Sunday, 1 January 2012

Introducing Heroes Against Darkness

Welcome to the home of the indie RPG Heroes Against Darkness.

As it says up there in the header, Heroes Against Darkness (HAD) is a modern RPG that aims to provide a simple and deep game experience without becoming slow, cumbersome or complicated.

This section provides a brief overview of these core elements of the game:

• Races
• Classes
• Magic and Anima
• Combat Powers

The complexity in Heroes Against Darkness is back-loaded in the character's Magic and Combat Powers, rather than front-loaded in the racial and class features. This means that the definition of a race and a class is relatively simple, but the list of Combat Powers and Magic Spells is more extensive. The goal of this focus is to streamline the character creation process, to reduce complexity power creep (and homogenization of classes), but to still give characters meaningful tactical choices in combat situations.


Heroes Against Darkness races have these characteristics:

• Ability score adjustments to several scores when creating characters
• Starting languages
• Special features, such as low-light vision

In terms of actual gameplay, most of the characteristics of the races are categorized as 'role-playing' rather than 'roll-playing'.  This means that the racial characteristics of each of the races manifest themselves most often in interactions with other game characters, rather than through a series of codified advantages and disadvantages.

The races are broadly categorized as Allies, Outcasts and Enemies:

• Human
• Elf
• Dwarf

• Half-Elf
• Half-Orc
• Tartarean

• Drow
• Orc


HAD uses a simple class definition system.  Each class has the following characteristics:

• Class Health Points value
• Usable Melee Weapons
• Usable Ranged Weapons
• Usable Armor
• Unique list of Combat Powers and/or Spell Powers

The bulk of each Class's depth and gameplay differentiation comes from their unique powers, which are described below.

The classes in the first release of the game are:

Melee Fighters
• Warrior: Skilled melee fighters
• Barbarian: Durable melee fighters
• Berserker: Ferocious melee fighters

Specialist Fighters
• Hunter: Ranged combat specialists
• Rogue: Ranged and sneak attack specialists

Magical Fighters
• Hospiter: Melee combat and healing magic

• Warlock: Destructive physical magic
• Healer: Healing and physiological magic
• Canonate: Protective and divine magic
• Necromancer: Dark necrotic magic
• Mystic: Controlling and perceptive magic

Magic and Anima

The use of magic is one of the areas where HAD's unique differences are most visible.

The most important element here is the use of Anima to cast spells.  Anima is a measure of the magi's individual magical power.  All spells have an Anima cost, which must be paid for the spell to resolve.

This important change gives player of a magi character a pool of magic power to use at their discretion, so they can choose to use large amounts of Anima on powerful spells or stick with 'cheaper' and less powerful spells to prolong their Anima supplies.

The amount of Anima that a character has is based on a simple calculation:

Anima = ½ Wisdom Score + Level

In dire circumstances when they have depleted their reserves of Anima, magi can over-spend Anima to cast spells.  This Blood Anima costs the character 4 Health Points for each point of Anima spent.  The only restriction in the use of Blood Anima is that it cannot be used to cast Healing Spells due to fatal feedback effects.

Spell Powers

Each of the magi classes and spell-casting cross-classes (such as Hospiters) have a unique list of spell powers from which they draw their spells.

Mystic Spell: Boon (3 Anima)
Effect Increases target's attacks by +2
Target Single target
Duration Magic Bonus rounds
Range 10' + 10' per caster level

Warlock Spell: Burning Ray (1 Anima + X Anima)
Attack d20 + Magic Bonus
Cost 1 Anima + 1 Anima per d8 of damage
Against Armor Defense
Damage Xd8 + Magic Bonus
Target Single target
Range 10' + 10' per caster level

Combat Powers

Unlike Spell Powers which have Anima costs that must be paid, Combat Powers can be used any time that their conditions are met.

The most basic Combat Powers simply require a target within melee or ranged combat range.

Melee Attack
Condition Target in melee range
Attack d20 + Melee Bonus
Against Armor Defense
Damage Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus

Ranged Attack
Condition Target within ranged weapon range
Attack d20 + Ranged Bonus
Against Armor Defense
Damage Weapon Damage + Ranged Bonus

As characters gain levels, the power of their Combat Powers increases. Depending on the character's class, they gain access to these improved attacks earlier or later:

Superior Melee Attack
Condition Target in melee range
Attack d20 + Melee Bonus
Against Armor Defense
Damage 2d Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus

Superior Ranged Attack
Condition Target within ranged weapon range
Attack d20 + Ranged Bonus
Against Armor Defense
Damage 2d Weapon Damage + Ranged Bonus

In addition to basic melee and ranged attacks, all non-magi classes have a variety of Combat Powers that represent their unique abilities or advantages in combat situations, or allow them to trade off different aspects of the attack for other aspects (such as reducing their attack bonus to deal more damage).

The Warrior's Level 3 melee power Feinting Swing allows the player to choose trade off some of their character's attack effectiveness to put their target off-balance, reducing that target's attack effectiveness.

Feinting Swing
Condition Target in melee range
Attack d20 + Melee Bonus - 2
Against Armor Defense
Damage Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus
Effect Target -2 hit until end of next round

However, some of the powers of each Class have unique situational conditions. For example, the Barbarian's Enraged Attack (Level 2) gives the character additional attack bonuses when their Health is low:

Enraged Attack
Condition Target in melee range.
Character health less than 50%.
Attack d20 + Melee Bonus + 2
Against Armor Defense
Damage Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus

Another example is the Rogue's Opening Attack (Level 1), which gives the character an attack bonus when attacking targets that are engaged in combat with another character:

Opening Attack
Condition Target in melee range.
Target engaged by other character.
Attack d20 + Melee Bonus + 2
Against Armor Defense
Damage Weapon Damage + Melee Bonus

That's a quick overview of the core elements of HAD, but there's plenty more to talk about in the game, including combat healing, the different spells of each of the Magi classes, Character Sheets, Monster Cards, Attack Bonuses, Defenses, Ability Modifiers and Bonuses and Ability Tests.

Take a trip over to the downloads page to grab yourself a copy of the Alpha version of the Heroes Against Darkness - Game Rules.

Feedback and comments below.

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