Jump to content
GM Joe

What's the second-best superhero RPG?

Recommended Posts

Well, you don't have to do random if you don't want to. The rules cover some variants, and Polyhedron had an article on a point buy system (which was a little incomplete*, but at least a starting point) that's still floating around the web.

 

 

 

 

 

*The main thing it doesn't address is how to cost out powers that don't have any ranks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm partial to Wild Talents. It's a point-build system like Champions, but very different in approach. It took me a while to get my head around the power design system. But I love the "one roll engine" system. Everyone states their intended action for each round, then the players roll pools of d10s, looking for matches. The number of dice you roll depends on your stats, skills, powers and various optional modifiers. Even a single matching pair means success, but more matching dice mean better success. And that one roll determines who goes first, whose roll beats whose, where you hit your opponent (if it was an attack) and how much damage you do.

 

The system is extremely flexible when it comes to building powers. The book even gives examples of how to be literally invulnerable--NOTHING can hurt you. Then it explains that a) this isn't going to be much fun for anyone, and B) that won't help if someone else builds a character who can teleport you to the black hole in the center of the galaxy. Sure, you're not DEAD...but you're not coming back. There's also an example of how to build the power to snuff out the sun on a middling number of points. Again, raw power isn't what the game's about, so they counsel moderation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many years ago, the regular RPG group I played with tried BESM for an anime campaign, and it very quickly became clear that the rules only provided a tiny fraction of what was needed to run a smooth game. More time was spent trying to decipher the intent of the system and fill in its glaring gaps, than was spent actually playing. Maybe Tri-Stat got a lot better over the years, but a dozen years ago, it wasn't fit for something as vast in scope as superheroes (or even anime, if we're being totally honest about it).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I playtested SAS tristat version. Their answer to anything not defined in the rules was that it was up to each group to define. There were no real-world-ish benchmarks to use. The only substance was in the power building system that was largely cribbed from Hero, so I figured why bother with it. BESM 2nd edition was a better iteration of Tri-Stat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think after Marvel FASERIP, I'd put Mayfair's DC Heroes third. It was probably mechanically superior to FASERIP, but for me fell into a weird middle ground level of complexity, between the simplicity of FASERIP and the higher granularity of Hero. I never got to play it much b/c my group was into FASERIP at the time and didn't like learning new games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never really liked FASERIP - probably being used to the much more granular/defined Hero System, but I also found comparing characters didn't work (Hulk crush Thor - Thor had negligible defenses compared to Hulk). It always felt designed for prefabs, not homegrown PCs, with character creation grafted on as an afterthought.

 

DC Heroes struck me as a less granular variant of Hero - +1 Stat doubles its effect, and normal people have stats of 2...

 

Villains and Vigilantes - tried it once or twice, but I'm not sure we fully grasped how the mechanics were supposed to work.

 

Mutants & Masterminds was a pretty solid system, the hybrid of Hero and d20. The damage system was elegant, but the d20 roll makes for a lot of randomness.

 

I always had a soft spot for Golden Heroes, but never played it. Dividing actions into "frames" rather than time seemed quite comic book. As random power systems went, that one was pretty reasonable. I'm not sure it would have lived up to expectations in play, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dividing actions into "frames" rather than time seemed quite comic book.

 

Well, that's what Phases are essentially doing for Champions. There was a time when a Phase was described as "what could typically happen in a single panel of a comic book," rather than as a specific period of time. Of course, with the advent of the Time Chart, it became harder to interpret Phases as being in "narrative time" rather than discrete time, but as long as you could still monologue to your heart's content during a Phase, nobody really complained. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, that's what Phases are essentially doing for Champions. There was a time when a Phase was described as "what could typically happen in a single panel of a comic book," rather than as a specific period of time. Of course, with the advent of the Time Chart, it became harder to interpret Phases as being in "narrative time" rather than discrete time, but as long as you could still monologue to your heart's content during a Phase, nobody really complained. :)

Frames specifically were based on "you get frames based on how significant a character you are - all major characters get the same number of frames".

 

I don't ever recall segments or phases being described as a panel - as far as I can recall, 12 segments was always 12 seconds. Perhaps "as a rule of thumb, a phase is the action of one panel" may have been out there somewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Each segment is approximately 1 second long, yes, but Phases are a slightly more fluid notion that can be anywhere from 1 to 12 seconds long, depending on how many of them you get in a Turn. Nevertheless, the way Phases were always described at GenCon, at least in terms of how you would visualize them conceptually, is that they represent what you'd see a character do in a panel of a comic book. Generally, anything a character can be seen doing in a single panel of a comic, a Champions character should be able to do in their Phase. Call it a rule of thumb if you wish, but it was the prevailing design conceit behind a Phase. And for groups that dispensed with the Speed Chart all together, this conceit was probably the handiest way to visualize the action in the absence of the formalized interleaving of Phases.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


×