64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2006
When I heard this little phrase, I couldn't believe my ears. But it's true.
My background is thus: I've been playing superhero RPGs for around 10 years, including MEGS (DC Heroes and Blood of Heroes), Champions 3rd-5th (AKA HERO), Truth & Justice, Marvel FASERIP, Marvel Universe RPG, and Marvel SAGA. Maybe a couple others, but these are the ones that spring to mind first. Oh, I also played Mutants & Masterminds 1st Edition.
Save a few minor nitpicks, Mutants and Masterminds leaves them all in the dust.
Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition (from now on called M&M2E) is an OGL game based on the most popular game system on the market, d20. Those not familiar with d20 may have some trouble navigating this review, but any Dungeons & Dragons knowledge will (hopefully) suffice.
M&M uses the same Ability Scores and much of the same systems as core d20 - Stats, Skills, Feats, Saves, Base Attack, and Defense. The method with which the characters acquire them is different though, as all have a price tag. All the elements of a character are bought with Power Points (PP)
M&M2E is remarkable on it's ability to balance out superheroes, as it uses a Power Level (PL) system which indicates how high a character's bonuses can go. A PL 10 character can't have an Attack, Defense, Damage, Toughness, or have those effects raised by Powers higher than +10. This doesn't limit the characters to be statistically identical, it's possible to trade off (having a maximum Toughness of +8 and Defense of +12, for example).
All sorts of Superheroes can be built, including Batman or Punisher, all still balanced with the Hulk or Superman clone.
While based on d20, it looks much different from core d20. How different? Well, let's just say I don't like core d20 and I like M&M2E. Not enough? Well:
Point buy character creation: Instead of rolling dice to determine ability scores, characters are built with a pool of PP (usually 150).
No Classes: Fighter, Mage, Thief, Cleric. None of these or superheroic variations of these are in M&M2E. All sorts of characters can be built with the ruleset, but there is no "classes" scheme.
One Die: the d20. It's friends (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d100) never make an appearance. The whole game is built around using a d20.
No Attacks of Opportunity: That's right, none at all. For those of you who don't know what AoO are, consider yourself lucky.
No Minis: meaning that there aren't any rules for playing with miniatures. There are plenty of combat tactics and maneuvers, just no support for minis.
No Hit Points: Characters in M&M have a Toughness Save mechanic that works much like the other Saving Throws. There are no hit points.
Hero Points: Are a resource mechanic that allows characters to perform "heroic" deeds and tip the balance in their favor.
Here is a quick summation of what was updated from 1st to 2nd, to help out those who might be considering upgrading:
*Ability Scores: now scale from 1 to infinity, without any mechanical split between abilities and superabilities.
*Attack/Defense: Now are bought independent of ability scores (Str and Dex don't modify attack or defense)
*Skill cost: Skill cost has went from 1PP/1 skill point to 1PP/4 skill points.
*Feat cost: Feats now cost 1PP/feat rather than 2PPs/feat
*Powers: Powers have been simplified, and now are less buildy and more pick and play.
*Weaknesses: Weaknesses are replaced with Drawbacks and Complications. Drawbacks give extra PPs at character creation, Complications give a way for characters to gain more Hero Points through playing to negative aspects of their character.
*Hero Points: Heroes acquire Hero Points dependant on adventure rather than level as in 1E
Now that I've gotten through the meat of the review, I'll go on to state my slight issues with the system (and the reason I gave the game 4 stars instead of 5).
The d20: Without the d20, the game would be much less OGL, but I feel the system suffers for having a large linear resolution system. I'm happier if my character's outcomes are more predictable. I'd have been much happier with some sort of bell curve (3d6 would be awesome). If you don't see this as a problem, by all means disregard it. I hear the Mastermind's Manual has support for changing the die type to 3d6, so I'll most likely get that and implement it's suggestions.
My second issue is pretty selfish: The deluxe edition I bought has foil lettering on the cover which is falling apart. I handled the book very well for the time I've had it, so I believe it was some sort of printing error. Still, I don't like spending an extra $20 for a cover that ended up falling apart. I emailed Green Ronin to no avail (they didn't even respond). For this reason, I think people should buy the original edition rather than the deluxe, so others don't have to share in my anguish.
