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Does the big BRP book shortchange us on superheroes?


Conrad

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Does the big BRP book give you the rules you want for running superhero adventures, or are you dissatisfied with them?

Can a superhero game be run using all the many different types of rules (such as Sorcery, magic and Mutations)and generating superheroes have some kind of game balance? If not then why not?

Do we need a new version of the Superworld boxed set with streamlined rules or is the big BRP book sufficient?

Edited by Conrad
http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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You know, I've had supers on the brain lately and even though shiny new things tempt me (ICONS, which I like the concept, but not really the execution, of) in my heart of hearts I want to play Superworld (or at least BRP Supers). I had the Superworld box back in the day (and wish I still did!), and I have the PDFs of it and the Superworld Companion now. I feel it's pretty likely that I'd dip into those if I do wind up running a game just because there's more there to work with. So in that sense, yes, the Big Gold Book leaves me wanting and I'd love to see a good supers supplement (even if it's not a boxed set - just a good book) come out for BRP.

That said, even without the old Superworld content I think you could run an entirely reasonable supers game using the BGB. Looking over the powers it seems like most of the basic archetypes could easily be built. They wouldn't necessarily have all the tricks and stunts and stuff that "modern" superhero RPGs support, but they'd be playable. So in that sense, I'd call them sufficient. But they're not likely to win over any new players due to awesomeness :)

I do think that allowing in additional power types, while helpful from a flavor point of view, is asking for trouble. The superpowers rules are balanced against themselves, not against the other power systems. The idea is (and always was, I think) that you could build up your "sorcery" or "mutations" out of the supers rules themselves rather than grafting on an additional system to handle such things. I'm not saying it won't work, of course (a good GM and good players can make anything work), just that it would likely be a headache even if everyone involved is aces (and good friends, too).

75/420

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Geek blogging at http://strangestones.com

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BRP is good but I don't think it copes with the trope very well. I have an extensive collection of supers games going right back to superworld and golden heroes and up to Savage Worlds, M&M and Icons.

It really depends on how much math you fancy doing and how much of a table top skirmish game you want. I've played a bit of Icons and I like it - it's quick and easy to prep and play but also allows for depth of roleplay without rules getting in the way.

Savage Worlds is a nice skirmish game if you prefer miniatures and maps. I'm running a Savage supers game at the moment and it works quite well with not having hit points and loads of book keeping.

M&M, like Superworld, has a lot of detail - but it's just too damn crunchy to create characters and bookkeep.

No Gods - No Masters

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BRP is good but I don't think it copes with the trope very well.

I love BRP/RQ but it just doesn't work for SuperHeroes, in my opinion.

Use HeroQuest, that ticks all the boxes and is the best game for SuperHeroes that I have ever seen.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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  • 5 weeks later...

Not really, it loses one potential sale so it's not a big deal.

Anyone who bases their decisions on what to write on anything that I say is a fool.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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It works for the sort of supers I'd want to run... relatively low-powered, potential for death... a grittier, darker sort than found in most mainstream comics I'd guess.

If it doesn't work so well for the 4-color stuff... well, from what I've seen there is a lot of argument about which, if any, system does.

Trying to emulate comics seems pretty tough when they are written to work at the 'speed-of-plot'... no hard and fast underlying rules... action paced out according to the needs of storytelling... cool moments that owe as much to good graphic design/illustration as they do writing.

I think emulating another medium always leads to difficulties... and rubs up against varying expectations.

I guess I'm saying that BRP does superheros fine... but, like any other system, it does them in it's own way... and if someone writes a monograph that runs with those strengths I'd be in line to buy it. Trying to make it into something it isn't... that I'm less interested in.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Having been working on a supers monograph for a couple of years now, I have to say that the powers systems are the problem in this area; no single one of the powers systems adequately emulates all of the supers milieu, and in combination of three or more, an unweildy and unbalanced beast emerges.

I have to agree with Simlasa that suitablity of any system is wholly subjective; so even though I am struggling to make it work, that isn't to say that someone else may not have the same issues. If I ever manage to solve this problem satisfactorily, my monograph will be submitted, but until then not.

