doublezero
DoubleZero System

Mansions & Misfits and Hero Points

The upcoming sourcebook for DoubleZero introduces some variations from the core book. They’re setting-specific, but lay the groundwork for other ways the system can be customized. So let’s talk about Mansions & Misfits and hero points.

Family Roles

The premise of Mansions & Misfits centers on found families. The player characters are part of a group that functions as a family. Everyone as a role. The Big Brother. The Black Sheep. The Bratty Sister. The Middle Child. There are a whole range of tropes to play with.

When your character makes a choice that benefits the family but requires some personal sacrifice on their part, they gain a hero point. This can be a simple as blowing off a date to attend your sister’s recital. It might be as complex as missing a career-defining business meeting in order to bail your drunken brother out of jail for the umpteenth time.

You also gain a hero point when you lean into your role in the family, when it’s not the rational or logical thing to do. This functions a lot like Weaknesses, although there are no ratings or bonus skill points. If you’re the brat, you gain a point when you act like a brat at the worst possible moment to let that behavior out. If you’re a wacky uncle, you earn a hero point for letting that zany side of your personality off the chain at the most inopportune time.

Powers

Player characters in Mansions & Misfits can have powers. They are of limited use, and each character only gets one. They’re intended to be more a a plot device than a means of introducing superhero tropes to the system. Using powers publicly will draw negative attention. We’re talking the “burn the witch” kind of scrutiny.  The “let’s disappear them to a secret government facility and experiment on them” reaction no one wants. You should only use powers when you have no other options left.

To activate a power costs a hero point. This is meant to keep power use to a minimum, although there is no hard-and-fast restriction on how many times per day, or session, or adventure you can use them. It’s a balance between my intention for the setting and your desires as a player. However, when faced with a situation where you could use a power to solve the problem, you gain a hero point if you don’t. Your character is rewarded for restraint.

Mansions & Misfits and Hero Points

Clearly I have been inspired by Fate‘s invoke and compel mechanisms. The original inspiration for DoubleZero, Victory Games’ James Bond 007 RPG, may have been the first tabletop roleplaying system to use hero points. Overtime the concept has been refined, and Fate’s use is currently state-of-the-art. Without fully integrating that into DoubleZero, I do want to use various sourcebooks to explore how hero points can be used to reinforce genre and setting elements.

The core mechanics of hero points will remain the same. Roll well, earn a point. Roll poorly, spend a point to fix it. Individual sourcebooks can add ways to gain and use points that reflect the tropes present. That doesn’t make it canonical across the board, only for that setting. It’s an easy way to tweak the system so they it gains utility across a multitude of different applications.