Monday, November 28, 2011

I Come Not To Bury Hero, But To Praise It

So, this happened today:

Some folks are saying it's the end of Hero.  I doubt it.  By my count, Hero Games has been declared dead on either four or five separate occasions in the past thirty years.  However, I do think that Hero ending up in this position has been something of an inevitability for the past few years.  When DOJ bought them in 2002 or so, they were in pretty sorry shape.  Darren Watts and Steve Long poured their hearts into the company and oversaw a veritable Hero System renaissance, beginning with the 5th edition rulebook.  By a quick count, I have fifty-two Hero 5th edition rulebooks or sourcebooks on my bookshelf, and another 10 books for Hero 6th.

And that, I think, is where the problem comes in.  Hero did such a monumental job of fleshing out the Hero System in its many iterations, the almost inevitable 6th edition felt somewhat unnecessary.  Yes, it brought about some interesting and in all probability needed rules changes to the old warhorse, but it just seemed to go against the established momentum of the product.  While the edition wars between 5th and 6th edition Hero were generally far more genteel than those between D&D 3.5 and 4, they were very similarly divisive, with many old school loyalists (read: the people most likely to buy new supplements) voting with their wallets.

That this announcement came out today feels quite a bit like synchronicity as I've had both supers gaming in general and Champions on my mind lately.  There's a pretty good chance my Tuesday group will begin a Champions campaign in the not too distant future, and as I'm one of the resident gurus on the system, I've been dusting off my stuff and looking over the rules.  At the same time, I've been reading a superhero novel on my Kindle that, despite some storytelling flaws, occupies a very cool and very gameable setting.  So I'm hankering to pick up a big pile of d6 and crank back for a Haymaker.

Today's news is bittersweet.  I have much respect and fondness for Darren and Steve.  They're smart guys and they'll land on their feet whatever they do.  In terms of my own gaming, it affects me not in the least.  Way back when Hero was "dead" the first time (in the days before the internet, when "dead" meant you hadn't even solicited a new product in a year and the last issue of your quarterly house organ came out eighteen months ago), I figured out that I had everything I needed to keep playing.  Any new material was just gravy.  It's still that way.

Steve, Darren, thanks for all you brought to the table.  Hopefully, we'll see more in the future, but if not, we'll always have Millenium City.

1 comment:

  1. If you'd seen HERO's tiny booth at GenCon, you'd've known the writing was on the wall. The fact that Blackwyrm had more product and energy wasn't a reassuring sign.

    And I totally fit your thesis, regarding the 6th Edition kill-off. I used to buy every book they put out, from a loyalty standpoint. But I haven't purchased an "official" HERO product since the 6th Ed hardcovers came out in the fall of 2009.

    I just wasn't willing to re-buy everything I already had. (And I still can't decide if I love or hate the removal of Figured Characteristics.)