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    Default 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Hello, everyone! I might be GMing a 3e Mutants & Masterminds for some friends in the not-too-distant future, and while reading over the rules for the umpteenth time, I had some questions that I can't find answers for.

    1) I get how tradeoffs work in terms of attacks, with "To Hit +10, Damage 10" as kind of the desirable standard, but how far can one shift without effectively ruining an attack? Example: one of my players wants to play a nimble martial artist, and is okay for fluff purposes to shift one of his attack powers as being more accurate than powerful. Is To Hit +12, Damage 8 ok? Is To Hit +14, Damage 6 too much, and is vice versa too much for a big Hulk-type character? And on that note -- is it just me, or do some of the sample hero archetypes kinda suck, design-wise? Like the Martial Artist with Damage 4 attacks. It feels like these archetypes are meant to be learning tools, but some of their choices are just kind of bizarre. Am I crazy?

    2) So it seems like you can have as many reactions as you want -- why not just make a Reaction Damage power that counters with an attack every time someone hits you. Like let's take our martial artist again -- why wouldn't they add a Reaction Damage power that procs every time someone hits him with a melee attack? What's the reason not to do that, or is this one of those things where M&M is kinda easy to break sometimes, and that's not the end of the world?

    3) I noticed one of the sample archetypes in the Hero's Handbook (Energy Controller) took the Ranged Combat Skill "Energy Control" for what's effectively an entire array. So while I assume the idea of the skill is to pick like "Rifles" or "Bows/Crossbows" or something, by collapsing all of their attacks cleanly into an array, they're just saying "Ranged Combat: My Array." So why wouldn't everyone just do that, then. Like if you're playing a Samus Aran type, why not just say "Ranged Combat: Arm Cannon," and now you've got the benefits of that skill for all of your subweapons, effectively. And of course the knee-jerk counter to this is "Oh, if Samus gets separated from her arm cannon/suit at any point, she's going to be out of luck," but -- that's not gonna happen a ton.
    3) TLDR: Why doesn't EVERYONE collapse all their attacks into an array, then take the respective Skill for that array (so long as everything in that power is melee or ranged)? Is that common in your games?

    4) I feel like the combat system, while fun and flavorful, is NOT newcomer-friendly -- I'm tempted to do all the math for my players and not put the burden on them of remembering which degrees of success correspond to which status conditions. I might call them things like "Hit," "Decisive Hit," "Staggering Blow," and "Knockout" or something similar, and then just tell them which one they scored when they hit, along with the condition, and fluff accordingly. Have any of you done something similar in your games? Or did everyone just get the combat right away?

    5) What's the best way to build a sort of "flashy final form" ability for a player, who's fine with it only being available for short bursts of time, for dramatic effect? Alternate Form modified by Limit, or by Unreliable? Maybe both?

    That's all for now, but I'll edit this post if I think of more. Thanks for your help, in advance!

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    1) I'm not actually sure, but I'd steer players towards the attack modifying talents for more flexibility. It really depends on that the Dodge/Parry:Toughness ratio of enemies is, your +10 to hit Damage 10 attack isn't going to be that useful against characters who have focused on one defence (like your stereotypical Brick or Speedster). That martial artist is very good against some kinds of enemies, although it honestly might be a little limited.

    2) that's exactly how the game recommends building 'fire auta' type powers. In theory it's broken, on practice I think trappings can be used to work around that. Your Counterattack power doesn't work on me, I attack via my Million Strong Robobee Swarm array.

    3) basically, GM discretion as to if this is balanced or thematic. This is explicitly called out in the skill description. But yes, IME that is the default way players build characters (although people might buy ranks of Close Attack or Ranged Attack if they can't do that).

    4) I can't really comment here. 90% is the same as D&D, and my uni group had it all down within a session.

    5) This isn't really something M&M models. I'd likely just do it via some kind of Power Loss complication, the Fades flaw, or the five shots version of Unreliable (which would give five rounds of use between recharges, so the form lasts half a minute). If you don't want the gradual weakening or half minute limit I'd honestly go with the Complication over Limited.
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    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: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    1) I'm not actually sure, but I'd steer players towards the attack modifying talents for more flexibility. It really depends on that the Dodge/Parry:Toughness ratio of enemies is, your +10 to hit Damage 10 attack isn't going to be that useful against characters who have focused on one defence (like your stereotypical Brick or Speedster). That martial artist is very good against some kinds of enemies, although it honestly might be a little limited.

    2) that's exactly how the game recommends building 'fire auta' type powers. In theory it's broken, on practice I think trappings can be used to work around that. Your Counterattack power doesn't work on me, I attack via my Million Strong Robobee Swarm array.

    3) basically, GM discretion as to if this is balanced or thematic. This is explicitly called out in the skill description. But yes, IME that is the default way players build characters (although people might buy ranks of Close Attack or Ranged Attack if they can't do that).

    4) I can't really comment here. 90% is the same as D&D, and my uni group had it all down within a session.

    5) This isn't really something M&M models. I'd likely just do it via some kind of Power Loss complication, the Fades flaw, or the five shots version of Unreliable (which would give five rounds of use between recharges, so the form lasts half a minute). If you don't want the gradual weakening or half minute limit I'd honestly go with the Complication over Limited.
    1) That's a good point; by mixing up the defenses of the enemies, things stay interesting for players with varying attacks in terms of accuracy/damage.

