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Simlasa

Better Settings for Superworld

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10 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

It's like how amovie about a bad superman might be entertaining as a horror film and as a concept

they made this film and it was as boring and terrible as you might expect, because what makes supes interesting is his humanity, not his powers

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20 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

they made this film and it was as boring and terrible as you might expect,

I know. I said, it might be entertaining, it wasn't. At least not beyond the initial idea. In a RPG it's even worse. You have a group of PCs running amok until they either get bored of it all, or the government pulls out something powerful enough to defeat them, probably fairly quickly.

20 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

because what makes supes interesting is his humanity, not his powers

I disagree, somewhat. It's the powers that make him interesting. If he didn't have them he wouldn't be all that interesting or popular. That's why there are tons of Superman stories. If it were his humanity, some real world  humanitarian would be an entertainment sensation. The humanity bit was added over time as the character evolved. Superman didn't even consider himself "human" until the 80s reboot. Prior to that he was a Kryptonian who lived among humans. 

But the powers alone won't keep the character interesting. Thats where stories, conflicts and challenges come in. It's the hero's moral code, and willingness to risk life and limb to back it up that keeps the readers involves and the character entertaining. In fact, most of the good stories present problmes that the hero cannot easily solve with his powers. At least not anymore. Early Superman did do that, but at that time the novelty of the character kept him interesting. 

If character with superpowers can just go out and do what he wants the story shifts into just how it alters the status quo and if something will stop the character. But that's a difficult sort of adventure to RPG, since it will mostly be a series of surprises. 

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8 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

I disagree, somewhat. It's the powers that make him interesting. If he didn't have them he wouldn't be all that interesting or popular.

i mean, there's an argument that the first game that really showed how to handle every power level of superhero was ... smallville. and by "humanity" i meant not literal humanity but his righteousness. sure, he's invincible - but he's constrained by a ruthless moral code and family and friends.

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12 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

Early Superman did do that, but at that time the novelty of the character kept him interesting.

Early Superman wasn't nearly as powerful as he later became. He couldn't fly, had no heat vision... he was just really strong, could run real fast and jump real high. I'm not even sure he was bulletproof... or if it was just his clothes, made from his Kryptonian blanket.
Much more 'street level', and, IMO, more interesting than what he is now.

Meanwhile, something like The Boys (only seen the TV version) would play more like a game of Call of Cthulhu... assuming you were playing the normies going after the demented supes. Hopeless to go up against them directly... but hit them in their fan base, take down the people supporting them... show them to be the monsters they are... you're still probably screwed, but it could be fun.

Edited by Simlasa

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On 5/26/2019 at 12:35 PM, Simlasa said:

was reading the thread about using Superworld for 'cosmic' heroes and the sentiment seemed to be that the main issue is with BRP's inherent lethality... and how that lethality doesn't emulate the comics.

Now, it seems like a common gripe with superhero RPGs in general is that they only ever kindasorta manage to emulate the comics anyway. Which makes sense, since comics are written and plotted out to make a good story. Characters only live or die to suit the needs of the story.
Later in that thread, someone suggested that cosmic supers are just high-powered space opera and that E.E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman setting as being a good (better) fit for Superworld, since those stories featured super psychic characters and a lot of lethality.

Sounds good to me...

So I'm wondering, what other superheroic/superhero-ish settings might better fit the particular flavor that Superworld brings to the table?
I know it works well for early pulp heroes such as The Shadow and The Spider... and it works with the conceits of City of Heroes, but I'm guessing there are more out there that I'm not thinking of.


Any thoughts?

Well, I have s couple of thought, but unfortunately they are insane.

Watching The Doom Patrol. A personal fave of mine from the comic world of the ‘70s when I was a kid. (right, got it, yeah,  that explains much)  The one from way back then was a little odd, but very sweet. The modern television version has much more in common with Grant Morrison’s truly twisted vision... only darker. I mean Cliff Steel is played by the star of the Mummy who’s catch phrase is “...the FUCK?”. Oddly  enough, it maintains it sweetness. In any case the scene that Cliff Steele and Crazy Jane literally tear their way through lederhosen sporting nazis in Paraguay, limbs flying everywhere, literally screams

BRP!

