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The usual nickname for RPG settings and systems with Superpowers, especially those with Superheroes. Called "Supers" probably in part because the word "Superhero" is trademarked by Marvel and DC, or "Capeshit" by the chans in general ("capeshit" originally referred to superhero movies, but has since spread to all superhero stuff).

“With great power, comes great responsibility.” - Spider-Man

An exact definition of the genre is a bit annoying because broader definitions can include The Epic of Gilgamesh (literally the oldest surviving literature), and Greek myth (the origin of the "hero" part), both of whom often feature in modern superhero fiction. Even narrower definitions will predate comic heroes with pulp figures like Zorro. Luckily, for /tg/'s purposes the genre can defined somewhere along the lines of a system designed for playing characters and adventures in the style of (/world of for licensed works) DC and Marvel comics (and their competitors/imitators) and the adaptations of those comics.

And, yes, Batman counts as part of the genre. His impossible-super-science gadgets (which even the Dark Knight trilogy and the Adam West version engaged in), otherwise ridiculously high degree of schooling, and the level of recovery from injury all count as "Superpowers".

Some General Trends[edit]

There's a vast amount of territory covered by Superpowered RPGs, in keeping with the comic books and TV shows that birthed most of them. Here's some general trends, staples and constraints of the genre:

  • Relatability
    • A frequent concern with actual comic books and linear media adaptions[1]; if the audience can't see themselves or at least a functional equivalent of the world they live in in the work, they may come away disinterested. Many modern, mass-appeal media with Supers does their best to make the Supers and the world they inhabit relatable and down-to-earth as a result, while more dedicated superhero fans go for the more obscure, but also more pure superhero stories.
    • If you're wondering where Kid Sidekicks, below, and "Captain Ethnic" characters come from, attempts to improve "Relatability" are why.
  • Genre
    • If you don't count "Supers" as a genre, or only partly so: While individual settings and stories can be Mundane, Horror, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, or a few others, most supers settings that get glommed together as they evolve (such as DC/Marvel or many animated ones) tend to be classifiable as Science Fantasy.
    • Further, there's a surprisingly vast array of other genres the Supers genre can be on either end of the "Subgenre" of. To name some of the odder types that get seen somewhat frequently: Romance, Drama, Historical Fiction (including Western), Sex Comedy, Giant Robot, War stories, Full Fair Play Mystery, Surprisingly Hard Science Fiction, Horror, Martial Arts, and Musical (yes, really).
  • Power level
    • As powers get more powerful, the "relatability" of the hero goes down.
    • It's possible to make this work, by emulating mythology and going full SuperGods, or by making the OP superhero a supporting character (which is how Superman's spinoffs worked).
    • Live-action TV shows tend to love superpowers that don't require any expensive special effects, such as Telepathy or Mind Control. Look out for budget cheats.
    • A setting can have a very vast degree of scale of power levels; DC has Green Lantern (cosmic scale science fiction) alongside Batman's Gotham City, where Killer Croc (mild super-strength and crocodile traits) and Mr. Freeze (who has a freeze gun and immunity to cold) are unusually powerful.
  • Antiheroes
    • From very early on in the 60s, comics have shown a massive fascination with various kinds of Anti-heroic figures of all stripes; well-meaning failures, villains who take an otherwise good idea way too far, sociopathic figures who could only be called "heroes" because of the side they're on, physically monstrous heroes, heroes who subscribe to a moral code that puts them on the "wrong" side of the law, heroes who have more character flaws than then many of their villains, characters doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, characters doing bad things for reasons that seemed good at the time, superhero comics have gone through them all.
      • Bruce Banner (The Incredible Hulk) is notable for being all of the above at one time or another, what with his severe multiple personality disorder.
    • This fascination can be attributed to two common impulses in Superhero writers: answering the "what makes a person a hero?" question with a character (either for us to judge, or to spell out an answer, depending on the current capacity for subtlety of the writer), or because they make for good Foils for the current hero of your book.
    • There was a big wave of popularity for more extreme antiheroes in the 90s and early 00s, but the sheer stupidity of most such examples, along with a change in national mood in the US, lead to most of them going back into the edgelord shadows. On TVTropes, this is referred to as the 90s Antihero, because it's distinct enough from the standard Antihero. Note that a 90s Antihero isn't inherently stupid, but the bad examples are prolific, and when combined with a general distaste for 90s culture, they're usually held up as an overall negative example of the genre.
  • Alternate Universes/Continuities
    • Have long been a thing in comics. Since 1961's "Flash of Two Worlds" long (and arguably, even before then). DC was always more fond of them than Marvel, although Marvel's had more than its share.
    • That being said, there are also a lot of works that are explicitly in their own continuity, or are "this never happened"/"what-if" stories. Some of them are merged into the wider setting's "multiverse", but most are left alone.
    • If you're going to have a large enough Science Fiction and Big Ideas in your Supers setting, you'll eventually have to deal with Alternate Universes, just because it's an easy way to have "Hero vs. Himself" stories, and is now rather iconic of Supers works.
  • Capes
    • Since 1960, not much of a thing. Superman wore one, as did a lot of heroes in his wake, but most heroes stopped wearing them by the 1960s. Most Marvel heroes avoid capes.
    • The reason capes vanished is because it was realized that capes have a tendency to get snagged on things. (The Incredibles and Watchmen both have this as a plot point.)
    • There are exceptions:
      • Batman uses a cape to disguise his motions (is he going to throw a punch or a batarang?) and frequently uses it to glide. (It should be added that he was doing this well before Batman Begins; the reason he looks so weird on that first Detective Comics cover is because the original idea was he was going to be gliding with that cape.)
