Mutants & Masterminds: BIGGER. STRONGER. BETTER. THE DELUXE GAMEMASTER’S GUIDE

Longtime fans and frustrated newcomers alike have probably noticed that the Mutants & Masterminds Gamemaster’s Guide has been out of print for most of this year. Why retire such a critical rulebook for one of our most popular lines? Well, we didn’t. The original Gamemaster’s Guide was involved in a terrible test-pilot crash, and so we retrieved it and took it back to base, where we rebuilt it better than ever!

The Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide has all the material you love from the original but expanded with even more content and bound in a sturdy hardback to better stand up to table wear. So what’s new? Let’s take a look at the updated table of contents:

Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide Table of Contents!

That’s 70 new pages of content! Let’s take a look at part of that today!

New Faces

The Archetypes chapter has been expanded to add new villains and new minions! One of the best parts of running a superhero RPG is getting to put your favorite tropes and sacred cows into the game, and I always thought the villain archetype needed a little more weird. The new villains include the Composite—a villain made from small particles or creatures, making them flexible and tough to hurt. But my personal favorite addition is the PL 8 Jobber, the second-string loser whose powers have a theme but don’t quite match the PCs’. These are your Shockers, your Condiment Kings, your Captains Boomerang. They’re great support; backed by a ton of minions or assisting a bigger villain, they’ll make you sweat. But on their own, they don’t stand much of a chance against PL 10 heroes.

I love the Jobber so much, I want everyone to have her! So here she is for everyone to enjoy!

Free PDF Prewiew of Jobber!

The archetypes chapter also includes lots of new minions to help round out your adventure lineup. The big goal was to add some more unusual minion opponents and round out that PL7-8 “Lieutenant” range, so here’s the list of new additions: Devouring Swarm, Trickster Faerie, Jinx Faerie, Arcane Cultist, Mystic Ninja, Drone, Robot Jockey, Tulpa, and my personal favorite and noteworthy missing pet: the Hyena. The Deluxe Gamemaster’s Guide also includes a new section just for templates, with seven sample templates to let you adapt the preceding minions for your own stranger capers.

Great Power, Great Responsibility

Part of being a superhero means being responsible in both deed and language. Words can have power, carry unexpected baggage, or be hurtful, and even when you don’t mean to cause harm, they can still have consequence. The original printing of the Gamemaster’s Guide included some word choices that are common comic book tropes, but also carry some real-world baggage. So we’ve changed a few names in the archetype chapter. These revisions use the same statblocks, but the shift can be confusing if you’re using adventures or villain write-ups that refer to these minions by name, so here’s the rundown on what got changed:

The Savage villain archetype is now the Hybrid.

The Thug is now the Crook.

The Hit-Man is now the Hired Killer.

And the minion-level Crime Lord is now the Boss. This wasn’t a sensitivity issue; we’re just trying to avoid confusion with the villain archetype of the same name.

Nisaba Press Update: Height of the Storm!

Last year, we announced Height of the Storm, the first novel for the Mutants & Masterminds line, by Aaron Rosenberg. Well, we’re counting down the weeks now ‘til publication, so we wanted to give you a sneak peek!

Height of the Storm is about a teenager who gets caught up in some pretty big events. Lindsay Seldon, though, is no normal teenager. The granddaughter of a real superhero, Lindsay grew up wanting to follow in his footsteps, but his overprotectiveness of his orphaned granddaughter keeps her out of the fight. But, caught up in an unnatural storm, Lindsay now has powers of her own, powers that her disability has prepared her for in ways she never imagined.

Donning her grandfather’s old armor, she sets out to thwart a villain bent on revenge.

Height of the Storm will be coming out in August, and will be available at Gen Con! Aaron will be there, so if you want to get your book signed, be sure to keep an eye out for our signings.

In the meantime, please enjoy an excerpt, and this first look at the cover of Height of the Storm, by the incredible Dale Ray DeForest. For more about Aaron, please visit http://gryphonrose.malibulist.com/, and for more about Dale, please see http://www.daledeforest.com/.


**

Lindsay gulped and tried to maintain her composure. This was not going at all the way she expected. “That’s not happening,” she replied, pleased to not hear her voice waver. “Put down the gun and submit to arrest, or I will be forced to subdue you.” She rested her hand on the hilt of the sword hanging at her side. Maybe she should have drawn it first.

