13 things about Superhero role playing games.

TristramEvans

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Yeah, there's several I strongly agree with (#1, 5, 6, 9, 11)
Several I kinda can empathize with (#4, 7, 8)
and some I don't really agree with at all (#2, 3, 12, 13)

But this all seems to be focused on MM, a game I have no familiarity with (it's D20-system-based, is it not?)

I laughed at this part of the title: "AFTER RUNNING 30 SESSIONS OF MUTANTS AND MASTERMINDS "

30 sessions, lol, you're just a puppy.
 

Tommy Brownell

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1) I like this one. Supers are certainly broad enough that you still need to manage expectations further. I would say that applies to a lot of games that have room for more than one "mode", though.

2) Makes most games better, IMO. It's the reason my ETU game is shaping up to be so huge for us. The whole town is alive, not just the PCs. Helps if your campaign is largely centered on one basic area, for sure.

3) I think supers are very prep heavy. That is, I prep the villains and their plans, and the PCs react. It's arguably the most reactionary genre there is, by default.

4) I hate this shit so very much. I hate it when RPGs use "page" and "panel" and "issue" as terminology. It's not a fucking comic book, it's an RPG.

5) Well, yeah, this is true of most games.

6) True of any RPG, really, even "adversarial" ones, IMO...because you at least need to trust the GM not to straight up hose you when the session starts.

7) Probably fair. But it's true of pretty much any game that's "episodic" with an overarching story bigger than "on to the next dungeon".

8) Probably true of any game with a metagame currency. Certainly how I look at Savage Worlds.

9) Sure?

10) I mean, I like how distilled down the cartoon versions get. Jettison things that are bad ideas and just keep the (subjective) best.

11) I can't speak for M&M, but even with Savage Worlds, it varies.

12) Player/GM problem. And if your *superhero* fights are dull, I don't wanna know how bad combat is in other games.

13) Hard disagree. I love supers gaming. The only hard work I have with Marvel SAGA is that, for all I love about it, it is written with holes that require some mental gymnastics to make it work, but the reward is worth it. But I don't mind when shit flips out to left field. At all. I tend to improvise well.
 

Tommy Brownell

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And just for fun:

http://www.petermball.com/15-things-learned-about-superhero-rpgs-after-running-150-sessions-of-my-campaign/

1) Totally agree. Honestly, most of them don't fit superhero emulation at all.

2) I find this to be true in most games I run.

3) True of any large group in any game.

4) Totally fair and, again, probably true of any long term game.

5) Yeah, it's kind of a razor's edge because of all the inherent wackiness...but it's also a bit easier to pull off than some other games because of the inherent wackiness.

6) True of most games. I don't know that my ratio was higher in supers games than non supers.

7) Certainly. Also the reason why it's good to have a system that makes managing multiple NPCs easier to do. Team battles in Savage Worlds (Necessary Evil) were amazing.

8) Sure.

9) Finding this to be true of any game I run, especially as "involved" as I like to make the settings.

10) Never been afraid of this. Would rather have people wanting more than burnt out.

11) Probably true of most ongoing campaigns.

12) Agreed.

13) There's an art to this. Doing the work to make the world feel living, and bleeding that out to the players. Sometimes that pays off in great ways down the line...and sometimes it's just window dressing.

14) Good plan for any longterm game that has any continuity.

15) Agreed 1000%.
 

Ulairi

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Superhero games have never worked for me because the best part of comicbooks in my eyes is when Peter Parker is Peter and not Spider-Man. I would hate a RPG about being Peter.
 

Gringnr

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Superhero games have never worked for me because the best part of comicbooks in my eyes is when Peter Parker is Peter and not Spider-Man. I would hate a RPG about being Peter.

Best part for me is people in ridiculous costumes hitting each other so for me there are many great supers games
 

TristramEvans

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Superhero games have never worked for me because the best part of comicbooks in my eyes is when Peter Parker is Peter and not Spider-Man. I would hate a RPG about being Peter.
I like to use social obligations in my games, so players often have to chose between superheroics and going to school, meet deadlines at work, running a business, or maintaining a relationships. There's tangible benefits to doing so (Karma), but a player can choose to ignore this side of the game as fits their tastes. I also allow Bluebooking, for Players who prefer that.
 

Chris Brady

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As an M&M and old comic afficionado, I agree with most of them. But you know what?

This is my next supers game: "Think X-Men, except you’re being trained by a retired Batman." That's sounds too awesome not to use.
 

TristramEvans

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I'm game!

1) MOST SUPERHERO EXPERIENCE POINT SYSTEMS SCALE POORLY FOR LONG-TERM PLAY

Well, yeah. I've always thought it was stupid trying to impose tradition XP/Level systems onto a setting where characters don't follow any sort of linear power curve. Spider-man in '81 is basically the same as '91 and '01 as far as powers, maybe with a few cosmetic tweaks. Superman or Batman's powers depend entirely on any given writer's interpretation of the character. These are soap operas, not Campbellian Hero's Journey situations. Anyways, yeah, this is why in Phaserip I use a very loose, situation in the game-specific approach to character improvement. You want to get stronger? Devote yourself to training in the gym a certain number of hours a week. Want a new power? Learn it as a Power Stunt. etc.

2) NPC VALUE IS DRIVEN BY REPETITION, ENGAGEMENT, AND INTEGRATION, NOT STATS

Yep. This is true of everything in the game, if you're doing it right. Stats are just ways to interact with the resolution system, the GM (and players) have to bring those things to life to contribute any value to a game. Role-playing 101, but I guess is worth saying.