That being said, if deciding which game to play Superheroes, you can pick many worse places to start than M&M2E. I heartily recommend it to all my comic-book-fan friends looking into RPGs for the first time.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2006
Let me start out by saying that I have not gotten around to playing M&M yet. I have both editions and both look great. The color pictures really put you in the mood to save the world. Now, what is the difference between rulebook 1e and 2e?
1. More archetypes for heroes to get you jump started in your playing.
2. Different villain examples along with three adventure ideas for each.
3. 100 generic adventure ideas.
4. Ability scores range from one to infinity.
5. Attack and Defense bonus are independent of ability scores and purchased separately.
6. Skill costs are cheaper: one power point per 4 skill ranks rather than one power point per skill rank.
7. Feats cost one power point per feat rather than two.
8. Powers have been "tuned-up, expanded, and refined."
9. Weaknesses have been replaced by a)drawbacks of variable intensity and value, allowing for more detail and fine-tuning and b)complications: ways of earning hero points in play.
10. Hero Points have been refined and the method by which heroes acquire them is different, focusing on the development of the adventure.
11. A lot more of everything: powers, feats, equipment, etc.
12. A bunch of supporting characters, animals, and monsters.
13. Two new introductory adventures.
For those of you who have never played the game, the great thing is that everything you need is in one book. While there are other "worldbooks" to get, they are not necessary to play. There are also no hitpoints(though there is an optional rule for them if needed) and you just need a d20. All in all, the second edition is definitely worth getting. It looks great and I look forward to actually using it instead of it just taking up space on my book shelf.
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2005
I had been looking for a good superhero RPG for some time, and knew nothing about Mutants and Masterminds. However, yesterday I walked into my local gaming store and the cover grabbed me, so I bought it on a whim.
When I got home and began to read it, I was so enthralled that I read through most of the book in one sitting. This is an amazing quality book. It has great paper quality, good page layout and chapter structure, and amazing art. The rules are easy to understand but seem to have incredible depth as well. The book operates on a heavily modified d20 system, eliminating a few d20 staples, namely class systems, attacks of opportunity, and hit points.
That sounded insane the first time I looked at it, but it works perfectly well in the context of superheroes. The cover promises the best Superhero RPG, and I was a bit skeptical, but this book has quickly made me what Stan Lee might call a "true believer". 5 stars.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2006
I have only two complaints about the book:
1) The index is not as thorough as it should be. Some people don't mind that but, well, I am not gifted with eidetic memory. I'm an index person, and love to use it to find all those obscure topics that may pop up in a game. Some have suggested to buy the PDF verrsion as well so I can then do full searches, but that means spending $20 more. Granted, I'd probably do that :), but that doesn't erase the fact that the printed book should have done a good job from the start.
2) Erratas are a blessing, but I honestly believe the editors should have done a more thorough job organizing and spellchecking the book. If I can spellcheck and check for consistency in a 300+ page thesis on my own, I'm sure anyone can do the same with a 255+ page book with generoush breathing room between sentences and paragraphs. It's nothing major, really, but when important information such as how on earth you get Impervious Toughness is "hidden" in the entry for the Protection power (and not mentioned anywhere else, not even in the index!), its a bit frustrating. What about the Character Sheet *adding* Dodge Bonus to the Defense total, while on page 150 one sees that the entry should have a "Miscellaneous Modifier" instead. A few trips to the forums can clear these issues, but I usually don't have access to a PC at the gaming table.
Apart from those glitches, it is a solid book, and the system does a superb job of emulating that "comic book" feel in campaigns. Just remember to download the errata and FAQs, and that Green Ronin's "Mutants and Masterminds" forum is THE place to go when you get stumped with anything in the book.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2006
I play a lot of PnP RPGs. In fact, I have one for every "Geek" in me. I have D&D for the "Fantasy-geek" in me, World of Darkness endulges my "Goth-geek", D20 Future keeps my "Sci-fi-geek" running as maximum power, and Castle Faulkenstein has a hold of the...uh..."Victorian-geek" in me. But for a long time, I could find nothing to satisfy my greatest Geek - the "Comic-geek."
