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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    I'm interested in getting into M&M. I'm piecing together the rules from the d20heroesrd.com site, and I want to run a couple of test games before I look into buying the books (on top of the cost, the books will take at least a couple of weeks to reach my location)

    I'd appreciate a little bit of help here:

    *Can Enhanced Trait be used to buy up a Defence trait? Like, I can make a super-swordsman Parry higher than his Fighting?

    *General advice on handling power levels. At the default power level, 10, it seems really easy for someone to just basically make the Hulk and crank one or two traits up to max and be indestructible beasts. Would you recommend houseruling a maximum on things like this?. If I understand the rules correctly, then putting twenty points into Impervious Toughness makes you genuinely immune to anything that does 10 damage or less, which is the listed damage for rocket launchers. I know bullets bouncing off Superman's chest is a superhero staple, but this leaves a Badass Norma-type character without some kind of superweapon completely helpless against a tanky character.

    *Should I generally try to encourage some balance between player characters? If one makes a Hulk-expy and another goes with Daredevil... well, I don't really know what to do with that combination.

    *I know that a total modifier can't exceed the game's power level + 10, but what about, say, someone with really high strength who also has a strength-enhancing suit? Does that count?

    *I haven't found anything about money. Is there really no system of money in the game, and you just buy gear with points? So there's no difference between being Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne?

    *The character creation system is quite elaborate. Any protips on easing a group of new M&M players into it?

    *There is a mention of buying headquarters (like the Batcave) with the Equipment Advantage, but I found no rule about those. Will I have to look for the rules in the books, or am I expected to make them up?
    "Is this 'cause I killed the hippie? Is that even illegal?"

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    Batcathat's Avatar

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeivar View Post
    *General advice on handling power levels. At the default power level, 10, it seems really easy for someone to just basically make the Hulk and crank one or two traits up to max and be indestructible beasts. Would you recommend houseruling a maximum on things like this?. If I understand the rules correctly, then putting twenty points into Impervious Toughness makes you genuinely immune to anything that does 10 damage or less, which is the listed damage for rocket launchers. I know bullets bouncing off Superman's chest is a superhero staple, but this leaves a Badass Norma-type character without some kind of superweapon completely helpless against a tanky character.
    I think that one thing you just kind of have to accept about M&M is that it's really easy for someone to make a character that's broken one way or the other (Personally, I would be less worried about a Hulk-type than some other stuff, but I suppose that depends on the type of game). Setting a maximum or banning some powers might limit the problem but I'm suspecting it wouldn't help that much. In the end, you probably just have to trust your players. M&M is a great system, I fairly recently got into it myself, but if a player wants to they can pretty much shatter the system into a thousand pieces without needing to even begin to master the system.

    As for your other questions, I'll leave them up to more knowledgeable people than myself to answer. As I said, I'm quite new myself.

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    1) yes.

    2) minmaxing one way leaves you relatively useless against those who minmaxed the other way. But I'd recommend a limit of roughly +/-5 from the middle to start with, it still gives a nice ten point range and doesn't lead to the problems of dropping one defence to -5 to boost it's counterpart to 25 (or the guy who can't hit anything). In some ways it's better to have damage and accuracy hover around equal and then buy Accurate Attack and/or Power Attack, it helps you do something useful if one of the enemy's defences is unusually high.

    3) look at rough versatility of the concepts and the size of each character's Arrays. Hulk and Daredevil are roughly balanced and might compliment each other nicely, Hulk's strength is just generally handy and shifting back to Banner gives him good science and engineering skills, and Daredevil's powers are great for information gathering and has all the skills that come with being a respected lawyer. Be careful of groups consisting of something like Molly Millions (claws, fast reflexes, and a heads-up display) and Iceman.

    4) You can stack as many sources as you want, but you can't break the caps.

