Superhero Studies, Part 4

In the last few instances of Superhero Studies, we’ve looked at the great, the good, and the bad. Now it’s time for the Weird!

That’s right folks, let Matter-eater Lad show you the way it’s done.
When it comes to RPGs, I have an attraction towards the strange and unusual. I own several books—Eldritch Ass Kicking and Heartquest amongst them—just because they are oddballs. There are some books that are famous… or infamous… for being truly “out there,” books like Lancer’s Rockers and The Slayer’s Guide to Games Masters.

Since I’ve been covering the superhero genre of RPGs in this series so far, I think the time has come to look at the weird ones in the bunch and examine the top 6 Superhero RPG Oddballs.

 

Ross Watson’s Top 5 Superhero RPG Oddballs

These entries are placed in no particular order (leaving things a bit chaotic just feels right, with these books). Just to be clear, I think these books are all fun in their own way—unlike the previous entries, this list is not at all about general quality. It’s about those books that make you stop and say “Wait, what? They actually made a book about… that?”
Find the oddballs after the jump!

#1: Autoduel Champions

Duellists, I think you’re going to need a bigger car.
Designed by Aaron Allston and illustrated by Denis Loubet, this is an interesting and well-designed product. It’s definitely an oddball—when I think of superheroes, do you think that my next thought is naturally that of a post-apocalyptic bloodsport? This product aims to change that! Autoduel Champions is a quirky and fun book, worth owning if you are a fan of either license.
Autoduel would itself have more RPG elements in later years, and Champions would also certainly evolve, but a crossover product like this was almost unheard of during its time. In some ways, I think was a brave step for both publishers.

#2: Supermegatopia (the RPG)

Also known as “Huge… eyes, no pupils.”
A fun furry-themed webcomic, Supermegatopia has been around for a while and is perhaps best known for quirky characters and some adult content. It’s certainly a whimsical world that contains superheroes such as Topless Lass and Titmouse, all illustrated by the talented pen of “The Brothers Grinn” AKA Drake Fenwick. Topless Lass, for example, has super-strength, but only when she’s half-naked. I bet you can guess which half.
And then Team Frog Studios (Nightshift Games) made an RPG out of it. It’s not a particularly good RPG, but it does manage to capture some of the whimsical fun of the webcomic, which is why I’ve placed it in the oddball category. If slightly naughty anthropomorphic superheroes having crazy, goofy adventures is up your alley, then check out the Supermegatopia RPG.
For more information, see the following review at RPG.net:

#3 Stuper Powers

Bagel man to the… rescue?
Described as “the first-class roleplaying game for third-rate heroes,” Stuper Powers is a humorous take on Superheroes and RPGs in one, very affordable package (copies sell for less than 5 $). For what could have been a lazy, phoned-in excuse for a game, Stuper Powers actually stepped up to the plate with some clever ideas for crazy powers (Bestow 70’s Hairdo being one of my favorites), and gives you pretty much what you’d expect. It’s not much more than a “joke game,” but it is written with tongue planted firmly in cheek.
For more information, see the following review at RPG.net:

#4: Lucha Libre Hero

You are no match for the might of El Espectro… he fights for Lucha and all of Mexico!
Another Champions product hits the list with Luche Libre Hero, the sourcebook for roleplaying as masked Mexican wrestlers (or Luchadores). The Luchador genre may seem extremely silly and campy for those who aren’t familiar with it—I certainly had my own preconceptions and concerns.. that is, until I actually played a game of Luche Libre Hero.
GM’d by my friend and excellently-capable gamer Bill “Teh Bunneh” Keyes, the Lucha Libre Hero game suddenly opened up before my eyes and I found myself immersed in the world of “El Espectro” as we battled Dracula and his vampire brides for the sake of all Mexico. All I can say is that I heartily endorse this product and there is a ton of fun to be had inside… even if it is the very epitome of an oddball product.
For more information, see the following review at RPG.net:

#5: Superbabes, the Femforce RPG

“Okay, Giganta? Next time, not so much on the giant growth inside the base, please.”
Femforce was a comic book from AC Comics that began publication in 1985 and combined Bronze-Age superhero action with Good Girl Art-inspired visuals. Superbabes is the RPG of the comic book universe of Femforce, and at first glance (or even second or third) it can often be mistaken for being merely a superficial and sexist product.
I’d like to go on record and say that Superbabes is actually chock full of fun. The writers of the comic and the writers of the game don’t make any bones about the subject matter, and in many ways they actually succeed at creating a decent game (better than many on the top 10 missteps list, in fact).
One of the game’s more innovative and interesting mechanics is the unfortunately named “Bimbo points.” The regrettable moniker aside, this game mechanic is actually one of the first examples of giving the player some narrative power in the game, a mechanic that was later adopted by games like Savage Worlds and Hollow Earth Expeditions.
My recommendation? Put aside preconceptions of sexism and check it out. The names of the NPCs alone are quite enjoyable, including “Alexandria the Greatest” and the female robot adventurer “Maidenform.” In addition, the Femforce universe is actually quite dynamic and interesting, full of unusual and compelling characters.
One of my personal favorite supplements for this RPG is called “Game of the Century,” which sets up a superpowered baseball game between heroes and villains—not your ordinary superhero fare!
For more information, see the following review at RPG.net:
http://www.rpg.net/reviews/archive/14/14764.phtml

Now I want to try my hand at making some Superbabes NPCs… let’s see. How about “March Harriet?” “Judith Prietht?” Maybe I’d better stop now. 🙂

5 responses to “Superhero Studies, Part 4

  1. If only everyone could play in my Lucha Libre game, I’d make believers out of all of them!

  2. I would think that Underground would qualify for this list. A superhero game set in a dystopic future USA that is just begging for the PCs to start a revolution, and where you can get an alcoholic drink infused with female hormones called “Estro-Gin?” That has oddball written all over it.

  3. I always thought that Stuper Powers! was a perfect companion to Mark Leigh’s and Mark Lepine’s 1992 book, How To Be A Superhero: Save The Universe In 30 Days Or Your Money Back.

    Both had the kind of goofy, sometimes blue humor that I think I hate, but then makes me laugh aloud. “Frottage Lad” comes to mind.

  4. Lucha Libre Hero may be the best
    sourcebook/game ever! If only I could get some
    players on board for a campaign.

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