      • Doctor Strange has a Cloak of Levitation, which is what allows him to fly, among other things.
      • A lot of villains, because they put style over substance.
      • Characters whose primary power (or one of them, at least) is flight. It's usually "explained" that a well-made cape allows better control over flight for these heroes; how plausible that is depends on the cape in question.
    • That being said, Supers get called "Capes" a lot, for reasons lost in the mists of time. To the point that "Capeshit" is what a large chunk of the Internet calls Superhero-related media.
  • Captain Ethnic
    • As superhuman characters from outside of the original WASP American backgrounds started to become a thing in the 60s and 70s, writers had to figure out a way to make it clearer who these characters were in terms of ethnicity. Taking cues from the Captain Patriotic trope of the Golden Age, Captain Ethnic characters are heavily defined their ethnicity or nationality, particularly when it comes to costume design or power set. At its best, these characters draw upon mythology or pop culture from their origins; for example, a Japanese super-inventor who uses samurai themed Power Armor and gadgets. At its worst, these characters are just bad ethnic stereotypes, such as an Irish superheroine who dresses in a sexualized version of the leprechaun outfit, has luck manipulation powers, and is portrayed as a drunken slutty party girl.
    • A variant of this trend is African-American supers with electricity-related powers, an homage to the "Black Power" movements of the 70s.
  • Captain Patriotic
    • Superheroes specifically themed around being defined by their love of their country and nation, usually resulting in their costume choices. During the Golden Age of Comics - aka, World War II - superheroes of this stripe proliferated, but they began to die out afterwards as nationalism waned and, without an active war on, showy acts of patriotism became less of a big cultural thing.
    • Can sometimes overlap with Captain Ethnic, but it's not mandatory for it to do so.
    • Villainous Captain Patriotics are most certainly a thing, but with the fall of Nazism and Communism, the original go-to sources for them, they've fallen out of favor as much as their heroic counterparts have.
  • Character Clones
    • You might also know them as an "Expy", "Alternate Company Equivalent" or "Captain Ersatz" from TVTropes.
    • A frequent feature of just about all superhero related media: a non-copyright infringing version of a character from another company (or occasionally, your own). The most frequent use is parody, but pseudo-crossovers are also common, as are "deconstructions".
      • There have been self-company clones; usually, the reason is because the rights are tied up, or because the character is thought to be unfitting for the audience (for example, one reason DC had so many John Constantine knock-offs is because for many years he was an "adults only" character that was carefully confined to the "Vertigo" imprint).
    • There's also parallel evolution, which is a very frequent thing in any storytelling medium. That is, two different characters or teams are designed to fill a niche, but in the process, the niche dictates so much that the two are almost identical. Notable examples in comic books include the initial versions of Swamp Thing and Man Thing (and both of whom were heavily inspired by an earlier, out of print character, The Heap), and the original versions of the X-Men and Doom Patrol; both pairs appeared effectively simultaneously, and were obviously based on roughly the same inspiration.[2]
    • Straight ripoffs are rarer, as it's widely considered to be playing with copyright lawsuit fire, but they happen, particularly of the type that can be played off as "parallel evolution".
  • Foils, aka Contrasting Characters
    • Not foil as in "defeating", but rather a common trope in storytelling in general, but Superhero-related media in particular: Two characters are frequently shown together because they contrast one another, bringing out otherwise hidden aspects of both.[3]
    • This can take many forms; two Heroes contrasting styles shows that one or both styles have their merits; or some kind of "Goofus and Gallant" scenario; or a villain whose backstory contrasts heavily with the hero's; or two villains whose goals and nature make them natural foes, just to name a few common such story beats.
    • This gets to the point that villains have been known to migrate to other heroes in the same universe because the "foiling" on them is better.[4]
  • Legacy Characters
    • In settings with an in-universe history of superhumans, you'll often have the concept of the "Legacy Character"; a superhero identity or "family" that is either literally passed down from one worthy character to another, or where one character's actions as a superhero inspire others to also become superheroes, leading to their deliberately styling their costumes and, to a lesser extent, their power sets after their inspirations in homage.
    • A related trope is the "Affirmative Action Legacy", where legacy characters are of a different ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or combination thereof to their "progenitor". Done well, this can add to the feeling of realism and grounding of the base identity. Done poorly, as it usually is, you have an obvious politically motivated pandering character.
  • Masquerade
    • A few Urban Fantasy or Conspiracy-themed settings are, effectively, Masquerades concealing the existence of Superpowered individuals. Why varies, but the result is usually fairly stupid.
    • Some Superhero settings have a partial Masquerade, usually involving either Magic or Time Travel, since both of those can unbalance the setting away from "Relatability".
  • Mythology
    • Because mythological figures are generally in the public domain, and thus free for authors to use, a lot of characters, items, and monsters are taken from mythology. Villains, heroes, Macguffins, you name it, it's probably been used.
    • Most commonly used are the Greek and Norse mythologies, for the usual reasons of "being widely known" and "easy to research". East Asian stuff is becoming more common recently thanks to certain influences.
  • Secret Identities
    • Supers often act as vigilantes, or are otherwise outside the purview of the law, and thus must wear outfits to conceal their actions.
