Civil War, Take Three (Marvel Heroic, July 1st, 2013)

It’s been about a week now since the last Marvel Heroic session, which, for those that are interested, can be found right here at my YouTube channel:

The highlights if this week’s event?

  • The team had a team meeting about the pending SHRA hearings in Washington.  Tony modified the draft of the bill he received, placing less emphasis on registering anyone with powers and more on regulating anyone that uses them for crime fighting, and wants to get the Avengers on board with policing themselves before any legislation takes effect.  
  • Ms. Marvel takes the position of Avengers Internal Affairs officer as soon as Tony begins to discuss the position and what it would entail.
  • Doctor Strange is neutral on passage of the bill, as long as discussion is measured and intelligent, Spider-Man is all for training new heroes, but doubts official status will make them any more popular, Tigra and Ms. Marvel both agree with Tony’s proposed modifications to the bill, Thor seems completely indifferent and doesn’t not believe he has a stake in the argument, Moon Knight  (possessed early on in the meeting with his Khonshu personality) does not believe mortal authority should meddle with the affairs of heroes, while Hawkeye thinks that bill isn’t needed and is just asking for someone in the government to release private information on heroes to the public.  Wolverine doesn’t trust the government to regulate super humans, but wants to make sure mutants don’t get the short end of the stick, and Spider-Woman also appears to agree with Tony.  Daredevil seems to be reluctant to speak on legal issues, and Banner is generally in agreement with Tony.
  • Tony assumes that most of the Avengers are either on board or willing to let him present his version of the legislation.  Captain America and Luke Cage are unable to attend the meeting.
  • The morning that the Avengers are to testify before Congress, there is an emergency at the Avengers Mansion, which is being renovated as a museum at the moment, but is still under construction.  Crusader has set a bomb there to destroy the monument to false gods, and he has apparently fallen in with the Purifiers who have dogged the X-Men for years.  Unfortunately, Doctor Strange also senses that the villain Master Pandemonium is heading for Washington, so the team splits into two groups.
  • Wolverine, Iron Man, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, Bruce Banner, and Spider-Man head to the Avengers Mansion.  Inexplicably, Crusader has a Shi’ar manufactured bomb, and starts the timer on the weapon.  While the rest of the team tears into the Purifiers and Crusader, Iron Man flies Banner right at the bomb, which he quickly manages to diffuse.  
  • Moon Knight viciously attacks crusader and cripples him, while Banner shocks himself trying to makeshift himself a weapon from the bomb’s power supply.  To everyone’s surprise, he manages to stay calm and not turn into the Hulk.  Luke Cage attempts to get Moon Knight’s attention by knocking him out with one of the Purifier thugs, but Moon Knight instead kills the flailing minion, assuming Cage meant to serve him up for judgement.
  • Moon Knight reverts to his Marc Specter personality, not knowing what just happened, Iron Man arrests him, and he is taken away by SHIELD after the fight.
  • In Washington, Master Pandemonium screams that he will bring judgement on the city with Hellfire, and backs it up.  Doctor Strange, Thor, Daredevil, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, Captain America, and Tigra approach him, and Hawkeye and Tigra review what they remember about fighting him in the past.  Master Pandemonium covers Thor in goo and summons a horde of demons by allowing his limbs and body parts to transform into their physical bodies.  
  • Captain America attempts to get the crowd to move away from the fight while the rest of the team deals with the demonic hordes, but his is distressed when the tourists and onlookers are more impressed with his fame and want to get a picture of him rather than retreating to safety.
  • While the rest of the team wrangles the demonic horde, Daredevil sneaks around behind Master Pandemonium, finds a good spot to hit with his swing line, and flies in behind the floating torso of the sorcerer and kicks him in the back of the head, knocking him out and ending his threat.
  • Iron Man, Ms. Marvel, and Wolverine race to the hearings, both because they wish to participate, and because they want to warn their team members what has happened in New York before they get blindsided by the events in the hearing.

What did I learn this time around?

It took me a bit to realize that for some reason, I’ve fallen back into a bad habit of starting the night with a transition scene.  Sometimes that makes sense, but a lot of times it doesn’t.  This is an action oriented game, set up to emulate comic books.  While people do sit around and have meetings  (I think we’ve now established that, popular to editorial comments to the contrary, even Batman sits), it’s usually in reaction to some action that has already taken place.

So job one is to try and figure out if I really need to have a night start with a transition scene, or if I can frame the scene with action right off the bat, and then let the transition scene deal with what has happened in the scene before.  I think my habit of starting with a transition scene may stem from two things.  One is the fact that I’ve been running a more or less traditional RPG on Thursdays, and playing in another, and two relates to the second thing I’ve learned.

This time around, I’m learning that I need to relax.  I want player feedback.  I want the event to hit the sweet spot for as many players as I can manage.  But I need to relax, enjoy planning and running the game, and not get quite as caught up in the deep meta planning of how to make everything perfect.

I think GMs should listen to their players, and be responsive.  I think we should always challenge ourselves to run a better game than we have before.  However, there does come a point to where you are so concerned with doing everything right that you lose sight of the fact that something has to be fun for you as well.

I think this really hit me in this event because I know I have a lot of people that are big on roleplaying, are big on the strengths of this system, and are very interested in the philosophical ramifications of the storyline.  That can feel like a huge burden, to make sure you are serving all of those needs, but in the end, the game itself has it’s own hierarchy of needs, and at its base level, everyone playing needs to be playing a game that is fun before you ascend the steps to the next level.

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