Debrief: Secret War #1

ImageOn Monday (January 6), we had our first session for the Secret War Event. There were six players present on Google+ for it. The heroes involved were Captain America, Daredevil, Emma Frost, Iron Fist, Spider-Man and Wolverine. And we were only able to run through one action scene, Present: Ambush!

How did it go? Mixed results, I felt.

Where I struggled as a Watcher was in framing the Scene. When we got to the action and conflict in the scene, trading narrative blows, I thought I did pretty well. The Event is pretty tight and linear in structure, and its plot depends on developing some sequential reveals. To some degree, this seems to run counter to the design of MHRP; the game is unusual in that it encourages near-total transparency. There is no GM screen. (But it can work. I have played the Event previously as a player, and that Watcher handled this well.)

The Scene starts with the players going through their normal routine and then being ambushed by B-List villains for reasons unknown. Players are to announce what they up to when things happen. What made it difficult to frame was that the heroes could be doing anything. (While it gave us a hilarious scene where Spider-Man is attacked at home doing his laundry and has to fight Hobgoblin in the ruins of his apartment as Peter Parker, framing the action in general was awkward.) My sense is that the Watcher needs to more narrowly frame their actions for the players, with their cooperation.

But there are other issues: how do you get them to the hospital? what details of the secret plot do you reveal to them? As I said, I was pretty happy with the action and conflict itself. It moved pretty quickly, and I was able to manage the six players fairly smoothly.

Now my task as Watcher is to recover plot continuity and re-frame elements of the Event to move it forward.


Venus [Player Datafile]

venusVenus [public]

Affiliations: Solo D10, Buddy D6, Team D8
Distinctions: Hedonist; Other Venus; Secret Past

GODDESS OF LOVE: Mind Control D10, Shapeshift D6, Swimming D6

  • SFX—Area Attack: When using Mind Control, may target multiple opponents. For each additional target, add D6 and keep +1 effect die.
  • SFX—Immortal: Spend 1 PP to ignore stress, trauma or complications caused by aging, disease, poison, radiation or vacuum.
  • SFX—Siren Song: Add D6 and step up your effect die when using Mind Control to inflict persuasion- based complications.
  • Limit—Must Be Heard: When silenced, shut down Mind Control to earn 1 PP.

Specialties: Crime Expert D8, Psych Expert D8

Venus was posted in the previous incarnation of this site. Any changes made were pretty minor. I gave her Shapeshift D6 to reflect her ability to make minor cosmetic changes. And I added Crime Expert D8 to her specialties to reflect her experience as a member of the Agents of Atlas. Not sure yet what to do about her Milestone . . . .

Milestone for M-11, Human Robot

ImageSecret Program

  • 1 XP: When you use your Strong But Silent Type distinction to conceal your secret program.
  • 3 XP: When EITHER you abandon your team at a critical moment OR you mysteriously appear when least expected.
  • 10 XP: When your secret program is revealed, whether it proves successful or not.

– – – – –

In the first Agents of Atlas, M-11 is the agent that secretly motivates the plot, with some collusion of Yellow Claw. This is an odd Milestone, that requires you to collude with the Watcher to define the nature of your secret mission.

M-11, The Human Robot [Player Datafile]


M-11 [public]

Affiliations: Solo D10, Buddy D8, Team D6

Distinctions: Crush Kill Destroy!; Strong But Silent Type; Weird Science

ROBOTIC BODY: Cybernetic Senses D6, Godlike Stamina D12, Heat Ray D10, Stretching D8, Superhuman Durability D10, Superhuman Strength D10

  • SFX–Area Attack: If your dice pool includes Stretching power, may attack multiple targets. For each additional target, add D6 and keep +1 effect die.
  • SFX–Electrify: On reaction against close-combat physical attack, inflict physical stress with your effect die at no cost. Spend 1 PP to step it up.
  • SFX–Immunity: Spend 1 PP to ignore stress or complications from sources that only affect organic lifeforms.
  • SFX–Self-Repair: Spend 1 PP to recover your physical stress and step back your physical trauma.
  • Limit–System Failure: Shut down any Robotic Body power to earn 1 PP. Activate opportunity or participate in transition scene to recover that power.