    • As a general rule, as time has gone on, fewer and fewer superheroes have them, as the reason to have one has gone down. That being said, the usual explanation nowadays is to protect unpowered family members, which as reasons go is at least reasonable.
    • In particular, there's a general feeling that "Street-level" superheroes are allowed a secret identity; those whose individual aspirations extend beyond a city are not (e.g., The Fantastic Four, Iron Man (even back when Iron Man was Tony Stark's "bodyguard", there was no question but that Iron Man worked for Stark), or on the DC side, Green Lanterns (who work for a Law Enforcement agency) and Wonder Woman (whose origins meant she didn't start with one, and for whose political goals maintaining an ongoing second identity would probably be counterproductive).)
    • Japanese (and East Asian more generally) superheroes either don't have them, have them because a transformation is part of their powers, or have them more because the hero is an benevolent infiltrator of some kind.
  • Sidekicks
    • The inclusion of a second character, often a minor in older works, as a secondary and subservient character to the hero. Much less common nowdays. This is mainly because having children in physical danger has clashed poorly with comics becoming more serious and less child oriented, and having a second character as an equal partner instead of an inferior opens more plots and character expression than a child did. Batman, as with many now dropped genre conventions, gets his wards grandfathered in. (Child superheroes still exist as solo characters, characters in a team with other minor aged characters, and as the biological child of superpowered parents working with their mom and/or dad.)
      • Interestingly, Stan Lee's hatred of Kid Sidekicks (he killed Bucky Barnes off for just this reason) led to him creating Spider-Man in an effort to fill the "kid character" niche with something a bit less stupid.
      • And even Batman writers have at least moved somewhat to make things a bit less "Child endangerment" (on Batman's part, at least): Two of the more recent additions to the Bat-family, Cassandra Cain and Damian Wayne, have a backstory of being specially raised as assassins but wanting to be something else, and thus being trained by Batman.
    • Non-action sidekicks who serve an investigative, mission control, or support roles are still a thing; how much they show up probably depends more on how useful they are for storytelling than their actual usefulness.
      • In particular, a "Watson" type is frequently necessary for Detective characters who don't monologue like a Film Noir Protagonist; that is, somebody to hear all the deductions made by the detective character, and ask some obvious questions.[5]
  • Technology
    • Civilian technology on Earth is usually kept just barely beyond the current state of the art, to maximize "relatability".
      • Heroes and villains can invent super-science gadget and/or own giant, supposedly innovative, companies while labs have fantastic inventions for villains to steal or create the monster of the week with, but none of the stuff seems to actually get to market. Military technology is rarely better for the common soldier, but don't be surprised to see special projects that produce something (even if flawed or unreproducable) or at them having something to throw at a superpowered threat.
      • The most common exception, if the age rating requires it, is the proliferation of energy weapons.
    • But the Important Named Characters usually have access to stuff that's flat out impossible.
    • This leads to a certain tendency of Super-Inventers to be restricted in some way.
      • Several notable examples use a direct "Magic powered technology", in that the technologist's work is only functional because some superpower is allowing them to "cheat" physics (or biology or material science) in some way.
      • An alternate common approach is to make the technology in question dependent on some rare, fictional supermaterial.
  • Timeline
    • Time progresses much slower than publication history. A character may reference a plot from 15 years ago, but the events won't have occurred fifteen years ago (This becomes particularly confusing with child characters. Franklin Richards was born in a 1968 comic and didn't hit natural puberty till 2019). The exceptions to this rule are things created as historical events (such as a bounty hunter in the Wild West), and characters/events bound to World War II.
      • Notably this is the one signature element of comics that roleplaying games try to avoid. The games that managed to live long enough have had the time between editions progress in real time, with the printed characters aging and developing.
  • Unpowered Superheroes
    • They exist. They're usually impossibly well-trained and skilled, but, again, that still count as the level of training or skill in question is usually impossible for a real person.
    • Usually exist in either lower-powered settings, or are effectively just masterminds or stealth operatives.
  • Villains and Sanity
    • How insane the villains are is something of a variable from setting to setting, and villain to villain. Some villains can be "ordinary" criminals, just some of them have powers; some villains are obsessed with destroying the universe (and haven't thought through the "but that's where I keep all my stuff!" objection), and have the power to pull it off; and some villains seem to have been "created" by just taking a section from a psychiatry textbook (usually the current DSM) and treating it as a exact description of the villain in question[6].
    • Nowdays, more rational villains are more common then they were back in the Silver Age. There's usually some flaw in their thinking, admittedly, but mostly gone are the days of inventing revolutionary and marketable technology so you can rob banks for money.
  • Weaknesses
    • Most weaknesses nowadays tend to be inherent in the powerset (characters with Super-Senses usually react badly to flashbang grenades up close, e.g.), or are some kind of time and/or power limitation (Hourman has his time limit right in his name, for example, or Green Lanterns used to be unable to use their powers on anything Yellow).
    • There are two classes of exception:
      • Superman and Kryptonite, and direct knockoffs thereof. One important thing to note is that outside of Superman, Kryptonite styled weakness become less necessary as more Superpowered individuals appear.
      • Vampire supers (and there are a few Superhero Vampires and near Vampires, along with a whole lot of villains) are subject to the usual weaknesses of their kind, as are other traditional monsters with unique weaknesses.

