This past weekend Dave T, Rob, and I did a little playing around with the Mutants and Masterminds RPG from Green Ronin Press. It’s a d20-based superhero game. We made up characters and then had them fight some characters out of the book.
Chargen (character generation) was pretty cool. The customization was nice. It was a little strange to have to buy Base Attack Bonus and such. And there are some powers that are so cheap and effective, I don’t know why everyone wouldn’t take them all the time. Amazing Save on Damage at ten levels? For only ten points I make myself incredibly hard to damage? Why wouldn’t I?
(Two things: there’s a lot of major errata for the book, so be sure to visit their website before playing! Also, there’s no example of chargen in the book. In my opinion, every gaming book should have an example of creating a character in it – this is an important aspect of any game and should be treated as such.)
The combat was a bit off. It basically came down to everyone shooting at each other with energy blasts. We got one guy unconscious for ten rounds and figured that would be plenty of time to finish off the other one, but that was not the case. It was very difficult to put someone down, but I guess that’s pretty much like comics.
I’ve played Champions before and enjoy it, but it’s an incredibly convoluted (albeit powerful) system. M&M is a lot easier to deal with, though I’m not sure it’s well balanced.
For instance: When you buy a power, you can buy “extras” attached to it as an effect. My character was an electricity manipulator, so I bought Energy Control: Electricity. As extras (part of his ability to control electricity), I bought flight, energy blast, force field, stun, teleportation, and a few other things. Doing it this way made them all really cheap. So my character was totally tricked out. The only disadvantage to doing things this way was that if someone had a “Drain” they could drain one power “Energy Control” on me and as a result, all of my stuff would be gone. That would certainly suck a lot, but is the chance that a bad guy has the one power that can stop me enough to dissuade me from going this route? No. On the contrary, it just seems like incentive for everyone to pack a Drain just in case they can hose someone this way.
Also, since there aren’t limits on power usage, such as in Champions, there’s no reason NOT to use your most powerful attack at any given opportunity. If we were playing right, any ranged, level 10 power is functionally the same as any other ranged, level 10 power (as far as hitting and damage is concerned), so just pick the cheapest one and go with it.
All in all I think it’s a good system for some basic supers gaming, but anyone who really wants to get into the genre may find it a little disappointing. The usual caveat may apply: we might not have been following the rules correctly. If you’ve played it, I’d like to hear your story.