Okay, the truth is that I really don’t have any intention of running or playing Villains & Vigilantes any time in the near future (as of June 2012 when I wrote this review). But V&V is woven deeply into my gamer DNA, since it was the second RPG I ever learned, after D&D. My interest in this new edition of V&V, then, is primarily rooted in nostalgia and oriented toward learning/borrowing from V&V elements that will help me with the supers RPGs I currently run and play.
On the nostalgia side, it sure is fun to revisit V&V’s random-generation and level-based approach to superhero gaming, though in some ways the fun is bittersweet, since level-based superhero gaming seems so misguided in 2012. What a delight, though, to see all-new artwork by Jeff Dee, much of it depicting old favorite heroes and villains from the original V&V!
With regard to kitbashing V&V for things to use in other supers games, the random adventure outline generator on pp. 36–37 stands out, as does the discussion of the legal system and what happens after a villain is captured, pp. 39–45. V&V even has something I haven’t noticed in any other supers RPG core rulebook: a paragraph of rules for player characters to benefit monetarily from merchandizing. You might want to incorporate V&V’s conceit of having the players play themselves, with the addition of superpowers, into other games that use random power generation—but then again, my cousins, siblings, friends, and I always ignored this rule when we played V&V back in the day and made up fictional identities anyway.
Nowadays, if I were steering a new player toward a superhero game, I would probably steer them toward Icons or Mutants & Masterminds, not toward Villains & Vigilantes. Even in its new form, V&V is, for me, like some of my favorite music from the ’80s: fun to revisit once in a while, but not part of my normal daily routine. But I’m glad to see V&V resuscitated, for all of its fans from the ’80s who want to play it regularly or just once in a while. My four-star rating is really three stars for content plus one for all the great memories.
[4 of 5 Stars!]