Gaming Tonic

Product Review – Civil War: Marvel Heroic Role-playing Event

The scope of what has been accomplished with Marvel Super Hero Basic Role-playing Game Civil War Event Book by Margaret Weis Productions is amazing like Spider-Man.  Many role-playing game products have attempted to translate a specific storyline from a book or comic book, but none have ever done it as well as Civil War in my opinion.  The whole book is put together with the idea of telling a great story.  Unlike many adaptions of published material to rpg material, the Civil War supplement isn’t a linear retelling of the story.  The book and material is put together better than that.

You don’t have to be a Civil War expert to be the Watcher or one of the players.  This event book has a high page count that the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA), the various factions such as SHIELD, HYDRA, and the press are described in enough detail, both fluff and crunch that the Watcher has more than enough backstory.   Milestones and unlockables are included for many of the groups involved that allow the players to achieve a variety of goals and tie their characters directly into the event.  This works extremely well especially if the players are playing their original characters in the Marvel Universe.

There are great guidelines for letting the players play multiple characters.  This is referred to as troupe play.  Troupe play can result in player on player (PVP) combat, which is something I think superhero games should have since comics are filled with it.  After mentioning the possibility of this to a couple of the players in my group they too were excited that the adventure allowed for that.  It is important to keep the players happy.

Many of the iconic locales of the Marvel Universe are described in general terms but also include scene distinctions.  There are many great examples that could be applied to any location in any game.  The Daily Bugle, Baxter Building, Ryker’s Island, and Avenger’s Tower are just a few location descriptions included.  Having a lot more material to work off and absorb will make creating your own stories a lot easier to accomplish.

The story is told in three Acts, with many scenes inside each Act that you can play in any order.  If you are familiar with the Civil War storyline than you will appreciate that the Civil War Event Book has options in how it is played and doesn’t just rehash the epic comic book event.  Each Act consists of many action scenes and many transition scenes for the Watcher to use organically in response to the action of the heroes so that each group playing the adventure has a unique experience.

Throughout the book are many datafiles for many of the personalities of the Marvel Universe as well.  From super baddies like Dr. Doom, Green Goblin, and Bullseye to normal like Henry Peter Gyrich and J. Jonah Jameson, not one aspect of the mega storyline seems forgotten or glossed over.  Many of your favorite heroes are included in the event book as well.  Cloak and Dagger, Dr. Strange, the Punisher, and Nighthawk are a few of the less mainstream heroes that are available for your players to control.

The back of the event book contains a well-stocked glossary that will make adjusting to the system even easier for the inexperienced Watcher and players.  There is also a decent index, a datafile index, and a Civil War bibliography.  If you want to read and collect a lot of comics this is a great list.  If you want an introduction to the Civil War storyline that some gamers may find a bit easier than hunting up a stack of comics, play Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 game for your console.  It tells the story with some detail and is a four player game.

So that is the basic breakdown of what you can expect in the book.  Now let’s talk about what you can do with the Civil War Event Book.  A supplement of this magnitude makes running a Marvel Heroic Basic Roleplaying Game campaign a whole lot easier.   The examples of many different aspects of the game are great tools that can make it a lot easier on a Watcher who is creating their own events.  Whether those events are in the Marvel Universe or not.  Whenever I get a new system I am always excited when more source material is released.  The amount of great material in the more than 200 pages of this event book has me absolutely giddy.

If you want to further expand out your groups Civil War experience you can run the Secret War storyline that the team over at Plot Points (who are amazing) have written and provided for you free of charge.  If you slide the Breakout Event from the rulebook in after Secret War and before the Civil War your players will be able to play out some massive events in the correct chronological order.  If you are playing original characters in the Marvel Universe this will also allow the players to form some connections to the setting before you get in to the Civil War.  Even if you never plan on running the adventure there is so much great material in this book to convert to your own games that it is definitely worth the price.

You can pick up a pdf of the Civil War Essentials Event Book which just contains the adventure for $17.99 over at Drive Thru Rpg.  If you didn't purchase the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Basic Edition have no fear, just buy the Civil War Premium Event Book.  The pdf is just $23.99 at Drive Thru Rpg and includes all the rules that were in the basic edition plus the Random Datafile Generator that appeared on the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying hompage a while back.  However you go about it picking up this book you will not be sorry that you made yours Marvel.  Until next time, Roll Hard.


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  1. The format of the Marvel Heroic game has really opened up the door for this sort of scenario. I like how it all really feels framed in a ‘What if…?’ question. What if the events took place but with the following characters. It allows for more creativity within a structured event. I give the team all the credit in the world for figuring out how to reach this balance.

    • Thanks for the feedback MegaBill. It really does feel like a “What If…?” The design team are showing with this event book that the future of the Marvel Universe in the rpg is in good hands. I can’t wait for the next event books. Do check out the Plot Points site if you like the game, Mark Meredith and the gang put out an amazing fan site that is the best site for the Marvel Heroic RPG on the web. Everybody check out the Random City Neighborhood Generator over at for any urban game you are working on an adventure for.

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