08 October 2007

Hero's Banner by Tim C Koppang

It's hard to say much about this game based on reading and no play. It's designed so that you play the most important episodes in the lives of epic heroes, and when they're done, you move on to their successors.

It seems like it will do a good job of the multi-generational fantasy saga, something that I haven't seen really work before.

When you build a character, the key is defining three goals for them. Each is set within a specific domain, and they are intended to be in conflict (at least potentially). One is something personal that the character wants. One is something to do with your family. The final one is a hero, someone that the character respects or wishes to follow in the footsteps of.

The hero influence is the way that generations are connected - after the first episode, the characters from previous episodes will return as hero influences for the new characters.

Game play is described with aggressive scene-framing, with the GM setting up each scene so that it pushes towards a choice between the three influences for at least one character. When it comes to conflict, the player must choose which one the character goes with, and rolls against the corresponding influence score.

Passions change when a character fails and calls for a re-roll. Re-rolls are always allowed, but they cause the character's passions to become more extreme. The three influence scores always add up to 100, and each re-roll has you add to one (and thus subtract from the others). However, you may reorganize the scores after any change. So you can adjust what your character feels in a fairly extreme manner as play goes on - maybe the hero abandons their quest to regain the throne in a desire for glory in battle, for example.

This all stops when you reach 100 in one of the influences (and so 0 in the others). At this point, the character's story is done, and you get to describe how their life went, with the (now permanent) choice made.

So it seems like the game is about passionate, epic stories of larger than life characters making larger than life choices about how to live. Each episode is short (that is, you are expected to play through each generation in a session or two). I get a real feeling that the game will come into its own as you play through many generations and build up a history of the nations that have been guided by your heroes.

Play reports I've read seem to confirm that the individual stories work as I expect, but I don't recall seeing any that have gone over the generations.

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