SuperTeam Handbook: Here Come the heroes

The Mutants & Masterminds SuperTeam Handbook, the newest addition to the 3rd edition lineup, is just around the corner. The text is finished. The layout is finished. At this point we’re just waiting on the final art and proofreading! In just a few weeks, it’ll be in your hands, ready to help your table get more out of their team!


The SuperTeam Handbook also marks the last leg of John Leitheusser’s prodigious run on Mutants & Masterminds, which started way back in 2nd edition and included the DC Adventures Roleplaying Game back in 2010. This book was his vision and his last product pitch for the line, and I’m happy he chose me to help usher it through to completion.

“But Crystal,” you say,”My group is already a superteam! We’re a team, and I think all my friends are just super, ergo…”Okay, yes, you’re friends are totally super, but here me out: Are you a superteam or a SuperTeam? Because there’s a difference. One looks way better on T-shirts. And you know what T-shirts are? They’re a quick and easy team uniform! Now you match. You’re even more of a team. Boom!

That’s value added.

Too much coffee. Let’s try this again.

Most RPG books are aimed and providing plenty of cool stuff your can do as a solo character, but most RPG groups play as teams. You’re not the only cool kid on the field. The SuperTeam Handbook looks at the awesome stuff you can do together as a group, from practical concerns like sharing points to build better HQ to drama-rich character interactions and personality conflicts that’ll just churn out those delicious Hero Points we all love. It’s a book that doesn’t just assume you’ll all work together as a team, but asks why you all work together, and how well you function as a group, and what do you do to stand out as a group. The player section introduces tactical and personality roles to help you flesh out your character’s own role as well as how well they mesh with other characters on the team and how they approach combat. It’s important to remember that your psychic doesn’t need to hit as hard as the brick or the living gout of elemental plasma; you pull your weight on the team your own way, and that can also be healing, buffing your allies, protecting people, or heckling the villain; they don’t call him “Robin, the Boy Distraction” for nothing!

“Ugh, but Crystal,” you say, forgetting I cannot hear you and this was all written days ago, “This all sounds like that icky story games, improv stuff. Where’s the beef?” Dude, chill. There is plenty of crunch for you lovely crunch-monkeys, too. The SuperTeam handbook introduces team templates so everyone can pool their resources to buy cool jets, submarines, and asteroid bases. And to make that process easier we also introduce plenty of cool jets, submarines, and asteroid bases. Behold!

 

Orbiting Asteroid Base 30 EP

Size: Awesome, Toughness: 10, Features: Combat Simulator, Cold Storage, Communications, Computer, Defense System, Fire Prevention System, Gym, Hangar, Holding Cells 2* (Impervious), Infirmary, Isolated, Upgraded Laboratory (+2 Expertise [Science]), Library, Living Space, Personnel, Power System, Security System 3 (DC 30), Workshop

 

There are also several new powers built with group functionality in mind, new team maneuvers to test out, and new advantages to help define what you can chip in to your team’s joint efforts.

Ladders, not Shackles

The meat of the SuperTeam handbook is over 100 pages of new, ready-to-play superheroes, spread across eight different SuperTeams. Each team contained 4-6 members as well as a four-page introduction with information on their background, their shared resources, and plenty of story hooks for Gamemasters to pick up and run with, as well as a team nemesis to face off against!

The teams in the SuperTeam Handbook are “soft canon,” which means they’re there as a guideline for players and Gamemasters. Every team is assumed to exist somewhere within Earth Prime, but the rosters and statblocks presented are aimed at players rather than at being perfect expressions of their role and history. You shouldn’t feel like the version of UNQIUE presented in this book is the One True UNIQUE that must always exist in Earth Prime. If you like the team concept and guidelines but not the characters (as player character heroes or NPCs), feel free to tweak them or toss them out and substitute your own. The SuperTeam Handbook is a toolkit on every level, not a definitive reference book.

