Saturday, March 19, 2011

Muppets and Masterminds

The concept of combining the Muppets with comic book superheroes should seem like a no brainer for someone like me. After all, I am a huge fan of both and an avid Superhero RPG gamer, having run and played dozens upon dozens of Superhero campaigns over the years.

At the same time, with a few exceptions I will discuss as we go, I actually think the Superhero genre is better when occasionally crossed with the Muppets and not as part of a regular series. Why? Because the feeling I get with the Muppets and Superheroes is one of parody. It's the Muppets playing roles, as they did in Muppets Treasure Island or Muppet Christmas Carol for example. You are more likely to see Gonzo as a Dr. Doom parody than you are Gonzo as a super villain fighting the other Muppets. The former could be hilarious, the latter just seems forced.

Members of the Muppet Show cast getting inspired by Lynda Carter's guest appearance on the show and trying to learn to be Superheroes is funny and makes for an exciting adventure. Having them be Superheroes all the time seems to miss the boat a bit.

That said, a series that directly parodies Marvel and DC Characters featuring the Muppets would be pretty funny and I could definitely see a reoccurring series of episodes based on a certain sweet, loveable, furry, blue Monster and perhaps a team of similar back up heroes (but more on that next week).

Here are some interesting ideas if you did want to go with Muppet Supers...

Perhaps the 'Powers' are directly related to the Costume. That is, once Miss Piggy puts on the Wonder Pig Costume she becomes Wonder Pig. She can't BE Wonder Pig without the Costume. Game mechanics wise her Superpowers come from the Costume.

At the same time, Scooter and the rest of the gang are learning to be comic book style costumed heroes through a correspondence course. With this there is the implication that you can learn to have superpowers with dedication and practice (if only!). This gives me an idea for one-shot shticks that last a single session. What do you think? Spend 4 Stars and gain 4 Extra Shtick Dice that can be applied to new Shtick(s) lasting until the end of the game's 'episode'. After that you get the Stars back and lose the Shtick(s).

For Example:
Bunsen asks Fozzie to help his test his latest invention, 'Super Energizing Honey Bars'. Fozzie agrees for the free honey flavored snacks if nothing else.

After eating one, nothing seems to happen, although Fozzie says he feels full of pep and energy. Bunsen is pleased. As Bunsen heads back to the lab, the Director tells the player that Fozzie begins to feel a little funny and then appear to have a golden glow.

Now Fozzie's player gets an idea. Mechanically, Fozzie spends 4 Stars to gain the Shtick 'This looks like a job for...'Energy Bear'!'. The player wisely plays up the drawbacks as well as the powers to gain more Applause. Sure he has an Energy Force Field and Energy Beams but he can't turn the glow off and his screws up all the electrical equipment he stands too close to. His hope is that he'll get the 4 Stars back at session's end plus gain a new one for his fantastic performance.

This isn't by any means perfect but it does touch on an idea I have for enabling the players to do more things with their Star Power.

Barking Alien

Muppet Quotes

Miss Piggy: Holy Guacamole! This looks like a job for Wonder Pig.
Lynda Carter: Wonder Pig?

Here's A Muppet News Flash!

In an interview Jim Henson was quoted as saying,

"I've always been interested in comic books as an art form, and when I was younger I was addicted to them. I read Superman and Superboy, but Captain Marvel was probably my favorite of the super-heroes. The comic I loved best, though, was Pogo. After all, Kermit's beginnings were in a swamp, too."


  1. What about Super-Grover? He's sort of full-time.

  2. In the post you'll notice a reference to him (if a somewhat subtle one) in paragraph four...

    "...I could definitely see a reoccurring series of episodes based on a certain sweet, loveable, furry, blue Monster and perhaps a team of similar back up heroes (but more on that next week)."

    I've been trying to focus primarily on the Jim Henson's Muppets outside of Sesame Street up until this point. Next week begins my focus on Sesame Street and trust me, Super Grover will be discussed at length.

  3. Heh, fair enough. I suppose I've never really distinguished between Sesame Street and the Muppets proper.