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    Dec 2006

    Default Re: Mutants and Masterminds 3e Character Guide


    Affliction: Affliction overall is solid. Compared to Damage, it causes more severe effects for any given degree of failure, but doesn't stack as well, is easier to resist entirely, isn't penalized by Bruises, and is generally easier to recover from (though not necessarily to heal). Damage for laying the hurt, Afflictions for debuffs, both worth equally well and they work great together when Linked.

    One-degree conditions: Dazed, Entranced, Hindered, Fatigued., Impaired, Vulnerable.

    Two-degree conditions: Compelled, Defenseless, Disabled, Exhausted, Immobilized, Prone, Stunned.

    Three-degree conditions: Asleep, Controlled, Incapacitated, Paralyzed, Transformed, Unaware.

    (For the record, Fatigued and Exhausted become Niche for NPCs if it's ruled that go to the actual fatigue track rather than overlapping. Entranced would be better as a Limit on Stunned rather than a degree reduction. Immobilized and Prone would be Balanced as one-degree conditions. Paralyzed works better as Incapacitated Limited to Physical. Transformed is Balanced if used as pretty much a straight debuff or kinda templated transformation that isn't very powerful, Broken if you try to use it like a Variable Metamorph. Unaware would be Balanced as a two-degree condition.)

    Burrowing: Permeate will often be better, but sometimes leaving a tunnel is good!

    Communication: Communication's a bit overpriced. It does its job fine, it just costs more than it needs to.

    Comprehend: Solid utility.

    Concealment: I'd have preferred for it (and Counters All Concealment senses) to be a bit less all-or-nothing with a tighter integration with the Stealth and Perception rules, but it's not unbalanced, strictly. Just annoyingly binary. As an alternative I like a Feature I call "Master of Stealth" - for each rank of the Feature, you are able to hide from one sense even when you don't have cover or concealment, using normal Stealth checks (note you'll still need Hide in Plain Sight to hide while observed). Two ranks for a sense type, doubled for visual, ten ranks for All Senses. Tactile is allowed in this, though it won't hide you from a purely mundane sense of touch (which is another glitch in Concealment, frankly).

    Create: Create's extremely versatile and can be powerful defensively, especially when Selective. However, inanimate objects are sufficiently easy to destroy or circumvent that it's generally balanced enough unless someone tries something really exploitive.


    Deflect: Okay, this requires some discussion. A basic Deflect power is, outside of certain very specific tactical situations, almost entirely Useless. You spend your action for sure to maybe negate the enemy's action. Since you have to set up Deflect before the enemies attack, enemies know you're doing it (Subtle aside) and can adjust tactics accordingly. And there are a lot of ways to circumvent Deflect. Even ignoring using All Out or Accurate Attack to try to force through it (which at least carry meaningful costs), they can use Area attacks, Perception attacks, or just target someone else. And sometimes they'll just roll really high and ignore it anyway, or roll really low and it wasn't needed. Rendering the Deflecting character Vulnerable or Defenseless can cripple the protection. You can Counter the Deflect and let your allies attack unimpeded. Weirdly, one of the greatest benefits of a basic Deflect is letting your target All Out Attack while you provide the defense!

    Fortunately, there are a lot of good Extras to add to Deflect. Reaction is disallowed for some reason (at its cost it would not have been unbalanced) (EDIT: Actually, I realized what I wasn't considering here; Reaction Deflecting for yourself wouldn't be unbalanced, but a Selective Reaction Deflect letting you defend every teammate in range whenever an enemy attacks, while expensive, is probably an option best nipped in the bud. Touche, M&M, touche.), but Linked lets you attack and defend simultaneously, so if the enemy circumvents it you only lose a portion of your attack rather than the whole thing. Secondary Effect lets you get two rounds of defense. Area and Selective let your protect a group. Reflect can offer further deterrence and turn enemy attacks to your benefit. And Deflect is very good when it works. It just takes some doing to get it to the point where it actually can work. Now, you don't want to add all of that to every Deflect. I'd say any one of them take Deflect up to Niche, and two make it Balanced, although be cautious with Reflect because a Reflect combo can easily pump it to Strong. More than two and you're definitely getting too Strong and are risking it being Overpowered.

