It’s a funny thing, but when we’re playing Mutants & Masterminds I don’t bat an eyelid that we have a character who can teleport anywhere in the known universe, another who can control an entire freakin’ city and other, similarly powerful demi-gods. But when it’s Dungeons & Dragons I’m the one ranting about how over-powered Fey Step is.
It all comes down to a difference in genre. M&M is a game of SUPER-heroics where the characters are larger than life beings with Powers far beyond those of mere mortals. On the other hand, D&D is a game of HEROICS. While the characters might have spell-casting ability or magic items, it’s at a much lower comparable level to the super-heroics of M&M. Even your 20th Level 3rd Edition Wizard is limited to casting his most powerful spells at most 4 times per day; at Power Level 10 (the starting point for most M&M games), any of these effects could be reproduced and cast an unlimited number of times per day. I’ll save the mechanics of that for another time though :D .
Then we come to 4th Edition D&D. It’s a game much closer to super-heroics than the traditional heroics of D&D with characters affecting multiple foes and using showy-blasty effects right from the start. Even at first level the characters are considered to be far ahead of the common man (or elf, or dwarf). Compare them to Classic D&D’s starting heroes with single-figure Hit Points and their father’s rusty sword to their name. As I’ve said before, 1st level in 4e is comparable to 4th level in 3e; they’ve stolen our first three levels to get to that much-vaunted “sweet spot” right from the start. I loved the low-magic low-level street-level feel of the first three levels, and much as I like 4e, that’s one thing I really miss.
So what we have is a different D&D; a “Super D&D” that’s got elements of World of Warcraft, manga and flash-bang movie effects all mixed in to create something that’s an inheritor of the D&D title. It’s D&D where the characters are quasi-medieval superheroes.
I’m not going to say whether that’s a good or bad thing. That’s up to you, and what you want out of the game. Instead, I’ll think some more and suggest ways that you can bring superhero tropes into your D&D sessions, and make them even better.