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Marvel to Launch Official 'MARVEL MULTIVERSE' Tabletop Role-Playing Game in 2022

Matt Forbeck announced on Twitter that he’s working on a new in-house D616 Marvel RPG due for a 2022 release! It looks like there will be an open playtest.

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What’s the D617 System? “… the all-new D616 System, an accessible and easy-to-learn system for newcomers to tabletop RPGs and a natural evolution for those familiar with the most popular tabletop role-playing games on the market. Use Might, Agility, Resilience, Vigilance, Ego, and Logic to win the day, and discover your true abilities as you face impossible odds!”


 
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Grendel_Khan

Explorer
If they want to releases (more) CRPGs with this system they will notice gameplay will demand all PCs start with same power level. Can you understand? Daredevil could defeat Iron Fist, Electra could destroy Ultron's drones, Blade the vampire hunter facing hordes of AIM tropers or Kate Bishop could kick-ass Superskrull because the gameplay asks that.

I think this is a really important point, and one that a lot of RPG and even MCU fans just can't wrap their heads around--cape comics aren't about realism, so stop complaining about Black Widow and Hawkeye being in the Avengers, or arguing about whether Batman can beat Superman in a fight. Batman can, if that's what the story is, and Black Widow can kill alien soldiers with her dual handguns because these narratives are about clashes of will, not the nuances of pistol-caliber ballistics.

Obviously porting that sort of approach to an RPG is tough, but as much as I loved Champions back in the day, I don't think quantifying all of this stuff down, and therefore making some characters utterly helpless when not beating up a mugger, is doing the cape comic genre justice. Black Widow can't just headshot Doom with a Glock, but she could possibly sweep kick him off-balance, or keep him busy with that zappy business she does. Likewise, how boring it would be if everyone was just sort of failing to do anything to Doom and then Thor can knock him out with one hit, because he's Thor? Ideally you'd want teamwork to be a real factor, and even if Thor lands the big hit, maybe he lands it because others have neutralized Doom's defenses.

(And if anyone talks about how Doom can't go down with one shot from Mjolnir, remember, Doom isn't real, Thor isn't real, none of this is actually quantified or simulated by Marvel, things just happen for story reasons)

Pulling this sort of thing off mechanically is really tough, and while there are some cool supers games, I haven't seen a system that's made it feasible and satisfying to have a Daredevil-level PC and an Iron Man-level PC on the same team. Personally, I don't really love cape comics as a gaming genre, and would rather do stuff that puts some sort of spin on supers. But if you're going to do a bona fide Marvel RPG, I think the system should do the work of making mixed-power-level teams feasible, since that's the case with basically all of the teams in the comics. I don't see that happening without leaning more toward narrative RPG mechanics than trad/F20 stuff, but what do I know?
 

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Now I am thinking about if the xenomorphs(aliens) and the yautjas(predators) are in the marvel multiverse, that should mean special rules for creation of ordinary peoples for survival horror games, or stories as X-Files.

This part is interesting:


It’ll probably be called “Marvel Multiverse Role-Play Game”. I say probably because the full title of what’s actually been announced is “Marvel Multiverse Role-Play Game Playtest Rulebook.

The game is being written by Matt Forbeck. He wrote Shotguns and Sorcery, a series of novels then turned into a Cypher System RPG by Robert Schwalb. That’s a game due more love.

Forbeck, of course, has written RPGs of his own! Including Mutant Chronicles and supporting Deadlands and Tales from the Loop.

Let’s look for easter eggs or, at the very least, interesting quirks in the text and decisions made around this newly announced Marvel RPG.

First up, I grinned when Marvel described the game as an evolution of “the most popular tabletop role-playing games”. By the time you’re at “most popular” you’re thinking of D&D, in part because that’s correct, but in part, because WotC insists publishers use phrases like that to describe the ruleset rather than use “Dungeons & Dragons”.

I get that they have to protect their brand, but I dislike the arrogance. I also don’t like the use of 5e as there are other games with fifth editions. The World of Darkness, for example.

Pick a better code for D&D, Hasbro, or savvy companies like Marvel can use it against you.

That’s one easter egg. Wondering why they don’t call it the “Marvel system”, they’ve gone with D616 instead.

That’s a nod to Earth-616. In the multiverse, 616 is the universe variant that most Marvel Comics are set. There’s even a documentary that explores the cultural impact of comics called Marvel 616.

In Thor: The Dark World, the movie, Dr Selvig has the phrase 616 Universe scribbled on his chalkboard map of the Nine Realms, and there’s plenty of others; for example, in the last Avengers, Scott Lang comes out of a storage locker labelled 616, there’s a mention of it in season 2 of Iron Fist, when police are describing suspects, and perhaps most directly Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home calls this realm Earth-616.

And it’s not an easter egg, it’s in plain sight, but the game isn’t Marvel Role-Play Game; it’s the Marvel Multiverse Role-Play Game. The company is choosing to highlight the existence of the multiverse in the very name of the product.

