We are living in a new golden age if you are a lover of super hero role-playing games.  With the release of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, both major comics publishers have their worlds available to be utilized.  This is something that hasn’t happened in well over a decade.  DC Adventures was released back in 2010 by Green Ronin Publishing.  What I want to do  is give you a brief overview of the mechanics since it has been out for awhile and explain what seems to be the main objective of the game.

DC Adventures’ system is the third edition of the Mutants & Masterminds engine developed by Green Ronin Publishing.  The entire system is based upon the roll of a single D20.  Any action taken consists of the summation of an attribute and any bonuses or penalties versus a difficulty.  The difference between the total and the difficulty determines degrees of success or failure.   Instead of having hit points or body and stun like other games, conditions are applied to the characters as a combat goes along to hamper their performance.  This is done to better emulate the flow of comics as super heroes are always able to bounce back from even the most sever beatings.  The largest part of this book is dedicated to character creation which is done using a traditional point buy system.  A power level is agreed upon before the game begins which sets the amount of points that players have to spend.  From this pool of points, players purchase everything from attributes to powers to best describe what type of character they want to play in the game.  There are guideline put in place in an effort to keep characters balanced despite choices that players make.   In the Hero’s Handbook, the iconic heroes and villains stats and bios are provided and two more books are planned to delineate a large portion of the members of the DC Universe.  It also has a hero point mechanic that allows for some limited authorial control within the game.  These points are garnered for doing heroic things and are used to allow player to do such things as edit the scene or re-roll if necessary.

With the bulk of the book being dedicated to character creation, it is obvious that the focus of DC Adventures is the creation of your own hero to play in the DC continuum.  It is this character creation system that allows this game to shine.  Unlike it’s predecessors, no charts are necessary to determine the value of a power based on all the flaws that you would assign to it, nor is there the ability for you to create Vlad, the world-eater based on creative use of flaws and such.  The powers are also effects based so that you no longer have to page through reams of text to find the specific power that you need.  Instead, there is a smaller choice of powers and you define how it looks within the game world.  This provides a focus on creativity on the player’s part instead of a reliance on an encyclopedia of game mechanics which is refreshing to find in a traditional super hero game.  The glaring flaw is that it is very difficult for players to use existing heroes  from the DC Universe.  Power level, which is utilized to balance characters, can fluctuate wildly based on the choice of hero.  There is no inherent way for each character to shine built into the game.  If someone chooses to play Superman, there is the possibility of them easily overshadowing every other character even if they were not meaning to do this.

For those with a taste for a more traditional game, DC Adventures provides the flavor they would prefer.  It gives the ability to create whatever you would want without sacrificing the iconic characters that you would expect from DC.

2 thoughts on “DriveThruRPG Review: DC Adventures Hero's Handbook

  1. So in the “very extremely unlikely” event you didn’t want to run the next series of Knights of Reinsborough under Savage Worlds ruleset, which of the other existing superhero rpg systems would you consider a better fit for your game?

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