    Elongation: Elongation gives a bit too much for its cost. If it were purely a reach upgrade it would be Balanced and in fact is more balanced for that purpose than the actual Increased Range Extra. But adding in the grab bonus, plus the utility of actual elongation, takes it a bit too far. I do, however, endorse Elongation with a Feature that it only extends Close range without causing actual elongation or other effects. Yes, that's technically paying extra for a nerf, but it's worth it to get a more balanced version of Increased Range.

    Enhanced Trait.

    Environment: The effects of Environment aren't really that great, its main strength is its area. It's kinda more useful for NPCs to set up city-scale hazards or annoyances. I suggest arraying it and giving it the Continuous Extra so it pops up immediately as soon as you swap to the slot.

    Extra Limbs.


    Flight : Okay, realistically, Flight is overly strong compared to most other movement powers, especially considering it has some extremely low-impact Limits in Platform and, even moreso, Wings. But this is a superhero game, so I'm happy to declare Flight the Gold Standard of mobility, treat everything that can't measure up as too weak, and use restricted Flight to emulate them. Want to be super-fast with wushu levels of agility? Flight with a Quirk (Must end movement solidly supported) or Platform Flight with Quirk (Must begin and end movement solidly supported). Want super-leaping without Leaping's silly restrictions? Flight (Limited [Only to move in a straight arc], Quirk [Must begin and end movement solidly supported]). Flash-style super-speed that lets you run on any sort of surface? Flight (Limited [Must remain in contact with a solid or liquid surface]). And so on.

    Admittedly, this is one of those points where the fact that I favor a somewhat higher balance point shines through; in a mid-optimization game, it might be more sensible to treat Flight as Strong and move most of the other mobility powers up to Balanced. But again, come on, we're playing superheroes!

    Growth: ...Okay, I have a confession to make. Yes, Growth is stronger than its cost warrants. It gives you more benefits than you can get elsewhere for its cost. In a properly balanced game, you should not use Growth. You should just buy the traits you want and get a Feature and a Complication to represent the miscellaneous benefits and hindrances of being whatever Size and Mass rank you want to be. And you definitely shouldn't take Growth and then buy stuff down to get only the portion you want on the cheap. But, with all that said...

    Is it really such a bad thing if the giant monsters and humongous mecha are just a little stronger than they should be?

    I know! That's just fluff, there's no reason a giant monster should be stronger than an equal-level paragon, it's against the very Core Design Principles that M&M is built on and this guide is written around, and I am a total hypocrite! But I don't care giant monsters and humongous mecha are cool!

    Healing: Healing is flat-out overpowered in M&M. An average roll from a Healing 10 power knocks out three Damage conditions. That's enough to take a character who got one-shotted back to full health in a single move. A single basic Healing effect can trivialize damage-dealers, and that's before even getting into cool Extras.

    But Healing is an iconic power, so we don't want to just say don't use it. To balance out Healing, you need to add some high-impact flaws. I've experimented with a few of them, and my current favorite is what I call Limited (Healing Points):

    Spoiler: Limited (Healing Points)
    This power removes conditions more slowly than normal Healing. It provides a number of "healing points" equal to the Healing check result as long as the check beats DC 10. Each condition removed costs 10 healing points. If insufficient healing points are generated to remove a given condition, they reduce the number of points required to remove that condition. If this power is also Restorative, each point of Weakens removed also costs one healing point. If the target failed at least one resistance check since the end of the healer's last turn, it receives half as many healing points.

    In addition, this power does not heal the target's worst conditions first. Like Regeneration, it has to heal all Bruises before moving on to more serious conditions. It then reduces Staggered to Dazed (with the normal Damage duration of one minute), and then removes Dazed. It then reduces Incapacitated to Staggered, then Staggered to Dazed, then removes Dazed. It doesn't interact with the one-round Daze from failing a resistance check by two degrees or more, but if a target receives such a Daze while still suffering from a lingering Daze from a reduced Stagger, the Dazed condition goes back to Staggered.

    In my own games, I actually house-rule that as simply how Healing works, rather than making it a Limit, although it's slightly less restrictive (there's no losing it for a minute if you fail to beat DC 10, and Healing Points synergize with Regeneration, which itself I increase to 2/rank). But either way, that should make Healing fairly balanced, even when adding extras and such.

    Illusion: Illusion gets my award for Worst Base Effect In The Game. Not because illusions aren't super-fun and potentially tactically useful - in creative hands and with a good GM, they can be great. But Illusion is stupidly overpriced. Should have been 1 PP/rank with a flat +1 PP per sense affected, 2 for sense types, doubled for visual senses, or something. This is exacerbated by the fact that it's fueled by pure GM discretion, and that the entire Effect can be utterly ignored by a 2 PP super-sense.

