1984 – A MARVELous Year

For me 1984 was pretty much my breakout year where it was obvious I was a full-blown nerd. I had played D&D one time in 1982, collected a Moldvay Basic and Cook Expert boxed set by 1983, but had a hard time getting anybody to play. Inflicted a few sessions on my sisters and some distant cousins, but that was about it.

In 1983 I started seriously reading comics, starting with “The New Mutants #1” and “Uncanny X-Men #167.” Gradually I started reading other Marvel Comics titles.

Then in 1984 TSR came out with this:
Marvel Super Heroes
the Marvel Super Heroes roleplaying game. While pretty much at the same time Marvel published this:
Secret Wars
the “Secret Wars” limited series.

Between the two, the Marvel Comics universe was ripe for gaming. Suddenly the comics universe had been “synchronized” so you knew WHEN things were happening in relation to different titles. I suddenly perceived it as a dynamic “world” that was just like how some folks were describing their D&D campaign worlds.

I started reading pretty much the whole gamut of Marvel Comics, and bought every Marvel Super Heroes item I could lay my hands on.

I still had a hard time getting people to play with, once again inflicting a few sessions on relatives. The super hero genre seemed to go a bit better in terms of being “grokked” by non-gamers, but rarely got past a couple sessions before they lost interest. Luckily MSH was not that hard to play solo (it was mostly battles and action scenes, so I could play both the heroes & villains and resolve what happened with a minimum of “fudging”).

Pretty soon I was converting all kinds of stuff into the FASERIP system as it seemed so intuitive to me from reading so many comics. Transformers? Just adapted the stats from the back of the toy packaging. D&D monsters? Not too hard, did lots of those.

I spent about the next 5 years totally immersed in the Marvel Universe, until having to grow up, get a job, and go to college left me without the time or money to keep up with 20-30 comics per month. Gradually I cut back, until finally I was down to the various X-Men related titles, until finally during the middle of the “Phalanx Covenant” storyline from 1991 or thereabouts, I just stopped.

Luckily by then I was going to gaming conventions a few time a year, so my nerdiness could continue to express itself 🙂

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4 thoughts on “1984 – A MARVELous Year

  1. I liked playing the Marvel Super-heroes RPG too although I thought the modules were rubbish. I even invented my own version of the game which we played for a while before everyone got bored.
    Like you I stared on the X-Men but gave up around 1991: there were too many characters, too many X-teams, too many crossovers. All I wanted to see was Magneto laying waste to sundry heroes.

  2. Although I have all the “Basic modules” the only ones I remember running were “Day of the Octopus” and “The Breeder Bombs.” It was more fun to roll up original heroes and use something like “New York, New York” to randomly generate situations. I used the modules and comics as background to know what was happening in the larger game world. (I did write most of a “module” of my own in 1986 for a combined X-Men / New Mutants team, but never finished or ran it. I think I still have the draft someplace.)

    • I’ve found the draft of that original module from 1986. Man I think I was throwing everything and the kitchen sink into it. The Hellions, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Project Wideawake, The Morlocks, minor appearance of The Avengers… No wonder I never got past finishing 4 chapters out of 7 shown on my outline; I obviously had no idea how to steer so many factions / plot elements into some sort of final showdown / conclusion.

  3. Hah I looked it up and “Phalanx Covenant” was 1993 not 1991. Not that I was really paying much attention to comics that year; I’ve got dozens of issues of comics from my “pull list” from my local comic shop from 1993 that I’m not sure I ever even read. Just decided that I’d rather spend my free time gaming with others than reading comics by myself. (I was also kinda bummed about a lot of minor supporting characters seemingly being killed by the Phalanx. I mean the normal humans like Stevie Hunter and Candy Southern. Plus Rachel Summers [Phoenix II] had just vanished shortly before all of this when she was about to directly meet Cable and they would have realized they were siblings from alternate futures. Guess the alternate timestreams contradicted too much to allow them both to exist in close proximity to each other or something.)

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