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HERO System Bestiary
by Tim R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/17/2010 12:50:35

The summary of the Hero System Bestiary (6th Ed.) for the TLDR crowd: This book is the epitome of it's form, and you should own it. The longer version goes something like this:

I love monsters. Not just in a gaming sense, but in a wholistic fascination and obsessive way. I keep books on monsters, make studies of the "other" and watch plenty of B-movies. So when I say that the Hero System Bestiary is a magnificent example of what might be done with the book form, you know where I'm coming from.

First, this book opens with basically all of the tips and tricks I've devised over time as a GM, to use the bestiary to it's best effect. How all of the creatures can be generalized to fit any scenario you can envision, and then how to implement them into your game to utilize them all for the best effect. And this doesn't even begin to get into the actual monsters!

This book breaks down nearly 500 pages of monsters by genre, type, and literary source. An impressive amount of research goes into this more-than-complete book that focuses on giving the GM the tools to populate his world appropriately. It includes precisely what you need to know about the animals/monsters without drowning you in excessive detail.

This book focuses on GM usability, and is probably the best I've ever seen. There are some minor misses in the bookmarks of the electronic edition; but if you go directly by the table of contents you'll be fine. I've also mentioned this to the folks at Hero Games, and they are looking into it and will probably release an update.

Five Stars.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
HERO System Bestiary
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HERO System Advanced Player's Guide
by James C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2010 21:21:39

The HERO System Advanced Player's Guide is misnamed. What it should be titled is "Advanced HERO Concepts Guide." For the new HERO player, I think it is a bit much to digest, especially if that person has just started down the HERO pathway. That leaves the experienced HERO fan. For them, this book provides discussions on how to tweak the system in interesting ways.

It is organized along the lines of the core rulebooks (Character Creation and Combat & Adventuring) with chapters discussing these optional and alternative concepts in the same order as the core books. The concepts themselves are a mixed bag. Some are quite clever, some seem useless to me, some are carryovers from previous editions that somehow didn't make it to the core books. The individual reader would have to judge which individual tweak might work best for them.

All in all, this book is truly an academic exercise in how to tweak the HERO System. For game mechanists out there, it would be a very entertaining read. For everybody else, it might contain some useful tidbits. I don't know that I would recommend it to the budding HERO gamer. I don't even think most experienced HERO gamers would find this book more than a curiosity. It is an interesting exploration into the mind of Steve Long, the line editor for HERO Games.

HERO Games books have a reputation as looking like text books. HERO 6th went a long way to change that with beautiful color artwork and an impressive layout. The Advanced Player's Guide is a deliberate step backward. It has no art. Some may consider that a deficiency, but the APG was designed to be a textbook on HERO theory. If you are looking for art, this has none. No good art, no bad art. No color art. No grayscale art. No art period. Just something to consider. ( For myself, the book serves as more of a reference than a leisure read. Art is unnecessary. )

I would recommend this only to those who really like to delve into the deep mechanics of a highly mechanical system.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
HERO System Advanced Player's Guide
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HERO System Basic Rulebook
by James C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2010 20:32:24

The HERO System Basic Rulebook is a cut-down version of the HERO System Sixth Edition rules. For those who have never experienced the HERO System before, it offers a taste of the full rules in a nice easy to digest package. The text lists the things that were omitted from each section, but without context the neophyte HERO gamer is just not going to know what he is missing. Still, the essential HERO mechanic is in play and the book does an excellent job of explaining how the rules work. For the price, you get a nice universal gaming system.

But you will soon want more. Much more. For those that really want to sink their proverbial teeth into the system, the HERO System Basic Rulebook is just not going to cut it. This includes longtime fans such as myself. Too much is missing or just barely touched upon. The feeling that their could have been more comes up time and again while reading through the text. For those familiar with past editions of HERO, you can see where a little touch here or a different power included there would have made this a truly remarkable product. I suppose that one of the Basic Rulebook's purposes was to entice the entry-level HERO to buy the main ruleboosk (Character Creation and Combat & Adventuring). I already want to purchase those, so you will have to get the opinion on whether that is a successful tactic from a true HERO neophyte.

