Superhero RPG Discussion Thread

I just thought there should be an area for the community to discuss all things about superhero
RPG’s.

I am on a hunt to find the best superhero RPG. Icons and Sentinel Comics have been strongly backed by members. On their recommendations I have pulled out Icons again and acquired Sentinel Comics. Both look good and I want to try both.

I have also backed the new Savage Worlds superhero rpg based on how much I’ve liked their version of Pathfinder.

Then I just purchased what I thought was an update to Worlds of Peril and got a pdf of Galaxies of Peril. That turned out to be not an update of WoP and instead it it a Blades in the Dark spin off.

Which was a pleasant surprise, because I greatly enjoy my Blades game. So, I think I am going to run a game at BSer Con using it. Does anyone have experience running GoP?

These are the ones I have experience with and feel are worth mentioning.

Heroes Unlimited by Palladium Books (Heroes Unlimited™ RPG) is classic and still fun to play. Character creation is more stringent than most supers games, rooted in class-based progression but the system is solid.

I was introduced to Masks: A New Generation by Magpie Games (https://magpiegames.com/masks/) by folks here in the G&BS community. This is a coming of age, character-driven game built on the Powered by the Apocalypse engine. As a PbtA game, this is a very story-heavy game and it handles different kinds of supers very well. Your “Superman” can function alongside your “Batman” without having to worry about power level issues.

Trinity Continuum: Aberrant by Onyx Path Publishing (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant – Onyx Path Publishing( is the newest iteration of the Aberrant RPG. Built on Onyx Path’s new Storypath system which is similar to their classic d10-based Storyteller/Storytelling system but with more widgets for character-driven stories. This game comes with a heavy dose of setting as the game is set in the Trinity Continuum universe. Although one could easily ignore the setting and use the system for a different setting.

Mutants & Masterminds by Green Ronin Publishing (Mutants & Masterminds HQ - Green Ronin Online Store) is a solid system that handles various levels of play very well. This one is tried and true and is a community favorite. M&M 3E is probably the best edition of the game and has been going strong since 2011.

City of Mist by Son of Oak Game Studio (https://cityofmist.co/) is one I only recently discovered. Although not specifically “supers,” it is a game of “film-noir investigation and super-powered action.” Characters are “rifts,” ordinary people who become living embodiments of a legend, their “mythos.” This one is also Powered by the Apocalypse with tweaks to shape the system to the setting/game. I am still reading through the core books (PDF) but I am liking what I am seeing so far, so much so I ordered print copies.

I really like Marvel Heroic Roleplaying by Margaret Weis Productions (Marvel Heroic Roleplaying - Wikipedia). Unfortunately, this one is out of print as of 2013 as MWP did not achieve the level of sales needed to maintain the cost of the license. That was a real shame, IMHO, as I think MWP built a great game and produced really high-quality products. You can find copies of it on Ebay or HPB for as low as $40 for the core books.

I never owned or played DC Heroes but I did have a copy of the Batman Role-Playing Game by Mayfair Games (Batman Role-Playing Game - Wikipedia). Many fond memories of that one.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Stranges by Palladium Books (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness - Wikipedia) gets an honorable mention. As a street-level game, it is a lot of fun. 100% compatible with Heroes Unlimited (see above).

No GoP experience here, just reading, finding out, it exists now.

My top superhero pick is Wild Talents. I enjoy the One Roll Engine mechanic, plus the fact that the turn order is different every round based on the dice rolled.

My next pick HERO/Champions. I started with 1e and played up to 4e. Like Wild Talents, it is very customizable in hero and power creation.

3rd would be AMP: Year One I have not played it but I have all the books. World background is similar to X-Men background. I like the skill+skill vs target number to be interesting and I want to try it out.

I’ve made multiple character using Sentinel Comics and it’s a fun system to use. Also, haven’t played.

Champions Now is a decent update. It’s a mash of old and new/indie feel. There are some problems, mechanic wise, but nothing that really hurt the game play.

I’d like to play Masks and I’m not a fan of Savage Worlds. I’m also curious about the Cypher System hero game, dont recall the name.

ANyways, those are my highlights/recs.

The Palladium system would be fine if you did not include the dozens of books.

Mask is a terrific game. It does angst ridden teens very well and is a different experience than most superhero games.

Trinnity Continium, I know nothing about. I have never tried the Storypath system either. So, what about it do you like or that you think makes it special?

Mutantand Masterminds is too similar to Champions in that you can build most anything. That may seem an innocuous statement, but it’s not. This strength is it’s weakness too. With the flexibility to build anything come the ability for characters to outclass and outshine other characters. Inevitably, I am forced to say, “no” to often. I hate saying no to player choices, but I had too for the game to work and have everyone enjoy it. In the end, this just was not fun to me.

