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View Full Version : Any Systems That Do "Super-Powered Evil Sides" Well?



HolyCouncilMagi
2015-07-04, 12:30 AM
The entire concept of a super-powered evil side is really hard to pull off in RPG format, because by its very nature it requires a character that has one be unbalanced against the rest of the player characters, unless they all have one. If only one character has one, then either the normal version of the character would be balanced against the party, in which case the evil side would completely overpower everyone else, (which, admittedly, is part of the trope, but players in games that assume balance tend to have a problem when there isn't balance) or the evil side would be balanced against the party, meaning that the normal character would be much weaker than everyone in order to retain the effect.

Of course, that issue is largely sidestepped in a game that doesn't assume a party that's constantly balanced against one another at all times, which means one of those types of games is probably where this will be done best.

Anyway... Any games you know of that pull this off well?

Karl Aegis
2015-07-04, 01:13 AM
I'd like to see everyone else's suggestions before I submit an answer that will be ignored entirely.

Sith_Happens
2015-07-04, 01:22 AM
Mutants & Masterminds can sort of do it. Have the Superpowered Evil Side be a Metamorph form with all of its attacks heavily effect-shifted, then start spending hero points like mad to make up for the lowered attack bonuses. The obvious flaw with this method is that it relies on your having lots of hero points to spend, but the points during a campaign where that's the case tend to correspond to the points in a story that it would make sense for a character's Superpowered Evil Side to be triggered in the first place.

As a bonus, since Superpowered Evil Sides tend to be entirely combat-focused, they can also dump all of the normal form's noncombat abilities and spend the points on cool new ways of hurting people.

TheCountAlucard
2015-07-04, 02:32 AM
There's a flaw in Scroll of Heroes, IIRC, called "Wandering Po" or somesuch, in which your "lower" soul (the one responsible for emotions and instincts, as opposed to thought and memory, the "higher" soul) or "Po" sometimes breaks loose from your mortal body. It's not evil so much as really emotional, thoughtlessly impulsive, and violently reactive, but I figure it covers the trope pretty well.

Arbane
2015-07-04, 02:33 AM
The Japanese-made RPG Double Cross is all about this - the PCs are all infected with a virus that gives them superpowers, but overusing it will turn them into insane monsters. And you can deliberately go over the line to use your most powerful abilities, and HOPE that your attachment to your loved ones can pull you back afterwards. (It MIGHT work....)

dream
2015-07-04, 09:26 AM
you can do this with any superhero RPG because there's no balance in any of them. You can easily end up with Nightcrawler & Phoenix on the same team depending on what players bring to the table. In fact, that's usually the case.

With Mutants & Masterminds (adding to what's been posted already);

add a "Split Personality" Complication to the PC for the evil-aspect and when it emerges, give that PC's teammates a Hero point (in M&M, when the bad guy's Motivation/Complications arise, the good guys get a Hero Point)
The PC should have powers listed that the "good aspect" doesn't know exist: only the evil-aspect can access those hidden powers, plus the other powers used by the good-aspect (thus making the evil aspect more powerful)

This 2-step process works for pretty much any system.

Anonymouswizard
2015-07-04, 11:48 AM
The Japanese-made RPG Double Cross is all about this - the PCs are all infected with a virus that gives them superpowers, but overusing it will turn them into insane monsters. And you can deliberately go over the line to use your most powerful abilities, and HOPE that your attachment to your loved ones can pull you back afterwards. (It MIGHT work....)

I'm really interested in this game, is there an English translation? I love the idea of PCs having to be careful with their powers and running the risk of becoming 'monsters' themselves.


you can do this with any superhero RPG because there's no balance in any of them. You can easily end up with Nightcrawler & Phoenix on the same team depending on what players bring to the table. In fact, that's usually the case.

To be fair, unless a game is overly restrictive, a game is only balanced when players agree to keep it fair. Imagine a GURPS game where one player had bought up Strength and Flight, while another used a Pact limitation to reduce altered time rate to 20 points per rank. I personally see no problem with 'super powered evil sides' being more powerful if there is an actual cost (decent risk of your character becoming unplayable, long term complications, drains Sanity stat).

Arbane
2015-07-04, 12:20 PM
I'm really interested in this game, is there an English translation? I love the idea of PCs having to be careful with their powers and running the risk of becoming 'monsters' themselves.