Still, for the price, this is a worthy product that will afford many hours of role-playing fun. I recommend it to anybody wanting to test out the HERO System.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
HERO System Basic Rulebook
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Hero 6th "2010 Special" [BUNDLE]
by Michael L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/08/2010 10:34:10

I can scarcely believe this bundle is for real, or that there isn't some sort of catch, as even the basic rulebook PDF alone is $15.

Nonetheless, I happily report this bundle is exactly what is says it is!

I won't review the products themselves as that is best done under their respective pages.

All I can say is, I'm not sure how this bundle came to be, but if you want these books, get it while it lasts!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Hero 6th "2010 Special" [BUNDLE]
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Inner-Earth
by Jenette D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2009 02:20:00

A well put together source book detailing more of the inner working of hollow earth with some much desired dino stats and really good adventure ideas/additional world info.

There were a couple major downsides, namely the irritating inability to copy/paste any material from the book. Being able to copy/paste dino stats or other pieces into my game master notes is something I really need/expect in a pdf. (Disabling this prompts some potential buyers to simply pirate a copy with the copy/paste ability enabled rather then purchase it legitimately)

The extra included maps in .fcw were a nice addition, but having them be in large maps in .jpg format would have been more convenient (or at least including a .fcw file reader or link to download one)

In short I gave this a 2 star rating due to the inability to copy.paste info form the .pdf and having to hunt across the net for a .fcw file viewer so I can use the included maps. (If copy/paste was enabled and the maps in an easier to view format I'd happily rate this product 5 stars.)

Quality: Satisfied Easy of use: Disappointed Value for money: Somewhat Satisfied



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[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Inner-Earth
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2009 07:31:27

Dinosaurs, Nazis, cavemen. A really good pulp adventure in the hollow earth genre. Complete with maps, history, personalities, and stat blocks for characters. Fairly easy to convert to other games. "Fair" rating reflects a rather dry writing style, but this is a small complaint.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Malay Coins - PDF
by Jim C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/22/2008 16:10:09

Not a bad pulp treasure-chase with an easily dispensable supernatural scene right at the end. Action scenes and NPCs could have used more specific description and there are one or two potentially awkward connections.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Malay Coins - PDF
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Solar Smith and The Sky-Pirates of Arcturus! - PDF
by Tim L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/20/2008 18:07:28

Good pulp setting from the detailed-oriented Hero system, easily convertable to other systems which is the reason I got it. If you do not have Space Hero, you may have trouble with some background game system mechanics, but the storyline is good enough to move things along for any setting.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Solar Smith and The Sky-Pirates of Arcturus! - PDF
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The Malay Coins - PDF
by Michael S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/02/2008 18:09:19

The Malay Coins is an excellent scenario. It's always difficult to review a scenario without giving away too much of the plot. This on involves a search for the remaining coins in a set, which sends the heroes hopping around Asia until the climax. My group managed to go a little off track, but the scenario has a rather strong plot which enabled me to bring them back into the published material without feeling railroaded. My group doesn't play Hero System, but I was able to easily adapt this scenario to our system of choice.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Malay Coins - PDF
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Champions Battlegrounds
by Malcolm M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/10/2008 19:41:27

Disappointing in a couple of significant ways, Champions Battlegrounds nonetheless delivers on most of what its ad copy promises, although less completely than one might expect.

It's a well-written purchase, but I'm still not convinced it was actually worth the full $17 US I paid. Its strengths are strong, but its weaknesses are significant.

WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT IT?

Well, it delivers on what it promises -- sorta, kinda … barely. I haven't run Champions at the gaming table in years, mostly because I find the game so preparation-intensive. This is not a criticism of Champions; merely that I can prep two or more rpg adventures for other game systems (super, or non-) in the time it takes me to properly prepare one Champions adventure. I have less free time than I used to, so the Champions system is not my best gaming option right now.

I bought Champions Battlegrounds based on the product description -- all that we have to go by, here on RPGNow, until the customer reviews roll in -- after all, what Game Master who runs superhero or modern rpg adventures wouldn't be interested in a product which features five ready-made adventure locations? A park; a mall; a major amusement park; a building construction site; and an abandoned warehouse?

