[MHR] Silver Age play

edited March 2012 in Story Games
Someone asked in another thread about using Marvel Heroic Roleplaying in a Silver Age comics game. (For people who don't know this stuff, "Silver Age" stuff tends to involve lots of coincidence, surreal stuff, and scenery-chewing melodrama, among other features.) I've been running a supers campaign across a couple different game systems (With Great Power, Primetime Adventures, Marvel Super Heroes) off-and-on for the last 3 years or so, and in this past week we've played two sessions worth of Marvel Heroic. It seems to be working out so far. It does some stuff better than these other games, and some stuff worse.

In terms of facilitating Silver Age play specifically: In one game, the Swordsman (a super hero who is Z-grade only by virtue of there being a mere 26 letters in the alphabet) subdued three indescribable Super-Apes because his gimmicked sword contains not only every kind of offensive weapon, but also can spray gorilla control pheromones. Because of course it does. (This kind of thing is so trivial in With Great Power and Primetime Adventures that it barely registers; Marvel Super Heroes permits it, but it's very expensive and difficult to pull off (because the game assumes you're trying to turn it into a permanent power); in Marvel Heroic it carries a tiny cost, which (for me) feels just about right in play.)

While Marvel Heroic doesn't really any GM support for this kind of play, the Assets, Complications, and Stunts are extremely open-ended. This makes it pretty easy to ad-lib absurd coincidences and flip physics the bird. I don't think the players have really picked up on this yet, but I'm looking forward to working some of this in.

There's also a sense that power-levels are a little more uniform, which makes sense for a setting without 50 years of power-creep. Hawkeye and the Swordsman neutralized most of the Fantastic Four (blinding the Thing and then pushing him off the roof of the Baxter Building, flirting with the Invisible Girl, and then gluing Mister Fantastic to a wall), which my comics-intuition tells me shouldn't happen--except that this is a story about Hawkeye & Co., so naturally it's possible after all.

Some stuff I like, not necessarily related to Silver Age stuff specifically:
* Support characters like Hawkeye and the Wasp are far more viable in this system than in Marvel Super Heroes

* The Scarlet Witch's powers make sense for the first time in the history of comics: she's just spewing out complications all over the place

* Character designs depend a large part on concept work and personality--coming up with distinctions and milestones is fun

* Statting up characters on the fly is pretty easy. Both sessions were about 80% improv.

Some stuff I don't like, not necessarily related to Silver Age stuff specifically:
* Figuring out how to manage the doom pool takes some getting used to

* Heroes seem to have an easy time of it - in 5 sessions with this thing, no player has been incapacitated by stress

* It's really easy to rack up XP. One player hit 20 XP in a single session (admittedly with a 10 point milestone)

* I don't like the "GM characters vs. GM characters = just make something up" approach. In one game, a mob of Soviet Iron Man armors fought a giant flying octopus while the super heroes tussled with the Titanium Man below. I was totally fine saying, "Eh, the guys up above seem to be at a stalemate," but it would have been nice to have some unexpected results from the dice to work in somehow.

On the whole, I'm not sure this is the perfect game for our group, but it seems to be working well so far. One player loves it; the others are befuddled-to-intrigued.
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