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2009-08-04, 11:49 AM
Small Wonders
A Mutants and Masterminds Campaign Setting

Chapter 1: Small Wonders, Big Adventure

The year is five-minutes-from-now in a world much like our own... except different. Through unexplained phenomena, human children obtain magnificent powers. Armed with abilities like super strength, flight, and x-ray vision the kids of the near future band together to test their might against the world. Morality is color coded. Motivation changes like the time of day. The only important ideal among these super powered youngsters is having fun!

A Universe of Mischief and Mayhem

Since the beginning of known time children have acquired powers that made them greater than human. Whether through strict training, devotion to a higher power, technological discoveries, convenient mishaps, or genetics these adolescents have obtained magnificent abilities. A child often becomes endowed with powers or ability to acquire powers around the age of eight.

Children become less inclined to use their powers as they grow older. In effect, they discover that there’s more to life than having fun (like getting a job, going on dates, and driving!). Once a child reaches fourteen or they graduate to high school, whichever comes first, they move on. A child still retains their powers but they have absolutely no interest in playground antics.

Adults claim the effects of super powers are the results of puberty but the kids themselves have too much fun to care for “why” and “how.” A little less than 5% of the child population are supers. Those that lack powers tend to be envious but only the most cruel of supers rub it in the faces of their mundane brethren.

Children with powers have varying personalities. Some use their powers to defend values such as truth and justice. Others have more malicious intent such as bullying others or wreaking havoc. Regardless, a child’s primary motivation is fun. If battling each other brings enjoyment, more power to them. If blowing up half a city block helps them sleep at night then so be it. Even the most disciplined child falls prey to his primary instinct of curiosity and pleasure (sometimes at the expense of others).

Super hero is a broad term. Some heroes aren’t necessarily super as their powers could come from alien, magical, or technological sources. Small Wonders assumes that any character of power level 5 and above are “supers.” Anything below that could possess super human powers but their skills are laughable and pose no real challenge for the PCs.

The Adult World

The life of an adult is filled with important distractions such as the looming threat of terrorism, ecological scares, recession, the rising cost of gas, and putting food on the table. In general, few adults care that children use the world as their playpen. Adults are aware super powers exist. In fact, there are just as many adult supers and child supers. However, as constantly preoccupied creatures, adults don’t mind their children are tearing up the streets as long as they’re in bed by nine.

Children lack the attention span to become involved in the adult world but there are exceptions. Child rulers or warlords that command entire adult armies exist. On the flipside, an adult’s word is law. If an adult parent makes a ruling over their own child then they’re bound to it; breaking such a rule results in the child’s punishment. This is rare, however, as most adults are rather lenient with their rules. “Clean your room”, “Finish your homework before playing”, and “Be in bed by nine” are the extent of most parental rulings.

The G.I. Joe Rule

Nobody dies.

While good heroes try to avoid collateral damage, it’s often unavoidable especially when destruction can be so much fun. As a rule, no one dies as the result of a super power unless the GM specifically rules against it. The driver of a vehicle crawls out right as the heat ray strikes it. The passengers of an airliner bail out with open chutes when a stray missile blows it up. A nuclear bomb could decimate the center of a busy metropolis and the citizens would be standing in the crater, slightly bewildered and angry that they’re now late for work. All property damage is repaired at the end of the day unless it’s plot important to remain destroyed.

Some attacks are lethal and some heroes learn lethal abilities. Regardless, a lethal blow that would kill someone instead knocks them unconscious or temporarily removes them from the game. The GM has the final say in all matters that could result in a character’s death but these should be few and far between. Death, especially among villains, is rarely permanent. There’s always a universe of clones willing to step in your place or a twin sibling that happens to share all your memories or abilities waiting around for the moment when you kick the bucket.

Chapter 2: Players and Playgrounds

This chapter deals with creating a character in the Small Wonders universe. Players and GMs should be familiar with it.

Character Creation

Small Wonders assumes you’re creating a character between the ages of 7 to 13. Age doesn’t affect a child’s starting power level although older children tend to be stronger.

