Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Superbabes the Femforce RPG

Superbabes was always one of the games that seemed to exist out there in the periphery for me, but I never knew if anyone actually played it.   I was able to pick up a copy a while back and it has been sitting in my collection, unused and unread.  Recently I have been doing some more research on the game and found it had a small bu loyal following.  I knew I had to give it a try.



The first disclaimer about the game. Superbabes is billed as the Femforce RPG.  Not a Supers RPG or even a comic RPG but a very specific comic, Femforce.  Femforce was created in 1985 and is still running in some form today.  The comic is based on number of public domain and original female super-heroes.  Based on the "good girl" art of the the pulp era.  This is an important distinction.   Don't go into Superbabes expecting angst, or shades of grey.  There won't be any cases of the heroes getting into sexual situations that would besmirch their character. Sure they can be curvy, sexy and maybe have the occasional wardrobe malfunction.

Superbabes came out in 1993 (also something to keep in mind).  The first edition was part of a boxed set that included 132 page rulebook, two Femforce comics, a poster, cut out miniatures and more. My box had more sheets and some maps too.


The game was written by Marc Schezzini and Cameron Verkaik, art comes from the various artists from the comics.

Superbabes starts out pretty much like all RPGs, introduction, where to get dice are RPGs evil... typical drill.  The tone of the book is somewhat tongue in cheek.  Some of the language can sound snarky or even condescending, but I actually think that is part of the humor of the game.

Characters begin with an Origin (which can cost Creation Points). Some are easy to figure out, Extraterristrial, Biological quirk, Supernatural and Adventuress.  Adventuress is the interesting one since it doesn't cost any points, but your are limited in how high your Attributes can go.  This is the "Batman" er rather "Batwoman" option.

You start out with 600 Creation Points to build your superbabe. Your abilities are bought on a 2 CP for 1 point of ability option.  The abilities are roughly equal to the D&D standard. They include Muscles, Health, Moves, Brains, Will, Personality and Looks.  Human normal is between 1 and 20 with average at 10.  The charts go to 1,000.  The levels have numbers (17-18) and titles (Peak Performer for Muscles for example). Some are silly, but others I used as an idea of what to rank various characters.  Secondary abilities are then calculated.  All the primary ones adjust HTK (hit points) in some way.  Interestingly enough the better looking you are the LESS HTK you have.  But before you create the female version of Dogg the Bounty Hunter,  Looks also help your Fame.
You start at Level 0 and then as soon as you get 1 XP you go to Level 1.  You gain 50 CP for every level you go up.

You can buy superpowers, gizmos and skills with your remaining points.   Both are very much taken from the AC Femforce comics.  So no Death Touch powers.  People looking for a full Super RPG might want to look elsewhere OR spend some time with the Game Master making the powers you like.  But I think that defeats the purpose of this game.  There are no "drawbacks" to give you extra CP; remember these are good girls.

Skills cover the basics with some "professions" that bundle skills.
Gizmos are devices that hold powers and can be ranked as obvious or not.  Vehicles and bases though are not gizmos. So they are bought with cash and not CPs.   Stuff are also not Gizmos, but things that can be made by anyone.  This includes the amazing Span-XX material.  All costumes are made from this and can stretch and grow with the character.

The remainder of the book is dedicated to combat, vehicle  chases and the normal things you find with supers games.   There is also a starting adventure.

What sets this game off from the rest, outside of subject matter, is the use of the Bimbo Points.  Like Hero Points, Bimbo points allow you to change the outcome or situation you character can find herself in.  The difference here is you are trading a success now for some GM controlled mishap later.  So you could take a Bimbo Point to avoid some damage in a fall, but then expect to have something go on later.  What?  Well there is a huge table for it.  Things like "Character linked to Public Figure in Tabloids" or "Men's Magazine publishes compromising photos of character". So are embarrassing, others could cause your character to loose Fame and others are pure plot device.   It is actually a nice little mechanic and even neater given when it came out.

There are a lot of similarities between this game and Villains and Vigilantes.  Outside of both being level-based supers, characters take damage to Power Points before their HTK points.  In fact there is a general tone of both games that makes them feel rather close.

