A First Look at Marvel Superhero Roleplaying

When the download of Marvel Superhero Roleplaying first finished, I started paging through the core rule book, which this game dubs the Operations Manual. Initially it felt as if all my worst fears for the game had been realized. The layout, while shiny, wastes a lot of space on style. The game focuses on playing existing heroes from the Marvel Universe, and the character sheets, called data sheets for the heroes in this game, were not printer friendly at all.

Going back to the file I downloaded I did find a set of supposed printer friendly data sheets. Printer friendly in this case means making the sheets black and white while leaving the character portrait in color. These sheets have a lot of unnecessary graphics on them, swirls, background textures and shading that looks good on the screen but will just waste ink.

After digging deeper into the system, I feel a bit more positive about it. I like the dice mechanic and story driven experience system. I like the fact that the things you do are driven by what is important to your hero, and I like how this is where your strength comes from.

Having not yet played the game I can only speculate, but it does feel like the power level of both the heroes and the villains will ebb and flow with the nature of the story. This gives it a new school, story driven feeling along the lines of FATE.

A quick aside here: The old TSR Marvel Superheroes RPG was one of my favorites growing up, and in some ways I see Fudge and FATE as having grown out of that. I see this particularly in the mechanic of using words to describe power levels rather then numbers. It interests me that the new MSR is such a different beast from MSRPG, but still has a connection of sorts to FATE, albeit a different one.

The hardest part of the game for me to swallow is its insistence on playing the heroes of the Marvel Universe. Yes, there are rules for making new data files, but these are provided so that you can make them for Marvel heroes that have not officially been stated yet.

This is my one sticking point for this game. I want to play my own heroes. I want to tell my own stories. I don’t want a system that makes me feel like I am bending the rules just because I am being creative.

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