Thursday, June 6, 2013

Heroes & Villains Blogfest: Villains & Vigilanties

Today is the Heroes & Villains Blogfest  hosted by Jackie and Dani.  This is Part 1 of my post for that, Part 2 is later today.

The idea is to talk about our favorite heroes and villains.  But I do that a lot here.  So I am going to do that today, but I also want to talk about about one of my favorite superhero role-playing games.  It is also the first superhero RPG I ever played.  Villains & Vigilantes.
The current edition is the 2nd edition and you can get the classic version from Fantasy Games Unlimited (the one I played) or the new 2.1 edition from Monkey House Games. They are functionally the same, even with the same text and some art.

V&V was written by Jack Herman and Jeff Dee.  Jeff Dee got his start on D&D doing some of the classic module art and book art for the 1st edition game.   So the game has some obvious D&D roots.
V&V was unique at the time (and still somewhat) in that in the game you play yourself.  You work out with the other players what your strength, endurance, intelligence and the rest are and then you roll randomly on a table of super powers.  It's a very interesting and fun concept that we completely ignored.  Back in the day we liked playing a "multi-verse" so our V&V characters were our D&D characters in a supers universe.  The stats were the mostly the same and both games had levels.  Plus it gave us excuses to have strengths of 50 or more (human max is 18).  I remember it being a very good time.

As typical of many old school games there are lots of random rolls, charts and a fair amount of math involved. I went back recently to make a character and was thrilled to see that Monkey House Games had an Excel character sheet.  The math isn't hard really, but Excel is still faster. Though such things have been around for a long time even with the older edition.

Powers are list by type.  So Power Blast is just a blast of some sort of power. It could be Superman's heat vision, Iron Man's repulsors, or even Zatanna's magical blast.   What is interesting is teh combat matrix of powers vs. defenses and how they interact. Again, the D&D DNA is here since it reminds me of the Psionic Powers Attacks vs Defenses in 1st Ed AD&D.

There is a V&V campaign world as well.  It is loosely defined in the core books, but much greater detail is given in the supplements.  It is also one of the few Supers games I can recall where the characters were working for the government at some level.  The ill-fated City of Heroes RPG was another.

There are a couple of great sections on Being a Superhero and Gamemastering that work great with any supers RPG.

IF you like old school RPGs and want to get into a supers game that feels like those, then this is a great choice.  The price is low and there are plenty of places on the web that support either version of the game with materials, character write-ups and community.

A little later today I'll have a write up of a hero and a villain.

See more posts here:


jaybird said...

I am not much of gamer, but I am looking forward to your write up of heroes and villains.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never played it but I really dig RPG and superheroes, so it sounds like a great combination.

Dani said...

Wow, I've never played but I get the concept of D&D so this pretty cool! Can't wait to see what Part 2 has in store for us!!

Anonymous said...

I've been playing it intermittently for about 30 years now. For most genres I prefer a lot of detail and realism (I use GURPS for most things), but V&V seems a much better fit for the superhero genre. Characters are more resilient and combat less lethal (a superhero battle in GURPS looks less like The Avengers and more like Saving Private Ryan).

We use a variety of our own house rules, but I also highly recommend the fan-produced materials found here: -- lots of good variant powers and handy templates.

Bevimus said...

Hi Tim! Thanks so much for connecting with me today!

Amazingly enough, I've actually played this game. Just once- we constructed characters and played through a super-short campaign in one weekend. My character had Rogue-like abilities based on proximity rather than touch, ended up inadvertently sucking up a bunch of different people's powers and taking out a large boat containing a very large explosive device. I can't entirely remember how, but I think my character went mad at the end of it... Still, super fun, though!

Tasha Duncan-Drake said...

I've never really gamed much (too much of a control freak - want to control the whole plot :)), but it sounds like this is one complex game. Excel spreadsheets sound like a very useful tool :). Now I shall go and look at your part 2.

Tasha's Thinkings

Nicki Elson said...

Hey, my son & some buddies are going to start D&D this summer! I'm so excited for them and all their future adventures. I'll let him know about this one for when they're ready to expand their universe.

Chancelet said...

I'm sure you've had a great host of characters to write about in this blog hop - comics are full of them. Interesting take on the blog hop. :) Writer’s Mark