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Saturday 25 November 2023

Quick-Start Saturday: Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook

Quick-starts are means of trying out a roleplaying game before you buy. Each should provide a Game Master with sufficient background to introduce and explain the setting to her players, the rules to run the scenario included, and a set of ready-to-play, pre-generated characters that the players can pick up and understand almost as soon as they have sat down to play. The scenario itself should provide an introduction to the setting for the players as well as to the type of adventures that their characters will have and just an idea of some of the things their characters will be doing on said adventures. All of which should be packaged up in an easy-to-understand booklet whose contents, with a minimum of preparation upon the part of the Game Master, can be brought to the table and run for her gaming group in a single evening’s session—or perhaps too. And at the end of it, Game Master and players alike should ideally know whether they want to play the game again, perhaps purchasing another adventure or even the full rules for the roleplaying game.

Alternatively, if the Game Master already has the full rules for the roleplaying game for the quick-start is for, then what it provides is a sample scenario that she still run as an introduction or even as part of her campaign for the roleplaying game. The ideal quick-start should entice and intrigue a playing group, but above all effectively introduce and teach the roleplaying game, as well as showcase both rules and setting.


What is it?
The Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook is not as its name suggests a quick-start. Instead, it is an introduction to and preview of the rules and a then chance to provide feedback to the designers of the roleplaying game, the fifth to be based on the Marvel Universe. It includes the rules combat and action as well as the means for players to create superheroes of their own, ten superheroes from the Marvel Universe, and a short scenario.

It is a one-hundred-and twenty-page, full colour softback book.

The book is lavishly illustrated with comic book art.

The rules are clearly explained, but more complex and detailed than would be found in a quick-start.

How long will it take to play?
If the pre-generated superheroes in the
Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook are used, its, ‘Enter; Hydra’, can be played through in one session. If the players want to create their own, another session will be required.

What else do you need to play?
The ten pre-generated superheroes in Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook consist of three six-sided dice per player, one of which should be a different colour to the other two.

Who do you play?
The six Player Characters in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook consist of the Black Panther, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Groot, Iron Man, Rocket Raccoon, Spiderman, Storm, Thor, and Wolverine.

How is a Player Character defined?
A Player Character in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook
and thus the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Gamehas a Rank, Archetype, scores in six abilities, Health, Focus, Karma, Power Sets and Powers, as well as a Backstory and Traits. Rank ranges in value from one and ordinary human to twenty-five. Rank 5 is equal to Daredevil, Rank 10 to Spiderman, Rank 15 to Captain America, Rank 20 to Doctor Strange, and Rank 25 to Captain Marvel. Rank determines how many points a player has to spend during character creation and the values of various secondary factors. Archetypes include Blaster, Bruiser, Genius, Polymath, Protector, and Striker, and suggest how a superhero’s powers might work. The six abilities Might, Agility, Resilience, Vigilance, Ego, and Logic, their initials spelling out ‘Marvel’. Backstory includes Origin and Profession, which grant Traits that Traits cover talents, skills, circumstances, vulnerabilities, minor superpowers, and more.

What Does a Sample Player Character Look Like?
Heaven Granado is a struggling medical student studying in New York. To make ends meet, she volunteered for program of medical trials, thinking they were new vaccines. Unfortunately, Heaven had an allergic reaction to one of the drugs and was hospitalised and had to abandon the trial. In the weeks following her recovery she discovered that she was suddenly very stretchy and resilient to damage, the first when absentmindedly reaching across a room and the second when she was hit by a car. She still does not quite know the extent of what she can do, but wants to wrap her head around it.

