Even if I were to look at just the Marvel and DC universes Or even just one of the 2, the game would clearly be set in a cross time multiverse where practically anything can show up. My own game is set in a universe not too different from either of those. About the only limit I impose on my players is what I personally find distatesful. The rules of the genre which define my game setting spell out what the world around the players is like, The players will make thier own place in it. I don't allow players to be villains or anything that is inheritly evil because I personally find that distasteful and I wouldn't know how to run a game where the players were villains. But villains are certainly a big part of the setting. I have one players who's always wanting to be half vampire or half demon and I let him because dispite the source of the character's power he's still half human which in my view is really all human, because he has free will.
There are in every superhero world many non traditional characters who don't fit the mold. As I hinted above, the rules of a genre describe the setting they do not aply equally to ever character in that setting and that is true of every genre there is. So it's much more true of a genre as diverse as superheroes. So what are these rules that define the superhero genre and set it apart from all other genres ?
1) The primary focus of the multiverse is the present day Earth even though the universe certainly has a past and a future and there are many other planets, and dimentions where stories are sometimes set.
2) People who have near death experiences often walk away filled with special powers or at least a sense of purpose that sets them appart from normal humanty and begins a life of adventure.
3) Although not everyone with powers wears a costume, some do, and no one thinks it's strange that they do. Even if they make fun of a particularly bad costume. OK, if superheroes are something new, in this particular universe, some people might think costumes are strange, at first ,but they get used to the idea and stop questioning it pretty soon.
4) most of the super powered beings operate with a degree of secrecy, (which is usually the reason for the costumes) but in the words of Green Arrow "It's a loud kinda mysterious".
5) Science works when it's convenient and is ignored when it's not.
6) Villains keep comming back, sometimes even when you thought they were dead.
7) When the heroes loose a fight the villains almost never kill them. Heroes and villains are both pretty good at escaping.
8) The government isn't capable of controling super villains, and monsters without the help of superheroes
If you follow these 8 rules you have a superhero universe. If you don't you have something else that might be similar in a lot of ways but it's just not the same thing.
---------- Post added at 03:06 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:55 PM ----------
Hey thanks for this thread, I enjoied reading what you wrote and had a lot of fun answering you.