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1 hour ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Well, I have s couple of thought, but unfortunately they are insane.

Watching The Doom Patrol. A personal fave of mine from the comic world of the ‘70s when I was a kid. (right, got it, yeah,  that explains much)  The one from way back then was a little odd, but very sweet. The modern television version has much more in common with Grant Morrison’s truly twisted vision... only darker. I mean Cliff Steel is played by the star of the Mummy who’s catch phrase is “...the FUCK?”. Oddly  enough, it maintains it sweetness. In any case the scene that Cliff Steele and Crazy Jane literally tear their way through lederhosen sporting nazis in Paraguay, limbs flying everywhere, literally screams

BRP!

I'm a huge fan of Doom Patrol, but I'm not sure I'd classify them as "pulp level". Cliff Steel, sure, but he's the only example. One character has essentially "powers as the plot demands" via her 64 different personalities (each with a different power); another is an energy being with the powers of flight, radiation projection, and likely others; yet another has essentially Plastic Man's/Elongonated Man/Mr Fantastic's power set (which, fair enough, I don't think is that powerful, but these are superheroes that often work as peers to 4 colour supes); finally Cyborg (with all his powers) is part of the team too.

Of course it's possible to tell grounded stories with high powered heroes... but it's the high power level, I understand, that is the concern for Superworld. (I must confess despite owning it, I've never actually tried to run a game with it - I've almost always used Champions or DC Heroes, though there's an indie game Capes that's quite fun as well).

Has anyone mentioned The Boys yet? Or the TV series Heroes? (Yes, you'd have to keep out Sylar and Peter, and maybe Hiro, but the rest are pretty low powered and even Hiro isn't immune to a bullet).

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So I'm wondering, what other superheroic/superhero-ish settings might better fit the particular flavor that Superworld brings to the table?

I know it works well for early pulp heroes such as The Shadow and The Spider... and it works with the conceits of City of Heroes, but I'm guessing there are more out there that I'm not thinking of.

I an not sure why you are limiting yourself to pulp, Simlasa. the op did not, as noted above, I knew there was a reason to grab the whole quote from three pages ago, and you, good sir, even used the whole quote again and then totally ignored it... :) There may be reason to criticize my choice but I do not think you have found it. The post asks what can do BRP well... I say the Doom Patrol. I mean, RQ seems to be lending itself to high power these days and really, the powers do not make a Doom Patrol story, the story does.

 

Edited by Bill the barbarian

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On 3/18/2020 at 12:50 AM, Bill the barbarian said:

I an not sure why you are limiting yourself to pulp, Simlasa.

Am I limiting myself to pulp? I wasn't aware of that... I just mentioned that I knew Superworld worked well for those pulp-era proto-supers.
Otherwise, I'm not sure what your on about... if you're even responding to me... I've got no issues with Doom Patrol since I don't know much about it, except for the oddball characters.

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My point exactly, I know you have no probs with  “pulp”. I was referring to Gazza taking me to task for mentioning the Doom Patrol 'cause they are not pulp as the quote below suggests So, yes, you are correct. It would be odd if I was questioning you... No, I was agreeing with you an offering an odd choice as a possible crew ready for BRP treatment. As for oddball, man, you got that right! Oh snap. I misquoted, change SImlasa to Gazza. A thousand apologies, (damn head cold).

Cheers

Quote

I an not sure why you are limiting yourself to pulp, Simlasa. Should be GAZZA OOPS, MEA CULPA!

On 3/18/2020 at 1:13 AM, GAZZA said:

'm a huge fan of Doom Patrol, but I'm not sure I'd classify them as "pulp level". Cliff Steel, sure, but he's the only example. One character has essentially "powers as the plot demands" via her 64 different personalities (each with a different power); another is an energy being with the powers of flight, radiation projection, and likely others; yet another has essentially Plastic Man's/Elongonated Man/Mr Fantastic's power set (which, fair enough, I don't think is that powerful, but these are superheroes that often work as peers to 4 colour supes); finally Cyborg (with all his powers) is part of the team too.

