Legion of the Unliving!

A Marvel Super Heroes Adventure

“The Legion of the Unliving” is an adventure for any characters of roughly Avengers power level. The Avengers themselves are well-suited for this adventure, as are any magical characters. You may wish to include a magical guest star to provide help and advice if none of the heroes have magical powers themselves.

The adventure focuses around the Grim Reaper’s newest plan to restore himself to a form a life and gain revenge on the Avengers. With the help of his demon-lover Nekra, the Reaper raises some of the Avengers’ dead enemies as zombies and turns them into a new Lethal Legion. With their help, he plans to steal Baron Zemo’s ionic ray, stored in a SHIELD depot, and use it to turn himself into an ionic energy being like his brother, Wonder Man. With such tremendous power at his command, and a group of super-zombies at his back, the Reaper can then turn his attention towards destroying the accursed Avengers once and for all!

Magical Guest Stars

Plenty of the things in this adventure – zombies, voodoo, undead villains – are pretty creepy, outside the general experience of most heroes. If the players aren’t running any magical heroes (and don’t want to, even for just one adventure) you can take the opportunity to introduce a guest star to help the heroes out with some of the weirder magical stuff going on around them. Dr. Strange is the obvious choice when it comes to providing magical help and advice, but feel free to use whatever mystical hero you like. The Scarlet Witch is a good possibility for Avengers-related heroes. You can also bring in more obscure characters like the Midnight Sons or even Brother Voodoo to help out the heroes with the plague of villainous zombies.

If you do use a guest star, be careful not to steal the heroes’ thunder. The guest star is around to advise and help out the heroes, not solve the adventure for them (what a boring story that would be!). The guest star hero should always be distracted by something at critical moments in the adventure, allowing the heroes to take center stage. Remember, magicians have the Spell Focused limit on their powers, so anything they do won’t take effect immediately. Most of them are only human, even Dr. Strange can get knocked out or stunned by a surprise attack if he doesn’t have time to call on the Shields of the Seraphim.

Nekra’s Gift

Having escaped from servitude in the depths of a dark netherworld, Nekra, the mutant mistress of voodoo, performs a ritual to bring her lover, the Grim Reaper back to pseudo-life at her side. The Reaper is Nekra’s equal in his capacity for hatred and vegenace, and Nekra herself thirsts for revenge against those who have wronged her: the Avengers, and all of humanity.

Once he is restored, the Grim Reaper and Nekra waste no time in preparing a new plan. In addition to gaining his revenge, the Reaper wants to restore himself and Nekra to life, to end their existence as undead. He makes some inquiries and comes up with a plan to rebuild Baron Zemo’s ionic ray, the device which transformed his brother, Simon Williams, into Wonder Man.

Assault on SHIELD

The Reaper has Nekra summon other villains from the afterlife, three former members of the Masters of Evil: the original Black Knight, the Melter, and Skurge, the Executioner. The Executioner, at least, is not pleased about being called back to the world of the living. Let’s listen in on the new Lethal Legion when their final member appears:

“Why, Reaper? Why hast thou torn me away from mine eternal reward in Valhalla? Tell me before I strike the leering head from thy shoulders and send thy spirit to the darkest reaches of Hela’s domain!”

“Why? Because I have need of your power, my friend, and so long as you are bound by the power of my dear Nekra’s ritual, you have no choice but to obey. Once you have done as I’ve asked, I’ll release you back to your so-called ‘eternal reward,’ but not a moment before.”

“What about us, Reaper?”

“Don’t worry, Melter. The Executioner may wish to return to death, but the rest of us will soon have life and power beyond imagining, enough power to exact our revenge on the Avengers and destroy anyone who stands in our way!”

With his new Lethal Legion assembled, the Grim Reaper has Executioner use the Dimension Travel power of his enchanted axe to carry the villains to a SHIELD depot in Manhattan, where the agency has stored many devices and materials confiscated from super-villains over the years. The Melter dissolves the reinforced wall of the building and the villains deal with the SHIELD agents who try to stop them. Their goal is the plans for Baron Zemo’s ionic ray device, stored in a sub-basement of the building.

Heroes may receive an emergency alert from SHIELD or hear about the assault on the depot on the news. Magical heroes may get a sudden premonition of danger connected to the zombies. The Lethal Legion fights any heroes who try to stop them from acquiring the ionic ray plans. They do not hesitate to take SHIELD agents or other people nearby as hostages. The Melter and the Black Knight may also use some of the other weapons and devices stored at the depot against the heroes. Feel free to use the weapons or devices of any captured or inactive villain you like. Most of the weapons in the depot are +5 or Intensity 12.

During the fight, the Executioner is a reluctant participant. If he defeats an opponent, he raises his axe, as if to deliver a final blow, but relents at the last moment and deliberately misses the hero. Heroes who make a challenging Intellect action during the fight notice the Executioner is deliberately holding back. He’s clearly not as enthusiastic as the other villains.

The Grim Reaper’s stats are in the main Roster Book. For the rest of his Lethal Legion, use the following:

Black Knight: Strength 8X, Agility 6X, Intellect 4C, Willpower 2X, Health 17. Biology, Genetics. Armor +3, Energy Lance 10 (Energy Blast, Smoke Screen). Flying Horse (Strength 10, Agility 4, Health 10, Wings 8). Calling: Vengeance.

Executioner: Strength 16C, Agility 6X, Intellect 4X, Willpower 8X, 20. Axes, Brawling. Enhanced Senses 12 (sight), Resistance to Heat and Cold 8, Magical Axe +5 (Dimensional Travel 12). Calling: Repentant.

Melter: Strength 5X, Agility 3X, Intellect 6D, Willpower 4D, Health 17. Finance, Gadgetry. Melting Gun 12 (Distintigration, only causes targets to melt). Calling: Vengeance.

Nekra: Strength 8X, Agility 10C, Intellect 4D, Willpower 12X, Health 17. Dancing, Martial Arts, Occult. Ability Boost (Strength) +4, Animation (Necromancy) 14. Calling: Vengeance. Hindrance: Triggered-Powerless (0 Intensity in all powers) by feelings of love and compassion.

In addition to the powers they had in life, the villanous zombies have Life Support 15, Regeneration 18, and are Invulnerable to Aging, Cold, Disease, Emotion Control, Mental Control and Poisons.

