Game Day: Mutant Meanderings

I didn’t have enough time for a full-fledged Game Day column this week, so here are some random thoughts relating to Mutants & Masterminds inspired by Friday’s session.

The new Infinity Storm blog is coming along nicely. I’ve got an HTML mock-up mostly working in Safari and Firefox; Internet Explorer still has issues (but really, when does it not?) Don’t be too impressed by our artwork – it’s all lifted from Mutants & Masterminds source books (or rather, be impressed with Green Ronin rather than me). Once I nail down the formatting problems in IE, I’ll be converting the mockup to a WordPress template and moving the entire site over to a subdomain on I’m making the move because a) I need to learn how to do WordPress templates b) WordPress is much more flexible than Blogger.

I bought the Batman Begins soundtrack for last month’s for Mutants & Masterminds session.It’s a dark, ominous soundtrack, and one that I think is too subdued for play sessions – at least without going through an handpicking individual tracks. Further, the album uses faux Latin track names, which makes it difficult to figure out which songs match up with which events in the movie (which in turn makes it harder to use in game, unlike say, Spider-man 2, where it’s easy to pick “Angry Arms” for a fight scene. I do find that it makes great music for writing campaign notes; it puts me into a super hero kind of mindset without interrupting my train of thought with overt musical heroics.

I wish there was a Monster Manual for Mutants & Masterminds featuring villains and a bunch more pre-generated monsters/giant creatures/non-player characters. Something like Instant Superheroes, but aimed more toward game masters.  I love the game, but character generation is anything but quick, and a book of critters, demons, etc. would make my life a lot easier.

Friday’s Game Day proved one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt: we rely on Evil Genius far too much for rules question. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the rules (probably because his character, the power-suited technoknight Paladin, takes advantage of about half of them). Unfortunately, he couldn’t make the game last night, and it moved much slower as a result. Our biggest slowdowns involved how to use the Protection (Impervious) power (which we’ve since figured out) and determining out how much damage the stone-fisted hero Grey could do with his fists (which involves some obscure calculations involving his Density power).

While I think the combat went well enough last night, I forgot the golden rule of game mastering – make sure there are enough villains to keep everyone occupied. Last night’s big fight involve the heroes taking on the hate-mongering villain known as White Knight. There were distractions in addition to the villain – namely some row houses that caught on fire, and a gas station that threatened to burn because of his fiery bursts – but he could have used a few thugs as back up (and to give the players a few more targets). Granted, White Knight was powerful enough to occupy most of the heroes, but I think a few more targets would have made the combat more dynamic (particularly as the player characters struggled with trying to overcome the Knight’s exceedingly high Toughness saving throw).

The Green Ronin source book Instant Superheroes is proving to be an indispensable tome. Although it’s designed to provide players with ready-to-run characters, as a GM I find it’s useful for brainstorming new villains. It also earned its keep Friday night as we added a new player to our rank — he was able to quickly leaf through its pages, find a hero he wanted to play (a Martian Buck Rodgers) and was up and running in the campaign almost no time.

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