Monday, January 26, 2015

Whither DC Heroes?

With all of the discussion about superhero RPG's here and elsewhere, I rarely see a reference to DC Heroes.

There's a lot of love out there for a lot of older superhero games.  A lot of people really love Champions.  Marvel Comic's old RPG, now often called FASERIP, has apparently a robust online community.  I even saw that Villains & Vigilantes has been re-published.  But every time I seen Barking Alien or Lord Blacksteel or someone else talking about thinking about one superhero RPG or another, DC Heroes never comes up.

Which surprises me, because from what I can tell, the game was ridiculously well-supported and went through three different editions (although on the Wikipedia entry it suggested that each new edition tried to clean up problems in the last one--never a good sign).  While I do not own any of the editions of the core rulebooks, I have managed over the years to score many sourcebooks at used book stores, and they all look pretty well written with lots of character information.

So what gives?  Is the game a dog with fleas when it comes to the rules?  Are DC-based games just cursed to be badly written (I'm looking at you, DC Universe...)  I need my RPG nabobs to fill me in here.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


A while back I wrote about the ongoing (still...ongoing...) "Spider-Verse" story arc going on with Marvel Comics.  It is still plodding along, although this week seems to be drawing everything to a head.

My kids and I do still love the whole concept of alternate-universe Spider-Men, or women, or pigs, but if there is one thing that the whole series has illustrated (unintentionally) it is that the Peter Parker of Earth 616 (mainstream Marvel Earth) is the least interesting Spider-Man out there.

Even less than this guy. Who actually admits to being lame in the comic book.

Which might be why Marvel Comics recently announced that they were going to do some sort of collapse/recon/coalesce of their universe in some ground-shaking way this May, making many comic book store owners wonder how they are going to get people to buy the new Silk comic book if the universe might be thrown into disarray five months into the series.

Or, what I've heard kicked around the geek-o-sphere, if this isn't an attempt of Disney/Marvel to make Michael Morales, the Spider-Man from the Ultimates universe, the mainstream Spider-Man, and hence not Sony's intellectual property when it comes to making a movie.  Called, say, Spiderman, which would be of course completely different.

All of this is just because while in the midst of a fantasy RPG campaign, I still miss superheroes.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Ghoul problems

So apparently, if I had bothered to look around before designing my intro adventure, I would have learned that ghouls, a pretty standard low-level undead creature, are entirely broken and have been so since playtesting.  There are a gazillion forum posts and blog posts about this, but I'll encapsulate the problem.

  • Ghouls have three attacks, a claw/claw/bite combination at +4/+4/+2
  • Which the attacks are low-level in power, each attack can paralyze an opponent for a full minute if they fail a DC 10 Constitution save.  Being paralyzed means are effectively hors de combat.
  • AC's for PC's are fairly low, and do not improve with PC level advancement, but strictly through equipment.
  • PC's only get a bonus to attribute saving throws if they are proficient in that attribute.  Each class only has two attribute proficiences, usually.  Otherwise, it is just a straight up d20+attribute modifier (usually low because its not the favored one of the class).  That means there's no difference between a 1st and a 5th level PC in this regard (barring magic items that increase AC).
So with three bites at the apple (the apple being a d20 roll of rough 9 or less), ghouls can one-hit KO a PC pretty often.

It's a weird loophole in their "proficiency bonus" rule, which replaced the "half your level" rule from 4E that caused everything to accelerate quickly into very high numbers.

Anyways, just an in-game observation (and apology to my players for hitting them with ghouls and a carrion crawler, which has the exact same mechanic).

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