Superhero System Recommendation - For Tired Players + Streamlined Character Sheets + Great Encounters + Interesting Advancement/Development

Eduardoh

Registered User
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My suggestion would be Guardians. It as an OSR game (for good or bad), based on old D&D. Creating characters is simple and the system is immediately recognizable by most players.

Characters will advance in levels, getting new stuff every time, character sheets are simple and everything there is easily understandable (might just need to copy the powers text). Players that like to min-max can do it, others can just enjoy the play.

Creating NPCs seems easy, there are even tables saying "NPC this level has X HD, X BHB".

Combat is, as with all OSR games, simple, in rules terms.

Worth a look.
 

Gee4orce

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Banned
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Have you looked at Marvel Heroic (or Cortex+ that's based on it?) That sounds like it could be near the sweet spot. There's enough mechanical crunch in the game system to keep it interesting, but without it being too complex for players that want something simpler.

Or maybe Genesys? It's not specifically Super hero, but the game engine itself does seem to fit the bill. There's a brief 2 page section about running superheroes with Genesys, but it's light on mechanisms for doing so. I don't know how you'd build powers, for instance.
 

mediapig

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I haven't looked at it, so I don't know if it meets your criteria, but One Dice Supers looks like it could be fun.
 

rickjthree

Social Justice Sidekick
Validated User
Marvel Heroic sounds like it's pretty close to what you're looking for, and while it's out of print there are still copies via amazon and such. Cortex Prime (an intellectual property free modular version of the engine that can be pieced together to make Marvel - or Firefly or Smallville, etc) is a better version of the system but it only exists as a SRD available to kickstarter backers. I'm not sure if you can go to the Cortex Prime Backerkit, preorder the full rules and get the Backer SRD now, but Cam Banks is active on twitter and can probably answer that for you.

I'd also suggest the upcoming Sentinel Comics Roleplaying but so far there's just a starter kit and 2 adventures with pregens. So I'm suggesting a second system that you can't buy yet and the core game doesn't have regular leveling up. At least not yet. The Core Rules work on the assumption that once they get past their origin story, heroes don't really get power ups. There is a mechanism where you get one-shot bonuses on die rolls after each "issue" and after 6 "issues" it becomes a "Trade Paperback" which gives you additional bonuses. But when you get down to it, the Fantastic Four haven't gotten any power ups since Sue learned she could make Force Fields in the early teens of the book (and the game does let you respec your character, but you're still at the same "power level"). They've said that they're looking down the line at rules that let you do the sort of leveling up you most often see in teen hero books, but for now there's no power up.
 

CitizenKeen

Rules Lawyer
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There is a mechanism where you get one-shot bonuses on die rolls after each "issue" and after 6 "issues" it becomes a "Trade Paperback" which gives you additional bonuses. But when you get down to it, the Fantastic Four haven't gotten any power ups since Sue learned she could make Force Fields in the early teens of the book (and the game does let you respec your character, but you're still at the same "power level"). They've said that they're looking down the line at rules that let you do the sort of leveling up you most often see in teen hero books, but for now there's no power up.
The dichotomy between "RPGs traditionally like numbers to go up" and "superheroes are defined by their relationships" is not an easy solve.
 

rickjthree

Social Justice Sidekick
Validated User
The dichotomy between "RPGs traditionally like numbers to go up" and "superheroes are defined by their relationships" is not an easy solve.
I will be curious to see how it works over the long term. It's more or less like experienced heroes get more Fate Chips. Each "Trade" lets you change a die's roll, avoid a twist (which means you can do power stunts without risk) or declare a fact based on the past adventure. Characters with a shelf full of trades may not technically get any better at punching, but they can spend trades to max out rolls more often, it means that when it is Clobberin' Time, that d8 of Punching is going to be more effective than if they'd raised Punching from a d8 to a d10.
 