I tried using a little known system called Villains and Vigilantes, but my Comic-geek was not happy. I tried multiple systems people had created and posted online, and my Comic-geek cried. He had lost all hope. With his hopes shattered, he plunged himself of the Cliff of Roleplayersville, believe there was no place for him here. But, before he hit the ground, he came to a halt and began to ascend the cliff by some unknown source. He looked up and saw the sillouette of an amazing figure, cape waving in the breeze, it was the answer to his prays. The figure looked down at Comic-geek and said "Everything is going to be ok. I'm here now."
The amazing figure was none other than Mutants and Masterminds. Though the book doesn't actually wear a cape, it's system is nothing short of a super-powered success. M&M's (go ahead, get the giggles out of your system. Good? Ok then.) system will be decently familiar to those of you who've played D&D, but don't be fooled. The system incorperates game mechanics all it's own, making sure the overall experience of a game session is just like an action packed comic book adventure.
I started with the 1st Edition, and it was nothing short of amazing. However, even such a great system had it's fair share of problems, but I could live with them. Well, it looks like they took their slightly sputtery system in for a tune-up, and now she's purring like a kitten!
There are a number of things that seperate M&M from the rest of the pack...
1.There are no classes!
Though you are given some premade templates to chose from, the real joy of the system is combining skills, feats and powers in any way you can imagine, creating a unique and interesting character.
2.Hit Points?! We don't need no stinking Hit Points!
Instead of using the very mathmatical HP system, your character has a Damage Save. Every time you are hit, you roll against it, and depending how baddly you fail the save by, it affects you differently (miss by 5, you are stunned, miss by 10, you are knocked out). It takes a little getting use to, but give it a chance. It really gives the battles that comic book feel!
3.My PP is better than your XP!
Instead of gaining experience points, this game works with Power Points (PP). At level 1 you start with 15PP, and every 15PP after that puts you at the next level (30PP=lvl2, 45PP=lvl3 and so on). PPs are also what you use to purchase your abilities, skills, feats and super powers. After every session (or durring if your GM swings that way) you are awarded PPs, which you can immediately spend to raise current abilities! No more, "Man! I'm 100xp from leveling! Now I can't get my next ability!"
So, if you and your inner Comic-geek need some relationship therapy, Dr. Phill isn't going to help you! He may look good in a cape, but he's got nothing on Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition! Get it now!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 7, 2010
UPDATE: A third edition of this game is now out. See: Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook.
That said, now here's the review I wrote for this product: the humble second edition of the game...
You want it short and sweet? Fine. This is a great game. I recommend it. If you're into table-top RPG's and you'd like to play something in the superhero genre, this is definitely the game I suggest you go with.
You want a bit more detail before making the decision to buy? Hrmm... Well, okay. Here goes:
Green Ronin, the publishers of this game, took the d20 system and made a few carefully selected and well thought out changes. This means that if you have played 3rd ed or 3.5 ed D&D (and if you haven't, what on Earth are you doing reading this?) the basic core of the game engine will already be entirely familiar to you. What's more, the changes that have been made are all in the direction of increased simplicity, and all follow their own internal logic. So once you do get a hold of the basic idea of what's going on, these rules become extremely intuitive and easy to keep track of.
Yes, I know all that sounds lovely. But what, I hear you ask, exactly are these changes?
The two biggest are that character creation is now entirely point-based (no dice rolling at all), and the hit point system has been replaced by a slightly more qualitative system representing varying degrees of injury. Getting hurt in combat is now far more like failing a saving throw, and just how badly you fail that save determines how badly you get hurt. The practical upshot is that your characters can and will get beat up and bruised, but actual fatalities are very much the exception rather than the rule. That may sound a tad complex, but trust me, in practice it's not. And just as importantly, it's pretty damn near perfect for simulating the way combat works in a typical comic book universe.
That last little qualifier - "in a typical comic book universe" - is very important. As Gary Gygax commented way back when the original D&D was first released, as an attempt to simulate actual combat, his system could only be deemed a dismal failure. It's the same here. If you want a system that will accurately simulate what would happen if someone with the abilities of Superman took on someone with the abilities of Batman (i.e. you'd be left with a greasy smear of bat-goo), this is not that system. What this system will do is exactly what it's designed to do: simulate the way combat works IN COMIC BOOKS.
In other words, it's a game, people! Let's not lose sight of the obvious.
