I recommend following this basic guide to building your character unless you already have a good handle on the system. You know, actually, I recommend this guide anyway.
When creating a character, you will notice that many items are marked as having a “maximum value.” These game-imposed max values are caps, not guidelines to what you need to survive. Trust me. I’m not going to throw munchkins at you… at least, not without good cause.
In this world, there are two sources for superhuman powers: mutation and technology. Genetic engineering exists but is expensive; same with cybernetic enhancements. Random mutations are usually lethal, but recently there have been some rumors about more interesting mutations – and, of course, there are always one or two developers ahead of the curve of tech development. If you’re going to be mutated, when did this manifest, and how do you react to it? If technological, how did you get the enhancements, and why? You can have different sources for different powers, or even split one power to have both sources (a machine that focuses a mutant power, for instance — three ranks from mutation and two from technology?) Keep track of where things come from. Come up with a fun concept and then play with it.
We’re starting at Power Level 10. That’s about on par with your basic X-Men, as far as abilities go: a fully-fledged superhuman, but not a worldbreaker. You get 15 Power Points to spend for each Power Level, so your available point total comes to 150. It sounds like a lot, but it goes really fast. Your Power Level can increase over play, and you can spend those new points to improve existing powers or add entirely new ones.
Choose your essential abilities! Basic abilities start at 10 and cost (or credit) one Point per point. Attack (your base modifier for general accuracy in combat) costs 2 Points per point, and Defense (your base modifier for general avoidance) costs 2 Points per point as well. Your Saves to avoid bad things (Fortitude, Reflex, Will) cost 1 Point per point of bonus. Your Toughness save can only be improved with feats and powers, not by directly spending Points.
- (Max Ability Modifier = Power Level + 5. A Strength of 16 gives you a Strength Modifier of +3.)
- (Max Attack = Power Level.)
- (Max Defense = Power Level.)
- (Max Fort/Ref/Will Save = Power Level + 5.)
- (Max Toughness Save = Power Level.)
One more thing: what you’re buying here is your base scores. All of that stuff can be further modified by powers and feats and so on. Also, remember that this is M&M and not D&D: Strength and Dex don’t necessarily translate to combat prowess.
Pick your Powers! Powers have a cost per rank, which can be modified by… modifiers. If you reduce a power’s Point cost when its cost per rank was only 1, then it costs 1 Point per two ranks, and then 1 Point per three ranks, and so on. There are no free powers. Most powers that can be used to attack have a damage bonus, or Save Difficulty, equal to the number of ranks you have in the power. (Defenders roll the appropriate save against 10 + your damage bonus to avoid the effect.) You don’t have to have Powers at all, but they’re fun – and pretty much anything superhuman, except for raw stats, is a Power. You can also have Devices, which basically have Powers of their own and cost less than having the same Powers intrinsic to your hero. (The Iron Man suit and the Batmobile are Devices, for instance.)
- (Max ranks in a given Power = Power Level.)
Pick some skills. They’re nice and cheap: 1 Point gets you 4 skill ranks. Put ’em where you like.
- (Max ranks in a given skill = Power Level + 5.)
Hooray for feats! Feats cost 1 Point per feat (or per rank of a multi-rank feat.) Note: equipment of a mundane nature — anything that could be lost, broken, stolen, or used up and then easily replaced — falls under the multi-rank Equipment feat. Sample Equipment starts on page 135.
Complications contribute to plot fun, and pay for themselves by offering more opportunities to earn Hero Points. Drawbacks are actual weaknesses that your character has, and they basically have a negative Power Point cost (giving you more points to spend.) Aunt May is a Complication for Spider-Man; Kryptonite is a Drawback for Superman. You don’t have to have any Complications or Drawbacks. Since a Drawback shouldn’t be worth points if it never comes up, and it kind of sucks to have one drawback ruin your character by coming up all the time, let me know what you’re thinking there. If you have an idea for a Complication, see if it really counts as a Belief, since I will require those.
- (Max points in Drawbacks = Power Level.)
Total your points and balance the checkbook. Everything add up? Great — now tally those save bonuses. CONmod adds to Toughness and Fortitude saves, DEXmod to Reflex, and WISmod to Will. Check your caps again to make sure you aren’t wasting points.
This is a concept I’m yoinking out of Burning Wheel, so it’s not mentioned in the normal Mutants and Masterminds stuff. Each character will start off with three Beliefs about themselves and the world. Some sample Beliefs: “Justice is more important than mercy,” “Mutants are twisted, and should never be trusted,” “I will rescue or avenge my lost brother,” and “Cthulhu f’tagn!” These are beliefs anchored to the world and to the character, things that your hero could act on – they will be motivations for the choices your character makes. They don’t have to be objectively true, and over time they may change. If acting on a Belief significantly contributes to the fun and drama of the game, you will probably earn a Hero Point on the spot; in addition, your Beliefs, and the Beliefs of the other characters, will be essential to the story.
I’m going to check everything to make sure it looks good, that you didn’t miss anything, and that you haven’t overlooked a weakness or done something in the most expensive way possible. Also, so I know what kind of idiot you plan to throw at me. Can’t be completely altruistic.
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