Superhero Games


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I'm looking for a good, solid superhero game... something d20 based if possible, but I'm willing to consider other systems. While I'm familiar with the tops in fantasy RPG, vampire/gothic games, Cthulu games, and such, I don't know which games are best for general, superheroic action.

Any suggestions?


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Russell Jones wrote:

I'm looking for a good, solid superhero game... something d20 based if possible, but I'm willing to consider other systems. While I'm familiar with the tops in fantasy RPG, vampire/gothic games, Cthulu games, and such, I don't know which games are best for general, superheroic action.

Any suggestions?

Personally I think the best d20-related superheroes system is Mutants and Masterminds aka M&M published by Green Ronin.

It is based off of the d20 mechanic but is very streamlined and is not class-based, but point-based.

I kinda think of it as a beautiful hybrid of d20 and Hero/Champions.

Before M&M I liked Champions which uses the Hero system. It is very customizable but also very math intensive. I haven't used the new 5th edition Heroes rules, so I can't attest to if anything has changed since I played it with either 3rd of 4th edition.

I also played in a very enjoyable DC Heroes games, but that was mostly the GM's doing, the system itself was OK but I had some minor problems with it.

Liberty's Edge RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

I was not a fan of M&M when I tried it. My problem was that it was TOO streamlined for my tastes, though I know that lots of people love it.

I've dabbled in a variety of supers games, including Champions, DC Heroes, Marvel RPG. However, the one that I feel does the best job is the old classic Villains and Vigilantes. It's long out of print, but you can find the pdf for sale.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I played a game or two in "Blood and Vigilance."

Basically, it's just like d20 Modern, except in addition to all those stuff, Supers get 3 Power Points per level (x4 at 1st level). They're spent like skill points, so there are class-powers and cross-class powers. It's pretty well balanced. You also learn stunts, which are power-based "talents," and there are power-based feats. And the Advanced Classes are pretty solid too.

There are even different origins, like Mutant, Advanced Training (Batman), Alien (Superman), Robot, Lab Experiment (Cap America, Hulk), etc. etc. These are in addition to Starting Occupations.

I played a guy with Super-Dexterity, flight, and lightning blasts. I played with a Super-strong, invisible, teleporter and a Super Smart, Telekinetic, Ghoster.


If you want something similar to D20, then M&M is for you. [TROLLING] Stay away from Champions. It is only for smart people. [/TROLLING]

Scarab Sages

Wild Talents is well worth checking out, the first edition has sold out, but the second should be coming along soon. The default setting is a world where super-powers suddenly appeared in WW2 (following on from Godlike, which is a superhero game, but a rather gritty one as it's set in WW2 and most people are exactly as squishy as you expect and only have one specific power) but it's pretty adaptable (the chapter on world building is really interesting, even if you don't agree with everything there, it's a great starting point for thinking about creating a superpowered alternate history).

It uses the One-Roll Engine of Godlike (at it's core you roll a number of d10s based on your skill at what you're doing and look for the largest number of matches) and the rules can take some... interpretation to use, particularly a few of the powers, but it's hardly the worst system ever and the writing is so good and the default world so detailed, rich and evocative, that it's an awesome resource for idea-mining even if you never play the game. There's a handful of preview pdfs for the second edition here if you're interested.


Truth & Justice


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CourtFool wrote:
[TROLLING] Stay away from Champions. It is only for smart people. [/TROLLING]

[FEEDING] I thought you were a Champions/HERO fan? Unless you think that you're one of those "smart people." [/FEEDING]

OP: Seriously, it depends on what style of superhero game system you're looking for. Champions/HERO, GURPS: Supers, Heroes Unlimited/Palladium, Mutants & Masterminds/d20, etc. all can be used to run superhero campaigns. Heck, you could use Exalted as your system to run superhero games.

