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BRP Supers games


slimyroleplaying

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There are some other threads on this on the forum. Probably worth searching for, since they go into some detail.

The consensus (at least I think there is a consensus) is that BRP is better suited towards a more gritty/realistic style of superhero game than most of the major Superhero RPGs. The Major Super RPGs tend to try to emulate the "reality" of 4 color comics.

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

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Atgxtg covered it fairly well.

Do you want to see supers like the Punisher? Daredevil? Batman? Captain America? BRP can do that well.

How about Spiderman? Most of the X-men? The Teen Titans? BRP can handle that.

Do you want Thor? The Hulk? Superman? BRP tends to break down at those power levels.

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The mechanics for plotting one characteristic against another are designed with the 1-20 range in mind. Assuming Spider-man is STR 40 or so (well, he is 50 in TSR's Marvel SuperHeroes, but the scale is different) you can still handle his feats with a Resistance roll. Throw in Superman and the scale of powers is 100+, and the Resistance table breaks. Of course you can still resolve the matter with an opposed roll on STR x1, but this is a concept that is rather new to BRP and no one here has experimented with it so far.

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Atgxtg covered it fairly well.

Do you want to see supers like the Punisher? Daredevil? Batman? Captain America? BRP can do that well.

How about Spiderman? Most of the X-men? The Teen Titans? BRP can handle that.

Do you want Thor? The Hulk? Superman? BRP tends to break down at those power levels.

Agree completely.

Also, the span of powers doesn't really cover the amount of powers that exist in 4-colors.

-STS

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The trouble with BRP and high-powered super heroes is in scale.

Superheroes with high Strength such as The Thing, The Hulk and Superman have a correspondingly high damage bonus that depends largely on their STR as their SIZ doesn't vary that much. If The Thing fought The Hulk then they would smash each other to smithereens, so they each need very strong armour and/or very high Hit Points. They are both tanks, so give them a huge CON and massive armour, so their average damage bounces. Now put either of them against a normal superhero and you will find that they are basicaly untouchable - they can absorb huge amounts of damage and can deal out similar damage.

All well and good, you say, they should be virtually unbeatable. But what is they fight Laserman or The Sonic Blaster or other superheroes who do not rely on pure strength but have different modes of attack? In BRP they are often modelled as inflicting damage which the tanks can block/take. So, you have to ramp up their damage which means they can cream other superheroes at a distance.

Hurricane Man uses a storm that acts against STR, so tanks are immune. Nausea Man uses a Vomiting Beam that acts against CON, so tanks are immune. Mister Mind can control minds, so tanks are completely vunerable to his attack, even though the player could argue that their bestail nature should make this difficult, but BRP does not really have the mechanisms in place to model this kind of defence.

Because BRP is Characteristic-based, it doesn't cope well with superheroes who can lift oil tankers.

In this case, it is about game balance and I don't think that BRP does it at all well.

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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Rosen and soltakss pointed out the mechanical difficulties well.

I think the solution to the probloem, if one is desired, can be found in games in DC Heroes. TO allow for the greater range in stats among PCs, Greg used a "resistance chart" that scaled along with the stats. I think BRP could work better at mixed power levels by swcaling and even capping values and powers according to thier relative ratings rather than than the simple add subtract method.

Tweaking a few things to work more on the ratio of the ratings rather than the actual point spread would make BRP a lot more "Supers Friendly". (sorry, couldn't help the awful pun). For example, treating a 40 vs. 20 the same as a 20 vs. 10 (instead of the same as a 40 vs 30) would help, as would capping damage by the ratio the attack ocverwhelms the defense. So a 15d6 attack vs 15 points of armor+hit points would be limited to say 6d6 damage or some such.

But, frankly, why bother? If you want to run a high powered super campaign, you are probably better off using a game designed to pull it off, and most of BRPs features will probably be obstacles.

