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Mid-break thoughts: Heroism and Wonder

I decided to take a break from running RPG's through October, not the least of which because my schedule is jam-packed with work that precluded me from running anything if I wanted to.

During this break I've been thinking a lot of running a superhero RPG again.  There are many reasons for this, like the Flash TV series cropping up on Netflix so I can watch it with my kids (we are a Netflix-only household).  DC and Marvel both had universe-shaking summer events, although for the life of my I can not figure out what changed at DC, and can only begin to see the changes at Marvel, which appears to be mostly incorporating Ultimate characters into their main universe.  But in the mix was several really good stories.

I also picked up the rarely-mentioned Silver Age Sentinels, the Tri-stat version not the OGL version.

 SAS has a lot of Champions in it, including a two-page spread outlining the "if you're looking for this Champions power or ability, it is this in SAS."  Like Champions it is front-end loaded, which is to say that making a PC or an NPC will take some time, but the gameplay seems lighter than you might think.  I'm a little vexed by the fact that combat is not a X vs. Y contested die roll, but has both attacker and defender both rolling on their own, independent target numbers, so that in order to hit someone you have to have both the attack succeed and the defender fail, which seems to be a 1:4 outcome of possibilities, all things being equal (if you need me to expand on that, let me know in the comment field).

What I like about SAS is its ethos more than anything.  You can sometimes get a feel for what kind of supers game the creators want you to play, and the Tri-Stat people put that concept in the title itself.  It doesn't hurt that they also have an ersatz Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in the NPC hero section.  Their villains are a little more off the beaten path, although there is a clear Doctor Doom and a archtypical Batman villain in there.

As I have said many times, superhero RPG's have a lot going for them in my mind.  Aside from my love of the genre (which is immense), supers RPG are also fairly episodic and have rotating party members as a staple.  That works for my group, whether it would be the entire group or just my kids at home.

In addition, I like games where heroism is a theme.  I like characters who are essentially positive, virtuous people, even if they are trying to make a living being a starship crew or something.  Maybe it is just my own reaction to all the brutality and violence out there in the world, and the fact that I game with my children, but I am yearning for a game that seeks to enjoy the nobility in humanity, not wallow in its excesses.

Which is why I also am thinking about science fiction.  It's been a long time (not counting the two- or three-session foray into Firefly) since I did a science fiction campaign.  I would not mind trying to create a campaign where the focus was on wonder and discovery.

by Andree Wallin

This genre is more difficult on many levels. It's more complex, it is harder to swap people in and out.  It is also, as I said before, a genre I have not done in a long time, which makes it challenging.  Which also makes it interesting for me, just for the opportunity to grow as a GM.

Anyways, I'll have to figure out what to do next (if anything).  More later.


  1. Obviously you know these are my two favorite genres, as well as the two I've run the most. I share your opinions on their virtues.

    I have a number of ways of making Science Fiction less difficult, and specifically a way to swap people in and out.

    Drop me an email if you wanna trade some thoughts on the subject.

    Looking forward to future posts on where this goes.


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