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LAST CRUSADER
02-05-2010, 08:17 AM
superhero games are different from other kinds of R.P.G.s in a number of ways. People used to playing science fiction, swords and sorcery or online games might bring to this game certain misconceptions that will make it difficult to really get the feel of Superheroes. So lets discuss some of these differences.

Who needs Motivation ? : Most role playing games, including superhero games, dedicate a chapter to character motivation. Usually they offer a selection of several motivations that, actually encourage conflicts between players. It's true that Superheroes come from a variety of backgrounds and have a variety of reasons for putting on silly costumes, but once they put on their costumes, all Superheroes are driven by 2 purposes: to protect the innocent and fight evil. These 2 purposes are enough to bring them together for every mission again and again, despite any personal, tactical or even moral differences.

Splitting up is good. : Despite conflicts, encouraged by the rules, most games still insist that playersstick together and always act as a team, (presumably to make it easier on the GM) But Superheroes are often loaners. My best memories of gaming were times when I was alone with the GM or GMing a single player. Often a superhero's methods flow naturally from his abilities. One hero might rush in letting bullets bounce off him, while another might want to sneak in and take the guards out one at a time. These heroes will find it difficult to work together, unless the first hero acts as a distraction (and even then, they'll be splitting up). Splitting up lets each player face his own challenges, and be the star of his own part of the show. Ultimately splitting up might even save time because fights will be smaller and take less time to run. Plus with long range communication powers like telepathy, there is no need to separate players just because the characters are separated. Finally once the heroes locate the boss enemy, they'll usually want to get back together as soon as they can (unless one of them wants to challenge the villain to a chess match).

We don't need no stinkin treasure ! : In most role playing games, the main goal and reward for anadventure will be treasure of some kind. As soon as a barbarian and his buddies kill a wizard they loot his body, and start searching for his treasure room. Superheroes are different. Not only are they not out for treasure, but even if a fantastic treasure just falls into their lap they wont take it ! If you beat Overmaster Vlaad, you don't put on his armor, even if it would really help you, you just don't do it. You get rid of it, or destroy it instead, presumably hoping it will never be seen again, even though, as a player, you know that the GM Will bring it back if he wants to. This is role playing the genre.

We don't go for the kill. : Many Superheroes & villains have powers and abilities far beyond those of normal weapons of mass destruction, but they don't use their powers in that way. A super strong hero, if you really think about it, could easily pop a normal person's head like a pimple. If a big monster is causing trouble, some heroes could knock the monster into space, or grab it, fly to the moon and leave it there. No more monster. A hero with magnetic powers should be able to turn an armored villain inside out, instead of just knocking him around. But that's not how Superheroes do things. THIS RULE YOU'LL NEED TO ENFORCE, because if you don't, then the world will be a much more deadly place, and the only thing that can challenge these brutal killing machines, that call themselves heroes, will be equally brutal villains and the death toll will be worse than "Call of Cthulhu" !

Buildings are not bigger on the inside: In many games, especially computer and video games, theinside of a building and the outside don't fit together, it doesn't matter because the game designer or GM Will tell the players where they start and lead them in the direction they have to go. In a superhero game, the buildings have to make sense because when the hero looks at it from the outside, he will decide if he wants to use the doors, the windows, the skylight, a window on an upper floor, or just smash through the wall, or tunnel up from below. Fortunately : no one is going to critique your buildingplans. It wont matter if you forget to put in closets or bathrooms or if the rooms are too big or toosmall, its just a game, man.And : if you really like making crazy mazes that don't fit into the shape of abuilding just make it underground in caves or tunnels that way it doesn't have to make sense.

Hero's don't have their own agenda: Online games are about exploring and perusing goals of yourown, while ignoring whatever doesn't appeal to you, or is too low level to get you any rewards, but Superheroes are public servants. They're out to help people not make themselves rich or more powerful. They will fight any villain they hear about, and protect any person in need. But since players aren't going to be perusing their own goals (most of the time.) The GM has a job making sure there is something in each adventure that every player is interested in.
Power Balancing : In other RPGs the idea is that players should all be about the same power level(this never really works but it's always attempted ) but in a comic book, heroes with no super powers often adventure alongside godlike beings. Instead of trying to make the characters be the same power level each character plays a different role in the story. The GM should make sure that the opponents are also of diverse levels so that each player has an opponent of his own to challenge him. (you might need to make sure that the most powerful ones show up first and jump on their designated foes so that the players' powerhouse doesn't hog all the action.) And if one of the players is supposed to be the brains of the group, make sure there's something for him to figure out.

Players being villains : If the GM And players are interested in playing a game where the playersor 1 or 2 of the players are villains, then I can't stop you, heck, you might even have a great time doing it, but personally I can't give you any advice on how to make it work. I was never interested in doing it, even when my players were, and if a player started becoming a villain, after playing a while, I considered this a serious problem and usually tried to get his character out of the game as soon as I could. I just couldn't deal with it. The only help i can offer is to suggest that you play City of Villains and look for some ideas there, and watch some of the season 2 and later episodes of the Venture Brothers.

Encumbrance, Food, Money & Mapping: If you've played a lot of RPGs you're probably already used to ignoring these kinds of useless rules that slow play to a crawl without adding anything to it. Well in this game you don't even have to ignore them, they just aren't there !


--- Merged from Double Post ---
The post starting this thread is actually a long quote from my game Super Crusaders RPG. I've posted it here for discussion I hope you'll enjoy it.
By the way, right now is not a good time to check out my game because I'm working on a new version of it. It wont be ready for a while yet and when it's up a lot of the stuff that's on my site now will be taken down.

magic-rhyme
03-24-2010, 09:54 PM
I think you underestimate the variety possible in superhero roleplaying.

APN
04-01-2010, 05:57 PM
I think Superhero games are different, at least compared to traditional Fantasy and other genres, in that you start off being powerful, and grow much slower (if at all) so if the game is run right, you can concentrate more on role rather than roll playing. I'm referring to play by post games, where fantasy games generally have you starting at 1st level or equivalent and struggling against a pack of kobolds with slings. That'd be a lot of fun for a while, but the glacial growth rate in PbP games means it may be hard to keep interest without houseruling on advancement. Supers don't have that. You start with the ability to throw cars, fly, blast lasers from eyes, read minds, whatever, so don't have to 'level up' on thugs and minor supervillains. Of course, you could start off a fantasy game as a higher level, but where's the fun in that? How did the character get there? There's no sense of achievement, but there is if you can get a character to say, from 1st to 5th level or equivalent in a fantasy/level advancement type game, as you grow your character from something an Orc could blow over to someone who commands respect from monsters they used to fear.

Also the attrition rate in supers is low depending on the setting. Other than having the hero humiliated, unmasked, depowered, their families targetted etc, but I can't remember too many times when one of my players had a character killed. As a player I had one killed in an online game, but the GM of that game seemed to be going through the entire groups characters save for a few of his close gaming buddies whilst everyone else knew their time would come sooner or later, or so it felt. The death of the character was meaningless, by another players character (a good guy on the same team, under mind control by the villain) who felt or showed no remorse at all, like they expected it to happen too. Though I'd enjoyed my time in the game, I felt it was a good point to sign off so I left rather than start from scratch and have an underpowered character running with long term developed ones, as I could see the same thing (character death) happening again. Felt like 1st level D&D all over again :S

So, sometimes Superhero games aren't as different from other games in certain circumstances...

The Speaker in Dreams
04-16-2010, 01:09 PM
Well .. the print on the initial of crazy-small, BUT to hit the topic I'll list a few games and note what I find "different" or "special" about each one's mechanics.