Starting Power Points

Children are weaker than adults thus their starting power level is 7. Children, however, learn quickly and some acquire power levels of 13 or higher before moving on to the adult world.

Ability Benchmarks

As children are physically weaker than adults, they have lower ability scores than normal. A child begins play with an 8 in all attributes. Once they become fourteen, effectively becoming a grown adult, all of their attributes increase by 2 points.

Children are limited to how high their natural abilities can grow without enhancements. The natural limits to a child’s abilities are:

Strength: 14
Constitution: 16
Dexterity: 18
Intelligence: 20
Wisdom: 18
Charisma: 18

Enhanced abilities are only limited by the game’s power level. This makes debilitating powers much more dangerous although most heroes have ways of countering them.


Children can purchase equipment using the normal rules however a child never directly has a wealth score. The child’s parents, legal guardian, or benefactor supplies all equipment for them but all bonuses to wealth apply to the guardian in question. Children may have money (usually in the form of an allowance) but this rarely amounts to anything more than pocket change and few dealers will accept a credit card from someone who can barely see over the counter.


Characters in Small Wonders may begin play between 7 and 13 years old. Upon obtaining their 14th birthday, they “grow up.” At this point, the character leaves the game and becomes a DM controlled NPC; the teenager completely removing themselves from the petty world of children and their playthings.

But, this isn’t the end. In most cases, the world of children and the world of adults are completely separate although they may cross paths when appropriate. Some children carry on their parent’s legacy, donning their predecessor’s name and battling the offspring of their parent’s childhood foes.

Alternate Identity

Children are glory hogs. They like the attention they receive from performing courageous acts. Some children enjoy their privacy and don an alias. Due to the nature of super powers, secret identities are rarely secret around other supers. However, the 2nd Playground Commandment keeps even the loudest of loud mouths from spilling the beans. The same can’t be said about Snitches…

Pledging Allegiance

Most kids don’t even know what allegiance means let alone care enough to make a pledge. A child’s allegiance can be as varied as a normal adult super’s but it’s generally simpler. Good Spirited Fun is an allegiance. Fairness on the Playground is another. A child’s allegiance changes with their mood and few ever “make up their minds” and stick with it. Additionally, a character may also be a member of the Watch.

Children are territorial creatures. They claim stake to a single piece of land or property and defend it vigorously from invaders and ne’er-do-wells. Even bullies and villains will band together to ensure the sanctity of their home turf. A group of kids with likeminded goals in protecting their homeland are called Neighborhood Watch or Watch for short. A Watch is based around some kind of lair, usually a shoddily built clubhouse or a friend’s basement.


Kids are motivated by fun; pure and simple. Sometimes this fun is at the expense of others. Sometimes they believe all kids are subject to share in equal bounties of fun and fight to defend said bounty. Motivations can be as varied as an adult super, but as a rule, children prioritize fun over everything else.

Playground Politics and Affiliations

The world of children is populated with the same political intrigue and social nuances as the adult world. There are numerous rules, some unwritten and others unwritten, but most kids deal with the Playground Commandments.

1. Thou shall not tattle
2. Thou shall not steal
3. Thou shall respect “play time” and not take it for granted
4. Thou shall not break the binding pact known as “Time Out”
5. Thou shall not disrupt another’s education

The Commandments determine their affiliation. Kids who adhere to the commandments are called Playgrounders. There are social subtypes which determine tertiary affiliations such as Nerds and Jocks. A kid is always a Playgrounder first but a Playgrounder associated with the Cheerleader subtype would be Playgrounder: Cheerleader.

Nerds are a social subtype (not to be confused with “Geek” which is something completely different and the result of improper use) of Playgrounders. A Nerd is stereotyped by an extreme aversion to physical activities and social ineptness. A nerd favors more intellectually stimulating activities such as chess, debate club, and crossword puzzles. A nerd is defined by his antisocial behavior and out of date wardrobe. Sometimes Nerds cross into Otaku territory.

