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jameson (ST)

Mutants & Masterminds - [Review] Gadget Guides: Magic, Traps, & Alien Tech

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jameson (ST)    61

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Gadget Guides: Magic, Traps, & Alien Tech
Vitals: Published By Green Ronin • 6(5) pages • $1.29 • full color PDF

Catching up on the last couple of guides and one I missed from a bit back with some quick fire thoughts. Plus some of my rambling thoughts on the product line as a whole as things start to wind down.

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Magic

Gadget Guide: Magic discusses some potential descriptors for magic equipment. It also notes that only in cultures with a high degree of magic “industrialization” should magic items be equipment. A number of sample magic items are described, some of which don’t remotely fall into the definition of equipment and are really more like removable powers and artifacts.

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Generally the product is well written and the examples are interesting and present a number of alternative types of magic items to expand upon. Likewise the sidebar discussing magic artifacts offers suggestions and advice for using items of game breaking power as focal points for your game.

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Traps

Gadget Guide: Traps fills in some of the blanks on how to operate traps within villainous lairs, secret headquarters, and the like. Sidebars detail using character’s weaknesses within traps as well as having traps and circumstances turn back on the villains. The mechanical suggestions for traps, as well as the non-mechanical suggestions for deal with springing traps on players, are potentially invaluable.

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Alien Tech

Gadget Guide: Alien tech likewise covers a great many items that might not be viable as equipment in a given campaign. With items like teleporters, camouflage fields, and mind readers there are as many items that really don’t fall into the realm of equipment as there are items that do like blasters and vehicles. The sidebars on Unfamiliar Technology and Alien Advancements both provide useful suggestions for helping to integrate technology advanced beyond human ken into your games.

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Closing Thoughts

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As the Gadget Guide product line begins to wind down (as of this writing there are only two or three left to be published) it seems clear to me that perhaps this line might have been better suited as a “year two” extension of the Power Profiles series. Some of the best of these guides have dealt with subjects more akin to descriptors than lists of equipment, and in many cases the scope of the Guide’s content are not appropriate for equipment for characters within most campaigns. Magic and Alien tech both seem to fall into this category, while Traps almost exist in a region that is outside of both, being primarily of use as aspects of Headquarters, and not discrete equipment of their own.

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None of this detracts from the quality or utility of the lion’s share of the gadget guides in general, and these specifically. Alien tech would be very helpful for a character looking to play a foreigner to Earth, while Magic expands on the materials already presented within the Power Profile of the same name, while offering some useful discussion on Artifacts, and descriptors of its own. Similarly Traps feels like it probably should have been included in the Gamemaster’s Guide had it been written when that book saw print, as almost any GM will find something of use for their campaign; player’s on the other hand may find it entirely optional.

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Ratings:

  • Alien Tech – 80%, high utility to a certain subset of games and players, with some sidebars that offer value to all
  • Traps – 90%, indispensable for GMs, entirely optional for players.
  • Magic – 85% - a good follow up to the Magic Power Profile, dealing with the non-spell/power side of magic.
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