June 26

Superhero games

A recent thread on RPGnet asks why is there is a bounty of Superhero games.

So why are there so many good systems on the market now when ten years ago the cupboard was bare?  I can only attribute it to the fact that superheroes are cool once more and game design has progressed to elevate supers games from the dark ages that they used to inhabit.

I would say that the Superhero genre is probably my favourite, your character stands head and shoulders above the crowd trying to uphold the law and ensure the bad guy ends up in prison.

I briefly mentioned BASH in my top 10 RPG list and that has become my default game for superhero action but there are several other games worth a look.

Despite the criticism of Heroes Unlimited I found it a useful game just to pick up and play.  The random character generation can give some unusual characters it does do roughly what it aims to do, give you a quick and dirty method of character creation,  plus the book is slightly cheaper than some other titles on the market. The downside is the system uses Palladium’s trusty mechanics which can be a bit confusing and slightly wonky in play.

ICONS Is another game of the later era of supers and is like FATE as it uses aspects to define your hero and there is also a robust selection if powers under the hood or cowl if you preferable I loved the idea of the game it just didn’t seem to work for me. I understand a new edition has been announced.

Capes Cowls and Villains Foul looks interesting but I haven’t had much chance to read through it to form a thorough opinion of it though does have some interesting ideas to mine but its unlikely to usurp BASH as my go-to system.

I hear good things about Supers! Revised but don’t own it.

I was fortunate enough to purchase the new DC Universe game which uses Mutants and Masterminds 3rd edition; the system is solid and handles things well and also has the advantage of coming with the DC Heroes you know and love. So if you ever wanted to know if Superman could defeat the Flash you can figure it out for yourself.

This leaves poor Marvel behind the curve in terms of games. There have been several excellent games in the past but nothing to cash in on the success of the new Marvel Cinematic Universe or the new X-Men film. Yes you could sit down and design the character yourself but having access to a roster of heroes and villains is a time saver for the busy GM.  Of course you could always raid the Public Domain Superheroes wiki for ideas and pictures 🙂

Of course there is always Champions / HERO to fall back on which offer plenty of scope for character customisation but my experiences with that game aren’t good ones and I found it hard to get anywhere with it.  I suppose because it is a toolbox and you have to craft all your powers and abilities by hand that make it so much work.  Perhaps the new streamlined edition will help introduce new players to it, I don’t know.

Finally, Rotted Capes recently appeared on my radar, the premise being that it mashes up superheroes and zombies.  While I was initially sceptical of how it may work I am surprised at how well the two genres fuse together and the game also allows for zombified supers.   I may have to run this at some point as it has a lot of potential.

Links:
ICONS Assembled: http://stevekenson.com/2014/05/05/icons-assembled-whats-different/
BASH Ultimate Edition: http://www.bashrpg.com/
Supers! http://superscbr.blogspot.co.uk/
Heroes Unlimited™: http://palladium-store.com/1001/category/Heroes-Unlimited.html
Hero Games: http://www.herogames.com/index.html
Mutants and Masterminds: http://mutantsandmasterminds.com/
Public Domain Super Heroes : http://pdsh.wikia.com/wiki/Public_Domain_Super_Heroes
Capes Cowls and Villains Foul: http://www.spectrum-games.com/capes-cowls-and-villains-foul.html

Rotted Capes: http://paradigmconcepts.com/rotted-capes/


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Posted June 26, 2014 by GeneralTangent in category "RPG", "supers

About the Author

I've been gaming on and off since about 1989 and during that period have played with numerous game systems. I'm fluent in a few, have a basic understanding of quite a few more and can get by in others. Somewhere along the way I found time to be a playtester, contribute to an unpublished game supplement and be associated with another gaming magazine written by far more talented people than I. This lead to one infamous article being written in which I followed the letter of the adventure and torched the parties river barge. I'm also listed on http://rpggeek.com as a game designer.

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