    5) You can spend a few points for the narrative advantages of being wealthy, can buy mundane gear for cheap, and superhero-level gear gets a one in five point discount because you won't always have it on you (and a bigger discount if it can be taken away from you mid combat).

    6) Session 0, and be willing to let everybody retcon their characters a few sessions in. Also the GM should very much hand out Hero Points, you want players spending those things not hoarding them. AND FOR THE LOVE OF WHATEVER DEITY YOU PRAY TO DO NOT LET A PLAYER BREAK THE POWER LEVEL LIMITS HOWEVER MUCH THEY BEG*.

    7) Literally just after Vehicles. Buy ranks of Speed or Flight to turn one into a vehicle. There is a one in three chance chance of vehicular bases being Zeppelins.

    * If everybody wants to do it start at a higher PL.


    It doesn't even take a quarter of your points to achieve FTL running speeds (and I need to dig out Sir Hopsalot, the Relativistic Rabbit, and check if I got him to FTL or not), so the most important thing is to make sure that everybody is on the same page. The second most important is to watch out for people trying to abuse Summon, Sidekick, or Minion.
    Last edited by Anonymouswizard; 2021-01-16 at 05:04 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post

    2) minmaxing one way leaves you relatively useless against those who minmaxed the other way. But I'd recommend a limit of roughly +/-5 from the middle to start with, it still gives a nice ten point range and doesn't lead to the problems of dropping one defence to -5 to boost it's counterpart to 25 (or the guy who can't hit anything).
    Do you mean I should have +5 as a maximum in any of the Abilities? Isn't that Peak Human, ie, Batman?

    It doesn't even take a quarter of your points to achieve FTL running speeds (and I need to dig out Sir Hopsalot, the Relativistic Rabbit, and check if I got him to FTL or not),
    What a fascinating individual :)
    "Is this 'cause I killed the hippie? Is that even illegal?"

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeivar View Post
    Do you mean I should have +5 as a maximum in any of the Abilities? Isn't that Peak Human, ie, Batman?
    No, I'm saying keep your attack bonus, damage bonus, and defences between 5 and 15. It's not a rule you have to stick to, but it does help avoid the balance issues.

    What a fascinating individual :)
    Dug out his sheet. Sir Hopsalot is a fun character, although I ended up dropping him to below relativistic speeds just to get that 10 in Agility. He also has20 Dodge and Parry, and if I dropped the Agility and had a GM ruling that 'only while hopping into things' counts as a limitation on enhanced strength I could get him to FTL speeds. There's some weirdness with the slam attack wording that just justify bumping into somebody not breaking the PL limit on attacks.

    He fights crime mainly for ****s and giggles, and his main complication is 'is a freaking (sentient, human-level intelligent) rabbit'. His backstrory involves him being discovered when a dry season led to him setting the fields around his burrow on fire, and an animal welfare lawyer managing to successfully argue that the mutant equality act gives full rights to all mutants regardless of species. I tend to pull him out as an example of how robust character creation is, yes you can RAW create a sentient bunny whose only powers are 'hops way too fast' and 'is immune to the direct consequences of hopping way too fast'.
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeivar View Post
    I'm interested in getting into M&M. I'm piecing together the rules from the d20heroesrd.com site, and I want to run a couple of test games before I look into buying the books (on top of the cost, the books will take at least a couple of weeks to reach my location)

    I'd appreciate a little bit of help here:
    My first piece of advice would actually be "don't try to learn from the SRD." The Hero's Handbook isn't particularly well organized, but I've seen very mechanically-adept players get seriously confused.

    *Can Enhanced Trait be used to buy up a Defence trait? Like, I can make a super-swordsman Parry higher than his Fighting?
    Yup! In fact (iirc) you can invest points in Defenses directly, save for Toughness.

