Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: Mutant Massacre

mutantmassacre

The Mutant Massacre was the arc that welcomed me into the loving arms of the X-Men. I wasn’t sure how I’d game it until someone posted this pic on tumblr. As I recall, this was in the back of every issue of the Mutant Massacre so we could follow along to the event that saw angel crucified, Thor’s arm broken, Colussus paralyzed and Nightcrawler put into a coma – not to mention Wolverine vs. Sabretooth Parts 1 and 2 and Storm getting her powers back.

Start a game by dropping this picture onto the table. Each issue is a session or less of play and players can swap out characters between issues. It might be helpful to name each issue before we start playing but just in case, here’s the name of each issue:

X-Men #210: The Morning After

X-Men #211: Massacre

X-Men #212: The Last Run

X-Men #213: Psylocke

The New Mutants #46: Bloody Sunday

Thor #373: The Gift of Death

Thor #374: Fires of the Night!

X-Factor #9: Spots!

X-Factor #10: Falling Angel!

X-Factor #11: Redemption!

Power Pack #27: Whose Power –?

Also useful: Marvel Milestones.

Fun.

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Superior Marvel Heroic Role-Playing Milestones

How pompous does that title sound?

No, I’m talking about the new Spider-man title in which Doctor Octopus is stuck in Peter Parker’s body. The idea doesn’t thrill me in isolation. However, once you think of Superior Spider-man as a template things get interesting. I’d imagine it as a solo campaign or a campaign where the players have agreed that one person is the main character and everyone else is playing supporting roles, it could get interesting.

In the template, you aren’t taking the heroes’ arch-villain but someone from their rogues’ gallery with perhaps a shot at redemption. Don’t stick Red Skull in Captain America’s body (yuck) but maybe Taskmaster. What would happen if Bruce Banner had the Leader in his noggin.

Take the hero as written, maybe switch around the Distinctions but don’t get rid of all of them, keep something about the hero that the villain will be figuring out from that non-heroic point of view. Taskmaster is a mercenary, figuring out what it means to be American and give back to his nation. The Leader has to deal with his anger issues in a visceral way, no longer able to think through his troubles.

You get the idea.

Here are some milestones:

Herosim?

1XP when you ask questions about what it is a hero is supposed to do.

3XP when you do something heroic and find it enjoyable.

10XP when you either find a way to bring the hero back to their own body, bringing your newfound heroism back to your own mortal shell or bring this hero’s body into villainy, betraying everything they once held dear (after which you could switch back and play the main hero trying to hunt down the villain).

Philosophical Problems

1XP when you struggle with the hero’s major philosophical questions.

3XP when you find a new answer to those problems from your unique point of view.

10XP when you find an answer to those problems and find your own heroic philosophy or toss their issues aside and descend into villainy.

Indestructible Marvel Heroic Role-Playing Milestones

I read the first arc of the Indestructible Hulk’s comic and wondered how it could work as a template for a MHRP game. In the comic, Banner goes to S.H.I.E.L.D. and says that he doesn’t think he can ever be cured of the Hulk but wants to find a way to live with it while using his scientific mind to make the world a better place. Hulk proceeds to kick down super-villain’s doors at the vanguard of a SHIELD team while Banner sets up a super-science lab.

So, you’d need a cursed character who wants to leverage their super-powered affliction to do good while doing something worthwhile with their mundane non-super-time. Cool.

Ghost Rider comes to mind. I picture Johnny Blaze going to SHIELD’s shadowy arcane division or to Dr. Strange himself, setting the Spirit of Vengeance after those who deserve to be dragged behind an infernal motorcycle while Johnny does exorcisms in trailer parks and teaches kids how to not summon Satan or something. Who else in Marvel is cursed? Werewolf-by-night? Blade, maybe?

It could be a solo game or it could be a campaign where one player is the main character and the rest of the players agree to play supporting cast.

So, here are some milestones:

Handled

1XP when you talk to your handler.

3XP when you rebel against your handler or act against a direct order.

10XP when you leave the organization leaving a trailer of destruction and bad feelings or out-maneuver your handler, getting them replaced with someone you think will be more pliable.

 

Handler

1XP when you talk to your agent.

3XP when you threaten something important to them in order to do what you want.

10XP when you put the agent in jail or achieve a larger mission, saving the world using their skills.

 

Living with the Curse

1XP when you talk about the dangers related to your curse.

3XP when your curse has a concrete effect on your personal life.

10XP when you make peace with your curse or realize that no matter how much you punch the right people in the face, your curse will always be dangerous to the world and seek out a way to neutralize it.

 

Next up: Superior milestones! Excelsior, mofo’s.

All-New Marvel Heroic Role-Playing Milestones

I just got done catching up on All-New X-Men on Slimjim (the name of my iPad).

