Jump to content

Recommended Posts

So I am a huge fan of the various BRP based games and they have been my go to over the years.

However - One thing I keep hearing is that BRP breaks down completely when doing Superhero style stuff. Its something I have picked up on numerous forums.

However - I've never really seen any specific examples of why it breaks down.

Can anyone with more experience potentially point out specifically what causes the problem and where it falls down?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I can’t answer the question but it might depend on the superhero age you are trying to simulate. I would think BRP/Mythras supers would do Iron Age gritty just fine. Not sure about 4 color though.

Plus there are only 3 or 4 BRP superhero games out there that I know of, SuperWorld, Agony & Ecstasy , the new Mythras book coming out and Elder Godlike. Not a lot of choices!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

 I played Superworld and like the system. And am going to be starting a new campaign as soon as lockdown is lifted here.

 And it does not break down but the main problem is that in Superworld  hero's are not as powerful as in other systems. 4 thugs with assault rifles can be a threat to 4 hero's 

 Also powers are not balanced . Mental powers can be extremely powerful as Most people will have zero defense .

 If you want to play the Green Arrow , or Blade or Netflix Defenders , Superworld is great. If you want to play the Avengers , look for a different game.

 

Edited by TRose
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Merrik said:

Can anyone with more experience potentially point out specifically what causes the problem and where it falls down?

While I think it's an exaggeration to say that BRP breaks down completely with the superhero genre, it certainly does falter.  What it comes down to, fundamentally, is "script immunity," or lack thereof.

In most comics, the heroes are generally guaranteed survival from one issue to the next by virtue of scripting and narration.  It's their title, after all.  They can get beaten and abused and down on their luck, but very, very seldom killed outright.  BRP, on the other hand, has its roots in traditionally mechanistic simulation of reality -- even fantasy versions of reality.  Part and parcel of that version of reality is the Hit Point, and the very real threat of random death, often on a regular basis.

There are work-arounds, of course, most of which involve reinterpreting what Hit Points actually mean in this genre.  But that signifies the basic difference between narrating the action of a comic and simulating it randomly in a game.  There are other issues, such as scaling power levels, too, that are examples of trying to apply codified mechanics to otherwise freeform narration.

All that said, if you're cool with supers as pieces on a gameboard instead of stars of their own title, BRP works just fine, actually.

!i!

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Merrik said:

One thing I keep hearing is that BRP breaks down completely when doing Superhero style stuff.

I haven't played superhero BRP, but I've played superhero with a few other systems... and invariably, when you go to those games' discussion forums, you'll also see people saying it breaks down completely when doing Superhero style stuff. It's just what insanely powerful characters do to any system: they stretch the limits and things break down. The only systems that don't break down are the ones that don't have anything to break down, such as super-light narrative systems.

I wouldn't worry about it too much. If you know BRP very well, if you have players who are not rules lawyers or minmaxers, if everybody's got buy-in with the superhero genre, it's going to work fine.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, lordabdul said:

The only systems that don't break down are the ones that don't have anything to break down, such as super-light narrative systems.

Quoted for truth.

If you're interested in brand loyalty, though, allow me to suggest the QuestWorlds rules for super-heroics.  Earlier iterations were, hands down, the most satisfying comic book gaming experience I ever had.  I understand there are one or two upcoming titles waiting in the wings, but I recommend grabbing a copy of the SRD now and begin digesting it on your own.

https://www.chaosium.com/questworlds-system-reference-document/

!i!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've ran a couple Superworld campaigns and had a decent amount of fun with them.  I'm also one of those that says the system breaks down with the more powerful tiers of super heroes.  Granted, most super hero games can struggle to deal with the most power Avenger types -it's just that Superworld will show the cracks sooner than a game system designed from the the ground up to deal with supers. 

Still, a good system for a street level campaign and a couple notches above that in power level.  I'm not really familiar with Questworlds, so I'll have to look at how that does things. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, rsanford said:

I can’t answer the question but it might depend on the superhero age you are trying to simulate. I would think BRP/Mythras supers would do Iron Age gritty just fine. Not sure about 4 color though.

Plus there are only 3 or 4 BRP superhero games out there that I know of, SuperWorld, Agony & Ecstasy , the new Mythras book coming out and Elder Godlike. Not a lot of choices!

There was also a Super rule set for Pulp Cthulhu in the work (by Chris  Spivey I believe). It may or may not happen....

