What would a superhero game need to be/do to bring in a new player base?



  • Specifically, I'm thinking of a game that uses feature characters (characters from published comics, like Spider-Man, Batman, Hellboy, etc.).

    Is a more broadly inclusive theme important, where players don't have to know tons of canon details? (Related: what about giving players the opportunity to change the game world status quo with high-impact TPs?)

    Is a more concise application process important, so that players don't have to draft entire manuscripts of details?

    Is a mechanical system (like Mutants and Masterminds or even Venture City Stories) important to help adjudicate conflicts a bit/lot more impartially than relying on consent?


  • Pitcrew

    I would prefer some sort of mechanical system. Though that runs in to the problem of deciding which one and the one that seems to get used the most, Mutants and Masterminds, is not one I care for.
    Other then that I would like some persistent continuity, that was one down side of HeroMux for me. Once a character changed hands a lot of time the past on screen history was thrown out. Now I can understand wanting to take the character in a new direction. I did that myself when I took over a feature but I kept the past history then just moved on from there.
    Yes I know comics don't do a good job of continuity themselves but that is one of the reasons I have stopped reading them.



  • I would probably be more interested in a superhero mu* with a lack of the 'feature' bits. I love me some Gambit, Rogue, Superman, Batman, etc but I would much rather see origina bits.


  • Pitcrew

    I remember a fun Marvel system that used colored markers for fun ways to succeed at any given heroic act. It represented how much of a reserve your character had and how many you used represented how willing your character was to tax themselves with their abilities, means of attacking villains, or how much they defended themselves. Basically you just selected those numbers from your pool and compared them to determine who succeeded and who failed. Rather like bluffing in poker. How much you succeeded depended on how much you won by in a comparison. In some cases, take the Hulk using strength, the obvious answer is: he can win by a lot!

    Then to do ordinary things, you set the threshold of the challenge, and the hero just spent that many markers to succeed, and again by how much. This meant that if Spider-Man went around saving hundreds of lives in a single night, by morning he could be pretty taxed. It would be possible he just would have nothing left in the tank to deal with the Abomination and Titania.

    The entire system was appallingly simple, but at the same time a lot of fun because of the comparisons and factoring time. Did Mr. Fantastic really expend himself so blatantly? Or was he doing just enough to succeed so he would have a little something left when he had to try and track the signal controlling the Doom Bot he just defeated?

    Furthermore, to keep from murdering everything, attacks could be pulled so that they did knock-out instead of health damage. So even Cyclops could shoot a tank with his ruby beams and not necessarily murder a squad of soldiers. All-in-all, it would be a fun thing to code for a MU* environment, where you simply allocate for your turn, with perhaps an emit that tells the room that they have finished their allocation (thusly they couldn't sneak back and change them) and then everyone using a second command to reveal their choices, resetting the character so they can make new allocations the next turn.



  • For me?

    Something that has a concise, combined grid. The one big superhero game I was on, Heroes and Villains, created an original city that wast he center of focus. Build it so that the different heroes have a reason to be there. Spreading things out too far in the world just hurts a game, especially in the small starting stages.

    Have a system that isn't insane crunch, nor is it just 'traits'. Look at some simpler stuff like Marvel Heroic (I really like their dice system, even if it is a bit fiddly but it can be nice; you'd just have to figure out a reasonable chargen method for it though.)

    If you're going to build the game to allow players to change the world, pick one superhero world and focus on it. Because the ideas of Marvel's characters to change the world are often swingingly different from DC's, and that's not including if you fold anything else in.



  • It would have to lack feature characters for me to play it. I just can't get into that sort of thing.



  • The consensus seems to be that we want a One Punch Man game. Hilarious! I like the bid system @Bennie mentioned, too.


  • Coder

    What kind of superhero comic are you going for? State it, stick with it, and explain it. What's the difference between New 52 and The Maxx? They're both superhero comics. The original Superman or Iron Man are very, very different than they are today.

    So are you trying to get new players to the Superhero genre, or existing Superhero fans new to the game?


  • Coder

    Personally, ditch anything resembling FC's and characters from already published media.

    I don't want to see someone else's vision of SuperMan, I want to see an original creation out of their imagination that sure, might be based on Big Blue but isn't going to murder anyone else's idea of SuperMan.

    You run into it a lot on FC games where someone will change a characters sexuality, or just interpret it other than what is stated in the comics.

    For one example: The original Ice Man (Bobby Drake) wasn't Homosexual, he was always dating women, he wasn't good at it, but there was no sign that he was playing for the other team (This was before the students brought forwards story arc where /that/ original Bobby is homosexual) but on some games that featured FC's there was tons of demand for someone to make Bobby gay just because they thought he should be. I personally never saw him as gay, even though I am not exactly straight myself, so those demands came off as unwanted and weird to me.

    TL;DR nobody's idea of a FC is going to fit everyone else's idea for an FC. So just don't.

