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jameson (ST)

Mutants & Masterminds - [Review] Power Profiles: #30 – Life Powers & #33 – Martial Powers

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Power Profiles: #30 – Life Powers & #33 – Martial Powers

Vitals: Published By Green Ronin • 6 pages • $0.99 • full color PDF

Not what you were expecting? Me either, but with a backlog of Profiles to review, and nearly thirty prior to this that were starting get a little same-y this felt like a good way to catch up and evolve the paradigm.

Descriptors, Countering & Features

Life: Five descriptors, plus countering, and a discussion of the base effects of Healing and Regeneration, followed by three features.

Martial: Three descriptors, plus countering, three features, and half a page dedicated to Ability Modifiers and Martial Arts Styles. The Martial powers profiles bridges both Talent Powers (#16) and Life Powers with the Chi descriptor being similar (or potentially identical) to the Life Force descriptor and many Martial powers being Talents as well. The list of suggested modifications to the core abilities by way of “naked extras” is extremely useful for helping to represent the many martial arts techniques that may not merit a full stand-alone power.

Offensive Powers

Life: Six powers, mostly Affliction effects with a single damage effect.

Martial: Nine Powers. Analyze Style is the obvious standout here, providing a clear and tangible edge for the Martial character while emulating a master’s ability to “read” another fighting style.

Defensive Powers

Life: Three powers. Bio-Adaptation seems like it might be underpriced; the limit of having to suffer the effect once before the Immunity kicks in seems more like a quirk unless there is a way that the character’s “history” of Immune effects can be wiped.

Martial: Three powers. Counterstrike is the most interesting, being able to effectively by-pass the one-action per character limit. GM’s would be wise to be cautious allowing this power at a character’s full strength effect, even despite its high cost.

Movement Powers

Life: One power: Lifeport. The Quirk to prevent Life-Porting into areas with little or no life is well placed, in most games this will not be limiting save on rare occasion, but GMs running games set in space with a more cosmic feel might be advise to change this to a limit depending on how often the character will be prevented from moving due to the lifeless nature of space.

Martial: Three powers.

Utility powers

Life: Ten powers with eleven effects. Several variants on the basic Healing effect stand alongside powers such as Skin Shifting, Biokinesis, and Sensory effects.

Martial: Five powers. Blind Fighting, Chi-based healing, and Chi senses are all here. Second Wind is the game changer here however, with an example of the seldom seen Triggered extra. The effect is a one-time Healing (at least it is one-time with Triggered 1), that triggers once a character takes a certain degree of damage. The low cost of the effect is offset by the single use, but GMs should keep a keen eye out for those who might apply multiple ranks of Triggered and replicate a Reaction effect at a fraction of the cost.

Complications

Life: Nine Complications are detailed to various degrees. The most interesting of which are Addiction and Responsibility. Raising such issues as the effects of potential litigation for practicing without a medical license or whether or not a super power healer can be sued for malpractice (which itself raises the question of how super powered malpractice comes about) Responsibility may not fit into a Golden or Silver Age campaign, but could provide a great deal of RP opportunity in a modern age game.

Martial: Eight Complications provide a spectrum of common tropes, from the blind master, to the Honor driven hero, or the dedicated enemy or rival. Each is given good detail as we have come to expect, but none seem to step off of the well-trodden path.

Closing Thoughts

Life: Life Powers adequately covers the theme of Healing powers and life-based effects. Its downfall is a lack of material above and beyond what one would expect to see. The novice player will get a great deal of mileage out of the content but experienced players are unlikely to find much that they have not seen before.

Martial: When I set out to review this profile I was worried that Martial Powers would read too much like the earlier Talent Powers. Instead while it certainly holds to similar design aesthetics and intents Martial powers manages to delve deeper into the specific realm of skills and talents that are embodied by the martial arts. Several effects provide interesting and clever builds but also tread on the fine edge of game balance; as usual it is up to players and GM to find a common ground where both will be happy. The additional thought expended early on to detail possible extras to modify base abilities provides almost an addition ten “powers” to the product, allowing this one to truly step into the top tier of profiles.

Rating

Life: 75% - A well thought out foray into a staple of the genre, Life Powers suffers only for lacking any wow factor.

Martial: 90% - Martial powers builds strongly on the concepts presenting in the earlier Talent Powers while expanding on the specific themes and providing for interesting and situationally balanced effects.

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