Winter War Journal 2013, Part One (Friday)

I look forward to Winter War every year, even if I don’t always know what I’m going to do there.  Sometimes I’m moved to run tons of games that I don’t have time to run elsewhere, or to push a game that I really want to get some exposure.  Sometimes I just want to play in a bunch of different games.  This year I went full bore on running Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

First off, I really appreciate getting some primo space for my games from Winter War, given that the system is new and (obviously) hasn’t had a following at the convention up to now.  Also, Margaret Weis Productions was nice enough to send me two of the scenarios that they ran at their booth for Gen Con, so I got a Young Avengers and a New Mutants event, both set as “What If?” scenarios during the Siege crossover event from a few years back.

As a very nice bonus, both of the sessions I ran on Friday were in one of the conference rooms at the hotel.  The conference rooms are nice.  Every time I run a game in those conference rooms, I start to fantasize about selling organs so that I can afford to rent out the conference room to run my games all of the time.

Friday Afternoon:  What If? Young Avengers–Siege 

I got to the conference room early so I could set up all of the cheat sheets and the dice tray and all of my various and sundry items for running the game.

I had six seats open for the event, and I had five show up for the event.  Not too shabby.  Four of those players had never played the game before, and one of them was one of my regulars from my games, who not only has played Marvel Heroic before, but also runs it on Wednesdays at the FLGS.

As a side note, lots of thank yous to HollowerFollower for helping out with the assistance in explaining the game system to the newer folks.  It made the sessions run much more smoothly, and helped to present the game in a positive light.

We had one player that seemed to struggle a bit about the narrative elements of the game.  He was pushing for lots of very specific details about a facility that the group was trying to sneak into.  He seemed to get frustrated a few times when I asked him how he thought the place would be set up and how he wanted to break in.

I was trying to point out that the description of the place was intentionally more impressionistic, so that whatever plan he came up with, he could try.  He was a little frustrated when some of the other players implemented their plans, because he didn’t understand “how” they did it, which was essentially just coming up with a flavorful description for justifying their dice pool.

While that player was struggling a bit, the others seemed to really be catching on to how the narrative aspect of the game and the dice pools worked.  Speed’s player used his Crime specialty to steal a uniform to create a resource, then ran all the way to a sub shop in Chicago to buy lunch for a mob of HAMMER guards in order to complicate them out of the scene with a “busy eating lunch” complication.

What was great about this scene was that, despite the fact that the action didn’t succeed, it was still a great moment.  In other systems, where everything would come down to one roll, it might be more of a let down to have the action fail, but here, it was a plan that didn’t work, but was still entertaining.

What turned out to be the most gratifying moment of the session for me, however, was when the player that was struggling earlier seemed to really “get” how everything worked in the last scene.  I had thrown out a random line about Norman Osborn controlling his Dark Avengers with nanites from a control panel on his Iron Patriot armor.  It was a throwaway line, and I’m not even sure if that was the case by the time Siege rolled around, but the formerly lost player, running Vision, headed over to Norman’s armor while the team was fighting Ragnarok, and created a dice pool centered around hacking Norman’s armor to use the nanites in Ragnarok to create a “shut down sequence” complication for Ragnarok that gave him a huge d12 complication for the rest of the team.

It was great, and it was very rewarding to see that player finally get into how the system worked and take advantage of the system’s strengths to tell a very “comic book” aspect to the story.

Friday Night:  Breakout–Astonishing X-Men

For the Friday night session I ran the second half of the Breakout event included in the Basic rules.  I gave the players the choice of eight different X-Men characters for a foray into the Savage Land.

I still only had one person that had played the game before  (HollowerFollower again), but I had several players that I game with regularly, and another player that I had been in sessions with before at Winter War.  Our team ended up as Cyclops, Emma Frost, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Wolverine.

Cyclops was ruthless right out of the gate, Emma was avoiding using her psychic powers  (more on that later), Wolverine was taunting Cyclops mercilessly  (since Cyclops and Wolverine were being played by two guys that game with each other regularly), and Nightcrawler’s player was doing an absolutely amazing German accent and cracking jokes relentlessly.

My Colossus player wasn’t as fulfilled as he could be, in part because he took Colossus to “tank,” but would have rather played Beast.  He still had fun, though, just not as much as if he had gone more with his “fun” impulse rather than his “role” impulse.

I got to illustrate the the 2d12 “end the scene” rule for the group, as they started off strong against the Mutates, but then fell to reinforcements and were overwhelmed.

I didn’t fully pick up on what Emma’s character was doing until the very end of the session.  Wolverine’s character taunted Scott terribly for losing his visor and asking Emma to help him get it back, while Wolverine took on Sauron naked and tied up . . . and won.

Emma, up to this point, had been using guns and her diamond form.  Turns out, she thought everyone up to that point was beneath her Omega Level Telepath abilities, but with a gaggle of Mutates still on the table, Emma slammed the whole lot of them with a mind control complication that took them all out in one fell swoop.

Great session, and my sides hurt from Nightcrawler’s jokes and Wolverine’s merciless hounding of Cyclops.


  • Haven't played the new Marvel, but I did read it and… you like it? I didn't care for character creation (although that's probably my problem- I don't want to play someone else's character, I want to create and play my own). By the way, are you into Game of thrones? Books, TV show or graphic novels. There's an RPG based on it by Green Ronin that is pretty good.


  • I've wanted to look at the Game of Thrones RPG, but I have a really bad habit of picking up RPGs that I know I'll never play because of gamer ADD. It's just a matter of time before I'm weak enough to succumb.The next thing on my docket is checking out the Dresden Files RPG.To be honest, the Marvel Heroic RPG rubbed me the wrong way the first time I looked at it. Everything I heard about it turned me off. Somehow, though, I gave it a chance, and for me it turned out to be really fun.It's actually not too hard to come up with original characters in Marvel Heroic, but there isn't any \”game\” to making the character, since you pretty much just make the character the way you want it to work. That's a lot less fun if you don't then get to play that characters.The Milestones are actually a lot of fun to try and hit, and it's interesting to see what aspect of various characters people gravitate towards when they start trying to roleplay their milestones. It's also interesting in that it creates an incentive to play some of the negative aspects of the character, which to me is very Marvel.


  • Yeah, I really wish I had gone with my first choice (Beast) instead of Colossus. I did have fun, and really want to play in one (or more) of your games again. Thanks for putting up with me. Tom


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