With Margaret Weiss’ fantastic Marvel Heroic Roleplaying all but dead and forgotten, it’s time Marvel got new roleplaying representation.
If you read a previous post I did about Edge of the Empire you can probably tell that I am really infatuated with this roleplaying system. The veritable ways you can interpret the result of the system’s dice mechanic encourages creativity and great roleplaying. It offers something very different from the typical and more popular dungeon crawling RPGs. Although, I do love Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder, Fantasy Flight’s Edge of the Empire tops the list as my current RPG of choice.
The other day I was driving to work and my thoughts (as they often do) drifted to things nerdy, specifically to some old Marvel trading cards that I owned back in the day. I loved these trading cards because they featured a space on the back where it recorded the card’s subject’s “power ratings.” The baseline or average power rating for any one of these attributes was 2, which I then thought was funny because 2 is also the baseline for the average human’s characteristics in EotE.
Then, I thought, what if I translated these power ratings into an EotE character? So, the idea for my next creative RPG endeavor was born.
Some of the power ratings translate directly to characteristics. With Strength and Durability equalling Brawn, Intelligence equating to Intellect, and Agility to Agility. However, the more abstract characteristics Willpower, Cunning, and Presence are left much up to the person designing the character. This is where your knowledge of the character will have to come in. For example, Captain America is one of the most inspiring figures in the super hero community. So, his Presence should be high. The Thing does not give up easy, so his Willpower should be high. Spider-Man is quick with a quip and constantly thinks up creative solutions to his host of daily problems, so this would affect his Cunning.
For those of you who don’t have these vintage Marvel trading cards, the official Marvel Database has power ratings for characters as does the unofficial (yet more frequently updated) Marvel Wikia. I looked at all three sources when translating characters.
As for starting Talents or Abilities, I once again decided to draw on my comic book knowledge of the subjects. Captain America’s talent should focus on his extraordinary resilience and the Thing on his rock skin and incredible endurance.
For skills, I picked EotE’s careers and specializations that I thought were closest to what the heroes would be in the system. So, Soldier for Captain America, Enforcer for Thing, and an Ace for Captain Marvel. Some skills (such as Astrogation or Knowledge (Outer Rim) do not translate to the Marvel setting, so I had to tweak or add skills to fit the setting. Much like in EotE, players would get to put four free ranks into the career skill of their choice, and two free ranks in the specialization skill of their choice. Players would start with 0 XP rather than having some to spend in character creation (because these heroes are very well already jacked).By earning XP throughout the story, players could upgrade character skills or purchase talents.
Now, I went ahead and translated four characters using my initial ideas for this game and I’ve already mentioned them a couple of times. Captain America, Spider-Man, the Thing, and Captain Marvel are going to serve as my examples of this conversion process.
You can see their stat blocks below.
Brawn 3, Agility 3, Intellect 3, Cunning 2, Willpower 4, Presence 4
Soak Value 4, Wound Threshold 13, Strain Threshold 14, Melee/Ranged Defense 3/3
Career Skills Atheltics, Brawl, Drive, Knowledge (History), Leadership, Ranged (Light), Ranged (Heavy)
Specialization Skills Brawl, Melee, Leadership, Resilience
Talents Resolve (suffer 1 less strain when taken involuntarily)
Gear Vibranium Shield (Melee; Damage +2; Critical 4, Range [Engaged]; Defensive 2, Deflection 2, thrown weapon (Ranged [light], Range [Medium]), fist (Brawl; Damage +0; Critical 5, Range [Engaged]), armored clothing (+1 Def, +1 soak), Avengers identicard, utility belt
Brawn 4, Agility 5, Intellect 4, Cunning 4, Willpower 3, Presence 2
Soak Value 4, Wound Threshold 14, Strain Threshold 13, Melee/Ranged Defense 1/1
Career Skills Athletics, Brawl, Computers, Coordination, Knowledge (education), Mechanics, Perception, Vigilance
Specialization Skills Athletics, Computers, Knowledge (local), Ranged (light)
Talents Spider-sense (suffer a number of strain to add an equal number of successes to any Vigilance or Cool check to determine Initiative, gain +1 Defense), Wall-crawler (add a Boost die to any Athletics check made to climb or grab hold of a surface)
Gear Fist (Brawl; Damage +0; Critical +0, Ranged [Engaged]), web shooters (Ranged [light]; Damage 1; Critical 4; Range [Medium]; Ensnare 3, swingline Speed 2), utility belt, spider-tracer, Avengers identicard
Brawn 7, Agility 2, Intellect 2, Cunning 1, Willpower 4, Presence 3
Soak Value 8, Wound Threshold 17, Strain Threshold 14, Melee/Ranged Defense 0/0
Career Skills Brawl, Discipline, Knowledge (cosmic), Melee, Piloting, Resilience, Streetwise, Vigilance
Specialization Skills Brawl, Coercion, Knowledge (underworld), Streetwise
Talents Rock Skin (gain +1 Soak value)
Gear Fist (Brawl; Damage +0; Critical +0, Ranged [Engaged]), universal translator
Brawn 5, Agility 3, Intellect 2, Cunning 2, Willpower 3, Presence 3
Soak Value 5, Wound Threshold 15, Strain Threshold 13, Melee/Ranged Defense 0/0
Career Skills Athletics, Brawl, Cool, Gunnery, Piloting, Ranged (light), Ranged (heavy), Stealth
Specialization Skills Brawl, Knowledge (cosmic), Melee, Resilience
Talents Flight (Silohuette 1, Speed 3, Handling +1, Athletics)
Gear Fist (Brawl; Damage +0; Critical +0, Ranged [Engaged]), energy blast (Ranged [light]; Damage 7; Critical 3; Ranged [Medium]), Avengers identicard
I also created a very rudimentary new character sheet for the game using Microsoft Word. It’s nothing flashy, but it gets the job done and I’m pretty proud of being able to create it. (Although, I’d love if someone with skills in an editing software managed to spruce it up some and make it really nice.)
Check out the character sheet here.
I haven’t yet gotten to making individual talent trees for each hero, but I plan on going around it much like I went around the skills. Choosing from a talent tree of a career similar to the hero and tweaking it some. For example, replacing some of the Soldier’s talents with a talent that would reflect Captain America’s ability to ricochet his shield off various targets. This will be the next step in the process, but for right now I just wanted to get some heroes down on paper and see how the whole conversion process would go.
I’m also more than a little stumped on how to do characters that have a more varied power set. Characters such as Emma Frost, or Ms. Marvel, for example. I know EotE has a system in place for using Force Powers and while I think that works great for using the Force, I’m not convinced it would be great for representing super powers. As I understand, the Force is an external cosmic energy that the user draws from, while super powers are usually drawn from the user’s own internal energy or stamina. So, using the EotE Force system for magic characters like Doctor Strange or Nico Minoru would be perfect, but I don’t think it would amply represent Cyclops’ Optic Blast. I’m thinking about introducing a new Power Point mechanic to represent a character’s internal reserve of energy, but I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet.
I plan on getting a group together and running through a simple adventure to test this idea out soon. I’ll certainly post about it here and may even record it in some form or fashion for people to enjoy. Who knows, maybe it could be the first episode of that Podcast I’ve wanted to start?
What do you think of this idea? Have any helpful tips or things you would like to say to help out? Let me know in the comments below.
Keep it nerdy, y’all!