Mutants & Masterminds Design Diary: Part I- Ability Scores:
Hello there! Welcome to my (Jab's) own personal Design Diary. I figured I'd throw down some ground rules that I tend to use when I build stuff. Perhaps it'll come in handy for someone's own builds, perhaps not.
These scores tend to define the character just as much as Powers do, as it defines what they're capable of (especially if the powers are shut off), and a few different character types (scientist/Skillmonkey spy types) definitely need the latter scores. Individual Ability scores tend to have variance over different aspects of play.
Obviously one of the most directly important Abilities, as it influences how much damage you do with your unarmed attacks (and melee in general). This is it's only influence over most play (alongside lifting stuff), but it's a huge one. Helpfully, the guidebook has a giant chart for how much you can lift at different strength levels. "Heavy Load" is often used in Marvel Comics' statting vernacular, which is also handy. Once I get to the "Super-Strength"-having guys, the list alters a bit, differentiating between guys who are that strong as their baseline (ie. how much damage they can do in combat, noted as "Hitting Power") and how many guys can actually LIFT that level of weight. In terms of playability, I don't let many people go over +15 as their base damage.
Note that the actual chart I look at for my own builds just my own typed-out version of the M&M Lifting Stuff list (heavy, medium loads, etc.) that shows the weights of common stuff, along with my own personal notes of examples placed in. Since I shouldn't actually just paste down actual in-book information (for Copywrite reasons), this simplified version will have to do.
Different levels go as follows:
"Sub-Human Strength" (typical stats for animals or shrunken-down people)
ST 1-3 (heavy load: 30 lbs., Unarmed -4)- The domain of tiny animals like rodents, and helpless things that can't lift anything.
ST 4-7 (heavy load: 70 lbs., Unarmed -2)- Smaller animals, incapable of lifting up much more than a baby deer. A few of these (such as Eagles) will have an un-Mightied Strike power to make up for the lower strength, allowing them to still do some damage. ---- (Examples: Bald Eagle)
"Low-Level Human Strength" (untrained or youthful humans)
ST 8-9 (heavy load: 90 lbs., Unarmed -1)- Ideal for untrained female NPCs, or juvenile characters. Many 12-13 year-olds will max out here given their small sizes. ---- (Examples: The New Mutants (1980s era), Cyclone, Stargirl without Belt, Civilians)
ST 10-11 (heavy load: 115 lbs., Unarmed +0)- An athletically-gifted woman or an average male civilian. Most super-heroes should be a bit higher than this after a few years' of training, even those not especialy meant to be gifted physically. ---- (Examples: Professor X)
ST 12-13 (heavy load: 150 lbs., Unarmed +1)- Not especially strong people, but often athletically trained to not be weaklings. A non-martial artist or Blaster hero who isn't a physical God, but can be expected to give a good punch if it comes down to it falls here. Many smaller, man-sized predatory animals fall here as well. ---- (Examples: Jean Grey, Sue Storm, Wolves)
"Stronger Than Normal Human Strength" (trained superheroes or tough NPCs)
ST 14-15 (heavy load: 175 lbs., Unarmed +2)- Superheroes of decent experience who still aren't major physical ass-kickers fall here. Probably the most populous section of Strength in comics. These people work out (200 lbs. press), but aren't Gods. Most NPC henchmen, gangsters & ninjas will fall here, just to do some good baseline damage. ---- (Examples: Ninjas, Thugs, Black Tom Cassidy, Dr. Doom or Kang outside of armour)
ST 16-17 (heavy load: 230 lbs., Unarmed +3)- Professional Superheroes, or guys who don't have melee combat as their main attack, but are nonetheless in very good shape, and well-built. Also, most "Dexmonkey" martial artists, and muscular street thugs would fall here. Many pro athletes & soldiers, as well. They're not ALL strength, but they're expected to be physically gifted and work out a lot. ---- (Examples: Cyclops, Shang-Chi, Nightwing, Silver Samurai)
"Decidedly Strong Humans"
ST 18-19 (heavy load: 300 lbs., Unarmed +4)- These guys are really strong, definitely working out a bunch to attain some pretty bulky muscles. The best martial artists usually fall into this range, as anyone stronger tends to be a slower brickhouse-type fighter. Your ideal for Gang Leaders, Boxers or MMA-martial artist types. ---- (Examples: Iron Fist, Daredevil, Razor Fist)
ST 20-21 (heavy load: 400 lbs., Unarmed +5)- REALLY strong humans, the superstar athletes of our world. Guys like this have SERIOUS muscles, and can brawl it out with just about anyone. At this point, your physical blows do more damage in-game than most GUNS. Super martial-artists can also get this strong. Many apex predators hover around this area. ---- (Examples: Batman, Big Thugs, Cougar/Mountain Lions)
ST 22-23 (heavy load: 520 lbs.; Unarmed +6)- Even stronger and rarer than before- it's actually quite unusual to see people SO strong that aren't quite superhuman. So it's mainly animals that fall into this region. Apex predators, apes, and equines, all of whom are capable of tremendous damage. ---- (Examples: Chimpanzees, Jaguars, Horses)
ST 24 (heavy load: 700 lbs., Unarmed +7)- Even "Superhumanly" strong beings can fall into this category, if all they can lift is a ton or so (just give a rank or two of Super-Strength). As "Peak Human", it's virtually impossible to get this strong. You can pull a car, flip one onto it's back, tear apart phone books, and generally win the Olympics. In real life, most of these guys are bulky and flabby World's Strongest Man competitors. ---- (Examples: Captain America, Crossbones, Hudson of "Gargoyles", Foxbat of the Dark Riders, The Kingpin)
"Metahuman Strength" (the first of the metahumans, usually not overly strong or killy. Generally, anyone in this level will usually have a few ranks of Super-Strength, which varies how much they can lift.)
