Old-School Roleplaying: Marvel Super Heroes: Taken to Task

As faithful readers of this blog know, during the pandemic, I have been a regular player in a friend’s D&D 5E game over Roll20. I’ve also managed to run some Star Trek Adventures, too. But Star Trek Adventures, while a lot of fun, is a complex game with a lot of moving parts. I love running it, but it takes some preparation to do so. So when my friend unexpectedly said he needed a couple of weeks off from running D&D, we needed something quick and easy to fill the gap. It wasn’t gonna be Star Trek.

I suggested TSR’s old Marvel Super Heroes game. Why, you ask? First of all, I love it. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Second, it takes little preparation to run, as everyone takes the role of an established super hero. Third, even though it was last in print in the late 80’s/early 90’s, it’s quite accessible to everyone. You can get the Basic and Advanced sets, as well as pretty much everything ever published for them, at Classic Marvel Forever for FREEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!! Last, we’ve all played it before. Sure, it was decades ago, when we were in high school; but who cares? It’s not a difficult system to learn, or in our case, remember.

It’s not a particularly great system, either; but neither were any of the old TSR percentile-based boxed games. Still, I was eager and willing to jump back into the four-color comics of my youth. I hastily wrote a quick adventure for some low-power heroes (no Thor or Hulk here, sorry). Although I gave them a choice of several heroes including Black Cat, Iron Fist and Dazzler (one of my friends insisted on her, don’t ask); my friends chose to play Spider-Man, Daredevil, Power Man (Luke Cage), Hawkeye and Cyclops.

It’s set in the early 80’s comic book continuity; so Luke Cage is wearing a yellow, open shirt and a chain belt; Peter Parker carries a camera with actual film in it; Hawkeye is just thinking about starting an Avengers team on the West Coast; Matt Murdock is a lawyer and Cyclops is sad that his girlfriend turned into an evil super-powerful cosmic entity and then died; and then he then fell in love with a clone of her that was really a demon queen; and that he has a really shitty relationship with his brother; and that his father would rather jaunt around the galaxy with a bunch of misfits rather than spend one minute with his kids; and that maybe that it would be nice to take his friggin’ visor off every once in a while without blowing big holes in anything he looks at. (He doesn’t know that his own son from an alternate future timeline is a cyborg who is also a colossal douchebag. Not yet, anyway.)

So, gather ’round, True Believers, and get ready for the first Marvel Super Heroes game I have run this millennium, and probably (but hopefully not) the last: Taken to Task! In two days!

8 thoughts on “Old-School Roleplaying: Marvel Super Heroes: Taken to Task

    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      Heroes, Dave…but getting my players to do anything was kind of like pulling teeth. I had to keep reminding them not to overthink anything. It’s a comic book. There’s not a lot of nuance and hidden depths to the story.

      Reply
        1. The Angry Piper Post author

          Perhaps so. Games have come a long way since then, and I think it was a challenge for them to think “dumber”. (Don’t look too hard for a plot that makes perfect sense, guys.)

          Reply
  1. Dick Garrison

    Dazzler eh? was always more of a Rogue man myself, though to be perfectly honest all the Marvel “gals” looked pretty similar back in those days, only the hair and clothes differed

    Looking forward to this, at least I know who most of the characters are here!

    Cheers Roger.

    Reply
    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      I have to be honest, I thought he was kidding when he insisted on Dazzler; but nope. Then, when it turned out he was only going to play one hero, he backed off and chose Daredevil. A wiser choice, overall.

      Reply
  2. Jeremy

    Ah, I have very fond memories of MSH. And whilst it was a little clunky, it did what it needed to do and was very well supported at the time. I prefer the card-driven SAGA Marvel game released by TSR, as the system does work really well and was well-written. The latter also has a section in the back to convert your existing MSH characters to that system, so it’s backwards compatible. However, any Marvel related shenanigans are appreciated – even if Cyclops is involved, as he’s a bit of a dick.

    Reply
    1. The Angry Piper Post author

      I love MSH, warts and all. I do have the SAGA system and all its supplements, but I only played it once and never ran it. My GM was kind of an asshole, too; so sadly I don’t have fond memories of the game itself. I never really got a feel for the cards, but I’d try any supers system if it means I can roleplay my favorite heroes!
      And yeah, Cyclops is a dick.

      Reply

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