. Most people live in small towns or villages along the coastline, although woodcutters and small farms are found in the mountains.
The Six Kingdoms are a feudal land, where proud nobles and their warriors war over territory, honor or spite.
Rules for creating armiger, noble or priestly characters from Su'uvenaya are given in the section on creating characters
Character Creation and Other Rules
STR and HA
The cost of STR and HA has been changed. STR now costs 2 character points per point of STR, and HA costs 5 points, to bring the costs into line with attacks in the rest of the HERO system. STR can be bought with the -1/2 limitation of "no figured CHA" or the -1 limitation "Only to add to (specific attack)".
This is a cinematic game so it is possible to buy Talents - that is to say, powers which are defined as skills. This can be fighting tricks which allow you to knock people off their feet or to attack so rapidly that you can hit several people in a second or two. It can be the ability to hide so effectively that even the most determined searchers are unlikely to find you, or to scale unclimable walls. All talents must be approved by the GM. As a good rule of thumb, if anyone looking at your character would think the feat must be perfomed by magic, then it won't be allowed. If you want magical powers - play a magic user.
Skills and Skill Enhancers
Here are the definitions I use in my games:
8 or less
The journeyman level for any skill. This allows you to perform basic tasks without any need for a roll, and you can attempt difficult tasks with a skill roll.
11 or less
The level expected of a professional in the field. As above, you can assume that you can handle any routine task in the area of your skill without needing a roll - difficult applications (for instance, surgery in a room while people are shooting through the windows) will require a roll
14 or less
You are a master in the skill. Anything better than this is regarded as pretty damn amazing.
In addition, a skill is generally assumed to be pretty broad. PS: Doctor assumes that you have all the basic skills required. There is no need to buy KS: anatomy, KS:physiology, KS: surgery etc, unless you want to be really hotshot. Extra skills such as this *can* act as complimentary skills however, so they can still be very useful - and they have the added benefit of making your peers regard you as unusually knowledgeable in your chosen field.
In addition to the "skill enhancers" normally available (Well-connected, Scholar, Linguist, etc) I allow professional skill enhancers. These include (but are not limited to) Warrior, Gambler, Merchant, Priest, Thief, Assassin, Courtier, Sailor, etc. What this means is that any skills that are appropriate to the character's chosen profession can be purchased for -1 off the cost. Note that "appropriate" is defined as something that all or most members of the group could reasonably be expected to know something about - not merely a skill that they *might possibly* be able to acquire. Skills still cost a minimum of 1 point, but for this you get an 11- roll rather than an 8- and two points gets you an attribute-based roll. What constitutes an appropriate skill is (of course) up to the GM, but is usually pretty obvious. Professional skill enhancers cost 3 points each, and depending on the culture in which your character was raised, not all (or any) of them might be available. For a Professional skill enhancer to exist, there has to be a well-defined profession actually in existence too.
Deadly Blow, Naked Advantages and Stacking Powers with Free Equipment
In general, players will NOT be allowed to buy naked advantages and Deadly Blow will not be allowed. Powers do not stack with free equipment - that's part of the "real" limitation. So a mage with a chainmail shirt ( 6 rPD) and a 4 rPD force field has 6 rPD - not 10. If the mage used a spell which generated 6 rPD, then he would have 10 rPD if he used his forcefield. This si why Deadly Blow is not allowed - it "stacks" an extra HKA onto a free attack. Likewise "follow-through attack" is not permitted - it's a naked advantage which is applied to free equipment. You can buy Talents which simulate either of these talents - it's just that you pay the whole price, including buying the attack.
OCV vs DCV
I use the "inverted" Hero system to hit roll. In standard Hero rules, you need to roll 11 or less to hit an opponent with the same CV. Under the system I use, you need to roll 10 or more. The math is easier, and it also makes it easier to calculate the variant rules used for blocking (see below).
The easy way to think of it is "Your OCV + dice hits an opponent's DCV+10".
Just add your OCV to your dice roll, take 10 off your total and that's what DCV you hit. If your OCV is 6 and you roll 11, you hit a DCV of 7 (6 + 11 = 17, which is DCV 7 + 10). If you rolled 5, you hit DCV 1. Once you get used to it, it's far faster and easier than the old system.
