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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2012 03:51:01
There seems to be a tradition, from previous iterations of Marvel superhero RPGs, towards using funky, modern systems. The original TSR version had it's FEATS system and Universal Table; the mid-90s saw a card based SAGA system being used, and now we have a Indie style Cortex Plus system to digest.

All these systems have the dubious distinction of confusing the hell out of me, but I can't deny they are innovative. What we get here is a pretty complete, full color package with A+ production standards that you'd expect from a major license. Lots of familiar Heroes and Villains are outlined in the rules, and I've no doubt more will be added. There are rules towards designing your own heroes (thankfully) but it doesn't seem to be a major drive in the game unlike other RPGs (like Champions, primarily). It'll no doubt be successful - with The Avengers movie just round the corner - and should compete well against DC Heroes for the forceable future. But then, looking at the sales already, you probably knew that already!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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Leverage Roleplaying Game
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/14/2012 20:40:36
I discovered the 'Leverage' television show through the roleplaying game and as a matter of due diligence thought I should watch a few episode to understand the context, mood and feel of the game. Now, after digesting four seasons, it's time to come back to the RPG. In many cases, it is impossible to fully appreciate an RPG based on an intellectual property with only one of the two creative outputs - and 'Leverage' is no exception. I think that without an appreciation for the television show, you'll find it very difficult to grapple with some of the storytelling tools presented.

From the outset, I had high hopes for the game. I own 'Serenity' and 'Smallville' and have taken enthusiastically to not only the Cortex system, but the underlying philosophy of MWP's game design. Their games are designed to be played as a team, co-operatively, with fun being explicitly the responsibility of everyone at the table. Players are encouraged to identify when scenes allow others to shine, and to help everyone at the table achieve their full potential. 'Leverage' mentions in the character creation section that should players chose to create characters in isolation, the game will feel more like a group of 'prison inmates' than a team game; and I couldn't agree more.

Anyone familiar with Cortex will have few surprises along the way - although it leans more to the simplicity of 'Serenity' than the more complex 'Smallville'. Players select one character archetype - Mastermind, Grifter, Hitter, Thief or Hacker (each archetype embodied on the screen each week) and then assigning dice types to each to determine priority. There are the usual Assets, Distinctions, Talents and the like which round out the character and it does appear to be quite simple to design and make a character. However, as there isn't a static list of traits (with the exception of Distinctions) players are encouraged to design descriptive traits for their character.

The balance comes in with the sidebar explaining that all traits should have a negative and positive side - and the other players and the Fixer (the name given to the GM) should determine if they are unbalanced or too broad. For example, in the TV show Nate (the resident Mastermind) has the trait 'Drunk'. Whilst this does have very negative connotations, it does mean that Nate could use the trait to assist in the roll to impersonate a drunk, or even name exotic alcoholic beverages. On the flipside, the Fixer could use it as a temptation to derail Nate whilst on a job.

Plot Points are included here too, and make for an interesting interplay between Fixer and players - essentially giving characters a kick-back when something bad is invoked against them, and then being able to be spent on certain perks during the game. Character advancement is relatively simple, with characters spending 'Jobs' (ie, one story) to purchase advances. Conversely, a character can simple leave the log of Jobs on their character sheet. By doing so, they can call into play experiences from previous jobs to give them either a boosted roll, or an attempted one, if they have an relevant experience. For example, if a character needed to ski down a mountain slope during one Job, they could recall the experience in a later Job to either give them an extra dice in the roll, or (if they don;t have a relevant skill) invoke it to get a roll.

Running this game will require a good working knowledge of the structure of an episode of the television show, as I mentioned before. The players and the Fixer are expected, during the game, to look for Flashback Scenes that can be used to wrap up the Job, or progress it. An example might be a scene where a character rifles through the Marks' desk drawer, and finds a gun and some paperwork. They might photocopy the paperwork whilst playing the scene, but during a Flashback Scene state that they also emptied the gun of bullets. When the Mark is waving his pistol at the team, the player announces the Flashback Scene to frame the action of pulling the six rounds out of the jacket pocket as a frustrated Mark tries to fire an empty gun. I would imagine that this aspect of the game will take a little time before it is run smoothly by all at the table. The main piece of advice that I'd give here is that the mechanic is present to advance the story and make for some really cool scenes - it is not designed as a carte blanche 'auto-win' and should be never used as such.

