So, I did some nosing around on the Internet today, looking into Marvel chronology and studying character bios with continuity in mind. Clearly, the core roster for Secret War are the characters from the comic:
Black Widow, Captain America, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Nick Fury, Quake (Daisy Johnson), Spider-Man, Wolverine
Since I’m trying to run an ongoing campaign with its own continuity, what I’m trying is to establish a campaign continuity timeline. Wherever possible, I’m trying to follow established Marvel continuity, but with minimal departures necessary to enable gameplay. What I’ve decided is to follow up on the concept of a sliding timeline (as explained here on Plot Points).
As I’d indicated before some characters are in my mind problematic:
- Armor, Nico Minoru: Neither is introduced as a character within our established time frame; including either character would also undermine Daisy Johnson’s perceived role as junior hero.
- Colossus: Currently dead; won’t be resurrected until after this Event.
- Hawkeye: One choice I made for gameplay reasons was to move the Avengers Disassembled event one month before Secret War, rather than one month after. What this means is is that, if we assume the same storyline, he sacrifices himself to save the day.
The remaining heroes included in the Event look to be OK: Emma Frost, Gambit, Iron Fist, She-Hulk. And given time constraints, I may just leave it at that for right now . . . .
But if I had time to work on some replacement alternative characters and their milestones, they just might be:
- Black Panther: He’d be a covert asset; his potential motivation could be building national conflict between Wakanda and Latveria.
- Ms Marvel, Spider-Woman: As agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Mystique: Fury considers it in his journal: she could be a really, really interesting femme fatale / black ops agent.
In reading through the Secret War Event and thinking about how I would run it, apparently there are some aspects I need to modify or to create for it. (This probably true for any pre-made adventure a GM would use for any game.) While I really like the Secret War Event as posted, there are some design issues that stem both from its flashback structure (how to make sure that present actions and past actions don’t create narrative paradoxes) and from the serial nature of its creation and presentation (missing elements or loose ends).
Here is my checklist of design elements that need some attention:
- Injured Hero: Not so much a design issue as something the Watcher needs to be aware of from the start. In the Present, a hero is injured and hospitalized — presumably, not to be used any further in the Present. (In the comic, it’s Luke Cage who is in critical care.) Whoever it is in actual play that is injured, that hero needs also to be included in the Past as a Watcher character.
- Hero Roster: In a one-shot Event, continuity is less important. But in an ongoing campaign where each Event is meant to exist in a context and lead from one to the next, continuity becomes much more important. The actual characters in the comic included Black Widow, Captain America, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Nick Fury, Quake (Daisy Johnson), Spider-Man and Wolverine. So presumably, they’re givens.
Replacing any heroes shouldn’t be too difficult (if desired). One solution available straight from the comic is in the extra material included in the alternative choices presented from Nick Fury’s own personal files. For example, Shadowcat is one hero he considered, but rejected. She could be a very interesting alternative for this Event. (Note: Including alternative heroes to the ones provided in the Event means creating for them mission-specific milestones.)
- Missing Characters: One important character missing from this Event is the Tinkerer. He is mentioned in the comic, but only appears in passing. But an Event milestone deals with his apprehension. Presenting players with the side option of capturing him while in Latveria could be fun. (Note: I plan on posting a datafile for him and his toy robots later this week.)
- Motivating Actions: Finally there are actions players must take in the Past to ensure the existence of narrative conditions in the Present. For example, the heroes must choose to undertake the mission in the Past. And Nick Fury needs to activate his Failsafe so that the heroes have lost their memory of it in the Present.
So how do you motivate players to make narratively necessary choices?
One option is to simply remove narratively destructive options. For instance, the Nick Fury’s I Know What I’m Doing 10 XP milestone reads: When you activate the Failsafe device wiping the memories of the others OR choose not to, allowing the others retain their memories. Remove the second option and have the player cash out the milestone by instead taking the necessary, but also more climactic action.
Another option is to offer players a bonus 1 XP if they take a narratively necessary action. The Watcher needs to announce to the players when and why this will happen. (By the way, I call this option/house rule the No-Prize. More on that later.)
Oops! In my previous December 4 Fandom Fave post, I mistakenly stated that the Doom Pool blog had gone defunct. It had been a site that I had actively followed for quite some time, but then had been unable to find. But this Google+ post shows that it is actually alive and well.
