|Doctor Draconis takes a leap
Over the years, I have played or gamemastered the Hero System more than any other role-playing system. I started playing the Hero System back in 1982, when it was ‘just’ Champions and the late Mark Williams seemed to do all of the art. I loved me some Hero System; it was (is) consistent, adaptable, and scalable. Until GURPS gathered a head of steam, there was nothing like it. Although I didn’t pick up ‘Espionage!,’ I was all over ‘Justice, Inc.,’ ‘Danger International,’ ‘Fantasy Hero,’ and, when it finally came out, ‘Star Hero.’
When the responsibilities of maturity precluded extensive involvement in role-playing games, my attachment to the Hero System waned. I bought the new additions as they came out, if only to support the publisher. Something bothered me about Fifth Edition, but I couldn’t specify what. I attributed it to the onset of becoming a curmudgeon and I went on with my life.
Then came Sixth Edition – two huge volumes (perhaps too huge volumes). What had become of my beloved Hero System? It was a bloated...thing...with more than 700 pages – more than three times the length of the Fourth Edition Rulesbook. Was all this...necessary? I know, I know...“It’s a toolkit! Take what you want and use it how you want!” Well, sometimes I don’t want a toolkit, I want a game. Sometimes I don't want an aggregate of customized sub-systems stitched together like some lurid quilt; I want a book – one book – that I can use to run a game. It doesn't need to be perfect and it doesn't need to account for every circumstance. For the sake of atmosphere, I welcome idiosyncrasies.
The Old School Renaissance made me realize that 'later' doesn't necessarily mean 'better' when it comes to RPGs. Older games still have much to offer the hobby. Not surprisingly, much (but not all) of the focus of the OSR is upon “the world's most popular role-playing game.” Yet there are many other games out there; many other vistas awaiting (re-)exploration. With this blog, your humble host hopes to do his part to draw attention to some of these other vistas. For some readers, this attention will be in the form of a remembrance; for other readers, it will be a learning experience.