Thursday, February 25, 2010


I wanted to take a break from all the advise I have been giving (and writing up Depths of Villainy is proving to be a daunting task) and instead address a different issue, that of the most popular of super heroic rpgs: the X-Men game.

I hate them.

I will admit up front that the fault lies in part with myself. As a GM I have not had the greatest luck as a player and I think it is due in part to me too easily finding fault with other GMs. Sometimes it is justified, other times it is not. And part of it just may be with me being unable to effectively get along with other players for
one reason or another.

All that being said, I still hate X-Men rpgs.

First of all, what sort of person do X-Men rpgs attract? First there are those who lack creativity. They want to play Wolverine or Cyclops or Storm. Why? Can't they create their own character? Do they lack originality? Apparently so. I find any game where players feel a need to role play already established characters-be it Firefly, Buffy, Angel, Harry Potter, X-Men or numerous others to be boring, as a matter of fact.

X-Men games also attract a crowd which I can best describe as "emo". They love playing angst-ridden characters who constantly bemoan their fate. Mutants are outcasts, mutants are hated and despised. The fact is in the comics that attitude and those themes are played down a lot more than people who run these games like to lead on. True, mutants are discriminated against in comics but by a large the X-Men comics are about action and adventure and the tone is generally more positive and upbeat than some like to think. Even at it's darkest (i.e. Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing) there was a tone of humor and irreverence laced the tragedy.

And mutants are more mainstream than people who run X-Men rpgs like to let on. In just about every X-Men game I have had the displeasure to be involved in, there is no mention of other heroes. The X-Men exist in their own world (and I realize this does not apply to movie-inspired X-Men games). There is no Fantastic
Four, and especially no Avengers. Because at least three mutants became mainstream super heroes; Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and the X-Men's Beast. And there have been other mainstream heroes, like The Angel being part of The Champions. This proved that mutants could become mainstream heroes and be accepted by the world at large. If anyone who ran an X-Men game factored that in then he angst level would have to be toned down considerably.

I have also found emo players love playing high school students, so they can not only bitch and whine about being mutants, but they can also role play teenage drama as well.

Second, the theme of the X-Men games is you the player cannot win. It is a literally never ending struggle against a world that will always (always!) fear and despise your character. No matter what he/she/it does he/she/it will never be accepted, no matter how many victories there will always be a government and a populace that fears and despises them and will conspire against them. It reminds me of the tone of the World of Darkness games (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, etc.) in which you either played a character who was doomed in some way or was faced with a foe who was unbeatable. In fact, in many X-Men games the opponent is so
ridiculously over the top evil (like the entire United States being a police state where mutants are concerned) that it is laughable.

I also dislike X-Men games that allow players the option of playing either a canon character (one that already exists in the X-Men mythos) or an original. In these games quite often any original character is relegated to student status. And when that happens no matter how cool your character is, any established X-Man can
kick their ass. I ran into this a couple times. I would be playing a character, he would get into an argument with an X-Man, and he would get trounced in one post. One. Post. And the GM allowed it. No parity allowed here. No chance for an X-Men to even get hit with a lucky punch. You are not one of the X-Men, so you
must be a weakling.

And in those games you were not allowed to play an original X-Man, either; if your character was original, he/she/it is second tier. GMs seemed incapable of accepting the idea of an original mutant developing skills and abilities outside of Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters that would make them as good as an X-Man.

I find X-Men games uncreative, uninspired, and uninteresting. Perhaps you have found one you like and if so good for you. If you find something you enjoy doing and it is not harming someone else then you should be able to pursue it. For me, keep those stinking muties away!


  1. I've seen it go both ways. I played a totally original X-Men character in one game and loved her. We were at Xavier's school, but he was just like John Forsythe from Charlie's Angels: there to get the action going. Other canon characters flitted in and out as NPCs. Of course, I had a great GM. So great, I married him.

    I know of others who play "son/daughter of Canon Character X" and have been in the same game for years. That's not my thing. Except at cons, I don't like to play canon characters.

    I can always find someone new to play around in someone else's universe.

  2. Was the game table top or PBEM?