It’s been a while, huh? Well, without running a regular game, I’ve had less to say than usual.
That’s changing now; this past Sunday, I got four of my friends together to create characters. We’re starting theÂ Civil War event forÂ Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.
I gave the players the option, individually, to decide how they wanted to create their characters: pick a pregen, model another existing hero, use the Random Datafile Generator fromÂ Margaret Weis Productions, or model a hero of their own devising. Given the folks who opted to join the game, I was expecting about half to take a pregen, and the other half to model their own heroes. Turns out, all four wanted to create their own heroes from scratch.
MHRÂ has a character creation system ((Though it doesn’t explicitly call it out as such.)), but I found it a bit lacking for what I wanted to accomplish. See, one of the most important themes inÂ Civil War is the rift it creates in the heroes of the Marvel universe. The whole brother-fighting-brother vibe. Using homebrewed characters can be problematic, simply because these characters don’t have the deep histories with the other characters of the Marvel universe. Or even with the other players’ characters.
I needed to fix that in order to get the most bang out of the event.
Smallville RPG, also fromÂ MWP, has an interesting character creation system ((CalledÂ Pathways.)) that establishes all the types of relationships I need. And, as luck would have it, someone had already produced a version of the system forÂ MHR. It’s very good, but it’s a little more structured in the assignment of powers and dice than I wanted to be, and more arbitrary in the relationships than I wanted ((I know, I know. I’m such a whiner. Seriously, the Marvel Pathways thing is awesome. It just didn’t quite fit what I wanted.)), so I looked to another great game for ideas.
Dresden Files RPG ((For which I have much love.)) builds relationships between characters in a wonderfully organic way, using the novels and the guest star roles. It creates history between the characters, and very rich relationships, but unless you throw in the entire city creation section, it doesn’t really tie the characters to other characters in the Marvel universe. And it felt counterintuitive to go through the city building if we wanted to play in the established continuity ((There are ways we could have done it, but they seemed more complicated than the cool they would provide, so I decided against that.)).
And so I wound up doing what I always seem to wind up doing ((It’s a sickness, I tells ya.)); I kit-built a system using parts from bothÂ DFRPG andÂ Smallville. I snagged the idea of the relationship map fromÂ Smallville, and the phased approach, including the novels, fromÂ DFRPG. The end result was a set of guidelines for building characters that would produce finished characters, with relationships both within the group and with iconic Marvel characters, and develop the characters in a more organic kind of way. You can see the results here.
That’s what I sent out to folks before the game, recommending that they read it over, as well as theÂ MHR basic rulebook ((Of course, some did, some didn’t, some read one and not the other, and so on. Which I expected.)). When we got to the character creation session, I quickly realized that I had made the system too elaborate and structured for the time we had.
We ran through the concept, origin, and first appearance phases pretty much as written, though we didn’t use the relationship map quite as I had spelled out. The players were eager to add contacts with iconic Marvel characters, so they jumped all over it, leading to a pretty full map pretty early on. Seeing that I had enough information on there for purposes of this game, I backed off it.
With the last 45 minutes of our session, we walked quickly through the novel stages, and then called it a night. I sent the players home with some homework: put the finishing touches on their characters, send me their novels, and decide on a name for their group. I’m starting to get replies, and things look good.
And who are these new heroes?
- Â Volcanic, an NYU professor who took on the mantle of a volcano god to save Manhattan from annihilation.
- Jumpstart,Â an electric-powered speedster with a family connection to HYDRA, currently working for SHIELD.
- Mega Joule,Â an inner-city high school athlete gifted with powerful kinetic abilities and a drive to help other kids on the streets.
- The Doctor ((Based heavily on the character of the same name from The Authority.)),Â chosen by the soul of the world to be the new shaman for the age.
And that’s where things stand. As soon as everyone gets their homework back to me, we’ll set up the first session of actual play. I’m looking forward to it.