Sunday, July 17, 2011

Thoughts on Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition

I didn't get to do much with Mutants and Masterminds in 2nd edition, but I really liked the sourcebooks and the setting.  It kept my interest enough that when DC Adventures was announced to be part of Mutants and Masterminds 3rd edition, I was really excited.

Now, I've had a chance to run this system for months now, and I have had some thoughts on the game.  The short form is I am really digging the system.  For me, personally, the d20 trappings are deceptive compared to how the game plays  (I have, both in real life, and online, still seen a lot of people concerned that it is d20 supers, and it really doesn't play like a d20 game, other than, you know, rolling a d20 and adding a number to beat a DC).

However, just because I'm digging the game doesn't mean I'm 100% happy with the game.  There are a few little nagging bits that get to me from time to time.

Fiddly Bits Here, But Not Here . . .

Some powers have insane amounts of fiddly extras to add onto the power.  It becomes confusing in many places why you need to add those extra, because it's not always self-evident why you would add that extra, at least until you see a sample build from either the GM's Kit, the DC material, or the Threat Reports.

Even then, some of those extras don't seem to be applied uniformly.  I understand this, as the game is set up as a toolbox where you can build the same type of character in many different ways, and I respect that.  On the other hand, it does make me wonder if you need quite so many extras.

To give two examples of "non-fiddly" and "fiddly," if you take flight, for example, as a power, you can fly, hover in the air, whatever.  If you want your character to have a flaw where they have to maintain forward momentum to keep in the air, you would add it as a quirk or a limited flaw.

On the other hand, senses have a ton of extras that make my eyes glaze over when I try to figure out what needs to be added to the given sense power to make it do what it's suppose to do.  Acute, analytical . . . why do we need all of those extra, especially on senses.  And when compared to flight, why wouldn't you just assume if you can use a sense, you can use it to do "super" things, and then just "flaw" it down if you need to alter the sense?

These aren't the only powers that seem to have a bunch of fiddly extras that could just be assumed to be part of the "main" power unless you apply a flaw, but they spring to mind as the ones that are among the most confusing to me.

Action Economy Strikes!

One thing that Mutants and Masterminds does still share with it's d20 forbears is that action economy is king. If you want to run the traditional scene where your team of heroes fights a single powerful bad guy, be prepared to see that bad guy potentially taken down hard, especially if he has a few bad die rolls.

This isn't a bad thing.  It's a super-hero game, and you want the good guys to win.  On the other hand, sometimes you don't want bad die rolls to take your guy down before you pummel the Hell out of your heroes and make them wonder if they really will win.

Now, the core book does mention, for example, giving your players hero points for your bad guy to pull off things they wouldn't normally pull off.  That having been said, more guidelines on how and when to do this might not be bad for a new GM.

Which brings me to . . .

Guide me . . . 

Both the DC Adventures Hero's Handbook and the Mutants and Masterminds Hero's Handbook have information on how to run a game, and how the rules work, but I really think the game will benefit when the Gamemaster's Guide comes out, which, while we know it's in the works, is still in limbo as far as knowing when the product might see publication.

More example bad guys, more advice on how to have your villains "cheat" by giving PCs hero points, more generic villain types  (and minion types, and animals . . . ), and advice on how to run big scenes where one baddie keeps the player's at bay would be great.

To be continued . . . (well, not really)

As I said earlier, the criticisms that I listed above are by no means deal breakers.  I really like the game, and for the most part it runs pretty smoothly.  I like the mindset behind the game, and the flexibility.  I just get the feeling that the actual rulebooks that have come out so far are really bare bones as far as running the game, and that some of the powers have a lot of moving parts that are a throwback to earlier, more fiddly versions of the rules.

1 comment:

  1. I only have one complaint about the DC book. It is poorly laid out.

    Brilliant update, great system, good use of the license. Love it. :D