Marvel Plot Points

A fan site for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game by Margaret Weis Productions

Distinctions and Power Sets

Today, we’re talking about Distinctions and Power Sets.

Distinctions are key words or phrases that should be familiar to someone who knows about a particular character (Thing’s ‘It’s Clobberin’ Time!’ comes to mind). These are traits that are double-edged swords.

A Distinction can be called on at any time by the player, giving them a D8 in the roll they’ll be using it for. We’ll use Spider-Man in today’s example.

Spider-Man has three Distinctions: “Friendly Neighborhood Hero?”, “Wisecracker”, and “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”.

These Distinctions, as I said before, can be used to gain a D8 in a circumstance it would make sense to appear in. A little girl is inside a burning building, and Spider-Man swoops in to save her, calling on the “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” distinction. That’s an extra D8 to your pool!

However, as a player, you can choose to use your Distinctions as a hinderance. Let’s look at “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” again. Peter Parker’s on a date with Mary Jane, when he hears the sound of someone getting beat up in an alleyway. He could ignore it and continue on his date, but instead, makes an excuse for running off, in order to fulfill his belief that “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. As a result, he only rolls a D4, and gains a Plot Point for use later.

Now, you look at that and say, “but you still get to roll a D4! That’s an advantage over not getting to roll an extra die at all!” True.

However, any time you roll a 1, that’s an opportunity for the Watcher to add a die to the Doom Pool. If you’re rolling a D4, you’ve just given the Watcher a 25% chance he’ll be getting another die. The smaller the die, the more likely you’ll be adding to the Pool.

It’s a great mechanic, as it provides for a lot of roleplaying opportunities. Spider-Man can use his “Wisecracker” ability to make some jokes at a villain’s expense, but the player could choose to make a joke at the wrong time, endangering the whole team. I’m looking forward to seeing this mechanic in play.

Now we’ll talk about Power Sets. This is what most people are probably going to look at first when they see a hero’s datafile. This tells not only what powers a hero has, but how powerful they are. For this example, we’ll look at Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel has a single Power Set, though other heroes have two. Her power Set is called Kree Genetics. Each of the powers within a Power Set have a range of D6 to D12. Hers are mostly D10s, with a couple D8s. For her Superhuman Durability D10, she’ll be able to roll that when she gets hit with something, while she’ll be able to roll Superhuman Strength D10 when punching a thug in the face. Pretty straightforward.

Where a Power Set shines is in the SFX. Each powerset has one or more SFX, which are kind of like Feats in D&D. You have a SFX that gives you a boost to your abilities.

For example, Ms. Marvel has three, one of which is called Energy Absorption. Basically, if she successfully rolls an energy attack against her, she can bump one of her powers up by one die for her next action. Her Superhuman Strength D10 just became Godlike Strength D12, for example. She can even still use that ability even if the opponent succeeded in their attack, as long as she spends a Plot Point.

In addition to SFX, Power Sets have Limits. These are things that can shut down your powers, or cause harm to your hero. The good side is, you usually choose when you want to perform this limit. Ms. Marvel has one that many heroes have, Overload. She can shut down her powers to gain a Plot Point, and recovers it by the Watcher rolling a 1, or during a Transition (a short break). This can be used to her advantage, if she wanted to, for example, get knocked out of the fight in order to build up some Plot Points. In addition the Watcher can activate Limits in some circumstances.

So that’s a Power Set. It’s what gives a hero their power, and also highlights their vunerabilities. I’ve really enjoyed looking over the different heroes’ powers, and can’t wait to see new ones in the upcoming Event books.

About Mark

Mark is a military veteran, game designer, a believer in the oxford comma, and an all-around nerd.

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2012 by in Review.

All images and names of characters and locations, unless expressly stated and are ™ & © Marvel & Subs. Used without permission.

Heroic Roleplaying & the Cortex Plus system ™ Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd.

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