If you want a system where you can literally build any type of superhero, down to pretty much any granularity regarding powers, weaknesses, and how those powers/weaknesses function, then Champions is the best choice. It is rather math intensive to create a character, but a tight concept makes the design process easier. (Yeah, I'm a fan; I enjoy the extremely open-ended design capabilities of the system)

The other systems offer various levels of granularity/flexibility/streamlined play. Take a look and pick your preference.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Blood and Vigilance is the way to go. It takes all the D20 Modern rules, and just adds Power Points (3 per level, x4 at 1st level) and stunts (1 every odd level, for the most part....they're special ways to use your power without using Action Points).

Dark Archive

My number one choice would be M&M2e. Great combination of speed-of-play and flexibility.

After that, GURPS Supers (3rd edition) and Aberrant are both quite fun.

GURPS 3e is very flexible, with enough definition to not be all the book-keeping of some totally open-ended games (4e GURPS is much more flexible, but much less fast).

Aberrant is less flexible, but plays very fast. Aberrant also, IMO, is better suited to running 'gritty' games, of the Authority sort, where the superheroes can and do punch holes in people. It's a *deadly* game.

Villains & Vigilantes plays nothing like d20, but *does* play a lot more like 1st edition AD&D! At this point, it's more a nostalgia thing, IMO.

I've played about five other super-hero games, some even run at conventions by their creators, and wouldn't recommend any of them...


I actually use to run a Super Hero campaign with Victory Games’ James Bond.


I actaully prefer the Marvel Superheroes Role Playing Game (TSR from the early nineties) when it comes to Superhero RPG's, although a friend of mine swears by Champions (which I like okay, but not enough to realy recommend it)... if you realy want to stick with a D20 system, and M&M isn't cathing your fancy... I would recommend the d20 version of "Silver Age Sentinals" by Guardians of Order, Inc. I had some very good experiences with that one.


Champions was my favourite for creating characters.

Villains & Vigilantes was great for ease of play.

I played in a (d20) Blood & Vigilance PbP game a while back; it wasn't bad, although it has kind of a D&D feel to it which made it a bit weird.

I was never crazy about DC Heroes or Marvel Superheroes, but they were O.K.

Autoduel Champions (superheroes for Car Wars!) and Supervillains were probably the most obscure superhero games I ever played.

Never tried Mutants & Masterminds, though.


Mutants & Masterminds 2e is the best Super-Heroes RPG ever! I've try a lot of them (Vilains & Vigilantes, Marver SuperHeores, Marvel Saga, Marvel Universe, Champions, Champion the New Millenium, DC Heroes, DC Universe (D6), Gurps Super, Aberrant, Silver Age Sentinel) and nothing can beat the flexibility and the fun of playing M&M... and it's d20...! You already known how to play...
To play you will need the basic: Mutants and Mastermidns 2E and I highly recommand Ultimate Powers and Instant Superheroes (to create quickly a ton of heroes and villains base on tons of archetype).
The Freedom City Sourcebook is really nice as a Campaign setting...
And by buying this product you will promote the OGL... :-)
But take note that my opinion is somehow not totaly objective as I've done a few illustrations for 3PP M&M sourcebook... :-)


etrigan wrote:
lots of things

Hey, aren't you only supposed to speak in rhyming couplets?


d20 supers; try Palladium Supers; great game; think it is d20 if I remember right. Lots of supporting material too.


yeah; keep in character you lackless rhmyming demon :)

cwslyclgh wrote:
etrigan wrote:
lots of things
Hey, aren't you only supposed to speak in rhyming couplets?


I've got a couple of Super's Games. Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition (Green Ronin), Heroes Unlimited 2 (Palladium,and Silver Age Sentinels (Guardians of the Order). They're all pretty good, but play a bit differently.

Here is my 2 cents:

1. M&M - Format: d20 based, no levels, points/skills based increases.

Availability: Most of the books can be bought in PDF or Hardcover. You can get the Mutants and Masterminds Beginners Guide for a few bucks on PDF if you want to see the general mechanics of play. Has a lot of expansion as mentioned in other posts to include third party input from their M&M Superlink.

