Lately I've had a desperate yearning ... no ... NEED for some Super Hero Roleplaying action. So I decided to do something about it and I picked up my copy of The Mighty Protectors to refresh my memory of the system.
I’ve had V&V 3.0 / Might Protectors since its initial early Kickstarter releases, I’ve wanted to love it … but like my friend Tim Knight of HeroPress. I find the change to a point buy system has definitely dampened my enthusiasm. As a result I immediately started to spin back into my Eternal Quest for a SHRPG that would meet my needs, and inspire me. Then I started reconsidering my old love Villains & Vigilantes 2.X. That's when I ran in to this piece I wrote perhaps 8-10 years ago on another site when I was asked why I love V&V so much. Funny thing is I find its still truly expresses most of my feelings on the V&V versus other SHRPG’s,
Villains &Vigilantes was the third RPG I ever played, the first being AD&D 1st edition, then Gamma World 1st Edition, and then Villains & Vigilantes 2nd. This being said it has a HUGE nostalgia factor for me, but despite what some may think this is not a case of rose coloured glasses. I realize that Villains & Vigilantes has it flaws and peculiarities; all of which I have come to terms with over the years.
We played V&V for 10 solid years, and then sporadically after that for another 10 years, and I've run several successful campaigns with my original gaming group as well as another group while I was still in Sherbrooke (Quebec, Canada) cut off from the rest of my original gaming group here in Montreal.
For many years I served as P.Michael’s, our primary GM’s, sounding board and occasional GM's Assistant. This was due to my comprehensive internalization of the core rules, at least until P.Michael began to heavily drift the V&V rules in a way that I had a difficult time grasping.
About 15 years ago I became unsatisfied with V&V, that or I was overcome by the initial stages of the gamer’s A.D.D that I'm starting to recover from just now, and I began a 15 year search for a suitable heir for to V&V. In the intervening years I have investigated a wide variety of Superhero RPGs. Hell my shelves groan more under the weight of the books that comprise that genre than any other. All of these systems were subconsciously held up to V&V as the golden standard, and of course all of them failed.
They failed for a number of reasons, but not because any of them were intrinsically Inferior to V&V, but because none of them approach the genre, and for that matter role-playing, from the same perspective as V&V in my opinion. It was that perspective that shaped my expectations about how a Superhero RPG should work. It also jived very well with my perception of how things worked, and what I like about the source material. The thing is, Villain & Vigilantes doesn't give a rats ass about game balance, and neither do I. (mind you I posted they on the Monkey House Games forums a while back and Jeff Dee took exception to that particular assertion, never the less I stand by it)
I have no patience for players who sit there and moan, bitch and whine that their character isn't as powerful as players X's character, and use that as an excuse to be disruptive during the session, and or using the power discrepancy as an excuse for throwing their hands in the air and pout until either they are bumped up to meet, or exceed, everybody else's power level or everybody else is brought down to their level (funny how nobody ever complains when there more powerful that everybody else Eh). Every other game (with the exception perhaps of the old Marvel Super Heroes Advanced Set by TSR) it predicated on placating these immature malcontents via "Game Balance", while in my opinion V&V approached the game with the attitude of "your all supposed to be mature Individuals, and yes fate can be a bitch, deal with it, make the best of a shitty situation". But, here's the trick, that's the kinda thing comic book characters have to deal with all the time.
Maybe I've been spoiled, but I've had the benefit and pleasure of associating with a lot of "mature" role players in my groups. That’s not to say that we haven't had our share of power gamers and munchkins, but overall, the players that have been involved in the supers campaigns I've played in have been fairly mature and level headed, and more interested in having fun, and telling a story, than one-upmanship, or any other form of competition with their fellow players. So, I've never really understood systems that enforce an artificial "Game Balance". I’d rather just tell player X to grow up already. (Truth is I'd love to be that blunt but, I rarely am.)
(My gratitude for such wonderful sessions goes out to P.Michael Hodge, John Moret, Russell Sangster, David Sangster, Peter Roffey, Jeremy Kidd, Mark Taylor, Francois Verpaelst, David Glenn, Gordon Evans, Lucien Soulban, and Luc Millette)
Another aspect of V&V that I find suits me to a tee is the random character creation. No other game, with the exception of Marvel Super Heroes, allowed, neigh encouraged that the hand of fate determine the heroes lot in super heroic life like V&V. In the comic books heroes rarely get to pick and choose their powers, rather the power are thrusts up on them, and they again must learn how to best use them to uphold and further, the common good; Yet, the system was not averse to players approaching the GM and discussing a concept with them and working in conjunction to flesh it out.
A very important reason why V&V appeals to me more than any other Super Hero RPG is because it isn't a point buy system. I can't stand, no I loath, the accounting required in point cost balancing. It's not that I'm adverse to math ( but lord knows I have my difficulties) Heck you should see V&V's formula for deriving carrying capacity. (((str/10)^3)+(end/10))*(weight/2) this I have no problem with, but I have never liked the balance sheet / general ledger methods of character creation, at least not for supers (Champions, Mutants & Masterminds, Etc. I’m looking at you.)
Last but not least is my familiarity with the rules, I can run Villains & Vigilantes in my sleep!! I no longer wish to be challenged by a system. I'm quickly losing the interest in learning complete rules systems. As a player I'm really starting to appreciate the wisdom of my old Pantheon member Mark Taylor when he said "just tell me what to roll". When I run a genre as near and dear to my heart as supers I don't want to argue over rules, and sweat the mechanics I want to concentrate on the story, and the action.
By today’s standard V&V is perhaps showing its age, yet Mutants & Masterminds, the undisputed top-dog in the Superhero RPG field, has had it's author Steve Kenson cite Villains & Vigilantes as one of it's primary sources of inspiration. It is often recognized on RPG.net as a underappreciated classic of the genre. So I join a small a, and somewhat vocal minority that is willing to say "Damn it this is a cool game despite it age and flaws" because I whole heatedly believe the cool / fun factor of the rules far outweighs its flaws.
So Make Mine V&V!! ( and get off my lawn with you newfangled games you young whipper snappers !! :) )
Erik a.k.a Midnight
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