As we gear up to start talking Invincible, I want to share with you some ideas on how to adapt this Universe to Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.
Simply put, Invincible is not your average, kid-friendly superhero story. Not only does it deal with personal drama (which MHR can do just fine), but it also goes to great lengths to show you the gore that can happen if, I don’t know, two guys who can benchpress skyscrappers are slug-fest-happy in town.
I believe also a warning is in line, something I forgot to mention in the last post: this is not a comic book for your little kid. This a comic with blood, gore, violence and mature content*. Be advised.
It is also a comic about fighting to the end. About giving it all and then some more, when your eyes are blinded by blood and your hand is busted inside out… and the city population is depending on you just getting up. Being a hero, even surviving, is not easy thing here.
You can just play using the Datafiles and ideas I will be presenting with the Operations Manual; these are just some thoughts on House Rules that can perhaps help bring the whole Invincible atmosphere to your table.
Blood, Grit and Mayhem. Invincible’s universe is a gritty one, where punches draw blood and bones are broken; where a bad guy will tear off your head without remorse (if he is a killer, at least), where someone with super-strength and invulnerability thrown around is sure to bring down a building and people will get killed. Where strength of will keeps you fighting to the very end, but no heart is innocent of dark thoughts…
“I need to keep fighting” House Rule: Characters reaching d12+ Stress can chose to keep fighting. Stress going over d12 is immediately applied as Trauma, starting at d6. d12+ Trauma means the character is dead, barring special abilities or regeneration. Every round the Character chooses to keep fighting despite having d12+ Stress, the Hero must pay 1 PP or the Trauma die is added to the Doom Pool (Watcher Characters must pay an equal die from the Pool to keep fighting). Only the higher of the Stress or Trauma die is added to the opposition pool (which means you only get to add a d12 maximum).
“Going for the kill” House Rule: a Stress-producing Action that achieves d12+ Stress can be paired with a second Effect die for applying starting Trauma higher than d6. This second effect die is stepped up as usual; applying d12+ Stress and Trauma is a one-shot-kill.
“This is not going to hold me down” House Rule: Only Stressed Out characters that choose not to keep fighting (or are unable, as per the above rule) are removed from the action. Complications cannot go over d12; but a Complication at d12 status must be removed before the character can attempt any other action.
In addition to these, I will take this chance to showcase more general House Rules I intend to use at my games:
Free-Flow Narration. Interruption for Transition Scenes is merely a narrative device to allow characters a respite. All narration takes place in an Action Scene, unless the Heroes interrupt.
House Rule: If appropriate to the moment and approved by the table, a Hero may initiate a Transition Scene for all the Heroes or himself (his choice), by paying 1 PP. He must narrate the situation that takes him out of the Action momentarely.
Design Comment: This is done to facilitate narration without scripted Scenes. It actually tries to emulate the situation of a player coming up with something along the lines “As Omni-Man throws me into the next building, I dig in and hide trying to catch my breath!” or “I quickly move between the buildings while phoning Alfred for the Bat-plane!” Basically, Transition Scenes in my games are good for two things: Recovery Rolls and establishing Resources, and paired with the Gritty Rules presented above, those characters are going to need a quick recovery here and there (which is totally reflected in the Invincible Comics, standing up and fighting) without giving every character Second Wind).
Counter-Action: A lot has been said and discussed about counter-actions, and if they are more powerful than an Action. I won’t go into detail here, but this is the ruling I made for this.
House Rule: A reaction that scores higher than the Action gives the defender the option of, for 1PP, rolling a counter-action. A new pool is assembled for this roll (both by the reaction and the defense to said reaction) and it needs to make sense for the reaction (narrative sense, so that nobody forgets it is king at the table). This Counter-Action cannot be countered.
Design Comment. Why? Well, because it really bothers me to no end when a defense roll with no offensive punch tries to go for the counter-effect and that the attacker cannot leverage a better defense-related Power against the reaction. This ruling, however, will make turns longer since you will be rolling more dice, more pools, and checking more results. All in all, however, if you think about it as playing two turns into the structure of one, and if you only have 4-5 players, I don’t see this being a big issue since MHR can run very fast.
Be warned, I haven’t been able to playtest these options yet. If you have done so or would like to talk about this ideas, sound off in the comments!
* I have still to rant on the hypocrisy of a mainstream all-audiences comic talking about rape but people being scared of a little blood… thing is Invincible has a lot of graphical violence. Past it, are many great storylines. YMMV.
Disclaimer on images
Images used herein are from the cover or interior of a comic book published by Image Comics. The copyright for this image is most likely owned by either the publisher of the comic or the writer(s) and/or artist(s) which produced the comic Invincible. It is believed that
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- the issue of the comic book in question; or
- the copyrighted comic book character(s) or group(s) on the cover of the issue in question;
- or the use of low-resolution images of a single panel from a comic strip or an interior page of a comic book to illustrate the copyrighted character(s) or group(s) depicted on the excerpted panel in question;
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