Recommend me a lightweight superhero system that can emulate Marvel-style superheroes?


Tinker of Games
Validated User
I am running a quick game (1 hour or so) at a convention (of sorts), and looking for a system that can do MCU-style superheroes. The game will be using pregens, and the rules must be simple enough to explain within 10 minutes. While I like Cortex+ Marvel, the dice mechanics take a little while to grok, so something lighter will be appreciated. I know City of Mist is one option, but it seems to too far out of the left field. And eh, no Fate either, sorry.

Anything else, hit me with it!


Validated User
Supers! Revised is my go to system. In fact, I'm running a Fantastic Four one shot for Free RPG Day next month with it. You can check out the Quickstart here, and the full version (print/pdf) is here.

Here is the basics: Everything runs on pools of D6. Characters have 4 stats called Resistances. When you take damage, you remove dice from your Resistances until you hit 0, then you're technically out (but there are ways to recover so you aren't always out long). Many powers affect more than 1 resistance, so you can choose how to allocate the damage.

For the most part, you can use something to attack with, but need to chose something else to defend with (armor being the exception, though each additional use of that comes with a cumulative -1D penalty per extra defense). You can use anything to defend with as long as you can justify it to the GM. A good example is using Super Brain (which is the power for all the academic skills, including science) to calculate where an attack will land, so you can sidestep/dodge it.

There is also comp dice, which adds various effects (including power stunts).

On the forums, there is a section for character writeups. Quite a few Marvel adaptations available there. I'm currently doing what I call D-list villains, very minor villains whose total comes out to 15D (so they're a threat, but still less than most starting heroes)


Registered User
Validated User
Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game? Especially with pregens, this should be easy.

Look at your powers. Build a dice pool of all applicable powers. Roll them.

For a super short game, you could perhaps even ignore the meta-currency mechanics.

Edit: Wait. Am I confused and MHRPG IS Cortex+ Marvel? Too much jargon for my old brain.
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Mister Gridlock

Registered User
Validated User
If you know Marvel/Cortex Heroic, I'd say run it with pregens for sure. It's easy to get and you can always instruct them on just the core mechanic and then tell them to just stay in character, tell you what they want to do and you can coach them in building their pools. Everyone catches on very quickly IME.

The one concept I've seen catch people out is Stunts. In the moment, they might feel some pressure to be able to name it or know how to use it, so when that happens I just let them bank it and never make them sweat over it.

The system is fun and I've found that people liked the give-and-take of the PP/Opportunity/Doom Pool mechanic. It's balanced and it's quick and gives all character concepts equal agency.

There are a couple of cheat sheets that can prove helpful: player, Watcher

And, very helpful I've found, the dice assembly cheat sheet

Vincent Takeda

Chilllin in Rifts Denmark
Validated User
palladium is my go to for superhero games. Broad power gamut. Street level is easy to do but can also scrape the belly of cosmic level characters powerwise, simply divides hero types into very recognizable categories, d20 for strike and defense, damage against a combination of dangerous and non dangerous hit point stacks to separate the 'just grazed me' from the 'i'm not feeling so well mister stark'. armor is both resistive and ablative. Light enough and nimble enough for homebrewing if you need to. Huge database of villains prebuilt by the fans online so not a lot of work for gms creating bad guys on the back end.

Super (pun intended) easy to generate characters as the system allows you to mostly roll (mostly percentile) to determine character archetypes and powers and everything else, so if you have trouble sorting out too many options in your head, just let the dice make every decision and let the characters build themselves. Character attribute structure very similar to D&D so easy for D&D players to grok immediately.

Built from the ground up for sandboxing.
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Kevin Mowery

Validated User
Since you've ruled out Marvel Heroic and Fate, I'd say FASERIP (the retroclone of TSR's old Marvel Superheroes, which is a little more work for you up front to build the characters, but the die rolling is just percentiles against a chart) or Masks. Masks is about a very specific genre--teen superheroes a la Teen Titans, Runaways, Young Avengers, etc.--so you might need to adapt the story you want to run to that genre, but it's an Apocalypse game, so the die rolling is just 2d6 + stat and if the roll is 7+ that's a partial success and if it's 10+ it's a total success. And powers in Masks are basically just saying what your powers are (with some not-binding suggestions based on what playbook/archetype you choose for a character).

I've got a sell me on thread for Tiny Supers, which also sounds like it might be very simple and rules-light, even if I'm not entirely sold.


RPGnet Member
Validated User
BASH! Some Marvel write-ups are here.

The basic mechanic is 2d6 x multiplier (the multiplier can be up to 8). Doubles explode, i.e. roll another d6 and add it to the total before multiplying; if the exploding die comes up the name number as the doubles, then you roll another exploding die etc. until it stops exploding. (For this reason, I use one color of d6s for base 2d6 rolls and a different color for exploding dice.)

It's easy to grasp and fun in play.


Registered User
Validated User
I'd highly recommend Spectaculars for this sort of thing. The quickstart is currently available for KS backers, but even if you're not a backer the latest update indicated the digital version of the game will be available fairly imminently... so depending on timing it may be an option.

Another decent option to look at is the Sentinel Comics RPG starter kit. I has everything you need to get started (pregens, 6 adventures, basic rules, even a flimsy but serviceable GM screen), and is available fairly cheap.

Both are fairly straightforward games (i.e. good for convention play), both can do MCU-style supers, and both are a lot of fun.


RPG Composer
Validated User
I did a bunch of write ups for MCU characters and sample fights for Icons here. Hope they’re useful for you.

Elvish Lore

Validated User
The OP has already ruled Marvel Cortex out and said they have an hour to run the game. I've run Marvel Cortex a number of times at cons... it for real takes an hour for people to grok the system. Consistently, an hour.

I like Supers Revised a lot... but I got to say, Icons is an excellent one-shot type game, super easy to learn and play. That's my suggestion.
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