Review: DC Adventures Heroes & Villains Volume 1 (pdf)

Many of you might remember the old Marvel Superheroes RPG from TSR.  That game had a series of books that were chock full of characters statted out for the game.  Those were among some of my favorite RPG books ever, and still are today.

Heroes & Villains Volume 1 from Green Ronin for the DC Adventures RPG reminds me of those books a lot, and that’s a good thing.  It’s pretty much the same concept…here are stats for a bunch of established characters that you can use in your DC Adventures game (or, if you want reskin for your own Mutants & Masterminds universe).

The first volume is a 320 page tome that contains stats for characters beginning iwth Abra Kadabara and ending with Kobra & the Kobra Cult.  Not only do you get important characters like Batman, the Green Lantern and the Joker, but you get stats for more minor characters and even a obscure characters.

Not only that, but there is a writeup of many of the groups in the DC Universe such as the Doom Patrol or the Justice League.

Although most characters are in alphabetical order, some characters that are associated with heroes or groups and aren’t major enough to warrant their own entries are listed in their associated character or group listing.  For example, Kid Flash is listed under the Flash entry while Monsieur Mallah is grouped in with the Brotherhood of Evil.

In cases where there are multiple versions of characters, you often get stats for differing versions.  For example, the Flash includes the Barry Allen Flash, the Jay Garrick Flash and the Wally West Flash.  Green Lantern includes Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Alan Scott.

On a sad note, there is no Codpiece.  I guess being the most awesome DC villain ever doesn’t rate an entry in the book?

For the most part, the stats look solid.  There are a few math errors and typos here and there, but of course that’s to be expected.  There are a couple of big goofs, however, such as all Kryptonians losing their ability to determine who is talking when under the effects of a red sun.  However, as these errors have been pointed out on the Green Ronin forums, JonL has said that it’s possible that they can get errata in the printed version before it’s available at GenCon and that those of us with the .pdf versions will get a free update showing the errata.  Good on you Green Ronin!

The art, of course, is mostly top notch, not surprising since they were able to pull out art from DC’s 75-year old vault of comic book art.  I was, however, hoping that we wouldn’t get multiple major character entries on one page, similar to how it was handled in the old MSH RPG rulebooks I referenced at the opening of this review, but there are cases where entries spill over and you get the end of one major entry at the top of a page and the beginning of a second at the bottom.  This is in no way a deal breaker however, and all characters are indexed in the back of the book making it easy to find even those characters that are hidden in a group or associated character’s entry.

As a side note, I have asked how the DC relaunch in August will affect these books and the answer I received was essentially that these are the iconic versions of the characters and the relaunch shouldn’t really make much of a difference.  I’m somewhat skeptical of this, but it’s not a major deal either way.

This is an excellent book, a fun read, visually pleasing and is one of my favorite current RPG books.  I just wish I could harry players with official stats for the Codpiece….

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