Fanboy(girl) is a social subtype defined by obsession over a particular object; usually a book, video game, comic, or television show. Unlike a normal fan, Fanboys devote ridiculous amounts of time writing terrible fiction based on their obsession and collecting useless merchandise. A Fanboy is difficult to point out in the streets as they easily blend into regular kid society.

Jock is a social subtype defined by their athletic prowess, obnoxiously smug attitude, and extreme aloofness. A Jock continuously engages in extreme competitions to prove their worth and gain dominance over other Jocks. A Jock is identified by their khaki shorts, open toed sandals, impossibly tight t-shirt, and a sports related object which they keep on their person at all times. Jocks are almost universally male.

Cheerleader is a social subtype defined by a general lack of common sense and an endless supply of pep. Cheerleaders are often seen around Jocks encouraging them to perform amazing feats of human performance. Cheerleaders are commonly recognized by their school colored uniforms consisting of a skirt, shirt or sweater, and oversized pompoms. Cheerleaders are almost universally female. The few male Cheerleaders tend to fall under That Guy social subtype.

That Guy(Girl) is a social subtype defined by their aloofness, a strong pretentious attitude and undeserved sense of self worth. That Guy does mediocre in class, makes friends with everyone, and enjoys simple games like hacky sack and ultimate Frisbee. That Guy is noticeable by his unkempt appearance, Birkenstocks, and a guitar which he’ll gladly play for you upon request (and more often than not without request). Female That Guy’s are uncommon but not exceedingly rare like female Jocks.

Foreigner is a social subtype defined by ignorance of cultural standards and ridiculous accents. Foreigners are generally gregarious, outgoing, and eager to learn but their misunderstanding or popular culture and slang often leads to ironic humor on their behalf. Foreigners are noticeable by their clothing which is usually a mishmash of their home culture and the culture they’re trying to emulate.

Wannabe is a social subtype defined by their burning desire to be something they’re not. Wannabes usually emulate a particular race, culture, or fad in an attempt to fit in with that demographic. A Wannabe will defend to their death the belief that they’re accepted even if it’s plainly obvious they’re not.

Children who follow the Playground Commandments are among the norm. Bullies are a social caste of children who have their own, single code tenant called the Bully Creed.

1. Thou shall do whatever thy please at thou entertainment and at the expense of others.

Snitches are a special caste who follow a code called the Stool Pigeon Doctrine.

1. Thou shall report all wrongdoings to the proper authority.
2. Thou shall deny all accusations of wrongdoing unless caught red handed.
3. If thou caught red handed, thou may avoid or lessen thy sentence by any means necessary including but not limited to lying at the expense of others, denying the accusation, begging for a reduced sentence, bribery, and/or blackmail.

Children that follow no code are social outcasts and called Misfits. Misfits tend to skip school entirely and may be found in the parking lot of the gas station spending their money on iced drinks and fire crackers.

Chapter 3: New Rules of the School

This chapter lists new rules all players should be aware of.

Hero Points

In addition to the standard usage of hero points, Small Wonders has several extra uses for hero points.


Spending a hero point and yelling TIME OUT! grants instant immunity to all effects until the end of their next turn. The character may be targeted but is completely unaffected by any power regardless of the source. Any character who breaks the sacred laws of TIME OUT! is a Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater. A CCPE cannot benefit from hero points for the rest of the encounter and is a no good rotten cheater!

Using TIME OUT! is a full round action and a character may not take any other actions, including free ones, before making a TIME OUT!.

Pretty Please?

Sometimes you want something but due to a lack of foresight on your part you forgot to bring it. We’ve all been in that situation and it sucks. Players may spend a hero point to request an item relevant to the task at hand. The item should be something that they could have reasonably obtained had they been smart enough to think about it before hand.

The GM is ultimately the deciding factor for this ability. The item in question should serve only one primary function being that it’s directly related to the task at hand and said item vanishes after its task has been completed (items left unattended in one panel always vanish in the next). Using this action should also cause unforeseen, and preferably hilarious, consequences.

