Reskin the Marvel Universe

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David Johansen

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This:

I wasn't real fond of Saga, might've been the Gm but there you go. Marvel's made a lot of weird game system choices over the years. I wonder if you could reskin the characters and rename them and get away with using the same system. Red Bug, Star Shield, The Awesome Quartet,The Sex People (Clairmooonnnntttt), Retributioners, Obstructers, Unmanlies, the renaming and redesigning thing could be a game in and of itself.

Got me thinking. Let's do it. I've already started but let's call Hyperion "Superman."

Some discussion of stating superheroes for various games would be good too. I used to have a few Marvel characters done up for GURPS 4e but the Strength scores were based on some bad assumptions and too low. GURPS really overprices Super Strength.
 

The Butcher

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The superhero genre gets precious little play at my game table (I wish this wasn't the case), so I'm never quite certain how most people go about it — which is more common, to use an established comics universe, or to create your own?

I've always wanted to create my own but I'd be hard-pressed to escape the tropes of the genre (hell, they're at least part of the reason we're playing in the first place). It's kind of hard to build a power-armor-wearer that doesn't feel like Iron Man, or a force-construct-builder that doesn't bring Green Lantern to mind.

Villains are more or less the same. Champions' Doctor Destroyer is a thinly veiled Doctor Doom clone, as was City of Heroes' Lord Recluse (though admittedly with a side order of Commander Cobra).

Alternate realities are a fun way to play with established universes. Here's an idea I've toyed with in the past: a Golden Age Marvel Universe that never was (in the vein of Roy Thomas' faux Golden Age for DC). This would include both actual Golden Age Marvel heroes and villains like Captain America, Namor and the (android) Human Torch, as well as Golden Age takes on other heroes such as Moon Knight.
 

David Johansen

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Sure, though this thread is more about coming up with silly, alternate names for characters. I think the key to making a superhero interesting is making them an interesting character. Take Samaritin from Astro City. Sure he's a Super Man clone but what makes him interesting is that he's an overworked middle aged man who counts the seconds he actually spends in flight because, unlike Superman he really does try to save everyone all the time. Sure he's a man from a future he managed to prevent and his greatest villain is an Arabian sorcerer that he has dinner with once a year, but he's strong, fast, bullet proof, flies, and can project a web of "empyrean fire" but he's still Superman.
 

Shipyard Locked

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It's kind of hard to build a power-armor-wearer that doesn't feel like Iron Man, or a force-construct-builder that doesn't bring Green Lantern to mind.

Huh, I've never run or played any long-term supers game, but I didn't think this was an issue. Do you feel this genre is harder to make distinctive characters in than other genres?

For instance, Claudia the little girl vampire from Ann Rice is pretty iconic and frequently copied, but many of the copies manage to get out from under her shadow just fine.
 

TristramEvans

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So the game is just coming up with etsies for popular Supers Archetypes?

Easy enough, here's an alternative to the Avengers...

COUNTERBLOW

Featuring...
The Bald Eagle
Viking In Tights
The TinMan
Bahamut
Brown Recluse
and The Woodsman
 

David Johansen

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Well, more like silly renaming actual specific characters that keeps the characters recognizable. So, for instance, red arachnid's secret identity would still be the goofy photography geek who lives with his aunt and lost his uncle Jerry who told him that with great power comes responsibility. So the concept is pretty specific to Marvel. But whatever, it's just a silly thread. Who's Bahamut? Captain America, Thor, Ironman, and Black Widow are pretty clear and The Woodsman could be Hawkeye though it works better for his namesake the two bit carny with a bow who's never really been shown to have much skill in woodcraft.
 

TristramEvans

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Well, more like silly renaming actual specific characters that keeps the characters recognizable. So, for instance, red arachnid's secret identity would still be the goofy photography geek who lives with his aunt and lost his uncle Jerry who told him that with great power comes responsibility. So the concept is pretty specific to Marvel. But whatever, it's just a silly thread. Who's Bahamut? Captain America, Thor, Ironman, and Black Widow are pretty clear and The Woodsman could be Hawkeye though it works better for his namesake the two bit carny with a bow who's never really been shown to have much skill in woodcraft.

Yeah , etsy's have a long and storied tradition in comics. Both Marvel and DC have done it numerous times with each other's characters ( sometimes even their own characters), even Image got in on it in the 90s with their sadly under appreciated 1963 miniseries.

Bahumat is an ancient mythical beast from which the modern term "Behemoth" is derived.
 

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What does 'etsy' mean in regard to comic heroes? Is it just a cuter 'ersatz'?
 

David Johansen

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I think it's sometimes spelled "expy." Essentially a reskinned an renamed version of a character. Marvel's Squadron Supreme is probably the best example. Hyperion is Superman, Power Princess is Wonder Woman, Night Hawk is Batman, Shape is Plastic Man, The Skrull is Martian Manhunter and so on. Of course they're all assholes :grin: Another solid Marvel example is the Shiar Imperial Guard as expy's of The Legion of Superheros, with Gladiator as Superboy and so forth. DC does it less but the Extremists are basically Disneyland animatronic androids of Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus etc. Yes, the JLA was beaten by animatronic androids of Marvel villains at one point.

Deadpool is a reskin of Deathstroke the Terminator, but that's pure parody.
 

TristramEvans

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What does 'etsy' mean in regard to comic heroes? Is it just a cuter 'ersatz'?

Pretty much. With comics, though, it sort of blends the line with Archetypes. Ultimately, superhero comics is an incredibly incestuous "genre" (*). Is Man-Thing an ersatz of Swamp Thing or vice versa? This is an edge case as they are the creation of the same person, but to go to the other side of broad, is Superman an etsy of Hercules (or , in more recent interpretations, Jesus)? Is Disney's Hercules an etsy of Superman? Is Frosty the Snowman an etsy of Jesus? The point I'm tongue in cheek making is that superhero tales are essentially the mythology of the modern era, and like all myth can be viewed through a Joseph Campbellian lens as the repetitions of themes. I think Alan Moore exposed this with Watchmen (or Marvelman), bringing it to light in a way that led to Maximortal/Bratpack, Elementals, hell it seemed to me that Image started as 90% "not-Xmen" variations. Sometimes its played as parody (Venture Bros), sometimes just a blatant copyright reach-around (the aforementioned Squadron Supreme), but more often than not its just an echo of a mythological idea (Robin Hood begat Green Arrow begat Hawkeye or Hermes begat The Flash begat The Whizzer begat Quicksilver).

* - the reason for the iffy quotes around genre here is that I don't believe superheroes represent in and of themselves a genre, rather an element inserted in genres.
 

daniel_ream

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Champions and Mutants & Masterminds have been doing this for decades now. Also and especially Astro City.

As much as I love superhero comics to pieces, I do have to admit it's intrinsically a pretty limitedgenre that has not been helped by the Big Two refusing to introduce new characters for decades.
 
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