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

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I ran a very enjoyable Supers game, but the power levels were around where Spiderman would be, perhaps a bit less.

I found being able to use fairly normal henchmen, or some highly trained and/or slightly enhanced ones to give the heroes a bit of a battle opened up more adventure options for me.

As Agtxtg pointed out, if your players are intent upon forming the next Avengers, or Justice League, you'd be better off with a different system made just for supers.

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Crap; I was really interested in running a BRP supers game.

It still works for a SuperHeroes game, but not as well as other systems.

For low-level characters it's fine. You could tweak it for high-powered characters or use a different resolution and it could be fine.

Try it and see. Let us know how you get on, if it worked well and how you got around any problems that might have arisen.

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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Re: the use of BRP at high levels, then I would agree it breaks down at that kind of level. Of course what defines high level is another matter, but please bear with me.

Translating older game/handbook information for the likes of Marvel's Thor and Hercules puts them below 140 STR since they were both rated at being able to lift around 95-100 tonnes or thereabouts. Now translating a fictional absolute into a game mechanic is fine if the resistance table is not used, but since I don't imagine the writers who conceived of those numbers decided that they succeeded either 5% or 95% of the time (or some similar variation), it is a little tricky. So splitting the difference we get a ballpark figure of Str 136 or so.

For Superman, and basing this on DC Heroes 2nd and 3rd edition (where he was toned down mind you!), we are looking at STR in BRP terms at around STR 800. A pretty big number.

Assuming reasonably heroic SIZ 14 or roughgly that for each, we see that translating the old Marvel handbook and game data yields DB's of around +8D6 for Thor and Herc, and a whopping +49D6 for Superman.

To buy STR to 136 from a reasonable 16, then the two Marvel heroes are looking at around 120 pts just to purchase their Super STR, let alone anything else. The equivalent points in an Energy Projection yield level 12, enough to surpass the basic melee damage of the STR-based guys, and inflicting a mean of 42 pts of damage, meaning that when contemplating Major wound thresholds as well as defenses everything gets very complicated. So if Thor and Herc break the game, then I think we can safely assume anyone above them does so also (Hulk, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Dr Manhatten, Supreme, Mr Majestic et al).

Now onto Spider-man. On-line Marvel data lists an optimal lifting capacity of 10 tonnes. We could perhaps put optimal at any arbitrary chance from 5% to 95%. I'd go with either 5% or 50% based on the resistance table, sine the 95% chance could push his potential upper limit to high, placing his STR between 72 and 80 at a guess. So with SIZ 12 and STR of say around 75 (basing of 50% as optimal) Spider-Man probably has a +4D6 damage bonus (mean +14 damage), costing probably around 60-65 pts to achieve that STR rating. Much more within the limits of BRP I'd suggest, and pretty much as other posters have offered, that Spider-man and those on a similar or lower level of ability (Wolverine comes to mind, most of the X-Men in fact; most 'street level' heroes; most of Marvel's non-cosmic, non-FF and non-Avengers characters; most of DC's non JLA or JSA characters; most VALIANT characters would fit; Archie's red Circle/MLJ superheroes also; most Milestone characters; most Comics Greatest World characters - Dark Horse; and more besides). The scales are there to emulate so far, and when beyond then the game will begin to break down.

But as other posters have noted, those games equipped to handle high level games often struggle to capture the low end well at the same time, so what BRP doesn't appear able to do without significant modification, it arguably makes up for in other ways.

Edited by leonmallett

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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I think a supers game in BRP is quite possible, but will require some work.

I too have been looking for a good system to run a supers game in and am considering using BRP. I am pretty confident that it can accomplish what I am looking for, but I haven't decided if I'm willing to put in the labor necessary.

As presented in the 4th ed. BRP, the supers system isn't fully fleshed out enought to use on its own, so I purchased the Superworld PDFs from Chaosium's website. With Superworld, there is enought detail, but Superworld is very old and will require quite a lot of conversion to work with the current BRP in the way I envision it.

