Marvel Plot Points

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

Secret War Action Scene: Ambush!

Buildup: Getting to the Action

This arc takes place primarily in NYC in the Present. The event that kicks off this arc is a hero being put into the hospital, comatose, from a seemingly random ambush attack. If you are following the storyline as presented in the comic, that character will be Luke Cage. However, if Cage was chosen by a player you will probably want to choose someone else. Either pick an appropriate alternate, or roll on the chart below to randomly select an alternate. Obviously, just reroll any results that are a player’s character. The character chosen should be one whose identity is publicly known.

  • Late in the afternoon a hero is admitted to the hospital. Any SHIELD-affiliated characters will likely hear about this event soon after it happens. Other characters will be unlikely to hear about it, unless they have a close personal connection to the comatose character.
  • By nightfall any SHIELD-affiliated character may be en route to the hospital. Other characters will likely either be returning home, or beginning patrol around NYC. Any character affiliated with the X-Men might be winding down at the end of the day on the grounds of Xavier’s School for gifted Youngsters. If any of these scenarios don’t fit your group, improvise as necessary. Perhaps they are in NYC for a business meeting or vacation.
  • The key to this setup is having the characters spread out prior to the action. Most of them should be Solo. Depending on the size of the group, you might have 1 or 2 Buddy teams.
  • Choose 1 of the PCs and mention that they have been having dreamlike flashbacks to a mission they have no conscious memory of being involved in. Be sure to note that every other PC is in the dream as well, including the hero that is in a coma.
  • Allow each PC to briefly describe what their character is doing at their particular location.

Action: Ambushed! (Present)

This scene occurs shortly after nightfall while the heroes are going about their business.

This scene will run slightly differently from most other actions scenes. For the most part, your heroes are going to be spread out far apart from each other. You could therefore run a series of individual one-on-one or two-on-two encounters, but that will likely be boring for the players not involved in the current action sequence. A better way to handle this is to think about it like a large battle sequence in a movie. The Helm’s Deep sequence in The Two Towers is a good example. During that battle each main character is briefly focused on for a moment, then they “cut away” to the next hero. Run this action scene in the same way.

This is a series of Solo or Buddy Action Scenes happening simultaneously. Choose the character to begin the scene, resolve the action, then have them choose the next character to act as usual. If the character they choose is not at the same location they are, then you “cut away” to the other location. Then repeat until all scenes are resolved.

Characters will not have any knowledge that anyone other than themselves are being attacked. Unless they are in a Buddy scene they will not be able to assist, or give resources or assets to other characters.


  • NYC: Apartment/Hotel Room
    • Distinction: Tight Quarters
    • Distinction: Personal Belongings
    • Complication: Annoying Neighbors- D10
  • NYC: Rooftop
    • Distinction: Long Way Down
    • Distinction: Dark Corners
    • Complication: Building Gaps- D8
  • NYC: En Route to the Hospital
    • Distinction: Crowded Street
    • Distinction: Alleyways
    • Complication: Innocent Bystanders- D10
  • Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters
    • Distinction: Wooded Grounds
    • Distinction: Mansion
    • Complication: Mutant Kids- D8

To determine which villain ambushes which character, either choose hero/villain pairings that are interesting to you, or roll on the random chart below.

The villains will not necessarily fight to the bitter end. When it becomes clear that they are outmatched they will likely try to flee. The exceptions to this would be villains with personal vendettas against whichever hero they are fighting, or those who have let their emotions get the better of them. Be sure to note any villains that escape so they can show up again during the big fight at the hospital.

You’ll be able to see all these villains tomorrow here on Plot Points!

8 comments on “Secret War Action Scene: Ambush!

  1. Andrew Gatlin
    April 20, 2012

    Just a note. The datafiles for Crossfire and Constrictor appear in the Basic Game rulebook. So if you use them, you will need that book.

  2. hawke
    April 20, 2012

    Did a quick scan but I’m having trouble seeing where a scene distinction and a scene complication is different. OM says a scene distinction is like a complication, but am curious if above Mutant Kids d8 can only be used as a complication on an opposed roll if relevant and could never be used as a positive?

    • Andrew Gatlin
      April 20, 2012

      Complications are always negative, but you can also take an action against the doom pool to eliminate them.

    • Andrew Gatlin
      April 20, 2012

      And in the Marvel RPG, every die you add to your pool has to be relevant to the action you are taking.

  3. Evan Franke
    April 20, 2012

    You guys are modeling a terrific approach for building an event scene by scene and laying out setting elements and datafiles. I am so impressed. Even if I don’t run the Secret War, watching you build this is teaching me so much that it is really valuable. Thank you.

    • Andrew Gatlin
      April 20, 2012

      Thanks Evan. Glad people are getting some use out of these posts.

  4. Pingback: Secret War Transition Scene: The Hospital « Plot Points

  5. Pingback: Secret War Action Scene: Throwdown at the Hospital « Plot Points

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This entry was posted on April 20, 2012 by in Secret War.

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