Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for DC Heroes

***********Just for the sake of clarity - the theme for my A to Z postings is gaming in the 1980's with my friends.*************

DC Heroes 
I have been a fan of supers gaming ever since I picked up the Villains & Vigilantes 2nd Edition boxed set in the early 80's.  From that game, several of us tried out Marvel Super Heroes from TSR and Heroes Unlimited from Palladium Books.  One summer I ran across the first edition of DC Heroes in the local game shop.  It seemed like an obvious purchase since many of us were avid readers of several of the DC titles; plus, Green Lantern will always be my favorite super hero of all time.  I figured any game that had Green Lantern included in the universe and available for play should be a must have for me.  Besides, maybe the system would be easy to translate back and forth between this system and the one used in the Marvel game.  We had plans for the ultimate crossovers and battles between the universes but the systems were not compatible at all.
 I was a little concerned with the price but then I opened the box and was pretty much blown away.  There were three booklets (a Players Manual, a Game Masters manual, and a Skills & Powers manual if I recall correctly), a GMs screen, and a boatload of character cards that served as miniature character sheets for many of the most popular and some of the more obscure figures in the DC universe.

There were several of us that were pretty excited to get home and play this one.  I have to admit that most of us were a little intimidated by the way the rules were presented.  There were some areas that were super easy to grasp but some of the other areas left us somewhat confused.  It didn't seem to me that you could do a proper gadgeteer under the rules because every invention had charges associated with their use, the powers were somewhat specialized to a DC exclusive outlook with custom names instead of general names, and the fact that we were somewhat confused by the rules at the time.  An older brother helped us tremendously with the rules but we got the idea that DC Heroes was more about playing established super hero characters rather than your own creations so we did not play it much. 

I have heard that there were two other editions of DC Heroes published that cleaned up some of the problems and issues from that first edition.  It seems there is also a legacy product called Blood of Heroes that made further revisions and additions to the rules.  Maybe I could look that up sometime and give the game another spin?


  1. I didn't get into gaming until I was older, but now that I get it. :) Sounds like you may have to try Blood of Heroes and let us know what you think.

    1. Trying Blood of Heroes and posting about the experience in contrast to my experience with DC Heroes is definitely part of the bigger plan.

  2. Played a couple of super hero games, but never DC heroes. Might have to give it a go in my copious free time...

    Actually my best bet at playing other games normally happens at conventions, as I live in a very small town, barely 2500 people. But I still love reading about other gaming systems.

    1. Fortunately, I have a few people that I can game with - the spare time is the issue!

      I can relate to your lack of players. I live in a town similar to yours. We have one stoplight in the whole town!

  3. One of my favorite games of the role-playing genre at one time.

    Like FASA Star Trek (which I got at the same time), D.C. Heroes was one of those games that made our group feel a bit more grown up - especially compared to the awesome fluff that was Marvel Super Heroes.

    And like yourself, our group quickly discovered just how broken gadgeteers really were. I don't believe our group ever managed to house rule that one.

    Great post again, Charlie. Keep it up!

    1. I have fiddled with it now and then and I really dig the way the game scales. How many other games can truthfully claim that they can fit Robin and Super Man on the scame scale and it works? Yeah, that's what I thought.

      I enjoyed Marvel but not until the Advanced Set. The original rules just felt "too kiddy" for me. I understand exactly what you're saying.

      Thanks! I will try...

  4. I haven't heard of this game but it sounds like something I would give a whirl to. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That's cool. I like to share :-).

      I stopped by your blog - THUMBS UP!

  5. I have all 3 editions as well as the special edition of Blood of Heroes. My playing experience is 2nd and 3rd editions.

    The main difference with Blood of heroes is more powers, a rule to do power stunts and all the art has been changed (duh). And really, the only bad part is the art as some of it is technically not well done (poorly drawn others may be pixelated or blurred) and is rife with the dark hero excesses of the 1990s. Mechanically it is the same old solid DCH RPG.

    The eventual solution to gadgets was to make it like creating a character with a sort-of activation number where failure meant gadget break down; the cost of a removeable gadget is 1/4 the hero point total to make and non-removeable gadgets are 1/2 the hero point cost to make; I recommend NOT scaling the cost of the gadget advantage if you start at higher character point totals than the default.

