Monday, February 19, 2018

Alt★Hero RPG update

The design for the Alt★Hero RPG is proceeding well. Unlike most superhero RPGs being designed today, it takes a simulative rather than narrative approach. It is a spiritual descendant of Mayfair Game's DC Heroes RPG and TSR's Marvel Heroes RPG. The game mechanics, which I am calling the "Supermetric system", are based on logarithmic mathematics. Each point on the Supermetric scale represents a doubling in real-world measurements. This approach will be  familiar to anyone familiar with DC Heroes. Unlike Mayfair's system, however, the Supermetric system is fully logarithmic. For instance, in DC Heroes a character with a BODY 6 would be felled with six 1 point-hits, two 3-point hits, or one 6-point hits, even though one 6-point hit was worth eight 3-point hits or sixty-four 1 point-hits. Alt★Hero uses some very clever behind-the-scenes math that enables us to carry logarithmic design to its logical progression while keeping the game fast and fun. In playtesting so far, we've found the combat to be very flavorful with collateral damage, environmental interaction, and more.

At this point, the core mechanics are complete and playable so the next step is to begin to develop the character generation system and the full index of powers. One thing I am still assessing is whether to make the character generation randomized (like Marvel Heroes or Golden Heroes), point-based (like Champions or DC Heroes), or hybridized (like Heroes Unlimited). Because superhero combat tends to be so intransitive (that is, it's like scissors-paper-rock rather than high-roll-wins), I have always been skeptical of point-based systems' claims that they can achieve balance. How do you "balance" worldwide teleportation and the ability to lift a 747? On the other hand, for gamers who enjoy such things, building the uber-powerful character within the limits of points is a lot of fun. I'd love to hear what the Alt★Hero RPG community has a preference for!

Fight On,


  1. As a massive player of Marvel back in the day (created an entire Unlimited Class Wrestling set-up - arena, rules, mechanics, based off a couple of issues of The Thing) I would not want to see a points system for generation.

    I greatly prefer ICE's old method of rolling for attributes in order, but doing it 15 times (or whatever 3x the number of attributes was) and then selecting any 5, in order, from the list of 15.

  2. The thing the "attributes in order" thing really replicated well was the randomness of a hero's powers' origin story.

  3. Except that a comic hero's origin 'randomness' only seems random to the character and the reader. The comic book writer worked it out with some degree of care.

    I prefer point-buy, less because I care about balance (I regularly spend points to make a character expert at some mechanically irrelevant but thematically cool skill, like 'play bone flute'), and more because I like to have control over the outcome of character generation, and it's nice to have a system where the group munchkin doesn't overshadow me too excessively. In any system where mechanical interactions multiply, there's going to be a way to abuse these things, at which point you're dependent more on the maturity of your circle of nerds.

  4. I play crpgs... Have only tried tabletop once and am looking forward to getting my Alt Hero game books.

    My input may thus be meaningless, but, what I have always felt is if you have randomness, let the players have some input or strategy on dealing with it.

    For example, in this character creation scenario, let's say you have 6 attributes. The player rolls the 3d4 5 times and puts the resulting scores on a radar chart. The last category, they get whatever amount of points lets them add up to a total of 45 points.

    Now they have a random, but balanced radar chart. But you let them pick which point is "Might" and then the other attributes follow clockwise in a set sequence.

    So it's random, yet fair feeling and they have some strategy on how the character comes out.