    *General advice on handling power levels. At the default power level, 10, it seems really easy for someone to just basically make the Hulk and crank one or two traits up to max and be indestructible beasts. Would you recommend houseruling a maximum on things like this?. If I understand the rules correctly, then putting twenty points into Impervious Toughness makes you genuinely immune to anything that does 10 damage or less, which is the listed damage for rocket launchers. I know bullets bouncing off Superman's chest is a superhero staple, but this leaves a Badass Norma-type character without some kind of superweapon completely helpless against a tanky character.
    The guy with Impervious Toughness 20 might be nearly immune to standard damage powers, but their Dodge and Parry will be 0. They'll get hit by just about every attack they comes at them, even if the enemy uses a full power attack. Afflictions and Weaken effects will take a toll in a hurry... and if someone comes at them with an Alternate Resistence damage effect, they'll freaking die. I agree with the others saying that limiting the amount of trade-off is a good idea-- there are always ways around an abusive build, but a maximum ally-traded build is a problem. The perma-Concealment guy can still fight if they run into someone with super-senses; your Toughness 20 guy is either unstoppable or useless with little middle ground.

    *Should I generally try to encourage some balance between player characters? If one makes a Hulk-expy and another goes with Daredevil... well, I don't really know what to do with that combination.
    As long as no-one has an insane tradeoff, you'll actually be fine. I once played a Batman type in a campaign alongside Thor-with-a-spear and a guy who could selectively turn laws of physics on and off, and I never had any problems. The game really runs on the same sort of logic as DC Animated Universe stuff like Young Justice-- Robin can hit Superboy hard enough to stagger him, and the same explosion can stun both of them.

    You'll actually have more problems with NON-combat stuff then combat. Anyone who's hitting their Power Level caps will be able to fight just fine, but the guy who spent 20 points on social skills will feel pretty bad if his partner is a full-on telepath. Make sure no-one is going to step on too many shoes when it comes to utility.

    (Also, remember that "talent powers" are totally legit, where Batman has a full-on Concealment effect because he's just that goddamn good at sneaking. The only time I've ever been asked to tone down a character was my aforementioned badass normal--I bought two or three ranks of Variable (Skills and Advantages), and suddenly I was rocking a +20 on every skill.)

    *I know that a total modifier can't exceed the game's power level + 10, but what about, say, someone with really high strength who also has a strength-enhancing suit? Does that count?
    No. It doesn't matter where the bonuses are coming from, only the final result matters. CIRCUMSTANCE bonuses, like from the Favored Terrain advantage, are the only exception.

    *I haven't found anything about money. Is there really no system of money in the game, and you just buy gear with points? So there's no difference between being Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne?
    Bruce Wayne has Benefit 3 (rich as ****), which lets him justify way more roleplaying-type actions. The GM's Guide has a slightly more robust Wealth system, but I've never found it to be worth worrying about.

    *The character creation system is quite elaborate. Any protips on easing a group of new M&M players into it?
    Play a session or two with pre-gens first--that way people can get a sense of things before they ram their heads against the character building rules. Also find a copy of the GM's Kit--it's for randomly generating PL10 heroes for a wide range of archetypes, but if you choose at each step instead of rolling its a nicely simplified version that you can customize later.

    *There is a mention of buying headquarters (like the Batcave) with the Equipment Advantage, but I found no rule about those. Will I have to look for the rules in the books, or am I expected to make them up?
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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    ive only seen one super hero game that felt like it would be playable (Fuzion version of champions) but ive heard good things about M&M. Now some perspective, I've probably owned 7+ super hero games over the decades, and played just about everything from Villians and Vigilantes to MARVEL iterations using d100s, Cards, and Magic the Gathering beads. Each of these systems have strengths and weaknesses,

    but most of them run into the issues addressed here, but don't see the connection:

    Building a story around disparate, radically different character builds never works if you are both trying for a supers game, and also trying to keep them balanced.

