Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Part Two: Cap vs Spidey -- Fight!

Fresh off my review of the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game I'm testing the combat rules with a fight between Captain America and Spider-Man, both Rank:4 heroes. I will document it here, blow by blow...

But first, here's a nice little tribute from the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game title page...

And something else the OSR might appreciate, a healthy warning against rail-roading (because if any genre is easy to rail-road, it's super-heroes.)

"If you want to just tell the players a story, you can write it down and read it to them."

"It's not your job to put the plot on rails and run the characters through it."

POST NOTE: The core rules state that the TN for escaping webs is 20. Fans of the game have been complaining that this number is too high and it's disrupting their game. As you will see below, it is in fact, too high. The MARVEL website has a document called Tony's Workshop where they share new ideas, rule fixes/experiments, and other changes. The new TN for escaping webs is 18. This certainly would have helped the star-spangled avenger in the fight that follows!

Now, to the action!

For the sake of this fight the two heroes will start 10 spaces apart. Cap's run speed is 5, Spidey's swingline speed is 18. They both have +3E initiative, the E means they have an edge on initiative rolls (meaning you can re-roll the lowest die.) Initiative is 3D6 with a potential surprise happening on a fantastic success. The rolls...

  • Cap: 16
  • Spidey: 16
A tie. The re-rolls...
  • Cap: 10F (F stands for fantastic success meaning MARVEL came up on the MARVEL die)
  • Spidey: 11

Cap gains a bonus surprise action. Once the surprise round ends, Spidey will go first. Both Cap and Spidey have 1 standard action, 1 move, and 2 reactions (due to both of them having the combat reflexes trait.) Cap can't reach Spidey in 1 move, but no doubt Spidey will come to him, so Cap decides to throw his shield using Hurled Shield Bash. Cap can throw his shield 10 spaces x his rank (4), that's 40 spaces(!)... no prob. This ranged attack costs Cap 5 of his 120 Focus.
  • Now here in lies the first controversy. The rules say melee covers punching and throwing and that agility covers blasting at range. Looking at the villain Bullseye's stats, he has a 1 melee and 4 agility and his agility damage multiplier is x4, double his melee damage multiplier of x2. Bullseye throws things -- it's what he does, he is clearly meant to use agility for attacks and damage even though melee covers throwing. Cap's damage multiplier is the same for melee and agility, but he has a 2 point advantage if attacking with melee and because the rules say punching and throwing, I'm going to let him use melee. (Realistically, you'd have to be strong to throw a shield, your chances of success should perhaps be the average of the two stats.)
Cap rolls a 9 (+6 from melee) for a total of 15, not enough to hit Spidey's amazing agility defense of 19 (both Spidey's melee and agility defense are 19 ((thanks to evasion and spider-sense)) -- he is very hard to hit!) Cap's shield automatically returns to him. Spidey has reaction powers, but I'm ruling he can't use them during this bonus round.

Now the first round begins...

Spidey won't do anything fancy this round, he'll simply swing to Cap and kick him. He rolls a total of 14, not enough to hit Cap's melee defense of 16. Now it's Cap's turn and he'll do a standard Shield-Bash. Roll: 17, missing Spidey.

After the first round...
  • Cap -- Health: 90  Focus: 115 (down from 120)  Karma: 4
  • Spidey -- Health: 90  Focus: 90  Karma: 4

Spidey's gonna try to web Cap's feet to the ground with his webcasting power. This is an agility vs agility check. He rolls a 19, beating Cap's agility defense of 14. Cap is now paralyzed and can't take any melee or agility actions, his agility defense is reduced to 10 and close attacks automatically hit. To escape he needs to make a melee roll of 20! Cap is going to use one of his reactions to try to escape. His melee roll is a 17, not enough, so he spends a point of karma to reroll a 2 (he and Spidey both have 4 karma points.) He rolls a 3 for an 18 -- still a failure. He has another reaction so he'll use that one too. Roll: 16, looking at the dice it's clear that spending karma again won't save him. Cap is stuck!

Spidey is going to use his wisecracker power (which is optionally triggered by a successful attack) as a reaction (reactions can be used as interruptions anytime) -- this is an ego vs ego attack that will do Focus damage. Roll: 10, not enough to meet Cap's ego defense of 12 (I find this number low for Cap, BTW, a hero, who to me, should be unflappable.)

It's Cap's turn and he needs to escape. If he does escape, he can take his actions normally. Cap should have spent a point of karma to give Spidey trouble on his successful webcasting roll, meaning Spidey would have had to re-roll his highest die, maybe turning that success into a failure. (Hind sight!) He's already used both reactions trying to escape so now he'll use his standard action. He fails miserably! Spending karma won't get him to 20, but... he rolled a fantastic failure (the MARVEL die came up! Note: the MARVEL die is equal to a 6, so on that die you can only roll, 2,3,4,5,6,6, this action was still a miss, regardless.) Now the rules say that something beneficial should happen regardless of the failure, but in my last post, I argued for something negative, so here's what I'm going to do: Cap jumps right out of his boots (which remain stuck) and he will have trouble on his next action, a Shield Bash which after the trouble re-roll is only a 10, a clear miss.
  • Cap -- Health: 90  Focus: 115 (120)  Karma: 3
  • Spidey -- Health: 90  Focus: 90  Karma: 4

And so round three begins...

