Mutants and Dragons, Third Edition

A while ago (November 2008, to be slightly more precise) I posted up a bunch of D&D-based Fantasy Archetypes for Mutants & Masterminds Second Edition. Now that the Third Edition has got its feet firmly under the table I think it’s time to do it again, don’t you?

To save some time and duplication of stuff, here’s the original posts o’ mine about using M&M for D&D, all from way back when.

D&D Conversion

Fantasy Archetypes

For all the talk about 4e D&D being an exception-based system, in reality it is a thinly veiled effect-based engine. The vast majority of Powers are built using the same core building blocks of doing a certain amount of level-based damage and an additional effect such as:

  • knocking the opponent prone
  • dazed
  • ongoing damage
  • weakened
  • affecting adjacent foes
  • forced movement (pull, push, slide)
  • create difficult terrain
  • … etc.

These effects might last until the next turn, be sustainable, or require a save to end, depending on the  level of the Power and the role-playing effect that the ability is aiming to simulate. The Powers which are an exception to this rule are few and far between, and even they tend to follow an internally consistent set of rules. The various Healing Powers for different classes, for example, all work in roughly the same manner – target spends an Healing Surge and gains additional hit points.

In contrast, Mutants & Masterminds is an explicitly effect-based system, and Third Edition even more so than Second Edition. Everything is built from a core set of building blocks which are fully priced out, weighed, measured and quantified. This means that M&M3e is far more consistent than its D&D4e cousin where Powers are measured only by warn fuzzy feelings and fingers in the air.

This in turn means that M&M doesn’t suffer from D&D Updatitis where Powers have to be revised, updated, nerfed or errata’d to oblivion because they are over-powered or abused due to an unexpected combination of Feats and situational bonuses. The price for any ability is calculated, right there. If it’s powerful, it’s expensive. Simple as that.

I like effect-based systems because they quantify the world in predictable ways. A spell might well be the called The Crimson Bands of Balhemoth which summons blood-soaked bandages from the Far Realm that wrap around your foes, but in game terms it’s an effect which Immobilizes opponents (save ends). Effect-based systems mean that similar effects are treated in a similar and consistent manner, and that lets me get on with the role-playing instead of having to look up Obscure and Contradictory Rule Number 3,125. That’s a good thing, right?

Anyhow. On to the Archetypes.

Here’s a Rogue, Fighter, Cleric and Wizard all built using Mutants & Masterminds Third Edition to Power Level 4 with 60 points. This puts them roughly on a par with a 1st level Third Edition D&D or Pathfinder character; if you want something closer to Fourth Edition gameplay, raise the Power Level to 6 & 90 points, and use the extra points to gain Powers, special abilities and the like. If there’s interest, I’ll show you how to do that next time.

 

Human Rogue, PL4 60p
STR 0, STA 1, AGL 3, DEX 3, FGT 3, INT 2, AWE 1, PRE 2
Dodge 4, Parry 4, Fort 1, Tough 4/1, Will 2, Init +7

Acrobatics +5, Close Combat: Dagger +6, Deception +6, Expertise: Streetwise +6, Perception +5, Persuasion +6, Ranged Combat: Crossbow +4, Sleight of Hand +7, Stealth +7
Accurate Attack, Connected, Daze (Deception), Defensive Roll 2, Evasion, Improved Aim, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Seize Initiative, Uncanny Dodge, Equipment 2

Adventurer’s Kit, Thief’s Tools, Leather Armour
Dagger (+6 DC16), Crossbow (+4 DC18)

Notes: This is a solid all round Urban Rogue who wields a Dagger and Crossbow with equal skill. Note that there’s no Sneak Attack in M&M3e. Instead we use Power Attack to represent an attack to a vital spot – it’s less accurate (taking a penalty to hit) but does more damage (gain the penalty as a bonus on your damage, up to +/-5). The job of the Rogue is to get into a position where he gains a bonus to hit (hiding, using Improved Aim, flanking, etc) to mitigate that penalty, then hit hard and fast. If you want to customize him, consider swapping out Improved Aim for Set-up to aid your team members or juggling the skill points around to make a more acrobatic and athletic Rogue.