1) Marvel Super Heroes (TSR) - really cool game with the Karma system - it was the universal "everything" of the game. Rules that penalized heroes for being non-heroic, rules to use it for power *tricks*, rules for gaining power - albeit incredibly slowly!! Really, it seemed to hit a real nice middle-ground for emulating the genre - sudden tricks, problems w/behavior and heroic codes, etc. It also kept power creep extremely low.

2) Mutants and Masterminds (Green Ronin) - fun game, uses the D20 system to get the broad-base appeal, nice features with "complications" and all that. Pretty fast and variable combat resolution does a pretty solid job at mimicking the times Wolverine gets 1 clunk on the head by the likes of Thing and is out for days, then gets back-handed by the Hulk like 50+ city blocks away and stands up to shake it off. :eek:

3) Silver Age Sentinels (Guardians of Order) - best supers game period, IMO. Mechanics disappear into the background past character generation, and the mechanics are very, very clean and intuitive. It passed my "spider man test" with flying colors - very cool.

4) Marvel SAGA System (TSR) - man - what a shame this game didn't get much of a chance. Exchanging the role of "dice" for cards - fantastic idea!!! 4 stats period, few skills and powers - just simple, direct, and mixing a "card game" into the "role playing game" was a stroke of genius you simply can NOT get with regular rolling of dice.

Richard Littles
04-17-2010, 12:38 AM
You forgot the granddaddy of them all, Speaker, Champions/Hero System. Champions/Hero System allows you to create any type of character you want with a plethora of options for customization. The mechanics follow a unified core using 3d6 and are intuitive. The way turns are handled makes for some very intense combat that can be real nail biters. There's a large list of optional rules to simulate anything you want to get the right feel for your game. The added bonus is that Hero System can do any genre so you don't have to learn an entirely new rule set to play a different genre.

APN
04-18-2010, 03:03 AM
Hero 5e turned me off champions (I tried to love it, even own two or three copies of the bullet stopping book!) but in the end it was just too much for what I needed. I felt like I was only using 20% and needing to refer to the book all the time, though that may stem from more time as a player and not GM. Besides, the Grandaddy of them all - wasn't superhero 2044 the first supers game? (That said, it was crap, so I'll concede the title to Champions, though I can only speak from 2e)

My own favourite is DC Heroes (the Mayfair version) probably in 2nd Edition form (3rd edition was a step backwards in terms of presentation and value for money).

Richard Littles
04-18-2010, 04:05 AM
Hero 5e turned me off champions (I tried to love it, even own two or three copies of the bullet stopping book!) but in the end it was just too much for what I needed. I felt like I was only using 20% and needing to refer to the book all the time, though that may stem from more time as a player and not GM. Besides, the Grandaddy of them all - wasn't superhero 2044 the first supers game? (That said, it was crap, so I'll concede the title to Champions, though I can only speak from 2e)

My own favourite is DC Heroes (the Mayfair version) probably in 2nd Edition form (3rd edition was a step backwards in terms of presentation and value for money).

The thing about Champions/Hero is that it's a toolkit, so you're going to be getting a lot of information to make it easier for you to decide what is best for your game. I'd rather have too many options then not enough. The bulk of the rules are optional.

APN
04-19-2010, 02:48 AM
Yeah 5e looked like it could go anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I didn't love it enough to go to 6e though. Anyone bought 6e? What's the thought? More of the same, nicer to look at, cleaned up and polished, or ground up rewrite?

Richard Littles
04-19-2010, 04:49 AM
Yeah 5e looked like it could go anywhere, anytime, anyplace. I didn't love it enough to go to 6e though. Anyone bought 6e? What's the thought? More of the same, nicer to look at, cleaned up and polished, or ground up rewrite?

6E removed the linking of characteristics, some renaming of powers to make it less confusing, and better explanations.

The Speaker in Dreams
04-20-2010, 08:46 AM
I left champions off because I've little experience with it, and it made my eyes bleed! :biggrin:

On the serious side, though, I got in a large discussion with someone a while back and had the basics explained and it failed the "spider-man" test as I've named it.

Spider-Man test is this:
Can you build a character with a high agility/dexterity in the system that is NOT automatically going to clean house, or out-fight the likes of Wolverine and Captain America? Champions failed this test - it's like GURPS in that regard - all combat keys off of the dex stat. So, if you have a super-dex character, of necessity, they will beat all kinds of booty! This isn't the "fact" of Spiderman - he's "good" at fighting, but he regularly is out-fought even by the likes of The Shocker w/out using super powers to do it.

MSH had that Combat Awareness and they specifically had that Fighting stat, so it can pass the test just fine - the awareness upped his defense (which is true to comic - he's a hard target), but left his "ok" combat abilities in tact (the Remarkable rating isn't anything to write home about - he's better than most, but that's about it).

SAS and M&M both can manage this as both have separate mechanics for boosting "to hit" and "defense" respectively ...

So, yeah, as it was explained to me, it fails the "spider-man" test of comics, so I don't like to use any system that can't pass it. I started a supers game in gurps, hit this wall (GURPS is my favorite system in general, btw) in super-dex designs, and jumped system outright for all things supers - I'll never go back to grups for supers again, or any other system that automatically makes this sort of association.

If I can't have Captain America clearly out-fight Spider-Man (not out-damage mind you, just talking out and out likehood of connecting in combat and reading an opponent, etc), there's something wrong to properly "get" supers, IMO, and I'm looking for a new system.

Little long-winded, but I found my "spider-man" test to be optimal for me and the expectations I have of a supers game in mechanics matching accomplishments in comics, etc.

Richard Littles
04-20-2010, 09:06 AM
I left champions off because I've little experience with it, and it made my eyes bleed! :biggrin:

On the serious side, though, I got in a large discussion with someone a while back and had the basics explained and it failed the "spider-man" test as I've named it.

Spider-Man test is this:
Can you build a character with a high agility/dexterity in the system that is NOT automatically going to clean house, or out-fight the likes of Wolverine and Captain America? Champions failed this test - it's like GURPS in that regard - all combat keys off of the dex stat. So, if you have a super-dex character, of necessity, they will beat all kinds of booty! This isn't the "fact" of Spiderman - he's "good" at fighting, but he regularly is out-fought even by the likes of The Shocker w/out using super powers to do it.

MSH had that Combat Awareness and they specifically had that Fighting stat, so it can pass the test just fine - the awareness upped his defense (which is true to comic - he's a hard target), but left his "ok" combat abilities in tact (the Remarkable rating isn't anything to write home about - he's better than most, but that's about it).

SAS and M&M both can manage this as both have separate mechanics for boosting "to hit" and "defense" respectively ...

So, yeah, as it was explained to me, it fails the "spider-man" test of comics, so I don't like to use any system that can't pass it. I started a supers game in gurps, hit this wall (GURPS is my favorite system in general, btw) in super-dex designs, and jumped system outright for all things supers - I'll never go back to grups for supers again, or any other system that automatically makes this sort of association.

If I can't have Captain America clearly out-fight Spider-Man (not out-damage mind you, just talking out and out likehood of connecting in combat and reading an opponent, etc), there's something wrong to properly "get" supers, IMO, and I'm looking for a new system.

Little long-winded, but I found my "spider-man" test to be optimal for me and the expectations I have of a supers game in mechanics matching accomplishments in comics, etc.

However, Hero System has removed the linking of characteristics so you can have a character with a high dex but can't hit or clean the room.

yukonhorror
04-20-2010, 10:25 AM
maybe it is just me, but I see spider-man beating captain america. How does palladium's heroes unlimited measure up in this test? I used eugenics to build a spiderman, and captain america is the model "super-soldier".

The Speaker in Dreams
04-22-2010, 01:16 PM
Interesting on Hero's change. I believe as of 5e (not 100% on this, though - mostly from the guy I chatted with. It could have been the bullet-stopper book, though if that was 4e.) the dex was keyed to striking somehow.

