My group and I are playing through theÂ Civil WarÂ event book forÂ Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, fromÂ Margaret Weis Productions. While the course of play may not follow the event book â€“ or the comic books â€“ precisely, thereâ€™s going to be a certain amount of stuff that does conform to the adventures and comic series.
In short, if you donâ€™t want to know what happens inÂ Civil War, donâ€™t read these posts. Or the comic books.
***You Have Been Warned***
Friday evening was a very interesting session of our Civil War campaign. It was the marriage of Black Panther and Storm in Wakanda, and the Guardians went to celebrate, politic, and recruit for their anti-SHRA campaign. It wound up being a session entirely of roleplaying1, which was a nice change from the usual combats that exemplify superhero games.
Now, that’s not to say that I dislike combats in superhero games; quite the contrary. The reason you play a superhero game is, I believe, to have all the awesome excitement and spectacle of reproducing the comic book fights. But a steady diet of combats not only gets boring, it doesn’t accurately reflect the way most comic books tell their stories these days. So, I was pleased to have a whole session of talking to people and character exploration.
Volcanic decided to stay on Volcano Island to safeguard the civilians there, along with Cyber and Daredevil. The rest of the Guardians – Jumpstart, Mega Joule, The Doctor, Luke Cage, and Spider-Man – took the GX-1 to Wakanda for the wedding. At the hotel, they found a whole bunch of other heroes gathered around, and got to do some schmoozing. Some highlights from the evening:
- The Doctor chatting with Tony Stark and getting the information that a) he’s not as drunk as he seems, and b) “normal” MGH shouldn’t have done what it did to Nitro and Declan.
- Spider-Man and Human Torch going out to take pictures (and ogle the women, in Johnny’s case), and Spidey talking Torch into joining the Guardians.
- Mega Joule laying hands on Namor and getting punched. He soaked up the punch, and called the Sub-Mariner rude for striking another guest2.
- Jumpstart warning Reed Richards that, unless he started paying attention to how she was feeling about this whole SHRA mess, Susan was going to leave him.
- The Doctor finally finding someone who understood how he feels about the SHRA: Cyclops. Though the mutants at the School aren’t in much of a position to help, Cyclops promised to take in any Guardians who needed refuge, and gave The Doctor some contacts in Mutant Town who might be interested in helping.
- The Doctor and Mega Joule convincing Hercules that fighting the SHRA would be glorious and noble, and thus convincing him to join the Guardians.
- Sub-Mariner coming to Volcano Island and arranging an alliance with Volcanic, the “King” of Volcano Island.
Of course, the centerpiece of the evening was T’Challa calling together the Guardians and the pro-SHRA forces (represented by Captain America, Reed Richards, and Hank Pym) to try and talk things out. This went about as well as you would expect. Cap is still sore at Jumpstart over the whole insubordination, betrayal, and (possibly) treason thing, so he was less than receptive to the talks right from the start. Reed decided he’d had enough once The Doctor essentially called him a Nazi3.
Once Cap and Reed walked away from the table, Hank Pym explained that this was just a courtesy to T’Challa, and the last chance for the Guardians to surrender with some dignity. He said that the anti-SHRA was doomed, thanks to the new weapons and resources that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been developing, and that it was no longer a question about right and wrong, but about pragmatism – the resistance was going down, and anyone siding with it when that happened was doomed.
When Hank walked away after his little speech, T’Challa thanked the Guardians for being willing to talk and stay at the table. He let the Guardians know that they were welcome in Wakanda, and he would provide a safe haven for them if needed. He also gave them a number of Wakandan nanotech medkits to help with their humanitarian efforts. So, it wasn’t a complete loss.
Then, I got completely blindsided.
Volcanic, who had been back at Volcano Island but was getting periodic updates from the Guardians in Wakanda, climbed into the freshly-finished GX-2, and flew to Wakanda. Not to attend the wedding, but to surrender himself to Captain America for trial.
The reasoning behind this4 is that Volcanic knows that fighting S.H.I.E.L.D. and the pro-SHRA heroes isn’t going to do much to get the SHRA repealed. Only lessening the fear of the populace and forcing a vote in Congress is going to do that. With S.H.I.E.L.D. controlling most of the information about the situation, the only way to get the counter-arguments out to the general public is a highly-publicized trial.
I’m cool with this, though it’s a huge departure from the published event book. I don’t really care about that so much, really. But it is a factor, because departing from the stuff provided in the book means more prep time for me, so I wanted to make sure that the player was really committed to this idea before accepting it. I had Cap make a demand – Volcanic would have to agree to have his powers neutralized for the duration of his confinement.
Volcanic had a problem with that – see, he accepted the mantle of these powers to remove them from the Volcano God of Volcano Island, and prevent the Volcano God from running amok and sinking Manhattan. If he gives up or neutralizes the powers, they would revert to the Volcano God, and that would be a big problem for the eastern seaboard. He agreed to surrender the powers, but only if Cap would accept them to keep the Volcano God under control. Cap agreed, and we ended the session with a splash page of Volcanic reverting to his human form, Dr. Nick Burns5, and Cap turning into a towering mass of lava6.
Now, before the next game7, I have to do a few things:
- Talk to Clint to get a feel for his ideas about what controlling the mantle of the Volcano God is like for Cap.
- Figure out how I’m going to handle the trial of Volcanic.
- Get some feel from the other players about how they want things to proceed.
- Decide whether the trial is going to be the big showdown for Act II – or even for the entire event.
- Check to see if the group are spending XP to unlock Human Torch and Hercules as playable heroes.
Yeah, Clint through me a curve ball with his decision that may change the entire rest of the campaign. I don’t mind, though. I love it8 when player actions and decisions have the kinds of far-reaching effects. It just means that I need to take a little time to figure out how to respond9.
Anyway. I’ve got about two weeks to sort this stuff out.
Then we’ll see what happens.
- Well, there was one punch thrown, but we’ll get to that.
- Mega Joule’s kinetic control let him take the punch without damage, and he spun his counter-attack as doing Emotional Stress instead of physical. Very nice.
- Note that this happened before his little chat with Jumpstart.
- I think. I’m viewing it from the outside, and haven’t discussed this with Clint, yet, but I’m pretty sure I’m at least partially right.
- Yeah, yeah. It’s comic books. If you can have Ben Grimm and Sue Storm, you can have Nick Burns.
- We glossed over the wedding itself. It was a lovely wedding.
- Which is scheduled for November 15.
- I didn’t always love it. It took me some time to figure out that saying yes to crazy player plans always led to the best play. I don’t always say yes, even now, but I always wind up wishing that I had.
- That’s usually the reason I say no. No time to figure out how to handle the coolness.