Yes, from Darker Hues Studios site:

Pulp Cthulhu Modern Day Superhero Source Book
System: Call of Cthulhu
Publisher: Chaosium
Estimated Date: On Hold

Now, I remember reading somewhere that Chris has turned up the manuscript to Chaosium sometimes ago. Might be wrong.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

 No, it does not break down. There are many options from Fate points to the powers themselves, to pulp HP rules, to fantastic items that raise the hardiness of characters. If you read the Powers section of the BGB this becomes clear, as many of them are geared to increased survivability.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Merrik said:

However - I've never really seen any specific examples of why it breaks down.

I have a concept that I am super-strong in the sense that I can stop a bullet train dead in its tracks by holding it. In BRP, that also makes me a huge damage-wielder, which might not be part of my character concept.

I am hugely resistant to magic, which gives me a high POW, but with a high POW I can crush my opponents' POW with magical attacks, if I had them.

It is the use of different characteristics, across different abilities, for me, which makes BRP Super Heroes difficult.

HeroQuest/QuestWorlds solves all these issues and more, which is why I tend to use that for Super Heroes.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/18/2021 at 1:41 PM, Merrik said:

So I am a huge fan of the various BRP based games and they have been my go to over the years.

However - One thing I keep hearing is that BRP breaks down completely when doing Superhero style stuff. Its something I have picked up on numerous forums.

However - I've never really seen any specific examples of why it breaks down.

Can anyone with more experience potentially point out specifically what causes the problem and where it falls down?

As a general rule the "grittiness" and realism that makes BRP stand apart from many other RPGs works against the style of the comics. For instance, in the comics if a character like the Thing falls 80 stories out of the Baxter Building and lands on the sidewalk, the sidewalk breaks, and he stands up and bushes himself off mostly unharmed. In BRP he's probably dead.

This get compounded by the fact that most Superheroes tend to have stats and abilities that are well past the ranges where the game system was optimized to work. Going back the the Thing example above, while it could be possible to give the thing enough (kinetic) armor  to be able to shrug off the 80 storey fall (80d6 or so, unless there is a fall damage cap somewhere) doing so would end up making him "punch proof" to most character in the Mavel Universe, including the Hulk. THe main reason why is that the normal damage formula,  and the falling damage formula don't actually match up very well. Normally (that is for normal BRP characters), it doesn't matter, as the values are "close enough"  to work. But at the superhoero level, the differences add up. Same with the damaged based on speed for vehicles (1d6 per 10mph). It really should be the same formula as for falling (or the falling formula should be the same as the speed formula), but they are not for ease of use. That mostly works out at the nomral range, but breaks down at superhero level.

Then there is the fact that most version of BRP only track lethal damage, resulting in many superheores just killing opponents in a fist fight, rather than capturing them. 

 

But...there is SUPERWORLD. Steve Perrin did a fairly good job making BRP work for Superheroes in the SUPERWORLD boxed set back in the 80s. It addresses many of the hurdles of using BRP for Superheroes. But...even it doesn't handle Supers as well as CHAMPIONS, the game is was sort of modeled after. Becuase BRP is so inherently lethal, a hero that runs into someone with an attack that they don't have any defense against can easily wind up dead. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Atgxtg said:

But...there is SUPERWORLD. Steve Perrin did a fairly good job making BRP work for Superheroes in the SUPERWORLD boxed set back in the 80s. It addresses many of the hurdles of using BRP for Superheroes. But...even it doesn't handle Supers as well as CHAMPIONS, the game is was sort of modeled after. Becuase BRP is so inherently lethal, a hero that runs into someone with an attack that they don't have any defense against can easily wind up dead.

Dead on spot.This is exactly why after several very enjoyable Superworld games, I switched to Champions. Hero system is far less enjoyable than BRP for gritty games, but scales far better for Supers.

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Going back the the Thing example above, while it could be possible to give the thing enough (kinetic) armor  to be able to shrug off the 80 storey fall (80d6 or so, unless there is a fall damage cap somewhere)...

Can we get a ruling on the point during the fall at which Ben Grimm would achieve terminal velocity due to atmospheric drag?  Assuming that it occurs somewhere between 0 and 80-N storeys, where N = the number of storeys fallen until terminal velocity is achieved, he'd stop accelerating and accruing additional d6s in damage.

See?  See?  Scale!

35 minutes ago, Kloster said:

This is exactly why after several very enjoyable Superworld games, I switched to Champions.

