Friday, March 16, 2012

Ummm..Possibly Awesome Superhero Game

So I have been thinking about the new Marvel Heroic Game and...(blah blah boringfastforward)...

...since I like the Panel-By-Panel action but not a lot of the other stuff, I came up with...

This Brand New Superhero Game System I Wrote In 15 Minutes

So here's Spider-Man:

Webs D10
Agility D12
Wall Crawl D8
Jokes D4
Spider Sense D4
Super Strength D8

Hit points: 8
Here's the Hulk

Jump D12
Super Strength with angry dialogue D20
Super Strength with angry dialogue D20
Super Strength D12
Super Strength D12
Invulnerability D20
Invulnerability D20

Hit points 40

(Why does he get some things more than once? Because PCs and villains have to have a decent number of schticks for reasons that will be clear below.)

(Evan made The Tick:

Going Sane in a Crazy World d4
Nighinvulnerable d10
Nighinvulnerable d10
The Most Powerful Engine of Destruction 1974 Had to Offer D10
Dumb Luck D8
The Wild Blue Yonder D4

9 hit points

I know fuck-all about The Tick )

So here's how combat works:

-Roll for initiative on d6, high roll gets to decide whether they wanna attack or defend.

-Attacker picks any of his/her schticks to attack with and describes how it's being used to attack, like, say Spider Man goes "I undermine the Hulk with a quip to make him lash out and hope his hand hits a live electrical wire" or "I web him up"--then rolls the appropriate die--a d4 for a joke or a d10 for webs.

Let's say he rolls a 3 on jokes. The d4 joke die is now put aside until someone takes damage or Spider Man uses all his other dice.

-Now the defender wants to roll over this 3--s/he picks any of his/her schticks and describes how s/he is using it to defend him/herself like "I use my super strength to grab him in the middle of his dumb quip" then rolls the appropriate die-a d12, let's say the Hulk rolls a 5. That super strength die is set aside until someone takes damage or the Hulk uses all his other dice.

-The higher roll means the defender (The Hulk) has resisted the attacker (Spidey), now the Hulk rolls to attack, picking any schtick: "I use super strength with angry dialogue--'Joke Make Hulk Mad Joke Smash Webby Man!' and the Hulk rolls an 18 and sets that die aside.

Now Spider Man can't beat an 18 with anything, he's going to have to take damage.

-Once an attack is not successfully resisted, damage happens like this:

The attacker picks a schtick to do damage with from their remaining dice and rolls--super strength again for the Hulk--10! "I bash his head into a barber pole", the defender does likewise--Agility-- "I move my head at the last second!" Spider Man rolls an 8.

Subtract--Spider Man takes 2 damage. If the Hulk had rolled lower than Spider Man then Spidey would've taken just one point. Either way, both the attacker and the defender retire the die they used just now for the remainder of the combat. Spider Man can't use his Agility die, the Hulk can't use that slot of super strength until they are done fighting.

If the Hulk rolled another 18 and there was again no die Spidey had that was high enough to resist it, he would still lose a die. Spidey could pick which die. Orrrr Spidey could use two or more of his remaining dice but they are gone out of the pool for the rest of the encounter.

These are called "exhausted dice".

-New round. Everybody gets all their dice back EXCEPT the one the Hulk used for damage on that last roll and the one Spidey used to resist on that last roll. Initiative again, it starts over.

-Unlike Heroic this system is completely story-driven. Nothing tactically clever your PC does in the fiction can possibly affect the combat more than anything else--like Reed Richards could build a Kryptonite missile and shoot it at Superman and you'd still have to roll on your Super Science dice vs his Invulnerability to do anything to him. You have to think like a comic writer every round--Oh, can't do that again, just did it. And it's fast. You just have to explain how you used your schticks one schtick at a time every round. We ran through a few rounds on G+ and it was pretty fun. A whole different thing from FASERIP, upon whose toes I do not want to tread even lightly, but interesting just because--holy fuck wind it up and it just works. Crazy shit happens every round and it's fun.

-There are rules for multiple opponents and interrupting people (Spider Man has an ally all of a sudden!) and for double teaming and running away and stuff but that's the bones of it, the rest you can check out...


Which will be probably on Google+ Friday (today I guess) at 5pm Pacific 8pm Eastern.

You have to bring a superhero you made up using 46 dice points. What's that mean? Like you want a d12 in some schtick, you spend 12 points. You want a d4 you spend 4 points. It'll help to have at least 5 schticks.

You get 4+d6 hit points.

If you want to randomly create your PC use this and just ignore the points stuff. (Or, hell, use the points stuff and see how it works out--just don't make a high-level hero.)

(Official handbook of the Marvel etc readers may wish to note on super strength that d4 is like a normal human level person who can throw a decent punch, d6 is maxed out human, d8 is low superhuman, d10 is like Rogue--50 tons-ish or Incredible in FASERIP terms, d12 is like 75-85 tons like She Hulk or the Thing, d20 is 100 tons.)

Sign up for the playtest by hitting me up on G+. If you do it by posting a comment here, know that I am pre-emptively making fun of you.

Ha ha look at you, you can't read, go to space and have your head explode you not-readinger.


  1. Nice. Feels like a souped-up version of Risus.

  2. If we can't make it tonight (on account of it's my berfday), then can I comment here to nab a spot in the next playtest/game?

    Sounds super fun, despite my initial gut-cynicsim reaction. Would love to pop a beer and make some comic action happen.

