Thursday Night Gaming–Marvel Heroic Session Three
Last Thursday we had yet another session of our Marvel Heroic session, featuring my modified version of the Breakout event from the Basic Game. We picked up two new players, and our current Avengers roster stands at:
Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, with the Thing as a reserve member (not accepting a full time posting) and Wolverine still on the books, but not with the rest of the team for this adventure.
Before the night was over, the group also recruited Thor, and they have Banner on the back burner and might recruit Hulk.
I have fun players, and we had a lot of great moments during the session. Everyone had moments, but I especially wanted to call out a few moments as being especially epic.
1. Doctor Strange used the broken glass from display cases to create a swarm of glass insects as a complication against two of the members of the wrecking crew. It was a wonderfully evocative explanation of what Doc was doing with his sorcery in the scene.
2. When Thor arrived and faced off against Wrecker, he threw him his crowbar so that they could fight on even terms. It was a great moment and very Thor, right down to the rest of the party wondering if Thor was off his rocker.
3. Strange had a great moment with Banner while calming him down, reinforcing the psychic locks in Banner’s mind that hold his rage (and the Hulk) in check.
4. Captain America and Iron Man had a great discussion with Maria Hill over SHIELD responsibilities, limits, and whether the Avengers should be operating as an extension of SHIELD (most of the group agreed on “no” for the answer to that one).
It was a great, enjoyable session, but there were some bumps that could have gone much better, and I can trace most of those bumps right to me. I like to spell these out, so I can work on them and come up with some solutions. Mistakes and missteps happen, but you don’t want them to happen more than once, at least not the same ones.
1. Technical difficulties. I had a hard time getting the Hangout started, because I thought that I could link the Hangout to the actual event scheduled through Google+, but I never quite got that figured out, and I wasted too much time trying to figure out how to do this. This contributed to problems later on in the session (not major ones, but they were there).
Solution: I am going to make the hangout, and I’m going to specifically e-mail the links to the Hangout to everyone in the group once I make the hangout, so there is no question of where to go to log in, and I don’t waste everyone’s time pondering things I don’t know and won’t know before it bites into session time.
2. No “Warm Up.” There was a bit more off topic chatter going into this session before we really got to the meat of the game. I fully understand this, but normally I start the hang out about 15-30 minutes early, so that if people want to log in early, talk a bit, and ease into the evening, they can do so. It’s about being relaxed and in the right mindset.
Solution: Solution for number one overlaps here. If I always set up my own hangouts and don’t mess with the event having anything to do with it, I can make the hangout early, send out the invitations, and we call all ease into the evening whenever we’re ready to go.
3. Pacing and Execution. Despite the fact that I had plenty of notes, outlines, and resources printed out and ready to use, I didn’t feel that the “track down Banner” action scene worked as well as I would have liked.
I was going to have the players roll against the Doom Pool to track down Banner, adding his die for his covert specialty. If they were successful, they could track down Banner at the cabin he was in and would have a chance to talk him down (Doom Pool + Banner d12 guilt complication) to bring him into custody.
If they failed the initial roll, there weren’t going to find Banner, but after a day or two of looking, Hulk would show up and make a ruckuss, and the team would have to deal with Hulk instead of Banner.
The tracking down segment seemed to not go off well. We did just what I planned, but I think it took me too long to explain what we were doing and how to resolve the situation. I need to be more explicit about what the scene is about, and how we are going to resolve it.
In the end, it went great, so I’ve got no overall complaints, but it was a slow walk up to those good moments, as I staggered around trying to get the party to the point to where they were actually going after Banner.
Solution: I have a better idea of how to write up my scenes to make sure I’m giving out the right information for it’s resolution, and I need to make sure that I’m maintaining the standard action scene format if I want it to be an action scene (i.e. establishing turns and the like).
4. Story Direction and Player Agency. Between where the group would be housed, and what the group planned on doing with Banner when they brought him in, there was a lot of great stuff the players came up with that, nevertheless, probably should have been hashed out before we started the session for the night, so that the action flowed a bit more seamlessly.
Solution: We have the internet, by golly, I should use it. I really should have spent more time trying to get information from the players about what, when, how, and where the players wanted to do the “non-action” stuff in what amounted to an extended transition scene between acts.
So I’m going to try and make sure I solicit as much information as I can between sessions to do some planning so that I have my initial set up for the evening nailed down and ready to go.
However: It would probably be easy to read my comments above and get the wrong impression about the session. It went great. I really do mean it when I called out those moments above. I think we had a lot of strong roleplaying and story advancement, and a lot of fun to boot.
I just don’t want to become complacent as a Watcher, and if I can see places where my pacing and clarity can be cleaned up, I want to seize on those potential hiccups and do what I can to fix them.
. . . And More Good
I think the fight with the Wrecking Crew not only had a strong narrative (Thor and Wrecker facing off, Thing going after the innocent hostage and taking everything Thunderball threw at him, Doctor Strange and his neat sorcery effects, and many more moments), but the combat seemed to go really smooth, especially with five Avengers facing off against four Wrecking Crew members on three different fronts (front lawn with hostage, display area against Bulldozer and Piledriver, and the solo one on one duel with Thor and Wrecker).
Really pleased overall with how the event is going, and I can only hope that the players are enjoying this event as much as I am. Looking forward to our next session very much. This game is everything I was hoping it would be when I first started to get into it.
MHRP is really geared for action; investigations and \”non-action\” scenes just don't seem to shine as brightly. Spending a plot point for a resource clue doesn't really work either.The way you handled it was good; it's just a slightly unusual way of resolving things. As everyone gets more familiar with the mechanics, it will all level out.