 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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I'm not, particularly, I was responding to the quote that "it works well for early pulp heroes such as The Shadow and The Spider" followed by the suggestion of Doom Patrol, suggesting that the latter was another example of the former.

Other than that I was simply noting that Doom Patrol characters are actually quite high powered superheroes - Calamity Jane would be tricky to build as a starting character in Champions, for example, and the energy being has that nasty "can attack while Desolid" feature that all superhero GMs hate (and is also expensive to build in Champions, given that it seems to be a very flexible power, capable of electrocution and mind sharing). They do not use their abilities very efficiently due mainly to psychological limitations, but Cliff is about the only one that I could comfortably build as a starting character in Champions (for example). My understanding (I haven't read the books in a long while) is that Superworld uses similar point levels to Champions (or at least the version of Champions that was around when Superworld was released), so presumably this would be true there as well.

To return to the original question, though, and abandoning pulp as noted, perhaps Superworld could reasonably simulate supernatural settings. I don't mean Call of Cthulu (probably the most highly regarded game I'll likely never play), I mean stuff like vampires, werewolves, and I'm sure you recognise the references. :) Those often turn out to be run as Superheroes With Fangs anyway, but the WW system is terrible as a superhero game.

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3 hours ago, GAZZA said:

To return to the original question, though, and abandoning pulp as noted, perhaps Superworld could reasonably simulate supernatural settings. I don't mean Call of Cthulu (probably the most highly regarded game I'll likely never play), I mean stuff like vampires, werewolves, and I'm sure you recognise the references. :) Those often turn out to be run as Superheroes With Fangs anyway, but the WW system is terrible as a superhero game.

I've had similar thoughts, thinking also of The Whispering Vault (someone described it as Clive Barker's 'Super Friends')... or some less kludgy take on Exalted, by which I mean a fantasy setting with some 'super-ish' races/species/factions.

Mentioning The Whispering Vault reminds that it's also been compared to Sapphire & Steel... which had various powered agents mending bizarre temporal anomalies (that often bear a resemblance to hauntings). Not particularly action-packed though.

I've never read The Nocturnals, how high-powered do their stories get? I always thought they looked cool...

240697-54413-nocturnals.jpg

Edited by Simlasa
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Superman's 1938 toughness was described as "nothing short of a bursting shell could pierce his skin."  So he'd survive an artillery hit but it would still mess up his day.  Full stats here:

Superman 1938

 

Quote: (While putting his street clothes over his uniform at a crime scene after calling the police) “If those policemen decide to search me it’ll be just too bad!”

 

The Man of Tomorrow! The Action Ace! Not yet the “Man of Steel,” Superman at his debut was able to lift tremendous weights (the comics showed him holding up a heavy Depression-era sedan using both hands); able to vault tall buildings and leap one-eighth of a mile; fast enough to outrun a speeding streamline train (beating bullets would come a little bit later); nothing less than a bursting shell could pierce his skin. Superman didn't yet have super senses, but his leaping ability and powerful grip enabled him to pull a human fly act and eavesdrop outside skyscraper windows. He was also smarter than the average human but preferred intimidation to Sherlock Holmes style deduction to get information. (But super brain plus super speed enabled him to scoop rival reporter Lois Lane in his guise of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent).

 

So how do his powers break down into real-life and BRP terms? To toss around an all-steel automobile, Superman would need to be able to lift five or six tons. A leap of one-eighth of a mile would be a running jump of 660 feet or 201 meters. With a vertical leap of almost 100 meters, Superman wouldn’t be able to hurdle Manhattan’s four tallest buildings (Empire State Building, 381 meters; Chrysler Building, 319 meters; Bank of Manhattan Trust Building, 283 meters; Woolworth Building, 241 meters) but there are plenty of lesser towers he could hop. Although train speed performance has improved with technology, records for unmodified diesel and electric trains from the 1930s top out at 215 km per hour, or 134 mph. Most rail vehicles, even fast ones, were at least 15 to 25 mph slower.

