Skip to main content

Mini-Review: Mutants & Marvels

I've had Mutants & Marvels(aff) in my collection for a long time now.  I remember picking up the 1.0 version when it was a "New Product" over at drive-thru rpg ... hell, I even had the thing printed at the local Staples and bound for later use.

Then I promptly forgot about it.

This week I picked it up again when a friend stated he wanted to run a one-shot of a Fasrip he found.  Low and behold it was the second edition of Mutants & Marvels!  All I can say is that I wish I had looked this over more when I first picked it up way back when as it would have saved me a lot of trouble with finding a simple and easy to play supers rpg.

Simple and easy is the main draw of Mutants & Marvels(aff).  Since I first started to play rpgs back in the early 2000s, I have searched for a supers game that I could get into.  I have tried Mutants and Masterminds, Icon, Paragons and Prowlers, Champions, Mighty 6, and a host of others.  Hell, I even tried to build my own system when the blog was young(see here) ... that didn't work out well.  In the end, I found that these games had a core problem:  They were too damn complex for my simple mind.  The main reason for this is the need to feel super (as you are super heroes) while at the same time offering some sort of balance.  

Mutants & Marvels basically says screw that (form the 1.0 version pg 2)

What the game is and isn't ...
This game is not meant to be a realistic simulation of super hero combat.  Nor is it meant to be a comprehensive set of rules designed to cover every contingency, and funnel character development and player innovation into a neat and balanced package.

Right away, this singular paragraph had me.  Too often in modern game design we are looking to balance out all the characters, make each of them the equal to the other, so everyone can be cool.  However, like Syndrome said:

By saying screw that, Tom Doolan (the writer and designer of Mutants & Marvels) right away gets to the core of super heroes and super hero worlds: not everyone is super,not everyone is playing on the same field of power.  This is why on the Avengers you can have a god working alongside a soldier who is a perfect example of humanity, but still just a human!

So how does it work?  Pretty simply the Game Master picks a power level for the game: Heroic, Superheroic, and Epic.  Each of the power levels comes with a different amount of Ranks that can be divided up between the different sections on the character sheet.  Heroic has 15 Ranks, Superheroic 25, and Epic has 35.  From here points are divided between the seven attributes (Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition, and Psyche), Powers, Trained Skills, and possible secondary things like contacts.  The rest of character creation is the job of the GM who will pick an appropriate resource level (which works like the d20 Modern resource system), reputation, and so on based on the character's back ground.

Combat is also super easy as it is a series of resolution rolls vs either a Target Number set by the GM or a roll from an opposing force.  This roll is 2d10 + Modifiers > the Target Number.  That's it, nice and simple.  

A lot of work rests in the players and the GM being able to balance one another out and talking through things.  As the quote above says, M&M is not meant to be a comprehensive list of powers. This means that if a player wants her character to do something not listed she and the GM need to talk and work that out between the two of them.

I have in the last week managed to play this system twice, once over Roll20 with a few friends for 2 hours, and again yesterday afternoon with my daughter and her friend.  The system is quick to pick up, and fast to run. The main book doesn't have much in the way of antagonists, but those are easy to come up with quickly based on the level of need the characters have.  The one suggestion I would make is that normal human villains, like bank robbers or terrorists, should have a Rank system of 5 with no more than one score ranked at Excellent (+2).


  1. Glad you're enjoying the game! This is what I was hoping to hear. That people enjoy the simplicity and flexibility. As far as NPC's go, I believe you will in the back sections with generic PC builds that can be used to create heroes and villains, as well as stat blocks for various "normals" that can stand in for robbers and terrorists. :)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Robathen's Coin Parts 1 -3

A long time ago I released a short story on drivethrufiction called "The Rabathen's Coin - An Arame Tale" that was meant to be the start of a series staring a mysterious thief named Arame.  Well, five years later and I have sold maybe six copies.  With that in mind I figured I might as well break it up into two or three parts and post in on the blog.

Thoughts are welcome as I am always interested in what others think of my original works.

The stench of rotten fish, sweat, mildewed wood and the ocean rose up from the black waters of the harbor in a visible mist that hung over the free trade city of Wickend adding to the already strong reek of human filth and cheap ale. The setting sun, unable to pierce the vile mist, washed over the crumbling buildings that lined the twisting streets of the Old District. From open doors and windows came the sounds of life, true life, of men laughing and boasting, of women flirting and dealing in their trades. To an outsider, the Old Distr…

[AGE] Iron Horse

I am starting to see a theme evolving here ... and it wasn't even planned.  Enjoy, and feedback is always welcomed!

Genius Loci's Outlook for Feb/March 2016

Gate File 001 - First Approach
This is the next and the big project for the month of February for my Patreon and the one I want to push for public release in March/April.  The Gate File is being developed for 5th Edition SRD and will incorporate Modern rules and make suggestions as to that fact.

The Smoke Giant's Heir
A second 5th Edition SRD release, The Smoke Giant's Heir was originally meant to be published last July but ran into a number of difficulties including lost maps, Scribus and libre files becoming corrupted due to system failures as my tower died a slow and horrible death.  The Text is written out for this one but one map still needs to be redrawn and the layout needs to be put through Serif now that I have it back.

More Fantasy AgeI don't know yet what I want to do exactly but I want to start doing a fan version of my favorite MMO using Green Ronin's Fantasy Age system.  Obviously this will be a "serial numbers filed off" deal for the possibility …