Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Make Mine...Marvel? Opinions ASSEMBLE!

I apologize for taking so long in continuing my analysis (such as it is) of the Marvel Heroic Role Playing Game but Real Life TM reared its ugly head and I was busy dealing with it. And it was ugly to. MODOK ugly.

Now while you were waiting (and I do appreciate you doing so so patiently), I hope you asked Jarvis to fetch you some coffee and took a look at what others are saying about the game.

I think it would be especially helpful to check out those blogs or posts as many of them contain notes on the rule mechanics, which are something I am not going to directly address here...yet. You see, there are a lot of rules in Marvel Heroic, for what is essentially a very freeform game, and honestly I don't fully know or understand them all yet.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I really only played the game once and that was in a combo co-GM/Player-Assistant capacity. Reading the rules was very confusing as the book's one major weakness is that it was edited by 6 different people, none of which appear to have spoken to each other during the process. There is also a great deal of game-specific jargon and multiple names for the same or remarkably similar things.

That is definitely the down side of what is otherwise a very brilliant piece of work. I am really looking forward to reading the rules all the way through and playing it a few time before (surprise, surprise) hacking some its idea into M&M 3E or maybe simplifying Marvel Heroic here and adding detail to it there.

Now on the positive side, I've played a lot of Superhero RPGs (A LOT!) and if ever there was one that felt more like you were characters in a comic book, I certainly can't recall it. This is one part game and one part story pitch session to the editors at Marvel. I liked the feeling that you were engaging in something that felt noticably different from a traditional RPG just as you were doing something like hitting a guy with a steel girder. The sense of the new and the familiar mixing was awesome.

I will likely be talking about this game a lot more in the weeks to come. I want to try and test drive it fully once I read through the rulebook again to lockdown all the elements I am iffy on. After that, who knows? I do have some ideas for a Marvel game and I want to get a better feel for created original characters as well.

Sorry if this 'review' is nothing of the sort but sometimes, especially when things are busy in my offline life, I have trouble focusing my thoughts on a subject that I am really jazzed about. I have so many ideas and opinions on this game that trying to latch on to one and describe it in depth is like trying to catch motes of dust in a tornado. Ooh. Nice imagery.

Until the Defenders explain they're defending the world heavyweight championship title in boxing...Make Mine Marvel!

Barking Alien


  1. MODOK in a sheet?! Really?! Did you have to post that? Argh!

  2. My gift to you. Don't say I never gave ya nuthin'.

  3. My group has been trying to play Smallville (work and other commitments keep interfering), which uses an earlier version of the Cortex+ system, and we found many of the same kinds of editing and writing problems you mention.

    "I get to step up an Asset. Wait, what's an Asset again?"

    "So it says a 'Distinction' makes my character 'unique', but it's something anyone could have, like being Clever or Athletic, while the generic-sounding word 'Ability' is used for the actually unique things like super-speed or telepathy."

    "The chart says 'Step up a Distinction', that means either a regular Distinction or a Heritage Distinction, but if it says 'Get a new Distinction', that's just a regular one, not a Heritage?"

  4. Indeed, Marvel Heroic gets no points for organization or its over and often unclear use of jargon.

    Distinctions seem a bit more specific in Marvel, thereby accomplishing what it was Distinctions were meant to do. You wouldn't likely see a Distinction like 'Clever' or 'Athletic'. Instead it would be, 'Thinks On His Feet' and 'Olympic Level Acrobat', or something similar.

  5. I agree that Marvel solves that distinction problem - they are a lot more Distinctive like "King of Wakanda" or "Russian Superspy" or "Man Without Fear" or "Sentinel of Liberty" - they are epic-level rather than generic stuff like "Clever" Marvel has "World-Class Intellect" or "One Step Ahead of You" and there aren't different types - you just have 3 Distinctions, period, per character.

    The organization is still messy, but the terms seem a little more tightly defined.