If they have indeed divorced these concepts, good! I'll add it as a pass for my Spider-man test.

As for Cap/Spidey fighting ... :shrugs: I think more often than not it would go to Cap. Spidey's fast, and strong, so when he hits, it'll be a lot harder. Cap's got the combat skill and can read the other guy well, especially one that's not particularly skilled at combat, etc. I'd edge it out to Cap for just being able to set the field a lot more accurately and press advantages more often than Spidey would really understand how to manage it.

Mostly, though - it's not a "who would win" test, so much as a "who's got more skill test" and Cap's got that in spades, but a LOT of systems by default give this advantage to anyone with a superior agility/dexterity/whatever stat, though.

Richard Littles
04-22-2010, 01:41 PM
Interesting on Hero's change. I believe as of 5e (not 100% on this, though - mostly from the guy I chatted with. It could have been the bullet-stopper book, though if that was 4e.) the dex was keyed to striking somehow.

If they have indeed divorced these concepts, good! I'll add it as a pass for my Spider-man test.

Hero System is now up to the sixth edition and one of the changes to the system was the delinking of characteristics, so DEX and CV are bought up separately. CVs start at a base of 3 and they added in Offensive Mental Combat Value and Defensive Mental Combat Value to replace ECV.

BayGuardian
04-24-2010, 04:12 PM
I recently took a look at Hero 6E. I was far from impressed. I knew the art style had changed for the worse with the advent of Champions Online; Defender used to be my favorite now I hate the way the character looks. Also, I remember when Dr. destroyer used to look physically frightening and imposing; now he just looks like the Terror from 'The Tick' with a few extra bits of armor.

Overall, the de-linking of characteristics is one of the worst moves with 6E, and there's too many other things that bug me to want to put any money into the system. 5E is excellent and definate proof of the old adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. 5E has been the pinnacle for the Hero System so far and 6E is a step in the wrong direction.

For people intimidated by the size of Hero 5E (or 6E, for that matter), Hero Games publishes condensed versions that leave out a lot of the examples and expansion and show the bare bones of the system. %E has the Hero System Sidekick and 6E has the Basic Rulebook.

While we're on the subject of systems, here's some superhero game systems that counter many of the OP's points.

Underground: A variant of Mayfair's DC Heroes (MEGS) game system set in a dystopian America that we seem to be heading towards in real life day by day. The PC's are Veterans, enhances soldiers given super-powers for fight for various conflict corporations that engage in proxy warfare for other corporations over resources. Suffering from psychological trauma caused by both war and their powers, the PC's try to survive 'out of country' and maybe work to bring back some of the principals of the Founding Fathers.

Providence: A little known RPG from Canada, Providence combines fantasy and superpowers in a unique setting. Trapped in a prison world, the PC's search for the gateways back to the homeworld that exiled their forebearers over 1000 years ago. Some characters wield magic and some have inborn abilities that make them superhuman. An intriguing setting with many options for where a campaign can go.

Aberrant: From White Wolf games, this superhero game setting is as rich with story potential as any WW product. Ten years after an explosion in space leaks a radioactive cloud onto the Earth, the metahumnas (Novas) that have appeared have come to dominate pop culture as well as the global economy. Who needs to be a supervilian and rob banks when even possessing moderate metahuman abilities can get you a 6 or 7 figure salary with a corporation? Novas have revitalized the Earth, virtually eliminated cancer, AIDS, and other diseases, and have brought peace and prosperity under the guiding hand of the Aeon Society and Project Utopia. But the hidden price of Utopia is starting to be uncovered. In WW's grand tradition, Aberrant has a dark conspiracy underlying the main setting, one that will ultimately ravage the campaign world. The other two game systems linked are Trinity, set 200+ years after Aberrant focusing on sci-fi space opera and psionics, and Adventure!, set in the 1920's and 30's and focusing on pulp adventures. All three games had a d20 release as well.

Brave New World: Set in a modern setting where President Kennedy was saved from assassination, Brave New World from AEG is another superhero game that has a darker undertone than first appears. Order and prosperity exists, but only at the sacrifice of individual freedom. The characters have the choice of either preserving the status quo or working to overthrow the totalitarian regime that governs America.

There are plenty of other games with superhero themes out there. And a lot of them break the 'standard' mold that was originally commented on. Just because a game has characters with powers beyond those of mortal men, doesn't mean you have to run a campaign that feels like it's directly from Marvel or DC. As in any kind of RPG, the only real limits of a superhero game are your imagination and creativity.

LAST CRUSADER
04-25-2010, 07:51 AM
The whole point of the original post was that games like the ones you mentioned might have characters with super powers but they are not in the superhero genre. Lots of characters from many different genres have superhuman powers. Pinhead and his cenobites easily come to mind, but that doesn't make them superheroes by any means and Hellraiser is definatly not in a superhero world.

The Superhero genre is much more diverse than any other but like all genres it has rules. You can easily create subgenres by changing a few rules, but if you change too many of those rules, it changes to a different genre completly.

Now one of the beautiful things about a well made superhero game is that, since the superhero genre is so diverse, it's certain that if the sytem works well for superheroes, then it can be used for ANY gerne. So if you want to use a superhero game to play horror or fantasy or distopia it will work, unless the system wasn't a very good one but then it wouldn't do superheroes well enough to make you want to try anything else in it.

GURPS the original universal system got it wrong by trying to make a system that only worked for ordinary low power characters then trying to tack powers onto them. GURPS is a bad game that no one plays and we all just buy it so we can use the many well researched supliments that are available with it.

My own game Super Crusaders RPG does it the other way around. It starts out as a superhero game then expands with the supliments to embrace other genres. Most of these supliments are still to come because the final edition of the core rules just came out this year, but the free book, People & Creatures, already presents many creatures from fantasy and horror genres.

Richard Littles
04-25-2010, 09:29 AM
I would like to say that there are ways to promote your game that doesn't bash or denigrate other games out there on the market. You don't have to diminish the work of other authors out there. Your interpretation of the superhero genre is fine, but it's not correct since the original superheroes were like Tarzan, The Phantom, etc... They are definitely grounded in the pulp of their time and still carry the pulp action to this day. Even Superman and later superheroes are mainly pulp in their stories, but use different types of genres as lenses to the base.

GURPS sells and is played reasonably well. If it wasn't then Steve Jackson Games wouldn't still be in business. Also, GURPS wasn't the first universal system. That belongs to the Hero System since by the time GURPS was published there was Champions, Danger International, Star Hero, Justice Inc., and Robot Warriors all using the same base system that was present in the original Champions system. GURPS wasn't published until 1986 while Hero Games had the aforementioned books published before that in between 1981-1985.

BayGuardian
04-25-2010, 11:51 AM
I would even posit the argument that the first superheroes go back to the heroes of myth and legend. Heracles, Perseus, Cuchulain, Gilgamesh and many more exhibited power and skill that was more than human. In fact, comic books are generally considered to be the mythology of our times. Further, most of these ancient superheroes had horrible character flaws: pride, vanity, drunkenness, and whatever else was needed to tell the cautionary tales that were weaved into each hero's legend.

The very idea of superheroes itself has changed radically since the deconstruction period of the late 80's, as well. Heroes sometimes have their own agendas. Heroes sometimes do what they do for money, fame, or other personal gratification. Heroes do take 'treasure' and use items created by villains. And heroes do sometimes kill; certainly not always and when it does happen, it is the last possible option to prevent something even worse from happening.

It seems that the original definition of the superhero genre being used here is set firmly in the Golden and Silver Ages, which is fine as long as you accept the limitations that come with that. Personally, I do not like limiting myself and players of my superhero games in that way. I don't swing all the way to embrace the current Iron Age and all of what modern comics stories entail, either, but I think there is a happy medium that each campaign can embrace and find their own comfort zone as to how mature they want the story and game to be. And that's what is so great about comics: there really are no hard and fast rule as to what the genre is and is not supposed to be. As I said before, the only real limitations to a superhero game are the ones that you impose upon yourself.

