Heroes In Mars Attacks

I promised I’d get back to heroes eventually, and here I am. As I mentioned in some of the comments, I’ve had a rethink and come up with an improvement on my original idea for the hero rules. It’s still nice and simple, but now integrates the different elements I wanted to include much better and gives the player an interesting headache to think about to boot.

I’m afraid you’ll have to supply your own aspirin.

As with many of the rules I like, the actual rule itself is so simple that it doesn’t look like much on a page. The real fun comes in trying it out in a game.

So what’s the rule? Well it’s a variation of something you may have seen before.

Each hero can do all the things that a soldier can do in their turn. In addition, each hero has two more stats that allow them to do other things too.

Firstly, they have a number of Hero Points. I may think of a better term, but for the moment that’ll do. This ranges from about 2-5 depending on the hero.

Secondly, they have Smarts. Basically this is the special thing that hero does: their signature trick, if you will. For some it might be hotwiring Martian tech, for others it could be inspiring nearby soldiers to action, the ability to use stealth, oratory, disguise or whatever.

During a turn a hero can spend their Hero Points on none, some or all of 3 different things:

  1. They can do a limited additional action (move 1 square or take a shot).
  2. They can use their Smarts.
  3. They can ignore the results of one attack (a get out of death free card). This usually happens in the opposing player’s turn.

Each use of each choice costs one Hero Points.

However, this pool of Hero Points is finite. If it tops up at all it only does so very slowly. In essence, you have to decide between doing funky stuff or saving the points to protect yourself and the balance you choose will make a big difference to your tactics and the outcome of the game. This gives you the effect of heroes being able to do cool stuff, dodge bullets and generally outlive the ordinary soldier, but at the same time this luck cannot last indefinitely. The fact that it doesn’t last also adds a time-running-out element, and time pressure is often exciting in a game.

It’s a bit like Fate, Luck or similar ideas that have been used in many games before. Few (no?) rules are ever entirely new and it’s just the twist and the combination that makes different games different. I’ve not seen this family of rules with quite this combination of uses before, but it’s generally a solid and very workable rule so I’m sure it’ll work fine. I especially like the fact that it rolls the increased survivability of a hero in with their powers, thus limiting both. I also like the fact that it gives a very simple framework within which to define any number of heroes with almost any type of ability. By the time you’ve read this far you should be able to read the stat line of every hero that ever turns up in the game.

Now I’ve checked with the Mantic guys that I can change the few bits I needed to to make this work, I’m playtesting this for the next few days and will then put up some individual hero stats for you to try as well. Sounds like we’ll need a new scenario too. Shame πŸ˜‰

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39 Responses to Heroes In Mars Attacks

  1. David Smith says:

    Sounds like an excellent idea πŸ™‚

  2. Minitrol says:

    I like it! But please work on the name with all that IP at your disposal there has to be a thematic name better than ‘Hero Points’ πŸ˜‰

    • Quirkworthy says:

      All the IP is part of the problem. If it was something that one side or the other had, then you could go to town. However, as it is used for both sides, and for multiple very different things (triggering abilities as well as dodging bullets) coming up with anything specific will sound great in one place and rather odd the rest of the time.

      Still, there’s likely to be something a bit better.

  3. Very interesting… can’t wait to see it work. Instead of Hero pts. it could be something like luck or lucky charms or talismans or something like that. Each one could have their own lucky charm like a rabbits’ foot or coin etc. (Or you could rip off Tom Wolfe and call it the “Right Stuff” πŸ˜‰ )
    On another note: I saw a comment on FBook that said that the MA figs were too limited to use in other games, esp. the martians. To that end, I would like to propose the special “Ack, Ack” rule or card! This would be used in other Mantic Games (Warpath, KOW etc.) in casual play and agreed to by both players. It would essentially mean that you could replace one of your soldiers with a Martian who would go nuts with his ray gun for one round and then explode! And when you reveal him, you have to yell out “Ack! Ack”! As John Hodgeman would say: “You’re welcome…” πŸ˜‰

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As I mentioned in my comment to Minitrol, Luck makes sense when it’s used to ward off injury, but is out of place when it’s General Tor commanding his legions, or Joe hot-wiring a saucer.

    • Rob Saunders says:

      I think the minis can be used for lots of stuff, The GI’s could be used for all sorts of modern setting games and the Martians could be used for Pulpy Sci-Fi games or RPGs and such

  4. BlasterCA says:

    Heroic Action, Heroic Deed,,

  5. James 'Maz' Marsden says:

    Sounds very cool

  6. James 'Maz' Marsden says:

    Now we just need a guy with a lantern jaw who’s catchphrase is hail to the king baby!

  7. Anthony says:

    Courage is a good name.

  8. Anthony says:

    How about Grit?

  9. Jim Hale says:

    ‘Chutzpah’? ‘Pzaz’? I quite like the ‘Right Stuff’ too.

  10. jimmy says:

    special skills

  11. steve r garcia says:

    How about one of the following
    Legendary Action Points (L.A.P.)
    WAR! points ( i like this one)

  12. Jim Hale says:

    SUTTP Points? ‘Step up to the plate points’… that’s it, I’ve got nothing else. You might argue I didn’t have much to begin with either. 😦

  13. tornquistd says:

    The phrase “Hold my beer I want to try something” seems like it could apply. Beer points?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      HMBIWTTS. Outstanding! I think we have a winner.

      • PUNI – Points Universal
        VP – Versatile Points
        CP – Challenge Points

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Some of those would make great stat names for a Pulp adventure game (which could be MA set in the 30s). Are any of them better than Heroics? It’s tricky.

          And wasn’t Moxie another Toon stat?

        • Jake, couldnt reply to your latest comment so replying here.

          It is tricky, I suggested the single name stats to try and represent ‘action energy’ or a ‘energy pool’ in which to use to act to keep the term as general as possible. Some of the words are a little out of date but I think something like potency or vigor would be the strongest candidates. I would say both of those words are more complex/adult than heroics, maybe too much for the type of game MA is? (MA comes across as easy, simple, fun, accessible and Heroics matches that brief, my suggestions are a bit more ‘wordy’ if you know what I mean)

          Moxie (and chutzpah) were both in Paranoia RPG, not sure about toon

        • Quirkworthy says:

          It’s partly the simplicity and obvious nature of calling it heroics that appeals, for the reasons you suggest. If this was for Eternal Battle then I might well be more inclined to your more obscure vocabulary, especially if it was Victorian, or early C20th. Vim, Vigour and Pep are all quite evocative words in a rather Boys Own Adventure sort of way.

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