Overall, I loved the game and look forward to putting together my first Job. As my group have the knack of turning any game into one about teams, this will suit them perfectly. There is plenty of advice for the aspiring Fixer (being a Shadowrun fan, I'm looking forward to actually being called a Fixer), including a wide range of random tables for generating Marks' attributes, motivations and the reason for the Job. I have since noticed that MWP have produced an introductory module ('The Quickstart Job' at $1.99) and I'll definitely be investing in it to give me an example Job before I start to design my own. Given the pricing of 'The Quickstart Job' I'd consider it a no-brainer.

This leads me to my only gripe and that is the lack of the near-ubiquitous 'module in the back of the book' that we see with most core rulebooks. MWP did an excellent job of including one in the recent 'Marvel Superheroes RPG' which set the tone well, and helped to introduce players and GMs alike to the game. 'Leverage' would have benefited from this too.

The writing style is very light, is conversational in tone and does a great job in explaining all of the concepts on the first pass. All of the art is taken from the television show, and is used quite sensibly - it is always apparent why a particular still was used on a given page. I've printed out my PDF copy, and on greyscale it was not a great drain on my ink cartridge.

Despite the lack of intro module, I'll still give this five stars. From the group approach to making characters, the high-end narrative style of the game, and the fact that it forces all characters into the limelight at least once per Job makes this a winner. I can imagine in the near future that my group will be enjoying a 'Leverage' marathon on our DVDs, followed by a really fun game. I can't wait to see what more this product line has in store, and this type of product constantly reaffirms MWP as a high-quality publisher of gaming titles.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage Roleplaying Game
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Castlemourn Campaign Setting
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/14/2012 07:01:08
You know that anything written by Ed Greenwood is going be a lavishly detailed immersion into high fantasy, and Castlemourn showcases his abilities (through the excellent MWP) admirably.

Castlemourn marries fantasy with one of my other favourite genres - the post-apocalyptic setting. Three hundred years ago, there was a cataclysm which destroyed the previous shining age, causing the gods to cordon off the realm. As such, none are permitted to leave, although some brave (or foolish) souls still try; and are never seen again. Don't let the idea of a contained setting fool you though; there is more than enough to keep players interested and enough political intrigue, open warfare, exploration and adventure to engage even the most experienced group.

There are all the mainstays of D&D in terms of character races, including two new ones - the Godaunt and the Thaele who do add a certain 'flavour' to the game by their presence and all the classes are present and accounted for. The only new class is the Buccaneer, and this is interesting enough (and balanced enough) to make it an attractive option (and who doesn't want to play a pirate).

There is also a host of new mechanically-flavoured items (including the ubiquitous Prestige Classes), but it is all very well written and presented.

With Ed Greenwood at the helm, you know the book will include the practicalities of daily life, and he doesn't disappoint. Calendars and crops, foods and festivals are all covered in varying degrees of detail and give GM and player alike a real insight into daily life - something I've always admired from his Forgotten Realms work.

Given that this has been reduced to $4.99, I cannot think of a single reason why this shouldn't be on every fantasy gamers' shopping list. Even if you are a 4e player, the narrative content alone will be useful. If you are looking for a new setting for your next campaign, give this a chance. You'll not regret doing so.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castlemourn Campaign Setting
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Supernatural: The Hunt Begins
by Bruce F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/08/2012 21:33:03
Like many Quick Start Rules, it maintains what I have grown to expect as the standard layout of explanation for any RPG system. It starts with detailing what an RPG is specifically with respect to Supernatural itself.

It details the difference between players and the person who runs the game is, often called the game master. Think of the Game Master as a referee of sorts. It gives a pretty decent description of the basic rules and how they work together to determine the results of a character's actions and what one needs to actually play the quick-start system and the adventure therein.

