Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Jeff Dee and Jack Herman to Release Villains and Vigilantes 3.0

Earlier this year Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, the creators of the Villains and Vigilantes role playing game, reacquired the rights to their creation and started their own company Monkey House Games in order to distribute new product for the classic superhero game. Villains and Vigilantes was the second superhero role playing game to enter the gaming market and it helped to launch superhero gaming as a legitimate genre in the hobby. The first edition of V&V was eventually pushed aside by Hero Games flagship Champions game, which became the standard against which all superhero games would be measured. Dee and Herman responded to Hero Games' entry with a streamlined and much improved second edition of Villains and Vigilantes.

While V&V was never able to match the sales of Champions during the superhero rpg heyday of the late 80s to early 90s, it had a loyal following and its creators wrote many excellent gaming products that reflected the "indie" sensibilities of the game's creators. These product included two modules written by indie comic stalwart Bill Willingham whose Elementals comics were among the most influential of the era. Where Champions could be cumbersome to play at times, and absolutely required a battlemap, V&V was a looser game that featured quick and dirty combat rules and a deep sense of fun.

Since forming Monkey House Games, Dee and Herman have released a cleaned up version of the second edition of Villains and Vigilantes -- a version 2.1 -- that featured a new cover and provided errata and clarifications to material in the Fantasy Games Unlimited published second edition. The book also features new interior artwork. While I found the new cover disappointing in comparison to Dee's older artwork, the new interior artwork is up to Dee's normal professional standards. Monkey House has also released a number of new products for the 2.1 version of the rules, and their production schedule has been sufficient to maintain the V&V momentum their start-up began with.

In fact, they have been so successful that Fantasy Games Unlimited, the successor company to the original publisher of V&V, has released new product for the game for the first time in over 15 years. This product appears to be published without proper license, but I will leave the legal wrangling to Dee and Herman. I will say this though. Don't buy a copy of the second edition V&V rules from Fantasy Games Unlimited or copies of the Willingham modules, you can purchase a more recent version of the rules from the actual creators of the game and Willingham's adventures will be available shortly.

Fans had been wondering if Dee and Herman planned on merely supporting their cleaned up version of the second edition, or whether they had plans for a new edition for the new millennium. After all, the rules are good and Monkey House was bringing back into print some of the old classic adventures in addition to publishing new ones.

Monkey House Games answered that question on Christmas Day when they officially announced that they were developing Villains and Vigilantes 3.0 and that the game would be available in 2011.

I look forward to seeing what innovations Dee and Herman have to offer.

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