The GM should be creative. If the player’s are trapped in a cage they cannot escape you could provide them with the key. But, that’s pretty boring so give them a cast iron file and while they’re grinding away at the cage they alert the guards below.

Ridiculous requests should be repaid in kind. Asking for the Big Fraggin’ Gun should result in said gun… with no ammo. Asking for the Ancient Sword to End All Swords should result in a rusty old weapon that turns to dust after the first swing because, hey, it is ancient.

The GM has every right to put his foot down when things get out of hand. Characters in comics get ridiculous crap all the time only to have it removed down the road when a smarter, more talented writer gets his hands on the material.

Automatic Misses and Hits

Automatic successes and failures are dumb. In a world where character’s can circumnavigate the globe so quickly it spins in the opposite direction, there’s no chance of you failing in some incredibly lame manner. In the other hand, some actions are simply impossible. No matter what you roll, you can never convince a cat to sit when it doesn’t want to.

A natural 1 implies a -10 penalty on your attack and a natural 20 implies a +10 bonus.

Chapter 4: Mutants and Game Masters

This chapter details new rulings for the GM as well as ideas for running a Small Wonders game.

Awarding Power Points

Children are fast learners. When awarding power points, it’s prudent to double the amount normally given. Once a kid hits the adult world they move from "broadening their horizons" to "when does the next paycheck come in?"

The Retcon Effect

Retroactive continuity, or retcon, is the ability of the GM to alter pre-established conditions of the game world. This represents the cosmic forces waving a proverbial finger and saying “No. Bad!” This ability essentially counts as a GM fiat such as when a player you approved turns out ridiculously broken and the only way to knock them down a peg is by retconning their powers.

Retconning can be used for fun such as with the unreliable narrator trope. It’s important to understand that retconning too much will bewilder yourself, and worse, the players. You should use this power sparingly and always award players a hero point if the retcon goes against them.

History of the World

The world follows a timeline similar to our own. The GM, however, has full retcon powers over historical events the main characters have no effect over. The heroes could wake up one day to find the planet overrun by hungry dinosaurs that survived the ice age and lived under the PCs beds until today or Alexander the Great’s army holding a town ransom for candy. Everything in history that does not directly affect the PC’s health and wellbeing is subject to the GM’s touch. Anything that does directly affect the PCs, such as a time traveler stealing an item in the past so the players don’t get it in the future, is a cleverly* hidden retcon and worth a hero point.

*by clever I mean it’s totally not clever.

Dimensions and Planets

As a rule of thumb “If it exists, there is a dimension devoted to it.” Dinosaur dimension where prehistoric reptiles from every era coexist? Check. Communist dimension where the Reds have overrun everything on Earth back in the 50s? You bet. Ice Cream dimension where the tootie-fruity army attacks the mint-chocolate-chips? Yep. Portals to different worlds and dimensions open up on earth when it’s most convenient for them to do so. Convenient in this case is defined as “when it’s most fun and interesting for the player’s to explore it.”


There’s only one safe zone and that’s school. School is a time of learning and must be treated as such. During the school period, except for recess, children are prohibited from using their powers. Children who skip class (playing hooky) are not subject to this limitation although they are in risk of being grounded.

Grounded and Detention

Parents set rules for their children to obey; clean your room, lights out by nine o’ clock, make your bed, etc. Children who disobey these rules may be grounded. Grounded results in incarceration, normally to the child’s room, with no TV or leisurely activities outside of school work. Grounding normally lasts one day per infraction. Detention is similar to grounding except it’s a result of school infractions. Usually detention results in a grounding but not vice versa.

If a child is grounded in the line of duty, such as defending their allegiance, then the GM awards them with a hero point for their sacrifice.

As a rule, crime waits for the heroes. If one hero among a team is grounded, then the entire team stands by wile the villains wait until the good guys have a chance to stop them. Teammates may perform other actions but never any that further the plot. Teammates are awarded a hero point as well for sticking by their allies.


