HERO Terminology


Like any other role-playing game system, HERO has its own set of terms and phrases you will encounter often. Some of the most common are listed below. Many of these descriptions come straight from the Glossary in 6E1 22.

Aborting an Action: Taking an action early to do something defensive.

Action: Any act a character can perform during a Phase.

Active Points: Total cost of a power after all Adders and Advantages are applied (without reducing the cost via Limitations or other modifiers).

ACV: Alternate Combat Value, a Power Modifier that switches the type of Combat Value used with a Power.

Adder: An improvement to a Power that costs a flat amount of points, rather than multiplying the cost like an Advantage does.

Advantage: See POwer Advantage.

AK: Area Knowledge, a type of Knowledge Skill.

AP: Armor Piercing, an Advantage.

APG: The Hero System Advanced Players’ Guide, a volume in the HERO System Core Library.

Attack Action: An Action requiring or involving an Attack Roll. Performing an Attack Action ends a character’s Phase.

Attack Roll: The roll made to determine if an attack hits the target. The player rolls 3d6 and adds his OCV. To hit, he must get a number equal to or higher than 10 + Defender’s DCV to hit.

Automaton: A character (usually an NPC) which, although active, is not alive. Robots and zombies are examples of Automata.

AVAD: An Attack Versus Alternate Defense; an attack with that Advantage applied to it to switch the type of defense it applies against.

BODY: (1) A Characteristic representing how much injury a character can withstand before dying; (2) See Count the Body.

Breakout Roll: The roll made by the victim of certain Mental Powers to resist or break free from the effects of those powers. See 6E1 149.

Brick: Slang term for a character whose main attribute is high STR (usually coupled with a high degree of resistance to injury).

Called Shot: A Placed Shot.

Casual Use: Half of a character’s STR or other attack ability. A character can use a Casual ability to push aside or break through objects or Grabs as a Zero Phase Action.

CE: Change Environment, a Power.

CHAMPIONS: The genre of the HERO System game used for comic book superhero roleplaying.

Character: A person in the game setting — a being constructed by a player or GM and role-played by the person who constructed it. The GM’s characters are usually villains or Non-Player Characters (NPCs); the Player Characters (PCs) are usually the heroes or protagonists of the campaign.

Characteristic: One of a character’s innate physical or mental abilities, such as Strength, Intelligence, or Speed.

Characteristic Roll: A roll, similar to a Skill Roll, derived from a Characteristic using the formula (9+(CHAR/5)).

Character Points: The points used to create a character by purchasing Characteristics, Skills, Perks, Talents, and Powers.

CK: City Knowledge, a type of Knowledge Skill.

Combat Movement: Moving while trying to present a difficult target and seeking out targets to attack. A character using Combat Movement gets his full OCV and DCV, but moves more slowly than one using Non-combat Movement.

Combat Value: See CV.

Complementary Skill: A Skill used to make another Skill Roll easier.

Complication: A drawback, disadvantage, or ongoing problem a character suffers from. Complications help to define a character and make him more fun to play. See Chapter 9 of 6E1 for more information.

Compound Power: An ability or power constructed by using two or more Powers or other game elements. Typically it involves the Linked Limitation (6E1 383) or a partially-Limited power (6E1 366).

CON: Constitution, a Characteristic.`

Count The BODY: Determine the number of BODY rolled on the dice as if Normal Damage were done by the attack. This is referred to in the text as “count the Normal Damage BODY.” See 6E1 98.

Count the Total: Determine the total rolled on the dice by adding them together.

CSL: Combat Skill Level.

CuK: Culture Knowledge, a type of Knowledge Skill.

CV: Combat Value, two Characteristics that determine a character’s effectiveness in combat. One, Offensive Combat Value (OCV) indicates how accurate he is in general; the other, Defensive Combat Value (DCV), indicates how hard it is to hit him. CV is then modified by Combat Maneuvers, equipment, surprise, Combat Skill Levels, and other factors. For Mental Powers, you use the two Mental Combat Value (MCV) Characteristics, Offensive Mental Combat Value (OMCV) and Defensive Mental Combat Value (DMCV), and then apply any modifiers.

DCV: Defensive Combat Value. See CV.

Damage Class: An incremental measurement of the amount of damage an attack does.

DMCV: Defensive Mental Combat Value. See CV.

Defensive Action: An Action which characters can Abort to, or which automatically goes first if attempted by a character with a Held Action simultaneously with a non-defensive Action by another character.

Delayed an Action: See Held Action.

DEX: Dexterity, a Characteristic.

DNPC: Dependent Non-Player Character, a Complication.

ED: Energy Defense, a Characteristic.

END: Endurance, a Characteristic. Used to represent fatigue. STR and powers draw END when used at the rate of 1 END for every 10pts of STR, or 10 Active Points of a power. Every phase 12 a character recovers their REC in END. They may also choose to spend a phase doing nothing, but recovery.

Effect Roll: The roll made to determine the effect of a Mental Power on a target. See 6E1 149. In a more generic sense, it can also mean the roll made to determine the effect of any Power.

