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Monday 8 July 2024

[Free RPG Day 2024] X-Men Expansion Preview

Now in its seventeenth year, Free RPG Day for 2024 took place on Saturday, June 22nd. As per usual, Free RPG Day consisted of an array of new and interesting little releases, which are traditionally tasters for forthcoming games to be released at GenCon the following August, but others are support for existing RPGs or pieces of gaming ephemera or a quick-start. This included dice, miniatures, vouchers, and more. Thanks to the generosity of Waylands Forge in Birmingham, Reviews from R’lyeh was able to get hold of many of the titles released for Free RPG Day.


Of all the items published for Free RPG Day 2024, the X-Men Expansion Preview is not the shortest—that honour goes to the Lost Tome of Monsters: Free RPG Day Edition from Foambrain Games which consists of a Pinature and an encounter—but it is the release with the lightest of gaming content. It is a preview for the forthcoming Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game: X-Men Expansion, which explores and presents the X-Men, their origins, rosters, members, associated teams, events, and threats for the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game. The Marvel Multiverse X-Men Expansion Preview provides a snapshot of what is going to be contained in the supplement and a bit more. The more begins with its opening section, a ‘Rules Primer’, which explains the Marvel 616 System used in the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game. It is quick and simple, but it does not include any examples.

The bulk of the Marvel Multiverse X-Men Expansion Preview is dedicated not to the X-Men, but a team which it always preferred to keep secret—X-Force. As explained in this potted history, X-Force carried out the tasks which the X-Men could not. As the leading protectors of Mutants in the Marvel Universe, the X-men had to be heroic and be seen to be heroic—in all senses of the word. Not so the X-Force. Its members could use force, subterfuge, and militant means to carry out its mission of dealing with threats to Mutant-kind. They could even kill if necessary. A cross between spies, vigilantes, and special forces operatives, they did the dirty work that the X-Men could never do and never sanction. In game terms, this means that members of X-Force are not always heroic and their operations often stray into morally grey areas. The history of the X-Force includes seven different line-ups and details locations important to the team, such as the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier Pericles, and Cavern-X. Floor plans for the latter, a case base in Arizona, are also included.

There are notes on playing as members of X-Force, noting its darker themes of clandestine action and secrecy, as well as its proactive approach. Joining the team is done by invitation only, based on what the current leader wants. In the case of Cable, frequent leader of X-Force, this means combat skills, discipline, and the ability to undertake dangerous missions. Potential members must be Mutants and they should ideally have some military or espionage background. It also notes that there is sometimes a commonality in terms of powers between team members, such as the health regenerating abilities of Deadpool, Wolverine, and X-23. Rounding out the description of X-Force is a couple of sets of adventure hooks, five suitable for any X-Force roster and five for the Krakaon X-Force, the most recent roster. These are no more than a paragraph in length and will need a fair bit of development upon the part of the Game Master.

Rounding out the Marvel Multiverse X-Men Expansion Preview are stats for the Mutants Bishop, Dazzler, and Gambit. Although nice to see these, only one of them, Bishop, has been a member of X-Force.

Physically, the Marvel Multiverse X-Men Expansion Preview is clean and tidy, and very readable. And that is really the best that can be said about it, since it would actually take quite a bit of effort to really turn any of its content into something playable and ready to be played at the table. Many of the characters across the different rosters are not here or given in the core rulebook for Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game, such that it would be difficult to assemble a full team. A team of all-stars—sans Cable—would be possible. Then the Game Master would need to develop one of the adventure hooks included in its pages. Of course, a preview like this, is only designed to give you a snapshot of what in the forthcoming game book and the Marvel Multiverse X-Men Expansion Preview does a good job of that—and actually it is not a bad read either.

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