If the Legion seems too weak to take on the heroes, add any of your own favorite dead villains to the group’s membership, but no cosmic-level villains (the Executioner is about as powerful a villain as the Nekra can summon and control with her voodoo).

Once the Lethal Legion finds the plans for the ionic ray, the Executioner uses his Dimensional Travel power to open a portal for the Legion to escape.

Assemblage of Doom

Over the next few days, the Lethal Legion steals the parts and equipment needed to build a new ionic ray device. Their method of attack is for the Executioner to create a portal using his magical axe, the Legion deals with any security or other obstacles, seizes the needed material and escapes through another gateway. The strikes are lightning fast, giving heroes and authorities little time to respond. The heroes should hear about one or two of the strikes before they have an opportunity to try and stop the Legion.

The heroes can learn from SHIELD what plans were taken and, with a challenging Intellect action, determine what equipment the Grim Reaper needs to build a new ionic ray. Armed with that information, the heroes can try and anticipate the next place the Lethal Legion will attack, allowing the heroes to get there first and be waiting when the villains appear. Magical heroes might also get a premonition of where the Legion will appear next with a challenging Willpower action, giving the heroes some advance warning.

Choose a suitable location for the confrontation, like a Stark-Fujikawa plant on Long Island, the Oracle, Inc. building in Manhattan (a good opportunity for a guest appearance by the Heroes for Hire), or a Roxxon facility outside the city (which might also be concealing some illegal activities on the part of Roxxon). If any of the heroes have ties with high-tech companies or government organizations, use one of them to put the hero on “home ground” and make the whole thing more personal.

The main goal of this encounter is to give the heroes another shot at the Lethal Legion and another chance to learn how to fight them. The heroes also get another shot at noticing the Executioner’s discontent with the situation. If the heroes manage to capture one or two of the Legion, that’s not a problem, but Grim Reaper, Nekra and the Executioner should get away. Use Doom Cards to help ensure their escape, if necessary. If the Melter or the Black Knight are captured, you can replaced them with new undead villains for the final encounter, or simply use the remaining villains. With the powers granted to them by the ionic ray, they should still be more than powerful enough.

Fear the Reaper

Once he has assembled a new ionic ray, the Grim Reaper uses it on himself and his allies. The ray works just as the Reaper hoped it would: granting him tremendous physical power and making him the equal of Wonder Man. He provides the same benefits to Nekra, Melter and the Black Knight, but the Executioner refuses to undergo the ionic ray treatment (which is fortunate, since its effects on Asgardians is unknown).

The ionic ray grants each of the villains a +10 boost to Strength, and they retain all of their zombie powers and natural abilities. The ionic empowerment also makes the villains immune to any zombie-affecting magic (since they are not truly undead or exactly alive, but somewhere in-between).

The Executioner demands his freedom from the Grim Reaper’s service, but the Reaper refuses, saying that his revenge is not yet complete. Once the Avengers are destroyed, only then will he allow the Executioner to return to his final reward. But first, the Reaper wants to test his newfound power on the heroes who tried to thwart his plans. (If the players are using the Avengers as heroes, the Reaper goes after them directly.)

The vastly more powerful Lethal Legion attacks the heroes in a public place. It could be at their headquarters (if it is publicly known), at some event in the heroes’ honor or while the heroes are investigating the activities of the Legion. If they are unable to find the heroes, the Lethal Legion simply goes on a rampage through midtown Manhattan, with the Grim Reaper shouting a challenge for them to come out and face him.

During the whole confronation, the Grim Reaper keeps talking about how he will use his vast power to destroy anyone who stands in his way. All of the ionically-charged villains are drunk with power, the Reaper and Nekra in particular. The heroes are very likely taken off guard at first and overwhelmed by the villains’ vast increase in power-level. Pull out all the stops for this fight, with plenty of property damage and destruction to go around. The villains use cars, lamp-posts, even buses and whole buildings as weapons against the heroes.

If the Vision or Wonder Man are present, the Grim Reaper concentrates his fury against them, since he blames them for destroying his life. If not, the Reaper concentrates his attacks on any Avengers heroes or the heroes who were particularly troublesome to hin during the adventure. The Melter has a grudge against the Avengers and the Black Knight against Iron Man, who he blames for his own death. Nekra attacks anyone threatening the Grim Reaper and particularly goes after magical heroes.

Once again, the Executioner is a reluctant participant in the battle. He is beginning to understand that the Grim Reaper will never release him fron his forced servitude, and he is fighting against the Reaper’s control. A hero who appeals to the Executioner’s sense of honor can help him break free of the necromantic spell with a daunting Willpower action. If the hero is successful, the Executioner turns on the Grim Reaper and strikes him with his magical axe. The wound leaks ionic energy rather than blood and causes the Reaper to begin to destabilize immediately.

The Reaper’s End

Unknown to the Grim Reaper, the ionic ray process – designed for living beings – does not interact well with the undead. Although the ray has supercharged the zombie villains for a short time, is also destabilized their cell structures. Living things affected by the ionic ray eventually go into a hibernation state where they metamophose into beings of pure ionic energy. The undead simply continue to build up ionic energy until they explode.

Five exchanges into the fight with the heroes, the Grim Reaper and his allies begin to glow visibly. The following exchange, the zombie villains are wracked with terrible pain and the glow grows brighter and brighter. Any hero with mystical or enhanced senses able to detect energy sense a massive power build-up in the charged villains. Any hero with Danger Sense or Precognition feels a massive imminent danger. An average Intellect action is enough to tell a hero that the villains cannot contain the ionic energy infused into their bodies, they’re building towards a critical mass explosion powerful enough to level more than ten city blocks!

The heroes have to act fast in order to prevent the explosion. A hero with energy control or absorption powers can try to drain enough energy to stop the explosion, or at least reduce its force. This requires an unfathomable Absorption or Energy Control action. A force field or similar defense can contain the explosion with an unfathomable Force Field action. Heroes can also attempt to get the Lethal Legion out of the area before they explode, requiring a desperate action with the appropriate movement power.

If a hero suggests it, the Executioner can use his magical axe to open a dimensional rift to cast the villains into before they explode. Another hero with Teleportation or Dimensional Travel can also attempt to remove the villains before they attempt to explode with a desperate action.

