Monday, January 17, 2011

And Now for the Bile

Here comes the flip-side to my love-hate relationship with Heroes Unlimited.

No, has nothing to do with Palladium's internet policy regarding derivative works which, if a little stuffy, feels pretty fair to me. I mean, it would appear I'd be safe to create a derivative, stream-lined it Heroes long as I wasn't using it for commercial use, creating a video game, or infringing on their trademarks and copyrights. Well, and so long as I was willing to cede ownership of said work to Palladium.

As I said, pretty fair overall. They're just protecting their "turf," so-to-speak. After re-reading the policy a couple times I actually started thinking about how I might go about writing a cut-down version of the game...or at least some easy-to-follow abridged-text type rules.

And then I opened up the book to page one.

Well, not really "page one" of the 15 of the Revised Second Edition if you want to be absolutely precise, which is the first page to begin describing the game mechanics, specifically character creation. With eight attributes and their specific (or rather, off-the-cuff) bonuses. Like Physical Beauty and its "bonus to charm or impress" a system never described in this (or any!) Palladium book.

Now let's talk about Physical Beauty for a moment. I mean, as a general concept...ignore the fact that there's no real rule/mechanics for the stat. One would assume that "physical beauty" describes how good-looking a character is, right? With 30 (the human maximum) being a legendary knock-out and 3 (the human minimum) being absolutely butt-ugly.

Okay, so, have you folks seen what comic book superheroes look like?

I'm not talking villains and I'm not talking inhuman or alien-monsters. I'm talking about the average, pass-for-human, good guy superhero: from Cyclops to Captain America to Bruce Wayne to Superman to Peter Parker to Daredevil. Regardless of any of their other hang-ups, the one thing all these guys got going for them is that they're pretty good looking. I mean, they all look pretty much the same (assuming the same ethnicity and hair color)...Alex Summers (Havoc) and Danny Rand (Iron Fist) both look pretty much the same in "street clothes:" slim, blonde dudes with square jaws and chiseled bodies. Hey, fighting crime is quite the work-out, after all.

And was there ever a super chick that wasn't hot? How else could they fit into those skimpy outfits that are so distracting to the crooks they're pwning in every issue. From Wonder Woman and Black Canary to Ms. Marvel and Misty Knight, no lady hero appears to be using physical beauty as a "dump stat!"

If you want to talk Charisma, sure...everyone seems to love-love-love Reed Richards and Steve Rogers while Wolverine is a pretty surly cuss. Yet, hairy as he is, ol' Logan doesn't seem to do too badly with the females himself (I guess it's the "bad boy" thing).

Anyway, that's just one irritating stat...Mental Affinity is another. "Speed" is a third. And then the stupid, stupid skills...I'm not just talking about the INCLUSION of a skill system, I'm talking about the system how some skills can only be learned in college, not as hobbyist or "secondary" skills.

Really? I somehow missed out on "acrobatics" class at my university. And yet there are several aerialist schools around Seattle that I could study in my spare time (i.e. as a hobby) if I was so inclined.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. I mean, there's a lot of stupidity in here and it just keeps rolling in waves. My earlier football-addled mind was just plain silly when I was thinking about doing something with HU...the game would need to be rebuilt from the ground up, and for that I might as well just design my own supers game.

And actually, I found I already have several pages (!!) already fleshed out of my project that started out as B/X Supers project. That was waaay back in June (apparently)...months before B/X Companion was even ready for sale. Classes, powers, systems, sidekicks, (abbreviated) ability scores...there's the start of a nice little supers game here.

Now that the Seahawks' playoff run is officially done, work on writing projects should resume, and this may be something to finish up after the "Space Game" project is completed. For now, Heroes Unlimited can go back on the shelf, along with Superworld, Mutants & Masterminds, Aberrant, etc.. Apparently, I've already been through this thought process and come to the conclusion if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.

Sorry for the couple days of crazy, comic-inspired theory-bashing.
: )


  1. JB

    We agree on way too many things! I really like the fluff stuff that Palladium puts out and their ideas are really well thought out. The core system though really hasn't evolved and is quite outdated. I have always thought their character generation needs to be re-worked because of the inconsistencies in it. I really do like their combat system, it seems to make sense to me and when I have run it I like it. When you start taking a look at some of the other offerings from Palladium you can see little changes creeping in to try and bring some balance, Dead Reign does come to mind. Though even that shoots itself in the foot when you look to see how hard it is to kill a zombie. After being fed Romeroesque Zombies for years and what The Walking Dead gave us the Dead Reign game is, eh.

    I know that Kevin has gone through a lot in his life, I've had the chance to speak to him at cons before and find him to be very passionate and I know that life has thrown him some nasty curve balls BUT I wish he would evolve the system a bit...and give us the Space game that was promised over 20 years ago!

  2. I ignore the man and all his work. It saves me a lot of headaches.

  3. @ Rhonin: KS promised a "space game?" I can't believe any such animal can exist within a "universal Palladium" system/ is completely structured to personal combat and immediate task resolution...large combats, spaceship battles (ANY vehicle battles) are antithesis to the current focus of the Palladium system. And until his iron grip on that focus relaxes I can't see it ever evolving.

    @ Loquacious: Yeah, it would...but then you miss the sheer abundance of imagination the guy has. There is a lot of "stuff" in all that dross.
    : )

  4. Mechanoids had just been released and the follow up books were hitting the shelves, I ran into he and his wife at the time at a convention somewhere and we started talking. That's when the whole space game idea was supposed to be around the corner...later we got Aliens Unlimited. Not the same....