After playing many different superhero roleplaying games I’ve found that this system is exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Some systems require you to list all of a characters abilities. With superheroes this can take hours and it becomes a nightmare to prepare sheets for teams of characters.
The Marvel Heroic system boils this down into a handful of iconic abilities and defining distinctions.
The Distinctions are usually just a sentence that define a character.
I love being able to read the comics and picking out a few lines of dialogue that best capture them and then use them during a game.
I like that the system lets players decide what abilities, distinctions and skills are appropriate for the challenge in front of them.
I’ve been in more than my fair share of games where combat devolves into simply rolling your dice on your turn to see if you hit or not, with no attempt made to visualise what your character is actually doing.
Not so here.
The explanation of why you’re using the dice you are creates a vivid picture of what is happening.
I like that you get rewarded when bad things happen. When you roll a 1 or take a risk, like using a distinction in a negative way, you have the opportunity of getting a Plot Point.
Plot Points are what allow you to pull off the truly heroic feats.
Sure, the games master gets to add to his Doom Pool if you accept the Plot Point but it wouldn’t be fun without a challenge.
I think that giving the players the ability to decide who goes next in combat is very empowering.
You soon find that players are picking characters because they want to see what they’ll do next. It turns them into an excited reader, flicking the page to see how the hero is going to escape certain death.
To me this game combines the best aspects of narrative games like FATE with a crunchier, more understandable rule-set.
One of the highlights of this is that you can create assets with a success, as an alternative to just hurting your opponent.
These assets can aide you in subsequent challenges and can help your allies.
Miles stones are a clever way to promote roleplaying during a game.
These are markers that indicate when you get XP that can unlock additional benefits during the game.
Typically a Mile stone is behaviour or actions that are closely linked to the character, such as Captain America’s team leadership or Thing’s self-hate.
They give a reason for players to role-play and even take actions that adversely affect them.
I think it is a stroke of genius that the game focuses on Events.
Yes, this is a roleplaying game that doesn’t focus on levelling your character up, which never really had a place in superhero games since characters mostly remain iconic.
One of my worst qualities is that I like change, even in a roleplaying game I’m enjoying.
The fact that players and games master aren’t locked into a single set of characters, setting or time period is sheer joy for me.
Now the whole Marvel universe is open to groups. You could decide to stick with a particular group(whether it be the X-men, the Avengers or the Fantastic Four) or you could jump around, trying out different combinations of characters as they get involved in huge, world-spanning events.
The ease of creating characters makes it easy to play iconic characters in different stages of their life.
Want to play the Grey Hulk? You can! Want to play were-wolf Captain America? You can! Want to play the Scarlet Spider? You can!
No one persons datafile of a character is going to be definitive. You can have a hundred different versions of Iron Man and they’ll all be equally valid.
With so much to explore why limit yourself?
So where do you start?
You can’t really go wrong with subscribing to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
This gives you access to thousands of Marvel comics to read on your computer.
It is this archive that I’ll be drawing upon for material for this blog.
There are just so many interesting characters for players to run. So many villains for them to fight and so much of the world to explore.
I hope that others will find it useful in their own games.