Richard Littles
04-25-2010, 12:13 PM
I stand corrected Bay, but I was trying to reference the modern superhero. The heroes of myth and legend truly are the first superheroes. :)

LAST CRUSADER
04-26-2010, 05:28 AM
I'm not bashing anyone elses game to promote mine. I'm expressing my opinions; opinions I held long before I started working on my own game, and which were part of the reason I started working on it in the first place.

There are other superhero games that "Get it". I was a big fan of Villains and Vigilantes, I enjoied playing Marvel SuperHeroes, and D.C. Heroes, and though I didn't like Champions, I definatly felt that they had a clear grasp of the Genre. By the way, Hero games did not try to combine all of thier different products into a universal system until after GURPS was published and when they did they had a big job trying to mesh together a lot of different rules they had created for different genres. So GURPS still ranks as first in attempting a universal system.

As I've already stated, I'm well aware of the fact that that there are other heroes with super powers out there, besides those in the superhero genre. I'm also aware of the fact that many of them were inspirations to the genre when it developed. The clearest forrunners of the genre were the Chivilrous Knights of King Arthur and other mideval stories. but even these were not yet superheroes.

Superheroes do things that normal people can only dream about, like picking up cars, flying, dodging bullets or turning invisible; but they also do things that ordinary people just wouldn't do, like wear tights, fight super villains & bring children along with them on dangerous missions. These things are called conventions of the genre. That is things we accept in this kind of story that would never work in real life. Admittedly many of the conventions originally came about because the genre was aimed at children, and it's mainly for this reason that many writers have tried to dump these conventions in recent decades. After all, most comic fans are not children, and comics fans and writers have struggled to make comics more adult and to make them more acceptable for adults. So many modern comic books don't respected comic traditions. Some even openly mock them, and Hollywood has never respected the conventions of the genre. I also know that there have been a few well intentioned attempts to dispense with certain conventions either to make a specific character who isn't a "traditional superhero" or in a misguided attempt to "broaden the scope of the whole genre". But comic books aren't as popular as they once were and comic fans are usually pretty disappointed with the movies. You see, writers who don't respect tradition write badly. (You might as well have vampires that aren't effected by holy objects, for goodness sake.)


A genre only works when you accept the conventions and work within them. If you tinker too much with it, it becomes something else. Often these things come across as either a soulless rip off or, at best, a parody. If you don't respect the conventions of the genre, then you don't really like the genre anyway.

Richard Littles
04-26-2010, 11:54 AM
I'm not bashing anyone elses game to promote mine. I'm expressing my opinions; opinions I held long before I started working on my own game, and which were part of the reason I started working on it in the first place.

There are other superhero games that "Get it". I was a big fan of Villains and Vigilantes, I enjoied playing Marvel SuperHeroes, and D.C. Heroes, and though I didn't like Champions, I definatly felt that they had a clear grasp of the Genre. By the way, Hero games did not try to combine all of thier different products into a universal system until after GURPS was published and when they did they had a big job trying to mesh together a lot of different rules they had created for different genres. So GURPS still ranks as first in attempting a universal system.

As I've already stated, I'm well aware of the fact that that there are other heroes with super powers out there, besides those in the superhero genre. I'm also aware of the fact that many of them were inspirations to the genre when it developed. The clearest forrunners of the genre were the Chivilrous Knights of King Arthur and other mideval stories. but even these were not yet superheroes.

Superheroes do things that normal people can only dream about, like picking up cars, flying, dodging bullets or turning invisible; but they also do things that ordinary people just wouldn't do, like wear tights, fight super villains & bring children along with them on dangerous missions. These things are called conventions of the genre. That is things we accept in this kind of story that would never work in real life. Admittedly many of the conventions originally came about because the genre was aimed at children, and it's mainly for this reason that many writers have tried to dump these conventions in recent decades. After all, most comic fans are not children, and comics fans and writers have struggled to make comics more adult and to make them more acceptable for adults. So many modern comic books don't respected comic traditions. Some even openly mock them, and Hollywood has never respected the conventions of the genre. I also know that there have been a few well intentioned attempts to dispense with certain conventions either to make a specific character who isn't a "traditional superhero" or in a misguided attempt to "broaden the scope of the whole genre". But comic books aren't as popular as they once were and comic fans are usually pretty disappointed with the movies. You see, writers who don't respect tradition write badly. (You might as well have vampires that aren't effected by holy objects, for goodness sake.)


A genre only works when you accept the conventions and work within them. If you tinker too much with it, it becomes something else. Often these things come across as either a soulless rip off or, at best, a parody. If you don't respect the conventions of the genre, then you don't really like the genre anyway.


When you proclaim that GURPS and other rpgs have got it wrong you are inferring that your opinion is the only valid one and that is a type of bashing. Having your opinion is fine, but trying to pass it off as the only one that valid is not. That's what I see from what you've written.

Actually, Hero System did try to unify their rules towards the end of 1985 and many of the second editions of the various books did have a section dedicated to combining the various books into a unified whole. This was still before GURPS being published. However, Hero and GURPS has always had a symbiotic relationship when it came to their development. Champions followed the point buy system presented in The Fantasy Trip. GURPS came out in 1986 in an attempt to have all the various genres in one book. Hero put out their own unified version of the rules and cleaned up the inconsistancies of prior editions. I admit this, but Hero still was the first universal point buy system due to the proliferation of the various genre books using the basic Champions rules. Basic Role Playing is the first true universal system using classes, races, and percentile.

Your opinion is fine, but preaching about what you think as fact is not. All of us have our own opinions on what are the conventions of the genre and what we think is what makes superheroes different from say fantasy or science fiction. For myself, superheroes are rooted in the modern pulp tradition and added in other genres to make something original. My setting Inceptum Terminus: Chronicles of the New Confederation, uses many genres to present a unique world. You may say that I've strayed from the genre conventions and I'd tell you more power to you for your opinion. All of us have our own view on what is a superhero and what isn't with them all being equally valid. There is nothing wrong with having a dissenting opinion. Going back to my setting, I use science fiction, cyberpunk, biopunk, fantasy, westerns, post apocalypse, and pulp genres to present a unique world that asks tough moral/ethical questions of the people playing inside of it. Comics have a long tradition of being morality tales and exploring current issues much like the pulps they sprang from and the ancient legends and myths.

Hollywood fails with superheroes when it doesn't respect the source material. Watchmen adhered pretty closely while X-Men did not. Spiderman did really well because the director and the production team really cared and respected the source material. Those that fail to do this end up with a box office failure. The new Batman series of movies really does an excellent job of presenting the duality and the struggle of Batman/Bruce Wayne in a much more realistic and respectful fashion.

The nature of any genre is the constant striving for the next version to be different and unique. How this is accomplished is irrelevant since the core genre is still there. My view as an author is that you have the eyeglass frame (starting genre) and then you add in the lenses (other genres) to get the uniqueness of the world you envision. By merging different genres and combining them in unique ways pushes the literary art to new heights and adds to the overall human understanding. This also brings to life new genres and new interpretations of the things that have influenced us all. By this process of combination and expansion does the conventions of any given genre change to be more expansive on what is part of the genre. Without the writings of Harlen Ellison and William Gibson there wouldn't be cyberpunk, which is a sub-genre of science fiction. Many genres that are now out there are actually sub-genres to existing base genres. This is a good thing, because it gives authors freedom to explore and combine things they like to tell a story about an important issue that is present today. Conventions to any genre will continue to evolve and will not be static just because one person wishes it to be so.

