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Unread 21st of June, 2005, 15:36
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Dread Lord on High [Epic GM]

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How to be a hero in Hero

Alrighty gang its time for me to explain how combat in Hero is going to work in the framework of the PbP. Right now I think the party is basically split 50-50 with those who have played Hero and those that haven’t, but even you guys who have played Hero I’d suggest giving this a skim over.

The first thing that I want to make clear is that it is not my goal as a GM to kill your characters. That’s not to say that combat isn’t lethal or that you can’t get yourself killed. Of course that is always a possibility. What I’m saying is that I will help you with the combat rules so that your character can succeed (which makes for a more interesting story). The feel that permeates Eberron (and the mood that I want to emphasize) is one of cinematic action. Think action movie. Tell me what it is that you want your character to do and I’ll help you with how you can do it.

So let us away with the nuts and bolts of Hero…

The standard unit of measure in Hero is the game “inch”. One game inch equals 2 meters (about six feet) of real world distance (1”=2m). If we are using a combat map, make sure you cycle through until you hit the hex map (I will always use the FIRST hex map). Each hex is one inch.

Combat Time
There are three separate time increments in Hero – Turn, Segment and Phase.

Turn – The basic time frame of combat is called a Turn. Each turn equals approximately 12 seconds of real time. Each Turn a character gets a number of Phases equal to his Speed (one of your stats). Each Turn is divided into 12 segments. (for those of you with Zen characters you will figure out your speed in the first combat, so don’t worry).

Segment – A Turn consists of 12 Segments, each 1 second long. Characters who can perform an Action in a Segment (i.e. who have a Phase in that Segment) do so in order of their DEX values. The character with the highest DEX score goes first, the second highest goes next, and so on.

After every Segment 12, before the next Turn begins, there is a “Post-Segment 12” period that takes no time. At this time most characters automatically get to take a Recovery (regain some of their lost Endurance and Stun)

Phase – A Segment on which a character can act is known as one of his Phases. Each character has a number of Phases in each Turn equal to his speed. For instance, a speed 5 character has five Phases – the character can perform one or more Actions in each Phase. The Speed chart tells you which Segments a character’s Phases are in (the chart will be posted in the combat thread – depending on how well I can get it to turn out I may have to make it an attachment)

Each time one of a character’s Phases comes up, he may perform one or more Actions. A character’s Phase begins on his DEX in each of the indicated Segments. For example, if a character has SPD (speed) 5, DEX 20, his first phase in a turn begins in segment 3 on DEX 20.

The type of Actions a character performs has no effect on when he acts. A character gets to perform his entire Phase’s worth of Actions when his Phase occurs, even if a character with a lower DEX only wants to perform a Zero or Half phase Action (both of which will be explained in just a bit)

For the most part almost every character and opponent fought will have a speed around 3. Speed 4 is considered human maximum (two is average), so speeds over 4 are rare.

As discussed above, a Phase is a Segment in which a character can act, i.e. perform an Action. During a Phase, a character may perform one or more Actions, depending upon the nature of those Actions and the order in which her performs them. There are four basic types of Actions:

Full Phase Actions
The first are Full Phase Actions. Full Phase Actions take a character’s entire Phase; he can do nothing else and take no other Actions that Phase. Examples of Full Phase Actions include a character using more than half of their movement, taking a Recovery, using the Rapid Fire or Sweep combat maneuvers, or recovering from being Stunned.

Half Phase Actions
Second are Half Phase Actions. These are Actions that only require half a Phase to perform (in other words, a character can perform two Half Phase Actions per Phase.) Half Phase Actions include a character using up to half of his inches of movement (a “Half Move”), opening a door, using the Power Find Weakness, or making most Perception (PER) rolls or skill rolls (though the time on the later can vary depending on the skill being used and the circumstances).

Zero Phase Actions
Third are Zero Phase Actions. A character may perform as many Zero Phase Actions as he wishes at the beginning of a Phase or after performing a Half Phase Action, but not after performing an Attack Action of a Full Phase Action. Shifting Combat Skill Levels, Penalty Skill Levels, or Skill Levels is a Zero Phase Action; the Levels’ setting lasts until the character changes them (which he can only do during a Phase, or when Aborting). Other Zero Phase Actions include activating a Power, turning off a Power, shifting the points in a Power Framework, or using Casual Strength (STR).

