What Supers Game Handles Powers The Bestest?

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Endless Flight

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This is a spin-off from the Moderation Criticism thread. You’ll have to read a few posts to get the gist of the conversation.

GURPS vs HERO might work because they both known as toolkit RPGs.
 
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TristramEvans

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They are both effects based designs. You don't buy "lightning strike" you use a combination of effects to build powers that do what a lightning strike would do.

Ah, the Captain Planet approach to game design...
 

EmperorNorton

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When you're dealing with superhero design, almost anything else ends up leaving some concepts by the side of the road.
I find with superpowers you have like 3 choices. 1. Things like Fate Aspects that are just "this is true because it is an aspect so you can do things that would require you to have this" (Cortex superpowers kind of go in this too, they are a bit more defined but it is like "oh I'm going to do create a complication by using my eyebeams on the floor under their feet, so I get to add that die to the roll), 2. Effects based design (Hero, M&M) or 3. Tie it to a specific universe with very specific powers that exist in that universe (Mutant City Blues, Double Cross).
 

Paragon

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I find with superpowers you have like 3 choices. 1. Things like Fate Aspects that are just "this is true because it is an aspect so you can do things that would require you to have this" (Cortex superpowers kind of go in this too, they are a bit more defined but it is like "oh I'm going to do create a complication by using my eyebeams on the floor under their feet, so I get to add that die to the roll), 2. Effects based design (Hero, M&M) or 3. Tie it to a specific universe with very specific powers that exist in that universe (Mutant City Blues, Double Cross).

Sounds about right. Though even with specific universes sometimes the power ranges are too broad for the third one to work (mostly the kitchen-sink universes like DC and Marvel).

And of course the first has the usual issues where if you and the GM aren't on the same page as to what the narrative structure does and doesn't let you do, there's problems.
 

Paragon

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'Fiddly' isn't what I'd use for that phenomenon. More like inconsistent- sometimes unconsciously, sometimes consciously. But not 'fiddly'.

Oh, no, some are pretty fiddly when the author of the comic has extremely specific ideas of how his character(s) power(s) work. John Byrne was known to lean that way sometimes for example.
 

Trippy

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Personally, I don’t like the generic, universal systems for running or playing supers games. They are too technical for my tastes, in the main.

I would prefer, and I’ve never seen this directly for supers games, something like the Mage Spheres of power - broad overall powers that could be combined in different ways to create effects, and then interpreted however the player chooses to describe them.

When I saw the Marvel movies that referred to the Infinity stones: Power, Mind, Time, Space, Reality and Soul, I thought maybe something could have been adapted to these with verb/noun descriptors for levels: 1 Perceive, 2 Alter 3 Control, 4 Create, 5 Destroy. Alternatively, you could do the Ars Magica thing of having separate scores for the verbs and then add the scores together into verb/noun combos.

So a character like Iron Man, who is mostly about his power suit, would have a big score in Power, and then other scores in Perceive, Alter, Control, Create and Destroy respectively. He could use his Perceive Power total to locate information about his surroundings, Create Power to blast somebody, Destroy Power to put out a fire, and so on.
 

AsenRG

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I think the real contenders are Exalted, Ars Magica and Cold Steel Wardens:grin:!
 

TristramEvans

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EmperorNorton

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Sounds about right. Though even with specific universes sometimes the power ranges are too broad for the third one to work (mostly the kitchen-sink universes like DC and Marvel).
Yeah there is a reason that I specifically picked Double Cross and Mutant City Blues as examples of the last kind. It really only works when there are actual limits on what superpowers can show up.

In Mutant City Blues, they even have a chart that shows how superpowers are connected. The Quade Diagram. Basically, when people spend points to pick up powers, they start at a place, and then it costs points to pick up adjacent powers, and points to skip over any. Also, crossing through one of the various mental disorders makes the person prone to it. This is all in world science. So you can look at a crime scene go "I think this power and this power were used here... huh, those are far apart, must have been two perps". Or that they are close together and it goes through a disorder that could explain motive. Etc. It's a neat idea.

In Double Cross there are archetypes of powers that everyone falls into. You can have one, two, or three archetypes (people with one have higher potential in the power, people with more are more specialized). So the powers are very defined.

Neither of course, handle supers powers "the bestest" :tongue:, but they work really well in making the powers work in the framework of the setting they've created alongside of them.
 

Voros

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Yeah there is a reason that I specifically picked Double Cross and Mutant City Blues as examples of the last kind. It really only works when there are actual limits on what superpowers can show up.

In Mutant City Blues, they even have a chart that shows how superpowers are connected. The Quade Diagram. Basically, when people spend points to pick up powers, they start at a place, and then it costs points to pick up adjacent powers, and points to skip over any. Also, crossing through one of the various mental disorders makes the person prone to it. This is all in world science. So you can look at a crime scene go "I think this power and this power were used here... huh, those are far apart, must have been two perps". Or that they are close together and it goes through a disorder that could explain motive. Etc. It's a neat idea.

In Double Cross there are archetypes of powers that everyone falls into. You can have one, two, or three archetypes (people with one have higher potential in the power, people with more are more specialized). So the powers are very defined.

Neither of course, handle supers powers "the bestest" :tongue:, but they work really well in making the powers work in the framework of the setting they've created alongside of them.

Double Cross looks kinda cool but I read it is very poorly translated. How'd you find it?
 

EmperorNorton

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Double Cross looks kinda cool but I read it is very poorly translated. How'd you find it?
It didn't hurt to read. It's not perfect but is useable and I didn't have any trouble understanding what I was reading. Just a little awkward at times. Then again, it could just be I've read some really bad translations recently and I'm more immune to it these days.
 

