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View Full Version : Best Superhero RPG, hands down?



JohnnyArkham
2008-08-01, 08:22 AM
I have a group looking to try some Supers roleplaying this time around.
I have Silver Age Sentinels and the first edition of Mutants and Masterminds on my shelf currently.
I've never run either.
I've played in Champions games in years past, as well as Aberrant, and...hmm...there was a Palladium game about Superheroes but I don't recall the name.

Anyone have any opinions on the best Supers system?

Kurald Galain
2008-08-01, 08:35 AM
Exalted. Seriously.

PnP Fan
2008-08-01, 08:37 AM
Mutants and Masterminds 2.0.
1st ed wasnt' bad, but had some devastating loopholes.
2.0 is significantly better, and it has sidebars that warn you about the abuses of certain powers. If you've got the cash, blow it on 2.0.
Also, I've never played it, but Scion has an interesting feel to it. technically not "four colors" with capes and stuff, but definitely a modern hero game.

hamlet
2008-08-01, 08:50 AM
It depends entirely on what you mean by "best."

If you're looking for a system that can do, literally, anything, then you'll want Hero System 5th Revised. Best Super Hero system EVER. EVER. The problem is, learning it is like learning advanced differential equations. Not easy. Once you get over that first hump, you'll do fine.

If you're looking for easy to run, easy to apply, easy to use, easy to adapt, and capable of ALMOST anything, then you'll want Palladium's "Heroes Unlimited" and attendent accessories. A very good system, though many find it wonky, that is fast and loose and very hard to break down, even at higher power levels. It has the added benefit that you can import just about anything from any other Palladium product that you find amusing. I've played this for years and have never grown tired of it. The only thing you have to learn in order to make best use of it is how to break the rules to best effect.

If you're looking for something super simple, yet really fun and are more interested in telling stories than playing a game, then you'll want to hunt down a copy of a little number called "Capes." Cannot recommend that little ditty highly enough. Essentially, it's less of an RPG and more of a cooperative comic book storytelling . . . thing. You literally take control of very loosely defined "characters" and sit around a table trying to out story each other. Anything you say on your turn actually happens, so you can turn to another player and say "my character kills yours, suck it dog" and it will happen. The fun happens when that player has the same "authority" as you do and can narrate his way out of the situation you put him in and narrate you right into an even worse one. This game rewards creativity and downright silliness.

Tengu_temp
2008-08-01, 08:58 AM
Exalted. Seriously.

Seconded. If that doesn't fit the definition, Scion or M&M second edition.

snoopy13a
2008-08-01, 09:15 AM
I used to love playing Marvel Superheroes. I think it went out of publication like 15 years ago though.

It used a percentile die system where you rolled two d10s with one die being the tens value and the other being the ones value (00=100).

It was one of those games where advancement was very difficult (not level based) but one could start with a very effective character. Basically, it was the GMs job to come up with villians that matched the superheroes' ability.

Dairun Cates
2008-08-01, 09:25 AM
Mutants and Masterminds second edition. Brilliantly done, made specifically to cover superheroes. Covers them in all power levels from weak to galactic strength. Only uses 1d20 for the entire system. Quite possibly the only point buy systems that's almost balanced.

Exalted's nice, but it's made for the World of Darkness. You definitely have to do some changes, and then a lot of the charms become inappropriate. On top of all of that, Exalted can just be a pain to run. If anyone in your group has ANY power-gaming tendencies, then it gets multiplied very heavily. It's very easy to make a character that just won't die without either sending the party against something WAY more powerful or a character TAILORED to beat that player.

Mastikator
2008-08-01, 09:27 AM
Non-low level D&D3.5 :P

clericwithnogod
2008-08-01, 09:34 AM
Champions, followed by DC Heroes.

IM@work
2008-08-01, 09:45 AM
I would personally suggest against DC heroes. My roommate absolutely abhored it, and he has had many years of gaming experience with many systems. His/My suggestion: Exalted.

Nerd-o-rama
2008-08-01, 10:06 AM
Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition. Not everyone has eleventeenthousandd10 for Exalted or Scion.

