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The One, True Son of Krypton


SSgt Baloo
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In a different thread about something else, the subject of how to properly render Superman using the hero system seems to have become a matter of almost religious fervor. In an effort to divert that discussion to its own thread and with the possibly-insane hope that we can discuss this subject in a rational manner, I am starting a thread on this very subject.

 

There are some who might suggest that making a character and calling him Superman is somehow lying. That the character isn't "really" Superman.

 

Why is it badwrongfun to, for an extreme example, build a 200-point Superman for a low-powered Super's campaign?

I once did so for a 4E campaign that started as a pulp adventurer campaign with the explicit plan of transitioning to Golden-Age supers in game year 1938. It was a spare in case someone wanted to play but didn't have a character. I owned reprints of the earliest Superman stories (included in a book about Superman and his history which I no longer possess) that had collections of his first appearances, so I gave him 50 STR (superman diwas not heaving battleships around in the first few stories), enough Superleap to ensure he could cover at least an eighth of a mile (440 yards) in a bound, which ensured he could clear buildings one half that distance tall. He wasn't faster than a speeding bullet back then, but he was faster than an express train. Ordinary firearms could not penetrate his skin (18 rPD/15 rED), etc. He couldn't survive in space or at extraordinary depths (deeper than human free divers can go), but the adventures never took place in these locales. They were chasing fifth columnists around the country, thwarting mad scientists, and generally having a good time. Nobody complained that Superman was built on 200 points because in that setting that version of Superman was a good fit.

 

There was no other character in that campaign with that name. Why is this not Superman?

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

In principle I agree with you, and I've seen various HERO writeups for lower-point, lower-power iterations of Superman, most often based on interpretations of the earliest period in his publication history, when he was much less powerful.

 

The problem is that everybody "knows" Superman. That name is associated with a character of exceptionally high profile and recognition, and generations of history and tradition. When you call any character today "Superman," you immediately invite comparison of him to the experiences, and biases, of the many, many fans familiar with the character from one or the other of his incarnations over the decades. If your character clashes with his fans' expectations, you're going to hear from them. It simply isn't practical to expect most people to dissociate themselves too far from the conception of Superman they already know.

 

I recall the response to the American "Godzilla" movie of the late 1990s, aka GINO ("Godzilla In Name Only"). Aside from both monsters being reptilian giants, there wasn't much visual or stylistic similarity between that Godzilla and the iconic Japanese filmic villain/hero. Looked at on its own merits, GINO was moderately entertaining giant monster movie; but calling it Godzilla, with all the associations that name carries, brought down a storm of condemnation and mockery from the purist fans of the Big G.

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

Superman IS a low-point character...who has accumulated bucketloads of experience(more than any other published comic book superhero, in fact). So he's had tons of "rewrites", all of which were perfectly valid interpretations of him at the time they were "written". Hey, if you rp'ed the same character for 74 years, gaming at least twice a month(sometimes weekly), you'd wind up in the multi-thousand point range, too, even if after a while you were only getting one xp per session. :D

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

We're talking "benchmarking" here. To compare HERO to Amber Diceless, Supe's character won the strength and dex auctions. Whatever you decide those stats represent, nobody else can equal them. They can come close (say one EP less, but nobody can match or exceed them).

 

This doesn't work out as well with HERO because as was pointed out, Clark has a suite of skills, and if he spends points to cover all the various attack, move, and skill/perk abilities, a character with comparable points will outclass Clark if built as a straight brick.

 

My humble suggestion is to have supes start out as the most powerful NPC in the game, and keep him there as perhaps a retired character. The other idea, which is suggested in the OP is to have no Superman, just Smallville era Clark Kent, still learning and investing his powers.

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

First, Superman is not the fastest. That particular title belongs to The Flash. Superman is not a straight brick (strongest) nor a straight speedster (fastest). He is a blend of the two. He is only able to beat paragons of one those abilities by using both of his. Regardless, his role in a superhero universe is not just defined by his abilities. He also doesn't give up. Schtick preservation by a GM is important to allow him to keep the title of most powerful hero. Other character's in the setting may be stronger OR faster but usually not both. Not giving up is why he can beat Kryptonian criminals escaped from the Phantom Zone.

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

maybe we should build a generic kryptonian first. this suit of power would just stack. if you use source material clark is just a farmboy turned hero i'm sure there are soldiers doctors athletes ect. on krypton the should be able out stripe him in there fields if we are honest with his creation

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

I've always looked at Superman as more of an insanely powerful Energy Projector and all the Physical stuff is just to contain his solar absorption and Heat Vision powers. :D

 

That being said, it's always Heat Vision he falls back on when he has to whoop up on something he wasn't able to pummel, be it Doomsday, Other Kryptonians, his beard, etc So that needs a look in a lot of folks builds.... Byrne also gave a lot of good things for Superman justifying the bending of physics for certain lifting feats as well. Lot of good stuff out there to use, up to and including the line of "I can count the number of beings out there I am afraid to fight on one hand, and J'onn is at the top of that list" .....

 

Doomsday doesn't even make the list but then random plot device's whom we just used to represent in the DC Heroes RPG as a single line that said JLA BeatDown 30 AP's never should count anyway....

 

~Rex

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

For those that weren't following the thread that spawned this one, my version the character was intended as a possible starting PC. The primary source of inspiration I used for Supes as well as the rest of my JLA writeups was the DC Animated Universe (Batman TAS, Superman TAS, Batman/Superman Hour, Justice League Animated & Justice League Unlimited Animated). Byrne's initial run on The Man of Steel, Superman & Action Comics are a close second and the Justice 12 issue miniseries in third. Speaking of soldiers and warriors here's my version of Wonder Woman who kicked but on a number* of occasions (including Superman's) but was shown unable to beat some foes that Superman clearly could.

 

*

Wonder Woman vs. Huntress, Black Canary, Hawkgirl & Vixen

Wonder Woman vs. Kalibak

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

I admit, the TAS versions are theones I consider first when thecharacters are mentioned. The way they are written and general power levels really jell with me. That being said the Superman homage in my relatively low powered supers campaign ( max STR anyone has is 70ish his is 60) is definately more the leap 8th of a mile guy with no frills. He's not the most powerful hero although he's up there but he's the one they all look up to.

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

"Minimum" Superman, seems to me, is operating somewhere in the 40-60 active point range, while "Maximum Superman" may actually be up to 10x that number of active points(planet-moving, shrugging off mega-nukes, etc.). I'd hazard a guess that "typical Superman" is going to be in the 80-180 active point range, or pretty darn powerful by Hero standards.

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

. . .But doing something as ridiculous as lifting an Air Craft Carrier out of the water should be flat out beyond normal game play. Quite apart from the silliness of a man-shaped object lifting a 100' date='000 ton conglomeration of metal out of the water (and not punching through the bulkhead in the process). . .[/quote']

That was semi-explained with Superman's reboot of 25-30 years ago. Superman was lifting a large section of ground and commenting that once he started flying it was easier to lift and that he suspected he was using his powers to make the ground fly rather than lift it through brute strength.

 

If you assume his statement was only partly accurate since he was still learning his powers then we are left with things like a no range telekinesis that lacks fine control (so he can't control a piece of rope or the like) or possibly he has some sort of ability to extend the energy field that protects his body to keep things from falling apart (I like the first idea more since extending the field implies that ultimately he could make things invulnerable by touching them).

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Re: The One, True Son of Krypton

 

Replace Reboots with Alternate Earths that way Continuity become open to all and does not offend anyone.

 

 

Just my two cents.

 

QM

 

In the context of an RPG, doesn't Superman, if he exists in that campaign world, inhabiting an alternate universe anyway?

 

I'm really surprised no-one has yet suggested that it is somehow "wrong" to call a character Superman when he should rightfully be constructed with X points, Y powers, skills, talents, etc., and Z disadvantages/complications; where any deviation from this is a counterfeit unworthy of the name and should be publicly denounced as such. Is there no-one who will argue that Superman should not be exactly what you want him to be in your campaign?

 

You guys are being way too reasonable about this. :eg:

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