House Rule: Descriptive Stress

Hi all,

In my Marvel: The Verge campaign, I came across the following problem…

One character had taken emotional stress from fighting another character (they had actually spent 1PP to change the stress to emotional, instead of taking physical stress). During the next adventure, they had not entirely rid themselves of the stress but when it came time to use that stress in against them, I could not remember the circumstances by which they had accumulated the stress. All they had written down was “Emotional d8.”

Now, we could have just came up with something entirely different, but I felt that if we had made note of the circumstances, we could tie the narrative together, from an earlier fight to a later conflict.

So, I’ve begun to ask my players to make a short descriptive note to accompany any stress they receive. For example, “Burned by Hellfire d10.” Now, when that physical stress is rolled against them, I can invoke the specific cause as I narrate, or they narrate. Or, “Father Issues d12” will allow me to allude to their self doubt about living up to their sire’s expectations.

If the stress is stepped up, add in another description for the new level, keeping the old description too. As the stress is healed later on, the description will remain until that level of stress is recovered.

Of course, we have already been doing this for our complications, resources and assets, but it seemed natural for stress to follow the same suit, and I couldn’t find reference for this in the OpManual.

What do you think?

Categories: GMing, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Original Content | 2 Comments

House Rule: Campaign Assets and Complications

Hi all,

During games, heroes and villains can create assets, complications and resources that allow them to add dice to their action/reaction rolls.
While working on my Verge campaign, I began to think about how I would handle my group’s reputation. Their team is a band of intergalactic specialists-for-hire. They’re not quite heroes, but not quite villains, and they certainly do their job for the money.

In the FATE system, campaigns can have Aspects that the players can invoke at any time, as long as the theme of their actions match that of the Campaign Aspect. So, I thought, why can’t I use this idea?

For example, I decided to give my player’s group a persistent Reputation Asset die that they can roll in their dice pool, if their team’s reputation is at stake. This Reputation die can be rolled in addition to another asset (like Scene Distinctions can also be rolled with Personal Distinction, as suggested as another House Rule).

The die will step up or step down depending on their actions during the adventure. Did they complete their mission? Did they cause too much collateral damage? Did the exceed their mandate? If they consistently foul up, then the die moves from being an asset to a complication (and is thus rolled against them whenever their reputation is involved).

The progression would be d12 Asset -> d10 Asset -> d8 Asset -> d6 Asset -> d0 Neither -> d6 Complication -> d8 Complication -> d10 Complication -> d12 Complication.

Individual or group wealth can also be handled in this manner, when making Resource rolls involving purchases, for example.

Or perhaps you just want to keep track of the campaign’s progress, depending on the actions of the heroes. Suppose the campaign revolves around a theme of war and peace.

(used without permission)

The War/Peace die could be rolled whenever their respective themes are involved. The progression can look something like this d12 WAR! -> d10 Troop Build-Up -> d8 Weapon-Making -> d6 Harsh Words -> d0 Status Quo -> d6 Peace Talks -> d8 Disarmament -> d10 Demobilization -> d12 Peace Accord

What do you think?

Categories: FATE, GMing, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Original Content | 5 Comments

Running on Ongoing Campaign with MHR

Hi all,

The Watcher (used without permission)

As I’ve been Watching my campaign for the new Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game, I’ve noticed how Action Scenes and Transition scenes seem natural ways to break-up the flow of the Event, as designed by the good people at Margaret Weis Productions.

However, as an ongoing campaign, I’m not sure this is the best structure to hold the game to. My sessions tend to be much more organic, some heroes switching between battles and roleplaying scenes while another subgroup doing the reverse, instead of having the whole group move between them as the Event demands.
As a consequence is that I usually ditch the Scene-Act-Event sequence for Scene-Issue-Arc-Campaign:

  • Scenes are pretty much the same, but I do not wait for everyone to finish before moving to the next, whether it be Transition or Action. If someone wants to heal during breaks in the action, I judge whether they have enough time to do so.
  • Issues are simply gaming sessions, and can be any permutation of transitions and action.
  • Arcs are the equivalent of Events, and are two to three Issues. Unlockables and Milestones are geared towards Arcs, not individual Issues.
  • Campaign is the overarching, ongoing story, made up of Arcs and stand-alone Issues.

