In Search of a Supers System

Gringnr

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Ooh, yeah, I probably should have been more specific about that as well - sort of supers power level I'm aiming for.

I'd like for the game to be able to have its strengths in the power levels that you might see in the X-Men/MCU films as opposed to the DC stuff, and probably less Thor and more Cap/Wolverine levels of ability.
I'm gonna recommend Golden Heroes, and I'm surprised no one else has.

Pros:
-Specifically designed to be at late 70s/80s X-Men/Avengers power levels
-Started as a hombrew of Gamma World 1e, so the mechanics have some similarity to old-school D&D (3d6 stats, descending "AC", d20 matrix attack table)
-Does a better job of simulating comics than any rpg I've seen
-Easy, fun chargen (I mean REALLY fun, to the point of being addictive)

Cons:
-OOP (but there is a FREE and faithful retroclone- http://www.mediafire.com/file/xo7235od25oee4x/Codename_Spandex.pdf/file), and pricey used
-Random chargen (actually, more semi-random, but will not be to everyone's taste)
-Old-school design (can be a little clunky in places)
-Not many published adventures, and inconsistent quality in those

It was, at one point, in the running to be the first officially licensed Marvel Game. It's amazing, warts and all.
 
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Gringnr

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I'm gonna recommend Golden Heroes, and I'm surprised no one else has.

Pros:
-Specifically designed to be at late 70s/80s X-Men/Avengers power levels
-Started as a hombrew of Gamma World 1e, so the mechanics have some similarity to old-school D&D (3d6 stats, descending "AC", d20 matrix attack table)
-Does a better job of simulating comics than any rpg I've seen
-Easy, fun chargen (I mean REALLY fun, to the point of being addictive)

Cons:
-OOP (but there is a FREE and faithful retroclone- http://www.mediafire.com/file/xo7235od25oee4x/Codename_Spandex.pdf/file), and pricey used
-Random chargen (actually, more semi-random, but will not be to everyone's taste)
-Old-school design (can be a little clunky in places)
-Not many published adventures, and inconsistent quality in those

It was, at one point, in the running to be the first officially licensed Marvel Game. It's amazing, warts and all.

I should point out that the author of Golden Heroes does have a newer, currently available game that is a spiritual successor. It's called Squadron UK, and it's got a great mixture of old and new design elements.

Full game:

PWYW Basic version:
 

Cam Banks

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I'm obviously biased toward Marvel Heroic Roleplaying because I wrote it.

I will also second Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game, which currently has a Starter Set (with pregens) and it had a successful Kickstarter to get the core rulebook and several supplements made. That game's due out this year. So, not soon enough for you if you'd like to make your own characters, but not too far off. I'm biased toward this because I'm one of the designers, also.

If you're really keen on 5e and so are your players, and want a bolt-on set of powers that works with that system but elevates the PCs to super hero status with a system of power tiers etc, I'd suggest looking at Apex 5e which does, however, need you to also pick up Ultramodern 5e to use it. But there's a bundle!
 

Vincent Takeda

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If your players are used to D&D, I recommend Palladium's heroes unlimited. Its built on essentially the same foundations as D&D so your learning curve is low.
 

Cam Banks

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If your players are used to D&D, I recommend Palladium's heroes unlimited. Its built on essentially the same foundations as D&D so your learning curve is low.
Palladium is built on a percentage based skill system and the d20 based combat mechanics are pretty different too. I don’t think I’d recommend it!
 

Chris Brady

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Palladium is built on a percentage based skill system and the d20 based combat mechanics are pretty different too. I don’t think I’d recommend it!
Yeah, I'm with Cam on this one.

I don't have any other Supers games that's D20 based, although I collect them as a hobby inside the hobby, so I can't really suggest anything beyond what I have.
 

Steve Dubya

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Have you heard of Prowlers & Paragons?
I have, but only just really heard of it. I recall there was a KS recently for a new edition, and I get the impression that there were some significant changes to it from the original version. It's a dice pool system of some sort, yes?
 

James Gillen

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I would have to wait for the new version to come out for Prowlers & Paragons to make the comparison, but I contributed to the Kickstarter.
Most rolls are D6 and the power scale and power creation are very similar to Mutants & Masterminds, with somewhat less math.

JG
 

Vincent Takeda

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probably the only drawback to the palladium system is the online haters community. The system itself is light enough to be nimble for houserules but crunchy enough to be satisfying. Its an easy system to grok that has the bulk of comic book archetypes without the pedantics of build-a-bear powers.
 

