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[Hero's Banner] Convention Play

Started by Ben Lehman, December 15, 2006, 09:24:31 PM

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Ben Lehman

So Hero's Banner is a seriously, seriously excellent game, and not coincidentally it runs the multi-generational political epics that I've always wanted to play.  Because of its excellence, I'm planning on running it at Dreamation.

Here's the catch: I think that the awesomest thing about the game is the generational transition that, by the rules, tends to happen between the sessions.  A convention session is 4 hours -- about long enough to introduce the game and play one generation.  I find this totally insufficient for the magic of the Hero's Banner experience.

So I'm trying to find a way to fit at least two generations into a four hour game session, with rules explanation and such.

I'm considering all of: Partially or completely pre-generated characters, starting characters off with passion, increasing the passion gain rules, minimizing breakdowns, not allowing +10 or +20 die passion checks, and framing multiple characters into the same scene as often as possible.

But I'd like to get suggestions from others who are familiar with the game.  The requirements are that the game fit into four hours, have at least two generations, and that the players be allowed to author the bulk of their Hero drive in the second generation.


Larry L.

Ben, I'm not actually familiar with the game beyond what I've heard from the Durham 3's podcasts, but I thought of some stuff that excited me, so I'll post nonetheless.

So, every player gets a pre-gen. You aggressively frame them into the last scene or two before they have to make their final decision, so the pregens have to come with "The Story So Far" background, including player decisions they would have made to get to this point, as well as a quick explanation how this would work in a "normal" game.

Then, you hand out another set of pre-gens -- one for each possible choice made by players. Like if somebody chooses "Love" he plays his own progeny in the next generation, if he chooses "Duty" he gets a young follower that aspires to be like him. Whatever. Again, these come with a concise summary of gameplay leading up to the last couple scenes, because you are again going to frame this generation's last scenes.

The sweet spot for this to be memorable is probably three generations, so you can repeat this process one more time, again resulting in one of two pre-gens for each character.

Downsides are you have to make three or seven thematically coherent pre-gens for each player slot, and it very clearly must be presented as a "demo" and not fully representative of regular gameplay.

Tim C Koppang


I think your intuitions are generally correct. My humble suggestion would be to start with pre-generated characters for the first generation and also generally speed up the passion progression. First, ignore the rule that allows players to take less than three passion checks per re-roll. Next, on Breakdowns, keep them but also force the player to make a full series of three passion checks regardless. Finally, double all passion increases. I've found that a typical demo using partially pre-genned characters and normal passion increases (without breakdowns) lasts about 4-5 hours. If you want to get through two generations, then you'll really need to double the speed.

I know doubling sounds drastic, but on the other hand I've also found that players react positively when they know that every single passion roll is potentially devastating. As a hedge, you might also consider ending the game pre-maturally once the majority of players have reached 100 passion or the group arrives at a pre-set time limit. Simply fast-forward the remaining characters to a final scene with their passion at 99 points and let them finish things off with a bang.

For the second generation, I would also have pre-generated characters. However, I'd of course leave the Hero influence blank. Then let all of the players choose a character and plug in their previous character as the Hero. This way they get a taste for the character creation process without slowing down the actual play process. You can always allow other minor tweaks to the pre-generated characters if the situation demands it based on the first half of the session.

Either way, I've found that with only minimal set-up the game lends itself to teaching the rules as you go, which can really save you time.

How does that sound? Please do let me know if there's anything else I can help out with and/or how the session actually plays. I'd love to hear about it.

And of course I also have to apologize for not getting this reply out sooner.

Tim C Koppang

Thought I'd let everyone know that I've finished a Demo Pack for Hero's Banner using my convention experiences and also some of the suggestions from this thread. For anyone interested, you can download it off of my website.

Also, it contains some sample characters, sample influences, and sample scenes for anyone interested in giving the game a try. I'd love to hear your feedback.