Chris F wrote:
I will begin running a Mutants and Masterminds
series within the next month or so. We'll be starting off with the Emerald City Knights
adventure path. This is my first time as Gamemaster. Not just as an M&M GM, but first time running any
game system. As much as I like RPGs, I don't get to play them very often. As a result, I don't even have a model I can emulate. I'm confident that I can get everyone through character creation, but actually running an adventure could be problematic. Any advice from experienced GMs would be very welcome.
I also have some specific questions:
- What makes a challenge or combat encounter "balanced?"
- Would playing without a minis or a battlemap be very difficult? When using a battlemap, does the choice of grid type (squares or hexes) affect gameplay much?
- How do I handle plot derailment without railroading the players?
Thanks a lot!
Lets see what we can do about that... Well lets start with your lack of experience: The following list of links are for M&M 3E actual play podcasts.
http://gamershavenpodcast.com/category/ ... /mnm3ecoa/
http://gamershavenpodcast.com/category/ ... ty-united/
(terrible story telling but passable system usage)
GREEN LANTERN ACTUAL PLAY
http://mikelaff.podbean.com/2011/06/22/ ... ay-part-1/
http://mikelaff.podbean.com/2011/07/13/ ... ay-part-2/
AGE OF MASKS
technically this one is 2E, but its frankly the best example of the style of a campaign, rather than just a one off.
http://slangdesign.com/rppr/2009/07/act ... f-masks-1/
http://slangdesign.com/rppr/2009/08/act ... f-masks-2/
http://slangdesign.com/rppr/2009/09/act ... f-masks-3/
BAMF & VIGILANCE
Good podcasts, but unfortunately listed on podbean, so almost impossible to navigate unless you know what you are looking for & even then it only becomes NEARLY impossible. Darn website needs a better navigation system & by better I mean better than none.
http://mikelaff.podbean.com/2011/03/09/ ... tual-play/
http://mikelaff.podbean.com/2010/09/08/ ... play-demo/
Okay, that should do you for now, at the very least it should give you some material for you to sink your teeth into. I'd start the BAMF/Vigiliance stuff, then go into the Age of Masks stuff, that way you go from simple design stuff, to slightly more complicated. Then if time permits the Green Lantern stuff which story wise is less interesting & finally the Gamer Haven stuff which is a..... um.... acquired taste.
Okay, moving on to your specific questions & queries.
What makes a challenge or combat encounter "balanced?"
How long is a piece of string? How many roads does a man have to walk? Many games have a game mechanic to determine what is or is not a balanced encounter, but M&M isn't one of them. Generally speaking, by player/GM consensus it's power level plus 2 or 3. However this mechanic is just a ball park figure since anything & everything can throw those numbers out. For instance if you have a martial artist with no ranged attacks versus a flying blaster the martial artist is probably going to get hosed.... But on the other end of the equation if you throw an ice villain up against a team that has a fire blaster chances are good that the ice villain is going home in a bucket of water.
I personally design my villains with a specific set of exploitable flaws. That way players get to be smart & not just win every encounter by beating everything into submission. Some times they can utilise a specific power flaw like hosing a fire villain with the fire hose, but other times its mental flaws like playing on the vanity of a character, or pandering to the psychotic need for respect.
As for non combat challenges players don't really care how challenging they are as long as they get a chance to use there brawns & there skills in an interesting fashion. But make sure failure has a consequence.
Would playing without a minis or a battlemap be very difficult? When using a battlemap, does the choice of grid type (squares or hexes) affect gameplay much?
You an play with or without one: I personally use a gridded tactical map because I think it enhances the game, but its not necessary, or even vital if you don't have one.
How do I handle plot derailment without railroading the players?
With grace & style.
All you need to worry about is figuring out what the villain is doing, why he is doing it & where he is doing it at.... Once you've got that, there is pretty much nothing players can throw at you that you aren't ready for. You'll only trip up if you become so invested in scenes playing out in a very VERY specific way.
If you have anymore questions don't hesitate to ask & I hope the answers I've provided help you in your caped travels.
“Anti-Intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.”