Are you hooked on Moon Knight or always flicking through comics? Have you seen every Marvel movie or know the Batman villains off by heart? Well, it might be time to stop reading about heroes and become one in some of the best superhero RPGs out there.
Best Superhero RPGs
- Mutants & Masterminds
- City of Mist
- Granma’s Hands
- Masks: A New Generation
- Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game
- Anyone Can Wear the Mask
Superhero RPGs finally give you the chance to don the cape and fight baddies. (Or the goodies, we’re not judging.) The best tabletop RPGs inspired by comic books let you create complex characters that can have every power you’ve ever dreamed of - from charming animals to turning invisible. You can be inspired by legends from Medusa to King Arthur. Or you can play alone and fight evil, no matter how many times it knocks you down.
So, whether you’re a Marvel fan, DC lover, into the indies or just want some cool powers, there’s a superhero RPG for you.
1. Mutants & Masterminds
A superhero RPG that lets you create your ultimate hero
Mutants & Masterminds is all about playing your classic comic-book hero: amazing powers, scheming villains and a never-ending fight of good versus evil. The superhero RPG spans every era of supers, from the tights-clad Golden Age to the brooding Iron Age - and even a Manga Age to live out your magical girl fantasies. Let’s be honest, Sailor Moon is the true hero of our time.
It means there’s no limit on the style of game you can enjoy with this system. Just make sure the group all agrees - mainly so one person doesn’t turn up as modern-day Daredevil and another as Adam West’s Batman. Although that could be kind of fun.
What makes Mutants & Masterminds really stand out is its character creation. There is basically no limit; you can create any superperson imaginable. Run faster than light, summon poisonous plants from the earth, sprout wings and soar. It uses a really flexible point-buy system split over powers and abilities to craft your unique hero.
You can also flavour any of the powers or abilities however you like, so no two characters will ever feel the same even if you start with similar abilities. Say your hero does ranged damage; that could look like anything from your run-of-the-mill gun to a laser eye-beam. So far I’ve created a super-speedy roller derby girl who got her powers from aliens, as well as an anti-hero who uses an array of gadgets based on sweets such as bubblegum bombs. Mutants & Masterminds really lets you get creative.
Once you’ve crafted your perfect character, you throw them into action. M&M is based on the open d20 System so the rules will feel familiar to anyone used to other tabletop RPGs, especially Dungeons & Dragons. You roll a d20 and add modifiers when trying to do something tricky or during combat, succeeding or failing by various degrees depending on whether you roll above or below the difficulty class. One person is the game master who referees these rules and plays the villains, while the rest of the players are heroes.
When playing, a session of Mutants & Masterminds is meant to feel like an issue of a comic or episode of a TV show. You play through related scenes, either starting and finishing action in one session with a villain-of-the-week-style game or developing an ongoing story as you solve a mystery or build up to one main evildoer. Maybe your team can actually stop Thanos the first time around.
You’ll want to play Mutants & Masterminds if you’re looking for flexible character creation and settings in your superhero RPG, as well as a familiar d20 System, and a ton of content to draw from online.
2. City of Mist
Superheroes go noir in this legendary tabletop RPG
What if superheroes got their powers from legendary figures throughout time? From ancient gods, dark fairytales, whispered urban legends? That is the basis of City of Mist, a superhero RPG where your powers come from people, places and things from stories. From legend, folklore, literary work, religious tales and real-world events.
To become superpowered, a Mythoi - one of these stories - links with a person and grants abilities related to their original history. So someone linked to Robin Hood will be good with a bow and great at tricking rich people. And maybe has a fox tail if you’re going for that version. Whereas a hero linked to a Selkie could transform into a seal when they slip into water and maybe withstand cold or have a taste for fish.
Despite these powerful links, you’re still a normal person and must balance the burgeoning powers with your everyday life. Aspects from both your powerful Mythos side and mundane Logos side evolve throughout the game. You may start grounded in reality with just the hint of a folktale flowing into your life - or perhaps you’ve been toeing this line for a while and are used to your legend. Maybe you’ve just moved to the city and the powers of Alice in Wonderland are creeping in; a strange cat is always hanging around and the other day you swear you saw him smile. Or perhaps you’re an established weatherman whose connection to the Egyptian god Ra means you never predict rain when there’s really sun - no-one in the business does it like you.
In a city full of people, how does no-one notice the tentacles sprouting from the earth as someone linked to Cthulhu stops a bus in its tracks? Or how flowers bloom from the concrete where a hero of Demeter walks? Well, that’s the Mist. A mysterious veil that covers up reality, so when a person linked to a dragon breathes fire, regular people see a gas explosion in a building - or whenever Alice sees a grinning cat in a tree, her loved ones always seem to be looking in the other direction. The Mist doesn’t alter reality, but it makes sure regular people don’t notice a lot of the weird occurrences.
You’ve got characters balancing two lives and mysterious Mist that covers their tracks, but what about the gameplay? City of Mist works like other standard tabletop RPGs with a game master - in this case called the Master of Ceremonies - and a group of players. It uses a d6 system to determine the outcome of rolls when you try to do something particularly daring or tricky.
