Marvel Heroic Roleplaying – Knockback & Chases

I am pleased to welcome Dave Thomas—Grimmshade on Twitter and—as the newest contributor to Exploring Infinity. If you haven’t seen his contributions on, Im’ glad to say he’s overflowing with excellent ideas and resources especially for MWP’s Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

His experience with the game is extensive in various formats: following playtesting last fall, he has run a continuing weekly Marvel game for months, played some others, and run yet another via play-by-post. So if you have questions or ideas for future posts, leave a comment and let him know.

Stay tuned here for tremendous Heroic Roleplaying resources from him in the near future, and please help me welcome him warmly as he dives headfirst into infinity with his unique brand of exploration.

~ Adam

Knockback & Chases

I thought I would kick off my first blog post with some simple tips for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying system. One of my group’s favorite elements of supers rpg’s is massive knockback. They love sending villains flying through walls or down city blocks. Although it may seem obvious to some, I have received several questions on how Heroic Roleplaying handles knockback and chases. Let’s take a look.


While at first glance, Heroic Roleplaying appears to have no knockback system, it’s actually already a part of the game via the complication effect system. Whether you’re a player or the Watcher, when you want to do a knockback type effect, simply use an effect die to place a “Knocked Back” or similar complication on the target. If you want  your knockback to also do damage, just pay a PP for a second effect die.

The target must then use appropriate traits (such as movement powers) to remove the complication, usually by rolling vs the Doom Pool plus the complication die if the target is a player’s hero. Until the target removes the complication, its die is added to opposition rolls for any action the target takes that would be effected by the distance.


You can use a similar system for chases. The character who is fleeing creates a distance asset such as “Far Away”, “In my dust”, or “Getting away.” He adds this asset’s die to rolls opposing any action taken against him that would be affected by distance or range. If he raises this asset above d12, he escapes. Pursuers may use appropriate traits to act against this asset. If they remove it, they have caught up to the fleeing character.

You’ll want to use an asset in this case and not a complication since a complication only affects one enemy. You may use assets, however, against all applicable opposition.

NOTE: For this chase option, I recommend allowing the distance asset to be persistent, much like a complication. I normally run my assets this way anyway, lasting for free as long as narratively appropriate. At that point, players can spend a PP to keep them around even longer, thus shaping the narrative to match. This way, assets’ duration is identical to that of complications.

Feedback and Foreshadowing

Hopefully some of you find these simple tips useful for your super heroic hi-jinx. Now it’s your turn. What do you think? How do these systems play out in your games? How else could this concept be used?

In coming days, watch for a number of Action Scenes you can bring right into your game.

About grimmshade

Hobbies: Spending time with my lovely NZ wife, gaming, and reading (mostly pulp and comics.) Favorite games: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Trail of Cthulhu, Savage Worlds, Fate, Lady Blackbird, Elder Sign, Sentinels of the Multiverse.
This entry was posted in CortexPlus, Gaming, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Mechanics, Tips & Resources and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Marvel Heroic Roleplaying – Knockback & Chases

  1. craggle says:

    Excellent first post Grimm; welcome to Exploring Infinity, and I look forward to seeing more awesomeness from you in the future 🙂

  2. grimmshade says:

    Thanks Craggle. I probably won’t have much rules-y stuff in the future, but Chases and especially Knockback are something that I get asked about a lot when talking MHR.
    I’d love to hear other peoples ideas for Chases, or additions/tweaks to my own system.

  3. Simple and brilliant. I really like the Chase idea. “Getting Away” is the Asset that must be overcome and when it is the opponent is caught.

    This does bring up the question of speed and range, which don’t really exist in Marvel Heroic. That is, is some has an Asset like “Far Away” or “Eat My Dust”, couldn’t Iron Man or Mr. Fantastic counter those with a Push or some kind of SFX of their Repulsors (energy beams should be long range weapons) or Stretching respectively?

  4. grimmshade says:

    Yes! Marvel Heroic RP does actually cover those things really well, exactly as you suggested! 🙂
    If someone has a great movement power, they narrate an action to catch the fleeing villain and roll that power into the dice pool. Same with Stretching, etc.
    As for Range, if it’s going to affect character actions, it’s either a complication or an asset.

  5. Nicely done. This is similar to my method for chases, where I treat the distance as a complication the one running away applies to each character in pursuit.

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