Marvel Plot Points

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

Why I Stopped Using Milestones in My Game


In my online game, we dumped the general idea of Milestones to collect XP. Why, you may ask? Frankly, I found it hard to keep track of everyone’s points based on their varying milestones.

I also think that the Milestones as set up in the original game system were way too generous. Spider-Man did not have any major changes as a character for the first 20 years of his comic book. Sure, he had some cool gadgets (assets/resources). But he pretty much stayed at the same power level with the occasional jaw-dropping stunt. In Secret Wars #8 (1984), he gets the black costume. But by that time, he would have racked up thousands of XP according to MHR.


My very first comic book ever. – Marvel Michael

To solve for this overly generous conundrum, I have replaced Milestones with Mission or Plot Objectives. If by the end of the event, characters don’t make the objective, they don’t get the XP. I usually keep the award anywhere from 5-10XP each event.

For the players, it makes it possible for them to play the game with one general objective in mind. They don’t have to keep checking their milestones every play, just like She-Hulk doesn’t check her iPhone each time she meets Titania. Simple plot. Punch her into next week.

Why is the Mission or Plot Objective system superior, in my opinion?

Think about this scenario.

You are playing a game where the plot involves the Captain America, Iron Fist, Punisher, and Silver Sable. The main enemy is the Kingpin. Per his norm, the Kingpin has hired the Shocker and Scorpion to assassinate the new mayor of New York.

I might dish out the Mission Objectives like so:
Captain America – 5XP for each villain (including Kingpin, his henchmen or the Punisher) behind bars by the end of the mission.
Iron Fist – 10XP if you succeed in capturing Kingpin and returning him to K’un-Lun to participate in a secret ninja ceremony required to save the 7 cities of heaven.
Punisher – 5XP for each super-villain you kill. Another 5XP if you convincingly try to start a romantic relationship with Silver Sable during this Event. (A creative player would need to write a real good reason for this despite Castle’s psychology.)
Silver Sable – 10XP for completing the main mission but by the end of the mission capturing Punisher to collect the bounty from a rich benefactor.
All Heroes (except Punisher) – 1XP every time you keep Punisher from killing someone.

Lastly, I send my players their objectives privately. If they choose to share them, that is up to them. But a secret agenda can throw a cool twist into the game.

cap-v-punExample: Like Sable allying with Punisher in the first Two Acts of an Event, only to turn on him in Act Three to collect her bounty. If in the first Two Acts, Punisher might ask Sable what she is doing in New York. The player can have the character lie. “I’m here to collect a bounty on Kingpin,” Sable might say. Later, Sable knocks Punisher out and tries to laod him into her airplane. Meanwhile, the player playing Punisher is busy trying to figure out how this storyline can end up with Castle and Sable locking lips. On top of all this, Captain America wants to get Punisher and Kingpin to the Raft, only to have Iron Fist and Sable working their own schemes the entire time. DRAMA! I love it!)

As you can imagine, taking time to write conflicting objectives can really create some tense moments. This allows me to tailor objectives to each mission and up the drama or humor.


About Michael Dismuke

I am a freelance writer for Star Trek Adventures RPG and creator of Gamemasters Comics []. I currently am a writer for Continuing Missions, and if the universe goes right, the Fantastic Four movie reboot. (Last part's a joke, though, I wish it wasn't.)

6 comments on “Why I Stopped Using Milestones in My Game

  1. Michael Dismuke
    February 22, 2017

    I want to add a note to this, based on some great feedback I received from +Alfred Rudzki. I actually DO let my players pick their own objectives. It does make them more engaged. But I do want them to push the envelope and get into the acting phase of RPG. So, sometimes the Watcher steps in to crank up the drama, which makes Marvel Comics so great. Can’t always play it safe.

  2. Kingpin
    February 23, 2017

    You could it make more tense by let the players draw cards with the miliestones. For example: The player of Silver Sable draws “10XP for completing the main mission but by the end of the mission capturing [the player character left of you] to collect the bounty from a rich benefactor.”.

    • Michael Dismuke
      February 23, 2017

      Ooooh. Me likey that idea too. That will really make them have to get creative. We play online though so should we decide left according to latitude or longitude?

      • Kingpin
        February 23, 2017

        longitude, maybe…

        You could even replace the “rich befactor” with the most fitting term. Captain America should do it to serve justice.

  3. Eric
    April 21, 2017

    Experience points was just made for changing your power level. They are made for just about everything, such as unlockables. He was gaining that extra advantage of knowing his enemy, or some kind of benefit for that issue or story arc. Or calling in a favor or guest appearance on another hero to help out. He also gained plenty of new contacts and resources throughout those first 20 years. Who knows how many times his distinctions changed that corresponded with his feelings, life style and so on. There is no leveling up in this game.
    Now look at the last 30 years, how often he has changed his powers, suits, etc. New writers with their new ideas, different than the previews writer.
    But I do agree with you about the generosity of the xp, so I curbed my Event milestones to 5 xp to close. But left the personal as 10 xp and tell my players that, by closing a personal milestone, your character is experiencing some form of change.
    Your objectives are awesome as well.

  4. Pingback: Why I Use Milestones (And Why You Should, Too) | Marvel Plot Points

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2017 by in Uncategorized.

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