Make the players think and act quickly, don’t give them too much time to plan. Tell them the glow around the villains is becoming blinding in its intensity and an explosion in imminent. If the players have absolutely no idea how to deal with the crisis – and you don’t want to turn a 10-block area of Manhattan into a smoking crater – the Executioner can intervene at the last moment, opening a dimensional rift that pulls himself and the rest of the Lethal Legion into it. The last thing the heroes see is the Executioner nobly saluting them before the rift closes.

Any heroes caught in the blast who are not Invulnerable to Energy should be badly injured at the very least. You can use effects of the ionic explosion as an excuse to change a hero’s powers; increasing them, decreasing them or altering them altogether as part of the response bonus for the adventure.


If the Executioner is not destroyed along with the rest of the Lethal Legion, he is freed from the Grim Reaper’s control and uses his magical axe to return to Valhalla. He thanks the heroes before he leaves, calling them true champions and says he was honored to fight at their side. The authorities work to track down the Grim Reaper’s ionic ray device, but it doesn’t turn up immediately. Perhaps another villain gets hold of it or a small-time criminal uses it to become a new super-villain with powers to rival those of Wonder Man.

If the Lethal Legion was sent into another dimension before they reached critical mass, it is possible the effects of the dimensional travel stablized their condition, restoring them to life, or a semblance of it (especially if they were exiled to the energy dampening Darkforce Dimension). The Grim Reaper and his allies could return to menace the heroes at some future date.


If you are running this adventure as part of the Avengers: Masters of Evil series, then the idea for the Grim Reaper to make use of Baron Zemo’s ionic ray came from none other than the current Baron Zemo, who knew (or at least theorized) the effects it would have on undead flesh. The Lethal Legion’s attacks provide useful distractions for Zemo, keeping heroes busy while he works on his final fiendish plan, which is revealed in our final adventure: “Zemo the Conqueror.”

The Grim Reaper and his allies also steal a few technological components useful to Zemo’s plans. A hero who studies the list of items stolen by the Lethal Legion notices there are some items that don’t seem to relate at all to the building of an ionic ray by making a challening Intellect action. Another challening Intellect action allows a hero who participated in “Lightning Rods… Strike!” to notice that the extra items stolen by the Legion are the same type take by the Lightning Rods while under outside control.

If Zemo is behind things, then he is the one who takes possession of the ionic ray at the end of the adventure, adding it to his collection of his father’s devices. Zemo might even try using the ionic ray on himself, or a suitable minion, following the events in “Zemo the Conqueror”.

The Watcher’s Options Guide

Rules Options and Expansions for Marvel Super Heroes

I am Uatu, whom some call the Watcher. It is my duty to observe and record the events of the universe without interfering. In all events, both cosmic and seemingly mundane, there are infinite possibilities. Consider with me some of those possibilities in another universe, where the adventures of heroes and the schemes of villains are merely a game…

Greetings and welcome to the Watcher’s Option Guide, an unofficial resource for players and Narrators of the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game. You should have a copy of at least the Marvel Game Book in order to use this supplement.

This Guide provides optional rules, variants, and rule expansions for the Marvel game. Narrators can feel free to use any, all, or none of the optional systems presented here. Some of the options add a bit more complexity to the SAGA game system, but an effort has been made to keep the expansions and options as simple as possible, in keeping with the fast-paced spirit of the Marvel game.

The Legal StuffThe Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game and the SAGA game rules are © Wizards of the Coast, Inc. This material is not intended as any infringement on that copyright.


Fighting Ability

The standard SAGA game rules use Strength for melee combat actions. Another option is to add a Fighting ability that represents the character’s raw skill in hand-to-hand combat. Fighting trumps using Green (Strength) cards, and allows characters to differ in fighting ability and strength. Combat- and weapon-related Strength skills become Fighting skills instead. [by Stephen Kenson]


Description Examples


Incapable of fighting Infants, small animals


No training or ability Children, the elderly


Normal human ability Professor X, Mastermind


Minimal combat training Vindicator, Dr. Octopus


Some formal training Hawkeye, Police officers


Regular, formal combat training Most X-Men, Soldiers


Superior talent Spider-Man, She Hulk


Extensive training and talent Nick Fury


Superior talent and training Wolverine


Maximum human potential Captain America, Shang-Chi


Super-human ability Warriors of Asgard


Otherworldly Odin, the Champion


Cosmic Death, Eternity

Unfolded Abilities

The four abilities used in Marvel (Strength, Agility, Intellect, and Willpower) represent the minimum needed to describe a character. It’s possible to “unfold” these abilities, breaking them into more specific sub-abilities, if desired. This allows a degree of “fine-tuning” in terms of describing the character. Unfolded abilities still belong to the same trump suit and use trump normally. Ambitious Narrators can create their own Fate Deck, with additional suits to accommodate expanded abilities (similar to the nine suit Fate Deck from Dragonlance: Fifth Age).

One example of unfolding the basic abilities might be: Strength and Stamina (muscle-power vs. endurance), Agility and Dexterity (nimbleness vs. precision), Intellect andPerception (analysis vs. noticing things), and Willpower and Presence (self-confidence vs. force of personality). If using unfolded abilities, increase the number of cards or points available at character creation to account for the additional abilities players must spend points on. [by Stephen Kenson]


Changing Trump Suits

In the standard SAGA rules, powers have trump suits already assigned to them. Narrators who wish to do so can allow players to change the trump suits for their heroes’ powers if it suits the hero’s concept. Making all of a hero’s powers the same trump suit has its advantages and disadvantages. There is only one suit of cards that the hero can use to trump on nearly any power action, but the hero is likely to get fewer trumps than heroes with a diverse range of trumps for their powers. [by Stephen Kenson]


Fast Exit

If both combatants have the Fast Exit skill, the benefits of the skill are effectively cancelled out for both combatants. The skill is also effectively cancelled if the opponent has a super-speed power, such as Lightning Speed or Flight (if actually in flight), with a higher Intensity than the character’s Agility. [by Thomas M. Costa]

Graded Skills

The default assumption in SAGA is that skills always reduce the difficulty of an action by one level. If desired, Narrators can allow for multi-level Skills that reduce difficulties by more than one level (although never to less than automatic). Additional “levels” in a skill cost the same as adding another skill at character creation. It is recommended that Graded Skills be limited to no more than three levels, and that they not be allowed to reduce the Opposition Ability of the action, only the base difficulty. So a level 2 skill would change an average Strength (Strength) action to an automatic action, but it wouldn’t reduce the value of the opposing Strength ability. [by Stephen Kenson]

