Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Marvel: What's So Great About SHIELD Anyway?

For Cinco de Marvel weekend, I have created five campaigns for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.  Enjoy.

What's So Great About SHIELD Anyway?

The Church Committee investigated intelligence agency
corruption in the United States in 1975.
Although we are always attracted to the superspy mythos, in the real world, intelligence organizations are often unaccountable and poorly supervised, leading to corruption and resistance to reform.  We imagine that we would be James Bonds and Nick Furies - in reality, we create Aldrich Ameses, take advantage of mentally ill informants and stumble into UN conferences with exaggerated photographs.

So let's create an adventurous way to question the superspy approach, within the context of the Marvel Universe.


Characters can be counterculture heroes or those without official sanction who are tired of corruption and malfeasance.  Journalist heros like Spiderman are a perfect fit here.  An interesting character might be one who is assigned to spy on the watchdog group for one corrupt force or another.  They might end up turning on their spymasters, or betraying the group.  Those that are "outsiders" in society for one reason or another, like mutants or mad scientists, are those that would be suspicious of official misconduct and want to expose it.  Idealists who truly believe in the decent values advanced by their governments are often appalled when they find out what's happening in their name.


Events should be focused specifically around the misbehavior of covert agencies and agents (though not necessarily all SHIELD).  The Watcher should create a rogue agent (powered or not) and a plot that the characters will try to uncover and expose, forcing what oversight there is to clean up the mess.  It could be interesting opposition for the agency to use idealistic heroes to defend it - the Black Widow has often been put in this situation by her bosses before, and there's a reason for that.  This can create the hero vs. hero battles that make comic books so fun.


Exposing a particular agency can be a good milestone - or joining a corrupt agency, or becoming corrupt yourself.  It is always easier to take the money, to solve the problem yourself instead of exposing it and relying on a fickle, prejudiced public.  But is the difficulty worth it?  Will it save your soul, or the soul of your country to do the right thing?  These are the questions the event-related Milestones should answer in your game.
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