Time To Give Supers Some Love

I have written a lot on my blog about Pathfinder, Traveller and Fate as well as some other games over time.  In my personal posts I have said time and again that I have a strong love for Supers but never really expanded on this point apart from mentioning the game that I started role playing with along with the game that introduced me to roll 20 run by +Christopher Hardy.  So let me talk about why I love supers as a genre and I will introduce you to a game that I would imagine few outside of Australia have ever heard of.  A game that was born in 1983.

The books that I now keep in a safe place!

I was not much of a comic kid.  The only comics I ever read were Beano and Busters shipped from the UK to my Grandparents friends who then handed them on to us after their children had read them.  No real super heroes there.  In fact the first super hero comic I ever purchased was after I got my first game.  It was a novella of Dr. Strange’s origins from Marvel.  This was very fitting as my first supers game that I purchased had a magic system that was right up Dr. Strange’s style of magic.

As I have blogged before, I purchased my first ever game at the grand old age of 12.  It was a boxed set game in 1986 that had gone on sale for a whopping $12 at Milsims, my mail order store.  The game that caught my eye was a game by an Australian, Joe Italiano named Super Squadron.  Super Squadron is definitely a game of the 80’s.  It has a complicated system, a lot of which does not feel connected to other parts of the system.  Magic plays different to normal super powers.  If you are a self developed super hero things feel a lot different to if you are a mutant or an alien.

I am not sure if these differences actually were designed that way although they probably were.  The system that I have came in a boxed set with the main rules and a GM adventure as well as a sheet of line drawings that you could complete to fill out how your characters super hero suit looked like.  It was a fantastic little sheet and alas, the only portion (as well as the box) I no longer have of the game.  If you think of it, this was the actual way that I came to super hero games.  Sure I had watched the Superman movies but this game allowed me to become the super hero.

For a young person getting into role playing games I cannot think of a better start.  D&D was the big drawcard of the time (Basic) but this was a game that allowed me nearly any type of character.  I was someone that was better than the rest of humanity and I could have been born that way, come from the stars, fallen into a vat of amniotic fluids, been bought back from the dead, a student of mystical energies or just worked really hard at being stronger and faster than anyone else.  I was a super hero.  This perspective made the ordinary fantastic, and although I would never end up actually being a player in the game (I have never had my own character in it) I would run the system solidly from 6th grade to 9th grade.

The system could represent any of these (thanks Kidz News)

+Morgan Weeks asked me recently what was so special about the game?  Hard to say in reality.  It was the first game I played?  Would I run it again?  In a heartbeat.  There must be a reason.  There is I suppose.  In these pages I learnt a lot of things.  I learnt that it was OK to imagine.  I learnt that it was OK to see women as equals.  I learnt that people would and did stand up for things they believe in.  I learnt it was valuable to think about things and why they were the way they were.

The system does not go on about these sorts of things but there is a strong element of some of this material in the book.  Women were empowered.  There is a picture in the main book of a heroine that has had her top ripped partially and instead of falling to the ground in fear she stands confidently, hands on hips with the caption “You won’t try that again.”  The pictures of women in the book are all empowering and I loved them.  Here were the women I had never met.  Women in control of themselves and their destinies.  My mother was a lovely woman but she was not an empowered person.  It was always my brother, father and myself in a world of 1980’s male attitude which meant she possibly was behind the 8 ball in this regard.  As time went by and my father and she separated she became an empowered woman, but not when I was young.

The game gave me that respect of women and I found that women (well girls) were more interesting as friends than objects and I know I grew up better for it.  So what else does the game have?  it has no predisposed leaning toward a hero style.  This game could model a Superman, a Wolverine, a Deadpool, a Batman, a Spawn or a Violator.  But the best thing this game did?  Well it represented the everyday superhero really well.  The kind of superhero that had to start patrolling his district to deal with thugs with guns.  Your character would build well so that the thugs became easier to deal with so you would hit the henchmen or the overlords and then over time perhaps the super villains that were behind it all.

But represents him just as well!

This was the game that I grew up loving.  I got rid of it around my Shadowrun phase and then bought the boxed set again (second hand) but never got to play it again.  I sold it when I had to down size my collection only to find an eBay entry about five years ago that offered the main book and the GM adventure book for sale along with a sourcebook and adventure I had never heard of!  Not only that, the books were brand new and signed by the author, Joe Italiano.  I bought them in a second and then realised it was the author who made the sale.  I spoke to him about if he were planning to make a second edition but it was not in his plans.

I now store these books in a secure spot along with some of my more treasured books.  They unfortunately have not seen any play at all since I got them as my current group are not really a Supers crew.  They prefer your fantasy or Shadowrun style game.  I hope that one day I will be able to roll up a few characters for some players again and leap into the wonderful world of Super Squadron again.  The characters (like many in the 80’s) were randomly rolled and they gave you a wide variety of power levels.  But this was part of the beauty of the system.

Now I have shared the details of my first gaming system and a couple of the reasons of why it was one of my favourite systems I will soon write a post that covers the character creation of the system.  It will give you an idea of why this system offered a non biased hero creation system.  Hey, I may even find a few people who become interested in the system enough so I can run a game again!  Until next time keep rolling!

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