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Tabletop Game / Heroes Unlimited

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Heroes Unlimited is a superhero Tabletop Role-Playing Game published by Palladium Books and using their Megaversal system. It's set in a world very similar to our own, except that superhuman beings have existed since ancient times and use their powers to fight (or promote) evil. The general feel of the game is somewhat low-key power-wise (particularly compared to Rifts), with most heroes limited to a handful of superpowers that aren't necessarily much more effective than a bullet, though exceptions exist, and an overall feel similar to The Modern Age of Comic Books, with a greater examination of the role that superbeings fit in the world.


The world of Heroes Unlimited is a part of the Palladium Megaverse, so a Crossover with any other world is possible. In addition, Earth is part of a greater galaxy, which receives more detail in Aliens Unlimited and its supplements.

This game provides examples of:

  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Compact forbids spacefaring species from fostering radical change such as technology trading (though not necessarily superheroics) on underdeveloped planets like Earth. The breaking of this law created Century Station, and the shock waves from this have yet to die down.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Physical Training heroes push their strength and agility to levels well beyond what we'd call "the human limit," to the point where their fists can even damage invulnerable beings.
  • Cyborg: Bionics are an available superpower type. Unlike experiments and mutants, bionic upgrades are a known (if still emerging) technology and available to the public (for a given definition of "available").
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  • Disposable Superhero Maker: For various reasons, there's no way to mass-produce powered humans, and Super Soldier programs inevitably get only a couple of successful results - and even if they can succeed, such programs are inevitably kept under very tight wraps. Nobody is mass-producing super armies yet.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: Defied, at least with human genetic engineering. The technology exists as of Powers Unlimited 2, but it's much rarer than bionics, radiation, or chemical experimentation. Mutant animals are a major power category, as it doesn't matter whether they're evolved through chemistry, radiation or genetics.
  • Inhumanable Alien Rights: Discussed in a couple of places. Aliens and known superheroes (and supervillains) have human rights, but the law is hopelessly behind the tech when it comes to lab-created mutants and any kind of mutant animal. Whether or not a mutant would be ruled "human" if it made it to court is a moot point when the latter won't happen - the "creature" will be transferred to a corporate black lab without so much as a chance to talk to a lawyer.
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  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Powers Unlimited 2 talks about this as an option for Super Soldier programs due to the secrecy involved. Maybe only one scientist knows the secret sauce, or it's hidden in one file kept under lock and key. If it goes away, the program can't be replicated.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: The Super-Human Observation and Control Knights (SHOCK) use this as part of setting up a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, by firing a "warning shot" within inches of their target to get the latter to think themselves under attack, at which point their target attacks them and is ideally killed "in self-defense." (This only works because their PR has made them largely above the law.)
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Downplayed. Some technology does get out, but truly revolutionary inventions tend to be blocked, either because they're alien tech and there's an Alien Non-Interference Clause, because they can't be easily reproduced, or because a Mega-Corp is strangling development so as not to devalue their own patents.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: A lot of the adversaries that PC superheroes have to deal with (such as SHOCK and various Mega-Corp actors in Century Station) are effectively above the law. The PCs are not - and not only that, but their Character Alignment restrains them from just murdering the problem. invoked
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: While you can challenge any kind of threat you want, there's a clear hierarchy and food chain of criminals in the Century Station setting. The hierarchy goes: Street Punks (average gangsters, mostly teenagers, with bats and pistols) -> Color Gangs (paramilitary street gangs identified by distinctive dress, equipped with military-grade weapons and possibly a few low-end superhumans) -> Supervillains (superpowered criminals, working alone or part of a team and occasionally hiring out to bigger fish, and culturally expected to engage in loud and risky "scores") and Syndicates (organized crime a la The Mafia) -> Masterminds (master supervillains who command lesser supervillain groups and enforcers, top of the food chain).
  • Superhero Packing Heat: The Weapons Expert is a Badass Normal superhero whose power is being really good at building, maintaining and using guns.
  • Superpower Lottery: Downplayed, if not fully averted. The game creators purposely limited the power level of characters, to avoid creating an Invincible Hero who can solve any problem with no effort. But players demanded a character type with more power, so the Second Edition rules included the Mega-Hero. They are more powerful than regular superheros, but not to the point of being officially sanctioned Munchkins, and are somewhat balanced by weaknesses other hero types don't have. The book recommends using Mega-Heroes when the whole party agrees to play as them, so that one character doesn't overshadow everyone else.
  • Super Soldier: There's a power type for experimental supersoldiers with powers, and there's also bionically-enhanced soldiers (ranging from Special Operatives with a few implants to full-on cyborgs).
  • Villain Cred: A cultural expectation in Century Station. Supervillains are supposed to engage in big, flashy scores and fight superheroes; those who engage in more Pragmatic Villainy like liquor-store robberies are called "lowballers" and shunned by other villains.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Averted by the writers in Mutant Underground. Someone who engages in sabotage operations against the corps, freeing mutants and so on is a freedom fighter, while those who are willing to kill scientists and corporate executives are terrorists and bad guys. Palladium's adherence to Black-and-White Morality ensures that "was Magneto right?" is never in question - the answer's a hard no.

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