Putting Mutants & Dragons into practise

….. or should that be Dungeons & Masterminds? You decide. Either way, it’s Mutants & Masterminds dressed up to look like Dungeons & Dragons. Why would you do such a thing?

Well, I’ll tell you.

  1. Your players don’t like 4e D&D
  2. You don’t want to go back to 3e D&D
  3. M&M offers more flexibility all round; players can generate damned near anything using the rules (within Power Level limits, of course). GMs can too!
  4. The GM can shamelessly beg, borrow and steal from 3e, 4e or anywhere else that’s d20-ish compliant with the minimum of fuss of bother, opening up a whole world of fun in the shape of adventures, the 3e Monster Manuals, the 4e Monster Manual and the Tomes of Horror. Hehehe.
  5. M&M has more mature rules for Hero Points, Minions, etc
  6. M&M doesn’t require a battlemat to play (but works happily with one too)
  7. M&M can be played over IRC. That’s tricky to do (but not impossible, granted) with 4e D&D
  8. Hero Lab – a stable, well supported, third party character/NPC/base/anything generator (it does 3e D&D too!)
  9. Utterly stunning fan support over at The Atomic Think Tank
  10. M&M is probably the best, most advanced and most wonderful rpg rules ever invented and deserves your love

Oh, and it’s fun too.

That’s all well and good, but how would you implement such a thing?

M&M is great because a wide open vista; there’s no character classes, races, pre-designed Powers or anything to limit your creativity. It’s also problematic for D&D-style play because there’s no character classes, races, pre-designed Powers or anything to reinforce the tropes of the genre. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to add what you need as you go along. Just create a template for the race, class or feature as they’re needed, and you’ll soon have everything you want, when you want it.

Here’s a quick example. Let’s generate a Tiefling Cleric, aiming to hit as close to 4e D&D as possible. I’ve set the Power Level at 6, and there’s 90 points to throw around.

First, we need a Tiefling template. In each case the number at the start is the points cost.

Tiefling, 13 points
2 +2 Int
2 +2 Cha
1 +2 Bluff, +2 Stealth
1 Super-senses 1 (Low-light Vision)
1 Bloodhunt (Enhanced Trait 2 (+1 attack, Limited 1 (per Encounter))
5 Immunity 5 (Fire)
1 Infernal Wrath (Boost 2; +2 attack & +2 damage, Limited 1 (per Encounter))

Wow. That was easy! In this case we’re going to spend the 13 points to buy the whole shebang; as this is M&M I could just as easily chop and change to best fit the image of my character. For example, we could lose the Infernal Wrath ability and add Flight to create a winged Tiefling, replace Immunity (Fire) with Immunity (Cold) ar whatever. It’s my character, after all :D .

Next up, let’s make a Cleric template

Cleric, 15 points
2 +2 Will
1 +4 KS:Theology & Philosophy
1 Feat: Ritualist (tied to KS:Theology & Philosophy)
1 Channel Divinity: Divine Fortune (Luck 1)
4 Channel Divinity: Turn Undead (Blast 4; DC 19, Range touch, Affects Insubstantial 2, Area:Burst (20′ radius), Alternate save: Will, Limited 1 (per Encounter), Limited 2 (vs Undead only)
6 Healing Word (Healing 2; Ranged 1 (20′))

Turn Undead is a fairly complex ability to put together, but it works out pretty cheap to buy. Who needs an exception-based system when you’ve got an inclusive system that handles everything right in the rules, eh? In this case it’s an attack that does a hefty (for the Power Level) amount of damage as a 20′ radius burst originating from the caster’s position, but only affects Undead (including intangible critters). In other words – the 4e Turn Undead Power, broken down into M&M terms.

So far we’ve spent 28 points out of our 90, and we’ve still to add stats, Feats and Skills beyond those granted by the Race and Class. But first…. Powers!

As this is a by-the-book 4e D&D to M&M conversion, let’s give him 2 at-will Powers, 1 per Encounter and 1 per Day, converting Powers straight from the 4e PHB. By default, all M&M powers are usable whenever the player wants to use them, so we’re going to use the Limited flaw to control whether the Power is usable once per Encounter (Limited 1), or usable once per Day (Limited 2). This has the happy side effect of making the Powers cheaper to buy too. Which is nice.

Powers, 30 points
10 Lance of Faith (Blast 3; Range 30′, DC 18, Alternate Save:Reflex, Linked to Boost 2 (one ally: +2 attack to hit same foe only))
5 Priest’s Shield (Strike 3; Mighty, DC 18, Linked to Boost 2 (+1 AC to you and one ally))
8 Wrathful Strike (Strike 4; Mighty, DC 19, linked to Stun 5 (DC 15), Limited 1 (per Encounter))
7 Avenging Flame (Strike 5; Mighty, DC 20, Duration 2 (sustained), Slow Fade (1 minute), Limited 2 (per Day))

4e D&D Powers are pretty hinky because most of them do two things at once, such as damage and grant an ally a combat bonus. M&M handles that with the Linked extra, which ties two (or more) powers to both work at the same time. That’s nice, but in play I’d use simpler powers instead and have more lovely points to spend on other things. That also throws the trust back to the player – instead of giving them Powers that are used in one specific way, they can invent clever and cunning tricks of their own, and spend Hero Points to make ’em happen.