The mugger’s eyes narrowed. “A sword?” he asked, chuckling. “You for real? I’ve got a gun, sweetheart. You try that, you’re gonna get hurt.” She wondered why didn’t his voice waver at all. Probably because he’d done this, or something like it, a thousand times.

Well, he’d never faced the Knight Light before.

Frowning, she drew her sword—and he shot her. Full in the chest. Dead center even. Well, he’d had plenty of time to aim, she thought ruefully as the impact knocked her off her feet. I’ll have to work on that.

As she fell, Lindsay flailed, both arms shooting forward in an instinctive attempt to latch onto something, anything. If there was one thing she was an expert at, it was falling. Her right hand shot out and grabbed onto the light post, which was a good ten feet away, causing both the mugger and his intended victims—who had stayed there frozen this whole time—to gasp.

But her left hand nailed the mugger in the jaw, the weights in her gauntlet causing his head to snap back from the impact. Gotcha!

Finally, Lindsay’s training kicked in. She was still in mid-air—it was like time had slowed for her, the fraction of a second required to fall feeling like an eternity—and so she brought her left knee up, positioning her foot to hit the ground properly even as she extended her right leg and brought it around and out, knee locked, foot extended into a proper sweep kick.

Time snapped back into place. She was stable and secure, thanks to both her left foot and her right hand, and her right leg took the still-staggering mugger just above the ankles. The impact jarred Lindsay—most likely taking her hip out, which unfortunately she was all too used to—but it swept him off his feet. He hit the ground hard, landing on his back with enough force to drive the air from his lungs as the gun flew from his hand, clattering to rest a few feet beyond his reach even as Lindsay released her grip on the lamppost and rose to her feet, striding over to stand above him.

Perfect!

She winced as the motion aggravated her hip—definitely out of place, probably the knee with it—and her chest, which felt bruised despite the bullet-stopping heavy links. Thanks, Granddad. She hoped she was keeping all of that out of her face and voice, though, as she turned to face the two women. “Are you all right?” she asked.

“Oh, yes, thank you!” the one on the right managed. The other one just nodded energetically, wringing her hands. “That was amazing!”

“Thank you,” Lindsay told her, feeling the same thrill she’d had whenever she’d completed a training maneuver successfully, only a thousand times more. “You two should get on home now. Be safe.”

“We will,” they promised. “Thank you!” And they rushed off, glancing back at her several times. Lindsay did her best not to grin like a little kid on Christmas Day but inside she was bouncing deliriously.

Yes!

Movement at her feet alerted her that the mugger had rolled over and was trying to crawl away. “Not so fast,” she told him, turning back and crouching down, planting all her weight on the small of his back and pinning him in place as effectively as a tack-secured a strip of paper. “You will wait right here for the police,” she insisted, drawing zip ties from the pouch at her belt and quickly securing his hands and feet behind him, “and you will tell them that the Knight Light is back, protecting these streets once more.”

Then she marched away, reaching into the pouch at her belt for her phone as she went. Her breathing was coming in gulps, and her face hurt from smiling so much; she’d done it! At the same time, her leg and side and chest hurt as well, and for less happy reasons.

This had all sounded so much easier before.

Green Ronin 2019! Part 2: Mutants & Masterminds, Sentinels of Earth-Prime, and 5E

Welcome back to our look at Green Ronin’s 2019 plans. Yesterday I talked about The Expanse, Nisaba Press, Freeport, and Blue Rose. Today I’ll be talking about Mutants & Masterminds, and 5E.

 

Mutants & Masterminds

Mutants & Masterminds is our longest-running RPG, now in its 3rd edition. Last year we released the Basic Hero’s Handbook, a new entry point for the game that makes getting started with M&M even easier. We’re going to follow that up this year with some PDF adventure support and a Revised Edition of the Gamemasters Guide. The GMG went out of print last year and rather than do a straight reprint, we thought we’d take the opportunity to add some new material (new adventures, villain archetypes, and more) and make it integrate more smoothly with the Basic Hero’s Handbook. We’re also making it hardback!

Before the revised GMG, though, we’ve got the Superteam Handbook. This handy sourcebook contains eight pre-built superteams that range from PL 5-12. These can be used to kickstart a campaign, or as allies, rivals, or enemies of the PCs. Later in the year we’ll have the Time Travelers Codex. This book provides a framework and ideas for including time travel in your supers campaign, as well as detailed info on select historical epochs and the sorts of adventures you might have there.

