My first post here on Ideology of Madness was a review of Margaret Weis Productions new game Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. I fell in love with the game as it hit all the marks that I was looking for in a supers game. It allowed me to play a super hero game while utilizing the mechanics of a story based game. In addition to these this, it also answered the question of how to allow people to play different characters from the comics without any player feeling overshadowed.
One of the things that I was intrigued about this game was the plan to go with event books just like in the comics. I have to admit that I didn’t know what to think about the idea. I had not read the story line which was going to encompass their first event book and supplements. Civil War was a bit of a cipher to me. In their press releases, they spoke of making the source material accessible to those who were fans of the story as well as something a neophyte could take part in without feeling left out. On top of this, I also read that they were going to release the book in two different books. There would be an essential edition and a premium edition. The essential edition would be everything you would need to run the Civil War event while the premium edition would have the rules portion of the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game and a bit of new rules material in addition to the Civil War event. The premium edition was an excellent selling point for me. I love the idea of a campaign book that also has all the rules I need to run the game. I can bring one book to the table and I would be set to run. I really wanted to say, “You had me at Premium Edition.”
I have to say that I really love Civil War. First off, the book is a full color 361 page hard back book. The design of the book is just gorgeous and a joy to have in my hands. I love the marvel artwork that just litters the pages. I, of course, picked up the Premium Edition as I wanted to have everything I needed to run the event in one book. The pleasant surprise within the operations manual in the Civil War event book is that those crafty folks from Margaret Weis Productions have included an appendix on how to randomly generate a datafile for the game. This was not something found in the basic game and it is a nice addition to have as there are always players that do not want to play something from cannon but do not want to create their own character. This is a wonderful tool for a Watcher and something I am grateful they added to the premium edition. The event section of the book also introduces two other ideas to use while playing this game. The first is the idea of troupe play. This is where everyone has multiple characters and can switch between characters when they feel like playing something different or when the story seems to demand it. I was familiar with this concept from playing Ars Magica but found it meshes really well with this event as there are so many different factions that you can play. This style allows players to experience the story from all angles. The other option that is presented is in regards to scene distinctions. In the game, players have to make a choice between using their character’s distinctions or using a scene distinction. This often leads to limited usage of scene distinctions. The option here is to allow the use of a scene distinction when the character distinction is used as D4. This allows the players to add more dice to their pools as well as using all the possibilities present. This is an excellent optional rule that I plan to implement fully.
The event itself is handled skillfully. The book gives you a great general overview of the story line. It shows you how the event gets started and how it ends in Marvel comics. It breaks down each of the factions that are involved in the event and provides an abundance of information on both sides of the war as well as the tangentially related entities. A long list of milestones from which players can choose is provided. There are plenty that tie directly to one side of the argument or the other as well as many that allow players to participate in the game with a whole different motivation than would be expected. The event itself is broken down into three acts. Each act is further divided to provide for many different entry points into each section. This also makes it possible to play each side of the conflict allowing everyone to fully explore the ideas presented in Civil War. A nice selection of characters is provided from which players may choose. Those available range from Cloak and Dagger to Prince Namor. I was especially pleased to see Cloak included in the datafiles as he is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe. Scattered throughout the event there are myriad suggestions for how to make the story your own. Each act has points where the story can take a different direction and these are pointed out to the Watcher to allow them to create a game that works well for their players. I really appreciated this information as it makes it an option for me to go off the script without worrying about how to do it.
As I stated before, I love the Civil War event book. It allows me to dive right into a big story line without feeling intimidated by the source material. It allows me to be flexible with my players while still giving me the tools to run the story as canon if that is how it is preferred. I highly recommend picking it up.