Farcaster
04-26-2010, 03:24 PM
Last Crusader, who is defining the superhero genre as you have laid out here? You? I think it is fine to say that in your game world that you have designed, this is the default assumption. It's also fine if you run your games this way -- provided that is also the kind of game that your players enjoy. Where the big disconnect is that you throw out statements to define the genre as though they are fact, when in fact, these are your opinions of how a superheroic game should be. So, as the discussion continues, let's try to keep that in mind.

LAST CRUSADER
04-27-2010, 05:39 AM
My definition of the genre is not just my own. As I mentioned there are other Games that get it and I know that they get it because they have described the gere in thier core rule books. Whats most significant about these games is that one of them ,Villains & Vigilantes, was the first really succesful superhero game while the other 2, Marvel and DC were published by the very companies that created the genre in first place. The description of the genre is also well established in the mind of the public as we can see it portrayed or parodied in every single superhero cartoon Filmation ever made and also in the cartoons created by other companies. When films like Watchmen, and Kick Ass come out, they describe themselves as "rule breaking" because they know the rules, and so does the public that they're adressing when they call themselves rule breaking.

I realize that there are many subgenres and that the imediate predicessor to the superhero genre is pulp, which honestly i never got into at all, but I'm not talking about these. I'm talking about classic superheroes. Comics Code Aproved adventures, the Silver age, the real thing. Before the writers lost interest in telling good stories with established characters and started trying to make a name for themselves by showing that "they had the courage do something different with the characters". Before the comics started trying so hard to be bold and different that they forgot why we loved them and in the process stopped telling good stories.

I'll let you in on a little secret guys. I stopped reading comics in 1993 because by that time the writing had already been so bad for so long that I gave up hope that it would ever be good again. I loved the comics of the 70s and most of 80s. Crisis on infinate Earths was a big turning point. When the writers became so obsessed with the inconsistancies in thier own stories that they started pointing them out and making them part of the stories. Suspention of disbelief, an important part of accepting a genre, became impossible because the writers were basicly pointing out how bad thier own work was. The Dark Knight and the Year One were good stories but after that everyone started making thier chacters so serious that none of them were any fun. I watched a really weird pattern unfold. the main character got a crewcut and the book lost it's humor. I'm not sure why the crewcut was part of the patern but I saw it happen to Booster Gold, Blue Beetle and the Brainiac character from Legion whatever year. Then characters started changing thier personalities so dramatically that it made you wonder wheather the writers just couldn't be bothered to find out what kind of characters they were. Of course thier personallities seldom mattered by that point because the the characters in many cases had become little more than sets of powers that the writers took turns throing at eah other with victory decided not by logic but by popularity.

Gotta change gears a bit, I was starting to rant.

Anyway Superheroes cannot be a world where anything can happen. If the writters or GMs see them that way, then we can never know what to expect and we can never complain when it doesn't make sense. We need rules to be able to suspend disbelief and enter a genre.

Richard Littles
04-27-2010, 09:36 AM
This is entirely your opinion. An opinion is not a fact and you're passing it off as a fact. I've already cited Tarzan and The Phantom as the original comic superheroes which were published not by DC or Marvel. Marvel didn't exist in the 1930's as Marvel and wouldn't until the early 1950's long after comics had been established. Back in the 30's it was known as Timely Comics and changed to Marvel after it was sold to a different publisher. You're also forgetting about Fawcett and other comic book publishers that preceded DC by quite a few years.

Again this is just your opinion. Superhero comics, as the real thing, predated the Comic Book Authority by nearly three decades. This is a matter of historical fact. Just because you choose to not recognize anything, but the Silver Age as the real thing does not make it a fact. That is an opinion.

I stopped reading comics because it got old and redundant since there is stagnation in the medium. Characters refuse to stay dead and the overuse of the same plots got boring. Comic books, instead of innovating, used a formulatic approach to writing since the emphasis was placed on visuals at the expense of writing. Just because someone is a great artist doesn't mean they're a great writer. Jim Lee and his generation of artists fall into this category.

If superheroes cannot be a world where anything can happen, then why does everything always happen in superhero comics? You had Galactus showing up threatening to destroy Earth and everyone banded together to defeat him. Never mind the fact that superhero comics use science fiction, fantasy, pulp, and other genres regularly to make it where anything can happen. Your statement defies logic since in the over 70 years of superhero comics proves the opposite.

Farcaster
04-27-2010, 12:11 PM
If Tolkein was the father of fantasy, should only stories that emulate his writing be considered as such? That would be a ridiculous assertation..

To me the tights wearing, cardboard thin superheroes of yesteryear are boring -- big yawn boring. I'm glad comics moved on and that the genre developed passed its infantile stage. And indeed, the genre did mature and develop over time. So, I think that clearly the type of game you are describing fits into the genre, and so do others that are more mature or even dark.

BayGuardian
04-27-2010, 12:18 PM
Again, the main issue that is being adressed here is the limited definition of a superhero; a definition that has points that can be argued and debated against by people with knowledge of comics history. If the definition of a superhero is going to be someone that is capable of doing astonishing feats that normal humans can only dream of, then again, I submit that the heroes of myth and legend were the true first superheroes. In addition to the prodigeous physical abilities that mirror many modern superheroes, they often as well had 'limitations' that could nulify those abilities ranging from Samson's hair to the geasa placed on Cuchulain. If one were to counter that these ancient heroes were not superheroes becasue they don't fit in the 'accepted' mold of superhero behavior, the fact remains that these rules of acceptable behavior only came about after the Congressional hearings in 1954 after the publication of 'Seduction of the Innocent', which lead to the formation of the Comics Code Authority. For the fist year of publication in Detective Comics, Batman carried the gun that killed his parents and used it; in fact he had no problem maiming or even killing criminals, he considered it to be the ultimate reward for a life of crime. Also, World War II heroes such as Captain America and the Fighting American regularly killed Nazis and Japanese troops as a course of the war. Captain Marvel (Shazam), now considered a paragon of morality and virtue, was in fact originally created as a parody of the same morality and virtue by the publisher of one of the first 'men's magazines'. Wonder Woman had thinly veiled (usually completely unveiled) references to the Bondage/Domination lifestyle.

As much as we'd like to call it the 'Golden Age', comic book superheroes from their inception up to the imposition of the Comics Code were full of ugly behavior and character traits that would be frowned on nowdays: racism, mysogeny, 'right makes might' and the idea of the general superiority of American values being the reason why the hero wins. Most of this can be attributed to the time period that superheroes emerged; things we see as racist or sexist today weren't seen as such back then, and the entry of America into World War 2 a few years later cemented the patriotic nature of all superhero comics.

Of course, many of the rules laid out in the OP don't apply all the time even during the Comics Code period. 'Heroes For Hire' and Booster Gold showed heroes more intersted in financial gain, where doing the right thing was a secondary concern. The Fantastic Four kept every item taken from defeated foes and used them when the need arose; from Dr. Doom's time platform to the Ultimate Nulifier swiped from Galactus. Professor X has shown a certain ruthless tendency to do 'whatever is needed' from the begining; actions ranging from inducing psionic amnesia in villains up to mentally manipulating Kitty Pryde's parents to force them to agree to send Kitty to the Xavier School rather than the Massachucetts Academy.

