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Standard Super-Hero Setting

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Just your average afternoon in Paragon City.

"What is more real? A world we are born into or one we create for ourselves?"

What Standard Fantasy Setting and Standard Sci-Fi Setting are for Fantasy and Science Fiction, this is for Super Hero genre: a setting of the sort in which most (though not all) superhero comic books and other narratives take place. Though the genre dates to the 1940s, the clear and definite rules for generic superhero settings weren't really solidified until The '60s, when Marvel Comics and DC Comics started making full use of their Universes. See also Superhero Prevalence Stages.

Common ingredients:

The following may be removed if the setting falls in certain values of Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, or due to other Implementation Details:

  • Clark Kenting: Concealment of a Secret Identity by means of a Paper-Thin Disguise that everyone just goes with.
  • Death is Cheap: Superheroes and other characters die all the time in comic books, only to be brought back.
  • Deconstruction, Reconstruction, Decon-Recon Switch
  • Hero Insurance: Who's going to pay for all the damage done by superhero battles? Often done in more cynical works.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Villains who make no bones about their evil-ness and actually revel in it. Often seen in many idealistic works.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: A character cannot use their amazing inventions to better the world around them, because Status Quo Is God.
  • Beware the Superman: Superpowers aren't always a good thing, and can sometimes be a source of fear if the one bearing them does not have your best interests in mind.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: A villain uses their powers and gadgets to commit robberies when they could easily use their gifts to get money the legal way.
  • Smug Super: Some supers have massive egos to match their powers, and aren't shy about rubbing this in the faces of others.
  • Super Registration Act: A law requiring those with superpowers to be registered with the government in a national database or face penalties. If it's not a villainous plot to get rid of superheroes, it is often the subject of more cynical stories.
    • Cape Busters: Normal humans who combat super-beings with technology, smarts and ruthless tactics. Can be heroes or villains depending on the work.
  • Super Hero School: A school that teaches young people with superpowers how to be superheroes.


Anime & Manga

Comic Books



  • Wild Cards is something of a subversion. There are people with remarkable powers, and even a rough Golden and Silver Age (an alien viral outbreak shifted the world from nonpowered WWII heroes to superpowered individuals), the overwhelming majority of those afflicted (and more than a few of our protagonists) don't engage in traditional superheroics.
  • Wearing the Cape a Reconstruction.
  • Soon I Will Be Invincible
  • Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain
  • Hero
  • Super Powereds is based in one of four super hero colleges set up to train future super heroes. The books dig pretty deep into how such a system would actually work, including the various government agencies, licenses, and paperwork that had to be created to handle everything.
    • Corpies is a spin off that focuses on hero and a group of non-heros who do search and rescue work, and the differences between those who got a hero license and those who didn't.
  • Justice Squad
  • Whateley Universe: While the series as a whole is set in a Superhero School (even if the school administration would disagree on the 'hero' part, as the school is technically a Truce Zone between heroes and villains), the overwhelming majority of Superhero setting tropes have some degree of expression in the series, whether deconstructed or played straight (or often, both). There even were the equivalents of the Golden and Silver ages in the series Back Story.
  • Worm is an interesting deconstruction of the setting but takes the opposite approach of most deconstructions; instead of playing all the standard tropes straight and seeing what the world looks like with them taken to their logical extremes, it instead starts with a Standard Superhero Setting and then explores what set of circumstances would have been necessary to generate it.

Tabletop Games

Video Games


Western Animation