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Eclipse Phase Hero a success!

posted May 23, 2011, 11:35 AM by Shane Harsch   [ updated May 23, 2011, 12:12 PM ]
Sunday, May 22, I ran the adventure in the EP quickstart rules in Hero. It ran great. The adventure was a lot of fun and the players, once they warmed up to the openness of the EP setting, had a great time. The question that I wanted to answer with this was: is it worth running in Hero?

I think the best answer is... maybe. It really depends. If you are a Hero n00b and just coming to the system then probably not. The EP system really will be the easiest way to get you into the game and I don't think you will miss anything by doing so. However, if you are a Hero System fan then you will very likely enjoy playing the game in your favorite system. Nothing is lost in the translation. The real advantage to running this in Hero is grittier action/combat. I can say that without reservation having run the adventure first in EP and this second time in Hero. I enjoyed the combat scenes a lot more from a tactical/action perspective. However, I am not sure whether that is necessarily a win for everyone. Certainly the group I played with had a blast with the detailed combat rules. The EP combats were a little more narrative and not as deadly, although they certainly weren't a cake-walk either. Things like grappling and such were definitely more detailed in Hero, but that really isn't a surprise or a criticism. 

Eclipse Phase is a great setting and a great set of rules. The rules are just detailed enough where they need to be and serve the setting extremely well. I only have two main gripes with the system: 
  1. The Speed trait
  2. Burst Fire/Autofire rules
That's really it. They are minor gripes, but they are there none the less and after reviewing the EP forums I am not the only one. 

Speed
I think the potential of having a player with a 3 Speed go 3 times as often as most of the combatants (speed 1) is a little unbalancing. I prefer to have everyone with a SPD 3 in Hero, and then allow the mods to take that up to a 6. This means that the mods that enabled someone to be Speed 4 in EP would make them SPD 6 in Hero, which is superhuman, but only 2x as fast as the average combatant. I think this is especially appropriate since in Hero you can make multiple attacks as part of the rules. already. The EP speed system works just fine, and actually works exactly like the Hero Speed system, I think it is just way too generous. By comparison, if someone in Hero could act 4 times the average combatant (SPD 3), they would have a SPD of 12 and Hero players know exactly how unbalancing that can be, even with 1000pt characters, and here we are putting it into a 400-500pt context.

Burst Fire/Autofire
This issue is a straight criticism, but I see why they did it (simplicity). If you burst fire you do more damage (+1d10). The problem with that is that it increases the chance of penetrating armor and causing a wound - realistically that just doesn't work. If your body armor can stop 1 round, it can stop multiple rounds (assuming they don't hit in the same spot) - extra hits do not create increase the likelihood of penetration. Is there a simple solve? No, not in EP. There are solutions, based on the MoS like you have in most systems but the bottom line is if you are a bit of a gun bunny then the EP rules will eat at you just a bit. 

Hero has its own challenges with "realism" but I don't play it for gritty simulation, I play it for dramatic realism like I see in an action movie. In the adventure we actually had people using the Suppression fire rules to great success - it definitely had the effect of suppressing the area. The players had to get creative with how they were going to respond, as by suppressing the area the bad guys were able to move up and take cover in an advantageous position. Obviously, the scene has to warrant getting this tactical but, frankly, that's one of the things I enjoy about gaming. I want to have a strong narrative storytelling series of skill challenges and roleplaying opportunities, punctuated by gritty, hard hitting action, where casualties measure their pain in terms of discrete injuries to specific locations rather than loss of hit points.

I will post the characters as soon as I correct some typos. I do have a full HeroDesigner template with all of the morphs from the QuickStart rules, as well as a prefab with all of their equipment. I will continue to develop the materials as long as my players show an interest and I hope that helps some other Hero fans enjoy the awesome Eclipse Phase setting in their favorite system.

Definitely check out the materials for Eclipse Phase Hero.

Big thanks to the crew at Warriors 3 Comics and Games for hosting me. I appreciate the opportunity to do these playtest events with an earnest audience prior to showtime at Origins and GenCon. Game On!
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