Thursday, August 24, 2017

Almost Heroic

This summer my online gaming group over Google Hangouts decided to do something pretty cool. 

We took a break from out nearly three year long Kapow! campaign, and ran a Marvel/DC/Kapow! crossover event featuring:

Our regular GM Keith running Marvel Heroic, with the players playing Doctor Strange, The Falcon, Human Torch, Speed (of the Young Avengers), Spiderman, and The Vision (played by yours truly). 

Part of the reason for this is that Keith has had several run ins with the Marvel Heroic game, and each time it kind of went South. He very much wanted to like the game, but the mechanics seemed to get in the way of the story instead of enhancing it, and action seemed rather slow for a Superhero RPG.

Well, we gave it the old Empire State University try, and personally I think it wasn't as good as it could have been, and definitely reinforced Keith's complaints about the system. 

The die pool building mechanic takes too long, and the crunch that makes it seem dynamic at first, only ends up confusing those who are unfamiliar with the rules, or who aren't particularly good at organizing such things on the fly. 

Instead of the die representing the cool move you want your character to make, many ended up disassociating the system from their in-game actions, adding dice willy-nilly because, 'You're supposed to add dice right?'

I don't blame the GM, Keith, for any of that. I think he did a fine job and grasped the rules pretty solidly in a short time. Between myself (more familiar with the game) and my friend Carl (universally better at comprehending rule mechanics) we were able to smooth many of the rough edges but not all. The edges were extremely rough and no matter how much you sand, sandpaper can only do so much against quartz crystals.

Personally, I did find there to be another weakness to the Marvel outing but this one is personal, a matter of my own aesthetics and preferences. 

When I am a player or GM in an IP (and I have been the latter MANY times in my 40 years in the hobby) there are certain things I want to experience and 'see'. 

I want to encounter that settings characters, go to its famed locations, and interact with its components. 

For example, I know we've seen Tatooine a hundred times already but if I'm in a year long Star Wars game, at least one session should take me to Tatooine. I want to pilot a starfighter or freighter at least once. I want to blast Stormtroopers. 

Likewise, if you're going to take me on a five session jaunt through the Marvel universe, I want to fight well known villains, go to the Blue Area of the Moon, and/or be tempted to use the Cosmic Cube or The Ultimate Nullifier to defeat the menace threatening our universe.

We didn't quite have that.

We had it somewhat but it didn't feel as epic as I was hoping for. We fought a few cool villains in the first session but then the opponents were mind controlled Young Avengers and other Avengers. OK, sure, cool I guess.

We did find out the villain behind it all was Doctor Doom and Doom is always awesome, but we didn't fight Doom directly. We battled Doombots and a giant Mecha-Doom (which, I have to say, was both very cool and very scary), which was fun, and we got to go to Castle Doom...but I don't feel like we fully experienced it. It was just minions and another generic 'dungeon' room. 

Again, I can't really blame the GM. It is very difficult to convey a sense of awe and wonder over Google Hangouts and the game's rules kept interrupting the richness of the setting. It would have taken a very different approach and a severe trimming of the system to make it flow as I was hoping it would.

The Mecha Doom was awesome though.

Now I gear up for my part in this insanity, a series of sessions set in the DC Comics universe using Green Ronin's DC Adventures RPG, which utilizes Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition.

I've taken a slightly more heavy handed initial approach to the game in order to get the feel right from the very start. More details on it in an upcoming post.

Until then, Make Mine Marvel! But...not necessarily Marvel Heroic.

Barking Alien

PS: I want to thank Keith for doing such an excellent job with the game in spite of all the difficulties with the system, and pacing. I personally find gaming over Google Hangouts (and the internet in general) extremely challenging, and he does it week, after week with enthusiasm, and skill. 

Thank you, Keith!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Adam. I had wanted this final session to be a final confrontation with Dr. Doom, and some of the mind-controlled Avengers. However, it turned out that would have taken one more session, and while I would have been willing to do one more if the group had wanted, personally, I was finding MHRP tedious and I wad quite willing to "handwave" what should have been the epic climax.

    Marvel Heroic isn't for me. Kapow! is better. No disrespect intended to anyone who likes MHRP, and there are lots of people who do, it's just not my cup of tea.