Sean asked the questions. I answer

Over on Putting Mutants & Dragons into practise, Sean asked a load of good, useful and informative questions. Rather than answer in the blog comments, I thought it worthwhile providing the answers here. Yet more Mutants & Masterminds love!

@Sean Good questions! Thanks for the kind words about the render. The clothing is actually Imperial Persian; it suits the Tiefling pretty well.

On to the questions!

….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).

M&M is a system which uses building-blocks which you can use to create pretty much any effect you want, both in and out of combat. For a Bless Crops  spell, something like

Transform 1 (Crops to healthy Crops, Range 10′, DC 11, Area:Shapeable, Increased Area:250 cu’, Duration:Continuous, Permanent, Flaw:Tiring), 8 points

would work. That turns crops healthy in a shapeable 250 cubic foot area starting 10′ from the caster, but it’s tiring to use. How’s that sound?

If that doesn’t suit, it’s a simple enough matter to change the way magic works. I know some GMs who specify that Magic in their campaign only works a certain way, and every Power needs a certain Feats, Flaws and/or Drawbacks to be allowed in the campaign (such as required an implement, once/day, Full Action only, etc).

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).

Pretty much any Power can be made Permanent if you’re willing to pay the points and it makes logical sense to do so. The Power first needs to have a duration of Continuous (so it doesn’t require any effort to keep active), then add the Permanent Flaw. To Create a Tree, just use the Create Object power, limit it to “only trees” and make it Continuous and Permanent. It works out like this:

Create Object 6 (300 cu’, Range 60′, DC 16, Limited 2:Trees, Duration:Continuous, Permanent, Progression 3 (Size), Flaw:Tiring), 5 points

That creates a tree up to 300 cubic foot in size, and it can be of any type (cherry, apple, oak, etc). Use Limited 3 if you want to only be able to create a certain type of tree, or Limited 1 if you just want a (more expensive) generic “Create Plants” spell. Again, it’s Tiring to make trees :D .
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.

There’s a generic “Magic” Power which give your character a Spell, and additional Spells (called Alternate Powers) can be added at a cost of just 1 point each. That’s by far the cheapest and simpest option.

Also, there’s something called a Dynamic Array which can be used in-game for pretty much any effect provided every Power has the same Power Descriptor (in this case, Magic). Have a list of pre-created Spells handy to select from, but any effect is open you you in game. Dynamic Arrays are expensive compared to buying and locking down your Powers, but they’re ultimately flexible.

In Mutants & Masterminds the players can spend Hero Points in-game to gain temporary use of a Feat, Extra or even additional Power (provided it makes sense), meaning your Wizard could have a handful of Spells he knows and uses often, then spend Hero Points for more unusual Spells as required.

In other words, unlike most rpg systems, M&M will replacate any Spell system you want to use :)

4) 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).

Yep, M&M has several ways to limit things. For characters there’s Drawbacks and Complications. Drawbacks are less useful in Fantasy than they are in the Superhero or Modern genre as they’re more concerned with things that harm or limit the character in some way such as Superman’s Kryptonite, a Disability or a drug addiction. Players gain extra Points to spend during character generation for taking a Drawback.

Complications are more interesting. They’re things that can affect or dictate how the character acts in a situation, and cover such things as an Obligation, Code of Chivaly, Reputation, Enemy, Prejudice, Rivalry or Temper. It’s all fodder for the GM, and when they crop up in a session, the player gets a Hero Point. This encourages Good Role-playing, and is therefore a Very Good Thing!

For example, if your barbarian has Complication:Hot Temper and someone accidentally spills his drink, he’ll get a Hero Point if he plays to the complication. There’s a saving throw to try and make if he wants to keep calm……..

For Powers, there’s a range of Flaws that can be used to shape exactly how you want the Power to act. Perhaps it’s a Spell that takes longer to cast or requires total concentration while it’s active, or it could have a reduced range (useful if you want to be able to use a ranged attack as Blast radius centred on yourself), or there’s some kind of Side-Effect.

Phew! Hope that helps!

Thanks, Sean. Oh, and the DAZ Studio tutorials will be up….. Soon!

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5 Comments on “Sean asked the questions. I answer”

  1. @ Question #3:
    Good call on the use of the extra effort to add alternate “Magic Spells”. Another thing I’d point out is the Ritualist Feat, which basically allows for construction of one shot powers (Like the Acorn to Oak, or Healthy Crops) at the expense of a few skill checks and some time. It allows for definite one shot effects. Such a thing could easily open a locked door – but doing so would take minutes/hours instead of seconds/minutes that a skilled thief would take.

  2. Wow, that’s a quick reply to some complex questions. Thanks, Greywulf. I picked up M&M so that’s $40 that Green Ronin owes you commission on. The index is good so now I can follow along to your explanation in my own book. I really like the way complications work. Instead of giving bonus points for character creation, they grant extra hero points when they come up in play. That’s a neat mechanic, one I think I may have seen before, but I can’t remember where.

    The Powers give me headaches, but I’ve never seen a good superpower system that wasn’t hard to wrap your head around at first (about an hour of reading so far). The basic system is simple and, of course, very familiar to anyone who’s played d20. I like the fact that it uses only one type of die (d20) though some people prefer having lots of dice to roll. No miniatures rules makes it easy to play online or on the road, but takes something from the feel of combat. From what I’ve heard miniature combat won’t be too hard to kludge together.

    I’ve haven’t looked seriously at M&M before because I’m not really in comicbook roleplaying (like comicbooks, just not interested in roleplaying them). Most of the roleplaying I do is some flavour of fantasy. But the flexibility of Superpower RPG’s can be amazing, and since I know that Warriors and Warlocks is coming (because you told me), if M&M is easy to GM it may be the system for my next campaign.

  3. Happy to oblige :D .

    If it helps, I can take a walk through how to build Powers starting with something simple (Blast 10!) to something more involved with multiple Alternate Powers, etc.

    Like anything else, it’s not complex when you understand it.

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