2. SAS - d20 based, Class based.

Availability: Company that made it is now out of business. But you can still get the stuff on PDF. The d20 Stingy Gamers Edition comes with the rules and is about the same price as M&M's Beginners guide in PDF. Obviously, with it being OOP, you probably won't see anything new, but your imagination can provide more than enought options for you.

3. HU2 - d20 based, uses Palladium's Megaversal System, class/level based.

Availability: Palladium has a magazine they publish that supports all their system including HU2. They have setting material like M&M and 3 powers books to expand upon and you can cross over easily into the many and varied worlds of Palladium's Megaverse (i.e Rifts, Palladium Fantasy, Ninjas and Superspies, Robotech, etc.) No starter rules.

If your able get all three, they're all bit different, but fun. For $40.00 you could get the M&M Beginners Guide PDF, SAS Stingy Gamers Edition PDF, and the HU2 Rulebook.

Hope this helps, God Bless.


I played mutants and masterminds yesterday for the first time, and thought it was great! I liked the versatility and unity of the system. It's d20, but does away with hit points and character classes, which really opens up the game and lets you create the kind of hero you want, giving it a true super hero feel.

Dark Archive

For those who like the cinematic pace of the old West End Games D6 system, I highly recommend Godsend Agenda.

Godsend Agenda

Still being fully supported, although slowly, by the author as well.


cool...


Golden Heroes - now called "Squadron UK" - can be found online.
It used to be a legit-and-free free download, it may now cost you a few pennies from various legit-download-sellers but not much.
It works VERY well and was publsihed by Games Workshop before they went figure crazy in the 80s. For something simple but filling its an excellent system and uses the basic D20 style concepts. I've had many happy years of reffing this.

Hero is my all-time favourite, but it is a little complex and needs players who aren't out to rules-lawyer the game to death.

I would say that if you're willing to look around, give GH a try. I really think its a fantastic set of rules.


sigh; been waiting for a super hero game pbp for long time now; ones starts and its one of the only one I dont have a rules set for; lol; and seems to be on hold atm.

Dark Archive

Marvel Super Heroes RPG rules can be found here.

Val, are you familiar with Wild Cards?


Never heard of Wild Cards...do you have a link;

I have the box set of Marvel rules which are pretty thing; but I have the complete marvel universe gamers encyclopedia which is four volumes of supers with a few thousand Marvel supers with stats for the games; I just copied a super from this like was suggested, but lowered one stat and changed the powers a bit as I didnt want that supers death and wild hunt powers. Thanks for the marvel links btw.


hehe see your link; thanks; am reading very cool; home town game you know; I am from ABQ :)

Dark Archive

Philippines. :D


I'll throw Necessary Evil in from Pinnacle Entertainment Group. It uses the Savage Worlds rules and basically takes place in a world where all the super heroes were sent to fight off an alien invasion and failed. They got wiped out, and now the super villains (the PC's) have to step up and do something or their world will be destroyed.

It's not d20, but I like Savage Worlds better than d20. The twist on being a super villain is pretty cool too.

You can check it out here: Necessary Evil Product Page


I have tried most main stream Super Hero RPGs and would have to say hands down for ease and fun Mutants and Masterminds is the way to go


Fun is very subjective, so I can not argue that point. I would argue that Truth & Justice is easier than Mutants & Masterminds.


CourtFool wrote:
Fun is very subjective, so I can not argue that point. I would argue that Truth & Justice is easier than Mutants & Masterminds.

I've never played "Truth & Justice", but I think "Villains & Vigilantes" is easier than "Mutants & Masterminds" and at least as much fun, too.