It’s the GM’s job to provide as much fun as possible but some players like to play it safe. You may start asking yourself “How can I possibly get my buzz kill players to go outside the box?” Fear not, fellow GM, for there is a way and it’s called Dare.

The GM has full right to challenge a player to accomplish a miscellaneous object based on current circumstances. This challenge is called a Dare. If the hero completes the dare successfully, the player is awarded a hero point.

Dares have three levels of importance; Dare, Double Dare, and Triple Dog Dare. They award 1, 2, and 3 hero points respectively upon completion. A Dare should always be something completely unrelated to the current goal and, ideally, should challenge the player into performing an action he isn’t terribly skilled in doing.

Dares are assigned on a per kid basis. A Dare can be assigned to a single kid, a few of them, or even all of them. In such a case, only the ones that completed the dare should get the hero point.

For example, swimming through the pool of water filled with laser-eyed sharks instead of flying over it is a suitable dare. Daring a kid with water based powers and the ability to control laser-eyed sharks isn’t a challenge and not worth a hero point.

Sample Characters

Kid Kalamitus

Zoe Stamatopolous
Affiliation: Neighborhood Watch
Base: The 'House
First Appearance: Invasion of the Zombie Ninjas from Space #7
Power Level: 13
Power Point Total: 195
Size: M
Height: 5'2"
Gender: Female
Age: 11
Weight: Mind your own business
Eyes: Emerald

STR 10/30 +10
DEX 13 +1
CON 11/32 +11
INT 13 +1
WIS 9 -1
CHA 12 +1

Toughness: +13 (+7 base, +11 con)
Fortitude: +18 (+7 base, +11 con)
Reflex: +12 (+11 base, +1 dex)
Will: +11 (+12 base, -1 will)

Defense: +12 (+8 base +4 dodge)
Initiative: +5

Attack: +12
Ranged: +0
Melee: +12
Damage: +10 (unarmed)


Acrobatics: 4+1 (5)
Bluff: 6+1 (7)
Gather Information: 6+1 (7)
Intimidate: 4+1 (5)
Knowledge comic books: 8+1 (9)
Notice: 4-1 (3)
Search: 4+1 (5)


Elusive Target
Evasion (2)
Move-by Attack
Power Attack


Flight: 6 ranks (500mph)

Enhanced Strength: 20 ranks

Enhanced Constitution: 21 ranks

Regeneration: Bruised or Uncoscious 3 ranks.

Super Strength: 5 ranks

Deflect: 6 ranks, all ranged attacks

Plot Shield: Instantly teleports Zoe back to her room. Acts as a teleport with 20 ranks and Dimensional power feat rank 3 with action modifier from move action to reaction. This power has the flaw uncontrolled and only works when Zoe is in danger that she can't otherwise escape from. This power teleports her back to her room on Earth.

While not the leader of the watch, Zoe is among the original founders and one of the more powerful members. She passed down her administrative duties to remain in the field kicking butt. Zoe is outgoing, brash, perhaps a little crazy, and loves collecting really bad manga. I mean really, really bad manga. As Kid Kalamitus, she fights badguys because there's nothing else to do (besides collecting manga) and as the "protagonist" her auxiliary power kicks in whenever she's in true danger. To Zoe, if a problem can't be fixed by pounding it into the ground it's not a problem she want to deal with.

KK's arch nemesis is Sharats. The two dated in the 6th grade for like... 3 days before breaking up and have hated each other since.


