Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mightiest Issue 3

• The Avengers Initiative is on the hot seat by the Security Council for it's failure in St. Louis, the death of 946 SHIELD personnel and the destruction of the Triskelion and the security failure at Avengers Tower and the escape of all 3 Von Struckers.  This is compounded by low morale due to Captain America, James Rhodes, and Shadowcat being missing in action.  Col. Fury is very unhappy and wants results.

• Colossus pulls some strings with Storm, to move the Avengers base into the former Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester, NY, which has moved to San Francisco and is backed by Warren Worthington the III.  SHIELD Agent Shi'an Coy Manh, a former student at Xavier's known as  Karma, is assigned to the mansion and is given access to Cerebro by Beast.

• Logan decides to use some old espionage contacts to get some information on Hydra.  Maverick, an old colleague from Weapon X, gets him a possible Hydra base using a server farm as it's front in Austin, TX.  Colossus decides he should accompany his old friend to Austin and they take the Blackbird and proceed in secret.

• Tony Stark and JARVIS begin data mining global security cameras for any kind of lead.  They find footage of the Red Hulk heading toward the Black Hills of South Dakota.  SHIELD gets them access to satellite images that help triangulate a possible search area, it's close to a small town named Stonebridge.  Stark, Thing, Loki and Thor quickly take a Quinjet there and discover Wolverine & Colossus are "off the grid".

•  Iron Man detects a strong heat signature and higher than normal levels of gamma radiation about 2 miles outside of Stonebridge.  They head to lonely cabin and Thor barges in to find a mannequin with a strange device lodged in it's torse.  4 missles are fired on the ground close by, but Iron Man and Thor dispatch them.  Red Hulk ambushes Thing, but 'Ol Blue Eyes gets the better of him, smashing him into the ground and Loki turns the soil to cement.  JARVIS alerts Stark to a fast approaching ground vehicle and Tony takes the offensive.  Someone uses strong mental powers to grip Thor's mind and force him to attack Iron Man, luckily his strong ego doesn't allow the strike to land and he breaks free moments later.  Iron Man is confronted by the Leader, riding a Skysled, but seeing he is overmatched the Leader chooses to escape.  The quartet return to Westchester with an unconcious Red Hulk


•  Logan and Peter arrive in Austin and begin casing the Weber and Long Data Stronghold, a company founded in 2003.  As night arrives they observe the facility and Logan see's only 2 guards, but they are far better trained and armed than a rent-a-cop.  They deal with the security cameras and break into the main server room.  As they move through the rows and rows of servers, Wolverine begins smelling oil and ozone and finds a robot interfacing with a server.  Before it can react, Colossus smashes it and the alarm claxons begin sounding.  The security duo bursts into the room as the lights are turned off, both agents are equipped with night vision gear.  Both agents appear more than human, but one is cut down by Logan and the other teleports to safety.  The two mutants return to Westchester with the server and the robot.

•  Arriving a few hours later than than South Dakota group, Logan and Peter turn over what they find, but are dressed down by Fury for going "off the reservation".  Tony Stark analyzes a data pad in the Red Hulk's possession and discovers he was a red herring, used by the Leader and Advanced Idea Mechanics the Intelligencia to draw their attention while they relocated Project: MODOK.  The Robot provides them with 4 possible Hydra bases in Buenos Aires, Nova Scotia, Las Vegas, and Antarctica.

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Rob, one of my players in Mightiest and a good friend gave me some interesting feedback on my concerns about Marvel Heroic RPG.  He was also helpful in giving the other players insight into the rules.  I think I understand my reservations better, too.  From an evolutionary standpoint, I've moved out of my Narrative Phase as a gamer.  I don't mind having players who can fill in the blanks or drive the story or even describe the scene, but not all players want that.  And that's completely separate from being capable of it.  I'm not sure that's what the Mightiest group wants, but maybe they'll grow in that direction.  I'm not opposed to "giving up control", I simply prefer a Judge/Author role in my Gamemastering.  And since I've only returned to in the last several months, I'm still "flexing the muscles", so to speak.  Another factor, is that after over a decade selling games, I see that your average gamer isn't that concerned about Narrative Control, but about playing a game, regardless of what threads on story-game.com or rpg.net might lead us to believe.  As an example, the average gamer at my store hasn't played Call of Cthulhu or might not have heard of it, even if many will tell you it's the best RPG ever published.

I also feel that the "family" of rules Cortex + belongs to (part of it's design team developed FATE from FUDGE) tries to emphasize Story Based Games with elements of Narrative Control by compounding layers of rules on what is billed as a rules light frame.  It's very discordant to me to have a rules light game with heavy crunch.  This along with an emphasis on how to pace stories in a very cookie cutter fashion, leaves me numb and let's the wind out of my sails.  I feel like the tools for this RPG succeed better as a competitive social game, and I've never been a big fan of the GM vs Players.

Those problems are compounded whenever someone tries something that requires a dice roll.  I feel like everything screeches to a halt, as soon as we go through the "laundry list" of which dice to roll and what Distinctions should be used or exchanged for a Plot Point.

In short, when used with my GMing style, I feel like I have to exchange all of my tools for a broken and poorly crafted set that was designed for someone else.

As an aside, I'm very disappointed that Margaret Weiss Productions haven't marketed the game significantly and haven't used ads in Marvel comics to promote their game.

And I think that leads me to my last 2 problem.  I already run games that aren't about me and are focused on the players.  I don't need rules for rule's sake to get in my way.  

Plus,  I think this game is as focused on how to play the "one true way" and being a teaching textbook for that one way, as much or more as a rulebook.  It's as though, MWP has created a game to teach new players how to roleplay and run games, but hasn't marketed it to them at all or even told them it exists.  So, veteran gamers, are the audience but this show wasn't made for them.  

Sadly, it's much like the comics industry MWP has attached itself to.  The Big 2 think they are appealing to hip, young readers and ignore the fact that their existing customer is middle-aged and isn't really that interested in social commentary over fights, but that's ok because neither publisher really wants them.  I guess, in that sense MWP succeeded admirably.

Does all of this mean I'm not going to run MHRP any longer?  No, the players like it and it's not such a godawful mess that I won't run it, unlike other games I own.  It's just not exactly what I'd prefer it to be, but the game is not about me, it's about my players.
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