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  • Questions from a new GM

    I'm new to M&M and planning on GM'ing a campaign soon, and had a couple of questions. I come from a mostly fantasy/D&D background, so superhero games are fairly new to me. The campaign will be starting at PL 8 (possibly 10), set in WWII, with the PCs fighting against Axis occultists and superheroes. Sort of a 'Weird Wars' / M&M mash up. My players have minimal experience with superhero games and no experience with M&M at all. My questions:

    1) I need 4 to 6 pre-generated characters that are "simple" for new players to play and in the "typical" superhero style (not looking for Golden Age type heroes but more Silver Age, I think). Any suggestions on where to look?

    1a) Follow-up question: In D&D type games, you have several "roles" which are required for the party to have (tank, healer/leader, striker, AoE, etc). Do GM's feel like these (or any) roles are needed/useful in M&M games? Particularly in a "lower power" PL 8 game, where the players will likely face normal humans with large quantities of military hardware?

    2) What sort of "introductory" scene do M&M GMs use when bringing the PCs together for the first time? In D&D tropes there was always the "meet in the tavern" scene (/gag). I usually have every PC have a "relationship" with 1 other PC, but I'm kind of stumped on a good first game session to bring all of the PCs together in a common cause.

    3) Besides Power Points, what sort of rewards do you feel are appropriate for a M&M game? My players are used to the D&D style games where gold & magic items are the standard rewards beyond experience. In M&M, money seems relatively pointless (particularly in a WWII type setting) and it seems like any permanent equipment should be paid for with Power Points. I'm worried my players will be "put off" by the lack of "progression" (for lack of a better term) and I was wondering if this is an issue other GMs had and how they handled it?

    Thank you in advance for your help!

    Kash

  • #2
    Re: Questions from a new GM

    Which edition? What books do you have access to?
    [url=http://roninarmy.com/threads/996]My Builds[/url]

    [b]Current games:[/b]
    [url=http://www.echoesofthemultiverse.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=839]The J.V. Team (GM)[/URL]

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    • #3
      Re: Questions from a new GM

      Originally posted by Kash Register View Post
      I'm new to M&M and planning on GM'ing a campaign soon, and had a couple of questions. I come from a mostly fantasy/D&D background, so superhero games are fairly new to me. The campaign will be starting at PL 8 (possibly 10), set in WWII, with the PCs fighting against Axis occultists and superheroes. Sort of a 'Weird Wars' / M&M mash up. My players have minimal experience with superhero games and no experience with M&M at all. My questions:

      1) I need 4 to 6 pre-generated characters that are "simple" for new players to play and in the "typical" superhero style (not looking for Golden Age type heroes but more Silver Age, I think). Any suggestions on where to look?
      There are the archetypes in the core book, but they're PL 10. In the Deluxe Hero Handbook, there's the Quickstart character generator, but also PL 10. Several people have build threads in the Roll Call forum, but not a lot of people have PL 8 ready-to-play builds and some, who model existing characters, build to ability rather than PL/point total.

      1a) Follow-up question: In D&D type games, you have several "roles" which are required for the party to have (tank, healer/leader, striker, AoE, etc). Do GM's feel like these (or any) roles are needed/useful in M&M games? Particularly in a "lower power" PL 8 game, where the players will likely face normal humans with large quantities of military hardware?
      This can be tricky, since M&M is point-buy and not class-based, you can have characters that are all over the map. Typically when you're recruiting you'd put out a call for specific niches to be filled, and players can claim them and build to their liking.

      2) What sort of "introductory" scene do M&M GMs use when bringing the PCs together for the first time? In D&D tropes there was always the "meet in the tavern" scene (/gag). I usually have every PC have a "relationship" with 1 other PC, but I'm kind of stumped on a good first game session to bring all of the PCs together in a common cause.
      I recommend jumping right into it. Start with them already together and being shot at.