Notable subtypes, (sub)genres and styles[edit]

  • Street-Level: Characters, generally of low power, that fight local threats instead of global conspiracies and alien invasions.
  • Mystery Men: Low power pulp heroes, especially powerless gadget wielders set before 1942. Chief examples of this genre are the Green Hornet, the Phantom, and Doc Savage.
  • Cosmic: The exact opposite of the two above; if they're fighting deities on a regular basis, it's probably "Cosmic".
  • "Silver Age" or "Four Color": More or less what comics looked like in the 1960s. Think thirty different kinds of Kryptonite, Jimmy Olson getting new powers every issue (and then losing them right after), and iconic characters becoming total assholes for no reason. These comics were frequently written cover first, with ideas being thrown around like ticker tape at a parade, paced so fast that a reader can get whiplash from the sudden turns, and riddled with excessively soap-operaish or melodramatic storytelling, science fiction so soft it makes marshmallows look like diamonds and dialogue that sounds about as natural as the food coloring on Cheetos. Note that, when used to describe something modern, "power level" doesn't enter into it; there were a bunch of incredibly silly Batman comics (go look up Superdickery for just a sampling) and other "mundane"/"low-power" Silver Age works; what matters is the sheer insanity and weirdness.
  • "Dark Age" or "Liefeld Style": Darker And Edgier works that are exactly as stupid as the Silver Age, just in a different way. In particular, expect needless death, anti-heroes where vastly more thought was given to the design and name than personality or backstory (which were frequently so flimsy as to be nonexistant), excessive everything (cynicism, fanservice, violence, detail, guns, pouches), and art that was dynamic as fuck, but also anatomically impossible and painful to look at. (Sometimes called "The Iron Age" by people defending it, but between a crash in the industry and the tone of most notable work of the era, the name "Dark Age" has more or less stuck.)
    • There are also "Golden Age" (like "Silver Age", but with worse racism and more people dying or suffering horrific fates, mostly served as World War 2 propaganda and died with the Comic's Code starting the Silver Age), "Bronze Age" (what came between the Silver and Dark Ages, and featured something of a blend of both as Stan Lee went "fuck the censors" and killed Gwen Stacy, starting the Edgy stuff that actually had nuance, but devolved into the Dark Age), and "Modern Age" (roughly, what comics have looked like since the first Toby McGuire Spider-Man film). These are not as frequently used as models, for various reasons. The Modern Age is possibly on the verge of changing after several regular cosmic reboot failures from both Marvel and DC and things seems to be shaping up differently in the post-Covid world.
  • Tokusatsu (特撮, literally "special effects"): A Japanese genre of masked, transforming heroes (the better to change actors so they can film those scenes on the cheap). Often includes giant robots and size changing to allow fighting a multiple scales. Examples include Super Sentai (which Power Rangers recycles footage from), Kamen Rider, Ultraman, and the 1970s Japanese Spider-Man (which is a fascinating story all in itself).
  • Magical Girl (魔法少女): Girls change into super powered forms to fight evil (though many of the early example used their powers for other things). Unlike Toku heroes, magical girl forms generally aren't masked but instead have some kind of physical element to the transformation that hides the user's identity. Despite being strongly associated with Japan, Fawcett's 1942 introduction of Mary Marvel is the earliest proper example.
  • "Bad Girl" comics: One of the more durable trends of the Dark Age, above: Female anti-heroes (either cynical or outright "beyond good and evil", with greed and revenge being frequent motivators), usually dealing with even worse villains, not afraid to engage in some extreme ultraviolence, with some degree of supernatural powers going around, and a whole lot of sexy fanservice. There are two interesting factors: Their popularity among women was actually fairly high (Who would have guessed actually strong female protagonists would appeal to girls and women?), and their popularity (although much diminished) extends to the present day, unlike much of the legacy of the Dark Age.
  • "Deconstruction": There's a lot of not very well-thought-out use of this word in criticism of superhero comics. We'll go with the TVTropes definition, where deconstruction is more about taking a trope or story type, and either trying to play it out like it would in reality, or show the disturbing supporting tissue needed to uphold the plausibility.

