In light of a certain new shiny, licensed Superhero RPG release, I decided to look at some of my favourite superhero–focused RPGs, and found that I had at least seven in my personal collection, and another dozen saved online in various places. So you know what, let’s go. Superhero RPG megaslideshow, prepare for impact.
Masks: A New Generation
Genuinely one of my favourite RPGs, Masks: A New Generation by Magpie Games is a fantastic game that perfectly captures the tone of teenage superheroes just trying to make it as a new team.
From Gar “Sahoni” Atkins, Exceptionals is a mutant-focused game about community and the acts of rebellion that occur when you live within a society that hates and fears you.
I love a skill tree, and Metahumans Rising by House Dok gives me just the right amount of crunch (an RPG term that comes from “number-crunching,” generally indicating the amount of stats, maths, and rules that appear in a game) accompanied by an immersive set of worldbuilding tools that gets you right in the action.
The Superheroes Saying… trilogy is a group of three satirical mini-games for when your superhero does something stupid, exceptional, or exile-worthy.
Those of Use Who Know Better
Those of Us Who Know Better by C. J. Linton, which is focused on expressing a facet of the trans experience, asks what it would be like if you had to pay a cost for your powers, every single time.
It Means Hope
It Means Hope is an expansive book that focuses its moves around the understanding that superheroes are a power fantasy, and that playing out their stories is a form a catharsis.
One of three games that W.H. Arthur has released under their own interconnected “Superhero Cinematic Universe” of TTRPGs, Teenage Menance forces you to play in a world that fetishizes youth but demonstrably hates teenagers.
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
From designer Cam Banks, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying was an incredibly solid addition to the scene, but was sadly discontinued after only a year. It cleverly incorporated comics events and the plug-and-play character creation makes it easy to pick up and run with very little prep work involved.
If you’ve ever wanted more romance in your RPGs, Kissing Capes is here to deliver, and the fun mini-game system is perfect for new and old role-players alike.
Sw//ng, which uses the Caltrop Core system, is about tackling responsibilities using your powers, but you’re driven by a mistake in your past, which even your superpowers can’t fix.
A City of Shining Stars
A submission to the (phenomenal) Beyond Supers Jam, A City of Shining Stars details the rise and fall of heroes in a city, taking a cerebral, birds-eye approach to role-playing superheroes.
If you’ve ever watched Teen Titans and wondered “where the hell are the parents?” Incoming! is a game that calls out all the adults who are just standing around letting children be murderers.
From Meguey and Vincent Baker comes PSI*RUN, a psychological horror game that puts you at odds with your memory as you attempt to outrace the people who gave you your powers.
Icons is one of those classics of superhero RPGs that still stands up. It’s got a lot of number-crunching and it’s designed by the same guys who put together Mutants + Masterminds, so just know what you’re getting into.
Henshin! A Sentai RPG
I am a sucker for games with art like this and Henshin! A Sentai RPG ports Japanese transformation superhero plots into an easy-to-learn and fast-paced roleplaying game. Read about the ideas behind the game, and its sister RPG Rider Konchu, in our chat with the developer Sam Kusek here.
Survivors of the Snap
Described as punk rock superhero roleplaying, Survivors of the Snap is directly inspired by the events of Marvel’s Endgame and asks you to play within a world that’s experiencing its darkest crises ever.
Mutants in the Now
Directly inspired by mutated animal shows where teams made up of turtles or sharks have to fight crime, Mutants in the Now is a “retro-modern” RPG that is impressively extensive.
What’s so Tough About Crime-Fighting?
The What’s So Cool About engine (Jared Sinclair) has spawned so many excellent, lightweight roleplaying games and What’s So Tough About Crime-Fighting is a fast-paced superhero RPG that can be printed and pasted into a small notebook for easy access.
Anyone Can Wear the Mask
We’re about to start a few themed slides, but starting out with Anyone Can Wear the Mask is always a strong choice, as this game delicately balances the struggles of having two rivals battling it out in a single city.
But I Handled It Like A Champion
Take on the role of a superhero nearing the end of their career in But I Handled It Like a Champion, an introspective game where you play out the last fight you’ll ever have.
Even More Spiders!
I’ve said it before, I love a Lasers and Feelings hack, and Even More Spiders! takes a complicated conceit and distills into an easy to play game.
I really appreciate that The Neighbourhood Watch not only focuses on how superheroes help people, but your power literally allows you to break any rule previously iterated in the rulebook. An absolutely brilliant intersection of narrative and mechanics, it’s so good.
Are We The Baddies?
Imagine that you’re a supervillain team trying to pull off an incredibly dubious scheme, while also convincing everyone that you’ve turned over a new leaf — and you have the premise of Are We The Baddies?, a short card-based, comedy of errors.
Mutants and Masterminds
Green Ronin’s response to the Superhero genre is Mutants and Masterminds, a mid-crunch game that has stood the test of time and has a veritable library’s worth of supplements available.
Beyond Super: Life Behind the Mask
A solo journaling game inspired by The Quiet Year and Belonging Outside Belonging, Beyond the Mask is a detailed and introspective look into the day to day lives of superheroes and the kind of struggles that might come from balancing a double life.
Single Unique Power
And here we are. We’ve made it to the end, and I’m so pleased to be finishing up this massive slideshow with a shout out to Tyler Crumrine/Possible Worlds Games because not only is Single Unique Power a fantastic little game, but PWG is doing seriously excellent work up and down the indie game-o-sphere. SUP is a game that acts as a character creator and setting generator, helping players worldbuild their superhero game from the ground up.
Want more Gizmodo news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.