Category Archives: rpg review

Character Development: Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition

Today’s game is the third incarnation of Mutants & Masterminds from Green Ronin. Mutants & Masterminds is a super-hero role-playing game that permits you to take on the persona of a super-powered being fighting for truth, justice, and the American way (or whatever you want to fight for)! The first step to building a Mutants & Masterminds character is a concept. If you just go in willy-nilly, you’ll quickly lose your focus because there are so many options, so take a few minutes to consider the type of character that you want to play first.

The great thing about Mutants & Masterminds is that you can play literally any character that you can imagine. The system is so versatile that I’ve used it for fantasy, post-apocalyptic settings, and for super-heroics, and I suspect that it will work equally well for space-based campaigns. After all, what are spells and psionics if not super-powers with a different name?

For those who can’t find a copy in your local stores, Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition is available through the Green Ronin storefront or through Amazon.

So, let’s talk character. I’m envisioning something a bit different. I thought about doing an all-American Superperson, but I think that I’m going to try something a little more complex. I am envisioning a fallen angel of vengeance, complete with flaming sword! He fights against evil but isn’t afraid to kill to make a point.

Let’s start with stats. There are eight stats in Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition. Strength, which is a measure of sheer muscle power and your ability to use it. Stamina is health, resilience, and overall physical endurance. Agility is balance, grace, speed, and overall physical coordination, while Dexterity measures hand-eye coordination, precision, and manual dexterity. Fighting measures the character’s ability in close-combat. Intellect covers reasoning ability and learning. Awareness is common-sense and intuition, and Presence is force of personality, persuasiveness, leadership ability, and to a lesser degree, attractiveness.

I imagine that a fallen angel would have decent strength and stamina, so I’ll set those at 3 each. A score of 3 is a bit above human average (0), so that’s pretty good, but still within human limits. As a Power Level 10 hero (which is the default), I have 150 points to play with, and every 2 points put into attributes buys one rank, so I have spent 12 points already. Agility and Dexterity are going to be 2 each, Fighting should be pretty good, and I can go as high as 10 without exceeding my PL cap, so 10 it is. Intellect I will leave at human average, but an angel needs good Awareness and Presence, so I’ll set those at 4 each. I have 94 points left to spend.

Now I’ll turn my attention to advantages. I think I’ll take Assessment, which lets the GM make a secret Insight check for me to determine an opponent’s capabilities as compared to mine. Diehard lets me automatically stabilize when dying, which fits my concept as a difficult-to-kill divine being. I’ll also take one level of Improved Initiative and that’s it for now. I can always revisit if I need to. Each advantage costs 1 point, so I have 91 remaining.

Turning to skills, every point put into skills increases a skill by 2 ranks, and skills in Mutants & Masterminds are very broad. I’ll add 3 points to Intimidation to boost it to +10 (6 ranks). I’m also putting 3 points into Athletics, bringing that up to a +9. That should suffice for skills, so we’ll move on to powers, the meat of the build, and we have 85 points remaining to play with.

Okay, first, I know that he is a fallen angel, so he’ll need wings. That’s easy. We select the Flight power and boost it up a little until we reach the level we want. Each level of flight costs 2 points, and level 6 grants flight at 120 mph. But… that’s for flight with no visible means of support. To set up winged flight, we select the Wings limitation, which reduces our cost by -1 per level, so instead of costing 12 points, our wings only cost 6! For flavor, let’s give this power the name Angelic Wings, (as opposed to the generic Flight).

For his sword, we’ll make a Device, which can be equipped or unequipped. A sword is a Strength-based Damage device, so we’ll start with that. I don’t envision the damage as being too excessive, so I’ll make it Strength plus 4 ranks, which makes the save DC 22. As it is a divine weapon, I’m going to give it two ranks of the Affect Incorporeal extra. This will permit it to have full effect on incorporeal as well as corporeal targets. This raises the cost by a flat 2 points. No problem, we can afford it. I also want the sword to be more dangerous, because of its edge. To accomplish this, I’ll add the Improved Critical advantage to the weapon. This means that it scores a critical on a 19 or 20. Finally, we need to simulate the fact that it is flaming. The easiest way to do this is to add Energy Aura to the Device. I’ll add it at level 5, which due to the Reaction extra that comes with that ability, is 20 points.

