Thursday, 30 June 2016

Inventory - The Junk Drawer of Hero Kids

At first glance, the Inventory and Skills section of a Hero Kids™ Hero Card contains only Items and Skills. However, there are actually four categories of “things” in the Inventory and Skills section - Items and Equipment, and Skills and Abilities. Further confusing this is when the rules refer to Skill use as an Ability Test. Despite the fluidity of system terminology though, there are very real differences between Items and Equipment, and between Skills and Abilities.

  • Items: Objects which are expended once used (food, gold, bomb, a healing potion).
  • Equipment: Objects which remain for multiple uses (Rope, Staff, Raider’s Axe).
  • Skills: Character specific and conceptually thematic activities one learns to perform (Talking, Knowledge, Herbalism, etc.).
  • Abilities: Inborn or inherent traits usually assigned to all creatures of that type, although they can be possessed by an individual alone (Such as Dwarves with Dark Vision allowing them to see in darkness or a bird with Wings granting flight).

Inventory Abilities are not to be confused with the “Bonus Ability” listed elsewhere on the Hero Card, which is usually more of a thematically specialised Skill (Such as the Knight having the Bonus Ability “Defender”).
Inventory Abilities
One opportunity presented by recognising just how the Inventory Abilities differ from Skills or other Hero-specific Abilities (The Melee/Ranged/Magic Attack, Special Action, and Bonus Abilities) is that it provides a ready made location for us to intentionally place unique abilities which aren’t associated with the primary theme of the Hero, thereby creating a secondary theme which can become an alternate grouping for these Heroes (or Monsters, for that matter).

In the Hero Cards III expansion for Hero Kids™, there are non-humans such as Dwarves, Halflings, Elves, etc. They aren’t labelled as such, but their provenance is obvious. The Knight and the Stonemaster appear to be Dwarves and they both have the Dark Vision ability. One could also envision a group of cultists to some dark god of the ocean, and regardless of the role each member has (Fighter, Cleric, Baker, Candlestick Maker, etc.) you could give them all a “Breathe Underwater” ability.

Here are some ideas for Abilities for Monsters or Heroes: Breathe Underwater, Mind Reader, Shape Changer (specify form, such as”Shape Changer: Wolf”), Venomous, and Climber. Each of these would need to be fairly simple. Climber for instance could grant the ability to move up or down vertical surfaces like trees, cliffs, or walls as easily as walking on the ground. Venomous could deal repeating damage, paralyzation, or some such effect with a bite or sting.

If we to want to give Heroes or groups of Heroes Abilities more complex than a single static competency, the Inventory Abilities section isn’t really the best spot for it as it uses a symbol to denote the Ability with no room for text. I would advocate removing the iconized Abilities from the Inventory completely and moving them to the Bonus Abilities section, but that’s just my personal opinion. Adding such things as granting all Elves an Ability like Woodland Walk (Plus one movement and no terrain penalties within forested environments only.) would be better suited to the Bonus Abilities section of a Hero Card. Racial templates for Hero Kids™ has occurred to me previously and I do have some thoughts on how I’d implement it, but I’ll leave that for a possible future post.