Re: Anders, so you like to play "Marvel Superhero's!"

Jeffrey Fabijanic (
Thu, 15 Apr 1999 11:33:43 -0400

I can't believe that after lurking for months, *this* is the message that inspired me to send something to the list again. Oh well, better arrested development than no development at all ;P ...

From: Anders Sandberg wrote:

>The problem is that most of the superheros just "get" these nifty
>powers - fall into nuclear reactors, are born mutated or some spacegod
>decides to give them superpowers. The IMHO most interesting category
>are the "self-made" superheroes, people who start out normal but make
>themselves something more.

Actually, many of the most enduringly popular superheroes fall into the category you mention. Spiderman, IronMan, Batman, even (debatably) the Hulk. And of course, one of my personal favorites - Arthur (aka "That bunny-moth guy"). Almost all *my* created superhero-rpg characters were "self-made", but that probably has to do with the fact that I did most of my Champions and GURPS (How could you guys have neglected to mention that system!) playing while at MIT. The idea of building a powered suit or modifying one's genetic structure at will came naturally, because you saw people working on similar projects all the time.

>They might not be particularly realistic
>(ever noticed that science is almost never done by teams, and that
>even the most amazing discoveries never percolate into the market?)
>but they are great symbols for self-improvement.

Actually, the Marvel/DC universes are filled with the technology of Iron Man's original-alter-ego (Drake Industries) and the Fantastic Four's corporation, for example. But since the writers want to immerse the reader in a close analog of the actual world, they have to downplay the ubiquity of this stuff.

Also, although the tales of the Legion of Superheroes are placed centuries hence, they do group science/engineering and make the results of such work available to the population at large. There was(is?) a group of MIT engineers/scientists that called themselves the LoSH and volunteered their services to do things like help create technology implementation plans for public schools and the like.

It is interesting to note that many of the people with whom I played supe-rpgs in college are now involved in creating *real-world* super-powers for humans (usually, however, in the form of improved tools/processes through advanced engineering). I myself, seem to have been subliminally most influenced by Star Trek, as I now make part of my living (such as it is) designing and building tricorder-like devices (aka mobile CCS (computing/communication/sensing)).

|    Jeffrey Fabijanic, Designer         The Future exists,
|        Primordial Software               first in Imagination,
|   "Software of the First Order"            then in Will,
|    Boston, MA  * (617) 983-1369              and finally in Reality.