Author Topic: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?  (Read 6883 times)

Rejolt

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 512
  • Infinity Server 2005-2012
[The following is the lead up to the point of this post, so skip down if you start going "wordswordswords"]

I was looking to do some writing or even create a basic pen and paper RPG as a project this summer. I've had some medical procedures done that will keep me from coaching basketball/teaching summer school. I'm going to be homebound with a ton of free time and I don't feel like doing it in front of a TV or PC for all of it.

Step one is I'm currently gathering all the super heroic pen and paper rpgs I can for cheap off amazon (wow there were more than I thought), Drivethrurpg downloadable materials for my ipad and I'm even starting on the Wild Cards series of novels to get myself ready to write.

Most of my first attempts will be highly derivative of things I've played, watched and read already so I'm prepared to suck out of the box until I get better at it. I may even throw some links up to my work here for mocking.

My first idea for a pen and paper game is a quickplay, LoL-style game with a city during a prison riot/alien invasion/natural disaster, etc. as the playing field for heroes vs. villians. You create your characters off a few templates or pre-sets and the key would be that no one knows what your character can do (outside of the GM) until you meet on the battle field. Rock-Paper-Scissors would ensue with some environmental help/mobs in case you're overmatched. This almost sounds more board game-ish but I'll kick the tires on it soon (tm).

One thing I've noticed from watching way too much super-powered TV is not having consistent power levels. It could be the writing, tropes or budget but that has always bugged me. I think anything I do will focus on having consistent powers (ok, Buffy, you can kick open a locked jail cell with little effort but I've seen everyday folks knock you out...).

Psst. Skip to here: [Ok that said ... end of blah blah blah background]

So which super hero pen and paper rpg have you guys played? I'm going to list the ones below I'm looking into but if you know of more let me know. New ones pop up all the time. This is one part research and one part finding one of these to do a CoH-style campaign of off (well, beyond the fact Mutants and Masterminds has a campaign book actually called Paragons).

Some heroic RPGs I've either picked up or read up on:

Champions Online: Holy self-made complexity, Batman! I know I'm rusty on my old rpg skills but man does this system leave you to your own devices. If I sit down and read this it may be weeks before I'm starting a campaign. I currently have Champions Complete and Powers (and the Universe book I got before Champions the MMO hit in 2009) and I'm putting no more money in this until it connects with me. Word to the wise: Don't hate on this because of the Cryptic MMO. They are entirely different beasts.

Mutants and Masterminds: 3rd edition, seems to be a more refined DC Universe RPG so I won't mention DC again. I just got the 1st edition in the mail on the cheap and will update impressions on this soon. I'm liking it. Feels different and a little easier to start than Champions. If you guys want to look into it the 2nd edition pocket sized books can be yours for under $10 after shipping on Amazon.

Marvel Heroic: (In the mail from Amazon, will update this later).

Marvel Super Heroes: Likely too expensive to get the way I'm skimming through these games. (This is THE hero game I still think of from my child hood. Someone stole my book recently so I don't have it anymore and it's a whopping $68 to get it on Amazon. I still look at Marvel movies even now and think "Ok that's Incredible-level power. He can lift 40 tons. There's no way that Remarkable-level guy and his 10 tons can beat him..."). If I can get it on the cheap or don't like Marvel Heroic... maybe.

City of Heroes Quickstart (yes, they were making one. This 40-plus page quick start was all they completed before the company making it closed shop): There's not much meat here, but Drivethru RPG has it for free (well, free as far as I'm printing out 40 pages myself!). Download and enjoy the nostalgia. And what could have been.

ICONS: Created by Steve Kenson, the guy behind Mutants and Masterminds, to be more of a quickplay game. This may be more up my alley. Will get to it likely after I've read through M&M. There are some free quick player creation sheets (rules and an empty form) on Drivethru. ICONS feels like something I start with and then after getting bored with how simple it is moving on to M&M and Champions.