I think the core game 'engine' is sound, and there is so much that I love about BRP that I wanted to make a supers setting for it, but to make a supers game work using BRP would need a whole-cloth new powers system in my opinion. That system could reflect what has gone before, but would really be best built from the ground up.

Just my two-pence worth.

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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Have you looked at the old Superworld game? Its available as a PDF on Chaosium's site, and RPGnow.

We had issues with the rules back then but it was more one of large holes being exploitable. Almost as easy (though more time consuming) to stat Superman and Galactus as Green Arrow or Batman. However, if one used it as a base, and modified from there, it could be very good. At least as good as Champions or M&M.

SDLeary

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I for one would love to see Superworld revamped for the Big Golden Book. I have the old Superworld in hardcopy and it was a great game. I feel that Superworld has real potential for new life with the new core rulebook.

I'm still beavering away with my revamp on the Quickplay PDF I did for the City of Heroes, changing it into a full sourcebook. Trying to have the five power types available to characters, whilst fitting it into the City of Heroes world isn’t easy. So I agree with others in this post that it’s a bit of a challenge to make the five BRP powers fit together in one genre, and permit them to all have equal weight in their strengths.

I think that Mutations tend to get left behind a bit as they only come in minor and major categories. I have toyed with the idea of permitting Mutations to appear in five strengths, rather than just two: Minor, Major, Strong, Dominant, and Extreme. Or something to that effect, as a way of Mutations keeping track with the powers of others.

Anyway, if Superworld came back revamped in the modern BRP rulebook context, I'd certainly buy it.

Fergo113

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  • 3 weeks later...

BRP certainly doesn't seem to contain all the options that, say, Hero System would for supers, but it makes sense given the two game systems' origins and evolution over the years. BRP began as a fantasy system that morphed into a generic game. Hero System began as a superhero game that became gradually generic.

With morphin' in mind, however, I thought I'd explore the system's super-powered possibilities:

Sentai Team Member for BRP

Unlike American superheroes, which retain their rampant individuality even when they work as a group, Japanese heroes often are organized into military-style squads whose members wear similar uniforms and possess similar powers, usually provided by technological or magical gear. Squad members are differentiated mainly by their mission specialties and signature weapons. In keeping with their military bent, these “sentai” teams aren’t concerned with battling everyday crime but instead wage literal war against evil forces from other stars or other realities intent on taking over Earth. It’s no-holds-barred combat, sometimes resulting in both hero and civilian casualties. Opponents, usually bizarre monsters or giant robots, don’t get sent to jail, they get vaporized.

Sentai heroes run the gamut from grim (Kamen Rider) to silly (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers) but whatever their tone they have several traits in common. They are typically young people, even tween-agers, who must transform into their heroic forms via special gadgets or magic items. Each team member has a unique weapon and/or vehicle, and the team may be able to combine its equipment to create a super weapon, vehicle, or giant robot necessary to defeat this week’s foe.

Most sentai television shows are live action, but this generic write-up is largely based on the animated great-granddaddy of them all, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (aka Battle of the Planets or G-Force). Gatchaman’s take-no-prisoners attitude seemed a good fit for Basic Roleplaying’s gritty combat system, and the powers and equipment displayed weren’t too over-the-top.

As befits its “science ninja” theme, this team focuses on ambush, stealth, and not getting hit during combat rather than upon powerful energy weapons and impervious armor. Members are designed to sneak around enemy bases and clobber armies of goons, not to go toe-to-toe with a master supervillain or giant robot (that's what the team's super-vehicle is for). Their attacks do modest damage, and if they fail to dodge their opponents’ blows or shots, they’ll be hurting.