Besides, the five-part, optionally-linked adventure also promised appearances by classic Champions villains such as Ogre and Foxbat. What's not to like? (More on what became of this, below)

The adventure is generally lively and well-written, and rather expertly laid out, given the density of the text description here.

There are a lot of clearly-marked sections, sub-sections, and sidebars throughout, so finding the information you need, when you need it, shouldn't be too tough.

The adventure text also features a number of "If The Players Do X", or "If The Players Fail Here" callouts which can prove very useful given players' tendency to do the things the GM least expects, when he or she least expects it.

The five "battleground" locations can be used separately, of course, or they can be played through as a sequence of linked episodes leading to a final showdown. Options are always good.

WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD?

The worst, most unpardonable sin in Champions Battlegrounds, is that IT REFERS YOU TO A SEPARATE PRODUCT FOR VILLAIN STATS! Sorry for shouting, but that's simply bad form, Smee, especially in the PDF format, where customers can't really know all of what they're getting until it's too late.

The product does stat out its brand-new villains, but for all of the others, you are given page numbers from the Champions villain supplement Conquerors, Killers, and Crooks, and told to look them up.

Hardcore Champions players won't care -- they already own every Champions supplement they can get their hands on -- but for those gamers who pick up Battlegrounds as a potential "gateway" product to Champions, well, Hero Games isn't gonna win much love with cheap tactics like this.

I don't enjoy writing negative reviews -- I'd much rather focus on pointing out the good stuff -- but this increasingly common tactic of publishers giving gamers less than a complete product, while implying it is complete is REALLY starting to irk me, and I feel compelled to call it out.

Funny how the RPGNow product description just "forgot" to mention that you need another product to fully play Champions Battlegrounds, hunh? Yeah. Sure. Right.

The second disappointing aspect of this product is that the promised location maps are not really tabletop scale. In their defense, however, they DO have map-scales on them, both in feet, and in the Champions 1 hex = 2m (6') standard, so you can figure out map-distances if you have access to a ruler.

Most of the maps, however, are printed at what could be called "overview scale" -- like the kind of maps you get when you visit a shopping mall or an amusement park. Some detail, and a general scale, but it's more about giving you an overall sense of place.

The maps are good, but if your players want to tear it up by the concession stand in the superhero-themed OmegaWorld amusement park, or slug it out in the mall comics shop, you're still going to have to break out the battlemap and the markers and hand-draw the player-scale details.

My last complaint is a personal quirk, and does not significantly affect my rating of this product: the PDF is black-and-white throughout.

Even the cover, which is full color on the RPGNow website, is black-and-white in the actual PDF. It just seems wrong for a superhero product not to have even a color cover -- and given the way Champions Battlegrounds weaseled on the villain stats, it makes me wonder if the "color in the promos, but not the product" was another example of marketing weaseldom.

SO, WHAT'S THE VERDICT?

If you're a Champions devotee, you've already bought this. If you're merely a curious gamer, take a look at the strengths and weaknesses I've listed above, and decide if the positives outweigh the negatives for your specific game needs.

Champions Battlegrounds is well-written, and certainly interesting enough to deserve a passing grade -- but its flaws (particularly the lack of necessary villain stats) hold it back from anything more than a basic pass, in my opinion.

Final verdict: 2.5 out of 5 stars, rounded up to 3 for the RPGNow system.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Champions Battlegrounds
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Hero System Resource Kit
by Gordon F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/14/2007 13:05:21

The Upside:

I picked up the Resource Kit some time ago as a hard copy and have used it to good effect, mostly at Conventions. I also picked up the PDF recently and have discovered a few different uses for it.

First, what the packet is, and what it isn't. The hard copy contains four parts - a forty-eight page booklet, three 22x17 double sided maps, three cardboard miniature pages, and a five panel GMs screen.

The Booklet. A short reference guide to help with character creation and game setup. The booklet contains no rules explanations, only tables and costs of various game elements. The book has four main parts to it.