I love what Bendis is doing in All-New X-Men #1-11. Long Story Short: Beast went back in time and brought the original 5 X-Men to the present, where they have to deal with the crazy world the mutants currently live in. It is an amazing plotline and one that could be done with any number of Marvel super-heroes, take your pick, the milestones below are general enough.

Imagine doing this with the Avengers or home-made heroes who suddenly have a future that you get to make up through play. Cool stuff.

Have fun, let me know how it goes.

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Out of Time
Maps on my phone?
1XP When you interact with a piece of technology that was not around in your native timeline.

3XP When you you use a modern piece of information or slang in an odd or even correct way.

10XP When you either make peace with this timeline as your new home or become a bitter curmudgeon, refusing to acknowledge the new world around you.

Ashes
“How did I die?” “Which time?”
1XP When you unearth clues about your team’s past history.

3XP When you use something you did or done to you as an excuse to get into a conflict.

10XP When you either make an epic gesture in order to break away from your past self and become someone knew or fall into the same mistakes of your past self, repeating history.

Professor K
I’m a fierce competitor you sexist twit!
1XP When you bark an order at the pastlings.

3XP When you enter into a conflict with or alongside the team and teach them something in the process.

10XP When you either stay with the team until they become capable of leading themselves in the dangerous world or send them back to their time and end this farce.

Blue and Young
What is that handsome young man doing?
1XP When you team up with your future self.

3XP When you create an asset for your future self to use or get into a conflict with your future self.

10XP When you either welcome your future self into your life as a chronal sibling or decide that your interactions are unnatural and dangerous to the timestream, cutting off contact with them completely.

Sins of the Future
But I didn’t do that.
1XP When you discuss things your future self has done that have effected the world.

3XP When you get into a conflict because of history you have not yet lived.

10XP When you either decide that your future self was right to do what he did or destroy your future self once and for all.

Can’t Let Go
That is just what you said before.
1XP When you show your disgust at one of the pastlings for their future self’s actions.

3XP When you go into battle with or against a pastling whose future self you despise.

10XP When you either accept a pastling as a new person or do them trauma, hoping to change the past through destruction.

Post-Script: But Judd, MRH is dead! MW lost the license and now it is time to rip open the game’s corpse and do a post-mortem, figuring out what went wrong.

Alright, let’s talk. The truth is, we won’t know what happened until Cam is good and ready to sit down with someone and a recording device and talks about what actually happened. Until then we are barking at the moon. He might never be ready or be too busy making more awesome stuff to bother.

Either way, a game is dead when the players decide, not the gaming companies, not the IP owners, not yahoos on the internet. The game is dead when no one on the earth is playing it or making up cool shit to do with it or learning from its design.

I say it is alive and I say it as a player, as someone who enjoys making up fantastic things and posting them for others to use.

Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: Hawkguy Milestones

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Bro, the above pic is by David Aja with words by Matt Fraction and bro, it was pasted with the utmost respect, bro.

Bro
1 XP when you take on the speech quirks of your enemies.

3 XP when you take stress from a conflict with a gang, crowd or horde of bros.

10 XP when you either trace the goons to their bro, er, I mean, boss or ignore them and go after bigger fish, bro.

Hawkeyes
1 XP when you refer to your partner as Hawkeye.

3 XP when you create an asset that allows your partner, Hawkeye, show off their mad skills.

10 XP when you either get into a romantic entanglement with your fellow Hawkeye or make a conscious decision to keep this Moonlighting-ish sexual tension thing going and never mess it up your chemistry like they messed up that show.

Hawkguy
1 XP when you just do normal stuff like normal people do.

3 XP when you manage to add a mundane, down-to-earth comment amidst crazy Avengers crap.

10 XP when you either take a break from Avengers crap to concentrate on being the ‘guy or make peace with the crazy back and forth that is your life.

Digital Immigrant Old Guy
1 XP when you say or do something that shows that you were born in the 70’s and thus no longer young, hip or cool.

3 XP when you do something that is cool.

10 XP when you either learn something from a digital native that will change something on your character sheet or become even more of a hovering-around-40 curmudgeon.

Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: A Tour of Marvel’s Golden, Silver, Modern and Heroic Ages w/ Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman

The last post, in which Golden Age Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are statted out.

tl;dr Batman, Superman and/or Wonder Woman were stranded in Marvel’s 616 during World War II. The game sends the players careening through Marvel’s history, taking part in your favorite flashpoints.

Golden Age

“The world needs Captain America more than it needs Bucky.”

If you are Diana, you are flying Captain America and Bucky in to the Red Skull’s fortress where his rocket ship is hidden. Batman and Superman would likely be flying in a bomber alongside them.

Action Scene Ideas:

  • Messerschmitts get on your six and start lighting you up, threatening to put you in the ocean, forcing you to have to swim to Norway.
  • A horde of HYDRA goons in the way.
  • Thor, god of Thunder, mind-controlled by the Spear of Destiny is guarding the Red Skull’s retreat into his rocket ship.

