Ronin Round Table: Good-bye, Green Ronin

Don’t worry, Green Ronin isn’t going anywhere—but I am. The beginning of December marks the end of my time as the Mutants & Masterminds Line Developer and the beginning of a new chapter in my life. This hasn’t been an easy decision, but it’s definitely a necessary one. The reasons are many, but the two biggest are that I’m dealing with a very painful and surprising breakup from my wife, and the other is that I started a new day-job a few months ago that is very demanding and takes up a lot of my free time.

Thankfully, I work with some very understanding people at Green Ronin and when I told them what was going on, they all said, “Go. Do what you have to and take care of yourself.” Also, thankfully, Steve Kenson and I had the M&M line developed out until about the middle of next year, so if there was a long wait in between my departure and a new Line Developer’s reign, the game wouldn’t really suffer any ill effects.

I’ve been working on M&M for a little over eight years. I freelanced for a few years before that, writing and editing a number of books under Steve’s guidance, but when he wanted to step away from handling the development of the line and instead concentrate on design, he and Chris Pramas asked me to come on board. Since I’m a huge comic book fan and love gaming—and really love M&M—I was happy to jump in.

Over the years, I’ve worked on the tail end of M&M 2nd Edition, the DC ADVENTURES books, and M&M 3rd Edition. In that time, Steve and I have worked together to make the game better, more interesting, and more focused on the players and their characters. The two things I’m proudest of in my time working on the game are the Quickstart Random Character Generator I came up with and wrote alongside Leon Chang, a freelancer and regular on the Atomic Think Tank forum; and the addition of Emerald City to the world of Earth-Prime.

The character generator took a game that wasn’t built for randomly-generated characters and approached the idea in a different way; allowing players to choose an archetype and then with a handful of d20 rolls, create a playable character quickly without needing to understand the rules. I was nervous people wouldn’t enjoy it, but once it was in people’s hands, it was clear the booklet was very useful and popular. In fact, it was so popular we updated the character generator and included it in the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook a few years later. I still open that book to those tables and see what sort of characters result from my die rolls.

Emerald City is important to me because it really changed the way we look at settings in M&M. Sure, it’s a city setting similar to any other you might run into in a super-heroic game, but instead of being filled with all sorts of big-name heroes already, it was a relatively blank slate; a city filled with villains that was looking for individuals to step up and be heroes! It also included a team of heroes, The Sentinels, that could be used as player characters, as a stand-alone hero team, as solo villains (or a villain team), or deleted from the setting entirely without having a significant impact on the city. The idea was to make the players’ characters the heroes of the city and the setting was designed with that in mind. That idea carried over into the upcoming third edition of Freedom City, which removes the Freedom League and opens the city up for a new group of heroes to become the heroes of the city.

So, with those two things done, plus the DC ADVENTURES line (talk about a dream come true) and the very successful five-year run of weekly PDFs, I’d say I’m pretty happy with the mark I’ve left on the game.

Thanks to all of my colleagues at Green Ronin, each and every one of them is someone I am happy to call my friend. Collectively, they are among the most creative, intelligent, reasonable, and considerate people I know. Thanks also to the freelance writers, editors, and artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years; you’ve all added so, so much to M&M and I look forward to working with you again in the future. Finally, thanks to all the fans, Gamemasters, and players of M&M; you’re the most important part of this game and I’ve really enjoyed interacting with you at conventions, online, and in our forum.

I’m sure you’ll see me contributing to some things for Green Ronin in the future, but my time with the company as a member of the staff is over.

Thank you, all!

–Jon Leitheusser

Jon Leitheusser spent several years as 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 then for Green Ronin. He's originally from Burlington, Wisconsin and now lives in Washington State.