Character Creation lists the basic character elements, point levels, costs of Characteristics. It also lists the basic elements and costs for all the creation elements. A complete Skills List, Base Movement, Martial Maneuvers, Perks, Talents, Powers, Power Advantages & Limitations, Power Frameworks and Character Disadvantages. Only Power Frameworks get any kind of description, the rest are simply lists of the costs for each item.

Equipment Creation covers costs for Automatons, Computers, Vehicles, and Bases. All in about two pages, again no descriptions just quick cost references.

Combat Summary starts with the combat sequence checklist, and covers all the major points of basic combat from figuring OCV and DCV to adding damage, Normal and Killing Attacks, Effects of damage, Knockback, Endurance and Pushing. It does not cover the optional rules.

Forms And Templates is the part of the book with all new resources. Starting with the basic two page character sheet. The new tracking sheets are a Character Bio Sheet for putting down a complete character background. Campaign Guidelines sheet for GMs to pass out to set power levels, tone and house rules. Campaign Checklist Sheet which allows a GM to give out a quick checklist of permitted, required or forbidden elements (Skills, Powers, etc...). Combat Record Sheet for the PCs and major NPCs. Minion Control Sheet for quick reference of lesser NPCs. Adventure Record Sheet for GMs to track major events for each game session or adventure. Vehicle and Base Record Sheets. And several Hex Templates: A four part Range Template (four 8 hex long strips that can be cut out and stacked end to end) that gives range modifiers out to 32 Inches/Hexes. And three Area Of Effect Templates for 2, 3 and 4 Inches Areas.

The Cardboard Figures. There are three sets of Cut out miniatures included (base stands not included). One fantasy with two human warrior variants, a human thief, a human shopkeeper, a human bard, two female priestess variants, a human mage, two goblin/orc warrior variants, and two ogre/giant type creatures. One Modern set with a girl on a bike, a fire fighter, a bum, a young woman, kid on a skateboard, a businessman, young man, a mailman, a female reporter and three cop/security guard variants. One Science Fiction set with a technician, two powered armor soldiers, a psionic, two human soldiers (one male, one female), human military officer, human rogue and four different aliens. The hard copy are on heavy cardboard stock, single sided. The figures are black and white, which gives the electronic copy a bit of an edge if you wanted to add a bit of color to them it's much easier with that version than the hard copy.

The Maps. Twenty-Two Inches by Seventeen inches. There are three double sided maps provided in 1 Hex = 1 Inch scale. The first one is a modern street and a modern warehouse. The second a fantasy tavern and a farmstead. The last a science fiction bar and the bridge of a spaceship. It's definitely easier to get the hard copy of the this than to try and print out the maps on your own. The hard copy are printed on thick paper stock.

The GMs Screen. A five panel affair containing just about every table the average Hero Gamer references during a session. Double sided so the players have a set of tables to look at as well as the GM. There are suggestions at the start of the booklet on how to modify this screen if needed. I actually found the PDF version of this more useful as you can print out the five panels separately and have them free floating to pass around the table (even nicer is having them laminated to make them more durable). Though the GMs screen itself is extremely useful if the GM uses one. It's printed on heavy card stock, so it doesn't fall over too easily.

The Downside:

For a system deeply rooted in Super Hero gaming I was surprised to find the miniatures didn't include a set of generic Supers or thugs for Super PCs to beat up. Or at the very least some Supervillains from Hero Games' own line. But seeing as how wildly individual people like their superheroes the lack of them doesn't disappoint me very much.

The Otherside:

Being a reference resource for the HERO System you might think this has no use at all for gamers of other systems. Mostly true, but not completely. The three pages of paper miniatures are useful to anyone who needs some more, especially some generic ones. The six included maps are also fairly useful, even if you don't use hex maps.

