We had our first game session up in Santa Fe this weekend (also a good excuse to bust out the Triumph and ride the 65 miles) where, for once, I’m not the GM. This time would be Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, set in our “Liberty City” universe I “piloted” a few weeks back.

Our GM hadn’t run in a while, but he was able to handle the mechanics fairly deftly. This was fairly impressive, considering I thought the mechanics of the game were a bit overly complex at times — not the core mechanic, mind you, of putting together a dice pool based on the affiliation, distinction, possible power, and specialty for the NPC, or a simple “doom pool” of dice — but all the bits and bobs you can do with opportunities, etc. i think it takes a few sittings to really get the feel for the mechanics, but they do enhance play, as we’ll see.

Being a player is much easier, I found, although the other player was new to the system and was still a bit fuzzy on what he could do by the end of the session. The characters were my “Dark Mercy“, an Irish terrorist turning over a new leaf after finding the “Torc of Morrigan” (based on an old Shadowrun character.) The other was “El Gato” — a former barrio bruiser that was involved in some kind of high-science accident that turned him into a 3′ tall cat-man who is involved in the Superhuman Martial Arts League (SMA), where he is a popular minor fighter, whose style is more to confound and trip up his opponents, rather than using brute force.

We wound up in a New Orleans-esque suburb of Liberty City (why not!?!) where El Gato was staying while waiting for a fight and my character was hiding out and waiting bar at the hotel while trying to figure out what she was going to do with her life. During a blues concert, the hotel is invaded by what look to be a couple dozen zombies (the GM’s a big zombie fan…)

My character clears the bar by using her Chiappa Rhino, fired into the ceiling (and deafening the ultra-sensitive ears of El Gato.) Once the room has no innocents in the way, the pair go to work. First, my character laid hand on el Gato to heal the mental stress from the gunshot. He then decides to throw a fire extinguisher at the bad guys. I suggest we do this as a support action, as my character, seeing this, will blast the canister. After showing him how to put together the dice pool, he does a somersault over the bar and whips the extinguisher successfully, I asked if I could use that die, if I succeeded (and I did) to create an asset — an ABC powder cloud that would help protect us from being seen by the critters.

That put down about a quarter of the opposition. With no one to see what we’re about (my character is trying not to be spotted out as a super, which would draw the wrong attention from the LCPD), I once again touch EL Gato, “blessing” him with an effect die of d10…he’s got an extra d10 for the rest of the scene. this allows him to do a spectacular series of jumps and attacks. One thing I noticed is the system does tend to make you explain what you’re doing, so you can put together the right dice pool.

At this point, my character lights up her “Goddess of War” power set, uses a Sorcery Adept test and managed to get a d10 effect die — I’m created armor and a sword (one of her SFX.) El Gato’s style is to work with others, so I have him push a bunch of them to me. He does a test, using the maitre’d‘s podium, kicking it into the baddies, and providing me with a d6 temporary asset to add to my attack. A few more rounds went this way, but soon all the creatures were down.

The fight is fairly short by game standards, took about an hour to resolve. Once done, we had to investigate what had happened and found out a few zombies we had missed has stolen two artifacts from the hotel owner, a lady well connected in the neighborhood. Apparently, she had the whiskey bottle that killed Robert Jonhson, and the cane from another blues man, whose name is escaping me — both rumored to have made a deal with the devil to play the blues so well. If someone can get four of these artifacts together, they can allegedly summon up the devil. We get a name and possible location of someone who would know more…in the swamp outside town.

We were warned, however, to look out for the “Skunk Ape” (which led to a long, humorous bout of patter.)

That’s where we ended for the session. I truly enjoyed playing Marvel — maybe moreso than running it. It also showed the system is open enough to handle a wide array of style, from the police procedural wrapped in a superhero world that I ran, to the comic-horror adventure we played this weekend.

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