What Do I Know About Gameplay? I Object! (Marvel Heroic Roleplaying)

I’m seeing a few complaints here and there about Marvel Heroic Roleplaying not being good at anything outside of combat. I’m really kind of perplexed by this.

I remember the same complaints leveled at D&D 4e, but agree or disagree, I could understand that one a bit more.  A lot of “non-combat” but still mechanically resolved items in 4e didn’t have the same kind of in-depth coverage that combat did.

Lots of what you could do in 4e didn’t play into “social” things like skill challenges, so it hinged on a skill and it’s associated stat.  In effect, if you wanted mechanics for social matters, you had part of one game mechanic  (skill challenges) to model that. You could do it, but it is easy to see it being overshadowed.

On the other hand, I can see so many ways to use the same rules for different, non-combat situations in the game.  And it’s not just using one trait.  Lots of the rules that apply for combat can apply to other situations as well.

Let’s say you have to disarm a big old bomb.  The scene starts with a complication  “Big Old Bomb, d12.”  You roll against the Doom Pool, justify your dice, and step that dice down the way you would any other complication.

And if the Watcher wants to add tension, the “bomb” or the “situation” gets a turn every round where the Doom Pool acts against the players, using the complication, to inflict emotional stress.  Someone that gets stressed out is so shaken by the situation that they are pretty much useless for the rest of the scene.

Let’s say you are being placed on trial for a crime you didn’t commit.  You can treat the jury as a mob, and maybe add a dice as a scene complication “Long List of Charges.”  If you “take out” each die of the mob with your actions, and you reduce the list of charges to nothing, you get off.  Again, you could let the “situation” act against the team once per round to inflict emotional stress on the affected characters.

I also heard that the game doesn’t do chases well.  On one hand, I can see that multiple people running from the same guy doesn’t work quite as well, but you can easily create complication “Running Away” on your opponent, and “stress out” their complication to get away from them.

I don’t know, the system seems really flexible and open, and maybe that’s what’s confusing a lot of people.  I know most of the examples have to do with combat, but even without the rules expressly calling out the kinds of things that I mentioned above, they do mention how to use emotional or mental stress for arguments or how to inflict complications.

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