What is the preferred system for Superhero RPG?


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Subject says it all.


I enjoyed Mutants and Masterminds by Green Ronin. I thought it gave a lot of tools to help build your heroes the way you wanted, and keeps you strangely able to pit Batman types vs Superman types.

Silver Crusade

Champs. Heroes system.


M&M


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

+1 for Champions-HERO system.

My favorite system of all time, to be honest.

Mutants and Masterminds would be easier to learn faster due to it being a d20 styled system i will admit, however.

There is also GURPS, which is similar in concept to HERO.


I never really enjoyed playing Champions very much to be honest. Character creation was great fun, but it all went downhill from there for me.

Silver Age Sentinels was a lot of fun and also uses the D20 system, so it's pretty easy to pick up if you know that. I actually enjoyed Heroes Unlimited for superhero play as well. The Palladium system seemed to lend itself well to that kind if thing, Rifts is already filled with enough ludicrously overpowered stuff on its own after all! :)

Also, I've never had a chance to actually use it for superhero play, but Savage Worlds looks like it would be fun for that. I have the Necessary Evil sourcebook, just never got around to playing it.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

The superhero game I've played most is Villains and Vigilantes. It's much simpler than Champions to make up characters and play the game but isn't as deft as Champions in modeling the subtleties of many superheroes in the comics. Champions, however, can be super complicated and combat tends to run slowly.

Mutants and Masterminds offers a bit of benefit from both camps. The powers have a great deal of sophistication, but also have a lot of fast and loose slack that makes characters easier to create. The rules system also plays faster than Champions and, thanks to damage saves rather than ablative hit points or similar mechanics, handles heroes bouncing back from scene to scene quite easily.

Shadow Lodge

BESM would make a great system for a superhero game.


What was the major difference between 2nd and 3rd ed M&M? I will look into those other systems, also. How well do the others seem suited to PbP?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Mutants and Masterminds 3rd ed is compatible with DC Adventures - so any of the heroes or villains written up in the DC Adventures books make for excellent examples of how heroes can be built or adapted from the comics. It's also a pretty good rogues' gallery for use in any superhero campaign.

One of the main differences between editions is the breakdown in stats. The over-concentration of utility into Strength and Dexterity that you see in d20 games in general has been spread out into Strength (damage and weight lifting), Fighting (melee to hit), Agility (defense and initiative), and Dexterity (ranged to hit).


I really enjoy the Marvel Heroic RPG by Margaret Weis Productions. It is pretty slick once you get used to the system. It is very easy to play and run. Making/converting characters is the tricky part, as there is no "hard and fast" character creation system. Beyond that, it has been really fun for myself and my players.


Champions. To model super heroes, one needs a very versatile system.


Is Champions still in production? I looked at the Marvel game and its price is right.

Liberty's Edge

BASH followed by ICONS.
Savage Worlds if neither of those.

-Vaz


Heroes unlimited by palladium. Hands down.

Silver Crusade

Mutants and Masterminds for the modern Mayfair DC experience.

Icons for the modern TSR Marvel RPG experience.

SImple.


I prefer Mutants and Masterminds

The marvel system mentioned above is also good.

Liberty's Edge

My preference is Mutants & Masterminds. I played Heroes Unlimited, and I have played Champions/Hero system. I was fond of Heroes unlimited because it allowed true randomly rolled characters, but the game play could get pretty complicated, Champions/Hero allowed you to really design a character to fit a theme, rather than a set of number, but then when the numbers began it really would have helped to have a PhD in Mathematics instead of Sociology. Mutants & Masterminds lets you point buy and build a character that can be as vanilla or flavorful as you want it to be (sometimes using the same stats) and lets you create a pretty broad range of characters with a broad range of powers. Play goes smoothly for people familiar with d20 systems, once the damage save is explained once or twice. My M&M preference is the 3rd edition, but you might be able to pick up 2nd edition books pretty cheaply, and there are a lot of them. It was a good, playable system, I just like the new and shiny.


I'll chime in with the other suggestions for Champions or Mutants & Masterminds.

I've also had fun with Villains & Vigilantes and the add-on Blood & Vigilance for d20 Modern.

