Monday, February 27, 2012

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Well unless you have been living under a rock this last week the newest, hottest game on the market right now is Marvel Heroic Roleplaying from Margaret Weis Productions.

It is kinda-sorta billing itself as the spiritual heir to TSR's old Marvel Superheroes Game  (aka FASERIP).
The new book out is called "The Basic Game" , obviously meant to recall the "Basic Game" of MSH and there is even a forward from Jeff Grubb.  So MHR has a pedigree, of sorts, but how does it stack up to it's forefather?


I will be100% honest here.  The rules took me a bit of reading, re-reading, asking other players and spending some time on RPG Net to understand.  AND I Am still not 100% sure I got it right.

I have played around with Cortex+ before.  I like ti for what it is and I'll admit I was a little concerned when I heard that the Marvel Game was going to use Cortex+.  I like it for Smallville and Leverage where drama is important. I even suggested using it for a Modern Supernatural game, but I was not sold on it as a Supers game.

At this point I should point out that "Supers" might not be a good genre for this game.  After all, "Supers" is not even in the title at all and the assumption here that everyone has powers of some sort.

In many ways this game is exactly as my friend Greg describes as the "Antithesis of the OSR".
This game is about building characters, the relationships between them and the drama.  Which, if you think about it, is kinda what Marvel Comics is about.   Does it matter really what the Hulk's strength is?  No.  Just that he is really damn strong.  Can he pick up a tank and throw it?  Sure if the Watcher (the GM, I kinda like that) says he does then he does.  That simple.  If it is a challenge, say can he out punch The Thing or Thor, then that is a different matter.

I think back to a scene I remember reading years ago.  Spider-man teamed up with the Ghost Rider to catch a common foe.  They are obviously very different kinds of heroes and they have their own way of doing things.  The bad guy was actually not essential to the story, so much so that I can't even recall him.  But the issue was more about their contrasting styles and more about how Spidey was horrified when Ghost Rider used Hell Fire on a bad guy.    This sort of thing is perfect for these rules.

So I am going spend some time this week with this game and looking at the support information out there and how one can use this game.

My opinion of the game has gone up since I first picked it up.  So who knows where I'll be by this Friday.


Jay Exonauts said...

So here's the question I have--is the new Marvel game something you can teach to a kid in one sitting and they'll get it?

Whereas, a "kid" = 10 year-old, and sitting = 1 hour to get the chargen and basics down.

My fear--from what I've read--is this is a pretty complicated game for the GM to learn, let alone the players. I could be wrong, but the 10-year-old test is a good one not just from teaching kids, but for general ADD of most gamers or GMs looking to interest novice players of any stripe.

Michael said...


I've been seeing a lot of reviews stating that the rules are "odd" or strange to learn... My experience with the game was, well, not this...

I've been playing RPGs a long time but this is my first Cortex+ game and I got it quickly. This isn't meant to say that, "you know, I'm smarter or something..." just that the way the rules are presented may be more transparent to some than others. Expectation may matter here. I think the actually presentation of the rules is harder than the rules themselves (by which I mean, the rules made sense but really gelled for me when I explained them to someone else.)

That said -- I think you could teach this game to a 10 year old but it's not the best game for a 10 year old. It's also not a game I'd necessarily recommend for the ADD gamer. It takes a commitment to keeping up with what's going on at the table.

I think it's a great game and a great Marvel game on top of that. I don't think it's a "learning game" or a good ADD gamer game at all.

Cross Planes said...

My biggest problem with the rules is how they are presented and explained. I'm not sure in 2 readings if I fully understand what's presented. And I don't feel the game is very difficult.

Personally, for my 7 & 10 year old the rules are to cumbersome (not complex, just too much in the way). But this is a problem I've had with with this systems like Cortex + & FATE. The rules are emphasezed to heavily for what, IMO, is supposed to be fairly story oriented systems.

I don't feel that this ruleset adequately replaces TSR's edition, not that it needs to, for my table.

Rhonin84 said...

Teaching a 10 year old this game....

Let me start by saying that I run games for 9-12 year old kids pretty regularly and I run games for teens 14-18 as well.

I have read and re-read the rules now at least three times and I have three pages of hand written notes in my own shorthand to remind me of things as I get ready to run.

I believe that you could teach a 10 year old to play this game and they might find it easier actually. The reason I say that is that I have seen the younger kids remember more about "new" rules than I have. I think this is because of how their brains are working in retaining info. Us old fogies are not using that capacity anymore on a regular basis and sometimes it takes longer to remember the info.

I have thought about changing this weekends game from Adventurer, Conqueror, King to the Marvel game...but I'm still not sure.

Someone on RPGnet wrote that this game has a lot of "fidgety" rules, and they are right they do BUT once you have them down they are pretty easy to remember.

I have come around a little on the game, I think that it could be a fun game, I like Storyteller games, but if you have one at the table that just doesn't get it, it could make for a long game session.

Jay Exonauts said...

Ok, I admit it might be time to check it out and give it a fair shake. Hopefully, my other concern about character creation being de-emphasized won't sour the experience.