City of Mist just does not appeal to me as a ref. However, I’d be player in someones game.

I have heard very good things about the MWP Marvel superhero game. It sounds like a very different sort of experience and I love to try it.

DC Heroes is another game I like to play, but sadly never have had the chance.

Wild Talents sound interesting. I like the one role engine, if it is what I think it is. I think I will have to pick this one up.

Thanks for the input!

Here are a couple of things I struggle with in superhero games. How to ground the characters in the world and its corollary of how do encourage role playing and meaningful interactions with NPC’s?

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No disagreement about the additional books for HU. I own several of them but rarely use more than the main book, Villains Unlimited, and Aliens Unlimited.

I’ll write up my thoughts on TC, separate from this response. I am passionate about the various Story-X games by Onyx Path/White Wolf.

M&M can be daunting for sure. I’ve never played Champions although my group dabbled with the Hero System 5th Edition when it came out. Honestly, we never got past character creation. It overwhelmed us and we dropped it before we ever played the game. I’m not sure I think M&M is that complex but I admit it is definitely in the same vein, it is an expansive system that covers… well, everything. That can definitely be a problem.

That’s a solid question. When the group is playing “gods” in a setting of modern mortals, how do you maintain that connection that drives good drama for the story? I always look to Spider-Man’s origin story when I ponder that question and I try to create a story that reminds the players they are part of the world, not above it, and their actions or inactions have consequences. “With great power” and all that. Saying that and executing it at the game can be two different things.

In games like HU and M&M, I think the GM has to work extra hard to create those connections and maintain them. I think the best games mentioned above are the ones that weave that connection into the system and the setting. Those connections are part of character creation and support good drama through the mechanics in gameplay.

Games like Mask and Trinity Continuum are really good at that. I think it’d be hard to create a character who didn’t already have those connections built-in and then would use them to drive the story and the development of the character.

I have enjoyed the games I’ve played of mask, but I do not like romance in my RPG’s. I love being married, but hated dating. On top of that I am a retired high school teacher so I am done with teen drama, not matter, how good the story, at least for a few years.

As much as I pick on Champions it was a ground breaking game back in the day. I wonder if Champion Unlimited has change the base system? Anyway, I am hoping to play test the adventure I’d like to run at BS Con in a couple of weeks. I am familiar with Blades, or the bastardized version I run of it, so I am curious how well it will work in Galaxies of Peril?

Meant to weigh in here previously. Without going into a ton of gory detail, I own and have played a lot of superhero RPGs, including a good chunk of the ones here – thought not GiP (have eyed it but didn’t love) WiP, or Icons. I need to re-look at Icons, as I was turned off from my first read of the first edition of the game. I think they’ve refined it a little, and I’m not a little more forgiving of Fate-based games that diverge from Core and Accelerated like Icons does.

There’s a new version of Triumphant out that I need to read, and I think any fan of superhero RPGs should read Supers!. It’s a little less groundbreaking now than when it came out, but it’s still an awful solid game. I think Simon Washbourne’s first edition is the better game, but people who want more structure and powers and yadda might prefer the revised edition that fans put out after buying the license from Washbourne. (Supers RED)

Haven’t read the new Champions yet, mostly because I think it’s what it says on the tin – a point-based build your super kind of affair. I am into looser, more flexible games like Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Four Color FAE, and Masks in terms of how powers are modeled these days. I have a bit of a love/hate thing going on with SCRPG, but I really want to at least try it…

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Can confirm. Champions still is Champions, just sixth edition.

The most noticeable edition tweak from all the previous that I wholeheartedly support is that levels of OCV and DCV have to be purchased, i.e., they have no starting “base rate” calculated from DEX. This makes a lot of sense to me: this prevents character creators from gamistly pumping DEX just to be good fighters.

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Actually, Champions Sixth also is a joy to read. There is a great analysis of the superhero genre, which I’m certain is just as well covered in other contemporary supers games, by this edition’s writer Derek Hiemforth.

But the cover doesn’t do it for me.
0-E49-EB98-DA07-43-E2-81-DC-8-A5649-DAF4-A5
This is my preferred cover of Champions (obviously :smirk:).
1564-F762-B1-BF-414-D-9-A78-77-F615062-C0-C

The Big Blue Book!

Gads I loved that thing. I’m not talking about 6th, though (which I’ve never read), or Complete (also never read), but this one:

Which is by… Ron Edwards, of indie / Forge fame. Fairly controversial book, I think? I’ve heard mixed things, and intend to read it… but again, pretty sure it’s just a chonky point-buy powers system at its heart.