This is exactly why I didn't play Superworld more and eventually switched to HeroQuest (now QuestWorlds).  Sure did love designing characters in Superworld, though.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/19/2021 at 5:10 PM, Ian Absentia said:

Can we get a ruling on the point during the fall at which Ben Grimm would achieve terminal velocity due to atmospheric drag?  Assuming that it occurs somewhere between 0 and 80-N storeys, where N = the number of storeys fallen until terminal velocity is achieved, he'd stop accelerating and accruing additional d6s in damage.

LOL! Yes we could, but... it would probably be well past 80 stories. THe problem here is with the simple 1d6 per 3m/10ft falling damage. It works fine for the typical fantasy RPG, but not so good for modern day.

A normal person typically will max out at around 120mph is spread out for impact, and maybe 180mph if in a dive, with limps held in close to the body. That would be 12d6 or 18d6 using the 1d6 per 10mph method from CoC (and I think BRP). Now Ben Grimm, becing larger and rockier than a typical human would have a higher drag, but he'd also have a higher mass so he'd hit harder too.

On 3/19/2021 at 5:10 PM, Ian Absentia said:

See?  See?  Scale!

Yes, but the comics don't use realistic scales, or physics. So it not really a flaw with game mechanics, just that the rules were not designed to simulate the "reality" of comic books.

For example, in the comics we often see superstrong character lift aircraft, elephants, tanks and even ships. In real life the stresses of all that weight being help up by only two points of contact would probably damage the object and/or lead to it falling onto/around the super character. 

Occasionally comics go out of the way to get the physics right (RIP Gwen Stacey). but usually comics fall their own sort of laws of physics, which is why people caught after a long fall are perfectly fine despite the sudden negative acceleration (way to go Lois Lane). 

 

 

 

On 3/19/2021 at 5:10 PM, Ian Absentia said:

This is exactly why I didn't play Superworld more and eventually switched to HeroQuest (now QuestWorlds).  Sure did love designing characters in Superworld, though.

!i!

There are several superhero RPGs designed around superheroes. Superworld for the most part isn't. It's based around the gritty combats of bronze age cultures required for RuneQuest. Superheroes is a bit of a stretch for it. It can work, but there are a lot of loopholes and weakspot that can be exploited. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/19/2021 at 4:40 PM, Kloster said:

Dead on spot.This is exactly why after several very enjoyable Superworld games, I switched to Champions. Hero system is far less enjoyable than BRP for gritty games, but scales far better for Supers.

Because it was designed for it from the ground up. Even so, CHAMPIONS has some difficulties with some of the higher powered superheros. If I recall the HERO progression system correctly, Pre-Crisis Superman would have a STR score around 250! Which is still lower than it would be in Superworld (around 400).

Link to post
Share on other sites
37 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

There are several superhero RPGs designed around superheroes. Superworld for the most part isn't. It's based around the gritty combats of bronze age cultures required for RuneQuest. Superheroes is a bit of a stretch for it. It can work, but there are a lot of loopholes and weakspot that can be exploited. 

Correct.

34 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

Because it was designed for it from the ground up. Even so, CHAMPIONS has some difficulties with some of the higher powered superheros.

Still correct. Hero is based on Champions (A Super game) and BRP is based on RQ (a gritty fantasy game). This is why Hero scales better for Super than BRP, but BRP is better than Hero for gritty games. Fantasy Hero was adequate if you wanted light hearted fantasy, but not for Glorantha, and not for deadly combats.

34 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

If I recall the HERO progression system correctly, Pre-Crisis Superman would have a STR score around 250! Which is still lower than it would be in Superworld (around 400).

Still correct (based on his 50 STR in Mayfair's DC Heroes).

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Kloster said:

Correct.

Still correct. Hero is based on Champions (A Super game) and BRP is based on RQ (a gritty fantasy game). This is why Hero scales better for Super than BRP, but BRP is better than Hero for gritty games. Fantasy Hero was adequate if you wanted light hearted fantasy, but not for Glorantha, and not for deadly combats.

Still correct (based on his 50 STR in Mayfair's DC Heroes).

Ooh, three for three!😁

 

Overall I think it comes down to approach. RQ really tried to be gritty and realistic to help contrast it from D&D, but comic books generally aren't gritty and realistic. So in many ways RQ/D100 RPGS are the exact opposite of what you want for Superheroes. It can be done, but there are other games that handle supers better because they were designed to do so from the ground up.