Does history repeat itself or does Bucky live and Captain America stay out of the iceberg?

P.S. I know it was really Baron Zemo but Red Skull is so much cooler.

Patriotism

“I’ve become a political liability and you, you’re a joke.”

1XP When you discuss what it means to be an American.
3XP When you do violence on behalf of the United States.
10XP When you either walk away from this mission with a patriot’s heart or create Distinction or Milestone about your troubled relationship with United States politics.

Mission or the Man?

“This Ryan better be worth it.”

1XP When you bark orders or follow orders.
3XP When you change the plan.
10XP When you either complete the mission and bring the Red Skull to justice or set that aside in order to save your friends.

Silver Age

The Night Gwen Stacy Died

You hear on the radio that some kid in a spruiced up luchadore mask and some jury-rigged “web” shooters is fighting with a madman dressed in a goblin suit while riding a jet sled over the Brooklyn Bridge. A young lady is involved.

Action Scene Ideas:

  • This kid is an amateur. Can you get him out of the way so you can save the young lady?
  • The Goblin is tossing grenades.
  • Is this all a smokescreen for the Rhino to knock an armored truck off of the bridge into the water below and rob it? Maybe.
  • Cars careening out of control. Cops pulling guns on anyone who looks the least bit super-heroic. These are the early days of New York City’s super-hero tradition, before Iron Man flying by your office window was a kinda cool tweet.
  • Again, does history play out and if so, does Parker kill the Green Goblin or do you?

Parker’s Mentor

“Don’t loan anyone named Mockingbird or Wolverine money.”

1XP When you tell Spider-man or Gwen Stacy what to do.
3XP When you ask Parker or Gwen Stacy for advice.
10XP When you either take Spider-man or Gwen Stacy as your sidekick or give them a stern talking-to about future super-heroic dalliances and walk away.

The Osborn Solution

“In this world there is right and there is wrong and that distinction is not difficult to make.”

1XP When you threaten Osborn.
3XP When you try to help Osborn.
10XP When you either kill him once and for all or bring him to justice, hoping that his money doesn’t just buy him out of his criminal acts.

Modern Age

The Mutant Massacre


A young Morlock girl whose power is the ability to turn paper-thin runs up to you in (at your home?) and begs for help as the Marauders are hunting her for sport.

Action Scene Ideas:

  • Hunting Marauders in the tunnels.
  • Batman vs. Sabretooth or Wonder Woman vs. Sabretooth
  • Thor’s back…he seems to be a good guy…do you trust him or are you still holding a WWII grudge? Sure, a good old fashioned misunderstanding super-hero fight.
  • Showdown with Apocalypse as he uses the slaughter to gather his 4 Horsemen.
  • Confrontation with Mr. Sinister…

Mutant-friend

“Magneto was right.”

1XP When you ask mutants about their points of view, history or struggles.
3XP When you offer your skills to aid the mutant community.
10XP When you either go before the U.N. and speak on behalf of mutant-kind or walk away from the X-Men and all of their struggles, leaving mutant problems to the mutants.

Barry Windsor Smith, X-Men #205

Marauder Hunter

“We’re the best at what we do…”

1XP When you plan an attack against the Marauders.
3XP When you deal damage to a Marauder.
10XP When you either track the Marauders down to the person who put them into action or stop them all from ever being able to murder again.

Heroic Age

Civil War

Start with the Congressional hearings, having the Trinity choose sides and then launch into either hunting down non-compliant heroes or going on the run.

I don’t feel like I need to list cool ideas for action scenes because the supplements will be chock full-o-ideas. I love the idea of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman tipping the scales. And Clor gives them another excuse to beat up a quasi-Thunder God.

Structure

Action Scenes and Transition Scenes


Between each Age, I’ll ask the players how their characters are showing their years. If they are getting old, how are they able to continue? Or is this age the birth of someone new taking the mantle with appropriate changes to the character sheet. That said, I’m happy with the players giving answers that amount to Kingdom Come cosmetic changes that are not reflected on the character sheet or Batman taking Fury’s Infinity Serum or Superman handing the Big Red S to Hyperion or Wonder Woman handing the golden lasso to Carol Danvers or Batman taking Rick Jones as Robin.

Do they become more and more like their Silver and Modern age equivalents or do they stay as they were when they arrived during WWII?

I’d set it up like Mouseguard’s Players’ Turn and GM’s Turn. In the Action Scenes I set up in media res action scenes like the first pages of a comic book. The Transition Scenes being those bits in-between be it fun social interactions, building something, training someone, seeking solace or healing or good ole fashioned investigation. If they had no ideas, just set them up with a conversation in very mundane circumstances with a cool super-hero.

