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jameson (ST)

Mutants & Masterminds - [Review] Power Profiles (book)

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Power Profiles

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Vitals: Published By Green Ronin • 224 pages • $39.95 (hardcopy) • $20 (pdf) full color PDF
"What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut loose and show you just how powerful I really am."
What's in it?
For starters, the collected Power Profiles pdf series from 2012, but also some new material in the form of a half dozen "By Design" essays, an index (which will be extremely useful), and some revisions and additions. As I have already reviewed the individual Profiles in great depth as they were released last year (find a list here, or use the tags on this site), I will not be going into such detail about them again.
The new material is why you're probably here, and certainly why I am. The first question is likely one of quantity: jut how much new material is there? There are eleven pages of the aforementioned "By Design" essays, a page long introduction, a six page index, and a couple pages of credits and table of contents. If you already bought in to the series as they came out you will be getting perhaps 5-10% new material depending on your personal criteria. You'll also be getting the benefit of updates t fix the errata in the individual Profiles.
So how is the new material? The index is exhaustive, which also means it is thorough, and will aid players and GMs in locating specific powers. The real meat though is in the new By Design essays. The six essays cover the following topics:
  • Boosting Powers
  • Powers Beyond (dealing with Power Level X and the like)
  • Point-Accounting: Threat or Menace?
  • Shifting Powers
  • Plot-Stopping Powers
  • Power Complications

Boosting Powers and Shifting Powers are useful for both players and GMs. The former has suggestions and discussion about how to deal with boost theme concepts within the confines of the PL system. The latter discusses ways to support a shifting character at the table to ensure a smooth game play experience for all involved. The Point-Accounting essay may also prove useful for both players and GMs. It deals with the problems that can accompany a point-based system, and how to approach the idea of "build efficiency". In addition to dealing with ways to ensure that one player doesn't dominate the game, or conversely get sidelined to ensure that the others don't, it suggests ways to move away from strict point buy for characters.

The remaining essays are more focused on the GM dealing with issues that may impact a game from their side of the table. Powers Beyond deals with ways to scale powers for antagonists, and even entire play groups. PL X is discussed in detail, which will be extremely useful for certain types of games. A "PL O" (that's the letter O not a zero) is optioned as well for scaling players up to god level without the heavy lifting of adjusting character sheets. The Plot-Stopping Powers discussion will likely be the most referenced by GMs. It deals with typical problem powers, either situational effects, such as a character with mind control using said power to strip away a game's mysteries by reading a villain's mind, or a healer saving the life of an NPC who is meant to die. The Power Complications essay looks at the boundary line between a power Flaw and a Complication, and suggests possible uses for Flaws as temporary Complications.

Closing Thoughts
As reviewed previously the Power Profile series is largely good, some are truly great, and a few are slightly disappointing. As a collection, combined with the additional materials here the Power Profiles series excels and truly becomes a whole who's sum is greater than its parts. Between the detailed power breakdowns, expansion of the core rules, and game play discussion and advice, there are unlikely to be players or GMs who will not find this product of extreme value.
Those who bought into the series in its micro-payment form will be glad to hear that Green Ronin is currently offering the PDF at a discount. For those who did not this book will become a valued addition to the Hero's Handbook either in digital or hardbound format.
Rating: 100% - I was a strong advocate for the Power Profiles series, and this collection may as well be titled Hero's Handbook Part 2. It's indispensable for both players and GMs in my opinion.

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This actually looks really good to me from your review. Some of those issues you talk about here are stumbling blocks not just for M&M but any point based system. I will seriously consider buying this...I'm very curious to see what kinds of approaches they discuss.

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Power Profiles kinda works like Ultimate Power did for 2nd Ed. but backwards. Since 3e went directly to the stripped down effects build method, this build back up with pregen base powers for various descriptors & concepts. The nice thing though is that there are a ton of rules expansions (I wanna say a good half dozen or more of the PPs had new extras or rules) and some of the pre-built effects are in no way "generic". It got 100% from me not only for quality but for the fact that I can't imagine any person buying this and failing to find a good chunk of utility from it.

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