A simple idea based on last Friday’s PvP strip (and, thus, probably more useful to a superhero game than anything else):

Character backstories are largely created as a group. The GM takes turn suggesting elements of character backstory, each time starting with a different player. That player describes grief related to that backstory element. Then the next player clockwise tries to top it or folds. If play comes back around, the first player must further elaborate on his or her backstory to top the current winning player or fold. Once all but one player has folded, the winning player gets bonus character points. All players keep whatever grief they pointed out, but the losers get only the flaw, not the points. The GM is the final arbitrator on whether something tops something else, and the decision will often be made based on what suggests the most plot hooks.

Players are encouraged to only slightly top the previous player, even if they have something elaborate planned, as that makes sure they aren’t the only ones with grief (and that their grief isn’t super high if the next player has an even more elaborate tale planned).

GM: Tell me about your family. Barry will start.

Barry: I have a fiancee, and our relationship was on the rocks because of my work before I became a hero.

Diana: I had to leave my entire family behind to be a hero in the modern world. But their enemies have followed me here.

Clark: I left my entire planet behind to become a hero on Earth. But I wasn’t the only one to come here, and many others come to conquer, not to defend.

Bruce: My parents were murdered in front of me as a child. I fight crime so that such a thing never happens to anyone else.

Barry: Fold.

Diana: Fold.

Clark: I had to leave my entire planet (including my parents) behind because it was about to blow up. I was an infant.

Bruce: Powergamer. Fold.