    2) I gotcha. That seems to be the way around a lot of things, in this system -- the GM sometimes needs to come up with threats on the fly that get around certain defenses or counterattacks. (But of course, mix in lots of fights where the players get to use those abilities they paid for and feel strong.)

    3) I'm not averse to it, to be honest -- it just struck me as one of those things where it's billed as one way to do it, while in truth, it feels like it should be the only way to do it. But I guess that depends on individual hero concept, and whatnot.

    4) Good to know. I don't know it'll be so quick for my group, but I'll help them as best as I can.

    5) Yeah, I was leaning towards Unreliable, and maybe some Quirks to boot. I saw there's an ability in one of the supplements, an advantage called "Holding Back" that kind of does this, but I don't like how it necessitates that half the party is incapacitated, so now there's an odd insistence on keeping one player alive longer than everyone else because they have this cool ability that only procs in last-gasp situations.

    Thanks for your help! Did you GM this system before, or just play in it? Any advice for someone who's coming from a D&D-only background?

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    1) That's a good point; by mixing up the defenses of the enemies, things stay interesting for players with varying attacks in terms of accuracy/damage.
    Yeah, and occasional nook swarms for those with area attacks.

    2) I gotcha. That seems to be the way around a lot of things, in this system -- the GM sometimes needs to come up with threats on the fly that get around certain defenses or counterattacks. (But of course, mix in lots of fights where the players get to use those abilities they paid for and feel strong.)
    Honestly a lot of it comes down to 'use the narrative effects of your Descriptors'. Also don't be afraid to get creative, your evil wizard could have a spell that fires blasts of magical energy as suggested, but if you mix up the descriptors on that power they could very easily have a spell that teleports the #68 bus in for a brief moment to run over their targets. Note that each Reaction has to have a trigger, and as GM you can veto triggers too broad to work around.

    That said you can have fun with Reactions if you want. Want an orbital weapons platform that fires missiles anybody who attacks you with a firearm? Damage 10 [Increased Range 2, Area (burst) 2, Indirect 3, Reaction] is a mere 83CP. Although I'm not 100% sure that works, you could jury rig something with Triggered but I'm not certain if that's X uses per trigger set or X uses ever.

    Also include situations suited to noncombat powers. Thanks to comic book physics I once had a character able to ourun most teleporters in the setting, that was very satisfying when it actually came up.

    3) I'm not averse to it, to be honest -- it just struck me as one of those things where it's billed as one way to do it, while in truth, it feels like it should be the only way to do it. But I guess that depends on individual hero concept, and whatnot.
    Yeah, pretty much. If you apply the 'must be thematic' limit to arrays then there are situations when it's not ideal, but it's the default I've seen.

    4) Good to know. I don't know it'll be so quick for my group, but I'll help them as best as I can.
    To be honest, the biggest hurdles might be the general lack of voluntary reactions, the way damage works, and potentially not being prepared for just how quickly characters can move.

    Beware of the last one. High rank movement powers plus Move-by-Action can in theory beat anybody without a similar movement power or long ranged attack just by not being anywhere near their opponents except at the moment of attack.

    One character I had could run anywhere in Paris within a round. FTL speeds take less than 30 points, although teleporting to Alpha Centuri without using the Space Travel Movement power will take 100.*

    5) Yeah, I was leaning towards Unreliable, and maybe some Quirks to boot. I saw there's an ability in one of the supplements, an advantage called "Holding Back" that kind of does this, but I don't like how it necessitates that half the party is incapacitated, so now there's an odd insistence on keeping one player alive longer than everyone else because they have this cool ability that only procs in last-gasp situations.
    Sadly this just isn't the thing M&M is built to handle.

    Thanks for your help! Did you GM this system before, or just play in it? Any advice for someone who's coming from a D&D-only background?
    Only played. Got plans to maybe run supers games in the future, but likely with another system.

    Keep an eye on character builds and Arrays in particular. Read the sidebars to find out more about how this is intended to work. Ban Doctor Strange and require sorcerers to have a theme.

    Effects determine what something does, not it's aesthetics. Shirou Emiya does not have the Creation power, he has a Strength-based Damage power. Avoid recursive Minion or Sidekick loops.

    While Summons can't break the PL limit or have the Summon power, Angel Summoner can still get 16 PL 10 Angels to do his bidding, with the ability to summon specialised angels to fit any situation. Keep an eye on Summon even more than other Effects.2

    * 80 for a suit, 60 for a handheld teleporter.
    Last edited by Anonymouswizard; 2022-01-20 at 03:35 PM.

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Thank you for all your help, Anonymouswizard! M&M is a very different kind of RPG then what I'm used to, so this has been good for helping my sea legs.

    I read in a forum thread somewhere that one GM took to switching up things in the combat a little bit -- they had attackers roll for Damage instead of defenders rolling a Toughness resistance check (with all of the arithmetic suitably shuffled around, so probabilities stay even), so the attacker feels like they're tangibly landing a knockout punch, as opposed to the defender rolling to succumb to one. They also made the single-target Multiattack rules the default rules for all Damage-based attacks (if you succeed by two degrees, +2 to Damage, if you succeed by three or more, +5), instead of crits. So this way, super-precise speedsters and martial artists that lean into accuracy more than Damage will do less Damage on most attacks, but will "crit" more often, which feels thematically right, somehow.

    Would either of these changes have bad balance implications or cause issues that I can't foresee?

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    Thank you for all your help, Anonymouswizard! M&M is a very different kind of RPG then what I'm used to, so this has been good for helping my sea legs.