Sentinels of Earth-Prime

Mutants & Masterminds is also moving into a new area this year: card games! Sentinels of Earth-Prime is a joint project between Green Ronin and Greater Than Games that originally funded on Kickstarter. Sentinels of Earth-Prime is game that combines M&M’s core setting and the rules of Sentinels of the Multiverse. This is a core game so no previous experience is required. If you have Sentinels of the Multiverse games though, you’ll find that all the decks in our game work hand in glove with your current collection. Why, it’s almost like SotM designer Christopher Badell did all the deck design for our game (because he did!). The game is designed and playtested, and right now we’re working on getting all the art done. As this is a card game, there is quite a bit of art. You should see Sentinels of Earth-Prime this summer.

Tales of the Lost Citadel

Tales of the Lost Citadel novel coming soon!

Fifth Edition

If you enjoyed last year’s hugely successful Critical Role: Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting, we’ve got more Fifth Edition fun for you this year. First, we’ve got Lost Citadel Roleplaying, a campaign setting we also funded on Kickstarter. It’s a world where the dead roam at will and all the survivors have taken refuge in the city of Redoubt. Only its walls and the strength of its inhabitants stand between the dead and annihilation. Lost Citadel Roleplaying is in layout now and should be available for pre-order soon.

Later this spring we’re running a crowdfunding campaign on Game On Tabletop to bring back a Green Ronin classic for Fifth Edition: The Book of Fiends! Older fans will remember this book from the Third Edition era. It was one of our best selling and most critically acclaimed books in the d20 days, so it only made sense to bring it back. Demons, daemons, and devils will be yours in abundance! Rob Schwalb, one of the book’s original designers and also a member of the D&D Fifth Edition design team, updated all the existing fiends and added new ones too. You’d expect no less from the man behind Shadow of the Demon Lord!

That wraps up part 2 of our look at 2019. Come back for the final installment tomorrow to learn about Modern AGE, Fantasy AGE, and Dragon Age.

Ronin Roundtable: THE ARCHETYPES: SOLAR RAY

With the arrival of the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook, the world of Earth Prime has a few new heroes illustrating the eight heroic archetypes presented in the books. Four of these characters also appear in the upcoming Mutants & Masterminds Quickstart as pregenerated player character sheets, and so they needed names, personalities, and origins of their own. We turned to RPG industry legend and giant comics nerd, Amber Scott to help flesh out the new Crimefighter, Energy Controller, Gadgeteer, and Paragon of the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Heroes Handbook!

———————-

Art by Alberto Foche

Ray Montoya was the kind of guy who could make Mount Rushmore crack a smile. Making others laugh, especially with a little self-deprecating humor or a harmless prank, felt like the one thing in the world he couldn’t screw up, and he leaned into it hard. Ray wasn’t trying to develop superpowers on the day of the eclipse. He was trying to show off to his friends. But with all the warnings on TV about not looking directly at the eclipse—as if anyone could be that stupid—he couldn’t resist the opportunity to play a little prank.

He met up with his friends on a rooftop patio for the viewing and prerequisite party. When the time came, and everyone pulled out their eclipse glasses, Ray simply whipped out a pair of designer shades. “These should be enough for me. I’m already a star.” He pushed the shades up his nose and turned his face innocently to the sky.

He grinned as his friends started freaking out, shouting at him not to look. None of them could see his eyes were closed behind the sunglasses. Ray was dying of laughter on the inside, right up until a server with a tray full of glasses tripped and crashed into him.

Ray’s eyes popped open. Without meaning to, he stared directly into the glorious eclipse, and it burned him. As if entranced, he reached up and removed his sunglasses, staring fixedly at the stunning astronomical event. A few seconds later, one of his friends spun him around, yelling for Ray to not be an idiot.

To everyone’s shock, Ray’s irises had turned pitch black, surrounded by metallic gold sclera. It was if the eclipse was burned into Ray’s own eyes. The sun still glowed bright in his vision, and then in his chest.

Since that day, the power of the sun shined within Ray’s body. He learned to control the bright yellow-white light that shot from his fingertips, and he also developed the ability to fly. Sometimes Ray still wonders how he gained superhuman powers from a solar eclipse, especially after news reports began mentioning other people who looked into the celestial event and only walked away with retinal damage. Some days he feels like the luckiest guy in the world, but other days beats himself up as a fraud, sure that his powers were intended for someone else who could’ve used them better. That lingering doubt drives him to better master his powers as his body continues to change.