Tommy Brownell

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I'm obviously biased toward Marvel Heroic Roleplaying because I wrote it.

I will also second Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game, which currently has a Starter Set (with pregens) and it had a successful Kickstarter to get the core rulebook and several supplements made. That game's due out this year. So, not soon enough for you if you'd like to make your own characters, but not too far off. I'm biased toward this because I'm one of the designers, also.

If you're really keen on 5e and so are your players, and want a bolt-on set of powers that works with that system but elevates the PCs to super hero status with a system of power tiers etc, I'd suggest looking at Apex 5e which does, however, need you to also pick up Ultramodern 5e to use it. But there's a bundle!
I'm rather looking forward to the character generation in Sentinels. The first four adventures in the Quickstart went over pretty well (life has prevented us from playing the finale thus far), but it damn sure modeled the characters from the card game well, so I'm curious to see if that translates to other characters when I have the full rules in hand.
 

Dumarest

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Mad props to you for enjoying it, but I don't think "a lot better and more interactive" is a common opinion of Palladium combat rules vs D&D.
If so, it's only because most D&D players haven't experienced it and don't know any better.
 

The Butcher

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As another gamer who’s ever searching for a supers game (and currently defaults to Savage Worlds with the Super Powers Companion) — and perhaps more importantly, as someone who’s emotionally invested in Palladium (see avatar) — I have to admit that Heroes Unlimited has an appeal to me that’s beyond logic or sanity.

Only Palladium could cook up a class-and-level based superhero RPG with multiple incompatible power subsystems (some cribbed wholesale from Palladium’s other, non-necessarily genre-appropriate offerings) and make me interested.

I’ve never ran it but it keeps tempting me. (Only ever used it to generate time-displaced Rifts PCs.) I’ve also heard good things about Bill Coffin’s setting books, so I might pick them up some day to run with my favorite supers game...
 

Silverlion

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Bill Coffin's settings are worth it. Note: I'm not a Palladium fan anymore but was in my youth, and I found some character archetypes incredibly underpowered in the most recent edition (prior editions they had some odd power quirks that made them somewhat useful. But still limited) A primary example is psionics, where the system REALLY, doesn't fit any form of comic book psi's at all.

I'll note, however, the game shines in lower powered character though. If you brought down some of the OP powers (Body of Metal, Invulnerability) you could have a really strong game where Palladium would work as much as it does anyway.
 

Z-Man

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Thanks, might have to give it another shot when (face-to-face) Boot Hill winds down. Got any tips for coming up with those three "tags" (I forget what the game term was) like "It's Clobberin' Time" and "I'm the Best There is at What I Do"? That's another place we struggled with original PCs.
Distinctions! I've had some fun with those.

A couple of options:

*Look at Fate characters. They have aspects, which are very similar (although in MHRP they are applied a bit differently)

*Just think of what the characters can do, and who they are, and use those as a base. Got a mega-rich guy? Then try "More Money Than God" or "Third Wealthiest Man Alive." Got a strong woman? Go with stuff like "Strongest Woman on Earth" or "Mutant Powerhouse."

The thing with Distinctions is that they're facets of who the characters are, and they provide a great basis for the powers and/or Secret ID. Having "Atlantean" as part of a Distinction, for example, immediately makes the character aquatic, and also ties him or her into an underwater society. Then you can decide what part they play in Atlantis as a whole, so they might be an "Atlantean Prince," meaning they have royal responsibilities but also royal powers. "The Spy From Atlantis" meanwhile might be gathering intel on the surface world while "The Atlantean Reed Richards" is probably the smartest person in the underwater world.

The Distinctions are fun, as they automatically have positive and negative connotations (the D8/D4 decision). "Damn, I'm Handsome" might sound like it's it's only a positive thing, but it if the character is trying to sneak through a party or avoid being noticed, that D4 (plus a Plot Point!) makes more sense.

I wouldn't sweat them too much. If someone can only think of two, then start them with those and add a third one later. If the Distinctions are pretty basic ("Fast Guy"), go with that to start and then add onto it as the game progresses and the players get to know their characters a bit better ("Hey! I just realized that my character is the 'Fastest Guy in Milwaukee!'").
 

Cam Banks

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Distinctions are kind of like your character's elevator pitch. You should be able to say all three and give other people a good grasp of your character's background, personality, and attitude.
 

daniel_ream

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Based on the OP, I'm going to recommend M&M 1e (not 2/3e). And I say that as probably the second most ardent fan of Marvel Heroic on this thread. It's the closest thing to a D20 supers game you're going to find, although you may be limited to PDFs.