Another nice thing about Mutants & Masterminds is that the fan-base has created masses of really good and useful material that you can access for free online. For example, I've very easily been able to find a Wiki with stats for all the major Marvel heroes. Yes... I know GM's can cook up that sort of thing for themselves when they want to, but it's convenient to find that someone else has already done all the work. That said, of course we all know full well that most GM's will just use these stats as a starting point and then tweak them as needed to reconcile things with their own unique vision of the characters. Well, that's GM's for you!
Incidentally, I do realize I've written a rave here. But honestly, that's only because I believe that this book really deserves one. If you look over my other reviews (those of superhero stuff in particular), you'll see that I'm quite capable of being critical when I feel it's warranted. Check out my reviews of Batman Gotham Knight (Single-Disc Edition) and Green Lantern: First Flight (Two-Disc Special Edition) if you don't believe me. To say nothing of The Super Hero Squad Show: Volume One and The Super Hero Squad Show: Volumes 1 & 2 - Quest For The Infinity Sword!. I gave those last two only one star apiece. Seriously, I think it's the most sexist damn show made this side of the 1950s... Although I suppose that's another story.
So anyway, as you can see, I'm really not just blowing smoke up your cape when I give Mutants & Masterminds five stars. In fact, I truly believe that with the right gaming group behind you, this is the system that will finally allow all your superheroic fantasies to take flight.
Or as Stan Lee might put it...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 10, 2008
The M&M 2nd ed. book is simply an amazing RPG. Using a point build system, it allows for complete freedom to create and customize not just your character, but also their individual powers. You can also faithfully recreate virtually any superhero or anime character if you wanted.
The "balance" in the system between powers is remarkable, considering the freedom given to character creation, and how insanely powerful some comic book villians can be.
I do have two complaints however.
All the freedom to create your character almost encourages players to make characters that try to abuse the point system, tacking on flaws to reduce power costs, while trying to circumvent the negative effect of the flaw in some way. Though the system is very good at making power flaws exactly that, there are a few small holes that, baring omnipotence on the part of the creator, are bound to crop up in any RPG.
I strongly recommend that any GMs using this system have their players flesh out their character concept BEFORE letting them see the power list or even open the book, as I find this makes for more exciting and "theme based" characters, rather then "functionality-utility-handle-any-situation" characters.
My other complaint is that an average toughness character or villian can easily roll poorly on a "toughness save" (a roll to resist damage) and be knocked out in one hit, as if they had a glass jaw. Since the system uses a d20 as the main (read: only) dice type needed, the roll obviously ranges from 1 to 20, with an equal (5%) chance to roll each number. Since degrees of success/failure on a toughness save are determined in increments of 5, a low toughness character can roll a 20 and laugh off an attack, while a much tougher character can roll a 1 and be severely hurt or knocked out by that same attack. The same holds true for attack and defense, though to a lesser extent. As a house rule, I have been experimenting with rolling 3d6 for attack and toughness rolls, giving a range of 3-18 and making the rolls more consistent (a much higher probability of getting average rolls rather then extremes).
In conclusion, I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone who enjoys superhero RPGs. In 9 years of GMing I have yet to find a superhero system I like better, and I look foward to a possible future edition.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2013
I've been GMing rpgs for nearly 30 years now, and I have amassed quite a library of systems during that time. Of the various systems I've used over the years to handle Supers the two prime contenders were GURPS and Hero System (aka Champions) and I stuck with mostly Hero System (HS) with the occasional borrow from GURPS, with honestly never a look at M&M because it was D20 system and I assumed it would have classes, hit die, and all the other things I typically associate with D20. I have played in various D20 games and silently gnash my teeth over my pet peeves D20 tends to poke relentlessly. One of my players asked me to read M&M2E and give him a opinion on if it would be a good system for him to try his hand at GMing a supers game, this despite him being very conversant with HS. Out of respect for him, I took his copy home and spent the evening reading it.
Going into the various mechanics of how M&M2E handles things is beyond the scope of a Amazon review, for that I recommend one of the review sites that dig into the hows of the system. What I can tell you is that it banished my preconceived prejudices about the system, I came to see how it was superior to HS for my purposes as it let Supers be heroic by its very design. Its a point buy system, with the necessary flexibility to embrace the highly varied and individual nature of what Supers are, but it doesn't enslave them to just what they bought unlike GURPS and HS does, here a Super can manifest a heroic feat that normally doesn't reside on his character sheet and in a way that its balanced. It also gives plenty of tools to player and GM alike to go well beyond the theme of Supers.