What didn’t change was Ray’s showoff nature and desire to impress people. He loves being the first on the scene and taking out bad guys in the flashiest way possible. When the news vans show up, Ray’s always willing to linger for an interview. Given his ego, Ray couldn’t abandon his real name entirely. Instead he adapted it to create his superhero identity: Solar Ray.

Ronin Roundtable: Ronin Ramblings!

With summer beginning to fade, I thAldis: City of the Blue Roseought this would be a good time to give you all a general update about goings on at Green Ronin. These last couple of months

have been a whirlwind. We had a great GenCon and released Aldis: City of the Blue Rose, Modern 

AGE and its GM’s Kit, as well as the Basic Hero’s Handbook and Rogues Gallery for Mutants & Masterminds. We also ran a hugely successful Kickstarter for The Expanse Roleplaying Game. We were literally on the edge of our seats in the final hour, wondering if we’d hit $400,000 and thus secure a new James S.A. Corey

Modern AGE Basic Rulebook

short story to go in the game. With 10 minutes left to go, we crossed the threshold. It was exciting! Huge thanks to all the backers of the Kickstarter, and of course to Daniel Abraham and Try Franck (together, James S.A. Corey) for not only creating a fantastic scifi universe but also doing so much to help us promote the RPG. If you missed the Kickstarter, never fear. You’ll have more chances to hop onboard.

After a brief pause to catch our breath, it was back into the breach. I was PAX West last weekend doing some panels, one of which (Designing Worlds: Experiences Creating Tabletop RPGs) you can see here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/304840481?t=

Hal meanwhile has been working on laying out our next several books. Ork: The Roleplaying Game (the new edition of Green Ronin’s very first RPG!) is at print

Pre-Order and PDF: Basic Hero's Handbook for Mutants & Masterminds

now and is available as a PDF and for pre-order. Hal is currently working on World of Lazarus, the first setting for Modern AGE (based on Greg Rucka’s awesome comic) and the long-awaited Faces of Thedas for Dragon Age. You should see PDFs and pre-orders for both of those books in the near future. Meanwhile, Hal is also working with James Dawsey on the artwork for Sentinels of Earth-Prime, a Mutants & Masterminds card game using the Sentinels of the Multiverse rules we’ll be releasing next year. Jaym Gates has also been working hard to get our fiction imprint, Nisaba Press, up to cruising speed. Our first novel, a Blue Rose tale called Shadowtide by our own Joe Carriker, has just gone to print. More Nisaba news coming soon.

Next weekend is our annual Green Ronin Summit. While we have a cluster of people in Seattle, much of our staff is scattered across the country working

remotely. We thus find it valuable to fly everyone here once a year, so we can get together in a non-convention environment and talk over our plans for the next 18 odd months. We’ll be considering various proposals, deciding on the schedules for our game lines, and doing some long-term strategizing. Oh, and eating an

ungodly amount of cheese. Can’t have a summit without cheese! Or webmaster Evan’s famous ice cream.

Later this fall we’re back on the convention circuit. Nicole and I are hugely excited to go to Australia for the first time for PAX Aus in Melbourne. We’ll have a booth there (and a cool unique pin through the Pinny Arcade program) and we look forward to

meeting Aussie gamers face to face. A week later I am a guest at Week End Geek in New Caledonia. If you had told young me that gaming would one day get me to the other side of the world, I would not have believed you! Certainly, South Pacific sun in November sounds better than Seattle rain. Once we’re back home, we’ll close out the year at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia.

Stay tuned for more news and updates. Fun stuff always comes out of the Summit!

Ork! The Roleplaying Game, Second Edition

 

 

Ronin Roundtable: Nisaba Press update!

So, by now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the announcement about Nisaba Press’s first novel, Shadowtide, by Blue Rose’s own, beloved Joe Carriker. Joe turned the final manuscript over to me a couple of months ago, and I worked on the edits while I was in New Orleans for a convention. Readers, this book is lovely. It’s full of intrigue, adventure, and chosen family, led by a smart-talking rhy-crow and a grieving Night Woman.

Shadowtide: A Blue Rose Novel by Joseph D. Carriker Jr.

