Games Gazette Logo

HEROES of the STORM: SWORD of the GREAT KING

This is a page about the MINDWARRIOR GAMES adventure role-playing game designed by Finnish games player Mike Pohjola, and not the exciting online game from Blizzard.

               

In the Heroes of the Storm box you get a packet of polyhedral dice, one each of D4, D6, D8, D10, D12 and D20. You also get a coloured map of Smokywood and surrounding areas, 2 Booklets, and 10 Player Character sheets. This latter allows for 5 players to create 2 characters each; the Game Master (GM) being the 6th player doesn't require characters.

The two Booklets are the PLAYER'S GUIDE and the GAME MASTER'S GUIDE, just as in the beginnings of the majority of  role-playing games, in fact there is so much of HEROES of the STORM that is just like the majority of fantasy adventure role playing games that I am fairly surprised that this has actually been published and is selling well.

That was until I read the short note on the designer wanting to bring back role-playing for the new generation. This is something I can understand as Dungeons & Dragons (tm) has gone from being the game with no board that Gary Gygax spent his life selling, to the corporate version that is presented now with maps, boards and miniatures. This means there is room for a new retro fantasy adventure rpg.

     

HEROES of the STORM is very much like AD&D2. Characters have Statistics and Hit points and Skills, and die rolls that with modifiers determine if combat is successful or not and die rolls and modifiers that determine how much damage each weapon does. Unlike other Game Master's Guides this one is more like a Campaign Book seeing as 95% of its 60 pages are Chapters / Scenarios that continue the storyline. The pages throughout are quality glossy with many colour inserts. The descriptive text is all black on white with boxes of White text on Black that contain the relevant encounter details. I am not usually a fan of white on black but in this case the printing is very clear, and of course it is easy for the GM to locate when required. Apart from a couple of pages that give you an insight into being a GM and running a role play game, which if this is your first time at role-playing wouldn't mean a lot to you, there is nothing of any use to the GM in this guide except, as previously mentioned, a Campaign adventure to be run for the players.

The PLAYER'S GUIDE opens onto a Welcome page from Mike Pohjola and is followed by a Prologue. Both lots of text are confusing for gamers who have not previously role-played - and I say this from experience. The only way to learn role-playing games is to jump into a game where two or more players already know what they are doing. Having a strong imagination is fine but it needs hands-on  playing to gain the experience that will fire that imagination.

Like the early role-playing games HEROES of the STORM is very dice-driven, meaning there is little you can have your characters do or attempt to do without the result of a modified die roll determining the success or failure of the attempt.

Magic: Playing a character who can cast spells is always fun in rpg's but here it is not so good because there only a very limited number of spells available. These are sorted by Grade, in this case Grade I and Grade II, other rpg games grade them by Level.

Character sheets show the character's stats and their values, but due to a misprint instead of saying something like D6+13 for a Knights Strength, there is written n6+13. The "n" is used on all character descriptions in the Player's Guide. My mentioning isn't meant to detract from the game, it isn't a criticism but I was a trifle confused to begin with as "n" is often used as a non-specified number and it took me a moment to realise that in this case "n" = "D".  To be honest if these books have been translated from Finnish to English they are so very remarkable in their grammar and spelling.

As an experienced role-player of over 30 years I can use what is in this box and create a game for my group of players without having to explain much to them - the only thing they weren't used to is the use of paper clips to keep track of a characters Balance and Hit Points (there are numbers for these on the edge  of  the Character sheet) which is different from simply keeping track with pencil and paper but a lot more fiddly and more likely for error.

I am left wondering if D&D barely touched Finland (the origin of HEROES of the STORM) because I cannot see why anyone would even think of using the rules for HEROES of the STORM opposed to the rules for Dungeons & Dragons (or at least ADVANCED D&D2). The only reason I can think of for a fantasy role-player purchasing this game is for the excellent Campaign, and to my mind HEROES of the STORM should be advertised and sold first and foremost as a cracking good campaign adventure for any of the myriad major fantasy rpg's already available in game stores around the world.

We played HEROES of the STORM, or at least the Campaign from it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. After a while we did just slip into using the AD&D2 rules that we all knew and which inadvertently kept sneaking past the shell of rules provided by HEROES of the STORM.

In summary I will say that this isn't a bad rules set - let's face it, apart from a few mior name changes this is the same game that has been used for 30+ years and so is well known by the majority of role players around the world. It isn't as well written, or at least I personally don't think that the rules booklets are arranged in the best possible way, especially to introduce new players to role-playing, which I believe is one of the reasons for publishing this edition. If you have still got your old AD&D2 and can grab a copy of this game for a decent price - I've been on the internet and as yet cannot find from where it is available in the UK or its price in £s - then it is of value for the campaign adventure alone.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015