Sunday, 19 June 2022

Hero Kids Encounter Difficulty

In putting together the Hero Kids Brecken Vale Gazetteer, I (finally) correctly organised the adventures into tiers of play.  

In the Gazetteer, these are arranged geographically, beginning with the Adventures in Rivenshore, then Skritteland, then adventures Across the Vale.

The Adventures in Rivenshore tier are introductory adventures and will be adjusted to have Easy difficulty.

  • Basement O’ Rats
  • Fire in Rivenshore
  • Tomb of the Lost King
  • Darkness Neath Rivenshore

Adventures in Skritteland are slightly more challenging and will be adjusted to have Moderate difficulty:

  • Twilight Watchtower
  • Curse of the Shadow Walkers
  • Mines of Martek
  • Maze of the Minotaur

Beyond those adventures, the rest will be Hard difficulty.

  • Wizard’s Tower
  • The Lost Village
  • Glade of the Unicorn
  • Yuletide Journey
  • Escape from the Ghost Pirates
  • Reign of the Dragon

Which begs the question, what does it mean for an adventure to be Easy, Moderate, or Hard.

Until now, the difficulty of Hero Kids adventures has been a factor of their duration (the number of  encounters) and the challenge posed by the enemies in each encounter.

However, the difficulty of each combat encounter is difficult to calculate, due to the multitude of factors that goes into it:

  • Number of heroes (and which heroes are used)
  • Enemy array for each hero
  • Arrangement of heroes and enemies on the encounter map
  • Hero equipment or advancement.

Those of you who've played any Dungeons & Dragons, will know that there's no easy or reliable way of calculating the strength of a monster, or the strength of a party of adventurers.  And it would be foolish to think that Hero Kids is simple enough to afford a simple calculation.

But Hero Kids is simple enough to estimate encounter difficulty.

To estimate the difficulty of an encounter, we need to establish a baseline.  For this, I propose that the baseline is derived from a single hero, basically factoring in that heroes abilities, armor, and health boxes (but not their Special Action and Bonus Ability).  

Luckily, all heroes use the same rules to calculate their abilities (strength, dexterity, and intelligence), armor, and health.  Heroes have 4 dice to assign to their abilities and armor and they have 3 health.  The 4 dice arranged between abilities and armor reflect a hero's power, and the 3 heath reflects their longevity.  Together, their power and longevity reflect their overall power.  

This gives us a baseline of 12 power (4 times 3) for each hero.

For heroes that use ranged or magic, which cost extra dice to assign, I'm going to assume that their longer ranged attacks (and other abilities) are balanced out by their lower dice of ability dice.  So all heroes have the same 12 power.

Enemies, comparatively, do not follow preset rules for their creation, so their power varies a lot.  But we can use the same rules to estimate their relative power:

For these enemies, we have:

  • Bat: 3 abilities x 1 health = 3 power
  • Pirate Archer: 4 abilities x 2 health = 8 power
  • Giant Rat: 1 abilities x 1 health = 2 power
  • Skeleton Warrior: 4 abilities x 2 health = 8 power

Comparatively, a 'boss' creature is more comparable to a normal hero:

This King Rat is a boss creature, and is the same power as a single hero:

  • King Rat: 4 abilities x 3 health = 12 power

Now that we have a baseline for a creature's power, we can estimate encounter difficulty.

For this, I'm using the following (rough) calculations for the difficulty of each encounter:

  • Easy: 6 power per hero
  • Moderate: 8 power per hero
  • Hard: 10 power per hero

There are several caveats to this estimate.  

First, the bosses clearly outmatch single heroes.  For this, we will rely on the heroes' health potions to give them enough advantage to survive climactic battles.

Second, magic and ranged abilities cost 2 dice, but only give 1 dice for those attacks.  We'll assume that these heroes are roughly the same power as baseline 4 dice ability heroes.

Third, when there are 3 or 4 heroes, their abilities reinforce each other (Teamwork, split attacks, etc), significantly increasing their collective power.  In this case, some increase in the power of enemies can be accommodated.

Let's take a look at a Moderate encounter.  As you recall, this encounter should have 8 power for each hero.

