NostalgicTortoise
 member, 8 posts
Thu 12 Jan 2023
at 01:48
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
I have a fair bit of experience running grim, violent, lethal games that are very unlike Silver Age superhero stuff. I have seen a lot of discussion of superhero games and apparently many RPOL users love Mutants & Masterminds, which seems to be heavily biased in favor of Silver Age superheroes.  I am very out of practice, and I have to learn at least one entirely new rule system if I want to run a superhero game, so I just want to learn the system that has the most potential players.  My usual approach has been to use one system of rules that is flexible enough to do multiple genres -- that way, if players want to be pulp Victorian explorers one week and neon-lit 1980s cyberpunks the next week, I don't have to learn two different rule engines.


I looked at a bunch of superhero-friendly rule systems. There are many: Champions/HERO system, GURPS, Mutants & Masterminds, Savage Worlds, and many more.  I was a little concerned because many rule systems seem to be designed for Silver Age superheroes who use nonlethal means to restrain the baddies. This affects both player-character design and villain design.  For example, if players always want to be life-preserving Doc Savage types who stun enemies with gas grenades and mercy bullets, then the campaign probably should not have bad guys who can trigger mass casualty events easily.  On the other hand, if players want to be dark and edgy Lamont Cranston types who slaughter gangsters or extradimensional monsters without a qualm, just about any type of enemy is suitable.



Villainous vampires might be suitable enemies, especially if players don't want to kill humans but regard vampires as nonhuman.  Totally nonhuman Lovecraftian monstrosities might be suitable enemies -- they might be unkillable anyway.  However, corrupted Lovecraftian sorcerers like Wizard Whateley might require players to do horrible things in order to win, and that would be very unpleasant for players who like Silver Age optimism.



So I am asking potential players: What do you want from a game with super-powered player characters?  Do you want something more like Amazing Spiderman #1, or something more like Alan Moore's Watchmen?  Do you want to be John Constantine in Hellblazer, or the Punisher, or some other type of super?  Are you open to hopping between different universes in a multiverse?  Does your conscience get queasy if you have to cross a moral event horizon?


As far as I can tell, most superhero rule systems can be used for a multi-genre multiverse.
shapeshade
 member, 220 posts
Thu 12 Jan 2023
at 01:58
Re: Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
NostalgicTortoise:
I have a fair bit of experience running grim, violent, lethal games that are very unlike Silver Age superhero stuff. I have seen a lot of discussion of superhero games and apparently many RPOL users love Mutants & Masterminds, which seems to be heavily biased in favor of Silver Age superheroes.


S.Age superheroes are fine, but I hate that system...


 
NostalgicTortoise:
So I am asking potential players: Does your conscience get queasy if you have to cross a moral event horizon?


I like pulp (I'm doing a pulp solo game with a GM right now)... I even like The Shadow, The Spider... but... I do like that optimism.

So... the setting doesn't matter too badly to me-- but the non-moral-ick does, actually.
deadtotheworld22
 member, 200 posts
Thu 12 Jan 2023
at 13:26
Re: Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
NostalgicTortoise:
So I am asking potential players: What do you want from a game with super-powered player characters?  Do you want something more like Amazing Spiderman #1, or something more like Alan Moore's Watchmen?  Do you want to be John Constantine in Hellblazer, or the Punisher, or some other type of super?  Are you open to hopping between different universes in a multiverse?  Does your conscience get queasy if you have to cross a moral event horizon?


I would say that you'll get a thousand and one different answers to those questions, and very possibly different ones from the same people depending on the mood that they're in.

Different game styles and settings attract different players. You can run a game which is very 'Saturday morning cartoons' and you'll have players wanting to play very primary coloured heroes and villains, and I can remember having a fair bit of fun about a decade ago on here playing an X-Men Evolution game which rarely strayed beyond a bit of teenage angst and blasting things with energy beams.

Equally, if you run a very noir/morally grey game in the vein of a Punisher or Watchmen series, you'll get players who are interested in that and create dark, conflicted and messed up characters accordingly.

Most games probably fall somewhere in the middle because it's the ground where they're most likely to find a guaranteed player base. Within that, you'll get different focuses about where people want to play - some games will be combat focused, some will be more about the people behind the masks, a few will probably focus around shipping those people together.

I've not used M&M but I know it's seen as the standard 'go to' in the same way that 5e is (arguably) for fantasy dungeon crawling. I don't know how hackable it is to the extreme ends of the market, but if you're going for something down (for example) the Constantine side of things then it might be easier to pick a system which is much closer to the genre and just hack that - you can probably get 80-90% of the way to Hellraiser by using one of the WoD Hunter books and just moving some additional powers over from Mage, Geist or Vampire.

In terms of multiverses, some people will love them, some people will hate them - I'm not a fan, but other people will love the idea of mixing different realities and playing around with those dynamics.