Given that XP is designed to be given out and cashed in during self-contained Events, I have modified them slightly, to produce a slower payoff:

  • 1XP can only be hit once a Scene.
  • 3XP can only be hit once an Issue.
  • 10XP can only be hit once an Arc.

What do you think?

Categories: GMing, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Original Content | Leave a comment

House Rule: Doom Pool Dice Equivalencies

Hi all! I had a thought this morning as I walked the dogs…

Doctor Doom (used without permission)

I was thinking about how, during my last Verge campaign game, I teleported two of the heroes in Buddy configuration away from the rest of the group. It was a natural progression of the story, and I gave the other two players a chance to interact before they disappeared, but I did not spend any doom dice to split them up. At this point they weren’t working as a team (the other two were separately and covertly watching from a distance), so I didn’t think I needed to spend any doom dice to split the group.

I started thinking about how, if I needed, to retroactively spend dice. And I wondered if I had the right dice in the doom pool (I wrote down what was in it before the game ended) to complete the split, namely the highest affiliation die of the heroes I teleported away. In this case, if they had been working as a team, it would have been a d8.

I thought, okay, well, specialties have shown us that it is possible to substitute d10 for 2d8 or 3d6, and d8 for 2d6. So, if I didn’t have the d8, I could just spend 2d6 from the doom pool! And this started me thinking that perhaps I could do use this at any time, even substituting 8d6 for 2d12, or 6d8, or 4d10, if I wanted to end a scene. After all, for each player opportunity (and giving them 1PP), I can step up the lowest die in the doom pool anyway.

In summary, whenever spending dice from the doom pool: d12 = 2d10 = 3d8 = 4d6.

What do you think?

Categories: GMing, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Original Content | 2 Comments

Star Wars: HACK!

I’m slowly convincing my husband to roleplay with me. I really like the Cortex+ system used by the Marvel Heroic system.

(used without permission)

Here are some thoughts on how I would move in that direction:

1. Affiliations will become: Mind, Body, Force. Body for combat and physical tasks. Mind for mental/emotional tasks. Force for will-based tasks and using the Force. I might possibly move the will-based task to Mental, making Force purely about using the Force.

2. Add a Dark Side stress track for Force-users. When trauma passes d12, they become NPCs.

3. When a player uses the Force in a dark way, first roll vs. the Doom Pool. Add that power trait’s die to the Doom Pool. If the action fails, the player receives Dark Side stress equal to the Doom Pool’s effect die. If they action opposes another character, the GM will roll both the Doom Pool (to determine Dark Side stress) and the reaction of the opponent.

4. The Dark Side stress can be rolled against the player in times of temptation. Like a limit, the player can choose to include the Dark Side stress die for +1 PP, or the GM can invoke it for free if the player does not.

5. The player can use the Dark Side stress/trauma die any time, but it will be stepped up afterwards.

Any comments?

Categories: GMing, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Star Wars | 3 Comments

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

Historical Campaigns


With the release of the new Marvel game, I have begun to think more about how I run my own superhero games. My gaming group took a hiatus from our campaign last September, while I creatively recharged. I’m hoping to start again with the new system.
Our group, called RAD Squad (for Rapid Action Deployment) takes places in 1984-1985, after the majority of well-known heroes and villains of the time have disappeared during The Secret Wars, sponsored by The Beyonder.
Being set in the 1980s, I try hard to get the feel for the time by introducing personalities and plot lines that Marvel ran during those times, with some creative license when it comes to the exact timing of those events. Things like The Scourge, The Armor Wars, etc.
Beyond that, however, it’s difficult to invoke the 80s without going over the top. And let’s be honest, in superhero games, the technology can be as advanced as one needs, so that tends not to be a good benchmark.
Tangentially, I’ve always wanted to run a Steampunk game but never felt comfortable invoking the feel for that age…
If I have any readers, how do you handle this?

Categories: GMing | Leave a comment

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