    I read in a forum thread somewhere that one GM took to switching up things in the combat a little bit -- they had attackers roll for Damage instead of defenders rolling a Toughness resistance check (with all of the arithmetic suitably shuffled around, so probabilities stay even), so the attacker feels like they're tangibly landing a knockout punch, as opposed to the defender rolling to succumb to one. They also made the single-target Multiattack rules the default rules for all Damage-based attacks (if you succeed by two degrees, +2 to Damage, if you succeed by three or more, +5), instead of crits. So this way, super-precise speedsters and martial artists that lean into accuracy more than Damage will do less Damage on most attacks, but will "crit" more often, which feels thematically right, somehow.

    Would either of these changes have bad balance implications or cause issues that I can't foresee?
    I've used the attacker-rolls-damage variant for the better part of a decade christ that can't be right and I've never had any trouble. The one thing to keep in mind is that survivability drops if you can't use hero points to reroll toughness saves--to compensate, I let a hero point reduce the effect of the incoming damage by one step. (Ie, from incapacitated -> -1 and staggered -> -1 and dazed > -1)
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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    On that note, for the love of Superman give out some bloody Hero Points occasionally. When a player only has the Hero Point you get automatically they have it, when they have three they use it to Do Cool Stuff. Offer them in exchange for setbacks or just because the group thinks a contribution is cool.


    Oh, and one very important thing to note:Attributes/Skill Ranks/Effects/Advantages are not capped at the series Power Level. The things they contribute to can be (attacks, defences, skill TOTALS), but if a player wants Move Object 30 go nuts (note: Movement powers are weird because of charging rules).
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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: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    On that note, for the love of Superman give out some bloody Hero Points occasionally. When a player only has the Hero Point you get automatically they have it, when they have three they use it to Do Cool Stuff. Offer them in exchange for setbacks or just because the group thinks a contribution is cool.
    I've also used "demi-hero points" at various points, which can only be used for Cool Stuff (specifically Edit Scene, power stunts, Inspiration, and an instant counter at the cost of your next standard action)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    I've used the attacker-rolls-damage variant for the better part of a decade christ that can't be right and I've never had any trouble. The one thing to keep in mind is that survivability drops if you can't use hero points to reroll toughness saves--to compensate, I let a hero point reduce the effect of the incoming damage by one step. (Ie, from incapacitated -> -1 and staggered -> -1 and dazed > -1)
    How RPG-playing time flies, right? What is that?

    I hadn't considered that, thanks! If they ever release an M&M 4e, I hope they just make attacker-rolls-for-damage the norm. I get what they're trying to go for with the Toughness check (saving throw logic -- you're not ACTIVELY making the bullets bounce off of you, it's a passive defense), but in practice, it's just clunky. Or maybe I'm just too D&Dified at this point, that I can't unmoor myself from the idea of the attacker rolling for damage. Hard to say.

    With you being someone who's worked with M&M for the better part of a decade, are there any bugbears (haw haw) that I should look out for, while GMing this system? Any tricks you've picked up, or any nifty strategies for getting new players into the swing of things? I'm thinking of making the whole first adventure set up like a tutorial -- some of my players only have experience with D&D, and I feel as though some of the differences will throw them for a loop.

    Edit: Follow-up question, have you found a way to make some of the stats ("Abilities") not suck? Like Dex & Presence. Do you think having Dexterity work as a default for Ranged Damage (the way Strength does for Melee Damage) would be game-breaking? Maybe make Fighting work as an alternate for Strength for Melee Damage, so long as certain prereqs are met? It seems like without some brewing, stats fall flat when you can just buy their effects elsewhere.
    Last edited by Abracadangit; 2022-01-20 at 05:36 PM.

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    On that note, for the love of Superman give out some bloody Hero Points occasionally. When a player only has the Hero Point you get automatically they have it, when they have three they use it to Do Cool Stuff. Offer them in exchange for setbacks or just because the group thinks a contribution is cool.


    Oh, and one very important thing to note:Attributes/Skill Ranks/Effects/Advantages are not capped at the series Power Level. The things they contribute to can be (attacks, defences, skill TOTALS), but if a player wants Move Object 30 go nuts (note: Movement powers are weird because of charging rules).
    Yeah, I was planning on being pretty generous with the Hero Points. This is NOT D&D Inspiration, this is clearly meant to be handed out (and subsequently used) with way greater frequency.

    I think I might preprogram Hero Point opportunities into scenes as well, as a kind of "Make sure all the civilians are safe before chasing the villain into the hole they burrowed" carrot. You don't have to do all the side things if you don't want to, but there might be a Hero Point in it for you, if you do. Stuff like that, and that way it doesn't always have to be a complication thing.

