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Your favorite Superhero RPGs (besides BASH)

A place to discuss Megapolis and other published settings
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Sijo
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Your favorite Superhero RPGs (besides BASH)

Post by Sijo »

Ok, I'm sure there must have been a thread for this once, but I can't seem to find it (really, the Search function in these boards doesn't seem to work well for me) so I decided I'd just start this one. Besides, I really just want to talk about my past experiences with superhero rpgs. :P

I've been playing RPGs since the 80s, though I lost touch with many for several years due to my local bookstore closing down not once but twice! It wasn't until recent years (thanks to online stores) that I've been able to get back into the hobby. Of course these days I have no local group to play with, so I tend to do play-by-post now.

My favorite superhero games were the old Marvel game (the FASERIP one) and GURPS SUPERS. I liked the simplicity of their systems; I'm more of a "cause first, effects later" kind of powers-designer, so pregenerated powers attract me more than, say, Champions build-every-little-detail-ahead system. Which is not to say that was bad, in fact it was enormously rewarding when you finished your character- but it took sooo long to do! And I found terms like RKA or NND annoying to read, to say nothing of all the math formulas used to calculate Stats and such.

THAT said, I *loved* the CHAMPIONS setting -the 4th edition one, anyway- I feel it was one of the most originals I've ever read (yes, for all that it ripped off more than a few Marvel characters, I still felt there were plenty original ones too.) I've seen the 5th edition but it didn't feel quite as good, for some reason.

GURPS SUPERS (the original) also had one of my favorite settings, as it explored more realistically the impact superheroes would have in the real world (while still retaining a 4-color feel). I particularly liked the GURPS International Super Teams concept, with its use of real-world political issues (some of which are now history, but hey, time doesn't pass in vain!)

Other games I've seen are: DC Heroes (never liked its system), Silver Age Sentinels (another great setting with an OK ruleset, too bad it came out shortly before its company became defunct) Heroes Unlimited (too random and limited for my taste) and Mutants and Masterminds (I have the game but never tried it, I do like the setting and the system tho, and no, I haven't seen their adaptation of DC characters yet.) Have not seen: Villains and Vigilantes, ICONS, Chimera, Aberrant or SUPERS!

So those are my opinions. What are yours?
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Post by Nestor »

The superhero genre was (and still is) my top favorite for RPGs, all the way back to 1980 when I discovered it actually existed. I remember being at Origins and splurging all my cash picking up Superhero 2044, V&V, and Superworld. The only reason I did not pick up Champions right then is because I ran out of cash. I had to wait a couple of weeks and thumb through my friend's copy before I could get my own.

I'd love to say I still own that copy, but sadly it was lost in one of my moves. I still have just about every other Champions/Hero book I bought from then on, all the way to 5th Edition. I joke that I spent the night before my wedding perusing a brand-new copy of Champions III I had purchased on the way up. ;)

Along the way, I've picked up, and in some cases actually got to play, a number of other RPGs: all the iterations of both the DC and Marvel games, Brave New World (very interesting dystopian setting saddled with awkward rules), SAS, Heroes Unlimited, M&M, GURPS (who, like, Hero, suffered from "universalitis"), Godlike/Wild Talents, Aberrant, along with a slew of indy offerings, such as Godsend Agenda, SUPERS, Capes!, and of course BASH.

Claiming a favorite is difficult. As I mentioned elsewhere, the group I joined back in 1985 has played Champions/Hero almost exclusively all the way to the present. But I tend to pick and choose elements from a number of systems as things I like and will hopefully someday combine into some sort of amalgamation of my perfect system. :)
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Post by Sijo »

Wow, there are some games there I hadn't even heard of! But as I said, my access to games has been spotty over the years.

And I agree that I, too, have never been 100% satisfied with the powers systems I've tried; they are either too complicated or too vague. Which is not to say I didn't enjoy them, but I'm always looking for the "perfect" set (or trying to make my own.) (Please note that at the moment I write this, I still haven't seen the Ultimate Edition of Bash! I hope to get it soon.)