STR 14

CON 13

SIZ 10

INT 14

POW 15

DEX 17

APP 12

Move 10

Hit Points: 23 (SIZ+CON option)

Armor: 4 AP, Kinetic, Heat (Superhero costume and light helmet)

Attacks: Signature Weapon 65% (Choose One: Bola 1D4+1/2db, Boomerang 1D4+1/2db, Dart 1D6+1/2db, Grapnel Gun 1D6+1, or Yoyo 1D6+1/2db); Fist 65%, 1D3+db+6; Foot 55%, 1D3+db+6; Rifle 50%, 2D6+2

Skills: Climb 80%; Dodge 65%; Fine Manipulation 45%; Fly 55%; Hide 70%; Jump 65%; Language (Japanese) 70%; Listen 65%; Martial Arts 35%; Persuade 50%; Sense 50%; Sleight of Hand 55%; Spot 55%; Stealth 75%; Swim 55%; Throw 50%; Track 35%

Powers: [8] Armor, AP 4 (Costume and Helmet; vs. Kinetic, Heat); [25] Defense (-125% vs. All Attacks per Round); [2] Extra Energy (+20 PP, 35 Total); [4] Flight (Gliding Cape; 4 PP to activate for SIZ 12, 1 PP per Turn); [4] Leap (+8 meters, Total 10 meters); [20] Unarmed Combat, Level 3 (+6 Damage with Brawl, Grapple; +6 AP When Parrying or vs. Unarmed Attacks; -15% vs. Single Attack or -5% Each vs. Multiple Attacks; +15% to Hit with Brawl, Grapple)

Failings: Superhero Identity Must Be Turned On (+1); Identity Turned On in Obvious Manner via Catchphrase and Gadget or Magic Item (+1); Must Obey Orders of Group Sponsor (+3); Hunted All the Time by Large Bad Guy Organization (+3)

Notes: The Ninja template from the Page 363 of the Big Gold Book provided basic stats and skills. The Character Point Budget was 95, based on the characteristics total, plus 8 points more for Failings (Total 103). Team members’ signature weapons are “real” primitive thrown weapons (Basic Roleplaying, Page 248) rather than manifestations of the Energy Projection power. The Yoyo weapon isn’t a toy but a heavy metal weight with a spike on the bottom. The Grapnel Gun is a CO2 powered device similar to an aquatic harpoon gun. It was not intended as a weapon but its barbed projectile won’t do a human body any good. Other starting personal equipment includes a transformation gadget (disguised as a watch or cell phone or similar device), a helmet radio, and a flowing cape that can act as a parasail or parachute as needed. It doesn’t allow team members to actually fly, although they can leap and glide for distances their PP permits. The science ninjas don’t carry guns but know how to use the ones confiscated from villainous thugs.

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The big golden book presents some difficulties for supers. For one thing the new BRP uses the size table from CoC, but with RQ style damage bonuses. This means that damage goes up much more slower in comparsion to Superworld (either edition).

For example, someone like the Hulk, who can lit 100 tons + (STR 91ish ) and weightsover 800 pounds (SIZ 31 ish ) "only" had a db of something like 7d6. That is too low for the Hulk to smash tanks and such the way he does in the comics.

On the other end of the scale, DC characters who can lit battleships are going to find the scaled down SIZ scores of such vehicles much too low.

I think for a revamp Superworld to work, it would need to throw out quite a biit o BRP and replace it with things from or similar to those iin Superworld.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I think I read somewhere that BRP is more meant to simulate the kind of extreme powered humans (Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, you name it) and not the extreme side. I have never seen a game system that simulates all power levels in one 'ladder'. Most of them lack on one side or do the trick of 'shifting' the power ladder to a new default value, e.g. 'STR 10 SuperPower' would equal to 'STR 300 Human Level' or something like that (numbers picked randomly here).

In my opinion BRP simulates everything from gritty realistic to light super heroic, while falling short of a 'pulp' or 'heroic' feeling by default. But everything in that scale can be simulated - super heroic like Hulk or Superman are definitely way out of the scale.

It does not bother me though, as I am not feeling the urge to play a super heroic setting. If I would want to, I think I would use a story telling system instead of a percentile one.

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I think I read somewhere that BRP is more meant to simulate the kind of extreme powered humans (Spiderman, Batman, Iron Man, you name it) and not the extreme side.

