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Always/Never/Now
Publisher: Will Hindmarch
by Strahinja A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/24/2013 12:50:06

Always/Never/Now starts at Lady Blackbird and takes off in its own direction. It's an adventure with the rules for a full game built right in.

The attached characters are great. They have strong, well defined starts, and room to grow.

The story is only somewhat fixed, but by following the setup it's fairly easy to make your own adventures in a similar vein.

Already running it with my group, and I have to say everyone is enjoying themselves immensely.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Always/Never/Now
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
Publisher: Margaret Weis Productions
by Strahinja A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/02/2012 17:47:35

Comic and Tabletop geekdoms are somewhat entwined. Hence it's not surprising that many RPGs have handled the theme and issues of comic supers. I'll cut to the chase - this is the best of them.

We had a bi-weekly ICONs game. I mentioned this game to my GM. He grabbed the pdf, and after we quickly got to converting our game over. We played last night, and it was an unqualified thumbs up from everybody (with everyone grabbing a copy or planning to). This is not intended as a slight to any other game, but as praise at the benefits of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

The comic book genre is a tough one to emulate. It requires too much suspension of disbelief to model correctly using hard simulation (ex: Colossus or Superman would fine-red-mist someone on their first punch). It's also too finicky in power set details to simply hand-wave and make a couple of wide generic stat's for. This game hits all the fine notes with fair grace.

Your die pool is assembled of up to 6 or so dice of various sizes (d4 through d12). And while powers are certainly important (superhuman d10 superstrength) it only represents a portion of your die pool. Your team interplay, how you set up stunts, how good you are at creating openings for your teammates or for future actions are all as important or even more important than the raw power of your strength. This means that the classic dilemma (Batman vs Superman) could go in favor of the caped crusader (as it does in more than one comic).

The game provides enough crunch to feel like a 'game', but was simple enough that everyone at the table picked it up and was narrating stunts their heroes were performing. It also utilizes well some of the more modern game design ideas. For example the xp system (modeled after Keys from SotY or Lady Blackbird) helps motivate players to go after varied goals and sometimes clash because of it. It provides system rewards for following hooks. You can invest XP in unlockables that open up the story.

So what's the bad? The system is fantastic for modeling heroes (and we had premade heroes due to our ongoing campaign), and for organizing stories into events. It's downside as I can see it is trying to create heroes from scratch. Namely you have to come up with a superhero and then model their powers, there is no step by step, point-by, self-balancing and correcting system. This could be a problem with munchkins at the table, but ultimately the powers aren't the thing that rules the day every time.

Overall though, I've played super hero games since the 80's, and I haven't seen a game that engages the players, keeps things light, fast and simple, and models comics and comic-stories in play quite so intuitively and accurately. I cannot recommend it enough. And from the smiles and quick purchases of my GM and fellow players, it seems I'm not alone in this.

Excelsior!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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