    That oxymoron construction of the balanced adventuring party through top down point caps will not interface properly with most game systems, because their analysis of the little anime stat sheets is plainly wrong in all SHRPGs.
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    The story arcs with supers that work other than military,

    all revolve around peaky point breakers. The fact that their points break the narrative is literally the narrative. Scott Summers has OP vision. Jean Grey is in a love affair with an angry immortal and struggles with her own intergalactic threat level while trying to make any logical sense of a glorified highschool setting. Clark Kent's stat matrix is so obscene compared not only to jocks and cheerleaders, but also to 99% of all other super heroes and villains that the writers often struggle with the next chekov's gun or deus ex machina presentation of purple periwinkle plaid kryptonite blended in a Tarot Root Smoothie...

    This is not a problem if you are running Super Cops. There was an old cartoon called COPS like this with cyborgs and lasers.



    When your power levels are close to cyborgs (and i don't mean justice league fighting 'alien mother ships' solo level), or archetypes like werewolves, vampires, and possibly low key trolls/ogres, then the variety can be teamed together and kept under wraps.

    But most superhero games make the same mistakes - trivialization of monetary systems, or over valuing skills in a system where they are trivial.

    This has everything to do with the Minecraftability/Lego-ness of your reality. Like, are you looking at a Baldur's Gate painting of a town with imaginary borders where the computer simply stops you? Or are you looking at a house or tree, that is 3 dimensional, destructable, changeable?

    Super Hero narratives aren't about bad guys. Jean Grey and Scott summers pulled us from War Propaganda 2 dimensional 4 color comics to romance novel level depth. The idea of not just being a super hero for a 5 minute fight scene with super punch, but actually getting into the nitty gritty of coping with a living, breathing world with consequences. Perhaps they took that too far with Jessica Jones, but i think Punisher and Dare Devil hit a certain sweet spot of "i am a human being. i have problems. i have to pay the bills, but there's also super powers, and super villains. and the media... oh gawd, the media. someone please save me from those damned cameras..."

    The new show on amazon with the evil superheroes who are petty and cruel - thats not really a good way to think about things. That's literally the view, actually, of the lunatic who built the sentinels - like, a severely warped lens of extreme pessimism and paranoia about fake heroes.

    Nope, if i had to put a finger somewhere in the history book and point, saying "here's the right mix of fantasy wish fulfillment and gritty realism" i would probably go with the 1990s X men cartoon, and for a step down in power scale, batman the animated series or maybe gotham.

    Doing something like Legion will wreck your game table. Doing Doom Patrol will wreck your suspension of disbelief and destroy any sense of "no really, this time the plot matters".


    "but but, mr anthon... wth does any of this have to do with advice on running Mutants and Masterminds and setting power caps?"

    EVERYTHING.

    Superheroes aren't like other fantasy/scifi tropes. Their super abilities ARE the PLOT, and if you are observant, they are also their FLAWS. Hulk isn't just a strong berserk fighter who can smash stuff. Entire industrial complexes and plots revolve around trying to tap into his power source, copy his blood or abilities, or simply hold him prisoner. Narratively he's Jeckyl and Hide - a Werewolf - the uncontrolled monster who like Midas, destroys everything he touches with his "gift". Buyer's Remorse.

    Most super hero power builds are about buyers remorse,

    and the way a super hero player "wins" at life, is by overcoming that remorse. If a glass cup shatters every time you pick it up, or your super speed decapitates random strangers, that's not good. (right off the bat i have to warn about trivialize-resource level powers. Power Cosmic, Matter Transmutation, Summon Genies, or other "let me just make/conjure/hack" a billion dollars in gold are "win" level characters. They are playable with other win-level supers and cosmic villains, but terrible starters. Thanos for instance doesn't worry about paying the rent.)


    So how do you balance it?

