Monday, May 31, 2010

Super Hero Games

I am on the road and not near my computer, but I will make this quick:

Which do you like better: the Marvel Super Heroes RPG or the DC Heroes RPG (my question mark does not work) And why (question mark)

(Go ahead and talk about Champions or Villains and Vigilantes or Mutants and Masterminds or GURPS Supers or Wild Talents or whatever if you must but know now that none of that is pertinent to me at the moment for reasons I have no time to explain.)

Also: I already know about all these games, so you do not have to explain them, just say why you like them.


  1. Nothin beats the old FASERIP system. Though the DCU RPG got some rockin ass sourcebooks. The Magic book alone is worth the price of admission.

  2. Marvel Super-Heroes because its fast-paced, evocative, and easy to use. That said, DC models a wider range of power levels better, so it has its own charms, too.

  3. Marvel Super-Heroes. Easy to play and a lot of fun. Plus who doesn't want to be Wolverine?

  4. Whoa man! you need to check out best of them, Necessary Evil.

    Consider this.

    Aliens visit earth, preaching universal love and harmony. They invite everyone who's anyone (which includes all the Superheroes) to a big treaty signing ceremony on the Whitehouse lawn.

    The Aliens nuke the site from orbit, being the only way to be sure, leaving the Earth undefended. The fate of the world is to be enslaved by the invading Aliens now that all the Superheroes are dead,......

    ..... Leaving the responsibility of saving the world to the Supervillans! the Necessary Evil.

    Great concept, not played many ganmes of it myself, but everyone who i know who has, had a ball. Its a Savage Worlds Sourcebook, and Savage Worlds is also a great rules light system that seems to be 'right up your street'.

    If you're interested in running SW I know a guy who's created a web based SW char generator that supports NE you and your players can use... don't have the link to hand.

  5. I don't have any experience at all with Marvel Supers, so I can't tell you which one is "better". I did enjoy DC Heroes at the time. In a mechanical sense, I liked it's 3x3 array of stats, and it's doubling mechanism. As a math nerd, I sort of like a game system based on logarithms;) (even if it was all shifts and chart look-ups)

    I'ts been a fifteen years since I Played it though (Champions is more recent to my mind), but I recall that it seemed fairly straightforward to play and make characters.

  6. I loved Marvel SH. Great game, and simple system.

  7. For me and a few friends who played Marvel, the big draw, and the biggest reason we preferred it to DC, was The Chart.

    For those who've never played and are reading this, The Chart was a chart at the back of the book that compared all the different power levels and showed the gradients of success each was capable of. So simply by looking at the chart, you could get an idea of how likely your Incredible Agility would result in a mere success that would get you out of the line of a thug's fire, and how often you'd get a critical success that meant you'd dodged out of the way and let one thug shoot one of his own buddies.

    For me, though, I was always more interested in knowing the odds of critical failure, because sometimes critical failure is the best tool for advancing your adventure goals. Case in point: if you decide to attract Galactus's attention by mucking about with his world-eating machinery, a mere success would screw up some part of the machine and get you in a fight with one of Galactus's minion-monsters while another set of automated drones repaired what damage you'd manage to do. But a critical failure? You'd screwed something up so badly that only the Big Guy himself had any idea how to fix it, and he'd definitely want to ask you what the fuck you thought you were doing.

    DC had a resolution system that seemed much more functional, but the results were a lot harder to grasp without knowing in advance what the modifiers were. With Marvel, as long as you had The Chart and hsd some ballpark idea of what the column-shift modifiers might be, you had a pretty good idea of whether your action was a good idea, bad idea, or Bad Idea (that would end up being exactly what you need to have happen).

  8. FASERIP (although Palladium's "Heroes Unlimited" pips it in terms of sheer retro-stupid).

  9. I read almost 100% Marvel comics growing up. I don't really know much about the DC universe. Thus, we play Marvel.

  10. Marvel easy to teach and fun to play Nuff said.

  11. Marvel - FASERIP, SAGA, The Stoned Game?
    DC - Mayfair, West End Games, Mutants and Masterminds 3E?

    Assuming we're talking FASERIP v. Mayfair I would say that it depends on what you are trying to get out of it. Despite FASERIP being based on a Single Chart, I feel like Mayfair is much more charty which is generally a turn off for me, though I know others like it. If you're feeling more math oriented then Mayfair can be good but given you're more often doing games with newer players then I'd recommend FASERIP.

