So far, we’ve looked at how Marvel RPG handles character generation, and given the Gamers Handbooks the once over. That’s all well and good, but what really matters is what it’s like to actually sit down and play the thing.
And the great news is, the Marvel RPG plays, brilliantly. Right at it’s core is this chart:
This, plus your character sheet and a d10, is all you need to play the game. Cross-reference your ability with a d100 roll, apply any modifiers (usually giving Column Shifts up or down the table), and check the result. The colour-coding goes from White (a fail – usually a Miss) through to Red (a critical, in modern parlance), but as there’s also Green (success) and Yellow (better….) too, it gives us three degrees of success rather than the more common two (success or critical success).
In other words – don’t be deceived by the simplicity of the rules; it’s actually more granular than other supposedly “advanced” systems. That’s also helped by the wealth of defensive choices in the game too – just check the top of the chart where you’ll find how to Grab, Escape, Charge, Dodge, Evade, Block and Catch too. It’s a system where combat is a two-way thing where both the attacker and defender has a say in the outcome of each block, yet it manages to keep things flowing very quickly indeed.
If big colourful charts aren’t your thing, one of the supplements (New York, New York?) included a Resolution Wheel which you revolved to look up your results. We preferred the table, finding the Wheel just a bit too fiddling and distracting in play. If round things are your thang though, there’s a number of variants (along with an excellent Judges Screen, revised and errata’d copies of the rules and superb netbooks) on this page at Classic Marvel.
Either way, it’s refreshing to play a game that’s so streamlined. Given that the Marvel RPG was released by TSR (famous for making a certain fantasy role-playing game), it’s unsurprising that the mechanics weren’t adapted into other genres. I’d have loved to see an official FASERIP-based fantasy or WWII game, for example. There’s no shortage of unofficial ports though, with Classic Marvel itself providing more than enough information to roll your own.
If you want to try the Marvel RPG yourself head over to Classic Marvel where the entire system and supplements can be downloaded for free. Go to Other Stuff->Downloads->Advanced Game and Modules for the Marvel RPG Advanced Set. Spend some time surfing the site – it’s a terrific resource full of more role-playing goodness than you can possibly imagine.
Super Special Day Four Bonus: Head over to The Gamer Dome where they’ve very kindly compiled all of the Supplemental articles from the pages of Dragon Magazine into one terrific free PDF of Marvelly goodness. The high-point for me has to article about ROM and the Space Knights complete with character generation so you can roll your own Space Knight!
Make Mine Marvel!