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I'm listening to a podcast that does close readings of old RPG material, and something they've just described really has me scratching my head. They're running down an old Marvel Super Heroes adventure module, The Weird, Weird West, that spends two pages setting up tactics and opposition for a gunfight with some desperados - you know, as you'd have in a Wild West superhero adventure - but also includes the following:

The first time a superhero uses a super-power or ability with an unusual and visible effect, the ruffians must check to see if they flee in panic at the unexpected phenomenon. Each member of Hobart's gang makes an Intuition roll of Good Intensity. If successful, they are not overawed by subsequent use of that super-power or ability.

Hobart's gang all have Typical (TY: 5) Intuition, one rank lower than Good (GD: 8), so you'd think this might be tough but manageable? While the text doesn't use the term "FEAT roll", the FEAT roll (detailed on p. 6 of the Judges' Book among other places) is the only way I could find of checking yourself against a static opposition. However, if you make a FEAT roll but are rated lower than your opposition, you need a red result to get a success, which a Typical attribute only gets on a percentile roll of 98 or better. (It makes a little more sense at the upper end of the power spectrum, where red results are more common.)

I know that, especially in the early days of RPGs, people writing adventures might not have had the best grasp on how the system worked. The author has been using this terminology throughout the adventure, to what have often been odd results for player-facing rolls, but this really made me stop and think. Did somebody really type up two pages of detailed combat and tactical notes for an encounter that's just going to flee in panic whenever a superhero uses a superpower? Or is there some alternate explanation for what "an Intuition roll of Good Intensity" means, maybe from some earlier draft rules, that makes it something you might actually expect someone with Typical Intuition to succeed at?

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    \$\begingroup\$ How is this a history-of-gaming question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Jan 20 at 8:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Trish Honestly, because the odds are so bad here, and the verbiage is so odd (the Judges' Book consistently uses the terminology "FEAT rolls", which is not used here) that I suspect the author could have been working off of some type of in-development rules, and questions of game development fall under history-of-gaming? I don't like how it's taken top tag, but that's the norm for rarely-addressed systems. \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Jan 20 at 13:28

2 Answers 2

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I have that module. Two key lines that comes right after the statement you quoted are:

Also, If Faro (the leader of the gang) is slain, his underlings flee as soon as possible. ​

Aftermath: After defeating this gang, the player characters are fully accepted allies to the western heroes, who proceed to introduce them to Albert Einstein. Play continues with chapter 14.

It seems to me that this ​is meant to be a mission that "can't fail" as it is key to moving on in the adventure, so it was designed to be easy. However, if you did want to make it more challenging; There are rules for adding CS+1 to the roll for different reasons. For example: The Hobart Gang outnumber the heroes and would get a +1CS to their roll. They might also get an additional +1CS if Faro directly tries to rally them. (GM dependent). The Advanced Marvel Super Heroes game offers Players and GM's a lot of ways to modify the rolls with roleplay, powers and skills, as well as environmental factors.

P.30 for reference

Universal table

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In other words, the author provided two pages of potentially tilting advantages to the heroes for this encounter, of which "panic them by using an obvious superpower" is only one potential route? \$\endgroup\$
    – Glazius
    Jan 20 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah pretty much. But like I said the game is designed for the GM to add appropriate CS when the need arise. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Most of the other markers in the adventure give you options if the heroes fail. This one doesn't so I think it was meant to just get the players to meet Einstein. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 20 at 21:20
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FEAT rolls are rolls used to determine the result of using any ability, power, talent, popularity, or resource for your hero. Intensity FEAT rolls are generally used to determine the same idea, except for things not readily listed under the related tables. There are Impossible FEAT rolls after that.

A good example would be 2 characters with the same Strength, we'll say 50, they need to rolls yellow or better normally to succeed (though if both succeed, nothing happens). Now give one hero a Strength of 100, that hero only needs to roll green to succeed, while the other needs to roll red to succeed. This is an Intensity FEAT roll. Now give the hero 200 Strength and the other 50, the second hero automatically fails.

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