The cost of the weapon is 27, but since it is removable, I get a -1/5 points, mitigating it to 22 points. Just for giggles, I’m making the weapon indestructible, which is another +1 to the total, which brings us to 23 points for the sword. That leaves us with 56 points to spend.

I did say that this was an immortal, divine being. Let’s reflect that with some Immunities. Immunity to Aging, Life Support (which provides immunity to poison, disease, environmental effects, suffocation, starvation, and thirst) and sleep costs a total of 12 points.

I’m also adding the Immortality power at level 5 (10 points), which allows him to return to life 1 day after gaining the dead condition. With 34 points left, I think that I will use the remaining to balance out saving throws and defenses.

I’ll spend 8 points to boost Defense to 10, and Parry is already a 10. Punching Fortitude and Will up to 10 costs a total of 13 points, but Toughness is still lower than I would like (3). Since we can’t boost Toughness directly, we’ll need to add another power; Protection. By adding 7 points of Protection, I boost Toughness to 10. That leaves me with 6 points to spend.

Looking over Advantages again, I feel like an Angel should know Latin, so I’ll give him Latin for 1 point. As drawing a weapon is normally a move action, I’ll make it a free action by adding the Quick Draw advantage, so he can get his sword out quickly. And just because, let’s give him Power Attack, which permits him to sacrifice some of his chance to hit to add damage to the blow. For one more point, I’ll add Favored Environment, which gives him an advantage in his favored environment (air). With only two points remaining, I’ll boost Perception by 4 and that will almost finish him up.

According to the rules, I must have two complications. For him, I think I’ll go with Honor and Motivation. Honor represents his personal code of honor in that he will never take undue advantage of an opponent (no sneak attacks, hitting someone who is down, etc.) and Motivation is justice. He fights for justice and what is right, defending the innocent.

Other than details like hair and eyes, height, weight, and costume, he’s done. I’ll give him shoulder-length blonde hair, tied back in a ponytail, blue eyes, and he will stand 6 feet tall and weight 185 lbs. His costume is a black bodysuit with white boots and a flaming sword on the front. Here is how his stat block looks:

Unnamed Hero – PL 10
Strength 3, Stamina 3, Agility 2, Dexterity 2, Fighting 10, Intellect 0, Awareness 4, Presence 4

Assessment, Diehard, Favored Environment: Aerial, Improved Critical: Flaming Sword, Improved Initiative, Languages 1, Power Attack, Quick Draw

Athletics 6 (+9), Intimidation 6 (+10), Perception 4 (+8)

Angelic Wings: Flight 6 (Speed: 120 miles/hour, 1800 feet/round; Wings)
Flaming Sword (Removable (indestructible))
Damage: Strength-based Damage 4 (DC 22, Advantages: Improved Critical; Affects Insubstantial 2: full rank)
Flaming Aura: Damage 5 (DC 20; Reaction 3: reaction)
Immortality: Immortality 5 (Return after 1 day)
Immunity: Immunity 12 (Aging, Life Support, Sleep)
Protection: Protection 7 (+7 Toughness)

Initiative +6
Damage: Strength-based Damage 4, +10 (DC 22)
Flaming Aura: Damage 5, +10 (DC 20)
Grab, +10 (DC Spec 13)
Throw, +2 (DC 18)
Unarmed, +10 (DC 18)

Motivation: Justice

English, Latin

Dodge 10, Parry 10, Fortitude 10, Toughness 10, Will 10

Power Points
Abilities 56 + Powers 58 + Advantages 7 + Skills 8 (16 ranks) + Defenses 21 = 150

Hero Lab and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at Mutants & Masterminds, Third Edition is ©2010-2017 Green Ronin Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

Which brings me to my final point. If you’re going to be doing a lot of Mutants & Masterminds, you might seriously want to invest in Hero Lab, a software character generator from Lone Wolf Development. It makes the process sooo much easier and will help keep track of errors, points spent, and everything else.

Review: Dark Hold Goblin Adventures

Today’s review is of Dark Hold: Goblin Adventures for the Savage Worlds game system. This is a 72-page volume from Rebel Minis, written by Ian “Lizard” Harac, Chris Huddleston, Andrew J Lucas, Kyle Morgan, Jennifer R. Povey, Josh Vogt, and Jacob Wood. Cover art is by John Dotegowski. Dark Hold: Goblin Adventures retails for $19.00 USD.

