Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V is for Vigilante and also for Villain

I've spoken about Villains & Vigilantes a number of times in the past but a recently renewed obsession with Superhero gaming, several posts by Blacksteel and the need for a 'V' entry got me wanting to talk about it again.

Thing is, I don't think I've ever said enough about what a major influence that game was one me. It was probably V&V that created the earliest deviation in my preferences, leading me away from D&D toward other games.

The main reason for this boils down to areas of interest. By that I mean, I like comic books more than fantasy novels so it's not all that strange I would prefer to play Superheroes over Knights and Wizards. There were other factors as well. Armor provided protection in V&V but didn't make you harder to hit. This seemed eminently logical to me, even at 13-14 years of age. You could build (or roll up as was generally the case but more on that in a moment) almost any kind of character. I remember homebrew V&V to play D&D, Star Wars and a few other games back in the day.

I really loved V&V back in the day and though I tried other Supers RPGs (all of them I believe), none had that special charm that V&V had. The art helped as well. Most early Supers RPGs looked terrible while Villains and Vigilantes had Jeff Dee doing the art and it looked awesome.

Eventually, V&V would meet its match when I finally played and understand (the latter taking a lot longer then the former) HERO Games' Champions. A creative guy and a comic book fan, I was coming up with my own Superheroes before I'd played or even heard of RPGs. V&V gave to the opportunity to play Supers but Champions let me create my dream heroes.

These days, as you may know, Mutants & Masterminds is my game of choice, especially with the update to 3rd Edition which I find to be superb (though I don't like the NPCs they added to the setting. What was wrong with updating Freedom City? Freedom City Rocks!)

Still and as much as I am not longer enamoured with random tables so much, I periodically crack open the ol' V&V rule book and roll up a character just to see if it inspires something. More often than not, it simply contributes to my desire to run Supers. So in essence, V&V is still doing its job.

Barking Alien

The armored superhero pictured above is Excelsior, my favorite of all my characters. I actually created him before I discovered gaming. While rolling up a character for a V&V game I randomly generated a guy who seemed so much like him the GM allowed me to just play Excelsior. The image, from 1992, was done by the amazing Keith Conroy.

PS: On the subject of Supers, my friend the lovely Erin Palette has compiled the saga of her awesome alternate history superheroine Silence Do-Good on her site
here. If you're a fan of superheroes, alternate history, Ben Franklin or just well crafted tales, I highly recommend you check it out.


  1. I loved V&V. I think it was in the running for most played. It vied with Marvel FASERIP for my time as a kid. I really loved Dee's art as well. I probably played Marvel FASERIP a little more as it was a quick way to pit Thor against the Hulk and have them duke it out. For more than just super powered wrestling matches, I think V&V tended to win out more with us in that style of play though.

  2. I agree with you on the art especially. I knew Jeff Dee from his D&D illustrations and his stood apart from the rest as looking like it was from a comic book. I always thought a D&D adventure illustrated solely by him would have a different feel than the others just from the inspirational effect generated by the art.

    Even though I found and favored Champions before V&V I give it credit as being the Un-Champions - I used those random tables for inspiration too. MSH took that over later on for me but there's a reason I still keep copies of V&V on the shelf.

    If I ever make it to Gotham, or if we ever end up in COH at the same time, I'd say Excelsior needs to team up with Aluminum Man. An epic in the making...

  3. Excelsior would be honored to team up with Aluminum Man. Definitely a World's Finest moment. ;)

    It's funny, looking back on it now, V&V is everything I don't want in a game. D&D type rules, random rolls for everything, not much going on other than combat...but I still love the old gal. It's like I moved on but V&V never lost its charm.

    Look for stats and descriptions of some of my V&V characters in May, including Excelsior, St. Patrick (my first character in V&V ever) and Sea Hawk and Moth Man of the Heartland League.

  4. Yeah it's a little weird when you're touting V&V and I was going on about Icons a few weeks back.

    At least we can come together on M&M 3.

    I'm looking forward to more super characters.