Posts Tagged With: MHR

Not Dead

I break the silence this blog has languished under to announce that I’ve knocked together a really quick and woolly hack for MHR, in order to help you play Exalted with it. You can see the link over to the right, or if you’re reading this far in the future when everything’s been rearranged, click here.

There’s other stuff in the pipeline too – a complete reworking of Fatescape is on the cards to take advantage of all the hard work Evil Hat put into FATE Core and the playtesting that my group did running through the Shackled City, I’m getting published later this month and just got accepted for another anthology in 2014, and a few other odds and ends.

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More MHR House Rule Thoughts

Well, the Area house rule in my older post didn’t work so well – we’re going back to using Area as written until further notice.

Something else worth paying attention to when starting up a game of MHR is character generation. Without any concrete guidance, you tend to get characters who have a lot of d10s and d12s in their abilities, which I can say from experience leads to very rapid victory in almost anything they attempt: it’s not so much that d10s and d12s roll higher than d8s as that having a d10 or a d12 for your base effect means you only need to land 2-3 hits to take an opponent out.

Digression: It also occurs to me that a complaint I have with the MHR system is that while there are a bajillion ways to engage in and defend yourself from physical stress, inflicting mental stress is limited to Mind Control as an offensive power and mystic/psychic resistance as a defence. It’s an easy fix, thanks to the descriptive nature of the game – just make sure people know they can add things like Superhuman Willpower d10 to their power sets if it’s appropriate – it just annoys me a bit that the game offers options for non-violent problem resolution but then doesn’t support that as a choice.

Anyway, character generation. There are several point-based systems floating about, but I don’t really want that; part of what makes MHR work is that you can put Daredevil up against (or next to) Thor and not worry too much about their absolute power levels – whoever has the greatest narrative weight is likely to get their way, which is exactly how comic books work. So instead, here are some guidelines I’ve just pulled out of thin air:

Affiliations: As usual. d10/d8/d6 allocated as you see fit.

Distinctions: As usual. Three things you like.

Power Sets: The biggest differentiator in terms of raw power in MHR is whether someone has one or two power sets*, because extra dice are king of getting your way. So take two. If your concept only lends itself to one, throw in Multipower or Versatile as an SFX so you can multiply your dice.

Then write down the various powers each set covers. Whatever seems right. The real trick comes in assigning die sizes:

  • If the power just offers you access to something that normal people can’t do – usually some form of Enhanced Sense that covers normally-unsensable phenomena – it’s a d6.
  • If you have the power, it’s a d8.
  • If you’re really good at the power, or it’s a strong focus of what the character does, it’s a d10.
  • If you’re one of the top five most powerful users of your power in the world, it’s a d12.

d12s among characters should be rare, with most powers clocking in at d8s and d10s.

Any given power set should have 2-3 SFX and at least one Limit. Having 4 SFX is acceptable if the concept requires it, and up to 5 is acceptable if you’ve only got one power set (although one of those should be Multipower or Versatile, as noted above).

Having more Limits doesn’t really change things much, and as far as I can tell neither does having no Limit at all on a power set – all it’s really doing is depriving you of PP. If in doubt, slap Limit: Exhaustion on there and move on.

Specialties: Like with powers, people love to make their characters Masters of everything. As a general rule of thumb: if your character is notably good at something, they’re an Expert (d8). If they’re one of the top five in the world, they’re a Master (d10).

If a character only has one power set, be more generous with the specialties. They’re going to need the extra dice they can get by splitting specialties down, which means they’re going to need correspondingly huger specialty dice.

* Assuming you’re not using the house rule which says “take two dice from your power sets in any combination” instead of “take one dice from each power set”.

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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying House Rules

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’.

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