Making a Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Event: Like Clockwork, Part 1 #MarvelRPG

I’ve already told you how much I enjoy the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game by Margaret Weis Productions. I’ve even said a couple of times that I really enjoy Event structure that they have taken, since I think it does a good job of emulating how comic book stories are told. So, I thought to myself, why don’t I take a crack at designing an Event myself. It will likely not be perfectly balanced, but it might be fun, at least as an exercise. And, who knows, maybe it will help someone else get a better feel for how the process goes. I will be, more or less, using the guidelines found in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game at OM118 – OM125 if you would like to follow along at home. And let’s be honest: Who wouldn’t? This whole thing is a little stream of consciousness, since I am actually planning this out as a write these blogs.

So our first step is to identify the premise of this Event. I already have an Event name and villain in mind that I’ve been kicking around since I first read the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Game: A three Act Event called “Like Clockwork” starring The Mad Thinker, a villain that seems well suited for using pretext and misdirection in executing his schemes.  Well “starring” may not be the right word, as  The Thinker is locked up on The Raft for the entirety of the adventure, or at least that is my plan at the outset. The goal is simulate the unraveling plan of The Mad Thinker by using Doom Pool Unlockables to provide a varying, ever-growing threat.  The Thinker himself will not succumb to pressure and further segregating him does no good; he has already set these events into play.  Instead of statting up the Mad Thinker, I think I will create an additional bonus: For each extraordinary success rolled by a Watcher character, the Watcher may step up a Doom Pile die or add a new d6 to the Doom Pool instead of stepping up the current Effect die. This is meant to show that the Thinker’s plan is coming together beautifully. I considered other means to adding extra steps to the Doom Pool, like letting the Thinker step up a Doom Pool die after each Action Scene or step up a variable number of dice at the end of each Act, but I like the element of chance and choice in letting the Watcher make a decision between hurting the heroes worse now (stepping up the Effect) or banking the success for later (stepping up or adding to the Doom Pool).

What I have decided to do is to have the first Act be pretty well laid out with three Action Scenes and a Transition Scene between each to make the heroes feel comfortable, maybe even a little complacent. The idea is to have the Watcher spend the first Act building the Doom Pool instead of trying to take out the Heroes so that Acts 2 and 3 are even more devastating. The Second Act will be three Action Scenes long, each with a Transition Scene by default. The Watcher may discard 1d8 per Transition Scene he wants to get rid of, with discarding 2d8 resulting in both Transitions being removed. Further, the Watcher may discard 1d10 (and only one) to create an additional Action Scene or 1d12 to create an additional Action Scene without a Transition. Finally, Act 3 will have three Action Scenes and one Transition Scene by default (between the first and second Action Scenes). As before, the Watcher may discard 1d8 to get rid of the existing Transition Scene. Further, the Watcher may now discard 1d8 to create an additional Action Scene with a Transition (up to two additional scenes, this time) or 1d10 to create an additional Action Scene without a Transition (only one Action Scene without a Transition can be created, although you could create one additional Action Scene with a Transition and one without a Transition for 1d8 and 1d10). 


We’ll give each Act a new location to change things up a bit, maybe with the Thinker having a different goal in each part of the world. My thought is that he is after three relics. However, while he would like to have all three, he is really only after the last one. The remainder of the Event is his attempt to soften the heroes up, leaving them so battered and bruised that they are unable to stop him from obtaining the real target: The largest shard of the M’Kraan Crystal ever found, which is being displayed in a museum as a simple ruby. At least that is the idea that I am operating under right now.

So, at the end of the first blog, we have the following set up for Like Clockwork:

Act 1:  2d6 Doom Pool, Three Action Scenes, one opening scene, and one Transition Scene between each Action Scene.

Act 2: Doom Pool equal to the end of Act 1, Three Action Scenes, with the Watcher having the option to purchase fewer Transitions or an additional Action Scene with Doom Pool dice.

Act 3: Doom Pool equal to the end of Act 3, Three Action Scenes, but only one Transition Scene, with the Watcher having the option to purchase fewer Transitions or up to two additional Action Scenes (including up to one without a Transition) with Doom Pool dice.

That is it for right now. In the next blog, we’ll get a little more specific as to the plot, try to identify what the Mad Thinker is after in each Act and decide what encounters the heroes will have (what villains we’re using). Once we have that done, we should be able to make some Event Milestones, identify some possible hero unlockables,  and do a final write-up in Event format, bringing the whole thing together.

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About Michael

Michael is an enthusiast about a lot of things, including indie games, roleplaying games, board games, and comic books that wanted to help create a place where he could bring things to the attention of those with similar interests. Futile Position is a true labor of labor, which he hopes continues to grow through the support of the great readers who have come upon this page.

14. May 2012 by Michael
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