Sunday, July 14, 2013

Super Rules for Superhero 2044


L to R:  Spy Smasher, Bulletman, (the genuine) Captain Marvel, Minute-Man, Mr. Scarlet     
Image from the cover of America's Greatest Comics #1 (public domain)

In the sixth issue of Different Worlds (Dec 79/Jan 80) appeared an article written by the inestimable Brian Wagner, “Super Rules for Superhero:  44.”  According to Wagner:
As enjoyable and interesting game it is, it's not without its rough spots.  The basic systems of the game work well but there are parts which need to be elaborated upon or outright changed.
These “rough spots” did not permit Superhero 2044 to enjoy a decided popularity, much less maintain a significant market presence after other games in the genre – more polished games – were published.

In the article, Wagner addresses what he considers to be the shortcomings of the game.

First, he provides supplementary details about some of the organizations with which player characters may choose to associate.  (Discussed, to some extent, in an earlier post.)
Köln Institute:  It was your humble host's supposition that Superhero 2044 creator Don Saxman included the Institute as a background option – a way for player characters to obtain services provided by the alumni organization at the cost of a tithe and by following a code of ethics.  Wagner supplies information on enrolling in the Institute during play.  A complete program lasts two years and the cost and commitment are substantial; 20,000 Psuedodollars and two six-hour blocks five days per week, respectively.  In addition to the alumni benefits, graduates increase many of their requisite scores by 1d4.
The Hunters Club (called the Hunter Club in the rulebook):  Wagner indicates that the weekly allowance mentioned in the rules is 80 Psuedodollars.
Science Police:  Again, your humble host thinks that Saxman intended this entity more as a plot device rather than an organization to which player characters would want to belong, especially as Science Police operatives “are psychoconditioned to remain loyal.”  Yikes!  Still, Wagner presents details for the benefit of characters who choose to be operatives.  Training is similar to that provided by the Köln Institute and an operative's weekly salary starts at 600 Psuedodollars.  Also, when on missions, operatives are subject to “dangerous encounters” (i.e., deathtraps).
Uniquex:  Wagner states that this organization will purchase “germ plasm of proven merit” from Uniques.  The price paid can be 100 - 3,500 Psuedodollars depending on a modified die roll.  It is possible that Uniques with “common” abilities may not have their germ plasm accepted at all.  Regardless, each Unique can only submit germ plasm once; there's no returning to the well.

With regard to combat, Wagner recommends the use of hit locations for direct physical attacks as well as projectile attacks.  He also supplies a 1d20 hit location chart as opposed to the 1d10 description in the rules;  percentages remail the same, but a separate roll is not needed for determining right or left limb.  He also recommends 1d20 rather than 3d6 be used for hit determination.

In terms of damage, Wagner recommends a variable range of damage through the use of dice rather than applying “flat blocks of damage” as specified in the rules.  Although the rulebook discusses recovery from injuries, Wagner addresses the monetary costs associated with hospitals.  Aside from room costs, Wagner explains medical expenses as a function of Psuedodollar “Cost Per Vigor Point Repaired.” For instance, medical expenses for a limb injury are less than that of a head injury when both locations have lost the same amount of Vigor.

Wagner also provides “The Quick Deathtrap Resolver.”  The rule book presents an example of a deathtrap, but does not provide any advice on devising them.  Wagner accurately states that his method “reduces it all down to an unromantic die roll,” but at least it is a method and, as he also says, “it is quick.”  In a game  like Superhero 2044, one needn't apologize for an unromantic die roll.  Anyway, Wagner suggests a 'saving throw' where a requisite value is multiplied by 0.75 and that is the number or less needed on a roll of 1d20.  To determine which requisite must be used to escape a given deathtrap, 1d12 is rolled.  More than one requisite may be indicated; if so, the values are averaged for saving throw purposes.

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