Unlike a number of Quick Start Rules, they keep the overall amount of rules explained cut down. All of the above is covered in about six pages and then is followed by an example of play to give new players to RPGs or this specific set of game mechanics an idea of how it all interacts.

The adventure gives you a nice taste of what Supernatural is about while also avoiding rehashing plots from the show so even avid fans of the show won't necessarily be able to grab any spoilers from having watched every episode to date though there are a few episodes that might send them off on a red herring.

While the adventure can be used with characters you have created from the core book, four pre-generated characters are provided including character sheets for Sam and Dean Winchester, the main characters from the television series.

I enjoyed this product. As a fan of the show, of any show that has been turned into a RPG I am often wary of the end result as there have been some collosal let downs but this pdf was far from a disappointment and because of it I will be investing in this line and plan to purchase the other books soon.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supernatural: The Hunt Begins
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Leverage: Hitters, Hackers, & Thieves
by Alexander O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/08/2012 06:45:54
I kind of gave the Leverage RPG a pass when it came out because -- I didn't watch the show.

But after I finally encountered first the Smallville RPG, then the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying RPG, I decided to pick up Leverage to give it another try. Then I decided to take a look at the sourcebooks for it.

This book, Leverage: Hitters, Hackers, and Thieves, is an indispensable tool for both players and GMs (Fixers in this RPG) interested in rounding out and deepening the capabilities, backgrounds, rivals, and approaches for these types of roles in the game. While it does not (and cannot) give an encyclopedic account of all things Hitter/Hacker/Thief, it does bolster the treatment given in the rulebook with key points in the history and rationale of the role, very flavorful talents to broaden the cinematic treatment in the game, and some Master Class options to make the PCs and NPCs even more awesome than they already are.

There are also additional rules for Locations in this sourcebook to make things more interesting for the Thief (and everyone else) in your Crew. As a bonus, you get several technology-centric Jobs to take your Crew through.

In addition, the book is written clearly, while successfully providing both information and flavor to further reinforce the genre of the game.

If you're into Leverage, pick it up!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage: Hitters, Hackers, & Thieves
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Supernatural Adventures
by Joshua S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/01/2012 19:01:19
A great product, tons of fun and the cortex system keeps it simple so you can focus on the story yet still have a reliable rolling system:) can't wait for more of this product!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Supernatural Adventures
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Supernatural Role Playing Game
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2012 16:57:58
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19817.

Using the Cortex System at its foundation, the Supernatural RPG allows a group of die-hard fans the opportunity to play the Winchester brothers, or other hunters, and one other to be the screenwriter/producer/director they’ve always dreamt of within the surreal world of darkness created by the popular TV show. For me, it’s my first full experience with these mechanics and Margaret Weis Productions’ continuing line of licensed games. I’ve seen the show a few times, but never caught it on a regular basis, because I’m a slave to watching everything in order and have yet to find a channel airing it in syndication or a local store selling the first season on DVD.

All that adds up to an eager anticipation on my part to see what all the fuss is about: game mechanics and the setting material alike. The latter is very effective and highly evocative, written as if it were spoken by Dean himself, and sets a clear tone for both those familiar and inexperienced with the show. The former was an acceptable system capable of embracing player participation and character interaction, but seemed rather ho-hum on resolution and combat.

OVERALL

After reading through the book, I felt as if the Supernatural RPG‘s mechanics were heavily influenced by White Wolf’s World of Darkness games and while I’ve never read Hunter: The Gathering, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to adapt that game into a homebrew of this show. While the book is well-written and mechanically solid, I have to admit disappointment at what I was expecting. It feels typical to nearly every other RPG out there and while Plot Points are a nice touch, it’s only a fresh coat of paint on a street where all the houses are built the same. If you’ve been waiting for a RPG to come out supporting your favorite show after spending weeks working on a hack from another system, I’d be hard pressed to insist on ditching that work.