The trick is to play to BRP's strengths. Remember that most Superheroes are also detectives or investigators. They solve mysteries, find out who is behind the latest plot, track down the supervillain in his/her lair, etc. BRP handles investigations very well and if you put more emphasis on investigation, interrogation, etc, the system should shine.

As far as the scaling problem with Cosmic level heroes--who wants to play these Cosmic Level epic heroes anyway? What a bore playing Superman would be. They may make for a good read in a comic if Superman is your thing, but role playing in general handles low to medium characters best anyway.

If you want a compelling superhero game, street level up to roughly X-Men level (minus Pheonix and a few others) is the way to go in my view.

I do think the powers system needs some work though. The point buy system is a little better in Superworld than the less developed one included in the BRP book (which is based off the original, less developed Worlds of Wonder rather than the later released Superworld).

In summary, I think if you want to do a supers game that captures the feel of the recent Dark Knight movie or the Watchmen, I think BRP may be a good way to go.

If BRP doesn't work for you though, you could give Silver Age Sentinels a try, the system was ALMOST what I was looking for and you may find happiness there. I also considered Mutants and Masterminds for awhile but in the end, I've decided Mutants and Masterminds has too much number crunching and too much flexibility.

TSR's Marvel RPG had an elegant system and scaled well in my view, but got a lot of stuff wrong in my view, like how weapon damage is calculated. It also contained no social systems (persuasion, interrogation, etc.)

I have also looked over the old Mayfair DC system, but the flavor is off for me--DC over all just isn't my thing (minus Batman and a few others which I really enjoy). The system works but caters more the really powerful heroes common to DC Comics--in all fairness though, I have only given the Mayfair system a quick glance and can't offer a very qualified opinion about it.

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Crap; I was really interested in running a BRP supers game.

Low to medium powered ones aren't undoable; I ran a couple of campaigns of Superworld (the full up version, not the WoW version) back in the day, and they worked well enough. But I'd at least buy the .pdf off the Chaosium site (and the .pdf of the Companion) and import some features into the current BRP before doing so; when Jason did the powers system for the new BRP, he was using the WoW version as the basis, which was less well refined, and made some decisions for general use that don't serve a supers game as well, and some that, honestly, I just think were mistakes (breaking down defenses quite as specifically as he did as a default I don't really think serves the BRP powers system well).

But Atgxtg does have some of the right of it; if you want something four colored and relatively high powered, BRP isn't probably the best base choice to start from; in some ways its pulling exactly the opposite of the direction you want.

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Crap; I was really interested in running a BRP supers game.

Don't worry, you can. But depending on the style of Supers game you want to run, you might be better off using a different game system.

As mentioned by most, BRP works great for characters like Batman, Captain America, or Daredevil. If you want to run a low powered game it's fine.

Somewhere around Spiderman is probably the point where the mechanics begin to depart from the comics. Still, if someone wanyed to run a "realsitic" Iron Man, like in the film, BRP might not be a bad choice, just make sure to give the armor some Hit points so anything that gets past the AP doesn't kill the PC.

High powered characters are "doable" in BRP, but you just have to be alert to the pitfalls and be ready to deal with them. I successfully shoehorned a Supergiril character into BRP/Superworld for a Wild Cards camapign. THe character wasn't quite as powerful as the actual character in the comics, but she was strong enough to lift and throw a tank, and that was more than enough for a Wild Cards setting. Reastically, anything bigger would probably break apart if someone tried to lift it anyway.

The major hurdle with BRP supers is probably the lethality and overkill potential in the system. A character with a 4d6 damage bonus can kill most people with a single punch. It is what would happen in the real world, but not in the comics. TO run high powered characters, the best thing to do would be to reduce the lethality of the game. For instance, blunt attacks could be changed from doing lethal HP damage to damage a character power/energy pool.

