Mutants and Masterminds: A Review

Posted on Feb 7, 2009

Recently the gaming group finished up the first arc in Jon’s wonderful mutants and masterminds campaign. I thought that I would take the break in the action as a time to talk about my favorite gaming system. I realize I made a video of this same type of thing but as I have yet to become a true fan of video blogging I figured I would write up a review as well. This review is coming after a longer time playing the game and with a slight break between the gaming and the written review. This is what has stuck with me in the three weeks since we stopped playing.

Online Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), the Mutants and Masterminds (MnM) rule system is very organic. There are a lot of rules to learn but the game encourages breaking those rules with the permission of the game master. It even goes so far as to mention that the game master is responsible for the enjoyment of the players and that rules should be bent and broken to provide the best experience. This encourages a level of improvisation that other games lack.

This kind of fluid rule system is needed in a system where you can quite literally play any character you can imagine. Our group had a Batman/Rorschach type character, a fallen angel and a man who turns into a razor demon. The Skull was our Batman, always planning and kicking some henchmen butt. On top of that he was able to hold his own in single combat with a lot of the super villians, Elimesial was the fallen angel. He had wings, a flaming sword and a foul mouth. He was also trying to work his way back into heaven. Finally we had Razor, a normal everyday 25 year old who could transform into a thirteen foot tall razor demon complete with a devil like tail. Three more unlikely heros have never worked together.

Character creation is my favorite part of any tabletop game. Ask the boys and they will tell you that I make five to ten characters to there one. This usually means that my characters lack elaborate back stories but is also means that I get a lot of experience using the creation system. MnM uses a points system with a separate power level limiting how powerful your character can be. These points, known as power points, are used to purchase everything from powers to saving throws. What makes this into such a powerful system is that you can literally create any type of character you can imagine.

The creators of the system have taken the time to create a lot of general powers which you can modify with descriptions, drawbacks, feats and the like. This means that you can select flight and then with you description decide if the hero is able to fly like Superman, uses a jet pack like the Rocketeer, has wings like a bird or any other method of flying you can come up with. Trust me when I say that with this system you can create any type of hero you can imagine.

You want a hero that is made of Guinea Pigs and shoots them at his foes? Easy, you just select the Alternate Form power then spend your points within that to get Blast: Guinea Pigs. Then take the time to think about what other things you could do with a body made of Guinea Pigs. Adjust other powers to fit. If, instead, you decide to go with the hero that poops unicorns that then fight crime all you have to do is select the Summon Minions power and add Poop Unicorns as a descriptor.

One thing to keep in mind is that the first character you create will be the most difficult. I would suggest creating at least three characters before working on the hero that you are going to want to play. This should help you get the feel for things and prevent you from wasting a lot of points on unnecessary powers.

Gameplaywise MnM, like most Tabletop RPGs, requires a game master that can engage his players. This is even more important in MnMs since the rules are so fluid, with characters potentially being able to speak to objects, throw battleships and control minds.

Overall I would say that MnM is my favorite system. It allows you to truly create characters from the ground up. Instead of having to create a character that falls within a preset class you can create you own class. This can make balancing a party a little bit tricky but also creates a lot of great role playing.