Kurald Galain
2008-08-01, 10:26 AM
Exalted's nice, but it's made for the World of Darkness. You definitely have to do some changes, and then a lot of the charms become inappropriate. On top of all of that, Exalted can just be a pain to run. If anyone in your group has ANY power-gaming tendencies, then it gets multiplied very heavily. It's very easy to make a character that just won't die

And what, exactly, is the problem with having a character that just won't die? In the vast majority of my RPG campaigns, player characters don't die period.

Dairun Cates
2008-08-01, 12:18 PM
And what, exactly, is the problem with having a character that just won't die? In the vast majority of my RPG campaigns, player characters don't die period.

There's nothing wrong with a deathless campaign, but having characters that can't even be harmed by anything short of an Over-God gets a bit ridiculous.

The Solar Anima banner alone is silly enough. If you actually BOTHER to have a decent essence, almost everything you run into that doesn't have a 4 or 5 valor runs screaming away. No save. Thanks the incredibly vague flavor text, it lasts a whole scene too. So, if you're in an extended military encounter, a Solar can actually just flare his anima banner and scare away entire armies without lifting a finger.

That's not even the worst kind of thing you can pull without really trying, and if the player in question happens to be a real ****, odds are they're just going to abuse their powers left and right. Exalted can be fun with the right kind of group, but for MOST groups, it really is going to degrade quickly into a complete mess.

It caters very specifically to one type of gamer.

Besides, there's no point in being a superhero if you're the most powerful thing on the block. The idea of a superhero is supposed to be a struggle; not an all-powerful near-god that has to practically have armies or the forces of nature come against him to prove ANY challenge.

Exalted can be fun, but it is in NO WAY a system for Superhero games.

Don't believe me? Try making Rubber Man, the Green Lantern, or any one of the handfuls of weirdo superheroes or villains that have just insanely silly but oddly effective powers in Exalted without resorting to custom charms. It's so much easier to make a character that can remove his own limbs for spying, clone himself from the detached limbs, and literally throw his hands at the enemy from a distance in M&M or any other actual superhero inspired setting.

Edit: The Short Version: Exalted's good, but if you're looking for a specific setting and have the money to buy a new system, it's far better to stick with something BUILT for the setting instead of modifying a system that only vaguely matches it.

PnP Fan
2008-08-01, 12:36 PM
I'll also put up that DC Heroes is an excellent system. It gets a little abstract after a certain power level, but it's still a pretty well balanced system. The only thing it lacks, from a d20 player's perspective, is the richness of tactical options. Tactical options exist, but they tend to be of the "broad brushstroke" type. For example, if you're doing a Team attack in DC, you count up the number of attackers that can aid in an attack, and make some rolls with a bonus to the roll. In MnM everyone makes their attack seperately, and only those who succeed get to give benefit to the overall attack (obviously I'm glossing over details here). DC also had one of the best Gadget systems in existence, until MnM.

As for the Exalted discussion. . . I like Exalted (on paper at least, never actually played it), a neat setting, nifty flavor and powers, but it's really more of a SUPER hero game. That is, it's a game about adventurers that are really powerful. It really has nothing in it that suggests Superheroes of the Comic Book variety.

Xyk
2008-08-01, 12:54 PM
I add my vote for M&M2.0, though I haven't played it, I've looked through it and it looks fantastic.

Collin152
2008-08-01, 05:51 PM
I used to love playing Marvel Superheroes. I think it went out of publication like 15 years ago though.

It used a percentile die system where you rolled two d10s with one die being the tens value and the other being the ones value (00=100).

It was one of those games where advancement was very difficult (not level based) but one could start with a very effective character. Basically, it was the GMs job to come up with villians that matched the superheroes' ability.

It's available for free online, though, and is the kick-assinist game around.

Waspinator
2008-08-01, 06:16 PM
Anyone have any opinions of GURPS Supers/Powers?

Poison_Fish
2008-08-01, 06:33 PM
stuff.

I respectfully disagree. Your only looking at it from a Solar perspective. Though the core focuses on Solars, you can get rid of most of the cheese by not just playing around as solars.

I also disagree with the thought that Exalted caters to one type of player. But that's from my experience in running the game.

Honestly, for superheroes, Aberrant is not a bad choice, though it's outdated. Scion can be a good choice as well. Mutants and Masterminds is pretty fun too. Exalted can work as well, but less cape superhero and more of another type of hero.