For the resistance chart, I suggest scaling the chart as follows to handle stats over 20

up to 20: 5% per point of difference.(Standard)

21-33: 3% per point of difference.

34-50: 2% per point of difference.

>50* 1% per point of difference.

Depending on just what you have in mind you can "tweak" BRP to fit. Let us know what type of game you are planning on and the folks here will probably be only to happy to throw lostsa of options and solutions at you.

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

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  • 2 weeks later...

Don't worry, you can. But depending on the style of Supers game you want to run, you might be better off using a different game system.

As mentioned by most, BRP works great for characters like Batman, Captain America, or Daredevil. If you want to run a low powered game it's fine.

Somewhere around Spiderman is probably the point where the mechanics begin to depart from the comics. Still, if someone wanyed to run a "realsitic" Iron Man, like in the film, BRP might not be a bad choice, just make sure to give the armor some Hit points so anything that gets past the AP doesn't kill the PC.

High powered characters are "doable" in BRP, but you just have to be alert to the pitfalls and be ready to deal with them. I successfully shoehorned a Supergiril character into BRP/Superworld for a Wild Cards camapign. THe character wasn't quite as powerful as the actual character in the comics, but she was strong enough to lift and throw a tank, and that was more than enough for a Wild Cards setting. Reastically, anything bigger would probably break apart if someone tried to lift it anyway.

The major hurdle with BRP supers is probably the lethality and overkill potential in the system. A character with a 4d6 damage bonus can kill most people with a single punch. It is what would happen in the real world, but not in the comics. TO run high powered characters, the best thing to do would be to reduce the lethality of the game. For instance, blunt attacks could be changed from doing lethal HP damage to damage a character power/energy pool.

For the resistance chart, I suggest scaling the chart as follows to handle stats over 20

up to 20: 5% per point of difference.(Standard)

21-33: 3% per point of difference.

34-50: 2% per point of difference.

>50* 1% per point of difference.

Depending on just what you have in mind you can "tweak" BRP to fit. Let us know what type of game you are planning on and the folks here will probably be only to happy to throw lostsa of options and solutions at you.

But why Chaosium don't write an update of Superworld, with all the rules for boosting the heroe's characteristics over superhuman potential and power updated to the 21st century flavor?

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Well, I was finally able to get my wife to GM a Supers game. It will be using BRP with a dash of Palladium and a pinch of D20.

The basic premise is "new agents join the BPRD".

The characters ended up being very "normal", however...the powers aren't so flashy either. Mine has know direction, danger sense, chameleon and psionic detonation. Not very powerful, but useful.

BRP handled character creation easily (though we used the random power generation tables from D20 Psionics, Marvel Super Heroes and Heroes Unlimited (one roll on each table) instead of "creating" them using the SuperWorld rules). Once we had the powers, we modeled them using SuperWorld and the City of Heroes conversion...

No problems so far. We got around the "super tough" and "super strong" characters by just increasing the linear values of damage, HP's and strength, so that thousands of points of damage are available (16" cannons, TLAM's, MOAB's, etc.), thousands of HP (tanks, battleships, etc.) and hundreds of points of STR (we changed the scale so STR X STR = max lift in pounds).

Also, we have never used the resistance table...ever (Not in 20 years of playing CoC). So, trying to keep values within +/-20 points was not important.

Mechanics changes, yes...but since they work (for us at least), just thought I might share them since we are using them for a Supers-type game.

-STS

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But why Chaosium don't write an update of Superworld, with all the rules for boosting the heroe's characteristics over superhuman potential and power updated to the 21st century flavor?

I may be wrong, but the sense I have is that they (Chaosium) are not too motivated to pursue a fully-fledged supers system, given that Jason Durrall had to fight to retain inclusion of superpowers in the BRP book.

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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I may be wrong, but the sense I have is that they (Chaosium) are not too motivated to pursue a fully-fledged supers system, given that Jason Durrall had to fight to retain inclusion of superpowers in the BRP book.

