Tuesday, 4 September 2012

HiLo Heroes

I always like to keep an eye open for interesting role-playing games that are not only very light on rules but that are either very cheap or (even better) free. I'm looking at things on the Risus scale of things basically. The thing is that I don't play RPGs that much and often end up doing them solo as well, so I want something that requires minimal teaching and minimal effort but which still delivers a result. 200 pages of rules and character design that takes hours to complete won't do it for me.

I have a particular love of superhero role-playing games. Back in my past I used to play 'Villains and Vigilantes' and 'Champions', although with hindsight I think that the role-playing always tended to be a bit secondary and really they were big fight sequences - they were just miniatures games with some background character. But I've moved on. We played the original 'Villans and Vigilantes', and had to house-rule it to death to get it to work. 'Champions' was fun up to a point, but very detailed - certainly too detailed for the kind of game experience I want now.

A few years ago I came across a quirky little superhero game called 'Supercrew'. It was presented in the form of a comic, which alone was enough to sell it to me, but in fact the rules were rather clever and elegant, and very simple. It gave a great, fun, game. It has two failings to my mind. Firstly it doesn't have a system for resolving tasks outside of the characters' abilities - it just assumes that you free role-play them which is not really my kind of thing. Secondly the combat system is probably weighted a little too far towards attacks being much better than defences, especially in fights between unequal number so characters. Unless designed carefully, for example, a single allegedly powerful master-villain can be quite easily taken down by a group of  three or four heroes. Every so often I ponder ways of fixing these issues, and whilst doing it I look for other games to see how they have covered them.

And that's how I came across 'HiLo Heroes'. It's been around for a couple of years, it seems, but hasn't attracted a huge amount of attention; a search doesn't turn up a lot of material for it by player, or anything in the way of game reports. It instantly scored with me because it was a free download. I like free. The mechanisms are simple too; most rolls are opposed - you roll 2D6 and your opponent or the GM does the same. You compare the scores of one of each pair of D6. This is the HiLo feature; some of your abilities will use the lower of the two dice, some the higher. Rolls may be modified for skills, powers and a few game circumstances. And that's pretty much it. The mechanisms are simple, with most power effects being abstracted into the rolls and brought out in the narrative - a feature I like in 'Supercrew'. Unlike 'Supercrew' the system does include a character's background in the stats, and the design of a character allows the players and GM to assess how they can perform tasks outside of combat.

It's not the best written set of rules - I've been through them a couple of times and some of it's still not quite clear, and I think some bits have been glossed over - the use of the square grid to regulate movement for example. These are not show-stoppers, though. I think this is a superhero game I can work with, even if it just leads me back to 'Supercrew' with a few ideas or inspirations.

So let's create a character for 'HiLo Heroes'. And what better one to start with than - Kaptain Kobold! Anyone who has followed my Flickr stream will have seen the intermittent adventures of my Lego alter-ego - you can see them HERE if you haven't. As superheroes go The Kaptain is pretty standard; he can fly, and is strong enough to knock out a dragon with a single blow. Here he is for 'HiLo Heroes':


Secret ID: It's A Secret
Professional Career: IT Geek (Logical - Block Mundane - HIGH)
Hobby Career: Photographer (Intuitive - Block Fantastic - LOW)
Charge: The lovely Mrs Kobold

LIFE: 10
Training: Witty Quips (Attack +1)

Build: Quick
Mentality: Logical
Temperament: Cautious

Move Die: HIGH, Flight +1
Attack Die: LOW
Evade Die: HIGH
Damage Die: LOW, Superstrength +1 (Mundane), Hero +1
Block Mundane Die: HIGH, Weak -1
Block Fantastic Die: LOW

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