Actions which take no time
Fourth are Actions which take no time. As the term implies, these Actions take no time to perform; a character may perform them whenever he wishes (even on a Segment in which he doesn’t have a Phase) and as often as he wishes (with in reason). Examples including making Presence Attack (intimidation/rallying), making a soliloquy, or making a roll at the GM’s request.

Attack Actions
Attack Action – Actions that require or involve any kind of Attack Roll, such as using Mind Control, using a Combat Maneuver, projecting an Energy Blast, Dodging, Blocking, or throwing a punch – are a special case. Attack Actions only take a Half Phase, but must be the last action the character performs in the Phase. For example, a character can Half Move and then attack, but can’t attack and then Half Move. Performing an Attack Action brings a chracter’s Phase to an end – he can perform no other Actions after performing an Attack action (except of course Actions which take no time, see above)

Holding an Action
A character may choose not to act when his DEX indicates that his Phase begins. He may wait until a lower DEX or until some event occurs (“I wait until he comes around the corner”). This is known as Holding an Action (or delaying or reserving a Phase).

A character may Hold his Action untila later DEX in one of his Phases or until a later segment. However, he can never use a Held Action to take two Actions in one Segment – a character may Hold his Action until his next Phase begins, but if he chooses to use the Held Action before his Phase occurs, it takes the place of his Phase – he cannot have two phases in the same Segment.)

A character may perform a Half Phase Action and then Hold a Half Phase. The character is considered “ready” and may perform the Held Half Phase Action later.

Typically, a character must either Hold his Action until a specified lower DEX, or to wait for a specified event (such as “I’ll wait until he looks at me” or “I’ll Dodge if anyone attacks me”). In the latter case, once the specified event occurs, the character may choose not to use his Held Action and keep Holding it. With the GM’s permission, a character can Hold his Action “generically”, without declaring any sort of precondition for acting, and then perform whatever Action he wants to whenever he wants to.

A character can usually use a Held Action (or Half Phase Action) at any time (unless the specified precondition for acting would prevent this). If two characters want to perform an Action at the same time, each character should make a DEX roll: the character who makes his DEX roll by more gets to act first. If both characters make the roll by the same amount their Held Actions occur simultaneously. Regardless of the roll, defensive Actions (any the character could Abort to; see below) occur first; the need to make a DEX Roll only applies to attacks, movement Actions, and the like.

A character who Holds his Action on Segment 12 still gets his Post-Segment 12 Recovery, and may use his Held Action in the next Turn on any Segment until a Segment in which he has another Phase.

Example – Sir Gareth (SPD 3) and an Orc Thug (SPD 3) are in HTH Combat. It’s Segment 12. ON Dex 18 Gareth Holds his Action. On DEX 13 the Orc Thug charges Gareth. Gareth decides to throw his spear. Since both characters want to act at the same time, each must make a DEX roll. Gareth rolls a 5 making his roll by 7. The orc rolls a 14, missing his roll by 2. Gareth made his roll by more so he acts first. If the orc is still standing he can then take his Action. If the rolls had been made by equal amounts, the two characters would have taken their Actions simultaneously.

Generally, Holding an Action does not affect a character’s Combat Value (Combat Value or CV is a measure of how easy you can hit or be hit in combat – it has two parts a OCV or Offensive Combat Value, and a DCV or Defensive Combat Value). If a character Blocks, or uses some other Combat Maneuver that affects his CV, in a Phase, and in his next Phase declares a Held Action, at that point he loses the CV modifiers from the Maneuver. Just because he chooses to delay his Action doesn’t mean his Phase hasn’t occurred, and that ends the effect of a Combat Maneuver. However, his Combat Skill Levels, if any, remain allocated as they were until he changes them (with a Zero Phase Action).

Aborting an Action
Aborting is an extremely important part of combat, but can be a bit confusing; as with all things if you have questions let me know.

Sometimes a character can act first to protect himself, regardless of relative DEX or the fact that he doesn’t have a Phase. This is done by Aborting and Action (sometimes called “Canceling a Move”). A character can only Abort his next Action to perform a defensive Action (which will be listed later)

Typically a character must declare an Abort when an attacker announces he’s attacking that character, but before any rolls are made (in PbP – you may abort until the Phase, or your character, is locked). A character can’t wait to see whether an Attack Roll misses, and if it hits, then declare an Abort (unless, of course, the GM permits this for the sake of drama).

Aborting an Action requires the character’s next full Phase to perform – in essence, the character uses his next Phase “early” to protect himself. If he’s Holding a Phase or Half Phase, he may Abort to use his Held Action to perform a defensive Action; in that case he does not lose any more Phases.

