Author Archive


What is the best game session you have had since August 2015?

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Do you prefer to use real dice, a dice application or program, or use a diceless system? Read the rest of this entry »

A little bit late, but let’s talk JiffyCon!

The JiffyCon Roadtrip was a whim inspired Rob asking me if I wanted to drive many hours to play games with some designers in Western Massachusetts. Because, well, I love road trips and gaming. Our friend Kate agreed to come along for gaming adventures.

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After the too early death of our original Annihilation campaign, Rob decided to start a new cosmic-themed campaign with new characters. Apparently, I have a thing for Nextwave members, since my character choice this time was Machine Man, AKA X-51/Aaron Stack. Machine Man was on my short list for the original Annihilation game but was dropped when Rob suggested that I play a female character in a Marvel game for once.

Much like Tabitha, Machine Man has a peculiar Power setup – one power set and piles of relatively small power dice. The real focus of his datafile is the combination of the SFXs Constructs and Multipower, and the Limit Exhausted (called Swiss-Army Fingers, Multitasking and Needs a Recharge in this particular Datafile). Figuring out how to maximize these isn’t intuitive, but can be highly rewarding once their potential is realized.

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When Rob started his Civil War campaign last year, I had a hard time deciding on a character to play. I eventually decided that I wanted to “import” in a NPC from an Icons campaign that past summer and run an alternate version of that character who was native to the 616 universe.

The character’s defining power was what Icons called Possession. To quote from Icons’ Open Game Content:


You can take over someone else’s body, much like Mind Control, except your mind is “inside” the victim and controls their body, rather than issuing orders. Your own body is unconscious and immobile while you possess someone else. Otherwise, this power works just like Mind Control.

Since your mind is in control of the target’s body, you can spend your own Determination for tests you make using the possessed target (unlike Mind Control). If you place the target’s body in a life-threatening situation, you must make a Possession test against the target’s Willpower each round, with failure meaning the target shakes off your influence.

Mind Control notes that the target of must be within visual range.

There wasn’t a power in the Basic Game or the Civil War book that really emulated what Possession does. An evening was spent pulling apart other power sets to get something that functioned as closely to the Possession power as possible, which I have called Bodyswitching.

How Bodyswitching works is that the PC uses Mind Control to place a mind control complication on a target. Once the target’s complication goes above D12, the Player Character gains control of the Watcher Character  instead of the Watcher Character being taken out. While controlling the Watcher Character, the Player Character has access to the Watcher Character’s Powers and Specialties. The power deactivates once the Watcher Character is dealt trauma or when the Player Character deactivates the power set.

Bodysurfing Watcher Characters is a whole lot of fun. It gets especially goofy when dealing with Arthrosians – if your Watcher plays them like a hive mind, mind controlling one means suddenly gaining a whole unit.

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I didn’t intent to create back-to-back swordmen for Marvel, but it shook out that way. Here is Willard H. Wright from Umineko: When They Cry. Willard is a relatively minor character, not appearing until late in the series and, as such, not appearing in the anime adaptation of the first half.

This datafile is an experiment is building a custom datafile centered around D8s. Marvel doesn’t have a point-buy system and it’s easy to get carried away with custom files and create stat bloat. Willard is meant to be a starting level physical combatant with some specialties against mystical targets and some tricks to protect other heroes in combat.

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Like other fans of Marvel Heroic, I started writing up non-Marvel character datafiles to speculate on how various characters from other media could fit in the system. While that is all fine and good, it’s only producing media for players. With the game now out of print, the biggest content hole is really in NPC Datafiles and related plot hooks. We’ve all been that lazy GM who wants to just grab some stat blocks, figure out how to make it all fit and run with an idea. Right now, that pool is large but finite.

It’s not hard to swap a PC’s statblock into an NPC statblock, but finding a home for the character in a plot can be slightly more difficult. As such, along with the Player Datafiles, I felt that should stat up NPC versions along with some suggested plot hooks.

