Avengers Assemble! (a review of Marvel RPG 2012)

The last couple weeks, my Monday night game night (with Rodney Thompson, Logan Bonner, Derek Guder, Dan Helmick, and Chris Tulach) has been exploring the first couple events of the this-month-released Marvel RPG, from Margaret Weis Productions.


And my verdict? Pretty darn awesome.

Highlights from the first session (the Breakout event, which comes from the first few issues of New Avengers, by Bendis) saw:

1) Wolverine (played by Derek) taking out Carnage by himself and pretty much being a badass

2) Captain America (Rodney) directing the team to keep a bunch of the prisoners contained

3) The classic buddy team of Iron Fist (Chris) and Luke Cage (Dan) kicking some serious butt

and of course

4) The only one with, y’know, REAL powers–Ms. Marvel (me) taking out Count Nefaria by body-slamming him into Living Laser, who she then absorbed, and quitting SHIELD to join the Avengers (basically giving Maria Hill the finger) because damn, 20 xp.

Tonight saw us travel to the Savage Land (the next part of that story), where:

1) Wolverine assured Ms. Marvel they should not drink together because inevitably she would hit on him (it’s his curse),

2) Ms. Marvel apologized to Iron Fist after using his private jet to stab a T-Rex to death (mistakes were made)

3) Cap took out three velociraptors with his bouncing shield

4) Luke Cage fastball-specialed Wolverine into the thick of a gang of mutates

5) Wolverine intimidated a villain into fleeing in one attempt (he’s the best at what he does)

6) Iron Fist took out Vertigo after she put the emotional whammy on him about his feelings of inadequacy and intimacy problems

7) Ms. Marvel absorbed so much energy she took out two villains in one counter blast

Also, the session ended with Ms. M unlocking her old Binary powers, and she might explode next session. You never know.

(Can you tell I like playing her?)

Anyway, the game is pretty sweet. It rewards creativity: you build a dice pool based on your situation, drawing on your persona, your power set, your skills, and resources/assets (like Cap’s shield) that are at hand. Your power set is a series of dice you *could* add–generally of d6s, d8s, and d10s, which determine success and effect–you have to come up with why the dice apply. It’s less about how many dice there are as much as how likely those dice are to give you the numbers you need–generally, you need two fairly good results for your “attack” number and one decent “effect” die (the effect is determined not by what you roll, but by the size of the die–d8, d10, etc).

(Note: No d20s are ever used/harmed in the playing of this game.)

It also depends on whether you’re going solo, in a buddy sitch (two heroes), or in a team fight. Ms. Marvel, for instance, is best at team fighting (she adds a d10 to those dice pools), good at solo (d8), and only ok at buddy situations (d6). This pretty much reflects her style in the comics, too. :)

You also have specific uses of your powers (called SFX) which modify die pools or have special effects. For instance, when Ms. Marvel uses the SFX Energy Absorption to defend against an energy attack, it enhances her next use of her powers, be they a blast, super strength, or flight.

Your hero’s characteristics might also work against him/her, which you can do voluntarily (or the DM–the Watcher–can do). If you do this (adding a d4), or you roll a 1 as part of your dice pool, you get plot points, which you can spend to take advantage of enemy mistakes, empower your attacks, or pull off cool stunts.

I will say that the game is a little complicated and not that easy to get into, but once you’re there, it’s really fun for folks of all play styles.

This is a fun game, and I look forward to the third and final part of our Savage Land arc!



About Erik Scott de Bie

Erik Scott de Bie is a 30-something writer, dealing mostly in fantasy and other speculative fiction. He is perhaps best known for his work in the panoramic Forgotten Realms setting (GHOSTWALKER, DEPTHS OF MADNESS, and the SHADOWBANE series), as well as the WORLD OF RUIN series (SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING [out now!], SHIELD OF THE SUMMER PRINCE [forthcoming!]), as well as the standalone novel SCOURGE OF THE REALM. He moonlights as a game designer (NEVERWINTER, GLOOMWROUGHT, BAD MOON RISING) and comic book scribe (JUSTICE/VENGEANCE). He lives in Seattle with his wife, cats, and dog.
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2 responses to Avengers Assemble! (a review of Marvel RPG 2012)

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