Saturday, June 22, 2013

Read Thru Review: Civil War

At the risk of looking incredibly tacky:


Just go ahead and hit the replay button, I'll wait.  Yes, this RPG bit the dust after just one supplement was printed, Civil War. And it's really too bad. I mean, really it is, cause this book is amazing.

I'm not going to review the basic rules for this game, which I already reviewed here. You can go and peruse that if you're wanting to know what this now-out-print game is like (Short review: IF YOU LIKE MARVEL BUY IT!), but this is going to be all about the event itself.

Civil War breaks down the major beats of the comic book event Civil War, allowing players to go through the entire event. The authors were quite thorough: they chose beats from almost all the comics that were involved with the event to make a more layered story, cutting from talks in Washington to beating up Doctor Doom in a way that only a Marvel comic could allow. They also throw in enough random points sitting around, begging to be connected, that you could take this book and come out with a completely different story than what the established Civil War was.

So, to start out, the book details all the organizations that can be involved with the event, and gives you some ideas how on to use them. Almost nothing beyond SHIELD is truly mandatory, although even that could be swapped out pretty easily. The flexibility inherent in the set-up is truly remarkable. I could tell my players that SHIELD isn't responsible for enacting the SHRA, and that AIM instead is, and this event book would have the tools to allow for that! Or, maybe Hydra has been doing some serious kissing of bottoms lately, and so they got it. The possibilities are not confined by anything the book says, and that's a beautiful thing.

The next item in the book is the actual set-up of the Event itself, Acts 1-3. Each act is comprised of action and transition scenes in a suggested order.Act One focuses on the build-up to Civil War, Act Two on the actual implementation  of the act, and Act Three resolves all the plot threads.  Each scene has a series of suggestion as to how you can modify it, along with datafiles for the scene. It's important to note that none o these scenes demand a certain flow, although the suggest flow is one you should probably take at least the first time you run this. Honestly, however, they way you should do this is dependent on how you set up the game with your players.If it looks.. scattered... don't be fooled. With your players using their Milestones to full effect you won't find any trouble finding direction. The scenes are meant to interact with those Milestones and will drive the plot forward. You just have to have let the players drive the plot forward and throw these scenes at them in whatever way they come up.

After the acts there's an extensive set of  GM and player datafiles. Pretty much everyone you could think of who participated in the Civil War is here. There aren't a whole lot of X-Men,  but that's because they have their own Civil War event book. I would have preferred they put in more X-Men to this book instead, but oh well. The datafiles are all current to that time period of Marvel, including Spider-Man's red and gold costume.All the characters play differently from each other thanks to their SFX.

In conclusion, the now-defunct Marvel RPG really hit it out of the park with this book. You can run a game that, while using most of the main plot points from the Civil War comic event, make a completely new story. Hopefully one without all the stupid plot holes and convenient character decisio- I mean, something completely new and really cool!

Yeah, that's totally what I meant. Something new. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go and fantasize how to NOT screw up such a good idea...

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