Friday 26 January 2024

Why TSR marvel has been in my top 3 games since 80s + some villains + 1949 gameplay

I had some questions about TSR Nechanics and my version of it
I ran a game for 20 years of this

FASECRIP page on sidebars i updated with a few links to lots of free fan stuff

 TSR Marvel superheroes replaced my previous go to superhero games. I did play champions as clubs played it and you could buy book for 5 dollars and box for 10 in 1984. I came to like Superworld because you counls add to BRP stuff and because it copes with using money and buying normal gear without needing points on a character build. Ive found this issue with other hero games. Why cant i loot that guys death ray? There was a DC villain in 80s Justice league who gambled at a bar for washed up villains and ran amok with all the villain power objects. I did like Nightman show the hero learned a new weird skill every episode. 

When I first Played Marvel i was impressed by speed and simplicity and fun of punching people through walls with less dice to roll than champions and less maths. One table did most of the work and despite ppl complain about this it is very fast for players to learn and are able to use it after a few dice rolls. People complain it had no character gen system which is just untrue. It did - even first edition had several Advanced version had 4. Every campaign I've made new character generation systems for the power level i want. 

My first 20 year campaign was gritty with heroes being a secret early on until players helped to blow it in play. It was influenced more by Zenith, Wildcards, New Statesmen, Martial Law, and Watchmen than marvel comics. In Many ways it was like Marvel Ultimates comics with more gritty explanations, deaths and only one oragin. Everyone was from bloodlines made by waring aliens who planned to harvest superhumans for some galactic-scale arms deal. I started with 4 types of superhuman with a default Gd Power and list for others with set stat mods. After a 20 year game we ended up with a dozen of these "classes".

In more recent years, I opened up the types of oragin and realism and used my River City setting a fictional city between Adelaide & Melbourne Australia formed by mobsters and industrialists in the 30s that was used after the war for industrial immigrants for post war construction and it boomed. Also its a city where lots of former Nazi scientists were given jobs as the Cold War heated up. These later games had one system to creat all characters and worked for several years.

In my current campaign, I have set it in 1949. Partly based on Golden Age WW2 comics and Alan Moore;s 49ers comic and Terra Obscura. My current system allows for people to have no powers as humans which has been good finally. 

I did offer to run a Justice League Style worlds best team with higher power ranks and players have never been interested. They are happy with kinda street to xmen level characters. I ran as a Kaiju game where everyone had a city smashing monster and their human contacts were used for human drama but monsters did the big fight events. Was awesome. None of these games used the Marvel Universe. I did play it but I rapidly made my own building on ideas from Champions SUperworld and Supersquadron. Id seen V&V ads and some books but not many to pick from (i now have a few). 

One series of modules based on the x-men future past story where terminator like time travel shenanigans happen and robots take over to protect people from super heroes. It was darker and grittier and had rule mods for the karma system. This in part got me using darker comics than Marvel or DC. Probably many ideas in this game I ended up becoming mainstream by end of 90s. I did work in a comics studio also and tried to be a writer.      

Mostly its a table with dice number vs your rank number giving you a colour outcome.

Red yellow green white - quite a few ppl add a fumble black - on mine this odd drops to 1% chance at Excellent

Really its like a prettier easier version for d100 BRP critical special success fail fumble

Why it's so good? People learn the basics very fast and learn basics in one fight
Is the system evocative? the attributes and power ranks have names to describe power levels
Everything is ranked - My version is a bit meaner as I cap humans at Excellent
I'm pretty sure martial arts in comics makes you have superhuman attributes  

Feeble (2) - for people in comas or hospital
Poor (4) - for children, elderly or low-average people
Typical (6) - for most competent people 
Good (10) - id rate for professionals, experts, athletes, scholars
Excellent (20) - id rate at Olympic, Noble Prize, top tier humans
Remarkable (30) - Strength lift 1t
Incredible (40) - Strength lift 10t
Amazing (50) - Strength lift 50t 
Monsterous (75) - Strength lift 85t
Unearthly (100) - Strength lift 100t

You can add a rank to another if equal or one rank less
Talents mostly add +1  some cost two slots and do more

These are the attributes
We added a charisma stat after playing the X-men dark future stuff
Most ppl call it FASERIP my variant is FASECRIP
Most humans have Poor Fighting and Strength if no real training or exercise

F Fighting - most punching and hand weapons use this 
A Agility - missiles, dodging and athletics stuff uses this
S Strength - lifting and breaking stuff, base damage = Strengtth
E Endurance - surviving bad stuff and labour, helps foot speed
C Charisma - convincing people stuff
R Reason - inventing, using gear and fixing stuff
I Intuition - noticing clues, who goes first
P Psyche - resisting mental effects and powers 

Health or H is first four stats added and is HP
Zero is not death but you might need a doctor to save you at some point and you might have to stop to do first aid to your enemies might want to run while you stop to save some injured people. It would be rare to die but you can make players fearful of failure or death.

