Thinking about changing scope (and systems)

I love the idea of a supers game built on the 4E engine, it really lets players simulate exciting battles and gives all of the players a goodly variety of powers from which to choose. The downside, of course, is the sheer volume of the game. I’ve already posted about how large the book will be at the end. It’s a daunting prospect and one I do hope to complete at some point.

Thinking about comics, the way they are written, and the way the heroes and villains behave, I think a more descriptive, less rules-intensive system could be better. Granted, I’ve been reading a lot of FATE lately, but I’m thinking my first game design effort may be based on the FATE system rather than the 4E engine. The benefits of FATE lie in the fact that the description of a character becomes the driving force for the mechanics of the character. It’s sort of the opposite of D&D. FATE has a very generic set of rules that allow you to tag certain portions, called aspects, of a character for a generic +2 or a re-roll. Aspects are not defined by the game, they are created by the player and are meant to be descriptive of a character’s personality and intrinsic qualities. The traditional D&D system uses a lot of very firmly established, concrete modifiers that can then be used to describe your character.

The Jank Cast mentioned that high powered, cosmic superhero stories are really just morality plays. These stories are modern myths that describe a grander truth about the universe. Heroes with that much power are godlike and their battles have more to do with philosophical choices than beating some dude to a pulp. My immediate thought was, “FATE vs. D&D.” Grand, epic battles with complex maneuvers that are drawn out, tactical conflicts can be fun and there should be a game that does this well. On the other hand, getting that game to also handle the morality play aspect of cosmic heroes will require a fine touch. As a first endeavor, it may be too difficult for me to tackle. Cutting my teeth on a different game could be fun. I haven’t made a final decision yet, but I’ve started brainstorming for a FATE system of superheroes. It’s OGL, simpler and there are a number of games out there that I can draw on for mechanics help.

About PK

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