Recently I stumbled upon a new rules-light roleplaying game called “Dungeonslayers”. Dungeonslayers consists of 12 pages of rules and is meant as a fun and easy to play fantasy RPG. There is no setting provided with the rules and it’s obviously meant to run dungeon adventures but I am sure you could easily run any kind of adventure. The game is free and was released unter Creative Commons 2.0.
There is currently only a german version of the rules, but since it’s released under CC it should be no big problem to translate it to English.
The official site has the latest rules and several character and equipment sheets available for download.
In an earlier post I’ve written about the dead or undead status of d20 Modern. And so I was looking for an alternative. And at once Mutants & Masterminds comes to mind. But isn’t it a superhero game? Yes, it is, but it’s far more versatile than that.
If you plan to run a modern day campaign with no magic, superpowers, whatever, just reduce the power level to suit your campaign style and disallow all powers that would not fit into your setting. A character like the costumed adventurer archetype would probably fit into any spy campaign, when you replace the silly bat costume with some special ops clothing. A martial artist is the easist to fit into the game and even a gadgeteer may be shoehorned into your campaign world (especially if you play in the near future or the campaign features gadgets like from a James Bond movie).
When you add some magic or psionics to the mix (like in the original Agents of PSI or Urban Arcana settings from the d20 Modern corebook), you can easily bring more M&M archetypes into the mix without even change that much.
The implied setting of M&M is a modern world (as the one we live in) with superheroes being a reality. The rule book also provides you with stats for modern and archaic weapons, armor and even vehicles. So that’s another issue you don’t have to worry about.
So, if you’re looking for a great roleplaying game for your modern campaign, check out Mutants & Masterminds.
Capes, costumes, secret identities are the common tropes of the superhero genre. But there are people who think that adult men and women clad in skintight spandex suits with masks and fancy capes just look silly. Recent superhero movies have done away with skintight suits in most cases (and replaced them with leather suits for example) and the superhero cartoon “The Incredibles” gave us a lot of arguments why capes are just evil!
So, can you pull of a superhero campaign without some of the most common superhero tropes? Sure. Look at the superheroes TV show “Heroes“. There you have people with incredible powers but no capes, no costumes, no secret identities, no silly names. In my opinion the premise of “Heroes” could make a great base for a superhero campaign.
Most (if not all) characters have the same origin. Let’s just go the X-Men/Heroes route and they all have some genetic mutations that give them super powers. Call them mutants or homo superior, whatever tickles your fancy. Another possible origin could be super powers that are caused by nano bots in the supers’ bloodstream (like in the computer game “Deus Ex”). Whatever it is it should be grounded in natural science. No magic, no aliens, no gods!
Superpowers are real, there are heroes and villains, but the majority of the world has not taken notice of them. Most supers keep their powers secret in fear of being repressed by normals or not to become a guinea pig for ruthless scientists who want to find out the secret of their powers.
It’s the world as we know it
You don’t need to make changes to the world as we know it. Everything is pretty much the same, there are just a few people starting to dicover their emerging powers. Perhaps add in a secret organization that controls supers (like the Company in “Heroes”)
If I would start a Heroes-inspired campaign I would probably use Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition. A good starting power level would be around 5 or 6. During the campaign you of course can rise that level as it suits the story.
Grey is better than white As we’ve seen in Heroes, most “heroes” have their bad sides. No one is 100% perfect like most Golden Age heroes. The player characters should have some flaws too. Let even the villains have some redeeming qualities.
Not everyone is super A PL 5 or 6 campaign should allow you to add people without any super powers to the team. It could be someone like Hiro’s friend Ando or Dr. Suresh, the scientist, who is trying to find and help these special individuals.
It could also be interesting to let the players create their characters without any powers first. So they start like normal humans and the GM grants them some powers during the first adventure. So the players have to find out what their powers are first.
The character concept should always be viable without the powers. Nathan Petrelli from Heroes for example was (and still is) a politician first before he even knew about his flying ability, Sylar was a watchmaker, Hiro a corporate employee, Clair Bennett is still going to school. Keep that in mind when you create characters. A superhero that is focused on his super powers alone without any other skills is not recommended for that kind of campaign.
I am still trying to convince my gaming group that we should do a superhero campaign. Perhaps if we go the “Heroes” way, I can win them over. 🙂
Note: The ChattyDM is hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. The topic is “Super Heroes in RPGs” and this post is my contribution.
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