    My biggest problem with FASERIP is the static difficulty. I'm not fond of rolling against the universe in general. It has been a while but I'm pretty sure I remember there were some issues with Armored characters being untouchable at certain points.

    The other question with FASERIP is if you want to be playing with pregenerated Marvel characters or rolling your own. With rolling your own there is always the danger of rolling up a sucky character but it is your OWN character which I think is better.

    Outside of the bounds of question: I've been playing Mutants and Masterminds for the past 5 or so years.. since 1st edition anyway. It is my system of choice but I will say that the biggest downside to it is the character creation which particularly with newer players can take a while and be a bit fiddly.

    Finally, Adamant Entertainment is putting out ICONS (as of tomorrow) which is very much a spiritual successor to FASERIP complete with the random character creation. I've made a few characters because I preordered and had fun with it but I haven't played yet. It is definitely a game for pickup games.. make a few silly characters in a half hour and go.

  12. Wow. Marvel Super Heroes brings back memories. Haven't played that since I was in Jr. High (never mind how long ago that was), so I only vaguely remember it. If I were to play a super hero game again, odds are I'd go with Palladium's Heroes Unlimited (or for that matter, Villains Unlimited) just because I've grown rather fond of Palladium's combat and skills system over d20.

  13. DC, because they have Apokolips, The End.

  14. Marvel Super Heroes RPG!
    It's system was simple, smooth, & effective. Yes, it was made with playing the original heroes in mind, but it is so easy to make your own.

    ...and DC Heroes' stats were easily converted to it. So, we had Apokolips too! ;)


  15. I've played more Marvel than DC, so I can't compare really. I have nostalgic memories about playing Marvel.
    My complaint at the time was that it wasn't good at combining power levels. So as cool as Captain America was in the comics, in the game he was just kinda weak.
    But all in all, it was a pretty fun system.

  16. FASERIP has the advantage over Mayfair DC, in my opinion, because it isn't involved with logarithmic scales and precise measurements. Those can be fun (TORG is a longtime favorite), but not really the right tone for a comic book game, to my way of thinking.

  17. The MSH FASERIP system has long been a favorite, though its skill system sucks for building unique martial artist heroes/villains. Its really difficult to show how the fighting styles of Iron Fist is different from the Mandarin from Wolverine from Captain America from etc...

    If I had to pick one Supers system/setting to play in or run right now though, it would be Godlike. It ranks with Fading Suns and Amber: Diceless as something that looks really cool and I doubt I'll ever get a group willing to go for them...

  18. I liked Marvel for randomness and Champions for optimizing numbers. And I continue to maintain that the Ultimate Powers Book for Marvel is one of the two or three best RPG supplements ever created.

  19. Of course there is always the underrated of the three Marvel systems, the third one published by Marvel themselves (the less said about the Saga System the better) which was a very interesting modern RPG let down by poor sale (for a comic).

  20. Hands down the old FASERIP. If only for that acronym. Only thing I never used was random character generation. If there was ever a system that produces asshat heroes if used as is, it's this one. :P

  21. Forgot to mention the 'Four Colors' Free Supers system:

    Simple and great fun to play, but the "Karma point" type system it uses is not set up for one-shots. You tend to feel less scruples about expending "saving a city from destruction"'s worth of points on bad guys, when you don't have to worry about surviving past the end of the one-shot.

  22. Stupendous! Amazing! Remarkable! SHIFT X! Actually, I think I enjoy TALKING about Marvel Sues much more than I enjoyed every playing it; it is better in the nostalgia window, you know? Though I realize isn't here or there, White Wolf's "Aberrant" is the best supers-system, if you ask me.

  23. Old School: Marvel Supers -- be sure and use the superpowers book to randomly create your super hero. I've got underwater breathing and the power to communicate with Owls. Make a viable superhero from that.

    New School: Marvel SAGA or Stones. I've tried SAGA and really enjoyed it, but I was a sucker for the SAGA system. A lot of fun if you want to branch out in mechanics. The Stone (most recent) version I've heard good things about, but can't speak to it.

    Marvel has pretty much always been a better deal than DC as far as RPGs go.


  24. None of them. For whatever reason, superhero games just can't capture the fun of superhero comics. Everything gets to be arcane and fiddly to the point where you start to feel limited, or so loose that you might as well just drop the dice and draw your own comics instead.