Finely-Graded Skills

The Narrator may permit players to buy skills that reduce difficulties by a variable amount rather than 4 points (one difficulty level). For example a character may have Acrobatics -2, which reduces the difficulty of Acrobatics actions by 2 points, and Observation -5, which reduces the difficulty of Observation actions by 5 points. In this case, skills cost one “skill slot” per 4 points of difficulty reduction, and players may divide up their Skill points however they wish. This option does add a degree of complexity to skill use and resolution, however. [by Stephen Kenson]

Perception Skills

The standard Marvel rules place perception-based Skills like Observation under the Willpower ability and perception-based powers like Enhanced Senses are likewise Willpower-based. If the Narrator prefers these Skills and abilities can be based on Intellect instead (or the Intellect sub-ability of Perception). [by Stephen Kenson]


Narrators can differentiate between skills (learned abilities) and talents (inherent knacks or abilities). In this case, characters may have up to four skills and four talents per ability (or the Narrator may choose to limit heroes to a combinations of no more than four skills/talents per Ability). Talents cost the same as skills and can only be Master- or World-Class if they require an action. Some sample talents are described here. Narrators may wish to expand this list in games focusing on characters without powers. [by Stephen Kenson]

Strength Talents

  • Hyper-Breath and Sonic Slam from the Marvel Game Book.
  • Immunity: You are Invulnerable to the effects of one specific poison or disease.
  • Longevity: You are extremely long lived, but do not show any appreciable signs of aging. No matter how old you are, you always look and feel like a person half your age.

Agility Talents

  • Contingent Attack, Fast Exit, and Ricochet from the Marvel Game Book.
  • Ambidexterity: You can use tools and weapons with either hand at no penalty (normally +1 level of difficulty for using off-hand).
  • Blind Fighting: You can counterattack in hand to hand combat with no negative modifiers for being unable to see your opponent, provided they attack you first.
  • Double Jointed: You can bend your limbs and joints far more than most people. You can fit into any space equal to half your height and width and actions involving flexibility (like Escape Artistry) are one level easier for you.

Intellect Talents

  • Photographic Memory and Scientific Genius from the Marvel Game Book.
  • Common Sense: You always look before you leap; the Narrator must give you warning whenever you’re about to do something particularly foolish, even if there are no perceptible clues present. He doesn’t have to specify the danger, just that “this might not be a smart idea…”
  • Intuition: You have an uncanny feel for hunches; the Narrator can have you make an Intellect action whenever he thinks you might get a hunch, even if there are no perceptible clues present.
  • Lightning Calculator: You can do complex mathematical operations in your head without using any aids.
  • Musical Talent: You always know if something’s in tune, and all musically related actions are one level easier for you.
  • Speed Reader: You can read one page of any normal text in three seconds (you can read a 200 page book in 10 minutes).
  • Time Sense: You always know what time it is, and how much time has elapsed between the present and the last time you checked.

Willpower Talents

  • Trance from the Marvel Game Book.
  • Animal Empathy: Animals like you; they will never harm or attack you unless severely provoked. You always seem to attract whatever animals are common to the area, and they will immediately gravitate to your side, although they may not necessarily do what you ask them to. Actions involving animals are one level easier for you.
  • Attractive: You are very good looking; people stop and stare at you when you pass, and you are generally surrounded by admirers. Willpower actions involving your looks are one level easier for you.
  • Direction Sense: You are never lost, always know where north is, and can orient yourself easily without any external cues.
  • Light Sleeper: You wake instantly from even the lightest touch or smallest sound (no action required).
  • Night Vision: You can see normally in all but absolute darkness.
  • Popularity: The character is extremely revered by the public. The difficulty of any persuasion attempt is made at one degree less than normal. If the character has a secret identity, this advantage only applies to the one that is popular (usually the heroic identity). Captain America has this advantage in the United States. [by Greg Kerner]

Unlimited Skills

Characters are normally limited to a maximum of four skills per ability. You can choose to waive this limitation, allowing characters to have as many skills as they can afford. However, the Narrator must keep a careful eye on skill choices to keep characters with lots of skills from making the game less fun for everyone else. [by Stephen Kenson]


New Hindrances

Bad Press: The character has a bad reputation which causes others, including law enforcement agencies and other heroes to mistake him for a villain. The hero’s Willpower is considered 0 when attempting to use persuasion against anyone without firsthand experience of the hero’s good deeds. [by Greg Kerner]

Bruiser: A bruiser has an Agility of 0 when attempting to avoid being hit. This is intended for use with the Agility to hit or Fighting ability. [by Greg Kerner]

Robotic Body: The character’s body is a machine and does not heal normally. A character with a Robotic Body can only be healed by someone possessing the repair skill. Repairing damage is an easy Intellect (damage sustained) action. [by Greg Kerner]


Quirks are minor personality and background traits that help to define a character, but don’t really impose any kind of hindrance, things like Ben Grimm’s battle cry of “It’s cloberrin’ time!”, the way the Human Torch always says “Flame On!” when he activates his powers, or J. Jonah Jameson’s ever-present stogie. If the Narrator allows, players can gain an extra point for their character by defining five quirks for them. It can be more, but it should be at least five distinct things to be worth a point (which they can use to gain an additional skill or another point of attribute or power intensity, excactly as if they had an additional 1 card). [by Stephen Kenson]


Nihilist*: The character seeks the complete destruction of political and social institutions. Mass murder and wide scale destruction are considered legitimate means to achieving these goals as is the creation of utter of chaos and panic. [by Greg Kerner]

Psychopath*: The character commits evil acts such as murder out of an inability to discern right from wrong due to either insanity or twisted moral code. [by Greg Kerner]


On most occasions, you won’t care if a hero has money. The Marvel game doesn’t concern itself with accumulation of treasure or economic accomplishment overly much. Nevertheless, there may be a need at times for a better and fairer gauge of a hero or villain’s access to resources and base wealth. In this way, wealth is treated much like a skill, one in which you may have normal level (a.k.a. Comfortable), Master-Class level (a.k.a. Rich), or World-Class level (Mega-Rich). In addition, a new hindrance is described below that details another Wealth level, Destitute.

