Wednesday, April 24, 2013

R.I.P. Marvel Heroic, I Hardly Knew Ye


Margaret Weis Productions announced today that they are not continuing the Marvel Heroic RPG, apparently after sales of the Civil War line proved to be unsatisfactory. I, for one, am very sad to hear that.

Was I a hardcore Marvel Heroic player? Well, no. The only significant supers gaming I have done in years has been Marvel SAGA and Necessary Evil. That said, there was a lot I liked about Marvel Heroic. I mean, I did name it one of my Top Six last year. In fact, I was planning on trying to run either the introductory adventure or the Annihilation campaign for some friends, but I'm not entirely sure that'll happen now.

Apparently a lot of finger pointing is being leveled at Marvel and Disney. I'm not going to join in on that. I'm still a Marvel Zombie, I'll still go to the comic book store and load up on Marvel comics and I'll still dream of a world where, someday, I'm working for Marvel.

I said I was dreaming, didn't I?

One thing I doubt I'll ever do again, though? Get excited about a Marvel RPG. The first RPG I bought was the Marvel Superheroes Advanced Set, and we played it quite a bit. Many months were spent alternating between that and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. I really liked the FASERIP system...and I seriously doubt I could ever go back to it, despite the availability of resources for it, the sheer amount of material released, and the continued popularity of it. Why?

Marvel SAGA, AKA The Greatest Gaming Tragedy Of All.

Marvel SAGA is a deeply flawed RPG. It is also the source of some of the most fun I've ever had gaming. To this day, it is still my favorite supers RPG, flaws and all. I own all of the books for it and have a ton of resources on my computer made by myself and other people...but over time, the flaws of the system have weighed it down a bit in my eyes, my most enthusiastic player moved away, I can't help but feel haunted by the promise of books we never received (like the Marvel Team-Up Roster Book), and the fanbase is dead, due largely to the fact that it required the use of a custom deck of cards, making the acquisition of a complete, playable set even more difficulty.

Then Marvel decided to release their own RPG, known as the Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game. It was a resource management game that had completely jettisoned the random element. It started off strong, with a corebook, and X-Men guide and a guide to Hulk and The Avengers (the Hulk movie had just been released)...but one, it wasn't very fun (IMO) and two, Marvel themselves killed it in three books. The next rumored release? A Spider-Man book.

Marvel Heroic actually got me pretty fired up, even if I wasn't sold on the Events set-up. I have reviewed the game and supplements extensively on this site, and MWP spoke highly of their ambitious plans (including gaming adaptations of one of my favorite periods in comics, the Marvel Cosmic run from Annihilation through Thanos Imperative)...but now that has been struck down shortly after the release of Annihilation and long before we ever saw a glimpse of Age of Apocalypse.

Frankly, it sucks. I was getting fired up for the cosmic stuff. I never even got to see Adam Warlock, damnit!

So, once more, fans are left looking at "What Might Have Been". I hold neither MWP nor Marvel any ill will on this. I hope both companies continue to flourish and prosper, in part for my continued enjoyment.

But damn it all, I'm tired of being disappointed by the premature deaths of Marvel RPGs.

For anyone looking to snatch up the PDFs before they disappear into the ether, you have until the end of the month to snag them from RPGNow.

For those who are clinging on and never looking back, bookmark Exploring-Infinity.com, an amazing collection of Marvel Heroic resources.