Here is a Superman.
Here is some Superdrama.
The above map is an essential part of character creation in the Smallville RPG.
If you haven't heard of Smallville before, it's essentially the story of a young Clark Kent from his teenage years, when his powers manifested and how he learned to reconcile his heritage and his current life, to him moving off to Metropolis and becoming an up an coming reporter for the Daily Planet.
But, honestly, none of that's very important.
Because the Smallville's system has been used for everything from Generic Fantasy Adventure to a cross between I, Robot and House M.D. I can't make this stuff up, people.
Right, so. One thing to get out of the way is that this game runs on the power of TV drama rather than attempting to emulate reality. There's a world of difference between punching out a random thug's lights and punching out your archenemy who is threatening to drop your one, true soul-mate off of a tall building.
In this game, there's six attributes that get used pretty much all the time. Rather than describing how fast or tough your character is, these describe how strongly your character feels about Duty, Glory, Justice, Love, Power, and Truth. In addition, you write a sentence describing how your character views the attribute. They're ranked from a d4 to a d12. For example, Clark Kent has a measly Power - d4 (Power Corrupts)
. On the other hand, Zod has a Power - d10 (KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!)
More situationally, there's the relationships between characters. These also have are ranked from d4 to d12 and have a short description. Most of the time, high relationships are mutual. For example, Clark's relationship with Zod is a d8 (Zod's methods are dangerous)
and Zod has Clark - d8 (Clark will join or die)
. As this example shows, high relationships doesn't mean you're best buddies. It means that the other person is important to you. Romeo is really important to Juliet, and vice versa. However, around the middle of Star Wars IV, Darth Vader is a whole lot more important to Luke (d10 - He murdered Obi Wan) than Luke is to Darth Vader (d4 - Some rebel who rescued the Princess). So, there's no reason they have to be mutual. For example, Jeffery might have Toni - d12 (She's the Love of my Life)
while Toni might have Jeffery - d4 (The guy's a creepy stalker.)
Values and Relationships form the core of the game, being the dice you'll roll the most. But, there's rules for Powers (everything from Heat Rays to Flight), Gear (all those wonderful toys), Locations (Batcaves and Daily Planets), Extras (armies of faceless goons with various skills), and Distinctions. Distinctions deserve a special mention, as they are positive and negative qualities that let you get and/or spend "Plot Points," a meta-resource that lets you bend (or break!) the rules for a little.
I'd like to go into the character generation, but, honestly, it's going to be a pain to try to explain it without just copy pasting. And I hear stuff like that is frowned upon in these parts. So, if anyone is interested in this, I'm going to show just how flexible it can be by making the Gaang (and Zuko) from Avatar: The Last Airbender from around mid-Season Two. So, spoiler warning, I guess.