Jump to content
GM Joe

What's the second-best superhero RPG?

Recommended Posts

Was I the only one to play Margaret Weis Productions Marvel Heroic Roleplaying? I enjoyed playing Captain America while hunting for escaped villains in Breakout.

 

Does making lots of supers characters in GURPS 3e count? The actual games themselves always seemed to fall through or just be one-shots.

 

I want to like ICONS, but every time I play it I wish I were playing Champions instead.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Used to have a copy of Golden Heroes. Definitely not the first superhero RPG. Champions predates its first publication by a year and it's GW publication by three, and there were a few out there before Champs. (Superhero 2044 and V&V for two.) GH had some interesting tidbits, for sure. I never got a chance to actually try to play it, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did anyone here ever play Golden Heroes?  It was supposed to be among the earliest superhero RPGs, if not the earliest, and I was always sort of curious.

 

koff koff

 

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.

But never got to play it. Liked the two modules they put out, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I played a superhero game based on Heroquest rules (the narrative Glorantha rpg rather than the Games Workshop miniatures based tabletop game). That was very interesting as the flexibility is immense and the options for combat extreme.

 

The problem is in crunch and getting your head in a different space. However, if you are all about Story it is easy for Batman's "Brooding Presence" to defeat "Joker's henchmen" in a single roll which may have a variety of outcome from complete success (all captured and give away Joker's hideout) to complete failure (knocked out and placed in deathtrap).

 

The biggest problem, to my mind was the inability, or limited ability, to reflect a long dragged out sequence where resources and ability is increasingly challenged without overtly twisting the rules. It stood out though as a great way to get a real four colour game. Shame they never got a book out on doing it properly. I think, with a decent bit of thinking and testing there is a brilliant pick up and go superhero rule set waiting to be used.

 

Doc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The game says that encounters with lesser opponents or where the outcome is not critical to the core ends of the adventure should be resolved with a single roll. The final encounter and any other worth the time should use an extended method.

 

In a fantasy adventure, for example, the ambush on the way to the dungeon would be resolved in a single roll. The wandering monsters in a single roll. The final encounter with the vampire would use the extended resolution. The intermediate encounter that gave the adventurers access to the information needed to defeat the vampire might use extended if there is a good narrative reason for it, or it could be a single roll.

 

I currently use it in conjunction with second edition RuneQuest, using RQ for the mundane stuff and then HQ for when they go into the God Plane and things become more malleable and myth-like.

 

Doc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nope, it means they aren't worth the same game time as the final encounter. It is possible that those encounters may provide access to information and resources that influence the story and either boost or hinder the ability of the characters to succeed in the final encounter. The level of success or failure in each of these is important to the outcomes.

 

It does however make you begin to think about whether particular encounters are indeed important and to make you think hard about making them have some value to the scenario rather than just a combat interlude.

 

:-)

 

Doc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm. I can't help but think that an encounter described like this: ...it is easy for Batman's "Brooding Presence" to defeat "Joker's henchmen" in a single roll which may have a variety of outcome from complete success (all captured and give away Joker's hideout) to complete failure (knocked out and placed in deathtrap). is significant enough that it deserves to be resolved with more than a single die roll. Otherwise you might as well just sit around and tell each other bedtime stories.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We all know Champions is the best, but what's the second-best superhero RPG ever made, in your opinion, and what makes it so?

DC Heroes, DC Universe, Marvel SAGA, Marvel FASERIP, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, M&M, Silver Age Sentinel, Heroes Unlimited, etc.. I have/had a plethora of super-hero games but outside of Champions, the only systems that survived more than a few sessions was surprisingly... GURPS Supers 3rd Edition. It ran for quite a bit actually.

 

Also a Champions the New Millenium game but with the full HERO power system bolted in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm. I can't help but think that an encounter described like this: ...it is easy for Batman's "Brooding Presence" to defeat "Joker's henchmen" in a single roll which may have a variety of outcome from complete success (all captured and give away Joker's hideout) to complete failure (knocked out and placed in deathtrap). is significant enough that it deserves to be resolved with more than a single die roll. Otherwise you might as well just sit around and tell each other bedtime stories.

I've often described RPGs as rules systems for "let's pretend". There's a continuum between the tactical "game" aspect of an RPG and the narrative "storytelling" aspect. This model falls further to the latter than the former. Of course, we've also talked on these Boards in the past about expanding "social combat" beyond a single Interaction Skill roll, and compressing Combat into a single "Brawling", or "Fencing", or "Dueling" skill roll, say, for a game focused on court intrigue, and not on violence, as the problem resolution mechanism of choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anybody ever played StuperPowers! Deluxe?  With powers like Flatulence of Life and Summon Mariachi Band, I realize it may be a bit too high-brow for this crowd.  I've never played it, because I don't know if my players can handle the complexity of flipping a coin to determine whether an attack hits, or using Rock-Paper-Scissors for other conflict resolution.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anybody ever played StuperPowers! Deluxe?  With powers like Flatulence of Life and Summon Mariachi Band, I realize it may be a bit too high-brow for this crowd.  I've never played it, because I don't know if my players can handle the complexity of flipping a coin to determine whether an attack hits, or using Rock-Paper-Scissors for other conflict resolution.

 

Kind of brings Tales of the Floating Vagabond to mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've often described RPGs as rules systems for "let's pretend". There's a continuum between the tactical "game" aspect of an RPG and the narrative "storytelling" aspect. This model falls further to the latter than the former. Of course, we've also talked on these Boards in the past about expanding "social combat" beyond a single Interaction Skill roll, and compressing Combat into a single "Brawling", or "Fencing", or "Dueling" skill roll, say, for a game focused on court intrigue, and not on violence, as the problem resolution mechanism of choice.

