Marvel Super Heroes – Optional Character Creation

Hello everyone, I am here again sharing my house rules for Marvel Mondays. I created these house rules in the late 90’s and have had a fair amount of playtesting with them using the Advanced Set rules for MSHRPG. I have since lowered the starting ranks to what you see here since it was easy to make characters that were on par with Hulk and Thor in the original writeup. The basis of the system presented here is that instead of random rolling everything, you are assigned an allotment of ranks and you can trade them off and shift them around to get the character you want. I have also streamlined stunts a bit. Check it out and let me know what you think. ‘Nuff said!


You get 2 Attributes at Typical (6), 3 at Good (10) and 2 at Remarkable (30).
Add 3 ranks anywhere after modifying for Origin. Maximum starting rank is Unearthly (100) in any Attribute, Power, Resources or Popularity after all modifiers.

  • Health: Total sum of F.A.S.E
  • Karma: Total sum of R.I.P.
  • Resources: Begin at Good (10). Ranks may be traded off to increase number of Talents or Contacts.
  • Popularity: Begin at Good (10). +10 if identity is public, -5 if identity is secret, -5 if you hang with Mutants, –10 if you’re a Mutant or Robot, -5 if Alien or frightening (like Ghost Rider). All modifiers are cumulative (so a frightening mutant who hangs out with mutants and goes by a secret identity has a starting Popularity of –15).

Choose any one.

  • Altered Human – May raise any one Attribute by +1 rank. Mutant – Gain +1 power at Remarkable (30), +1 rank to Endurance, –1 rank from Resources.
  • Hi-Tech – Must use 2 attribute ranks to increase Reason, +2 ranks to Resources.
  • Robot – Add +3 ranks to Attributes, dead robots may be “reactivated” at zero Karma.
  • Alien – Add +4 ranks to Attributes and lose 1 Power Choice OR choose an alien starting package from page 60 of the Judges Book. Beginning contacts must be from home world/dimension unless the alien is a renegade with only enemies on his home world.

Begin with 4 Powers at Remarkable (30).
Choose 2 Power Stunts (at –2 CS) plus any granted by the power descriptions. 

  • You may drop 1 power choice to raise another power to Amazing (50).
  • Remember that some powers cost 2 choices (Invulnerability, Cosmic Awareness, Combat Sense, Teleportation, Dimensional Travel, Probability Manipulation, Nullifying Power, Time Control, Body Transformation, Image Generation, Mind Control, Emotion Control, Possession, Transferal, Precognition, Health-Drain Touch, Immortality).

Choose any 6.

  • Talents may be traded for Contacts or ranks in Resources, Popularity or increase a Power Stunt (not to exceed the Power’s Rank).
  • Powers Stunts may be purchased with 2 Talent choices.
  • Powers may be increased by spending 2 Talent choices per Power Rank (Increasing a Power also increases related Power Stunts).
  • New Powers may be purchased with 3 Talent choices (6 if power counts as two) and begin at Remarkable (30).
  • Remember that some talents cost 2 choices (Marksman, Weapons Master, Weapons Specialist, Medicine, Mystic Origin, Animal Training, Heir to Fortune, Student, Leadership).

Choose any 2.

  • You must choose at least 2 be they patrons, allies, confidants, friends, or family. List each contact along with their home location and type of aid that they may grant.



My #1 bit of Player Advice

This came up on a post in a Facebook group, and it seems like people are always asking, “What is your #1 best bit of Player Advice?”.
So here is mine… GO WITH IT.


When the scene turns against your character, GO WITH IT. If you are supposed to flee or take another course of action your GM (Game Master / Referee) should be hinting at that. But if they use phrases like “there seems to be no escape” then GO WITH IT. They probably have something awesome planned and they aren’t trying to kill your character. YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE HEROES and when bad things happen to them, it doesn’t mean that you “lost at the game” or that you are “being punished”. Most times the GM is just trying to create dramatic tension and make the game awesome. GO WITH IT!

The GM may be trying to capture (not kill) your characters to run a “jail break” mission. GO WITH IT.  Maybe they are going to have the floor collapse just as the swarm of enemies close in on you and now you have to explore the deep earth. Maybe they are trying to run a session where you crash land on a planet. GO WITH IT, don’t worry that the GM is trying to “take away your ship”, you will be able to fix it later or maybe even get a better one. If your character is infected with an incurable condition, don’t spend time arguing that it couldn’t happen. Just GO WITH IT, and the quest to find a cure will be awesome!

The same is true of things that other players add to the story. GO WITH IT. Don’t ever say “No no, your character would….”. Let them decide what their character would do, and play along with them to craft the story. There is a term for it in improve when you block something that someone else is trying to add to the story. I don’t know that term, but I know it’s a terrible thing to do, especially at the game table. Once something has been added and everyone is thinking about it, GO WITH IT or you will just be making it harder to remember what “really” happened in that scene.