Commonly Cited Non-/tg/ or /v/ Originating Settings[edit]

  • DC Comics. Most notable heroes for /tg/ purposes: Batman, Superman, Green Lantern. Most notable villains for /tg/ purposes: Darkseid, Lex Luthor, Ra's Al Ghul.
    • Watchmen, while published by DC, is worth separating all on it's own; it's the first major case brought up in "Superhero Comics as Actual Art" arguments, caused a massive shift in comics towards even darker and edgier material, and was patient zero for "Deconstruction" being applied to things outside of French Philosophy. Even today, 35 years later, it's still insanely influential.
  • Marvel Comics. Most notable heroes for /tg/ purposes: Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, The Punisher. Most notable villains for /tg/ purposes: Thanos, Galactus, Paste-pot Pete (that last for the idea "they can't all be winners")
    • The X-Men have, since their 1975 revival, and particularly since the 90s, been sort of their own continuity, almost-but-not-quite separate from the main Marvel one.
  • Various adaptions of the above. Most notable is the inexorable Marvel Cinematic Universe and various animated versions of DC and Marvel's characters.
  • A few anime/manga imitate western styles with notable examples including "Anpanman" (book run: 1975-2013, ending the year of the original author's death. Anime run: 1988-present, with over 1300(!) episodes aired and 30 full-length movies), "My Hero Academia" and "One Punch Man"
    • "One Punch Man" is of interest because it's a series that centers around an interesting twist on the idea of a superhero: The world's strongest man is also something of a pathetic loser.
  • The Super Hero Time programming block of Super Sentai (which was and is mined for stock footage to create Power Rangers) and Kamen Rider.
  • Sailor Moon: The only magical girl anime western normalfags have heard of. As such it's the one shallow western "parody" ever derives from, and even then they don't do much with it beyond the surface level.
  • Pretty Cure/PreCure: Bucking the trend of magical girls being aimed exclusively at young girls, PreCure takes the unusual direction of simultaneously marketing itself to men with disposable income 16-35 by making the fights extremely physical. Airs adjacent to Super Hero Time and is widely considered an unofficial member.
  • Wild Cards, a setting masterminded by the same George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones.
  • The "Fate" (of Fate/Stay Night) franchise; particularly those parts that involve Shirou Emiya. While the Fate stuff in general that involves Summons can be fairly termed "Supers under Masquerade", Shirou's ideals and powers are such that many people class him as a "superhero deconstruction".
  • Worm. Go to the blue link to see more about it.