The book is now in production’s hands, along with the interior art order. It’s going to be pretty amazing, and I couldn’t be happier with the first entry in Nisaba’s novel line.

But now that Joe’s novel is into production, let’s talk about what we can look forward to next. Nisaba’s fiction is currently focused on our three internal settings, Blue Rose, Freeport, and Mutants & Masterminds. With a Blue Rose novel out, what could possibly be next?

How about a Mutants & Masterminds novel, penned by Aaron Rosenberg? Aaron is an experienced novelist who is familiar with tie-in and game fiction, having written for properties including Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Stargate: Atlantis, Star Wars, Warhammer, and Eureka. He’s written for a number of game properties, too, including several supplements for Green Ronin. His combination of game and novel experience made him a great fit for our next Nisaba novel.

Coming in fourth quarter 2018 from Nisaba Press, Height of the Storm is a novel about a teenager who gets caught in a storm, and wakes up with a big choice to make. We’ve been through the first round of edits, and the manuscript is back with Aaron for a final writing pass before the copyedit phase starts. Hal has the cover art notes, and we’re looking forward to initial sketches.

In the meantime, check out our short fiction, and keep an eye out for an announcement of the upcoming Nisaba Journal, our first collection of short fiction. The Journal will be produced bi-monthly, containing 4-6 short stories in the featured settings, and available in our web store. The August issue includes stories from Richard Lee Byers, Tiffany Trent, Michael Matheson, Dylan Birtolo, Rhiannon Louve, and a prequel to Height of the Storm from Aaron Rosenberg!

Thanks for reading, folks. I’m super excited to bring you the next round of fiction set in Green Ronin’s worlds.

Basic Hero’s Handbook preview: THE ARCHETYPES: ANANSI

With the arrival of the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook, the world of Earth Prime has a few new heroes illustrating the eight heroic archetypes presented in the books. Four of these characters also appear in the upcoming Mutants & Masterminds Quickstart as pregenerated player character sheets, and so they needed names, personalities, and origins of their own. We turned to RPG industry legend and giant comics nerd, Amber Scott to help flesh out the new Crimefighter, Energy Controller, Gadgeteer, and Paragon of the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Heroes Handbook!

 

———————-

Morowa grew up in the nation of Dakana, a technologically advanced society hidden from the rest of the world. As a child, she always felt confident in her place in the world. With her clever mind and natural talent for athletics, she fit in perfectly as a member of the nation’s defense forces. As she advanced in school, she studied all the courses necessary for her to enter the all-female force comprising Dakana’s greatest defenders.

But her plans for the future derailed as Morowa began having strange dreams. At first, the dreams were  the same. She stood on the edge of a tall building, looking out over an unfamiliar city. It was night, and a moon shone brightly overhead. Below her, thousands of people went about their daily lives, unaware of her watchful presence. The city—like a heart—beat strong, but out beyond the heart poison crept through its veins.

Young and headstrong, she initially dismissed the dreams as a strange quirk of her mind. But the visions continued, and gradually Morowa found herself able to interact with them. She walked around the roof, glancing down from different angles and seeing slices of city life. She witnessed car accidents, assaults, and robberies, but she also saw good-hearted people stepping in to help when they could. And every time a good soul stepped in to help, the poison receded just a little.

Eventually, the young soldier began to notice a tiny spider crouched on the ledge. One night, as she descended again into the dream-city, the spider spoke to her.

“You are destined for more than a life of routine,” the spider said. “The heart you have trained your whole life to protect is strong; it drips with good souls and healthy blood. Your fate lies across the sea. You will help those who need it and strike down those who would harm the innocent. If you love the heart, how can you not love the body it feeds as well?”

After that, the dreams stopped. Morowa resisted, at first. She already had such a clear vision for her future, and it didn’t include traveling to another continent and living among the strange customs of the western world, with its crime and intolerance. But she couldn’t shake the spider’s words out of her head, and after discussing the matter with the shamans and soldiers, she decided to follow the path laid out by her dreams.

The first night in her new city, she dreamed again of the spider. “You have made a wise choice,” the spider said. “Fight with a fearless heart and trust those who come to your aid.”