  25. I haven't played Marvel Supers but I like the DC Heroes' versatility (Mayfair). Sure, the system can be dificult to grasp at first, but if you have a good GM it is not going to get in the way of your fun. Also, I've always preferred DC than Marvel :)

  26. I have not played either game. Somehow the FASERIP Marvel game missed me (which is amazing) but the general consensus among supers gamers is that it's one of the best there is. I did play the later Marvel game (SAGA) which is the one with the cards. And it's fantastic. I really loved it. But it is weird to play from a GM standpoint because of the passive nature of the GM (from a game mechanics stand point) ... fortunately I had played the game as a "player" first and knew how awesome playing with the cards was, so I was able to run a successful campaign every week for more than a year. The newest supers RPG that I've bought is "Icons" and if you haven't seen it, it's worth a look.


  27. of the two, I found FASRIP much more playable. However, I really don't have use for either setting- unless (with very few exceptions) it was created by Kirby. In terms of contemporary super hero games, my heart belongs to BASH.

  28. Marvel. DC was clever, but Marvel got the job done.

  29. It really depends, as above, on whether you feel like dipping into all the fiddly bits or want to whip up characters and hit the ground running. DC for the former, Marvel for the latter (and my own personal preference falls to Marvel).

  30. Marvel all the way if you want a player friendly game. You can have or describe any effect imaginable , slap a rank on it and boom it's an official power . It's very good for the classic non-kill superhero games. Plus the magic system is super well done.

  31. I enjoyed my time with FASERIP and V&V, but today the only one I really like is Mutants and Masterminds.

    No particular reason really other than just that's what I like.

  32. Marvel: Flavor, Simplicity, Playability. Allowing Superman to throw the building Batman is standing in into outer space is more correct for simulation purposes than useful for gaming purposes.

  33. I like Marvel Superheroes, but (a) I'm a Marvel zombie, (b) I'm a TSR zombie, (c) I never actually read or played the DC game, should my opinion is not an educated one.

  34. (Go ahead and talk about Champions or Villains and Vigilantes or Mutants and Masterminds or GURPS Supers or Wild Talents or whatever if you must but know now that none of that is pertinent to me at the moment for reasons I have no time to explain.)

    Man, why even bother to say that much. It took 4 posts to ignore. :) What is it about the internet and verbal diarrhea?

    Anyway, I'd go with Marvel too. I really appreciated the mathematical elegance of DC's system, MEGS, but it was, for me, more fun to admire than to play.

    I didn't like the doubling system in MEGS for the same reason I preferred Marvels Comics in general--I felt the scale in DC was so high it was less a super-hero system than an early Nobilis. What I mean , I suppose, is that I preferred (and still prefer), the less powerful scale of Marvel characters and of FASERIP.

    Although both systems' powers were cause-based, Marvel's was easier to for me to "genericize", while MEGS powers were too specific. Did it have a Heat Vision power? I think so.

    Advanced Marvel was, IIRC, the first game to have a stunt system, which A) blew me away at the time and B)now seems sine qua non for a true super-hero game. Stunting is what separates a comic-book game from a game about people with super-powers.

    Marvel has weaknesses, but I feel that it was the better system in play.

    NOW, if you want to know what the actual BEST SYSTEM EVER is, why it's....


  35. Marvel was a great system....easy to play and fun for newbies. By a landslide....

  36. On my blog I've recently been discussing (and will continue to be discuss for a while) superhero games and how it was superhero comic books that got me into gaming in the first place. I love the genre and have played pretty much every supers game ever put out on the market.

    That said...I don't like the Marvel Superheroes Game at all but I know why people do. Its fast, easy and does a fairly good job of representing superpowered heroes and the types of battles and adventures they often find themselves in. It also feels very childish and the limited number of ranks do not allow for a wide span of superhero 'power levels'. I could also never remember if 'Amazing' was better or worse than 'Incredible'.

    The DC Heroes game was a better game in my opinion. Its main weakness had nothing to do with the game itself however. It was a point based supers game in a world where Champions exists. Champions is/was just sooo much better at doing the exact same thing it seems silly that you'd play DCH over Champions.

    So...if I had to recommend one over the other I would recommend Marvel, which is saying a lot since I am not only not a fan of the game but I'm not as much a fan of their comics as I am DC.

    If you want a really great supers game...I highly recommend Mutants & Masterminds. M&M is getting a 3rd edition soon and an offical M&M 3E powered DC Adventures game is due out in August. Its like someone poured awesome sauce over my awesome flavored ice cream! Can't wait.

