#RPGaDAY2015, Day 19: Favorite Superhero RPG

Day 19 of #RPGaDAY2015! Favorite Superhero/Comic Book RPG.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, no contest.

avengersBack in high school, I played a few Supers RPGs like Champions and Villains & Vigilantes, but despite the characters wearing their underwear on the outside, they never felt like they were actual scenes from a comic book. Marvel Heroic does.

Our heroes were at a remote location, trying to prevent the newest version of Ultron from activating, when at a crucial moment of the conflict our Superman-level hero was suddenly pulled out of space and time by his mystical supervisor and made to recount his failings on his path to redemption. The conflict about the hero’s past choices was just as important as the physical fight to stop Ultron. It felt like a comic book — hell, it felt like a Marvel comic book.

Oh, and the milestone system is so very much “Let me tell you what I want out of this game.” Player-driven agency, yay!

Part of (all of?) the design team on MHR are developing the Sentinel Comics RPG, by Greater Than Games. I’m interested in seeing how that shakes out. Sentinel Comics is the setting for the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game and all of SotM’s spinoffs.

Huh.

Not even 200 words today.

What else?

Oh, how about links to some of the fan work I created for Marvel Heroic?

If you’re playing that, here’s Christmas With The Hulk, an extended fight through midtown Manhattan against a very, very tough Hulk. If you’re planning on playing the Civil War event, you can use this as a prelude to that and have “the Rockerfeller Center Incident” be the kickoff to Civil War instead of Stamford.

Also, the Handling Action Scenes document I created, which talks about, well, how to handle action scenes in Marvel Heroic.

Oh, I forgot I had Deathblow, a mini-event about the resurgence of Hydra and (possibly) the death of America, uploaded! Grab that, too!

What else… maybe this thing I did about using allied heroes in your Marvel game? Or Freakshow, where I ramble on about a street-level police procedural in the Marvel Universe.

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 7 – “Do you own a copy of Nobilis?”

Last year, today, our question is What is the most intellectual RPG you own?[1]

Most intellectual RPG? Man, that’s worse than defining “old school” from day five. Are we talking about a game that makes you feel smarter than people who don’t grok what you’re reading? Or a game whose writing is rated above a sixth-grader’s vocabulary? A game with lofty ambitions or goals to make you a better person and reflect on the real world? Perhaps an agenda-filled RPG? How about the most pretentious game ever?

Let’s face it, most RPGs are pretty dumb. You make a character and her or she or it does stuff, usually through a liberal application of violence, in order to, um, get stuff. The writing may be slightly better than these little posts I’ve been making, but the largest word I have used so far in this screed is “intellectual”, which was part of the question prompt, so that’s not saying much.

256px-Nobilis-coverSo, do I have a copy of Nobilis around here?

Nope.

Drat.

The closest thing I own to that is the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer game.

Huh.

Think.

Work, Brains. Work.

Look, most RPGs are pretty smart. You create a whole world out of thoughts, man. The people who live there come straight from your brain! Their motivations, their goals in life, their stupid, stupid mistakes they’re still paying for after all these years have sprung from your imagination. Even if you’re playing HOL, Macho Women with Guns, or Nobilis.

RPG_HoL_coverIn that case, I’m leaning towards a generic RPG, one that gives the game players the freedom to do anything. The big questions I have for a generic RPG are: Can this game do horror? Can I do a Star Wars game that feels like Star Wars in this game? (Also related: Can I do a Shadowrun game with this game?) Can I play comic book superheroes with this game? It doesn’t matter if I have to get a supplement or sourcebook to slot in a new play mode, like picking up GURPS Horror or GURPS Supers to make it work. But I don’t own GURPS proper. (Just two sourcebooks: GURPS Mysteries and GURPS The Prisoner).

I’m going with the Cortex Plus game line from Margaret Weis Productions. If I have to pick one, and only one, game in the line, it’s Smallville. Not only does it allow for all those game styles[2], but the Cortex Plus system allows for the players to create things in the world, getting their brains involved in the shared world. This thing in the world didn’t exist until this player thought of it. BAM.

MAGIC.

Is that still your answer today, Thomas?

