Marvel Plot Points

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

Specific Rules Questions: Chases and Throwing One Character at Another

Lobo the Duck. Because, why not?

Lobo the Duck. Because, why not?

I’m noticing certain trends now that Marvel Heroic Roleplaying has passed on. Some time has passed and fans of the game are emerging. With this emergence I am seeing a surge in rules questions that were not specifically spelled out in the basic rulebook. Some have gone so far as to claim this as a limitation of the game, but I think the absence of specific rules speaks to the game’s strengths. I’d like to outline a couple of these ‘absent’ rules now, and address more as they come to my attention.

The first of these I saw in a review of the game that didn’t fully understand the rules. The solution was pretty simple once I was able to step back and consider how it would work within the mechanics of the game. The other was a situation that came up in a game I was running, and I had a pretty hard time with it until I could step away and reason it out.

1) Chase Scenes

These invariably come up. The villain’s plan goes all eggplant-shaped, and his or her best option is to hightail it out of there. The heroes, whose main job is to bring the bad guys to justice (usually), pursue. How do you determine any aspect of a chase without hard numbers for speed , distance, or range? Will the heroes catch the bad guy? Will the bad guy evade capture? How would you ever find out?

Here’s what you do

When a chase starts, it’s like a new Action Scene. Now this particular kind of Action Scene can take place at the end of an Action Scene or in the middle of a current Action Scene. The latter is especially the case if a villain runs off and and the team splits so that one group can chase while the other(s) remain behind to continue the action. It starts when the runner takes an Action to leave the Scene. We’ll use the terms ‘Runner’ and ‘Pursuer’ to describe the sides of the conflict.

  1. The Runner establishes the initial distance. If the Runner is a player Hero, the Runner takes an Action against the Doom Pool using the effect die for the initial distance. If the Runner is a Watcher character, the Watcher spends a d8 or larger Doom Die (like you would for a Scene Distinction) to establish the distance. Either way, the effect die becomes a Distance (die) complication.
  2. Any Pursuing characters take an action against the running character to close the distance. The Pursuer(s) target the Distance complication as normal with successes stepping it back. The Runner(s) target the complication as well using successes to step it up.
  3. If the Distance die steps up beyond d12, the Runner escapes. If the Distance die steps back below d4, the Pursuer(s) catch the Runner.

This has the potential to go all kinds of different ways, but this is at least the groundwork.

Bringing More…to the Chase

Just because there’s a chase going on, there’s no reason both sides couldn’t make things go a little more sideways. There’s nothing stopping a character from making a ranged attack on another participant. The Runner might decide to do something to alter the landscape, like blowing up a car or knocking down some trees, creating a new complication to slow down anyone pursuing. Any of these extra actions would assume the characters are still moving, but not attempting to change the distance necessarily. Mix it up! The best chase scenes are usually more than just a foot race.

2) Throwing One Character at Another

This idea plagued me. A player was playing as Iron Man, and he wanted to throw the Controller at Jigsaw. I was flummoxed. I had no idea where to start with this. After some thinking, I devised a system. I will use the characters that were involved to illustrate.

  1. Iron Man takes an action against the Controller. If he succeeds, he uses his effect die to place a Grappled (die) complication on the Controller.
  2. Depending on the action order, the Controller may get the opportunity to break the hold before Iron Man’s next turn. If he does, then he can take an action to reduce the complication, as normal. If it steps back below d4, then he breaks the hold.
  3. On Iron Man’s next turn, after wrestling with his enemy for a bit, he can throw the Controller at Jigsaw. He takes an action against Jigsaw. In this case, though, the Watcher builds the dice pool from the Controller’s datafile, with the addition of the Grappled die. This represents the fact that the Controller is actively working against becoming a flying object. Iron Man may spend Plot Points to use additional traits and boost the roll.
  4. Jigsaw makes a reaction roll against the attack. Iron Man may spend a Plot Point to keep an additional effect die for inflicting stress on the Controller. If Iron Man does this, Controller also makes a reaction roll.
  5. Once reactions are resolved and effects are worked out, whoever is playing the thrown character decides who goes next. The reason for this is that Iron Man’s player automatically decides that the Controller goes after him, and the action taking place here is the combined turns of Iron Man and the Controller. This means that the Controller is taken out of the action order until the next time around.

This method also includes the method for working out the infamous Fastball Special. The biggest difference is the motives of the characters involved. In the Fastball Special, the thrown character is not fighting against the act and is using the act of getting thrown to his or her advantage. Here’s how it works differently. In this case, I’ll use the classic combination of Colossus and Wolverine.

  1. Colossus takes an action against the doom pool. If he succeeds, his effect die becomes a Fastball Special asset for Wolverine’s next action. Wolverine gets the next turn.
  2. Wolverine takes his action against the target with the Fastball Special asset as normal.

One thing to be aware of here is that the throwing character needs to be strong enough to throw the other character. It would be kind of silly to see Shadowcat chucking the Hulk around like a tennis ball. As a general rule, I’d say a Strength of d10 should be enough to pick up most characters. Particularly big characters would require a d12. Don’t feel restricted by the Strength power trait, though. If Storm decides she might want to huck Wolvie at a target by calling up a d12 wind (using her Weather Supremacy), go ahead. There’s no reason that should be a limitation.

Bringing More…to Throwing a Guy

Let’s say for a minute you’re the thrower, and the complication die you’re bringing to the situation is only a d6. You could take an action to step that die up so that you’re adding a little more effort to the throw. Keep in mind that your victim will also have the chance to break the hold, so you have to be pretty confident that you will be able to overpower the other one’s rolls on both actions. Otherwise you will have a hard time stepping up and maintaining the larger die. If you’re the Thing, and you’re trying to throw a run of the mill thug, you probably won’t get much resistance, so you might as well try it. Use your discretion.


So, what do you all have? Are there particular rules systems you might have wanted to see that weren’t hammered out in the rulebook? Chances are the rules are there, it’s just a matter of looking at it from another angle. If there are ideas that you can’t figure out, tell us in the comments. We’ll give it a look.

*UPDATE* 2/15

After taking a careful look at these ideas I added a couple of ways to make these rules a little more dynamic you can see that under the “Bringing More” sections.

5 comments on “Specific Rules Questions: Chases and Throwing One Character at Another

  1. dbw08a
    February 15, 2014

    Good rules addendum! I especially like the Chase Scene rules. Catching Quicksilver would be pretty tough with that d12 Godlike Speed of his!

    Keep up the good work!

  2. William Patrick Butler
    February 18, 2014

    well done 🙂

  3. Clinton Lowe
    February 27, 2014

    I came into a similar situation as ‘throw another guy’ except mine was beating villain by using another villain as a baseball bat. Hilarious in visual, weird in mechanics. I used the same principle you stated above. As for throwing someone, shadowcat could theoretically throw smaller people than the hulk due to her combat training. So it would have to fit the narrative.

    • icuseamus
      February 27, 2014

      When it comes to throwing someone, I see what you’re saying about Shadowcat, although I’d say there was a difference between a judo-style throw, and the picking someone up and hurling them at a target some distance away.It’s easy to narritively describe the a hip toss that lands the opponent a foot or two away, but a different thing when a pro wrestler hurls a guy into his tag team partner.

  4. heathwilder
    February 28, 2014

    Excellent! We had Rage judo throw a charging Mr Hyde into Carnage last game similar to this. Extra pp spending caused both baddies to take stress. I had players get up from the table demonstrating their moves. That’s immersion. Love MHRP

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This entry was posted on February 15, 2014 by in Tips & Tricks and tagged , .

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