D&D General Adventurers As Superheroes

jgsugden

Legend
There is a difference in the story structure of your typical D&D campaign versus your typical supers RPG campaign. In this thread I am talking about closing the gap between them.
I'm going to disagree on there being a typical version of either, and thus that there are inhrently gaps between them to be filled. Can you indicate a story structure that you can use only in fantasy or in a supers game that would not work in the other genre? I could not some up with anything.

In a fantasy game like D&D you could have a huge variety in the type of games. I've played in political thrillers, dungeon delves, explorations, war stories, disaster stories, love stories, murder mysteries, races, and a huge selection of other sub-genres. Similarly, comic books and super hero RPGs can cover a huge range of sub-genres. I can't find a single story structure that would not work in both. You might end up with characters not appropriate for the story ... but there are alternate character concpets that would work.
 

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Reynard

Legend
I'm going to disagree on there being a typical version of either, and thus that there are inhrently gaps between them to be filled. Can you indicate a story structure that you can use only in fantasy or in a supers game that would not work in the other genre? I could not some up with anything.

In a fantasy game like D&D you could have a huge variety in the type of games. I've played in political thrillers, dungeon delves, explorations, war stories, disaster stories, love stories, murder mysteries, races, and a huge selection of other sub-genres. Similarly, comic books and super hero RPGs can cover a huge range of sub-genres. I can't find a single story structure that would not work in both. You might end up with characters not appropriate for the story ... but there are alternate character concpets that would work.
I did not say anything about stories you could not do in one or the other. I said typical for a reason, though.contrary an. don't think there are typical D&D style stories that are different than typical super-hero style stories I, well, I don't actually believe you.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Conan the Conqueror is essentially this, the super villain is a 3000 year olf ressurected Wizard Lich wh intends to conduct a mass blood sacrifice to bring his ancient empire back from the past. King Conan cant beat him physically but has to recover the mcguffin that can.

it really fits with the old BECMI framework where PCs go from basic dungeon raiders to national champions, then on to become legends. The same thing is reflected in tiers of play where PCs go from mixing with commoners, then become influential in their realms, and then legendary Masters.

But that change only happens if the PCs see themselves as connected to the world and its inhabitants (NPCs, Factions). Superhero stories need to have that built in connection to community and expectation of altruism, otherwise trying to get murderhobos to go from amoral dungeon raider to hero for hire will not be easy …
 

Reynard

Legend
Conan the Conqueror is essentially this, the super villain is a 3000 year olf ressurected Wizard Lich wh intends to conduct a mass blood sacrifice to bring his ancient empire back from the past. King Conan cant beat him physically but has to recover the mcguffin that can.

it really fits with the old BECMI framework where PCs go from basic dungeon raiders to national champions, then on to become legends. The same thing is reflected in tiers of play where PCs go from mixing with commoners, then become influential in their realms, and then legendary Masters.
None of that evokes "superhero" story to me, just D&D. Superheroes are reactive. They are often static, with depth coming with time as their relationship with their setting and NPCs and villains evolve.
But that change only happens if the PCs see themselves as connected to the world and its inhabitants (NPCs, Factions). Superhero stories need to have that built in connection to community and expectation of altruism, otherwise trying to get murderhobos to go from amoral dungeon raider to hero for hire will not be easy …
I agree with this but don't think Conan represents it at all.
 

jgsugden

Legend
There is a difference in the story structure of your typical D&D campaign versus your typical supers RPG campaign. In this thread I am talking about closing the gap between them.

I did not say anything about stories you could not do in one or the other. I said typical for a reason, though.contrary an. don't think there are typical D&D style stories that are different than typical super-hero style stories I, well, I don't actually believe you.
You said they had different structures typically. If you tell the same types of stories in each, that would not be different story structures, generally speaking.

Your last sentence seems a bit garbled there - but I think you're saying you don't believe that I believe that super hero stories and fantasy stories share the same story structure. Of course they do. They're tales about beings with fantastic powers and abilities. We literally see people make comic book characters out of the same mythic characters that form the origins of fantasy stories. Heck, we make featured characters that are essentially just a D&D character.

You seem to be bringing preconceived notions about what a fantasy story and what a super story can be - and many of us are telling you that what you 'perceive' and what we see are very different. While you can say what your experience is, you can't tell us that our experiences - which for some of us involve a lot of overlap in structure between fantasy and super stories we've told in our games - do not exist. They have.

Consider this adventure:

The PCs are hired to recover a lost treasure from an abandoned settlement. They recover it, but are attacked by a rival party that tries to steal the item from the PCs, forcing them to either best those adventurers or escape them.