    All successful super hero shows and comics have two things working for them:
    1. all powers are seen as both pro AND con, even if the con is jealousy from other teammates/normals;
    2. other than siblings/twins, each character's skill/power set is so different from the next that they by default compliment, or simply gap fill each other's weaknesses from over specialization. You never use the Triple Tank/healer/DPS matrix for super heroes, because most supers are Tank/DPS variants and almost zero healers exist in comics except as plot devices, because healers would destroy the permanence of the actions of villains AND the permanence of consequences of people who lose control over their powers.

    Healers Win at life. It's great for higher level/long term campaigns where you've already saved the world/galaxy/universe, but a Healer is necessarily on the same tier as Self Realized Firestorm or Smart Kryptonian Tech using Superman (trust me, thats broken).

    https://allthetropes.fandom.com/wiki/Five-Man_Band
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheTeam

    So typically you want your "guy in the chair" techie/nerd/hacker; your bruiser/warrior type; your "wtf is this" smart and able to handle weird lovecraft/magic stuff; your "hello officer, we are law abiding citizens" legal/social guy (who may or may not be the face of the team, or might just be the person who keeps the mob at bay); your undercover sneaky crawls through ventillators or sets up spyware teddybears/disarms landmines guy (the rogue/special forces/assassin) and then you get into your resources people, typically your Transport guy and your Pays the Rent/Owns the Super Base guy.

    All of these can have some overlap to each other, but its important that you cover multiple bases. A 29 exponential strength and a 19 exponential strength are the same to team members specialized in teleport and the guy with the armored gun yacht. And to strong man and yacht guy, teleporting 500 meters and 5000 miles are the same. Tactically, they are different in terms of D&D balance, but to team cohesion, jealousy, and how your narrative can work, they aren't.

    How you build the player characters different from each other matters more than how dedicated/over the top they are in a specific area.


    ...why did you mention military?

    Almost all power levels can be managed by the fictional military. The military of any major nation, or simply a rich nation, can generate its own super heroes, super villains, and industrial testing/controlling equipment, like exploding neck braces, tracking devices, 20 ft thick adamantium vault prison doors, electrified phase proofed cells, strange injections, disappeared families, and so on. If you really need to put your foot down, the Military can do it. The DPS of super heroes is typically equal to or lower than most military weapons, and fictional militaries have literally no damage cap. How much damage does a cold war arsenal do? I dunno. whats the damage of a nuclear blast multiplied by thousands? Some super heroes can end the world. Militaries have proudly been able to do that since 1945. "but mah player can take oodles of damage. No rifle or even grenade launcher can stop him!"

    ORLY?
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    Militaries are typically a civilization ending/Maoh threat level, while most high stat cranky supers are more like dragons. Dragons can be put on a leash, and forced to work together to achieve mission objectives.
    https://topstrongest.fandom.com/wiki/Threat_levels

    anything that can't be leashed is usually treated as too powerful a threat and they try to eliminate it (like a Franklin Richards). But Trust me, as long as your player character power level is between unemployed poverty batman and Superboy you can still run a military structured game that is awfully similar to classic "teams" or "cops" style narrative. When the characters can start snuffing stars or raising the dead, you should reset your game to a cosmic setting or give other players time to catch up or make less awkward BMX Guy vs. Angel Summoner characters.


    just trust me there's not a 1:1 point/level impact on the game for powers. M&M's resource costs for instance are grossly undervalued.

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    Eldritch Horror in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Your image links are busted, FYI.
    Quote Originally Posted by Red Fel, on quest rewards View Post
    "Is a stack of ten pancakes too many pancakes to give to the party, even if most of them fell on the floor and one or two were stepped on? I wanted to give my party pancakes as a reward but I'm unsure if it's too much. The pancakes are also laced with blowfish poison so the party would have to get an antitoxin before they could eat the ones which weren't pulverized by shoes."

    I don't think anyone would want those pancakes even if you paid them to eat them.

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    I played a couple games, and (as others have noted) it's really easy to make a broken (as in game-breakingly overpowered) character. It's also easy to make a broken (as in doesn't function well) character. So setting some limits and letting players retcon some point distribution (for either type of breaking) is a good idea.