      3) Besides Power Points, what sort of rewards do you feel are appropriate for a M&M game? My players are used to the D&D style games where gold & magic items are the standard rewards beyond experience. In M&M, money seems relatively pointless (particularly in a WWII type setting) and it seems like any permanent equipment should be paid for with Power Points. I'm worried my players will be "put off" by the lack of "progression" (for lack of a better term) and I was wondering if this is an issue other GMs had and how they handled it?
      In point-buy systems like this, it's easier to hand out points and let the players decide where they want to spend them.
      Penny's Build Party - Playable builds - M&M 2.5 featuring Damage Roll combat

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      • #4
        Re: Questions from a new GM

        Originally posted by FuzzyBoots View Post
        Which edition? What books do you have access to?
        I'm playing 3rd edition, and I have currently the Hero Handbook and the Gamemaster's Guide. Not adverse to picking up other books as needed.

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        • #5
          Re: Questions from a new GM

          Originally posted by badpenny View Post
          This can be tricky, since M&M is point-buy and not class-based, you can have characters that are all over the map. Typically when you're recruiting you'd put out a call for specific niches to be filled, and players can claim them and build to their liking.
          In my case, since my players have zero experience, I'll be creating the characters for them, and just letting them choose which they'd like to play. It will be much easier for my group than trying to learn how to build characters first. So, based on that, are there any archetype's you feel are 'required' or 'really useful'?

          Thank you,

          Kash

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          • #6
            Re: Questions from a new GM

            Eh, a lot of it depends on what you plan on throwing at them. If you're planning to throw crowds of minions at them, they need someone with Takedown Attack or Area Attacks. If you're going to make them disarm the Doomsday Device, you need at least one Skills Guy. However, outside of that, I'd say just take inspiration from existing superhero teams. They usually have some mix of a damage/toughness shifted Powerhouse, a Paragon (flies with super-strength), an accuracy-shifted weapons or martial arts guy (although M&M has a slight bias against such guys in terms of the combat rules), a smart/skilled guy, and someone with more of a control effects set of powers (things like mind control, geokinesis, light constructs, etc). And, of course, some of them will cross boundary. Tony Stark flies, blasts, and does engineering for example.

            In terms of starting the group up, over the years, I've personally become a bit more of a fan of starting them off as a team rather than making them go through meeting and becoming a team, if for no other reason than it sidesteps the "my character decides he doesn't want to join the team, so you have to spend the first session convincing me" kind of player. Instead, the heroes have been working together for some amount of time already and have bonded. After that, you can leave it to the players to state how they bonded, and the history they share. Start right into a fight or other challenge.

            In terms of rewards, isn't saving the world its own reward? Outside of that, you can always offer other perks like Team headquarters or vehicles supplied by the city or a patron, plus the accumulation of people they knew upon whom they can call for favors. Of course, that can come with attendant Complications, which is all to the fun.
            [url=http://roninarmy.com/threads/996]My Builds[/url]

            [b]Current games:[/b]
            [url=http://www.echoesofthemultiverse.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=839]The J.V. Team (GM)[/URL]

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            • #7
              Re: Questions from a new GM

              Thanks, this helps a lot.

              Originally posted by FuzzyBoots View Post
              an accuracy-shifted weapons or martial arts guy (although M&M has a slight bias against such guys in terms of the combat rules)
              Care to expand a little on this?

              Thank you,

              Kash

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Questions from a new GM

                There are two trade-offs: Attack & Effect and Defense & Toughness.

                Attack is the worse of the two since A) you gain nothing by exceeding someone's defense, and B) M&M uses a linear d20 mechanic (and not a bell curve), so with that kind of swingyness, you're not at as much of a disadvantage when you trade off attack for a higher effect. Also, the higher your effect, the more points you have to play with when it comes to stunting, e.g. a martial artist with STR 5 and Attack +15 only has 5 points to stunt with vs the powerhouse with Attack +8 and STR 12 (12 points), let alone the energy blaster with Blast 12 (who has 24 points).