TristramEvans

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It does seem to do an excellent job of modelling different abilities under the same broad umbrella without having to go Full.Hero, because you never go Full.Hero. :grin:

Especially now that Hero has gone Full Edwards...
 

Malleustein

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Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game (SAGA). AKA "the one with the cards".

It handles most powers very well. It handles player created high-tech heroes poorly unless the referee allows a lot of leeway. Otherwise, it's pretty damn good.

Most powers are simple in effect, with stunts/limits for more specific uses. It is very easy to customize in this way.
 

CRKrueger

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Yeah there is a reason that I specifically picked Double Cross and Mutant City Blues as examples of the last kind. It really only works when there are actual limits on what superpowers can show up.

In Mutant City Blues, they even have a chart that shows how superpowers are connected. The Quade Diagram. Basically, when people spend points to pick up powers, they start at a place, and then it costs points to pick up adjacent powers, and points to skip over any. Also, crossing through one of the various mental disorders makes the person prone to it. This is all in world science. So you can look at a crime scene go "I think this power and this power were used here... huh, those are far apart, must have been two perps". Or that they are close together and it goes through a disorder that could explain motive. Etc. It's a neat idea.

In Double Cross there are archetypes of powers that everyone falls into. You can have one, two, or three archetypes (people with one have higher potential in the power, people with more are more specialized). So the powers are very defined.

Neither of course, handle supers powers "the bestest" :tongue:, but they work really well in making the powers work in the framework of the setting they've created alongside of them.
I am really not a big fan of Laws and think even less of Gumshoe, but that diagram is a clever little piece of game design, specifically constructed to provide setting detail and flavor while also being useful mechanically and tie in to the game’s premise.

Out of all the companies who have systems I actively dislike, Pelgrane’s the one whose products I have the most of, by far.
 

CRKrueger

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I've been trying to finish up a review of it for a while, but the pure concentrated stupid means I could practically rant for a paragraph in respone to every sentence, meaning the review would end up 10 x the size of the actual game.
I mean, who in the name of [insert patron deity] thought that the author of Trollbabe and S/Lay with Me would be the perfect fit for Champions? The guy can’t write a sentence without half of the words being jargon he’s defined himself. He’s like a Monty Python Parody Academic from the Bizarro Universe. I...I just can’t even. :dead:
 

hawkeyefan

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Marvel Super Heroes was one of my favorites in my early gaming days. DC Was also good, but more involved. There was honestly a lot I liked about DC that specifically addressed some of the things I didn’t like about Marvel, but that Universal Table just made things so easy.

Marvel’s Ranks were sometimes a little too set for me. In my opinion, there needed to be more ways to boost Rank to allow overcoming defenses that would otherwise be too strong to overcome.

I like systems that allow some flexibility in that regard.
 

Endless Flight

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Marvel Super Heroes was one of my favorites in my early gaming days. DC Was also good, but more involved. There was honestly a lot I liked about DC that specifically addressed some of the things I didn’t like about Marvel, but that Universal Table just made things so easy.

Marvel’s Ranks were sometimes a little too set for me. In my opinion, there needed to be more ways to boost Rank to allow overcoming defenses that would otherwise be too strong to overcome.

I like systems that allow some flexibility in that regard.
I'll get into it a little more in my upcoming DCH thread, but the MEGS system itself is why I rate the game higher than any other supers game. It was a genius bit of design by Greg Gorden.
 

Andrew J. Luther

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Personally, I've found Mutants & Masterminds 2E to be my sweet spot for superhero RPGs. But I also use a key optional rule from the Masterminds Manual, which is that players get unlimited power points to build their character. So what I do is get the players to tell me what their character is like, what they can do, and so forth in plain English, and then I suggest some pretty simple ways to build it.

But ignoring the power point issues (only worrying about the Power Level cap) makes it so much easier to build powers. Because otherwise, people feel the need to squeeze out every last point and everything gets so needlessly complicated.

I used to go to the Atomic Think Tank forums to look at some of the builds there, and I'd take a look at someone's write up of Captain America and I was completely lost. Because, of course, they'd try to model every thing the character had ever done. Like someone would put up a build of Cap and someone else would say "But there was this one issue of a Bob the Builder comic that was put out as a promotional piece by Toys 'R' Us, and Cap had a cameo in a single panel where he did this one thing, so you have to include that, but also make it so he can't do it every time because otherwise he'd have done it in other books." And then the person who did the stats would add another four or five paragraphs to exactly model that one thing.

I don't have the time *or* patience for that shit.

I think you can build the core of pretty much any Marvel superhero with no more complexity than the example characters in the Character Creation chapter. Sure, there are going to be instances of a hero doing some little thing in some issue of some book that doesn't work exactly the same way in the game, but who really gives a shit? If the character mostly feels like the Marvel hero in play, it doesn't matter. And M&M really doesn't have to be a complicated game in play. Build a decent core character, and just use Heroic Effort to model those rare things the hero does in the comics.

Anyway, I like M&M 2E because it has tons of options for building heroes with a wide range of powers, has the necessary official but optional rules to streamline things enough for my tastes, and it flows well in play.

Having said that, I end up buying almost every superhero RPG eventually, because, well, I love superheroes and I have an addiction. I also like Supers! RED, and I really, really *wanted* to like MHR (I bought everything they put out for it), but in play it just kept falling down in unexpected ways so I eventually gave up on it.

I was really into MSH for a while (I had the Advanced Set and the New York City boxed set), but I also had some issues with how it worked in combat. I'll dig into that in another post, because it seems we've got some MSH experts here and there may be simple workarounds for my issues (which would be great).
 
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