Morowa fights with her acrobatic skills and with three weapons brought from her homeland. The most obvious are a collapsing staff and spider-shaped throwing disks, but the least obvious is the most deadly: a lifetime raised in a world uncorrupted by petty greed and hate, and the knowledge that such a place can exist where people flourish. Those who have fought her would also add Morowa’s sharp wit to her list of weapons. She calls herself Anansi, after the spider of folk-tales brought to Dakana from distant Ghana. She still knows little of the spider from her visions, but Morowa  knows who she is:  a trickster, and a spider whose bite draws out venom from the veins of the world.

 

Ronin Roundtable: Gamemastering Basics

As Mutants & Masterminds developer Crystal Frasier is demonstrating in previews leading up to pre-orders, The Basic Hero’s Handbook has a lot to offer both old and new players interested in the World’s Greatest Superhero RPG.

 

“But what about Gamemasters?” you ask. Fear not! As it happens, The Basic Hero’s Handbook (or M&M Basic for short) has a lot of offer M&M GM’s as well, including those of you who may want to start running your own games. What sorts of things will long-time and new Gamemasters find in the book?

Encounter Archetypes

M&M Basic provides several “encounter archetypes,” looking at a particular encounter or situation in some detail, including how to stage it, what the game mechanics look like, and different variations you can play out with it. The book includes encounter archetypes such as:

The Doom Room: How to run all of those “training exercise” scenes where the heroes cooperate against a fiendish simulation, or compete against each other. The material in this encounter also does double-duty in supplying game mechanics you can use for various villainous traps!

The Heist: The classic robbery scenario, including what the crooks are stealing, the potential for innocent bystanders in harm’s way, and ways the thieves may use to cover their escape when the heroes try to thwart their heist. Variations include how to mix-and-match some supervillains and different kinds of heists.

The Rescue: A falling jetliner, a runaway train, people in danger and heroes to the rescue! How to handle rescuing people endangered by these and similar problems, along with many variations that can turn them into even more complex encounters, such as rescuing a falling passenger jet while also dealing with the villains who damaged it!

Disaster! Looks at a different sort of rescue encounter, heroes saving people in danger from a catastrophe. This can range from a building on fire or damaged in a quake, to a storm or some other disaster, and sets up how to stage rescues and give the heroes challenges that are not necessarily things they can punch their way through.

You can use these encounter archetypes as building blocks for your own superheroic adventures or time-savers in your own adventure design, since the essential work has been laid out for you.

Ready to Use Villains

M&M Basic offers a set of ready-to-run villains with a variety of different power levels, from 8 to 15, complete with easy-to-read character sheets detailing just what the villain’s powers do in clear terms. For example, take a look at the new Luna Moth, a daring, flying thief with gossamer wings and chemical cocoons to challenge your heroes.

 

Other foes described in Basic terms for Gamemasters include the Power Corps, the Battle Brothers, the mentalist Mindfire, the space bounty hunter Loma Slife, Malador the Mystic, and the sinister Overshadow! Plus GMs get a variety of ready-made monsters and minions to round out the villains and to put between them and the heroes.

Shadows of the Past

Plus the Basic Hero’s Handbook includes a complete M&M adventure, Shadows of the Past, making use of the villains and encounter building blocks provided in the book. You can play through this adventure to introduce a group to the game or kick off a new M&M campaign, and use it as an example for building your own exciting adventures.

Combine this with GM advice and reference material and The Basic Hero’s Handbook has everything a group needs to get started playing the World’s Greatest Superhero RPG!

Ronin Roundtable: Playtesting and Origins!

The past few months have been focused on the design and playtesting of the decks of Sentinels of Earth-Prime and I’m happy to report that it’s going great. The fourth version of the playtest decks are currently having their tires kicked and everything is coming together nicely.

Christopher’s playtest set.

Earlier this month, both Green Ronin and Greater Than Games were at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio and this gave us a chance to get together to talk about the business side of things and do a playtest together.

Christopher Badell has ideas!

This was the first time we’ve actually had the whole team in one place so we were able to cover a lot of ground and make sure everything was on track for the next stage of development. In addition to the boss Ronins (Nicole, Hal, and myself), we had Steve Kenson (designer of Mutants & Masterminds and creator of Earth-Prime), James Dawsey (art director for this project), and Christopher Badell (Greater Than Games, designer of the Sentinels games).

The following day Christopher, James, and I met up for a playtest of Sentinels of Earth-Prime.

Playtest at the Big Bar on 2!