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    With you being someone who's worked with M&M for the better part of a decade, are there any bugbears (haw haw) that I should look out for, while GMing this system? Any tricks you've picked up, or any nifty strategies for getting new players into the swing of things? I'm thinking of making the whole first adventure set up like a tutorial -- some of my players only have experience with D&D, and I feel as though some of the differences will throw them for a loop.
    Once you get past the character creation hurdle?
    • Your players live in a world of cardboard. Take advantage of that--fights are way more dynamic when characters are getting punched through walls and hurled into gas stations (which then explode), not to mention feeling far more superhero-y.
    • Powers trump everything. A +20 bonus to Stealth doesn't mean much when the guy next to you can become literally undetectable for an equal point cost.
    • The power fantasy is even more important in M&M than, say, D&D. When the speedster finds the bomb halfway across the city before the baddie finishes their monologue, or the brick realizes they can't actually be damaged by the current set of foes, let them enjoy the moment.
    • But also be sure to include as many different sorts of challenges as you can, so that hopefully something poses an actually interesting challenge.
    • Expect the unexpected. And I'm not talking about D&D classics like "getting emotionally attached to a random goblin" or deciding "this duke vaguely insulted us, so we're going to spend the next six months building a rebellion to overthrow him," no--once they get used to the way things work, players will bypass entire chunks of your game with a single sentence. To take an example at random, I once played in a Tiger & Bunny style "heroics as reality TV" campaign. One of our early challenges was to save partygoers from a yacht being attacked by sea monsters. I rolled badly on initiative, and as the rest of the party jumped into action making ice rafts and picking off individual monsters, I was doing a bit of quick math. My turn finally rolls around, and the GM asks me what I want to do. My response: "I [some sort of power stunt, I don't remember the exact flavor] to boost my strength, then pick up the entire yacht and fly it back to the shore in one turn." At another point in that campaign, a fun little dungeon crawl was completely ruined when someone figured out they could ignore the maze and just punch their way through the intervening walls. These moments are what makes M&M worth playing, but they can definitely make a GM tear out their hair. It's always good to have a couple encounters in reserve in case one scene gets resolved unexpectedly quickly.


    Edit: Follow-up question, have you found a way to make some of the stats ("Abilities") not suck? Like Dex & Presence. Do you think having Dexterity work as a default for Ranged Damage (the way Strength does for Melee Damage) would be game-breaking? Maybe make Fighting work as an alternate for Strength for Melee Damage, so long as certain prereqs are met? It seems like without some brewing, stats fall flat when you can just buy their effects elsewhere.
    Sure--get rid of stats altogether. <shrug> As long as you say that Athletics covers feats of raw strength, you'll never miss them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    I've run M&M for over a decade as well. It's a fun game, but definitely a different experience than DnD. I prefer the 2nd edition of the game, because of some of the specific interactions of feats and options in the game, but 3nd has some nifty updates (that I've folded back into my 2nd edition builds). Afflictions is such an elegant design, I use the same concepts in everything.

    My main advice is to play it fast and loose. There are characters that can teleport across the world, shrink to different planes or existence, and bench press the Eiffel tower. Just lean into it, and make sure the players are getting roughly equal time to shine.

    Hero points are a great economy and it's okay to go meta with it. I like to bait players into it. "That building you're holding up isn't too heavy for you, but wouldn't it be a shame if there's a little old lady in apartment 3B still?" Once your players trust you're doing it to have fun and that screwing over characters is not the same as screwing over players, this can be a very rewarding way to play.

    Toughness shifts are more powerful than accuracy shifts. As previously pointed out, it's not a bad idea to give Autofire to anyone accuracy shifted, otherwise the numbers don't quite pan out.

    I use a "world made of cardboard" rule for characters. If their base damage for a strike exceeds the Toughness of a target by more than 5, then it's automatically lethal damage. This adds in a wrinkle for some characters that don't want to kill so they'll limit power against low level thugs, and then go hog wild with robots and big bads.

    I also built all the characters in Excel. My players never wanted to do the actual builds. They gave concepts, I built them to points, they reviewed, I tweaked, and then we played.

    I also allowed for trade-offs between offensive and defense to allow for glass cannon builds. For example, Cyclops could have a PL 13 attack with PL 7 defense in my game.

    Finally, PL 10, in my opinion is too high to start a game. Because the civilian world is tuned so low, you can have very super super heroes at PL 8.

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Meanwhile I forced my GMinto world of cardboard rules by:

    1) taking 'Causes excessive amounts of collateral danage' as a Complication.
    2) never using my Telekinesis below strength rank 10.
    3) grumble grumble was never allowed to collapse buildings on my foes.

    Also be aware that while most players will come with some kind of comic book hero or pulp novel villain there's always the chance somebody will want to play Sir Hopsalot the Relativistic Rabbit*. Have an idea of just how weird you're willing to go with concepts before you sit down to create characters.

    * He was rescued from experimentation due to a poorly worded 'mutants are human too' law.
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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: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Once you get past the character creation hurdle?
    • Your players live in a world of cardboard. Take advantage of that--fights are way more dynamic when characters are getting punched through walls and hurled into gas stations (which then explode), not to mention feeling far more superhero-y.
    • Powers trump everything. A +20 bonus to Stealth doesn't mean much when the guy next to you can become literally undetectable for an equal point cost.
    • The power fantasy is even more important in M&M than, say, D&D. When the speedster finds the bomb halfway across the city before the baddie finishes their monologue, or the brick realizes they can't actually be damaged by the current set of foes, let them enjoy the moment.
    • But also be sure to include as many different sorts of challenges as you can, so that hopefully something poses an actually interesting challenge.
    • Expect the unexpected. And I'm not talking about D&D classics like "getting emotionally attached to a random goblin" or deciding "this duke vaguely insulted us, so we're going to spend the next six months building a rebellion to overthrow him," no--once they get used to the way things work, players will bypass entire chunks of your game with a single sentence. To take an example at random, I once played in a Tiger & Bunny style "heroics as reality TV" campaign. One of our early challenges was to save partygoers from a yacht being attacked by sea monsters. I rolled badly on initiative, and as the rest of the party jumped into action making ice rafts and picking off individual monsters, I was doing a bit of quick math. My turn finally rolls around, and the GM asks me what I want to do. My response: "I [some sort of power stunt, I don't remember the exact flavor] to boost my strength, then pick up the entire yacht and fly it back to the shore in one turn." At another point in that campaign, a fun little dungeon crawl was completely ruined when someone figured out they could ignore the maze and just punch their way through the intervening walls. These moments are what makes M&M worth playing, but they can definitely make a GM tear out their hair. It's always good to have a couple encounters in reserve in case one scene gets resolved unexpectedly quickly.


