Ronin Round Table: Around the World in 20 PDFs

By Jon Leitheusser

For the last three years (three!?) Green Ronin has released a weekly series of PDFs for the Mutants & Masterminds game. First were the Threat Reports, followed by the Power Profiles, then the Gadget Guides and Wild Cards SCARE Sheets. Each series has filled a particular niche and served a particular purpose.

We did the Threat Reports because M&M Third Edition was brand new and we wanted to provide Gamemasters with villains and story ideas, give players some bad guys to fight, and introduce people to the Emerald City setting. The series went over very well and convinced us to continue with the PDF series over the following years.

The Power Profiles were created to show players and GMs how to build powers, give examples of some unusual powers, and to make it easier for everyone to create the sorts of characters they wanted—whether they were player characters, NPCs, or villains. Because M&M is both an effects- and point-based system, it can be tricky to get new players up and running with a character they really like. Power Profiles was a way for us to make it easier for them to do just that.

The Gadget Guides series grew out of Power Profiles. People on the Atomic Think Tank asked for a gadgets Power Profile. Steve and I both thought what we really needed was a series of PDFs that covered a wide range of different sorts of gadgets, from swords and guns to traps and nanotech. This series will be collected a little later this year, and when it is it’ll create a veritable catalog of devices and equipment players can use as inspiration.

Alternating with the Gadget Guides were SCARE Sheets based on characters from the latest Wild Cards novels. We’ve had a long relationship with George R.R. Martin and when he told us the series had been picked up by SyFy and Universal to be the subject of their first film together, we were excited to have the chance to show off more Wild Cards characters. The PDFs in this series typically presented a character along with their history and powers. It was a great way to provide GMs with more characters for their game and re-introduce Wild Cards to M&M fans.

Now, in our fourth year, we’re pulling inspiration from the Atomic Think Tank once again! Last year someone (I wish I knew who) mentioned they wanted a "World of Freedom" book that fleshed out the rest of the world Freedom City and Emerald City are located in. It turns out we loved that idea and that the world has an actual name: Earth-Prime!

So, I’m very happy to announce The Atlas of Earth-Prime! It’s a 20-part, twice-monthly series of PDFs that covers every corner of Earth-Prime. Each PDF will be in the eight- to ten-page range and will introduce you to new characters, places, organization, businesses, and groups. Most importantly, the idea behind the series is to give you information to inspire stories and adventures that criss-cross the globe and take your heroes places you may not have considered in the past.

Just like our own world, Earth-Prime is filled with unique and unusual people and places. While the Atlas entries expand on previous material from older sourcebooks, it mostly includes all-new information in order to make the setting more vibrant and exciting. Now when your characters move beyond your home city or home country, there will be a world of things to do, see, and punch in the face.

One thing we decided early on, was that we would focus on the comic book aspects of the setting as opposed to real-world socio-political issues. We don’t ignore the bad things in the world, but instead we approach them in a way that will hopefully give you inspiration for super-heroic stories. So, super-powered people in other countries take on the roles of superheroes and supervillains, just like they do in America. Sure, there are paranormal mercenaries in South America and Africa, but they’re comic book mercenaries.

We also agreed that these PDFs wouldn’t include much hard data about the various countries. So you’re not going to find the population of Cuba in its listing, or the top three exports from Sri Lanka. If you want that sort of information, there are plenty of real world resources available to you.

Finally, and this may have been the most important thing we wanted to do with this series, we wanted to try and get writers from around the world to work on the entries for their region. So far we’ve done pretty well with that: Steve Kenson, an American, wrote the entry for the U.S.A; Scott Bennie, a Canadian, wrote the entry for Canada; Alex Melchor, who lives in Mexico City, wrote the entries for Mexico and Central America, and Fred Furtado, from Brazil, wrote the entry for South America. We may not be able to find writers from Africa or some other parts of the world, but we want to give this series a more global feel, and we didn’t think we could do that if all the entries were written by white guys from America. Plus, we didn’t want to end up with characters like Captain Shamrock, the hero of Ireland if we could help it. And we can.

Steve and I and the other writers on this series are very excited with the ideas we’ve come up with and we’re looking forward to getting the PDFs finalized and out the electronic door. You should see the first Atlas of Earth-Prime: The United States of America in a couple of weeks. We look forward to exploring the rest of Earth-Prime with you!

To celebrate the launch of the Atlas of Earth-Prime, we’re putting the Threat Report book and PDF, Power Profiles book and PDF, Gadget Guide individual PDFs, and the collected SCARE Sheets PDFs on sale for 25% off. Get to the Green Ronin Online store and stock up! The sale ends soon!

Jon Leitheusser

Jon Leitheusser

Jon Leitheusser is the developer for the Mutants & Masterminds game. He started gaming at the age of 12, has worked in the industry at a game and comic store, two distribution companies, as a publisher (where he originally published the Dork Tower comic book), as a game designer for HeroClix, as a freelancer, and finally for Green Ronin. He's originally from Burlington, Wisconsin and now lives in Renton, Washington with his wife and a really unfriendly cat.
Jon Leitheusser