Quick take: this is a vastly improved system compared to the initial playtest rules. I talked about them here and then a later take on the playtest updates here. I did not like that initial version at all but had more interest in the final playtest rules. This new version is improved in every way over those and I like it enough I will be trying it out with the crew this weekend.
|Of course they're going to want to sell you some dice!
- It's still 3d6 with one designated as the Marvel die where a "1" counts as a "6". Add these together, add a stat modifier, then compare to a target number where meeting or exceeding = success and rolling under = failure. So it's similar to most d20 systems but with a bell curve and a wild die mechanic.
- A 6 on the Marvel die and succeeding means you have a "Fantastic Success" which gives a bonus effect depending on what you're doing. Some of these are defined but there is a lot of flexibility here. A failure when you do this is a "Fantastic Failure" and means something good still happens - this is similar to netting out with only advantages in FFG Star Wars. It's not a success but it's still beneficial somehow.
- Rolling all sixes is an "Ultimate Fantastic Success" and is an auto-success which ignores any Trouble (see below) and is pretty much the best possible outcome you could have.
- Some powers, traits, and situations, grant "Edge" which is reroll one die from your roll and take the best result - so it never hurts you.
- "Trouble" is triggered in similar ways and means you must reroll the highest die and take the worst of the two. Trouble and Edge can stack up individually and they do cancel each other out if both would apply.
- They dropped the "Botch" concept from the early version so they figured out that you don't really need a critical failure mechanic, especially in a superhero game. That said the concept is out there if anyone wants to add it back in.
- A character is built around the 6 core stats: Melee, Agility, Resilience, Vigilance, Ego, Logic. Yes it spells Marvel. Yes they mention it. Your score in these stats is your modifier like Mutants & Masterminds. Human average for all of these is zero and derived stats typically have a minimum of 10.
- Melee drives HTH attacks
- Agility drives ranged attacks
- Resilience x30 is your Health - hit points by another name.
- Vigilance x30 is your Focus - this is another damage tracking stat but it's not Stun as in Champions or Shadowrun. It's more for emotional or possibly fatigue type effects. This is where psychic damage hits. Reaching zero here gives a character Trouble on all rolls. I think there are some interesting implications in this.
- Ego in D&D terms is sort of Wisdom + Charisma and it drives magical attacks and rolls
- Logic covers the obvious and also drives mental powers. The example given in the book is that Reed Richards and Professor X both have high Logic scores.
- I think the usage of these are fairly obvious but I do like seeing Vigilance in the mix there. Perception type skills are used a lot in in RPGs in my experience so why not make them a core stat?
- There is also "Karma" which starts off equal to Rank and allows one to heal and activate Edge and Trouble once per point and then refreshes with a good night's sleep.
- Beyond the stats a character is defined by Powers, Traits, and Tags
- Powers are covered in about 14 pages and I am sure we will see more in future books
- Traits are like advantages in other games. They add flavor and typically give a small bonus like Edge on certain checks
- Tags are more like disadvantages in other games - think secret identity, dependent NPCs, code of honor, etc. - and give no mechanical benefit but can be touched on for Karma
- They did, thankfully do away with the archetypes and the 25 ranks that were in the original version. I really don't think many people are asking for classes and levels in a superhero game these days and they figured that out during the playtest.
- Rank is still a thing though. There are six ranks that are really a power tier kind of system. Rank 1 is "normals" even with some training, Rank 2 covers neighborhood protectors as they say - like Daredevil & Elektra. Jump to Rank 4 and that's where most of your Avengers and X-Men fall like Spider-Man, Cap, Iron Man, Black Panther, Colossus, Wolverine, etc. Rank 5 covers your heavier hitters like Thor and then Rank 6 is Cosmic level - Captain Marvel and the Silver Surfer types.
This does have a mechanical impact on the game as your Rank is a multiplier to damage. So if someone throws a punch it is the result of the Marvel die (so 1-6) x the characters rank and then we add the Melee stat modifier (the stat is the modifier like Mutants & Masterminds, average human is "0").