    Sure--get rid of stats altogether. <shrug> As long as you say that Athletics covers feats of raw strength, you'll never miss them.
    I'm thinking of just asking my players to tell me what their character concepts are, and quasi-building their characters for them and/or tagging in the quick-char-generator, with as many rounds of revision and back-and-forth as necessary. With most of them coming from only D&D, I feel like explaining caps & tradeoffs, Alternate Effects, etc. is a whole series of lessons. That stuff can be shakily figured out on the go while playing, but to figure it out WHILE making your character... oof.

    I'm usually pretty improvisational while DMing D&D combat anyway, so I think a superhero system will be a good fit for me. Granted, this is a whole order of magnitude above that, but as someone who supports thematically appropriate counterspelling (i.e. fire spells can counter cold spells), M&M seems to be in my wheelhouse. I'll be sure to adjust my encounters after characters are made too, so there are at least a few challenges. Great story about lifting up the yacht, though! It'll be fun when everyone gets used to thinking outside of the box like that.

    Getting rid of the stats is definitely an option, I just wish they didn't suck -- they're a nice shorthand for the concept and capabilities of a character. But I might try my weird hotfixes after I'm more confident handling the system in general.

    Quote Originally Posted by GameJerk75 View Post
    I've run M&M for over a decade as well. It's a fun game, but definitely a different experience than DnD. I prefer the 2nd edition of the game, because of some of the specific interactions of feats and options in the game, but 3nd has some nifty updates (that I've folded back into my 2nd edition builds). Afflictions is such an elegant design, I use the same concepts in everything.

    My main advice is to play it fast and loose. There are characters that can teleport across the world, shrink to different planes or existence, and bench press the Eiffel tower. Just lean into it, and make sure the players are getting roughly equal time to shine.

    Hero points are a great economy and it's okay to go meta with it. I like to bait players into it. "That building you're holding up isn't too heavy for you, but wouldn't it be a shame if there's a little old lady in apartment 3B still?" Once your players trust you're doing it to have fun and that screwing over characters is not the same as screwing over players, this can be a very rewarding way to play.

    Toughness shifts are more powerful than accuracy shifts. As previously pointed out, it's not a bad idea to give Autofire to anyone accuracy shifted, otherwise the numbers don't quite pan out.

    I use a "world made of cardboard" rule for characters. If their base damage for a strike exceeds the Toughness of a target by more than 5, then it's automatically lethal damage. This adds in a wrinkle for some characters that don't want to kill so they'll limit power against low level thugs, and then go hog wild with robots and big bads.

    I also built all the characters in Excel. My players never wanted to do the actual builds. They gave concepts, I built them to points, they reviewed, I tweaked, and then we played.

    I also allowed for trade-offs between offensive and defense to allow for glass cannon builds. For example, Cyclops could have a PL 13 attack with PL 7 defense in my game.

    Finally, PL 10, in my opinion is too high to start a game. Because the civilian world is tuned so low, you can have very super super heroes at PL 8.
    "Fast and loose" seems to be the name of the game, ha ha. I'm all for it!

    Yeah, Autofire (which I guess is Multiattack in 3e) seems to be the way to go, so accuracy shifters don't lag behind damage shifters. I'm also thinking of letting Fighting buff melee damage, so long as the Damage rank of a given attack is less than the attack bonus, to emulate the "finesse weapon" feel of D&D, but in superhero terms. Martial artists don't need big muscles to strike hard, since they know where to hit to cause serious damage, as long as the attack isn't too mighty -- hitting someone like a truck requires Strength (or directly buying however many Damage ranks you need). But we'll see, maybe that's a bad move.

    Your method of making characters for the players is exactly what I'm thinking of doing, as mentioned above. Now that I have the hang of the mechanics, there's something strangely... zen(?) about making characters in this system. Like I find myself thinking of powers and concepts and then thinking "Ok, I guess I'd stat that out as X Effect with Y Extra..." It's becoming almost an addiction.

    I like the glass cannon idea! Now does that 7 apply only to active defenses, or to all defenses/resistances across the board?

    I was thinking the same thing about PL 10 -- making some practice characters for the heck of it, I discovered 150 points is a lot of real estate to play with. And then it gives the players a nice cushion of power points to gain until they hit PL 10, to pick up some new Alternate Effects they might think of later or with power stunts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Meanwhile I forced my GMinto world of cardboard rules by:

    1) taking 'Causes excessive amounts of collateral danage' as a Complication.
    2) never using my Telekinesis below strength rank 10.
    3) grumble grumble was never allowed to collapse buildings on my foes.

    Also be aware that while most players will come with some kind of comic book hero or pulp novel villain there's always the chance somebody will want to play Sir Hopsalot the Relativistic Rabbit*. Have an idea of just how weird you're willing to go with concepts before you sit down to create characters.

