Tag Archive for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

Drive Thru RPG Review: Annihilation Premium Event Book

I am a big fan of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game. I have reviewed the basic game as well as the premium edition of the Civil War event book. So, it should come as no surprise that with the release of the Annihilation event book that I would be posting a review of it as well.

I have mentioned this before but I really like how Margaret Weis Productions has two version of an event book. The essentials edition of the book gives you everything that you need to run the event in question. It comes with a broad selection of data files for heroes that would be appropriate for the event. All you need to get started is a copy of the basic game itself and you are ready to go. If you are like me and with a group that never has a copy of the rules, then there is the premium edition. The premium book includes all the the information of the basic book so that the rules are at the beginning of the book and the second half of the book is all the information that you need for the event. This allows me to bring both my basic rules and the premium event book to the game and have enough copies of the game to make for a much better experience. Yes, the premium edition does cost more but it is an upgrade well worth it for my group.

The book itself is a beast in size with a hefty 386 page count. As I’ve come to expect from the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game, it is a gorgeous book. The layout, just as it was in the Civil War event book, is well done and makes for an easy read. The pages are chock full of art ripped right from the pages of the comics themselves. The text is well written and easy to understand with plenty of sidebar references scattered throughout to make for quick transitions when going from scene to scene in the event. I also really appreciated the appendix referencing the issues where this story line could be found. As with civil war, I had not read this story and it is nice having something pointing the way to the source material.

In the rules department, there was one optional rule that was added that I appreciated. This was the timed action complication. During this event, there are points where time is of the essence. This is represented by a Timer complication. During play, the watcher can spend a die from the Doom Pool to add this complication. This complication starts at a D6 but can vary depending on the urgency with which the characters need to move. This complication gets a place in the Action Order. Every time it comes up the die progresses. Once the die reaches a D12, there are normally two options. It will either trigger a specific outcome as delineated in the event book or it will progress through action order again to the point where it will double. This will then provide the Doom Pool with 2D12 which can be used to end the scene as per the rules. I love this option. It really allows the Watcher to ramp up the tension while also giving the players other options as they look at actions that can roll back the timer die to give themselves more time.

I love the cosmic level heroes and threats that are present within the Marvel Universe. This made this book a joy irregardless of my familiarity with the story. Seeing the likes of Galactus, Silver Surfer, Firelord, and Rocket Raccoon was enough to elicit a delightful squee from me. If the cosmic arena is not something you have ever had an interest in, this book gives a good overview of the section of the galaxy in which this event takes place. It explains the Kree, the Skrull, The Shi’ar as well as the less powerful alien races that would be encountered during the story. It also provides an abbreviated primer on the creation of the Marvel universe giving the Watcher a nice foundation to begin running the event. There are plenty of nice additions thought out this section. The stat blocks for the different variations of the aliens being just one. A plethora of Milestones and unlockables are also presented here as well. Milestones are guideposts for how to play a character throughout the story. The ones presented in this section present themes that connect a character to the story line as it progresses or to a more general cosmic feel over all. The unlockables are characters, gear, and assistance that will be useful throughout the event and can be purchased with XP. The ones pertaining to Galactus were my favorite. Who doesn’t want to call in a favor from him?

The Event is broken down into a three-act structure. Each act is further subdivided into action scenes and transitions scenes. Instead of being a set of rails, the event is designed to provide the watcher with a large degree of flexibility. Yes, the event is very much designed to go in a certain direction but there are plenty of spots along the way where the train can jump the tracks. The biggest points for this are called out explicitly in the text and advice is given on where to go with the story when this happens. The nice thing about this advice is that it isn’t the standard “Do whatever you want.” It actually presents options for where to go from this point while still acknowledging that this is your game and you can do whatever you want.

The highest form of praise from me for this book comes in two forms. The first is that I really want to run this event. I love the vast scope presented here and would love to share it with my gaming group. The second is that it takes a story that I am unfamiliar with and makes me want to run out and give it a read. What more can one ask for?

More Rocket Raccoon, but that goes without saying.