Silver Age Sentinels: This is my dark horse. Reviews are glowing. There are many materials for it but its no longer being actively published. There's a d20 and a tri-stat version. Trust me, I'm getting used to terms like tri-stat, d20 and four-color again. Any input here would be welcome.

Others I may get to later this summer:
Aberrant: White Wolf story telling. Your hero is slowly being corrupted by his powers. Eh, sounds interesting at best. Will save for later.
GURPs -  Supers: (good old Steve Jackson... I want a Car Wars turned based RPG on my PC already darn it!). Second edition. The artwork I saw when I looked it up looked late 80s/early 90s. GURPs is so freeform you could drown. High praise from what I've read. Just now saw this existed so it's on the to-do list.
BASH!: Not much on this one yet. There may be a reason for that...
Villains & Vigilantes: Last time this was updated seems like the early 80s. Next.
Heroes Unlimited: The first edition is $1.90 on Amazon. Second edition seems to have a lot of material to draw from. But... it's Palladium and I'm over that old SDC/MDC system since I stopped playing Robotech and TMNT in the late 80s.
Rifts: Read above. Same Palladium rules set so it could be adapted. I've always seen this as a generic Shadowrun but it swallowed up so many genres it's become its own beast. Amazingly vast and cheap source material to draw from. Again, back burner until I read through other books.
Savage and FATE: There are just too many RPGs. I used to play this stuff... I didn't realize how popular super hero RPGs were! Eventually. If anyone has any input on these let me know.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2015, 09:03:56 PM by Rejolt »
Rejolt Industries LLC is now a thing. Woo!

Rejolt

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 512
  • Infinity Server 2005-2012
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2015, 08:43:43 PM »
I will save this post for consenus/reviews. I will try to sum up best I can if we have differences of opinion. I will edit and add as we post here.

Heroes Unlimited/Rifts: Despite masses of materials and variety, the least fun set to actually play.

Champions: the most complex set of this group. Lots to draw from if you have the cash and the time to learn the rules.

Mutants and masterminds: a less complex champions but actively developed for and the best blend of materials and playability. There are three editions with fans split on 2nd vs 3rd editions. Has some very well written supplements.

Marvel: 1984 super heroes set the bar for easy and varied character creation but wasn't fun in practice to play. The marvel games that have followed have added more complexity but not much more fun.

Gurps: the king of creating your own game at one point. This also makes it a pain to create and swim through all the rules. A bit dated as well.

DC Heroes rpg: not green ronin's dc game but the out of print version from the 80s. Uses a scaling attribute system (stats double as they increase by point).

Bash!: Just got the thin, starter book. Has very simple creation rules for what a power does. It's mainly a "Blast attack", "Aura effect", "AoE attack" and you have points to buy them. I could see using this while looking at Champs/M&M supplements for ideas.

ICONS: A handy book with lots of nice ideas and fast character creation. I've mainly skimmed and downloaded the quick character info from Drivethrurpg. I like the feel of this (it wants to be a Saturday morning cartoon/but I think Young Justice or better yet Brave and the Bold would apply).

Aberrant: has potential, but the flaw/corruption system is a blessing and a curse.

Silver age: may have been good for its time, but SA is redundant at best compared to modern RPGs.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2015, 09:08:14 AM by Rejolt »
Rejolt Industries LLC is now a thing. Woo!

Tenzhi

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,642
    • My DeviantArt Page
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2015, 08:42:14 AM »
I like Mutants & Masterminds, but it's really not reminiscent of either DC Universe (which uses the same d6 system as the pre-d20 Star Wars RPG, IIRC) or DC Heroes.  The only real similarity, I'd say, is how they leverage a benchmark system.  M&M is really more of a watered down Champions (sans the Online), I'd say, were I looking for a comparison.  But not watered down in a bad way - I don't care for Champions, but M&M is my go-to system for superhero role-playing.

Silver Age Sentinels d20 sits on my shelf and I can't help but think of it as redundant and inferior.  I think that if I ever wanted to use the setting, I'd have to get the Tri-Stat version, but the setting didn't really grab me and I could do just as well with the basic Tri-Stat system book.