Upon opening the book, we are greeted by the tale of Buzulg the goblin. This sets the stage for what is to come. The next chapter is devoted to the world of the Dark Hold, a setting within a setting. The Dark Hold is a valley that was once inhabited by dwarves who held the goblins as slaves. When the dwarven empire collapsed, the goblins took over two high valleys and the upper levels of the Dark Hold itself (because no one dares venture into the depths). The goblins then negotiated trade with the humans who hold the pass across the mountains.

After the full description of the Dark Hold comes the chapter on playing goblin characters. From appearance to personality to food and drink, every aspect of being a goblin is addressed in loving detail. There are new rules for crystal magic and for crafting. The gods of the Dark Hold goblins are then discussed. Finally, we get to the meat of the book; the goblin template, new Edges, and new Powers. There are three new Background Edges, a new Combat Edge, and a Leadership Edge, as well as a new Power. Following this is a discussion on playing low-power characters, a treatise that wise players will give heed to, as goblins are particularly low-power.

This is followed up by an introductory adventure, and several other adventures. “The Goblin Faire” introduces us to a typical goblin faire at which several goblins will vie for the hand of the “fair” chieftain’s daughter. In “Pursuit of the Perfect Pig,” our heroes carry on a quest to find a magnificent flying swine and his human companion. “Should We Eat It?” is the big question when a humanoid baby is found on the road. “Kitchen Chaos” ensues when something is eating all of the food for an upcoming festival and must be stopped. You’ll also have the chance to tag along on a “Pig Hunt.” “Tomb Raider Raiders” pits a handful of goblins against clever traps to recover an artifact. Finally, we’ll visit the mushroom festival in “Mushroom March.” Rounding out the book are appendices containing a multitude of new creatures, items, and several sample characters, including representatives of all traditional fantasy adventurers.

The interior artwork, also by John Dotegowski, is beautiful and really helps bring the book to life. Conceptually, this is an original product for Savage Worlds; I can’t say that I’ve seen a book devoted to playing goblins for that system. The ideas provided herein are fresh and were enough to pique my interest in the possibilities. I did find a number of small errors, such as word spacing, misspellings, and similar mistakes, but they were few and far between and did not detract from the product overmuch. Overall, I think that this is a welcome breath of fresh air (or maybe not-so-fresh; these are goblins, after all) and a good value for the money.

I couldn’t really find anything that I intensely disliked about the product. Just skimming over the adventures that are included makes me want to try this campaign just to run the adventures; they look like a good blend of action and humor. As a setting within a setting, this should be easy to drop into your existing fantasy realm with little or no problems. I strongly recommend that you give it a look.

For more information, check out You can get your own copy of Dark Hold: Goblin Adventures at

Rating: ****

Review: Heroic Maps

faewood loftIf you are an RPGer, then you know that the one thing you can never seem to have enough of is maps, especially maps sized for use with miniatures. Today’s RPGs are big on tactical situations, and many practically require the use of minis in order to better visualize the lay of things. But quality maps sized for miniatures are expensive.

Well, not anymore. Heroic Maps has dozens (literally) of beautiful, full-color maps of a variety of locations, all at a price that fits a working GM’s wallet. Whether you want a simple dungeon, a wintry landscape, or an entire drow city, Heroic Maps has you covered! They even have bundle packs that let you pick up several similar sets at a reduced price!

But let’s say that you have a dungeon of your own design that you need scaled to miniatures. Not a problem! Grab the modular dungeon set and get to creating! There’s also modular cavesmodular town, and modular sewer sets. And of course, these can be used with virtual tabletop programs like Fantasy Grounds or Roll20, as well.

Most of the sets contain a full set of maps, in both gridded and ungridded formats, scaleable to 25mm and 28mm sizes, as well as a PDF version. I’ve used them for Pathfinder, D&D 5th edition, and a variety of other systems to great effect. As a bonus, they can be used for Hero Quest, if you are so inclined.

I’ve spent probably close to $200 on my collection, and there are still sets that I want, and they produce a new set an average of once a week! I highly recommend this accessory for anyone who uses miniatures or VTT in their games.