March 24, 2014
Super Hero Games
Lately, for some reason, I have had a real craving to play in a Super Hero themed game. Not really sure why. Maybe it’s the new trailers for Captain America: Winter Solider, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron that have sparked my interest. Maybe it was my watching a few episodes of Young Justice and X-Men Evolution earlier this week or Thor: Dark World. Whatever it was, I have the itch for a Super Hero game.
Super Hero games can be a lot of fun, but they pose a lot of questions and challenges at the same time. First off, which super hero game do you play? There are certainly a lot of options out there. I have already examined the crunch and fluff of games like Mutants & Masterminds and the Marvel Universe Role-Playing Game, but these are only two choices. DC Comics has their own game, based on Mutants & Masterminds – which I always found funny considering how many Marvel Comics references there are in the standard M&M book – and most generic games like G.U.R.P.S. have their own rules for playing as a super hero. The choices are vast, and as far as I can tell there really is not a wrong answer.
Next, what sort of super hero game do you play? Do you set your game in a presently established canon such as Marvel or DC? If so, you bring with you all the problems that gaming within a cannon setting can give you, only made worse if your players feel as though there are no original options for them to pursue. Do you make your own setting? If so, how do you explain super heroes? In comics, they come from everywhere. There are heroes who use high technology, super-soldiers, super-spies, mythological gods, scientific experiments going horribly wrong, and I have only described the Avengers. Do you have everyone build their character however they want, with their power’s origins being up to them, or do all the characters have the same source of power? If so, what was it? Were they just born with it/did it just spontaneously develop such as in Heroes?
On top of that, how does the world at large see super-humans? Are they praised and admired like the Justice League or hated and feared like the X-Men? Do your characters dress up in tights, don masks, and wear capes – insert the “no capes” line from The Incredibles here – or do they just wear street clothes? Do they have hero names? Do they have a secret base? Are they funded?
Questions, questions, questions.
With all that said, you might ask yourself if it is at all worth it just to role-play as a super hero. My answer: yes. Yes it is. If you have any love of super heroes, getting to play one yourself is an incredible experience. Super hero games stand apart from most other tabletop role-playing games as a chance for you to play out something incredibly heroic and/or tragic. There is a lot that this genre offers, especially with its inclination to be over the top, that you either cannot find or will not be taken seriously enough to be included in other serious games, and that is giving credit that super hero games can be just as serious and imaginative as all other role-playing games.
I have had a lot of wonderful experiences playing super hero role-playing games, and I hope to be able to share those with my players again sometime soon.
As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming.
And remember, “No capes.”
Image Credit: Thinkstock