The Blood of Heroes
Superhero and Villain Roleplaying Game
Edition (Second Printing)
Reviewed by Brent Knorr, Copyright © 2001
Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion
Once upon a
time, there was a very good Super Hero Roleplaying game called DC
Heroes that was put out by Mayfair Games. But, alas, that game
came to an end. But, like any comic book death, things may not be
exactly as they seem. And, as is also the case in comic books,
history is not static and things are subject to change and revision.
Inc, licensed Mayfair's
"Exponential Game System" a.k.a. DC Heroes and in
1998 The Blood of Heroes Role-Playing Game, written by
Tony Oliveira and Ray Hedman come out as a 352-page soft cover book
with the complete game system and a roster of characters created for
the Blood of Heroes Universe.Subsequently, Joshua D. Marquart collected all of the rule
clarifications and new rules, powers, advantages, drawbacks,
maneuvers, and so on that had been created on the Internet mailing
list formed by a large contingent of fans of DC Heroes. These were
cleaned up for internal consistency and became The Sidekick
Sourcebook, a 184-page soft cover book, which was published
2000, The Blood of Heroes Special Edition was
published and sold out within two weeks.
The Blood of Heroes Special Edition, Second Printing
was published in February 2001. There were a few revisions and some new artwork added between
the first and second printings. This book combines the original Blood of Heroes RPG with
the material from The Sidekick Sourcebook and adds a
few new rulings. This
is also a soft cover book, with 366 pages and a much nicer cover.
The font is slightly smaller, and they have gotten rid of the dark
gray boxes that were hard to read in the original version.
starts with the typical "What is a Role-Playing Game"
section, along with a disclaimer that even though you can play nasty
villains, the author's don't endorse that sort of activity in real
life. The editor then kindly provides a one-page summary on page 3
of what has changed between the previous editions and The
Blood of Heroes Special Edition.
Chapter One is
the Introduction and is where the eight basic Ideas that you need to
understand the Blood of Heroes RPG are presented. The
first of these ideas is Attribute Points, abbreviated
as AP's. This is the basic form of measurement in the game, and is
used for everything including time, distance, volume, character
attributes and skills, and damage done in combat. The key to the
game is that by expressing everything in AP's, it becomes easy to
transfer one unit of measurement to another, such as a character's
strength to how much he can lift. Each type of measurement is given
an Effect Unit that corresponds to a real world value. This Effect
Value is equal to 0 AP's. For example, the Effect Unit for weight is
50 lbs, and the Effect Unit for time is four seconds. Each
additional AP of measurement is worth twice as much as the one
before it, giving an exponential progression. Thus one AP of weight
is 100 lbs, two AP's of weight is 200 lbs, and three AP's of weight
is 400 lbs.
basic Idea is Attributes, which are the natural abilities
that every Character possesses. There are nine Attributes, broken
into three groups.
Dexterity is your Character's skill in using his hands and
body, the degree of control he has over his physical self, or his
ability to deflect a Physical Attack.
Strength is your Character's physical power, the amount of
physical force he can bring to bear on an object.
Body is more than just your Character's physical self. It is
his resistance to physical damage.
Intelligence is a measure of how easily your Character grasps
ideas, the degree of control he has over mental energy, and his
ability to manipulate information.
Will is your Character's mental power,
Mind is your Character's resistance to mental damage in the
form of Mental Attacks.
Influence is the force of a Character's personality,
his ability to affect the emotions and responses of others, and his
Aura is the effectiveness of your Character's personality,
his ease at controlling a group, and his mystical strength.
Spirit is your Character's ability to resist fear, his
control of emotion, and his resistance to Mystical Damage.
There is a
second way that the attributes are divided up; this is
Acting/Opposing, Effect, and Resistance Attributes. The first
Attribute of each of the Physical, Mental, and Mystical types
(Dexterity, Intelligence and Influence) is considered an Acting/Opposing
Attribute. These are used to determine if an action is
successful, usually by comparing your Character's attribute to the
opposing Character or objects same attribute. Often this attribute
is replaced by a Power or Skill that the Character may have. The
second of each of the Attribute types (Strength, Will and Aura) are
considered an Effect Attribute. Effect Attributes are the
amounts of power that a Character can direct at an opponent or
object once it has been determined that his action is successful.
The third of each of the Attribute types (Body, Mind and Spirit) are
Resistance Attributes. These determine how much damage a
Character can take in physical, mental, and mystical areas.
The third Idea
is rolling the dice. Blood of Heroes uses two
ten-sided dice. If you are rolling 2D10 and get doubles, you have
the option to roll again and add the results. You can keep doing
this as long as you get doubles, but if at any time you roll double
1's, you automatically fail at the action you were attempting.
The fourth and
fifth Ideas involve using the Action Table and the Result
Table. These seem somewhat intimidating at first, but if you
take the time to read through the descriptions and follow the
examples, they soon start to make sense. These are very important to
the game and once you know how to use them you can resolve almost
any action in the game. The Action Table tells you if you were
successful in the action you attempted; if you are, the Results
Table tells you how effective your action was. Just because you are
successful in your action, doesn't always mean it has an effect.
Anyone can successfully hit a brick wall with their bare fist, but
it usually takes someone with special skills or powers to actually
do damage to the wall.
The sixth Idea
consists of Skills and Powers. The difference between
them is that Skills are something that the average human can be
proficient in whereas Powers are something that only
"super" Characters possess. You can also attach Bonuses
and Limitations to skills and powers.
seven is Hero Points. These are earned through adventuring
and can be used to obtain items, Powers, Skills, or temporary
increases to Character Values during play. Basically, you want to
spend some to permanently improve your character, but you always
want to keep a few in reserve to save your bacon during adventures
eight is Automatic Actions. This is a discussion of actions
that are so simple to perform that they do not require a die roll.