All depends on what system you'd really be comfortable running though.

TheEmerged
2008-08-01, 06:52 PM
Anyone have any opinions of GURPS Supers/Powers?

Yeah, didn't care for the way it scaled. The one campaign I tried to run in GURPS Supers I ended up rebuilding all the heroes in HERO/Champions. I didn't care for the pre-set campaign world either, which is why I was running my own campaign world.

Really, if you can handle the learning curve HERO/Champions is the best, but I'm highly biased by having played it in multiple genres for almost two decades. Once you wrap your brain around certain concepts (the most important: don't get wrapped up in the name of the attribute/power, focus on what actually happens in combat) it is in my opinion the best, most versatile mutli-genre system out there.

Now, there are individual systems out there that do individual subgenres of superheroes better. One that didn't get the attention it deserved, IMO, was "Brave New World" (the game, not the novel) which wasn't broad enough but handled street-level superheroes better than most. I've also heard that Exalted is very good for the very-high end, although I've never had the opportunity to play it myself (I prefer a more middle ground myself).

The old Marvel system definitely had its charms, my only complaint on it was that it didn't properly reflect the gap in power between some of its heroes. I also played a fair amount of the Marvel SAGA system which had some strong points but also had some glaring flaws. I've never tried the last one, which I hear was horrible.

The older DCU system, if you ignored the equipment rules, in some ways was the exact opposite. There was *too much* of a gap, to the point that if someone was just a few points ahead of you there was sometimes no point in even trying. It could have benefitted from a more generic power building structure too. It was also quite fun to actually *play*.

Selrahc
2008-08-01, 06:55 PM
Mutants and Masterminds I have only played a little, but it seems to be a lovely superhero game.

The only other thing I would reccomend is Aberrant. Aberrant is a cool system.. but it seems to lack a little polish(Mainly when you compare it to newer White Wolf games, which have a refined version of the same system). What I would really recommend doing with Aberrant is using the rules for Scion(Which is a system I adore) and refluffing it, with the Aberrant storyline(Or your own, whatever) and converting in some new powers and stuff from Aberrant, which is actually pretty easy to do. I'm planning on maybe doing this myself sometime(Although my actual idea was to put Novas into the world of Scion, as Fateless beings. Unconnected to the titans or the gods.)

Waspinator
2008-08-02, 01:25 AM
1: Responding to TheEmerged, that is something to think about. However, one thing that the GURPS system has going for it is simply the fact that it IS GURPS. That means that you can take any of the stupidly large number of GURPS books out there and mix them together. You could make superpowered Bunnies and Burrows if you really wanted to! That kind of flexibility is itself very appealing.

2: About the Marvel Super Heroes RPG, I'm actually a little shocked. If I understand this story right, the RPG went out of print years ago and the publisher has no plans to make any more books or printing runs, so they released all of the books for free online? That is very generous and awesome of them.

The Rose Dragon
2008-08-02, 06:04 AM
Mutants and Masterminds. It even says on the cover that it's "World's Greatest Superhero RPG".

JohnnyArkham
2008-08-02, 08:07 AM
Thanks so much for all your opinions and elaborations. A lot to think about there.

Something that might amuse Superhero enthusiasts:
http://www.gameinformer.com/NR/exeres/7f5f8bf9-58e1-4503-bcbc-84eaedaac412.htm

DeathQuaker
2008-08-02, 10:17 PM
If what you want is a system that reflects fairly typical comic book superheroes, I would go for M&M, HERO (Champions), or something like Silver Age Sentinels, DC, or Marvel (but I think these last three are OOP).

Further, both M&M and HERO are flexible enough that even if you want a fairly non-typical superhero setting you can do as you imagine. Of the two, I personally prefer M&M. Both systems are point-buy based game systems with very flexible ways to build powers; HERO is more flexible but by the same token has so many more permutations that just learning what you can do, let alone the rules, actually IMO impedes getting to the actual gameplay. (Also, without a computer program, character creation takes HOURS.). The only people I know who really like HERO above all are professional mathematicians and engineers. No exaggeration. But if you are in fact a professional mathematician or engineer, this may well be right up your alley.

