Ask The Readers: Have you played Arcane Heroes?

arcane_heroes_cover In November 2010 I released a 5-paged rules-light RPG called Arcane Heroes. In Arcane Heroes the player characters are members of ancient bloodlines during an industrial revolution. It uses a simple dice pool mechanic for task resolution and contains everything you need to play the game.

The game was created in less than 24h and is probably still a bit rough around the edges. Recently I have been thinking about revising and expanding the rules. There’s also no setting to speak off, so there’s another aspect to improve on. But before I start working on a major overhaul of the game, I am looking for feedback of people who actually played Arcane Heroes.

If you have played Arcane Heroes or even just read it thoroughly, could you please give me your feedback? Are there any rules that are broken. Do you feel that there are certain things missing from the game? Please share your thoughts below!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

7 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: Have you played Arcane Heroes?”

  1. Have read, but not yet played, Arcane Heroes. I shall attempt that either today or tomorrow, depending on veritigo. But I have read it, and the one true Defining Feature needs, I feel, better explanation — and some exploring.

    Heroism could use some refining. Why, for instance, does a person have to take a turn (defending only) while he/she cowboys up? Is this the way we’ve seen real-life heroes behave? No – what we usually see is someone almost immediately jumping into danger to do what needs done, and only AFTERwards does their brain kick in. “I could’ve been killed!” is heard at many a scene of heroism after the initial deed.

    If Arcane Heroes is trying for a more cinematic feel, Heroism doesn’t work that way either. In the best Errol Flynn (or Danny Kaye’s “the Court Jester”) scenes, the leap into danger is the mark of the true hero. (Here compare Kaye’s character in normal mode and in hypnotized mode. “You’re the greatest with a blade!”)

    We need to know if, according to AH, heroism is born or learned. It’s not rolled up with normal attributes and, if page 4 is a clue, it can only be bought with XP. Ergo, beginning characters are not heroic.

    It’s a difficult trait, because heroism is something which needs to be acted – as in role playing the part. What the Heroism attribute seems to be, is a skill – or what D&D 4 would call a “feat.” It adds bonus dice to combat.

    But just addressing the concept of heroism gives Arcane Heroes an edge over so many other RPGs, where heroism seems to be defined by “pick on NPCs and monsters, especially if they’re weaker than us.” In AH, the question of Heroism is brought to the front – and needs, at least on the gamesmaster’s part, to have that question answered. It’s a challenge that most games avoid.

    1. BTW, my comments may be awaiting moderation, but does that mean I have to be a Moderate? (Political jokes are so “in” right now.)

    2. Arcane Heroes is heavily inspired by the video game Fable III and I tried to model the Heroism abilities after the ones in that particular game. But I might change a couple of things in a 2nd edition.

      Regarding beginning characters: they start with 1 point of heroism. That means they have the potential to become great heroes but that trait has to be developed for them to truly shine. You should also see the Heroism stat more like some kind of magic energy, because that’s exactly how it’s used in the game. To make things clearer I might actually use a different term in the 2nd edition.

      1. This might explain why I don’t like videogames, though my grandsons would roll their eyes and sigh if they heard me say that. I’m one of those gamers who it’s impossible to satisfy, because I want my games realistic, simple, short in the rules department, and reflecting real life as well as comic books (even Uncle Scrooge Adventures!), pulps, and swashbuckling movies. All at once.

        Publishers hate people like me.

  2. Hello Michael

    I´d like to translate this game so much ( in portuguese-br ). If you allow polease contact me or say it here. I have friends that work with translations ( and play rpg )

    By the way, great game, i hope i give a game this weekned

    1. The game has been released under the Creative Commons Attribute-Non Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 license. That means you can create derivative works (like a translation) as long as you credit me, don’t use it commercially (like selling it) and share it under a similar license. Please note that the artwork used in the PDF is not licensed under CC, so you can’t use it in your derivative works (unless you obtain a license by the artisan).

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