A while back I mentioned that I was interested in learning more about the DC Heroes RPG, if only because it seemed to be this oddly forgotten RPG from days of yore. I owned a bunch of sourcebooks, but not the game itself, and could only glean some sense of the game's mechanics.
Well, over Spring Break with the kids I happened to be traveling out of state to see my parents, and on the visit hit a FLGS in the area which turned out to be the Holy Motherlode of out-of-print RPG's to the point where I could have blown $200 there easily, if I was so inclined.
I wasn't, but I did pick up one book:
|Superman had just died when this edition was published, otherwise I'm sure he would have made his way into the cover. By the way, nice gratuitous cleavage.|
I haven't had a chance to work my way through the entire book yet, but I did glance at the stat-ups for the various DC heroes and villains, including the Joker.
From an RPG standpoint, he seems pretty underwhelming. Roughly human stats in most areas. Hawkman-level intelligence. His only really outstanding stats are Influence and Willpower. He gets high ranks in the Charisma and Gadgetry department, but is actually a little underwhelming in Weaponry and has no close-combat fighting ability whatsoever. Under Advantages he has Arkham Asylum (low) and Organized Crime (high), and that's it. Arkham Asylum is "low"?
At 120 Hero points, he's between Aquaman (100) and Batman (120). I'm not sure if that really does anything for him, however.
I do get it. He's a Batman villain. He has no superpowers. The fact that he is "easily the Batman's most persistent and deadly foe" is grounded largely in the weird Batman-universe mythological explore-the-human-psyche elements, not raw power. He's a pushover in a lot of ways, but not in others. Just look at Kingdom Come or Injustice to understand that. Any B-level superhero can level him in a fight, but he is great at messing with people's minds.
Now, how to handle that in an RPG? This is the case where I think there's a gap sometimes between "superhero RPG's" and "comic book RPG's," and where Marvel Heroic Roleplaying may actually shine. If I had to do a quick stat-up for the Joker for MHR, it would probably look like this:
Solo d8 Buddy d6 Team d4
Clown Prince of Crime
Obsessed with the Batman
SFX: Joker venom. When inflicting a "Hideously Disfigured" complication on an opponent, add a d6 to the dice pool and step up the effect die.
Limit: Gear, see MHR
So, not the most formidable guy in terms of power, but turn him loose to create an Asset, or to make an Emotion-based attack on someone and he's rocking a 3d8 or 4d8 and a d10. Now he's a serious threat in game-terms. You might throw in some Thug d6's in there if you really want the climactic fight scene.
That's why I really think MHR is more the "comic book RPG" than the "superhero RPG" in a lot of ways, warts and all.