Marvel Heroic Roleplay Basic Game Paperback – Apr 17 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
The product was shipped quickly and in mint condition. I am happy with the product.
I prefer the old 'Advanced' system paired with the Ultimate Powers Book.
I like the idea that some characters are out of other characters league, if there are no special circumstances for victory.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Most actions involve constructing a dice-pool based on a menu of character traits and skills that you can justify as being applicable in a given situation. Once the dice are rolled you almost always use your two highest rolls for the total and the best remaining die as an "effect" die. The whole process including the counter roll for the defense rarely took longer than a minute total, and usually took much less.
You also can make decisions to nerf your character to gain a "plot point" which can be used to trigger some awesome abilities later on. For example, I was playing the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and at one point had heavily wrapped up a foe in webbing. I decided it would be a good time to use a Limit on my character to gain a plot point by declaring myself out of webbing. I needed the plot-point (I'd spent my last one during the attack) and figured the amount of webbing used in wrapping the guy up justified doing it. The combat ended up going on a bit longer than I expected and I had fun having to work around the fact that I'd lost an entire section of my character powers.
After my first game playing with an experienced GM I felt confident enough with my understanding of the system to teach it and run a session myself. This was an automatic buy. High recommendation for any superhero RPG fans.
It's not a rule system trying to enforce real world physics on a fictional comic universe.
But it is actually the comic universe without the real world physics, which don't exist in comics AT ALL!!!
I loved this game, the dice takes away the need to sit with pen and paper and keep a tally of everyone's hit die.
In the comics where you see Spider-man taking on the Hulk, he actually can in this ruleset and be a bother to the big green goliath. Just like he has done in the comics over and over.
With M&M, TSR Marvel and even attempting to use DC Superhero RPG Rulesets, you are left trying to get the character to a level that would translate into the real world. Which is a big NO NO NO!!!
I cannot count how many times a play session is brought to it's knees with continual rule book searches and stat crunching.
This lets the player enjoy their hero and stay in the game. And my players actually have stated they feel like it is actually reading a comic as they play.
My family and my friends loved this system. They felt more heroic in this ruleset. And they also felt they were a part of the story with their ability to control the narrative and how their powers interacted with their subjects.
I love this RPG, and would recommend it highly to anyone who wants a REAL comic RPG system!
And not one that is trying it's best, yet failing, to bring comics into the real world.
Then I actually sat down and gave the book a good read.
Another reviewer here talked about the -old- TSR Marvel RPG from the mid-eighties. DC did one, too. Neither were good. There was less randomization and requiring a chart for basic maneuvers stifles both creativity around the table and time efficiency.
I began my Marvel roleplaying much later. With the Marvel Super Hero Roleplaying Adventure Game (MSHRAG). It used the Saga system TSR introduced for the Dragon Lance 5th Age game. The card system was amazingly easy, simple, customizable (easy to make up rules calls on the fly or determine stats to use). It was flexible. It was unique. It was easy to play. With roleplayers more interested in story than beefing up a character with cool gear (ala D&D Dungeon Crawling), it was amazing. Then... they came out with the stone-based system. That was a travesty. Recently, DC came out with a game using the M&M rules. Not a bad game--if you don't mind using a calculator to make and advance a character.
In light of their films getting great press, I guess Marvel decided to re-do their RPG line. They chose Margaret Weis. They could have done much worse. I have MW's Serenity game. It was interesting, but I didn't like all the rules. They changed them in many ways for the Marvel game.
While the game's layout could have been more effective in many ways, once giving it a go and actually reading and playing--this game is very fun.
The flow of combat is rather easy after a round or two of getting used to the unique system and how it works. The Plot Point system is a unique dynamic as is the Doom Pool (which nods back to the Doom Bank from the MSHRAG system--which was a great joy to have).
Character creation is -extremely- unique in any game I have played. There are no rules. No dice to roll, no cards to pull, no points to allocate. They literally made a system where you can make what you want. There are no restrictions on creation aside from common sense (having a character with all specialties and all dice at d12 for powers is ridiculous, for example). It relies on communication between player and game master--and really, let's be honest, not many advanced players ever really start with basic creation these days. This allows a game master to tailor his game's balance and helps players express creativity when making their super hero alter-ego.
For example, say I wanted to make a mutant named Wraith. I'd create 3 distinctions (3 things that sum the character up or describe him). I'll say: Escaped Experiment, Terrorizing Demeanor, and Covert Ops Protégé. I can use these distinction in actions in which they apply, to add dice to my pool. So, for example, in sneaking into a facility, I can use Covert Ops Protégé to give myself a bonus on my rolls. Once that is done, I can pick a power set. Since the system is customizable, I can call the power set what I want. So, Wraith Effect. I can select what powers I want. So, we'll take: Intangibility, Super Senses, Reflexes, and Shadow Control. Now, we assign dice values. Values range from d6 to d12 (for godlike). I have no restrictions, but with the general idea of Wraith, I think we can stay simple. So, we'll give him: Intangibility: d8, Super Senses: d6, Reflexes: d10 (to display how quick he is on his feet), and Shadow Control: d8. Add some milestones (situations to give you Xp), and some SFX and the character is done. Period.
I created that character in the two minutes it took to type that paragraph. The system is -simple.-
The short of it, without getting into system mechanic specifics, is that the game has a unique system that is easy to customize battlefield effects, bonuses and drawbacks, and even make quick rules and modifications on the fly with a simple use of dice.
