Interview with Designer Steve Kenson

In an interview with Kobold Quarterly, Mutants & Masterminds designer Steve Kenson explains how he created the superhero game that’s one of the most successful non-fantasy games to be released using the D20 System:

Essentially, M&M started with Freedom City. I designed the core of the setting as a freelance project, but plans to publish it fell through, so the project reverted to me. I continued to work on it in my spare time, fleshing it out even further.

I happened to discuss the setting with Chris Pramas, saying it was a pity because, at the time, there were no superhero RPG publishers to whom I could pitch the setting. Chris asked to take a look at it and proposed the idea of a two-book deal: I would design a d20 superhero RPG for Green Ronin and they’d publish Freedom City as the companion setting book. So I designed Mutants & Masterminds and it was popular enough for Green Ronin to continue the line and later hire me on as developer full-time.

Kenson’s next project for the line is a sourcebook called The Supervillain’s Handbook, which he describes as “a big guide to villains and villainy for the game.” He says that it’s the largest book he’s worked on for Mutants & Masterminds since Ultimate Power.

ENWorld Launches Adventure Series

The gaming community ENWorld has released the first adventure in the War of the Burning Sky campaign saga, The Scouring of Gate Pass. The adventure is the first of 12 adventures that take starting characters all the way up to level 20. Here’s the pitch:

Drakus Coaltongue, Emperor of Ragesia and bearer of the Torch of the Burning Sky, has fallen, and now the new Empress Leska has sent her armies on the march to war to recover the lost artifact. Her first target: the neutral city of Gate Pass, where a spy for the fledgling Resistance has taken vital war intelligence. On New Year’s Eve, the Ragesian military prepares its assault, wyvern knights and legions of infantry arming for battle. The heroes must contact the spy and get a case of critical plans out of the city before the inquisitors, Ragesia’s infamous mage-hunting clerics, find them.

To receive these adventures, which are available for the D20 System and Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition, become an ENWorld community supporter for $3 a month. A War of the Burning Sky Campaign Guide and Player’s Guide are free in PDF format.

Review: Mutants & Masterminds

After playing most of the super-hero roleplaying games, the author of the Age of Ravens blog calls Mutants and Masterminds, 2nd Edition, the best of the bunch:

M&M builds from the d20 OGL in a fairly different direction. While at heart there’s the basic d20 system, in execution it feels quite distinct. I’ll admit I avoided it for some time because of that link, but I was really pleased when I finally sat down with the first edition. …

I started with Mutants & Masterminds in the first edition and eventually moved up, somewhat reluctantly, to the second. I hesitated initially as I’d bought most of the sourcebooks and was pretty happy with the play of the game. However the quality of the changes from first to second finally won me over. Every change seemed for the better, including some substantial retooling of the game elements.

Unlike most role-playing games that employ the D20 System, Mutants & Masterminds continues to be actively supported by its publisher. Green Ronin runs a Mutants and Masterminds web site, licenses the rights to develop supplements to other publishers with its M&M Superlink program, and released Mecha & Manga and Pocket Ultimate Power at this year’s GenCon.

Review: D20 Cavalier’s Handbook

The LiveJournal blogger Tallforadwarf has posted a new review of D20 Cavalier’s Handbook, a supplement for the D20 System published several years ago by Green Ronin:

The Good: For your money you get two versions of the cavalier, one for both fantasy D20 and D20 modern. That’s great and I’m surprised more books haven’t done this (yet D20 modern was woefully under-supported and multi-game supplements sell notoriously badly). You also get a bunch of new feats, magic items, etc., most of which are non-cavalier specific, and will be of use to any character interested in riding or leadership-type stuff. There are also fantastic sections, including plenty of random charts, for players to roll up family histories, create semi-historically accurate coats-of-arms, found and join orders (complete with ideas on turning the order into a PrC of sorts), and some nice roleplay advice for characters trying to adhere to a code of honor. …

The Bad: As predicted, the [prestige classes] are mostly wasted space. Many of the ideas are too similar, just recycled with a different alignment, or don’t really provide any exciting hooks for your game. Severely overshadowed by both the core material (Sister of Sidhe is for Elven cavaliers, but could be much better represented by Arcane Archers with mounted feats), and the new rules for orders presented in the book. We’re not talking “Stormlord” levels of crap, but just nothing all that great.

During the D20 boom, Green Ronin consistently produced good supplements for its Freeport setting and other lines. Most of its books can be picked up on eBay and from other sources extremely cheap.

Using the Intimidation Skill

Gaming blogger Shea Christian Reinke has a new post up on the Intimidation skill in D20 System games:

Did you know that there is an Intimidation skill in Dungeons and Dragons? I ask because, in my experience with the D20 system this particular skill has been used by one, and only one, player or dungeon master, me. In the some dozen or more games that I have played in since D20 came into the world I have been the only person in my playgroups that has ever taken a turn to Intimidate an opponent. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but never have I felt that it was a waste of my time to try Intimidating. …

I can tell you, from experience, that Intimidation does work. All the time in fact. You just have to ask yourself one question before trying: Am I Intimidating enough?

Reinke adds new rules, feats and equipment to expand the use of intimidation. I’m not sure I want to know what comes in the “Interrogation Kit.”

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D20System.Com relaunched this morning under new software.