My least favourite was probably Silver Age Sentinels (for the Tri-Stat system). I'm not a big fan of DC Heroes or Marvel Super Heroes RPG either (although they had their charms, I suppose).


I have a couple of M&M 2 books, but wasn't sure what the system was one which people still played. If I am going to run a game, I want to invest time and money in one folks will enjoy.


And even more so, I would enjoy running, lol.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I was fond of original Marvel Superheroes,as well as Big Eyes Small Mouth. And Villans + Vigilantes will always hold a fond space in my roleplaying history, given that the campaign I ran became a source book in GURPS.


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The 80's marvel game was fun. But I'm most fond of the Savage Worlds Superhero book. Savage Worlds is such an easy system to learn and play. I've had a ton of fun with it.


Bilbo Bang-Bang wrote:
Is Champions still in production?

Yes. My friend writes modules for a third party publisher for the system.

My favorite super heroes games are in no particular order.

1) Marvel Super Heroes(the 80's ones): Probably because it was my first.

2) Champions/ Heroes system: Really a great system for super heroes. But it is a tool box system which does require work by the GM.

3) Brave New World: easy system...and a very great setting. The WW2 era book is also really cool.


I want to like Mutants and Masterminds, but I keep running into issues and the only solution seems to be "oh, but you shouldn't let them do that", which seems to be the gist of the advice I inevitably get on the subject. I don't like to give my players a small army of character options and then go "you can do all of this unless you end up with something I don't like in which case you can't."

As for my preferred system, I'm actually rather fond of Aberrant. The system certainly has a number of issues, and the setting is pretty difficult to untangle from the system, if you want to use it for something else, but I keep coming back to it. Something about it really appeals to me (and I also really like the setting, so I don't have a problem with how much it influences the system).


Slaunyeh wrote:
I want to like Mutants and Masterminds, but I keep running into issues and the only solution seems to be "oh, but you shouldn't let them do that", which seems to be the gist of the advice I inevitably get on the subject.

The problem is that gamebreaking powers are solidly ingrained in the mainstream comic book superhero genre. So either you include those powers and say "handle with care" or you leave them out and you acknowledge that certain comic book superhero concepts just can't be done.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Slaunyeh wrote:

I want to like Mutants and Masterminds, but I keep running into issues and the only solution seems to be "oh, but you shouldn't let them do that", which seems to be the gist of the advice I inevitably get on the subject. I don't like to give my players a small army of character options and then go "you can do all of this unless you end up with something I don't like in which case you can't."

I think this is an inherent element of most RPG systems that offer a lot of customizability - mainly point-buy systems. The inclusion of game-balance skewing super powers just heightens that need. Characters like Green Lantern can be a lot of fun, but playing that character comes with some responsibility for the player that a GM should consider.


Now is the game breaking stuff for M&M above the Mid-Level Spiderman/Iron Man levels or is it an issue at all levels?

@John and Doggan, I was a big fan of the 80's Marvel Game, too. Played the hell out of that system and the Card board minis were a lot of fun.

What is the current ed. of Champions?


Bilbo Bang-Bang wrote:
Now is the game breaking stuff for M&M above the Mid-Level Spiderman/Iron Man levels or is it an issue at all levels?

When I say some powers need to be handled with care, I'm thinking of things like telepathy or incorporealness or dimensional travel which can be disruptive even at low power levels.


I see. Yeah, those are problematic if they are used by a problematic player especially. I imagine that so long as players and GMs are on the same page of having a good time then the characters can be made to work.


Jerald Schrimsher wrote:
Champions/Hero allowed you to really design a character to fit a theme, rather than a set of number, but then when the numbers began it really would have helped to have a PhD in Mathematics instead of Sociology.

There is a character creation program available that handles the arithmetic of powers, advantages, and limitations for you. The in-game arithmetic is pretty straightforward


Cortex's Marvel RPG has been pretty fun looking to me and is open to easy customization IMO

Silver Crusade

Favorite: Mutants and Masterminds 3d ed.. OGL. D20. Medium complexity.

Old Favorite: old Marvel RPG ("FASERIP"). Long out of Print.

Limited to no experience in the below, so take with a large grain of salt.