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Oh. Well.

When you read it… let’s you and me talk about it. :grin:

I’ll just add that Champions Complete is sixth edition, just pulled out of the “toolbox” and all supers-facing.

Didn’t Allston and Long also do an earlier 6th?

And yes, indeed. But first need to finish Jackals. Much to talk about there too!

Yes. It looks like the Hero System Sixth Edition is written by Steven S. Long. I’m not sure if Allston was still with us. He’s not credited on the cover.

I actually had the same thought about Allston when I did a little googling and found this cover:

image

Might have been a posthumous thing.

Don’t they also start with 100 more points, to adjust for having to buy all the previously figured characteristics? I don’t have it – seem to remember reading about that.

I’m sure you’re right! It’s been a while since I read it, and I didn’t do a very careful side by side. But I think all Champions games start with a variable point budget based on the desired power level of the campaign. Let’s see…

Yeah, this looks different. A Standard build is 400 (I don’t remember it being that high) with a max of 75 in “Complications.” (I think “Disadvantages,” since some of those are physical and mental handicaps, come off now as ableist.)


Sorry for hijacking this thread into an all-Champions discussion. I do love that game. My most favorite rpg memories are attached to it. I would get back into it for nostalgia purposes, but I think my largest impediment these days are… hexes. I asked one Champions gamer what he does for large numbers of hexes in… Flight travel, for instance, and he had no answer for me. I can’t figure out a way to “hack” some of these elements of simulationism out of the core mechanics of this system. Maybe @Harrigan has some ideas: just three or four “levels” of Flight, perhaps, with base distances and costs, i.e., short, medium, and long?

Yeah, I actually started with the original black and white soft cover, and that nice 4-color comic style 4th was the last one I got. Up until then it was start with 100 character points, and take disadvantage for all the rest, with no limit (unless GM imposed) on the number of disads. So a typical character was 250 points. You’d see some higher, but you really had to stack the disadvantages. But I think by getting rid of figured characteristics and adding 100 starting points things probably even out between the two. I like the idea of limited the disads. It was hard to GM when every player had 2 or 3 hunteds and bunch of other stuff.

I bought the revised Aaron Alston Strike Force, and I think they are based on this. I THINK. It is awesome. Just great reading for any GM in any game, really.

A few years ago I picked up Jeff Dee’s The Mighty Protectors: Villains & Vigilantes 3.0, from Jeff, at a convention.

I was going to run it, but then I watched a bunch of their demo games on youtube. Very, very detailed combat. Normally that would not bother me, but it just seemed like not what I’m into right now. Now, Champions is just as detailed, but I know if by heart from years and years of playing, so it’s not a problem.

Jeff’s game is, however, amazing in many respects. He has an ingenious way of enforcing balance in character creating/design. Very, very clever. The power scaling is alway very neat, and does a fantastic job of dealing with character from Batman level up to, well, just about anything. There are some missing things, like low level handguns and stuff, but it is only one book.

This guy, who is a player in Jeff’s games, has this site where he reproduces comic book characters. It is really good. Show how the power scaling works, and how easy it is to recreate famous characters.

https://mpwriteups.blogspot.com/

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You go back farther than I. Curious, I picked up Edwards’s Champions Now for a comparison, and his starting point values are similar: 100 + any number of Situational points (i.e., “Disadvantages”), recommended not to exceed 220.

I long have been interested in Villains & Vigilantes. I’m pretty sure I have 3.0 in my PDF library, as a matter of fact. But it was the Big Blue Book that I chose to spend my hard-earned money on, back when I was age 13 or 14, when Tim Burton’s Batman had hit theaters, when I was looking into the pages of Michilinie’s and MacFarlane’s Amazing Spider-Man and Peter David’s The Incredible Hulk and learning – hey – superheroes are pretty cool and not the anti-intellectual productions that I always had been told they were! Yeah, like you, I have those Hero System rules internalized. It’s amazing how many interesting and sensible ways the Hero System makes use of the d6. I only recently checked out Tunnels & Trolls and Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes as points of comparison, and those make the Hero System even more amazing to me. (I’m not versed enough in The Fantasy Trip and GURPS for even more comparisons, but I know WEG d6 quite well, having been an avid Star Wars gamer, even in my Champions-saturated youth.)

I love the idea of making a Villains & Vigilantes character based on oneself! And the stories are always amusing about how the young gamers in the 1980s invariably considered themselves “pretty strong for their ages and sizes.” :laughing:

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