Heroes Unlimited/RiFTs (same system, really) is an awful system.  That said, some of the most fun RPGs I've played used it. 

I don't like any of the Marvel systems I've sampled.  The old FASERIP system doesn't play well - it's like someone based a game around an action figure stat system like the Transformer boxes had.  The card based system is okay, but not great.  And the less said about the more recent system that uses glass bead counters, the better.

Aberrant could have been decent (well, as decent as a dice pool based system can be) without the irritating humanity system.  Try to do anything cool or fun and your character grows a fifth arm out of its butt and becomes a sociopathic NPC.  Because White Wolf.

And, finally, I have an everlasting and unreasonable hatred of GURPS.  I don't even remember what it is exactly I hate about the system, I only remember the hatred itself.
When you insult someone by calling them a "pig" or a "dog" you aren't maligning pigs and dogs everywhere.  The same is true of any term used as an insult.

Teikiatsu

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 287
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2015, 11:03:48 AM »
I cut my PnP teeth on Heroes Unlimited (actually Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) so the Palladium system has a love/hate "memories of childhood" crossed with "wow that was really bad" in my mind.  Then I added in Ninjas and Superspies, then Rifts... good times.  It's not so bad if you home-brew the heck out of it.  Plus I'm GM'ing a campaign for my best friend from those "what were we thinking?" days, along with his teenage sons.

I've played GURPS (ugh) and have come to the realization that it stands for both Gross, Ugly Roleplaying System and also Generally Useful Resource, Powers and Skills. 

I'm played Mutants and Masterminds but my hatred for the d20 system keeps me away.

Basically, I don't like most of the systems out there, so I'm working on again/off again to make a system I like that incorporates all the parts I do like.
Virtue Server - Main: Midnight Lightning Dark/Elec/Psi Defender

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfKUPgy_xH8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EitO6Wq_9A

CG

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 408
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2015, 01:16:41 PM »
I'm going to be dating myself here, but how about DC Heroes RPG?

It has a long and storied history and has survived 30 years with a still active fan base for an out of print game.  I know it because I used to be the list admin for it back in the 1990s.  8)

In a nutshell, the scale for attributes is logarithmic, so each number is twice as "powerful" as the one before it.  If 0 is 100 lbs., then 1 is 200 lbs. and 2 is 400 lbs, etc.  You can have Jimmy Olsen's Strength at 1 (lift 200 lbs) and Superman at 25 (lift 1677721 tons!).  You roll 2d10 to perform an action and use a chart comparing the active value vs. the defensive value.  There's tons of powers and the ability to customize them easily.

It supports mutiple genres from Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew to Watchemen by changing some basic rules in the game regarding falling, knockback, blood loss, boosting attacks/damage; it's built right in.

There's a mailing list now if you want more information: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/dc-heroes/info  It was a while ago, but the owners of Blood of Heroes had a stack of copies they could sell directly.  There's also used game stores.  Also, there's a huge site of writeups for characters from Mass Effect to the Hostess adverts villains

It tends to work best as a supers game, so street level heroes will end with very similar stats.  You can break this apart if you change the logarithmic scale from 2 to 1.5; this will give you more space on the low end to differentiate between characters.  High end character are still possible, but they'll get some larger numbers. For example, Superman has Strength 42 under this system, not that it really matters).

Anyways, great system, lots of fun, just enough detail to make it interesting without getting bogged down.

Oh!  And Gadgets are a part of the game that works quite well.  You can do Blue Beetle or Iron Man, no problem.  There's the concept of an "Omni-gadget" for those times a hero pulls something weird from their utility belt.  They're limited to one use and a certain rating, but it allows for those moments where the hero is perfectly prepared.   There's rituals and magic powers, as well.

Fantastic system!

Rejolt

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 512
  • Infinity Server 2005-2012
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2015, 11:32:38 PM »
Apparently there's a blog about the growing popularity of super hero RPGs. This seems to like BASH! ... which I know little about.

http://www.generaltangent.com/blog/2014/06/26/superhero-games/
 
It seems to cover most of the stuff I've seen. The only name that looks new to me is Golden Age.

