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Thread: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

  1. #1
    Defender of the Word
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    How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    Hey guys

    I'm a Mutants and Masterminds DM and I just introduced the system to a couple of friends. We played a quick two-days adventure and at the end they had one complain:

    Their success depends a lot on the dice roll.

    Because, well, they all were Power Level 10 an the villain was Power Level 15. Some minions were PL 3 through 5, which they dispatched with ease
    But when facing themaster villain (which they did about 4 times before he finally stopped running away) they always depended a lot on the dice result to damage him

    I mean, of course this is a tabletop rpg and all tabletop rpgs depend on dice (or similar systems like cards and stuff), but let's be realistic: every PL 10 combat-focused character will have attack, defense and toughness 10, and damage powers/devices 10 (or strength 30) without trade-offs. If a villain is PL 13 ~ 15 his or her attack, defense, toughness and damage will also be 13 ~ 15, and players will have to bet on luck to take him or her down

    How to turn the system more dinamic? Should I give them more Heroic Points or something?

  2. #2
    Keeper of Secrets Hellstormer1's Avatar
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    Give them reasons to be less focused on the dice, and more on the narrative of the campaign and give them more choices. For instance, your big-bad villain can pop out and pick a fight. But when it comes time to run away, instead have him/her/it/hairball declare a grand scheme where a bomb is about to go off and kill people, or a new super germ is about to be released, or a person tied up will meet their death within "X" amount of time....be creative, make some options, give the players choices. Choices where, yes, they could stay and tackle this hairball, but at the expense of someone(s) dying as a result.

    Presenting choices like this, you could also reduce your hairball's PL to less than 15, since you're finding alternate methods to challenge your players, not only the PL of the antagonist, but also the very nature of the campaign narrative itself. And it doesn't have to be complex either. Present choice; players make choice; use ending or beginning of next session to present results of choice; continue on as normal; add simple change here or there to reflect choices later on (see below).

    If the heroes really do choose the fight over saving lives, then change up the campaign narrative to reflect this.....have the game session end, or the next session begin, with news broadcasts blaming the heroes as being responsible for the death of a person, or LOTS of people, and now they have to tackle the aftermath of their choices. They could be given Complications where any Skills/Advantages for interaction are rendered nullified until the heroes do something to rebuild their reputation and regain public trust. If the player doesn't bother, lable them in the news as a Punisher type vigilante....Don't push them directly, but shape the campaign around their choices, and the aftermath and results of those choices.

    If they let the villain go, something bad could happen elsewhere as a result, a theft, or collateral damage, but little to no actual death...the heroes chose the lesser of two evils, but confident they made the right choice, and they'll get the hairball next time. This choice could lead to plot development as the hairball may be acquiring components for some weapon or device with each of these encounters. Each encounter could have some different scenario to keep the heroes occupied, but make sure it's different each time, otherwise it'll get boring. Changing this up each time, keeps your players thinking outside the box.

    If the players have a big enough team of heroes, they could instead decide to split themselves up and tackle BOTH options, saving lives while also combating the hairball. Those who choose to fight the antagonist wouldn't even have to focus on beating either. If they feel they don't have enough power to take the hairball down, they could instead keep him busy/occupied until the other heroes get bacl from saving lives. If they don't have enough power to stay in a fight, they could instead keep their distance and keep tabs on the antagonist (this would be perfect for a Batman-esque or similar character). And in the end, if the villain still gets away, they can make a better plan for next time. But whatever happens, make sure the campaign and narrative changes and evolves, throws something new to your players, and gives them reasons to try something new themselves.

  3. #3
    Inceptor
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    First off, it seems to me that a PL 15 villain is an extremely tough nut for PL 10 characters to crack unless you have a whole bunch of them going up against him. The general guideline is each +1 in effect is essentially doubling the effectiveness of the effect, and I can honestly say that a PL 12 character is more than enough of a challenge against a group of 3 PL 10 characters to qualify as a big bad - PL 15 is going to be more along the lines of something that needs the heavy hitters from the Justice League to deal with.

    With that out of the way, there are some things that the group can do to mitigate the dice rolls - players can use Aid Another or Extra Effort in order to boost their Attack and Effect ranks, making it much easier for them to actually land something on the bad guy. Essentially, you're trading extra actions in order to more reliably affect the bad guy.

    After that, you can give the bad guy a big disadvantage that the heroes can capitalize on when they take him on. This can be through something you put into the scene for them to work with, or something that they can use a Hero Point to edit in. This can also help spice up some of your fight locations - more interactive terrain for the players to work with and see what it does, and maybe coming up with a solution you didn't think of to win the fight.

    Finally, as mentioned before, provide the heroes with something OTHER than the villain to deal with. You'll want the villain to be someone the group could otherwise deal with relatively easily (PL 11 for the standard group, or about +1 per additional 3 players), but they need to save the bus of school children/people in the burning building/etc. Make it about choices, and the consequences of those choices, rather than just beating down the bad guy.

  4. #4
    Defender of the Word
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    They were a group of 6 PL 10 characters, that's why I decided to go with a PL 15 villain

    That really got me thinking... they were definetly not using any combat maneuvers beside full attacking at will.

    Also: we are playing 2nd edition. Do you guys think this is a lesser problem in 3rd edition?
    I still haven't picked that up yet

  5. #5
    Keeper of Secrets JDRook's Avatar
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    Quote Originally Posted by danieldangelo View Post
    I'm a Mutants and Masterminds DM and I just introduced the system to a couple of friends. We played a quick two-days adventure and at the end they had one complain:

    Their success depends a lot on the dice roll.
    There is the concern with having the linear odds of a single d20 die roll each time. Since it's equally likely (ie 5% chance) to get a 1 or a 10 or a 20 it allows for a lot of swing in the possibilities. This can be suspenseful, but also problematic.