 

STR 60

CON 30

SIZ 15

INT 21

POW 13

DEX 16

APP 11

Move: 10

Hit Points: 23 (45 CON+SIZ)

Damage Bonus: +5D6

Armor: 25 (kinetic), 5 (heat)

 

Attacks: Brawl 75%, 1D3+DB; Grapple 75%, 1D3+DB

 

Skills: Climb 80%, Dodge 82%, Fast Talk 65%, Hide 60%, Insight 65%, Jump 75%, Knowledge (Journalism) 55%, Language (English) 105%, Listen 75%, Persuade 65%, Research 75%, Spot 75%, Stealth 60%, Swim 75%, Throw 75%

 

Powers:

 

Tough Skin – Armor, 25 (kinetic), 5 (heat), (30)

 

Leap, 99 levels, +198 meters horizontal leap (99)

 

Super Characteristic – +42 STR, +15 CON, +4 INT (69)

 

Faster Than A Streamline Train – Super Speed, 21 levels, can run 220 meters per combat round, is minus 210% to be hit by a single attack, 21 power points per round when running at full speed (420)

 

Extra Energy, +140 power points (14)

 

Failings: Protective of Lois Lane (+3), Responsible to the Daily Planet (+3), Has the hots for Lois (+2), “I Started A Pop-Cultural Phenomenon” Bonus (+519)

 

Notes: Superman had 500 skill points plus 210 personal skill points based on INT, total 710. His stats were randomly rolled at the “Out of This World” level using the online Call of Cthulhu creature generator. He had 105 power points based on unmodified characteristics plus 8 more for Failings, total 113. Given his energy limitations, Superman can run at full speed for 7 combat rounds. In action, he’ll catch up to a runaway train in great hops, then use his super speed at the last minute to actually grab it. Superman’s skin is as armored as a modern tank but a direct hit by a 10D6 artillery shell is still going to really mess up his day. Perhaps his defenses should be higher, but he’d need 60 AP (kinetic) to shrug off the effects of a shell.

 

It was his movement abilities that put Superman far over the usual build point budget for a player-character superhero. Flight with enough levels to haul around, say, a standalone safe would actually be less expensive. Even with characteristics of all 18, a PC would have only 126 power points to work with, and he’d be able to gain only 63 more with a ridiculous number of Failings. Superman’s one-eight of a mile jumps alone would use up most of that, and Leap doesn’t require energy to use. In play, especially if using miniatures, a single jump would essentially remove him from the game. Being able to chase down a train was even more expensive to model, and Super Speed at those levels uses tons of energy – which is why Golden Age Superman doesn’t zip around like the Flash all the time.

Edited March 14, 2014 by seneschal

 

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Does Superworld not have non-combat movement as cheaper than combat movement? I doubt Superman needs to leap 1/8th of a mile in combat.

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On 3/21/2020 at 6:44 AM, GAZZA said:

Does Superworld not have non-combat movement as cheaper than combat movement? I doubt Superman needs to leap 1/8th of a mile in combat.

That might depend on who/what he's in combat with.

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Way back in the day there was a 'Nocturnals'  supplement for 1E   Mutants and Masterminds. There's also of course  a 'Hellboy'  source-book for GURPS.

I had some ideas for some Lovecraft inspired superheroes: 'Kid Shoggoth',  'The Color', and  'Richie Pickman and his  pet Tomb-Hound'. 

'From their secret vaults beneath the  Mikastonic University Library  come  'The Cosmic Outsiders',  to do battle with with unspeakable evil!'

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9 hours ago, Simlasa said:

That might depend on who/what he's in combat with.

Modern Supes? Sure. But back when he was leaping 1/8 of a mile (which is a weirdly specific number - I'm an Aussie, is 1/8 of a mile some special number of yards or something?) most of his foes were corrupt businessmen and the like IIRC. I'm far from an expert but I don't think he faced too many actual powered supervillains until the Silver Age.

