Ten Reasons Why Mutants and Masterminds is Cooler than D&D
In no particular order……
1. Toughness Saves. This one rule does more to change the table dynamics of the game than anything else. In M&M, if a villain hits the player’s precious hero then they have to make a Save against the damage. If they fail, how much they fail by dictates the effect. This means the players actually listen while the GM takes his turn in combat, nursing their d20s cautiously. Their characters’ fate is (literally) in their hands. In D&D, the players feel powerless when hit; all they can do is just sigh and mark down their hit points.
2. No attacks of opportinuty. Or miniatures. Or silly gameboards… I mean, battle grids. Firstly, they’re not much use when your heroes can fly at 10,000mph. Second, they’re crap. Sorry, it had to be said. Miniatures, AoO and the like to nothing for role-playing whatsoever. So there.
3. All the game. One book. Pick up the M&M manual and you’ve got the complete game, complete with villains, excellent GM world-building advice, loads of clobberable minions and two adventures to get you started. And they said it couldn’t be done!
4. You can stat your own version of Spidey. Or Lara. Or Gandalf. Or the Smurfs. Or anything at all, really. M&M seems to be able to handle anything that’s thrown at it, not just superheroes. Folks are using Mutants & Masterminds for pretty much any genre going including fantasy and science fiction.
5. Atomic Think Tank. And here’s proof! Atomic Think Tank is the official M&M forum, and it’s full of great people happy to help with surprisingly little flame-fodder. You’ll find everything from stats for classic comic-book heroes and villains to fully detailed combat examples, all the rules help you’ll ever need and more.
6. Hero Points. This is another game changing mechanic which lifts the system way beyond the norm. A GM in M&M is positively encouraged to break the rules if it suits the plot or genre, and gives the players Hero Points in return which allows them to break the rules too, within predefined limits. They’re used to explain how the super-villains manage to get away (right up to the last climactic battle), how the heroes find new uses for their powers right in the nick of time and generally serve to put the hero into superhero. Their use goes way beyond the Action Point mechanic offered in Eberron and d20 Modern. Way, way beyond.
7. Infinitely tweakable characters. There’s Blast, and there’s Blast (Extended Reach, Innate, Precise, Uncontrolled). While the first is good, the second is a closer match to something like Cyclops’ eye beams. M&M puts the fun back into character generation again; it’s just cool to keep going back to characters to fine-tune them exactly how you want, and sure beats reading some table to find a bunch of level-based benefits which don’t even match your character concept.
8. A deep undertanding and reverence for the genre. It’s clear from the first page to the last that Mutants and Masterminds was written by people who love comics. They love the terrible Silver Age costumes. They love the interplay between the hero teams, and pay brilliant homage to many classic heroes and villains, especially in the Freedom City supplement. Viewed uncharitibly, D&D does nothing of the sort for the fantasy genre. It walks right over the classic elements of fantasy (mystery, magic and wonder) and enforces it’s own versions of the same. You won’t find Gandalf’s subtle magic in D&D, or Pug’s Will and the Word, or even Tolkien’s elves. D&D hasn’t so much defined fantasy, as re-created it in D&D’s image.
9. Instant accessibility. If you want to play M&M just grab a bunch of players, give ‘em all a d20 and let them pick one of the archetypes provided. Crack open the sample adventures provided and you’re ready to game. The archetypes concept is inspired at it provides great ready-to-use heroes (and villains!) as well as providing fully worked examples and modifyable templates for the players’ own ideas. In contrast, to play D&D you’ll need at least the three core books, let the players generate their first characters and buy (or create) an adventure. That’s not only an expensive buy-in, but also time consuming too in comparison to M&M.
10. It’s still D&D! This is the kicker. All of the things that are great about D&D (and they’re legion), are present in M&M too. There’s the same six stats, the same skill system, the same (or similar) feats, the same saving throws and the same d20 mechanic. M&M is still D&D at it’s core, despite the radical changes to character generation and combat. Which means you can pick and choose between the best of both systems