 

Dwarven Fighter, PL4 60p
STR 3, STA 2, AGL 1, DEX 1, FGT 1, INT 0, AWE 3, PRE 3
Dodge 3, Parry 3, Fort 5, Tough 5, Will 3, Init +1

Athletics +9, Expertise: Dungeoneering +4, Intimidation +7, Perception +7,
All-out Attack, Benefit (Member of Fighter’s Guild), Close Attack 1, Daze: Intimidation, Improved Critical 2 (Battleaxe), Improved Defense, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Interpose, Power Attack, Takedown 2, Teamwork, Ultimate Effort (Resist Knockback), Equipment 2

Enhanced Strength 1 (lifting only), Senses (Detect Minerals 2, Direction Sense, Distance Sense, Low-light Vision)

Adventurer;s Kit, Chainmail Armour, Medium Wooden Shield
Battleaxe (+2 DC21)

Notes: Here’s a fun one. This is a Rock Dwarf who can lift up to 800lds above his head! Add in the ability to detect minerals, direction sense and distance sense, and this is a kind of dwarf unlike any you’ll find in D&D. Why? Because I can, and that’s the joy of M&M. You are limited by your imagination, not that of some distant game designer. As ever, customize, tweak and redesign to suit.

 

Human Cleric, PL4 60p
STR 2, STA 1, AGL 0, DEX 0, FGT 0, INT 1, AWE 3, PRE 1
Dodge 3, Parry 4, Fort 4, Tough 4, Will 4, Init +0

Close Combat: Warhammer +3, Expertise: Religion +6, Insight +7, Perception +7, Persuasion +9
Benefit (Ordained Priest), Favoured Foe (Undead), Inspire, Ritualist, Teamwork, Equipment 2

Channel Divinity:
– Turn Undead (Cone Area Ranged Damage 4, DC19, Limited:Undead only)
– AP: Healing 4
– AP: Light of Pelor (Dazzle 4, affects Sight, resisted by Will, DC14)
– AP: Bless Ground (Environment 3, Bless Crops, Impede Movement 1, Radius 120’)

Adventurer’s Kit, Chainmail Armour
Warhammer (+3 DC20)

Notes: This is a classic undead-bashing priest of Pelor with a handful of Alternative Powers which lets the Cleric heal, cast a dazzling light and bless the ground, causing crops to suddenly grow and tangle the ground. Add extra APs (only 1 point each! cheap!) for additional divine spells.

 

Elven Wizard, PL4 60p
STR 0, STA 0, AGL 2, DEX 2, FGT 0, INT 3, AWE 2, PRE 2
Dodge 4,  Parry 2, Fort 2, Tough 1, Will 6, Init +2

Expertise: History +7, Expertise: Magic +11, Perception +8, Persuasion +4
Defensive Attack, Eidetic Memory, Minion 1 (Apprentice), Ritualist, Skill Mastery (Expertise: Magic), Ultimate Effort (Expertise: Magic), Equipment 1

Senses 1 (Low-Light Vision)

Fey Magic (limited: must be able to speak and move hands):
– Arcane Bolt (Blast, DC19)
– AP: Fairy Wings (Flight 2, 8mph)
– AP: Nature’s Tongue (Comprehend: Plants & Understand Animals)
– AP: Shield (Protection 4)
– AP: Summon Feyhounds (Summon 1, Multiple Minions: 2×15 point minions)
– AP: Tree Stride: Teleport 4 (500’, Medium: Trees)

Adventurer’s Kit, Spellbook, Leather Armour
Staff (+0 DC17)

Notes: And we end with a nature-themed Elven Wizard who uses such spells as Tree Stride, Fairy Wings and Summon Feyhounds to look as druidic as possible and still carry a spellbook. As ever, customise, add spells and modify as required.

Till next time!

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11 Responses

  1. Looks very nice! It seems so.. easy. =)

  2. Elton says:

    D&D 4e is a rip off on Feng Shui in a couple of ways.

  3. Jonathan says:

    This is fantastic stuff, Greywulf. You know, the first time you did this series I was convinced to pick up M&M 2e. Hopefully this one will do the same for 3e with a new audience.

    Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing what you put together. :)

  4. Chris says:

    Hi Greywulf, been following your blog for some time now, catching up on old stuff as well. First off I wanted to thank you for writing so many great articles that really inspire me. It is great to see that you are able to shine light on your topics from multiple points of view, giving a well-rounded 3-dimensional image (same as your render dumps) ;)

    Now to my question: I read your conversion and your old articles you linked to pertaining to second edition, and they are, as many of your articles, golden. One question remains in my head: how would you handle magic items? Do they simply add to the standard build of the character (so that they add to the total, leaving every character with slightly different PP, or do they have to be incorporated into the build? What is your opinion?

    Thanks in advance, and thanks again for blogging”

    • greywulf says:

      Thanks for the kind words :)

      When I ran our D&D-using-M&M2e-campaign I gave out Magic Items using Device rules. They began relatively low-powered (worth only 1 or 2 points in total) so didn’t cause too much imbalance in to the character’s overall power level. It was up to the players to spend time (and by time, I mean points) to find out more about the capabilities of their magic items. That lowly Ring of Invisibility (2 points) could well end up being a Ring of Unimaginable Power (300 points) if they’re willing to invest in it.

