BAM! Comics come to tabletop – Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition review

P&P character art

In the words of its creators, Prowlers & Paragons (P&P) Ultimate Edition is designed to emulate four-color superhero comics. With that in mind, it leans on basic comic terms to reframe typical RPG ideas in a way that is understandable to players who only have one of those as a frame of reference. P&P combines narrative-driven storytelling with concrete rules for combat and other situations with direct opposition. Most of an issue will be back and forth between the players and GM as they tell the story of their most recent crisis. Then, when it’s time to clear a villain’s lair full of minions and foes, the heroes will have clear and concise rolls to make to keep the narrative moving.

I’ve seen plenty of rules-light systems, but none that have nearly 200 pages in the book. In case that worries you, let me be clear. This is a rules-light system. You can be satisfied with reading the three pages of basic rules and grabbing a premade character sheet. Outside of combat, rolls determine who controls the narrative on a page. Once you’re fighting baddies, there’s clear damage calculation, regardless of powers or abilities. For every net success, you do one damage. That’s it. If you want to get creative, there are rules up to and including using a mook as a weapon. These are encouraged to add that comic book feel.

Stats for Heap, a premade villain

Heap, a premade villain, is a tough blob.

To support flexibility and player descriptions, P&P uses range bands. More than other systems I’ve used, P&P’s logic and rules around range bands make sense. Sometimes it takes a couple of pages for a villain to come to grips with the heroes. This lets ranged powers shine. In the same token, it will take many pages for a crook to attempt to evade pursuit from a caped crusader. But what if you are close up enough to get in someone’s face in a single page? Close range. Straightforward enough to avoid quibbles over rules when the important thing is clobbering the baddies.

Narrative is the core of Prowlers & Paragons. Using powers out of combat, adversity, and adversaries all lend themselves to challenge rolls. A challenge roll outcome determines who has narrative control and whether the person on the other end gets to embellish the scene. This is where P&P’s rules-light system shines. A challenge presented, a roll made, and then the game gets out of your way. Assuming you did well enough, you describe how you overcame the obstacle. Fail your roll and the GM gets to thwart your attempts. Some scenes cover many pages and will incorporate multiple challenge rolls. Solving a problem doesn’t always mean you save the world, after all. If you are more used to roll playing over roleplaying, never fear, there are many useful tips for how to collaboratively build a compelling story.

An example of a challenge's results

At this point, you might be realizing that what I’ve covered can’t take up that much page space. So what takes up the meat of the book? Heroes and villains. Characters are the heart and soul of comics, and Prowlers & Paragon delivers over and over again. Some people’s favorite part of playing a TTRPG is the character creation and wow do you get that option. Playable characters need the same range of powers as any set of heroes and P&P gives you more than 100 to choose from, nearly all of those have a variety of power levels and modifiers to give your hero the spice of life. To help keep a given Series balanced, the GM chooses a power level for all heroes. To save some time in character creation, P&P provides packages of abilities to get a character to a basic level of build before adding powers. Are your players still overwhelmed? Is the GM wondering how long they’ll spend creating hordes of minions, a dozen foes, and a villain or two? For heroes, villains, and foes, there’s 50 pages of pregens that will flesh out any issue (and series, frankly). Minions are even easier as they just have a single threat level and move in a pack.


Eric first got into tabletop playing D&D in college with a monotheistic paladin. He is currently towards the end of a six year campaign and is looking forward to the next adventure. He really enjoys one-shots at conventions and is always up for making a new group.



Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition

Review Guidelines

Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition doesn’t just emulate four-color comics, it’s a love letter to them. The entire book is written with care and attention, while still being funny and even snarky. The creators know how RPG players and comic readers think. It’s obvious on every page. Character creation supports all levels of imagination, optimization, and time commitment. The mechanics are absolutely rules-light, which lets the narration of players and GM shine.

Eric Deutsch

Unless otherwise stated, the product in this article was provided for review purposes.

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