This doesn’t mean the game itself is poor, just standard. If you’re new to role-playing, it’s a perfectly acceptable way to enter or continue into the genre. But if you’re experienced and looking for something new and exciting, you might not find it here. I’m in the second category, which is why this game doesn’t quite do it for me in light of what I came to expect.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 8 out of 10
Every page looks as if it came from one of Winchester’s journals and helps propel the mood of the game and its relation to the show. Very effective in print, a bit of a bother in PDF (my copy came in at 42Mb and was a bit slow to load on the tablet).

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
Functional, yes. Effective, yes. Evocative? No. While Plot Points and Traits were a nice touch, they didn’t make a massive difference to differentiate this game from any other out there.

Desire to Play: 5 out of 10
I’m more psyched about watching the show more than ever and would pull this out if my players squealed when they found out I had a copy. Otherwise, it’s another book to add to the shelf.

Overall: 7 out of 10
Don’t get me wrong, this is a good RPG and demonstrates Margaret Weis Productions as a worthy publisher. Jamie Chambers and the team’s handling of the material is excellent and perhaps if I was already a nut for the show, I’d be more enthusiastic. Yet my personal feeling on the been-there, done-that mechanics is not my cup of tea. Some of my discontent also stems from my expectations of the Cortex System – I don’t think this game lives up to the potential I’ve come to expect from this system. If you’re a fan of the TV show, the rating may be more like 8 out of 10.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Supernatural Role Playing Game
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Chuck C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2012 16:54:27
This book delivers. Following in the footsteps of the classic Marvel game from TSR back in the day, written by much of the same team that produced the monumental Dresden Files game, and using lots of dice in fun and tactical ways, this game promises to deliver a wallop. Worth the price in interesting ideas alone.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Tony G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/31/2012 09:24:15
I was counting down the minutes until this game came out! I had played The DC game, as well as many other "Hero" type games. I have to say this was a complete disapointment. Some of the heroes power levels make no sense. The "starter" mission is just a playthrough of a comic run? I don't know, they really dropped the ball. I just hope that another company buys the rights and makes a different game. I would love it if they had the DC/Mutants and mastermind system used- instaead of the modified- hahaha "Leverage" system... really people?

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Ian F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/24/2012 17:37:03
The game is solid. The rules help you mirror superheroic role-playing, and as basic rules without the Marvel content, they are fantastic. The book is easy to follow, looks great as an ebook and flows well. There are a few places where the information could be presented clearer (a basic chart showing the different outcomes of actions would work great), and the selection of Heroes in the book should have included more iconic Marvel Heroes (no Hulk? no Thor? really?).

But I'm going to be playing this Marvel game for a long, long time. It has knocked every other super hero RPG off of my shelf, and it will be joined by the upcoming supplements that detail the major Marvel events. I have been reccomending it to all of my friends, and have found teaching it easy and straigtforward.

Most importantly, it's tons of fun to play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Eric A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/22/2012 14:41:22
This game is okay if you want to inject some roleplay into your Marvel Heroes miniatures game, but as a stand alone system it is a bit too cumbersome. The dice mechanic is okay but not snappy like comic book action should be.

Also, the lack of character gen rules is glaring. Playing the Avengers is cool and all, but without being able to inject your own ideas and characters into it, it just seems very masturbatory. I do not want to play a hero fan-fic.

I am not a fan of established IP hero games and this one reenforces that.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Mark M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/20/2012 23:55:58
The book is beautiful and looks and feels like a trade paperback. The game is extremely fun and fast. The rules are easy to read and easy to understand. The mechanics are not your usual fare and take some getting used to, but after working through a few scenes really becomes easy to play. It captures the "comic book" feel and running the game is pretty streamlined for the "Watcher". The dice pools work fantastic and it is really run to watch the odds escalate against the heroes as the "Doom Pool" grows. If you dont feel like being an established Marvel hero or villain, make up your own with an easy and simple character generation system.

