What we’re creating is not a superhero game. Sure, we have superpowers, but we have dragons in there somewhere too. We could say that this is a game of superpowers, but even then that’s more of a pun than an actual description. For us, saying this is a superhero game is like saying that CSI: Miami is just as much a part of the sci-fi genre as Star Trek, since science is central to both franchises. The reason we take this stance is because much like science, “Superhero” is not a genre in and of itself.
“Superhero" does not evoke a specific emotion in the same way as “Action”, “Thriller”, or “Horror.” It is at best a sub-genre, and the best way to use superpowers are as a spice, not a full meal. Others have also taken this metaphorical approach to superpowers so we see some merit to it as more than just the pretentious ramblings of an out-of-touch and literate group of geeks just nerd-sniping each other all day with theories.
Take a look at Luke Cage, one of the Netflix original series by Marvel. Luke Cage is basically a western movie with a superhero instead of your standard Eastwood gunslinger. (SPOILER WARNING) Luke is a stranger in a “lawless area”; he stands up for the masses and becomes a hero to the “townsfolk”; and in the end he cleans things up a bit and “rides off into the sunset.”
This is the stance we have taken with our system. The settings and characters our players choose and create are the spices they add to the meal that is our system and the versatility is affords. It won’t matter if you play a flying, bulletproof femme fatale fighting a cult of drug-fueled corporate executives in the rough and tumble underworld of New York City or a mighty, musclebound and fleshy barbarian lord riding a giant man-eating hawk from a mystical kingdom, the rules for getting stabbed will be the same in both worlds as will the rules for attacking, defending, healing, hurting, or even just resting to recover; the system is versatile enough to handle all of these “spices.”
To reiterate, “Superhero” is not a genre and this isn’t a superhero game. What we’re making is a role-playing game that explores power, because power can come in all kinds of forms: financial, political, criminal, and supernatural, just to name a few. This is a game about powers, yes, but more specifically it’s a game about a world that is conflicted by powers and how you will wield what little portion of power you have, whether it’s in your hands, your mind, shooting from your eyes, or in your bank account.