    What I tend to do for illusions is buy them at rank 1, and add Area to get them to the size I want, with senses and other Extras to taste. That still winds up fairly expensive (Volume areas are extremely small, I'm not entirely convinced the person who wrote the chart realized that "X cubic feet" and "an X-foot cube" are two different things), and anyone who checks to disbelieve it is almost certain to succeed if they have any Insight whatsoever (and has even odds even if they don't), but Illusion does have one advantage here - first they have to check. If they don't interact with the illusion, they don't get the check automatically. So you have to be creative, but it can do the job.

    For more "immersive" illusions that can actually influence people, I like (Entranced or Vulnerable)/Compelled/Controlled Afflictions, usually with a Limit that you can't dictate their actions, just what they perceive, and their actions have to be appropriate to that.

    Immortality: Immortality is pretty expensive for something that comes up so rarely. I...actually don't think I've ever had an M&M PC actually killed before (I did a heroic sacrifice once, but Immortality wouldn't have helped with that anyway the way it worked). Even worse, you kinda need it to be on when you die, so putting it into an array isn't really a valid solution. Limited is explicitly more lax for Immortality though, so that helps. Limited Immortality 5 means you're back in a day, and at 5 PP, it isn't too big a strain. You could also get a basic low-rank Immortality and then array an enhancement to it, although you might have to make that Continuous. Still, can be good for allowing you to do stunts you know will likely kill you and then come back much faster.

    Immunity: You can do a lot of things with Immunity. Well, that's not true. You can do one thing with immunity - outright ignoring certain forms of attack - but you can do that in a lot of ways.

    The most typical forms of immunities I'd rate as Niche overall. Most immunities to specific attack modes only go so far in actual play. It's the classic problem with binary defenses - if they matter, you're invincible, and if they don't, the points are wasted. They're good fluff, though I'd generally rate them as a bit overpriced considering how easy they are to circumvent. The cost is more palatable in an array, but there is a distinct difference in flavor between "I am immune to X" and "I am capable of perfectly protecting myself from X". To be fair though, you don't want immunities to be too inexpensive, or it becomes too easy to acquire immunity to way too many possible forms of attack.

    Of note, Immunities tend to operate on a sort of "bulk discount" system. Immunity to All Heat Effects is 10 PP, but complete immunity to all Energy is only 20. This can create an issue where multiple similar immunities become way overpriced. What if you want to play someone with thermal control powers who is immune to heat and cold, or light control powers who is immune to light and darkness? It's not worth the full price of Immunity to Energy, but it's also not worth a Limited Immunity to Energy, since that's the price of immunity to just one of those things. Generally speaking, I'd say if you want a subset of what would otherwise be a single 20-point immunity, go with the full immunity, and Quirk 8 if limiting it to a subset of two, Quirk 5 if limiting it to three, Quirk 2 if limiting it to four. This is only if all the immunities would be a subset of a single much broader immunity though; you can't use this to grab, say, immunity to Heat effects, Emotion effects, and Ballistic effects though; those are all subsets of different broader immunities entirely (Energy, Mind-Affecting, and the 40-point Physical, respectively).

    Immunity has a weird glitch where it makes Poison and Disease easier to be immune to than literally every other descriptor in the game for some reason. That should have been something like natural or mundane poison and disease, rather than arbitrarily shafting anyone who just happens to want to play a poisoner or disease inducer or something. I suggest operating under the premise that those descriptors mainly apply to mundane and natural poisons and diseases, whereas those devised by super-science or produced by powers use descriptors that require full-priced immunities, such as [Toxin] and [Syndrome]. If doing this though, make sure your players are aware if they are wanting to pick up such immunities (and remember that Life Support only includes poisons and diseases, not toxins and syndromes).

    I'm not sure the "rare descriptor" classification is all that meaningful - it's entirely possible for a "rare" descriptor to show up more often than expected in a specific game, or a "normal" descriptor to just not show up at all. So use that with some caution.

