Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

I'm a big Marvel fan, so I was excited when the new Marvel RPG came out a couple years ago. I even wrote an old blog post about it; you can check it out, entitled Make Mine Marvel. It was made by Margaret Weis Productions, which had some very cool success with games based on the Leverage and Smallville TV shows; the Marvel game was a branch of their basic system, called Cortex Plus. It's designed to pretty narrative and freeform, trying to emulate the action on a comic book's pages as well as it can; thus you can have characters like, say, Hawkeye in the same group as Thor and still have both of them have moments to shine.

One of the interesting choices on the MHRP game's part is that, instead of designing and creating your own characters, the default assumption is that you will play an already established Marvel character. The main book has a total of 23 choices, while the supplements expand that out to around 150 choices. There are ways of altering the existing datafiles, or fudging them to create similar character, but there isn't a big system in place for creating characters of your own. Not that you can't - there are methods to do so - but it isn't the focus.

Given that the character you play is likely to be an already-existing Marvel character, instead of going through how to create a character I'll go over what the given character information means. Being a huge Captain America fan, I'll be using Captain America as my model.

Captain America (Name, pretty obvious, right?)

Solo d6, Buddy d8, Team d10
(Affiliations are a measure of how well a hero acts with others - when solo, with a buddy - like Bucky for Cap - or with a team, like the Avengers. Cap is clearly at his best with a team)

Lead By Example; Man Out Of Time; Sentinel of Liberty
(Distinctions are defining character traits, backgrounds, or catchphrases summarizing the hero and his or her outlook; they can either be used to get a Plot Point, when used negatively - Cap using Man Out Of Time when stuck using the Internet, for instance - or add a d8 to a roll when used positively, like Cap using Sentinel of Liberty when protecting the American dream)

Power Sets
Super-Soldier Program: Enhanced Durability d8, Enhanced Reflexes d8, Enhanced Stamina d8, Enhanced Strength d8
Vibranium-Alloy Shield: Godlike Durability d12, Weapon d8
(These are the powers a hero typically makes use of; Cap was the first, and only, supersoldier, giving him enhanced - but not superhuman - abilities, and he has a unique shield, made specially for him; each power set - and you can have two, normally - has its own set of abilities, and each has a set of special effects and limits to help make them more unique in play)

Acrobatics Expert d8, Combat Master d10, Covert Expert d8, Psych Expert d8, Vehicle Expert d8
(Specialties represent skills, knowledges, and special training that heroes have beyond the level of the average person; Expert level is pretty common among heroes, but MAster means the character is among the best in the world in that particular area - Cap is one of the greatest hand-to-hand combatants in the world, and thus a Master)

Mentor the Hero
1 XP: When you choose to aid a specific hero for the first time
5 XP: When you aid a stressed-out hero in recovery
10 XP: When you either give leadership of the team to your chosen hero or force your chosen hero to resign or step down from the team
Avengers Assemble!
1 XP: When you first lead a team
5 XP: When you defeat a foe without any team member becoming stressed out
10 XP: When you either convince a hero to join a new Avengers team or disband your existing team
(Each hero has one or two Milestones like these, specific to them; they are how a hero advances between sessions, episodes, or issues whatever you prefer to call them. The 1 XP choices tend to be easy, the 5 XP ones somewhat harder, and the 10 XP spots involve a difficult choice that closes out the Milestone and opens a spot for a new one)

There are also writeups for a character's history, personality, and abilities, but those aren't important here; all the important mechanical aspects of the character are covered, and I think Cap's writeup shows that it's a relatively simple and open system.

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