A fan site for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game by Margaret Weis Productions
Last time, I worked out a couple power trait home rules that have been out there. A good reading of the rules shows them to be unnecessary. Now, I will tackle some SFX that have come out, using the same logic, and with examples of how more effective systems are already in play.
I believe this SFX already exists. It’s called Berserk. To make a new system for that seems silly. I think I understand the rationale behind this idea, but the idea comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Doom Pool is and what it does. The Doom Pool represents the escalation of the threat in an Event. When a Berserk hero adds to the Doom Pool, he’s making things worse. If a Watcher is keeping an eye on what’s happening, the Berserk hero’s temper tantrum will result in all sorts of trouble for the heroes in a Scene.
When Wolverine gets riled up, he doesn’t take mental stress. He generally just makes things worse for everyone around him. This may mean injuring the bad guys, but it also means ramping up the difficulty for his teammates. As the tension in the scene rises, Wolverine might get a little sloppy. The result of this could mean that a villain can use larger bonus effect dice, add a larger die to the total of any roll, or other effects. The worst case scenario is that Wolverine can swing around the nutty stick to a point where the Watcher is sitting on 2d12, and can end the scene with Wolverine completely losing whatever sense he might have. In a crowded place maybe the police show up and hit him with a stun gun while everyone else has to make an escape to avoid capture themselves. This derails any plans the heroes might have of getting the bad guy because now Wolverine needs to get out of jail. The whole thing very brilliantly illustrates Wolverine’s need to strike a balance between his animal urges and the desire to do good, which is central to every great Wolverine story.
This one is hard to make sense of. Again, I understand the intent, but we end up going in directions here that don’t make a lot of sense. Firstly, there’s the notion of a typed complication. Complications don’t come down as emotional, mental, or physical. Then there’s this idea of stepping it up every time the ‘poisoned’ character acts. It doesn’t work that way. Finally, we see the afflicted (remember I said that) character being attacked by the Doom Pool. The Doom Pool doesn’t take actions of its own. If it did, when would this happen? Is the Doom Pool sentient now?
There’s an easy way around this that makes perfect sense within the rules. Afflict. It’s simple, and it doesn’t require any weird fundamental alterations of how the game works. The poisoning character places a ‘poisoned’ complication on his or her target. Any time anyone takes an action against the ‘poisoned’ character, the acting character can spend a PP or doom die to step up the complication or inflict additional stress as a result of the exertion being placed on the ‘poisoned’ character. The same holds true for reactions against that character. A player (or the Watcher) in control of the poisoning character may spend a PP (or doom die) to make it a persistent complication that will hang around until the end of the next Action Scene.
While Spider-Woman’s Pheromones are not deadly in and of themselves, they do exemplify what is going on here. To be fair, any poison or drug can be damaging if someone is exposed to enough of it. In the case of Spider-Woman, though, she uses her Pheromones to make her attacks more potent. From that moment on, anyone affected by the SFX has a much harder time in any actions against Spider-Woman or one of Spider-Woman’s allies. While the complication might not necessarily be used to cause stress, another character might use it for that, and in fact, does. Consider: Rogue.
This is entirely pointless. There are so many ways to avoid being hurt by what is hitting you, that this SFX is at best superfluous, and at worst abusive. I can’t think of a single hero that would use this as it seems to be intended. Perhaps it is a way for showing that a hero might go on taking damage without the negative effects of it. That’s an attempt to break the system. I wouldn’t as a Watcher stand for it.
Besides, we have Immunity. And Invulnerability. And Godlike Durability. If those weren’t enough, there are plenty of ways to avoid being hit in the first place. If you want a hero to show how tough he or she is, there are much better ways of showing it.
Here is the closest I could come up with for a tough hero that could get hurt without feeling it. He takes a pounding on a pretty regular basis. He can usually avoid being hurt altogether. When he does get hurt, he has a really hard time getting over it. It’s clean, and it doesn’t break the fundamental rules of the game.
So there’s our first (rather lengthy) installment of Damage Control. In the future, we’ll look at Limits, Specialties, Milestones, or anything else that makes this game not play the way it’s supposed to. Please let us know what you think. Our ears are always open.