Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Game Spotlight: Example of M&M Character Gen

Hello again! Its time again for another post, and while I work on material for my current Valanas weekly game that I'm running, I thought it would be fun to go through how I put together a character in Mutants and Masterminds.
This is just a basic example that I hope will help anyone else get a feel for how the system works and how to put together a relatively balanced character. So I bring to you the example of a character generation for my Slider character concept that I mentioned here.

Things you'll need to know
This post is designed to give you basic idea of how the system for MnM works. You will need at least the Pocket Player's guide for Mutants and Masterminds to really understand the different terms and basic point systems. I'll do my best to explain as I go along though, but just keep in mind that this is meant more of a framework than anything. Though as far as the specific costs to things I won't include too much specifics, you can check out the book itself for most of that information.

So we have a general idea of what to expect with this kind of character. We have a person who is relatively athletic, and most definitely charismatic. With mutants and masterminds, the system does really well at creating general benchmarks for mostly everything you can expect. Though to keep things simple, MnM sets the baseline for abilities around PL 10.

This means that the Character will have 10 x 15 power points, or 150 power point total (Power Points are the main currency for buying skills, feats, powers, and traits). This also means that all the abilities of a character will be limited to PL 10 as detailed by the Power Level progression table. So what I do is write down the following:

ATK: +10 / DC: 10
DEF: +10 / Tough: +10

This represents the Attack Limit to Difficulty Class Limit ration and Dodge Limit to Toughness Saving throw Limit ration. For most people familiar with this, this is the basic ratio for an optimized character, or a character who has their limits optimized for balanced combat. You can not increase one without reducing the other. This will also determine how many points to spend in other attributes as we go through the character generation.

Now the character that I have in mind isn't very accurate, but is very athletic. Considering the character doesn't stick around for fights most of the time, I'd also assume the character has below average ability to resist damage, but above average ability to dodge attacks. If there is such a hit, the character simply "rolls" with the hit. We also assume the character relies on their ability to coat things with her energy shield, and as such doesn't really focus on accuracy that much, but instead has a much more powerful ability. This translates into a below average Attack bonus with an increased Difficulty Class for her powers.

In MnM you can exchange a +1 in one at the expense of a -1 in the other. GM's decide as to how much you can do so, but in this case I usually set a limit of a +4 to -4 cap on my exchanges. In the case of the Slider, I change the text to the following:

ATK: +6 / DC: 14
DEF: +14 / Tough: +6

Now all this does is set the limit of the character itself. I have yet to spend any points on the character. At this point, I'd like to optimize the character, spending the appropriate points to fill in the limits I've put together for the character. Attack and Defense cost 2pp per increase from +0. Ability scores do not affect either of these two traits, but when it comes to Toughness, Constitution does affect that ability score. Considering this character is an athlete, I can derive that she has a toughness thats above the average, if not more so than that (being very fit).

Looking at the benchmark table in the book, I know that a Constitution of 14 fits the bill nicely. We also then decide that the character is at least gifted in dexterous activities and has above average strength, and in my previous post I said I wanted her to be very Charismatic. Taking the benchmarks into account I update the text to the following:

14 (+2) STR
14 (+2) CON
18 (+4) DEX
?? (??) INT
?? (??) WIS
18 (+4) CHA
Ability Score Total: 24pp

+6 Attack Bonus
+14 Dodge Defense / +7 Flat Foot Bonus
+2 Fortitude (+2 CON)
+4 Reflex (+4 REF)
?? Will (+? WIS)
+2 Toughness (+2 CON)
Bonuses Total: 40pp

As you can see there is still quite a bit of stuff missing, and we haven't had enough ideas to put into powers yet. Though regardless, we now have the basic framework to move onto some other modifications to the above sheet.

Making it Real
So we mentioned in our second rendition that we had optimized the attack and defense. To make things fit how we want the character to fee we can use that benchmark table to get a better understanding of where the character's baseline fits with her skills.

To start off lets look at the Defense. Mutants and Masterminds allows you to take conditional defenses at a reduced cost. This allows you to see what parts of your character are conditional and which ones are more fitting for the character. When my character is caught off guard, I'd want that character to be considered very gifted, which is a +4 benefit. Double this for her dodge bonus, and we get a +8 dodge bonus. So what to do about the other 6 points?

