Agent 13

I have found that Ryan T. Goodman’s event “The Tape” based on Matt Fraction and Javier Pulido’s Hawkeye #4-5, makes a great one-shot! In preparing to run the event I wanted to include a focused team of characters for players to choose from.

I settled on offering players their choice of: Agent 13, Agent Coulson, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye (Barton), Hawkeye (Bishop), Nick Fury, Quake, Spider-Woman, and Winter Soldier.

For the characters who don’t have official datafiles, I was able to find great write ups online, but wanted to make them as similar as possible to the official printer friendly datafiles to avoid any confusion for people who had never seen the system before.

This week you can download the first of these; Agent 13’s Printer Friendly Datafile, based on this datafile by Brian Liberge at Stuffer Shack.


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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Last week I investigated the probabilities associated with spending a fate point to invoke an aspect in FATE. The version we looked at was using FATE dice, which produce results from -4 to +4.

There is a common variant to using 4dF, which is to use d6-d6, which produce results from -5 to +5. The distribution of this dice variant looks like this:

So the question is, should we spend our Fate Points differently if we are using the alternate dice variant?

We can use this cumulative probability graph to help us decide:


Just like with 4dF, there is a threshold when you roll -2. At this point, spending a fate point will bring your result to 0; however, you would have a 42% chance of rolling a result greater than 0, and a 42% chance of rolling a result less than 0.

So if you roll a -2, and a 0 just won’t do, you’re better off with a re-roll. If you don’t feel like gambling, and a 0 is good enough, keep it.

For every result above -2, you are better off keeping the +2. For every result less than -2, you are better off re-rolling.


One of the core elements of the FATE system is that you can spend a Fate Point to invoke an aspect for +2 to your result, or to reroll. However, it has never been obvious to me when it is more advantageous to do one over the other. I’ve taken a look at the statistics and present them to you below:

Typically the fate system requires 4dF, which give results from -4 to +4 with the following distribution:


On 4dF almost one in every four rolls will result in a 0, and almost six rolls in ten will be within the range -1 to +1.

To determine when it is best to reroll vs. add +2, lets look at four cases. We can evaluate each case using this cumulative probability chart:


CASE 1: You Roll a -4
The worst possible result. This roll should happen once in every one hundred rolls, but now that it has happened, what should you do?

If you add +2, you have 100% chance of getting a -2; however, if you reroll, you have a 94% chance of getting at least a -2, and an 81% chance of getting better than a -2.

Verdict: Reroll


CASE 2: You Roll a -3
This roll is still pretty bad. You should expect to see it once in every 20 rolls.

In this case, if you add +2, you have a 100% chance of getting a -1; however, if you reroll, you have a 81% chance of getting at least a -1, and a 62% chance of getting something better. Those odds are still better than even.

Verdict: Reroll


CASE 3: You Roll a -2
This roll is fairly common, you should expect to see it three times in every 25 rolls.

Adding +2 now gives you a 0, which is your most common result. Rerolling now gives you the same odds of getting a better result or worse result. 19 results in 50 will get you something better, 19 results in 50 will get you something worse, and the remaining 12 results will get you the same thing.

If you want to gamble, you can roll the dice, but if it was my money, I’d take the sure thing. It is an average performance for your character, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.

Verdict: Reroll, or keep the +2, it’s about the same.


CASE 4: You Roll a -1
You’re going to see this result once in every five rolls. It is expected; an old friend. Adding +2 at this point results in a +1, which is better than 62% of the other possible results. You can reroll at this point if you are desperate, and a +1 result just won’t do it, but expect to end up with either the same thing, or something worse four times out of five.

Verdict: Keep the +2.


From this point on, it will always be advantageous to keep the +2 versus rerolling, with the likleyhood of rolling something better diminishing very rapidly.

So in summary, if you roll a -3 or -4, the odds are in your favor to reroll. On a -2 it could go either way. On anything that is -1 or above, keep the +2.


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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