  • Destitute: Your hero has no possessions except the ragged clothing on his back and perhaps his weapons. The hero cannot assume he or she has even the simplest of necessities, even food and shelter. Moreover, he or she has no job and for various reasons seems unemployable. The hero has a 0 Willpower for all Wealth actions. This Wealth level is considered a Hindrance. Exemplars: Cloak & Dagger, the Morlocks, Vermin.
  • Comfortable: Your hero has access to any basic good he or she needs. Your hero is assumed to have access to the basic necessities of life, such food, clothing, and shelter, and most likely, a form of common transportation. This is the basic Wealth level assumed for all heroes. The hero uses Willpower for all Wealth actions. Exemplars: Captain America, Cyclops, Spider-Man.
  • Rich: Your hero is a millionaire. He or she is able to afford almost any normal item he or she desires, from boats and planes to mansions and small businesses. The hero gains a one difficulty rating reduction and two trump suits (Intellect and Willpower) for all Wealth actions. Exemplars: Archangel, Mr. Fantastic, Professor X, Wasp.
  • Mega-Rich: Your hero is a billionaire. He or she is able to afford almost anything he or she can imagine from Concord Jets to own islands, from advanced weaponry to small armies. The hero gains a one difficulty rating reduction and four trump suits (any non-Doom) for all Wealth actions. Exemplars: Annihilus, Dr. Doom, Mandarin.

The Narrator can mandate a Wealth action for a hero to get something of value. This is usually only done when it is questionable whether or not the hero could gain access to the item. This action uses Willpower as its base ability with the difficulty set according to an average person’s ability to afford the item. (A suitable table is available on p. 127 of Reed Richard’s Guide to Everything.) Why Willpower, you might ask? Because Wealth checks are only necessary in questionable circumstances and Willpower represents both the hero’s charm and determination, perhaps the two most important abilities any person seeking something can have.

A successful use of the Finance skill, will further reduce the difficulty rating by one additional level. Other Willpower-based skills, such as Manipulation or Politics, with the Narrator’s approval, might also be used to reduce the difficulty rating instead of the Finance skill, but not in addition to the Finance skill. It should also be pointed out that the Finance skill provides an understanding of business and economics and is used to get the upper hand in a business situation. It is the art of maintaining and making Wealth, not of the Wealth itself.

Toward that end, the Narrator can force occasional Wealth actions to keep fortunes intact. The Narrator devises a potential economic setback ­ a robbery, a natural disaster, a market crash, or the like ­ and sets an intensity for it. The player must then make a challenging Willpower action (note this one difficulty level higher than described in Reed Richard’s Guide) opposed by the intensity of the setback. The Narrator can add the value of the narrator card as well if the setback is one that should be somewhat random in its impact. The Narrator should keep in mind that, just as in the comics, such setbacks are usually short-term in nature.

You can make your hero’s Wealth level Rich when creating your own hero by taking a non-Doom card with a value of 5 or more that has not already been played and turning it face-down. Similarly, your hero’s Wealth level can be Mega-Rich by taking a non-Doom card with a value of 7 or more. Finally, your hero’s Wealth level can be Destitute by choosing it as if it were any other Hindrance. A hero’s Wealth level can be denoted on the character sheet just below Calling and Hindrances. [by Thomas M. Costa]


Conflicting Trumps

When more than one trump could apply to a situation due to the presence of powers, skills, and equipment with conflicting trump suits, apply the following rules. (Note, this most often occurs with offensive powers, skills, and equipment, such as the power Energy Blast, Strength-based skills that allow for the hurling of melee weapons such as Hammers, the offensive Agility-based skills such as Marksmanship, and equipment such as blasters.)

Power action/trump suits generally supercede skill action/trump suits and skill action/trump suits generally supercede equipment action/trump suits. However, particularly complex equipment, such as powered armor and most equipment that mimics non-offensive Intellect- and Willpower-based powers ­ this is a Narrator call ­ is treated as if it were a power and not equipment.

Note, “damage” or effect is still dependent on the Ability plus cardplay plus weapon “+” bonus or the power or equipment intensity plus cardplay, as appropriate.

This can yield the following examples:

  • If a character has the Energy Blast (Intellect-based) power and the Marksmanship (Agility-based) skill, power trumps skill, thus the character uses his Energy Blast power intensity for his action and Intellect suit for his trump suit, but still applies the benefits of Marksmanship.
  • Conversely, if a character has the Marksmanship (Agility-based) skill and a blaster (Intellect-based), skill trumps equipment, thus the character uses his Agility for his action/trump suit, applying the benefits of Marksmanship. Damage in this case is either the character’s Agility plus cardplay and weapon bonus or the blaster’s intensity plus cardplay, as appropriate.
  • If a character wants to throw his hammer (Agility-based when thrown) and has the Hammers (Strength-based) skill, skill trumps equipment, thus the character uses his Strength and the Strength suit for his action/trump suit, applying the benefits of the skill and the weapons damage bonus. Note, the character can still choose to throw the hammer with his Agility, but he does not gain the benefits of his skill and damage is based off of his Agility. Moreover, characters without the Hammers skill are limited to throwing the hammer with their Agility.
  • However, if a character is keeping watch (Willpower-based) with nightvision goggles (Intellect-based) and has the Observation (Willpower-based) skill, the goggles are treated as a power and power trumps skill, he uses his goggle intensity and the Intellect suit for his action/trump suit.

Note: the equipment trump for some items becomes largely meaningless, as in the case of a blaster, for example. [by Thomas M. Costa]

Pushing to the Limit

Pushing Out of Combat: Pushing out of combat presents a unique problem, given the recovery rules (Game Book, p. 37-41) in Marvel. Effectively, there are no consequences to pushing to the limit out of combat. Consequently, if a player pushes a card “out-of-combat” that card cannot be returned to the player’s hand for two aura durations. This makes pushing “out-of-combat” a less desirable, more desperate action. [by Thomas M. Costa]

Limited Pushing: Heroes can only Push to the Limit a number of times equal to their Edge score in a single adventure. This way, heroes save their pushes for truly dramatic moments. [by Kevin Maschler]

Trading Cards

Players are normally expected to play the card hands they are dealt and the cards the draw from the Fate Deck. However, the Narrator may allow players to trade cards between them on occasion, allowing them to optimize their hands and improve their chances of succeeding at some actions. Generally, this sort of card trading shouldn’t be allowed all the time, since it does give the heroes more of an edge.