And the ability to switch depending on the drive of the story. It is for the GM to decide (though the players can influence) whether any particular encounter might use the simple or extended contest rules. In each case the end result is one of seven results going from complete victory to complete defeat, though the journey would be different.

 

It is entirely different from HERO and that is part of the reason it attracts me. Other crunchy systems compare badly, this is on a completely different frame of reference....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a toolkit, I've often seen the lack of ability to toggle the complexity of problem resolution as a gap in Hero System. If we're playing Courtroom Hero, we should have a resolution mechanism for a legal case that is more complex than "make an opposed PS: Patent Lawyer skill with these modifiers" for the court case itself. If the accused gets violent in the courtroom, the resolution mechanic might be an opposed Brawling roll, because that's not really the crux of the game - it's the "innocence points" that the accused loses for becoming violent in the courtroom.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a toolkit, I've often seen the lack of ability to toggle the complexity of problem resolution as a gap in Hero System. If we're playing Courtroom Hero, we should have a resolution mechanism for a legal case that is more complex than "make an opposed PS: Patent Lawyer skill with these modifiers" for the court case itself. If the accused gets violent in the courtroom, the resolution mechanic might be an opposed Brawling roll, because that's not really the crux of the game - it's the "innocence points" that the accused loses for becoming violent in the courtroom.

 

Would that not fall to role-playing? If the courtroom drama is center stage of an adventure or a campaign, seems to me that we would play that out. Using things like Criminology to assess the Corpus Delecti, SS: Forensic Medicine (assuming a murder case - could be another SS, PS or KS); usually by calling an "expert" witness and interviewing them. Oratory for Opening and Closing arguments. Mostly though, it would be which side can present their evidence in the most compelling fashion (Acting). Instead of a Skill vs. Skill directly being the resolution mechanic, set up a series of key events (Opening Argument, Evidence/Testimony 1,2,3..., Closing Argument). Whichever side gets the higher net number of "wins" also wins the case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a system detailed in Adventurer's Club that adapted Hero System to interpersonal conflict resolution. Several Powers, Avantages, etc. were reinterpreted in the context of interpersonal conflict, complete with armor piercing attacks, armor, etc. I don't recall the issue it's in, but it certainly provided a robust system! I can look up the issue # and article name when I get home if anyone's interested.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a system detailed in Adventurer's Club that adapted Hero System to interpersonal conflict resolution. Several Powers, Avantages, etc. were reinterpreted in the context of interpersonal conflict, complete with armor piercing attacks, armor, etc. I don't recall the issue it's in, but it certainly provided a robust system! I can look up the issue # and article name when I get home if anyone's interested.

How about the social system in the Advanced Player's Guide? I would have to dig it out but I believe there are good guidelines in GURPS Social Engineering which is based on skills, not unlike what Nolgroth suggests. Another idea, would be to used characteristics as pools to "drain", like Body or Stun would be drained in combat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It shouldn't surprise anyone that you have to invent a new subsystem for things that don't get detailed treatment in RPGs. The Hero System isn't unique in this respect. However, its "toolkit" nature should make creating such subsystems considerably easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Was I the only one to play Margaret Weis Productions Marvel Heroic Roleplaying? I enjoyed playing Captain America while hunting for escaped villains in Breakout.

 

Does making lots of supers characters in GURPS 3e count? The actual games themselves always seemed to fall through or just be one-shots.

 

I want to like ICONS, but every time I play it I wish I were playing Champions instead.

Our group played the Margaret Weis Marvel game, even ran a couple of con events for it. Definitely more Narrativist than Gamist in its mechanics. Superheroes is not among my favorite genres, but I didn't dislike this one. They got a real shafting from the Marvel owners, cut off like they were.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about the social system in the Advanced Player's Guide? I would have to dig it out but I believe there are good guidelines in GURPS Social Engineering which is based on skills, not unlike what Nolgroth suggests. Another idea, would be to used characteristics as pools to "drain", like Body or Stun would be drained in combat.

 

The APG social system variant options are decent, and far less complicated than the one in the old AC article.

 

GURPS Social Engineering is very good, and could be adapted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would that not fall to role-playing?

That's a term with a lot of different interpretations. Too often, it becomes "I don't care how many points you invested in PRE, Striking Appearance, Interaction Skills, etc. - I resolve all social matters through role playing. What does your character say? Role play it!" Meanwhile, no one asks Tubby to role play that Kirk Shoulder Roll followed by a flying kick - he paid for those skills! RESULT: Only the player's attributes influence the ability to play a Face character.

 

If the courtroom drama is center stage of an adventure or a campaign, seems to me that we would play that out. Using things like Criminology to assess the Corpus Delecti, SS: Forensic Medicine (assuming a murder case - could be another SS, PS or KS); usually by calling an "expert" witness and interviewing them. Oratory for Opening and Closing arguments. Mostly though, it would be which side can present their evidence in the most compelling fashion (Acting). Instead of a Skill vs. Skill directly being the resolution mechanic, set up a series of key events (Opening Argument, Evidence/Testimony 1,2,3..., Closing Argument). Whichever side gets the higher net number of "wins" also wins the case.

This, however, seems a much more "character abilities applied by tactics selected by the players" model which can easily form the framework for a robust non-combat conflict resolution system. It need not be "wins" - we could have analogies to damage rolls and defenses, using STUN and BOD amalgams (perhaps with "highest at the end wins" rather than "once the STUN/BOD runs out it's over"). Court Hero is a good one for a structured series of events. Motions to exclude evidence? Use of the media? Assertions of bias? Push a judge to recuse? Lots of different things that could happen. And we have not even gotten in to Courts of Appeal!

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


×