Interested in:
Champions (Hero System 6th ed.). High complexity.
Icons. Low Complexity.
Savage Worlds. Lowish complexity.
Old DC RPG. (New DC Adventures = Mutants and Masterminds 3d ed.)

Not interested in: Current Marvel Heroic (Cortex system), Silver Sentinels.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I have had great experiences with M&M 2e.


Bilbo Bang-Bang wrote:

Now is the game breaking stuff for M&M above the Mid-Level Spiderman/Iron Man levels or is it an issue at all levels?

@John and Doggan, I was a big fan of the 80's Marvel Game, too. Played the hell out of that system and the Card board minis were a lot of fun.

What is the current ed. of Champions?

Ok sorry it took me awhile to get this answear but I wanted to ask my friend who knows more than me.

Pretty the current Edition of Champions is Champions Complete. Which pretty much them taking 6th Edition Hero System and making more concise and more focused on the Super heroes. While it is certainly complex it is alot more focused and easier than buying Hero System.

Hero System it self is generic RPG that could be used to run any kind of RPG. Champions Complete focusthe rules more on the Super Hero side of thing. So if you are going to get into Champions for Super Heroes just buy Champions Complete.


Bill Dunn wrote:
I think this is an inherent element of most RPG systems that offer a lot of customizability - mainly point-buy systems. The inclusion of game-balance skewing super powers just heightens that need. Characters like Green Lantern can be a lot of fun, but playing that character comes with some responsibility for the player that a GM should consider.

The thing, for me, is when it's not immediately clear who's playing Green Lantern and who's Jubilee. Especially when you don't really read comic books and have no idea if that comparison is apt. ;)

For me it was mainly some of the Extras, and stuff, that didn't seem very well thought through. Like the one where you can buy alternate modes to your attacks.

It's been a long time, so I don't really remember the specifics any more. It was just not at all as smooth a system as I'd expected.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Slaunyeh wrote:

For me it was mainly some of the Extras, and stuff, that didn't seem very well thought through. Like the one where you can buy alternate modes to your attacks.

It's been a long time, so I don't really remember the specifics any more. It was just not at all as smooth a system as I'd expected.

Now, see, alternate modes of attack (or any) powers are one place M&M really shines. Since the action economy is the same, M&M dispenses with having the PC pay a lot for secondary attack modes on the same base power. It's pretty easy and slick. That is, if I understand the terms you are raising.


It's now out of print but if you can find it, Aberrant by White Wolf Games was great (the d10 system, not the later d20 reboot). It was easy to learn but able to handle just about any power level of hero one could want.

Regards,

V


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's is an indie title, but Truth & Justice, a PDQ game from Atomic Sock Monkey, is actually pretty damn awesome. The core mechanics take a bit of adjustment to if you are used to 'standard' systems, but it is actually very Superhero Friendly.
The only caveat is that standard Character Creation doesn't leave you with 'Cosmic Level' Heroes.

Dark Archive

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I played a lot of Heroes Unlimited back in the 90's and would not recommend it. The system came off like 2e D&D with a ridiculous number of hit points. It would take several gunshots to take down a standard goon, for example. Characters with access to magic could short circuit that in a number of ways and so seemed really overpowered.

I haven't had much experience with other superhero games - I've played M&M 2e a couple of times and thought it worked pretty well. My next long term campaign is likely to be a modified version of the Necessary Evil campaign using ICONS, though. Another one I thought looked really interesting is With Great Power... It's an indie game where the rules are designed so that you fail early on to succeed later (think Spider-Man getting dumped and then beaten up by the Vulture before he comes back to save the day). Seems like an interesting attempt to imitate the structure of an actual comic book story.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Slaunyeh wrote:
As for my preferred system, I'm actually rather fond of Aberrant. The system certainly has a number of issues, and the setting is pretty difficult to untangle from the system, if you want to use it for something else, but I keep coming back to it. Something about it really appeals to me (and I also really like the setting, so I don't have a problem with how much it influences the system).

+1 for Aberrant. I really like the flexibility of the system. It really lets you do just about anything you wanted.