That’s a good sales idea. Imagine all the spin-offs you empower by doing that from the outset.

Marvel has had RPGs before. They were last active in 2013 when they departed Margaret Weis Productions and took the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying. That caused the RPG to surge to the top of DriveThruRPG’s sales chart for a while as fans rushed to buy it while they still could.

Speaking of DriveThruRPG, I think the Marvel RPG is important because of what it might do to retail.

Marvel points people at comic book stores as a place to buy the playtest. I imagine Marvel already pitch their products to game stores. This will now ramp up.

As it looks like Fandom’s Cortex is not involved in the Marvel RPG, which digital markets do we expect to see the game on? Comixology? Itch? DriveThruRPG? Will Marvel make their own?

Which virtual tabletop, if any, will get the license. Will Marvel have an Open Gaming License?
 

Aaron L

Hero
I'll give this a look to see if it's any good, but I still like the old '80s TSR FASERIP Marvel Superheroes RPG, with its adjectival ability score rankings (your PC could have an Amazing rank Fighting score and a Monstrous rank Endurance, for example.)

But I still consider the old Mayfair Games DC Heroes and its MEGS (Mayfair Exponential Game System) to be the best, most flexible, and most fluid superhero RPG ever. The way it breaks down every possible measurement into APs (Attribute Points) for manipulation via the game mechanics is just beautiful, with every 1 point increase representing a doubling of value; 0 AP of weight = 50 lbs, 1 AP = 100 lbs; 0 APs of time = 4 seconds (1 combat round) and 1 AP = 8 seconds etc. A Strength score of 5 is twice as strong as a Strength of 4. How far can a character throw a certain weight? Just take his Strength score and subtract the APs of weight, and the result is the APs of distance your PC can throw the object. So elegant.

There is still an active DC Heroes/MEGS fan community that maintains a website database of stats for various characters from comic books, novels, video games, movies, and TV.
 

Aaron L

Hero
I think this is a really important point, and one that a lot of RPG and even MCU fans just can't wrap their heads around--cape comics aren't about realism, so stop complaining about Black Widow and Hawkeye being in the Avengers, or arguing about whether Batman can beat Superman in a fight. Batman can, if that's what the story is, and Black Widow can kill alien soldiers with her dual handguns because these narratives are about clashes of will, not the nuances of pistol-caliber ballistics.

Obviously porting that sort of approach to an RPG is tough, but as much as I loved Champions back in the day, I don't think quantifying all of this stuff down, and therefore making some characters utterly helpless when not beating up a mugger, is doing the cape comic genre justice. Black Widow can't just headshot Doom with a Glock, but she could possibly sweep kick him off-balance, or keep him busy with that zappy business she does. Likewise, how boring it would be if everyone was just sort of failing to do anything to Doom and then Thor can knock him out with one hit, because he's Thor? Ideally you'd want teamwork to be a real factor, and even if Thor lands the big hit, maybe he lands it because others have neutralized Doom's defenses.

(And if anyone talks about how Doom can't go down with one shot from Mjolnir, remember, Doom isn't real, Thor isn't real, none of this is actually quantified or simulated by Marvel, things just happen for story reasons)

Pulling this sort of thing off mechanically is really tough, and while there are some cool supers games, I haven't seen a system that's made it feasible and satisfying to have a Daredevil-level PC and an Iron Man-level PC on the same team. Personally, I don't really love cape comics as a gaming genre, and would rather do stuff that puts some sort of spin on supers. But if you're going to do a bona fide Marvel RPG, I think the system should do the work of making mixed-power-level teams feasible, since that's the case with basically all of the teams in the comics. I don't see that happening without leaning more toward narrative RPG mechanics than trad/F20 stuff, but what do I know?
The old DC Heroes RPG handled this sort of thing perfectly with its system.
 


I'll give this a look to see if it's any good, but I still like the old '80s TSR FASERIP Marvel Superheroes RPG, with its adjectival ability score rankings (your PC could have an Amazing rank Fighting score and a Monstrous rank Endurance, for example.)

But I still consider the old Mayfair Games DC Heroes and its MEGS (Mayfair Exponential Game System) to be the best, most flexible, and most fluid superhero RPG ever. The way it breaks down every possible measurement into APs (Attribute Points) for manipulation via the game mechanics is just beautiful, with every 1 point increase representing a doubling of value; 0 AP of weight = 50 lbs, 1 AP = 100 lbs; 0 APs of time = 4 seconds (1 combat round) and 1 AP = 8 seconds etc. A Strength score of 5 is twice as strong as a Strength of 4. How far can a character throw a certain weight? Just take his Strength score and subtract the APs of weight, and the result is the APs of distance your PC can throw the object. So elegant.

There is still an active DC Heroes/MEGS fan community that maintains a website database of stats for various characters from comic books, novels, video games, movies, and TV.