Old Man Vegan

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Validated User
I don't know anyone who's going to dip their toe into the MHR system by buying the Civil War event book on Amazon for over $100. As a generic supers game, MHR doesn't cut it for the majority of players out there. There's always been the assumption that by using MHR you were going to be playing Marvel characters in Marvel events. While, if you have the wherewithal to pull it off, you could make your own characters, but there's no real guidance. And there's certainly no instruction on how to create your own SFX. If you have all the MHR books and you pour over them you might be able to glean how to do it and create your OC, but you have to be bloody well dedicated.

The same goes for Cortex Prime. It's a pure toolkit. You have to want to be a game designer and invent your own supers game. It is nothing like just buying an SHRPG, learning how to play the game and, say, teaching it to your friends. It wasn't marketed like that I keep seeing people suggest Cortex Prime as a supers game whenever these threads pop up (give me your SHRPG reccies!).

I love MHR, but most players out there are not a good fit. Most people do not want to play canon characters. Most people want to create their own. MHR is going to put them off because the game isn't built around how to do that. Cortex has to be understood as a toolkit, and one you're going to have to create. You cannot go into Cortex Prime thinking it's just pick a couple of traits and everything else is going to be there. Sure, the power list is there, but you will have no full list of SFX to choose from. You'll be given some ideas of what could be created, but given the whole thing is modular, Cam could never provide enough examples for you to just hit the ground running. People have to know how much work is ahead of them going down this road.
 

DeathbyDoughnut

a.k.a. Mr. Meat Popcicle
Validated User
The dichotomy between "RPGs traditionally like numbers to go up" and "superheroes are defined by their relationships" is not an easy solve.
Nah, that's how comics work anyway. Power creep over the decades has been noticeable they just level up slower. Compare a Wolverine in the 80s healing slowly through some cuts and bruises from a fight, to regenerating from a single drop of blood. But largely the books are about the relationships.

And realistically in play, even games with a power grow mechanic doesn't mean you have to use it. In M&M you can set a power level and say, "we're playing at this Power Level with no growth. We'll play ten sessions of this plot arc, then afterwards we can reassess our characters and change them or the power level as necessary." It works well, I've done it.
 

rickjthree

Social Justice Sidekick
Validated User
I don't know anyone who's going to dip their toe into the MHR system by buying the Civil War event book on Amazon for over $100. As a generic supers game, MHR doesn't cut it for the majority of players out there. There's always been the assumption that by using MHR you were going to be playing Marvel characters in Marvel events. While, if you have the wherewithal to pull it off, you could make your own characters, but there's no real guidance. And there's certainly no instruction on how to create your own SFX. If you have all the MHR books and you pour over them you might be able to glean how to do it and create your OC, but you have to be bloody well dedicated.

The same goes for Cortex Prime. It's a pure toolkit. You have to want to be a game designer and invent your own supers game. It is nothing like just buying an SHRPG, learning how to play the game and, say, teaching it to your friends. It wasn't marketed like that I keep seeing people suggest Cortex Prime as a supers game whenever these threads pop up (give me your SHRPG reccies!).
You can get the core rulebook on Amazon for under $30. The only reason to get the Civil War book is for the datafiles and there are plenty of fan-made datafiles out there. And I agree that MHR is an inferior version of the system, and Cortex Prime gives you the tools to fix it (1). As for Prime, I've taken a copy of the Handbook, chopped out all the options I'm not using, made a second doc that clarifies character creation (which is just following the instructions in the toolkit based on the options I picked), and a cheat sheet for players because I'm going to give it a test run with pregens first.

As for an official "Cortex Prime Supers", they unlocked stretch goals that includes 2 different ways of doing supers with Cortex Prime. I realize the game itself is super-late but there's been a lot of progress since Cam finished his move back to New Zealand, so I'm kind of hoping that once the core book is locked we'll see some progress on that.

(1) - FTR, my fixes are to replace Team/Buffy/Solo with "Green/Yellow/Red Zones" (stealing from Sentinel Comics) based on the size of the Doom Pool, and to swap out the Milestone method of getting XP for one of the other systems in the SRD.
 
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