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10 hours ago, 1d8+DB said:

"From their secret vaults beneath the  Mikastonic University Library  come  'The Cosmic Outsiders',  to do battle with with unspeakable evil!'

A threat otherwise known as the PCs.  😱

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2 hours ago, GAZZA said:

Modern Supes? Sure. But back when he was leaping 1/8 of a mile (which is a weirdly specific number - I'm an Aussie, is 1/8 of a mile some special number of yards or something?) most of his foes were corrupt businessmen and the like IIRC. I'm far from an expert but I don't think he faced too many actual powered supervillains until the Silver Age.

You're right.  Other than occasional forays by scrawny, red-headed Lex Luthor (green robes preferred) and the original Metallo (a guy in powered armor rather than today's Kryptonite-fueled cyborg), most of Superman's foes well into the 1950s were garden-variety gangsters, politicians and unfeeling corporate types with the odd generic mad scientist tossed in.  Superman's radio adventures also included terrorists such as The Wolf and the Scarlet Window, masterminds such as the Yellow Mask, and German holdouts such as Der Teufel and the Atom Man.  With the exception of Metallo and Atom Man, none of his enemies could go toe-to-toe with him.  He spent most of the time figuring out their schemes as Clark Kent, then swooped in at the last minute to stop them.

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23 hours ago, GAZZA said:

Modern Supes? Sure. But back when he was leaping 1/8 of a mile (which is a weirdly specific number - I'm an Aussie, is 1/8 of a mile some special number of yards or something?) most of his foes were corrupt businessmen and the like IIRC.

I wasn't thinking in terms of those limitations. Just a hero with a big (related somehow to John Carter's?) jump vs. some other thing that might be able to fly or leap or teleport... or throw a captive a long distance. Or maybe just the need to jump between two hot spots... like simultaneous bank heists, while being shot at, with a monkey on his back... or something.
It's also a good ability to get out of a fight that's going badly for him.

 

Edited by Simlasa

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Ah-ha!  I just remembered the novel Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.  Its cast includes a few over-powered characters, but for the most part, its setting deals with street-level superheroes and supervillains, treated comparatively realistically.

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On 5/26/2019 at 11:35 AM, Simlasa said:

So I'm wondering, what other superheroic/superhero-ish settings might better fit the particular flavor that Superworld brings to the table?
I know it works well for early pulp heroes such as The Shadow and The Spider... and it works with the conceits of City of Heroes, but I'm guessing there are more out there that I'm not thinking of.


Any thoughts?

Reignited from a thread in the Call of Cthulhu forum, how about street-level teen sleuths?  On essentially the scale of The Shadow and The Spider, but with less imminent menace.  Teen Titans, but not so titanic.  For instance, instead of Nancy Drew and Joe Hardy, we have 17-year-old Barbara Gordon and a 14-year-old Bruce Wayne taking to the streets as Batgirl and Robin.  Look to the first few seasons of the television show Gotham for inspiration, but add more costumery.  Any of the '60s and '70s era teen sleuth cartoons can be embraced for inspiration, too, just amped up a bit (Shaggy and Scooby don't need to do so much running away).

Granted, great swathes of the Superworld rules sit on the sideline, as there are essentially no "super" powers, and the rules lean heavily into skills, stunts, and gadgets.  But these are things the rules model rather well. (Okay, with the possible exceptions of Gimmick and Sidekick, which have always been awkward and exploitable/unexploitable.)

!i!

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On 3/26/2020 at 10:45 AM, Ian Absentia said:

Reignited from a thread in the Call of Cthulhu forum, how about street-level teen sleuths?

My only qualms about that, and possibly peculiar to me, is that I'm generally not that hot about playing as teenagers or younger kids. Maybe because I spend my days among hordes of middle-schoolers. I can see the potential though... there's that sequence in Stranger Things where Eleven ends up with a group of street punks and their psychic friend Kali, and go after the people who worked in the lab experiments.

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