fantasy hero complete cover

For most of us involved in roleplaying games (RPGs), fantasy is a mainstay. It doesn’t matter if you are using a pre-generated setting or your own creation, the idea of wizards, warriors, priests, dragons, dwarves, and elves are a lure to our creativity. How heroic or gritty, magical or mundane can all change depending on how you want your game to be. HERO Games gives a level of flexibility with the Fantasy Hero Complete rulebook that allows players and game masters (GMs) to release their creativity in any direction they want to go.

Using the HERO System, this 262 page book contains the information you need for creating characters, adventures, and entire worlds. Like with their other books, half of the book is dedicated for character creation, of course this is provides much of the information for expanding non-player characters (NPCs) and all the other creatures you could want to use as a GM. There are guidelines for creating everything you would need to flesh out skills, abilities, equipment and other incidentals you may need in your world. There are additional materials available if you don’t want to do the point build, but you can use the system for your own creations.

Being a point buy system for creating characters opens up all the possibilities your imagination can come up with allowable by your GM. There are no set races or classes you have to choose from. There are templates provided for major fantasy races and character types. There are also some examples of some completed characters. However, you can also create your own races and classes to fit the game you want to play—the only limitations would be those set forth by the GM.

If you are unfamiliar with the HERO System, the point system also applies to other aspects of world building. As a GM, you may find that in games where character classes are well defined, it can be hard to introduce something because it doesn’t fit neatly into system. Fantasy Hero Complete has the open-ended ability of creating what you what. The book has examples for magic, equipment, new races, and monsters, along with information on how to build and run adventures. There are other sections designed with helping understand how to interact in a fantasy world.

New players usually have some experience from movies and books. There are other aspects of tabletop RPGs many experienced gamers take for granted. Fantasy Hero Complete provides additional reading to introduce new, and experienced, players to some of the major themes and tropes of fantasy RPGs. There is also information on how to create a backstory for a fantasy based character. Not everyone needs this information, but it is nice to have. But there is more information for the player who wants to take the leap into the role of the storyteller: GM.

There are sections in the about creating storylines. This includes some solid writing concepts of building in subplots and story arcs. There is information about different types of stories and campaign settings. Do you want to create a campaign based on the hero’s journey, or maybe the heroic sacrifice? There is some information to help guide your thoughts. There are also subsections helping to understand some of the concepts used in fantasy fiction. Of course you will probably need settings for your encounters and other elements of the story to give some additional breadth for the rest of the players.

As I have seen in other HERO System books, this fits the title as being complete. Everything you would want is available to build, start, and run an encounter or a campaign of any desired length.

Fantasy Hero Complete was written by Michael Surbrook. He did a great job of pulling a broad amount of information together for new and experienced players. There is enough to get going, but not overwhelmed.

If you are new to a point system, it in itself is a different model of play when compared to level based systems. Along with the idea there are no classes, you don’t earn a specified amount of experienced points to move you to the next level and a new addition of skills and abilities. Most everything your character starts with is what they have. You still advance, but not in the mode of popping up a level.

Point systems also require more time while you are in the development stages of character building. When creating the character you are buying your abilities, skills (including spells), talents, and depending on how heroic your starting character will be, special personal items. Don’t let this get in the way of having fun though.

When you are building new anything to fit your game, only build what you need at the time. As your game continues, you create more. Keeping it available means you will develop a library for yourself, and the rest of your group. I have known gaming groups that work together to create new stuff for the campaigns they play, so no one person is doing all of it. Then, again, when you are the GM, you can put build something completely new to provide the twist in the plot of the story.

If you like fantasy, and roleplaying, Fantasy Hero Complete provides a framework to create the game you want to play.

Thanks to Hero Games for providing a review copy.