Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mystery Men RPG

Superhero role-playing games and I have a love/hate relationship. While I love comic books, and grew up on tales of superheroes, mutants and monsters, their translation into a working RPG is tricky to say the least. This trouble mostly has to do with the large lists of powers, many times attempting to cover the entire gamut of super-powers seen in the pages of comic books. Unfortunately, a truly comprehensive and "realistic" system quicky creates both a book-keeping nightmare, and a very, very dry game.

So imagine my delight when I encountered Mystery Men. This delightful game is a rules-lite superhero role-playing game based on the original fantasy role-playing game rules. Mystery Men! is designed to let you create characters quickly and get right into the crime fighting. The system is light, but the possibilities are nigh endless, limited only by the imagination of the player and gamemaster.

The game has only three classes, The Adventurer, The Scientist and The Sorcerer. The Adventurer is the classic two-fisted purveyor of justice (or villainy) who is well represented in comic books. The Scientist is the creator of marvellously weird super-science of comic and movie lore, While the Sorcerer is the weilder of weird forces that whips up plot-promoting and destroying effects. All three classes use the same "pool" of powers, which are effectively "spells" from D&D and other classic games, but can be taken as go-to powers, or in the case of the sorcerer and scientist, material for spells and weird gadgets.

The game was created by John M. Stater who is himself a huge fan of all that is pulp and marvelous. His obvious adoration of Golden and Silver Age comics is apparent in every page of this game, as well as in his blogs; The Land of Nod and Strange New World.
So check out this game: You can download it for free here, or buy a print copy here (only $8!).I strongly recommend spending the $8, as we should all want to encourage this level of awesomeness.

Uses in Science Fiction Adventures
Personally, I think Mystery Men would be GREAT for a pulpy, space-going game. Science-Fiction, Cartoons and Comics have always been chock-full of space-faring superbeings. Though most of such instances are of marauding aliens attacking Earth, many involve space-faring heroes and entire adventures taking place on assorted other planets and in the depths of space itself.
Not all superbeings can live in the vacuum of space or fly (few of them in-fact), but rely on all of the spaceships, survival gear and other gadgets that help make science fiction tales so much fun.
Some that come immediately to mind are:
Lensmen Series: This classic series of science-fiction novels is effectively about super-beings protecting the galaxy. Cool stuff!
Shi'ar Imperial Guard: A group of superbeings gleaned from across the galaxy to serve and protect the Shi'ar Empire. This is amongst the most impressive (yet mortal) supers teams of the Marvel Universe, and yet they only rarely gained any face-time. Frequent foes are the dreaded Kree, Skrull, Galactus (and assorted heralds) and other nasties.
Legion of Super-Heroes: One of the best of the DC comic series in my opinion. A future version of the classic justice league, now protecting sentient beings across the galaxy.Many of the space-faring enemies found in Superman and other series are very much still around in one form or another.
Space Ghost: Loved this cartoon as a kid. And though it is pretty goofy, it definately has a high wowie-zowie factor that cannot be denied.
Deathstalker: A space opera by Simon R. Green (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_R._Green) that features at its core a relatively small number of superbeings who savagely fight over the universe.
Star Wars: The Jedis for all intents and purposes are superheroes, and the Sith are super-villains. They not only posses impressive powers, but the universe is regularly devestated by their struggles and influence.

I will be posting articles for using Mystery Men in a space-faring setting, as well as taking a look at superheroes and villains found in science fiction. So stay tuned!

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