  3. "I know fuck-all about The Tick"

    This needs to be remedied, ASAP.

  4. Reminds me a lot of Risus, which we played the crap out of in high school.

    We were all dumb drama nerds at the time.

  5. I will agree that this is somewhat Risus-y. It's interesting. I would definitely give it a go.

  6. Why would you play a character using d4s? Seems like it would be hard to win a fight, especially with two, like poor Spidey up there. Not that Spiderman should be winning a toe-to-toe Hulk fight, but only allowing him to use his super agility once every few rounds is like tying an arm behind his back, right? It's what he does.

    Also, could there be a situation where the Hulk is ever bad at anything? He's always going to roll a d12 as long as the player can somehow shoehorn one of his traits into it.

    1. Good questions:

      The Hulk is created using more total points than Spider Man. In most point buy systems this is important.

      Spidey is only using his agility once every few rounds (or rather--the die associated with it--he can actually use it as much as he likes in the fiction) because the game follows panel-to-panel logic more than tactical logic.

      It's less that he's not using it as it is he's only showcasing the agility or thought bubbling or talking about that specific thing about himself every 2 exchanges.

      Now why would Spidey's player want to buy 2 d4 traits rather than one d8 trait? Sometimes it's better--exhaustion sets in slower. A guy like Batman probably has like a dozen d4 traits--little gimmicks he can pull out of his belt just in case the opposition rolls a 1 or a 2. Also, in the advancement system (which you haven't seen) new traits start at d4.

      The Hulk is always going to be good in a fight compared to a character made with less points. Though if heroes gang up on him, he may eventually run out of dice during an encounter (exhustion) and lose.

      Again: plot logic. In a Hulk comic, the leader may shoot Hulk with a brain zap ray, but the Hulk still gets to be in most panels of a Hulk comic book.

      Figuring out how the Hulk is using, say, Jumping to counter a magic sleep spell is part of the game. Your job is to "write" a panel where that makes sense. Then you get to use the die.

  7. Your last two posts have been really excellent. Is there a way to use the two together? If you decide to do another session a little later Saturday or on Sunday I hope you'll let us know, I've already made four guys but I'm working til 2AM tonight.

    It's funny I was just thinking about that FASERIP/Heroic conversation and how a Gigacrawler-style crowdsources superhero game would be awesome...

  8. I approve this product or service! *STAMP*

  9. oh. my. gods. there is genius everywhere. its all over my monitor. did you make this mess, zak?

  10. Reminds me a lot of Button Men, by Cheap Ass Games... for what it is worth, I approve!


  11. I have a question!

    Let's say I want to put Batman vs say, Two Face. Two Face has an army of mooks. Would "Army of Goons in themed outfits" make up most of Two Face's traits in this case, or would I make a bunch of dudes with like d3 hitpoints and a bunch of moves like "Baseball bat d4" or something and then Batman has to beat them all up at once?

    1. my current assumption is a group of goons would be treated as a single character with-collectively--about the same number of HP as any other NPC. Like a swarm in 3.5 basically.

    2. that makes the most sense, that's all about making this about batman, which is kind of the point as you said earlier. like if you're fighting a gang or something, or foiling the bank heist part of the plan where Two Face is stealing some important bracelet or whatever but he already flipped his coin and bugged out.

      i guess if you wanted to make it about two face vs batman, like in Adam West Batman where he throws like two punches and beats up all the goons in five seconds (like two panels in a comic) and then the bad guy pulls out some dirty trick or whatever, you'd still throw a couple goon squads in his points with some corny dialog. "rip the caped crusader into heads and tails!" (implying bisecting him i'm bad at this stuff cut me some slack) or something awful like that. I'm not really sure what else "mastermind" guys like that could even do to be a compelling fight?

      i've always found the villains like that the most fun and open up the most opportunities for bad puns and stuff so forgive my fixation on the subject

  12. This looks hilarious and awesome and makes people use a whole bunch of dice all the time, which is cool.

    How would you handle someone picking up someone else's equipment? Like, H.P. Lovecraft grabs John Carter's Vorpal Sword which dropped on the ground when he got knocked out. The Vorpal Sword is part of the John Carter character, but how will it affect H.P. Lovecraft's character when he picks it up?

    Similarly, how will you handle Rogue's power-drain? It seems like that should work differently from a normal superpower since after she uses it she gains the other person's superpower. At the same level he had it? I'm not sure, since I never read the comics.

    If there are what amounts to equipment rules, and advancement rules, I don't see why this wouldn't work for a dungeon-crawl + player stronghold game.

  13. Super Weaknesses? Having obscure, precise, or downright silly weaknesses is a part of the superhero mythos.

    I propose:
    A power with a limitation gets a one-die upgrade bonus, maximum d12, if it has some kind of arbitrary restriction (subject to GM approval).

    Green Lantern
    Energy Blast (doesn't affect yellow) d10
    Giant Green Implement (doesn't affect yellow) d10
    Telekinesis (doesn't affect yellow) d10
    Force Field (doesn't affect yellow) d10
    Fly d8

    If all of a hero's abilities have the same restriction, then it's the same as the character being powerless against that: Superman is in trouble if he gets hit with a Kryptonite-based schtick, because none of his powers will work against it.

  14. Any more on this? Like how did the playtest go? Or any further previously-for-G+-only rulesbits? Not trying to pressure you into producing content to my specifications, just curious.

    1. It works. I think it'd be real good for people I am not, like little kids. more late rmaybe