Villains and Vigilantes

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Villains and Vigilantes (abbreviated as V&V) is a superhero-themed role-playing game which competed primarily with Champions and Superworld in the early to mid 1980s.



Villains and Vigilantes was the first role-playing game designed by Jack Herman and Jeff Dee, featuring illustrations by Dee. Fantasy Games Unlimited published the first edition of Villains and Vigilantes in 1979.

The second edition of Villains and Vigilantes was published by FGU in 1982. It contained significant rule revisions.

Monkey House Games published a slightly updated 2.1 edition in 2010.


Characters in Villains and Vigilantes reflect the unique nature of the rules. First, instead of playing a completely fictional character, players are encouraged to start the character-creation process with a version of themselves (presumably as the superhero's "secret identity"). Further, the characteristics of the character are to be based on the player's "real-world" attributes of Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and so on. For those who did not like playing themselves, house rules for creating random characters were sometimes easily devised by game referees.

V&V uses random die rolls for the origins of superpowers (i.e., mutant, space alien, etc.) number and type, sometimes resulting in odd combinations. A quirk of the system is that while players advanced in levels and hit points, superpowers do not, lending a different feel to characters at low, middle and high power levels.

Another notable feature of the system is its approach to combat: a table cross-references the attacker's superpower (for example, an energy blast) against all of the defender's powers to modify their relative effectiveness. This creates an interesting interplay of attack and defense powers, making it (somewhat) like an elaborate rock-paper-scissors system in which no one power is best. Like Dungeons & Dragons, however, the core mechanic to hit is still essentially a single roll on a 20-sided dice.

Combats are kept from going on infinitely through the Power mechanic, a generic overall energy and stamina statistic that all characters possess in addition to the classic hit points. Many super-abilities require a small expenditure of Power. Power ablates damage (the character is said to "roll with" the impact) and as the current Power amount decreases, less damage is fended off. Thus, later attacks do more damage, bringing the fight to an end soon. In roleplaying terms, Power hints how the players should deliver dramatic dialog that reflects their character's fatigue and morale.


Like Dungeons & Dragons, V&V requires a set of polyhedra dice. The character sheets are meant to be modified with eraser and pencil, or kept in a plastic sheet protector for use with grease pencil or erasable marker.

Most V&V adventures come with square cardboard counters, to be placed on a one-inch grid. Two small arrows in the corners indicate the character's facing as if in a top view. A portrait of the character and a strip with their name occupies the rest of the square.

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