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Simlasa

Better Settings for Superworld

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The grittier, street-level series in the Wildstorm Universe such as Sleeper and Grifter may be a good match.  The "widescreen" titles like The Authority and Planetary would be a harder fit, though.

Alan Moore's Watchmen would of course be almost perfect, with only Dr. Manhattan unbalancing the superpowered game mechanics.  The settings for his series 1963 and Terra Obscura would also be suitable.

Grant Morrison's Zenith would likewise mesh well overall, with only a couple of overpowered exceptions.

I wonder if Blizzard's Overwatch universe would be at all adaptable.  Although the video game's frenetic fighting style obviously doesn't translate to pencil-and-dice roleplaying combat, its range of powers falls within Superworld's.

Edited by Travern
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On 8/5/2019 at 8:15 PM, Michael Hopcroft said:

The superheroes are either super-careful and occasionally forced into situations where they MUST take off the kid gloves, or they don't care and become a threat to everybody they can reach (the plot of The Boys seems to center around this concept, where government-sponsored heroes must be stopped, and possibly even killed off, before their powers destroy the world).

 

I just made my way through The Boys series on... whatever it's on... and loved its dark humor... and thought it would make for an interesting RPG concept. Kind of like some older games that had the PCs fighting in a covert war between psychics and mundane humans (inspired by Scanners, I think). It would definitely fit with a more dangerous level of combat, vs. standard 4-color fare.
The only question would be in regards to having renegade supers join the resistance, and how they'd work alongside regular folks... 'cause everyone would want to be the Jedi/Starlight.

Edited by Simlasa

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53 minutes ago, Simlasa said:

I just made my way through The Boys series on... whatever it's on... and loved its dark humor... and thought it would make for an interesting RPG concept.

I've got to say, I liked The Boys better when it was called Marshall Law.  Either way, for that kind of over-the-top satire, I think that a more storytelling-focused RPG rules system would be better, like FATE or maybe the PBTA Masks: A New Generation.

53 minutes ago, Simlasa said:

Kind of like some older games that had the PCs fighting in a covert war between psychics and mundane humans (inspired by Scanners, I think).

Psi-World was like that—an interesting premise held back by a cumbersome, overdetermined rules system.  I could see a streamlined version translated to BRP working out very well, though.

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5 hours ago, Travern said:

I've got to say, I liked The Boys better when it was called Marshall Law

I don't know Marshal Law but I have always admired the Underground RPG, which I've seen mentioned as having been heavily influenced by that comic.
For me, the satire shouldn't come from the mechanics/rules... it's the system and the players who will bring it. Similar to games set in the 40K universe... which is hilariously dark comedy to some... and deadly serious to others (I fall in with the dark comedy crowd). Playing it straight will foreground how ridiculous it is.
Paranoia is another darkly humorous game, but I want the rules for that to be deadly serious... not wacky.

Last night I was watching the sequel to Galaxy Express 999, which featured a human resistance fighting against the Machine Empire. The machine people are pretty much supers... immortal and resistant to most kinds of damage, superior strength and reflexes... so it's another setting where the heroes are fighting against inherently superior forces, which I just about always find interesting.

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Galaxy Express 999 was transhumanism before there was a word for transhumanism. So was Testuwan Atom/Astro Boy, which dealt intensely with the idea of robot personhood (robots become more common and some face discrimination and have to conceal their nature, while Atom'/Astro cannot conceal his otherness and is accepted because he is a powerful "superhero". Osamu Tezuka was a devout Buddhist, and very humanistic, so he had a great interest in what qualities make one human and how those qualities apply to other types of beings. Astro is built to duplicate the lost son of his inventor, but is discarded because he cannot perform the essential function of a human child -- to grow up. But while Astro can't grow up physically, when under proper, compassionate guidance he grows up mentally and morally.

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1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Is it weird that Galaxy Express 999 wasn't as good as Adieu Galaxy Express 999

You think the sequel was better?
I felt strongly the other way... the sequel was essentially just a redo of the first one, but with a bunch of Star Wars elements tossed in (was the Faust character really necessary to the plot? Or was he just there to be Darth Vader?).
Not that the sequel wasn't entertaining, and I liked the transition of the machine people from snobby elites in the first movie to outright hostile enemies in the second one. Also, the 'ghost train' evoked the 'black ships' in 40K, and even though it was meant to be a mystery, my assumption about their cargo turned out to be correct... so I wonder if GW might have been 'inspired' by that.
 

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OK, so setting aside media franchises, which as we all see don't work financially -- what qualities would differentiate a good, original Superworld setting from, say, a good Champions setting? What type of setting plays to Superworld's strengths and compensates for its weaknesses? And what type of setting would be good enough to make people want to play it in Superworld while making something that is definitely aimed at this game?

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On 8/19/2019 at 5:32 PM, Travern said:

I've got to say, I liked The Boys better when it was called Marshall Law.  

Funny you should mention that.  "I've got a gun that shoots six shades of s**t.  What's your favorite colour?"

On 8/19/2019 at 5:32 PM, Travern said:

Psi-World was like that—an interesting premise held back by a cumbersome, overdetermined rules system.  I could see a streamlined version translated to BRP working out very well, though.

By another coincidence, back in the day, that's exactly what I did with SuperWorld after we realised that it was too lethal to model our favorite Marvel comics.  Worked like a gem!  I tried Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, too, which has been mentioned up-thread.  That worked super-easily, as we basically designed one character with a bird suit, then handed out copies to all of the players with provision for minor personalisation.

!i!

