Fantasy dominates the pop culture landscape. There certainly is Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and more, but the biggest fantasy franchise features a different kind of hero. Still going strong after twelve years, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is as much about fantasy as anything with swords and elves in it.
Comic book superheroes are also a big part of fantasy board games thanks to their genre content. Mutants & Brains, by Green Ronin Publishing, is one of the most versatile superhero systems ever created. There’s a big sale going on right now and it’s also a great option for anyone who loves to save the day.
What is Mutants & Masterminds?
Mutants & Brains, designed by Steve Kenson, first published in 2002. It takes many elements similar to those used in Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons, such as centering the analysis on the roll of a 20-sided die and using saving throws for characters to resist the negative effects of combat and other powers. Every subsequent version evolved away from them D&D roots.
First Edition Mutants & Masterminds
Its first edition Mutants & Brains it stuck close to the d20 system but featured some innovations. Instead of starting at the first level, the tables set their starting level to reflect different comic book styles. Street-level heroes like Daredevil started low, while higher-powered Avengers might be toward the higher end of the scale.
Characters also make toughness saves instead of tracking hit points. This mirrors how comic book combat allows characters to avoid damage until a dramatically significant hit. Even if they fail the save, characters have hero (and villain) points to add to those dramatic moments where a character parries an attack that would have killed anyone else.
Mutants And Masterminds Second Edition
The second edition, released in 2005, refined these designs into a major step away from the d20 system. The game struck a balance between simple gameplay mechanics, but also multiple ways to design a character with the power points awarded by each level. Superhero worlds should cover everything from future cyborgs to ancient gods and Mutants & Brains handles these ideas equally well.
The game also released several informative sourcebooks about superhero subgenres. Tables that want to play teenage heroes can be raised Hero High while other teams who want a game set in the grim and gritty world of 90s comics can use Iron Age as an inspiration. It still exists Factors, a take on more “realistic hero” stories such as Heroes.
Third Edition Mutants And Masterminds
The latest version started out as a different game. DC Adventures licensed in 2010 to celebrate the comic company’s 75th anniversary. This out-of-print edition is now highly sought after for writing by popular characters like Batman and Superman, as well as artwork from decades of legendary artists.
The Hero’s Handbook brought home the next iteration of the rules. The game moved away from many old D&D mechanics, such as modifiers derived from ability scores. Many options explored in the expansion books were improved and included in the new core rules.
The Mutants & Masterminds Mega Bundle
From now until October 15th, 2022, Green Ronin is offering a massive PDF mega-bundle of everything published for the first two versions of the game for $29.99. These are all seven titles for the first edition, appearing in PDF for the season. There are 49 PDFs for Second Edition, including several PDF-only titles that are easy to miss.
The whole thing sells for less than a pair of tickets to the next Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbuster on opening night. It’s a great choice for a team looking for a superhero RPG or a fan looking to add to their collection. Even if the system lacks appeal, there’s a lot of discussion about how to run superhero games, character samples, and setting material that can be used elsewhere.
Whether your table is getting the Mega Bundle or wants to try the latest version, Mutants & Brains it’s a great way to wear the mask and save the day.