Real Name: Heaven Granado
Codename: Wraparound
Origins: Weird Science
Profession: Health Care Worker/Medical Student


ABILIITIES – Score – Modifier – Defence
Might – 2 – +3 – 14
Agility – 2 – +5 – 16
Resilience – 3 – +6 – 17
Vigilance – 3 – +8 – 19
Ego – 4 – +9 – 20
Logic – 4 – +8 – 19

Initiative Modifier: +8 Speed: 27
Fight Damage: 3d6 Ranged Damage: 3d6+4
Health: 45 Focus: 55
Karma: 3

Plasticity: Extended Reach 1, Flexible Bones 1
Tactical Mastery: Battle Plan, Change of Plan

Clinician, Extra Career (Student), First Aid, Mentor, Obligation: School, Poor, Prescription Pad, Quick Leaner, Weird

How do the mechanics work?
Mechanically, the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook—and thus the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game—uses
the d616 System. To have his character undertake an Action Check, a player rolls three six-sided dice, adds an Action Modifier, whether from ability or a power, and if the result is equal to or higher than the Target Number—which can range between eight and forty. One of the three six-sided dice is a different colour. This is the Marvel die. If the result on the Marvel die is a one and those on the other dice is any number except one, it counts as a Fantastic Roll, triggers a triumph result, and the one on the Marvel die counts as six towards the total. The Ultimate Fantastic roll is a six on both of the standard dice a one on the Marvel die. This means the task automatically succeeds and ignores any Trouble. A roll of one on all three dice is a Botched Roll and counts as a failure.

If the Player Character has the Edge or an advantage due to a special skill, ability, or the circumstances, the player can reroll a single die and take the better result. This often to achieve a Fantastic Roll. Trouble, whether due to lack of skill or equipment, forces a player to reroll a die and take the worst result.

Heroes and villains have Karma equal to half their Rank to spend each day. karma can be spent to give a Player Character the Edge on an Action Roll. The Narrator can reward more Karma for good roleplay.

The aspect of a Fantastic Roll, derived from a roll of one on the Marvel Die and any numbers other than one on the other dice, but the roll of one on the Marvel Die still counting as a six towards the total is, mechanically, counterintuitive. However, the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game is set on the default Earth of the Marvel Universe, Earth-616, so thematically it makes sense.

How does combat work?
Combat in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook details initiative, the various types of movement, use of firearms—mostly the province of NPCs and villains, numerous conditions, and damage inflicted to objects, including ploughing through them. It covers most of the typical eventualities that might turn up in a superhero roleplaying game.

How do Powers work?
Powers are divided between those organised into related sets and those not. A set suggests origins and effects, and within the sets, the powers are arranged as trees which the hero can progress along as he grows in his abilities. Every power has a narrative effect, the mechanical effect handled via the Action Check.

Power Sets included in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook consist of Battlesuit, Blades, Cybernetics, Energy Control, Firearms, Martial Arts, Plasticity, Shield Bear, Spider-Powers, Super-Strength, Tactical Mastery, and Weather Control. These specifically support the pre-generated heroes included in the book.

Focus represents a superhero’s mental fortitude, but also has to be spent to activate certain powers.

What do you play?
‘Enter Hyrda (An Adventure)’ is the shortest section in Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook. It is designed for three to six characters of Ranks 10 or 15—most of the pre-generated characters in Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook are of the appropriate Ranks—who must face a squad of Hydra agents with powers remarkably similar to their own. It is specifically designed to showcase the rules, especially the combat rules, in practice. That said, it is a cliché and it is one note, good for a single session, but absolutely no more.

Is there anything missing?
Yes and no. There numerous types of powers not included, such magic, phasing, psionics, and teleportation. Beyond the ten heroes included, there are also no stats or details of actual Marvel Universe villains. Of course, space is limited in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook, but the inclusion of a villain would have been useful.

There is also no PDF version available.

Is it easy to prepare?
The core rules presented in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook are relatively easy to prepare. There is a lot of information in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook though and it is tightly packed, so it require a close read through.

It helps that it includes a good combination index and glossary and a reference sheet for Action Checks for the Narrator.

Is it worth it?
Yes and no. Yes, because it does include everything necessary to play at least a single session and even a few more should the Narrator and her players want to create their superheroes and associated villains and run a few sessions of the roleplaying game. No, because it is not readily available in PDF. This is a shame because the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game does need an introduction or quick-start and the
Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook would fit that bill.

Where can you get it?
The Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook is available through retail at comic book shops and on Kindle.

There is no PDF version available.

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