D&D General Adventurers As Superheroes


A suffusion of yellow
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.
Or you just do the serialised Drifter thing, where the hero wanders the earth and just stumbles on problems that need to be dealt with - David Banner as The Incredible Hulk comes to mind, Ghost Rider, Usagi Yojimbo, Conan, Grue, High Plains Drifter, Kung Fu, Avatar, The Littlest Hobo, Mad Max, Scoobydoo, A-Team, Dr Who…
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You seem to be less focused on story structure in a literal/literature sense and more interested in tropes and tools that are used in Super Hero stories and how you'd enact them in D&D. So far, you've focused on home bases and information sources/networks.

I don't see these as different in fantasy and hero stories, really.

Bases: Some characters have them, many do not. They can take a variety of forms. Some feature powerful elements that support the character, some do not. Whether you incorporate one or not is likely going to be driven by the story being told - and as discussed before, you're telling essentially the same types of stories in both environments. I would not go about creating a base, but would leave it up to the PCs to establish it for themself if they want it. It isn't needed.

Information: Characters may seek out information thelves using abilities, seek it out by asking in a mundane way, be provided information through a network or have information fall into their lap through circumstance. This works the same in comics as in fantasy stories. Different heroes have different ways of gathering information, and the methods utilized will tend to be determined by the abilities they have and the storyline being told. Many heroes do not have a consistent way of gathering information. Spider-man does not have a Bat/Spider Signal, he (historically) did not get information dumped in his lap by the police or authorities, and he had few abilities that primarily benefited information gathering. I would not go about creating specific information channels, but would leave it up to the PCs to establish it for themself if they want it. It isn't needed.

In addition to those (somewhat?) common elements of super stories, here are some more to consider:

Secret Identities: More common than bases or information sources are secret identities. If I was going to pick one element that would make a D&D campaign take on an identifable element that made it seem like a super tale, it would be providing a large incentive for the heroes to hide their identity. Obviously, this only works at low level without magical support. If the PCs gain access to a ready supply of non-detection, and find ways to block divinations, then it can work at medium levels ... but without the plot armor of a super hero story it would typically be pretty easy for the identity of a PC to be determined.

Rogues Gallery: I'd also try to establish a rogues gallery of recurring villains. They'd either be the same person returning, or a series of copycats. They'd bring similar abilities to the table each time, but find new ways to use them. . Ideally, you'd incorporate reasons for these Rogues to have particular enmity with the PCs. This is pretty common in my games - PCs love to see a recurring villain

Duty: The characters should have something to protect that is vulnerable. Family, their neighborhood, an ideal, their own wealth ... PCs shoudln't just be attempting to add to their benefits ... they should be risking the loss of something. More on this is present in the PHB under the Bonds, Flaws and Traits sections.

Iconic Feature: Many Supers have one iconic 'thing' about them that everyone would mention first when discussing them. Thor's Hammer. Cap's Shield. Flash's speed. This is not true of all Supers, but it is a common trend. I would give PCs something iconic and unique to their PC that would stay with them the entire adventuring career that could help define their identity. If an item, the Vestiges of Divergence provide a blueprint for how to provide a PC with an iconic tool that will grow in power with them. You can also give the PCs unique abilities not replicated by a spell in the books to give them a unique and 'super' feel - especially if they 'risk' breaking the game. For example, time travel allowing PCs to go back to the start of the prior round and force everything to be rerolled is a nightmare for adjudication and enacting ... but if given to a PC it presents them with a unique power set that doesn't feel like everything else you get in the core D&D rules. Again, I do this all the time ... in an existing campaign I provided a PC with a boon that allows them once a day to 'mark a moment' in time using an action. Then, anytime in the next minute, they can use an action to attempt to reverse time and repeat everything starting at that moment they marked. They have to perform an Arcana check with a DC equal to 10 plus (2 per round completed since the marking). If they fail, they lose their action and the marking fades. If they succeed, everything resets to that moment with the PC and their specified allies being the only ones to remember that time was reset and the ability being gone for the day. It is a bugger to adjudicate, and it sometimes gets groans as characters are forced to relive something they were not enjoying or would just enjoy being past ... but it would give that bibe you're seeking.

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