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What I Think about Powers For Good #0

I found this game in the Story Games Weekly newsletter #24. I think this is the only newsletter in my inbox that I am actually looking forward to reading. I always find at least one gem in it, and this week was not an exception.
I never was a huge fan of superhero RPGs (maybe becuase I have grown up on Disney's characters comics and not Marvel's or DC's), but for whatever reason I was always drawn to them. The only supers game I have played, or run, was powered by Savage Worlds, and even this seemed a little too crunchy for my liking. I wanted a more narrative and action oriented approach, but nothing on the market really scratched that itch.

For some time I have toyed with designing a rules light supers game. You would have a die type assigned to each "power" and you could use it in a similar fashion to FATE's Aspects. But like many (oh, so many) of my projects it ended up on some scribbles in one of my notebooks.

Then, I wake up one day (yesterday, actually) and find that someone had the same idea, and released it as a free (well, pay what you want) game. This person is Sage LaTorra - designer of Dungeon World! I know this guy has a good grasp on narrative RPGs, so I check out the game.

The game assumes you are new to Story Games (and RPGs in general). That's not an issue - anyone familiar with the hobby will get the grasp of it quickly and can finish reading the book in 20-30min. It's only 37 pages anyway.

The game starts by creating your team of superheros. You choose the team's name first. After that, each participant (Players and the GM) names two heroes. Yeah, just create two super hero names. That's it. This is actually a brilliant idea. Names are always something that people struggle with, and good names will spark creativity around the table. Now, you assign a power and personality to each of those oddballs. Done!
Next, you choose which of those heroes you will play this time (you can change heroes after each adventure). Flesh them out with 2-5 extra powers and you are good to go! Personally, I love this approach - it works great as a pick-up, or even a convention game, and gives you enough info to start roleplaying.

The system is simple, but also brilliant in it's simplicity. You get a set (core) of dice: d12, d8, d6 and a d4. You don't assign them to anything - you just have it. Treat it as, I don't know, your hero's current power. When you need to roll, you pick up any dice you want and roll them. If the total on the dice is greater than the Difficulty Level (GM never rolls dice, only assigns difficulty) - you succeeded!
Now, for each die you did not use in the roll, you get a Determination Point - you use those to add to your roll on 1 to 1 basis. If you failed - you get an extra point as well. Simple, and keeps players from using all their dice all the time (you want those Determination Points).
But wait! That's not all. "Each roll has consequences" - the die with the highest result in the roll is reduced in size (so d12 becomes d10, d8 - d6 and so on). This small rule makes teamwork encouraged. As even if you and your friends roll tons of dice to achieve something, only one of those will be reduced. Also, at least in my mind, the little line about the consequences tells the GM, that when describing success, they should always go with: Yes, but.

And that's it for the system - quick, simple and narrative - just like I wanted. Well, there are tips on how to GM and a sample "adventure" in the book. Both good chapters, explaining the narrative GM approach in some detail. So, even if you never played a story or narrative game in your life, you can get the hang of it.
If I sparked your interest - go and give it a try - you can get it for free from DriveThruRPG.com, and if you enjoy it, go back and send the author some monnies.

Oh, one more thing - the game is licensed under Creative Commons - so nothing is stopping people from releasing their own hero teams, scenarios, rules etc. I really hope that people will jump on this game and start creating - I want to see Powers For Good #1, #17 and even #200!