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What's your favorite superhero TTRPG and why?

Big Blue was Champions 4th, not third.

Champions 4th to HSR 5th was mostly more concrete examples and all the FAQ elements being added, while removing some of the Champions-specific setting material.
HSR 5 to 5th REd aka FREd, mostly corrections to the examples.

HSR 5 to 6 was making all the figured atts no longer figured. It was an attempt to expand the fanbase. Most of my friends who play hero refused to even look at 6th, and continue to use 3rd, 4th, or 5REd.

There were a number of things in 5th and 6th that were attempting to address old weak spots in Hero, and they mostly did, though in some cases (6e KA) they may have over-fixed it.
 

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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Big Blue was Champions 4th, not third.

Champions 4th to HSR 5th was mostly more concrete examples and all the FAQ elements being added, while removing some of the Champions-specific setting material.
HSR 5 to 5th REd aka FREd, mostly corrections to the examples.

HSR 5 to 6 was making all the figured atts no longer figured. It was an attempt to expand the fanbase. Most of my friends who play hero refused to even look at 6th, and continue to use 3rd, 4th, or 5REd.
While I have 5th & 6th, the last edition I got to play in any really meaningful amounts was 4th. Ran my best campaign ever* in it.









* Supers using an expanded, homebrewed version of the Space:1889 campaign setting. Really caught lightning in a bottle with it, in no small part because the group had bought into it 100%. It’s been more than 25 years, and I’ve never even approached the experiences of running it.
 

There were a number of things in 5th and 6th that were attempting to address old weak spots in Hero, and they mostly did, though in some cases (6e KA) they may have over-fixed it.
4th, IMO, fixed far more from 3rd than 5th/5REd did from 4th. And the move from the standalone Fantasy Hero to the 4th ed core + Fantasy Hero splatbook was a much bigger improvement than Champions 3 to 4...
 

DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
I started with 4th ed Champions and moved on to 5th when it came out. But really, they're the same game, as has been said above. I've not made the move to 6th ed; I just didn't feel the need to. I have bought a couple of 6th ed supplements: Champions Beyond and the 3 Books of the ... Destroyer, Machine, and Empress. They're compatible enough with 6th that I can use them.
 

MidnightBlue

Explorer
I don't know that one. I remember Storm, without her powers due to having been "nullified" by Forge, defeating Cyclops to regain leadership of the X-Men. As @hawkeyefan posted also, for me a satisfactory supers game has to be able to capture these sorts of events.

It was Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8...the cover that showed Spider-Man in his black, symbiote suit for the first time.

And yeah, as a Cyclops fan, I grudgingly remember powerless Storm beating Cyclops. :(
 

4th, IMO, fixed far more from 3rd than 5th/5REd did from 4th. And the move from the standalone Fantasy Hero to the 4th ed core + Fantasy Hero splatbook was a much bigger improvement than Champions 3 to 4...

Eh. I don't think I can really agree. The killing attack has been a problem from day one of the system, and the effect of Strength on distorting designs has been a thing for a long time. The EC was likely a mistake from the get-go (and I had a part in creating the damn thing).

I think 4e brought a lot of different Hero pieces together in a more coherent way, but the actual effect-in-play of changes from 3e to 4e was significantly less than from 4e to 6e.
 

It was Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8...the cover that showed Spider-Man in his black, symbiote suit for the first time.

And yeah, as a Cyclops fan, I grudgingly remember powerless Storm beating Cyclops. :(

Well, this can also get into another issue: one of the ways characters beat much more powerful opponents is massive authorial contrivance in some cases. That's also how characters who clearly would have addressed a problem all by their lonesome in their own books fail to do so in team books sometimes. I'm not sure that sort of thing is a virtue in a game.
 

pemerton

Legend
Well, this can also get into another issue: one of the ways characters beat much more powerful opponents is massive authorial contrivance in some cases. That's also how characters who clearly would have addressed a problem all by their lonesome in their own books fail to do so in team books sometimes. I'm not sure that sort of thing is a virtue in a game.
Super heroes are contrivance all the way down: whether that be the secret identities, or the supervillains, or the fact that Storm spends her time using her powers to fight Arcade and Dr Doom rather than responding to droughts and famines. Something like Watchmen, or Miracle Man, is an exception but that's what makes those works distinctive.

At least for my part, I want a supers RPG to emulate the comics I love.
 


Super heroes are contrivance all the way down: whether that be the secret identities, or the supervillains, or the fact that Storm spends her time using her powers to fight Arcade and Dr Doom rather than responding to droughts and famines. Something like Watchmen, or Miracle Man, is an exception but that's what makes those works distinctive.