The best reason to allow for card trading is when the heroes are using teamwork. If a player comes up with a plan of action that includes the other heroes and makes anaverage Willpower action (Leadership reduces the difficulty to easy) then the players can trade cards in their hands one-for-one before playing cards to determine the success of the plan. A hero not involved in the plan cannot take part in the card-trading, and cards must be traded on a one-for-one basis (although they can be of any suit or value). [by Stephen Kenson]


Ability-based Actions

The standard SAGA rules use power intensity when performing actions using a power. For example, a character with Energy Blast uses the power’s intensity in an easy Energy Blast (Agility) action to determine if he hits. In this option, characters use the appropriate ability (Agility for ranged attacks, Willpower for mental powers) to determine if the power affects the target. For damaging Powers, the character adds the amount he beat the to-hit difficulty to the Power’s intensity to determine damage. For other Powers, the character makes a normal action to determine the Power’s effect, such as an easy Mind Control (Willpower) action after successfully “hitting” with a Mind Control attack. Like Agility-based Combat (below) this option adds a degree of complexity to combat, and may slow things down a bit. [by Stephen Kenson]

Agility-based Combat

In the SAGA system, Strength is used for melee combat actions and Agility is used for ranged combat actions. This tends to grant a certain degree of combat ability to strong characters. One option is adding a Fighting Ability (see Abilities), another is to base all combat actions off Agility. Melee combat skills remain Strength Skills, but Agility is used to hit in melee combat (basically as if every character had the Bruiser Hindrance from the Marvel Game Book). Melee combat actions still trump using the Strength suit rather than the Agility suit. Add the amount the character beat the to-hit difficulty to Strength to determine damage. This adds a degree of complexity to combat and weakens strong characters slightly while providing a bonus to more agile characters. Characters with the Martial Arts skill can choose whether they wish to use Strength or Agility to determine damage, and can trump using either suit. [by Stephen Kenson]

Initiative & Declaration

Step two of any battle, involves declaration and hero actions.

“Before declaring actions, the players may spend a few seconds crafting strategies or comparing notes on how the various parts of the fight are going. You can ask the Narrator to describe what your heroes see and feel; you may also have your heroes move around, switch foes, or duck behind a trashcan.

“Still, the Marvel game is fast-paced, and there’s only so much a hero can do in one exchange.

“The players go around the table describing the actions their heroes will attempt.” The order in which the heroes declare their actions is determined by their Intellect score, with the hero with the lowest Intellect score declaring first and then the next lowest and so on. (Ties are broken by having the hero with the lower Agility declaring first. Further ties are broken by Edge.) Some skills and powers allow for other factors to determine the hero’s declaration order instead of his Intellect score, such as the skills Aerial Combat and Underwater Combat, which both allow the hero to use his Agility score instead of his Intellect score to determine declaration order. Declaration order allows for smarter characters to anticipate the actions of dumber characters.

“Once the descriptions are given, you attempt the action.” The order in which the heroes take actions is determined by the heroes’ Agility score, with the higher Agility score going first and then the next highest and so on. (Ties occur simultaneously.) Some skills and powers allow for other factors to determine the hero’s action order instead of his Agility score, such as the power Lightning Speed, which allows the hero to use his Lightning Speed (or other movement power when actually in use, such as a flying character actually in flight) intensity instead of their Agility score to determine action order. Action order allows for faster characters to act before slower characters. [by Thomas M. Costa]


Lifting is an average Strength action. For each intensity point above your strength that an object weighs, increase the difficulty by 1 level. For each point an object weighs below your strength, subtract 2 points from the difficulty. [by Greg Kerner]

Touch Attacks

Touch attacks need some clarification. There are characters such as Jolt, who punches foes with her Energy Blast, or Psylocke, who used to use her Martial Arts to deliver her Psionic Blast. These attacks are called concurrent attacks and handled as follows:

1. Touching someone is an Automatic action (0). If the hero has a skill or ability that makes an attack Automatic, touching is even easier, effectively granting the hero a +4 bonus. The hero may also opt to attack their opponent to deliver their touch-based attack. Of course, the touch-based attack is dependent on the touch or blow hitting its target.

2. If the attack hits, the hero handles the physical attack as normal (a touch does not cause physical damage).

3. The hero then handles the concurrent attack of the touch-based power, which automatically hit, as if it were a completely separate attack, with card-play also handled as normal. [by Thomas M. Costa]

Example: Say Jolt (Strength 6X, Agility 11D, Edge 1, Hand Size 3; Energy Blast 12 [Limit: Touch only]) is fighting Flag Smasher (Strength 7D, Agility 4C, Edge 1, Health 17; Body Armor +2). Jolt has a 6 of Intellect, 9 of Willpower, and 8 of Doom. The Narrator’s card is a 6 of Willpower. Jolt, as the hero with a much higher Agility, attacks first (an easy action). She plays her 9W for a total attack of 15. Flag-Smasher dodges with the 6W for a total of 14 (Agility 4 + 6W + 4 action difficulty). Not good enough. Flag-Smasher is looking at 15 points of damage minus his Strength and Body Armor total of 9. He takes 6 points of damage and is down to 11. Then Jolt redraws for the 6W, getting a 5 of Doom ­ not much help. Jolt then handles the concurrent Energy Blast attack, playing the 6I to give her trump. The trump gets her a 7 of Strength for a whopping total of 25. Flag-Smasher is going to hurt. He deducts his 9 points of defense, bringing his total damage from the Energy Blast to 16, more than enough to take him out. Jolt redraws to replace the 6I.