    Fortitude and Will immunities are substantially broader and tend to be more-or-less Balanced, though they may push into Strong in higher-PL games, since you can save a larger portion of the cost by foregoing the resistance entirely. A half immunity to a traded-down resistance can be a potent broad-spectrum defense, though it is expensive. Toughness immunity, common though it is, remains Niche at best because it's just so expensive and targeting other resistances is so easy. Honestly, even combining a half Toughness immunity with Impervious Toughness, which I think the general consensus would call overpowered, I would say is cost-appropriate. However, this does mean sinking a metric boatload of points into a very binary defense, which again puts your GM in the annoying position of having to either circumvent it to challenge you, or target it so a third of your character sheet doesn't go to waste, which isn't exactly healthy for the game.

    In higher-op games where Dodge and Parry resisted attacks become more common, it is good to have a baseline for immunity to those. I do not suggest just using them as Immunity 30 like Fortitude and Will. As noted below in Alternate Resistance, these attacks are more powerful than most, and they should be more rare, which should translate to cheaper immunities. I tend to go with Immunity to Defense-resisted attacks at 15 PP, or immunity to "uncommon resistances" (anything defined as a resistance check that doesn't target Toughness, Fortitude, or Will) at 20 PP. This would mean full immunity to all attacks would technically be 160 PP. Don't do that.

    As an aside, I'd generally rate Immunity to Perception Attacks at 20 PP, Immunity to Area Attacks at 40, Immunity to Targeted Ranged Attacks at 40, and Immunity to Targeted Close Attacks at 60. This would be another route to complete immunity to attacks at 160 PP, which you still shouldn't do.

    Rule of thumb, if you have more than 40 points of immunities, you're probably going to wind up giving your GM trouble trying to balance out your huge investment in binary defenses.

    Insubstantial: Insubstantial is...more-or-less balanced, since its cost isn't just measured in points, but also in how it restricts your own options. It can be tricksy for a GM to work with though, and works better as a utility option than a character constant. If you are able to act reliably while ignoring most forms of attack due to Insubstantial (because of Affects Corporeal or having options that Insubstantial doesn't hinder) that's going to be a real pain for your GM and is generally Overpowered besides.

    Leaping: Not sure why they have it arbitrarily cut off after Speed Rank 7.

    Luck Control: Luck Control...is always going to be at least Balanced, but some uses can be stronger. And some can be really difficult to GM for. See, here's the thing. A good GM will be using Fiat to add to the story. Make sure a villain gets away so it can come back later, reroll a fluke resistance check that cripples a boss too early, etc. Negate Fiat can really be a pain to work with as a result. Force Reroll can also be rough to work with. I'd rate those as Overpowered less because they're actually overpowered - the benefits they give are absolutely commensurate with the cost - and more because they're just more likely than average to give your GM a headache. Bestowing points and granting effects are Balanced generally, but become Strong if given an Area, and Area Bestow Points in particular becomes Overpowered unless given a Quirk that the points have to be spent before the end of the current scene or they expire. I'd also say to keep any Area Luck Control to no more than 1/scene usage, otherwise you're going to throw off HP calculations. And obviously, any attempt to have two characters using Area Luck Control to give others effectively infinite Hero Points is as ludicrously Broken as any infinite loop.

    Mind Reading.

    Morph: Morph's kinda complicated. Baseline, I'd call it Niche mainly because it's a bit overpriced. Morph 1 feels more like a Feature, and the other Morph ranks could probably be reduced by one. But then you get into Metamorph...

    Metamorph is Broken. It is an array on steroids. And arrays do not need steroids. Myself, I'd advise just fluffing different array slots as different forms and being done with it. I have yet to really come up with a proper way to balance Metamorph. The only time I've used it recently was for a character who swapped forms automatically and uncontrollably between night and day, which does work - if the choice of when to swap is out of your hands, Metamorph should come out as Balanced. Or even if you restrict it to, say, only being used between scenes, so you have to make your choice before a scene begins and stick with it.

    In theory, there is some combination of careful selection of traits, limiting each form's arrays, buying things that do similar enough stuff that raw versatility isn't expanded too much, making sure enough traits are shared between forms, and other careful calibration of the two forms which will result in a full-fledged Metamorph character who is balanced with others in terms of versatility. But I sure haven't figured it out yet. And multiple Metamorphs just make it worse.

    Move Object: My go-to way to link combat maneuvers to damage. Also good for knockback. To be fair, yes, technically when doing a Damage Linked Move Object as a damage+maneuver you could reduce the duration to get back more points. But that's not really necessary or in the proper spirit, and probably makes it too Strong.

