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Marvel Heroic Roleplaying: Character Generator

September 24, 2015

marvel_heroic_cover_thumbIn the comments on my post about wanting too much from an RPG, I remembered that I had started working on a more sensible (to me) random character generator for Margaret Weis Productions’ Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game some time ago. The system already had a set of random generation rules, but I thought they were not so great. Much like the random chargen for the old TSR Marvel Superheroes RPG, the rules resulted in characters that were far too random. And so I had spent some time working out how to design a better random chargen for a superhero RPG, before ultimately forgetting about it. Well, I finally went back and finished that project, and I am making it available to anyone who is interested.

MWP lost the Marvel license years ago and had to pull all of their offerings, so this program is definitely a niche product. To add insult to injury, the application only runs on Windows! It’s fairly basic – there are two tabs and two buttons. The left button – “Generate Random Hero” – generates a new hero using MWP’s random tables. The right button – “Generate Themed Hero” – generates a new hero using a blend of MWP’s rules and a system that I came up with myself, which is based around power themes. The idea is that instead of getting a random grab-bag of powers that make little sense together, the random character would have a core suite of powers and abilities that fit the character’s overall theme. There’s still some randomness involved, though, so sometimes you’ll still get wacky results – just hopefully not as much! The data is pulled from an xml file, so you can mess around with that if you want to tweak the settings, or add new powers, or what have you.

There’s a tab that displays the hero in a form for easy editing, and another tab that displays the hero as rich text. You can make changes on the form, and when you flip over to the text tab it will be updated with any changes, so the program can also be used to make new characters, who can then be easily copy-and-pasted into Word or your editing application of choice.

The Crimson Avenger

As an example, I clicked the right-hand button and got a hero with some mystic abilities and a weapon of some kind:

mhr_chargen_1

Form View

mhr_chargen_2

Text View

I took about 10 minutes to fill in the blanks, and what I ended up with is probably not the hottest new character to dominate the sales charts, but he’s certainly playable. Theordore Eldritch is… the Crimson Avenger! A former Olympic fencer who discovered the deadly Red Blade, and sought training in the mystic arts in order to unlock the Blade’s true power! (which remains locked, for now) He’s flamboyant, he’s cocky, and he’s stylish! I also altered his Affiliations a little, so that he works best with a partner – preferably a more low-key person – that he can play off of. You can see how I took the generator’s suggestions for Distinctions and Milestones and fleshed them out:

Form View

Form View

Text View

Text View

If I was going to play this character, I would make some further tweaks – making the blade more important and more interesting, and downplaying the sorcery, perhaps. But that’s the fun of random characters, right? They can serve as a good starting point for a more fully-formed character.

The Random Hero Generator can be downloaded here. If you come across any issues, please use the Contact page to send me a message. And please include as many details as possible in what led up to the issue so that I can try and track it down.

Update: made a few minor bug fixes and found differently-colored dice images.

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15 Comments
  1. Pinkius permalink

    This looks exciting, I’m going to pick this up even if I never use it, who doesn’t want a hero on hand at all times?

  2. Pinkius permalink

    I’m also going back to the spider man MHR examples to figure out what all these dice and such meen.

    • 😀 I wish you luck in figuring out the system via reverse-engineering it! While it’s no longer for sale, there are PDFs floating around out there… but you didn’t hear that from me. I thought it was a very good supers system, although it took me a little while to wrap my head around it.

    • But a quick rundown: when you take an action, you form a dice pool using a die from any relevant section of your character sheet. Bigger dice are better.

      Affiliations are how the character prefers to operate. They’re a neat incentive for roleplaying, because players will naturally agitate towards situations where they can use their d10 affiliation. Wolverine will try to go off on his own (Solo d10), Cyclops will try to keep everyone together (Team d10).

      Distinctions are kinda like aspects in FATE. They describe 3 important traits about the character, positive or negative (or both). When used as a positive (Wolverine is in a fight and “I’m the Best There Is at What I Do”) they’re worth a d8. When used as a negative (Wolverine is confronted by someone from his “Mysterious Past”) they’re a d4 and you get a plot point.

      Powers are your powers. The powers themselves range from d6 to d12, with most being d8 or d10. SFX are ways your powers allow you to manipulate the dice pool. Limits are ways you can voluntarily mess with your powers to earn plot points.

      Specialties are your skills. PC skills are d8s or d10s.

      Milestones are character arcs. You get XP by hitting the milestone’s story beats, and the arc comes to a conclusion when you hit the 10 XP milestone.

      • Pinkius permalink

        yea I got most of that, it was easy enough to figure out how you stacked dice from the combat between spiderman and his villians, what got me is how the dice stack to give you a total. How do you calculate the total from your 2d6+1d8+1d10? Because it doesn’t seem to be total the result, and it doesn’t seem to be best of the pool total either.

      • Usually you pick the 2 highest rolls, and add them together for your total. Then you pick the largest remaining die (d10 over a d8, for example), and that’s your effect die. Dice that roll 1’s can’t be used. Your total has to beat the total of the opposing roll to succeed. If you succeed, you can use the effect die to apply that much stress, or create an asset (helps you out) or a complication (hinders the target), of the same die. d10 effect = d10 stress, for example.

        You can also use plot points to increase your total, and if your total is 5+ over your opponent’s total, that can increase the size of the effect die.

        There are cases where you wouldn’t always take the 2 highest rolls for your total – for example, you want one of those for your effect die, and you plan to use plot points to increase the total further, but most of the time that’s what you’d do.

      • So I just plugged 2d6+1d8+1d10 into a die roller and got 5, 4, 4, 7. I could take the 7 and 5 for a total of 12, and the d8 for my effect die. Or I could take the 5 and a 4 for a total of 9 and the d10 for the effect – the action is less likely to succeed, but would have a bigger impact if it does.

      • Pinkius permalink

        I seeee Hrmmrm the first character i rolled was a gravity master if you were curious. Superpower lottery ho!

      • Pinkius permalink

        d10 solo, d10 gravity control, d10 flight, d10 combat master, d10 tech weapon…
        Just a little OP, tiny bit

      • Solo isn’t inherently better for a PC than any other affiliation, really. And one of the interesting quirks of the system is that while bigger dice are generally better, they’re also less likely to roll 1’s, which means the character is generating fewer plot points. But yeah, that looks like a strong character!

      • Pinkius permalink

        I mean, I didn’t want to just paste the text page, he’s got more stuff.
        1s are plot points? You mean opportunities?

      • Pinkius permalink

        Ah, I was thrown off by Doc Octs multiple arms biz, he discards his highest d8 to use an extra result. I see.

      • Yeah, if a player rolls a 1 / an opportunity, they can’t use that die for their total or effect, which is bad, but they get a plot point, which is good! And the Doom Pool gets bigger, which is bad. 🙂

  3. Mei Yu Lian permalink

    Will play around with it.
    Will probably never need it for a game though 😦

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