Do not listen to anyone who tells you that Champions (any edition) or M&M 2/3e are easy to create characters for. Character creation in those games is the definition of RPG Sudoku. Early editions of Champions also require a hex grid and several hours to play out relatively simple combat encounters. That doesn't seem like a good fit for a 5E group.

BASH or Icons! would be a good choice if your players are willing to try a different ruleset entirely.
 

Picaroon Jack

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Do not listen to anyone who tells you that Champions (any edition) or M&M 2/3e are easy to create characters for. Character creation in those games is the definition of RPG Sudoku.
In total agreement with this statement. It would take days to make a champion character, especially if you took limitations on your powers to get more points to spend.
 

urbwar

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Do not listen to anyone who tells you that Champions (any edition) or M&M 2/3e are easy to create characters for. Character creation in those games is the definition of RPG Sudoku.
When I first used the system, it could take awhile to get what I wanted out of a character. Once I knew the system, I could make a character in 15 minutes or so, less if I used the old heromaker software.

Early editions of Champions also require a hex grid and several hours to play out relatively simple combat encounters. That doesn't seem like a good fit for a 5E group.
I've never ever used a hex grid for any game, Champions included. The only time it took hours to run combat was 2 or 3 times, and that was because I had more than 7 players for each of those encounters. My experience with the system is nothing like you describe. Guess I was running it wrong all those years :tongue:

Is it difficult for some people? Sure. But it isn't for everyone
 
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Jetstream

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Do not listen to anyone who tells you that Champions (any edition) or M&M 2/3e are easy to create characters for. Character creation in those games is the definition of RPG Sudoku.
Only the first couple times. Make enough characters and it's easy peasy. When I make NPCs I don't even actually make sheets for them, I just run the suckers off the top of my head with a little note that tells me what their PL limited stats are.

And the M&M3e system is easier to run than just about anything I've ever played.
 

daniel_ream

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When I first used the system, it could take awhile to get what I wanted out of a character.
Only the first couple times.
Given that we're talking about a 5E-exclusive group with at least one player with a strong resistance to non-D20 mechanics (which presumably includes character creation), do you really think "yeah, we're going to spend the first couple of sessions figuring out the character creation system" is going to be a selling point?

I've never ever used a hex grid for any game, Champions included. [..] Guess I was running it wrong all those years
Yes. You were. First through fourth editions embed the tactical hex grid assumption into every part of the game, from character creation to combat. You can theater-of-the-mind it if you like, in the same way that some people play blindfold chess, but you're not playing the game the way it was designed to be played and much of the system's "balance" will be thrown out if you're not counting hexes.
 

urbwar

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Yes. You were. First through fourth editions embed the tactical hex grid assumption into every part of the game, from character creation to combat. You can theater-of-the-mind it if you like, in the same way that some people play blindfold chess, but you're not playing the game the way it was designed to be played and much of the system's "balance" will be thrown out if you're not counting hexes.
Yet the game played just fine without it. You don't need to run it with a hex grid. No balance was thrown off by my not using it. It is no more necessary than use Heromaker software to make a character. You can use it, but it doesn't throw balance off if you don't use it. I ran plenty of campaigns over multiple decades, and never had an issue with balance whatsoever. I've played in various convention games, and none of those gm's used a hex grid. Again, no balance issues.
 
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Chris Brady

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I have no idea what Mr. Ream's issue is with Mutants and Masterminds and HERO.
 

Jetstream

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Given that we're talking about a 5E-exclusive group with at least one player with a strong resistance to non-D20 mechanics (which presumably includes character creation), do you really think "yeah, we're going to spend the first couple of sessions figuring out the character creation system" is going to be a selling point?
I’d actually suggest removing the issue and using the Basic Hero’s Handbook, then suggesting that anyone who wants something more detailed play with the regular book in their own time.
 

Dumarest

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I have no idea what Mr. Ream's issue is with Mutants and Masterminds and HERO.
Just his usual making up nonsense about things he doesn't understand. I've never met or played with anyone who needed hex maps for Hero in any genre. I very much doubt he's ever played Hero as his talking points sound like something he read online in a Hero-bash review by someone else who's never played it. There are real reasons someone might not want to play Hero, but needing hex grids isn't one of them.
 

Baulderstone

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Just his usual making up nonsense about things he doesn't understand. I've never met or played with anyone who needed hex maps for Hero in any genre. I very much doubt he's ever played Hero as his talking points sound like something he read online in a Hero-bash review by someone else who's never played it. There are real reasons someone might not want to play Hero, but needing hex grids isn't one of them.
I'm not any kind of Hero expert, but every time that I have played in a session of it, the GM didn't use a hex grid.
 