Silver Crusade

I haven't seen any love for Abberant. Is it just because it's not d20. A friend and I are working on a Superhero Vs. Monsters(mostly Zombies) What would be the best system?


brent norton wrote:
I haven't seen any love for Abberant. Is it just because it's not d20. A friend and I are working on a Superhero Vs. Monsters(mostly Zombies) What would be the best system?

It depends on what kind of zombies you're talking about. Do you want fight a few, almost indestructible zombies at a time (in which case I might suggest Champions)? Or do you prefer hordes of easily killed zombies (in which case I might suggest Mutants & Masterminds for its "minion" rules)?

Note that whatever you choose, some powers will always be better than others; that's pretty much true of any superhero game. I.e. invisibility or flight or time travel can take a lot of the tension out of a fight against zombies. :-)

Silver Crusade

Thinking of a world taken over by Cthulhu, very gritty. No regular human has been seen for over 100 year. The only sapiens are supers. Most believe it's evolution some think it might be god sent. People started getting powers. Monsters run rampant, city are shells of greatness. Survival is the way of life. Supers still have to eat.

The only system Super system I've plyed was Heroes Unlimited which I liked. Just looking for options, and opinions.

Looking for X-men power levels compared to DC.


That still didn't answer my question about whether you want the average zombie (or monster or whatever) to be a peon (e.g. you can kill it in one shot) or a definite threat (takes multiple rounds of combat to defeat).

Generally I'd recommend Champions or Mutants & Masterminds if you want a slow progression in power, or maybe Blood & Vigilance if you want a more "D&D-like" progression in power.

The Exchange

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brent norton wrote:
Thinking of a world taken over by Cthulhu, very gritty. No regular human has been seen for over 100 year. The only sapiens are supers. Most believe it's evolution some think it might be god sent. People started getting powers. Monsters run rampant, city are shells of greatness. Survival is the way of life. Supers still have to eat.

I'm of the mindset that EDEN STUDIOS' Unisystem is more along your lines. The only problem I have is with their production schedule - I'll leave it to George himself to address that issue. They also strongly adhere to the "silence is golden" aspect of business, so don't expect a whole lot of answers when dealing with anything on the business side at all. It has been discussed quite frequently that you can easily modify the rules system to meet your needs, to include supers, and I believe ALL FLESH MUST BE EATEN lends itself best to that line. A little research into this avenue may lead you to good rewards.


The two I've played that can be used for a supers game are GURPS and Heroes Unlimited (Palladium).

GURPS- good system. The upsides, things are well thought out and realistic. Also you can do anything.

The downsides are that while everything is well thought out, it is also complicated. Until every really learns the system you will spend half the time just looking up rules, and it can take a long time to learn. Also you can do anything. Go throug chracter creation a few time with people and you'll see why that is listed in both.

Heroes Unlimite- my preference. It's an interesting system with a lot of flexibility in powers and origins. Like a lot of palladium stuff the flavor is possibly the best part. Also while it may not be d20, it is very similar. It won't take that long to get used to the differences.

The downside is that like a lot of palladium stuff the rules can be clunky. Once you get a bit used to it, it goes pretty easy though. It is definatelly easier to learn than GURPS. Also for combat the power balance is.....pretty close to non-existant in some cases. Although a good supers game isn't just about combat. If the game will be D&D in disguise and just consist of the characters kicking the crap out of villian after villian, this is not a good system.

Champions I've heard very good things about, but never gotten to try. Mutants & Masterminds I've never played but I did look over the books. I wasn't that impressed or interested. If you have a very experienced group of players who learn quickly then GURPS could be great, especially if you want it a bit gritty. Otherwise go with heroes unlimited.


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Cap'n Jose Monkamuck wrote:
Champions I've heard very good things about, but never gotten to try.

Think GURPS with even more ability to do anything exactly as you define it. The downside is that it's a bit more complicated and much more math-intensive. The system has a relatively steep learning curve, but a thorough idea of both what and how (in game mechanics) you want a character to do allows it to really shine.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Dragonchess Player wrote:


Think GURPS with even more ability to do anything exactly as you define it. The downside is that it's a bit more complicated and much more math-intensive.

