Marvel Plot Points

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

Every Man a Team: Running Multiple Characters at Once

2012311-1316442511A couple of weeks ago, we had a commenter ask how he could have one of his players play both Fitz and Simmons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the same time. We had suggested having one character act in an action scene, supported by the other. This led me to think about how one could run a campaign where multiple characters are under your control.

This was explored a bit in Annihilation, where depending on where in the galaxy you were playing, you would play different characters. While this works, I think it can also work in nearly any campaign. And you can do it within the same scene.

Let’s look at the Breakout event, the titular event of Marvel Heroic, and the event that almost anyone who’s played Marvel Heroic has seen.

Say each player is playing two characters: S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents, and Avengers. The S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents are already on the scene when the explosion happens, causing them to act immediately. They are able to start moving through the Raft trying to contain various villains, but as street level heroes (Hawkeye, Black Widow, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) these villains are more than they can contain. The Avengers fly in to help. What you could do is have the players, during the action scene, switch between their heroes, just as if there were double the number of players at the table. Marvel Heroic works really well in that you always need to be paying attention because at any time your character can be called upon to act in defense of themselves, or be called on as their turn. You can’t really tune out when it’s not your turn.

You could continue this as the event progresses: While one group continues out into the city to round up villains, the other group heads to the Savage Land. At this point, you would probably want to split the action scenes into separate distinct scenes, so the group who heads to Manhattan acts, then you shift the focus to the Savage Land. By having each person playing two characters, they’re always involved in whatever scene is going on.

What do you think? Does this sound like a feasable thing for a campaign? I’d love to hear your feedback.


About Mark

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

4 comments on “Every Man a Team: Running Multiple Characters at Once

  1. Satnite Frights
    December 23, 2014

    Very feasible especially with troupe style play

  2. Hans Messersmith
    December 23, 2014

    This seems like a workable idea. One thing I have found that doesn’t work well is having two characters in the same scene. This means you are getting twice the screen time as everyone else, which is usually not conducive to fun. But splitting them physically in space and time is a neat idea. It would be a LONG action scene; I couldn’t see doing this with more than three players.

    As an aside, one thing that I have found works well for having a single player have multiple characters in the same scene is treating characters as powersets. Fitz and Simmons could be one character, two powersets.

    We did this the other night when Captain America picked up Power Pack as a bunch of sidekicks.

  3. cpip
    December 23, 2014

    In the last major Series we ran, what we ended up doing was generally having two characters per PC, as you said. It was a sort of callback to the old X-Men “Blue/Gold” team structure: so different teams would launch out on different missions, and we’d cut back and forth between them. It worked out pretty well, most of the time.

  4. Grady Bailey (@GB330033)
    January 2, 2015

    It’s definitely feasible, though it can be tricky to balance so that everyone has fun.

    So far, my experiement with one person playing both Fitz and Simmons has been working great, since they’re essentially playing them as two halves of the same person.

    Another experience I’ve had with multiple characters is when I ran my group though both “The Tape” event (Posted here a while back) and a “Dark Hulk” event of my own making. The players’ team was tasked with handling two completely different missions at once (to clean up earlier messes) and so they had to split up. We alternated stories with each weekly session, and the players who had characters on the other mission were given NPCs to play in the interim.

    IE: In “Dark Hulk”, two of the players’ team joined up with the West Coast Avengers, so the players who had characters working “The Tape” played as West Coast Avengers characters. I let them transfer a certain amount of XP over from their NPCs to their main characters at the end of the arc, so everyone still had an incentive to roleplay.

    All in all, it worked well, and I think it was a good test for what I’m going to try to do with Civil War. I’m planning to let each player pick their side, and then I’ll basically run two separate events with the two sides clashing every few sessions.

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This entry was posted on December 23, 2014 by in Tips & Tricks.

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