Players and Game Masters (Watchers) will use everything from d4 to d12 in dice, so be well stocked. You may roll multiples of each. However, do not let this intimidate you. Contrary to a previous review, this system is incredibly easy to learn and master. And, once you have it down, combat and non-combat scenes flow incredibly easy and feel dynamic. This is important. The dynamic aspect of this game due to the way players can assist one another, penalize their opponents, and adjust the environment (and the Game Master can do so as well) makes it a very interesting play!
To put it plainly: This is a very generously priced product that is well worth the expense.
The only reason this is 4 stars instead of 5 is because the layout of the book could definitely use some improvement.
PROS: Simple, easy to use system that gets you into play as quickly as possible. Play moves swiftly and the method by which you assemble your dice pool helps make players think about what their characters are doing and why they are doing it instead of just saying 'my to hit number is X and my die roll is Y'. This is a system that actually encourages team work both in terms of dice(using their solo, buddy and team mechanics) as well as their rules for creating assets. The best thing I can say about this game is that my players felt as if they were playing their characters instead of rolling for numbers.
CONS: Very little structure for creating original characters. The extremely rules lite and narrative approach will turn off players who feel the need to have exacting rules for every situation. The game is mostly combat oriented with very little on a character sheet for things like social or mental encounters. It can still be done there are just fewer options on a character sheet for them.
Overall I really enjoy this game. I would rate the system 4 stars and this particular incarnation of the rules 2 stars, however. The book has some organizational issues and I didn't really care for the heroes they offered in their roster section(they offer a ton of villains however, which is nice). For the price the book isn't bad but I am very much looking forward to the Civil War edition of the rules. If you're looking for a fast paced alternative to some of the other games out there right now I don't think you can go wrong with the Marvel Heroic RPG.
Here's the guns my Shadowrun 4th edition fire support ork "Sweep" has in his arsenal:
Weapon: Damage, Armour Penetration, Mode, Recoil Compensation, Ammo
Savalette Guardian: 5P, -1, SA/BF, 1, 12 (c)
Hammerli 620s: 4P, 0, SA, 1, 6 (c)
Ingram Smartgun X: 5P, 0, BF/FA, 2(3), 32 (c)
Ares Alpha: 6P(7P), -1(-2), SA/BF/FA, 2, 42 (c)
Ares MP-LMG: 7P, -2, BF/FA, 5(9), 50 (c)
Ares Desert Strike: 9P, -4, SA, (1), 14 (c)
Here's an equivalent block from my Marvel Heroic shape-changing synthezoid "Shift":
SFX: Burst Fire. Step up or double a GUNS die against a single target. Remove the highest rolling die and add an additional die to your total.
Limit: Out of Ammo. Shutdown GUNS and gain 1 PP. Take an action vs. doom pool to recover.
Regardless of whether you know what those stats mean, if that first block is what you want from an RPG and the second seems ludicrously simplified, then Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (which I'm gonna abbreviate MHR from now on) is probably not for you. However, if the simplicity of the second block is more appealing to you than the detail in the first, then MHR might be what you are looking for.
In short, MHR favours abstract over detail, and dramatic license over simulation. You won't find tables giving hit modifiers for cover, or range, or ammo capacities, or rules for grappling, tripping, and disarming, or anything of that sort. It abstracts everything down to three simple effects:
- If it helps you or an ally, it's an ASSET.
- If it hinders your foe, it's a COMPLICATION.
- If it hurts your target, it's STRESS or TRAUMA.
And, that's that. You want to take cover? Roll the dice and build the "TAKE COVER ARIZONA!" asset. Wanna trip someone? Roll the dice and inflict "DROPPED ON HIS BUTT" as a complication. And those names? I just made them up. You won't find them anywhere in the book. It's driven a lot by imagination and style over rules and rote. When does your gun run out of ammo? Well, the Watcher (i.e. them what runs the game) can invoke your limit at a dramatic moment, or you can do it yourself to gain a precious "Plot Point", which might help you out later. And so it goes.
For players used to a lot of structure, the abstract nature of the game might give you pause. Questions of "How do I do <x>? There's no rule for it!" are sure to pop up. It can take a bit to adjust to thinking of everything in terms of those basic effects above.
To answer some of the criticisms I've read in other reviews, all I can say is the rules really ARE simple. It's so straightforward it can take you aback a little. It's so open, the lack of structure might leave you foundering for a while until you find your proverbial sea legs. It might end up being TOO abstract for you, and that's a matter of taste. MHR won't be for everyone.
To one specific comment I've read... yes, the game does speak primarily about playing existing Marvel characters. However, it takes very little imagination to use the rules to build your own characters. No, there aren't any rules specifically labelled "Character Creation", but the "Understanding Datafiles" chapter gives you everything you need to build a character. Our team of New Avengers consists of 7 original characters, plus Luke Cage, Iron Fist,and Spider-Woman.
For those looking for some extra tools, the official Margaret Weis website has downloadable PDFs with one-sheet Player and Watcher rules summaries (very handy). That says something: all the rules that a player needs fit on one side of a regular piece of paper. There's also optional rules for randomly-rolled character creation if you like that style.
For me, after playing RPGs for better than 20 years, I love MHR. I still enjoy games with lots of details and "crunch" too from time to time, but I've really come to value dramatic flow in a game over tables and pages and pages of rules. I love that my all my character's game data fits on one side of a sheet of paper with room to spare. Our MHR sessions breeze by, sleak and streamlined, with lots of fun and laughter as players declare outrageous stunts and try to come up with clever names for assets and complications. I love that, as a Watcher, I have easy tools to bend the story dramatically.
Hopefully someone finds all this helpful. Have fun, and keep playing!