Type-Moon’s interpretation of King Arthur has always interested me and, given that I already posted my PC version of the datafile, it seemed like a good place to start.

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NOTE: Due to the content of this character sheet, spoilers for the Fate franchise follow.

One of the charms of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying is its way of dealing with varying power levels. Its leveling of the playing field translates decently enough to other settings and character; not every story has evenly matched characters, making it otherwise hard to fit them into a RPG. A game can evolve into a massive crossover with various characters from all sorts of media and yet keep its balance.

It’s also tremendously fun to write up datafiles for non-Marvel characters.

Under the cut is a MHRP character datafile for Saber from the Fate franchise, part of Type-Moon‘s Nasuverse. I’ve based her on the version of the character that appears in the Fate storyline in Fate/Stay Night. Her stats should be compatible with normal MHRP parties if your Watcher allows fan-built characters from other media sources and her backstory makes her easy to dump into a party of heroes. I’ve always enjoyed the Matter of Britain from a storytelling perspective and while the idea of a female King Arthur is really silly, it also tickles me.

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Mine is a Noble Class

Mine is a Noble Class

This weekend I was part of a particularly awesome Dungeon World session. In the climatic battle, our GM described an attacking NPC as casting a magic spell targeting my character, a Fighter. The words of the spell were projected into the air as the NPC recited them.  My reaction was stab the spell while it was in progress and attempt to interrupt it through sheer physical force. This translated in-game to a Defy Danger roll using +STR.

While Defy Danger works well for dealing with that on the fly, I felt the concept should be expanded into a full move if I were to use it in the future. That I leveled that session and needed a new move may have also been an inspiration.

The physical classes don’t have a proper spell interrupt move in Dungeon World.  One exists for the Wizard: Counterspell. It can translated easily enough to classes that use spells. The cost of a staked spell means it can’t be used by non-spellcasting classes via multiclass moves.

Spellbreaker/Protective Spellbreaker is based off of Counterspell/Protective Counter. It replaces the cost of a staked spell with a debility of the GM’s choice and changes the +INT modifier to +STR. The debility is a big cost, but even a partial success is going to null any effect of the spell. If you want to get the job done, you’re going to have to put something on the line.

Spellbreaker (Levels 2 – 5)

When you attempt to break an spell that will otherwise affect you, roll+Str. On a 10+, the spell is interrupted and has no effect on you. On a 7-9, the spell is interrupted, but you suffer a debility of the GM’s choice as magical energy is conducted to the ground through you. Your spellbreak protects only you; if the interrupted spell has other targets they suffer its effects.

Protective Spellbreaker  (Levels 6 – 10)

When an ally within sight of you is affected by an spell, you can interrupt it as if it affected you. If the spell affects multiple allies you must interrupt for each ally separately.



My gaming group recently played through the beginning of the new Annihilation event book. I wanted to change up the character I was playing and, having both read Nextwave and received 50 State Initiative recently, decided on Tabitha Smith. A snarky, impulsive young hero who could be translated to space easily enough. Seemed like the perfect answer to me.

Her Datafile, however, is an exercise in “Marvel Heroic Roleplaying in Miniature”. She has a one power set with one power and a tiny amount of specialties at Expert. Tabitha’s Datafile is not completely unique in the system. There are a handful of characters with a similar build; Cyclops, Amadeus Cho and Elixir are also limited to one dice in a single power set. All of their Datafiles look uncomfortably empty compared to the majority of Datafiles in the system. It’s almost like they’re designed to be overlooked by players.

This lead to me considering what place is there in the system for these characters, both in a narrative and gameplay sense, and what’s the best way to get the most out of the characters. It’s easy to write these off as sets for people new to the system since not much thought needs to be put into building a dice pool. On further reflection, they aren’t quite beginner or advanced Datafiles but need to be approached with a slightly different mindset.

I’ll be looking specifically at Tabitha Smith’s Datafile, but many of these ideas apply to the rest of this peculiar group with some adjustments for varying SFXs and limits.

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