The point is, creating hard and fast rules for what is and is not a superhero is futile, mainly becasue the definition of herosim has changed over the course of the decades that comics have existed, not to mention the millenia since heroes with superhuman abilities appeared in humanity's stories and legends. I do not begrudge Last Crusader for having his opinions on what a superhero game entails, he certainly has that right and including his views inside the game he is publishling is certainly fitting to achieve his vision of his game. However, stating those rules and saying that anything or anyone that doesn't adhere to them isn't really a superhero or a true superhero game and not accepting argument or discussion is imposing a single view upon others. I think I can safely say that neither I nor Richard Littles are saying that your view of superheroism is wrong, just the expectation that your definition is the *only* definition is wrong. I hope that Crusader takes these discussions in the spirit of honest criticism and that even if we don't agree on certain definitions, we all hope that his game succeeds; a diversity of opinions and styles can only strengthen a community, leading to increased creativity as ideas are exchanged. Also, I hope that Crusader will also accept the fact that whatever his views on what constitutes a superhero, there will more than likely be those that buy his game, yet disagree with his philosophy and run their games according to their own views on the nature of superheroes.

LAST CRUSADER
04-28-2010, 05:38 AM
I stated Early on that I was only voicing my opinion. Later I pointed out that that opinion is not just my own but is widely accepted, and recognized as the rule even by those who deliberatly break the rules. I also pointed out that the type of superhero I'm talking about is the kind that developed in the silver age, and was made popular in the public mind by cartoons made by filmation (I also meant to mention Hanna Barbara but forgot to). What you are accusing me of doing is presenting this widely accepted opinion as fact. I have not. What I have done is to present my opinion as reflecting a generally accepted rule, and a tradition that I love. Obviously these rules are not without exceptions. The rules of a genre are never Iron Clad, and in a medium that was written by countless people over the course of more than 50 years and which domonated comics for about 30 years (from the late 50s to the late 80s) it's not hard to find contradictions. Remember tht not all comics are superhero comics.

By the way, there are not and never have been generally accepted rules regarding the proper use of mind control and I don't concider the things Professor X did to be wrong, in any way, And when the entire world is at stake as when Gallactus is invading, this is clearly an exceptional situation even in the comics.

I've repetedly admitted that there are many subgenres, and would add that even tarditional superheroes are sometimes drawn into stories that don't fall into the superhero genre (I did mention that a well made superhero game can handle any genre) I'ts also important to note that many Comic Book characters are not and never were traditional superheroes including PowerMan and Iron Fist, Shang Chi, Tarzan, and of course the ultimate anti heroes: Wolverine, and the Punnisher. Tarzan predates modern superheroes and clearly falls into the pulp genre (I wouldn't have mentioned him at all if one of you hadn't). The other examples were created with the intention that they would be rule breakers who would add contrast to the stories.

But when a story or setting changes too many of the rules, it becomes a different genre entirely and some of the example that you guys were citing did go over the line or predated the development of the genre I'm talking about.

Richard Littles
04-28-2010, 09:28 AM
I stated Early on that I was only voicing my opinion. Later I pointed out that that opinion is not just my own but is widely accepted, and recognized as the rule even by those who deliberatly break the rules. I also pointed out that the type of superhero I'm talking about is the kind that developed in the silver age, and was made popular in the public mind by cartoons made by filmation (I also meant to mention Hanna Barbara but forgot to). What you are accusing me of doing is presenting this widely accepted opinion as fact. I have not. What I have done is to present my opinion as reflecting a generally accepted rule, and a tradition that I love. Obviously these rules are not without exceptions. The rules of a genre are never Iron Clad, and in a medium that was written by countless people over the course of more than 50 years and which domonated comics for about 30 years (from the late 50s to the late 80s) it's not hard to find contradictions. Remember tht not all comics are superhero comics.

By the way, there are not and never have been generally accepted rules regarding the proper use of mind control and I don't concider the things Professor X did to be wrong, in any way, And when the entire world is at stake as when Gallactus is invading, this is clearly an exceptional situation even in the comics.

I've repetedly admitted that there are many subgenres, and would add that even tarditional superheroes are sometimes drawn into stories that don't fall into the superhero genre (I did mention that a well made superhero game can handle any genre) I'ts also important to note that many Comic Book characters are not and never were traditional superheroes including PowerMan and Iron Fist, Shang Chi, Tarzan, and of course the ultimate anti heroes: Wolverine, and the Punnisher. Tarzan predates modern superheroes and clearly falls into the pulp genre (I wouldn't have mentioned him at all if one of you hadn't). The other examples were created with the intention that they would be rule breakers who would add contrast to the stories.

But when a story or setting changes too many of the rules, it becomes a different genre entirely and some of the example that you guys were citing did go over the line or predated the development of the genre I'm talking about.

So far in this thread, you have told people that they just don't get it when they disagreed with you and then use bolding to simulate yelling at people. That's forcing everyone to bow to your opinion and ignoring what people have to say. In fact, the only person that holds the exact same view as you about comics is you. I've disagreed with you as did everyone else, but instead of having a civil dialogue you go out of your way to antagonize people and say that they are wrong. For what's it is worth, I'm done with this thread since you have zero interest in an honest discussion, but want to soap box. I wish you luck in your pursuits.

LAST CRUSADER
04-28-2010, 03:38 PM
Actually the bold print wasn't to simulate yelling. It was to draw attention to what I concidered a very important part of the post.

I honestly thought that the tone of my last post was quite conciliatory. It was certainly meant to be.

From the start, All I really meant to do was express why I love the superhero genre and offer some advice about how a GM can help to capture the feel of the comics in his game. I honestly don't know why so many people took offense. The reason I said "you just don't get it" was because rather than accepting what I said in the spirit that it was offered, people took offense and attacked me by pointing out situations where the things I said didn't apply as if to say that the things I said weren't true.

If your possition is that you can do anything you want in the superhero genre then superhero is not a genre at all. All genres have thier own conventions that set them appart from other genres, and give us an idea what to expect from them. If we didn't or couldn't know what kind of things to expect we wouldn't know if we liked a genre or not. I love Superheroes and I have certain expectations from the genre, If those expectations are not met by a particular story, then iether I won't like it, or I just won't concider it to be a real superhero story.

magic-rhyme
05-14-2010, 02:13 PM
Last Crusader,

why do so many of your posts come across as thinly veiled advertisements and nothing more?

jpatterson
05-14-2010, 08:57 PM
Interesting, I was going to mention the Super Crusader rpg, which I find pretty neat, and my favorite price, free, as I am in another forum and people are wanting me to run a superhero RPG. I played Champions once or twice but never ran any super game besides a tryout of DC Heroes which I didn't think was a very good system.

I think Superhero games ARE indeed the ultimate powergamer fantasy come true. They let you munchkin all you want, BY the rules. God mode, go Dragonball Z, be Superman, whatever. That's what they're for. They're so unrealistically far beyond "cinematic" and high fantasy that the LIGHT from those lower levels of awesomeness will take 100 years to reach superhero gaming. But I myself have to have a balance - I don't think I could game Supers very long without some down-to-earth stuff, even if it was just back to movie action hero level, or all the way back down to Warhammer or Call of Cthulhu. I have to have some perspective to make the super powers remain special and amazing.

As far as Super Crusader the poster here, it's kind of interesting. I've seen BASHMAN all over the net promoting his game BASH, which I resented, but I have to admit, the game looks like something I'd really like and I'm right at the edge of buying it - if I had any more money income per month, it wouldn't even be a question for me, but I'm on an extremely tight budget. Kinda the same with Supes here - I haven't ever seen him anywhere except old posts on RPGNET but I've actually looked at his game, and while there are things I don't like about it, overall, it's simple yet has enough detail to be modifiable to something pretty open-ended, without being super complicated - it suffers like most superhero games, with Endurance Tracking Syndrome, which I hate and won't do.

LAST CRUSADER
05-15-2010, 09:33 AM
Last Crusader,

why do so many of your posts come across as thinly veiled advertisements and nothing more?

Most of my gaming friends left the state years ago. The one who's left, lives quite some distance away. I have a wife who doesn't game, and two children who aren't ready for gaming. For the last few years, my only gaming activity has been working on Super Crusaders. It's, like, all I have to talk about; other than the Good old days. And sadly when I talk about other games I inevitably fall into complaining about the system. Which is a big part of why I started trying to make my own game in the first place.

