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Mutants and Masterminds - why you need this game

Updated: Apr 11, 2023






It’s a bit of a myth to say that there is a super hero genre in role play gaming. Or at the very least, that claim doesn’t really describe the variety and depth of choice within that genre. Super hero comics have been published for about as long as the works of Tolkien and other popular fantasy, so it’s hardly surprising that the genre had changed in that time.


(Editor's note - throughout this blog post I will use art that was created here at Verse, representing characters I've played and NPCs I have created in the game).

One of the most impressive feats of Green Ronin’s Mutants and Masterminds, therefore, is the ability to create a core system that spans the Nazi smashing pulp era of the genre all the way through to the kinds of dark and complex storylines we see in comics in the 21st Century.


The creators have been pretty explicit in drawing directly from Marvel and DC comics, giving players the ability to create worlds, characters and stories that closely mirror their favourite comics and movies.


This review is based on M&M’s third edition, and in it we will review the Basic Hero’s Handbook, the Delux GM’s Guide and the Freedom City expansion book.





The Game


Mutants and Masterminds is the leading super hero tabletop role-playing game published by Green Ronin Publishing. It allows players to create their own superheroic characters with unique powers and abilities. The games mechanics are simple and create fluid, fast paced play and the only dice the GM needs is a D20. There are eight basic hero types, including Primal (man-beasts and spidey types), Gadgeteers (including power suited Iron Man heroes), Speedsters (Flash) and Paragons (Captain America, Thor, Superman). Each Hero Type has three variants in order to give the player sufficient choice. In the deluxe player’s guide there are mechanics for creating far more varied hero types, but we will cover that in another post.


The game is set in a world of heroes where players take on the roles of player characters and battle against villains, bad guys, and masterminds in campaigns and new adventures. It is assumed that the players are participating in the kinds of adventures one might typically read about in comic books (because if that’s not your thing then really what’s the point). Every convention of the genre is present in M&M, which is great for the RPG player/comic book fan, as it gives opportunities for every kind of comic book storytelling.

What rocks about this RPG?


Mutants and Masterminds offers a unique and thrilling experience for players looking for a superhero-themed RPG adventure. The game provides a wide range of creative opportunities to the players, allowing them to design their own characters with unique superhuman powers, abilities, and backstories. The game is highly customizable, and players can choose their power level to match their desired level of challenge, from street-level heroes to cosmic-level champions. In the Deluxe GM’s guide, setting the level of the adventure is discussed in depth. Because within the genre, power levels vary so much, it is important to get a sense of the kind of game the GM and players want to play. There is little point bringing a cosmic level hero to deal with low level gang warfare.

Another major draw of Mutants and Masterminds is the variety of gameplay options available. The game provides players with a wide range of power sources, such as technology, magic, and mutant abilities, allowing them to create characters with unique and interesting powers. The game also provides a detailed combat system, including various damage effects and standard actions, which allows for strategic and exciting gameplay.


Furthermore, the game offers a vast amount of content and resources for players and Game Masters alike. The core rulebook of the game, as well as additional resources such as the Atlas of Earth-Prime and the Cosmic Handbook, provide detailed information on the world of heroes and the wider world around them.


The Basic Hero's Handbook and the Gamemaster's Guide offer a wealth of information on character creation, detailed challenge systems, and new rules options. The M&M Core Data Package and the M&M Gamemaster's Kit provide sample options and tools for new gamers to get started with the game.


In addition, the game offers a range of exciting campaigns and adventures. The Masterminds Campaigns and New Adventures provide a range of options for players to explore, including the award-winning Freedom City and Emerald City settings, as well as Hero High, Iron Age, and it is pretty straightforward to create the world of the Marvel Universes (though this too is on the way soon from creator Matt Forbeck).


There is even an entire chapter of evil plots and a new adventure design chapter to help gamemasters create exciting stories and scenarios for their players.

Overall, Mutants and Masterminds is a highly engaging and thrilling game that offers a vast amount of content and customization options for players. Whether you are a fan of comic books, looking for a new game system to try, or just want to create your own superheroic settings, Mutants and Masterminds offers a great deal to make your gaming experience a great day.