Example: War Machine has a Melee stat of 2 and is a Rank 4 hero so a punch will do 1d6 x4 + 2. There may be some additional power or circumstance that could impact this but that's the base. Also, a Fantastic success in melee means double damage so that could change things dramatically.
If you're wondering how this stacks up to his defenses ...
War Machine has "Sturdy 2" which reduces the multiplier of incoming attacks and has 90 Health so an average punch to himself would do 3.5 x2, so 7, +2, so 9. So he could take 10 average punches from himself.
But if, say, Thor whacks him with Mjolnir, well ... now we're looking at a d6x10 (which we reduce by 2 for the armor) so 3.5x8 = 24, then we add 12 for the stat ... so BAM! 36 points in one average hit! On the third one of those Rhodey is down and out!
|How many spider-characters will be in this book? 10? 20? 100?
- This game does use rounds of 5 seconds where each combatant gets a move action, a standard action, and a reaction once per round.
- Initiative is a standard 3d6 test - highest goes first.
- Distances are measured on a grid of 5' squares. This is the weirdest thing left in this game to me - an obvious D&Dism that is just silly in a game where people fly and teleport and run around the world in ten seconds. It's not really an obstacle to anything, just a weirdly specific baseline to have.
- In addition to Health and Focus damage there are various conditions like Blinded, Stunned, etc. I think the game covers the full range of things one would expect.
- The topper: Knockback ...
- Well, there is no skill system. Your stats combined with Traits pretty much describe your day to day life.
- You're not going to make a "Stealth" roll - you're most likely going to make an Agility check with an Edge from your "Sneaky" trait if you have one.
- Defensive use of stats, like say the guard you are trying to sneak past, is the modifier + 10. So this sneak check would be Agilty + bonuses vs. the guard's vigilance defense which would be Vigilance + 10.
- Not much modifies these rolls - having a trait gives you an Edge or gives the opponent Trouble, depending on who is doing what. It's playable but it's not exactly intuitive coming from many other RPGs.
- There are no vehicles listed in the core book. I have a process for throwing a car at someone and a process for punching someone through the side of a battleship but I don't have stats to use either of those things in the game. That feels like a miss.
- Task numbers are good but there is one concept that leaked in that is a personal beef:
- There are 7 levels of difficulty from Trivial at -6 to Challenging at 0 to Absurd at +6, with steps of +/-2 in between. This is fine and expected.
- Then there is a separate chart for "Challenging TN by Rank" which presents the base target number for "Challenging" tasks as 10 + Rank. I really really dislike this approach as a task, in my mind, should be rated in its absolute difficulty - If climbing the side of a skyscraper is a "Difficult" rated task then it should be, say, a TN14. It shouldn't be a TN12 for a Rank 1 character and a TN 16 for a Rank 4 character. Rank 4 types are inherently more capable so yes, they will typically have an easier time completing the same task than a Rank 1! Changing the base number equalizes the difficulty between the two which defeats much of the reason for designating Rank in the first place.
- This feels especially off when they note that many teams have members of different Ranks like the Avengers where Hawkeye is Rank 2, Black Widow is Rank 3, Captain America is Rank 4, and Thor is Rank 5.
- I'm going to try it as written first but I will be keeping an eye on it.
- The rules are presented in the right order: Basic task resolution mechanics, then how to read a character sheet, then combat, then how to create a character, then the reference sections. Excellent! Don't jump into telling me how to build a character before I have any idea how the system works!
- The layout, language, and examples all seem right. It's a good-looking book.
- It does contain a full character creation system so one can make an original character right from the start.
- There are about 130 pages of character profiles and they take one page each so that means we start off with about 130 Marvel characters to use. Now some of these are things like "Hand Ninjas" or "Vampires" but the vast majority are named Marvel characters which is exactly the kind of thing a game like this needs. Well done!