Heroes unlimited by palladium is the best


PulpCruciFiction wrote:

I played a lot of Heroes Unlimited back in the 90's and would not recommend it. The system came off like 2e D&D with a ridiculous number of hit points. It would take several gunshots to take down a standard goon, for example. Characters with access to magic could short circuit that in a number of ways and so seemed really overpowered.

I haven't had much experience with other superhero games - I've played M&M 2e a couple of times and thought it worked pretty well. My next long term campaign is likely to be a modified version of the Necessary Evil campaign using ICONS, though. Another one I thought looked really interesting is With Great Power... It's an indie game where the rules are designed so that you fail early on to succeed later (think Spider-Man getting dumped and then beaten up by the Vulture before he comes back to save the day). Seems like an interesting attempt to imitate the structure of an actual comic book story.

That seems pretty interesting. Looks to aim toward the power level hero that I enjoy the most. I'll take a look at that one. Any reason why you are leaning toward the ICONS system over the Savage Worlds one when you plan to run one of their campaigns?


Checking out Truth and Justice also.


Anyone tried BASH! Ultimate Ed.?


Check out Wild Talents. It takes someone to know the rules to get it started, but its an interesting system.


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Hiya.

Tried a few, read more.

For me, FASERIP Marvel Super Heroes Advanced easily beats them all. It is long OOP, but you can get, legally, all the books and goodies at: http://www.classicmarvelforever.com/cms/ I have never had a bad time playing that game. It handles heroes from street-level vigilantes, to cosmic-power wielding demi-gods (Kirby bubbles n' all! ;) ). Fast, simple, flexible and infinitely expandable.

The Champions book for the HERO system intrigues me. I own it (PDF with print outs), and love the idea behind being able to "build whatever", and that everything is based on points; from animals, to heroes, to vehicles to super-secret villain lairs and spaceships. That said...wow. The build-up time for creating all that stuff is NUTS. In my opinion, it's best feature (points for everything) is it's Achilles Heel. I would happily play in any HERO game...as long as someone else could make my character for me and I never had to deal with "points".

I've heard good things about Villains & Vigilantes. I have an old PDF of it. Interesting, but never played it. Maybe one day, when the new version is released.

The old DC Heroes (boxed set version) is pretty slick. Played that a few times. The ability to "push" your stat/power up to 4 points was hard for us to swallow though. Effectively, if you could lift 400 pounds, you could "push" it and possibly lift 6400 pounds. No. Sorry. No. Just...no. Oh, and the fact that Lex Luthor had about 7-septillion dollars (which, iirc, at the time meant he had more money than there was on the planet). Still, we did have fun.

Lastly, Heroes & Heroines. Wow. A decidedly "half-baked" system. Points based, and simple, but with a large number of powers that were quite customizable. I did run a few sessions way back when, and they ran pretty smoothly for the most part. Had to come up with a lot of house rules, but I had a blast creating my own super-hero "world", with its own heroes, villains, history, etc.

So...there you go. My go-to Super Hero system is definitely MSHA (FASERIP), bar none. Matter of fact, I may switch our current "zombie apocalypse" campaign to it. No "super heroes", so to speak, but it would be easy to do.

^_^

Paul L. Ming


Thanks for that run down, Paul. I had the FASERIP system in the very early 90's. Loved that game. I looked at that site the other day and it is nice to see it is available for free.


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kmal2t wrote:
Check out Wild Talents. It takes someone to know the rules to get it started, but its an interesting system.

Second on Wild Talents, in common with HERO system at it's best it allows an extremely broad range of potential. Unfortunately, it also requires a significant investment of time & energy to get a firm grounding in what you want your game to be.

I'm going to have to argue rather vehemently against Heroes Unlimited as 'best' for much the same reason I am not a fan of Mutants & Masterminds. Both are at their base a 'level based' system in a genre where a more organic approach to character creation & development is in my mind more appropriate. It doesn't help that I haven't been very impressed with Palladium's design for at least a decade & a half; the fact that Palladium's design hasn't matured in over two decades is part of that. For all that I'm not a fan of GURPS fourth edition, I acknowledge that Steve Jackson Games has recognized that the industry & the customer base has grown & evolved over time. Ideas that may have been innovative when they were first introduced, twenty years ago, aren't any more.

Shadow Lodge

That website has gotta be all kinds of illegal.

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