Smart-ass Spidey is going to try to web Cap's boot-less feet back to the ground. Cap is going to use his Shield Wall power that requires concentration so long as Cap doesn't take a move action (a lot of automatic powers require concentration to keep up, you can concentrate on a number of powers equal to your rank, I should have paid attention to shield wall earlier!) to give Spidey trouble on the roll. No dice! Cap is webbed again! Cap might have to spend both reactions again trying to escape. He succeeds on his second try before going for a Shield Bash on the pesky wall-crawler -- missing again, failing by 3, and is not going to spend karma for the re-roll (spending karma on a re-roll is a judgement call, if you missed by a lot, the chances of a re-roll helping you might be slim.)

This has probably been a page or two of comic book action. They would no doubt be bantering back and forth about why they're fighting... some misunderstanding or one is mind-controlled. So far, the environment has not factored in (you can throw cars and stuff) but I assumed an empty street or alley. Neither one has taken damage yet, but Spider-Man is winning. Let's have them fight for a couple more pages...

The star-spangled avenger has managed to escape the webs twice, annoying the web-slinger, so Spidey's gonna go old-fashioned slugfest (after-all, he once beat Firelord -- one of the all-time classic issues!) Cap is using his Shield Wall to give Spidey trouble, but Spidey spends 1 karma to remove the trouble... and scores a hit! Now, Spidey's melee damage multiplier is 5, but Cap has -4 damage reduction! (super-serum + shield) -- at a cost of 15 Focus, so Spidey's multiplier is now only 1. So he rolls 1D6x1, +5 (melee stat) for a total of 6 points of damage. Cap's shield makes him very hard to hurt, but a prolonged use of it will weaken his Focus. Spidey has no damage reduction, but he's super hard to hit, even for Cap. Mental powers would be a threat to both.

Cap's turn. He rolls and misses, then spends karma for and edge getting a hit, then Spidey spends karma for trouble cancelling out the hit.

After this round we are at...
  • Cap -- Health: 84 (90)  Focus: 100 (120)   Karma: 2
  • Spidey -- Health: 90  Focus: 90   Karma: 2

One more round and then Spidey will most likely swing away... But first, he knows he can't really hurt Cap while the avenger has his shield, so he's going to try to take it. First this will require a webgrabbing attempt (5 Focus) and then a melee on melee tug of war. Cap is concentrating on his shield wall (ironically) giving Peter trouble, who in turn spends karma to cancel that out, but he only rolls a 12 so he misses. Then Cap strikes and turns a miss into a hit by spending karma, but Spidey spends karma of his own and the re-roll becomes a miss again. And that is the end of round four. After wards Spidey swings away. At least that's how this fight would end in the comics. Cap could throw his shield at him, but he won't.
  • Cap -- Health: 84 (90)  Focus: 100 (120)   Karma: 1
  • Spidey -- Health: 90  Focus: 85 (90)   Karma: 0

If I continued this fight things would deteriorate quickly due to the lack of karma. Spider-Man clearly has to keep using his webs against Cap, and Cap needs to hope for a lucky blow. You might be wondering why Cap isn't using more of his listed powers -- most of them are either baked into his numbers or designed to help team-mates and/or to mow down goons. I saw no mention in the rules about Spidey's web fluid running out, but if he rolls a fantastic failure while using a web power, that's exactly what I would rule, then it would be serious advantage Cap.

A team of heroes fighting a team of villains could take up and entire evening of play and tracking every characters powers (reactions, concentration, etc.) would be a challenge. There was a lot of page flipping during this exercise to make sure I got it right. Some powers and conditions are remarkably similar, like web-casting/web-grabbing and paralyzed/pinned.

Karma. I don't mind an occasional re-roll, but that whole fight was driven by spending karma. I prefer the dice tell the story. However... there's a catch -- these are both heroes -- they have the heroic tag. Villains don't start with karma, they can earn it, but that's not likely to happen. So, spending karma won't be as annoying in-game. Karma can also be spent to regain some health or focus. Wondering how they'll handle The Punisher...

I love theater-of-the-mind and this game can be played either way, but it would really shine on a grid and seeing as super-hero games are mostly fights... Knockback rules are present and can send a character flying many spaces away, through walls and everything. This will change battlefield tactics -- movement speed will matter. If you used to play Heroclix (like I did) you already have all the minis you'll ever need. Squares or hexes would both work fine. Get some toy cars and stuff and off you go!

Edge and trouble. These are 1 die re-rolls -- for better and for worse. But they alter reality after the fact. "I hit you!" "No you didn't!" I'm thinking, an alternate way to roll them would be closer to advantage/disadvantage, meaning, you simply roll an extra die with your attempt, but that extra die can not be a MARVEL die. Double edge and double trouble would be two extra dice.

Anyway, that's it for the moment, go away now.

Wait, what?

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