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EN World Review – Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game

marvel rpg coverGreeting Fellow Gamers!  I hope this Wednesday finds you well and in good spirits, and with lits of hope for a great weekend ahead!  I myself will be having a double-game weekend, with both my local D&D 4E game on Friday night, and my bi-weekly 4E game in Ohio on Saturday night, so I have a lot to look forward to coming up in only a few days!

However, this week as promised, I won’t be reviewing a D&D 4E product, or even a Pathfinder product.  But in honor of the incredibly successful opening weekend of The Avengers Movie, I am taking a look at the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game by Margaret Weis Productions.  For those familiar with Ms. Weis, she was co-creator of the Dragonlance D&D setting, as well as many other modules, Dragon Magazine articles, and series of novels.  Her company has developed an RPG engine called the Cortex System, which has been used in the Battlestar Glalactica RPG, the Serenity RPG, and other games based upon television series such as Smallville, Supernatural, and Leverage.  A derivation called Cortex Plus was used with this new superhero RPG, offering a new innovation to standard roleplaying game systems.

To check out all the details about this game, please click the link below and head over to EN World to read the review in full:

Review of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game by Margaret Weis Productions

Regretfully, I feel like the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game is only half of a real roleplaying game, lacking a character generation system or resources for gamemasters to create additional adventures on their own.  While the system includes a pre-made adventure and pre-made Marvel characters, without buying additional Events, there is no way for a Watcher (gamemaster) to continue to play the game with his (or her) fellow gamers.

Considering that a friend of mine was able to take the basic rulebook for Champions (published more than 20 years ago), and run several successful campaigns set in the Marvel Universe over the years using only comic books and a few online sources, it makes the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game seem anemic and sad by comparison.  I was definitely hoping for a better showing for a game carrying the Marvel Comics trademark, and although I am a huge fan-boy of all things Marvel, would prefer to pull out my old trusty Champions RPG, and just use it instead of this new partial build of a role-playing game.

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

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About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


6 Responses to “EN World Review – Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game”

  1. migo says:

    It does have a character generation system, it’s not done in detail the way you’d expect, and I could see how if you had skimmed through the book (which I suspect is the case given the anemic review) you would miss it, but it is there.

    As for GMs being unable to create adventures – total hogwash. Anyone who has played any amount of RPGs knows that it’s possible for GMs to create adventures without having system specific instructions. MHR provides a template for further adventures, you can follow the template, change the specifics of various elements and you’re good to go.

    And this isn’t a case of the rule zero fallacy, character creation is just very different due to the indie roots. Adventure generation could be more detailed, but even D&D of any edition hasn’t been detailed on that in the core books. You need DMG2 for 3.5 and 4e, DMGR2 for 2e for more detail, and those systems are still designed to get you to buy adventure content.

  2. [...] original here: NEUROGLYPH Games » EN World Review – Marvel Heroic … Game Review Guide1030 E. Hwy 377, Ste 110 Pmb [...]

  3. @migo – As an FYI, the comments on this site are not the review, but merely a pointer with a few comments to the far more detailed and complete EN World review. As I state on EN World, I read through the rules completely twice and would hardly call over 3000 words on the topic of MHR anemic. The character creation system of random elements is hardly a creation system, and the 5 pages in the MHR main rulebook are vague to the point of transparency. That system is clearly designed to mock up additional heroes from the Marvel Universe, but gives you really no handle on creating your own. Again, as far as creating adventures, there is almost nothing in the MHR book to use as a guide to handling much more than static scenes. I stand by my assertion that if you want a real and complete superhero RPG, go buy Champions – it comes with everything you need to build a character, as well as run a setting. This book is little more than rules to run the module the designers opted to include, in order to get you to go out and buy their additional modules. Sorry, that does not a game system make.

  4. [...] EN World Review – on Neuroglyph (Added 5/11/12) [...]

  5. migo says:

    Again, you’re expecting a traditional RPG while you’re getting an Indie RPG. That doesn’t mean it’s not a game system, it means it’s different. A system like Champions gives you a detailed and involved point buy system that in the end can’t model certain characters and even at the same point cost doesn’t give you any real balance. MHR lets you actually make the characters you want – Green Lantern would be pretty much impossible to do while staying true to the comic book roots in Champions, you’d end up with a rather absurd situation like the GL video game in which case he just does what Kratos does. The character creation process in MHR is simple, set affiliation dice, pick 1-2 power sets with 2-5 powers each, distribute dice among them, add some SFX, some distinctions and some skills. Create a couple of Milestones, and make sure everyone in the group is comfortable with the character. The last step is something you’d need to do anyway with Champions given where min-maxing can go, but in Champions you’ll get arguments because the character took a long time to make and is made according to the rules. You’re expecting to have your hand held every step of the way, MHR skips the pretense and gives you a simple framework that works better than any of the complex ones you’d otherwise go for. Champions, like any point buy system, only works if you’re making a character by selecting powers and abilities from the list provided, it doesn’t work if you start with a concept and want to realize that concept. MHR lets you start with the concept and actually put that character together. It also lets Jubilee, Wolverine and Jean Gray fight side by side without having Jubilee woefully underpowered compared to Jean Gray. No point buy system will ever let you do that.

  6. Umm news flash – Jean Gray IS more powerful than Jubilee, and if the game system normalizes the two characters, then you’re not really playing in the Marvel Universe anymore. And I think that’s what bothers me so much about this indie system – it does not make any sense at all for the various power levels of the superheroes in the IP. Guess if you want Spiderman to be able to beat Galactus it works for you, but I’m not buying into the whole “it’s indie… so it’s better than traditional game… cause it’s indie” line of thinking.

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