After nearly a year away, I am returning to the Obscure Games series of reviews with a very odd entry.
In 1980, Jay and Aimee Hartlove published the first edition of their superhero game, Supergame, and followed it up in 1982 with a revised and expanded edition. I only have the second edition, so that is what I will comment on here.
Supergame is based on the idea that a superhero game should be able to handle nearly any character from any genre. In the introduction, they talk about a party of player-characters consisting of an alien from outer space, an African witch-doctor, a knight in shining armor, and a gunslinger from the Old West. To this end, they introduced a point-buy system (which, I believe, was the second to see print, the first being found in Superhero: 2044). Characters in the game are assigned 250 points to divide between characteristics, skills, powers, and so forth.
The characteristics are pretty straightforward, consisting of Strength, Dexterity, Physical (basic hit points), Agony (hit points for nonlethal attacks), Intelligence, Ego, Psychic Power, and Charisma. Various tables and formulas are used to determine the number of physical and mental actions allowed to the character in a combat turn, ground movement rate, leaping distance, hand to hand damage potential, healing rates, and so forth. Different powers cost varying numbers of points (“Breathe water as well as air” costs 10 points, “See in all directions at once” costs 20). So far, so good, but nothing groundbreaking until we remember that this was in 1980/1982, the first edition coming out a year before Champions hit the shelves.
Armor is divided into four different categories, covering blunt trauma, other physical attacks, energy attacks, and “exposure” (heat, cold, and so on). Armor costs half as much as an equivalent attack (the attack costs 1 point per point of damage, while armor costs 5 points for 10 points of protection). After that, shields and other equipment are dealt with.
Combat includes several different systems. The first, for hand to hand combat, requires a calculator, since the chance of hitting is the attacker’s value divided by the sum of the attacker’s and defender’s values, expressed as a percentage to roll on d100. There are various modifiers that apply to each party’s total value, making it necessary to recalculate the chance nearly every round of combat. There is, fortunately, a chart that covers the main range of values (0 to 100 in 5-point increments), so it can be just looked up most of the time. Worse than that, though, is the fact that, when a hit is scored, the exact amount of damage done is figured by taking the damage potential and multiplying by a percentage determined by the roll of d100.
Fire combat, naturally, uses an entirely different system. First, the player and Referee total up the modifiers, then the shooter rolls first 1d6, modifying it by the modifiers, and then a second d6. If the second d6 comes up greater than the modified value of the first d6, it is a hit. Fire combat doesn’t use the d100 method of determining damage, either. Instead, a hit location is rolled, which determines whether the injury is Heavy, Medium, or Light. These represent the full amount, two-thirds, or one-third of the missile weapon’s damage potential.
There are additional, and different, systems for determining the success of conical attacks, magical attacks, and mental attacks. Further, there is a system for “Charisma attacks”, which are basically attempts at persuasion.
Supergame is a beautifully incoherent game, with some strange design choices that I can’t say I understand at all. Still, I like its quirky nature, even if I will probably never run it (I ran it once when I was younger, but that game was a bust in part because I really didn’t know what I wanted from it, and in part because I was in a power-gaming phase, which is no good for a Referee). As far as I know, there were two supplements released for it (Reactor, which I own, and Heroes of Poseidonis, which I do not; I'd like to get the latter, but no way would I pay the $100+ that people online are asking for it, even if I had the money to spare), and one issue of Different Worlds magazine included an article in which Jay and Aimee Hartlove provided stats for a number of comic book characters. As far as I know, that is all the support the game ever received.