    Movement: There's a few solid ones, like Safe Fall and Permeate, but for the most part Movement is fairly expensive, a bit too niche, and just has trouble measuring up to Flight.

    Nullify: Nullify is another of those weird ones. As a tool for Counters it's fairly reasonably Balanced, and I'm a fan of Nullify Afflictions (Broad, Limited [Counters Only]) as a healing tool for Afflictions, which the game otherwise...well, treats weirdly, since Healing says it doesn't work on them but Affliction says Healing can. Obviously it depends on how many descriptors you're likely to face; Nullify can be awfully Niche in a kitchen sink style game, though a sharply limited Variable can help with that. As a tool for shutting down enemies, it's Weak on its own - turning off a single power that they can reactivate as a free action on their next turn isn't worth much. Although in a low-to-mid-op game where people regularly buy significant portions of their defenses through powers, it can even be too Strong as it can knock out a whole defensive stat with even a one-degree resistance failure. The fact that it's an opposed check, making it even swingier than normal for M&M and subject to Hero Point rerolls and other tricks, only exacerbates it. Once it becomes Sustained and Simultaneous, yeah it's expensive, but you're shutting an enemy down completely with virtually no recourse on a single resistance failure, which I originally said was borderline Overpowered, but no, no it's straight-up Overpowered and borderline Broken. For my money, I'd use Nullify for Counters, and Affliction (Impaired or Entranced/Stunned/Transformed; Limited [Powers Only]) for shutting down powers (make it Limited 2 if it only applies to one type of power in a kitchen sink setting).

    Protection: It's not that Protection isn't fine, it's that Stamina is strictly better. Protection can be Nullified, Stamina can't, and you don't get a discount for the added vulnerability. If you want your character's toughness to be tied to its powers, you can buy Stamina and take a Complication that if your powers get Nullified your Toughness might be degraded or negated. Reduce your Fortitude if you want Toughness higher. Same fluff, better mechanics.

    This is more of a high-op concern though. In a low- or mid-op game, Protection's perfectly Balanced.


    Regeneration: Regeneration isn't as bad as Healing (although interestingly, I see GMs trying to nerf or limit Regen but not even mentioning Healing way more often than the opposite), but it's still pretty strong for its cost. Probably should have been like 2 PP/rank. In any case, Regeneration should almost never go higher than rank 10, and even that is probably only needed if your healing factor is a defining and major power. Your average regenerator will be perfectly fine with rank 5. Fortunately, Regeneration already heals Bruises first, so you don't really have to nerf it, just keep it to sane totals and you'll be fine. GMs, just remember that Regen doesn't help against Afflictions or Weakens, and that multiple attackers can deal with it fairly easily, and it won't be a problem.

    Remote Sensing: Overpriced. Does its job fine, but should have been 1 or 2/rank, +1 per sense, +2 per sense type, doubled for visual. If used to expand Perception Range attacks to attack foes when they can't fight back, it becomes Broken.

    Senses: Most of Senses is fine. Only things to really watch out for are heavily Extended senses, Counters All Concealment, and (probably most of all) Penetrates Concealment. My suggestion for the vast majority of cases is, max Extended 3, Extended 2 with Counters All Concealment, or Extended 1 with Penetrates Concealment. Also, be kind to your GM and design your powers so Penetrates Concealment is off by default. Put it in an array, give it a Concentration duration, give it an Activation, whatever. But your GM has enough to worry about without having to tell you what's on the other side of every wall you come across.

    Also, don't combine ludicrous Senses and especially Penetrates Concealment senses with Perception range powers to attack people who can't fight back. I shouldn't have to tell you this.

    Shrinking: You know everything I said about Growth? Invert it, but without small guys being inherently uncool. Seriously, buy the traits you want, take a Feature and a Complication, done.

    Speed: #FlightEnvy.

    Summon: Multiple characters later. But Summon is the worst of the worst and wins Quellian-dyrae's Award for Most Broken Trait In The Entire Game.

    Swimming: Originally, I called this Weak and just pithily pitied Aquaman as an explanation. But really, it's worse than that. Swimming should not exist as an effect. Swimming lets you swim at rank - 2 speed. You know what else lets you swim at rank - 2 speed? Speed! Which costs the exact same and - and I cannot stress this enough - also works on land! And Swimming doesn't let you ignore Athletics checks, it only lets you routine them (which you...probably already can do in most cases? And if you couldn't normally you could with Skill Mastery [Athletics] which costs a single point and also lets you routine it in more situations?)