ST 25-27 (heavy load: 920 lbs., Unarmed +8)- You can pick up a horse and actually carry it with you without a rank of Super-Strength. Guys like Spidey & The Beast are here, because they can't quite take people's heads off, but can KO them very easily. ---- (Examples: Goliath of "Gargoyles", Spider-Man, U.S. Agent, The Beast, Cyborg of "Teen Titans", Mountain Gorillas)
ST 28-29 (heavy load: 1,200 lbs., Unarmed +9)- You do as much damage as most weaker Blasters. The strongest animals that aren't huge go here in terms of lifting & grappling strength. Someone who's Class 20 in Marvel would show up here. ---- (Examples: Lions, Tigers, Grizzly Bears, Rhinos)
ST 30-31 (heavy load: 1,600 lbs., Unarmed +10)- A very basic Strength that you rarely see except in the large predators of the animal kingdom, as most Powerhouses are much stronger. Class 20-40 Strength goes here. ---- (Examples: Aquaman, Venom, Donna Troy, Kid Omni-Man, She-Ra, Elephants)
"Powerhouse Super-Strength" (most anyone here is a full-on Powerhouse build)
ST 32-33 (Unarmed +11)- Pretty rare in comics, but a few people around Class 40-70 end up in this area, with sizeable Super-Strength ---- (Examples: Rogue, The Blob, Sabra)
ST 34-35 (Unarmed +12)- The standard for most "Powerhouse" guys who can't lift hundreds of tons. Anyone Class 70-100 falls here. Some put those guys higher, but the M&M rulebook tends to use this for Class 100-types as well, so I went with their method. ---- (Examples: The Thing, Colossus, Baseline Hulk, He-Man)
ST 36-37 (Unarmed +13)- In terms of hitting power, these are the SUPER-Powerhouses, guys with a few attacks that are above-ordinary. Class 100-200. ---- (Examples: Sasquatch, Strong Guy when Absorbing Kinetic Energy, Namor, The Abomination, DCAU Superman, Mary Marvel/CM3, Wonder Woman, Invincible)
ST 38-41 (Unarmed +14-15)- As far as I tend to ever go with Powerhouses. They do more damage with punches than all but the most POWERFUL Blasters ever can, and Power Attack boosts them to +19/20 damage. Anyone who can lift significantly over 200 tons should fall here. ---- (Examples: The Abomination, Gladiator, Superman, Captain Marvel, Thor, Mon-El, PC Superboy, Omni-Man, DCAU Darkseid)
ST 42-46 (Unarmed +16-17)- Only a tiny handful will ever go this far. Growth-based superhumans, the best Flying Bricks ever, and the fully-enraged Hulk are the only ones this high up. Growing-based guys go way over standard limits by virtue of the mass of their fists and feet, but make up for it by being VERY inaccurate at maximum size: ---- (Examples: Enraged Hulk, Golden Age & Kingdom Come Superman, Full-Size Atom Smasher/Colossal Boy)
Beyond +18 Damage- The domain of Kaiju-sized beings like Godzilla & King Ghidorah. So huge that the Accuracy trade-off is enormous.
A shortened list, showing just their damage output. The Hulk notably goes beyond my normal allowed range of unarmed damage (because he's THE HULK) when he's enraged. Kingdom Come Superman also breaks it down by virtue of his sheer power. Note also that Thor's unarmed damage is lower that Billy Batson's or Superman's- that's because he's got a +3 Hammer that crosses the damage divide.
