The Creator of Metroville reached out and sent a preview pdf of their upcoming game (Kickstarter launches Jan 11) and asked for our thoughts.
Metroville is a superhero RPG designed to focus on the comic book elements more so than the grind of battle. Superhero games are a great concept, and IMO one that’s hard to get right. Superman can go as fast as the Flash, and Wildcat is a rather good boxer. It can be hard for a game to support all three power levels (godlike at everything, godlike at one thing, rather good at one thing), and even harder if the DM (Narrator here) does not have experience at it. Metroville plans to focus on story elements, and focuses on things like secret identities, the consequence of power, and choices, over a stereotypical beat-em up.
The core mechanic of the game is a d6 dicepool, familiar to many gamers. Essentially roll some number of D6 and count the 4/5/6. Each of those is a “success” and you have a target number of successes for a task for success. It’s a simple and highly effective system, and my preferred one for modern games. It lets you get very granular and is easy for players to eyeball success.
Characters choose an origin, something I’ve dabbled in including in some of my extensive M&M rewrites, which gives you a collection of powers from which you can choose. There are a bunch, and they are pretty broad (Magic), so I doubt there’s one you can’t find. Once you have your origin, you can pick your powers. Because it’s an RPG, you get attributes, and derived attributes. Next you get talents, which are things granting bonuses when powers or actions are used, and lastly traits.
Leveling, or powering up, is done through a use it and improve system. Every time you successfully use your power or talent in a new or challenging way, you gain a power point. When you get enough, it increases. These adaptive systems have huge fans and huge detractors, and there’s not usually a lot of middle ground or opinions swayed. If you do fall into the “hate it” category, you could easily just have the Narrator give +1 to distribute as you want per session.
Most importantly though, let’s jump to the powers. It’s a superhero comic, and at the end of the day folks want to see eye lasers, flight, and stuff like that. I built a few classic heroes and didn’t spot any missing powers with the games 33, but I am sure you could produce someone obscure you can’t quite mimic. One thing I really liked was the Milestone abilities for powers. Essentially, as you get good at powers, you unlock a second or third tier of abilities automatically. It adds a nice sense of unlockability, and advancement to a system where a lot of the time, your level up is “+1 to thing move on”.
The GM Guide portion for a superhero game is important. Everyone knows what happens in a D&D game. 4-6 folks team up, wander about killing monsters and stealing their stuff +/- some moral ambiguity about that sentence. A superhero game can be different and Metroville uses the What/Who/Where/When/Why framework to help a Narrator lay this out for the group.
For art and layout, my understanding is this will get touched up some during the Kickstarter, so I won’t get too into the ascetics of it. Reading the PDF feels like reading a comic book, and there are plenty of diagrams explaining the rules. The art sent along with the pdf looks great. I included a few of my personal favorites throughout the review.
Metroville is a great indie RPG for someone looking at another take on the classic superhero genre. Mechanically, the rules are solid, and there are plenty of options for the crunchy player to sort through, while the actual resolution of tasks should be quick and easy enough for your rules light fan.