Here’s the complete list of which teams will be showing up in the SuperTeam handbook, but you’ll have to wait for next week to learn the details of who’s who:

  • UNIQUE (PL 12)
  • Project Freedom (PL 11)
  • The Outliers (PL 10)
  • The Upstarts (PL 9)
  • Magna Force (PL 8-11)
  • The Ferroburg Four (PL 7)
  • The Shadow Knights (PL 6)
  • Red Group (PL 5)

Ronin Roundtable: GAMA Trade Show

Last week Team Ronin made their way to beautiful Reno, Nevada to attend the GAMA Trade Show. GAMA, the Game Manufacturers Association, puts on this show every year for publishers, retailers, and distributors to get together and talk about their products, policies, and industry news. Publishers put up booths in an exhibit hall where retailers can come chat, check out our wares, and create an environment for feedback and construction.

This year we set up our booth and talked with retailers about the upcoming print release of Return to Freeport, which releases in just a few days, and The Expanse which will release to hobby stores on April 23rd, shortly after our backers receive their copies. We also talked about our upcoming slew of releases, which you can read about in Pramas’ posts here, here, and here. Retailers were particularly excited to learn about the plans to support The Expanse, as excitement at the store level is higher than even we expected!

The other major topic of discussion with retailers was our Pre-Order Plus program! With so much going on in the industry, we wanted to take the time to educate our partners about this program in person. Tons of retailers were excited about this but hadn’t heard about it before so we used this opportunity to bring it to light so that our retail partners have all the correct tools and support we can provide them.

We also had quite a few closed-door meetings with our distributors to discuss issues in the supply chain and the growing market. Scott Thorne, the owner of Castle Perilous Books & Games in Carbondale, Illinois, said a few years ago that he estimated well over 200 SKUs a month which has caused some retailers and distributors some issues. All our partners were understanding and will help going forward! If your local game shop carries our books, make sure to thank them on our behalf.

Many of the things at GAMA Trade Show are often behind-the-scenes; the exhibit hall, the meetings, and the seminars are all meant for industry folks – but these things affect our fans as well. Meeting these people and having time to chat makes it easier for us to make our books and get them into stores, which ultimately makes our products more available and more accessible.

Finally, we got to chat with some of our peers and have fun talking about the Pun War we had on Twitter with some of our friends. There’s a lot to be said about our industry being built on fun, and being able to make that fun in a different way that we can still share with our fans is satisfying.

All in all GAMA Trade Show was a success, and we were happy to see our partners and friends from all over the world.  Now we look ahead to The Expanse and beyond – keep your eye on your local game store, and this space, for more of your favorite Green Ronin adventures!

Return to Freeport: A Love Letter to Freeport

I can’t properly express how excited I am to see Return to Freeport in its final, compiled form. This is a project that has been with me for a long time, and I couldn’t be more delighted with the final results. The idea of developing six adventures (by six amazing authors–Crystal Frasier, Jason Keeley, Jody Macgregor, Patrick O’Duffy, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, and David Ross) that each stand alone but also form a single united narrative, seemed daunting when I came on-board in 2013 to help with “Freeport: The City of Adventure for the Pathfinder RPG,” but I never would have guessed the final book would take until 2019 to see print.

Six years, for six adventures. And let me say up front—that’s almost entirely my fault. It is certainly not the fault of the authors, artists, or anyone else at Green Ronin. Mea culpa, and sorry folks.

And while I might be biased, I think the end result here is worth the wait!

The 168 pages, full color, hardback compiles and updates the six adventures we originally released in PDF format into one glorious book. The adventures take characters from 1st to 12th level, and go from hunting down the source of a curse in the streets of the city, to facing ancient terrors and enemy fleets on the high seas, to rooting out traitors and madmen in an even-darker version of the City of Adventure.

As much as possible, this book is a Love Letter to Freeport. I hope we managed to capture the unique blend of fantasy, horror, and swashbuckling action that has been the hallmark of Freeport since it launched almost 20 years ago. The authors have done a tremendous job both highlighting many of the elements introduced in the 544-page “Freeport: The City of Adventure” sourcebook, and in creating new foe and allies to surprise the players. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but there are unhuman gangs, undead crews, love, hate, revenge, and political machinations from other planes of reality… all with a side of grim smiles and sharp cutlasses.

