Our new supers campaign is not my first. In fact, it’s not my first time with the titular system either. I’ve played a few, and each one attempts to accomplish roughly the same feat. Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition, hereafter referred to as M&M, proves to be a cut above the rest. I am therefore most certainly glad we’ve returned to the system. So glad, in fact, that I’ve laid out four aspects that make it truly super.
1) One System, Unlimited Powers
All powers operate within the same, unifying system. That means that if your character wants to poison people with a look while another PC wants to take over minds, the system operates nearly identically. Each is an Affliction, just with different outcomes. Even attacking a enemy follows a similar ruleset. With the aforementioned afflictions, the target makes a save or suffers the intended effects. With attacks, the target makes a save (albeit with a different target number) or suffers levels of damage. Even healing uses these rules, but in reverse. Other, stranger effects are oftentimes even easier, especially if they enhance the character. Flight and super speed just require a glance at a chart to check how far you can travel in a round; no checks required. For this system, everyone just needs a d20, their power descriptions, and the luck of the roll.
2) Combat With Options
Womping on villains in M&M feels satisfying, creatively so. In an effort to replicate the comic book experience, the creators caused death to become a difficult state to produce. Therefore, heroes will have to use solutions beyond “attacking the darkness” to defeat their foes. While the forces of good and evil will certainly trade blows, it is the canny side that will be victorious. It’s easy to roll to hit, but if you’re facing an immortal gunslinger, you’re better off using the disarm option, or better yet, the smash option to break his weapon permanently. You can trip speedsters, stun shapeshifters, or set up for a combo attack on a big boss by aiding your allies. All the possibilities listed above are accomplishable by mere mortals; think then what you can do with a vast array of superpowers at your behest.
3) Versatile Characters
Heroes (and villains) are created from the same cloth: power points. These little potent bits form every mechanically important detail of each character. They are used to buy everything: abilities, skills, superpowers, and even gadgets. Even minor characters are built from power points. This system ensures that Batman-esque crime fighters are just as viable as flight-enabled Kryptonian sons. Power level is the only other limiting factor, and it forces players to make more rounded characters and not tip the scales too far in the combat department. Your character can have any array of skills and powers, with any number of extras and features that make them truly unique. Add that final touch of flair and a rad costume, and you’ve got your very own comic book superhero.
4) The Right Feel
Most import of all, I believe, M&M manages to capture that comic book feeling. Each system is crafted and refined to deliver the experience of fighting crime (or committing it) just like your favorite characters from any comic’s era. Want a grittier, deadlier story? There’s a fix for that. You’d rather play in the Golden Age with all the catchphrases and wacky onomatopoeia? There’s a supplement for that. There are plenty of other ways to play too, easily enough to satisfy the most hardcore comic book fans. M&M has developed the right system and supplements to replicate the heady highs we feel when watching our favorite superhero films or reading about the exploits of the caped characters we love.
I’ve played other superhero systems and had plenty of fun, but none have come close to offering the breadth and depth that M&M brings to the table, all while keeping it simple. If you can’t tell already, I recommend the system highly, yet not exclusively. Tell me about your favorite superhero system and why it ‘Kapows’ the competition, and check out our other articles about M&M for different perspectives.
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer/editor with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact .
Picture Reference: https://greenroninstore.com/collections/mutants-masterminds
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.