                Second, Toughness is better than Defense. Defense can be exceeded with a random roll of the die (5% chance to roll any number 1-20). The more your trade down your Defense, the harder it is to make the Toughness save. That being said, a very high Defense could mean hardly anyone hits you, which might frustrate the GM. That being said, there are two mechanics that bypass Defense altogether: Area attacks and perception-range attacks. Conversely, there is no mechanic that wholly bypasses Toughness.
                Penny's Build Party - Playable builds - M&M 2.5 featuring Damage Roll combat

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                • #9
                  Re: Questions from a new GM

                  The bias I've noticed from only playing a couple games is martial arts are very basic and aren't in the super powers section. To me, it seems a martial artist might do well against minions or PL6 bad guys, but not very well against paragons or powerhouses. We've already noticed our speedster can't hurt a lot of powerhouses as his attacks are too low and can't get thru basic toughness of the stronger heroes/villains.

                  But I'm sure there are ways to build a martial artist to make them as tough to fight as Lady Shiva or Iron Fist.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Questions from a new GM

                    A fellow named Elric did a breakdown of it on the old boards (which are apparently down for yet another transfer), but basically, there are a number of places where the system penalizes a tradeoff toward attack or defense from the base statistics of the likelihood of someone making their toughness save on any given hit combined with the chance of them getting hit to the existence of multiple maneuvers to reduce or eliminate defense without powers with no corresponding ability to reduce Toughness in the same way, to the more subtle concept tax where defense and attack are often more expensive to buy and provide fewer opportunities to power stunt off of the points spent.

                    I'ts not a "this tradeoff is totally nerfed", but it's enough to show that an attack or defense tradeoff, particularly the more extreme ones, has issues.
                    [url=http://roninarmy.com/threads/996]My Builds[/url]

                    [b]Current games:[/b]
                    [url=http://www.echoesofthemultiverse.com/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=839]The J.V. Team (GM)[/URL]

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Questions from a new GM

                      Originally posted by FuzzyBoots View Post
                      I'ts not a "this tradeoff is totally nerfed", but it's enough to show that an attack or defense tradeoff, particularly the more extreme ones, has issues.
                      I disagree. When you are Attack-shifted you are demonstrably weaker than if you are Effect-shifted. You not only trade-off for something that gives you nothing for exceeding your opponent's Defense, but you lower your effective stunting flexibility.

                      If you are Defense-shifted, you can be attacked with Area and Perception effects that bypass the extra points you devoted to Defense. You can be made Vulnerable and lose half your Defense. If you're Toughness-shifted, at no time does anything bypass your Toughness and there is no mechanic to drop your Toughness by half.
                      Penny's Build Party - Playable builds - M&M 2.5 featuring Damage Roll combat

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                      • #12
                        Re: Questions from a new GM

                        Originally posted by badpenny View Post
                        I disagree. When you are Attack-shifted you are demonstrably weaker than if you are Effect-shifted. You not only trade-off for something that gives you nothing for exceeding your opponent's Defense, but you lower your effective stunting flexibility.

                        If you are Defense-shifted, you can be attacked with Area and Perception effects that bypass the extra points you devoted to Defense. You can be made Vulnerable and lose half your Defense. If you're Toughness-shifted, at no time does anything bypass your Toughness and there is no mechanic to drop your Toughness by half.
                        To contrast that, Toughness Save shifting can be exploited by effects that call for a Dodge Save can shut them down.

                        Being attack shifted can be compensated for with Power Attack for 1pp. That alone lets a player go from 5 damage/effect to 10.

                        Toughness shifted characters also tend to have a low Dodge Saves, thus are particularly vulnerable to Power Attacks.

                        While some people are convinced that Dodge shifting get shafted, those people downplay things like the fact that Dodge Shifting is non-Ablative.

                        While there are mechanics to halve dodge and bypass it with Perception and Area there also are ways to bypass Toughness Save (Alternate Save) that are just as simple.

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