I think youi might be misinterpreting earlier posts. Many of us have said that the BRP rules "work" for running the powered human concepts, but not for the more extreme types. The examples you give, were mentioned eariler, with BRP being a good fit for Batman, with Spiderman pushing the limits and Iron Man being a bit too much.

BRPs "gritty realism" gets in the way of other types of supers.

I don't think that was a intention, but rather the result of adding superpowers to the BRP core rules without the modifications that went with Superworld. Jason had to mix toghether several similar, but different sets of game mechanics to get BRP, and that meant deciding what to keep and what to throw out.

I think that Supers did get shortchanged in BRP, but the nature of the book meant than something was going to get shortchanged, and Supers was the logical choice.

I have never seen a game system that simulates all power levels in one 'ladder'. Most of them lack on one side or do the trick of 'shifting' the power ladder to a new default value, e.g. 'STR 10 SuperPower' would equal to 'STR 300 Human Level' or something like that (numbers picked randomly here).

I've seen it done, but there is always a trade off. That is one reason why Chaosium used to customize their core game system to accommodate whatever setting they were using it for.

In my opinion BRP simulates everything from gritty realistic to light super heroic, while falling short of a 'pulp' or 'heroic' feeling by default. But everything in that scale can be simulated - super heroic like Hulk or Superman are definitely way out of the scale.

It does not bother me though, as I am not feeling the urge to play a super heroic setting. If I would want to, I think I would use a story telling system instead of a percentile one.

Overall, I agree with you on what it does and does not do well. But just because you don't want to use BRP for a Supers game doesn't means that Supers didn7t get shortchanged in BRP. If I wanted to run a Supers game I would use a different RPG, too, but just proves that BRP isn't as good at handling Supers as some other RPGs.

Even the light Supers cause problems with BRP. A major concern is that on a Supers scale, BRP is not very forgiving. If something gets through the armor, it is usualy fatal. Spiderman punches Batman and does enough damage to turn him into the Bat-stain. With 6 different attack types, every PC hero is almost aurred to be a sitting duck against something.

Edited by Atgxtg

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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Ah, sorry, the sentence is wrong:

"think I read somewhere that BRP is more meant to simulate the kind of extreme powered humans"

was meant to read:

"think I read somewhere that BRP is more meant to simulate the LOWER kind of extreme powered humans"

So yes, I wanted to say that BRP is not able to simulate Hulk and Superman ... but it was not intended to be that way.

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I think I got your drift. What I am saying is that I don't believe that was the intention. The powers were cribbed from Worlds of Wonder/Superworld and modified slightly. Superworld was able to handle the Hulk and Superman (well, not Supers unless you had a lot more points, but it could do a good knockoff. I know, I did it).

I think "goldbook" BRPs difficulties in handling high powered characters isn't intention, but merely a byproduct of adding Superpowers to the BRP core rules, without the necessary adjustments for supers that Superworld had. That the designer used Worlds of Wonder Superworld booklet rather than the Superowlrd box set also played a factor.

But that is just my impression. Jason put "goldbook" BRP together, so he's the guy who would "know" what his intentions were. The point is probably moot anyway. The fact remains that BRP doesn't handle the supers genre well, and that there are those who would like to see something like the Superworld supplment for the new BRP, so there is at least some market for it.

Personally I think there are lots o RPGs out there now that can handle Supers better, and that the idea of a "BRP Champions" was novel in the early 80s but rather uninspired now. But, all the other "generic" systems have a Supers supplment, so why not BRP?

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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Hmm, if it really was unintentionally, then that is really very unfortunate. I personally have no use for a super hero game (so it does not bother me), but I can see other people would like to play it - especially when it was possible with the Superworld Box set.

While looking through the Superworld rules, I can see three main differences to BRP:

1) the multipliers for Characteristics are different in the SWB:

STR & SIZ              have a *3 multiplier

CON & DEX              are *1

INT & POW              are /3

APP                    is /2
2) the Damage Bonus Table is different:
STR+SIZ  Damage Bonus      Energy Point Cost

01-06      -1d6                      0

07-24      0                         0

25-34      +1d6                     +3

35-44      +2d6                     +6

45-54      +3d6                     +9

etc.       etc                       etc

3) there are less skills

There might be other differences that I missed at a first glance, but I think by incorporating the above mentioned differences, it will make BRP a lot more Superheroic than it is now. :)

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Hmm, if it really was unintentionally, then that is really very unfortunate. I personally have no use for a super hero game (so it does not bother me), but I can see other people would like to play it - especially when it was possible with the Superworld Box set.

