Heroic Magnitude

The Scale

An essential part of Heroic Magnitude is not trifling with trifles. A hero's abilities are rated on a scale on which each step is about 2½ times better than the one below it: someone five steps higher is a hundred times better. The rankings are:

There are ranks below Ordinary, although they are of little concern to heroes (unless black magic or poison is involved). Going downward, they are:


There are certain qualities which all heroes have in common. They are:

Of these seven, select three to have at the Excellent level and two to have at the Reknowned level. The remaining two may be either both Heroic, or one Superhuman and the other Excellent.

Heroic Virtues and Flaws

Each hero needs a virtue and a flaw. His virtue is the cause he will sacrifice himself for: revenge on the villain who slaughtered his family, protection of innocents, or the like. When this cause is directly at stake, the hero becomes more effective and may even push himself past his limits.

A flaw is some weakness (hopefully almost secret) which handicaps the hero when it comes up. There are two kinds of flaws: circumstances in which the hero takes a disadvantage in everything he tries to do, and acts for which his relevent ability is reduced by a full rank.

Heroic Deeds

Every deed has a level of difficulty. When competing against another person or creature, that difficulty is equal to his rank in the ability used for the competition. Inanimate "opponents" don't have abilities as such, but whatever aspect needs to be overcome is rated similarly.

If one competitor has a higher rank in the ability in question, he simply wins. No soldier of merely Excellent skill can defeat a swordsman of Reknowned Mastery; no boulder that can be lifted by six Ordinary men will resist Heroic Might.

The interesting conflicts are those between roughly equal opponents. In such a case, each contestant rolls two six-sided dice and compares the higher to his opponent's higher die and the lower to his opponent's lower. For each comparison, there are three possibilities: one side wins (has a higher number on his die), the other side wins, or there is a tie. Whoever wins the majority of ties also wins the contest; if each wins one, or if both are ties, the contest is unresolved and the contestants may try again if they wish and if intervening events have not rendered their competition moot.

This even fight is tipped if one side or the other has something that gives him an advantage or a disadvantage. Two dice are always compared to determine the winner, but each advantage gives the contestant an extra die to roll; he can then use the highest two of however many he ended up rolling in the contest. Each disadvantage forces one die to turn up 1, so with one disadvantage only one die is rolled, and with two both dice are automatically 1.

It is certainly possible to have both advantages and disadvantages in a contest, in which case they cancel each other out one-for-one and only the remainder (if any) is applied.

More than two net disadvantages effectively reduces the contestant to the next lower ability ranking, making his loss certain instead of only very likely. (If both contestants are reduced to the next lower ranking, assume that three disadvantages is equal to that lower rank with three advantages, and continue reducing from there if either has more than three disadvantages.)

Exactly what constitutes an advantage or disadvantage depends on the nature of the contest, of course, but one circumstance is always applicable when it comes up: if a character's heroic virtue is in effect, it counts as two advantages. Also in that case, he may use his Resolution to increase his Celerity, Might, Presence, or Resolution by one rank, but then has to succeed in a contest of his (unimproved) Resolution against the new rank of whatever ability was improved. If he succeeds or ties, he is only lightly wounded; if he fails, he is seriously wounded (see below). This improvement lasts for the duration of whatever taks his virtue applies to.

In a contest among more than two characters, everyone rolls, and the one with the best high die and the one with the best low die each get a victory (presuming there is a best; if there is a tie for highest, no victory is awarded). If someone scores more victories than anyone else, he wins the entire contest; if two characters score victories everyone else is eliminated and those two conduct a regular contest to determine the real winner. If no one scores any victories at all (both dice are tied), the entire contest is a tie.

Heroic Combat

Because combat is so important to heroes, it is played out in a little more detail than most other deeds.

Each bout of combat has three steps:

  1. Determine Initiative

    This is a contest among everyone involved in the fight, each combatant using his choice of Celerity or Mastery). The winner doesn't need to decide what he's doing until after he's heard everyone else's decisions.

  2. Action

    Everyone gets to perform one action. Usually this involves fighting, although certainly someone might choose to do something else if everyone else is occupied. Remember that everyone else has to state what they're going to do before the person with the initiative has to decide. (If there is dispute among the others, use another contest to see who is forced to declare first.)

    There are two sorts of attack: attacking someone who is fighting back, and attacking someone who is only defending. Most hand-to-hand combat is of the former sort, unless the defender is choosing to not counterattack in order to do something else. Ranged combat is usually of the latter sort.

    Both fighting: roll a contest of Mastery vs Mastery. The person who wins the contest does win the bout, but the details depend on the exact results:

    Only attacker fighting: roll a contest of attacker's Mastery vs defender's choice of his Mastery or Celerity.

  3. Apply Damage

    Anyone who was successfully attacked now takes damage, though if an avoidance roll is allowed, he has the chance to reduce the damage. Someone who is successfully attacked multiple times takes damage for each but potentially gets an avoidance roll against each.

    An avoidance roll is a contest of the potentially damaged person's Celerity, Mastery, or Might (his choice) against the Mastery of the person who attacked him. For each die he wins, he reduces the damage of the attack by one level (see below); dice tied or won by the attacker have no effect.

    The damage of an attack is usually equal to the attacker's Might (possibly with an advantage or even increase in rank from a weapon); this is compared to the victim's toughness (his Might, possibly aided likewise by armor).

    Each victorious die of the defender's avoidance roll moves the result one row downward on this table.

    A seriously wounded person is reduced one rank in Celerity and Might and furthermore has a disadvantage in every contest until healed. A lightly wounded person has the disadvantage, but does not lose ability ranks. A lightly wounded person who is seriously wounded or lightly wounded again becomes seriously wounded; a seriously wounded person who is lightly wounded or seriously wounded again becomes incapacitated.

This file was last modified at 2220 on 27Aug01 by trip@idiom.com.