A peek under the hood of M&M

June 5, 2005

Mutants & Masterminds Second Edition!

Finally, after months of planning, preparation, playtesting, and probably other things beginning with the letter "P," the time has come to announce Green Ronin's plans to publish a Second Edition of the award-winning Mutants & Masterminds Superhero RPG!

This is the project I've wanted to work on, and announce, since I came on board as M&M Line Developer, so I'm both thrilled and relieved that the day has come. One of the reasons for not announcing until now is we wanted to make sure everything was in place for the re-launch of our flagship game, so we could speak with some authority about what you can expect.

The Mutants & Masterminds Second Edition rulebook will ship to the hobby and book trade in September of this year. It will be a 256-page full-color hardcover, with all of the great art and production values you have come to expect from Green Ronin and the M&M line.

Now that the word is finally out there, I'd like to take the opportunity to tell you a little about the development of M&M 2e. I'm also going to be providing you with regular updates and previews of the game right up to its release in September. There's a lot more in store, but for now let's take a look at the secret origin of the newest incarnation of the World's Greatest Superhero RPG:

The Mission

When Green Ronin first green-lighted Mutants & Masterminds back in early 2002, they were taking a considerable risk. Products produced under the Open Game License at the time were largely fantasy adventures, supplements, campaign settings, and variants. Games like Spycraft, EverQuest, and similar "second generation" OGL products weren't yet available. It was unclear just how gamers would react to an entirely new game with similarities to a system they were familiar with, but also some differences.

It turned out that M&M exceeded our expectations. The game was a success, and in its wake followed a series of sourcebooks and supplements like Freedom City, the M&M Annual, and our licensed adaptation of Dan Brereton's Nocturnals. Mutants & Masterminds was also blessed with both an enthusiastic and friendly fan community at the Atomic Think Tank forums, but also the support of a number of publishers in our Superlink program, turning out their own support products for the game.

However, with the success of M&M came more demands on both Green Ronin's resources and upon the game itself. What started out as an experiment, a "let's see" try at publishing a d20-based superhero RPG, became a full-fledged game line. To live up to its potential, M&M needed two things: strong support, and a strong foundation.

To provide the support, Green Ronin hired me as Line Developer, so the line would have one person to manage and direct it. For the foundation, we talked about taking all we'd learned since the publication of M&M, putting it back into the game, and re-launching it, not as an experiment this time, but as the flagship product of its line, something we could build upon for years to come.

That job—taking everything for Mutants & Masterminds to date and coming up with a new and improved core book—went to me, but fortunately I wasn't alone in the process. In fact, I had several dozen assistants.

There Shall Come... A Testing!

Once an initial draft of the Second Edition was ready, it was time to put it to the test. We recruited dozens of crack playtesters, fans of M&M who knew the game inside and out, to put the new edition to the test, and test it they did.

It broke.

So I made changes and revisions. Rules and options were debated. Terms were clarified and refined. We tried different variations, looking for the best options. Some of the discussions were heated, but they were all productive. By the third round of playtesting, a solid manuscript was taking shape. We focused more on the details, the sub-systems and specific powers. Discussion generated new ideas, revisions showed places where the rules could be streamlined, where one term could take the place of several, and repeated rules consolidated.

The process was like carving wood. First, the playtesters hacked at the manuscript with chainsaws, and entire sections went flying into the dustbin. They we had at it with chisels, chipping and cutting things into shape. The final rounds of playtesting were more like carving details and sanding the surface to a smooth finish.

If It Ain't Broke...

One key element of the design of M&M 2e, and something demanded by the playtesters, was: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So while the new edition has many revisions, changes, tweaks, updates, and new material, it's still the Mutants & Masterminds game you know and love at its core and you will find a lot of familiar things within its pages.

In some respects, M&M 2e is even more compatible with other d20-based products in terminology, use of particular character conditions, and updates of things like skills and feats to bring them more in-line with material from the 3.5 and Modern System Resource Documents. Getting d20 players to give M&M a try should be even easier than before, since they already know how to play most of the game!

Oh, the Waiting!

Anticipation can be fun, but we understand that waiting is also hard; after all, we went through it waiting to tell you our exciting news! So, to help ease the wait and give you something to chew until the release of M&M 2e, we're going to be offering you previews of the new book and all the goodies it contains. Check back here for looks at character creation, abilities, skills, feats, powers (including power feats and modifiers), equipment, and much more that you'll find between the covers of Second Edition by summer's end. The origin of Mutants & Masterminds isn't over. In many ways, we're just getting started.

Next: Ten ways you can start playing Mutants & Masterminds Second Edition right away!