PolarBlues

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There are crunchy superhero systems, there are rules-lite ones and others that are somewhere in the middle.
There are simulation focused superhero systems, there are story-game orientated ones and others that are somewhere in the middle.
There are tactical or otherwise gamesy superhero systems, there are ones where the rules sort of fade in the background and others that are somewhere in the middle.

I suppose none of them are technically perfect, but then again, what is?

Surely the trick is to pick one that generally reflects your preferred playstyle and then either make your peace with the rules you don't or adjust those rules your taste? Isn't that hobby works?
 

Silverlion

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There are crunchy superhero systems, there are rules-lite ones and others that are somewhere in the middle.
There are simulation focused superhero systems, there are story-game orientated ones and others that are somewhere in the middle.
There are tactical or otherwise gamesy superhero systems, there are ones where the rules sort of fade in the background and others that are somewhere in the middle.

I suppose none of them are technically perfect, but then again, what is?

Surely the trick is to pick one that generally reflects your preferred playstyle and then either make your peace with the rules you don't or adjust those rules your taste? Isn't that hobby works?

Very much this--my ideal ones are simpler, and easier to create powers for (or choose and remodel): MSH, Marvel Saga (Re: Marvel Super Hero Adventure Game), FaseRip (clone of MSH sort of), Icons, Truth & Justice, and of course Hearts & Souls. Sentinels' tempts me, but I really hope they hire a good editor. Because as much as I think Cam has great ideas, he often stumbles over explaining them well.* (One of the reasons Marvel Heroic is not on my list. It needed more explanation and clarity. My group had the same issue with Smallville.)



*Footnote: I suffer from the same problem. Don't get me wrong here, because Cam is awesome.
 

Lord Dynel

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I’ve been thinking hard about supers systems lately. I’ve got it narrowed down to two systems. I’d like to run a game where the PCs are street-level supers, but it really depends on the world they live on what system I use.

If they are the epitome of superhumans, then I want to use Chronicles of Darkness. There’s enough superhuman abilities in the merit system to cover it - it could easily cover stuff like Daredevil, characters from the movie Push, even a low level Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, a bargain Dr. Strange, etc.

If, however, these characters exist in a world where the Captain Marvels, Thor’s, and Iron Man’s of the also exist, then I’d probably go with Mutants and Masterminds. CofD can’t handle the power level without major tweaking. M&M has decent balance inherent in the system, but allows players to build their characters how they want with points. The system runs pretty quick and doesn’t really get in the way during a game.
 

Jerry

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If they are the epitome of superhumans, then I want to use Chronicles of Darkness. There’s enough superhuman abilities in the merit system to cover it - it could easily cover stuff like Daredevil, characters from the movie Push, even a low level Luke Cage or Jessica Jones, a bargain Dr. Strange, etc.

If, however, these characters exist in a world where the Captain Marvels, Thor’s, and Iron Man’s of the also exist, then I’d probably go with Mutants and Masterminds. CofD can’t handle the power level without major tweaking. M&M has decent balance inherent in the system, but allows players to build their characters how they want with points. The system runs pretty quick and doesn’t really get in the way during a game.
All the power levels you've described can be done with MYTHIC D6.

Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel are at the high end, but both could be managed with enough points.

barring that, if you could get your hands on Mayfairs DC Heroes, thats the one I would suggest the most.
 

Gringnr

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All the power levels you've described can be done with MYTHIC D6.

Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel are at the high end, but both could be managed with enough points.

barring that, if you could get your hands on Mayfairs DC Heroes, thats the one I would suggest the most.
Mythic D6 is basically the system from DC Universe, right?
 

Jerry

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It has quite a bit in common with the WEG DC Universe and the Xena & Hercules game.
 

Lord Dynel

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All the power levels you've described can be done with MYTHIC D6.

Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel are at the high end, but both could be managed with enough points.

barring that, if you could get your hands on Mayfairs DC Heroes, thats the one I would suggest the most.
You know, I have Mythic D6, got it off Goblin Emporium on G+ before it went down, but haven't looked hard at it.

The option for CofD was my way of getting it to the table. :tongue: I really like that system for some kind of modern drama/slightly supernatural, but don't want to use it for horror (I've got CoC for that). I've got DC Heroes, too, the 3rd Edition (which some say is really, really good) but like Mythic D6, haven't perused it much since I picked it up.

Looks like I have new books to put at the bedside for some late night reading!
 
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