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Skip Navigation LinksHero System>Meta Concepts >Planned Phases HERO

Planned Phases HERO

This document describes an alternate method of character design and advancement that abandons the idea of XP entirely in favor of a planned character progression.


Each player that wishes to participate defines their character at the maximum possible progression, which we'll call the character Ideal. Once this Ideal is defined, players then design less powerful versions of their Ideal, taking things off in chunks to hit point levels the GM has defined down to a version built on the starting points, which we will call the Actual.

Alternately players can go the other way and design the starting level character first and then work up; it makes little difference which direction you go.

When the GM feels it is appropriate to the campaign, they collect the current version of the character sheet in use and hand the player the next phased version of the character. This can happen whenever the GM sees fit. To be "fair" the GM can give the player a powered up version that's ahead of the power curve at the time but the player then sits at that power level and is eventually passed up by experience gaining characters and is behind the curve for a while. Alternately, if all the players are participating in this method, their characters will get their power ups at different times, and the balance of power will shift in a "natural" fashion.

Awarding XP

Characters using this method gain no experience points at all.


If everyone participates this models the novelization format pretty closely.

Also, this method can be used for some players and not others as players prefer.



It can really suck to not be able to adapt on a week to week / arc to arc basis and remain topical.


If a player doesn't envision their character well or the campaign takes a different direction from what is expected, their higher powered version may prove to be irrelevant to the campaign.


Characters designed in a vaccum are not always as well balanced as characters that grow "organically" over time and in response to events in play.


The cons described above can be ameliorated with variations on the basic concept.


The GM can at any time allow players to opt out of the model and start earning xp normally if they change their mind as to where their character should go.


If the GM is ok with the extra book keeping they can allow the players to "respec" their phases once or twice to adjust to unforeseen issues.


The GM can occasionally grant characters using this model a small number of out-of-band xp to make minor tweaks, and then push the changes up through the higher powered versions.


Rather than designing the Ideal and a series of versions leading up to it, instead have players start with the Actual character and then design the next version up. When that version is attained, have the player design the next version. Note that this approach is a little more open to abuse by a canny player...for instance a clever player might make their next version only 10-15 points higher so that their power up cycle is shorter. You may want to impose a minimum power up point minimum, such as 25 points.

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