My new superheroes game

For quite a while now I’ve been interested in writing my own games. I think anyone who is a dungeon master dreams of one day writing a complete game. Back in college, I helped play test a great game called Beyond Mere Mortals. It was a superheroes game based on the d20 rules set. It was a ton of fun to play, though the system had its flaws. Largely, I think the base d20 system is to blame for that but that’s another rant entirely.

When I first sat down to read my new 4th Edition Players Handbook two years ago, I was struck immediately by how well the system would lend itself to the creation of a superheroes game. I began writing up classes, powers and design manifestos for such a game. I pulled in some friends and we worked on it for about nine months. Then life happened, I hit a creative road block and my 4th Edition supers game fell to the wayside.

No longer, I say! I have delved back into my design manifestos after a year and a half and am revising them, changing mechanics and working on the game again. Part of this was inspired by the release of Players Handbook 3 and D&D Essentials. Seeing the different approaches to classes has helped release that creative roadblock and spurred me on to look at the way powers work in my game.

As it stands now, the game features twelve classes covering the various archetypes of superheroes games. The framework of class roles really helps clarify the various archetypes compared to previous versions of the d20 system. My current plan is to also populate the world with an implied setting that is neither DC nor Marvel but with elements of each. Various unique races will be in the book representing alien species and varieties of metahumans. The power sources are: biological, martial, mystical and technological. I chose mystical as a catch all for divine and arcane characters, since that is really more representative of the source material. It’s arguable that Thor and Doctor Strange have the same power source, if you need to frame it within a game construct.

I’d like to share the blurb for one of the classes. This one is my favorite so far. It’s a defender, which tends to be my favorite role in 4E and the flavor is really fun. The class is all about controlling the field of battle around him in the way that most inconveniences the enemy. Like the barbarian, he can be played without a lot of tactical pauses, this is the character who doesn’t want to talk to the villain but smash in his face. He’s big, he’s bad, he is…

The Beast

The Beast is an untamed force, wildly destructive and very dangerous to his foes. In battle he uses his immense strength and greater size to fling his opponents across the field or alter the terrain to hinder enemies. The Beast is not particularly concerned with defense and will require support from other team members. As the biggest and most prominent member of a super team, opponents will often mob The Beast.

Regardless of your origin something primal has been unlocked within you, the Beast lurks just beneath the surface, waiting to come out. You could be a rational scientist with a dark side, a sorcerer who is chained to a being of hate and malice, a bullied child with power waiting to be released or you may be huge and monstrous at all times but only truly terrifying when you’re angry. When this beast is released, people get out of your way. Obstacles pose no challenge as you tear through walls and destroy anything in your path. Your footsteps carry enough force to crack concrete and when you put your mind to it, you can really cause some destruction. Enemies have a difficult time keeping their feet near you and the force of your blows will send them hurling through the air or lamp posts.

Your destiny is your own, when faced with the choice, how will you direct the beast within?

About PK

PK Sullivan is a game designer and writer living in Chicago.

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