Thursday saw the finale of our Marvel Heroic RPG “pilot” issue. I’ve already posted on the first night and some of the issues we had with the system — mostly chair-dice interface errors. I had a look through the book to clear up a few of the misunderstandings — on my side mostly involving the use of the doom pool, opportunities and plot points, and damage accrual.

The characters were working together to protect song and screen sensation Krista Holloway from being kidnapped by a stalker who has been threatening her on the internet. She is starting her tour to promote her new album in “Liberty City” — a superhero haven in Delaware that is a combination of Gotham and Astro City for feel. They stopped a snatch and grab by a bunch of henchmen and that’s where we left off that night.

In the second installment, the characters spent the first hour or so interrogating the punk they’d picked up, but the guy is legally savvy and cuts a deal to give up his employer — a former superhero that lost his sponsorships and licensing for crime fighting, etc. due to being involved with underage girls. He’s moved from Los Angeles to Liberty City. During the interrogation sequence, we did discover that sometimes, depending on how the distinctions are worded or lack of a particular specialty (skill), you can have trouble getting three dice for a pool. The support rules — where other characters help the primary — worked well here; good cop, bad cop, and silent brooding hero.

This led to the climactic fight scene of the night in which the “masks and capes” team in power armor and supported by the superhero Paragon (brother of the singer in question) raid a warehouse on the docks (you have to have a docks district, c’mon!) The fight ran very smoothly. We all liked the “what can you do in a panel” feel, how the character going chooses the next actor (although I did use an opportunity to jump the line for the villain.) No problems with damage this time, nor the doom pool.

In the proces they practically destroy the warehouse, and discover the “villain” was set up. He was offered a chance to start his new life by a friend who had connections in Liberty City. The mooks working with him , they find out, planned to rob him of his gear and money after he had been arrested. The girl was never to have been actually harmed; it was the intervention by the characters that led to violence. The whole thing was set up by Krista’s manager to generate buzz for the album.

One of the players (Paragon) has a habit of ignoring effects to his character, even when they are reasonable. The “villain’s” predicament hit him with a d6 emotional stress — he jumped the gun, overreacted, and in the process they destroyed property that the villain’s security deposit sure wasn’t going to cover… He should have felt like a bit of a dick (but with this guy’s personality he was sure to get over it.)

So the final assessment for the system: It’s not Cortex, one…it’s FATE but heavily tweaked to fit the genre. It emulates the comic book feel tremendously, the mechanics leave a lot of options (too many for beginning players) for the gamers, and the simplicity of character generation is grand. The sheer number of options you have with opportunities, SFX, etc. makes the system confusing to some — one of the player never used the SFX because he didn’t “get it.” Another jumped right in and played the mechanics for all they were worth. Overall, we felt the mechanics aided play and the feel of the comic setting, without slowing play. However, if you can get past the steep learning curve, it’s an excellent set of rules.