Hero System 6th Edition: Figured Characteristics

Prior to the 6th edition of Hero System, characteristics were divided into Primary Characteristics and Figured Characteristics. Primary characteristics weere bought using character points; figured characteristics were derived from primary characteristics using simple formulae, but could be modified using points, either increasing them by paying extra points, or 'selling them back' to gain points.

Primary characteristics were things like strength, dexterity, constitution and so on. Figured characteristics were practical, in-game trackers like Stun, Endurance. Physical and Energy Defence.

The problem was that the relationship between the formulae and the points values of primary and figured characteristics was broken, so that you gained far more benefit by buying certain primary characteristics than their actual cost. Killer Shrike has an excellent breakdown of the problem in 5th edition.

The 6th edition did away with figured characteristics altogether. This fixed the problem of point breaks, but removed a very valuable function of figured characteristics: a baseline idea of what typical values might be, given various combinations of primary characteristics. This may not bother everyone, but I find it a useful handle - or crutch, if you prefer.

Fortunately, it's an easy matter to work out those 'typical' values, just by referring to the old 5th edition formulae and buying them to appropriate levels (give or take). Although this adds a step to Hero 6 character creation, I find it very useful. Let me clarify - you do not get these new base levels for free, as you did pre-6th edition; you have to pay points to raise them to these levels.

Although 5th edition didn't class combat values (CVs) as figured characteristics per se, they were treated similarly, and I'll include them in this breakdown.

This method is compatible with all variations of Hero 6: Basic Hero, Champions Complete and the full, two-volume Hero System 6th Edition rules.

My primary focus in this method is working out reasonable values at the heroic scale. Superheroes can still use the formulae as a basis, but should be allowed a wider variation than the guidelines below. In the table below, the Heroic range is based on the base level of the characteristic in Hero System 6th edition, and on the suggested Normal Characteristic Maxima.

Characteristic Typical level 6e Heroic Range Range under this system
OCV/DCV DEX/3 2-8 2-8
OMCV/DMCV EGO/3 2-8 2-8
PD STR/5 2-8 2-6
ED CON/5 2-8 2-6
SPD 1 + (DEX/10) 2-4 2-4
REC (STR/5) + (CON/5) 4-10 4-8
END 2 x CON 20-50 15-45
STUN BODY + (STR/2) + (CON/2) 20-50 16-44

Combat Values (DEX/3)

I regard raw combat values as raw, untrained fighting ability. If you want to add training, buy combat skill levels. Using the old formula, Joe Normal (with a DEX 0f 8) will have OCV and DCV of 3. An agile normal (DEX 11) will have CVs of 4, and an extremely agile person (DEX 18), will have CVs of 6, climbing to a maximum of 7 at DEX 20. Above that, we enter the realms of the superheroic.

I'd allow someone to increase their OCV or DCV (but not both) by one point, to represent someone who's just that bit better (or worse) than their DEX would indicate - maybe they're just more gung-ho (or cautious), more aware of their surroundings, or read people a little better or worse. I'd allow anyone to pick a lower combat value than their DEX would indicate, to represent someone who's agile but just not combat ready.

The reason I'm stricter with pushing CVs up is that I find a tendency for CV creep in heroic games, particularly in games which involve dedicated, low-cost combat skill lenels or warrior-magery which boosts CVs. A little goes a long way with CVs (see here).

This fits in nicely with the normal characteristic ranges 6th edition uses for heroic games (where CVs range from a base of 3 to a maximum of 8)

Mental Combat Values (EGO/3)

I'm perfectly happy for someone without mental attacks to have OMCV of 0. In games without any form of psionics, mind magic, or other mental attacks, DMCV is likewise pointless, but in games which do feature those kind of powers, it becomes more important, and I prefer players to buy it to EGO/3, give or take one point (for similar reasons to regular CVs). Again, combat skill levels can represent training above and beyond raw talent.

Physical Defence (STR/5) and Energy Defence (CON/3)

Physical defence represents a character's ability to shrug off weak normal attacks (or some of the damage of more solid normal attacks). Basing it on STR has a certain authenticity; likewise using CON as a basis for shrugging off energy attacks. I'd allow someone to sell back up to 2 points (glass jaw) or buy up to an extra 2 points. It's unlikely anyone would reach the normal characteristic maximum of 8 under this system, but I have no problem with that.

Speed (1 + (DX/10)

Under the older editions, SPD the speed formula was always rounded down, but characters could buy a partial speed point to bring it up (so if they had DEX 8, the formula gave 1.8, or SPD 1 - unless they spent 2 character points to bring it up to SPD 2). For the purpose of 6th edition, I'd disregard the rounding down - just go for the closest.

I'd allow a hero or a normal to buy 1 point of SPD higher than this level; superheroes can buy more if their concept allows. Joe Average (DEX 8) will have SPD 2, but could increase it to 3, someone with slightly higher than average DEX (such as a soldier or an average hero), will have SPD 2 (and will likely increase it to 3). To have SPD 4, I'd look to a character with very high DEX (18+).

REC (STR/5) + (CON/5)

Joe Average will have a REC of 4. Someone with STR and CON at 13, such as a competent soldier, might have a REC of 6. Someone with borderline superheroic STR and CON of 20 each might have REC 8. Again, I'd allow a point variance either way.

END (2 * CON)

Basing your overall stamina on constitution seems very reasonable. I'd allow 5 END points variance either way for heroic characters.

STUN (BODY + (STR/2) + (CON/2))

Again, basing the amount of STUN damage a character can take on a combination of BODY, STR and CON has a certain logic. I'd have little problem with someone buying up to 4 points more, or 4 points less, to represent someone who can take a little more (or less) punishment than might be expected.