Low-Key Transition Scene Ideas:

  • Bruce Wayne and Matt Murdock talking law.
  • Bruce Wayne and Marc Spector talking about mental health.
  • Clark Kent  and Ben Ulrich talking about journalism.
  • Diana Prince and Ororo Munroe talking about leadership.
  • Superman asking Reed Richards for help finding Krypton or discussing if there even is such a planet in this reality.
  • Wonder Woman out drinking with Hercules.
  • Batman trying to mentor the Punisher.
  • Batman out on a date with Black Cat.
  • Being wooed by Namor.
  • Talking to Dr. Doom or Dr. Strange about returning to their own reality.
  • Dinner at the Avengers Mansion.
  • Helping with training exercises in the Danger Room.

Essentially, Action Scenes are exciting set pieces with interesting outcomes based on player choice and success. An Action Scene might grow organically from a Transition Scene and if so, Praise be to Clor! Some Transition Scenes might grow from the Action Scenes, with Batman researching Norman Osborn’s business dealings with Roxxon or Superman scanning the Morlock tunnels for survivors or Wonder Woman training Morlocks to defend themselves.

Milestones

The Authority and Marvel milestones might be relevant at different times.

I ❤ Batman

“…and I’m a rich kid with issues, lots of issues.”

1XP When you show affection to the Caped Crusader during an Action Scene.
3XP When you save his ass from serious trouble.
10XP When you either marry him, mask and all or break it off forever, after telling him that he is effing crazy.

I ❤ Bruce

“This would be a good life, good enough.”

1XP When you show affection for Bruce, the man behind the mask or downplay Batman.
3XP When you talk about Batman as a sign of serious psychosis.
10XP When you either get Bruce to quite the cape and cowl or accept the Bat as an integral part of Bruce’s life.

Oh, Diana.

“You’re a princess from a society of immortal warriors… “

1XP When you help Diana get in touch with her Amazon roots or do something romantic with her in a place that has mythical significance.
3XP When you get into an argument with Diana about gender and patriarchy or mansplain.
10XP When you either pledge your undying love to Diana or do something shitty and passive-aggressive that you know will force her to dump you (and it does).

Oh, Kal

“You’ve got me. Whose got you?”

1XP When you help Superman get in touch with his Kryptonian heritage or spend a Transition Scene doing something romantic with him.
3XP When you cause Superman mental stress, letting him know that he isn’t responsible for saving everyone.
10XP When you either move in to his Fortress of Solitude and get serious about making a family together or declare his messiah complex bullshit unbearable and move on.

Oh, Clark

“Hey there, Smallville…”

1XP When you show affection for Clark Kent.
3XP When you point out how Clark is being hopelessly naive.
10XP When you either marry Clark Kent or end the relationship because he is too much of a boy scout or you believe he is better than you deserve. If you break it off, choose on and tell him.

Trinity Triangle

“Dating within the team always leads to disaster.”

1XP When you do something petty and jealous.
3XP When you help the other two get together.
10XP When you either step away from any romantic entanglements within the Trinity or find a way to make the relationship with all 3 together work.

Thomas and Martha

“How, father? How do I do it?”

1XP When you talk about memories of your parents.
3XP When you talk about the night they died.
10XP When you either find peace and put your grief to rest or have the injustice of your pain rubbed as raw as the day it occurred.

Last Kryptonian

“My son, you do not remember me. I am Jor-El.”

1XP When you talk about your Kryptonian heritage.
3XP When you talk about something you learned in Smallville or Metropolis.
10XP When you either try to being back the philosophies of Krypton through your own traditions and lifestyle or find peace with your Kryptonian heritage and your adopted home.

Themisciryan

“…in a world torn by the wars and hatred of men…”

1XP When you discuss an injustice of the Man’s World.
3XP When you discuss something you enjoy that was not available at home.
10XP When you either return to Themiscrya never intending to return or find peace in your role as diplomat on behalf of your mother and sisters and teach your sisters here.

Marvel Heroic Role-Playing: “NPR is giving Ohio to Tony Stark but Florida is Rogers all the way.”

In the Ultimates, Captain America was just elected president. President Bruce Banner, Vice-President Jennifer Walters and Press Secretary Peter Parker all interest me.

 

Executive-in-Chief

“I have saved you all, now I am honored to be elected to serve you all.”

1XP When you give a presidential order.
3XP When you seek out political counsel during a Transition Scene.
10XP When you either step down as president or announce that you are running for another term.

Veep

“I am behind our POTUS, 100%.”

1XP When you support the POTUS.
3XP When you disagree with the POTUS.
10XP When you either step up and take over as the POTUS or leave the life of politics.

Cabinet Member

“Mr. President, you cannot lift the sanctions against Latveria.”

1XP When you counsel the President.
3XP When you use your cabinet position for your own gain.
10XP When you either step down from your cabinet position or announce that you are running for a more prominent elected position.