SPD and actions
I use a modified SPD system for combat. The old SPD chart has always been one of the things that made HERO system combat so slow. Moreover, I disliked two things about it. First, it made combat unrealistically structured. If you knew what SPD your opponent was, you always knew when he could act if you fought. The fight could even be largely planned out weeks in advance! The second point flows from this - players familiar with the rules could take advantage of this built-in knowledge. There are certain phases when aborted actions always allow you time to recover, or when low-DCV maneuvers are safe against an opponent since you "know" when his next action is going to happen. For me at least, this took away a lot of the chaotic nature of combat, and more importantly, it diminished tension.
The new system doesn't totally prevent this, but it makes it less of a sure thing. Basically, although everyone has SPD as normal, what phase it is is determined by random dice roll. If your SPD is equal to or greater than the number rolled, you get an action - still in DEX order (unless modified by something such as Fastdraw). On a die roll of 1 everyone gets to move, and then everyone gets a recovery (basically the post segment-12 recovery). You should always use a dice with a higher number than the fastest person in the combat, to allow a few "open" phases when people can use held actions to act when no-one else is doing anything. As with combat using the old SPD chart, if you hold your action into a phase when your target acts, you roll DEX vs DEX to see who goes first.
These modifications have greatly sped up combat in the game, plus adding a little randomness. It does not seem to greatly affect the relative importance of SPD (people still bought as much SPD as they could afford). You still get on average the same number of actions between recoveries and a SPD 4 character (for example) still gets on average two actions for every action a SPD 2 character has.
Blocking has been slightly changed. To successfully block an attack, the defender's roll is now modified by the amount the attacker made his roll by. In other words, your OCV + dice roll must equal or beat your attacker's OCV + dice roll to succeed in a block. This change was made for three reasons. First, it "feels" right - a really good shot is harder to block, and you can use levels to aid your attack against a blocking opponent. Secondly, in heroic games, it is reasonably easy for players to get OCVs that outclass run-of-the mill NPCs. This modification makes it a bit less certain that they'll be able to block all the shots against them - a really good hit can still sneak through. Thirdly, it reduces the problem where characters with reduced DCV (such as someone who has fallen) can still block attacks against them as easily as if they were on their feet - which was plain silly. Now DCV penalties will also decrease the chances of a block, since it will make the disadvantaged character easier to hit.
Mounted combat is a major part of the game - we will use the the basic rules, augmented as follows:
- Horse riders get a free high shot (2d6+1) for location against opponents on foot, unless using a long weapon, while attackers on foot will get a low shot (2d6+7) on mounted opponents - again unless using a long weapon. Riders retain their regular OCV.
- A mounted charge can be either a move-by (normally with a weapon) or a move through (attempt to trample with the horse/dragon/war-elephant/whatever). In either case you use the mount's STR (this simulates the effect of mass) and move to calculate damage. If the attack is a move-by with a weapon, then the partial damage meted out to the attacker affects the weapon. It's pretty easy to shiver a lance like this! If it is a move-through with the mount, then of course it takes the damage and if it is stopped suddenly, the rider has to make a riding roll or go flying off.
- When attempting to cow opponents from horseback, use the mount's PRE instead of your own if it is higher. A mounted warrior could be a fearsome sight.
Martial arts can be purchased either using the standard points system or the multipower system I have designed. Basically, if you want a few maneuvers, the original system is cheaper, while the multipower system works out cheaper if you want to build a master martial artist with lots of maneuvers. In either case, martial arts normally must be chosen from a specific school and contain all the required maneuvers and skills.
Armour and Weapons
We will be using "real armour" rules so armour is encumbering, fatiguing and reduces some skill rolls. However, I do allow players to buy 5 point combat skill levels in DCV "Only to offset DCV penalties for fighting in armour" which is a -1 disadvantage.
Short falls are normally just an inconvenience to Hero system characters. The standard rule is 1d6 per game inch, or 2 metres (up to a fall of 20 metres). That means a fall of 4 metres (from a second-floor window, for example) is unlikely to inflict more than a slight bruise on a normal person (ie: it does no body). Even a fall from 20 metres (the sixth floor of a building, for example) will almost never be fatal to a normal person, and is unlikely to affect a tough, heroic-level character at all. While this is not a problem for superheroes, it is pushing the bounds of "cinematic realism" a bit far, and has undesirable side effects on heroic level games - such as characters leaping out of 8th floor windows, confident in the knowledge that it will do them little real harm.
To make the system a bit more realistic, without punishing the characters unduly or making things more complicated, I use the falling rules exactly as written, with one proviso - for every d6 of damage generated by the fall, falling characters or objects subtract 1 PD. That means that long falls are much more likely to be fatal, and shorter falls are more likely to inflict some Body damage (simulating twists, sprains or boken bones)