    * He was rescued from experimentation due to a poorly worded 'mutants are human too' law.
    Oh, I'm kitchen-sinking the heck out of this, what's the fun of a comic book setting if you can't have space rangers fighting alongside occult wizards next to sewer mutants, right. Nothing against people with more defined themes, of course -- but I'm looking forward to the craziness of a Marvel/DC-style thematic free-for-all.

    Sir Hopsalot sounds like a blast! Every team needs a dose of zaniness, keeps them from taking themselves too seriously. So that was a character you actually played?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    Sir Hopsalot sounds like a blast! Every team needs a dose of zaniness, keeps them from taking themselves too seriously. So that was a character you actually played?
    Sadly no, he came about after the last time I played. Do have a full character sheet for him though.

    And honestly next time I get the chance I'm more likely to play a mad scientist. Sir Hopsalot would work for a one shot, but would get stale fast if he's a PC in a full length campaign. Mad scientists and magicians are great as an excuse to ham it up and be zany, and having access to Artificer/Inventor/Ritualist is useful enough that groups will put up with it. I've got plans for Professor Pain, who incapacitates villains with his patented Pain Pistol (his archenemy is Doctor Destruction who wields the Quantum Exciter).
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Sadly no, he came about after the last time I played. Do have a full character sheet for him though.

    And honestly next time I get the chance I'm more likely to play a mad scientist. Sir Hopsalot would work for a one shot, but would get stale fast if he's a PC in a full length campaign. Mad scientists and magicians are great as an excuse to ham it up and be zany, and having access to Artificer/Inventor/Ritualist is useful enough that groups will put up with it. I've got plans for Professor Pain, who incapacitates villains with his patented Pain Pistol (his archenemy is Doctor Destruction who wields the Quantum Exciter).
    Exactly -- the zaniness is what I'm here for. Professor Pain is rad and needs a secret identity name like Dr. Aching that no one ever puzzles out.

    Speaking of Artificer/Inventor/Ritualist and the like -- did you have any kind of standardized downtime activities in the games you played, so the non-superscience/non-magic crowd had something to do? I'm thinking of having a little pack of options for everyone in between adventures, maybe like Train (1 free use of Extra Effort in subsequent adventure, but only for Speed or Strength), Read Up (gain 2 ranks in an Expertise), Community Patrol (1 free use of Connected Advantage in subsequent adventure for really small, low-key things), and so on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    Exactly -- the zaniness is what I'm here for. Professor Pain is rad and needs a secret identity name like Dr. Aching that no one ever puzzles out.

    Speaking of Artificer/Inventor/Ritualist and the like -- did you have any kind of standardized downtime activities in the games you played, so the non-superscience/non-magic crowd had something to do? I'm thinking of having a little pack of options for everyone in between adventures, maybe like Train (1 free use of Extra Effort in subsequent adventure, but only for Speed or Strength), Read Up (gain 2 ranks in an Expertise), Community Patrol (1 free use of Connected Advantage in subsequent adventure for really small, low-key things), and so on.
    Inventions/Rituals don't hang around. You invent a universal translator, use it a couple of times, and then forget it in a hotel in Peru. On the other hand it means you'll have EXACTLY the tool you need with prep time, and most people with the advantages probably nab Quickness (limited to making this stuff) to go full Spark. If a cruise ship is sinking the advantages are probably less useful than a flying brick, but not when you need to catch a teleporter.

    Sure, it's theoretically insanely cheap, but you need to ruthlessly enforce that if you want it to hang around you pay the points for it, and that yes it does take time and relative quiet to craft this stuff. Time you could be spending interviewing witnesses, researching at the library, or searching the crime scene for escape routes.
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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: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    Hello, everyone! I might be GMing a 3e Mutants & Masterminds for some friends in the not-too-distant future, and while reading over the rules for the umpteenth time, I had some questions that I can't find answers for.

    1) I get how tradeoffs work in terms of attacks, with "To Hit +10, Damage 10" as kind of the desirable standard, but how far can one shift without effectively ruining an attack? Example: one of my players wants to play a nimble martial artist, and is okay for fluff purposes to shift one of his attack powers as being more accurate than powerful. Is To Hit +12, Damage 8 ok? Is To Hit +14, Damage 6 too much, and is vice versa too much for a big Hulk-type character? And on that note -- is it just me, or do some of the sample hero archetypes kinda suck, design-wise? Like the Martial Artist with Damage 4 attacks. It feels like these archetypes are meant to be learning tools, but some of their choices are just kind of bizarre. Am I crazy?
    The archetypes aren't particularly well built. They're functional and do what they're intended to do, but they aren't the best option. Do note the martial artist has the Power Attack advantage, which lets them move up to +5 from Attack Bonus to a +5 to the Damage effect. So, it can be a +11/9.

    I wouldn't generally suggest shifting more than half a PL either way in any relevant stats.

    2) So it seems like you can have as many reactions as you want -- why not just make a Reaction Damage power that counters with an attack every time someone hits you. Like let's take our martial artist again -- why wouldn't they add a Reaction Damage power that procs every time someone hits him with a melee attack? What's the reason not to do that, or is this one of those things where M&M is kinda easy to break sometimes, and that's not the end of the world?
    Its one of those things that M&M just kind of lets yo do due to the permissiveness of the character building.