Well considering the character is very athletic, we can assume that she has the Dodge Focus feat found in the Mutants and Masterminds feat listing for a +6 benefit, totaling her to the +14 Dodge and a Flat Footed bonus of +4 which is at a much cheaper approach than to our initial build.

As far as the character's ability to be accurate, lets keep them within reach of the human norm and say they are very gifted, which again is a +4 bonus. I also want to keep the character to a level that requires them to "touch" the surface that allows them to attack, and allow for an additional +2 attack focus on melee attacks, but no on ranged attacks. This will give us the same benefit but at a reduced cost power point wise.

And considering how acrobatic our character is, we ought to give this character points in the acrobatics skill as well as concentration to fit the concept as well. We will also add in a couple of ranks of Defensive Roll to fill out our Toughness. We also want our concentration to be at least a +10 to allow us a successful roll against the PL 50% of the time, so we will increase our Wisdom to 14 (+2 bonus).

When looking at the saving throws, its good to have them fit into a PL x 2.8 total bonus or something close to that number. So in that case that would be a +28 total bonus in all base saves (excluding Toughness). With that in mind, we modify the following stats and add the following under feats and skills:

14 (+2) STR
14 (+2) CON
18 (+4) DEX
10 (+0) INT
14 (+2) WIS
18 (+4) CHA
Ability Score Total: 32pp

+4 Attack Bonus / +6 Melee Attack
+14 Dodge Defense / +4 Flat Foot Bonus
+8 Fortitude (6 Base +2 CON)
+12 Reflex (8 Base +4 REF)
+8 Will (6 Base +2 WIS)
+2 Flat Foot Toughness / +6 Total Toughness
+12 Initiative (See Feats)
Bonuses Total: 44pp

8 ranks (12=8+4 Dexterity) in Acrobatics
8 ranks (10=8+2 Wisdom) in Concentration
Dodge Focus Rank 6
Defensive Roll Rank 4
Attack Focus (Melee) Rank 2
Improved Initiative Rank 2 (+12=4+8 Initiative)
Feat and Skill Total: 18pp

So at this point, we have everything optimized except for the powers and any touch up details. So far we've spent 94 out of 150pp, which is plenty for the powers we want to put together.

Powers Detailed
So when thinking about powers, we want to divide our powers into Offense, Defense, and Utility. The nice thing is we already spent most of our points enhancing our offensive ability with accuracy and defensively with our dodge bonus and our toughness saving throws. This means we can focus on Offense and Utility.

To start things off though, we can reference the Friction Control power in the Players Handbook for a collection of offensive powers. It states under the description a good grip of Alternate Powers as well as a good description of the most common traits of someone who has friction control. All the powers we want though will be touch ranged (-1pp/rank in most cases) with an area of effect of either a burst, cone, line, or trail.

So for the base we look at the primary power for Friction Control we find that it has perception range and has the burst effect built into it. We can reduce this down to Touch Range with a -2pp/rank making the power now 1pp/rank. We both want to increase friction and reverse it, and we also want a nullify ability on snares and a nullifying ability on machines, and we want the ability to cause damage to people who move through increasing friction heat for people who move. This will all have touch range and area of effect, though since we have such a large pool of points, we will think of including a selective extra (we want this character to be player friendly to our allies).

For Defense, they mention a weather control power to hamper movement. I'd like to include such a power with the selective extra to further increase the pure defensive ability of the character. This ability will be passive and is sustained, requiring only a free action to sustain.

For Utility, we will include a super speed ability to emulate "skating" and allow for free movement, and perhaps a high level of Wall Crawling to fit the "sticking" for the character.

