Help me, Doctor! I don’t understand what’s wrong with me!

Today, we’re going to talk about super-physiology, super-weaknesses, and what makes superheroes different in comics from superheroes in roleplaying games in this regard.

A very wise man once said that the only purpose of the Justice League is to kick the kryptonite out of the way for Superman. While that may work fine in the comics, in game terms, this can be kind of annoying. We all sit there and kind of groan when we see Superman and say “Kryptonite? Again? Really?”

The thing that makes this particularly heinous is not that Superman isn’t so super around Kryptonite. The thing that makes this particularly heinous is the flaw in the design as far as playing around a table is concerned. Take enough limitations and disadvantages of this sort, and most of the time, your character will be more powerful than most of the others around the table.

But the problem is, in a tabletop roleplaying game, your character doesn’t have writers fiat, and neither does anyone else. So when the guy who’s playing the Superman equivalent gets squashed by his mega-weakness, he stays squashed for the rest of the fight. And then his fellow heroes get squashed too, because they can’t fight the guy who is designed to fight the Superman equivalent, plus, they have to deal with everyone else also.

This isn’t fun. Period. Especially since it’s always the same guy who you have to resuscitate or kick the Kryptonite away from. The way to attack this problem from a player and a gamemaster perspective is not to allow characters to be designed like Superman when everyone else is at a lesser power level. There are numerous ways to do this, from just saying “no” to having a set of rules in place that keeps it from happening. It gets old after the first five or six sessions.

Next time, which may be sooner than you think, we’re going to talk about super-weaknesses, super medicine, and super surgery, now that we’ve covered the mechanics side.


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  • Upcoming Appearances

    Heroicon, Decatur, Illinois, May 15-17

    Michael will be appearing at Heroicon as a Special Guest, where he will run games and appear on panels. All proceeds from this convention go to benefit troops overseas with games, both donated and purchased, sponsored by a group called Games for Troops. I know it's a trek. Come join me anyway.

    Nexus Game Fair, Milwaukee, WI, June 25-28

    Michael will be appearing at Nexus Game Fair as a Special Guest, where he will run games and appear on Panels.

    Gencon, Indianapolis, IN, July 29-August 2.

    Michael will be attending Gencon and representing Blackwyrm Games, where his latest products will be playtested and he will have at least one signing.