    There's also /plenty/ of games that people can play FC's, you want new blood, try something new.

    As for system, yeah M&M has a couple games but the system has some serious issues (You have to buy a bulletproof power for 5 points to be immune to bullets, but you can't be immune to knives, just bullets. Go figure, for example.) along with some really easy ways to break the PL system through Feats/Advantages.

    There's one Aberrant game I know of, it's really small last I checked but Aberrant has the issue of low starting points by the book, it's hard to be really /good/ unless you're hyper focused.

    Savage Worlds has some fan base, as does a few others. I think there's a couple FS3 super hero games as well. I know there is still at least one Champions game but that is way to crunchy for most casual or newbies to the system.

    Personally, I still want to see an old FASERIP game updated for use with a mush, with random rolled creation and everything ;)



  • What about something like this?

    Venture City • A Superpunk Sourcebook for Fate Core
    It’s not safe to venture into Venture City…

    Take a trip to Venture City, a world of superpowers, villainous corporations, and ruthless gangs, set in a near-future where powers are for sale. From the corporate sponsored heroes to the supervillains in the news, and all the way down to the little guys who try to hide their powers, there are superheroes everywhere you see.

    Bring them to your Fate Core table with Venture City, a 100-page supplement for Fate Core which includes both Venture City Stories and Venture City Powers, written by masterminds Brian Engard and Ed Turner.

    Venture City requires Fate Core to play. Inside, you’ll find:

    An exciting new take on Fate-style superpowers, including suggestions on power suites
    A fully developed world full of rival factions, shady figures, and a variety of locations for the perfect showdown
    A simple system that uses issues to drive plot and gameplay
    A variety of pregenerated characters to drop into your campaigns
    A sample adventure—Nothing Ventured—plus a series of adventure seeds to help build a variety of campaign lengths
    Venture City.
    Pick a side, pay your bill, and power up!


  • Coder

    @ThatOneDude I contemplated using FATE for my super hero game, but there's some real backlash against Fate games I've found. It's kind of odd. The only successful FATE based game that I've found (I haven't really looked mind you) was Dresden.



  • @ThatOneDude said in What would a superhero game need to be/do to bring in a new player base?:

    What about something like this?

    I actually started work on a game based on the Venture City Worldbook but I ultimately decided that I really didn't want to get back into MU*ing after all, so abandoned the project.



  • @ThatOneDude Yes, I am a Fate fan! I mentioned Venture City as a possibility in my initial post, so I'm definitely considering it.

    Also, I appreciate all the feedback so far. I'm surprised by the emphasis on going original character-only, but I suppose that would be a potentially huge component of bringing in a new/different player base.


  • Admin

    I only care about theme. So this is what a game needs IMHO - to pick a theme. One theme. One, easily identifiable continuity. No guesswork, no hodgepodge of everything. PICK ONE.

    I hate the DC/Marvel hybrids with a passion - what the hell is going on? It doesn't make much sense, I have to keep handwaving things.

    Maybe it's just me but... if you want a superhero game, make its theme consistent.


  • Pitcrew

    @Thenomain said in What would a superhero game need to be/do to bring in a new player base?:

    What kind of superhero comic are you going for? State it, stick with it, and explain it. What's the difference between New 52 and The Maxx? They're both superhero comics. The original Superman or Iron Man are very, very different than they are today.

    So are you trying to get new players to the Superhero genre, or existing Superhero fans new to the game?

    Yeah, most comic geeks want to know Silver Age, Golden Age, and so forth, too. Some folks like the WWI Mystery Men period better than they like the rough and tumble 1970s with its politics and commentaries on race or socio-economic struggles. Some folks prefer even Justice Society of America over the Justice League, because such fine lines are important to them.


  • Pitcrew

    @Lithium said in What would a superhero game need to be/do to bring in a new player base?:

    @ThatOneDude I contemplated using FATE for my super hero game, but there's some real backlash against Fate games I've found. It's kind of odd. The only successful FATE based game that I've found (I haven't really looked mind you) was Dresden.

    Fate gets a lot of backlash from those with rules heavy tastes as being all that is wrong with modern gaming. I have not noticed this much in regards to mushing but more in RPG communities in general.
    My own tastes tend to vary with mood and intent of the game I tend to like both rules light and rules heavy but not rules medium. The only system I can honestly say that I have played once but would never again is Savage Worlds.
    For fate on a MUSH, I think the lack of it appearing is the lack of demand for a generic system. Most mushes tend to be based on existing settings, a lot of those already have game systems with them like WoD, and for those that don't there is FS3, FS3 is not to everyone's tastes in some aspects but if you have a game you want a system for it is free and fairly easily to install and get running, where as far as I know there is no ready to go Fate code package ready to install so making it has to be done from scratch which is a lot of work.


