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DC Universe: Fred and Nikki get Interviewed

With the release just this week of DC Universe, RPGnet was pleased to have a chance to interview the line designers, Fred Jandt and Nikola Vrtis. Tomas Skucas took point in an effort to get the inside scoop.

First RPGnet would like to congratulate West End Games on releasing DC Universe.


How tough was it to get the license for the DC Universe Game?

The license that West End Games has is different from the one Mayfair had; DC Comics liked the Star Wars system, so we didn't pursue the license for MEGS. As for getting the license from DC Comics to do a new roleplaying game based on their universe, it wasn't that bad. We had called them a while back. They weren't properly staffed at that time to handle a game, so when they did have the staff, they called us back. From then on, we have been working closely together.

How was it to work with DC Comics? Are any of the people you work with at DC Comics gamers?

DC is great. They allow us a measure of freedom with the game. For example, with adventures, the players need the chance to do things and not have to worry about what's happening in the comics. If, in your group's game, Perry White is killed, that's okay; it's what happened for you, but not in the comics. DC understands it, and allows us to go with that. DC does, however, make sure that our information conforms closely with what the editors envision for their characters and story lines, as well as what appears in the comics.

As for being gamers, licensing liaison, Chris Eades, is a gamer, and I know that there are many other people at DC that are gamers as well.

How about a quick explanation of the mechanics?

Basically, it's standard D6, as seen in Star Wars and Hercules & Xena, with a twist. You still roll a number of dice equal to your attribute or skill and compare it with a difficulty that's set by the GM or by another person's roll. However, in DC, the dice have success or failure symbols on them. Roll the dice and count up the successes (instead of adding numbers), which makes task resolution quick and easy.

On a regular die, these correspond to a 1 or 2 being a failure and a 3 through 6 being a success. We also have the Wild Die as in Star Wars and other D6 games. The 1 is a critical failure, the 2 is a failure, 3 through 5 is a success, and 6 is a critical success. With the Wild Die, a critical failure counts as a failure and takes away another success, and the critical success counts as a success and you get to roll it again. Keep getting critical successes, and you get to keep rolling.

What power level is the game aimed at?

We let the Narrator (what we call the gamemaster) determine the Power Level of the game, from 1, which is kind of the Batman level with a few low-level powers and lots of skills, to 5, which is the JLA level and has few restrictions on powers.

Will players be able to create original Superheroes or will the system be for established ones?

We focus on having the players create new heroes. They can play alongside the heroes or against the villains of the DC Universe, but the adventures in the rulebook and in supplements will be geared toward new heroes. If the Narrator wants to have the players play DC's characters, we include 35 of the most legendary heroes and villains in the modern DC Universe in the rulebook.

What are the steps in character creation?

The Narrator first chooses a Power Level, which dictates the number of dice in a character's Dice Pool, the types of powers allowed, and the maximum number of Disadvantages. Then the player takes these steps to design a character:

  1. Choose Advantages (which take away from the Dice Pool) and Disadvantages (which add to the Dice Pool).
  2. Distribute the Dice Pool among attributes, skills, and powers.
  3. Determine Speed, Passive Defense Value, unarmed Base Damage Value, Physique/lifting bonus, Body Points, and Tech Level.
  4. Assign Hero Points and Character Points.
  5. Flesh out your character's history.

Will there be an "official" campaign world? If so, will it be tied to on-going DC comic lines or will WEG have its own version?

With all of the DC Universe to document, we don't have room to create an "official" world.

What are some upcoming releases?

The Metropolis Sourcebook will be our first supplement, and focuses on the Superman family.

Next will be the Planet Guide to Metropolis, the first in a series of travel guides created by the Daily Planet. This one will be written by members of the Daily Planet and LexCom staff. Needless to say, it will be about the home of the Man of Steel.

Will WEG be looking to work with free-lance authors?

I have a pretty solid stable of authors right now, but we may be looking for some down the road. Anyone who is interested may contact me at There are some hoops to jump through, and we prefer established authors with a strong interest in DC Comics. We are NOT currently accepting outlines for potential future products; we have our schedule for the next two years well planned.

Any additional questions about the DC Universe Roleplaying Game may be directed to

Thanks for your time. Please let us know if you have any additional questions! Thanks from RPGnet to:

Fred Jandt
Creative Director, West End Games
co-designer, DC Universe Roleplaying Game

Nikola Vrtis
Creative Director, West End Games
co-designer, DC Universe Roleplaying Game

The game is available through all major distributors. Ask for it at your local comic or hobby shop.

Edited by...
Tomas Skucas

What do you think?


All Heroes for a Day