Saturday, December 16, 2017

Fourth Game Of Christmas 2017

Previous Games Of Christmas: Traveller, Heavy Gear, Exalted

Today we will be looking at one of my favorite genres, Superheroes. We are also looking at one of the big names in supers RPGs. I like the system, but I also have some issues with it. So lets dig into...

Mutants & Masterminds

I actually bought this game the day it came out, back in first edition. It kind of blew my mind when my roommate and I tried it out. We kept looking at the rules and saying, "is this how this works? This can't be how this works." We had been playing a lot of D20 games and this was just such a funky alteration of the core rues that we just had a really hard time understanding the simplicity and genius of the game. First edition was just a small shift, second and third edition really pushed the boundaries what was even possible within the framework of D20. It is an elegant and simple system, and I think it changed a lot of my preconceptions on how games worked and how one would use existing systems to do new things. For this review I will be using the Third edition rules.

Peritextual Elements
The books have always been beautiful. Always full color, always professional artists working to make the art look consistent and stylistic. The third edition has continued that tradition with high quality artwork, and solid layout design. It is laid out in two columns on high gloss white paper with colored sidebars. The font is easy to read and the chapters are arranged in a standard and easy to follow method. Overall it is pretty standard layout and all, but it is serviceable and pleasant.

Mechanics
H'okie-D'okie, the mechanics are super simple, and yet they have a depth and breadth that is staggering. All you need to play is a twenty-sided die. One for each payer would be best, but you could manage with just one. You have eight attributes(Strength, Agility, Fighting, Awareness, Stamina, Dexterity, Intellect, Presence). The baseline is zero, with bonuses and penalties to rolls in those that are limited by the power level of the game. The character creation is point buy, and you are limited by the power level on the maximums for your skill levels, attribute ratings, level of powers, and how durable and resilient your character is. When you want to accomplish a task you roll a d20 add in the relevant modifiers and compare that total to either a target number or an opponent's roll result. If the roll is an attack and it hits, the target rolls resistance against the resistance difficulty and then you get damage results.

The power building rules are effects base. You build your powers out of groups of effects, each power has a variable cost due to this and you can raise or lower the ability by adding modifiers to the power. Basically you use your points to build exceptions to the rules in your favor. It makes for highly variable characters while keeping the power level roughly equitable. I like the mechanics, however it can lead to a couple of small problems. Firstly it can make the characters feel a little samey. Secondly you can build a character that looks tough and powerful but has a weakness you did not anticipate. These are both solvable within the game, just things to watch out for.

Setting
There is a sort of setting for the game. Freedom City and Emerald City are two semi generic supers towns with solid histories and villains and heroes. It has the off brand Justice League, the Off Brand Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, the off Brand Hydra, and so on. I like the setting a lot, but it feels very much like things you have seen before in the major comic universes. Of course I think that is the point, it gives you familiar fiction to grab hold of and play in.

And that is the Fourth Game Of Christmas. Tomorrow...

Rifts