Saturday, December 15, 2012

89 Days to GaryCon! I Want to Play... Marvel Super Heroes

While Dungeons & Dragons was the game that got me started in role-playing, most of my younger days was spent playing a different game. Being a young geek, I was very much a comic book fan, particularly of Marvel Comics and their flagship hero Spider-Man. So when I was that TSR had created a role-playing game based on Marvel, I made sure to grab it right away.
It has been a while since the classic Marvel Super Heroes RPG (lovingly called FASERIP by fans based on the acronym for the characters stats) has been in print. But after playing it and a few other supers RPGs, it is clearly the best one out of all on them. The main reason is that while other games tried to find ways of simulating the powers and abilities of super heroes, Marvel Super Heroes set out to simulate the feel of being in a comic book environment. And that is a major difference.

For example, let's say you have a super-hero that can generate ice blasts. In other games, you buy the power 'Ice Blast'. The 'Ice Blast' power lets you do a certain amount of damage at a certain range. Now let's say you are facing a group of foes, and you want to freeze the ground beneath them to skip them up. They do it in the comics all the time, so you feel you should be able to do it as well. The problem is that according to the rules your 'Ice Blast' is only good for doing damage at range, and that's it. If you want to do your ice slick trick, you need to buy that power separately or you don't get it at all.

Compare this to FASERIP where you want to try the same thing using your Ice Generation power. The Judge considers all the variables: the area of effect, the range of your power, the level of your power and maybe a few other factors (like if the ground was wet or there's a fire surrounding you), and determines just how effective such a stunt would be. In fact, stunt is an appropriate word because that's how the game defines such a task. Using the Power Stunt system the character can pull off tricks like freezing the ground with an ice blast even though by default the power just does ice damage at a given range.

In fact, such stunts not only allowed but encouraged, since there is a limit to the number of actual powers a character can have. I remember my brother playing a hero whose only powers were the ability to turn into a nigh-invulnerable strong man with the ability to make great leaps in the air. He came up with the idea of using his hero's leaping power as an attack, using his highly-developed leg muscles to do more damage than he would do with a punch. It's that kind of creativity that the system allows that lets a player exceed what would normally be a limitation of the system. And it's what made Marvel Super Heroes a great game.

Hopefully, the event catalog for GaryCon V should be out soon. And I know someone is going to run a game of Marvel Super Heroes, and I'm going to be at that table with my old red and blue mud d10s ready to rock.

On an unrelated note: I've decided that Saturday will be the day I talk about the games I want to play at GaryCon. So if you liked this post, be sure to check in next week for more.

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