Dragonchess Player, I'll agree, Champions was, at one point, just like that. Then they switched to the FUZION system, which completely unravelled that precision. I'm sticking with my old Champions 5th Edition.


Dragonchess Player wrote:
Cap'n Jose Monkamuck wrote:
Champions I've heard very good things about, but never gotten to try.
Think GURPS with even more ability to do anything exactly as you define it. The downside is that it's a bit more complicated and much more math-intensive. The system has a relatively steep learning curve, but a thorough idea of both what and how (in game mechanics) you want a character to do allows it to really shine.

Sounds like a system with the potential to be awesome, but I know that at LEAST one of my current player's heads would explode. If I ever get a chance to play it I'll look forward to it, but I don't see running it anytime soon. Of course that's partly because I hope to get at least another year or two out of the current D&D campaign.


I am not a fan of 4E, but it would work well for a Super Heroes game

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Chris Mortika wrote:
Dragonchess Player wrote:


Think GURPS with even more ability to do anything exactly as you define it. The downside is that it's a bit more complicated and much more math-intensive.
Dragonchess Player, I'll agree, Champions was, at one point, just like that. Then they switched to the FUZION system, which completely unravelled that precision. I'm sticking with my old Champions 5th Edition.

Actually with 5th Edition, CHAMPIONS recanted FUZION. (Champions New Millenium preceeds 5th Edition.)


Lord Fyre wrote:
Chris Mortika wrote:
Dragonchess Player wrote:


Think GURPS with even more ability to do anything exactly as you define it. The downside is that it's a bit more complicated and much more math-intensive.
Dragonchess Player, I'll agree, Champions was, at one point, just like that. Then they switched to the FUZION system, which completely unravelled that precision. I'm sticking with my old Champions 5th Edition.
Actually with 5th Edition, CHAMPIONS recanted FUZION. (Champions New Millenium preceeds 5th Edition.)

Now I'm not familar with Champions (other than seeing it in the store. So what is FUZION? Is it a type of play or type of rules set? If so can you explain it to me? What is the current Champions system like?


EileenProphetofIstus wrote:
Now I'm not familar with Champions (other than seeing it in the store. So what is FUZION? Is it a type of play or type of rules set? If so can you explain it to me? What is the current Champions system like?

It was a reworked version of Champions that threw out some of the old system in order to simplify it. Kind of like a 4E vs. 3.5E thing. :-)

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Champions was originally a game system where you bought attributes, skills, and powers (from a base pool of 100 pts, that you could increase by taking comicbook trope disadvantages).

Each power could be bought in quanta. So you could pay 50 points and get a 10d6 energy blast, which you might define as being "fire".

But then, each power could be augmented with advantages, which raised their "active power points" and cost. Let's say your 10d6 fire blast could also affect intangible creatures, and continued to damage targets for a round after it hit. And they could be modified by limitations, which lowered their cost. So your 10d6 fire blast takes twice the normal amount of Endurance, and only works on an activation roll of 13 or less on 3d6, or only worked in your Heroic identity.

Seriously, you can fine tune powers. For instance, the first five dice of your fire blast might not cost additional Endurance, so you'd be able to fire a lot of small 5d6 blasts, but your full-bore 10d6 blasts would tucker you out faster. But only those top five dice could hit intangible targets...

The version of Champions I most fondly remember must have been the Third Edition, then. (George Perez cover of a martial artist fighting Doctor Destroyer.) By that time, Hero Games had also released games built on the same engine in different genres. (None of them worked as well as superheroes, though. Why would space explorers need Energy Defense as an attribute?) That edition included a lot of perfectly servicable rules from the espionage genre, though. It was, overall, a terrific game. And one of its most obvious strengths was the set of rules that allowed you to create just the perfect version of whatever power you wanted. (You take plain old Shrinking, 70 base points, reducing your Endurance cost to 0. I'll take Shrinking, 50 base points, linked with an equivalent amount of Density Increase.)