  • Politics

    @fatefan said in What would a superhero game need to be/do to bring in a new player base?:

    First, you need a system. Don't use some vague bullshit-system, all right? I'd recommend FS3, but Scion/Aberrant works fine. You could also tailor the Chronicles of Darkness system reasonably to achieve similar results. Keeping the above in mind, I have the following comments.

    Specifically, I'm thinking of a game that uses feature characters (characters from published comics, like Spider-Man, Batman, Hellboy, etc.).

    If you're going to use FCs, use lower-end ones with minimal, well-defined superpowers. For example, Jessica Jones, as portrayed in Marvel/Netflix's series, has super-human strength and stamina, but she can, and has, been defeated by mundane means. More fantastic heroes ought not be playable, e.g., Spider-Man, Superman, etc.

    Is a more broadly inclusive theme important, where players don't have to know tons of canon details? (Related: what about giving players the opportunity to change the game world status quo with high-impact TPs?)

    Yes, and no. What players should do, if they want to be an FC, is to describe their version of the FC in detail. This is where Wikis come in.

    Is a more concise application process important, so that players don't have to draft entire manuscripts of details?

    When it comes to FCs with existing canon storylines, I believe that more detail is better. This will eliminate the discussion of what version of the FC one is playing from; e.g., is it homosexual or heterosexual Bobby Drake.

    You should also allow OCs. Since you have a system, you don't need to worry about details as to the powers, so their process ought not be as rigorous.

    Is a mechanical system (like Mutants and Masterminds or even Venture City Stories) important to help adjudicate conflicts a bit/lot more impartially than relying on consent?

    Yes, among other things.


  • Pitcrew

    Yes, one theme, no more four color/cross overs. No more cosmic sphere meets street sphere meets magic sphere. The days of these should be done.

    I'm toying with FS3 for supers in original theme and the KISS philosophy behind the skills. We've gone with removing most action skills (driving/flying/shooting guns/dodging/melee weapons ad infinitum/the other ones folks keep adding in) and are using four skills for all super hero action; physical, energy, mystic, psychic. These to cover all attacks/defenses in the super category. Then all utility into BG slots.

    Edit: the no cross over/no multi source/no FC ... I think a lot of it comes down to balance and so many in comics start out of the gate beyond the others, balance is lost. I like playing closer to street level, but any four-color joint I go to ends up having Superman and all his ilk and kin. I get into a scene where I can do something, then they show up and I'm stuck watching them steal the scene.



  • The simplification is definitely intriguing, and I'm certainly interested in trying to maintain a clearly defined aesthetic while allowing for inclusive character options. So, re: street level action--would this mean no mystic powers, or just mystic powers roughly on par with the power level of other heroes (e.g., Mandrake the Magician rather than Doctor Strange)? I assume the latter, given the mention of maintaining balance, but I want to make sure I've understood correctly.


  • Pitcrew

    @fatefan said in What would a superhero game need to be/do to bring in a new player base?:

    So, re: street level action--would this mean no mystic powers, or just mystic powers roughly on par with the power level of other heroes (e.g., Mandrake the Magician rather than Doctor Strange)? I assume the latter, given the mention of maintaining balance, but I want to make sure I've understood correctly.

    Well, its using FS3. My street level is a general preference to playing an comic places. For the mu* I'm running now, it is a marginal just a step above street level. But not iconic level; no superman's strength, wolverine's regeneration (or Wade Wilson/Night Raven immortality). On the FS3 scale, skills and powers are limited to 6 out of chargen, and our hardest limit is not time manipulation (time stream, turtling/slowing/speeding is welcome).

    One of the ways the system runs is opposed action skills for both attack and defense. Physical rolls against Physical. So no matter what utility skill someone has (teleport, invisibility, summon squirrels), it all comes down to how many points in an action attribute in combat (physical vs physical). We've limited the amount of the four basic super hero action skills one can take, so no invulnerable tanks with points in every one. Everyone is susceptible to something in combat ... no lone wolves or mavericks, you need team mates.

    We are using 60 point buy with 20 point limit to action skills. Nothing on the level of comic icons out of the gate - if a player spends months upping action skills and bg skills they may compare to icon characters. Its between street and high level normal (far out of cosmic range). If I went full street level, I'd probably lower action skills, and point buy, more emphasis on bg skills for doing street things beyond brawling.

    Edit: I should throw in here, iconic chars in the system we're trying are in the 9 pip range for skills. We progress at 2 xp a week (this may be too fast), so in three to four months of play, a char can have one action skill at that iconic range, but will lack in other skills.



  • I advocate for something new. Something that builds upon a fan-favorite of awesomeness, and you have a LOT of openness to play with it.

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    There's also merit to the bid system. There's a game i was thinking about Kickstarting (wish I had) called Undying, which is a sort of love letter to WoD. It's got a neat bidding system to escalate conflict, so you have to determine how much resources you're willing ot put into any given conflict.


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