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When playing Hero System, experienced players can really get the most out of every point, and create incredible characters, while new players can find the system a little overwhelming.

How do you deal with this discrepancy when integrating new player into your group, who aren't familiar with Hero System?

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4 Answers

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I remember when I was a little bitty Hero player...

If you're starting the campaign from scratch, I think it's actually better to ask the experienced players to tone it down. They're going to be able to get into the more complex tweaks with experience points anyhow; it's not going to hurt anyone to start simple.

If you're integrating a new player into an existing campaign, it's going to be tempting to let the experienced players make the character for the new player. Or at least give a ton of advice. I think that can really tip into being intimidating, however, so you've got to be careful there.

What I'd do in that case is look for the easy powerful archetypes. You don't need to be super-clever to get a lot of out of a Strength-based brick, or a blaster. Martial artists are more finicky; steer the new player clear from those. This limits choice a bit, but it makes for easier assimilation.

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When I ran games in Champion I sit down with the player individually and ask what powers they wanted in a general sense. I then created a basic setup and go over possible options. They pick some and I refine it. We go back and forth until there is a completed character. Along the way I am using my greater experience to optimize the character for the player (like looking for the various round off points).

Then as a group we run a sample combat and see how the character perform. Sometime this results in the novice players going back a bit and making different choices. I am pretty lenient about this for the first handful of sessions. Eventually after the third to fifth session the novice has a character they know how to play and is at a level comparable to the expert player.

The idea is that as the referee you coach the novice through the process. This system I found work with most RPGs that have tactically rich combat rules and many options for character creation.

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I always help the player with their design up front. If they make a hero and it has some serious problems, I allow them to refine or redesign the hero for future play. Doesn't hurt anything.

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Just review the characters they produce carefully and suggest changes.

There are actually three dangers here.

1) Characters that are underpowered, useless in the campaign.

2) Characters that break the campaign because they have a power build you didn't take into account.

3) New players stumbling onto broken parts of the game, and getting so excited that they exploit them ridiculously.

Examples:

1) My first character, Senior Suave, a speedster that can control friction. Underpowered, useless in a fight. Hero System isn't set up properly to create such a hero.

2) My fourth character, Astrocat, an alien being that could "reveal his aura", massive bonus to presence, cost endurance, highly visible, might have required concentration, don't really remember, end result was that villains had to face something like a 14 die presence attack to even attack the party.

3) My third character, Nine Tail Fox, Multiform and Duplication, used to such a ridiculous extent that even though he was a modest point character, he really didn't need the rest of the party. He had a form for any eventuality.

So really, review the characters and suggest changes. Be patient. Don't punish players for discovering a loophole. Get buy in for the campaign. "It would be more fun to fight through hoards of the agents of Scorpio-hotep. Get rid of the presence attack." If you're all working together to create a fun story, problems with the system won't become problems with each other.

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