Karma or K is last four stats added and are used to make successful rolls when needed or improve your character which is well paced. If your hero disobeys comic code this you may lose some or all karma. One book had a treatment for wolverine that he didn't lose as much karma but he jeopardised the whole party getting any which worked. We played with some alt Karma systems for heroes (defender or avenger) and villains (based on destruction or conquest).  In my current game and the era is just pre code but sighns are it is coming. If you don't directly kill mooks but say shoot a cliff which crumbles and kills 40 gangsters its totally ok and the coroner calls death by misadventure. In my game public reaction to stuff is changing as they move into 50s coldwar paranoia und unheroic affairs committees. Im finding popularity works as a goad also. Basically, you can make the game no killing easily or you can make more complex. In old Marvel villains had ways of earning karma you tracked and some amusing things for them to earn karma like explaining to a hero your plans and putting them in a deathtrap. Various good deeds like catching up with a contact and charity can earn you karma - I made a dependant contact type just for those kids, parts or elderly that get into your adventures and cant do much except bait bad guys or get kidnapped but they earn you karma if you work them into play. I also give players their base karma every session to their current karma and makes smart people do well.

Popularity is a measure of how well-known you are. Negative pop is for villains and can make people afraid. Mostly heroes are used to persuade people and to see how far your fame has spread. Australian Realms magazine in 80s wrote an article claiming it had no such stat and proposed a system that is a core stat in the game already. We found it inadequate for the more espionage tone of our game which for years the public knew nothing. You can gain or lose POP in game. I allow you to stack it with Charisma. Your various identities can have own POP scores.

Resources is a stat for money. In old marvel, it was points to buy stuff, in advanced you just roll vs rank of what you need so a millionaire will auto-succeed at stuff many ranks lower. When I ran a fantasy varient of game we had treasure heaps in hordes with a resource value and you could split and add to your personal stash. I quite like this stat that works against treasure hoarding in game. Our players end up always donating cash to charity and doing personal appearances and using powers to help public all to earn karma and popularity. Inventing and gadgets resources are handy. Having a rich contact like SHEILD might help.

Talents are skills - their are ones for fighting, sciences, technology and certain occupations. You can learn one a year and each should make you basically an expert. In my games occupations give you wide range of professional knowledge id give most ppl a penalty to do plus give you a bonus contact. Martial arts come in types ABCD. We added more and made amount you could start with based on fighting. We also added a similar meditations which are more your semi-mystical abilities and linked to Psyche.

Contacts are people you know but could be organisations. Some have money or skills or influence or are linked to your occupations. Could be clubs, secret societies, cults, spy orgs, fan clubs, gangs police also. I also put cultural groups also here for language and culture groups so you could get French or German as a contact and it would help a bit dealing with a big group.  I would allow a city or a suburb or some specific region also. Contacts are one of the cheaper things to buy with Karma at 400 a pop so you can adopt ant NPCs you meet in play. I have a dependant class of NPC that basically help earn karma doing stuff for them but also they miraculously are danger magnets and plot hooks. You can pick a villain who is a jerk but might answer your questions for various reasons. 

Powers are based on ranks and cover a wide variety. The Ultimate powers book and the missing bits that were in Dragon are essential to make own powers. Usually every character profile of a MU character which most people play have own versions of their power. Home made heroes tend to conform to the book.

Character in the game can be chosen from a pregen, made with Referee and player negotiation, random tables or built based on evidence in a comic. Some people made own systems or claimed there were no systems. In the X-men Dark Future you were encouraged to make game your own town and possibly make selves as older bitter revolutionary. That module series opened lots of doors. I used a Sentinal rip off robot type in my games for decades. I used Dire wraiths from Rom in my own game for a players personal problem and it was awesome. Players still linked to that mythois 30 years later.

