I've been a huge fan of HERO Games' HERO System for decades. Sure, there are less complex systems out there. And there may be more robust, comprehensive universal systems out there as well (although, free-form/rules-lite systems notwithstanding, I'd be surprised to learn that). But in terms of raw capability to power any genre (or genres) and nearly any play style without being overly-dependent on the subjective whims of a GM alone, I've yet to see anything that beats HERO.
Nonetheless, no set of RPG rules covers every situation as well as every taste. Thus, here is a collection of house rules used in some recent HERO games.
(Note: The house rules below were developed for use in HERO 5th ed. They may require alterations to function within 6th ed. )
Allocating Levels in First Segment 12
Unless completely surprised, a character under attack in the first Segment 12 of a combat is allowed to allocate levels in advance of his/her action. As a reminder, the character must already have in hand the requisite weapon (or shield or otherwise) to which the levels apply, although a benevolent GM may allow an immediate and free Fast-Draw roll if appropriate. Moreover, once set in advance, the allocated levels cannot be changed again until the character’s next Action after the initial Segment 12 Action (although any levels not already allocated, such as for a weapon that couldn’t be drawn in time, can be set during the character’s normal Segment 12 Action). Note that this rule applies only during the initial Segment 12 of the combat.
In addition to the Ignoring Opponents optional rule (Fantasy Hero, pg. 157), when two (and only two) characters are engaged in battle against each other (regardless of the actual number of combatants in the overall fight), they are considered to be actively ready for each other’s attack. If, during his/her Action, one opponent attempts to run around to the opponent’s flank or rear side, the defending character is allowed to react with a number of facing changes up to one per SPD. These facing changes are effectively instantly-available free Zero-Phase Actions that do not require an Abort. Note that this rule applies to a simple attempt to run around a single, engaged opponent; surprise maneuvers, special combat maneuvers, tricks, additional combatants already involved in or joining the exchange, and/or other factors may negate this free facing change.
The mechanics for the Interposing maneuver (Fantasy Hero, pg. 157) don’t always seem logical when the fight is already in progress. In effect, the maneuver represents a dramatic situation in which a character heroically stands in defense of another target to intimidate a potential attacker into reconsidering his or her actions. (“If you want to kill him, you’ll have to go through me.”) Thus, this option is available prior to the start of combat, but if the battle has already begun, use the Dive for Cover or Blocking for Someone Else guidelines for protecting another character.
Note that the OCV bonus gained by the interposing character is intended to reflect that the attacker has left himself or herself open by reaching beyond to the original target, which more realistically would be represented by a reduction in the attacker’s DCV. As such, the OCV gain for the interposing figure may instead be treated as a DCV penalty for the attacker when more appropriate (e.g., if the interposing character chooses to Block).
In many Heroic-level games, the GM will elect to use Knockdown in lieu of Knockback. These rules replace the rules found on pg. 417 of HERO System 5th Ed. (Revised). Whenever a character takes an Impairing or Disabling wound, or is hit – in the GM’s opinion – by a sufficiently strong and/or powerful attack, roll 2D6 as for Knockback. If the result is negative, there is no effect beyond the damage from the attack. If the result is a 0, the character is knocked to the ground (requiring a Half Phase Action to stand). If the result is 1 or higher, the character is forced back one hex (unless there’s a barrier strong enough to prevent it) and knocked down.
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