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Gamer's Choice Award
Darren Watts' Golden Age Champions from High Rock Press was the number one choice.
Close behind, second and third places, respectively, go to V&V 3.0 Mighty Protectors From Monkey House Games and Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game Starter Kit From Greater Than Games.
(All 3 of these games also appear in our judges spotlight awards below)
Judge Spotlight Awards
This is the section where we invite RPG Industry luminaries to spotlight particular products they felt were deserving of attention in 2017.
You can find out more about our judges for this year on this page.
Steve's Kenson's Pick: V&V 3.0 Mighty Protectors
Created by Jeff Dee & Jack Herman
Published by Monkey House Games
2017 was once again a great year to be a superhero gamer, and it was hard to choose just one product, but ultimately, The Mighty Protectors won out for me. You see, the classic Villains & Vigilantes was the first superhero RPG I ever bought and played back in the 1980s, and The Mighty Protectors is the latest incarnation of that system, by its creators, Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, featuring Dee’s art, both classic and modern.
The book is a slim (by modern standards) 152-page hardcover, combining the look and feel of the original editions of V&V with some updated ideas and mechanics. It’s still loaded with random generation tables and the notion of playing yourself with super-powers, but my personal favorite part of the book is the “The Mighty Protectors Multiverse” chapter, an encyclopedic breakdown of setting elements from the authors’ own long-running campaign, things like the government super-agency CHESS to the Frankenstein Galaxy and the multiversal Heralds of Fate or historic events like the Core War or the Endgame Initiative. It’s worth the price of admission to the book all by itself.
So if you’re a fan of “Old School” style superheroing or just looking for inspiration or a wealth of ideas to mine for your own setting, the Mighty Protectors RPG is worth checking out.
Chris Rutkowsky's Pick: Save the Day: Advanced Rules
By David Okum
Published by Okumarts Games
I originally picked Save the Day because I liked the way the system did a "Race and Class" style approach to character creation, but did so in a way that fit the genre conventions of superheroes, instead calling them Origin and Class. A character is built by combining two halves of a sheet, making many combos possible and generating a hero very quickly. Powers and abilities can come from your origin as well as your class. So two characters with the same power set might be very different from one another. The cartoony art design was also a nice touch.
In the Advanced Rules, David has taken the tools provided by the Basic Rules, and deconstructed them, allowing players to randomly roll characters and customize their Origins and Classes. The Advanced Rules also introduce some new powers, like Time Travel, new Tweaks to adjust powers, and new "disadvantages" which the system calls "Dark Secrets".
That's another thing to like about this system; it adheres to genre conventions even in naming various rule mechanics. It also tells more about vehicles, equipment, and new optional rules such as "Mind's Eye" style roleplaying that eschews maps and minis (though the printable maps and minis were one of the things that first attracted me to Save the Day).
Crystal Frazier's Pick: "Heroic Havoc #1: Instant Circus Is Going to GetYou!"
By Joe Pearce
Published by Wyrmkeep Entertainment
It's a classic, silver-age-minded adventure built around the classic "evil circus" trope that was everywhere in comics back in the age when they had an official cap on the number of gorillas you could use every month." Also, you get to fight an elephant! That's classic superhero action.
Sean Patrick Fannon's Picks:
Written by Darren Watts.
Published by High Rock Press
No one brings the combination of loving enthusiasm and faithful research and rendition to an idea like Darren Watts, making his Golden Age Champions sourcebook an invaluable resource for anyone who has an interest in the early days of superhero comics. Gamers and comics fans alike will find tons to love, whether they're Hero System fans or not.
By Berin Kinsman
Published by Dancing Lights press
The Premise line of products are designed to help GMs (and anyone telling stories) come up with good ideas to run with, providing lots of excellent guidelines and details to set the imagination running. With all that goes into telling involved and compelling stories in a fully-fleshed superhero campaign, this is a must-have for supers GMs.
By Amit Moshe
Published by Son of Oak Game Studio
It's hard to find a compelling new idea in the world of gaming (or entertainment, really), but City of Mist pulls it off. Superheroic folks trying to figure out their lives in a strange city where myths and legends overlay a noir-flavored, gritty urban realm.
By Philippe-Antoine Ménard, Clark Valentine, Dave Chalker, Christopher Badell, Cam Banks
Published by Greater than Games LLC
Based on the insanely popular cooperative card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse, this is one that's been long-awaited by fans dying to know more about the world and stories promised in the flavor text of those cards. It's a very interesting game design, and this "starter kit" is a good idea all the way around. Traditional superhero RPG fans may or may not take to the rather different approach the designers took here, so having a way to get the sense of it without going "all-in" is the right move. Fans of SotM will recognize not only all of the characters, but how the RPG mechanics directly reflect the way those characters play in the card game.
Arguably the most successful kid-friendly, family-oriented RPG in the world gets a superpowered upgrade with this one, and it doesn't disappoint. All those superhero movies are gonna have the youngsters wanting to power up, so here you go.