Superheroes! Who doesnt love them? Comic books have been a mainstay in my life since I was about 6 years old. And not just superheroes, but all kinds of adventure tales. Still, superheroes remained my favorite. I got heavy into collecting in high school and then again in my thirties. Lucky for me, there were other fans out there who had the good sense to turn those comic books into roleplaying games. My collection of those is fairly extensive as well, and most have a pretty decent system to go with them. Villains & Vigilantes was an early fave, though they all had unique elements that made them fun. However I never really felt that any of them truly captured the fast-paced, WHAM-POW-BLAM factor that made comic book superhero stories what they are. I set out to change that.
Other than the superhero RPGs that were already on the market (and aside from the comic books themselves) my game was greatly influenced by two things: Batman Beyond and the Matrix. Obviously, the Matrix movies blew away a lot of people and revolutionized the film industry, the way we watch movies and the way we tell stories. To me, however, it represented (especially in the context of game design) a certain style and an aura of coolness that other action, scifi and even superhero movies had failed to capture at the time. Batman Beyond, though animated, also captured this feeling and both portrayed some amazing, exciting and fast-paced fight scenes that seemed to revitalize the genre and make everyone want to get up and do kung-fu! Both also were set in a grim apocalyptic world where hope for the future rested upon a few talented individuals. All this I bore in mind as I set out to design a new kind of superhero game, one with a lot of action and a lot of options. I wanted the look and feel to emulate the Matrix and Batman Beyond, with a rock and roll soundtrack, heroes that werent your typical boyscouts and a setting unlike that which previous heroes had to deal with.
To start, origin stories were so cliche that they had become a joke. Nearly every hero got his powers from a "lab accident". I wanted to change that and make a character's origin an integral part of who he was and give it mechanical implications. The next big factor was giving heroes more than one action per turn. This is a cornerstone of superheroic combat. They never just took one swing; it was always a sequence of punches, kicks, headbutts, eye beams, etc. Next, in order to facilitate these multiple actions in a fast-paced, intuitive manner, I had to make the rolls quick and easy, with no cross-referencing, no arbitrary target numbers, and not a lot of modifiers. Just one constant number and one die for each action. Of course, the powers list should always be exhaustive, but how to improve on those powers? Superheroes didnt suddenly just gain new abilities as they got more experienced, but neither could they be (in a game setting, at least) static in their mechanical growth. There had to be something other than stats to improve upon when characters leveled up. Hence, I added Variations. What I ended up with was a beautiful, elegant system that reflects my view on how superheroes should be played and experienced in a roleplaying game. Of all my systems, this is my favorite. Hope it's yours too!