Saturday, February 25, 2012

Unexpected Gaming Night

This afternoon, I got an unexpected invite to join some folks from the Vigilance Podcast to play the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game, from Margaret Weis Productions.  So, for the past three hours, I've been Luke Cage, helping Spider-Man and Iron Man try to put the hurt on Carnage, Electro, and Tombstone.  It was both my first time playing MHR, and my first time playing via Skype.  Things didn't go very well for Luke, I'm sorry to say, but all in all, the game itself went quite well. 

MHR is a different sort of superhero game, far more interested in telling comic book stories than simulating comic book powers, if that makes any sense.  It uses a very interesting dice management game, one that's entirely transparent, so the players and GM know exactly what they need to do to succeed at any given time, so they can make informed choices in spending plot points in order to add to or manipulate their dice pools.

One thing I particularly like about it is how the rules for gaining plot points (the economy of the game) are explicit throughout.  Too often in games like Mutants & Masterminds or ICONS, a stingy GM can bog down the players when they should be giving out points.  In MHR, the ways both the players and the Watcher (the GM) are spelled out in clear and simple detail (as are the ways to spend them).

Actually, the Watcher doesn't have plot points.  He has the Doom Pool.  And a splendid mechanic it is.  You see, at the beginning of a game, the pool only consists of 2d6.  However, he can give the players plot points in specific circumstances which allow him to either add more dice to the pool or increase the size of the dice, to d8, d10, or even d12.  These dice are used (again, in very specifically defined ways) to make the heroes' lives miserable.  And since the threat of the pool increases as the adventure progresses, the overall tension level goes up.  However, some of the things the Watcher can do with the pool deplete its dice, possibly permanently.  So the management game exists on that side of the table as well.

I'm not sure MHR would work with the entirety of my regular gaming group.  But with the right bunch of players (like the ones we had tonight), it totally works.

Tomorrow, I've got an actual pre-scheduled game, going back to our 4e D&D campaign for the first time since November or so.  We're starting early and bringing a pot-luck dinner to celebrate.  Here's hoping the rest of you get to rock the dice this weekend.


  1. Yeah, my gut reaction from reading it (still haven't played it yet), is that it won't replace my preferred game could be fun for a change of pace. Unless I try it and absolutely hate it, and I don't think I will, I think they've got a winner on their hands.

  2. The GM at my usual Wednesday gaming group wants to play this. At some point I am sure we will. I have listened to the first 20 minutes of this, it's interesting I need to finish it up.

  3. @JeffM: We're recording another actual play this weekend, with Jack Norris (author of the upcoming Civil War event supplement) GMing.