+7 (Captain America)
+8 (Spider-Man, U.S. Agent, Goliath "Gargoyles")
+10 (Aquaman, Ankylosaurus)
+11 (Blob, Rogue, Ferro Lad)
+12 (Thing, Colossus)
+13 (Abomination, Namor, Baseline Hulk, Sasquatch, DCAU Superman, PC Supergirl, CM3, Mary Marvel)
+14 (Thor Unarmed, Mon-El, PC Superboy, DCAU Darkseid)
+15 (Captain Marvel, Superman, Abomination, Gladiator, Darkseid)
+17 (Enraged Hulk, Golden Age Superman, Thor with Mjolnir, Full-Size Colossal Boy/Atom Smasher/Titan)
+18 (KC Superman)
Dex tends to be less useful to me than the other stats. It isn't worthless, but it's two main regions of influence (Reflex Save & Initiative) can be bought cheaper via other means, and nobody in comics really goes over DEX 30 normally. It doesn't even affect your Defense Bonus! But nonetheless, it's good for descriptors of just how athletic someone is supposed to be, and you need it to modify several handy, worthwhile Skills (Acrobatics, Drive/Pilot, etc.).
DEX 0-8- The immobile to the crippled fall here, along with some of the bulkier Powerhouse-types. ---- (Examples: Professor X, Niles Caulder, Sentinels)
DEX 9-12- Moderately athletic people, usually civilians. Most PC heroes should AT LEAST be DEX 12. ---- (Examples: Thugs, Bystanders, The Hulk)
DEX 13-14- Fairly decent athletes. Most Superheroes would fall into this area in their early careers, especially generic types who didn't work out CONSTANTLY, or the super-strong types. ---- (Examples: Legion, Tiger Shark, Colossus)
DEX 15-18- Super-heroes who are expected to be in prime condition (such as the X-Men with Xavier's Danger Room training) are here, as well as the best NPC henchmen. ---- (Examples: Cyclops, Rogue, Pyro, Mr. Fantastic, Susan Storm, Human Torch, NPC Ninja)
DEX 19-24- Adept athletes, the best the human world has to offer. Elite martial artists, gymnasts, etc. ---- (Examples: Olympic Gymnast, The Mandrill, Wolverine, Psylocke, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi, Daredevil, Gambit)
DEX 25-30- The best of the best, ultra-fast types that cover a lot of ground quickly, can deftly get out of just about any situation, and leave normal humans (even with the best training) in the dust. ---- (Examples: Spider-Man, The Beast, Nightcrawler)
Constitution is, like Strength, something that affects your actual Power Level. It can be modified by a few things- the Protection & Force Field powers, the "Tough" Feat (introduced in some additional books- mainly the "Protection" Power as an un-Nullifiable Feat. It's balanced out by the Defense Bonus to make your proper Power Level. Once you figure out Strength, Con TENDS to fall into place, as most super-strong guys are also as durable as they are strong (Sunspot being a notable exception). However, many Force Field users and armoured guys are significantly more durable than they are strong, so there's not hard & fast rules.
Con (vs) Protection- Where does one end, and the other begin? Going with Protection over Con is cheaper by half, so is a good way to go sometimes, but it notably makes your Fortitude Save lower, so you have to be careful or you're just needlessly splitting where you put your points (if you boost Protection & Fort, you just spent as much points as you would on the big Con score). Generally, big, strong super-heroes lean more towards high Con scores (since they're rarely susceptible to disease & Drain Con effects), while animals tend to focus more on Protection. You'll note that many animals are prone to infection, disease & broken limbs despite being very huge & strong, so they nearly always drop a few Con ranks in favour of thick hides or natural resistance.
