Thursday, April 26, 2012

Running a Play-By-Post Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game

I think I talked a while ago (sorry for the bad memory - like I said, it's been a while ago!) that since moving to another state and away from my weekly gaming group, I'm going to need to turn to some alternative options to get my gaming on. While I've found myself pursuing a hobby I really never had any intent pursuing in the past, it's not exactly the kind of gaming that will really scratch my itch. So I turn again to trying to find a play-by-post forum game that will work for me. A recent obsession, thanks to c2e2, is Margaret Weis Productions' Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game (MHRPG).

Fast forward to me trying to figure out when I can get home to run a game to do some research on the system and get down to the nitty-gritty, and I'm not having much luck getting it figured out. So, now I'm thinking a play-by-post would be a good way to at least get a bit of the economy of play down.

MHRPG is a bit of an odd duck when it comes to supers roleplaying. I don't at all mean this in a negative way. I like odd ducks, and that's especially true when the oddness comes from a more narrative-based rule set. I love narrative-based games when compared to a highly-tactical or strategic style of play like that found in D&D 4th.

Anyway, that's off topic, the real oddness comes from the fact that, while characters and NPC's are actually quite simple in their representation and general amount of junk to remember, there's an awful lot of record keeping that goes on in the game. This isn't a big deal when everyone's at the table, but when everyone is posting at different times of the day and never actually say anything in person, it's important that me, as the GM, has a really strong and overtly obvious understanding of how the table is going.

There's plot points, the doom pool, scene distinctions, stresses, assets, and more to keep track of when running an action scene. It's not at all insurmountable, but it is something to keep in mind when launching such a game. If you're wondering what inspired this post, it's from this short thread over at where someone was asking for a GM for a Marvel game. After some hemming and hawing, I've decided to step forward and give it a chance.

It looks like I'll be running some kind of widescreen Avengers story with a feeling more towards the movie than any of the comics. This is fine by me, and something I can definitely give a shot to in order to learn the system, but in my heart, I'm an X-Men guy through-and-through. My dream game I'd like to run someday would have to be a heavy-hitter style X-team game that hops around the planet (and at times the galaxy) investigating the truly weird, alien, and possibly paranormal things that no one else can or wants to handle. Basically the current incarnation of Uncanny X-Men meets Planetary set firmly in the Marvel Universe. As much as I love Cyclops, he'd be no where near leading this team since there probably wouldn't be enough punching and kicking of the people.

Anyway, just my two cents.


  1. I've done a fair bit of play-by-post (or really, play-be-email, at the time) supers role-playing, but never using an actual system. I would imagine that to be a slow endeavor unless played in real time.

    If I were to attempt it, I would probably set something up where a character's stats determined what he could and could not do without retroaction from the GM. In other words, no rolling unless the task is over a certain amount above the attribute. Such a post would end with a cliffhanger to the action, and the GM would post the result.

    Combat? I'd use whatever initative the game supported to decide who the first poster is, then have each one write a narrative of part of the fight (perhaps no more than a couple posts each depending in relevance to the adventure). Whether the writer makes himself win or lose, the GM would write the result of the fight in the end based on stats, perhaps a few rolls, the text as written, and story-telling needs.

    So I'd always use the system to gauge character ability, but I wouldn't actually go through all the mechanics on a turn to turn basis. What are you planning to do?

  2. That's generally a pretty good set of rules to follow for play-by-post games. That's one of the drawbacks actual of MHRPG in that format - every roll is contested back-and-forth between the player and the GM.

    I'm not sure how this is going to play out in reality, but there's really only one way to see.

  3. Hey. Good luck with your PbP endeavor using MHR. Here is a decent play by post using MHR you may find ideas from (as far as 'how' to present rolls, and approaching situations forum based):
    Good luck

    Watchers Unite!
    #watchersunite on G+

  4. Over on I ran a 13 player Breakout event for MHR, and it was really smooth. From that we learned a few tips for tracking doom Pool, Stress, Effects, etc.
    I'm currently running an X-Men campaign PbP, and playing in a New Avengers campaign.
    The rules are actually excellent for PbP. The narrative based system allows for pretty much effortless integration of the rules into the posts.

  5. Agreed. The PbP environment means that you won't be able to just have notes or tokens right there in front of the players, and so you need to include running totals in your posts along with the actions.

    Turns are pretty quick to do though, and with MHR it is just action/reaction, and not a longer back and forth.

    You can have fun showing where the dice get collected in the action post too.

  6. This is a gamers blog so if any1 should know its you guys :) I'm looking for some quality Zombie Killing Games preferably non flash based (and please don't say Dead Frontier)
    Thanks in advance


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