    No. What you do for a character with actual water speed is buy Movement 1 (Environmental Adaptation [Water]). Now you ignore all mundane movement issues for swimming; no need for Athletics checks except in special circumstances, no speed penalty, no circumstance penalties for fighting, nothing. That's probably what most people think they're getting when they buy Swimming! If you want to swim super-fast but not to run super-fast? Also buy Speed (Limited 2 [Swimming Only]). Yes, Limited 2. One-third the price of Swimming itself, as is appropriate, because let's be honest it will be shocking if you are in the water even one-quarter of the time on adventures.

    Teleport: Teleport can compete with Flight. A bit expensive, but has so many cool little options.

    Transform: You know, I'm rating Transform as Balanced, but let's be clear, that in no way means it isn't an annoyingly vague power that is way to dependent on GM discretion and interpretation, especially considering its high cost. This is a weird power to adjudicate, honestly.

    Variable: Honestly I tend to feel people sometimes overestimate Variable. Don't get me wrong, it's very good and you have to watch it carefully, but it's way more balanced than Metamorph or Summon, and is probably less likely to negatively impact the average game than Healing. The advice M&M gives you regarding it covers it pretty well. I would maybe add that a Variable should be tightly themed both descriptively and mechanically. There should be a very clear subset of game mechanics that a Variable can generally give you. A mimic can only use powers that others have. An augmenter can only use mechanics on the target's sheet. A shapeshifter can only use physical traits, and most of its stuff is probably going to be attacks, movement, and senses. And so on. If the power's descriptive theme doesn't also suggest a subset of mechanics it will draw from, it might not be a very good Variable.

    Expanding on this, in most cases, the way to make Variable work is that it should provide flexibility, not versatility. Variable should allow you to do a few things in lots of different ways, rather than allowing you to do lots of different things. There are some exceptions of course, such as mimicry, but that's generally what you want to aim for.

    A few more specific suggestions:
    -Never use Variable to acquire advantages. Advantages are balanced around being cheap because they're niche, so being able to acquire them on command and swap them for something else when not needed breaks them.
    -Only use Variable to acquire skills when they're especially appropriate to the variable (shapeshifting with physical skills, augmenting with existing skills, etc). Even then, never boost a given skill by more than five with Variable. You don't want to step on the toes of people who invested heavily in the skill, but using the Variable to boost an already-solid skill should be okay if it's appropriate to the Variable.
    -Variable for Immunities is shaky. If you're going to try it, it should be the only thing the Variable can do, and you probably shouldn't take more than two ranks of the Variable.

    Weaken: For my money, Weaken's a bit weaker than Damage and Affliction, but not by enough to be a concern. Now, it does depend on how you use it. Weakening a target's defensive stats (Dodge/Parry/Toughness/Fortitude/Will) is probably the strongest use and comes out as Balanced. Weakening Abilities probably won't cause as significant a penalty since Abilities cost 2/rank, and due to the cap, you can't actually take a character out from Debilitating an Ability unless it has a penalty or your Weaken rank is 11+. So that tends to settle in at Niche. Weakening powers directly will usually cause minor penalties only due to costs/rank; Limited Afflictions are the way to go there, with Weakens being Weak in that field.


    Accurate : Because 1 PP/2 ranks is exactly what attack bonus should cost. Always. No matter what. Yes, even then. See Paying Once for Attack Bonus below.

    Affects Corporeal: Insubstantial + Affects Corporeal is a massive hassle to GM for. The GM can get away with it because even if none of the PCs actually have Affects Incorporeal or a Sensory or Mental power, chances are at least one of them can stunt one. But for PCs, it's just a combo best avoided.

    Affects Insubstantial.

    Affects Objects.

    Affects Others: To be fair, some uses can go up to Strong, especially since there's not technically a limit on how many allies can have the effect at once. Do not combine with a Continuous Duration. That's Overpowered at the least, outright Broken at the worst.

    Alternate Effect : This is my favorite mechanic in the game. I will get into more detail here in the On The Care and Feeding of Arrays section.

    Alternate Resistance: The issue with Alternate Resistance is the possibility of Alternate Resistance (Dodge) or (Parry). These things do serve their purpose, but they're way out of balance with the other resistance types, for a couple reasons. First, they're opposed to Toughness, double-dipping against Toughness-shifted characters, who are supposed to be durable. Second, they can be reduced by Vulnerable, Defenseless, and the like, making them much easier to penalize than other resistances.