Drive Thru RPG Review: Civil War Premium Event Book

My first post here on Ideology of Madness was a review of Margaret Weis Productions new game Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  I fell in love with the game as it hit all the marks that I was looking for in a supers game.  It allowed me to play a super hero game while utilizing the mechanics of a story based game.  In addition to these this, it also answered the question of how to allow people to play different characters from the comics without any player feeling overshadowed.

One of the things that I was intrigued about this game was the plan to go with event books just like in the comics.  I have to admit that I didn’t know what to think about the idea.  I had not read the story line which was going to encompass their first event book and supplements.  Civil War was a bit of a cipher to me.  In their press releases, they spoke of making the source material accessible to those who were fans of the story as well as something a neophyte could take part in without feeling left out.  On top of this, I also read that they were going to release the book in two different books.  There would be an essential edition and a premium edition.  The essential edition would be everything you would need to run the Civil War event while the premium edition would have the rules portion of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game and a bit of new rules material in addition to the Civil War event.  The premium edition was an excellent selling point for me.  I love the idea of a campaign book that also has all the rules I need to run the game.  I can bring one book to the table and I would be set to run.  I really wanted to say, “You had me at  Premium Edition.”

I have to say that I really love Civil War.  First off, the book is a full color 361 page hard back book.  The design of the book is just gorgeous and a joy to have in my hands.  I love the marvel artwork that just litters the pages.  I, of course, picked up the Premium Edition as I wanted to have everything I needed to run the event in one book.  The pleasant surprise within the operations manual in the Civil War event book is that those crafty folks from Margaret Weis Productions have included an appendix on how to randomly generate a datafile for the game.  This was not something found in the basic game and it is a nice addition to have as there are always players that do not want to play something from cannon but do not want to create their own character.  This is a wonderful tool for a  Watcher and something I am grateful they added to the premium edition.  The event section of the book also introduces two other ideas to use while playing this game.  The first is the idea of troupe play.  This is where everyone has multiple characters and can switch between characters when they feel like playing something different or when the story seems to demand  it.  I was familiar with this concept from playing Ars Magica but found it meshes really well with this event as there are so many different factions that you can play.  This style allows players to experience the story from all angles.  The other option that is presented is in regards to scene distinctions.  In the game, players have to make a choice between using their character’s distinctions or using a scene distinction.  This often leads to limited usage of scene distinctions.  The option here is to allow the use of a scene distinction when the character distinction is used as D4.  This allows the players to add more dice to their pools as well as using all the possibilities present.  This is an excellent optional rule that I plan to implement fully.

The event itself is handled skillfully.  The book gives you a great general overview of the story line.  It shows you how the event gets started and how it ends in Marvel comics.  It breaks down each of the factions that are involved in the event and provides an abundance of information on both sides of the war as well as the tangentially related entities.  A long list of milestones from which players can choose is provided.  There are plenty that tie directly to one side of the argument or the other as well as many that allow players to participate in the game with a whole different motivation than would be expected.  The event itself is broken down into three acts.  Each act is further divided to provide for many different entry points into each section.  This also makes it possible to play each side of the conflict allowing everyone to fully explore the ideas presented in Civil War.  A nice selection of characters is provided from which players may choose.  Those available range from Cloak and Dagger to Prince Namor.  I was especially pleased to see Cloak included in the datafiles as he is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe.  Scattered throughout the event there are myriad suggestions for how to make the story your own.  Each act has points where the story can take a different direction and these are pointed out to the Watcher to allow them to create a game that works well for their players.  I really appreciated this information as it makes it an option for me to go off the script without worrying about how to do it.

As I stated before, I love the Civil War event book.  It allows me to dive right into a big story line without feeling intimidated by the source material.  It allows me to be flexible with my players while still giving me the tools to run the story as canon if that is how it is preferred.  I highly recommend picking it up.


Funnybooks with Aron and Paulie: Don’t Let Aron Hold the Gun!

  • Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men
  • AMC’s The Walking Dead
  • Bendis on X-Men
  •  AvX Program Guide
  • Avengers Academy #26
  • Secret Avengers #23
  • No Place Like Home #1
  • Fantastic Four #603
  • Ultimate Comics All New Spider-Man #7
  • Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

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