A new roleplaying game based on the Marvel comics universe will be swooping onto shelves in 2023. There have been other TRPGs inspired by Marvel - but not linked to the licence - such as Masks: A New Generation, Mutants & Masterminds, Worlds in Peril and Hearts & Souls. However, considering the current state of Marvel properties - namely the huge success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - there could be a chance that we’re in for something really amazing here.
In anticipation of the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game, I’ve devised a shopping list of the things that I’d most like to see in the upcoming RPG, from playable characters to gameplay mechanics.
This is just the stuff that I’m interested in, of course, there might be an entire Asgardian library’s worth of aspects and elements that you might be hoping for in this newest Marvel-themed roleplaying game that I don’t even touch upon - so feel free to pop your ideas in the comments below.
Without further ado, here are five things I most want to see in the new Marvel RPG.
1. Playable superheroes we haven’t seen in the MCU yet
I cannot claim to be a Marvel comics expert - most of my knowledge is derived from watching the MCU or YouTube videos about the MCU. However, I do know that there are certain characters who have been somewhat out of the limelight thanks to the fact that they’re a) either too weird or obscure to have been given on-screen adaptations yet, or b) have been trapped in licensing dispute hell until very recently.
Characters in the latter include the likes of the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, whose film rights were held within 20th Century Fox’s desperate clutches - causing a whole string of terrible Fantastic Four movies and a very mixed-bag of X-Men films to be released - until the recent purchase of the company by Disney. With a series of fresh Fantastic Four and X-Men films surely on the way, there’s no better time for the likes of Sue Storm, Wolverine, Magneto and my two favourite X-Boys - Gambit and Nightcrawler - to make an appearance in a Marvel RPG.
As for those characters who might be deemed just a little too weird or obscure for the MCU to touch just yet, the upcoming Marvel roleplaying game might be the perfect way to test them out with the wider public. We’re talking about oddities like Squirrel Girl - a character whose superpower is to communicate with, you guessed it, squirrels - the aquatic warrior Namor, and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, a comic series that is actually getting its own animated show next year.
2. Lots of options for players to create original superheroes
Whilst the new Marvel RPG is the ideal opportunity to show off existing characters within the Marvel universe, this doesn’t mean that the options for players and game masters to make their own superheroes should be neglected. Even though we’re all really excited to take the reins of Captain Marvel and The Hulk, you’d be incredibly silly to also pass on the chance to make your very own character to inject into the world of Marvel.
From a brand new recruit for the X-Men to take under their wing to another ragtag member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, being able to fully indulge in the creativity and power fantasy of fighting alongside the superheroes you know and love cannot be understated. Which is why I don’t want to be disappointed by the character creation options provided within the Marvel roleplaying game.
I would love the Marvel RPG to offer me a chance to use a series of broader, character-driven mechanics centred around their place in the Marvel universe and what they’re capable of. The upcoming roleplaying game based on Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra does a fantastic job of enabling players to make characters who have special powers, but whose interesting aspects aren’t just limited to those powers alone. The Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game would do well to take a similarly narrative-driven approach to its character creation system.
3. Take inspiration from the recent Disney+ Marvel TV shows
I’ve really been enjoying watching the Marvel TV shows that have been recently released on Disney+, I have to admit. Besides the fantastic casting decisions - Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness is a pure and absolute delight - what I’ve most appreciated about the shows are their willingness to take full advantage of the fact that they’re episodic and not huge theatrical releases.
These two aspects have meant that the creators are clearly more willing to explore different ways of telling stories outside of the formula set by the MCU. For example, Wandavision does some great things with its premise - a world governed by Wanda’s love of classic sitcoms - that you just wouldn’t see in a full-scale movie release. Whereas Loki enabled its supporting cast and varied locations to shine thanks to the fact that it was able to dedicate more time to them than a film would have allowed for.
It would be fantastic to have the Marvel RPG take some inspiration from the success of these TV shows, particularly in their willingness to have storylines work in an episodic manner and go in some unusual directions. After all, campaigns in roleplaying games are split into different sessions - or episodes - and can allow GMs and players to imbue them with their own weird ideas.
4. Learn from already released Marvel tabletop games
Being as popular a franchise as it is, even before the MCU began dominating the silver screen, it’s unsurprising that Marvel comics has had its fair share of tabletop adaptations already.
In our article on Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, Rob Wieland praised the RPG for how its storytelling mechanics that encouraged players to “make choices based on the narrative” got them “thinking like comic writers”. It’s really a shame the game was so short-lived - falling prey to the very sudden shift from comic books to movie adaptations that Marvel underwent in the early 2010s - because it provided GMs and players with a comprehensive system that allowed for unexpected match-ups and results, regardless of which characters might have been involved.
Another great Marvel-themed tabletop game worth taking inspiration from is the living card game Marvel Champions. Marvel Champions manages to capture the feeling of being a superhero standing alongside your allies against some terrible force of evil, thanks to its surprisingly tough difficulty curve and solid co-op gameplay system. From presentation to mechanics, Marvel Champions does such a brilliant job of providing players with a fun and challenging experience. The upcoming Marvel RPG could take some leaves out of the card game’s book when it comes to difficulty scaling and presentations.
5. Include opportunities for romance
One of the many criticisms currently being leveled against Marvel Studios is that many of its films and television series are lacking when it comes to romantic content, of any kind. Besides the occasional climatic kiss between a superhero and their beau - who is usually a side-character of the opposite gender - Marvel Studios has been unbearably chaste when it comes to romantic interactions between its characters, as if families would file out the cinema at anything beyond a vague crush or delicate peck.
By comparison, the Marvel comics are notorious for their grand and incredibly dramatic romantic arcs, which sadly too often end in a woman being put into the freezer. If the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game could include more opportunities for players to have their characters engage in romance arcs - as long as they’re consenting and are on-board with the content included - then it could go a long way in providing a good middle-ground between Marvel Studios’ palpable fear of anything romantic, let alone not straight, and Marvel comics’ unsavoury creative decisions.
Look, some of us want to roleplay what would happen if Thor went on a date with Captain Marvel - the tension between those characters in Avengers: Endgame was astonishing - or if Captain America and Bucky Barnes finally did a kiss, or if an original character happened to have a heated romance with a certain God of Mischief.