RPG Corner: The Comics Party

Hammerknight pointed out that we probably have a lot of RPG players here, and suggested that we introduce a series of posts on various topics related to gaming. I thought it sounded great, since I follow several RPG blogs, so we'll give it a shot and see how it goes. Feel free to talk it up, make suggestion, post images, and have a good time with the topic at hand. Which this week is:

If you were to fill out a "typical" ideal five-person RPG adventuring party with comic book super-heroes, who would you choose?

Discussion to follow.

To answer the question, first you have to figure out what the roles are. Now, this is just my (relatively uninformed) opinion, but I think there are "traditional" roles the PCs fill out in most RPG parties, almost regardless of system. Although this isn't a comprehensive such list, my ideal default five-person RPG party would be something like this:

  • Guardian: Front line defender, giving the back-line folks time to do their thing, classically represented by the Paladin;
  • Damage Dealer: Offensive oriented, dedicated to dealing out massive damage before going down, sometimes filled by the Mage or Rogue, sometimes by a Berserker type fighter;
  • Healer: Keep the other team members going longer than otherwise possible, your typical Cleric model;
  • Utilitarian: Jack-of-all-trades, able to do lots of different things the party might need well, but nothing necessarily outstanding, not necessarily combat-focused. This was usually the Thief in D&D;
  • Crowd Control: Master tactician, able to manage the battle so the team can focus their energies on just one target at a time without getting overwhelmed. I don't think this had an analog in classic D&D, but you definitely see it with mages in, for instance, WoW.

Once you've identified your roles, you have to pick people to fill them, which immediately brings up the question of power level. In a D&D style RPG, that's settled by deciding what actual level the PCs are -- typically you start at level 1 and work your way up, with various adventures being marked for the appropriate levels. In points-based systems like HERO, you have different measures but the idea remains that adventurers should all be about the same power level.

When it comes to putting super heroes into an RPG setting, level is very important. An adventure that would be fun and interesting for Superman-level characters would slaughter a bunch of Ace the Bat-Hound level guys. And the reverse is also true, a great adventure for the Super Pets like Ace would be a snooze-fest for Krypto.

So for my roster, I'm going to fill it with a Tier 1 Party of major heavy-hitters.

For Guardian, I'd choose Superman. He can take a crapload of damage, he can move quickly to hunt down breakouts, and he can help dish out hits if for some reason his defenses aren't fully engaged.

For our Damage Dealer, you'd have to go with Hulk. He's pretty much the prototypical "All I do is hit stuff really hard" guy. Just point him in the appropriate direction and get out of his way while Supes defends everyone else.

I'm at a bit of a loss for our Healer, because I can't think of too many super-powered characters that fit the role. The only name I could come up with was Raven from the Teen Titans. She fits the classic "cleric" slot pretty well, as she can not only heal but do other interesting things as well, bringing in a little mystical ability and cool movement.

The Utilitarian character in my ideal super-hero RPG party would probably be Douglock (the combined Warlock and Doug form) from New Mutants, assuming we were going on a technologically advanced adventure. If instead we found ourselves on a true medieval dungeon crawl instead, he could still use his shape-changing powers to get through most traps, I'd think. Plus he's got all that sciency smartitude from Doug.

Finally, my Crowd Control character would be, believe it or not, Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman. Those force fields are so versatile and effective, she could wall off groups of attackers, funnel them into the Hulk, stop runners, all sorts of good things. Plus she can ghost down corridors and check things out, which is a great secondary skill.

So, that's my five-member team of supers, were I kitting out an RPG group. Who would you choose? Would you have different roles/archetypes? Would power level make a difference, for instance what if you were fitting out a team of sidekicks?