    Also, beware of powers that give points that are limited to certain things. Such can be the overpowered broken. Examples are the Magic skill (I think it's 1 PP gives you 4 PP you can spend on magic), and there's similar other stuff. My first game had a powergamer who I foolishly let invest almost all his points into a super-suit, which he could summon at-will and wear continousously, so he was pretty much at 2x or 3x the power points of the other players. While his accuracy and defenses were still limited by PL, the versatility he had made him way overpowered. Even a Minion (or Sidekick? Forget the exact term) can be broken in some circumstances. I had a vampire-type character in one game, with a bat sidekick, and realized I could 'break' some aspect by having it maximize a skill I wanted and act as my proxy; but the DM wisely ruled otherwise.

    But, really, it can be a really fun game. You just need to work cooperatively with the players to make fun characters that can act well and solve things, but don't break the game.

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Quote Originally Posted by JeenLeen View Post
    Also, beware of powers that give points that are limited to certain things. Such can be the overpowered broken. Examples are the Magic skill (I think it's 1 PP gives you 4 PP you can spend on magic), and there's similar other stuff. My first game had a powergamer who I foolishly let invest almost all his points into a super-suit, which he could summon at-will and wear continousously, so he was pretty much at 2x or 3x the power points of the other players. While his accuracy and defenses were still limited by PL, the versatility he had made him way overpowered.
    Your first example confuses me, the example magic power is just a standard array based on [Ranged] Damage, so while one PP gives a new effect you're not doing anything different than if you were purchasing powers for a telekinetic or a array of weapons. Arrays can be broken, but they're not inherently so, they just require everybody to be on the same level when it comes to arrays and characters without arrays can still be competitive.

    Require arrays to be thematic and you're probably okay.

    The second example is easier to understand, although I think it requires doing something that the book outright tells you what to do (buying supergadgets with equipment points), or else very heavy abuse of arrays. Although you can always triple your points with the Cthulhuman trick: dump every single point on Controlled Heroic Summon 30. So I fully believe he managed it, I'm just pointing out that the book knows that such abuses exist and recommends not allowing them, even calling out some specific tricks (such as summoning monsters which summon monsters which summon monsters which...).
    Snazzy avatar (now back! ) by Honest Tiefling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Your first example confuses me, the example magic power is just a standard array based on [Ranged] Damage, so while one PP gives a new effect you're not doing anything different than if you were purchasing powers for a telekinetic or a array of weapons. Arrays can be broken, but they're not inherently so, they just require everybody to be on the same level when it comes to arrays and characters without arrays can still be competitive.
    Good point.
    Thinking back, my group never understood arrays so we didn't use them. So the Magic ability was basically one player having arrays while nobody else did. So, yeah, as long as it's available to all the group, I retract that statement.

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    Default Re: Need some help getting started with Mutants and Masterminds

    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Your image links are busted, FYI.

    yeah that was disappointing. There's internet scenarios where you post something, the links work for you, the poster, then you come back a month later and they don't work, and turns out never worked. Not even sure who to blame on that one, but they should be prodigiously beaten with a wiffle bat.


    Rules exploits for mechanical power should always be nerfed.

    Power that is setting appropriate and thematic should not be nerfed simply because it's uncomfortably powerful.

    Super heroes are supposed to be uncomfortably powerful, either to the Villains (Superman/Batman), or to the Civilians (X Men/Gifted).

    And how powerful a character is in their win category does not matter, as the balance of a super hero is their non-win category and the flaws of the fear and jealousy.

    Sentinels were created by the existence of super powers. Mutually assured destruction exists because of nukes.


    But something like a mechanical point loop or simply taking something because it rides the thresh hold of auto hit/anything/multi power, when it was never meant to be, this should be personally barred by the GM.
    Last edited by anthon; 2021-02-06 at 01:06 PM.

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