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Mutants And Masterminds RPG Overview
There have been several superhero roleplaying games throughout the years but none have captured the flavor of comicbook capers as the award-winning game Mutants and Masterminds (or M&M). Created by Steve Kenson and published by Green Ronin Publishing, M&M allows the player to create virtually any type of superhero or villain using an almost unlimited number of powers. You can do everything that is common in comicbooks. You can fly over buildings, lift cars, punch your way through brick walls, stop speeding trains, and any number of the other clichés.
Mutants and Masterminds uses a variation of the Open Gaming License d20 system, developed by Wizards if the Coast. There are some major differences in the game from other d20 systems due, in part, because of the genre of the game. The points system and mixture of skills, feats, and powers allow you to customize any number of possible combinations to handle any type of character concept.
The d20 System
The Open Gaming License allows other companies to use the same game system that has been made popular by Dungeons & Dragons. The main aspect of the system is the use of the 20-sided dice to determine results for everything from combat to completing tasks. To perform some action where a roll of the dice is needed to see if your character succeeds, you roll the 20-sided dice and add or subtract any modifiers. If the end result is equal to or greater than the difficulty number needed, then your character is successful. If the result is lower than the difficulty number, you fail.
While anyone who has played Dungeons & Dragons will be familiar with the d20 system, there are some differences in M&M. The main differences are in character creation, and how hit points and damage are handled. There are no hit points in M&M. Instead, descriptions are given to determine how much damage your character has suffered. There is also the addition of Hero Points. Unlike games such as Dungeons & Dragons, there are no character classes in M&M. The skills and feats are different, as well. In regards to the usage of dice, only the 20-sided dice are used. The rules are very streamlined and the game is fast-paced, which does well to mimic the action of a comicbook.
Heroes and Villains
There are no classes or class levels in Mutants and Masterminds. Instead, characters have a Power Level. The Power Level is used to indicate the maximum rank of any abilities the character can buy. For every Power Level, the character receives a number of points that may be spent on things like attribute levels, base attacks, feats, skill ranks, and additional super powers. So basically, all of a character’s attributes may be bought using the points from their Power Level. At the beginning fo the game, all characters start out as an established superhero with a PL of 10.
The Game master has control over how many points you receive for each Power Level. Depending on the style of game you want to run, GM’s have the option of awarding more points or restricting them. M&M also gives the option of eliminating the Power Level completely. This would effectively give the characters no restrictions and you could end up with some immensely powerful heroes.
M&M uses a system known as Hero Points. They are awarded to the characters when soemthing bad happens to them such as a villain escaping or the character fails to stop a disaster from happening. There are a lot of different uses for Hero Points. They can be used to give your character an edge over your opponents. Hero Points can be used to reroll any failed dice rolls. They can be used to minimize damage taken during combat. Characters can also use Hero Points to hold off fatigue. Characters get fatigued by using any temporary Feats or duplicating another power of the same cost. You can only normally do this once or twice. When the character uses one of their Hero Points, they can ignore their fatigue and use this method more often.
The Powers in M&M are really unique and part of the game’s charm. A Power’s point cost is equal to the number of possibll functions that it has. For instance, the power Blast costs 2 points because not only does it cause damage but you can also shoot opponents from a distance. Some of the weaker powers only cost 1 point per level. What is more is that you can get Extras and Flaws in your powers. Extras give your powers an extra boost or feature but add to the cost of the power. Flaws can weakend your power but also make them cheaper in points. There are also Power Feats that can add to your abilities.
Damage in M&M is a bit different from other games that use the d20 system. Other games use Hit Points to determine a character’s level of health. In M&M a character has another Saving Throw which is called the Toughness Save and is based on their Constitution score. Most attack types inflict either lethal or nonlethal damage. To determine any damage, you don’t have to roll any additional dice. This is convenient and easy because you don’t have to keep up with all the different weapons and attacks using different types of dice. Instead, damage is ranked based upon the power used. A normal punch from a hired goon will cause +1N (nonlethal) damage while a villain with super strength and a razor-sharp weapons may cause +12L (lethal) damage. When an attack successfully hits a character, they roll a Toughness Save versus a target number equal to the rank of the attack plus 15. If the character has a successful rollm, they are able to ignore the attack and are unaffected. But if the character fails their saving roll, then they will suffer an injury that is determined by the degree of failure and the type of damage that was inflicted. The more damage a character takes, then the more penalties they accumulate that will effect future Toughness Saves. The combat in Mutants and Masterminds is designed to reflect the same action and flavor that is found in the superhero comics. It is fast-paced and uses descriptions to describe damage to your character.
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