I tend to favor powers that are already designed but that also allow for customization; similarly their nature is important to me, because my mind is rather scientific, so I require at least pseudoscientific explanations for how powers work first, yes even for magic; which is why effect-first systems like Champions' do not attract me as much. Not to mention that (like in the comics) powers should be flexible and allow the characters to invent tricks when needed instead of having to write everything they could possibly do ahead of time. Marvel's old Power Stunt system worked nicely for that.
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Post by BillionSix »

BASH! is fairly explicit with some powers, extremely vague with others. Powers like Flight or Teleportation are fairly spelled out, but attacks are usually extremely effects based, i.e. they are explained by the power Special Attack.
Special Attack is the go-to power for hurting people. You buy the damage level, and can optionally buy range or area. So it covers everything from claws or extra hard fists to eye beams or fireballs.
If you like your powers spelled out, you probably won't like Special Attack. But in my mind, it's the only sane way to do it. Otherwise you'd need a whole separate book just for the Attack powers, (cold attack, fire attack, claw attack, eye beam attack) and it would still be woefully incomplete.

BASH! does have a Power Stunt system, which you'd probably like. Basically you have something called Hero Dice. You have 1 per session, and can buy more by spending 5 Hero Points. Basically, Hero Dice let you fudge the plot in certain ways, like autosuccess on a skill check, or bouncing back from being dazed, unconscious or mind controlled. And of course, you can actually use the Hero Die for a Power Stunt. In game terms, you can temporarily get a new power by using a current power in a creative way, like the standard Flash trick where he uses super speed to vibrate his molecules and pass through walls.
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Post by BASHMAN »

If you like your powers spelled out, you probably won't like Special Attack. But in my mind, it's the only sane way to do it. Otherwise you'd need a whole separate book just for the Attack powers, (cold attack, fire attack, claw attack, eye beam attack) and it would still be woefully incomplete.
Well, our attempt will be coming. Awesome Powers #1 with Fire, Earth, Wind, Water, Ice, and Electricity power suites is being worked on. Each of those has its own various offensive, defensive, and utility powers; so you will see spelled out Fireball, Heat Ray, Flame Sword, etc, powers.

As you said, there never will be a "complete" list of all the things you can do, but this may be helpful to people who want a framework already laid out for them. The book will probably give people who think they "know the game inside and out" a few things they never thought of before.
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Post by fairytalejedi »

My only other supers game is Marvel Super-Heroes (FASERIP). I've looked at other games but never felt like investing time and money in them until I saw BASH.
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Post by Sijo »

Well, as I mentioned have a scientific background so I tend to organize powers (and more importantly, give them enhancements and limitations) according to basic chemistry and physics. It isn't like I feel EVERY type of power from the comics has to be represented, but rather that they must fall within specfic groups; for example, Iron Man's Repulsor Rays are particle beams- pretty much the same as firestorm's nuclear blasts, they just look different. Roughly, I use the following model:

(note: this is a partial list, off the top of my head)

Matter Powers
*Organic matter (living beings- subdivided in human abilities, plants & animals)
*Inorganic Matter (undead, chemical substances, and the çlassic ''Elements" Earth, Water, Air and Fire.)
Energy Powers
*Radiant Energy (Heat, Light, Radiation, Electricity, Magnetism)
*Kinetic Energy (Force, Sound)
Exotic Forces
*Gravity
*Time
*Cold
*Darkness
*Psionics
*Magic

BASHMAN: I'd like to know more about the "Power Sets" and how they could be used to represent my above concepts (Amazing Powers sounds like a book I'd enjoy buying- I do have the Ultimate Powers Book that was made for the Marvel FASERIP way back when too! ;) )
Last edited by Sijo on Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Dragonfly »

Hey ya'll!

Well, for what it's worth, here are my two cents. I have two go-to games for superheroes. One is BASH! UE. The other is SUPERS! by Simon Washbourne (of Barbarians of Lemuria fame).

Both are supremely elegant and innovative. BASH! UE is a lot better defined. SUPERS! leaves a great deal to the GM to figure out. That can, however, change with additional support for SUPERS!, which it might actually be getting from a few devoted fans (myself included). BASH! UE is, to me, rules medium, rather than rules-lite - especially in comparison to SUPERS!.

They scratch slightly different itches for me, but both are a joy to play. SUPERS!, unfortunately, doesn't get as much exposure as it should. It's kind of an invisible system. Heck, I dismissed it after my first look. It wasn't until I started experimenting with it that I realized how elegant, powerful, and fun it actually is.