Example – Sir Gareth (SPD 3) is attacked in Segment 6 and decides to Abort to Dodge. Doing so uses up his Phase in Segment 8 – when Segment 8 rolls around, Gareth can do nothing (but at least he’ll still have the benefit of the extra DCV from the Dodge); he won’t get to act again until his Phase in Segment 12. If Gareth was attacked in Segment 4 before his DEX came up, he would instead have lost his Action in Segment 4 when he Aborted to Dodge – since he had not yet had the chance to take an Action, he still had his full Phase left in Segment 4 and could use it to Abort to Dodge. If Gareth was attacked in Segment 4 after he made a Half Move and was Holding his remaining Half Phase Action, he could Abort to Dodge and sacrifice his held Half Phase; he would not have to use up a full Phase in that instance.

Once a character has performed an Attack Action or otherwise used his full Phase in a particular Segment, he cannot Abort to any Action until the next Segment. For example, if Gareth’s DEX came up in Segment 4 and he used his Phase to attack an orc, and the orc then attacked him back, Gareth could not Abort – he’s already acted in Segment 4. He must wait until Segment 5 before he can Abort his next Phase.

Once a Character Aborts, he cannot Abort again or take any other Actions until after the Phase he Aborted has passed. For example, suppose a SPD 4 character (Phases 3,6,9,12) Aborts his Phase in Segment 6 in Segment 4 to Dodge an attack. He cannot Abort again, or take any other Actions, in Segments 4,5, or 6. After Segment 6 passes (i.e. in Segment 7 or later), he can Abort again (for example, in Segment 7 or 8 he could Abort his Phase in Segment 9).

A character cannot normally Abort to a movement Action, such as to run, fly, or Teleport out of danger’s way. Dive For Cover and decelerating or turning are exceptions to this – although they do involve some movement, characters may be allowed to Abort to other forms of movement in appropriate circumstances.

A character can never Abort to make an attack (including to use a Damage Shield, which is not a defensive power). However, if a character has an attack of some kind Linked to a Defense Power (for example, a Damage Shield Linked to a Force Field), he may activate the attack when he Aborts to activate the Defensive Power.

Ordinarily a character can only Abort to protect himself. However, with the GM’s permission, a character can Abort to protect others (for example to step in front of an attack intended to hit another character, or to use Missile Deflection at range to save someone from a arrow).

A character my perform more than one defensive Action while Aborting – such as Aborting to Dodge and simultaneously activating a Defensive Power – provided they’re not mutually exclusive. For example, a character cannot Abort to Dodge and Block; both are Combat Maneuvers and cannot be performed together.

An Action a character Aborts to always “goes first,” even if an opponent is already attacking or has a higher DEX. For example, if a character Aborts to activate his Force Field, he automatically gets the Force Field turned on before any opponent can attack him or complete an Action.

Defensive Actions
Dive For Cover
Any Combat or Martial Maneuver with the Abort element
Activating any Power that provides a character with more points of defense, or some other significant form of protection (such as Desolidification).
Decelerating or turning while moving, operating a vehicle or riding a mount.
Resisting Knockback

Combat Maneuvers
Although the number of different ways one character can strike another in combat is nearly infinite, the differences between the vast majority of these maneuvers – in game terms – are minimal. Therefore, the Hero system has a limited number of Combat Maneuvers that cover most of the possibilities.

There are three types of Combat Maneuvers. There first type, Standard Combat Maneuvers, can be used bay any character in just about any type of campaign. The second type, Optional Combat Maneuvers, tend to be more advanced or complicated or are particularly suited to a particular genre.

The first two types of Combat Maneuvers are free – any one can use them, and they cost no character points. The third type, Martial Maneuvers, costs character points to learn.

Combat maneuvers can modify a character’s OCV (Offensive Combat Value), DCV (Defensive Combat Value), damage done and/or other factors. Any modifiers from a Maneuver remain in effect from when the character performs the Maneuver until the beginning of his next Phase.

Characters are not limited to using the maneuvers described here – they’re free to try any action they want, even if it’s not listed as a Combat Maneuver. I will determine the modifiers applicable to and effects of a maneuver by comparing it to the listed Combat Maneuvers.