In terms of moral event horizons, if you're going to do that then definitely advertise it at the start and be clear about what's going to be involved. If players are happy to be put in a situation where they potentially have to make that decision, then fair enough, but forcing a player into a situation where they have to make an impossible choice and then hanging it around their neck like a millstone without prior warning and consent is really not something I'd be comfortable with, especially as it potentially ruins that character for them without really giving them the choice.
jebrick
 member, 13 posts
Thu 12 Jan 2023
at 16:16
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
Champions and Godlike/Wild Talents can be as bloody as you want.  I am not familiar with M&M.  The systems can have some issue when they are built to handle someone that can destroy a city with their power and the Shadow.  At least Champions becomes cumbersome.  GodLike was made for WW2 play but can easily do modern.  I think I have seen Wild Talents ( same system as GodLike) using in a Americian Civil War /Western setting.
pdboddy
 supporter, 778 posts
 EST/EDT [GMT-5/GMT-4]
Thu 12 Jan 2023
at 16:24
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
quote:
Does your conscience get queasy if you have to cross a moral event horizon?


For me, no.  Queasy isn't the word.

If I get to choose when and if my character crosses a line, I'm okay with that.

If it's forced in some way, or it's a "GOTCHA" setup, that's annoying.
Sir Swindle
 member, 350 posts
Thu 12 Jan 2023
at 20:19
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
Sort of confused why you are calling out M&M (basically just a d20 hacking system) as heavily biased towards a Silver Age style?

But as always you will get enough players almost regardless of the genre/system you pick. So go with your heart and make the game you want to run.
steelsmiter
 member, 2194 posts
 BESM, Fate, Indies, PBTA
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Thu 12 Jan 2023
at 22:47
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
I can't really tell you a whole lot about what I like in a supers game. What I can tell you I don't like is following the Hays Code. I'm given to understand that's a more filmic distinction, but I definitely prefer my super powered characters to not be saddled with a restriction on mortal action (I've also been trying to come up with a system for a more kinky game too, such as by accommodating for characters that have posed for Playboy or done some softcore TV stuff for example, but that's a separate discussion). The super powered character I like most is broadly categorized as an Anti-Hero. I think it's fine if some heroes saddle themselves with some moral restrictions, but not as an organizational entry requirement.
NostalgicTortoise
 member, 11 posts
Fri 13 Jan 2023
at 02:11
Re: Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
Sir Swindle:
Sort of confused why you are calling out M&M (basically just a d20 hacking system) as heavily biased towards a Silver Age style?


I am just learning M&M for the first time and I thought I saw something about most player characters using nonlethal attacks by default -- I could be wrong about that. But I may be imagining a Silver Age bias that isn't really there.
Cubist
 member, 99 posts
Fri 13 Jan 2023
at 18:49
Re: Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
steelsmiter:
I can't really tell you a whole lot about what I like in a supers game. What I can tell you I don't like is following the Hays Code. I'm given to understand that's a more filmic distinctionů

Perhaps you mean "following the Comics Code Authority"? Same idea, different target.
Sir Swindle
 member, 351 posts
Fri 13 Jan 2023
at 19:04
Re: Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
NostalgicTortoise:
Sir Swindle:
Sort of confused why you are calling out M&M (basically just a d20 hacking system) as heavily biased towards a Silver Age style?


I am just learning M&M for the first time and I thought I saw something about most player characters using nonlethal attacks by default -- I could be wrong about that. But I may be imagining a Silver Age bias that isn't really there.

Quick look shows that that is technically true. Incap doesn't mean dead. But any additional hits will send them to dying.

That being said it is a trivial house rule to make a resistance check against dying automatic. Really more of a matter of taste as to what happens to Incap'd mooks.
steelsmiter
 member, 2196 posts
 BESM, Fate, Indies, PBTA
 NO FREEFORM! NO d20!
Sat 14 Jan 2023
at 05:06
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
Cubist:
Perhaps you mean "following the Comics Code Authority"? Same idea, different target.

Sure. Like I said, I was under the understanding that Hays was film, I just didn't know that there was a Comics Code specifically.
dlantoub
 member, 275 posts
 Anime Fan
 Virtually all genres
Sun 15 Jan 2023
at 20:19
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
I think there was an expansion for M&M specifically for the pulp "street" style of games. Usually it revolves around lowering the starting build points and power levels.

I prefer street level super games, but I m not good at "dark" games.
soulsight
 member, 343 posts
 Reality is 10% perception
 and 90% interpretation.
Mon 16 Jan 2023
at 02:36
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
I might see something else that pushes RPOL games towards 'Silver Age'. Although it's possible to develop a narrative that encompasses four or five loners doing their own thing, it's more difficult than creating group-centric stories. Restricting things to Comic Code approved activities makes it easier to form cohesive groups. Add to that a predilection for broody, anti-hero types to be loners, and their rarity on RPOL becomes more logical, and therefore more probable.
Sir Swindle
 member, 352 posts
Mon 16 Jan 2023
at 02:37
Do RPOL users love only Silver Age superheroes, or pulp too?
That's why you ban loners. Or don't ban them and just don't let them into the game.