Illustration by Joe Weltjens
So, with that in mind, it should be no surprise that I'm also a huge fan of the Superhero genre of RPGs. While fantasy games are still my go-to when it comes to RPGs, superhero games are a very close second.
Occasionally, when I'm running my normal Pathfinder game, I'll have a player cancel at the last moment because something came up and leave the rest of us wondering if we should just go ahead and run the session without them. However, I think I have a solution to this problem that will allow us to still game for the night without the player missing an important story element or having to adjust to his character's absence. My solution is to have a superhero game ready to go as a back-up.
My reasoning for choosing a superhero game is rather simple actually. My choice is based on the fact that I can run a very fun, episodic and character-focused game where you don't need the entire party for every session. Since each adventure is episodic for the most part, the absent player will usually not have to be briefed on important story moments as often as they would in the other campaign. Also, we just pretend the absence of that character's hero is that he's off on his own adventure at the moment. Finally, since I have an encyclopedic knowledge of comics, I can run a last moment, improved superhero game rather easily.
For my back-up superhero games, I tend to go with Green Ronin's Mutants & Masterminds (specifically the 3rd edition of that game). While it can be a little crunchy at time, I like how it can be adjusted to fit almost any kind of superhero game I want. I also own a lot of supplements for Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition, and I can easily convert a miscellaneous statblock without much work to use as an enemy for that session. If I don't feel like using Mutants & Masterminds, I tend to go with Savage Worlds using the Super-Power Companion.
If you're looking for something to run as a back-up game when a player has to miss a normal session, I highly suggest going with a superhero game. They can be easy to run and who doesn't want to be a superhero every so often?