For the past few weeks, Margaret Weis Productions has been hinting that they were making a HUGE announcement regarding a new RPG license they had acquired and how excited they were about producing this particular product. Questions were being asked..."Is it Glee?" "Is it CSI?" "Is it Star Trek?" "Is it GoBots?"
Most of the questions focused on games that players assumed would fit within the Cortex+ mechanic, with the understanding that Cortex+ focuses on relationships and not "crunchy combat."
Today, Margaret Weis Productions made the announcement at 1pm Eastern. Their new license is...
While many gamers might believe that the "relationship driven" mechanics of Cortex+ might seem an odd fit for a Superhero rpg, this is a true match made in heaven. The grand innovation that Marvel Comics added to the comic book superhero genre was the blending of heartbreak dating comics with superhero action. Think about Spider-Man during the Ditko/Lee era. How many superheroes were worried about getting a date before this book came out? How about the Fantastic Four and their family dynamics?
MWPs Smallville game was a sea change in game design mentality, and one that will have significant affect on the industry. Instead of having a character's success in an action being determined by how "uber" he or she is, that character's success is determined by how the character's relationships with others are affected by the action. Instead of a Paladin's skill fighting devils being represented by a high combat score, it can be represented by a high dedication to protecting innocents and his or her relationship to individuals or communities. The mechanic ensures that players interactions with nemesis characters matter, and the mechanics aid players and GMs in the creation of exciting and engaging narratives.
A Marvel game based in interactions and relationships harkens to what is great in comic book storytelling -- remember the Claremont/Byrne era of the X-men? It has some epic battles, but it also has engaging tales of relationships. When Sabretooth attacked the mansion trying to kill Psylocke (in a beautifully illustrated issue) it was Wolverine's concern for her safety -- and hatred of Sabretooth -- that fueled the issue. A similar discussion could be had of the Juggernaut vs. Colossus fight issue. The relationships are what make it work.
MWP plans to release 16 products within 15 months for the game structuring the expansions around major comic events. The first product will be a Basic game, which has everything you need to play, and the first event will be Marvel's "Civil War" -- a perfect playground for relationships. Each "event" line will have two editions an essential edition which merely has the campaign advice and an edition that includes a copy of the basic rules. The events will be supported by three support products, and then it's on to the next event. All of the products will be designed to be shelved with the trade paperbacks covering the same event.
This is big people!