There are some basic superhero rules in Domino Writing-style USR, mostly to emulate “elite” characters, like demigods in a fantasy world, or comic book super characters in a setting where most costumed heroes are a little more down to earth (think of Batman in Batman or Detective Comics). But with a few alterations, USR works just find for a bigger variety of superheroes (think of Batman in Justice League of America).
There are five tiers of characters in super hero comics:
- Non-powered characters, the supporting cast of superhero comics (Mary Jane Watson, Jim Gordon).
- Street-level heroes without many powers, like the 1930s/1940s pulp heroes (the Shadow, the Phantom) or characters like the Punisher or Luke Cage.
- Standard superheroes, which range from the low end (Robin, Dazzler) to the “average” hero (Spider-Man, the Flash)
- High-powered heroes, like Superman and Thor
- Cosmic entities that have power beyond what a USR character normally would have (Bat-Mite, Silver Surfer).
So, how to show that difference in the USR rules? First, select your basic character tier, then allow everyone at that tier and above to use the superhero rules (stats of d8, d10 and d12, and rolling twice, using highest result).
For each tier above or below the basic tier, award an additional 2 Narrative points.
|A nice variety of heroes: Tier 2, Tier 2, Tier 3, Tier 3, Tier 4, Tier 2. In the back? Probably Tier 4.|
Let’s take the Avengers, specifically the movie version that’s pretty close to the comics, and is really well-known. They’re standard superheroes, so they start with stats of d8, d10 and d12. We’ve already stated that Thor is high-powered, so he starts with those high stats, and an additional 2 Narrative Points to represent his additional Asgardian awesomeness.
On the other end, Nick Fury fights with the good guys, but he’s no match in terms of raw power. We’ll make him a street-level hero. His stats are d6, d8 and d10, but he also gets 2 additional Narrative Points to help bring him level with Captain America and the rest.
Next week, we’ll look at Specialisms and other elements of the genre you can bring to your USR superhero gaming.