The TOP 13 Greatest Classic MARVEL ROLE-PLAYING GAME Supplements — RANKED

Thrills! Spills! Incredible Feats!

Earlier in May, we ran a terrific piece by columnist Jim Beard: 13 GREAT CLASSIC ROLE-PLAYING GAMES THAT AREN’T DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Click here to check it out — those of you who haven’t. (It was remarkably popular.)

Anyway, we’re back with two more columns by Jim — this one and THE TOP 13 GREATEST CLASSIC DC COMICS ROLE-PLAYING GAME SUPPLEMENTS — RANKED. Because, y’know, we like to give the people what they want.

And why are we even publishing these right now? Because Jim has a new book out featuring a whole bunch of essays about the salad days of RPGs by a collection of fans and experts. So make sure you grab yourself a copy of D20 or Die!

Click here to order — you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s Jim:


Let’s just get this out of the way right here: The Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game is the greatest superhero RPG ever. And I won’t hear any arguments about it. Nuh-uh.

I picked the game up when it hit the racks back in 1984, a time when we didn’t really know what new things we were going to see in a store on any given day. I remember coming around a corner somewhere and there it was: the beautiful, bright yellow box that changed my gaming life. I was a Dungeons & Dragons devotee and a comic book fanboy, but I wasn’t satisfied with Champions, and I’d never seen a copy of Villains & Vigilantes. No, I bought that Marvel game because my very soul told me I needed it. And thank the Beyonder for that.

Why is it the greatest? It isn’t just for its incredibly easy and smooth fighting system and the fact that you could play all your favorite Marvel characters — not to mention create new ones that would interact with them — but also because the depth of its line of game supplements is truly awesome.

And I’m going to prove it to you here. Stand back, True Believers, and feast your hungry eyes on the following list—ranked from greatest to extra-greatest!

13. Judge’s Screen (1984). Sure, it looks simplistic on the outside, just a gamemaster screen, basically, but it came with a booklet that gave players some direction on how to play a campaign in New York City. Hang onto that thought because we’re going to circle back around to it.

12. Time Trap (1984). A really cool Avengers module with stats on villains like the Super-Skrull, the Gray Gargoyle, Dragon Man, and others, yes, but also a fun Kang the Conqueror story that twists through different eras. The original John Byrne cover is a bonus.

11. All This and World War II (1989). Not a sourcebook per se, but part of a trilogy of modules for the Advanced version of the game. I never saw this one back in the day, but if I had I would have been all over it for all the Golden Age character stats.

10. Secret Wars (1984). I’m betting this one is going to hit some of you right in the feels. It’s just what the cover says—a way to run the famous Secret Wars storyline for the game. Two years later, they put one out for Secret Wars II, but honestly, that’s not going to affect your feels like this one, amiright?

9. Gates of What If? (1985). A pretty clunky title, but a very cool deal on the inside. The set-up is a way to travel into a parallel universe and meet alternate versions of the Marvel heroes, including a Doctor Doom who’s a good guy, not the world’s wickedest villain. If that doesn’t flip a switch for you, seek it out just for the map of Doomstadt alone.

8. The Fantastic Four Compendium (1987). It took them three years to put this big ol’ 96-page FF sourcebook out, but it was well worth the wait.

7. Adventure Fold-Up Figures (1984). Yes, there were metal figures you could buy for the game, but if you didn’t have the cash or the patience to paint ’em, this was a good alternative to pop your campaign into three dimensions. Really old school now, I get it, but I remember how damn cool it was to get well over a hundred characters all at once to use immediately.

6. Avengers Coast-to-Coast (1986). Like the FF sourcebook, this volume offered up Avengers from across the country, in addition to a whole lot more, like vehicles and maps and even an adventure scenario.

5. Cat’s Paw (1984). I recall being incredibly thrilled when I saw this Alpha Flight module and snatched it up immediately. It might seem weird now that they’d include the Canadian super-team so early in the game’s life, but they were a bigger deal back then. Plus… another original John Byrne cover.

4. The Weird, Weird West (1989). The Advanced version of the game simply had the best supplements. This is another book I never saw at the time, but boy-howdy would I have ridden this hoss into the sunset.

3. Murderworld! (1984). There were a few modules that included the Fantastic Four, but this one was the best, IMO. I liked the idea of taking an X-Men baddie and pitting him against the FF. And, wow, look! Another original John Byrne cover!

2. Nightmares of Future Past (1986). I’m not the biggest X-Men fan out there, but it’s hard to deny how great it was to be able to play in the dark, alternate future from the famous Days of Future Past comic storyline.

1. New York, New York (1985). A year after the Judge’s Screen gave us a peek at what an NYC campaign could be, this beauty arrived on the scene to fully flesh out the city for game-play. It was a wondrous, wonderful supplement, and I wish I still had my copy of it.


— The TOP 13 Greatest Classic DC COMICS ROLE-PLAYING GAME Supplements — RANKED. Click here.

— 13 Great Classic ROLE-PLAYING GAMES That AREN’T Dungeons & Dragons. Click here.

When JIM BEARD’s not editing and publishing through his two houses, Flinch Books and Becky Books, he’s pounding out adventure fiction with both original and licensed characters. In fact, he’s put words in the mouths of Luke Skywalker, Superman, Fox Mulder, Carl Kolchak, Peter Venkman and the Green Hornet… and lived to tell about it. His latest pop culture non-fiction tome is D20 or Die!, available here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

Share This Post On


  1. Loved this game, along with DC’s! I remember, later, using Giant Man/Goliath action figures in the game!

    Post a Reply
  2. The New York Judge’s screen, map to NY was a game-changer, literally, for me. I loved seeing New York

    Post a Reply
  3. I wish to heck I had heard of these back then! I definitely would’ve snatched them up.

    Post a Reply
  4. Sorry to be so late to post, but as a huge fan of the game, I just wanted to say I enjoyed this post a lot. My fondest purchases mostly revolve around those Resource books from the pre-Advanced Rules days: Avengers Assemble!, Project Wideawake (featuring all the X-men and New Mutants, plus foes…) and probably the best of the bunch, Concrete Jungle, featuring all the city-dwelling heroes and villains (plus Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo for some reason). While I had lots of fun playing the modules with my brother, I often grabbed these books full of stats and just played one-on-one fights with different characters, or formed two teams and just let ’em brawl. Within a week I had that Combat grid so familiar in my brain I didn’t need to consult it to know immediately what each roll would inflict as damage. And if that’s not geeky enough, there was also the Weapons Locker resource, which featured the various weapons and battle armors, including how much most of them cost (in Resource points). I used to get some SHIELD and AIM guys, give them a budget of 5000RP each, then stock them with a variety of weapons. Then I’d start the dice rolling and have them turn two or three blocks of Manhattan into a war zone (all played out on that great map that came with the game). All of which is to say, your Marvel RPG coverage brings a torrent of fun memories. So thanks very much for that!

    Post a Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: