This week, several other RPG bloggers and I are celebrating Small Press Week, with a look at some of the works coming out of the smaller publishers in our hobby. And I think this week will show that just because a company is small, that doesn't mean they can't go toe-to-toe with some of the big boys. I'll be linking and rounding up other coverage periodically throughout the week.
Small press gems are not found in the fantasy genre alone. A while back, I got turned on to the simplicity of Resolute, Teddy Bear Press' entry into the supers genre. This 24-page RPG has a generally clean, spartan layout, and dives right into the action from the get-go. We get about 2 pages of built-in setting (not bad, scary aliens, mutants, and factions, but I would likely use my own), and then go right into mechanics.
For system, you're going to be rolling 2d6 plus modifiers against a a difficulty rating. You'll be buying ranks in the following core abilities: Agility, Focus, Melee, Might, Speed, Sense, Stamina, and Willpower. Ranks translate into ratings; for example, if you are Exceptional in something, that's a +3. If you are Normal, that's a +0. Ranks on this chart are also used to describe difficulty ratings, speed, hardness, etc. All in all, it's pretty easy to get a handle on, and a nice unifier.
There's a pretty good list of both super and mundane abilities present. These range from Elasticity to a knowledge of Law to Mind Control. It would be easy enough to build on this list. I sort of like that no determination is made in having a mundane vs. super ability; too many games forget that teams like the Avengers and the Justice League are nowhere near balanced. Obviously, that's going to be to everyone's taste, though.
You also can buy Adaptations, which you either have or don't. These are aspects such as Sonar or Burrowing. There are also Enhancements (read: Advantages) such as Wealth or Sidekick and Limitations, such as Destitute or Enmity. You can pick up a few more points to build with if choose a Limitation or two (and every super needs a weakness). All in all, standard point buy stuff, not flashy, but enough to build what you want, in all likelihood.
Combat starts with a speed (initiative roll). At first, you have a prep phase. This is movement, readying an action, preparing equipment, etc. Then attacks are resolved in order of speed. You go through a standard combat round, everyone acting once. Then players with additional attacks act. (I would personally recommend rolling extra attacks into the same round, as this seems to work better in actual play reports).
Attack rolls are opposed ability rolls, and your margin of success is added to your damage. You then roll damage against an opponent's resistance, and tally wounds based on your damage roll divided by his resistance (rounded, of course). There are some neat options at this point; for less damage, you can elect to do certain things like Stun or knock them back. For damage, if you drop to 0 wounds, you are incapacitated and temporarily out of action. (You don't die until you take twice over your allotted wounds). To finish the section, there are simple mook rules and a nice host of combat options (such as Explosives, Improvised Weaponry, etc.) which add depth to combat without getting too crazy.
The game rounds itself out with a short GM's section. Nothing horrid, nothing inspired.
Resolute isn't going to be for everyone; people wanting a Mutants & Masterminds level of detail aren't going to get it. And while the layout is generally clean, if you're the sort of person who wants to be inspired by RPG art and layout, you won't get that here, either. But for $2 at RPGNow, Resolute is a great bargain, one that's going to scratch that supers itch for some folks for about the cost of a cup of coffee. The supers genre is a notoriously hard one to nail down; if this isn't quite enough for you, but you still want something in the supers genre that isn't too heavy, be sure to check out Atomic Sock Monkey's Truth & Justice RPG. Good gaming!