At least for my part, I want a supers RPG to emulate the comics I love.

There's a difference, however, between "These are genre conventions that you just can't push on much" and "This worked out this way because the author wanted it to, not because of any obvious established traits of the characters". The latter often requires characters to do things they do at no or few other times in their careers, or alternatively when opposition is involved, for said opposition to suddenly lose a great degree of acumen that they normally exhibit.

Its one thing for a weaker character to take advantage of Juggernaut's psychological issues to make him do something stupid; Juggernaut has been like that from day one. Its another thing when its done against opponents who otherwise exhibit combat and other savvyness that suddenly flees because the hero needs to be the one to win this fight.

Over and above my feeling that media change what I expect from them, some things don't deserve porting over because those things aren't even virtues in the medium they're used in.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
At least for my part, I want a supers RPG to emulate the comics I love.
I realized early on that Champions wasn’t simulating most cape comics in a direct way. That few supers in comics have any sort of defenses, and that the fights in comics were mostly just neat but had no internal consistency. Champions doesn’t do that. You don’t have to be a brick, but you gotta have something that prevents you from getting floored right away. And that changes character concepts and power sets and so on, and suddenly it’s less about a soap opera with powers and more about big balanced showdowns.

But that also made me fully come to grips with RPGs just being their own odd subgenre. Most stories have a protagonist, not an ensemble with no clear lead. Most team-based comics have tons of solo stories and betrayals and so on. RPGs are just weird, and can take on the trappings of different genres, but they can’t really capture them directly, IMO. At least not in extended campaigns.

Absolutely not saying you or anyone else should avoid trying to do a supers game that leans all the way into the action-as-melodrama nature of stuff like X-Men, just that, to me, that was a lost cause, and maybe a bit too meta for my tastes. The fact that both Cyclops and Storm are gonna get knocked the hell out the instant anyone looks at them in Champions wasn’t ideal, but that system made for some great fights and action scenes that never felt arbitrary or, dare I say, Chris Claremont-y.
 

I realized early on that Champions wasn’t simulating most cape comics in a direct way. That few supers in comics have any sort of defenses, and that the fights in comics were mostly just neat but had no internal consistency. Champions doesn’t do that. You don’t have to be a brick, but you gotta have something that prevents you from getting floored right away. And that changes character concepts and power sets and so on, and suddenly it’s less about a soap opera with powers and more about big balanced showdowns.

But that also made me fully come to grips with RPGs just being their own odd subgenre. Most stories have a protagonist, not an ensemble with no clear lead. Most team-based comics have tons of solo stories and betrayals and so on. RPGs are just weird, and can take on the trappings of different genres, but they can’t really capture them directly, IMO. At least not in extended campaigns.

Absolutely not saying you or anyone else should avoid trying to do a supers game that leans all the way into the action-as-melodrama nature of stuff like X-Men, just that, to me, that was a lost cause, and maybe a bit too meta for my tastes. The fact that both Cyclops and Storm are gonna get knocked the hell out the instant anyone looks at them in Champions wasn’t ideal, but that system made for some great fights and action scenes that never felt arbitrary or, dare I say, Chris Claremont-y.

Well, you absolutely can find ways to make characters in comics who have no obvious defenses viable in representative supers games, but you have to really step back and ask the question of how they apparently do so. You can run into problems where there's no even implied answer to that (this would have been a problem a lot of members of the Legion of Super-Heroes for a lot of their lifespan; the only reason they didn't get clobbered was because no one with any skill shot at them, and past that they had good team tactics for taking down the opposition ASAP, but its hard to make that both work and be satisfactory in a game) but for a lot of others there are implied or outright stated issues (Cyclops is supposed to have a great degree of situational awareness and a high order of general martial skill, Storm has a fair bit of the latter and is also extremely maneuverable in the air); the usual issue is a lot of comic supers are built around avoidance, and to the degree games make a distinction between avoiding hits and being able to take them (some games like Supers! or Prowlers and Paragons don't), its often hard to make "not being hit" as good a choice as "not being hurt"; its frequently difficult to do (it was damn near impossible in the old MSH) and can be unsatisfying on various levels, so you end up doing things like Hero Combat Luck or M&M Defensive Roll that are about not taking the hit solidly.

But in general you're right; games in general don't look particularly like the more common forms of their genres in other media (supers are actually one of the closer ones in some ways, since at least team books are a thing), and I suspect the majority of people would only somewhat want them to given what would be needed to make that happen.
 

pemerton

Legend
There's a difference, however, between "These are genre conventions that you just can't push on much" and "This worked out this way because the author wanted it to, not because of any obvious established traits of the characters".
I can't comment on the Secret Wars story that @MidnightBlue referenced. But in the case of Storm vs Cyclops, this was based on established character traits: Storm's abilities as a leader, which had grown over the course of her arc; and Cyclops's psychological and moral decline which really began with Jean's death but has reached new levels since meeting Madelyne Pryor.