Powers Outlined
Piecing the powers together, we have the following additions to our character sheet:
  • Primary Friction Control (Snare) Rank 14
    • Touch Range (-2pp/rank)
    • Burst Area of Effect (Included)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
    • 6 Alternate Power Feats
    • Total: 2pp/rank
    • Power Pool Total: 34pp
  • Alternate Power Friction Control (Trip)
    • Touch Range (-2pp/rank)
    • Burst Area of Effect (Included)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
  • Alternate Power Friction Control (Snare) Rank 14
    • Touch Range (-2pp/rank)
    • Cone Area of Effect (+0pp/Rank)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
    • Total 2pp/rank (28pp)
  • Alternate Power Friction Control (Trip)
    • Touch Range (-2pp/rank)
    • Cone Area of Effect (+0pp/rank)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
  • Alternate Power Nullify (Mechanical Only base 1pp)
    • Touch Range (-1pp/rank)
    • Burst Area of Effect (+1pp/rank)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
  • Alternate Power Nullify (Snares Only base 1pp)
    • Touch Range (-1pp/rank)
    • Burst Area of Effect (+1pp/rank)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
  • Alternate Power Strike (Friction heat attack, 1pp/rank base)
    • Only against Moving Foes (-1pp/rank)
    • Burst Area of Effect (+1pp/rank)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
    • Concentration Duration (+1pp/rank)
    • Full Round Action (-1pp/rank)
  • Primary Environment Control (Hamper Movement) Rank 5
    • Quarters Movement Speed (2pp/rank)
    • Selective (+1pp/rank)
    • Total 15pp
  • Speed Rank 3
    • 50mph top speed or 250ft/move action
    • Power Total: 3pp
  • Super-Movement Rank 2
    • Wall Crawling 2 ranks (no need for climbing skill)
    • Power Total: 4pp
  • Grand Power Total of 56pp

So I've included two different variations of the primary form, one that is centralized and the other is focused in a cone as apposed to a sphere. This gives the concept that the build "coats" everything with its energy to give its effect. Adding the 56pp with the 94pp we come out with the grand total of 150 character points. This fits the bill perfectly! But lets look into making some last minute modifications...

The Final Touch
The thing is, we didn't fit much into one of her key traits we wanted. Looking at what we had before, we had given her a substantial bonus to charisma, and we don't have anything that we can really use with it. So we've got the powers, we got the skills, and we got everything that fills out the character, but not so much the story.

As mentioned in the previous blog post, we mentioned that we wanted the character to be rather charismatic. Thinking about this character, I can see it a number of ways, but the one I like the most is along the lines of a roller bladder, and when I think of that I am reminded of how much my girlfriend LOVES to rollerskate, so a feminine figure comes to mind.

I'd like to see if I can't change some things to add in a level of Attractive which will add a +4 bonus on bluff and diplomacy checks against the opposite sex, and probably a grip of 4 ranks to put into those same skills, if not more. So what I do is I drop Charisma down to a 14 (+2 bonus) for 4 extra points and add in the rank of Charisma, this keeps her beauty within the human norms.

I'll invest 1 character point to add in attractive, and then another 2 character points to add another 4 ranks into each Diplomacy and Bluff. The remaining 1 power point I'd like to go further and add in the Leaping power at Rank 1 for 1pp. This emulates this character using her acrobatics and friction control at the same time for a bit of frictionless propulsion.

The final Character sheet still ends up as 150 character points, and looks like below:

Ability Scores:

Physical: 14 (+2) STR, 14 (+2) CON, 18 (+4) DEX
Mental: 10 (+0) INT, 14 (+2) WIS, 14 (+2) CHA
Ability Score Total: 28pp

Attack and Defenses:
+4 Attack Bonus / +6 Melee Attack
+14 Dodge Defense / +4 Flat Foot Bonus
+8 Fortitude, +12 Reflex, +8 Will
+2 Flat Foot Toughness / +6 Total Toughness
+12 Initiative
Attack and Defenses Total: 44pp

Feats and Skills:
+12 Acrobatics
+6 (+10 Attractive) Bluff
+10 Concentration
+6 (+10 Attractive) Diplomacy
Dodge Focus Rank 6
Defensive Roll Rank 4
Attack Focus (Melee) Rank 2
Improved Initiative Rank 2
Attractive Rank 1
Feat and Skill Total: 21pp

  • Friction Control Rank 14 (Snare; touch range, up to 70ft burst or 140ft cone area, selective, 6 Alternate Powers: Friction Control Rank 14 (Trip; Touch Range, up to 70ft burst or 140ft cone area, selective); Nullify Rank 14 (Snares Only or Machines Only; touch range, up to 70ft burst, selective), and Strike Rank 14 (only against moving foes, up to 70ft burst area, selective, concentration duration, full round action))
  • Environment Control Rank 5 (Hamper Movement, one quarter movement, selective)
  • Speed Rank 3 (50mph or 250ft/move action)
  • Super-Movement Rank 2 (Wall Crawling, no need for climb check)
  • Leaping Rank 1 (2x jumping distance)

Totals: 57pp

28+44+21+57= 150 Total Character Points!

And there you have it folks, a fully optimized character using nothing more than the Players Handbook for Mutants and Masterminds!