Since most of your characters are being run “Zen” most of the numbers are meaningless. In general “+” is good and “-” is bad. Use them to get an idea of how the maneuver will affect you – i.e. a haymaker doesn’t help you hit someone (+0 OCV), if you do hit you’ll do a lot of damage (+4 Damage Classes), but the attack really opens you up (-5DCV)

Standard Maneuvers
Block – ½ Phase - +0 OCV/+0 DCV – Block HTH attacks, Abort
Brace – 0 Phase - +2 OCV / ½ DCV - +2 OCV against Range Modifiers
Disarm – ½ Phase - -2 OCV/+0 DCV – Disarm target (STR vs STR roll)
Dodge – ½ Phase - +3 DCV – Dodge all attacks, Abort
Grab – ½ Phase - -1 OCV/ -2 DCV – Grab two limbs, can
squeeze or throw
Grab By – ½ Phase - -3 OCV/-4 DCV – Move and Grab object
(Usually involves a full move, so it takes a full phase)
Haymaker – ½ Phase - +0 OCV/-5DCV - +4 Damage Classes
Move By – ½ (full) Phase - -2OCV/-2DCV – Bonus Damage
from Velocity, You (or your weapon) take 1/3 of it.
Move Through – ½ (full) Phase - -v/5 OCV / -3 DCV – As Move
by but more damage for both parties
Set – full Phase - +1 OCV / +0 DCV
Strike – ½ Phase - +0 OCV / +0 DCV – STR or Weapon

Grab by, Move By, Move Through all do additional damage based on the relative velocity. The faster you move, the more damage you do. Grab By can be thought of as a flying tackle (if your target is a person) or as snagging something as you run by. Move By is most often used by cavalry – you ride in a line and basically stick your weapon out along the way and hit something. Due to the extra force from movement, your weapon may take some damage (a good technique for maces and broadswords, not such a good technique for rapiers). Move Through is just that, you are running your weapon and your body directly into your foe. You get a lot of damage from velocity, but you take damage from the mutual impact (if your attack doesn’t penetrate their defenses you will take full damage – think running into a brick wall).

Optional Maneuvers
Club Weapon ½ Phase - +0 OCV/ +0 DCV – Striking non
Cover – ½ Phase - -2 OCV/+0DCV – Target held at “gunpoint”
Dive For Cover – ½ Phase - +0OCV/DCV – Avoids attack, Abort
Hipshot – ½ Phase - -1 OCV/+0DCV - +1 DEX only for
Hurry – ½ Phase - -2 OCV/-2 DCV - +1d6 DEX only for
Pulling A Punch – ½ Phase- -2 OCV/+0 DCV Normal Stun,½
Body dmg
Snap Shot – Full Phase - -1 OCV/ +0 DCV – attack then duck
behind cover.
Sweep – Full Phase - -2/x OCV / ½ DCV – Make Multiple

A character can make 2 attacks with Sweep. They may make additional attacks at the 'expenditure' of a combat skill level (1 skill level = 1 extra attack). There is –2 OCV/attack past first

Missile Weapons
Bow Firing Normally – Full Phase - +0 OCV / ½ DCV
**Drawing/nocking arrow – Half Phase
**Pulling/firing arrow – Attack Action

Bow,firing with Fast Draw Roll –Attack Action- +0 OCV/½ DCV
**Drawing/nocking arrow – Zero Phase
**Pulling/firing arrow – Attack Action

Bow, firing defensively – Full Phase - -4 OCV / +0 DCV
**Drawing/nocking arrow – Half Phase
**Pulling/firing arrow – Attack Action

Bow, firing Defensively & Fast Draw– Attack Action- -4 OCV/ +0 DCV
**Drawing/nocking arrow – Zero Phase
**Pulling/firing arrow – Attack Action

Rapid Fire - -2OCV/Shot past the first (up to 3 shots – total –4 to all) requires Fast Draw Rolls for each shot.

Light Cross bow, Loading – Full Phase – ½ DCV
Heavy Crossbow, Loading – 2 Full Phases – ½ DCV

Crossbow firing (after loading) – Attack action - +0OCV / +0 DCV
Horseback adds a –2 OCV penalty to all archery attacks.

Probably the biggest difference between Hero archery and DnD archery is that Hero is much more about quality of shot, while DnD focused on the quantity. In Hero bows (and crossbows) are pretty nasty. They do A LOT of damage, but the process of loading and firing a bow takes time and leaves the archer vulnerable to attack (½ DCV). You can fire “defensively”, taking a –4 to your OCV, but retaining your full DCV. Crossbows, being much more “gun-ish”, suffer no penalties to DCV when firing. For those of you interested in focusing on archery, all of these penalties can be compensated for with penalty skill levels (i.e. spending xp).