HERO's mechanic is a bell-curve based 3d6 system; ideally a great system though I find the combat mechanic a little odd, as it's different from the skill mechanic slightly and thus confuses me. But I am also a complete idiot when it comes to anything to do with arithmetic, which is a huge grain of salt to take in considering my review of HERO.

M&M while having far fewer permutations is still functionally extremely flexible, and runs on a simple d20 mechanic. It basically has the best of HERO without a lot of IMO unneeded complexity (and a rulebook you can read in a sitting or two, as opposed to the HERO rulebook which is comparable in size to my Complete Works of Shakespeare).

If you want to play a supers game with a very specific feel to it, Aberrant is certainly good. But part of that game--as with any White Wolf game--is a specific setting and flavor that feeds itself deeply into the game. Sure, you could abandon the fluff for just the crunch... but why? That's part of what makes a game like that attractive. If you want just a generic system for supers playing, then choose a system that's intended for to be a generic system for supers playing, like HERO or M&M. But certainly read over Aberrant and see if it's something that appeals to you.

All the moreso for Exalted. Exalted is NOT intended to be a supers game and is certainly nothing intended to reflect typical comic book abilities... and part of the beauty of Exalted is its wonderfully and gorgeously detailed MYTHIC age setting. The abilities are built to reflect demigods, not supers... while there are similarities, they're not the same... and again, if you want something flexible to do your own thing, this game is definitely not for you. That said, if adventuring in a forgotten mythic world with celestial forces at war appeals to you, check it out.

Poison_Fish
2008-08-03, 02:49 AM
All the moreso for Exalted. Exalted is NOT intended to be a supers game and is certainly nothing intended to reflect typical comic book abilities... and part of the beauty of Exalted is its wonderfully and gorgeously detailed MYTHIC age setting. The abilities are built to reflect demigods, not supers... while there are similarities, they're not the same... and again, if you want something flexible to do your own thing, this game is definitely not for you. That said, if adventuring in a forgotten mythic world with celestial forces at war appeals to you, check it out.

Side note: That's it's setting, but having deranged solars suddenly wearing a cape and acting quite insane wouldn't be opposed. The rest of the world may not keep up with them. Still, I basically ran around as a superhero zenith gallant(With enough presence to make people believe he fights for justice) for a long time back when I actually had someone to run a game (Rather then always being the ST).

Pauwel
2008-08-03, 04:57 AM
One thing to keep in mind is that the HERO rulebook is large enough to stop a speeding bullet from a small pistol. This can prove useful if you live in a bad neighbourhood.

(Seriously, the rulebook CAN stop a speeding bullet. Literally.)

Jerthanis
2008-08-03, 05:02 AM
As far as Exalted goes, when I think "Superhero", I think Spandex and Capes and "Cosmic rays", mild mannered alter egos and superpowers along a very limited theme set in the modern day.

I don't think of dark fantasy kung fu epic in armor with swords with a vicious backbiting political structure and crumbling civilization to which the characters are expected to apply themselves like mortar and sandbags against a coming tide of horrors.

That said, Exalted is friggin awesome, and you should totally pick it up. Meanwhile, if you ARE looking for Spandex and Capes, Cosmic Rays and so on... Mutants and Masterminds is amazingly versatile, quick and easy to learn, reasonably balanced for a point based system, and very well suited to any tone and setting of superhero, from Four Color to Iron Age, Jack Kirby to Rob Liefeld. It happens to be my favorite RPG system.

Mark Hall
2008-08-03, 09:09 AM
FASERIP. It's fun, and does a good job of genre emulation.

1of3
2008-08-03, 09:54 AM
With Great Power by Michael S. Miller and Incarnadine Press.

Charity
2008-08-03, 09:57 AM
I used to like Golden heros (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Heroes) not because it had the greatest mechanics balance wise, but it recreated the feel of the comic book heros very effectively.

Knaight
2008-08-06, 11:46 AM
Fudge(www.fudgerpg.com for the really basic rules) 10th anniversary edition contains a chapter on making superheroes. It works really well, is simple(lets face it superheroes and tactical manuevering don't mix well. Its supposed to be fast), but lets you do pretty much anything. Of course you can also swipe stuff from other chapters if it applies, such as if you have two martial artist superheroes(Fudge fu works really well for this), or two flying superheroes with guns or ranged powers, such as fire, or lightning, or sending out swarms of insects, birds, bats, etc. in which case you might want to borrow the fudge dogfighting rules(which are also by far the best fighter pilot rules I have ever seen, working for everything up to space ships. Although capital ships should probably use the fudge vehicles rules, or you can just extend round length).

