A fan site for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game by Margaret Weis Productions
Hello to all Plot Pointers! My name is Joshua Unruh and I’m the newest blogger to join the Plot Points stable. It took the death of the Marvel part of Marvel Heroic to force my involvement in the fan community, but I’m very glad to be forced. And I’m even happier that Plot Points would have me.
By way of bonafides, I’m 35 years old and I’ve been reading superhero comics for thirty of those years. I’ve been a tabletop roleplayer for about twenty-five of those years. Now, while I cut my teeth on the TSR Marvel game and have a lot of nostalgic love for it, Marvel Heroic is the first superhero RPG that I’ve enjoyed as a superhero game.
Slow down, ye fans of Champions or Mutants & Masterminds! Let me explain! The thing that MHRPG does that no other superhero RPG has bothered to do is emulate the genre. The fine folks at Margaret Weiss Productions didn’t set out to do a game with superheroes in it, they set out to do a game that worked like a comic book story. And that, friends, has made all the difference.
Over the last few years, I’ve become interested in the so-called “story games” end of the RPG pool. One of the main hooks for story games is that the rules reinforce the genre. I make my living as a professional writer, mainly as a novelist, and this approach appeals to the novelist in me. The “hero” of my hardboiled detective novella doesn’t act like the heroes of my Young Adult Spy-Fi who don’t act like the hero of my Viking saga fantasy. The worlds around these heroes don’t act the same from story type to story type. Even physics serves the whim of all-powerful genre.
And freeing superheroes from the tropes of more traditional roleplaying games to instead build a game around how superheroes work…well, that’s just magic.
As a writer and longtime comic book fan, I have spent literally countless hours thinking about how superheroes and their stories work. Meta-mythologies, jointly created universes under a deadline, the superhero as super-category, I can wax poetic about all of them. But at the end of the day, I’d rather play them. (Well, most of all I’d rather write them, but that’s a work in progress.)
And if there’s a piece of good news mixed into Heroic’s newfound freedom from the Marvel IP, it’s probably that Heroic is now utterly free of Marvel’s IP. We can now, with an utterly clear conscience, play in other sandboxes, from the most obvious (like DC) to our own sandboxes (my three tween girl spies could totally work in a Heroic game).
While I struggle with a lot of the output from either of the Big Two these days, I’ve been predominantly a DC guy since college. So the first thing I’m going to do for Plot Points is some write-ups of the major players at the Distinguished Competition. I plan to start with Batman, but that’s not just because he’s the greatest character in the history of Western Literature.
I’m going to start with Batman because, thanks to Batman Incorporated, he’s probably the best character to show how versatile in its simplicity Heroic is. Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are very different Batmen. Tim Drake and Damien Wayne are very different Robins. Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown are very different Batgirls. And while the powers and their attendant dice may be very similar, things like affiliations, names for SFX, and Milestones (the crown jewel of Heroic) are going to show how different they can feel and play.
I hope that sounds really exciting to everyone! I know I’m excited to get started. So give me a few minutes and I’m sure I’ll have some controversial things to say about Batman in an upcoming post. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!