This month’s blog carnival, hosted by The Chatty DM, is on the theme Super Heroes in RPGs.
Superhero RPGs are actually one of my favorite genres, though my current game group….well, let’s just say that our last couple of attempts didn’t work out. I don’t want to be pointing any fingers at Badger Lord (Master of the Super-Sonic Tunneling Vampiric Badgers) or Kikko-Man (chinese food delivery bicyclist with the power to create illusions…of chinese food), but it’s never really clicked as a campaign. I’ve had much better luck with one-shots where the PCs have super-powers, but the setting doesn’t assume any of the standard superhero tropes.
In the past, though, ah, the glorious past….
I believe our very first super-hero campaign, back in High School, used Superhero 2044, the very first superhero RPG ever, but we played them all at one time or another: Superworld (one third of the Worlds of Wonder), Villains and Vigilantes, Champions…I don’t really remember much about it, although I do recall that it had a somewhat unusual setting (it all took place on an island nation in the year 2044) and that my brother Alex’s character in that, a super-speedster called Silver Streak, was carried over into successive campaigns as we tried new systems. I think that was also the original home of an NPC hero that reappeared in campaign after campaign of mine, PyroMan of the International Agency Command.
The next one we tried was Villains and Vigilantes, which I remember mostly for its generation of super-powers via rolling on random charts. Thus was born one of my only PC super-heroes of that era (since I mostly GMed): Kodiak, Bear Detective… a private eye who could shapeshift into a bear and had laser-beam eyes. I decided that the bear form was actually his real one, and his power let him shapeshift into human form.
Somewhere in between Villains and Vigilantes and Champions, I created a home-brew system, and most of our super-hero gaming was done in that, though towards the end of High School we did some gaming with Champions. I liked it a lot, but most of my gaming group didn’t want to be bothered with the bookdeeping, either for character generation or playing out the combats. They were much happier with the freewheeling style of my home brew.
Notable characters of that period include:
- Silver Streak: super-speedsters, perrenial in every system
- Thunder-Fist: martial artist with kinetic energy absorbtion powers that gave him an “Iron Fist” like attack.
- Defender of Israel: an Israeli Captain America, played by my brother’s Israeli girlfriend
- The White Princess of Oz : I think this was played by my kid sister…
- Megaman: powered suit that gave the user one super-power at a time, based on Ultra Boy of the Legion of Superheroes; this was about 7 years before the Capcom game…
In college and beyond, I played a lot of Champions, but that’s a story for another time…