Another example might be a grudge match between Psylocke (Strength 6C, Agility 8B, Edge 2, Hand Size 4; Martial Arts; Psionic Blast [Limit: Touch only] 15 as edited) and Sabretooth (Strength 10D, Agility 10C, Willpower 9D, Edge 2, Health 25; Body Armor +2). Psylocke has a 5 of Agility, 6 of Intellect, 6 of Willpower, and 6 of Doom. The Narrator’s card is a 7 of Intellect. Psylocke launches forward with her Martial Arts attack (an automatic action), using her 5A. The trump gets her a 5 of Strength for a total of 18. Sabretooth barely gets tagged (Agility 10 + Narrator’s 7 = 17). Sabretooth then takes 6 points of damage from the blow (18 ­ [Strength 10 and Body Armor +2]), bringing his Health to 19. Psylocke redraws a 5 of Willpower ­ could be useful later. She automatically hits with her concurrent Psionic Blast attack, her “Psychic Knife,” and plays the 6 of Willpower to get trump and a 5 of Strength, for a total of 26. Sabretooth defends with his Willpower of 9, taking 15 points of damage. He’s hurt, but still standing and with his Regeneration, Psylocke might be in a lot of trouble

Damage and Recovery

Fractional Damage

When heroes take damage they normally have to discard cards with a total equal or exceeding the damage done. This means that even 1 point of damage forces a hero to discard at least one card (even if all the cards in his hand are higher than 1). Thus, any hero can be taken down with a number of damaging hits equal to his Hand Size.

In this option, the player places one card face up in front of him when the hero takes damage. If the damage exceeds the value of the card, it is discarded and the player puts another card down, face up. If the damage does not exceed the value of the card, it remains face up in front of the player until the hero’s total damage exceeds the value of the card. Then it is discarded and another card is placed face up in front of the player. Thus, a single card can “soak up” the damage of multiple hits. The “damage card” is no longer in the player’s hand and cannot be used for any purpose other than soaking up damage. When using this system, heroes still recover cards normally on a Positive Narrator Draw. The “damage card” is discarded when the hero’s hand is refilled to its full Hand Size. [by Stephen Kenson]

Example: Rich is playing Emerald Knight and has a card hand of 2I, 4W, 5I, and 7D. He gets hit for 1 point of damage past his defenses, so he chooses to put his 4 of Willpower down as his damage card. 4 is higher than 1, so the card remains face up in front of him and Rich notes that Emerald Knight has 1 damage point. (The player can make notes on a piece of paper or place counters on the damage card to show how many points it has left). His hand is reduced to 3 cards and he does not redraw. On the following exchange, he’s hit for another 2 points of damage past his defenses. That brings him up to 3 points, still not equal to the 4 of Willpower, so the damage card remains face up in front of him and play continues. Two exchanges later, Emerald Knight takes another 2 points of damage. 1 point brings his damage tally up to 4, so he discards the 4 of Willpower. He still has another point of damage to account for, so he places another card from his hand down as the damage card and notes that it has 1 point of damage applied to it.

Hero Health

Heroes normally use their card hand to keep track of damage while characters use their Health. With this option both heroes and characters have Health scores based on their Edge. Heroes do not lose cards from damage but lose Health instead. The rules for losing and regaining Health for characters applies to heroes as well. [by Stephen Kenson]

Lethal Damage

The standard SAGA rules assume heroes recover from damage quickly and that all damage is ultimately temporary, with a few exceptions (see Serious Injuries on page 41 of the Marvel Game Book).

This option differentiates between stunning damage (the sort of damage described in the default Marvel game) and lethal damage. Lethal damage ignores a character’s normal Strength-based Defense; the full amount of damage is applied against the character’s card hand or Health. Furthermore, lethal damage heals slowly. Heroes recover 1 card lost to lethal damage each day (characters recover 5 Health). Finally, characters reduced to 0 cards or Health by lethal damage are unconscious and will die unless they receive immediate medical attention. Check the Narrator Draw on each exchange after the character is unconscious; on a Positive Draw the character stabilizes and will not die (but remains unconscious), on a Neutral Draw nothing happens, on a Negative Draw, the character dies. An average Intellect action stabilizes a dying character and the Medicine skill makes it an easy action.

If this option is used, all powers (like Body Armor and Force Field) that protect against damage protect against both stunning and lethal damage. [by Stephen Kenson]

Split Damage

If the Lethal Damage Option (above) is used, the Narrator may choose to allow characters to have two separate Health scores, one for stunning damage and one for lethal damage. Lethal damage causes damage to both scores, while stunning damage affects only stunning Health. 0 Stunning Health means the character is unconscious, while 0 Lethal Health means the character is dying.

For heroes, this is more complex. If the Narrator wishes to use this option for them, it’s recommended that heroes have a Lethal Health score based off their Edge, and a Stunning Health score based off their card hand, as normal. [by Stephen Kenson]

Hero Creation

Assigning Ability Scores

The following option considers Heightened Ability Scores an actual power. When assigning a card to an ability score (see Heightened Ability powers below), the first card assigned to that ability is the character’s “natural” score. Additional cards assigned after the first card may either be considered to reflect training or additional natural ability, provided that they do not raise the score above 10, or a heightened power. Any card raising an ability beyond 10 is automatically considered to be a heightened ability. A heightened ability is considered a power to which stunts and limits can be applied. [by Greg Kerner]

Heightened Strength

Trump: Strength
Exemplars: Hulk, She Hulk, The Thing, Thor
Related Abilities: Ability Boost, Chi

The character receives an immediate improvement in his or her Strength score.


  • Ground Strike: The character can strike the ground with his fist, club, etc. duplicating the effects of a sonic slam. Minimum Strength: 17+
  • Hyper-Breath: As per the Strength skill.
  • Leaping: The character gains the Leaping power at the intensity of the character’s Strength.
  • Sonic Slam: As per the Strength Skill, except does not include the option of striking the ground (see Ground strike above). This replaces the Strength skill of the same name and requires a strength of 17+


  • No Defense: The character receives no defensive bonus from the added Strength.

Heightened Agility

Trump: Agility
Exemplars: Spiderman, Silver Surfer
Related Abilities: Ability Boost, Ultimate Skill

The character receives an automatic improvement in his or her Agility score.


  • Fast Exit: You gain the Fast Exit skill.
  • Leaping: The character gains the Leaping power at the intensity of the character’s strength

Heightened Intellect

Trump: Intellect
Exemplars: Reed Richards, Watcher
Related Abilities: Ability Boost, Ultimate Skill

The character receives an automatic improvement in his or her Intellect score.

Heightened Willpower
Exemplars: Dr. Strange
Related Abilities: Ability Boost

The character receives an automatic improvement in his or her Willpower score.

Alternate Card Draws

Players may use one of the following three options during the draw sequence of hero creation: (1) Draw ten cards and redraw all 1s, 2s, and 3s; (2) Draw ten cards and add two 5s (of no suit); or (3) Draw twelve cards.