Toughness -1 to -5- Generally for weak animals that are easy to injure, or the weak & infirm elderly of humanoid races. I wouldn't suggest ANY PC take this kind of trade-off, even for the best Defense score in the world. ---- (Examples: Mouse, inidividual Piranha)
Toughness +0-1- Normal, everyday people. Few PC Superheroes, though someone like a master mystic would likely be relatively frail and thus, vulnerable without his Force Fields. ---- (Examples: NPCs, Zatanna)
Toughness +2-3- Tougher, more basic people, including most henchmen. This is where most explicitly non-supertough heroes fall, as they're far more vulnerable to attacks than super-powered types. Your master mages & Force Fielders are more likely to end up here, as are Dexmonkey-type martial artists. ---- (Examples: NPC Henchmen, Ninjas, Thugs, Dr. Strange, Baron Mordo, Jean Grey, Susan Storm, Human Torch, Black Canary, Wooden Materials)
Toughness +4-5- REALLY tough humans, highly resistant to harm. A lot of professional super-heroes would end up here. People with Bulletproof Body Armour, or guys with a higher amount of Defensive Roll. ---- (Examples: Cyclops, Daredevil, Batman, Stone Materials)
Toughness +6-7- Human maximum, generally for only the absolute toughest & hugest guys in the world. Fairly weak "Drone" Robots would be at this level. ---- (Examples: Captain America, Batman with bulletproof vest, Wolverine, The Kingpin, Great White Sharks)
Toughness +8-9- Tough as Iron. Much tougher than normal humans, but not insanely so. Highly resistant to bullet wounds, but will eventually be brought down by them. Many vehicles are in this range. ---- (Examples: Mountain Gorillas, Spider-Man, The Beast, Car or Truck, Iron Materials)
Toughness +10-11- Baseline Metahuman without trade-offs. May be either Class 50-ish Powerhouses, men made of super-hard Stone, or elastic super-heroes. ---- (Examples: Rockmen, Miss Marvel, Machine-Man, Rogue, M of "Generation-X", Mr. Fantastic, Elephants)
Toughness +12-13- Standard Powerhouses or Force Field users would end up here, needing a trade-off of Defense. ---- (Examples: The Thing, Colossus, Strong Guy, Green Lanterns with Full Force Fields up, Susan Storm, Sentinels, Wonder Woman, Tyrannosaurus Rex, King Kong)
Toughness +14 and Up- Nearly impossible to injure. Often have 8 to 12 ranks of Impervious Toughness to make them immune to all but Power Attacking standard heroes. ---- (Examples: Enraged Hulk, The Juggernaut, Silver Surfer, Thor, Superman, Captain Marvel, Black Adam, Godzilla, Growth-Based Heroes at Higher Levels)
Your IQ means a lot in this game, but only for the smartest of heroes. It could practically be a "Dump Stat" to guys not planning on taking Skillmonkey-type traits, but anyone who's supposed to be the team "Smart Guy" is obviously gonna crank up on this. Unlike many RPGs, it doesn't make any difference to the amount of skills you get, making it almost less useful, but when aligned with most of the REALLY useful Skills in the game, you get an effective character. What's notable is that you can either go the "Heavy Intelligence, Lower Skills" or "Lower Intelligence, More Skills" route. It depends on the user, but Mr. Fantastic is likely higher in Int because he rarely specializes, whereas someone like Tony Stark or Hank Pym would have lower Int, but more Skill focus.
INT 0- Mindless creatures, sent out to do one thing and one thing only, or single-celled organsims. ---- (Examples: Mindless Ones, Jellyfish, Drone 'Bots)
INT 1-2- Animals. They can't talk, and can rarely use tools (though some will, such as birds or primates). ---- (Examples: Lions, Dinosaurs, Horses)
INT 3-4- Intelligent animals. M&M gives 'em all INT 2, but I think something that can learn sign language (Chimps & Gorillas) or learn complex patterns (Dolphins) deserve a minor boost.
INT 5-9- Foolish, mentally deficient humans. The mentally retarded, inbred or Carl "Crusher" Creel deserve to go here. ---- (Examples: The Absorbing Man)
INT 10-12- Normal people, unassuming and regular. Superheroes who don't put any focus into knowing about stuff. ---- (Examples: Human Torch, NPC Bystanders, The Wrecking Crew, Electro)
INT 13-15- Moderately intelligent people. Many NPC scientists who only have one notable skill. ---- (Examples: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Susan Storm, The Thing, Renee Montoya)
INT 16-18- Overly-specialized scientists, or 'general knowledge' intelligent people of high value. Many moderate Skillmonkeys (like Spy-themed heroes & villains) end up here, as well as those supervillains that only ever seemed to have intented one single Device of value. ---- (Examples: The Vulture, The Shocker, The Vision, Kitty Pryde, Night Thrasher, Daredevil, Spider-Man, The Question, Dr. Mid-Nite III)
INT 19-22- Extremely intelligent people, often focusing on a few skills. Most of the "Best in the World in Their Field" guys lie here, as they're the number one guy at one particular thing, such as building Power Suits, learning Magic, the field of Politics, or the nature of Crime. ---- (Examples: Doctor Strange, Hank Pym, The Kingpin, The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Julius Caesar & Cicero of "Rome")
