Every young geek’s thoughts turn eventually to superheroes and comic books. We truly live in a glorious golden age of superhero pop culture right now, and the language of super heroes has permeated the mainstream culture without a doubt. For this installment of Card Catalog, we will look at a superhero team made with Mutants & Masterminds 3e, with a little exploration of the D20 system’s myriad uses! First, if you can track down Green Ronin’s DC Adventures series, I highly recommend it. That is what actually started this concept, but as I dug into the system and Green Ronin’s history, the underlying Mutants & Masterminds architecture came out. I will also engage in a little bit of a selfish option here and write up a handful of supers that come from my own comics universe I began imagining back in the late 1980s.
Mutants and Masterminds is built on the D20 system that you may remember from the previous installment on Babylon 5. Mutants and Masterminds, however, looks wholly different because it jettisons much of the existing mechanics you are familiar with. What is retained it the primary method of resolution using a D20 plus modifiers either opposed against another roll or with a static Target Number. There are no levels or classes. There are different attributes. The character generation is a fluid point buy system reminiscent of GURPS and HERO. In all openness, this is the first time I have used this system, so this will be a learning experience from the ground up.
The first thing to look at for a character is their Power Level! This is what defines the overall effectiveness, with many PCs being a Power Level 10 as a default, but with characters who are the “Big Guns” of their Universe at Power Level 12 and the iconic characters being Power Level 14. This level determines how many points you start with to build your character as well as providing limits to defenses and your other abilities creating a cap on the effectiveness of a character.
When designing the character, your power points total is 15 x Power Level to be used throughout the entire creation process. You need to budget your power points as you work through creation since the same point reservoir is used for Abilities, Power, Skills, Advantages, and more!
Abilities are your statistics and include: Strength, Stamina, Agility, Dexterity, Fighting, Intellect, Awareness, and Presence. These are also used for certain derived Defenses that you can increase with some power points. Powers are just what they sound like – superpowers! These powers can be modified through a system of advantages and disadvantages to customize the rather broad and generic powers as we will show in the subsequent character generation. Skills are those learned abilities that are not powers while advantages fall somewhere in between the two.
Assigning the points will have you make certain choices that we will go into when we look at each of the characters in this Card Catalog Entry. The underlying mechanics are innovations on how to use a d20 + Modifier roll as well including the use of Hero Points that are awarded in a session when your Complications come up as well encouraging broad based character balance in the defenses and limits based on Power Level.
For all these discussions, please note some of these ideas came from a very young Guard-a-Manger in the late 1980s with some occasional updates since then. We are now at the equivalent of the third Volume for this comic book but some of the corny ideas from the contemporary inspiration remain and I won’t be ashamed. I read the Giffen & DeMatteis Justice League, Nicieza & Bagley New Warriors, and the West Coast Avengers. A decade later, it was the Busiek/Perez Avengers & the Morrison/Porter JLA. I even tried drawing some of them which has various levels of success but eventually resorted to tracing the outlines of other figures. I’ll include a few of those for fun along the way. As what would now be called a “tween”, an international team of heroes made sense and I originally divided them up for membership by continent and called them the Argonauts because of my early love of Greek Mythology. The roster changed some as the years went by with characters being killed, going missing, and the world’s history advancing, but the notes for this world remained. Pardon my indulgence of using my own world and continuity but please enjoy seeing what started for an 11 year old boy and has kept with him over the decades.
No one is quite sure how or why powers started popping up in human, much less when they started. What is clear is that the rate of powered humans, aliens, and magical beings showing up on Earth is increasing at an alarming rate. It had been a hundred years since the modern era had started with these extraordinary beings stepping onto the battlefield of World War I including the likes of Doughboy and Janissary. The 1960s saw the worldwide spread of these special people like Slugger and Der Kommissar which continued through the 1980s revival of battlesuits even as Slugger founded a third political party in the U.S. reshaping the global power structure. When a self proclaimed “Demon Lord” made itself known collecting a coterie of villains to challenge the status quo, the planet couldn’t sit back anymore.
With less likelihood of full scale conflicts, but a heightened frequency of small skirmishes between nation-states, the Global Commonwealth Agency, which replaced the League of Nations after World War I. was empowered to establish a peacekeeping force and to specifically deploy powered beings to counter threats found across the globe. It was the birth of the Argonauts. There has been a lot of change since that day, with deaths, retirements, and politics dictating different line ups but the constant heroism of the Argonauts is a comfort to many and a warning to others. Some of the current roster include
Atomic Avenger (PL12)
May 29, 2018
One of the elder statesmen of the Argonaut, Dr. Anthony Chandler was one of the first powered individuals to sign up but at the time he was encased in a suit of powered armor of his own design. Atomic Avenger has been through some of the most changes,with the most obvious difference being that he no longer wears a powered armor and that he has been acknowledged publicly. An almost archetypal power set of flight and energy projection, Anthony has been questioning recently whether he should continue and what changes have been going on “underneath the hood”.
June 05, 2018
Espionage wasn’t recruited, but has been the field leader of the Argonauts since its inception. For the public, Espionage holds a great deal of mystery as he is seen almost exclusively enshrined in his black armor from head to toe. Even in private, he maintains his reserve and is Taciturn but somewhat paternal in his behavior, few have gotten any closer to him outside of Atomic Avenger. Fewer still have had the opportunity to learn why he was chosen and what he isn’t telling about his past.
Bright Star (PL11)
June 12, 2018
Maria Silva is a child of hope and disaster. She is the fortunate and the driven. Her life in Sao Paolo was never meant to intersect with the world of flying heroes and dastardly villains, but an unscrupulous corporation, alien dna, and a healthy dose of luck both good and bad landed her here. Called the Bright Star of Brazil, her shimmering gold telekinetic powers and telepathic abilities have let her help many in her home country, with an eye to the poorest and least advantaged among the people. Her parents had put great hope in her dancing to take her away from the thin line between poverty and sustenance but they died seeing her literally rising above Brazil to protect others – she is their bright and shining star that now leads the world to a better place.
June 19, 2018
Sometimes, the questions are not even worth asking. The gregarious and quick to laugh Titan was brought onto the Argonauts and he had a straightforward role of punching and lifting things. This is not a bad gig, after all and stood in contrast to his time spent as a CPA in Nigeria’s growing financial services sector. While there were never answers to where his powers came from, that was only because there had not been questions. He still never asked the questions, but recent events included an answer to that …. And a slowly increasing temper Titan isn’t used to.
June 26, 2018
Autobahn is new. You might say she still has that new car smell as she is a speedster, moving far faster than the eye could follow. As her name may suggest, she is German and joined the Argonauts only recently to replace the missing in action Bionic Knight. Her outfit certainly has some mechanical enhancements that imply she needs a little extra support to use her powers to their full potential, but they are *her* powers. Her powers are actually natural, and something that she was born with. No government, organization, or extradimensional power forced a change on her, but instead she is an example of what sort of seed exists within humanity. In the meantime, and in between racing up and down the German streets, she is constantly following social media and trends with a snarky and slightly confrontational outlook on this post-postmodern life.