Adventures in Random Roleplay – Mutants and Masterminds Edition: Part 1 – Origin Story

Welcome back, dice fondlers! We’ve had multiple weeks of bad weather sweeping across the country as winter struggles to maintain its grip, as if it were some sort of supervillain struggling to keep its icy fingers around our throat. With that mental image in my head, and this series’ own beginnings looking at character creation in Dungeons and Dragons, I had an idea, nay, a PLAN. And so my dear friends, that’s the melodramatic version of why we’re talking about Mutants and Masterminds today.

Mutants & Masterminds

Now, Mutants and Masterminds has an interesting pedigree. While many current generation gamers may have grown up with it, it certainly wasn’t the first superhero game on the market. That honor goes to Superhero 2044, which came out in 1977— a scant three years after Dungeons and Dragons first commercial release. The second superhero game out was Villains and Vigilantes in 1979, which was known as being significantly more playable than the faint rules outline Superhero 2044 had been. By contrast, Mutants and Masterminds first edition came out in 2002. That’s right, Mutants and Masterminds was a child of the D20 marketing boom. One of many games (a large portion of which were extremely low quality and obviously slapped together) to take advantage of Wizards of the Coast’s licensing of the D20 system. Mutants and Masterminds embraced the positives of the D20 system (namely cutting down the dice needed to a single 20-sided die) while dodging some of the same generation’s mistakes, like trying to shoehorn D&D spells into a superhero game.

While some folks prefer the purely powers and effects focus of first edition Mutants and Masterminds, I’m a sucker for the hird edition. Math has been greatly simplified since the second edition, and, as tacky as it sounds, I’m just a sucker for their production value. If you have the opportunity to pick up any of the previous books though, particularly those containing premade heroes and villains to use, you’ll want to snatch them up. For every poorly copied Captain America clone, you get clever twists on old twists. A favorite of mine is the female supervillain team from second editions book Crooks! known as The Clique. With members such as The Crush (mind control), Jawbreaker (super strength and a candy coating), Wallflower (super science genius), The Other Woman (capable of making clones of herself), and their robotic servitor/getaway driver/vehicle Boytoy, they’re a great example of how to make a self-contained villain group that generates plot hooks simply by existing in a world, let alone interacting with players. Similarly, (and I’ll cheat by using the same book) you have an excellent Doctor Doom level villain in The Atomic Brain, your over-the-top, supergenius megavillain who in the book’s opening fiction murders a subordinate because he’s not fond of sass.

Don’t misunderstand me, for every Atomic Brain or Clique in
these books, you also have a handful of forgettable Nazi pastiches (because
while it is fun to crush Nazis, it’s a pretty overused trope) or half-hearted
attempts to copy mainstream characters (Murder Man and Butcher Boy are a good
way to get your players to roll their eyes, once they realize they’re fighting
serial killer Batman/Robin.) However, I think you’ll find some amazing
inspiration in the pages of their books in order to create your own world full
of caped crusaders. Or NO CAPES! crusaders if you’re that kind of person.

Next week, we’ll dive into creating a couple heroes to help
you see just how easy it is to build out whatever characters you can imagine.
Until then my friends, remember to…



Written by: Jason A. Clark

Writer, Salesman, Cartographer of The Weird Realms In My Head

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