I think it was/is. Back before BRP was relased, Jason posted some warnings that the various "power" systems were not "balanced" of against each other, but more or less cribbed from thier original soruces. Some things did get some playability tweaks (Magic World magic was downgraded a little so that mages couldn't just be walking artillery).

While looking through the Superworld rules, I can see three main differences to BRP:

It's a start. There are quite a few other major differences. A key one is that in Superworld characters can soak damage with Power Points. Two characters (super powered or not) can get into a fist fight and beat each other to a pulp. In standard BRP, the characters would break bones, and kill each other. With Supers it gets gruesome. There is just no way tbeat someone up without leaving them in critical condition. BRP does have a knockout rule, but to make a supers campaign really work, you need to have a non-lethal damage system of some type.

There might be other differences that I missed at a first glance, but I think by incorporating the above mentioned differences, it will make BRP a lot more Superheroic than it is now. :)

Now the tricky question: How many/much of those changes could/would/should apply to the start BRP core rules? IMO not many, if any. The Supers genere is very differernt from the "gritty realism" that is inherent to BRP and most of its spin offs. It doesn't really mix 'n match well the same way some o the other power systems could, at least in thoery, interact. Once you got guys able to punch through brick walls, suvive 100m falls without a scratch, and and pick up tanks by the gun barrel, you've warped the lthe lgame reality enough that "gritty realism" seems out of place. IMO the same is true for any genre or setting that has a signficant difference in feel from the BRP core rules.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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And you can use the optional rule to soak damage with Power Points. It will still be a lot grittier than the SWB rules, but it is a start. You could easily invent a rule to say you can suck up 3 damage points for the expense of one Power Point for a more heroic game.

To me, these are side-rules, setting specific. There is no need to have them in the main rule book, but I agree, a setting book should have them. I think a generic system should provide a basic rule frame and several options - and BRP is exactly doing that. It does not provide every possible rule for every setting, but it gives enough rules for a solid and playable start.

So, yes, a setting book is worth being brought out and I can see the need for it.

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Yes, but thse characters are not actually SUPERheroes. You don7t need the superpowers subsystem for those characters or thier foes.

I7m not aying that BRP is "bad" because it doesn't handle superheroes well. I'm just saying that we probably could use a supplment for Supers and that it should bend a few of the BRP core ruls to fit the genre.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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Yes, but those characters are not actually SUPERheroes. You don't need the superpowers subsystem for those characters or thier foes.

I'm not saying that BRP is "bad" because it doesn't handle superheroes well. I'm just saying that we probably could use a supplment for Supers and that it should bend a few of the BRP core ruls to fit the genre.

Richard Wentworth, The Spider, actually had to battle super villains as a mere mortal. He dealt with an army of 50-foot-tall robots, faced a flying villain calling himself the Bat Man (years before Bruce Wayne adopted his alter ego) who attacked with clouds of poison-toothed vampire bats, and went after an acid-spewing killer The Joker probably cribbed notes from. It all looked like a job for Superman, but he wasn't around yet. ;)

But that is a difference I noticed between Champions and its early competitors. Champions had a stun damage mechanic that let its characters take a licking and keep on ticking for justice. Characters in Superworld, Villains & Vigilantes, and Heroes Unlimited might possess awesome abilities but were just as vulnerable as the Average Joe (or Traveller character) when it came to getting hurt. Even normals in Champions and Justice, Inc., were tougher than their BRP counterparts -- and they didn't have to worry about losing SAN.

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I'm just saying that we probably could use a supplment for Supers and that it should bend a few of the BRP core ruls to fit the genre.

I completely agree with this. I'd love to see something centered around supers that was firmly grounded in BRP tropes but took a slightly lateral approach.

70/420

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