In MHRP this would be Emotional Trauma that Cyclops has not been able to rid himself of, which Storm's player uses as part of a pool to establish a complication pertaining to Cyclops's visor.

(I'm ignoring here the later X-Factor retcon of the duel. I tend to find most of those X-Factor retcons are best ignored.)
 

I can't comment on the Secret Wars story that @MidnightBlue referenced. But in the case of Storm vs Cyclops, this was based on established character traits: Storm's abilities as a leader, which had grown over the course of her arc; and Cyclops's psychological and moral decline which really began with Jean's death but has reached new levels since meeting Madelyne Pryor.

In MHRP this would be Emotional Trauma that Cyclops has not been able to rid himself of, which Storm's player uses as part of a pool to establish a complication pertaining to Cyclops's visor.

(I'm ignoring here the later X-Factor retcon of the duel. I tend to find most of those X-Factor retcons are best ignored.)

And I'm not talking about that particular fight, either. As you say, that took advantage of Cyclops being in a particular place in how he would react to certain things, but I'm not convinced most supers games couldn't handle that. But a lot of "weaker hero defeating more powerful opponent" stories are in just the context I've mentioned before, where they only work by overstating traits of the hero and/or ignoring traits of the villain. I feel absolutely no need for a tool to do that generically.
 

ART!

Hero
I absolutely adore the stat grid from DC Heroes. Nine stats in a 3x3 cube, each row and column was a different kind of stat, and the each row and column averaged into a derived stat. Elegant!
 

I absolutely adore the stat grid from DC Heroes. Nine stats in a 3x3 cube, each row and column was a different kind of stat, and the each row and column averaged into a derived stat. Elegant!

It was pretty clever. It was too bad most characters had nothing to do with Aura and Will though, and in practice, Strength wasn't always much better.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
I can't comment on the Secret Wars story that @MidnightBlue referenced. But in the case of Storm vs Cyclops, this was based on established character traits: Storm's abilities as a leader, which had grown over the course of her arc; and Cyclops's psychological and moral decline which really began with Jean's death but has reached new levels since meeting Madelyne Pryor.

In MHRP this would be Emotional Trauma that Cyclops has not been able to rid himself of, which Storm's player uses as part of a pool to establish a complication pertaining to Cyclops's visor.

(I'm ignoring here the later X-Factor retcon of the duel. I tend to find most of those X-Factor retcons are best ignored.)
I might be revealing my trad sensibilities and experience with this, but on a more fundamental level I just can't imagine this being a confrontation that would be in most RPGs, since PvP of almost any kind is usually so rare.

Granted, in an X-Men game PvP should be like half of what you do, and I'd maybe want a system that builds in endless heel turns and team members constantly storming off in a huff. I'm guessing Masks or a similar PbtA game might be well-equipped for that, since ultimately this kind of development is more about emotions and consequences than modeling a fight? I don't have familiarity with Masks, but I can imagine really loving it for that sort of dramatic play (preferably in a limited-run campaign where consequences are more of a thing).
 

Randomthoughts

Explorer
I realized early on that Champions wasn’t simulating most cape comics in a direct way.

But that also made me fully come to grips with RPGs just being their own odd subgenre.
Yeah, this is how I saw Champions. Just like how D&D pretty made up its own sub-genre of fantasy, so did Champions for superheroes. Even if PCs were made as expys of some known Marvel or DC heroes, they forged their own identities through play.
And Champions had a lot rules to develop that identity, not only in powers and skills but bases, support staff and vehicles. That’s why I keep searching for some holy grail for this game.
 

pemerton

Legend
I might be revealing my trad sensibilities and experience with this, but on a more fundamental level I just can't imagine this being a confrontation that would be in most RPGs, since PvP of almost any kind is usually so rare.

Granted, in an X-Men game PvP should be like half of what you do, and I'd maybe want a system that builds in endless heel turns and team members constantly storming off in a huff. I'm guessing Masks or a similar PbtA game might be well-equipped for that, since ultimately this kind of development is more about emotions and consequences than modeling a fight? I don't have familiarity with Masks, but I can imagine really loving it for that sort of dramatic play (preferably in a limited-run campaign where consequences are more of a thing).
I think one reason to have systems (like MHRP) that permit emotional stress and the like is to open up more space for interpersonal conflict.
 


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