The Hero’s Tale
Designer: Mark Hansen, Brendon Hansen, and Jacob Hansen
Artist: Abagail Crangle and Mark Hansen
Publisher: Mark Hansen
Year Published: 2021 (2nd Edition)
No. of Players: 2-6 Roleplaying Game
Playing Time: Not Applicable
Main mechanic / Theme: Modified d20 and point buy / Fantasy
Fantasy Role Playing for Family and Friends
The Hero’s Tale: Fantasy Role Playing for Family and Friends is written by a family: Mark, Brendon, and Jacob Hansen. They wanted to create a game that would be more family friendly in the way it was played in both the story and the mechanics. They also wanted a game with a higher emphasis on how a story is created and unfolds.
I received a copy of The Hero’s Tale from the lead author, Mark Hansen, at the SaltCon End of Summer event of 2021 for review purposes.
The Hero’s Tale uses a twenty-sided die for random results. This applies to combat and skill checks. The die roll is adjusted up or down by factors of the character’s governing Skill, Trait, and Ability. To make this easier to use, there are no conversions from a score to how that affects the roll. All of those scores are based on zero (0) being average and they can be adjusted up or down in whole numbers from there. For example, a very strong character would have a strength of +2.
Further adjustments can be added by the player adding Karma points the character has. Karma is a limited point pool used to attempt more heroic feats during the story.
It is recommended that the Narrator take into consideration the storyline, especially in how the player narrates their actions, in terms of the outcome. This is important to note because the skills are widely based and open to how they are applied in the game session. Magic in the game is another skill that all players could have, but how it is applied and used would be different for each. There no set spells. Instead, the player determines what the character is willing to have happen and makes an appropriate skill check.
Character creation starts with the aspects of the story before scores. Most players of roleplaying games are familiar with coming up with a character concept and developing a backstory. These elements help in creating a deeper story for the characters, players, and the narrator. The Hero’s Tale also includes the character’s Story Role.
In the stories we read where there are a group of characters carrying the storyline, we can pick the roles in the party each of the characters have. We can pick out who is the leader, which one is the second (lancer), the smart one, and so one. The role the character takes in the story provides a specific set of abilities associated with it.
There are no set races in The Hero’s Tale. Players, with consent from the narrator can create characters of any race they can think up. The use of the other abilities and traits are available to finish the aspects and description of the race. The backstory could then be used to provide the reason for the character’s race and why they are in the area they are currently at.
Because of the wide range of available types of characters and the use of roles, I would recommend the group hold a zero session for character creation before the story begins. The zero session would allow each of the players to get a better understanding of the story their game sessions are going to develop and determine who is going to play which role of the story. It may be important to remember and to remind some players that the story isn’t always about the leader of the group. Every character is the hero of their own story no matter what position they play in that party.
Additional Book Elements
There is one core book for The Hero’s Tale. There is all the information you need for running a game as a narrator or as a player. Narrators are given a wide berth to what they would like to do with the game they want to create. Roughly the second half of the 200-page book provides Resources and Playing aids.
The authors use The Land of Wynne to ground the second half of the book. This is their setting for their own games and there is a lot of good information in the section for players at all levels.
There is information about the lands and the people and creatures inhabiting them. There is enough detail to give a solid base yet leaving each narrator enough space to make the world their own. After you get through the monsters and other creatures you can encounter, there is a section explaining how magic items work followed by major non-player characters.
There are easy to use quick reference sheets and character sheets that are designed to help with the major archetypes players can use.
The last section of the book provides some ready-made characters for use in an introductory adventure. For those who attend SaltCon, I will be narrating this adventure, The Haunted Abbey of Haffenburg, with the ready-made characters.
The Hero’s Tale is a fantasy based role-playing game on the mechanic of imagination more than the details in the rule book. The focus is on a game that is accessible and acceptable for all ages. Part of what is done for that is the emphasis in every character is a part of the story working together, and not a random group with differing interests.
The mechanics are easy to use. The point system for character creation and advancement removes some of the extra steps required in other games of converting scores into adjustments; here you go right to the adjustment.
The addition of the Story Role for characters gives players an additional guidance for how the character fits into the party and the story the players are creating. The terms used for the character roles, combat roles, and so forth all use naming conventions that are common today in many electronic based games giving players familiar with them an easier access point of bringing the character to the tabletop.
I recommend The Hero’s Tale: Fantasy Role Playing For Family and Friends to players and groups who are looking for a system and setting that is designed for ease of access to play.
Mark Hansen also writes stories based in his setting for The Hero’s Tale. You can learn more about the game and about the stories set in it at TheHerosTale.blogspot.com (link) and ATaleofHeroes.com (link).
About the Author
Daniel Yocom does geeky things at night because his day job won't let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He's written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines after extensive research along with short stories. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join him at guildmastergaming.com.