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jameson (ST)

Mutants & Masterminds - [Review] Gadget Guides: Mecha & Vehicles

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Gadget Guides: Mecha & Vehicles

Vitals: Published By Green Ronin • Mecha 7(6) pages • Vehicles 8(7) pages • $1.29 • full color PDF

I've said before that I feel that these kinds of products do their best when they don't just regurgitate what we already have and know, but add, expand, and clarify on rules to show players and GMs new ways to use them. In this regard vehicles, and mecha more specifically, are a perfect opportunity for the Gadget Guides. Vehicles of all types are only briefly detailed in the Hero's Handbook. This is generally not an issue because vehicles in comics and super heroic genres tend to be transportation and little more. I say tend, because there are those who do use vehicles: Batman has a garage full of them, and Japanese manga often features robot vehicles commonly known as mecha, for instance.
In game terms vehicles present a number of avenues of play, from car chases and aerial dogfights, to mecha on monster smack-downs. [As an aside, Green Ronin certainly hit the sweet spot by giving us Mecha the same week that Pacific Rim opens.] So what do these Guides do to make the M&M rules more friendly toward all manner of vehicular mayhem?
Both products open with discussion of vehicles and how they interact with power levels within a game. From there both discuss abilities, environmental compatibility, and movement modes. The discussion and advice here is solid. Dealing with the variable power levels needed for mecha games, to clarifying how various movement types might function and what form they might take.
The discussion of extra effort and fatigue as it applies to vehicles is an especially welcome point of clarification. While this could have been puzzled out, it is welcome to have this set in stone. Likewise the expansion of Features and piloting rules helps to codify areas that were thin in the core material.
Diving into powers and how they can be applied to both mecha and vehicles is probably the briefest and weakest section. Brevity is welcome, as at this point most players have ample understanding of how to implement power effects. Likewise that understanding makes this section of each Guide perhaps the least needed, though both are well composed. The additional discussion of modifiers for vehicles (including summonable vehicles, and transforming mecha) do help to expand on the basic powers and power extras however, and are a strong point in both Guides.
Both Guides end with roughly a page of examples. The eight example vehicles are a good cross section of vehicle types, though perhaps an example with an exotic movement effect (like time or dimension travel) would have been nice to see. The mecha Guide only provides three examples, and while they get the point across an example of transforming mecha and combining mecha would really have been ideal as these are more complex and may not be as easily understood.
Closing Thoughts
Overall, taken individually, these are both excellent examples of the Gadget Guide line. Both expand on the existing Third Edition rules to add functionality that was limited or absent in the core rules. The addition and clarification of existing rules, especially piloting rolls and the use of "fatigue" for extra effort, is especially helpful. Both are excellent additions to the Mutants & Masterminds product stable, and well worth the price of entry.
The only real drawback here is found when you take the two Guides together. There is a good chunk of shared and/or similar material between the two products, and one cannot help but think that these could have easily become a single product in the twelve page range for a slightly higher price point. Still, though, the aim of each Guide is slightly different and while they do reference each other, each could stand on their own and satisfy a buyer looking for a specific material.
Ratings: Nearly perfect expansions on the core rules to encompass vehicles of all types.
Mecha - 90%
Vehicles - 95%

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Oh... two of my favorite types of gadgets outside the utility belt and the powersuit.

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And I guess with both guides, someone could design a vehicle that transforms into a robot!

Justin... I'm lookin' at you!

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Intriguing. Most intriguing.

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I admit, these little supplements have to work hard to get my attention, but I -do- like vehicles.

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Thanks, Jameson!

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Obviously I don't mind plunking down the $ to support GR for these little guys, but I know that many gamers are as you are Max, concerned with the bottom line, and the value versus cost of RPG goods. That's part of why I do these reviews, because while I don't mind paying now, I remember when I did. But also regardless of that I still like to get what I pay for, and value out of my $. That's why I don't tend to endorse products that simply regurgitate, but when they innovate I praise accordingly.

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Has anyone built any Gundam-scale (16m) tall mecha with the concepts in this book? It'd be cool to see some of the concepts in this book put to practice. Well either a gundam scale or a mecha that transforms into a jet.

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