The following article is the conclusion of the Genres in Gaming series of articles written to help players and GMs determine which games are available within the genres they want to play. The lists of systems contained throughout or by no means exhaustive. All game systems are listed within the sub-genre as I understand from the knowledge I have. If they are improperly categorized, please post a comment further explaining what the sub-genre should be and why.
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Almost all superhero publications are modern. They also derive their influence from the timeless comic books that have been published for almost 80 years. They are placed within modern times and either placed directly into modern locations or take their influence from modern locations. Thus, the main Superhero sub-genre is just modern.
The (Modern) Superhero systems and settings take their influence directly or indirectly from the comic books of old along with the imaginations of the designers and developers. They utilize modern themes or modern places but don’t necessarily reflect any historical facts within the modern age. Locations could be identical but contain slight differences to those of the real world. Whatever the purpose of the system and setting, they are derived from and influenced by comic books and modern themes but do not contain actual characters from the comic books nor do they specify any historical event or period. They are simply modern in almost every sense.
The following systems are representative of (Modern) Superhero and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).
- HERO System – Champions (Hero Games)
- Mutants & Masterminds (Green Ronin Publishing)
- ICONS (Adamant Entertainment)
- BASH (Basic Action Games)
- Villains and Vigilantes (Monkey House Games)
- Infinite Power (Bonsai Entertainment)
- Heroes Unlimited (Palladium Books)
- G-Core (Dilly Green Bean Games)
- Superworld (Out-of-Print)
- Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul (Spectrum Games)
Alternate History Superhero
While modern systems don’t identify specific events in history, the Alternate History Superhero shows a greater relation to the superhero aspect of the system and how they are placed within a specific period in time or surrounding a specific historical event. This period of time could still be modern, but more specifics are brought into the system or setting rather than identifying with similar or identical places, events, etc.
I place this sub-genre outside of the Historical genre and away from the Alternate History sub-genre because the focus is solely on Superhero and not characters of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, or Pulp. The superhero aspect has a heavy influence on the setting rather than the setting having a heavy influence on the character types. Character types of systems and settings from the Alternate History sub-genre are often determined by the historical period or event. Superhero systems break that idea.
The following systems are representative of Alternate History Superhero and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).
- Wild Talents (Arc Dream Publishing)
- Godlike (Arc Dream Publishing)
- ICONS – Amazing Stories of World War II (Vigilance Press)
Comic Book Superhero
Comic Book Superhero systems and settings are the actual characters from the comic books. While (Modern) is an influence or derivative of comic books, these give the players the opportunity to become the actual characters.
The following systems are representative of Comic Book Superhero and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).
- DC Adventures (Green Ronin Publishing)
- Marvel Superheroes (Out-of-Print)
- DC Universe (Out-of-Print)
- DC Heroes (Out-of-Print)
- Marvel Universe (Out-of-Print)
Humor / Satire / Parody
There are definite differences between Humor, Satire, and Parody, but they all result in a humoristic game. Humor is the recreation of some type of comical system or setting that is itself the source of the humor (such as cartoon, comedy films, etc.). Satire could be taking a genre or sub-genre and adding a humoristic twist. This could include taking a typical Epic Fantasy type setting and adding many elements of comedy making the game much lighter and the purpose is fun rather than “saving the world”. Parody is taking an actual system and creating an alternate version that is filled with humor. Rather than simply adding humor to a particular sub-genre, this takes an already published system or setting and twisting it into something more humoristic.
Humor systems and settings can range in their influence from Science Fiction and Fantasy to Horror or Modern Action. To keep things simple, all systems and settings are being placed under the same blanket sub-genre of humor without noting the other applicable aspects.
The following systems are representative of Humor and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).
- Paranoia (Mongoose Publishing)
- Monsters and Other Childish Things (Arc Dream Publishing)
- Skullduggery (Pelgrane Press)
- Risus (Cumberland Games and Diversions)
- TWERPS (Out-of-Print)
- Pandemonium (Out-of-Print)
- Ghostbusters (Out-of-Print)
- Kobolds Ate My Baby! (9th Level Games)
- Army of Darkness (Eden Studios)
- QERTH (Hex Games)
Anime has three types that could be used to describe how the systems and settings fall under the Anime genre. The easiest descriptions for these three types are look, feel, and actual.
A system or setting that looks like Anime will contain illustrations that are identical to standard Anime illustrations. The system may be designed around this look to give it the feel of an Anime game as well.
A system or setting that feels like Anime will have rules and/or mechanics that are identical to the way a standard Anime is designed. This may include over-the-top methods of performing actions, cartoon-like spellcasting, or storylines that are derived from Anime. The look may not seem Anime, but the feel definitely is. For examples of this, look toward many popular Anime like Dragonball Z or Naruto.
A system or setting that is actual Anime is a licensed publication from an actual Anime series. This style is the most obvious and should include the other two styles as well to keep with the theme of the game.
The following systems are representative of Anime and may have numerous published supplements. Each one is noted as the game system, game setting (where applicable), and publisher displayed as: System – Setting (Publisher).
- Anima: Beyond Fantasy (Fantasy Flight Games)
- Exalted (White Wolf)
- OVA (Wise Turtle Publishing)
- Anima Prime (Berengrad Games)
- Teenagers from Outer Space (Out-of-Print)
- Big Eyes, Small Mouth (Out-of-Print)
This brings the Genres in Gaming articles to a close. Now with all this knowledge, go out and find a great new game to play today! The full version of this article series including illustrations, updates, and expanded information will be available for purchase at OneBookShelf’s websites for the low price of $1. Proceeds from this PDF directly support the Roleplayers Chronicle and The Mystical Throne websites – bringing quality information to gamers everywhere!