      This has the happy side effect of players getting the magic items they want, not the ones I think they want.

      In M&M3e terms, I could give them a Magic Longsword which Detects Goblins (Device: Strength-Based Damage 3, AP:Detect Goblins, Extended. 3pp). If they want to make it Goblin-Slaying (something like Transform: Live Goblin to Dead Goblin, Limited:only Goblins, Permanent would do it), they could spend the points to reflect their researching of the correct magic words or gestures, and it’s theirs.

      Hope that helps!

      • Chris says:

        Wow, so simple. Shoulda thought of that!

        I still would still rule to have domain over how they distribute their points because I would want to make sure it fits, and because in a “real fantasy world” the characters couldn’t decide what their magic item does or does not do ;)
        Still, I love the idea of turning a simple 2-point ring into a killer ancient divine ring of power. I once played in a role aster group where my rogue received a ring that would talk to me and grant me chameleon and spider-climb. Later I it gave me a few more powers, including long jumps, increased agility, invisibility, and it even fused my spine after a serious injury for one last stand when it was most needed (though it couldn’t cure me, I was able to stand beside my team)

        Ah, those were the days…

        Thanks again, and keep it up ;)

  5. Sean says:

    I’m glad you’re tackling this now, Greywulf. I’ve just decided to tackle a M&M 3rd Ed. fantasy game. (You talked my into it with your last M&M fantasy posts, but we’ve been doing other things.) It’s unfamiliar territory, and any guidance is appreciated.

    However, it looks to me like your rogue isn’t much good at picking locks. If it was me, I might drop his social skills or Connected to give him some ranks in Technology. Low level rogues usually aren’t as suave as they think they are anyway.

    I do suppose most of the Technology skill is wasted on a fantasy rogue. How would you represent that lockpicking ability without making him a medieval engineer?

    • Chris says:

      If I might chime in there: I think the right skill for the job would be Expertise. It says that Expertise covers knowledge as well as training in specialized fields. So I would simply give the rogue “Expertise: Thief” and be done with it. The examples suggest that the skill is meant to be used broadly, encompassing, as it says, knowledge and training, the theoretical as well as the practical, so our rogue would be able to pick a lock as well as evaluate loot and know his way around dark alleys…

      • greywulf says:

        We decided to keep it simple and allow the use of Sleight of Hand to pick the kind of crude locks you’re likely to find in a fantasy setting. As per the rules, it’s a Dexterity/Manipulation skill which is good for getting out of handcuffs and straightjackets, so it’s only a small step to allow that same skill to use a set of lockpicks.

        If the Rogue wanted to be an expert who specialized in opening particularly complex or intricate locks, I’d require an Expertise:Locks (or equivalent) check for them to be able to identify the lock type, which would give a bonus to their Sleight of Hand check to open it.

  6. Robert Stehwien says:

    M&M is really good for running fantasy games and some nice write-ups there. But a few comments.

    Important thing to note about alternate powers (wizard and cleric) is that they are cheap because you can’t use them at the same time. The wizard at least would want to move their shield spell out of the AP and have it as a power on its own for a net cost of 3 points (4 for the power -1 for removing the AP).

    Also the “(limited: must be able to speak and move hands)” limitation should really be a complication or quirk as “limited” on a power means the flaw should come into play at least 50% of the time.

    • greywulf says:

      Robert, thanks for the comments!

      In the original write-up of the Wizard for M&M2e I wrote this:

      As this is supposed to be a low-powered Wizard he’s going to have to choose between hurling a Mystic Blast or having a Shield in place each round; he’s not experienced enough to be able to control two spells at the same time.

      I designed it that way to keep the points cost down and give a player something to rectify later. As you quite rightly say, it makes much more sense for Shield to be out of an array. If this was my character in-game, that would be the first place I would spend any earned points :)

      “Must be able to speak and move hands” is a limitation rather than a quirk because it would be common knowledge in a Fantasy setting, and it provides two significant ways to prevent a Wizard from casting spells. As he has to be able to speak and move his hands, preventing just one of those is crippling. Anything which stops one or the other ends the Wizards’ spell-casting ability, meaning their hands and mouths are likely to be aimed targets for any intelligent opponents. Being a Wizard is not without it’s dangers.

      Of course, if you are to rule otherwise, that’s great too. It’s one of the joys of M&M that you can build exactly how you envisage Magic to work, and the rules are there to support you.

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