  37. @Blue Gargantua

    "be sure and use the superpowers book to randomly create your super hero. I've got underwater breathing and the power to communicate with Owls. Make a viable superhero from that."

    Close - In one V&V campaign I rolled Animal Powers-Fish and Animal Powers-Bird. I ended up with the ability to communicate with both, wings, water-breathing and heightened sense. My character was a Native American called 'The SeaHawk' out of the state of Washington.

    Booyah! Great character and if I recall, really cool costume.

  38. The problem with Marvel Super Heroes, in my experience, is that the abilities based on adjectives is a pain in the ass to remember (is Amazing better than Incredible? I feel like it shouldn't be, and yet it is) which can bog down game play. But overall it's fun, the rules don't get in the way much and it's easy to make characters that people want to play, yet remained balanced enough to work together.

    On the other hand, the DC Heroes system is even more confusing, and is the only RPG I've ever played for which the "too much math" criticism was actually valid. Plus, a camera in-game costs like a trillion dollars, which ought to be too absurd for gameplay. It's great if for some reason you want to run games based on the Justice League or giant DCU crossovers, where Superman and Green Lantern do all the work while everyone else provides moral support/just sits there.

    Neither game has, in my opinion, really good character advancement/improvement mechanics, although DCH's probably comes closest. Overall I've had better luck with getting people to enjoy MSH, however.

  39. DC Heroes all the way. The 3x3 symmetry of the charecteristics and the logarithmic mechanics were practically Platonic in their perfection. The Hero Point system was innovative. The action system (1 attack, 1 move, 1 other action), multi-attacks, and team attacks were highly innovative. It scaled well up and down. We played the hell out of that game.

    Marvel, in contrast, I found deeply flawed. In Marvel, you always won if you had Monstrous armor and the other guy only could do Amazing damage.

  40. Marvel, but more because I read Marvel comics rather than DC than anything else. Never tried DC.
    V&V was great until a school mate of my brother's borrowed the rules and drew penises onto ALL the illustrations. In ink. Kind of ruined it for us.

    GURPS Supers is just not right, as much as I like GURPS.

    Champions is too much work.

  41. Marvel. The Book of Ultimate Powers was awesome. Plus the Power Stunts allowed you to try out/use new powers while developing them, rather than the more typical of the era 'Suddenly, you can fly at supersonic speeds' that other games seemed to suffer from.

  42. MSH (FASERIP system) is generally considered a lighter and more accessible system, while DCH (MEGS) is "crunchier" and clunkier.

    Also MSH defaults to random character creation, while DC is a more typical point-buy.

    Back in the day I was turned off by MSH's adjective-based scale (Amazing, Remarkable etc.) and attracted by the voluminous comprehensiveness of DCH (which I never really used for the DC Universe, but rather invented my own supers).

    Recently, a superhero RPG called ICONS has been making the rounds in gaming forums. It uses some concepts from the much-praised FATE 3.0 system while featuring an option for random character generation and a marked "four-color" aesthetic, and it's generally being hailed as the "spiritual sucessor" to MSH (FASERIP).

    And like others have said, if you're into "Retro Stupid", Heroes Unlimited is as good as it gets (class- and level-based supers). It's silly, and clunky, but I liked it.

  43. @iglesias

    "Also: I already know about all these games, so you do not have to explain them, just say why you like them."

    -the original post

  44. Like they said already - the FASERIP system is cool.
    Besides, I like the FEAT's system. And the Karma conception, though I've rarely used it in my games.
    Why do I like them? Well, they just feel really nice.
    Another important - for me - reason is that there were some really nice modules released for MSH, including the "Nightmares of Future Past" trilogy - my all-time favorite.
    I'd say that it's all because I'm a Marvel fan, but guess that's not too important after all, because I didn't like Marvel Saga system at all.
    Oh, and another thing - the Character Creation in MSH. I just love it.
    I can't really say what was it that I didn't like in DC Heroes. It just didn't have the appeal. So I can't say MSH is actually better, but it's sure the system that I like best.
    Hope it helps you somehow...

  45. I played MSH quite a lot and I loved the Ultimate Powers Book. I don't get why people comment on the adjectives being confusing. It wasn't a terribly long list and aside from perhaps Incredible/Amazing being a tad too alike the rest of the descriptors were pretty intuitive. Not hard at all to learn and remember, and certainly more attractive and fun than a bunch of numbers.

  46. Now the real question:
    Will there be a Superhero series of shows with you playing a retro superhero game with a bunch of newbies? You could call it "I hit it with a bus."