What Do I Know About Houserules? Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

I really do love the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game, so when I do something like this, it’s much more of a “let take things out to their logical conclusion/play off of some of the designer commentary” sort of thing.

So I want to make sure this doesn’t come across as a “the game plays fine as long as you throw in these house rules” kind of post.  It’s more of a “would these work within the current framework without changing the feel of the game?” kind of thing.

Mob Clarification and House Rules

Mobs have a number of dice in their team affiliation and represent a group of foes that take their action as one.  They are generally handy for representing a large number of foes that would be unwieldy for the Watcher to run separately.

It has been clarified that you work on each die of the Mob one die at a time, but it has also been clarified that you could, theoretically “complicate out” an entire mob using a complication.  While some mobs may represent common mooks, others should still be a serious threat that just happens to represent a whole bunch of bad guys  (for example, it may not be a bad narrative for Spider-Man to complicate out a mob of gangsters, but complicating out an entire battle group of sentinels seems like it would be anti-climatic).

So here is my proposed clarification and adjunct house rule.

When dealing with a mob, you work on one die at a time.  If you inflict the same type of stress or the same named complication on the die, it increases that stress or complication until it removes the current die.  So if you have a mob with multiple d6 team dice, if you apply d6 physical stress, and another hero applies d6 physical stress, that die is removed.

If the die steps beyond what is needed to remove the die, you can create another effect die from the stepped up die and apply it to the next die.  For example, if  a mob has d6 team dice, stepping up the stress you apply to a d10 would allow you to apply a d6 to the next die “in line.”

If you have area attack, you gain one additional die and effect die for each dice past the first in the mob’s team affiliation, but unlike a single adversary, multiple effects of the same type can be applied to the same dice.

For example, if you are fighting a single foe, and retain a second effect die, you cannot apply the same effect more than once to that opponent.  You would have to apply two different forms of stress, or apply a complication to the foe.  This isn’t true of a mob.  You can continue to apply the same effect, step it up, and retain extra effect dice to spill over to the other dice in the affiliation of the mob.

Complications work just like they would with a single character, as pertains to a single die.  For example, if you apply a complication to a d6 team die, and it steps up to d8, that die is complicated out and the complication is no longer applied to the mob.  If you step it up to a d10 or higher, the die would create another effect die that you could apply to the next die in the team affiliation.

Hopefully that all makes sense.

Large Scale Threats

So, it’s been mentioned that large scale threats at one time did not allow area attacks to be utilized against it, but the current version of the rules do allow it.  Large scale threats really do seem to be major bad guys, so anything that makes them easier to take down seems to be a bad thing.

That having been said, it does seem like an area attack would hit more surface area and mean that your hero was less likely to miss the big guy.  So what to do?

I have not played around with this at all yet, but my initial though is to do something like this:

Area attacks affect a large scale threat, but they worked differently than they do with multiple targets.  Instead of adding an extra d6 and an extra effect die for each die past the first and retaining an extra effect die, instead you can add an extra die to your total for each die of large scale threat.

This means that you are much more likely to successfully attack, and to step up your effect dice, but are less likely to take out more than a couple of dice at one time.

I’m not 100% sure how this will behave, so I’d be interested in putting it through the ringer a few times.


I’ve got a few thoughts on specialties.

Rookie Specialties for Heroes

For 5 XP a hero can purchase a Rookie Specialty in any Specialty that appears in the rules.  This shows a rudimentary amount of training without a lot of practical application of that specialty.

This is much cheaper than other specialties for a number of reasons.

1.  The d6 cannot be split into multiple smaller die as Expert and Master Specialties can.

2.  A Rookie level specialty cannot be used to create a resource by spending a plot point.

This is just a means by which the character brushes up on a skill a bit and can performs reasonably well at mundane tasks in that field.

“Winging It”

A character that lacks a specialty in a given area can attempt to “wing it” and add a d4 to their dice pool if they have no other specialty die that they can apply to that die pool.  Essentially, they might guess about how something works, remember a totally rocking martial arts move from a movie, etc. and get lucky, or they may make things worse with their lack of knowledge  (i.e. growing the Doom Pool or allowing their enemy to stunt off of their bone headed action).

Lending a Hand

Normally a character creates a resource for themselves when they spend a plot point and create one based on one of their specialties.  In this case, if the character creates the resource, and another hero pays him a plot point, the resource can be used by the next character.

The net effect is a cost of 1 plot point, but by making the character with the specialty play for it, it insures that they have a plot point to call in a favor with, and by making the player receiving the resource pay a plot point, it means they are in a position to take advantage of the resource.

In essence, you can’t lend a hand if you don’t have a plot point and you ally must have a plot point to take advantage of your help.

As always, you can only add in one resource to your die pool without spending a plot point, so it doesn’t do much good to lend a hand to someone that already has a resource of the same magnitude as your resource if they cover the same territory.


I’m hoping to hear back from some of my regular players on these, and if they would add to the play experience or just make it more complicated.  I’m also curious to hear from anyone that’s already playing, or at least perusing the Marvel Heroic rules.


  • I just discovered this site. How are these house rules shaking out? I am starting a campaign style Marvel game, and I want to see if any more experienced players/GMs have house rules or other suggestions to make the game flow better.


  • While the game was still running, I didn't push too hard to implement anything that wasn't on the Watcher side of the game, in part because I don't like to change campaign rules in he middle of a game.I was planning on having all of these go live when I started Civil War, but unfortunately my internet went a bit wonky before I could start that.Feedback wise, I didn't get much interest in the d4 \”Winging It\” rule, but I didn't get much resistance for it's existence one way or another. Nothing else seemed to rub my players the wrong way, but I didn't get a chance to try them out.However, the future is wide open . . .


  • I think I'll probably adopt your Scene Distinction suggestions out of the gate. The others may wait to see if something in the RAW feels inadequate. But thanks for this blog!


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