I have been thinking alot about Superhero RPG’s lately. I am a fan of them and I have been since the TSR Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game came out in the 80’s. I went on to run multiple games in multiple systems, but Champions certainly got most of my time.
I love comics…let me restate that…I LOVE COMICS!
I read a whole bunch of comics. I have been reading them pretty much since I learned how to read. Most of them were superhero stories, so enjoying superhero RPG;s ties into that. I fell off playing the superhero RPG’s about a decade ago. Over time as the design sensibilities of RPG’s moved on, but a lot of the superhero games did not follow those changes. There have been a couple of major games developed since I stopped running them, so maybe they caught up. I recently started watching Calisto6 rpg streams. It is a superhero game set in a cyberpunk future, using the Cypher system, and involving the players from the Star Trek RPG stream, Shields of Tomorrow. They are doing a good job with the games and it has refreshed my desire to make a good superhero RPG of my own.
With that in mind, here are some design guidelines I would use and look for in a superhero RPG.
I am writing this for use in the Midgard setting, but I should state upfront that this can be used for just about any setting. A grappling style Monk would fit in just about any setting that allows monks. I recently wrote a blog post about the weird misconceptions held about martial arts and how they shape their presentation in D&D. One of the reasons I wrote that was because I could see some specific archetypes for Monks in Midgard I wanted to make.
So, there is an idea out there that monks have no place in a western European inspired campaign setting. Settings like Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk owe a lot to western European history, legends, and literature for their basis, and monks are not part of those traditions, or so the argument goes. This came to mind while looking at the Midgard setting and noticing they had many character options for the range of character classes, but not for monks. I asked about this and was directed to this blog post about monk weapons characteristics, which is awesome, but was also told there was not a lot of places for monks in Midgard to be from. That feels like something I can counter. Note: I love the Midgard setting and I am not offering criticism here. I am writing this because I feel this is a common sentiment that maybe should be countered.
I proposed a question a while back. Are immortal PC’s a problem or are they workable? The consensus appears to be that they are workable. I decided to take a pass at setting up a framework for using it in D&D. Death is ultimately just a small challenge after all. Immortality offers a range of cool stories that make the PC’s feel special in the world, which is sort of the point.
Here is another installment of my describing a post apocalyptic fantasy setting called God Thrones. This is the ruins of Chapel Hill, which is pretty different in the world I am describing. It is a stop on on the way to the capital of Durnham. If people like these, please let me know. I will keep writing more.
When I began writing a post apocalyptic fantasy setting, I knew a radiation or toxic corruption would be a recurring theme. It is part and parcel in the genre. The Blight Elves were part of that, and so is today’s offering. There will be others. Thing is, I am not personally afraid of all things nuclear. I grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This is where the material for the first atomic weapons came from. My grandfather was scientist at the labs, and I grew up understanding that nuclear was not necessarily a bad thing. Nuclear medicine was saving lives daily and nuclear power, while not yet perfected, was easier on the environment than coal burning plants.
That said, nuclear war is the thing that kept you up at nights back in the cold war. It was terrifying to think of a war where dying in a flash was probably the “good” option. This vision of apocalyptic war shaped the genre. The irradiated mutant is a trope that comes up often. With this in mind, I wrote this little variation on orcs.
I like utility magic items. My favorite magic item, hands down, is the Immovable Rod. It practically begs you to think creatively about how to use it. The magic weapons are fine, and the powerful artifacts are great macguffins for your story, but utility style wondrous items are often great ways to relay magic without having to change a power level. It is also provides some flavor to a character and how they interact with challenges. Having a few clever toys can be as much of a statement as a Holy Avenger.
I am also fond of rogues and other thieving ne’er-do-wells. You might have figured this out in by all my posts about thieves guilds. They are very pragmatic in their approaches to problems. A thief who murders every problem doesn’t actually last long. Having useful tools to avoid that is ideal.
I decided to combine these two loves, so here are a few roguish magic items.
Monsters are often born of myths and legends. Oh sure, there are some born of fiction. There even some created specifically for games, like the Beholder. Many of the iconic monsters pull from real world legends, though.
The Dragon is one of the oldest of man’s monsters. There are legends of dragons all over the world and they seem to even predate written language. Could be someone saw a dinosaur fossil and wondered about the monsters.
Decided to take a pass at making a background. This time around I am making a background for a variation on Criminals. The general Criminal background is fine and I even use it for one of my PC’s but it seems to me that there was space for more. Criminals come in a wide range and having backgrounds to reflect some of those variations could be useful. I thought I would start with a Con Artist.
A bit of trivia. The term “Mark” is a reference to a mark that was made on the back in chalk at carnivals. The mark was to indicate the subject was susceptible to trickery. The chalk mark would be applied with a pat on the back. It has come to mean the subject of a confidence job in general.