So here's my first batch of three:
- Champions Complete
- Champions Villains: Volume Three -- Solo Villains
- San Angelo
It also takes care of all the necessary rules right away in one book, leaving the other two slots open for setting and opposition respectively. There are also ready-to-play PCs as part of the book, which is great if you want to get started playing right away.
Champions Villains: Volume Three -- Solo Villains
San Angelo: City of Heroes
Now, the copy I have is for an older edition of Champions / HERO. The one available from RPGNow is actually for M&M and Action!System. As far as I'm concerned, however, it doesn't really matter because the setting is what I'm after. As superhero city supplements go, this one feels so fleshed out that you find yourself drawing linkages between the NPCs in the city and realizing how interconnected their lives (and hopefully the lives of your PCs) really are. There is character and community feel aplenty in this sourcebook by Patrick Sweeney and Mark Arsenault, and I've always wanted to return to it campaign-wise to set PCs into a fictitious American city (it's not the one in Texas) in the grand tradition of comics.
For me, this would be a return to the pulp era of adventurer-crimefighters, but at the power level of low-end superheroes. This would be beginning Daredevil and Batman and Iron Fist and Manhunter taking on crime in the city. They would spend 1/3 to 1/2 of their time in their non-masked identities, and they would need to know their city well in order to successfully battle their criminals.
I'd require at least two NPCs selected from the San Angelo sourcebook, and allow one or more NPCs to be created by the Players -- but these would also have to be tied somehow to an institution or NPC in the book. I want players to feel that the city itself is as dominant a character as any of their opponents or supporting cast, much in the way Metropolis and Gotham feel in the comics.