One of the things that makes Hero combat dangerous is hit locations. When making an attack you have three choices – You can call a shot to a specific location (i.e. Head, hand, leg, vitals, etc), you can target your attack into a general zone (Head Shot, High Shot, Body Shot, Low Shot or Leg Shot), or you can choose to strike at the whatever location happens to open in (basically a random shot).

Here are the basic hit locations, the penalties of a called shot and how that location affects damage.

Head- -8 OCV –Multiplies Stun & Body Damage– Most Lethal spot
Hands - -6 OCV – Minimal Stun & Body
Arms - -5 OCV – as Hands
Shoulders - -5 OCV – good solid shot average Stun & Body
Chest - -3 OCV – as shoulder
Stomach - -7 OCV – Lots of Stun normal Body – Good subdual spot
Vitals - -8 OCV – As Head
Thighs - -4 OCV – as Shoulders
Legs - -6 OCV – as Arm
Feet - -8 OCV – as Hand

If you prefer the zone method here are the 5 zones

Head Shot (Head to Shoulders) - -4 OCV
High Shot (Head to Vitals) - -2 OCV
Body Shot (Hands to Legs) - -1 OCV
Low Shot (Shoulders to Feet) - -2 OCV
Leg Shot (Vitals to Feet) - -4 OCV

Alternatively you can choose to hit the target of opportunity (swing “random”). There is no penalty, but also predictability.

As with all penalties, your character can train (i.e. spend xp) to negate these penalties to hit, either with a specific weapon (less points) or all weapons (more points).

All to hit penalties are halved if the target is surprised, or out of combat.

There are two stats that are most affected by combat, Body and Stun; body damage is the stuff that will kill you, Stun damage knocks you out. Since damage will be handled descriptively (qualitatively instead of quantitatively), so keep this in mind when reading the descriptions.

Hero has two different “types” damage – normal Damage and killing damage. Both can actually kill you, the real difference lies in what sort of defense will stop it. Normal damage is less lethal, usually resulting from fists, clubs and falling. “Tough” characters can absorb a lot of this type of damage. Killing damage is the stuff that comes from sharp pointy metal and death magics. No amount of natural toughness will stop a knife, what you need is some sort of armor. In general Normal damage does more stun than body, while killing damage tends to do a lot of both. So remember kids, killing damage bad…

Last edited by -J-; 15th of July, 2005 at 07:01.
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Unread 8th of March, 2006, 02:16
-J-'s Avatar
Dread Lord on High [Epic GM]

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Range Penalties and Cover

I am remiss in noticing that I forgot to post range penalties!

So here they are in game inches (remember 1" =2m) :

0-4" : -0
5-6" : -1
7-8" : -2
9-12" : -3
13-16" : -4
17-24" : -5
25-32" : -6
33-48" : -7
49-64" : -8
65-96" : -9
97-128" : -10

Additionally lets talk about cover bonuses

There are two ways for me to handle cover, one is through targeting locations, the other is to simply assign a cover penalty - and here's the difference between the two.

If someone is hiding behind something you have a choice. You can either specifically target a portion that is poking out (i.e. i target his head) or you an target a region/roll random. If you pick a specific location, one not protected by the cover, and you hit then the cover does nothing special. If you choose a region or go for the target of opportunity and roll a region protected by cover, then your attack has to penetrate the cover first in order to do damage. Here's an example -

Sir Gareth is out hunting a deer with his trusty crossbow. He spots a fine buck, but only the deer's head and neck are poking out from behind a tree. Being impulsive he takes his shot. He targets the head region (-4) and rolls a 9: Shoulders. The deer's shoulders are considered protected by cover so the bolt first strikes the tree. Lacking the power to go through the tree, the bolt does not carry on to the deer, so it takes no damage.

Lets say that instead of targeting the region, Sir Gareth targets the Head itself. He rolls to hit (at -8 for the hitlocation), and if he makes his attack roll the bolt hits the deer in the head, the tree no longer plays a roll (due to his specific targeting)

This works fine for static cover, but what about when you need to target an opponent in melee. Firing into melee is a special circumstance in that striking the cover becomes very important. There is also the general milling about that takes place in a heated hand to hand exchange. To try to simulate the difficulty in hitting a target under these conditions I use a cover penalty in addition to any other penalties. This penalty ranges from -2 for half cover, to -4 for full cover. If an attack misses by this cover penalty then there is a chance that the cover (one of the other persons in the melee) has been struck.
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