    3) I noticed one of the sample archetypes in the Hero's Handbook (Energy Controller) took the Ranged Combat Skill "Energy Control" for what's effectively an entire array. So while I assume the idea of the skill is to pick like "Rifles" or "Bows/Crossbows" or something, by collapsing all of their attacks cleanly into an array, they're just saying "Ranged Combat: My Array." So why wouldn't everyone just do that, then. Like if you're playing a Samus Aran type, why not just say "Ranged Combat: Arm Cannon," and now you've got the benefits of that skill for all of your subweapons, effectively. And of course the knee-jerk counter to this is "Oh, if Samus gets separated from her arm cannon/suit at any point, she's going to be out of luck," but -- that's not gonna happen a ton.
    3) TLDR: Why doesn't EVERYONE collapse all their attacks into an array, then take the respective Skill for that array (so long as everything in that power is melee or ranged)? Is that common in your games?
    They do, and it makes sense. However, you want some effects outside of arrays. As soon as you switch powers in an array the effect ends. So that really nice magic cage Doctor Arcana just captured Miss Midnight in? Yeah gone when the good Doctor decides to shoot Arrows of Arduius at The Obliterating Bulk.

    4) I feel like the combat system, while fun and flavorful, is NOT newcomer-friendly -- I'm tempted to do all the math for my players and not put the burden on them of remembering which degrees of success correspond to which status conditions. I might call them things like "Hit," "Decisive Hit," "Staggering Blow," and "Knockout" or something similar, and then just tell them which one they scored when they hit, along with the condition, and fluff accordingly. Have any of you done something similar in your games? Or did everyone just get the combat right away?
    It isn't newcomer friendly at all, it can be a bit to wrap your head around. I recommend putting it on the players, but build a straight forward chart for them to follow. I think the 3E actually has something in the back of the book, its a bit hard to read because it covers such a wind range of numbers.

    5) What's the best way to build a sort of "flashy final form" ability for a player, who's fine with it only being available for short bursts of time, for dramatic effect? Alternate Form modified by Limit, or by Unreliable? Maybe both?
    Hero High has an extra called Holding Back. I'd have to dig a book out to get you some idea of the effect, but it pretty much does what you want from what I remember.

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    4) I feel like the combat system, while fun and flavorful, is NOT newcomer-friendly -- I'm tempted to do all the math for my players and not put the burden on them of remembering which degrees of success correspond to which status conditions. I might call them things like "Hit," "Decisive Hit," "Staggering Blow," and "Knockout" or something similar, and then just tell them which one they scored when they hit, along with the condition, and fluff accordingly. Have any of you done something similar in your games? Or did everyone just get the combat right away?
    Affliction usually isn't a problem, but I've had a lot of new players get confused by how the game handles damage. If you want to smooth things out, you can take an asymmetrical approach-- when players attack, they roll 1d20+damage against the target's Toughness +5; when they players are attacked, they roll Toughness as usual. That hides pretty much all of the math; your players just make a check and you can tell them the result.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beleriphon View Post
    The archetypes aren't particularly well built. They're functional and do what they're intended to do, but they aren't the best option. Do note the martial artist has the Power Attack advantage, which lets them move up to +5 from Attack Bonus to a +5 to the Damage effect. So, it can be a +11/9.

    I wouldn't generally suggest shifting more than half a PL either way in any relevant stats.



    Its one of those things that M&M just kind of lets yo do due to the permissiveness of the character building.



    They do, and it makes sense. However, you want some effects outside of arrays. As soon as you switch powers in an array the effect ends. So that really nice magic cage Doctor Arcana just captured Miss Midnight in? Yeah gone when the good Doctor decides to shoot Arrows of Arduius at The Obliterating Bulk.



    It isn't newcomer friendly at all, it can be a bit to wrap your head around. I recommend putting it on the players, but build a straight forward chart for them to follow. I think the 3E actually has something in the back of the book, its a bit hard to read because it covers such a wind range of numbers.



    Hero High has an extra called Holding Back. I'd have to dig a book out to get you some idea of the effect, but it pretty much does what you want from what I remember.
    Word -- I didn't notice the Power Attack on the Martial Artist until afterwards, but you're right. The shifting maneuvers give a nice slidery-adjustment feel to attacks, so beefcakes aren't helpless against ninjas and speedsters can hopefully get an attack through a tanky type.

    Yeah, arrays are nifty, but I've also since learned that array-happy chars can get shut down pretty quick with a well-placed Nullify. Not that I WANT to lockdown chars that way, but it's a nice boogeyman to scare people who want to rely on arrays exclusively.

    I actually think the HP-less system is cool, but I sympathize with my players who are gonna be like "Huh, what, we roll a save every time we get hit?" I'm probably gonna do what other people (and Grod) have suggested and roll with the "flip-the-Toughness-save-onto-the-attacker's-Damage-roll" variant. Maybe it's my D&D experience talking, but I feel like when someone lands a hit, they want to OWN that hit, and putting the Toughness save on the defender gives attacks this weird passive-voice-instead-of-active-voice effect. But we'll see how it goes!

    Don't worry about digging up the book -- I've got Hero Lab, I've just kept the Hero High material switched off for my char drafts, but I'll switch it on and find that extra. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Affliction usually isn't a problem, but I've had a lot of new players get confused by how the game handles damage. If you want to smooth things out, you can take an asymmetrical approach-- when players attack, they roll 1d20+damage against the target's Toughness +5; when they players are attacked, they roll Toughness as usual. That hides pretty much all of the math; your players just make a check and you can tell them the result.
    Ah, that's interesting -- I'd never considered having players roll Damage when they attack AND Toughness saves when they get hit. Certainly feels more player-agentive that way, doesn't it? I'm all for keeping the math away from them, ha ha.