I have played a few games with random powers and I might again just to see how ppl brand their weird heroes. I once had a patriotic were lion sorcerer from Britain who could make villains sleep or banish them to a plane of torment for 50 years in Super Squadron (kinda a V&V rip off).

I include options in my character gen to cover some weird stuff powers don't quiet work with providing wealth, headquarters, bonus abilities or talents, one to make contacts cheaper, immortality, probability control dice, utility beltsm vehicles, costumes that survive fights and other hero stuff. I most recently added disadvantages to get extra options.

One mechanic i like is developing power stunts - a new version of your power usually one rank lower which you buy spending karma in play that gets cheaper as you go until its a regular thing you can do. We probably added some stuff here too.

The weirdest game was a fantasy campaign where each power was a spell list and stunts were new spells of the school. Also made evocation rules based on supernatural contacts and the more power they had the better help but more likely they would snub you or be angry. I may still bolt this onto my current game with an evocation magic talent. There was a very good book on magic before the advanced edition but its pretty interesting.  

So basically the system is simple, removes all kinds of issues like murder in games if you want and greed and has players focused on action, investigation and roleplaying. We also now give +5 karma anytime someone does anything cool or says anything awesome in play like a hero catch phrase or moralizing to a villain. 

So I need some famous city heroes for Players to meet in a Vice raid - rumours are hero team holding a party to audition new sidekicks. 

Golden Gladiator
Powerful visitor from another planet, Alar Glorion lives as Millionaire Alan Glory   

F Fighting - Excellent (20)
A Agility -  Excellent (20)
S Strength -  Remarkable (30)
E Endurance - Remarkable (30)
C Charisma - Excellent (20)
R Reason -  Good (Gd)
I Intuition -  Excellent (20)
P Psyche -  Remarkable (30)

H 100
K 80

POP secret ID 20/ hero ID 40
Resources Remarkable (30)

Flight - Excellent (20)
-levitate (can float without moving)
Heat Ray - Remarkable
-second emission point a second shot at Ex(20)
Body Armour - Remarkable (30)
Hyper Senses - Excellent (20)
-penetration vision
-telescopic vision

Martial arts B, Blades, Body Building, Astronomy, Pilot, Astronaut. Planetology 

Governor General, Archbishop, Banker, General, Doctor, Planet Goldar High Command, 
Golden Boy (sidekick imbued with some of his alien essence) 

Rich, alien technology, secret HQ (trophy room, pool, gym, dining hall, office, guest rooms)
Vulnerable to radiation (Alpha, Beta, Gamma ignore defences)

Golden Boy     
F Ty A Ty S Gd E Gd C Ty R Ty I Ty P Gd
H 32 K 28 POP 10 Rs Gd
Talents: Martial Arts B, Pilot
Flight - Typical (6)
Heat Ray - Good (10)
Body Armour - Good (10)
Hypersenses - Typical (6)
-track by scent
A strange visitor come to our world during WW2 and uses superior abilities to smash puny human crime and despotism. Wearing his golden suit, sash, cape and domino mask he is a glamourous super hero with spectacular superhuman muscletone. The golden gladiator saw from a telescope on his hidden utopian far away planet and saw the strife of ww2 and came to help. With his sidekick Golden Boy who has been imbued with golden gladiator alien powers via regular medical  l treatments.

There have been nine different sidekicks since 1940 and some girl Golden Gladiatrixes. Most adopted from war or crime-related orphans he adopted as his wards. Most died in action during war with three since the war but the formula is also unstable. The gladiator is really sent to spy for a conquering civilisation and wants to be worshipped as a god and do whatever he wants to people for fun. All the remains of the dead sidekicks are in a secret vault - a museum and tomb

New golden boys and girls have been throwing themselves at the popular superhero for a chance to be a sidekick. Recently journalists have begun to ask questions about his sidekicks, wild parties and vices.

Gill Man
Aquatic Prince and Adventurer

F Fighting - Remarkable (30
A Agility -  Good (Gd)
S Strength -  Excellent (20)
E Endurance - Remarkable (30)
C Charisma - Poor (4)
R Reason -  Good (10)
I Intuition -  Remarkable (30
P Psyche -  Excellent (20)

H 90
K 64

POP secret ID -20 hero ID 20
Resources Excellent (20)

Amphibious Remarkable (30)
-water bolt
-control water
Gd Body Armour  Good (10)
-human form changes by shedding

Biology, Archaeology, Occult, Deep One Weapons (trident, speargun, net, spear), Sailor, SCUBA