    Some options are to use more or different dice. Instead of a d20, you could use 2d10, which makes it easier to get mid-range rolls (44% chance to get 9-13) and harder to get extreme rolls like 2 or 20 (1% each). You might want to adjust critical ranges slightly (like make the base critical 19-20 [3%] for free) or a few other houserules (ie opt to use hero point to reroll 1 d10), but otherwise it keeps the numbers tending toward the middle range without changing a lot.

    More complex versions of this, like 3d6+2 or 4d6-4 could also be used, but the extremes become even less likely and the compensating math gets more invasive. M&M3e is primarily geared for relatively quick and simple combat resolution to reflect fast action, but whatever style works for you.

    Another option is using 3d20 and picking the middle die. This has a possible mechanical advantage of speeding up rerolls, since instead of rolling again the player just chooses the highest die. This is especially effective for games with Luck Controllers playing that can force rerolls to the lower die as well.
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  6. #6
    Defender of the Word
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    @JDRook

    I really liked the 2d10 and the three simultaneous rolls
    I also thought about, at the beginning of the combat, each player roll the dice five times and keep all the results, choosing what roll he or she will use. For example, if I got two really good rolls and three bad rolls, I'll use my good rolls in important attacks and maneuvers and let the bad rolls for easy tasks (or tasks that I really don't care if I fail)

    Do you think theis 5-roll mechanic would be nice?

    Also, do you think I should abandon 2nd edition? What's the scenario like, do people still pla 2e?

  7. #7
    Hierophant FuzzyBoots's Avatar
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    As regards randomness, my problem is usually the other way around. My players have the luck of devils, and I can barely get a decent challenge in front of them. Your best bet, for creating situations that are challenging but beatable, is to take a look at this guide or something similar. It gives pretty decent ballpark figures. Other than that, fiat can be your friend depending on whether you want the good guys to win or to lose. And don't be afraid to use fiat to simply let the villain escape, giving the heroes a Hero Point and the moral victory, but leaving the villain free to fight another day.

    For 2E vs 3E, I'm on the fence. I started out on 1E, moved to 2E and found it amazingly better. 3E... it was not necessarily a step backwards overall, but they took as many steps backwards as they did forwards in my opinion, and it was considerably less user-friendly for new players due to organizational issues and a lack of fixing the known problems (with official solutions!) in 2E. I still feel that a bit of shopping it around the loyal experienced community would have done them a world of good. At this point, 2E is pretty definitely less popular on the board (I'm too lazy to look up the actual figures at the moment, but the ratio of 2E to 3E is something like 1 to 3, and that's including some longrunning games that started in 2E), but as much as anything, it's because the new gamers coming in often only know 3E.

  8. #8
    Inceptor
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    Quote Originally Posted by JDRook View Post
    There is the concern with having the linear odds of a single d20 die roll each time. Since it's equally likely (ie 5% chance) to get a 1 or a 10 or a 20 it allows for a lot of swing in the possibilities. This can be suspenseful, but also problematic.

    Some options are to use more or different dice. Instead of a d20, you could use 2d10, which makes it easier to get mid-range rolls (44% chance to get 9-13) and harder to get extreme rolls like 2 or 20 (1% each). You might want to adjust critical ranges slightly (like make the base critical 19-20 [3%] for free) or a few other houserules (ie opt to use hero point to reroll 1 d10), but otherwise it keeps the numbers tending toward the middle range without changing a lot.

    More complex versions of this, like 3d6+2 or 4d6-4 could also be used, but the extremes become even less likely and the compensating math gets more invasive. M&M3e is primarily geared for relatively quick and simple combat resolution to reflect fast action, but whatever style works for you.

    Another option is using 3d20 and picking the middle die. This has a possible mechanical advantage of speeding up rerolls, since instead of rolling again the player just chooses the highest die. This is especially effective for games with Luck Controllers playing that can force rerolls to the lower die as well.
    Out of curiosity if you went the 3d20 route and made 19 or 20 a critical do you have any idea what the chance of getting a critical would be? My grasp of statistics is somewhat limited.

  9. #9
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    Quote Originally Posted by Emanymton View Post
    Out of curiosity if you went the 3d20 route and made 19 or 20 a critical do you have any idea what the chance of getting a critical would be? My grasp of statistics is somewhat limited.
    Choosing the middle die of rolling 3d20, you'd get a 19 or better roughly 2.8% of the time.

    (Sorry, I can't give you the math behind it; my probabilities are pretty rusty, and it was faster to just simulate a few million rolls.)
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  10. #10
    Hierophant FuzzyBoots's Avatar
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    Re: How to make M&M less luck dependent?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rush View Post
    Choosing the middle die of rolling 3d20, you'd get a 19 or better roughly 2.8% of the time.

    (Sorry, I can't give you the math behind it; my probabilities are pretty rusty, and it was faster to just simulate a few million rolls.)
    2.08%. AnyDice is a good place to do such experiments.

    1 0.72
    2 2.08
    3 3.27
    4 4.33
    5 5.22
    6 5.97
    7 6.58
    8 7.03
    9 7.33
    10 7.47
    11 7.47
    12 7.33
    13 7.03
    14 6.58
    15 5.97
    16 5.22
    17 4.33
    18 3.27
    19 2.08
    20 0.72
    Last edited by FuzzyBoots; 03-21-2017 at 09:55 AM.

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