December 10th, 2007


Low-and-High-Power Campaigns

I was prepping to run a Mutants and Masterminds campaign, my first time ever touching the system. The customizability and epic FEEL to the game really got me hooked, and I was impressed by what versatile characters could be made with relatively little effort. I was amused at how many times the players asked me, "Can I make a character that has...." and I was allowed to answer them "Yes. You can make ANYTHING." and get the stares. But really, it's true. The problem, though, is that this might be too much of a good thing.

If you've ever played with the M&M system before, which is, I expect, most of you, go ahead and skip this paragraph.
For the rest of you, an explanation. The book recommends characters at "Power Level" 10, which is along the same lines as superheroes such as, oh, Dr. Strange. Most well-known superheroes can be remade with Power Levels of 5-8, such as the entirety of the Fantastic 4, Spiderman, Batman, The Hulk, Cyclops, and so on.
The first 'finished' PC that my players brought to me for approval was a time-travelling demigod that could level city blocks with a snap of his fingers. The second, in addition to being nigh-invincible to damage, had the ability to manifest whatever power would best defeat any given opponent.

So we toned it down, but eventually I came to the realization that my main beef with this system is the total and utter lack of character development, where everyone is a Superman who just falls from the sky and has spent their whole lives living under a rock. Finally, after much disgruntled mumbling, the characters returned with Power Level 1 versions of their characters - essentially little more than civilians with the beginnings of a flawed, manifesting gift.
They'll level up a few notches pretty quickly, but for the most part, anything under Power Level 5 is pretty explicitly warned against in the core books. It goes against the 'feel of the game.'
Sod 'em.

So tell me, for those of you who have played in a high-powered campaign that started off as very low, low power, even to the point where you had to raise a brow, how did you feel? I once heard about a particularily cruel DM who ran the first 4 sessions of a game with his players as level 1 commoners, and every single one of them stuck around to Epic levels and beyond in the span of almost a year and a half. One said it was the best campign they ever played in, despite spending the first month wielding a large saucepan as a weapon in this otherwise serious campaign.

And on the other end of the spectrum, for those that have played M&M or other such high-powered games such as Exalted or Rifts, tell me, enlighten me. What kind of Villain you can MAKE that will handle the almost-inevitable twinkness of the players? What sort of physical challenges and traps can you possibly throw up against a character who can make time stand still?


Secret of Mana D20

Anyone who'd like a copy, you can download a copy of my compiled Secret of Mana D20 translations. It's 63 pages, and free. Feedback is appriciated, I plan on doing a Gazzeter in the future. Maybe a histroical suplement after that.

A warning, I take a lot of liberty with the backstory, mainly because I didn't have a lot to work with. I think it stays true to the feel of the game though.

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