If you choose or select either a power limit or hindrance, draw a card. If it’s a positive or neutral card, you can, in the case of a limit, add it to the card(s) you’ve played for that power, or in the case of a hindrance add that card to any one ability score or power intensity or reserve it for the calling step of the hero creation sequence. The original rules (Game Book, p. 193-195) only allowed for a benefit in the case of a positive card. [Thomas M. Costa]

Starting Equipment

This option is intended as an alternative to the rules in the Reed Richards Guide to Everything. It assumes multiple powers in a gadget will have differing intensities. It is also intended to treat powers in a manner similar to other powers (the only difference being the power comes from equipment rather than being innate or mystical)

A character can opt to place one or all of his powers into one or more pieces of equipment. To create the equipment, the player assigns cards to one or more powers; the cards assigned are the intensity of the given power. The player then determines if the powers are housed in a single piece of equipment or multiple pieces of equipment. The player then assigns the Equipment limit to each power that is in a piece of equipment and draws a card for each equipment-based power to see if the power’s intensity is increased. The player may then assign additional limits to an individual equipment-based power or to the equipment itself. Note thati if all powers are placed in equipment, the character is allowed the Hndrance Triggered Powerless (without equipment). [by Greg Kerner]


Response Bonus Actions
-1 point Massive loss of innocents or property due to character negligence. Negatives can also be the result of complete apathy toward the hero’s calling.
0 points Either the bad guys got away or they were beaten in non-super-heroic fashion
1 point Good guys win and do everything right
2 points Saving the universe from a world-devouring Wonder Slug

Point Cost

Uses of Points


Change the character’s primary calling


Raise a power intensity by 1


Raise an Ability code by 1 grade


Raise an Ability code beyond A


Raise a Ability score by 1


Add a new stunt to an existing power


Add a new power at intensity 0


Upgrade a regular skill to master class


Eliminate a power limit


Upgrade a master class skill to world class


Eliminate a hindrance


Raise edge/hand size by 1

Modifications: Ability scores and Power intensities can go up to 5 points higher than original to a maximum of 20, or 2 points greater than original, whichever is higher. (If you have a 20 at character creation, it can go as high as 22 with advancement. If you have an 18, the cap is 20, if you have a 19, the cap is 21.) For normal humans or superhumans with Ability scores not linked to the character’s powers, it’s a bit different: Ability scores that are not enhanced should not change by more than 3 points through character advancement and not to superhuman levels (beyond 10). Of course, radiation accidents and evil experiments can change all rules. [by Thomas M. Costa]

Awaken, Old Man of the Mountain!

A Marvel Super Heroes Adventure

Note: I wrote (and ran) this adventure before the tragic collapse of the Old Man formation in New Hampshire. Running it in the present would require some modification that actually “resurrects” the “Old Man” from rumble before “awakening” and animating him.

One or more of the heroes is invited to speak at the opening of a Native American exhibit at a local museum, featuring many different artifacts and exhibits intended to increase understanding and appreciation of Native culture. Mary McCarthy, a local reporter for Channel 9 News is covering the speech and the opening. She’s eager to get an interview with the heroes.

The exhibit is attacked by the villain Howling-Wolf, who has gained super-powers from a deal struck with the Great Beasts, and desires revenge against all whites. Howling-Wolf’s magic brings the totems and stuffed animals in the displays to life to attack the heroes while he makes off with a sacred medicine bundle.


Strength 8C, Agility 6X, Intellect 4D, Willpower 9X, Health 17. Climbing, Wrestling, Occult, Survival, Tracking. Magic 9 (Animation, Ensnarement), Sonic Control 14 (“Howling”) (Sonic Blast, Sonic Shield). Calling: Vegeance. Hindrances: Hateful (of Eagle and all whites).

The heroes must track Howling-Wolf into northern New Hampshire, where the renegade shaman is preparing a ritual in the shadow of the Old Man of the Mountains. Howling-Wolf springs a trap on the heroes, trapping them in a “spirit cage” resistant to all physical attacks. “Your white-man’s science cannot overcome the power of my magic,” Howling-Wolf sneers as he begins his ritual.

Using the power of the medicine bundle, Howling-Wolf awakens the ancient earth-spirit dwelling in the mountains, bringing the Old Man in the Mountain to life as an earthen giant, more than a hundred feet tall! When the Old Man asks why he has been awakened from his long slumber, Howling-Wolf tells him he must destroy the whites and drive them from the sacred land, so it can be renewed. The Old Man is angry at what he sees and says he will do as Howling-Wolf asks. He then moves off towards the nearest cities to the south, the state capitol itself!

The Old Man of the Mountains

Strength 26X, Agility 3X, Intellect 4X, Willpower 12X, Health 20. Earth Control 18, Resistance 20 to all Energy. Calling: Guardian (of the Sacred Land).

The Old Man is not evil. He is a powerful spirit and protector of the land. He is angry as the damage done to the land by humanity and his anger, combined with Howling-Wolf’s influence, is enough to send him against the “white” settlements in the area.

The heroes have to stop the Old Man before he levels the city. The earth-spirit is immensely powerful, probably more than they can defeat using brute strength. The heroes have to convince the Old Man not to take vengeance on the inhabitants of the area and return to his sleep. They might be able to use the exhibit at the museum as an indication that the old ways are not entirely forgotten.

The Superlative System

The following article was the first stirrings of what eventually developed into the ICONS game, when I was playing around with marrying some of the concepts from Fudge and Marvel Super-Heroes.

Back when I first started playing roleplaying games, I was a big fan of the original Marvel Super-Heroes RPG from TSR (particularly in its Advanced Set incarnation by the inimitable Jeff Grubb). The game was simple, evocative, and easy to use.

I’m also an admirer of the work of Stefan O’Sullivan. His Freeform Universal Do-it-yourself Gaming Engine (FUDGE) has many of the same qualities of Marvel Super-Heroes: a simple, straightforward system based on descriptive terms rather than a lot of hard numbers.

For quite some time, I’ve tinkered with the idea of combining the best of the two systems in some way. This page contains some rough ideas along those lines, what I’m calling the Superlative System for ease of reference. Folks are naturally free to play around them them further.

The Marvel Super-Heroes RPG is copyright TSR, Inc. FUDGE is copyright Stefan O’Sullivan. No infringement of either property is intended. Continue reading