Warlord of "Atlants" (Antarctic deep one city), Priestess of "Atlantis", seaside fishing village of  Mermaids Bay, sea scout troop, naval ship patrol boat captain, merchant seaman, scuba diver sea explorer, fabulous finny five his youth gang

Patron Alien Civilisation where wife and kids live, Pet shoggoth that transforms into luminous alien marine vehicles, Driven to reproduce with human hosts 

Deep One Hybrid Sidekicks
F Gd A Gd S Gd E Gd C Pr R Ty I Ty P Gd
H 40 K 26 POP 10 Rs Gd
Talents: Scuba Diver, Deep One Weapons (trident, speargun, net, spear)
Amphibious - Good (10)
-control water or control fish or water bolt
Body Armour - Good (10)
-natural weapons (edged)
-human form (shed skin to change)

A visitor from a secret lost marine civilisation of Atlantis was granted sea powers by Poseidon. Came to help fight in ww2 vs German and Japanese subs who damaged Atlantis. With his fabulous finny five sidekicks, he now fights marine crime and helps antarctic explorers to find a lost city his people spoke of.   

Hybrid Deep One spy on the surface for people to aid the deep one cult and their goals of marine domination. Regularly recruits new teens to be sidekicks and some vanish as they are carried away to deep one city near Antarctica. Wants to help humans find lost city of the old ones to drive humans mad and recover occult lore on the spacial stargates of the old ones. 

Has green scaly metallic skin and pointy ears and wears purple swimming trunks that are a bit indecent.. A popular mascot of youth swimming events he has access to fit youths fit to become parents of hybrids. Selected youths intend to beach parties and are never seen again. Some are hidden as boating accidents. A journalist investigating this was killed by a harpoon.

Mistress of the Mystic Arts, the silken sorceress, aks heiress Amber Alucard

F Fighting - Good (10)
A Agility -  Excellent (20)
S Strength -  Good (10)
E Endurance - Remarkable (30)
C Charisma - Remarkable (30)
R Reason -  Good (10)
I Intuition -  Excellent (20)
P Psyche -  Remarkable (30)

H 70
K 90

POP secret ID 15 hero ID 30
Resources Excellent (20)

Telepathy (30)
-mind wipe
-mind control
Shapeshift  Excellent (20)
-regeneration (1/round)
-glider membranes
-vapour form

Occult, Hipnosis, Parapsychology. Psychanalasys, Pharmacist, Finance, Evocation, Stage magic

Various wealthy victims, Sisterhood of SIlver Twilight a women & children's charity, Ebon Order her personal cult who believes she is a god, cult of the Black Sun, cult of the Dweller in Darkness, Star Vampire, Byakee, Magicians Club, Loyal assassin/driver who loves her, dancing troupe, familiar rabbit Mr Jankyre 

Magical Technology, Secret Society, Magic costume for quick change, Magic Dimensional Travelling Coffin, Utility Belt of magic tricks (infinite scarves, flowers, coins, egg, doves, kittens, cards, lengths of cord, lit candles or her rabbit from any pocket or sleeve 

F Ty A Ty S Ty E Ty C Gd R Gd I Gd P Gd
H 24 K 40 POP 6 Rs Gd
Talents: Occult +1 speciality occupation
Carry a dagger, drugged needle ring, firebomb, smokebomb

A magician who worked way up through talent and hard work to solve mysteries nad take magi spells and relics from those she defeats. Puts on large stage shows with her dancers and often on the road with them doing magic. In war she helped recover occult objects hoarded by the nazis. 

A colonial era witch who has worked with various cults and worked with allies to steal important occult items held by nazis. She recruits youths into her cult and has the ones who are a liability sacrificed or fed to monsters.  

Wears tuxedo top with silk suspender stockings, top hat, cane. several occult investigators seeking her have died from the tentacles of her alien god contacts she can evoke. 

In Marvel 1949 Play Staring:

Ace of Aces - the air hero
Ramases -  the Egyptian god-pharoh
Dr Strong - monstrous german scientist
The Amazing Bionic Woman - prototype electronic bionic hero
The Conjurere - masked magician and illusionist

Heroes had own various drams but all coincedently with a contact having lunch when a gangster bank raid was heard. Cleaned up the mess and Dr STrong lifted the escape truck over his head. This battle had some criminals harmed when the truck was dropped by accident and a mind controlled gangster machine gunned a team mate. The police were quite cool and put down as death by misadventure for running away from a super powered person and taking dangerous risks. 

