Quickly/Easily creating balanced opposition

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Quickly/Easily creating balanced opposition

Postby Crippen » Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:03 pm

I'm new to this particular ruleset, and would like some advice. I'm about to start running a M&M series for a group of my friends, and I would like suggestions on how to easily create enemy combatants for the hero team to beat up on, and tips for how to balance them to the party's aptitude.

Another way to phrase this, I guess, is what sorts of powers make for interesting combats if used by the villains, and how much can you handwave? What powers tend to be hard for heroes to deal with, and which ones aren't?

I'm fine with doing handwaving for basic attack and defense values without worrying about points, such as "This supervillain is PL 12, so I'm gonna have him strike with his giant, relatively clumsy, robot claws at +8 with an effect rank of 16 for a total of 24." and "We'll give him dodge 10, toughness 14 for his giant robot suit." How do you all go about figuring out the OTHER stuff your villain can do, though, and are there certain powers that are sufficiently challenging for heroes to handle that they are best reserved for special occasions?

What about the rest of the supporting cast? How do you keep the goons/minions interesting?

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Re: Quickly/Easily creating balanced opposition

Postby Damren » Sun Sep 30, 2012 12:18 am

'Interesting' can be very subjective. I play a DC Adventures game far from Earth in a fairly heavy Sci-Fi setting that still has a healthy dose of Mysticism on the side for the magic-lovers. A lot of what I do involves constructing the base-line stories and having the group tackle them in whatever way they see fit. When needed, I nudge a little, but they usually get the gist.

Because most of my group members are avid comic book readers, I took them off Earth to make it more interesting. I also tweak the stories and opponents towards the player character's backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses. I also throw them curve balls that have little to do with foes & more with how the universe works. For example; one mystic has the power to bring back the dead ... he's discovering that isn't as easy as it looks and that 'other' spirits will try to 'hitch rides' back to the mortal world. He's also the character that's killed the most people so far (two, both of which he brought back).

I will typically take examples from the existing DC books and the Mutants and Mastermind books and tweak them towards my needs. Some of the heroes/villains are 'familiar' - because I'm interested in keeping the DC Flavor, even if we're not on Earth - and some are different (A nearby planet of evolved Dinosaurs once had designs on the player's world, an Oan treaty was put in place after the brief war).

The most interesting characters/opponents I think you can make are those that have relevance and connections to the heroes. Sure, throw in a few standard bad guys & monsters here & there, but the long term foes should be relevant. One of my PC's, Ultra, is a clone of a missing hero (essentially, he's this worlds Superboy) who is believed to have been killed by the evil Mad Scientist Dr Min'Ess (think Luthor, but with a thirst for Immortality, female, and an expert in medical/biological sciences), although the body has never been found. In their first encounter, she told him he was defective, shot him in the head and left him for dead. When he survived that (his powers have evolved somewhat) she took an 'interest' in him, and now thinks he may be a key to immortality that was denied her by the Guardians of Oa (she's an off-shoot of the Maltusian Diaspora).

This Sector's Rookie Green Lantern recently discovered the existence of a Magical Parody of a Green Lantern (a Squirrel, called a Green Acorn) created by a Mystical god to defend his people (a planet of Squirrels), but the GA was a bit reckless (many trees damaged or lost) that the god restricted his power to weakness against Wood. They had a blast interacting with the NPC who would grow tree constructs to snare criminals, encase them in giant acorn shells and occassionally construct winged predators to attack foes.

Min'Ess has already appeared a second time & escaped after getting the samples she wanted. He really hates her now. But, the Eld family (essentially, the Superman Family) has begun to accept him as a member and given Ultra (at last) a stronger connection than just the super hero team. He ended up having to fight other clones of himself and others, but those clones were programmed with weaknesses designed to allow Min'Ess to destroy them. As an 'Alpha' he doesn't seem to have a programmed weakness, but it's been implied that there may be others like him.

Hopefully, the rambling example(s) help. Ultimately, I would say see what your heroes are like, see what your players are interested in doing, then build the villains, supporting characters and general pace and feel of the game around that. I've already got a Facebook page up for mine, with a timeline, lexicon, NPC list, numerous pic's & the wall gives a spot to chat, leave clues & ideas or just post game related trivia (new products, etc.).
Last edited by Damren on Sun Sep 30, 2012 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Quickly/Easily creating balanced opposition

Postby poodle » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:08 am

interesting powers are the ones that the players have to find funky ways to deal with e.g. energy absoprption both types. I managed to mess with a party by using a guy with shrinking20. He would let himself get breathed in and drop objects inside the players (GM fiat). The party got harrassed pretty badly by someone with tunnelling. and so on. Even a normal human with a pretty decent sniper rifle can make life awkward...it's all how you use it. Make the bad guys match the theme though.
minions are pretty easy to take out so you can have more of them than you have players even if they are the same PL. Most people seem to recommend a big bad guy of at least 5pl levels higher than the party.
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