Yet Another Fantasy Marvel Hack

Ok. I know. Dave Chalker (@DaveTheGame) and Adam Minnie (@atminn) have already put their four cents into this discussion at Critical Hits and Exploring Infinity respectively. The basic concept is taking Margaret Weis Productions’ Marvel Heroic RPG and adapting it to fantasy roleplaying, in the same milieu as Dungeons & Dragons, or Sword & Sorcery. So, while I’m analyzing, I’ll also put together a character – Gallifrey, the gnome bard I play in a weekly D&D 3.5e game.

It seems to me the big difference between folks’ interpretations about how this should go is in the Affiliations dice. Let’s take a look at the various options between posts and comments:

  • Affiliations (standard MHR – eg: Team d10 / Buddy d8 / Solo d6)
  • Alignments (port from D&D – eg: Chaotic d10 / Neutral d8 / Good d6)
  • Means (@DainXB‘s S&S hack – eg: Guile d10 / Lore d8 / Steel d6)
  • Pillars (D&D Next-ish – eg: Social d10 / Exploration d8 / Combat d6)
  • Values (port from Smallville – eg: Glory d10 / Love d8 / Truth d6)

It occurs to me that the Means and Pillars are almost thematically identical, and as much of a sacred cow as the alignments are to D&D, I think I like these better. Affiliations and Values are also good, but I think call to a different game than I’m looking for. For instance, I would totally use Values for a Song of Ice and Fire game (which really? Smallville’s heavy reliance on relationships makes it an easier hack for that anyway). So, Gallifrey’s Means:

  • Steel d6
  • Guile d10
  • Lore d8

Heading down the datasheet, we hit Distinctions. These are already so open-ended, there’s no hacking. I think we’re gonna make Gallifrey’s:

  • No, You’re Awesome!
  • I’ll Try Anything Once
  • What a Guy

Before we get into Powersets, simply because of the SFX, I think I should go into my one original idea here – the Stress hack. I see Physical/Mental/Emotional stress as a very comic book sort of metric. This makes sense; it’s great for MHR! For heroic fantasy, let’s try… Physical Stress, Mystical Stress, and Resolve Stress. Even more, I don’t think either of the bloggers mentioned above said anything about this, but what if they didn’t all have a d12 value? That they’re stepped like the Means? This makes SFX – like a Paladins’ theoretical options to absorb physical stress with their resolve – have a little more impact. Gallifrey’s Thresholds:

  • Physical d8
  • Mystical d12
  • Resolve d10

Powersets are more interesting. I could pull directly from Dave’s Lego-style race/class combinations. But I think I’m going to try to represent Gallifrey’s current 3.5e build more organically.

  • Bard
    • Illusion d8  •  Mind Control d10
    • SFX Gnomish Mischief: Before you make an action using a Bard power, you may move your mystical stress die to the Doom Pool and step up the Bard power by +1 for this action.
    • SFX Song of Courage: When using a Bard power to create an Asset, add d6 and step up effect die by +1.
    • SFX Area Attack: Add d6 and keep 1 more effect die for each target beyond the first.
    • SFX Love Conquers All: Step up the smallest die in your pool when interacting directly with Nuit.
    • Limit Bardic Music: Shutdown Bard and gain a PP. Recover power by succeeding against the Doom Pool.
    • Limit Absence Makes the Heart…: Step down the largest die in your pool if Nuit is not in this scene.
  • Druid
    • Animal Control d6  •  Magic Weapon d10  •  Sorcery d6
    • SFX Healing: Add Sorcery to your dice pool when helping others recover physical stress. Spend 1 PP to step back your own or another’s physical stress or trauma.
    • Limit Sworn to Nature: Step up resolve stress related to harm against nature.

Whew. That should about do it! Specialties now? I’m not sure I like Dain’s Careers. However he’s right that MHR’s Specialties are very modern, so perhaps Dave’s apparent method of porting D&D 4e’s skill list directly is the best method. Gallifrey’s Specialties:

  • Combat Rookie d6  •  Nature Rookie d6  •  Thievery Rookie d6
  • Arcana Expert d8  •  Diplomacy Expert d8  •  Insight Expert d8
  • Performance Master d10  •  History Master d10

Milestones of course are very personal to each character. I think I’m gonna cop out on one and grab Dave’s “Adventuring Party” first. The 10xp choice for “In It for the Story” describes one of the defining moments for Gallifrey – when he took on a BBEG alone to rescue a kidnap victim.

  • Adventuring Party
    • 1 XP: whenever your party kills a monster
    • 3 XP: whenever you complete a minor quest, or reject a minor quest in pursuit of a higher goal
    • 10 XP: whenever you complete a major quest, or spectacularly fail a major quest
  • In It for the Story
    • 1 XP: whenever you tell a bardic tale, true or false
    • 3 XP: whenever you convince someone to share their story
    • 10 XP: when you either become a central part of a story at great risk to yourself, or ignore events at great risk to others

Well, that ended up being longer than I expected. But – that should be a fun and entertaining datasheet! Obviously certain aspects of using XP would also have to be hacked. I’ve added a Rookie d6 to the Specialties (and an as-yet unmentioned Phenom d12), as well as the depth to stress dice.

Big thanks to Dave Chalker for pointing out how smooth this conversion can be! And here’s hoping I can break our gaming group out of the ongoing campaign for an MHR session at some point – might be a bit, since I haven’t even run my D&D 4e Avatar module yet. Happy gaming, folks!

3 thoughts on “Yet Another Fantasy Marvel Hack

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