Count Chumleigh
2008-08-06, 03:22 PM
Don't get me wrong, Mutants & Masterminds is a fine product, but you'll get more bang for your buck out of Necessary Evil, which runs on the Savage Worlds system. I've played both, and Necessary Evil has, hands-down, the most rewarding gameplay experience of any superhero RPG I know. Instead of just rolling that one lousy d20 for everything, you're tossing dice of all shapes and sizes depending on what you want to do and how good you are at doing it. You're also getting dealt initiative from a deck of cards (and hoping like hell the GM doesn't draw a joker), throwing down poker chips to re-roll that one shot you just can't miss, measuring movement with a tape-measure, and handling mass combat like it ain't no thang.

It's a role-playing game that treats itself like a game, in other words. Imagine that.

Cheers,
--Count Chumleigh

P.S. Also, Necessary Evil has a built-in campaign you can use. It's not exactly superheroes, but it's a fun setting all the same.

Jayabalard
2008-08-06, 04:40 PM
Anyone have any opinions of GURPS Supers/Powers?I liked it, though I haven't looked at it since 2nd/3rd edition GURPS. I wouldn't bother with the stock GURPS settings... I never really cared for them.

The modularity of GURPS can really make things interesting since you can mix in any books you want to get exactly the sort of heroes that you want... and since you're in a supers campaign, each character can basically be using widly different books. The gadgeteer is using 5 ultra tech/sci-fi books, the antropomorphic turtle is using martial arts, bunnies and burrows, chthullu and swashbuckers, the psy guy is using some of the sci-fi stuff, psionics, and bio tech, the wizard guy is using a bunch of fantasy/magic books, and then there's the gunslinger guy who's using steampunk, wild west, etc.

Really, a supers campaign is the one place that you can just throw any GURPS book (or even unrelated RPG books converted into GURPS) into the mix no matter how wierd it seems and make it work.

or you can just stick to a couple of books and be very straightforward cape wearing superheroes.

TheEmerged
2008-08-06, 05:44 PM
RE: HERO requiring a mathmatician or engineer. I am neither, for the record.

/humor on
Horse Hockey. It doesn't require anything you shouldn't have learned by 7th grade. You just have to do a lot more of it than some people are comfortable with.
/humor off

That said, there's a reason HERO was one of the first gaming systems I saw market a computer character generator with the rulebook (the last printing of the BBB/4th Edition, back in the late 80's early 90's). It can get kind of involved when you start tweaking the powers to get every ounce out them. Trust me, if you think D&D minmaxers are bad you haven't seen anything yet :smallbiggrin:

Really, HERO is the best example of everything that is good about point-buy systems, and everything that is bad about them too. You can do anything in the system, but you'll have to do everything to get it to work :smallcool:

RE: The old Marvel Superhero RPG, AKA FASERIP. I wasn't aware this was free online. Give it a whirl, it's a surprisingly robust system. I stand by my complaint, but that doesn't mean it isn't fun. I *still* use it as a rough outline when preparing characters for a superheroic story/world.

Sebastian
2008-08-06, 06:15 PM
Fudge(www.fudgerpg.com for the really basic rules) 10th anniversary edition contains a chapter on making superheroes. It works really well, is simple(lets face it superheroes and tactical manuevering don't mix well. Its supposed to be fast), but lets you do pretty much anything. Of course you can also swipe stuff from other chapters if it applies, such as if you have two martial artist superheroes(Fudge fu works really well for this), or two flying superheroes with guns or ranged powers, such as fire, or lightning, or sending out swarms of insects, birds, bats, etc. in which case you might want to borrow the fudge dogfighting rules(which are also by far the best fighter pilot rules I have ever seen, working for everything up to space ships. Although capital ships should probably use the fudge vehicles rules, or you can just extend round length).

Now that you mention fudge, I'd like to see a super hero RPG made with the Fate rules, it should not be too hard either, the Aspects of Fate should work pretty well in that genre. Anybody know if there already something around, even if homebrewed?