Backstory


A character's backstory in Mutants and Masterminds is an essential part of character creation. It helps to explain who they are, where they come from, and why they became a hero or a villain. It can also provide a framework for the character's motivations and personality.

A good backstory will give the GM plenty of hooks to use in the game and make the character more interesting to play.

When creating a character's backstory, players should consider their hero's origin story, including their powers and how they came to acquire them. They should also think about their character's childhood, family, and any significant events that shaped them. It's essential to consider the character's motivations and what drives them to be a hero or a villain.

One of the great things about Mutants and Masterminds is that players can create their world, allowing for unique backstories. Some players may want to create a character from a parallel universe, while others might want to design a character with an alternate identity. The backstory options are endless, making the character creation process even more exciting.

In addition, Mutants and Masterminds encourages players to create characters that are well-rounded, with strengths and weaknesses. This makes the character more realistic and relatable, and provides the GM with plenty of opportunities to challenge the character's weaknesses. For example, a hero who is afraid of water might struggle in an underwater battle or might freeze up when faced with a significant challenge that involves water.

Overall, a well-crafted backstory is an essential part of creating a memorable character in Mutants and Masterminds. It provides a foundation for the character's motivations, personality, and abilities and makes the character more engaging to play.


Hero Points

The game also features a unique mechanic called Hero Points, which allows players to influence the game and alter outcomes by spending these points. Hero Points can be used in a variety of ways, such as to reroll a dice roll, regain lost health, or even modify the storyline itself. Hero Points represent the character's heroic abilities and can be awarded by the Gamemaster for good roleplaying or by completing missions.

In Mutants and Masterminds, there are various game mechanics that are used to resolve actions, such as standard actions, free actions, and reactions. Standard actions are those that require the character to spend their turn performing the action, such as attacking an enemy or using a skill. Free actions are those that can be performed quickly and do not require the character's full attention, such as speaking a few words or drawing a weapon. Reactions are actions that can be taken in response to a specific trigger, such as dodging an incoming attack or using a protective ability.


The game mechanics are designed to be flexible and can be used to create a variety of different play styles. Players can choose to create street-level heroes, who fight crime in the back alleys and suburbs, or cosmic-level heroes, who protect the universe from intergalactic threats. The system is also adaptable to different genres and styles, allowing players to create characters that fit into various comic book genres, such as horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.




Campaigns

Creating and running a Masterminds campaign can be a thrilling experience for any RPG player. With the Mutants and Masterminds system, players can craft their own superhero universe or explore the official setting, Freedom City, a world that Crystal Frasier and Steve Kenson created, building a complex and deep history that incorporates everything from the city’s prison to an entire universe.

Whether it's your first game or you're a seasoned M&M player, the complete Mutants and Masterminds core book, along with additional resources like the M&M series, the M&M core data package, and the M&M Gamemaster's Guide, provide a collection of useful tools to help GMs create a world of their own. One of the first things a GM should do when creating a campaign is to establish the primary ability of their players, as well as any fringe benefits or custom benefits they may have. Wealthy characters, human-animal hybrids, and alternate identities are all popular choices for players to explore. However, it's important to consider the weaknesses of the amount of characters, as well as the villains they may face.

The Masterminds Game Master's Guide provides detailed information on creating villainous foes, from the brutal Crime Syndicate to detailed villain archetypes of different themes. With the help of the detailed challenge system, GMs can create engaging stories and challenging opponents. The 2nd edition of the M&M system also introduced time travel, which opens up a whole new world of possibilities for GMs to explore. The robust third edition rules of Mutants and Masterminds offer a great deal of flexibility, allowing for different styles of play depending on the GM's preferences.


For example, GMs can create a street-level campaign, where players deal with the roles of super-powered heroes in a more grounded and gritty setting. On the other hand, GMs can also create a cosmic-level campaign, where players deal with the fate of the universe itself. The M&M system also features a damage effect system, where players can choose from a variety of different damage types, such as energy, kinetic, and more. Additionally, the system includes the use of hero points, which allow players to influence the outcome of the game by giving them the ability to reroll dice, avoid damage, or even turn a failure into a success.

