Monday, March 31, 2008

Yow! Also, content.

Well, damn. Looks like I've got some catching up to do. So here's an extended rumination of mine from a few months back, actually preceding the FF7 game ideas I posted here. . .

There's been a sub-class of the action genre that's been becoming more and more prevalent over the past decade- superpowered combat that focuses on enhancing humanity's existing abilities. You can't fly or shoot laser beams from your eyes, but you do have strength/reflexes/endurance beyond that of a normal human being. Let's start with some examples illustrating what I'm talking about. . .
-Monty Oum's animations:,
-Advent Children and associated cinematics:,
-The Devil May Cry series:,

And there are plenty of other examples that fit the bill to a partial degree and are well worth drawing inspiration from:
-The Matrix Series:
-The Witcher: (Pic Related)

So. How to use this with roleplaying games? Well, we're basically talking action-oriented gameplay involving people whose abilities (regardless of the source) would normally be human except that they're taken beyond human potential. From a crunch perspective, There Is No Spoon ( could work well for a one-shot while a more long-term game could use the Mutants and Masterminds rules either on their own or as a source of powers for otherwise-normal d20 Modern characters.

Of course, what really interests me is the fluff angle- what sort of setting is this, to have these high-powered combatants? Do these people have powers beyond basic strength and durability? Can anyone achieve this level of power? Are the players just special/unique? What are the themes of the setting?

To give examples:
-A character's abilities could come from conscious application of magic, skill with ki, exposure to super-scientific radiation, or the results of genetic experimentation.
-They could have acquired their powers due to their species (vampire, homo superior), through a random accident, as a result of experiments that they were subjected to against their will, or simply by becoming really good at something that anyone in their world can do.
-In the eyes of the world they're in, they could be deviant threats targeted for extermination, sought-after specialists due to their unique abilities, or just like everyone else except that they happen to be really good in a particular area, same as a professional athlete.

It's been interesting to mull over potential campaigns that use this subgenre. I may do a list as a follow-up post sometime soon.

1 comment:

thanuir said...

My favourite concept for superpowered PCs is: You have this power. Others do not. How do you use it?

Add some personal problems, an unjust society, and so on, see which characters become heroes and which villains.

(I might be running a game like this within a year.)