Yeah, I think so. I’m tempted to look at Fate Core and use that for everything, but Leverage is probably the best Shadowrun game out there. And as much as I like Fate, it doesn’t do horror that well. I’d also recommend Primetime Adventures, but that doesn’t do action in a satisfying way. Cortex Plus is a base game system that can do a lot. It’s like starting with a roux, some rice, and chicken stock and winding up with shrimp etouffee or a spicy gumbo, depending on what you add.[3]

I worked on the Firefly RPG, which uses a different iteration of the basic rules that Marvel Heroic Roleplaying used and they’re both fantastic games. Leverage and Smallville both have the same basic similarity, but different executions — heck, I kind of want to play Star Wars, Smallville-style.

I would wager the Cortex Plus game system would be more popular if the license was truly open.

Aside: I’m working on sourcebooks and supplements for Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, the new game from the creator of Nobilis, so I’ve got that partially covered.

  1. aka “Who has a copy of Nobilis?” []
  2. seriously, go find Smallville and use it for a fantastic Star Wars game []
  3. I’m also loathe to recommend the various “Powered by the Apocalypse” Apocalypse World variants, despite loving AW. While they take on the same base, they are all starting to blur together to me right now, seemingly just swapping out names for basic moves and adding a new custom move here or there. There’s a superheroic variant that I’d like to see — With Great Power, I think — but I’m more interested in seeing what the Sentinels Comics RPG, developed by some of the people behind Cortex Plus, is going to do in the superhero space. Wow. Serious digression. []

#RPGaDAY2015, Day 1: Forthcoming Game You’re Most Looking Forward To

Last year, Dave Chapman (designer of Cubicle 7’s Doctor Who Roleplaying Game) hosted a month-long series of writing prompts about roleplaying games called #RPGaDAY. He’s back again this year with another month’s worth of prompts to celebrate “everything cool, memorable, and amazing about our hobby.” I’m planning on participating again, but over here on my website instead of G+ this year. (This is also a sneaky way of prompting me to update my website.) Along with these 2015 posts, I’ll be revisiting last year’s posts.

Sorry, but I just had to change it from that horrible pink color. Click through if you want to grab the color-shifted fullsized image.
Sorry, but I just had to change it from that horrible pink color. Click through if you want to grab the color-shifted fullsized image.

Day 1 of #RPGaDAY2015: Forthcoming Game You’re Most Looking Forward To

tachyonThere are three games that I’m very interested in, but I think I’d only ever get one to the table. The two that I probably won’t be able to play are Apocalypse World, 2nd Edition and Unknown Armies, 3rd Edition. The third one is the Sentinels Comics RPG.

Apocalypse World, because my wife didn’t like the game (but I think that was more to the sour way our AW1 game ended — I learned from that game and know I won’t make the same mistakes, but a game that ends on a sour note always spoils chances to play again). Well, that and I’d really need a face-to-face crew that I know well to pick it up again. But gods alive, I love that game. The MC chapter is so amazing! It’s the first RPG book that explicity tells the game runner to not have an adversarial relationship with the players: “Be a fan of the player’s characters,” the book says. Nice. I love this game. It’s one of my favorites. I’ll probably never get to play it. (Although I’ll probably be looking for a game on G+ Hangouts.)

Unknown Armies is a game I’ve always wanted to play but never did. Again, lack of a regular gaming group will keep me from playing this, I think. Second Edition, I had a copy of and every so often I go back to read the fiction in the game and think about street-level games that never came to pass. I do have 3rd’s playtest files and a small group that might tackle it. So, who knows? That may turn into something.

But I’m probably going to be able to play through the Sentinels Comics RPG, based on the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game (and related properties). The young girl likes superheroes, but we need a fast and easy game to play that I could use to introduce her to actual heroic stuff. Something a bit more complicated than RPG Kids, but nothing as complex as pretty much every other Supers RPG out there. The team on Sentinels is mostly the same group as on Marvel Heroic, which is super fast and easy, but might be conceptually a bit over the 9yo’s head. I haven’t seen Sentinels yet, but I know Cam’s work[1] and I like his stuff. I think the girl will, too. However, if Sentinels doesn’t work out, we might have to go with some sort of ICONS/Fate mashup.

  1. I’m working with him on the Demon Hunters RPG and worked on his designs back at MWP []