Marvin the paranoid android (modern version)


(The Paranoid Android)


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a 1978 comedy BBC radio show, with sci-fi elements. Its creator Douglas Adam soon adapted it as a novel, and presided over numerous other adaptations on TV, movies, novel sequels, etc. It is both a notable bit of modern British culture, and a major reference for a sub-generation of geeks.

Due to the latter factor, this 1990s article assumes full knowledge of the story as presented in the novels. The crux was more about Marvin’s game stats.


  • Group Affiliation: None really.
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.

Powers and Abilities

Marvin was able to read the Ultimate Question in Arthur Dent’s brainwave patterns. But this was of course the wrong question, since Arthur turned out to be descended from Golgafrichams instead of being part of the computer program for which the Earth was built.

Recall is based on the fact that Marvin has a “brain the size of a planet”. It is, no doubt, kept in a pocket dimension , much like the planet factory in the bowels of the planet Magrathea.


Self Link Gadgetry indicates that Marvin is, in DC Heroes RPG terms, a Gadget. Thus, he has all the advantages (doesn’t breathe, doesn’t eat) and drawbacks (doesn’t heal) thereof. As a consequence, Marvin does not age in the normal sense. With many replacement parts, he manages to end up being several times older than the universe itself before finally expiring.

The exact level of Marvin’s INT is somewhat up in the air. He mentions being 50,000 times more intelligent than Trillian, which would be 15 APs more than Trillian’s INT. Trillian is sometimes quite smart, so she could have anywhere from a 6 to a 10 INT.

However, Marvin also comments that he is billions of times smarter than an alien mattress (with whom he is having a conversation), and the _narrator_ mentions that Marvin is billions and zillions (and so forth) more intelligent than most people. This level of inconsistency can only be dealt with by choosing an arbitrary large INT for Marvin, which I have done.


Marvin was a prototype of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation’s Genuine People Personality robots.

Marvin was first seen aboard the Heart of Gold, along with Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian. After they picked up Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect, they briefly visited the legendary planet of Magrathea.

In the novels, the various characters escape Magrathea in the Heart of Gold before eventually ending up on one of the Frogstar planets. Marvin is left alone outside while Zaphod asks the computer to take them to the nearest restaurant. In this case, the nearest (in space, if not in time) restaurant happens to be Milliways, the Restaurant at the end of the universe.


In the radio program and the television shows, the assorted characters (minus Marvin) escape Magrathea when two cops shoot a computer bank behind which the characters are gathered. The exploding computer bank hurls the characters forward a few millennia to the end of time, to Milliways.

Missing lunch

Regardless, Marvin was left alone. The first ten million years were the worst. The second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years, he didn’t enjoy at all. After that, it went into a bit of a decline.

After joining up with the others again, Marvin helps the group steal a Disaster Area stuntship. It is preprogrammed to dive into a sun. After a near escape (during which Marvin is left behind), the others go on to have various wild adventures.

A leg up

In the novels, Marvin is rescued. However, his leg is removed by the robots of Krikkit, who need it as part of a Key to unlock a Slo-Time field around their planet. Marvin is left with a sort of peg leg in its place.

Marvin is then captured by these robots, who take him to their central command. Big mistake. Soon, Krikkit robots are feeling listless and unwilling to kill even Zaphod. Many individual robots deactivate themselves.

Marvin meets up with the other characters. But eventually, the characters go their separate ways again. Marvin has a series of adventures which leave him many times older than the universe itself (thanks to time travel). He meets up with Arthur Dent and a girl named Fenchurch, who help him see God’s last message to the universe.

Then he finally expires once and for all.


In the novels, all we know about Marvin’s appearance is that he is silvery-colored and has red triangular eyes.

In the television program, he has a peculiar flat head with a unchanging expression on it. In the 2005 film, he looks like movie merchandise.


Marvin doesn’t get along with anyone. Mainly because he goes on and on about how miserable he’s feeling and how badly people treat him, which just makes people want to treat him even worse.


“I think you ought to know I’m feeling very depressed.”

”’Marvin can you pick up that piece of paper ?‘ Can I pick up that piece of paper? Here I am, brain the size of a planet…But I’m quite used to being humiliated. I can even go and stick my head in a bucket of water if you like.”

“Life, don’t talk to me about life.”

DC Universe History

It is virtually impossible for the Heart of Gold’s Infinite Improbability Drive and this level of improbability can easily be achieved.

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Tell me more about the game stats


Dex: 03 Str: 05 Bod: 07 Motivation: none
Int: 25 Wil: 15 Min: 05 Occupation: Menial robot
Inf: 01 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 0
Init: 29(27) HP: 045

Mind Probe: 10, Telepathy: 10, Recall: 75, Self Link (Gadgetry): 75

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Mind Probe probably has very short range, and Serious Power Burnout.
  • Telepathy has No Range, works on machines, and only works on machines.
  • When communicating with machines, Marvin has a tendency to inflict his depression on them, causing them to turn themselves off or self-destruct. Treat this as a normal Telepathy attack using INT/WILL as AV/EV.

Detective (Clue Analysis, Counterfeit Recognition, Identification Systems): 10, Scientist: 10, Thief (Locks and Safes, Security Systems): 10, Vehicles*: 03

Iron Nerves.

Zaphod Beeblebrox and friends (Low).


  • R#2.
  • MPR: a pain in all the diodes down his left side.
  • CPI: Chronic depression (constantly misdiagnosed as “manic depression” ; since Marvin shows no signs of mania (ie abundant happiness), manic depression is unlikely to be his affliction.) This causes him to tend to take no action to help out the group unless specifically told a specific action to take.
  • SIA: dominating the conversation.
  • Age (Old, only in “So Long and Thanks For All the Fish”).
  • Unluck

By Sean MacDonald.

Source of Character: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy novels by Douglas Adams(and the radio series starring Peter Jones as the book.).