If I run short on funds tracking down all the Green Ronin (mostly M&M) stuff, GR was nice enough to put a good bit of info from all 3 versions of their game here: http://freeronin.com/
« Last Edit: June 01, 2015, 11:41:17 PM by Rejolt »
Rejolt Industries LLC is now a thing. Woo!

General_Tangent

  • Underling
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2015, 04:37:17 PM »
Apparently there's a blog about the growing popularity of super hero RPGs. This seems to like BASH! ... which I know little about.

http://www.generaltangent.com/blog/2014/06/26/superhero-games/
 
It seems to cover most of the stuff I've seen. The only name that looks new to me is Golden Age.

If I run short on funds tracking down all the Green Ronin (mostly M&M) stuff, GR was nice enough to put a good bit of info from all 3 versions of their game here: http://freeronin.com/

As the author of  the aforementioned blog post I'd like to add a few things if you don't mind :-)

BASH is one of those games I discovered by chance and it has become my super hero system of choice.  I did write about it in a bit more detail here: http://www.generaltangent.com/blog/2014/04/14/top-10-rpg-list-number-10/

Yes, it's points based but the scale is relatively low, unlike GURPS, Champions, Mutants and Masterminds, and the original DC game.  Putting together a character is fairly straightforward and is relatively stress free.  All you need is the main rulebook and you're up, up and away!  There are supplements available which detail power suits and each book has a theme; for example volume 1 covers elemental powers.

Combat is even simpler, with all super powered characters having 100 hit points and attacks whittle them down as the fight goes on; some of the minions have less than that so they can be disposed of relatively easily. 

I'd be happy to answer any other questions about this or any other supers game.

GT.

Ohioknight

  • Celebrating Columbus Day
  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 736
  • 65 years old
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2015, 07:27:40 PM »
Personally, I don't think you can do better than M&M 2nd ed with Freedom City.  In fact Freedom City itself is the most impressive game suppliment I've ever seen. All the 2nd ed books are terrific -- notably hero high
« Last Edit: June 02, 2015, 07:33:56 PM by Ohioknight »
"Wow, a fat, sarcastic, Star Trek fan, you must be a devil with the ladies"

Rejolt

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 512
  • Infinity Server 2005-2012
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2015, 12:49:13 AM »
GT,
Do you like BASH because you've played other supers and in comparison it clicked or just liked it on its on merit?

I'm basically looking for a pick up and play rpg followed by a more in depth one. I loved the old MSH because of the ease of character creation.

EDIT: welcome to Titan Network, GT!

Personally, I don't think you can do better than M&M 2nd ed with Freedom City.  In fact Freedom City itself is the most impressive game suppliment I've ever seen. All the 2nd ed books are terrific -- notably hero high

So you're in the 2nd edition camp? I've been buying third. I can't find freedom city under $30 but by all accounts it's worth it. There are a few very cheap 2nd edition pocket guides I may get off amazon.

Also, I'm way too happy with my wallet and not reading what I buy. Marvel heroic uses existing heroes primarily. Blargh. I'll file it for gameplay/ideas reference for now.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2015, 01:02:24 AM by Rejolt »
Rejolt Industries LLC is now a thing. Woo!

Rejolt

  • Elite Boss
  • *****
  • Posts: 512
  • Infinity Server 2005-2012
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2015, 09:09:49 AM »
Putting this on hold for chemo. I will be reading the Wild Cards series of novels and doing some writing. As I look through these games my imagination isn't thinking long term stories yet. I'm mainly treating each new rules set as another way to live through the CoH character creator and that's not good enough to tell a story.

To the books!
Rejolt Industries LLC is now a thing. Woo!

HalcyonS

  • Boss
  • ****
  • Posts: 156
Re: Super Hero Pen and Paper RPGs which ones do you like best?
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2015, 04:39:03 PM »
Good luck with your Chemo.