The other game this is likely to invoke is Macho Women with Guns.  Both feature female centric characters and both exist to bust stereotypes.  Where MWWG attempts to do this with over the top humor and embracing the cliche head on, Superbabes attempts to subvert it.  While there is plenty of what we might call fanservice in the game and the comics, you can also play it straight.  If Superbabes in Good Girl Art, then MWWG is Bad Girl Art.

At the end of the day there is nothing wrong with Superbabes. It is a fun little game with an interesting premise and history.  You could do the same sort of game with any number of other games, but I think some of the charm would be lost. Certainly some of the innocence.

Building a Character
There are other reviews out there for Superbabes if you want more details.  There is a particularly good on over at RPG.Net and another in Dragon Magazine #208.  What I like to do when putting a system through the ropes is build a few characters.

"Teen Witch" is one of my Supers characters that I never get a chance to play.  Well...that isn't entirely true. I have played her in a low powered M&M game (PL 5) and in Marvel Super Heroes/FASRIP.  I also stated her up for BESM 3.0 but never got to play her there.
She is a teen that discovers she has magic. She is also my "embracing the stereotype" character.  She has a talking cat named Mojo and her "supers" outfit includes a broom, black pointy hat and striped leggings.  In this case I figured she was at least 2nd level now. So that gave me the ability to buy a flying broom as a gizmo.

Character: Teen Witch
Secret ID / AKA: Taryn Nichols
Age: 15   Apparent Age: 15
Origin: Supernatural Pupil (50cp)
50 CPs

Ok so first we have her origin.  Since the Teen Titans were such a big influence on super hero gaming I am making her a teen.  She is the daughter of my regular witch character Larina so supernatural pupil seems right.

Primary Stats
Muscles: 9 (she is just a young kid with some super powers), Max Press: 180
Health: 14  Regen, Combat: - Regen, At rest: 1pp/5rds  HTK/Day: 2d6
Moves: 10  Bonus to hit: - Movement: 4" Hittability:Initiative Bonus: 1
Brains: 15  Mental Attack Bonus: +1 Mental Hittability: 5
Will: 14  Regen Rate: 1pp/10rds HTK Regen/Day: 1d6
Personality: 16 (Likable)
Looks: 14 (Cutie)
184 CPs

Since she is a teen I don't feel I need superpowered stats just yet.  I might improve them over time since that is also how I get more PP.  Very much like WitchCraft in that respect, that the Primary Abilities/Stats sum up to your Power Points.  I am in for 184 Creation points here.

Secondary Stats
PP: 92
HTK: 14
Fame: 2 (mostly unknown)
Bimbo Points: 2 (Taryn is due for some embarrassing moments)
XP: 1002 (just hit level 2)
Level: 2 ("Junior Heroine")
CPs: 16 more to spend

These are derived, more or less, from the Primary Stats.

Powers
Magic Spells (spells cost twice the CP as powers)
- Blast 5d6 (60cp)
- Flight 10 (80cp)
- Super Senses: Sensitive Touch (20cp)
Super Senses: See Magic 20cp
Move Things without Touching Them 200 cp
380 CPs

Magic Spells are not cheap.  For that cost though I get more flexibility.  You don't see it here, but when I roll out Zatanna or Tarot later this week it becomes obvious.  I like to keep my Telekinesis seperate from my spells. Something that started with Buffy.  I also like my magic using characters to be able to see more magic than other.  So that is a seperate power too.
I am in for 380 Creation Points now.

Gizmos
Broom (obvious) 40 cp of additional flight
20 CPs

The broom she bought at 2nd level.  In the game she challenged a guy to a race, him on his motorcycle her on her broom. She won and maybe gained a potential "bad guy" boyfriend.  I think I know how her Bimbo Points will be called in.  For 40 CPs worth of flight I paid 20 CPs on an obvious Gizmo.

Skills
Occultist 50 cp (gained at 1st level)
(she is only 15, not a lot of skills yet)
50 CPs

She is just learning so not a lot of skills yet.  50 CPs.

Character Description
Height: 5'0"
Weight: 95 lbs
Hair: Short black with purple and green streaks
Eyes: Green with cat-like slits
Skin: Caucasian
Unique Characteristics: Cat-like eyes

There is also a place for measurements and quote. Again the parallels to MWWG and V&V should be obvious. I am not going to bother with those.

Compared to her other sheets (M&M, MSH & BESM 3.0) I am pretty pleased with the results.

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