House Rules


This page features the most important House Rules not just for this campaign, but pretty much all of them. These “rules” are, in effect, a combination of common sense guidelines and my strongly held convictions about gaming in general and role-playing specifically.

House Rules are not mechanistic in nature; they do not change how the game is played, and they do not change the rules as listed in the HERO System books. Rather, House Rules are stylistic in nature. They effect how the game is played overall, and connect to theme and goal (and the most crucial goal of all is, after all, FUN).

1. Story Trumps Rules.

Take note of this, if you possess a streak of rules lawyer in you. Story. Trumps. Rules. Every single time. If there is something dramatic, exciting, intriguing, or entertaining that furthers the story and makes the game or the campaign more enjoyable for its participants (that’s you and me!), then the GM will bend or even break rules when it seems appropriate. Despite the HERO System’s voluminous number of rules, the game points out that the rules are there to facilitate the fun, not get in the way.

An example might help illustrate my point. Your character possesses XXXXX

2. Character Is King

A character’s personality, background, and concept are critical elements in role-playing. The epic battles, the snazzy costumes, the monologues, and the amazing weapons are merely icing on the cake; your character is what truly matters. In a way, this rule could be referred to as “Character Trumps Story.”

That’s great, you reply, but what does it all mean? Simply put, the more effort and creativity you put into your character, the more return you receive on your investment. Role-playing games are like that; you can easily sit back, roll dice, and dish out damage to villains and never have to worry much about your character’s motivations or background. If, however, you actually put some effort and time into building your character and then developing your character throughout the campaign, I guarantee you will have many times more fun and enjoyment. Players who put some thought and work into their characters receive highest priority for their moments in the spotlight, and gains increased importance in the campaign. Characters who are one-dimensional, bland, or little more than walking number sheets, on the other hand, will receive considerably less effort on the GM’s part.

Think of it this way: the GM has an enormous investment of time, energy, and money devoted to help entertain you. Don’t you think you owe something back to the game, a sort of mutual “pay it forward” type of thing? Don’t just show up to the game and do the minimum, or that’s all you will get in return. Get in there and role-play, build your character, and PARTICIPATE!

3. Help Others Be Successful

Role-playing is a communal, social activity. This is one reason why computer-based RPGs have not entirely overwhelmed pen-and-paper RPGs. This hobby of ours allows us to get together with our friends (in person even!) and interact with them while doing something entertaining.

Despite this feature, some players find it all too easy to show up to the game, roll their dice, read off numbers, and disengage when it isn’t their turn. If any of that describes you, then you need to ask why you even bother playing. If you only participate when it is your turn, you are doing a disservice to the other people at the table, and you are disrespecting the GM’s efforts (and the efforts of your fellow players).

The only way for any RPG session to be a success is for the players and GM alike to participate, share, and interact. As a player, the number one way you can achieve this goal is to find ways to link your character with others. Give another player something to play off of, give him/her a foil, a rival, a friend, or a nuisance.

For example, if a fellow character has a dream of establishing a secret base for the supergroup, the other players should find ways to contribute to this goal. Feed that player’s ambition, encourage his/her creativity, and give that player someone to interact with in-game. If you stay huddled up in your shell and never interact with anyone else, you are missing the point of pen-and-paper role-playing entirely.

Help the other people at the table to succeed. Be there for them, and hopefully they will return the favor. It might just startle you what you can achieve.

4. Pay Attention

It may amaze you to learn this, but some players allow their focus to drift during the game. If it isn’t their attention, they zone out entirely. Only when their turn comes around, or when something directly pertaining to their character comes up, do they perk up and respond. Don’t be that guy/girl!

In non-combat situations, remain engaged even if your character is not in the spotlight. Respect other players if their character IS in the spotlight.

In combat situations, have your turn planned out BEFORE it is your turn. Know what your character is going to do. Look up any rules questions ahead of time. Know what number you need to roll, and have your plan ready to tell to the GM.

Combat in any RPG can take a long time to play out. This is doubly true when players are still learning a new rules system. As such, it is crucial that every player does what he/she can to find ways to keep the game moving smoothly and quickly. The fewer delays per player, the shorter the amount of time to finish a battle.


House Rules

Gateways MarkDMHart