One of the joys of working on a project like this is getting to expand a setting you love with characters, maps, and art to help bring it to life. Cover artist E.M. Gist knocks it out of the park illustrating one of the more dramatic moments of the adventure, and through the book the illustrators have done awesome work bringing the gritty streets of the city to life, and creating the look for new and unique ships, monsters, and locations into glorious detail. Even if I didn’t love the adventures themselves (and I do), I’d delight in the visuals that help expand one of the most veteran d20 locations.

I had a lot of fun visiting Freeport as a player when the first adventures for it came out, and I am thrilled to have been allowed to return as at our guide now, nearly two decades later. This book is a literal Return to Freeport for me, but it’s also a great opportunity to come visit the City of Adventure for the first time.

Just keep your eyes open, and your weapon handy.

 

Faces of Thedas: Yvette? Really?

(This round table contains mild spoilers for Fenris in Dragon Age 2. Yeah, it’s been 8 years but I still meet folks who just started playing it, Inquisition, and even Origins so erring on the side of spoiler alerts)

Hey folks, this is Jack here to talk a bit about Faces of Thedas.

Now no big book of characters can include every character in a large universe. You can look at our various offerings in DC Adventures, Wild Cards, A Song of Ice and Fire, and now Dragon Age to see this. The books include a lot of characters and groups, but not everything makes it into a particular book.

So who makes the cut? Well, it depends.

In Faces it was an intentional mix. The prime focus was on “quest givers”, people who enabled adventures and roleplaying opportunities for players, not who necessarily had their own adventurers. This is where characters like the Divine, Josephine Montilyet, and others came in.  But not all the characters fit exactly into that category. In many cases, characters were selected with a fair amount of wiggle room in how they could be used, often because they had targeted, and important but limited involvement in the canonical tales of Thedas.

In addition, some characters were included because they’d make good antagonists.  Potential antagonist characters weren’t necessarily villains, but definitely characters who could easily end up on the other side of a conflict from player heroes. This is your Lambert or Knight-Commander Meredith. Depending on the timeline and group? This might even be your Iron Bulls and Alistairs. This is also why we briefly revisited some of the important Darkspawn “bosses.”

Other characters were included because they would make potential romantic interests, allies, and patrons. These included some companions from the games, like Leliana. This also included characters with ties to important groups or events that still had that aforementioned wiggle room that makes them easier to throw into a campaign or adventure.

Some characters were also included because not including them was never an option. Be it Bioware or one of the several Dragon Age fans on our staff, there were characters people inside the production of this book wanted to see. This is also your Alistair, but also your Dorians and Cullens and so on.

With a few characters—very few admittedly—it was even the case someone in on the production side didn’t want to use a character in the book. Sometimes that person was me, but not always. I’m not going to detail who those characters were, but it was never a matter of “ugh, I don’t like them!” but some other reason that seemed compelling enough to use a different character.

So what about some of the folks who didn’t make it? It’s not that they couldn’t fit into one of these roles. Its not that they weren’t cool or no one liked them. It was just they didn’t make it for various reasons. For example, I actually like Fenris a fair amount. However, Fenris’ tale is pretty self-contained, socially isolated, and during Dragon Age 2 its quite possible he ends up dead at Hawke’s hands. So instead we had characters like Iron Bull or Michel—skilled passionate warriors with a story whose net cast a bit wider plot and campaign wise.

Note a lot of this was clearly “in our opinion.” That’s the thing about design, there’s always an element of personal, even arbitrary decision making. I’m not trying to thumb my nose and say, “well when you’re developer you can fix it!” but…there is a much less confrontational and more good-natured truth to that.  Not everyone will agree about what to include in a product.

And in case anyone is really wondering? I like Yvette. Yes, she’s a minor character who arguably “doesn’t matter”. I also think she makes a good romantic foil and political connection for campaigns who could grow and develop in response to interactions with a player group. So now you know.