Thoughts on a House Rule

I’m not generally the type of GM that house-rules things. I feel that most game designers have given much thought to their rules, and have very good reasons for why they did the things they did.

I believe Marvel Heroic Roleplaying has earned its place in the pantheon of Superhero RPGs, but one rule keeps bothering me: If an attack action fails, the reactor may spend 1 PP (or a d6, if the reactor is the Watcher) to use their reaction effect die to apply stress or a complication to their attacker.

This is why I have a problem with it:
** The reactor has more information (the attacker’s total) and can modify their rolls accordingly, using PPs or doom dice. The attacker must decide first whether to add dice to their total.
** You might say that it costs the reactor 1 or more PPs to use this rule (1 PP to use the effect die, but possibly more if you need to spend PPs to beat the total of your attacker), but in this game PPs tend to flow pretty easily, so typically they have the PPs, plus some.

I have seen two “fixes” while perusing online message boards and twitter feeds:
1. The reactor can only use this rule by activating an opportunity. This essentially increases the cost to at least 2 PPs, since you now need to pay one more PP for the opportunity. I also like the narrative aspect of this if you interpret the opportunity as “an opening” or “mistake” made by your opponent, which can be the downside of rolling many dice.
2. If the reactor can spend PPs to modify their roll to beat the attacker, the attacker can then spend afterwards to, if they want, essentially causing a “bidding war” until the available dice run out or the PPs. I like this as a “bidding war” increases tension, plus encourages strategic play when deciding to spend PPs or not.

Of these two, I tend towards #1, as it is more narrative (and thus more in tune with what I believe MHR stands for).

However, from a different perspective, perhaps I don’t have a problem with this rule, but with the broader ability of a player to add to their dice pool total by spending PPs (or doom dice). Perhaps the total should stand with just two dice…? Maybe I’ll investigate the ramifications of this change in a later post…

Categories: GMing, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Thoughts on a House Rule

  1. A third option would be to allow the purchase of a retaliation effect die only if you have not used PPs to buy additional die for your result total: being able to beat your opposition with only two dice is possibly a bit more likely (barring lots of PPs spent by your opponent) than having to rely on them rolling opportunities for you, and probably means the larger dice are used up for the total than using lots of purchased d6s to keep a d12 retaliation effect die.

  2. I tend to the first. I think the designers even mentioned it. Expect some ‘retcon’ in the next Marvel RPG book (if I had to guess). Nice site!

  3. I would let the attacking player choose if he takes stress or complication (and what type) as in FATE, it’s only a narrative compensation, and marks the opportunistic aspect of the inflicted effect.

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