Solomon Kee
Affiliation: A.O.N. (Affiliation of Ne'er-do-Wells)
Base: Wherever
First Appearance: Creeping Doom #1
Power Level: 13
Power Point Total: 195
Size: M
Height: 5'7"
Gender: Male
Age: 12
Weight: 170lbs
Eyes: Black

STR 14 +2
DEX 10 +0
CON 16/36 +13
INT 12 +1
WIS 10 +0
CHA 6 -2

Toughness: +13 (+5 base, +13 con)
Fortitude: +18 (+5 base, +13 con)
Reflex: +5 (+5 base)
Will: +7 (+7 base)

Defense: +12 (+8 base +4 dodge)
Initiative: +0

Attack: +12
Ranged: +12
Melee: +12


Jump +10 (8 ranks, +2)
Escape Artist +8 (8 ranks)
Notice +8 (8 ranks)
Stealth +8 (8 ranks)
Survival +8 (8 ranks)


Sneak Attack
Elusive Target
Ranged Pin
Hide in Plain Sight

Drawback: Weakpoint; water


Shapechange: 1 rank, swarm of insects only.

Leaping: 5 ranks

Enhanced Ability Constitution: 20

Super-Movement: Slow fall and wall-crawling (full speed, no penalty).

Super Senses: Accurate 4 ranks, Acute 2 ranks, Radius 5 ranks, danger sense, darkvision, infravision.

Super-Strength: 3 ranks

Homing Bees (blast): 5 ranks, homing feat, Insect descriptor

Swarm (blast): 3 ranks, cloud power feat, alternate save fortitude, poison, Insect and Poison descriptor

Summon: 8 ranks, insects only. Progression power feat, horde modifier.

Every school has one; that creepy kid who avoids the jungle gym so he can capture live spiders and play with bugs. Solomon is a social outcast, feared and hated even by the toughest of bullies. He talks to insects, arachnids, and all manners of creepy crawlies. As Sharats he can summon monstrous insects by his side, vomit a swarm of poisonous arachnids, lift 50x his body weight (just like an ant!), detect danger using his accute senses, and even transform into a bug when the going gets tough and the tough needs going.

Solomon believes that insects are the rightful rulers of the world and causes mayhem to prove humans are beneath him and his swarm. Kid Kalamitus is his arch enemy.


Dan Arnoldson
Affiliation: Neighborhood Watch
Base: Darkstaff Tower
First Appearance: Temple of Absolute Evil #4
Power Level: 10
Power Point Total: 150
Size: M
Height: 5'5"
Gender: Male
Age: 10
Weight: 90lbs
Eyes: Black

STR 8 -1
DEX 10
CON 10 +0
INT 20 +5
WIS 10 +0
CHA 8 -2

Toughness: +10 (+10 power)
Fortitude: +5
Reflex: +6
Will: +10

Defense: +7 (+5 base +2 dodge)
Initiative: +16

Attack: +8
Ranged: +8
Melee: +8


Computers 12 ranks
Knowledge Gaming 12 ranks
Knowledge RPGs 12 ranks
Knowledge Sci-Fi 12 ranks


Improved Initiative 4
Accurate Attack

Drawback: Requires both hands free to use magic.


Magic: 10 ranks. Magic Missile base power, Alternative power feats (5).
-Fireball: blast 3 ranks, burst modifier. Magic and fire descriptor.
-Magic Missile: blast 5 ranks. Magic descriptor.
-Dimension Door: Teleport 5 ranks.
-Sleep: Fatigue 3 ranks, burst modifier. Sleep power feat. Magic descriptor.
-Shocking Grasp: Strike 10 ranks. Magic and Electricity descriptor.
-Fly: Flight 5 ranks

Web: Snare 4 ranks, burst modifier. Web and Magic.

Haste: Quicken 3 ranks. Target modifier (touch), duration modifier (sustained)

Mage Armor: Force Field 10 ranks.

Dan "The Man" Arnoldson is a role player, self proclaimed "Red Wizard," 90lb weakling, and all around nerd. He spends his free time playing his favorite role playing game Caverns and Clichés with his closest buds. His wizard alter-ego Darkmoor is a powerful caster from the "astral plane" that wields arcane might against his enemies. Dan doesn't believe in good or evil but he staunchly fights those that use their powers to oppress.
He's usually seen with a pair of dice in his pocket and a t-shirt with his catchphrase "SUPRA-GENIUS!" Darkmoor's arch enemy is Beholder.