Based on these monsters, the combat has the following difficulty calculations:

  • 1 hero: 6 power (6 power per hero)
  • 2 heroes: 18 power (9 power per hero)
  • 3 heroes: 24 power (8 power per hero)
  • 4 heroes: 36 power (9 power per hero)

As you can see, the exact difficulty varies for each hero due to the granularity of the underlying monsters.  But even with that variation, this encounter generally adheres to the 8 power per hero difficulty expected of a Moderate difficulty adventure.

So there you have it.  Is this workable in practice?  What's your experience been with individual encounter difficulty?  Will this help?  Is it close to 'correct'?

This difficulty calculation revision will be incorporated into all of the Hero Kids adventures over the next few months in the lead up to:


Check out the Hero Kids Complete Fantasy PDF Bundle at DriveThruRPG

Thursday, 9 June 2022

Brecken Vale Gazetteer OUT NOW!

I've just released the latest (and long-awaited) Hero Kids expansion, the Brecken Vale Gazetteer!

The Brecken Vale Gazetteer is jam packed with all-new artwork and 79 pages of information about the places, people, customs, factions, and adventures of the Brecken Vale.

Inside the gazetteer you'll find:

  • Maps and regions of the Brecken Vale and beyond
  • Maps and locations in Rivenshore
  • People of the Vale (including 26 printable character cards)
  • Culture and customs across the Vale
  • Geography and climate
  • Lineages of the Vale (humans, elves, dwarves and other lineages)
  • Factions of the Varld
  • Random encounter tables for each habitat or locale
  • Campaign paths for beginner characters to heroes of the Varld
  • Over 50 new adventure hooks

Saturday, 16 April 2022

Heroes From Out of Time

Here's something new for Hero Kids; Heroes from Out of Time!

This expansion for Hero Kids includes ten new heroes for your game:

  • Athlete - The athlete's massive strength and imposing frame makes them a formidable sight
  • Ghost - Practiced in passing unnoticed, Ghost uses an improvised surujin to strike at distant foes 
  • Goth - The goth's unique style belies her knowledge of herbal healing remedies
  • Hick - This country boy never travels without his sturdy slingshot
  • Jock - The jock's countless hours of gruelling physical training make him hardy and resilient 
  • Princess - A withering gaze and a cutting remark are the princess's weapons of choice 
  • Slugger (female) - The slugger takes advantage of enemies' distraction to swing for the fences 
  • Slugger (male) - The slugger uses his unique mobility to maintain balance in any situation
  • Tech (female) - Wielding unique tech invented by this duo, the tech's quantum pack shifts time
  • Tech (male) - Carrying the other quantum pack they invented, this twin's pack rewinds time

Hero Kids in the wild


Does this count as celebrity endorsement?

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Hero Kids full color release

The first stage of the Hero Kids color updates is now complete!

The following Hero Kids products are now available in full color:

  • Hero Kids Role-Playing Game (the core rules)
  • Hero Kids - Heroes II
  • Hero Kids - Heroes III (Heroes From Out of Town)
  • Hero Kids - Heroes IV (Forest Friends
  • Hero Kids - Heroes V (Monstrous Heroes)
  • Hero Kids - Heroes VI (All Hallows' Eve)
  • Hero Kids - Pets I
  • Hero Kids - Pets II
  • Hero Kids - Space Heroes I
  • Hero Kids - Space Heroes II
Check out a bunch of the new artwork below (including the new Brecken Vale map!

Hero Kids - Line-Up

If you want to get Hero Kids, or pick up any missing products, check out the complete PDF bundle:

And if you want more rip-roaring space action, check out the Hero Kids Space Adventures:

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Heroes in full color

Thanks to everyone's sage feedback, I've decided to update all of the Hero Cards and Monsters to full color.  I will also maintain the existing B&W versions of the Hero Cards and Hero stand-ups for the folks who want to color in their heroes!

The first step in this process is to color all of the Heroes.  

Which is a lot:

Here's a sneak peek at what a colored Hero Card looks like:

More on this as I make progress.

Out.  :-)