I got banned from RPG Life as a spammer because I talked too much about my own game. Honestly I was just trying to drum up some interest get some people playing. It was still free back then.

I don't post much here anymore because It's become clear to me that there are not a lot of people on this site that are interested in superheroes anyway, and the few who even seem to take notice have a terribly distorted view of what superheroes are about. I mean just look at the Post above this one: Superheroes are NOT about ultimate power trip fantasies. That's what SuperVILLAINS are about ! Superheroes are usually less powerful than the villains, or hopelessly outnumbered and win through greater virtues, like courage, determination, self sacrifice, team work, wisdom, just plain common sense or humility (they aren't too proud to ask for or accept help from normal people, or to take instructions from normal people) A lot of Superheroes have few or no powers at all, but they have a sense of purpose that tells them they have to do whats right, they believe in justice and they care about the innocent. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, The Greater good for the greater number of people. Might for right, not might is right.

I know superheroes have changed a lot in recent years, and I admited in a post above that Thats why I don't even read comics any more. I'm currently working on a second edition of my game. Should be out in a few months. When It's finnished I'm probably going to start dedicating my time to making my own comic books in the old tradition. and making cartoons to post on You Tube.

I'm probably done with actually playing RPGs until my kids get old enough to play with me.

jpatterson
05-15-2010, 04:53 PM
I don't post much here anymore because It's become clear to me that there are not a lot of people on this site that are interested in superheroes anyway,
I haven't seen a ton of interest in superheroes on any of the sites I've been on. I'm on a Mormon discussion forum that has a pbp section, of all things, and I offered to run a couple different kinds of games but the only thing anyone showed interest in was someone suggested a superhero game, which I'd never run, so I began looking around for free games and found a few. One was SC, another was 4 Colors or something along those lines, which are somewhat similar though I like more parts of SC overall.


and the few who even seem to take notice have a terribly distorted view of what superheroes are about. I mean just look at the Post above this one: Superheroes are NOT about ultimate power trip fantasies. That's what SuperVILLAINS are about !
I disagree. I'm no avid comic enthusiast but I HAVE read them, and watched cartoons and such as I grew up, and played games and watched my cousins as they did the same.


Superheroes are usually less powerful than the villains, or hopelessly outnumbered and win through greater virtues, like courage, determination, self sacrifice, team work, wisdom, just plain common sense or humility (they aren't too proud to ask for or accept help from normal people, or to take instructions from normal people) A lot of Superheroes have few or no powers at all, but they have a sense of purpose that tells them they have to do whats right, they believe in justice and they care about the innocent. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, The Greater good for the greater number of people. Might for right, not might is right.
Last Crusader, I think you're really just missing the point when people characterize superhero games as power fantasy gaming. No one disputes the directly above quote. This is a GIVEN for ANY heroic gaming, be it sword and sorcery fantasy roleplaying, Lovecraftian horror, action movie or whatever else - this theme is identical and not unique to superheroes, therefore people do not base their opinion of what "superhero gaming is about" on this, because they consider this to be the point of gaming to begin with and superhero games do not corner the market share on these ideas.

This leaves the difference between D&D, Call of Cthulhu or Feng Shui and superhero games being superpowers, the ability to run faster than the speed of light, shoot lasers out of your eyes, etc. This IS what sets superhero games apart from other games - the ability to do things far and above any other genre of gaming - there are rules for flying into outer space with no vehicle or traveling through time from your own internal ability.

I'll give you that in comics, the lines between hero and villain are more defined in most cases, and the morals and ethics are much more exaggerated and blatant, black and white, or four color if you prefer that terminology, more molodramatic "DO NOT FEAR, GOOD CITIZEN, THE ARMADILLO ENFORCER WILL RESCUE YOU FROM THIS NEFARIOUS DO-BADDER!" Two dimensional and simple, and while I like that too, and obviously comic fans do too to one extent or another (and obviously superhero game makers), it is still only amplified shades of the same dynamics you find in any good scenario of any kind of gaming (obvious non-heroic stuff notwithstanding).


I know superheroes have changed a lot in recent years, and I admited in a post above that Thats why I don't even read comics any more. I haven't read comics in quite a while either, maybe because of that same reason, but my "in a while" is probably a lot longer than yours, though I did and still occasionally watch a cartoon or at least a movie based on a cartoon, though some suck. I am not a "professional" game designer like LC here or the other people I've seen, but I participate in some discussions and work on my own games and systems and create supplemental material for different systems I like, but never got all that much into superheroes, but I don't think that means I missed out on the whole morality idea, on the idea of great power and great responsibility - that's because these themes are present in any other kind of gaming, which I can state from the (maybe not quite) "peer" position of game authorship angle.


I have about the same problem as LC, gaming wise - I have a couple of cousins and a friend I luckily am able to game with every so often, but nothing regular like I used to be able to do, and I love RPGs, and it's hard to find anywhere to talk about gaming, even online. Most communities are cliquey, immature, or hopelessly mainstream and all about D20 or something else I find distasteful - I find the odd gem of discussion on the chat here on this site, but a lot of it I have to wait out, as it involves the other stuff I mention.

Even on the Mormom forums I'm playing on, which just started up an official site superhero RPG pbp, the two user run, plus the main official fantasy rpg there are all D&D 3.5 rules, which I'm not a fan of, but the GM's are keeping most of the bulk of the rules to themselves and under control so it's not quite so bad, but I still prefer Wushu or simpler systems for forum gaming.

Why not just look for some online gaming communities or start a game yourself on some places, Last Crusader, or even your own forums? I started my own forums on my site and have a few family and friends I think I can get to try out a game or two, if I can get myself to get everything set up.

LAST CRUSADER
05-15-2010, 11:19 PM
I've never tried online gaming. Came close once, but dropped out before the game started over differences with the GM.
I'm honestly not comfortable with the idea. I've been in a few chat rooms and I always find it difficult to keep up with what's being said. I read slowly and type even more slowly. Plus the thought of playing with total strangers gives me the same sort of feeling as a job interview.
I'll probably get around to it eventually but not any time soon.

As for what you said about the things I love in the Superhero genre being common to all heroic fantasy: That's certainly true in literature, but not in gaming. My experience has been that, whenever I step outside the superhero genre, the so called heroes are almost always driven more by greed than justice. Swords and sorcery adventures are usually quests for treasure. The fact that the monsters are evil is just a convenience that makes it OK to kill them, and take the treasure. In a superhero game, characters start out having thier powers, and they aren't likely to gain much more, but in most other genres power, money and experience are the prime motivators. This is reflected in how the games are both written and played.

I tried Running Heroic swords and sorcery adventures, where The players all started out as noblemen, who were supposed to be fighting for justice. It was set in King Arthur's Britain. After several years of struggling with it I gave up. The players simply weren't interested in chivalry. Some of them were plotting to gain more land and power but as always in AD&D the prime motivators were magic and experience points.

For some reason, playing in a modern setting and putting on tights changes the players and makes most of them try to be heroes.

jpatterson
05-16-2010, 06:04 AM
Interesting observations. I suppose in the way you present it this way, I can concede your point as a generalization of experiential play. But the IDEA is the same - characters in fantasy games are SUPPOSED to be heroic and get experience points and whatever for doing good deeds and wanting to do good things, but yes, the "level up" idea, including treasure, is typical of the traditional step system for gaming, but that is also pretty old-school and not all games and groups play like that, though you certainly couldn't it tell it by a lot of online games nowdays.

