In January Green Ronin announced their plans for 2012, including the release of the new Power Profile series for Mutants & Masterminds. In each issue of the series Steve Kenson takes a look at different superhero power-themes, and offer several useful advices and examples to players and Game Masters. These short supplement are available in a cheap pdf form, for $0,99 each.
During the year four Power Profiles has been released already : Fire Powers, Armor Powers, Mental Powers and the last Summoning Powers, so I decided that maybe a review of the series is a good idea for now. all of the short supplements arrive in the same format, as a several-page short supplement including things like possible complications, Mutants & Masterminds powers connected to the effect, and different features and descriptors. The powers themselves are divided by their utility : they could be offensive, defensive, movement and utility.
The first power-set getting the Power Profile treatment was the iconic Fire Powers. While there wasn’t any surprising twists or new uses here, but every well known fire-related effect has it’s game information in the book, from how to throw fireballs, creating a smoke cloud or rocket flight.
I already mentioned the second, Armor Powers in a previous article. Armors are one of the most diverse power-sets in the entire superhero genre, and the 6-page supplement shows you why. Sensors, homing missiles, life support systems and an on-board computer are just few from the list of available effects.
The third Power Profile is dealing with Mental Powers. In my experience these are the most prone to break game balance in most adventures. I think this is the first supplement in the series which offers several very innovative ideas above the iconic “always used” powers : psychic vampirism, predictive defense, knowledge transpant and others gives a lots of ideas to players and Game Masters for new characters. Great stuff, I had to say !
The last of the already released Power Profiles is Summoning Powers, detailing things like duplicates and summoned minions. I think summoning abilities is one of the most complex things n the game, since your minions basically could have any number of abilities and there may be a big number of them readily available which could slow down any game if not dealt with properly. The supplement suggest to use team checks or even mass combat rules for a big number of minions, which I think is the way to go.
I was a little bit surprised by some of the power choices for Summoning Powers : for example I never thought about vehicles and mounts as summoning. Empower is maybe an even better example, as I would rather use a group of “buff” powers than summon an empowered version.
I think Steve Kenson made a really good work to bring as much ideas into short 6-page long supplements as it’s possible. If you feels that generating characters in Mutants & Masterminds is a real pain to you then I definitely recommend to take a look at the series. Otherwise, if you could make any character you dream up on your own, then maybe the series won’t deliver too much value to you.
Zoltán “Cain” Mészáros