I really liked the official DC Heroes books that were done for Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Ed.
 

Aaron L

Hero
But..... it was DC....

i kid, I really need to try it!
Doesn't matter :)
Writeups.org - In-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies has full MEGS stats, bios, and histories for just about any character you can imagine, from DC to Marvel to Cthulhu(!) to pro wrestling(!?) (The stats for Thanos and Adam Warlock are my favorites.)

And the way MEGS works with its exponential AP system means that, say, The Batman can get into a fistfight with Superman and actually last a few rounds (long enough for a contingency plan or some special piece of tech to be brought into play) instead of being rendered into red paste by a single punch.

And that's not even getting into the stock of Hero Points that every character has, which act as both XP for character progression and as a kind of fate point mechanic and can be spent to "Push" abilities to give them a temporary boost, or used to mitigate damage.

(Every character is built from a certain number of Hero Points as determined by the GM according to what level of power they want to set for their game. Superman is obviously built from a much larger pool of HP than The Batman. For example the Writeups.Org version of Cthulhu was built from 10,102 Hero Points and is of a fairly comparable power level to Thanos, as is only appropriate. The stats for The Infinity Gauntlet are actually listed under Adam Warlock's stats.)
 
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Sunsword

Adventurer
On the one hand, this is being done in-house by Marvel so there's no license to yank. Marvel owns the Marvel properties.

On the other hand, this is the second tabletop RPG that Marvel has done in-house after the Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game, which they supported for a little over a year before letting it stagnate and selling a license to Margaret Weis Productions for Marvel Heroic.

Matt Forbeck and the Marvel properties could really bring some top names to a streaming of games using the 616 system. Matt has worked with tons of RPG luminaries and if someone got Jeff Goldblum to play an RPG in a stream, could you imagine Marvel getting Chris Evans or Tom Holland or Benedict Cumberbatch playing the game online?
 


Abstruse

Hero
Matt Forbeck and the Marvel properties could really bring some top names to a streaming of games using the 616 system. Matt has worked with tons of RPG luminaries and if someone got Jeff Goldblum to play an RPG in a stream, could you imagine Marvel getting Chris Evans or Tom Holland or Benedict Cumberbatch playing the game online?
The question is which Marvel is doing this.

Right now, Marvel is technically two companies that are subsidiaries of Disney. Marvel Studios creates the MCU material - the movies and TV shows. Marvel Entertainment is the comic book company, which has had...let's just summarize by saying "management issues". So if this is being done by Marvel Entertainment (which is more likely), they won't have access to the MCU actors.

Also...when your film-based partner company has four of the top ten highest-grossing films of all time, I don't think any amount of live streaming is going to help brand exposure.
 



Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Matt has worked with tons of RPG luminaries and if someone got Jeff Goldblum to play an RPG in a stream, could you imagine Marvel getting Chris Evans or Tom Holland or Benedict Cumberbatch playing the game online?

That would be interesting, but unlikely. There's money to be had in actual play, but I wouldn't expect it to be enough to be worth what those people can rightfully change for their time and involvement.

Maybe for a charity event? Make a donation to watch the Actual Play stream? That might work.
 


The question is which Marvel is doing this.

Right now, Marvel is technically two companies that are subsidiaries of Disney. Marvel Studios creates the MCU material - the movies and TV shows. Marvel Entertainment is the comic book company, which has had...let's just summarize by saying "management issues". So if this is being done by Marvel Entertainment (which is more likely), they won't have access to the MCU actors.

Also...when your film-based partner company has four of the top ten highest-grossing films of all time, I don't think any amount of live streaming is going to help brand exposure.
If they're using Universe 616, it's almost assuredly Marvel Entertainment.
If it were universe 199999, it'd be almost assured to be Marvel Studios.
There are well over a dozen different numbered universes...but they each fall under one or the other.

As for brand exposure, it never hurts to get more. And until Marvel has the top 20, they're going to keep going for more. Hell, all top 20 probably won't be enough.
 

If they're using Universe 616, it's almost assuredly Marvel Entertainment.
If it were universe 199999, it'd be almost assured to be Marvel Studios.
The art and the d616, etc., show it's 616. That said, it seems like an obvious move to have the MCU as an alternate setting, either within the core book or in a supplement. (Some of us won't use the Marvel Universe at all, and just use the corebook to make our own superhero universes, of course.)
 

Parmandur

Legend
The art and the d616, etc., show it's 616. That said, it seems like an obvious move to have the MCU as an alternate setting, either within the core book or in a supplement. (Some of us won't use the Marvel Universe at all, and just use the corebook to make our own superhero universes, of course.)
Yeah, I really hope this is a robust system...
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
If they're using Universe 616, it's almost assuredly Marvel Entertainment.

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THE BLOODY PRESS RELEASE SAYS MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT ON IT PEOPLE!!!1!!!one!
 


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