As I mentioned in another post, I have to put Champions on this list, but mostly for sentimental reasons. I can't really play it any more - not as my go-to game - but it DID get me into the genre. I didn't even read comic books until I encountered Champions back in 1981/2, so my love of supeheroes comes from this venerable old game, and it set the standard for many of the supers games that have come after.

I've played (or at least read) just about every other superhero game out there. The only one that comes close to matching these three, as far as I'm concerned, is the MEGS system that powered the old Mayfair DC Heroes game. It didn't do lower-powered games that well, but it was very innovative for its time.

Cheers!

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Post by Sijo »

ARGH!!

I just tried to buy BASH! Ultimate Edition... but, it turns out that my new bank account gave me an ATH card, and apparently, none of the RPG download sites will take it!! -_-

Anybody know where I can use it? Or, do I have to get a different card?
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Post by urbwar »

Do you have access to paypal where you are? If so, that should solve the problem. IPR and RPGNow/Drivethru both accept that, and both carry BASH UE. I'm pretty sure C7 does as well
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Post by Sijo »

I tried making a Paypal account and had trouble with that, too. Apparently they have got me mixed up with my nephew or something. > <

I will try again, as I may need a paypal account in the future anyway. But I'm still giving back this useless card.
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Post by urbwar »

The game I have most experience with is Champions. I ran a multitude of campaigns in the past (at one point, I had 3 simultaneous teams in the same universe). I ran mostly modern games, though I did run both a Golden Age mini-campaign and a Suicide Squad-style game. I played in a few games as well.

Before that, I ran Villains & Vigilantes, but we stopped after Champions became our go to game. I didn't play it for decades, but am now going on about 2 years playing in a group locally.

Ran and played some of TSR's Marvel superhero rpg. It was fun, but lacked something. The Karma rules really didn't reflect the comics as well as it should have, as characters like Punisher & Wolverine (who would kill) tend to lose all their karma doing what comes natural to them.

I ran a short game of Aberrant, which imho, isn't really a super hero game. It's more a game about people with super powers, and can't tackle all kinds of superhero types.

I played a demo of Brave New World, and while most seem to dislike it, I found it quite enjoyable. I get some of the criticisms of the game, but still found it playable.

Played M&M 3rd once. The GM didn't really run it straight, so I can't say I got the real M&M experience out of it.

I played the new Marvel game, and i like it, but I don't think I'd want to run it. Playing it was fun, but I can see it being more than I want to deal with GM wise. Too fiddly for my tastes.

I own quite a few more supers games (D6 Supers, DC (megs & D6 Legend), Resolute, Golden Heroes, and many others), but never really got past reading them. Too many games, not enough time to try them out.

Of all of those, Champions was my favorite with V&V a close second.

Of more modern games, other than BASH, I really like Supers! I Haven't had the chance to play/run it yet, but Dustland is gearing up for a pbp over at the BBG forums, so I'll finally get to play it.

I'm looking forward to the new Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul from Spectrum Games. I love Cartoon Action Hour, so I'm interested in seeing this variant for playing supers. Some early comments on it compare it to the new Marvel game, but not as fiddly (which I consider a good thing)
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Post by Nestor »

I went digging through my PDF files and found a copy of Supers! (Yes, I am that kind of person who trawls through RPGNow buying PDFs on a whim. ;) )

Now I need to sit down and read through it. Skimming the first few pages, I can see the minimalist approach someone mentioned.

Still sticking to BASH for now. :)
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Post by Dragonfly »

Nestor wrote:I went digging through my PDF files and found a copy of Supers! (Yes, I am that kind of person who trawls through RPGNow buying PDFs on a whim. ;) )

Now I need to sit down and read through it. Skimming the first few pages, I can see the minimalist approach someone mentioned.

Still sticking to BASH for now. :)
I just play both! :-)

Let me know if you want a copy of my Marvel conversions for SUPERS!. They are they same ones I did for BASH! awhile back. (I always do that exercise when learning a new RPG. It helps me learn the system and hone in on how it should [or at least could] be calibrated.)

Cheers!

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Post by Sijo »

Update: my new card will arrive... sometime next week. And no, the Paypal thing didn't work either. So I guess I still will have to wait before getting UE (or Supers!, or anything else. >_< )
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