I played Lady Liberty, James played Dr. Metropolis, and Christopher played Lantern Jack in a battle against Argo the Ultimate Android in the heart of Freedom City! Argo has powers that mimic those of members of the Freedom League, so this was a challenging fight, particularly with none of our characters being big damage dealers. Nonetheless, we prevailed, saving Freedom City once again!

Lady Liberty, beacon of freedom!

 

As Christopher designed literally every card of Sentinels of the Multiverse, I knew his new decks would be good. My primary concern was that they capture the right feel for the Earth-Prime characters. Back in April we had Steve go over the decks and give Christopher some notes on story and character. That and the continued playtesting have honed the characters so they provide a fun Sentinels experience and a great Earth-Prime experience as well.

At this point the major design work for the game is done, so it’s a matter of nips and tucks to ensure the decks are just right. We said previously that you could expect the game early next year and that is still the case. Right now we are in the lead up to GenCon, our biggest convention of the year, so things are in overdrive at GRHQ. Among other new releases, you’ll be able to get the Basic Hero’s Handbook for Mutants & Masterminds (check out Crystal Frasier’s recent Ronin Round Table to find out more about it).

 

Ronin Roundtable: LET’S GET BACK TO BASICS

As we put the finishing touches on the Rogue’s Gallery, the Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook was slowly percolating in the background. Now that it is nearly ready to ship to the printers as well, I’m happy to show the results of several months of work and writing!

Mutants & Masterminds is a great game with a robust ruleset built over 16 years and three different editions. It’s flexible enough to handle almost any genre of comic book adventure, from traditional tights-and-fights books to street-level vigilantes to cosmic weirdness to mundane human agents facing off against the unknowable. But that flexibility brings a certain amount of jargon and a learning curve that can be off-putting for new players. Among the first challenges we decided to tackle to make a newbie-friendly rulebook was character creation. The Deluxe Hero’s Handbook offers a wealth of choices for fine-tuning your character to build exactly what you want to play, but for brand new players that freedom can be intimidating. Option paralysis is one of the most commonly cited problems players new to M&M report, followed closely by the amount of number crunching character generation required. The Quickstart Character generator is a perfectly solution for intermediary players, but we wanted a solution for those picking up Mutants & Masterminds for the first time.

Our solution is the Basic Archetype, which boils character generation down to a handful of choices about your character’s theme, personality, and history. With one of the book’s eight basic archetypes and a character sheet, even brand new players can be game-ready in ten minutes!

Each Basic Archetype starts with a brief overview of the concept. Each Archetype has a base suite of Ability ranks and Defense ranks, which you can tweak by selecting a character type. Most come with a few basic skills, but ask you to decide who your character is to determine the rest. Likewise, selecting Advantages is rolled into deciding a few personality traits that help define your hero. Finally, each Basic Archetype lets you select one of three Power Suites that define what exactly puts the “super” in your super hero.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite hero concepts: the Energy Controller:

 

This is Solar Ray, or just Ray to his teammates. He appears—alongside his friends Anansi, Ultra, and Pinnacle—in the Basic Hero Handbook’s tutorial comics. The Energy Controller’s Ability ranks focus mostly on being tough and fast, with the cocksure attitude and powerful presence that usually accompanies the ability to throw fireballs. Their skills options give you some classic comic book staples for energy-wielders, letting you help personalize you hero as say, a lothario test-pilot or a watchful commander. Because Energy Controllers are more defined by their powers, they don’t receive as many Advantages as most heroes, but you still get some flexibility in deciding if your hero is a wisecracking brawler, a cool-as-a-cucumber tactician, or a terrifying force of nature. Finally, their Power Suite choices give you choice of what kind of comic book exploits you want to embody: The Avatar is your classic Human Torch, able to transform into a living incarnation of your element; the Blaster, on the other hand, is a classic one-trick pony who can only do one thing, but does it very, very well (and gets some extra Skills and Advantages, since they’re not out there hotshotting all the time); the Elementalist splits the difference as a master of energy, able to control and wield their element with extraordinary skill, but not transforming into it.

The Basic Archetypes are fast, easy, and flexible enough to make each hero feel personal, obfuscating the math and overwhelming choices while still giving players a standard 150 power point, Power Level 10 starting character they can bring to the table alongside veteran players who create their characters using the rules found in the Deluxe Hero’s Handbook!

The full basic Hero’s Handbook will be available in print later this summer at GenCon. Hope to see you all there!