Notable Superverses (that aren't Marvel/DC)[edit]

Image Comics was an indy company that exploded into life in the 90s, making its back on a combination of the early wave of 90s antiheroes and ripoffs of Marvel & DC characters. Their inability to reliably produce comics on time nearly killed the company, but amazingly they survived, although they've mostly gotten out of the superhero genre. Notable supers:

  • Spawn: After CIA assassin Al Simmons is murdered by his own bosses, he makes a deal with an archdevil, promising to lead Hell's armies in the invasion of Earth if he can go back and see his wife one last time. And he promptly wakes up as a hideously malformed revenant who looks exactly how you'd imagine the corpse of somebody who got burned to death 5 years ago would look, wearing a costume that's actually a living fiend, wielding black magic powers he doesn't understand and with almost no memory of who he is. Oh, and his wife got married to his best friend and popped out a daughter whilst he was dead, too.
  • Savage Dragon: A huge green man with a reptilian fin on his head wakes up naked and amnesiac in the middle of a burning field in Chicago. Discovered and taken in by a good-hearted Chicago cop, the Savage Dragon promptly joins the Chicago police force, as his super strength, super toughness, and regeneration makes him their best chance at combating the rising threat of super-criminals.
  • Invincible:' The son of a Superman expy inherits the powers of his father, said Superman expy, but soon learns that his half-alien heritage is not what it seems...
  • WildC.A.T.S: Two different cabals of warring alien races, the evil body-possessing Daemonites and the humanoid Kherubims, continue their racial war after crashlanding on Earth.
  • Youngblood: The government attempts to organize its own band of superhuman black ops agents.
  • Cyberforce: A band of cyborg mutants, abducted and augmented against their will by the evil megacorp Cyberdata, attempt to seek revenge.
  • Shadowhawk: When honest district attorney Paul Johnstone refuses to fix a case for the mob after being revealed to them by his worthless crack-addicted half-brother Hojo, the mob infects him with HIV. As AIDS ravages his body, he uses a suit of Power Armor and becomes a spine-breaking vigilante, lashing out at the scum of the world until finally he dies of his disease.

Valiant Comics was another indy comic company of the 90s, this one focusing on a more Hard Science take on the supers genre. It's a universe where all superpowers stem from one of three sources; tech, psionics, or magic. Also it subverts the usual supers tropes of retcons and comic book time. Was killed off after an ill-considered crossover with Image Comics, but was revived in 2012. Even got its own tie-in tabletop RPG in 2014. Notable supers:

  • Bloodshot: A Mafia hitman is recovered after being left for dead and revived by being injected with experimental nanites, granting him superhuman durability, super strength, and a healing factor.
  • Harbinger: Super-powered teenagers attempt to escape the powerful psychic megacorp owner who seeks to use them as soldiers to conquer the world.
  • Magnus, Robot Fighter: In the 41st century, one lone badass stands against the threat of mass robot uprisings.
  • Shadowman: A New Orleans man is forced to become a nocturnal Voodoo-powered guardian deity against necromancers and the restless dead.
  • Turok: A Native American hunter from the Wild West era finds himself trapped in "The Lost Land", a plane outside of the normal bonds of reality that touches upon all times, forcing him to fight for his life against armies of genetically enhanced cyborg dinosaurs.
  • X-O Manowar: A Visigoth Barbarian, kidnapped by aliens, escapes by stealing a superpowerful suit of Power Armor and finds himself stranded on Modern earth.

