I’ve been running an MHR game over on RPGnet for about a month now and, while I really like the system, it’s quite wonkily unbalanced in places.
That said, here is my list of house rules for MHR – this is at least partially for my own reference and partially for anyone else who’s looking into running the game.
Activate All Opportunities
This is a PbP concession rather than a problem with the game design – to keep things moving quickly, when a player rolls the dice they can automatically assume all opportunities are activated by the Watcher. The Watcher then gets to pile the Doom Pool high. So far I’ve been sticking strictly to the rules for adding dice to the Doom Pool – each PP lets you add a d6 or step up the lowest existing die in the pool – but I don’t think the game will be harmed if you take 3 opportunities and jump straight to a d10 every so often. If you do that constantly then the doom pool will be much smaller than the players’ PP stores but will have higher-value dice in it; which might be good or bad depending on the situation and the SFX of players and bad guys alike.
The problem with counterattacks is that the defender has all the knowledge they need to make sure the counter hits, and the attacker has no recourse to prevent it. It makes counters far and away the best way to inflict stress, and lots of it thanks to stepping up on exceptional successes. I’ve seen two approaches to fixing this: either require that a reaction be an exceptional success before allowing for a counterattack (and that exceptional success not counting towards stepping up the effect) or spend the PP for a counter before rolling the dice, adding an element of risk. Or you could flat ban counterattacks, but I like having them around. My PbP is using the bolded solution, even though tracking precisely when people spend PP/doom in PbP is impossible – I’m happy to let it ride on the honour system.
When I first read the Area SFX in the MHR rulebook I thought “this seems a bit much”. And, under certain circumstances, it is. Start with the assumption that one PP and one Doom die are of equivalent effectiveness. When someone spends 2 PP on a roll it requires 2 Doom to counteract that – but when they spend 2 PP on an Area attack against four enemies it takes 8 Doom to counteract it. (At least – since it costs a Doom die to roll an extra die and it costs another Doom die to keep that die for something.) To keep the PP/Doom economy on track I’ve just instituted the house rule that when a Doom die is spent on a reaction to an Area attack, it applies to all the reactions to that attack. So if I roll an extra die, I roll that die for all reactions. If I purchase an extra die for my total, all the totals get an extra die. I’m not sure how well it’ll work… but we’ll see.
Use Doom Dice to Shift Stress
A bit of symmetry here: PCs can spend PP to shift incoming stress from one track to another, but it’s unclear whether NPCs can or not. I’m specifically allowing them to do so, since when characters are throwing around d10 and d12 level powers you need a way to make the NPCs a little more survivable. This costs a Doom die at least as large as the stress being ‘deflected’.