Finally, we can put it all together, spend points on stats and the like, buy equipment and end up with a finished, 4e-like character.

Like this……….

Ristil Gychega
Good Male Tiefling Cleric PL6, 90pp

Str 16, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 15
Tough +1/+4, Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +5
Attack (Melee) +6, Attack (Ranged) +4, Grapple +9, Def +4, Init +0

Bluff +4, Diplomacy +4, KS:Theology & Philosophy +5, Sense Motive +4, Stealth +2
Attack Focus 2 (Melee), Ritualist (tied to KS:Theology & Philosophy)

Super-senses 1 (Low-light Vision)
Bloodhunt (Enhanced Trait 2 (+1 attack, Limited 1 (per Encounter))
Immunity 5 (Fire)
Infernal Wrath (Boost 2; +2 attack & +2 damage, Limited 1 (per Encounter))
Channel Divinity: Divine Fortune (Luck 1)
Channel Divinity: Turn Undead (Blast 4; DC 19, Range touch, Affects Insubstantial 2, Area:Burst (20′ radius), Alternate save: Will, Limited 1 (per Encounter), Limited 2 (vs Undead only)
Healing Word (Healing 2; Ranged 1 (20′))
Lance of Faith (Blast 3; Range 30′, DC 18, Alternate Save:Reflex, Linked to Boost 2 (one ally: +2 attack to hit same foe only))
Priest’s Shield (Strike 3; Mighty, DC 18, Linked to Boost 2 (+1 AC to you and one ally))
Wrathful Strike (Strike 4; Mighty, DC 19, linked to Stun 5 (DC 15), Limited 1 (per Encounter))
Avenging Flame (Strike 5; Mighty, DC 20, Duration 2 (sustained), Slow Fade (1 minute), Limited 2 (per Day))

Chainmail (+3 Toughness) & Mace (+6, DC 20)

Any questions?

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8 Comments on “Putting Mutants & Dragons into practise”

  1. Hey there,
    Great work. I’ve been using a modification of MnM for DnD like games recently as well. Just a few comments:
    1.) All of those attacks are actually MUCH cheaper in comparison, because they should probably be part of a power array, or at least alternate powers of each other. Only one attack per round, after all.
    2.) I like your use of the limited and linked to tie conditions together. It helps to capture the DnD 4e feel. 3.) I agree with you kicking back the powers to the player, making them less linked though. I think that in DnD 4e, the powers all do damage as a way of wearing down the impossibly high HP totals that the monsters have. Using MnM, that ticking down of HP is already represented by the toughness checks, and wound levels, so I’m not sure everything needs a linked damage effect.
    Ultimately, I love the freedom of MnM, and in my mind, it’s filling the same role as Hero system and GURPS, but with more internal consistency, if that’s possible.
    P.S. -> What are your thoughts about converting the bloodied/marked conditions?

  2. Greywulf,

    I like your render of Ristil Gychega. He has a bit of an Aztec flavour and I love slightly non-standard fantasy backgrounds (but not so non-standard that your players don’t understand what’s going on – a topic for another time).

    Your love for M&M is really starting to sell me. So, yeah, I have questions. The place were most systems fall down for me is the magic system – so how would M&M handle:

    1)A totally non-combat related spell – like Bless Crops (to give several hectares of fields improved fertility and resistance to drought and disease for a season).
    2)A permanent spell – like Create Tree (The caster throws an acorn to the ground and a mighty Oak springs up in seconds – and then lasts as long as any oak would).
    3)A mechanic for a mage to learn limited use spells like the above when he needs them, rather then spend points to always have these spells ready – but that makes it less practical for the mage to just learn and cast Open Lock then it would be for the party thief to attempt to pick the lock.

    Also I’m wondering if M&M has disadvantages, both for PC’s (Like Code of Chivalry, or Bezerk Fury) and for Powers (Like can only cast spells or change powers while in shadow).

    That’s enough questions for today. Looking forward to your Daz tutorials (don’t think I’ll ever use them, but the software does look cool, & I think they’ll be interesting).

    Thanks for the Blog,

    Sean

  3. @DVB Absolutely. I use Alternate Powers too (and Dynamic Alternate Powers) for my fantasy characters, a lot. It’s much more cost effective that way, as you say. For the purposes of convincing folks just how great M&M is though, I thought it better to save such cunning tricks to show them later :D .

    For Bloodied effects, I’d use the Limited 1 (Only when opponent is Staggered) flaw. Easy!

    Marked is a little trickier, mainly because it’s so darned non-standard, depending on which class is doing the marking. Something like Drain (-2 attack, Duration:Sustained, Slow Fade, Limited 1:if attacking doesn’t target caster) would work fine as a base though. Just add salt to taste.

    Ain’t Mutants & Masterminds grand? It can be used to simulate other rules systems, even when those systems make no sense :D

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