For a quick reference guide this set is more than adequate. Hero Games also gives explicit permission to copy any part of the set for personal use only, which is helpful in today's world of copyright awareness. For about Thirty Dollars US you can pick up both the electronic and hard copy of this supplement, which gets the most use out of it I feel.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hero System Resource Kit
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Hero System Sidekick - PDF
by Jeffrey K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/16/2007 12:11:44

The copy and paste function is disabled, which is a big negative for me since I use it extensively to reorganize material according to my own needs.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Hero System Sidekick - PDF
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Hero System 5th Edition, Revised
by David L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/10/2007 05:57:26

HERO/Champions is my all time favorite system for roleplaying in the superhero genre. I love the fact that you can completely customize your character according to a point system, and it is pretty easy for the GM to keep individuals from getting out of control simply by enforcing the active point limits for powers and keeping a close eye on endurance cost.

I think that the system is best for supers, and I rarely use it for other genres, especially fantasy. That is, unless, you want a really high fantasy with powerful characters. The system also works great for kung fu games, since a lot of those get over the top. (I'm thinking "Kung Fu Hustle" type moves)

The fifth edition was well worth the price, and I plan on picking up the "ultimate" series soon, once I get through re-reading the basic rules.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Hero System 5th Edition, Revised
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UNTIL Superpowers Database - PDF
by Mark G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2007 00:00:00

<UNTIL Superpowers Database> by Hero Games is an indispensable power construction resource for the 4th edition of the Hero System. It is 272 pages and retails for $18.99. This is a huge book that makes character creation a lot easier for new players. The product is broken into roughly 43 chapters. The first being an introduction to the book, the last an appendix that deals with the Power skill, and the rest of the book being broken down into by power theme groups.

The types of powers in this product include: acid powers, air and wind powers, animal powers, body control powers, cosmic energy powers, cyberkinesis powers, darkness powers, density alteration powers, dimensional manipulation powers, earth and stone powers, electricity powers, emotion control powers, fire and heat powers, force powers, gravity powers, ice and cold powers, illusion powers, kinetic energy powers, light powers, luck powers, magnetism powers, matter manipulation powers, mental and psionic powers, precognition powers, radiation powers, shape alteration powers, sleep and dream powers, solar and celestial powers, sonic powers, speedster powers, strength and toughness powers, stretching powers, telekinesis powers, time powers, vibration powers, water powers, weather powers, wood/plant powers and miscellaneous powers. Or roughly any power you can think of from comic books.

Want to run-up walls with super-speed like the Flash? Hyper-running on p. 299 + running up buildings addition for 7 more points. Want tie someone up with a lamp post like the Thing? The Big Wrap-Up (20 PP) p. 208 Want to make a force field out of light like Quasar? Photonic Shield (40 PP) p.127 Want to be unmovable like the Blob? Kinetic Cancellation (13 PP) p.122

There are a ridiculous number of powers in this book (so many I refuse to count them). All are completely figured out with advantages and disadvantages so that the math is completed. Each power also has a number of additions that can be used to fine tune the effect you are looking for. For instance:

Body of Metal is designed to be +20 Str, +4 PD, +4 ED, Knockback resistance ?4?, Armour 18 PD/18ED for a total of 71 points.

If you want tougher armour, 24 PD/24ED adds 15 points. If you want weaker armour, 12 PD/ED, +15 Str, +3 PD and +3 ED, -3? knockback then it drops to 56 points. If you want to be able to transform into and out of metal, it costs 83

Options, there are lots of options that will let your players fine-tune their characters. Throughout the product there are images of heroes and villains from UNTIL?s database that should the characters using their powers to provide inspiration to players. Because Hero Games wastes very little space in a product, the margins of the book sometimes hold other useful pieces of information such as powers, advantages, limitations, adders or descriptions of characters with certain powers. <br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: This is an indispensable book for GM who have new players or have players who don?t want to do the math of power building themselves. It is a great resource for making opponents quickly to reduce GM prep time. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
UNTIL Superpowers Database - PDF
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The Malay Coins - PDF
by Brian I. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/24/2006 00:00:00

A solid pulp adventure. I've run the Malay Coins three times, and it's never been a let down. Play groups have generally found the nps interested, the plot well sign-posted without being a give-away, and a fun time.

As a note, I'll mention I've never used the Hero System to run this adventure (a testament to it's usefulness, and not a comment on the Hero System).

Recommended for GMs running pulp.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Well put together adventure, with a nifty handout puzzle.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: N/A.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Very Satisfied<br>



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
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