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Agree with tailoring the material to the game’s strengths and weaknesses.  Would it be better to do this slowly and gradually with small adventures and campaign modules rather than a giant comprehensive campaign book?  We’ve got to both draw in new players and make Chaosium money so they are willing to publish new product to support the game and let customers know it lives yet.  “Bad Medicine for Doctor Drugs”. Is insufficient and badly dated.

Ironically, Fantasy Games Unlimited is still publishing new adventures for Villians & Vigilantes to this day.  With its fancy new editions of Cthulhu and Runequest selling like global hotcakes, can Chaosium do at least as well for Superworld?  After all, you’ve got an existing edited and playtested product ready to sell.  You know of the lethality issues that limited its appeal the first time around.  Make adjustments, support it, sell the hell out of it and make some money.  You are the 500-pound gorilla compared to Monkey House Games.  Believe in your product af least as much as they believe in theirs.

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On the other hand, if the Mythras folks are building out their "Agony & Ecstasy" experiment into a full game, that could make a "Superworld" physical re-release redundant.  I still wish the old girl could get a second chance though.  I've had a blast designing superheroes with similar tools from the Big Gold Book, and the powers are useful for modeling critters from other genres.  Enables you to toss a bit of Thundarr the Barbarian into your Runequest game.

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I recently saw it alleged that there is a Thundercats movie in the works.  I presume somebody will license it for a RPG; dunno that Chaosium wants that IP, or cares to swim the licensed-IP waters at this time.  I think a BRP game could do this setting quite well.  It'd be a subset of Superworld, I think...

But as a fan project, it should go pretty easily.

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But I'd prefer something G- or PG-rated so we can attract younger customers without offending the parents or grandparents who may be the actual purchasers of the game.  We can get more "adult" once sales are already going strong.  Don't slap 'em with Joker when they are expecting Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

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3 hours ago, seneschal said:

But I'd prefer something G- or PG-rated so we can attract younger customers without offending the parents or grandparents who may be the actual purchasers of the game.

Chasing after kiddie money with 'safe' content is more likely to lead to a bland product that won't attract much interest, from the kiddies or anyone else. Or are you thinking 'Supers' are inherently a kid-oriented topic?
Also, given the stuff kids are experiencing in their video games, which their parents and grandparents buy for them... how likely is it that any supers RPG going to be more egregiously violent?

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BRP doesn’t skew that young in the first place, either in its comparatively crunchy game mechanics or the more mature stories its rules system lends itself to telling (maybe if Chaosium developed a BRP-Lite version first).  In the second, the competition for the YA equivalent superhero RPGs is already dominated by Masks: The Next Generation.  I’d like to see Chaosium innovate rather than play catch-up or chase demographic trends.

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18 minutes ago, Simlasa said:

Chasing after kiddie money with 'safe' content is more likely to lead to a bland product that won't attract much interest, from the kiddies or anyone else. Or are you thinking 'Supers' are inherently a kid-oriented topic?
Also, given the stuff kids are experiencing in their video games, which their parents and grandparents buy for them... how likely is it that any supers RPG going to be more egregiously violent?

No, comic books aren't just for kids anymore -- but then they never were even in their 1940s heyday.  But they always were a mass market product with broad appeal.  Superman, Archie Andrews and Captain Marvel were equally enjoyed by American servicemen fighting World War 2 as well as the kiddies on the home front.  And Batman has always been dark and grim.  For the older readers there were also the true crime and horror titles that eventually led to the Comics Code.  I want our new Superworld to be unique and cool but not so edgy that we miss out on possible sales.  If you tell me BRP skews to a more mature audience, I accept your judgement.  But it would be nice to also end up with a product I could feel comfortable playing with my wife and adult children.

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37 minutes ago, seneschal said:

But it would be nice to also end up with a product I could feel comfortable playing with my wife and adult children.

Could you play Call of Cthulhu with them?
Nowadays someone somewhere WILL be offended... so where to draw the line? And regardless of what's in the rulebook, the stuff that gets to the table is up to you... you are the ultimate filter.

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True.  Back during the Satanic Panic I played Champions instead of D&D to avoid any taint of the occult ... and then the GM had our four-color superheroes battle a demon invasion.  😳
 

Ran "Murder in the Footlights" for Cthulhu for my family.  My wife loved playing a tough-talking lady detective with my daughter's character as her newspaper photographer sidekick.  They actually hunted the bad guy to his lair and infiltrated it without getting caught.  But she took one look at Otto, the villain's Frankenstein monster-like henchman, and suddenly lost interest in completing the scenario.  Definitely a one-shot sort of player.  We've had the most success with TOON although I've offered everything from superheroes to ancient Greek fantasy to Zorro.  My wife rejected the chance to be Queen of Swords if you remember that old TV show.  We most recently played Teenagers From Outer Space, in which they were freshmen successfully sneaking into a seniors-only dance in quest of the local heartthrob.  That's currently on hiatus, too.  When last seen they were in the middle of a sci-fi firefight with the school queen bee in the middle of the dance -- their characters having been duplicated multiple times with some of the duplicates sex-changed.  But then, TFOS is that sort of game.

Edited by seneschal
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On 8/19/2019 at 6:32 PM, Travern said:

I've got to say, I liked The Boys better when it was called Marshall Law

Wow, The Boys totally evaded my radar, but I never even knew there was a RPG based n everyone’s fave dysfunctional hero.

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2 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Wow, The Boys totally evaded my radar, but I never even knew there was a RPG based n everyone’s fave dysfunctional hero.

I've often seen Mayfair's Underground RPG described as 'The Marshall Law RPG'.
But I've never read that comic so any parallels escape me (but I quite like Underground).

Edited by Simlasa

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