I've since bought a good many of the source materials in PDF format as well as a few of the other books in hardcover because I hold books with a certain reverence. These have allowed me to go well beyond the theme of Supers, I've begun a steady transition of various system themes to be handled under the aegis of M&M, such as Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, heroic Fantasy, Science Fiction, and a plethora of other systems. It is IMO superior to HS, and this from a long time fan of the franchise, because it has all the versatility, scope and depth without the 600+ pages of rules a GM is looking at to be considered to be of basic competence. If you buy this system and decide to stick with it, be it the 2E or 3E version, I also highly recommend a piece of software by Hero Labs to assist in character creation as it not only handles the record keeping but assists considerably in mastering of the creation rules as well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2009
As a roleplaying gamer, I am naturally reluctant to try any system i'm not used to. So, it took a month or so of persuasion from a friend of mine before I took a look at Mutants and Masterminds Second Edition.
It has been a little over half a year later and I now count this book among my most valued gaming resources.
Mutants and Masterminds Second Edition is a pencil and paper RPG that is partially constructed on the popular "d20" rules. The d20 rules are the basis of Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars, Spycraft and numerous other roleplaying games.
I say partially, because Green Ronin has taken the core concept and altered it beyond what most Wizards of the Coast/AEG players are used to. First of all, the familiar level-based structure by which characters advance in power and influence is gone.
That's right, this is a point-based system. Essentially, characters do not have to gain "experience" in order to advance to another "level", but instead earn Power Points, which is a kind of currency to purchase character abilities, feats, powers, skills and more. This means that a character can change dynamically within the span of a game session without having to make complicated mathematical alterations to their sheet.
And it has to be: when the main focus of an RPG is comic book superheroes, you should expect anything and everything to happen. The usual powers, such as Flight, Super-Strength, Blast, Elongation, Immunity, Mind Control and so forth are here, as well as quite a few lesser known ones like Postcognition and Spinning.
But the great thing is, the information within this book allows you to go beyond Superman, Wolverine, Caitlin Fairchild, etc, and make characters you've known from anime, books, cartoons, movies, games...virtually anyone you can conceive of. Therefore, the system is highly versatile.
For example, I have seen owners create Connor McLeod (Highlander - movie), Ryu Hayabusa (Ninja Gaiden - videogame), He-Man (He-Man - cartoon), Ichigo Kurosaki (Bleach - anime) and Deadpool (Marvel - comics) with little to no difficulty. Ultimately, this proves that the system's versatility is it's strongest point and it really allows players and Game Masters alike to focus on the roleplaying without having to put the rules at the forefront of their thoughts.
I can't say Mutants and Masterminds is entirely flawless though. For one, lower powered adventures are not handled especially well and will often be a transitory period rather than the focus of an entire campaign. Also, some of the more granular details incorporated in other RPG systems are gone to speed up gameplay: while this probably won't be an issue given the genres the rules are geared towards, some gamers will feel it lacking and would do best to seek a more in-depth system like GURPS Fourth Edition along with it's superhero supplement.
Still, if all you want to do is get a game going where the players's characters are capable in action, yet concise in construction, you can't do much better than Mutants and Masterminds Second Edition.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Ok, first, I want to say I've been in RPGs for over 25 years. Starting with AD&D. I've GMed Champions, Godlike, BESM and other RPGs. Played WAY too many over the years, too.
This is the game that "gets" Super Hero action. Fast combat, easy mechanics, well written rules.... I love it. The detail for character creation is just right, IMHO. The book itself, is well laid out, lots of terrific artwork supporting the "feel" of the genre.
The game is based on the "d20" system, but instead of using a bunch (d4, d8, etc) of different dice, you use ONLY the twenty sided die. Characters are created thru a point-buy system and not thru random rolls (something I perfer, but it's not everyone's cup-o-tea). The book itself is well laid out, starting with Hero Creation. Sample characters are provided.
The rest of the book breaks down/ explains skills, lists all the powers, combat, equipment...it's all here. A vast improvement over the 1st edition.