EGO: Ego, a Characteristic.

END: Endurance, a Characteristic.

Energy Projector: Slang term for a character whose primary defining ability is to project bolts of energy as an attack.

f: When written next to the cost of a slot in a Multipower, “f” stands for a “Fixed” slot.

Framework: See Power Framework.

Full Move: An Action a character takes in which he moves more than half his meters of movement.

Full Phase: An Action that requires a character’s entire Phase to perform. The character may take no other Actions that Phase. Examples of Full Phase Actions include using more than half of your inches of movement (i.e., a Full Move), taking a Recovery, recovering from being Stunned, changing a Clip, or attacking before making a Half Phase Action.

Gadgeteer: Slang term for a character whose main attributes are his technical skills and equipment.

GM: Gamemaster — the originator, narrator, “director,” referee, and arbiter of a roleplaying game session.

HA: Hand-to-Hand Attack (a Power).

Half Move: An Action a character takes in which he moves up to half of his inches of movement.

Half Phase, Half Phase Action: An Action which only requires half a Phase to perform (in other words, a character can perform two Half Phase Actions per Phase). Half Phase Actions include using up to half of your full movement or opening a door. Attacks only take a Half Phase if made after performing any other type of Half Phase Action.

Held Action: An Action not taken on the character’s DEX in a Phase, but instead “held” or delayed until a later DEX or Segment for some reason.

HKA: Hand-To-Hand Killing Attack (a Power).

Knocked Out: Unconscious. A character is Knocked Out when he loses all of his STUN due to damage from attacks.

Non-combat Movement: Moving without trying to present a difficult target or seeking targets to attack so as to achieve higher speeds. Characters using Non-combat Movement are at ½ DCV, 0 OCV.

Normal Damage: The damage done by most attacks, including Energy Blasts, fists, clubs, and the like. To determine it, roll the dice. The total on the dice is the amount of STUN the target takes. The BODY is determined by looking at the numbers rolled every 1 rolled does 0 BODY, every 2-5 rolled does 1 BODY, and every 6 rolled does 2 BODY. (Thus, the number of BODY done is usually close to the number of dice rolled.) Normal Damage is affected by both Normal and Resistant Defences.

Normal Defenses: Defenses which protect against Normal Damage, but not against Killing Damage.

Penalty Skill Level: A type of Skill Leve* that can only be used to off set a specific type of negative modifier to a character’s OCV. Examples include Range Skill Levels (RSLs) and Targeting Skill Levels.

PER Roll: Perception Roll, a roll made to see if a character perceives something with one of his Senses. A character’s base PER Roll is (9+(INT/5)) or less.

Phase: A Segment on which a character can perform an Action. A character’s SPD determines his Phases. See also Full Phase, Half Phase, and Zero Phase actions.

Placed Shot: An attack made with the intention of hitting a particular location on the target’s body, such as the head or hands. This involves a negative OCV modifier.

Post-Segment 12: A period between Turns which takes no time. After each Segment 12, a Turn ends, and in the Post-Segment 12 period before the next Turn begins, characters automatically get to take a Recovery.

Range Modifier: A penalty to an Attack Roll which represents how much more difficult it is to hit targets far away from you. The further away you are from a target, the greater the Range Modifier (and thus the worse the penalty). The Range Modifier also applies to PER Rolls.
Real Points: The final cost of a power after all Advantages and Limitations are applied — the actual number of points the character spends to buy the power. For example, an Energy Blast 8d6 bought with the Limitation OAF costs 20 Real Points (a base of 40 Active Points, subject to a -1 Limitation). Also referred to as Real Cost.
Recovery (REC): A Characteristic that measures how fast a character Recovers from taking damage. ALSO: An Action in which a character gets back his *REC worth of STUN and END. All characters get an automatic Recovery in Post-Segment 12. This is also called “taking a Recovery.”
Reserved Action: See Held Action.
Resistant Defenses: Defenses which protect against Killing Damage and Normal Damage, such as armor.
Segment: The smallest unit of time in the game, equal to 1 second. There are 12 Segments in a Turn. A Segment on which a character can act is one of that character’s Phases.
Skill Versus Skill Contest: A method for resolving competing actions. The character taking action makes a Skill Roll, and if he succeeds, the character opposing him has a -1 to his Skill Roll for every 1 point the first character made his roll by.
STR: Strength, a Characteristic. Every 10pts costs 1 END to use. Every 5pts will do 1d6 of Normal Damage. Characters with a negative STR must make a STR characteristic roll whenever they wish to use it. A character who drops to the negative amount of their initial strength cannot move. Any lower than that and they begin suffocating.
Stunned: A character becomes Stunned when he takes more STUN damage from a single attack than he has points of CON.
Turn: A unit of time in the game equal to 12 seconds. Each second is called a Segment.
Zero Phase Action: An Action which takes so little time that it can be performed at the beginning a Phase or after a character makes a Half Phase Action, but not after performing a Full Phase Action or making an attack. Zero Phase Actions include turning a Power on or off or switching slots in a Multipower.


HERO Terminology

Gateways MarkDMHart