I don't recall Jason having to "...fight to retain inclusion of superpowers..." - there was considerable scepticism about it being the sole power system - but the issue there was "off the shelf playability" more than anything else as I remember it.

I think Chaosium are very small, have very few resources, and have very little evidence that there is sufficient space in the market (already well served by GURPS, HERO and the much lauded Mutants and Masterminds), to name but three...) to warrant the investment in re-working Superworld. If someone could demonstrate otherwise to them, I'm sure they'd look at doing it.

Cheers,

Nick

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I don't recall Jason having to "...fight to retain inclusion of superpowers..." - there was considerable scepticism about it being the sole power system - but the issue there was "off the shelf playability" more than anything else as I remember it.

I think Chaosium are very small, have very few resources, and have very little evidence that there is sufficient space in the market (already well served by GURPS, HERO and the much lauded Mutants and Masterminds), to name but three...) to warrant the investment in re-working Superworld. If someone could demonstrate otherwise to them, I'm sure they'd look at doing it.

Cheers,

Nick

My mistake Nick, apologies to all and especially Jason for misunderstanding this post:

post

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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My mistake Nick, apologies to all and especially Jason for misunderstanding this post:

post

No need to apologise - in that post Jason indicates that he had to deal with editorial pressure to remove powers entirely and put them in a separate book, which tallies entirely with what you said. My comment was based on my memory of the play test, in which the form and function of the Powers chapter was the single biggest debate we had - but I don't recall anyone suggesting the core book should be without some form of "Powers".

Hence my confusion earlier in this thread - and I will say that even if Chaosium were considering removing the "Powers" chapter from the core BRP, it would have been so it could be published as a separate volume (per Jason's post you linked to).

The difficulty is that supers isn't a huge segment of the RPG market, and it is pretty well served at present - so I suspect Chaosium will rely on the PDF's of Superworld and its supplements for the moment. Mind - if someone pitched them a project to rework it that was strong enough, I'm sure they'd consider it seriously.

Cheers,

Nick

Edited by NickMiddleton
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I went ahead and converted Colossus, Doctor Doom and Hulk from Marvel Super Heroes to BRP. No issues (except for the STR score...which for Hulk is 447 (the square root of 100 tons IF strength x strength = pounds).

Ditching the Resistance Table (heresy!)...the conversion works fairly well.

-STS

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No need to apologise - in that post Jason indicates that he had to deal with editorial pressure to remove powers entirely and put them in a separate book, which tallies entirely with what you said. My comment was based on my memory of the play test, in which the form and function of the Powers chapter was the single biggest debate we had - but I don't recall anyone suggesting the core book should be without some form of "Powers".

Hence my confusion earlier in this thread - and I will say that even if Chaosium were considering removing the "Powers" chapter from the core BRP, it would have been so it could be published as a separate volume (per Jason's post you linked to).

The difficulty is that supers isn't a huge segment of the RPG market, and it is pretty well served at present - so I suspect Chaosium will rely on the PDF's of Superworld and its supplements for the moment. Mind - if someone pitched them a project to rework it that was strong enough, I'm sure they'd consider it seriously.

Cheers,

Nick

Thanks Nick.

Do you think a strongly envisioned pitch for a supers-based monograph could work, or do you feel that monographs will remain largely Cthulhu-centric with a smattering of BRP books?

Very slowly working towards completing my monograph.

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Thanks Nick.

Do you think a strongly envisioned pitch for a supers-based monograph could work, or do you feel that monographs will remain largely Cthulhu-centric with a smattering of BRP books?

Oh, I definitely think they'd look at a solid Supers pitch as a monograph - the advantage of the monograph format for Chaosium is that it is relatively low risk. In fact, I'm slightly surprised that of all the stuff we know about that's in the queue at Chaosium there isn't anything that's clearly supers related that we know of.

Cheers,

Nick

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