 

Much like how standard D&D/D20 is rather farcical for Old Western  campaigns. Sure, it can and has been done, but when all the gunmen have to stop and reload their six shooters during a showdown, it gets silly. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Yes, but the comics don't use realistic scales, or physics. So it not really a flaw with game mechanics, just that the rules were not designed to simulate the "reality" of comic books.

This, in a nutshell, is the heart of my argument.  Quoted for truth.

!i!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

This, in a nutshell, is the heart of my argument.  Quoted for truth.

!i!

Well, in that case, I'd say you won your argument- assuming that there is anyone to argue against. 😊

But yeah, the very feature that make RQ/BRP what it is mostly work against the typical comic book superhero style. Of course there are really multiple styles of comic books, so BRP might actually work out well for some comic book characters. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, "argument" in the Platonic sense.

As others have suggested, Superworld worked pretty well for less-super, street-level comic action, like Daredevil or Iron Fist and Power ManBatman* stretched and broke it, though.

!i!

[*Batman, like the Green Lantern, is the industry standard stress test for any super hero RPG.]

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Well, in that case, I'd say you won your argument- assuming that there is anyone to argue against. 😊

I will not be part of those who argue. Wholeheartedly agree.

3 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

But yeah, the very feature that make RQ/BRP what it is mostly work against the typical comic book superhero style. Of course there are really multiple styles of comic books, so BRP might actually work out well for some comic book characters.

Superworld works fine for Punisher style and level characters (deadly combat), is correct for Iron Fist or Daredevil. For higher levels (typically Batman, X-men), not very good. For Avengers or Superman class, too stretched.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

You know, "argument" in the Platonic sense.

*Phew* Platonic, good thing we didn't go Sorcratic, I hate the taste of Hemlock in the morning.

11 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

As others have suggested, Superworld worked pretty well for less-super, street-level comic action, like Daredevil or Iron Fist and Power ManBatman* stretched and broke it, though.

!i!

[*Batman, like the Green Lantern, is the industry standard stress test for any super hero RPG.]

LOL! Batman breaks just about ever Superhero RPG though. Greg Gordon noted that he had to tone down Mayfair's DC Heroes during the design phase to keep guns from turning the Batman into the Batstain. Batman tends to slide between genres more than most superheroes. This is the hero who went from fighting  gritty street-level crime to having a inter-dimensional imp with magical powers as a fanboy. Plus Batman does a lot of crossovers, so he has to be able to work in the world of Superman, the JLA, etc. I think for Batman to work in an RPG, the GM probably needs to set some parameters and (mostly) stick within them. Just look at the differences in stlye between the mid-late 60s comics and the 60s TV show. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/18/2021 at 2:30 PM, TRose said:

If you want to play the Green Arrow , or Blade or Netflix Defenders , Superworld is great. If you want to play the Avengers , look for a different game.

I agree with everything you said TRose, but I feel there are ways to make the system more stable and adaptable to high power heroes

First, standardize the SIZ system, which allows for stupendous feats of STR and gigantitued (yes I know, not a word). Get rid of the ambiguity. Then allow characteristics to go as high as they need to go. Change MOV to be a function of DEX. Create discrete powers that can be customized and improved based on player preference, similar to Hero System. Power effects gain Special Successes in the same vein as "vanilla" Special Successes for melee and ranged combat. Point buy on powers,, etc, etc.

True, it's not "pure" Gold Book BRP but it's very close, just flavoured for the genre. I haven't played it but it would be fun to try it out.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

As has been mentioned, comic book supers are a problem for RPGs in general.
It always seem a folly to me to emulating a written medium where whatever needs to happen for the plot can be made to happen... there are no rules to what Superman/Batman/Plastic Man can do except for what the writer needs them to do.
I'm more interested in a setting and supers who are designed with BRP specifically in mind... I'd shun invulnerable (and plot-immune) characters altogether and focus on PC supers who have a special advantage, but can still be taken down by a bullet, blade or bomb if they're not careful. Ignore CGI movie physics and keep to the somewhat more 'realistic' leanings of BRP. (one of the things I loved in City of Heroes were all the monuments and stories of fallen heroes. Much more moving than a bunch of still-thriving unkillable celebrities.)
Give them a solid setting, maybe something in the 30s/40s... with mostly non-powered villains. Make the PC have to think a bit, rather than just punch their problems in the face.
 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...