    Despite this, the default rules essentially suggest that Alternate Resistance (Dodge) should have no cost modifier on an Affliction (per Snare), whereas Alternate Resistance (Will) should be +1/rank if applied to Damage (per Mental Blast). This is ludicrous, although based on the M&M archetypes, there appears to be a strange assumption that Fortitude and Will will in general be a bit below PL, which...makes it only silly rather than ludicrous.

    My suggestion for Alternate Resistance is this. Toughness, Fortitude, and Will should all be +0/rank. Damage, Affliction, and Weaken all have their strengths and weaknesses, and I don't think there's enough of a gap between them to call any of them strictly superior or inferior to the others. Given that between those you can target any of the three main resistances, there's no reason any of those three resistances should cost more. All of these are Balanced. There is one exception; in an on-the-fly power (such as a Power Stunt or Variable configuration) you can choose exactly the resistance the enemy is weak to. To keep them balanced, they should be brought up to +1/rank when applied on the fly.

    But merely saying Alternate Resistance (Dodge or Parry) should cost +1/rank isn't enough. They're Overpowered in themselves. What I use is Alternate Resistance (Defense). This is a self-nerfed version of Alternate Resistance (Dodge), which still costs +1/rank, and doesn't receive any bonus points for the nerfs. In effect, it's Alternate Resistance (Dodge) with Quirk 0. Alternate Resistance (Defense) functions as Alternate Resistance (Dodge) with the following changes: the target may substitute Parry. If the target has Defensive Roll or a similar effect that boosts Toughness with the fluff of "rolling with" a blow or similar, it can be added to Dodge or Parry against the attack, up to a maximum total equal to the character's Toughness. Effects that apply to active defenses specifically (i.e. Vulnerable, Defenseless, All Out Attack, and Defensive Attack) do not apply towards the resistance check. It's a bit less realistic, but at least it's sensible.

    That still makes it very good, because it's a great option to use against Toughness-shifted characters, easily justifying the +1/rank cost. However, it keeps Vulnerable + Alternate Resistance (Dodge) from being an instant death sentence (KO sentence, whatever), and should be more-or-less Balanced.

    Area: More specifically, Burst Area, Cloud Area, Cone Area, Line Area, Shapeable Area (Voluuuuuuume!), Perception Area (for offensive powers), Perception Area (for defensive/supportive powers).

    As a note, Shapeable Area Limited to 6"x6"x120' Lines (possibly with a stipulation that they can change direction each time they reach a target to "chain") is a better way to do a line than Line Area (I personally feel 6" in any dimension is a sensible sanity limit for Volume-based powers).


    Contagious: Hard to make work, actually might be more likely to affect you and your allies, but fun on Move Object powers and potentially terrifying on Mind Control powers.


    Extended Range.



    Impervious: Impervious is simply mathematically unlikely to matter often (and it gets less likely the higher level you get), except maybe against area attacks you take half effect from. It's way too expensive for what it does. That said, it can potentially be a life saver in the right situation; if you're facing a horde of weak attackers, numbers do matter in M&M. Of course, even then they can probably ignore it by Team Attacking, or Power Attacking, or just focus on your allies instead, but at least in theory it can do its job. As a standalone power, it's rarely going to matter, but as an array slot it can be nice to have in your pocket.

    Increased Duration.

    Increased Mass.

    Increased Range (Ranged): Okay, here's the deal. Linked powers require the same range, so you basically have to pay for range multiple times on some of the most fun powers in the game. At the speeds that M&M characters can move, Range winds up fairly dinky. Throwing Mastery and Elongation both give a range of a Distance Rank equal to rank, but regular range doesn't. Further, many good options are weaker or unavailable to range. Aid doesn't help ranged attacks (which is nonsense), Finishing Attacks...well it says different things in different places. Aim is weaker at range. ...They get Homing and Ricochet. That's, you know, nice. End of the day, the advantage of range tends to be saving you the -2 penalty for charging.

    Elongation is a weird substitute for range, I'll admit it. I'm a big fan of refluffing, but even by my standards, that's an awkward construct. But seriously, it's so much more balanced considering the costs and the sheer speeds of M&M. The distinction between Close and Ranged attacks (and all that come from it, including the high cost of defense, the multiple types of attack bonus, and so on) is probably one of the most glaring flaws in the M&M mechanics.

