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Author Topic: [Heroes Against Darkness] New system rules for feedback and playtesting  (Read 2687 times)
Justin Halliday

Posts: 19

« on: January 05, 2012, 03:31:54 AM »

I posted several months ago with a link to the early version of Heroes Against Darkness, a d20-based fantasy role-playing game.  Since then the game has seen a huge amount of progress, and the latest release is now up on the development blog:


The direct links to the game rules and character sheets are:


The goal of the system is to take modern mechanics and to combine them with the simplicity of the early d20 games (a bit like Castles & Crusades):
Combat powers without disassociated mechanics
Anima-based magic system that allows players more choice of how/when/where they use their Anima
Underlying maths and progression somewhat based on 4th edition of D&D
Easy to set up and run for the GM

The Alpha version of Heroes Against Darkness has the following features in the Player's Guide:
Three martial classes (Warrior, Barbarian, Berserker) with powers up to level 10
Two specialist classes (Hunter, Rogue) with powers up to level 10
One cross-class (Hospiter) with powers up to level 10
Five magi classes (Warlock, Healer, Canonate, Necromancer, Mystic) with spells up to level 6-10
Character creation rules
Combat rules
Movement and encumbrance rules
Weapons, armor and equipment lists
Character sheet

And these features in the Game Master's Guide:
Combat encounter setup
Ability test instructions
Experience and character progress
Tuning and modding the system
Comprehensive world-building toolkit

Finally, the Beasts and Bastards section has:
Instructions for building a monster
Breakdown of the monster stat block
List of common monster powers
75 monsters
Templates for each of the monster roles up to Level 10
Monster stat summaries for the busy GM

As ever, I'm looking for feedback on the following:
Class powers
Magic system and spells for each Magi class
Are the unique differences and qualities of the system clear from just reading the document, or are they 'buried'?
Game balance, progression, balance between classes

Come try Heroes Against Darkness, the fast and flexible modern d20 RPG:

Posts: 2

« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2012, 04:47:46 AM »

I read the beginning, I liked your matter of fact style, then I noticed a lot of d20 stuff and decided to skim ahead and give feedback on the abilities. 

Warrior abilities :
lvl 3 - Breaching Slash feels weak, it could at least do the bonus damage like Jolting Crunch. 

The continously more powerful full round time out heal of the warrior seems likely too strong.   

In general, I liked the warrior abilities until they start becoming higher-power repeats.   In this case, why not simply create a single ability that improves in power at set levels? 

What I mean by that is that Blooded/Blood-tasted/Blood-quenched/Blood-drenched are all just a ruse to "scale" a single ability.

Barbarian abilities :
I am from the start more impressed with the play variations promised by these. 
Gathering Assault is fairly weak - you give up an entire die of damage for 1 HP of healing. 
Again, the ability set is fairly small and is repeated in higher scaled versions.

essentially -
Basic Melee
Basic Ranged
Smashing Crunch
Fierce Attack
Dire Attack
Gathering Assault
Tripping Attack
so these 9 abilities level periodically. 

Berserker -
Frenzied Assault is pretty crazy.   It (and variants) are possibly abusable with circumstantial modifiers.
Particularly the high level version that does 3 weapon damage each hit!
Perhaps a maximum number of attacks would be safer.

Rogue -
Pouncing Strike text feels awkward to me.   Rather than "retreats to origin" perhaps "returns to initial position" would be more clear.

Hunter -
I like the look of these somewhat better.   I would say that the 2nd tier "Superior Ranged Attack" negates the point of the Bull's eye attack rather fast.   Level 3 seems awfully soon to unlock the superior attack.

