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Shōnen in M&M

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  • Shōnen in M&M

    I've been thinking of ways to try to emulate the shonen style of anime/manga battles in Mutants and Masterminds. You know how it goes: the big bad is unfazed by the hero's best energy blast, effortlessly fights off hundreds of lesser enemies, and just in general outshines someone in battle. Then, after some intense training or using a new technique, the hero overcomes this opponent! But how do you mimic this with ridiculously over-inflating either the Power Levels of your PCs or NPCs? I've considered a house rule that puts a greater emphasis on PL difference between combatants.

    PL Difference of 1: Here, one fighter definitely has an edge over the other, but it's not completely one-sided. The character with the higher PL is considered to have +2 Initiative, can choose at the start of his turn to have either +2 to the active defenses or +2 to Fortitude, Toughness, and Will, and can also have either +2 to attack rolls or have their opponent be Impaired on checks to resist their effects.
    PL Difference of 2: Now things aren't too even. If you're fighting someone this much stronger than you, you better have teammates. The same as above, except all +2's bcome +5's, and the Impaired instead becomes Disabled.
    PL Difference of 3+: At this point, the other fighter might as well not even be trying. As well as the previous tier, the opponents of the stronger combatant are considered to be Minions and are Vulnerable to his attacks, and he has Immunity (Half Effect) to anything you throw at him. If they haven't knocked you out in one hit yet, it's probably because they're toying with you.

    Why go through with this? Again, it's to reduce over-inflation of Power Levels while still showcasing the level of one-sided fights anime can be known for. Here's an example: Super Saiyan Gohan (PL 10) is fighting Perfect Cell (PL 11). Here, Cell has a more distinct advantage than he'd have without the rules above, but Gohan can still hold his own for a bit. But when Gohan goes Super Saiyan 2 (PL 13), he is now the one with the serious advantage. To represent how superior Gohan is to Cell at this point, we'd have to make normally make him PL 15+! But then Cell returns "even more perfect" at PL 13, and the two fight on even terms.

    Another common trope is to see the hero dig deep and find the will to win. You can represent this through Extra Effort. For the purpose of the tier bonuses above, when a character uses Extra Effort, consider them as one or two PLs higher than they actually are. This can give a PC a chance to land a major hit against a stronger enemy or end a stalemate.

    I'm open to any thoughts on this, or perhaps a discussion about a better way to emulate the genre.

  • #2
    Re: Shōnen in M&M

    I'm not going to say one way is better than another, but I like how Lady Shiva's "Body Reading" power works with "Resistable by Will." You could replace "Will" with an "Expertise: [obscure martial art]" or any number of other things. For a minimal cost in PP, the hero is able to negate the Big-Bad's advantage without ever changing the hero's Power Level.

    It's pretty much the scenario you described. The hero's "intense training" or "special technique" is buying "Expertise: Turtle-style Kung Fu" or somesuch. It's essentially useless outside being able to negate the Big-Bad's otherwise unbeatable martial arts... Which is exactly the point.

    You build the Big-Bad at the same level as the hero, then pump him up something like +4 PL with the flaw "Resistable by Expertise: Turtle-style Kung Fu" on the new bonuses. Normally, the hero's gonna get whooped. He goes and studies this obscure technique. Now he and the Big-Bad can meet on more even terms.
    Last edited by Mr Mole; 11-07-2014, 09:52 AM.


    • #3
      Re: Shōnen in M&M

      Considering these guys have been casually destroying planetoids and the moon, or destroying/risking destroy larger planets with their stronger attacks, I'd say that they actually do have ridiculous power levels. I mean, if you are having a game within a Shonen setting of the "never ending ridiculous powerups" sort, it only has to be internally consistent, there is no need to have, say, Goku be on par with Superman or unable to one-hit-kill Galactus. So, why is the inflation of power levels a problem? It is arguably what is actually happening in such shows and mangas, isn't it? If a PC can use black holes as improvised throwing weapons for a robot 10.000 light-years tall, why not have them at PL 100 or whatever?
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      • #4
        Re: Shōnen in M&M

        The simplest way to handle such things is to ensure that all of the players (and you as the GM as well) understands and are in agreement about the rules of the genre. Next everyone holds back on their power levels (i.e. the PL10 heroes may restrict themselves to PL6 in the beginning| power ranks for non-capped powers should also be similarly restricted) until the story unfolds enough that the heroes have to use more of their power in order to combat their foes (and then a second or third time as the battle unfolds). As the heroes encounter stronger fighters they can use their Assessment advantage (for those possessing it) to gauge how much they need to up their own power.
        I would also severely limit the range that the advantages used to alter combat stats are usable while characters are restricted to lower PLs.

        Beyond that you could introduce rules that require characters in combat must make endurance checks (DC equal to the number of rounds plus the value of the highest power rank used last round) with failure causing one level of fatigue per degree of failure. Allow the Recover action to also reset the number of combat rounds the character is considered to have been in for purposes of his endurance checks.

        Basically it is applying rules to the "Quirk" drawback. Most characters in the genre have a strong desire to prove themselves in battle- and using their full strength to squash their foes just doesn't jive with that personal code of conduct. So during these encounters the players who keep themselves weaker than their foes will earn additional hero points for holding to their code- this will help to offset the increased risk of getting pummeled.

        Hope that provides another perspective,