    Increased Range (Perception): Perception range is fine though, again unless combined with stupid super-senses or Remote Sensing. Perception Range (Limited to targets in reach) is a nice way to do "perfect attacks" and such. It shafts Defense-shifted characters, but that's a separate issue entirely.


    Indirect: Kinda weird and...I'm not sure how often it really helps. Although using it to attack past walls can be Overpowered.


    Insidious: Fine for the most part. However, don't do a Subtle 2 attack with a super-sense requiring Insidious (or a super-sense requiring Subtle 1 + Insidious) to allow you to attack enemies without them realizing they're being attacked without a check unless they just happen to have the exact right sensory power. That's Broken at any price, but especially at 2-3 PP.

    Linked : Linked is a staple. I'd call it the second most important modifier after Alternate Effect. Linked opens up a ton of design space by combining multiple effects together with different Extras in unique ways. It's great and I strongly advise making heavy use of it.

    However, it can be problematic if taken too far. You should never link more than three Effects together, and even those should be somewhat rare. It's fine to have a three-effect power or two, but they probably shouldn't be all of your powers. In most cases, even if linking three effects, your powers should force no more than two resistance checks (remember, targets roll only one resistance check against Linked powers that call for the same resistance). Exceptions should probably have some sort of Limit or other restriction on them - true triple-threats should be rare and only usable in specific circumstances. This helps balance them, and also allows them to serve as "big guns" in a system where your attacks will generally all have the same point values and base numbers.

    Fast Grab counts as a Linked effect for this purpose, as does Reflect, or basically anything else that incorporates what would be a separate action into another action.

    Again, I have a somewhat high balance threshold; in mid-op games, keep it to a max of two Linked effects, and don't combined effects of different types (like attack and defense) except for really special moves. In a low-op game, don't combine different types of effects at all, and only force two resistance checks for really heavy-hitters.


    Penetrating: Impervious is weak. Penetrating's only purpose is dealing with Impervious. Ergo, Penetrating is worse. Even at standard PL 10, it'd actually be tough to find a situation where the enemy has enough Impervious Toughness to ignore your attack, but not enough to just resist it outright, especially if you can Power Attack. The whole thing is just mathematically unsound. At lower PLs or for attack-shifted characters, Penetrating manages to claw its way up to merely Weak.

    Precise: Some fun uses (may be subject to GM discretion): Precise Area to let you shrink the area itself while retaining the same shape (so not fully Selective, but more controlled). A Power Profiles mentioned that Teleport needs to be Precise to do things like escape grabs (basically, Precise lets you choose what you bring along with you, while regular Teleport tries to bring along all mass that's on you).

    Reach: I got through all the issues with range, and then here comes Reach with its mighty 5' per PP. Give me a break.

    Reaction: Oof. Reaction can run the gamut. It's so expensive that it's easy to make Useless, but so flexible that it's just as easy to make Broken. Thing is, there are plenty of perfectly Balanced uses in between, and options on all other levels. All I will say is: handle with care.



    Secondary Effect.


    Sleep: Asleep is strictly worse than Unconscious since it's easier to break. Should have been a Quirk, to be fair, but whatever. It can guarantee nonlethal damage even for like things that may splash over to incapacitated foes, like Secondary Effects or Areas.

    Split: As means of targeting multiple characters go, it weakens things a bit too much.

    Subtle: Rather too good for its price, particularly Subtle 2, which by the RAW is utterly unbeatable. Suffers the same issues as Concealment; too binary. That said, it's pretty much what we've got when it comes to hiding powers. Also see Insidious above.

    Sustained: Sustained is fine in itself, but holy cats don't ever make your defenses sustained if you know what's good for you! Dropping your defense just by being stunned!? With no discount!? And the supposed benefit you get of being able to use Extra Effort with it basically doesn't matter since you defend off-turn and Extra Effort is on turn only!?!?!? No, if you want to lose your defenses from being stunned or whatever, take a Complication.

    I would say this logic holds true even in a mid-op game. It's probably fine for low-op though, if risky.

    Triggered: Like Reaction, but massively cheaper and not endlessly repeatable. Lots of fun things you can do with it. Lots of broken things you can do with it. Handle with care.

    Variable Descriptor.
    Last edited by Quellian-dyrae; 2019-02-05 at 05:55 PM.
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