Adventures In Random Roleplay: Mutants and Masterminds Edition – Part 3 – With Great Power Comes Sweet Special Effects

Welcome back, dice fondlers! Thanks for patiently waiting for the return of our ongoing Mutants and Masterminds series! We’ve at long last reached that cornerstone of superhero stories: Powers.

As teased last time, heroes are a complex set of math in Mutants and Masterminds, and nowhere else on the character sheet is that more obvious than in deciding our character Powers. And once you have that math mastered, you can represent some of the comic book world’s strangest powers. Let’s get started.

Power Effects, Extras, & Flaws

First and foremost, when we talk about Powers, particularly ones we design, we have to lay down some terminology. Each Power can be made up of up to three different pieces. Effects are the actual, y’know, EFFECTS that a Power provides. Once you have your Effects figured out, you choose from Extras that provide additional positive/useful functionality to your Power, or Flaws that remove functionality from your Power while making it cost fewer points.

Using these building blocks to add or remove qualities from an individual power is how you emulate various superhero abilities. Of special note are Effects like Variable that allow characters to have a pool of free-floating points to buy whatever Effects they need at any given time. This is pretty much exclusive for characters that mimic the powers of others (and isn’t recommended for anyone but expert players).

Also of note are the three Flaws: Activation, Permanent, and Removeable. Each of these can be very useful in getting the feel of a Power just right. Tying an Effect to Activation can give the impression of firing a superweapon, while tying a suite of Powers to a single Activation can symbolize a transformation like The Hulk.

On the flip side, tying an Effect to Permanent removes the ability to shut off an Effect. Adding Permanent to Growth leaves a character as a giant, while adding Permanent to Elongation indicates that their limbs— or whatever else provides their superhuman reach— never retracts. Any Power that can be tied to a piece of gear like a radar detector or a suit of power armor counts as Removeable.

Let’s Create Powers!

Let’s build two Powers— one super simple, the other a bit strange.

For our first Power, let us call it Laser Eyes

  • Ranged Damage (Cost: +2)
  • Rank: 10
  • Points Cost: 20. 

Let’s break down what that means. I have the Damage effect which, by default, is a close-range attack. By itself, Damage costs 1 point per rank we buy. However, we need to give our attack some range, so we go into the Extras section and pick the “Increased Range” modifier. This Extra does exactly what it says on the tin and turns our close-range Effect into a ranged Effect. Its cost is +1 per Rank. This means that instead of Damage costing 1 point per Rank, it now costs 2.

For our next Power, we’ll create something that we’ve seen plenty of urban legends use: the ability to appear in places where their name has been spoken aloud. For this power we’ll first take the Teleport Effect in order to travel wherever we need to. Ranks in Teleport correspond to the Range chart for distance, so if we assume that our character isn’t teleporting into space after targets, we’ll cap their Ranks in Teleport at 21. That gives us an effective Range of 8,000 miles, which is just over the diameter of planet Earth… so we’re set on that aspect.

However, now we’re at the tricky part— how do we simulate our ability to detect someone saying our name and the limitation that our teleportation requires someone to speak our name first? Let’s take the Flaw “Quirk”— this allows us to limit our Teleport Effect to “only to where our name is spoken aloud.”

Next, we take the Flaw “Linked”, because we’re going to attach this ability to Teleport to a Senses Effect built to detect who/where our name is being spoken. Senses only cost 1 per rank, but we need to buy 6 ranks to make Hearing both Accurate and Penetrate Concealment so we can determine a location and hear through walls. We take the Effect Flaw “Limited” because we only supernaturally hear our own name, which reduces our cost by 1. Then, we take the Extra “Enhanced Range” a whopping 21 times so we can hear our name anywhere in the world. 

Whew, that’s a lot of stuff! Number crunching time:

  • Teleport costs +2 normally, but our Quirk reduces it to cost +1 instead.
  • At 21 Ranks, that means the Teleport half of our power costs 21 points.
  • The Linked Flaw costs nothing.
  • Senses cost 26 in total— 5 (2 for Accuracy, 4 for Penetrating Concealment, -1 for Limited to only hearing our name) plus 21 (Enhanced Distance x 21 Ranks).

So our Power looks something like this: “Don’t Say Their Name”:

Quirk Teleport (Cost +1) 21 Ranks – Linked – Limited Hearing Senses (Cost: 6 – +2 Accurate, +4 Penetrates Concealment, -1 Limited “My Name Only”) plus Extra Extended Range (Cost +1)

Ranks: 21

Total Cost: 46 Points.

While that took a bit of figuring, I now have a Power that lets me have a villain (or hero!) able to come whenever their name is spoken aloud. As a GM, this villain would be great for striking fear through unexpected arrivals, while as a character, anyone our hero wants to protect could be given the instructions to simply “Call when you need me” and have them arrive. If we wanted to make our villainous use of the power even nastier, for an additional 21 points, we could add the Turnabout feature to the Teleport Effect, which would allow them to appear, take an action, and vanish again.

With these two examples, I hope you see just how wildly different the Powers can be in Mutants and Masterminds. On this note, I leave you. My senses have just alerted me to someone calling my name.

Until next time, my friends, remember to…

STAY RANDOM!!!!

mm

Written by: Jason A. Clark

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

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