I don't think there's anything WRONG with amassing money and status and such for characters, and some characters, if that IS the idea the player came up with for that character, SHOULD focus on that, maybe at the expense of helping the downtrodden, but yes, I personally like heroic characters that do good for the sake of good and I play those kinds mostly. Mine tend to be "rough justice" types in modern and fantasy games, where people get a virtuous opportunity and offer of help and such, but if they are uncooperative, I generally give no quarter, though I play a few bleeding heart types. Even my barbarian pit fighters (I prefer Warhammer as its XP system is based on goal achievement and not monster killing specifically) are "good people".

I feel that's the point of playing games, heroic games anyway, cooperative games. I don't want to play miscreants, most times, I don't want to play pure selfish egomaniacs, I don't want to scheme against the rest of the party or conflict with everybody or be in direct opposition to the GM himself.

Well, what do you think about bringing the superhero flavor to non-super games? How would you accomplish it, do you think? If it isn't superheroes, what is it, the costumes, that makes the difference? How can you instill that intense level of genuine heroism in character idea for players, that games typically lack in significant quantity? Or is it better to just stick with superhero overall. Can you use a superhero system to play non-superhero settings?

LAST CRUSADER
05-16-2010, 04:12 PM
Well, what do you think about bringing the superhero flavor to non-super games? How would you accomplish it, do you think? If it isn't superheroes, what is it, the costumes, that makes the difference? How can you instill that intense level of genuine heroism in character idea for players, that games typically lack in significant quantity? Or is it better to just stick with superhero overall. Can you use a superhero system to play non-superhero settings?


Everyhing that I truely love about Superheroes Should also be true of a Game set in Arthur's Britain. I also once attempted a game set in a mythical China where the Emporer was based on Arthur and The players used various styles of kung fu.
In the first case however I suspect that I was up against the players lack of interest in chivalry and the problems built into the AD&D system. In the second case one of the players moved away before the game got very far and he was like a key link holding the whole group together. That was actually the last time I tried to run a game.

I've mentioned in this thread that a well made superhero game should be able to handle any genre because characters from other genres often show up in Superhero worlds. A superhero game is the only place where no one would think it strange to encounter a psionic mutant teamed up with a god from Asgard, a robot from the future, a wizard from Hoboken and a cave man. all fighting to stop Dracula, from summoning Cthulhu.
Everything has to work, so to play a different genre all you really have to do limit yourself.

---------- Post added at 04:12 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:06 PM ----------

oh yeah since my last few posts have clearly not been ads for my game i thought I'd put this in for a laugh
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7YndawLZwQ

jpatterson
05-16-2010, 05:45 PM
I've noticed this as I've gone through all the free PDFs I have found over the years. The Superhero games are the closest analogs to the universal systems. They both tend to be point build or close, with some sort of at least primitive "build your own" system for spells, powers, abilities or such. GURPS and HERO melt into Champions and all the other free universal systems with build-it-yourself mechanics all share that style of super-hero open-endedness and it's really just the GM's adjudication of what is "too much" when creating powers that sets a limit, that divides fantasy from super.

From this, I'd just about say ALL game systems are superhero systems, with more limited scope, and this is most clear in the lowest powered, grittiest games, and moving up from there to cinematic. You don't start at the smallest framework and work your way out, you'd have no way to know what practical or common limits there would be for "most games" - you'd start at the most likely outside edge and work your way in, to downsize from cosmic power to simply being very agile or something more terrestrial.

But this only goes back to the idea that (super)heroism is inherent in all games because they're all essentially the same, besides scope of power (and responsibility) - so why do they play different? Is it the dice and resolution and advance mechanic itself? Possibly partly but I don't think that really determines this. Is it the closeness of the setting? People like fantasy but don't identify with it, setting-wise, as well as with superhero games because superhero games are more like the "now", so they have a more vested interest in protecting their own world? Simple empathy? Do people amass money and power and such in any modern games? Cyberpunk, Twilight 2000, action games? If not, that would be ironic, the era and setting that we all know is MOST infamous for materialism isn't reflected as being motivated by amassing wealth in gaming?

I think you, as a player or GM for your friend(s), LC, should reconsider forum gaming, using your system or another. I'm not a super (pardon the pun) experienced GM, but I've run a few games using a lite sytem a few times and they've always gone over very well - a few times it's been all strangers to me, at least people I'd never met (but knew most online for 6 mos. + and it was their own forums). I tried running a more realistic game and it didn't go that well, but the modern cinematic ones went extremely well, and the fantasy one WAS going well until a number of IRL things happened to the players that crashed it. But those kinds of things happen and nothing can be done about that, you learn to accept that - you still got to run/play more than you otherwise would have. I'd urge you to try to get hold of your friends and invite people you might "sort of" know, or they might know online, and get a game together, you might be pleasantly surprised.

I've been given the chance to play a few realtime games from this site, using virtual tabletops and even the chat here and while they went more or less ok, they're not my thing - forum play-by-posts work well for me and my needs and my players, people can post when able, everybody can usually post within a day or two to keep things moving, everybody has their chance to think things out and write clearly, you can use dice servers or trust each other with rolls or let the GM roll, etc. In my opinion, forum RPGs are the next best thing to tabletopping, with virtual tabletop being in between ONLY if you have the same amount of time available as you would for tabletopping but everyone is too far away to get together - nobody I know has the time to have regular scheduled games, which is why we don't tabletop much to begin with, and why i can't do realtime online tabletop.

LAST CRUSADER
05-16-2010, 09:31 PM
Interesting insite: all heroic fantasies being superhero to some degree or other. I don't completely agree but I can see your point. The thing is: we've been talking about them in terms that really don't adress the unique conventions of the Superhero Genre except for vague references to modern settings and costumes. Earlier in this thread some of the things that really set Superheros apart were discussed in greater depth but even there, we barely scratched the surface.

As for me giving online gaming a try: I will, just not yet.
In a few more months when I finish and release the 2nd edition of Super Crusaders, I'm going to put it out free for a while and try starting a game using it. I'll probably try it here. if I can figure out how to open a private chatroom. I'd love to use gametable but I've never figured out how to use it online. I've only used it at home in place of miniatures and dice. Check out my website if you want to see the pogs and underlays I made for it (with a superhero theme of course)
I'm not really tech savy . I seem to have a special instinct when it comes to using most 2-d graphics aplications so I can create whatever I want. (except for 3-d stuff) I just can't always get it to other people. I just figured out You Tube a few weeks ago. (did you like my video ?)
I tried starting a facebook group about my game
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?gid=118237118204825
but it's a bit premature. I'm not really going to give it much attention either until second edition comes out.

---------- Post added at 09:31 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:53 PM ----------

Sorry I had to end my last post rather abruptly because I was called away by RL.
Anyway, one thing I wanted to comment on was your observation about Materialism. I think most of us realize that we live in a very materialistic age and we know that there is something wrong with that. When people play heroes in a modern setting materialism is one of the things they want thier hero to be free of, because he's a hero. Villains in modern settings are very materialistic.

I suspect that when we envision ourselves in a setting far removed from our own world escapism creeps in and we begin to act out darker fantasies that we know would never be aceptable close to home. I've never seen one low magic, Swords and sorcery game where less than half the players were thieves. You could say they were all inspired by the grey mauser but I think it's more likely that they just want a chance to be a little bad. If I try to introduce a paladin into such a setting I get mocked and so does the morality I want to stand for. I've never been accused of being judgemental in real life nearly so often as when playing a paladin.

Your right that we just don't identify with the characters to the same extent we do those in a more familiar setting, but also the problem has to do with the conventions of the genre. A superhero is supposed to be good, but most other settings don't have a moral possision at all, and clearly offer neutral and evil characters as options that are supposed to broaden our role playing experience.

Thats fine if that's what you want to play, but it's clearly one of the things that set superheroes appart, and it's one of the reasons I love superheroes, while My ability to get into other genres is rather limited.