    It ought to be very easy to house rule something similar.

    Come to think of it, there's a DC Heroes Character Builder (with a gadget creator) you can download for your computer. I highly recommend it.

    Recommended sources for character write-ups:
    Siskoid's Collection and
    The latter has characters from other companies written for the DCH RPG.

    If I can be of any help, please do not hesitate to contact me. I can be emailed or found under this name at numerous forums including freedom reborn, goodman games, kenzer & co, troll lords, atari age, the custom saber shop and FX Sabers.

    1. Oh wow! You have your stuff together and I will most definitely call on you in times of DCH/BOH need!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. spam filter is haunted, I think. Put simply, I found your post in my spam and rescued it. Does that about once every 3 months or so.

  7. I took my copy of 1st Ed back out over the weekend and threw together some quick Gadget House Rules based on 2nd ed, Hero and Silver Age Sentinels.

    Gadget works as a point exchange based on fragility and whether it can be taken away in combat. Depending on these two factors you spend a certain number of hero points and get 5 hero points to buy the gadget. The number before the slash is the cost during hero creation and the number after the slash is for acquiring new permanent gadgets through hero growth.

    Breakable and Removable 2/10 for 5 Gadget Hero Points
    Unbreakable and Removable 3/15 for 5 Gadget Hero Points
    Breakable and Unremovable 3/15 for 5 Gadget Hero Points
    Unbreakable and Unremovable 4/20 for 5 Gadget Hero Points

    Unbreakable Gadgets obviously do not take damage. Since you are already paying a penalty for a breakable gadget I see no point in penalizing even further by requiring points to be spent on a body attribute for the gadget; consider the Body/OV/RV of a breakable gadget to be equal to its lowest ability.

    Omni Gadgets and One-offs
    The omni-gadget is supposed to simulate having just the right thing in Batman's utility belt. Build as usual but only purchase APs using the Action Attribute column for cost. Leave the APs undefined until needed. An omni-gadget may only be used once per adventure and any abilities defined during the adventure must be conceptually coherent.
    One-offs are single use improvised gadgets made on-the-spot. Only characters with ranks in the Gadgetry skill may do this. The player explains what he/she wants to make (abilities with AP values). OV/RV is the gadgets Highest AP + 1 for each additional ability. The OV/RV should be assigned column shifts based on the materials available, tools on hand et cetera.

    Building Gadgets Through Character Growth:
    1) Multiply cost of the point exchange by 5
    2) Use the regular cost chart for APs
    3) Power effects are as stated so, for example, giving a gadget the running power will only effect the character using the gadget. A car would need strength to carry more people. Think through the design.
    4) Buy Parts for the gadget. Make a wealth roll (only 1 per week) on the universal table with AV/EV determined by wealth rating and the OV/RV determined by abilities (see note). Reroll each week until at least one RAP is achieved.
    5) Build the gadget. Make a Gadget skill roll (AV/EV equal to Gadget skill APs) with OV/RV determined by the Gadget Abilities (See note). Time needed for one skill roll is 1 day (15 APs). Optionally, each AP of extra time reduces the OV/RV by 1 AP.

    Note: Abilities can be considered individually or all together for OV/RV. When rolled against individually, no other ability can be bought or installed until success is achieved and the OV/RV is equal to the desired APs of the Ability. When taken together the OV/RV is equal to the APs of the highest ability + 1 for each additional ability.

    Damaged [breakable] Gadgets may be repaired whereas if they are destroyed new hero points must be invested to rebuild them. Optionally, may wish to have initial double 1's constitute a breakdown/failure/jam for gadgets.

    Wealth in APs:
    Struggling 2
    Comfortable 5
    Affluent 8
    Billionaire 16
    Multibillionaire 24

    1. Left out the Hero Point cost for One-offs. Not really sure about this - base cost of the power(s) plus the cost from the regular AP Purchase Chart. May want to double this or use the Character Growth AP chart depending on how severly you wish to limit this option.

    2. Wow! You got your crap together on DC Heroes, man. I need to dig this out and give it a whirl.

    3. Thanks! I'm sure this Frankenstein approach will need some tweaks but it ought to give you a viable gadgeteer without making them unbeatable or necessitating the purchase of a later edition of the game. I would be interested to hear how it stands up in play.