Hospitaller -
The magic abilities here are very tightly focused.  I would suggest restating "Target takes no damage" on the Fortify/Reinforce abilities as "The target may not be dealt damage" 

Warlock -
Perhaps I'm poisoned by years of experience to other games, but I expected a dark magic.   The flavor delivered was spotty.   A mix of fire/ice and evisceration magic.   It felt like a generic offensive caster.     Particularly, Plasma has a science type feel, and it feels fairly out of place for almost any mage, even on a Pyromancer i'd be a little unhappy to be talking about a Plasma Bolt.  Flavor wise, as a player, when I pick a warlock I want the scent of brimstone, dealing with demons and such. 
I can't help but recommend considering another name for this caster if you don't want to go down that round.

Healer -
Wow, such a diverse spell selection starting at level 1.   Is it too much?

Canonate -
Righteous Warrior - Can this warrior be attacked?   
Also, almost a third of it's spells involve Undead.  It's a bit of a gamble for a player to take this class if the game ends up being Undead-light they will be lacking a bit.

Necromancer -
I really liked what I saw here.

Mystic -
A classy, subtle mage. 

 Overall I like the quality I see in the book, and I feel that can be amplified in the powers a bit.   On reflection, having MORE powers can be a bit unwieldy, so I'm not saying your fighter, etc need to have a new, unique ability at each level.   Some scaling up of abilities is great to keep them relevant.   However, it's more interesting progression to toss in a curveball now and again, and add a distinctive new capability periodically IN addition to scaling up other abilities to keep them "viable".   I wrote this post in a stream-of-conciousness as I read over your material.   I hope the feedback is of some value to you,

Justin Halliday

Posts: 19

« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2012, 05:52:25 AM »

Hey Luke,

Thanks for the super-quick feedback - you're a fast reader!

As you've noticed, the martial powers repeat approximately every 4th level to reflect the characters' increased damage/power at those increments.  I too considered just having all of the scaling embedded in the original power, and doing away with the subsequent versions.  The only reason I haven't done this is because in my earliest thoughts on this I was going to tie it in to the acquisition of the improved Melee and Ranged attack powers, using those to effectively trigger all of the character's powers to 'improve'.  However, this would mean that all of the powers improved at the same time, whereas at the moment the improvements are staggered.

Thinking about it more now, I think that there's a way this can be achieved:

Melee Attack
Condition Target in melee range
Attack d20 + Melee Bonus
Against Armor Defense
Damage L1: Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus
L5: 2d Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus
L9: 3d Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus

It becomes a bit more cumbersome for powers that have multiple trade-offs:

Gathering Assault
Condition Target in melee range.
  Character health less than 50%.
Attack d20 + Melee Bonus
Against Armor Defense
Damage L3: Melee Bonus
L7: Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus
L11: 2d Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus
L15: 3d Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus
Effect L3: Character gains 1 HP
L7: Character gains 2 HP
L11: Character gains 3 HP
L15: Character gains 4 HP

Too messy?  Or worth it to strip out the duplicates?

As you say, the Berserker's Frenzied Assault could improved greatly if combined with the Healer's Strengthen spell, which could give +5 or more for an entire round.  Perhaps the damage should reduce for each subsequent blow in addition to the attack bonus reducing.

Warrior:  Only one of the healing powers can be used in each combat encounter, and each power can only be used once per day.  So the player can't spam these powers.

Rogue: Origin is defined on Page 59.

Hunter: The Level 3 bump to 2x damage attacks for the Hunter reflects the same increase for Berserkers at the same level. 

Hospiter: Yeah, the wording always needs to be accurate.

Warlock: The Warlock in Heroes Against Darkness focuses on magic that has physical manifestations.  I'm always open to alternate name suggestions if they clarify the class's unique abilities; Shaper?  Elementalist?  Transmuter?  Manifester? 

Healer: The Healer specializes in spells that affect an aspect of a target's physiology, Health, Strength, etc.

Canonate: Good call about the Righteous Warrior.  I'll make it create a templated creature based on the caster's 1/2 Level Bonus (I've done the same with the Necromancer's Animate spells).

Thanks for the feedback, it's great to get another perspective.


Come try Heroes Against Darkness, the fast and flexible modern d20 RPG:
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