Last weekend was the semi-annual DC Gameday, one of my favorite things in the world. Great people. Great games. Concentrated RPG awesomeness.
For me, the weekend was all about the Marvel RPG. I was avoiding spoilers because I love supers role playing so much. I didn’t want to go in with opinions fed by relentless Internet trolls.
I hadn’t played. I hadn’t read the book. (well, to be fair, I have played Leverage, so I knew what to expect a little.)
First session was Breakout and I snatched up Black Widow immediately. She’s totally my style and I loved stretching the limits of what she was capable of within the system, especially when it came to using the environment to kick the shit out of the bad guys. Swinging from pipes. Improvising ranged attacks with fire hoses. Smashing skulls with my stilettos.
Our Watcher, @Nullzone42, had this to say about my performance:
The highlight of the session may have been snapping off Razor Fists’ razor fists to make them into swords that I would use in the next encounter to menace some dinosaurs and another, younger Black Widow who had bested my test scores. Bitch didn’t stand a chance and I kicked her ass with nothing but my words.
My second session was Dave Chalker’s MODOK’s Eleven, an explosion of anti-hero betrayal and entertainment. The player characters are all tasked to sneak into a giant ship and steal of pocket universe because MODOK WILLS IT (and for $5m in sweet cash money).
In addition to the clearly stated mission, each character had a randomly assigned secret mission within the mission (can I use the word mission a few more times in this sentence? CLEARLY I CAN).
I played the Spot, covertly employed by the Mandarin to deliver the pocket universe to him for quadruple what MODOK was offering. And I was all over it. From the second the adventure started, I had no qualms about working directly against the other characters. And it was really easy, given my teleportation powers.
Highlight was definitely blowing up the Living Laser, delivering the pocket universe to the Mandarin, and absconding with my money (which I promptly stuffed into my mattress back in my apartment).
On the whole, I liked the Marvel RPG. I have been in a monogamous relationship with Mutants and Masterminds for years, so it takes a lot for me to say I actually enjoyed another supers system. Just uttering the words aloud makes me feel like I should be looking over my shoulder for Ninja Steve Kenson, come to FINGFINGFING some throwing stars at my head.
What worked for me:
- The ease of picking up the system. By the end of the first turn, everyone had the table had a good handle on how to roll their dice.
- The initiative system. Picking who goes next – even the baddies – makes plotting a team-wide “set ’em up and knock ’em down” plan easy and awesome.
- The Doom Pool. Well, it’s called the Doom Pool and that’s awesome enough. But the interaction between the players, the environment, the bad guys, and the Doom Pool added some depth that I really enjoyed.
- The Solo/Buddy/Team element. This is really a brilliant combination of game mechanics and character development. Are you good at working alone? Roll a d10. Terrible at working with a buddy? Roll a d6. But fleshing out WHY you work the way you work tells a lot about your character.
What didn’t work for me:
- The initiative system. While I enjoyed it in my first session, when I was working in tandem with other heroes, working against each other in MODOK’s Eleven was difficult. There was at least once when I went a full 10 turns without taking an action. It killed some of the momentum for me and made it difficult for me to feel invested in the action.
- The same dice. All the time. I felt pretty restricted in my available actions. During each session, every turn seemed the same. Rolling the same dice. Trying the same things. One of my favorite things in Mutants and Masterminds is the alternate power feature – expanding my talents temporarily by using a hero point. It keeps things interesting and, while I’m rolling a lot of the same dice, it feels like I’m doing something different at the same time.
All that said, I am going to run an upcoming supers game using Marvel – 4-6 sessions tops – that will explore the origins of a new set of heroes (and anti-heroes?) in a world without supers. I will be stretching the existing (and barebones) character creation system, but I think it can be done elegantly and effectively.
I look forward to telling you about my game!