And then came FUZION. It was a game system Hero Games designed alongside R. Talsorian Games (the folks who made CyberPunk and Castle Falkenstein). And it codified each power into neat packages, removed most of the advantages and limitations, and made it simple and pedestrian.

I stopped buying the product line, except to briefly thumb through the current version, and now they have clearly-delineated character classes.


Chris Mortika wrote:
The version of Champions I most fondly remember must have been the Third Edition, then. (George Perez cover of a martial artist fighting Doctor Destroyer.)

I think that's 4th edition, isn't it? (Not that there's a huge amount of difference between editions.)

1st edition: Never saw it; all I know is that Entangle had no DEF in that version.

2nd edition: Box set with black & white softcover book with generic superhero fighting generic helmeted supervillain. Had splatbooks Champions II & Champions III. My first copy of the rules.

3rd edition: Bigger book combining stuff from the box set and the splatbooks.

4th edition: Another big book which was basically a rehash of the 3rd edition. My second copy of the rules, and the only one I still have.

Fuzion: Never saw it.

5th edition: Never saw it, and I was even faintly surprised to hear that it was still around.


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Chris Mortika wrote:
Dragonchess Player wrote:


Think GURPS with even more ability to do anything exactly as you define it. The downside is that it's a bit more complicated and much more math-intensive.
Dragonchess Player, I'll agree, Champions was, at one point, just like that. Then they switched to the FUZION system, which completely unravelled that precision. I'm sticking with my old Champions 5th Edition.

4th Ed Champions/HERO System is the system I own. I have a couple 3rd Ed Champions supplements for ideas, even though the systems aren't quite the same (mostly the way martial arts and some powers work).

The ability of 4th Ed Champions/HERO System to model, quite literally, almost anything remains unbeaten by any other system I've encountered. D&D's version of Vancian spellcasting, with its separation of specific spells into different power levels and matching spell slots, is probably the hardest thing to recreate using HERO System.


hehe one of the funnest part about Champions is building the character; for detail minded guys who are a bit obsessive hehe this is the game for them; but you really have to set a limit on time and rebuilds or they will be forever tweaking their characters.

now; as a gm; players are going to rape the system; they always do; so you have to be prepared for the headache of going through their characters; try to avoid building or using villians that play on their weaknesses more often then what their disadvantage says or make and adjustment; if you dont know the rules then this is probably meaningless; but in this game a hero can take a disadvantage that comes into play every so often; try to avoid having it happen more often than that frequency.

On thing about champions; though I believe it to be hands down the best and most fun system; you cannot practically play mega character on the scale of Superman or stronger within any reasonble framework; this game is really tailored to the spidermans; batmans; most X men, type heroes. so often you need to pick a game system that reflects the game you desire to run.


So I plan on going shopping for comics again very soon. Should I try and find the Mutants and Masterminds game or Champions. Which version of which game will help me the best with detailing out powers? I'm rule obsessive.


Valegrim wrote:
On thing about champions; though I believe it to be hands down the best and most fun system; you cannot practically play mega character on the scale of Superman or stronger within any reasonble framework

I would argue that Superman doesn't really work in any system because his power level changes so much from story to story. :-)

EileenProphetOfIstus wrote:
So I plan on going shopping for comics again very soon. Should I try and find the Mutants and Masterminds game or Champions. Which version of which game will help me the best with detailing out powers? I'm rule obsessive.

They both have their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, in Champions it's non-trivial to knock out or kill an ordinary thug in one shot (IMO), but Mutants & Masterminds has "minion" rules that means thugs are knocked out in one shot. But I think Champions has the edge on real customization of powers. I would say Champions is better if you like a real "nuts & bolts", rules-heavy system and Mutants & Masterminds is better if you like a more free-flowing, abstract system.

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