The Mayfair Exponential Gaming System (MEGS)
MEGS was the system created by Mayfair Games for its DC Heroes RPG. Ultimately, it was used in all three editions of the DC Heroes RPG, the Batman RPG and the independent Blood of Heroes RPG. A version of MEGS was used in the Underground RPG. For this review, I shall concentrate on the standard version of MEGS. Underground is very different and demands a review all to itself.
MEGS is an exponential system. Everything in the system is measured by Action Points (or APs). Every AP doubles the amount of something. For example, 0 APs of time is 4 seconds, while 1 AP is 8 seconds, 2 APs is 16 seconds, and so on. This makes MEGS very flexible as it allows you to have ordinary characters at one end of the scale, and cosmic superheroes at the other - all dealt with using the same mechanics. It takes a while to get used to classifying real-world values in APs, but it makes the math easy when working out effects. All you have to do is add and subtract. The classic example for this is"How far can a PC with 12 APs of Strength throw a car?"
Looking at the benchmarks for MEGS, a car (1.5 tons) is 6 APs of weight. Subtracting the 6 from the 12 APs of Strength gives you 6 APs of distance. This is 200 yards …
Simple in theory. Unfortunately, doing this has meant looking up the relevant values twice in the appropriate tables.
Now, it gets more complicated. Characters have Active, Effective and Resistive characteristics spread across Physical, Mental and Spiritual areas. Thus, each character has 9 characteristics, plus power and skills. A points system is used to buy characteristics and abilities, with points being gained for taking disadvantages and limiting powers. All abilities are measured in APs. In order to carry out an action, you have to go through the following.
First, compare the values of the Acting characteristics involved in the action. There is a table for this (the Acting/Opposing Actions table) that shows what you must roll on 2d10 in order to succeed. Roll your 2d10. If you get doubles, roll again and add. Then compare the result of the roll to the Acting/Opposing Actions table and work out the Margin of Success. Now, you go to the Effecting/Resisting Actions table. You compare the appropriate Effective characteristic to the appropriate Resistive characteristic. This tells you how much of an effect your action has. However, this is then modified by the margin of success generated earlier. Add in the fact that there are various modifiers for different situations, and involved parties can spend Hero Points to modify all results on the tables, and you can see things get really complicated.
The rules allowed for various skills and powers, as well as advantages and disadvantages. They also contained one of the most complicated sets of gadgeteering rules ever produced. I will not go into them. Suffice to say, just ask any gamer who played DC Heroes how to create a fork, then watch them twitch.
There were three editions of the DC Heroes RPG. The first two were boxed sets, while the third edition was a softback book. The first edition was known as the "amazing exploding box". It contained three 32 page books (rules, powers and DC characters), a referee's screen, stand-up character flats, stands and character reference cards. Once opened, it was impossible to close the box. The second edition used a larger box, but with less components. However, it did have an Action Wheel that let you work out what was going on with the flick of a wrist.
There was a spin-off: the Batman RPG. This was a digest-sized paperback game that was a cutdown version of the 2nd edition rules. It included material from the Batman supplements for the 1st edition game to help detail Gotham City. It also contained an improved version of the gadgets rules.
Blood of Heroes was a licence of MEGS. There were two editions of this game, with rules that expanded on the original MEGS. Most of the game text simply took the DC Heroes 3rd edition rules and removed all references to the DC characters.
Underground, while it used MEGS, altered the rules significantly. This will be the subject of another review.
On the Shelf
DC Heroes 1st and 2nd editions, the Batman RPG and 2nd edition Blood of Heroes.