This is especially true of rules lawyering. If you think something isn’t being handled properly it’s okay to ask about it, but try to do it without citing the rules or examples. People are there to play a game and you are ruining their immersion in the story. If the GM seems to understand what you are saying but still doesn’t change anything, then GO WITH IT. They may be planning on looking into later when there is more time, or they may not want to handle that way for story reasons. Every RPG rule book has a section on how it is the GM’s job to interpret the rules, decide which ones to use, and which ones to change. You could be sitting there arguing about a spell effect, only to find out the villain was using a magic item that worked differently than the spell. Meanwhile everyone is just waiting for the game to resume, and now the GM is trying to rethink the plot because you forced them to reveal something that was supposed to be a surprise reveal later on. If things don’t seem right state your case briefly, and then whatever the ruling, just GO WITH IT and keep the game moving. Everyone is there to have fun.


As a side note – some GMs actually ARE trying to kill your character, and will gloat and laugh about the TPK (Total Party Kill) they “won” over their players. Don’t try to protect yourself against these GMs. Don’t play sessions with a wall up and all your defenses bolstered. Just have fun and GO WITH IT, and if the GM turns out to be one of those types, stop gaming with them. Or better yet, talk to them about it. Let them know that you aren’t into gaming with an adversarial Referee, and that you intend to stop gaming with them if it continues. There are plenty of good GMs out there who want to tell rewarding stories in which YOUR CHARACTERS ARE THE HEROES. You will find one if you let your guard down and just enjoy the games you play, and don’t settle for crappy games.

Be good to each other, and GAME ON!

For a full list of best gaming practices check out 11 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer by Grant over at Look, Robot 


Marvel RPG System Revised

Here are some of the house-rules I use when I run Classic Marvel Superheroes on Roll20 for my game group. If you play in my games bookmark this page, otherwise enjoy this sample, there is more to come. 


Marvel RPG System Revised – Feat rolls and Time & Movement

Feat Rolls general rules. Most feat rolls have a stated Intensity. A character may assist another if they have Abilities within one rank for a +1CS (p.19).

  • If the Intensity is MORE THAN 3 Ranks lower than your Ability, the feat is automatic.
  • If the Intensity is LOWER than your ability, you need a GREEN feat roll.
  • If the Intensity is HIGHER than your ability you need a RED feat roll.
  • If the Intensity is MORE THAN 1 Rank higher than your Ability, the feat is impossible.

Resource feats house rules: Each resource feat made reduces the resource rank for the week. The Resource rank is restored (all penalties removed) at the end of each week when the characters funds are replenished (TGIF).

  • If an item’s cost is more than 3CS lower than the Resource rank, the feat is automatically successful and the Resource rank is now at –1CS penalty.
  • If the Cost intensity is lower than the Resource Rank, then a Green FEAT roll is required and the Resource feat is now at a –2CS penalty.
  • If the cost intensity is 1CS higher as the Resource rank, then a Red FEAT roll is required and the Resource feat is now at a –6CS penalty.
  • If an item’s cost is more than 1CS higher than the Resource rank, the feat is automatically failed and the Resource rank is now at –1CS penalty.

Movement in “Areas” is based on Endurance or on a Movement Power. NOTE; 40 Areas = 1 mile

  • Feeble = 1 area/ turn.
  • Poor – Excellent = 2 areas / turn.
  • Remarkable or higher = 3 areas / turn.

Movement through a window or door costs 1 area of move. (If this ends the character’s move then he is standing in the window or doorway).

Breaking through a door, wall or other obstruction requires a Strength feat against the material strength of the obstruction and costs additional areas based on the material.

  • Up to Poor cost 1 area.
  • Up to Excellent costs 2 areas.
  • Up to Incredible costs 3 areas.
  • Greater than Incredible causes the character to stop movement and lose all momentum.

While moving the character can turn up to 90 degrees without losing momentum. Any turn greater than that cuts movement in half (possibly ending the move). Taking another action while moving reduces the move by half (minimum one).

Time is based on 6 second “Turns” (about the time of one comic panel).

  1. Judge determines actions of NPCs and other events.
  2. Players state their intended actions for the turn.
  3. Initiative is determined on 1d10 + Intuition modifier.
  4. Dodge, Block, Evade and Change Action* rolls are made.
  5. Each participant now takes their actions in initiative order.

​Changing an action requires a YELLOW Agility feat and then all actions thereafter are made at a –1CS penalty.

​On a green the character may choose to take no action.

​On a white the character must follow through with the original intended action.

Multiple actions in a turn:

A character may move half speed and still take one action without penalty.

Moving at full speed uses the entire turn (character may Charge an opponent).

Multiple “non-combat” actions in a turn are increased in difficulty by one color rank (p19).

Multiple targets; A single attack using Slugfest, Energy, or Force may affect multiple adjacent targets with one roll at –4CS. This may also be used to Escape multiple grapplers at –4CS.

Multiple Attacks Characters may make additional attacks with a successful Fighting feat roll:

  • Remarkable intensity for 2 attacks,
  • Amazing intensity for 3 attacks.
  • If this roll is successful the attacks are made at –1CS each.
  • If the roll is failed only one attack is made at a –3CS penalty.

Player Feedback form

Many years ago I used printed feedback forms for games I ran. Mainly because I had so many games going when I was a kid that I couldn’t keep track of who had been on what adventure and what group they went on it with. Well I just stumbled onto that feedback document in my google drive. At some point (probably around 2005 or 2006) I wrote it up sometime last year I must have uploaded it to google with all my other gaming notes. So here it is, edited and updated as a google form. I am sharing to see how well it works, and how it compiles the information. I think in the future I will be requiring these for XP rewards. It sure used to help a lot when I had a binder full of them sorted by campaign.

Continuity in RPG sessions.

Lets talk for a minute about Continuity in your RPG sessions.

How invested are your players in the continuity of their game sessions? Are they into one-shot adventures with characters they will likely never play again? Maybe they just enjoy the tactical side of the game and want to gloss over story details. Do they care if a bartender’s name is different the next time they return to their favorite watering hole? Would they even notice?
What if it mattered? What if the name of the bartender was different because he wasn’t “himself” anymore, but rather a monstrous or magic using impostor???

Perhaps you have players on the opposite spectrum. They become deeply invested in the fantasy of the setting and story. They want maps and deep description locations and characters. They seek their enjoyment from the immersion in the game world and look forward to escaping for a while into this fantasy world. Can you blame them? Sounds pretty sweet to me.

The deep immersion games can explore all the roleplay in between adventures, and focus on opportunities to build on characters social standing in the game world. While at the same time the players are learning more about the setting. It becomes more and more familiar to them, and they become more comfortable exploring “their” shared world. What then happens, if you offer to gloss over events that the players want to spend a few sessions on? Or what about Retcons. Well lets look at what a Retcon is, and how it can help a story. and then consider if they are worth wile at all in a story.

Wikipedia defines retcon as;
“Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is the alteration of previously established facts in the continuity of a fictional work.”

while TV Tropes says;
“Retroactive Continuity.
Reframing past events to serve a current plot need. The ideal retcon clarifies a question alluded to without adding excessive new questions. In its most basic form, this is any plot point that was not intended from the beginning. The most preferred use is where it contradicts nothing, even though it was changed later on.”

Perhaps you offer a retcon after a bad session, most likely a character death or party wipe. Sometimes people don’t make it to the game and their character gets killed. Or worse, the rest of the party suffers heavy casualties or fails at an objective because they didn’t have the characters, or the characters were played as NPC (often poorly). Real life gets in the way sometimes and sooner or later I think every group sees this happen.

Sometimes really bad dice can kill a party or ruin a session. The groups star-ship blows up or an ally gets killed and the party and defeated because the whole night everyone is just rolling poorly. Should there be a chance to re-write a bad session and just hand-wave it away. Sometimes it is just a particular rule. If a mechanic was handled wrong and lets say… and artifact would not have been destroyed by that spell last session… Do you retcon it and say then that it survived?

What are the players opinion on the retcon? What if one or more of your players don’t like the idea? They want to know that each session logically follows the next and continues to build upon the story. That seems like a pretty fair point of view. How then do you mitigate the desire to retcon something with their desire for logical continuity?

As TV Tropes reads “The most preferred use is where it contradicts nothing, even though it was changed later on.” and that is my only advice to GMs struggling with these issues in their own sessions and campaigns. I have many many times built upon past events and even run “flashback” sessions based on cool ideas that came out during regular campaign sessions. Those sessions are always very rules light and typically what is at stake is success or failure of a task, rather than life and death of the character.

I have retconed a few party wipes, almost every time because half of the players didn’t make it to a session and the rest wanted to go on anyway. My advice for this is “Have something else ready to play”. This is a perfect time for another player to step up and run something, or a chance to learn a new game system you have lying around, waiting to be played. Maybe this is a good night for a flashback session explaining the true origins of the madness that overcame the character when he found a particular cursed item. Or maybe “what happened to that guy who got left on a alien planet for two sessions?”

Whether you are slaying goblins deep in a cave or blasting robots in a dystopian colony world, there a million stories to tell and play through. And that’s the fun of it after all isn’t it?