Ultimately, the goal of any Masterminds campaign is to create an engaging story and challenge players in new and exciting ways. With the M&M system, GMs have the tools they need to create a world of their own, whether it's the world's most renowned city or a wide open space. The Emerald City needs heroes, and it's up to the GM to create a story that will draw them in.

Villainous Foes


One of the most important aspects of any superhero story is the villainous foe that the hero must overcome. Mutants and Masterminds recognizes this importance and provides a variety of tools and guidelines for creating memorable villains. A good villain can make or break a campaign, so it's essential for the Masterminds Game Master to spend time creating well-thought-out and challenging foes for their players.


To create detailed villain archetypes of different themes, the game offers a wealth of options and ideas in its core book and supplements. The "Rogues Gallery" section of the core book provides a wide variety of pre-made villains to use, as well as guidelines for creating custom villains. Additionally, the "Threat Report" series offers detailed descriptions of specific villains, including their powers, motivations, and tactics. The game also offers a chapter of evil plots to help Game Masters create diabolical schemes for their villains to carry out.


Mutants and Masterminds is a tabletop role-playing game that focuses on superheroes and their adventures. One of its most popular settings is Freedom City, which has its own sourcebook that provides players and game masters with a wealth of information about the city and its inhabitants.





Freedom City


The Freedom City sourcebook is a comprehensive guide to the fictional city, covering everything from its history and geography to its politics and culture. The book is divided into several sections, each of which provides detailed information about different aspects of the city.


The first section of the book is an overview of the city's history, starting with its founding in the 17th century and continuing through the modern day. It covers the city's role in the American Revolution, its growth during the Industrial Revolution, and its transformation into a modern metropolis.

The second section of the book is a guide to the city's neighbourhoods, each of which has its own unique character and history. This section provides detailed descriptions of each neighbourhood, including its landmarks, businesses, and notable residents.


The third section of the book is a guide to the city's heroes and villains. This section includes detailed descriptions of dozens of characters, ranging from well-known heroes like the Freedom League to obscure villains like the Knightfire and the Solomon Grundy-esque Tom Cypruss.

The fourth section of the book is a guide to the city's organizations, both heroic and villainous. This section includes information on groups like AEGIS, the government agency that oversees superhero activity, and the Freedom City Mob (there is even a section on the illegal drugs of Freedom City).


The book contains some awesome locations for adventures, including Pyramid Plaza (the glittering Stark Tower of M&M) and the prison of Providence Island.

Overall, the Mutants and Masterminds Freedom City sourcebook is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in playing or running a superhero game set in the city. Its detailed descriptions of the city's history, neighborhoods, characters, and organizations provide players and game masters with a rich and immersive world to explore.


The Masterminds Game Master's Guide:


The Masterminds Game Master's Guide is an essential resource for any Mutants and Masterminds Game Master. It provides a detailed challenge system that allows Game Masters to adjust the difficulty of encounters based on the power level of the heroes they're facing. The book also includes a collection of useful tools, such as guidelines for creating NPCs, advice on how to run regular games, and even a bank account system for tracking the finances of wealthy characters. There is an excellent system for calculating the effects of natural disasters (being caught in a blizzard might not be an issue if you have a cosmic level character like a Captain Marvel type, but it surely is a big deal if you’re a Daredevil or a Falcon street level character).


In addition, the book offers guidance on creating home bases and villainous organizations, as well as a detailed assessment advantage system that allows Game Masters to determine the weaknesses of a character's abilities. With the Masterminds Game Master's Guide at their disposal, Game Masters can create challenging and engaging campaigns that keep players coming back for more.

Conclusion


Mutants and Masterminds is a flexible and engaging game system that offers a wide variety of options for players and Game Masters alike. Whether you're looking to create a street-level hero fighting a brutal crime syndicate or a cosmic-level hero battling intergalactic threats, Mutants and Masterminds has something for you. The game's unique mechanics, including time travel and alternate identities, provide endless opportunities for creative storytelling, while its detailed villain archetypes and evil plot options ensure that players will always have a challenging foe to face.


For those interested in trying out Mutants and Masterminds, there are a variety of settings and styles of play to choose from, including the Iron Age and Emerald City settings. With the game's robust third edition rules and the support of its dedicated fan base, there's never been a better time to dive into the world of Mutants and Masterminds.


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