Despite good intentions (Road to Hell paved? Check!), I have been less than constant in my blogging this week. Nonetheless, I will play a little catch up today while my son practices with his Pipe and Drum band.
So, I have raised a lot of questions about how the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game about to be released this next week by Margaret Weis Productions is going to play, and I have expressed various hopes while mentioning misgivings, many tied to my former experience with TSR's old Marvel Super Heroes (MSH) RPG.
However, I think that my hopes are pretty much going to be fulfilled and my worries allayed based on this terrific post (Collateral Damage #0: The Making of a New (Marvel RPG) Series) by the Chatty DM over at Critical-Hits.com. He outlines some of his challenges even though he is working on the game and goes through the start of a new ongoing campaign and the creation of the new player characters. It is a great write-up and showcases what can be done within the framework of the basic rules. While what he describes is not without a speedbump or two, it is a clear demonstration of the robust and flexible character creation possible. This is very heartening. I was pretty sure such would be the case, but, sadly, even good companies sometimes make major mistakes, especially with licensed properties (which are just no easy thing to work with (Fred Hicks has some good thoughts on them here).
So, now that I need not hold my breath on the game, what is left to say?
Hey folks, this is the blogosphere, there is always something to say.
The core of the system looks extremely sound and I see it as seriously more malleable and functional than the old MSH system (as much as I enjoyed playing it). The question I do have is how does it operate on the extremes. For example, is it going to work at the very low powered end (say you want a S.H.E.I.L.D. campaign inspired perhaps by DC's Gotham Central or Checkmate type approach (why yes, I am a flaming Greg Rucka fan))? I think the answer is yes, but I'd like to see a test drive.
Also, how does it work at the very high level side? Can you do something like the Incredible Hercules run by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente or the classic Thor stories by Walt Simonson? A campaign like these inspirations require some major city demolishing, cosmos shaking, dimension bending power to be available, and more importantly, it needs to be interesting. I think one of the problems with old MSH, was that the system just might have made the high level stuff uninteresting. Okay, you take 1000 points of damage, and we're done. Obviously, a good GM could do a lot more, but the system did not provide a lot of support.
I am thinking that in both cases, for the highs and the lows, you can get very good play from the system, but I am still hoping to see some actual play and first hand accounts.
One of the reasons that this is important to me is my own experience. One of the things that worked incredibly well in the old campaign (so very long ago (and hey here's an article about my old GM), was that it wasn't the powers that made us heroes, it was the fact that we were heroes and happened to have powers (sometimes). So, for example, we had an armored hero, who was still working hard on his I-want-to-be-Iron-Man suit. It started off fitting in a really big box and had to be carried around in a van. Sometimes, there was not enough time to don the armor. That did not stop the player. He was ex-military or law enforcement, and, for example, when Hydroman was rampaging, he was more than willing to shoot up a gas station with incendiaries (BOOM) and drive him off. Another time, a huge Sentinel robot attacked our fellow hero who was a mutant weather controller. Once again, the need to don armor was a hindrance to going "super", so the player just grabbed the nearest semi truck and rammed it into the robot, allowing me to do a little laser surgery on its head (if I recall correctly (and I had been, at that point, transformed from a ROM the Spaceknight clone into a Justice clone)).
So, the moral of the story is that, I want that feeling that the players are the heroes of the stories, powers or not, and that they have something to do, that is easily modeled by the rules. Cortex+ looks like it will do it, but I am still at the "show me" stage. After all, we are about to get The Avengers and the quote is
"Big man in a suit of armor, take that away – what are you?"
"Uh... genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist,"
That needs to work. I will be looking at Chatty DM, my own experience upcoming at Labyrinth Games, and other actual play reports to see how things play out.
But I would say things look very, very good.