Police chief and dept head of Super Human Command & Control asked heroes to help raid a popular team of heroes they were busting for vice. The unheroic affairs committee had built up a case against alien heroes Golden Gladiator and a pool party audition to join the groups sidekicks was being held with teenager entrants. Gill Man the Atlantean prince and Clarity the lady wizard would also be their to judge their recruits, 

Heroes thought this sounded really bad and unsure about this committee but it turned out post war - heroes with sidekicks were all being investigated. Heroes were being hunted as war criminals for bringing children into battlefields.  Golden gladiator's sidekick Goldenboy was the tenth so far. Six of those in a period in the war. With three more dead after the war dead by 1949. The Fabulous Finny FIve of Gillmans teen mystery solving companions who ride in his van along the coast had quite a few replacements missing older members, In the war Gill man made whole crews and cargos of Axis subs vanish. Turned out the wizard lady had real cult connections and her magic coffin is a dread artefact fortold in prophecies. So party convinced that the unheroic affairs committee was doing the lords work and they began to prepare.

Ace of Aces loaded up his plane with rubber bullets and tear gas bombs assuming killing lots of youths might look bad. Dr Strong ask his kid gang for help and the gang complained the were to young to apply. Ramases had some trouble with people stealing his gold but managed to finance Dr Strong and the Conjurere making mind boosting drugs for meeting the silk stocking sorceress Clarity. Most heroes found thousands of dollars a dose a bit much.

So the raid was set. The Amazing Bionic Woman disguised herself with pigtails and a pop dress and a fake ticket walked in. The Conjurer had posted his poltergiest contact over earlier and it reported that the Golden Gladiators manion was crawling is "all manner of vile habits". His hobo wizard friend reported two separate cults came in busses and wearing robes that were now all dressed as clowns.

Ace was above in his advanced custom Skyhawk loaded with devastating non lethal weapons of mass destruction with his co pilot contact. 

Conjurer made an illusion for Dr Strong, Ramases and himself to look like clowns. They came through the first floor where contestants were getting their bathing costumes before going to the downstairs pool and they saw Gill Man teaching youths to shave arms and legs over like he does for extra speed. Heroes all went into the basement pool and studio to find Golden Gladiator consuming drugs with his chosen finalists and flexing his gigantic muscles. Heroes decided they had seen enough and after a brush with CLarity who was telepathic and a known mindcontroller they attacked her first. The Amazing Biolic Woman tried to garotte her while talking to her new magic caberet dancers but only got a shoulder. Dr Strong dogpiled on top and they both worked on crushing her while she tried to mind control the team back. Thanks to the drug she was hampered. She would probably change her spell in future to stop such a effect again from a potion.

Managed to stun and injure Golden Gladiator but it was quite a struggle and his dense body hurt the attackers charging him as he was so armoured. With Clarity knocked out they dogpiled the Gladiator and saw his gold alien blood. Outside Ace was strafing and bombing the house with rubber bullets and tear gas bombs and had Gill man attack and damage the plane. While out hero pilot climbed out to fix damage while the co pilot took over and machine gunned the fish man. 

Eventually, Gillman was warn down and stopped. Golden Gladiator was hard to stop even with two heroes holding him, Ramases stabbing him with a burning magic bronze kopesh and the Conjurer using telekinesis to cover the Gladiator's face.  Finally they brought him down badly injured and Dr Strong was badly injured needing a weeks rest but he wanted to keep fighting. 

The evidence vs Golden Gladiator was pretty tight and Gill Mad lived in Atlantean base near Antarctica but had various coastal towns he was frequently seen in. Mermaid Cove was one such place the party investigated and found a basement level with cages for humans and occult statues to Dagon. Was enough to keep Gill Man in prison and scientists keen to disecth him and followers. Clarity was found to have lots of contacts but her magic coffin appeared in her cell and she escaped. All the heroes reps were destroyed and the heroes had mixed reactions from the mob for popularity. Some heroes now hated by fans of the former heroes.

Will try and do a session of this a month and think of more awful repugnant villains and start of the Cold War antics. One other session with other group also. WIll start up Ctulhi in space again. 


  1. I didn't have a chance to play this back then. Honestly, I don't recall ever seeing it in a store. I wish I had. I still want to play it.

    1. its all free online and well supported with fan updates - if you can keep up with comic lore you can just let ppl play who they want


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