    Extra question for everyone -- I see on a lot of other forums that people complain that their combats dragged on longer than they should. Is that a consequence of everyone rolling too well on their Toughness saves sometimes, or do you think that's people generally trying to play this game like it's D&D (i.e. keep hitting the Badguy until you can't hit it anymore, with little regard for superheroic stunts or creative non-mechanicked solutions), which would result in them having a bad time?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    Extra question for everyone -- I see on a lot of other forums that people complain that their combats dragged on longer than they should. Is that a consequence of everyone rolling too well on their Toughness saves sometimes, or do you think that's people generally trying to play this game like it's D&D (i.e. keep hitting the Badguy until you can't hit it anymore, with little regard for superheroic stunts or creative non-mechanicked solutions), which would result in them having a bad time?
    Sort of?

    I'd probably put the responsibility more on the GM's shoulders than the players, though. M&M really only has two types of enemy: minions and narratively significant foes. A normal character can put up a good fight even if they're out-leveled by a decent margin. They're not going to be brushed past with a round or two of attacks. Consequently, it's best to use minions for any non-named characters, even those that are objectively powerful.

    If you want to speed things up a bit, you could give your players advantage on damage rolls-- that'll help them land staggering hits faster and more reliably.

    You could also invent a "demi-minion" category, I suppose, who uses... if I said "Cumulative Damage," would that make sense? Each instance of damage pushes them one step down the track (-1 to dazed to staggered to incapacitated) regardless of their degree of failure.

    (M&M is a great system for houseruling, because of how simple and robust the underlying math is. If you don't believe me, check out the "d20 Exalted" project I have in the homebrew section here-- it's almost unrecognizable as being M&M-based, but still keeps the same balance)
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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant View Post
    Sort of?

    I'd probably put the responsibility more on the GM's shoulders than the players, though. M&M really only has two types of enemy: minions and narratively significant foes. A normal character can put up a good fight even if they're out-leveled by a decent margin. They're not going to be brushed past with a round or two of attacks. Consequently, it's best to use minions for any non-named characters, even those that are objectively powerful.

    If you want to speed things up a bit, you could give your players advantage on damage rolls-- that'll help them land staggering hits faster and more reliably.

    You could also invent a "demi-minion" category, I suppose, who uses... if I said "Cumulative Damage," would that make sense? Each instance of damage pushes them one step down the track (-1 to dazed to staggered to incapacitated) regardless of their degree of failure.

    (M&M is a great system for houseruling, because of how simple and robust the underlying math is. If you don't believe me, check out the "d20 Exalted" project I have in the homebrew section here-- it's almost unrecognizable as being M&M-based, but still keeps the same balance)
    Word -- the thing about it being more on the GM makes sense. I also feel like this is a system where it's a good idea to rough-draft an adventure, get your players' character concepts, and then go back and sort out the granular stuff, giving enemies/encounters interactivity with specific characters' powers or abilities.

    I actually understand what you mean by Cumulative Damage! Yeah, I was thinking of doing something like that anyway -- minions are a cool concept but are effectively made out of cardboard, having something between that and named badguys is a nice compromise, so there's enemies that can take a punch or two for texture's sake before dropping.

    Since reactions are infinite in this game, I was also thinking of adding little insta-counter reactions (for both players and enemies) that proc against certain kinds of missed attacks, to amp up the comic-book-scuffle feel -- like martial artists could punch back and forth until one of them lands a hit. But we'll see if that speeds things up or bogs things down.

    I looked through your Exalted project -- pretty dang ambitious! I've never played Exalted, but I've read how their social system works and wished other RPGs would implement something similar. This is definitely a testament to the moddability of M&M's engine -- when I try Exalted, I think I'll try your version of it first! I've heard other elements of the core Exalted system can be clunky, so I'd much rather explore it from the safety of an engine I already know how to use.

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    Default Re: 3E M&M General Questions, First-Time M&M GM

    Quote Originally Posted by Abracadangit View Post
    Word -- the thing about it being more on the GM makes sense. I also feel like this is a system where it's a good idea to rough-draft an adventure, get your players' character concepts, and then go back and sort out the granular stuff, giving enemies/encounters interactivity with specific characters' powers or abilities.
    I'd suggest the opposite, actually. Figure out what the villains' capabilities are and what they're planning to do, and then improvise their responses as heroes interfere in unexpected ways. Create a situation, rather than an adventure, if that makes sense.

    I looked through your Exalted project -- pretty dang ambitious! I've never played Exalted, but I've read how their social system works and wished other RPGs would implement something similar. This is definitely a testament to the moddability of M&M's engine -- when I try Exalted, I think I'll try your version of it first! I've heard other elements of the core Exalted system can be clunky, so I'd much rather explore it from the safety of an engine I already know how to use.
    Thanks It's kind of been eating my brain for a while now. While I'm absurdly delighted with how well it's turned out, in the interest of fairness I ought to point out that Godbound already exists as a proven system that's definitely not Exalted with a few name changes. Onyx Path themselves are also working on Exalted: Essence, a sort of splinter edition with simplified mechanics.

    The really neat thing about the Exalted social system is that it's more-or-less completely system-agnostic. All you need to do is cross out the Resolve modifiers and specific skills being used and scribble in something appropriate to the game you're currently playing (and maybe add the ability to resist successful influence once/scene or something, if there's no easy replacement for willpower. Creating and exploiting Intimacies works in anything from the lightest improv RPG to the most disgustingly over-detailed 1980s fantasy heartbreaker.
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