INT 23-25- The super, super geniuses, at the apex of human capacity. Typically focused on one thing, but generalized around a "theme" such as mechanics, though the world's finest Skillmonkey ends up here as well. ---- (Batman, Doctor Octopus, Ra's al-Ghul, J'onn J'onzz, Steel)
INT 26-28- Super-geniuses on a different level. Their expertise often seems more like magic, and they generally know a bit about everything. ---- (Examples: Tony Stark, Ultron, Norman Osborn, Mister Terrific II, Professor X)
INT 29-30- Even smarter than above. ---- (Examples: Tom Thumb of "Squadron Supreme", The Mad Thinker, Apocalypse)
INT 30+- Not the realm of most comic books, so only the absolute best of the best EVER will get this far. They're so smart, it's pretty much established in-universe that they're the smartest person in the history of ever. ---- (Examples: Mr. Fantastic, Doctor Doom, Brainiac, Brainiac-5, Thanos)
This one's a little trickier, almost falling into "Dump Stat" categories unless you think about it a little more. It affects your stats via the Will Save and a great many useful Skills, both of which you can build up separately as well. Therefore, most Super-Heroes should only need WIS 12-14 to be half-decent, then build up the rest and earn a discount. However, anyone who focuses a LOT on Sensing & Searching Skills (such as a detective) should crank up the Wisdom to high levels, thus being cheaper that way (in addition to making more sense from a real-world standpoint, as it isn't all Min/Maxing). Honestly, it's also a lot of characterization when choosing this one- is the character normally wise? Can they call someone's bluffs? (Wolverine in particularly practically had "Nice bluff. But I call" as a catchphrase for a while) You kinda have to base it off the character more than observable stat-based stuff.
WIS 0-10- Foolish people upwards to the generic villains who are easily bluffed and fooled by heroes & master-villains alike. The ultimate followers. ---- (Examples: The Absorbing Man, The Wrecking Crew)
WIS 10-14- Good generic baseline stats for any professional Superhero. They can't be bluffed quite so easily, and should have some ranks in Sense Motive or something. ---- (Examples: Cannonball, Triathlon, Darkhawk, Nova, The Thing)
WIS 15-18- Brighter, wiser characters like leaders (of teams & nations) who specialize in knowing people. ---- (Examples: Cyclops, Jean Grey, Mr. Fantastic, Susan Storm, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, Aquaman, The Question)
WIS 20-24- Telepaths who are good at recognizing liars even without their telepathy, and other experts on reading people and detecting fibs. Really the best of the best that you're likely to see in regularly-seen characters, and they are REALLY hard to trick. (Examples: Emma Frost, Wolverine, Captain America, Superman, Batman, Julius & Octavian Caesar of "Rome")
WIS 25+- Hard to even define, but your super-mages and old wizened masters could fall here.
The other big "Dump Stat"- it doesn't even effect your regular stats! It can be handy at times for the various Skills it gives boost to (Bluff & Disguise are handy for anyone with secret identities). Again, you just kinda gotta go with your gut on what the character acts like, whether they're likeable or people or drawn to them or something (for example, on JSA, Stargirl is very pretty, kind and likeable, and all the heroes love her. Maxine "Cyclone" Hunkel on the other hand was so off-putting with her motor-mouth habits that her roommate at Harvard literally FLED the dorms). In the end, alot of super-villains tend to be alot higher than heroes for various reasons: They tend to have lots of henchmen to order around, or they're brilliant despots, or charismatic psychopaths, etc. Most Powerhouses, for example, are great at Intimidate, though it's cheaper to just buy 12 ranks of that than go with high Charisma if that's all they're good at.
CHA 0-10- Animals, stupid criminals and thugs who aren't likeable, and don't present themselves well. Alot of Powerhouse-type builds should be here, as they're known for their goofy speech patterns and generally being weird. Generally, anyone off-putting in some way. ---- (Examples: Wolves, Absorbing Man, The Juggernaut, The Hulk, the JSA's Cyclone)
CHA 11-15- Decent, normal people, often bolstered by one or two specialties, or grouchy people who can be good liars. ---- (Examples: Gamora, Nova, Wolverine, Darkhawk)
CHA 16-20- People-persons and team leaders who are still kind of fuddy-duddies. Taunters and good liars. ---- (Examples: Superman, Stargirl, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Aquaman)
CHA 21-24- Extremely good public speakers, good at either talking people down, or fooling them into doing extremely unusual things. Master-villains and spymasters. ---- (Examples: Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, Captain America, Batman, Julius Caesar of "Rome")
Last edited by Jabroniville
on Wed Jun 23, 2010 12:50 am, edited 3 times in total.