Specialties: Menace Expert D8

– – – – –

M-11 was posted in the previous incarnation of this site. He is the tank of the team.

For me, the challenge in creating him was both in getting his powers right and in maintaining game balance. I downgraded his Heat Ray to D10, but upgraded his Stamina to D12 (to match the Vision YR126). I had considered giving him both Area Attack and Multipower SFX — but decided they were too much together. I had originally written up the Self-Repair SFX to be similar to the Second Wind SFX — but changed it to more resemble the Fast Healing SFX (to match Wolverine BR96), which seemed to me to better represent the power as depicted in the comic.

Next: And now for me to work on his Secret Program milestone! Stay tuned.

What If You Threw A Party And EVERYONE Came?

marvel universeOK. So when I posted about my upcoming Secret War Event on Google+, I wasn’t expecting quite the response I got. I already had two friends who had committed to playing, and my plan was to simply solicit a couple more players to round out my table. Given the poor response I’d had for Hulk Smash Xmas!, I wasn’t expecting much. Imagine my surprise then, when within a day or so, I had nearly a dozen who wanted to play.

So what I have decided to do . . . was open up a second date. Now I will be running the same campaign twice. Thursdays every other week. Mondays the alternating weeks. My take on it is that this is an opportunity for me to practice my GM-ing. They say practice makes perfect. What I get is two chances to get it right, and to speed up the learning curve. And right now, I’m probably looking at running two sessions of six players each.

But I do have some concerns:

  1. Number of Players: Having six players may prove a challenge to manage in play. It might slow down play considerably, especially in Action Scenes.
  2. Player Attrition: While they may commit to play, not all will show. Or not all will show every week. Between Events, this is less important. But in the middle of an Event, I may end up having to run too many Watcher characters at once.
  3. Creating Content: My original idea was to create mini-Events to fill in the spaces between published Events. But it could be problematic doing so weekly over two competing, parallel campaigns.
  4. Laying Down Some Rules: With so many players, it will be important to lay down some table rules to help keep the game run quickly and smoothly.

Sooo, we’ll just have to wait and see how this all goes. Stay tuned.

What Am I Reading? [Howard the Duck]

ImageActually, it’s more like “What did I get for Xmas?”

Usually these days I’m buying and reading graphic novels; I’m just at a stage in life where I can’t afford much the time or money to collect individual issues. But this Xmas, I did have an individual issue on my Amazon wish list as a stocking stuffer: Howard the Duck vol 1, no 8.

It’s a bit of nostalgia for me. In 1977, my family moved from Texas to Wisconsin. It was a long drive north, and right before we left, I bought a stash of comics, mostly Marvel. Among them was this Howard the Duck where he ran for president. It was adult-themed and made an impression on me. (This comic is one reason why I gravitated to Cerebus during the High Society days.) Anyway, this was among the gifts Santa brought me this Xmas.

(Nearly finished reading Agents of Atlas, now up to Turf Wars. Also have Dark Reign to read, also among my Xmas presents this year.)

Milestone for Namora [revised]

N is for NamoraAtlantean Heritage

  • 1 XP: When you use your Loyal Friend distinction to help an ally.
  • 3 XP: When your Atlantean heritage plays an important part in a scene.
  • 10 XP: When EITHER you leave your current team to fulfill your Atlantean duty OR you remain despite the cost.

– – – – –

My first attempt at writing an individual milestone for a hero. Since players can choose to play a single milestone and add an additional one during a transition scene, I have decided to keep it nice and easy for myself and create single milestones for player heroes. This milestone combines elements from existing ones, but most notably from Colossus for the 3 XP entry.