RPG Review: Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition from Green Ronin

GRR5510e_MutantsAndMastermindsThirdEditionDeluxeHeroesHandbook_1_1024x1024Wow, two RPG reviews in a week. Aren’t you lucky?

I have a soft spot in my RPG heart for Mutants and Masterminds, as both my favorite superhero RPG, and one of my best campaign memories (an online play-by-post) with some of my best friends at the time.

I’ve only tried to run it a handful of times since then, but I still carry very fond memories of it. So I finally took the dive and obtained the 3rd edition corebook, several years after it had already been out.

So here I am, to review Mutants and Masterminds Third Edition!


1.) Size and Production Quality

A 288 page full color hardback book. Regular sized, and expertly laid out, the quality of this book is also very reminiscent of the graphic design/layout of the previous 2e edition I fell in love with. It’s a well made book, and very easy on the eyes to read. The quick references pages at the end are fantastic, and very useful in the heat of game play.

10/10


2.) Art

In my previous review, I complained about art being reused from previous editions, and M&M 3e commits some of the same sins. However, they go out of their way to also include new art, which is fantastic. Some of the new “iconic” heroes, are amazing, and the art that covers them is equally amazing. There’s a few weak points in the art throughout the book, but very few books have gorgeous perfect art all the way through.

8/10


3.) Content/Rules

So. One of the big struggles with M&M 2e was it’s mired beginnings in 3rd edition D&D’s OGL. There was a lot of holdover baggage there, and the game suffered in actual play for it.

I’m pleased to find that 3e doesn’t commit those errors. The design team did a fantastic job of stripping the game down to it’s core and basic play mechanics and rebuilding from there. Multiple tables have been condensed into a single quick reference table. Powers have been streamlined, and problematic powers have been completely redefined into newer versions with better mechanics, or removed completely. There were a few old powers I missed in the new book as their own powers (gravity control, etc), but Green Ronin did the stellar job of publishing a very in-depth and useful conversion guide (here) that will cover your needs and help you find the new equivalent to those old powers.

The changes to abilities, advantages, skills, and effects really bring the game into a simpler design space, while retaining the “complexity” of custom builds that helped to allow a player to truly define what they wanted.

10/10


4.) Game Master Section

As always, I normally loathe game master sections. But, Green Ronin knocked it out of the park here, with indepth examples of the more complex rules, detailed analysis of comic book and superhero genre, (in movies, comic, novel or other formats).

I was actually quite impressed. My only real complaint is the lack of easily accessible PDF print outs of some of the charts and tables they want you to use. I understand the lack (buy the GM screen), but as a player who doesn’t like GM screens, I really don’t want to buy one. I’d rather just have a reference sheet I can use as needed.

8/10


5.) Pre-Made Adventure

Wow. 2 pre-made adventures that are distinct, different, and very well written. As a bonus, there’s a partial 3e update to Freedom City (their old 2e default setting), and their new setting Emerald City (which actually seems really cool).

Well done Green Ronin. Well done.

10/10


Total Score: 46/50

Wow. Not a bad score (actually really high, I think only Pendragon books have beaten this one out). I love this edition, and I’m intending to make time for it after my next campaign wraps up (whenever that is).

A great book, and one I’ll avidly recommend, especially if you love the genre like I do.

Monthly One-Off Recap: Fantasy AGE

This post is written by the GM of our Fantasy AGE one-off, Riley Horn! GRR6001_450_d9ffbea6-fda4-4ef0-b275-a8521e0bd371_1024x1024


I always struggle with the first line of writing any post. I tend to type, delete, type, delete, until I find the exact words that make perfect sense.

So last night I had the chance to GM a Fantasy Age game by Green Ronin Publishing. It had been a while since I GMed so I felt a little awkward doing it. I am still new when it comes to Fantasy Age, but the rule system allows for easy play which is nice, and it’s simple to figure out.

The first of two challenges I found is the use of stunt tables. It is supposed to speed up game play and bring a flair of excitement to the table. I found it a little clunky and slows down combat. I think of the stunts were simpler it would really help to smooth out the process of using them.

The other challenge I found is more of a personal thing, I like to have a lot of variety to choose from when it comes to monsters and creatures in general. In the back of the rule book there are some, but not enough for my taste.

The supplements that Green Ronin makes are great additions, but to me still leave a little lacking in what I wanted to pit my players against. Overall running the game was a good experience and playing Fantasy Age periodically is something I will continue to do, but it hasn’t won a place as my favorite RPG to play, or run.