Its lots of fun and worth the price. So as for me....MAKE MINE MARVEL:)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Antonio E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/20/2012 11:21:02
I had high expectations, but sadly this game did not satisfy me. For starters, I am not a Marvel comics expert, though I enjoy reading a comic every now and then, or watching a movie. But this game has absolutely zero background. I was also expecting something fast-moving and quick (as advertised), much like the old beloved Marvel TSR FASERIP game, instead we get tens of pages of rules just to solve conflicts. Between forming a dice pool, rolling the dice, sorting them, comparing with a reaction roll (which involves more or less the same steps as before) then adjudicating the effects; it takes a LONG time (literally minutes.)
On the good side the character writeups are nice (though absolutely incomplete: no Thor, no Hulk just to name two ICONS of the Marvel universe,) and in general the game is very light on stats. If it weren't for the dice-rolling method, this could have been a blast. Then I compare this with my old Marvel RPG revised basic set, and frankly I feel ripped :(

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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Leverage: Grifters & Masterminds
by Devon K. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/17/2012 11:22:20
If you're struggling with how to be a Fixer or Mastermind in a game of Leverage, this book is definitely for you! Again, just like the other supplement, Hackers, Hitters & Thieves, this book provides some wonderful discussion on the Roles and how they apply to a game and what they can do. It also provides additional options to make your characters a bit more fun, giving them more power to change situations in the Job.

But where this book shines is in the sections with additional discussion of the Mastermind and being the Fixer. Incorporating ideas from the community, there are several suggestions that really shine and can significantly add to the experience of playing the Mastermind and Fixer.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Leverage: Grifters & Masterminds
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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Basic Game
by Gilles B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/16/2012 13:49:16
I got the pdf of this game while waiting for the paperback because i was curious what kind of mechanics they would use after playing Smallville, which was an interesting take on the genre.

I'm not going to repeat what others have already said about the basics of this game, read the reviews and you will get the info you need.

I gave it an average score basically because i feel the die pool mechanic central to the game can be too easily abused : create a character with initial die codes for stats, powers and specialties into the d10s, get 2 power sets (1 more die to roll each time), systematically use distinctions to get PPs early, use those PPs to keep extra die for your result, trying to get a +5 or +10 extraordinary success that will step up your effect die (which will more than probably be a d10 since its all you're rolling) or use another PP to activate an SFX that does just that, hopefully going over the d12 range, netting you an instant win over any opposition!! (and i'm not even talking about using your own stress die in your pool). Someone else commented that this game is far too in favour of the PCs, and i fear they might be quite right.

This game demands mature gamers who will be more interested in the storyline being comicbook-like than winning or being the biggest badass around.

My other letdown was the character creation. I don't mind so much having to piecemeal or reverse engineer powers, sfx and milestones (although no game should basically left you on your own in such a critical area), but i need to have more examples to work with if you're not going to give me exact rules on how to do it. Marvel Heroic Roleplaying has only around 65 characters to look up, many with the same SFX, and only 45 powers, including 25 SFX. By comparison, the old Basic Marvel Super Heroes had around 85 characters and 90 powers, while the Advanced MSH had about the same amount of characters (going up to 135 if you count the basic animals, aliens and ordinary foes also included - something also left out in MHR) and 120 powers.

I understand that lots more are coming in the Events books scheduled for later, but i'm not too keen in the meantime on having to either copy/paste parts of other heroes or villains to come up with something that just resemble the hero/villain i have in mind, or spend over an hour trying to convert someone from another system without much guidelines in using SFX or creating Milestones (which are the two most difficult parts to get right IMHO, although in fairness i must say that, strangely, creating a hero or villain out of nowhere would probably be easier than an established one - for example, while making a hero who can become a shadow i had to "simulate" that power with Invisibility, Intangibility and Stretching - not exactly intuitive. There was also a question about the necessity of Flight for a hero with Gravity Control and Teleportation).

I also feel that the 13 specialities in the book (vs 20 in the Basic MSH and 40 in the Advanced MSH) do not cover everything, or, like a lot of things in this game, must be either taken for granted/included in something else or plainly not important enough to note, which in turn leads to a feeling of "sameness" from lack of sufficiently distinctive details (and i'm not advocating using MnM or Champion here either).

Nevertheless i'm hoping the gaming itself will prove fun after all, and we can finally reset our old Marvel/VnV campaign into high gear ;)

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