Mostly it’s a pretty rules-light RPG and leans into roleplaying over crunchy mechanics. It’s a superhero RPG about solving mysteries, telling stories and players working together.
You’ll want to play City of Mist if you like the idea of balancing an ordinary life with legendary powers, of playing with noir themes, and embodying your favourite stories and characters from throughout time.
3. Granma’s Hand
Solve mysteries in a Golden Age for Black superheroes
Between the 1930s and 1950s, comic books were in their golden age. Superman was flying through the air and Captain America always helped someone in need, but Black heroes basically didn’t feature in these stories - and, if they did, they were rarely represented well. Granma’s Hand asks: what if there were Black heroes during this time, but they were never celebrated in the same way because of the media’s reluctance to cover their stories, and the oppression of police and politicians?
This superhero RPG is a chance to tell those stories: their heroics, their daring deeds, the way they lifted up the oppressed. You become Black heroes in this golden age, from hard-boiled detectives with excellent swordsmanship to war veterans with superspeed. You’ll be fighting classic comic villains, such as Nazis and evil scientists, as well as the police who terrorise Black communities and politicians enforcing systemic oppresion.
Granma’s Hand blends science-fantasy with a dark gritty feel as you fight for real justice in a sometimes awe-inspiring, sometimes terrifying world. As heroes you can make a difference, though. A grandma’s hand is one that nurtures, protects and encourages. That’s your role as you play these stories and solve their mysteries.
To play, you have a game master to run the sessions, referring rules and playing NPCs, while the rest of the group are the heroes. You’ll use d6 dice pools. Your rolls determine if you succeed, succeed with a complication or fail your action and get a consequence. You won’t be rolling for every action - only to try things that seem risky.
This rules-light feel carries on into character creation, with your hero made up of three basic attributes which determine how you tackle situations. You could use force, which is about brute strength and power; flow, which is your speed and agility; or focus, which is about brains not brawn. From there, you have your character’s health, their ends - which are how you activate your powers - and then what your powers actually are, such as flying or super speed. You usually have two to three of these to keep things balanced. You can pick what you want, but there are some really fun examples in the book, such as Fire Forge - where you hurl flaming hammers - or Bubble, which surrounds you with a healing barrier. You can’t just cast powers as many times as you like, as your ends are a limited resource. They are renewable, especially through combat, so you can replenish that spent energy, but it keeps things interesting as you avoid exhausting your hero.
You should play this ENnie-nominated superhero RPG if you want thrilling combat set in the Golden Age of comics, and to tell moving, meaningful stories of heroes who’ve been largely neglected in the space before.
4. Masks: A New Generation
Tell your own origin story - and deal with being a teen - in this coming-of-age superhero RPG
When you picture playing a superhero are you picturing the Teen Titans, Runaways or being at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters? This is just the game for you.
Masks: A New Generation is all about being supers taking their first steps into the world of being a hero. It’s about telling a coming-of-age story with powers, and all the messy, fun, memorable stuff that comes with that.
You play as a team of teens with powers, where dealing with an attacking dinosaur is just as important as finding a date for prom. We all remember being that age and knowing how important every detail of your life felt. Imagine saving the city and then realising your hair looks terrible in the press pictures! Disaster. Okay, it doesn’t have to be that melodramatic, but feelings are equally as important as fights in Masks.
Like most good superhero stories, the RPG takes place in a major bustling city: Halcyon. This is a place familiar with superheroes and therefore used to the villains and monsters that usually come along with that. Halcyon is also the greatest city in the world - which basically boils down to it having everything you could want. So while it is an established place, it’s equally a playground for you to get creative. You can decide if the mayor is an ex-superhero or hates them, and whether the city is known for its incredible museums or bustling financial district. You can bring in whatever you need to make it a fun game. Maybe add an amusement park, a chain of restaurants, put it on the coast, in the mountains. Halcyon is very much a jumping-off point - a sentiment that’s true throughout Masks.
Your character will be one of ten core types, called playbooks, that are basically the skeleton on which to build your own hero. They’re more archetypes than classes, together building up an interesting and dynamic set of individuals who all have their own issues to face. The Beacon glues the group together. The Protege is beholden to their relationship with a mentor. The Bull has to balance being seen as a weapon and their deeper emotions. It’s a really fun way of looking at characters as people rather than mere skill sets.
While each playbook does have added benefits for fights, they also have drives to pick - like pulling off a ridiculous stunt, leading the team successfully and even kissing a teammate. They are teens, after all.
Of course, you do have super cool powers, too. Each playbook has a range of abilities but they’re left vague enough to flavour however you want. One hero might have radical shapeshifting - but that could be anything from turning into a lion to a fiery inferno, so no two heroes will feel the same in a game, even if they look similar on paper.
We all remember how important feeling like an individual is when you’re a teen. Play Masks: A New Generation if you want to be teen heroes battling angst as much as aliens, to be part of a growing evolving team, and to live out a modern hero fantasy. Try and tell us you don’t want to battle a T-Rex while crowned as prom queen.
5. Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game
Assemble your own Avengers in the official Marvel RPG
If you have a very clear picture of the kind of hero you want to be, and they’re one who wouldn’t look out of place in the Avengers, there’s an obvious choice for your superhero RPG: the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game. This is Marvel Comics giving you free reign to have fun in its universe, providing stats for all your favourite heroes and villains, and even a chance to make your own super to fight alongside the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine.
The rogue’s gallery is going to be as full as the list of heroes, so you can finally answer your biggest comic questions or play out fun scenarios about what it would look like to see Rocket Racoon take on Hydra or find out how Wolverine and Storm would do against Thanos.
The game is still only in its playtest phase, so we don’t have the final verdict on the finished thing yet, but it’s impossible to talk about superhero RPGs without pointing Marvel fans in this direction. Plus, if you try the playtest, you can give feedback for the final version of the game coming in 2023.
The playtest gives you enough to get started with. There are a ton of powers you can already pick, from Peter Parker’s Spidey Sense to Cap’s Shield Bearer, and more to make your own hero. There’s also a selection of popular Marvel faces including the Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men. It’s certainly not everyone in the MCU and beyond, but why not team up Black Panther and Groot for a few sessions for now to try out the system? There’s even a readymade adventure to take your heroes through as they battle the deadly Hydra.
Marvel Multiverse is definitely on the crunchier side of superhero RPGs on this list, so be prepared for a decent amount of numbers and tables to refer to. Although, while a lot of it looks intimidating, the numbers are mostly just references for creating your hero and deciding on outcomes when playing - such as how far The Wasp’s reach is when she’s tiny or the damage of a pistol. There are a few readymade heroes you can jump into playing and save the maths for another day.
The last thing to note is the d616 system Marvel Multiverse uses. This is how you determine the outcome of dangerous or potentially risky actions, and involves rolling two regular d6 and one special d6. If you get a one on the special d6 and two or more on the others, it makes it a Fantastic roll. The Narrator - or game master - determines something special happens beyond just succeeding. Otherwise, you’re just adding up the results of the dice and your character’s modifiers like most classic RPGs. Basically it’s just an excuse to buy more dice.
If you love the MCU and Marvel comics, and want to play as your favourite hero and face off against iconic villains in an already established universe, the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game is for you.
6. Anyone Can Wear the Mask
Become hero, villain or the city itself in this unique superhero RPG
Anyone Can Wear the Mask is the most unique superhero RPG on this list, as you don’t have a game master and a bunch of players being heroes. Instead, you collaborate on one specific story. One person plays The Hero, our super person with amazing powers set on doing good. Another plays The City, taking on the role of the general populous and other heroes, as well as describing places. Lastly, one person is The Villain. They lurk in the shadows, watching the heroes' failures, getting ready to cause chaos and using their dastardly powers for evil. Look, a hero needs a villain otherwise they’d be put out of business, so you can’t be mad at them for poisoning the water supply again.
With these roles, Anyone Can Wear the Mask is a game for one to three players. In a full game each person takes on a role. (With two players, one is the hero and the other doubles up as villain and city.) You can also tackle the whole thing alone; in the ‘Fortress of Solitude’ mode, you take on all of the roles and journal your experience as the story plays out. Eyeliner and cape optional.
The reason Anyone Can Wear the Mask has this flexibility of players is due to the way it emphasises emergent ideas rather than a pre-planned adventure. Everyone at the table can sit down for the first time and dive into playing, letting the world, story and characters unfold organically as and when they come up.
You do this through a deck of cards. They determine where your story goes and you fill in the blanks. For example, you pulled the Jack of Clubs. You all decided that clubs represent the docks in The City, but a jack also means you’ve gone somewhere peaceful. Maybe the hero goes here to unwind. Clubs also mean that you find a comrade who needs some help at your location. The players describe what’s happening as it comes up. Perhaps unwinding with some fishing at the docks, when their old friend The Crustacean emerges from the water and asks for help dealing with pollution in the ocean. It’s a freeing style of play and means no one has to commit to being the GM with all the answers.
Anyone Can Wear the Mask is very much a collaborative experience at every point with each person contributing. It’s also very much a ‘with great power, comes great responsibility’ game. Being a hero isn’t easy. You can’t save everyone; lives, business and monuments will be destroyed in your struggle, but the point of being a hero is to spit out that tooth you had knocked out, get back up and do the right thing, no matter how hard it may seem. The Villain keeps track of when the Hero gets it wrong by people dying or the city being destroyed. Then, during a final showdown, they list them all to shake the hero. It’s the perfect role for anyone who loves to monologue and thinks the more evil the better.
Anyone Can Wear the Mask is a perfect superhero RPG if you’re looking to play on your own or in a smaller group; if you want a story where heroes don’t always get it right, but always keep on trying; and if no one wants to be the GM but you still want to tell incredible stories.
Buy Anyone Can Wear the Mask from Itch.io.