In the great stories that feature a group of heroes, there is one character who connects the others in the center. Someone who has brought the group together. Someone who is on a journey, and the others are his or her friends and companions.
The hero class is about story rather than mechanics. It is aimed at players who enjoy long backstories and emotional interactions with other party members and NPCs. This class is anything but weak, but its power comes in chunky, straightforward bits rather than tricky mechanics. If you like to have a PC with a lot of options and moving parts, you're probably happier with a Fighter.
There are many, many examples for heroes. Frodo. Bunny Tsukino. Roy Greenhilt. Buffy. Luke Skywalker. Westley. Captain Kirk. Harry Potter. Mario. Katniss Everdeen. Commander Shepard. Mohinder Suresh. Belgarion. Sterling Archer.
While these characters are often competent, their companions outshine them in many ways. One is smarter. One is stronger. One is more beautiful. One is more loyal. One is a more experienced fighter. One knows powerful ancient magics. One is untrustworthy but he's the only one who knows the way into Mordor. Each of them has their own destiny, but somehow, they are all tied together, and the strands of fate cross at the hero. Very often, these heroes exist for the audience to identify with. It's the dream of being destinied to greatness, and sharing it all with an amazing circle of best friends.
At the gaming table though, expectations are a little different. You see the story through the lens of your character, but everyone else sees it through their character. While you see a movie about the ringbearer, the others see a movie about the heir of Isildur, about a gardener, or about the son of Gloin.
This class takes the narrative elements that characterize a classic hero, but it's not a free pass to hog the spotlight. At the gaming table, this is not your story, it's everyone's story. It is meant to be shared.
Role: Like the characters it is inspired by, the hero is a balanced class. They can hold their own in a fight, but they won't dish as much damage as a rogue or tank as well as a fighter. They have some ability to heal and support the group, but not as much as a Cleric. They can fill whichever gap the party has.
Does that make your character the leader of the party? Leadership is earned, not rewarded for choosing a class. Consider the dynamic between Aragorn and Frodo. Frodo is clearly the protagonist, the central character of the story, but when the Fellowship is formed, Aragorn assumes leadership, as he has the attributes required from a leader. He is headstrong, charismatic and levelheaded.
Ability Scores: Heroes come in many shapes and forms, and no ability score is truly useless to them. Strength is important for your melee attack and damage rolls, but you can switch it out with the Personal Fighting Style talent. If you are an archer, Dexterity is important. Constitution helps you survive, and Charisma is important for social interaction, but for you, it is also a measure your heroic resolve and boosts your saving throws.
Races: Many story protagonists are human, because the audience is human. But then, 13th Age is all about unique characters. All options are good options.
Backgrounds: Male heroes tend to have a lowly background, often an orphaned farm boy, while female heroes are overwhelmingly often princesses. It's your choice whether to go with the trope or break it. Expect a later reveal who the true parents are.
It's a hallmark of true heroes that they rise to the challenge when the stakes are highest. Depending on your backgrounds and unique thing, this can represent just amazing badassery, the spiritual guidance of a mentor, or an unbreakable belief in the power of friendship.
Once per day, you can grant yourself a +10 bonus to a skill check. You must announce that you use this ability before you make the roll.
Adventurer feat: If the natural roll is a 17+, you don't expend this ability.
What you lack in formal training you make up in spirit and determination. You gain the heroic strike, a flexible melee attack (see core book p. 167) that gives you a damage boost if your attack roll is high.
Flexible melee attack, at-will
Triggering Roll: Any hit with a natural 17+
Effect: Increase your weapon damage dice by 1. At 5th level, increase them by 2. At 8th level, by 3.
Adventurer feat: ... .
Your pure heart and strong determination allow you to shake off poisons and whatever else your enemies throw at you.
You gain a bonus to saves, death saves and disengage checks equal to your Charisma modifier.
Adventurer feat: ...
The first time you rally in a battle, you can choose to inspire yourself or an ally to greatness. Roll a d6 on the table below.
|Increase the escalation die by 1.
|Increase the escalation die by 1.
|Take a free standard action next turn.
|The ally can take a free standard action after your turn.
|Double the hit points gained from this rally or the next recovery you spend.
|Spend a free recovery to heal.
|Your next basic attack can target 3 nearby enemies.
|Regain a daily power OR deal double damage on your next hit.
|Your next even normal hit against an enemy is a critical hit.
|The ally's next normal hit is a critical hit.
|The next odd hit against you is a miss.
|The next hit against the ally deals half damage.
Class features and talents can grant you additional uses of Inspiration. However, in each battle, you can only gain the benefit of each number once, either for yourself or an ally. Reroll numbers that you have already used. Once you have used all six possible benefits, you cannot gain additional inspirations this battle.
Once per level, you can declare a battle to be a climactic battle. This is a free action. When you do, immediately choose an inspiration from the table, either for yourself or an ally. You can choose an additional inspiration at the start of every turn when the escalation die is even.
Your Heroic Strike is a flexible melee or ranged attack.
Expanded Heroic Strike
You can trigger your Heroic Strike on 15+.
Adventurer feat: Gain an Inspiration on your first hit with a Heroic Strike in a battle.
Anyone who is destinied for greatness has the attention of the big movers and shakers in the world. If you fail all icon relationship rolls for the session (i.e. no 5 or 6), you can choose to gain a 5 with any other icon that has no relationship with you, but at least one with any of your allies.
Increase your recovery dice to d12.
You can wear heavy armor without attack penalty.
Create a nemesis NPC together with your DM. When you are in battle against your nemesis, the fight is always a climactic battle, and does not count against the once per level limitation.
Personal Combat Style
Use your highest ability score for the attack and damage of melee attacks.
Gain an Inspiration when you use your Heroic Deed in battle.