3) THE MINUTIA OF HEROES LIFE IS HARDER TO MANAGE AS GROUPS GROW LARGER

Sure. My sweet-spot for gaming groups is 3-5.

4) PERIODICALLY RE-SET YOUR PITCH TO KEEP FOLKS ON THE SAME PAGE

I ...have not found this necessary. But I don't see any harm in it, I guess.

5) IN-GAME VERISIMILITUDE IS INCREDIBLY COMPLEX IN SUPERHERO GAMES

I guess it may just come more naturally to me because I spent a good chunk of my early life knee-deep in comic books.

6) ACKNOWLEDGE YOU ARE GOING TO RUN SOME BAD SESSIONS AND ROLL WITH IT

Yeah, certainly. GMing is like anything, the minute you stop learning is the minute you've ceased to get better. I like improving, and I think mistakes are wasted if they aren't used as opportunities to learn.

7) VILLAIN TEAMS TRUMP SOLO VILLAINS IN TERMS OF THREAT LEVEL

Again, it seems like a complete statement of the obvious to me, but I don't disagree.

8) REWARD PLAYERS FOR FOLLOWING GENRE CONVENTIONS


(OK, not the exact GIF I originally intended to use, but it made me laugh so hard I went with it)

9) KEEP BETTER SESSION NOTES THAN YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED

OK. I've never had an issue with this.

10) DON’T BE AFRIAD TO FINISH A SESSION A LITTLE EARLY IF IT GETS YOU A REVELATION FINISH TO A SESSION

Sure, I don't have set lengths for any adventure, if there's a good stopping point, I'll usually wrap up there.

11) THE PROCESS OF ADDING A NEW PLAYER IS A BLESSING, BUT ALSO A CURSE

I mean, at this point I'm really curious why so many things that he finds difficult I've never considered an issue, but hey, it took me a really long time to learn how to read analog clocks for some reason - we're all different.

12) YOUR MAIN JOB IS DENIAL, BUT HOLDING OUT TOO LONG WILL KILL A SUBPLOT

I'm still not sure I agree with any of this "Denial" premise from the last article. I mean, I kinda get it, and it likewise kinda reminds me of this approach I read about online years ago where the GM ran a college superheroes game as sort of a gauntlet, just to see if players could sustain, and I guess I see how this resembles some comic book plots. However, I don't think it's the be all or end all of superhero stories, and it remains an element of my games rather than the primary directive.

13) THE CAMPAIGN WORLD MEANS LESS THAN YOU’D THINK

It's never really meant anything to me outside the context of my games.

CREATE CHEAT-SHEETS FOR RECURRING FACTIONS/CONTEXTS/LOCATIONS

OK. I'm sure that's doubly important if MM is as crunchy as most D20-based RPGs I know.

15) FINDING THE SYSTEM THAT SUITS YOUR STYLE MATTERS HELPS A WHOLE LOT

Yep. A+. This is what I think Edward's famous "System Matters" essay completely missed. It's not the system by itself that matters, it's the combination of the right system with the right GM with the right setting.
 

Chris Brady

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I agree with what you said about how 'System Matters' @TristramEvans The right mindset and system is essential to get it right for me. It's why I personally prefer themed systems, rather than a generic engine for everything.
 

tenbones

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Superhero games have never worked for me because the best part of comicbooks in my eyes is when Peter Parker is Peter and not Spider-Man. I would hate a RPG about being Peter.
But that's just it. Peter Partker is the alter-ego of Spiderman and vice versa. Their radically different lives are on the same coin, that friction *is* what makes the drama about Spiderman as a character interesting and indentifiable.

I had a player tell me once, "I want the Peter Parker experience for my character." So he was a college student, had a cool girlfriend that had her own thing going on, they had a circle of friends - none of them knew about his secret identity. Some of them were in business with each other club promotion, marketing, DJing etc. But his superhero side (he was a kid that underwent gene-therapy with AIM scientists that used alien DNA to fix his problems - that gave him his powers).

Well between AIM blackmailing his father, HYDRA trying to hunt him (and as they discovered his identity - his girlfriend and friends and family) - *everything* was a collision of day-to-day life vs. his metahuman adventurer life. It would go from placid - to relentless pressure.

At one point he was like "Well I guess I asked for this..."
 

Ulairi

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It could work. I've never participated in a supers game that lasted more than a few sessions. I used to love comicbooks and have all of the Heroes Unlimited stuff. In my mind the relationship between being the hero and the person works great in comicbooks but may not translate to gaming.
 

Tommy Brownell

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It could work. I've never participated in a supers game that lasted more than a few sessions. I used to love comicbooks and have all of the Heroes Unlimited stuff. In my mind the relationship between being the hero and the person works great in comicbooks but may not translate to gaming.
It's all about buy-in and what the group wants from the game, that's all.
 

Caesar Slaad

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A little supers gaming chat warms my heart.

I actually find #12 (first list)(fights can be dull) to be true, if system sensitive. For Mutants & Masterminds, it is definitely true. You may have a few cool powers and there may be a few villains whose combat abilities add something, but it doesn't have the same degree of tactical richness as it's fantasy brethren. The GM needs to strive to add a bit of situational complexity to keep things interesting. Fortunately, M&M gives you tools to do so in the form of complications and hero points. This is not a tool you can ignore.

In Masks, enshrining #9 (PCs can make any situation worse) as a possibility in every die roll tends to hand the GM opportunities to complicate things on a silver platter.
 

Silverlion

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Hrms. All my thoughts went into making a simple superhero RPG. So...
 
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