I recently bought a copy of the Batman Role-Playing Game on the cheap. Published by Mayfair in 1989, this came is sort of a slimmed down DC Heroes released to cash in on the Batmania of the Michael Keaton films. Those in the know tell me that the game is sort of a DC Heroes 1.5, not exactly the 1st edition of that game, but not incorporating all the changes of 2nd edition of that award-winning design.
As a teenager I owned both this game and the first edition DC Heroes, but I never played them. Like James Bond 007 this game was too sophisticated for my beer-and-pretzels palate. But as a grown-up (or a reasonable facsimile of one) I am totally digging this design. I think back then I avoided running both games for the same reason: two chart resolution. You look up one chart for the die roll and then with the results in handle you consult a results chart to determine level of success.
For teenaged Jeff that was one chart too many. And I was one of the rules wonks in my group. No one else was interested in tackling these beasts, so both games sat idle on my shelf. We used the still-awesome FASERIP edition of Marvel Super Heroes for caped slugfests. And espionage was just to subtle for us. Heck, most days I think it's still too subtle for me to run.
The other turn-off for the Batman game is that it's written too straight. Most of the text is in that dry school tome language one expects from designs written by wargamer types. Meanwhile the Basic edition of Marvel featured Ben Grimm telling the reader how to use the mechanics to properly beat up Skrulls. How cool is that?
But looking at Batman now, with almost 20 years of perspective (cripes, has it really been that long?), and I can finally see the game for what it is: an incredibly tight design. I'm not saying its replaced MSH as my supers game of choice, but I wouldn't mind running this game at least once.
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