An example is a Character with 6 AP's of strength does not need to
make a roll to lift an object that weighs 6 AP's or less.
section is a short walk through an adventure that helps demonstrate
how the game works, which then leads into the Character creation
begin with 450 Hero Points and use these to purchase Attributes,
Powers, Skills, and Advantages. You can also gain additional Hero
Points by selecting Drawbacks for your Character. You can choose to
play a Heroic Character, a Villain, or an Anti-Hero, who falls
somewhere between a Hero and a Villain. Of course this selection
will be limited according to the type of campaign that the Game
Master is going to run. Character creation can be fairly straight
forward and quick if you are creating a Character with only one or
two Powers, or it can be quite involved and complicated if you want
a Character with a lot of Skills, Powers, Linked powers and Bonuses
One of the
interesting features of Character Generation is the option to create
a Background, Description and Personality for your new Character.
You can gain an additional 15 Hero Points for each of these that you
do. A new addition to Blood of Heroes Special Edition
is the option of gaining another additional 5 Hero Points for
creating Personal Data for your Character. An example of a Personal
Data section is provided. This encourages and rewards those players
who do more than just come up with a set of numbers to represent
of Character Generation is the selection of a Motivation for your
Character. Why has he or she decided to slap on the spandex tights
and run around fighting other super powered beings? There is a
choice of several motivations for the different Character types
find the Character Generation system to be a reasonable balance
between being easy to use and being able generate a unique
character. It is no more difficult than designing a character under
a D20 system but easier than something like Rolemaster. A
spreadsheet or character generation program is useful, but not a
Character Generation section, there is a section on Experience and
Character Growth. This covers what sort of activities you gain Hero
Points for, what can cause you to forfeit Hero Points for an
adventure (for example a Hero who initiates Killing Combat) and how
to spend your Hero Points on improving your character after the
adventure is over. You can even add completely new Powers and Skills
to your Character if you want, although it is awfully expensive to
eighty or so pages give detailed descriptions of all the Advantages,
Drawbacks, Bonuses, Limitations, Powers and Skills that are
available in the game. This
section is about 20 pages longer than what the original Blood
of Heroes had. There are a wide variety of these, enough to make most
characters you could think of.
The next four
chapters are "The Rules", "AP's And The World",
"Combat" and "Character Interaction". These go
through in more detail the concepts introduced earlier in the book.
Again, it looks a little intimidating to start with, but once you
actually start using it, the system works very well and goes quite
quickly, which is important in a Comic Book universe.
in a Comic Book universe are gadgets. Life just isn't complete
without your handy can of Bat Shark Repellent. Gadgets are built in
a manner similar to Characters. They can have Attributes, Powers and
Skills. Gadgets can also have a reliability number, which is a
measure of how frequently the Gadget jams, breaks down, or just
plain fouls up. The Gadget section is seventeen pages long, and
includes rules on how to build gadgets, modify gadgets, and repair
gadgets. The section on computers has been expanded significantly
from the previous version. There is also a four page section of
examples of real world gadgets. One of the things that impressed me
about the original DC Heroes game, which is carried over into The
Blood of Heroes RPG was how they dealt with the Batman
problem. That is, how is it that Batman always seems to have the
exact item he needs stored in his utility belt? What are the odds
that someone designing a Character that uses gadgets would have
actually included Shark Repellent? The answer is: The Omni-Gadget!
are devices whose exact Powers and Attributes are not defined until
the gadget is taken out and used. Of course there are several
limitations on what an Omni-Gadget can and cannot do. Basically you
make a gadget that has a certain number of unassigned AP's, it costs
5 times as much as a regular gadget, and for additional costs you
can increase the range of potential abilities it may have. All in
all, it poses a very elegant solution to the problem.
Chapter 8 is
on Magic and is new for The Blood of Heroes Special Edition.
I believe most of the rules existed in the previous version,
but they have been gathered up into their own chapter for
convenience and easy reference.
covers Wealth, including buying items, purchasing parts for Gadgetry
attempts, upkeep and bankruptcy.
The next four
chapters cover "Gamemastering", which describes how to
handle different types of Campaigns, how to recover from mistakes,
how to set the mood and keeping stories on track; "Adventuring", which describes how to create an
adventure and set Standard Awards (Hero Points);
"Subplots", which describes how to create them and and how
to work them into adventures. "Game Situations" covers
more of the specifics in Gamemastering from a rules point of view,
whereas the previous three chapters were more generalized.
has been promoted from being a one and a half page appendix to being
two-page chapter, which now has additional paragraphs on Impossible
Feats and Trick Powers. I'm
not sure why these are in a "Genre" Chapter, but they are.
"Power Creation" rules from The Sidekick Companion
make up chapter 15
All in all, the rules section of the book covers 231
pages, up about 25 pages from the original. The next 114 pages
presents The Blood of Heroes universe, with over 100
sample characters. All
of the characters, background and campaign information has been
rewritten for The Blood of Heroes Special Edition. I
must confess that I just gave this section a quick flip through, as
I'm more interested in either creating my own universe, or using an
existing comic book universe as my campaign setting. But it is
definitely a good resource for Character ideas and examples. The
last few pages list some Animals that Characters may encounter, and
some reprints of some of the commonly used Tables and a Character
sheet. These are no longer printed on dark gray pages, which was a
complaint I had with the original edition.
still remains my favorite system for Super Hero games. Having all
the rules in one book again is very nice. The artwork has been
trimmed back in this edition, making more room for game information.
Much of the remaining artwork has been improved. I found the tables much easier to read in this version, no
more dark gray boxes. The price remains more than reasonable for a
product of this size. Its list price is $30.00 US.
Pulsar Games, Inc.
12839 Patrick Ct.
Fishers, IN 46038