When the PCs go to sell the item they discover that their benefactor is scared to take possession of it and sends them away because there are dark forces now looking for the item. The PCs end up in another fight, but this time the end up being imprisoned for fighting in public and prior transgressions.

They escape, recover their possessions and try to look for another buyer - but the dark forces are fast on their trail and they are attacked. During the battle the forces of the bad guys are not trying to kill the PCs - they are focused only on getting their hands on the treasure. If they succeed, the leader of the dark forces reveals that the treasure is a powerful weapon and uses it to start destroying entire cities. If not, the PCs have to figure out what the item is and a way to destroy it.

The PCs, having been the only ones to previously have the treasure in their possession, are one of the few people that could stop the bad guy from taking down city after city if the bad guy gets it. They might decide to do so, or might decide to walk away.

I'm betting you can recognize that tale. The thing is - I've run that super hero story just as it is written above - as a D&D game (Christmas Themed). Yes, I blatantly stole the story of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and turned it into a Christmas Adventure. I've stolen a lot from comics over the years. My psionic rules are modeled to work like Super Powers and draw their inspiration from Comic Books.

In the end, it is all just people in weird outfits facing violent threats with moral decisions to be made.
 

I think Tier 3 (Level 11+) is the turning point where the PCs "become" superheroes. The DMG calls PCs of this tier "shining examples" and "true paragons of the world, set well apart from the masses."

At lower level it is more like street level heroes. Tier 1 might be Daredevil/Black Widow level and Tier 2 is Spider-Man level.
 


Reactive superheroes have usually a special ability or an information network, sometimes even just a police radio, to get to where the crime is going on. Something similar would be needed to achieve the aesthetics of superhero fantasy as well imo.
 

Reynard

Legend
You said they had different structures typically. If you tell the same types of stories in each, that would not be different story structures, generally speaking.

Your last sentence seems a bit garbled there - but I think you're saying you don't believe that I believe that super hero stories and fantasy stories share the same story structure. Of course they do. They're tales about beings with fantastic powers and abilities. We literally see people make comic book characters out of the same mythic characters that form the origins of fantasy stories. Heck, we make featured characters that are essentially just a D&D character.

You seem to be bringing preconceived notions about what a fantasy story and what a super story can be - and many of us are telling you that what you 'perceive' and what we see are very different. While you can say what your experience is, you can't tell us that our experiences - which for some of us involve a lot of overlap in structure between fantasy and super stories we've told in our games - do not exist. They have.

Consider this adventure:

The PCs are hired to recover a lost treasure from an abandoned settlement. They recover it, but are attacked by a rival party that tries to steal the item from the PCs, forcing them to either best those adventurers or escape them.

When the PCs go to sell the item they discover that their benefactor is scared to take possession of it and sends them away because there are dark forces now looking for the item. The PCs end up in another fight, but this time the end up being imprisoned for fighting in public and prior transgressions.

They escape, recover their possessions and try to look for another buyer - but the dark forces are fast on their trail and they are attacked. During the battle the forces of the bad guys are not trying to kill the PCs - they are focused only on getting their hands on the treasure. If they succeed, the leader of the dark forces reveals that the treasure is a powerful weapon and uses it to start destroying entire cities. If not, the PCs have to figure out what the item is and a way to destroy it.

The PCs, having been the only ones to previously have the treasure in their possession, are one of the few people that could stop the bad guy from taking down city after city if the bad guy gets it. They might decide to do so, or might decide to walk away.

I'm betting you can recognize that tale. The thing is - I've run that super hero story just as it is written above - as a D&D game (Christmas Themed). Yes, I blatantly stole the story of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and turned it into a Christmas Adventure. I've stolen a lot from comics over the years. My psionic rules are modeled to work like Super Powers and draw their inspiration from Comic Books.

In the end, it is all just people in weird outfits facing violent threats with moral decisions to be made.
Again, you are ignoring the word "typical" in order to make a point I am not arguing against. I never said you couldn't do superhero style stories in D&D. The whole thread is based on the fact that you can.

What I wanted to discuss is how to actually go about making that work. But instead you wanted to argue that I was saying something I actually didn't say.
 

Reynard

Legend
Reactive superheroes have usually a special ability or an information network, sometimes even just a police radio, to get to where the crime is going on. Something similar would be needed to achieve the aesthetics of superhero fantasy as well imo.
I agree. This isn't too difficult a barrier though. In more grounded adventures the PCs can certainly have a criminal information network and/or ties to the city guard, a la Batman. In more high powered settings there is always scrying, augury and so on.
 

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