Yes, Double Cross is out in English: Site is here. (http://www.ver-blue-amusement.com/)

Anonymouswizard
2015-07-04, 12:26 PM
Yes, Double Cross is out in English: Site is here. (http://www.ver-blue-amusement.com/)

Huh, about 15+postage and packaging for a physical book, I guess I know what my first purchase is if I manage to get a work placement. I should just look into the actual system to make sure I won't hate it first.

But finally a superhero RPG I might like, I have strong problems with the ones I've played (Marvel Universe (the no-dice one) and Mutants and Masterminds). Even if I don't like the system, the idea and setting looks good enough to transfer to Fate, GURPS, nWoD, or whatever I own that's closest in style.

Red Fel
2015-07-04, 12:51 PM
Old World of Darkness had a function like this in Kindred of the East. Asian vampires, unlike regular WoD vampires, were basically souls who actually died, but dragged themselves out of hell because they were that badass. As a result, player characters have two aspects - the human soul, and the bestial monster soul. Certain techniques involved tapping into this bestial soul. In fact, one suggested version of gameplay involved having two players play each character - one representing the human soul, and one representing the monster soul, periodically trading control as circumstances demanded it. The off-player's job would be to attempt to influence the other.

Did it do it well? That's iffy. But it had great flavor, at least.

dream
2015-07-04, 03:56 PM
To be fair, unless a game is overly restrictive, a game is only balanced when players agree to keep it fair. Imagine a GURPS game where one player had bought up Strength and Flight, while another used a Pact limitation to reduce altered time rate to 20 points per rank. I personally see no problem with 'super powered evil sides' being more powerful if there is an actual cost (decent risk of your character becoming unplayable, long term complications, drains Sanity stat).
Agreed. A villain with great power should have some weakness/cost that creates real limitation. Actually, heroes with great power, IMO, should carry the same "cost" or weakness and as a system, M&M does it very well with the Complication mechanic.

If a hero turns, there's also the issue of law-enforcement/military opposition, on top of super-capable teammates.

Knaight
2015-07-04, 04:16 PM
Two suggestions:

Mythender - They aren't "evil sides" per se, but every PC is a mortal out to end mythological creatures, with the Norse pantheon being the initial targets. They can deliberately change to be more godlike, or be pushed to doing it. If they go too far though, apotheosis happens and they become unplayable. They also generally become the primary target of the rest of the group.

Better Angels - Better Angels is a game about supervillains, specifically supervillains bound by demon pacts who are being controlled by some extent by demons, and who are deliberately sabotaging them by being as ineffective as they possibly can be (the various tropes of ridiculous plans which can be brought down, death machines and the like in lieu of just shooting their adversaries, and much of the rest are explained quite well by this as a side effect).

Ralanr
2015-07-04, 04:39 PM
Exalted maybe? I've never played, but I see it on tvtropes every now and then with such connections to said abilities.

HolyCouncilMagi
2015-07-04, 04:52 PM
Huh, about 15+postage and packaging for a physical book, I guess I know what my first purchase is if I manage to get a work placement. I should just look into the actual system to make sure I won't hate it first.

But finally a superhero RPG I might like, I have strong problems with the ones I've played (Marvel Universe (the no-dice one) and Mutants and Masterminds). Even if I don't like the system, the idea and setting looks good enough to transfer to Fate, GURPS, nWoD, or whatever I own that's closest in style.

Double Cross is a good game, but it's definitely more something for a GURPS fan than a Fate fan (though if you're both, that's great too); the mechanics are technical and heavy, to say the least. (The chapter on character powers is some 162 pages long by itself.)

@Knaight: Those both seem quite interesting, but I don't think they're what I'm looking for here.

@Red Fel: Ohhh, that seems pretty neat.

@dream: "No balance in any of them"? I was under the impression that party balance was the entire point of Power Level caps in M&M. Still, it seems like it's something that can be worked out.

@Sith_Happens: Huh, Hero Points to boost attack do seem like a neat potential way to pull this off, and you're right... You'd usually have lots of hero points in the buildup to a cinematically-appropriate Superpowered Evil Side appearance.

Anonymouswizard
2015-07-04, 05:04 PM
Double Cross is a good game, but it's definitely more something for a GURPS fan than a Fate fan (though if you're both, that's great too); the mechanics are technical and heavy, to say the least. (The chapter on character powers is some 162 pages long by itself.)

Tasty tasty crunch. I definitely have to get it, as I didn't like M&M's power system. Plus I'm so much more of a GURPS fan than a Fate one.