 

This blog has already reviewed Fantasy AGE (click HERE).

Thanks Riley for the one-off and the write up!

RPG Review: Fantasy Age

GRR6001_450_d9ffbea6-fda4-4ef0-b275-a8521e0bd371_1024x1024At GenCon this year (yes I was there. This blog has been sadly neglected), I picked up a copy of Fantasy Age from Green Ronin Publishing. So here I am writing a review. A super unscientific review.

As a note, my previous experiences with Green Ronin have been hit or miss. I love Mutants and Masterminds (both 1st and 2nd edition, hated 3rd edition), was middling on the A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, and their d20 offerings always felt half-completed to me. I bought fantasy on the strength of 2 principal factors: Price, and Size.

So let’s start there.

1.) Size and Production Quality.

Fantasy Age is only 144 pages. That’s not big at all. It’s in the standard RPG size format and hardback. Pages are in full color, and the layout is wonderfully easy to read. It’s logical, the stream of writing makes sense, and everything fits together. The pages aren’t thin, the book feels sturdy, and since it’s so light, I don’t get the impression it’ll break. 10/10

2.) Art.

The cover is pretty, and evocative, and I like it. The interior art however, is too “generic fantasy” to really do anything for me. It’s not bad, just bland. Left me pretty cold. 3/10

3.) Rules.

There’s only rules in the 140ish pages (taking out the index/character sheet), so let’s get cracking.

The base mechanic is the same as the Dragon Age RPG (with some tweaks), and it worked there, and it works here. It’s simple, fast to play, and fun. So no worries there.

First up comes character creation, as it should. All the basic fantasy races are here. Not missin’ one. The idea of rolling for random racial traits is interesting to me. I like how it provides uniqueness, but it feels a little gimmicky in the long term.

The backgrounds after are interesting. They don’t provide a lot, but gives good roleplay and some small mechanical “benefit”, and handle the wealth idea of the game.

Classes. Again, pretty basic. Magic, Warrior, Rogue. The specializations are what set these classes apart. Each class has a lot here, and that gives a ton of options to a game. Not badly done.

Equipment. What you’d expect from a fantasy RPG. Interesting note, the game does have built in blackpowder weapons, which reminded me of the AD&D 2e players book, and their inclusion of small amounts of firearms.

Magic. Here’s some interesting ideas. The idea of set spells at certain levels of proficiency is great. However, this section feels unfinished. There’s only a handful of “talents” and each talent only has 4 spells. The talents feel a bit randomly selected, to ensure anyone can play anything, but some obvious ones are missing. This section felt the most lacking to me.

Rules: 6/10

4.) Game Master Section.

Shoot me now. Another generic regurgitation of “what type of GMs are there” and “what types of players are there”. As if a simple google search won’t turn up a thousand articles rehashing the same tired idea. The basic idea of the section is obligatory to any RPG, and frankly, kinda…poorly done in comparison. Maybe I’m just tired of seeing this same thing. I’m sure it’s beneficial to some people, but I can’t imagine who picked up a game called Fantasy Age and didn’t already know a bit about RPGs*. 1/10

*EDIT: I should clarify I guess. The rest of the game master section (particularly the discussion of how to handle settings for a generic ruleset) is actually pretty well done and useful. I’ll modify the score, cuz I really did like those parts.

*FURTHER EDIT: It was pointed out to me that a lot of Titansgrave fans probaby are picking up this book based on the Tabletop show of the same name. In context of this, this section is probably pretty important in this book of all books. There’s probably a new wealth of RPG players who deserve a quality education on this, and I shouldn’t have been so dismissive of this particular section. Forgive this reviewer, and take that for what it’s worth. I have never seen the show, and I didn’t pick up Titansgrave, so it slipped my mind in the review.

5/10

5.) Pre-Made Adventure

The premade adventure is pretty generic and really uninspiring. Not much to say here. 1/10

Final Thoughts and Score: 

Unmodified Score: 25/50 (50%? Not great)

Modified Score: Regardless of any issues I proclaim above, I really like this game. Parts of it aren’t for me (which you can say about any RPG). Does this game pass the simple “Would I run this?” test? Yes it does. I would absolutely run this system and game.

Final Thoughts: I like the potential here a lot (hence my modified score above). It’s solid, well thought out in most aspects, and works great for me. It needs a book about customization and creating your own content, and perhaps a book with additional options for characters/players (More magic, less generic races, some extra specializations would be great), but overall, I say that if you’re looking for a generic RPG system,  and you prefer heroic, cinematic action, this is definitely the game for you.