Some more non-DC/Marvel characters and works that are probably worth mentioning:

  • Archie had an AU for a while where the characters got superpowers. No, really. Go look up "Pureheart the Powerful" if you don't believe us.
  • Stardust the Superwizard and Fantomah: The best known creations of Fletcher Hanks, a profoundly crazy writer-artist who really loved to kill his villains in creatively impossible and fucked-up ways. Fantomah is sometimes claimed to be the first female superhero, with a first publication date of February 1940.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is frequently lumped in with Supers, for various reasons. Mainly worth mentioning here because all four parts of the name were very big trends at the time, as the original comic was intended as satire and mash-up of then-current popular trends and works: "Teenage", after the Teen Titans, "Mutant", after the X-Men, "Ninja" because Ninjas were *HUGE* in the 80s[7], and "Turtles", because funny animal works were also huge at the time.
  • The Tick: A strange lighthearted take on the supers genre by Ben Edlund. Have one dubiously-sane superhero that barely looks like a tick, one down-on-his-luck accountant who somehow has a super suit with moth wings and have them thrown into a bizarre city full of supers called only "The City".

Supers Roleplaying (Or: /tg/ Relevance)[edit]

There have been plenty of Supers roleplaying games. Here are some of the more notable ones:

  • Various DC and Marvel adaptions. There have been several of both.
    • The most notable of the former used the Mayfair Exponential Gaming System, or MEGS, and a complex array of charts to successfully contain the vast array of powers and powerlevels the average superhero setting requires at the cost of being impenetrable to those who aren't from the 80s and didn't grow up with this stuff. Blood of Heroes, a fan-made game running on the same engine with some tweaks, is the Pathfinder to its 3.5, but its homemade setting is generally seen as underwhelming.
  • GURPS has books dedicated to just the mechanics ("GURPS Supers"), and a few settings (notably, International Super Teams (or "IST") and licensed adaptions of Hellboy and Wild Cards)
  • Savage Worlds similarly to GURPS, has support for Supers roleplaying.
  • Champions
  • Mutants & Masterminds.
  • Villains and Vigilantes
  • Superworld
  • Princess: The Hopeful is essentially "Magical Girls in New World of Darkness"
  • The Sentinel Comics Roleplaying Game, the RPG spin-off to the equally /tg/-relevant card game Sentinels of the Multiverse. The exact opposite of Blood of Heroes in terms of being a fanmade setting that takes inspiration from classic superhero stories while still asserting its own identity and telling good stories with the characters, being based around the fictional "Sentinel Comics" imprint with a fictional history that informs many creative choices.

See also[edit]


  1. Video games have their own separate series of cans of worms that parallel "relatability", but also frequently diverge from it heavily
  2. For the former: "Horror comics are back, sort of. Hey, this Heap character was a good horror character, and he's out of print (and thus not likely to get us sued)"; for the latter, "What can we do to have a hero team that allows us to talk about discrimination?".
  3. The name derives from a common trick in jewellery: Metal foil is put behind a gem to make its features much clearer (and the gem as a whole shinier) in the light; similarly, the implicit background of one character makes some hidden features visible in another character.
  4. To provide one notable example, the Kingpin (more fully, "The Kingpin of Crime") started out as a Spider-Man foe, but is now much more associated with Daredevil, because the two have better opposing chemistry (to start with, Spider-Man is about "everyday shlub superhero", while Daredevil is more about "fixing the crime problem and criminal justice system", and the Kingpin is usually a good representative of almost everything wrong with both, making him a better fit for the latter hero).
  5. Notice, for example, most versions of Batman that lack a Robin lean heavily on Alfred, to allow Batman to apply exposition to--in fact, one of the reasons Robin was created in the first place was explicitly to have somebody for Batman to provide exposition to.
  6. In particular, any work primarily set in Arkham Asylum will probably have multiple such characters, for subtly obvious reasons
  7. In particular, the Foot Clan was a piss-take on The Hand, a band of villainous ninjas from Frank Miller's version of Daredevil