@dream: "No balance in any of them"? I was under the impression that party balance was the entire point of Power Level caps in M&M. Still, it seems like it's something that can be worked out.

M&M is... weird, and in some ways a munchkin's dream*. The key thing I've seen overlooked is that if you have a lot of standard action powers with instant effects it's insane not to put them in an array, the same with two effects that can't be used at the same time. Arrays and cleverly defined variable powers can lead to characters that are far more versatile than their teammates. I was once accused of 'trying to be better than everyone at their thing' because my flight could match the speedster's ground speed, I had an array built around control air, and because I had no idea what to do with 10 points I bumped my INT to 5 and flavoured my powers as air magic. As it turned out, I was the only character with high-level powers useful outside combat (the telekinetic had relatively low move object) due to building my blast as a sub effect of control element.

This is why I've been shopping for a good crunchy superhero game for a while, as I've discovered that the more mechanically different characters are the less likely imbalances are to be noticed.

* quote from a friend of mine who's a massive GURPS fan.

dream
2015-07-04, 11:18 PM
lol@ munchkin's dream! It really is :smallbiggrin:

I've ran games for over 30 years. Too many systems to remember. Mutants & Masterminds is the only one where character creation is a thing. As in, I have to supervise it or we end up with PC that make Superman look like Napoleon Dynamite. Power Level keeps things from getting downright ridiculous. I know; I ran an "Unlimited PL" game once (no PL) & ..... I never felt so useless as a GM. Two scenes in and the plot exploded like Krypton. If you have trouble saying NO to your players, I'd suggest ICONS or even Champions. Both can handle the "evil other" very well.

Champions has some fiddly parts, but is the best superhero system there is, IMO. ICONS is great if you like that "sweet-spot" game that's rules-medium.

It really comes down to what do you prefer: rules-lite, medium, or crunchy-style?

Karl Aegis
2015-07-05, 10:49 AM
As always, Tenra Bansho Zero does everything you could ever want. In this case you have the choice between the Demon-of-Battle Annelid and the Samuraization Surgery for adding a super-powered side. Add both and you even get an insane NPC!

Friv
2015-07-05, 10:57 AM
Marvel Superheroic Roleplay had something like that. The game is based on the Cortex Plus system, which meant that you assemble a small pool of dice to do things. When things go wrong (mostly when players roll 1s), you can gain a plot point in exchange for the GM getting a die to roll against the group later.

One character, the Sentry, has a superpowered Evil Side. The result is that when the Sentry uses certain powers, the Doom Pool (the GM's pool) increases more quickly, and if the Doom Pool gets too large the Sentry flips out and turns into the Void. The Void uses the Doom Pool to act instead of its normal pool, and attacks both heroes and villains present in the scene.


If that's too much, you can also just build a character with a few powers that cause him to "go berserk", giving you plot points in exchange for creating complications in the scene. You get stronger, but there's a lot more collateral damage (and the rest of the players might get a little annoyed with you. ;) )

Arbane
2015-07-05, 01:23 PM
One character, the Sentry, has a superpowered Evil Side. The result is that when the Sentry uses certain powers, the Doom Pool (the GM's pool) increases more quickly, and if the Doom Pool gets too large the Sentry flips out and turns into the Void. The Void uses the Doom Pool to act instead of its normal pool, and attacks both heroes and villains present in the scene.


At which point the game ends in a TPK?

Quellian-dyrae
2015-07-05, 01:47 PM
Another good option for a Superpowered Evil Side in M&M is to have an Alternate Form or Metamorph or something that basically takes its existing traits, and puts a relevant Flaw (such as Uncontrolled or a Side Effect Affliction that leads to Compelled or Controlled status) on, like, everything, using the discount from the Flaws to buy additional/improved powers in that form.

Segev
2015-07-06, 10:22 AM
You could actually do it with a careful refluffing in D&D 3e: go Frenzied Berserker, but instead of "uncontrollable combat frenzy," it's "sadistic monster." Mechanics are the same, but you're 'rational' in that you can gloat and speak clearly. Nothing stops the Frenzied Berserker from making tactical decisions as long as there are enemies he can reach; be calculating and evil instead of "rawr smash froth" until there are just your friends left...then, instead of wildly attacking them, turn on them with a sadistic grin and a comment of how much you're going to enjoy this. Will saves to regain control are your "good side" taking back over.