(I don’t know whether it was some confusion on my part, bad links, or had actually disappeared and has since then been resurrected. Again, my apologies.)
As it starts to get cold outside and the winter holidays rapidly approach, one begins to dream about Marvel holiday one-shots. Just yesterday, Plot Points posted a new Event How Doctor Doom Stole Christmas! It’s a very short Event created by RT Goodman and based on the Scott Lobdell and John Byrne 1991 short comic I’ll Be Doom For Christmas.
In this same vein, I performed my own quick search and discovered this gem: Christmas With the Hulk (which I have already mentally re-named Hulk Smash X-Mas!) created by Thomas Denagh. It looks to be a really fun, lively rampage through downtown holiday Manhattan. And this looks like the Event that I may end up running this December 23 or 26. Stay tuned for that.
Another thought is the outline of an Event posted on the MWP Forums. I must confess I haven’t read the thread closely yet, so I can’t really speak to it myself. But it’s probably something worth looking into. And there are yet two more resources for you to check out: David Thomas’ X-Mas Milestones & Unlockables and Duck Call Lass’ write-up of Father Christmas Himself.
Joyeux Noel et bonne année!
Over the past two years, I have discovered a handful of truly useful MHRP fan sites. In the future, I hope to devote individual posts to them describing each in some detail. Sadly when the license was pulled, one of my favorites (The Doom Pool) simply vanished. But it seems another came into life shortly thereafter to take its place: the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Wiki.
It came into existence thanks mainly to the efforts of Shoe from the Shoebox Games Blog. I believe he was among the community that had sprung up into existence on the original Margaret Weis forums for this game. (Most of that content was made currently unavailable when the original forums were discontinued – though there is hope for them to see the light of day now with the introduction of the brand new forums at MWP.)
The wiki is very much a community resource, created by MHRP gamers. It is an active community, full of creative content from which to draw upon. Much of its content to begin with was fan content that was rescued from the now-disappeared original forums.) But there is much new content that has been created since then.
This morning, as I was surfing the web looking for graphics for my game, I came across an entry for Iron Fist (Orson Randall) that very much resembled one I had previously posted — but one that is augmented and improves on it, I must say. And complete with solid Milestones, too (nice!). But I also found both a power set for Vampirism and a datafile for Mephisto that I had been looking to use — that is, if I ever get around to running a Marvel Mystic campaign.
Needless to say, a resource well worth anyone looking into. Hope you enjoy it!
Make Mine Marvel.
Yesterday, I announced my intention to run a weekly Marvel Heroic Roleplaying campaign starting in January 2014. “From Secret to Civil War” takes advantage of the relative wealth of fanmade material. One of the many advantages of MHRP in my opinion is the ease with which players can enter / exit the game. (Which is great for this point in life when you have active adults who’d like to make the greater commitment to play, but who have to manage competing claims on their attention – like jobs, significant others and children, etc.)
Personally, Monday or Thursday nights would be ideal — but will not be a deal-breaker on my end. (My wife is a singer, and those are her rehearsal nights.) What I’m looking for is a small pool of players who can commit to playing a couple weeks at a time – but certainly not every week into perpetuity. (Unless they so wish.) Troupe play will be the order of the day.
I hope to start the campaign with Secret War sometime the first week in January. My guess is that Event will run about three weeks. If you are interested, tweet me @laughingmad.
Back in April 2013, when Margaret Weis Productions lost their Marvel license, I discontinued posting on my blog. (Like most fans of the game, I went into an extended period of mourning for the game.) Thanks to Google+, I have been able to play the game some since. But now is not the time for me to perform an autopsy about how the game failed commercially. (Time for that later . . .)
This past month, I decided to start work on preparing an ongoing campaign for me to start running in January 2014 via Google+. This has led me to decide to resurrect this blog. (Truth be told, I had barely started writing this blog when the license was pulled.) I have pulled my previous content (about six datafiles), and will be revising and reposting them when complete.
My campaign will be The Road to Civil War; my plan is to start with Nick Fury’s Secret War (as presented by Plot Points), run through some original and fanmade content, and then culminate in Civil War itself. I anticipate having to create or modify content as I go along — which (of course) I will then share with everyone on this blog.