A peek under the hood of M&M

June 12, 2008

Crooks! 2e Design Journal

To accompany the release of the second edition of the Crooks! sourcebook in PDF, we sat down for a few words with Darren Bulmer (AKA "mancerbear" on the Atomic Think Tank). Darren did the work of converting all the first edition M&M stats from the original Crooks! to the second edition rules.

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Welcome, Darren!

Thanks, great to be here!

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started playing Mutants & Masterminds.

I became involved with M&M way back during the first edition playtest. Although I found the system interesting back then, I wasn�t terribly enamored of it, and once the playtest was over I thought I wouldn�t look at it again. Then, I stumbled upon the game at my local game store and fell in love with it while flipping through the pages. The art was amazing, and once I bought it and read the published rules, noticed all the little changes and improvements as a whole, I consider it the �best superhero roleplaying game in the world�. I started running a campaign then, and haven�t stopped, moving onto second edition as soon as it came out. That same campaign, �The New Watch,� is still being run to this day.

And how did you get involved in the Crooks! Second Edition project?

To be honest, it kind of fell into my lap. As a regular poster on the Atomic Think Tank, I noticed there was a lot of discussion regarding updating Crooks to second edition, but there just didn�t seem to be the staff-time available at Green Ronin to do it. I mentioned in one of those threads that I wouldn�t mind doing the conversions myself, and a day later had an email from Steve Kenson asking me if I�d like to go ahead with the project. Of course I jumped at the chance.

Updating all the game information in a book this size is quite a task. How did you approach the process?

It was a big job, I can tell you that much. There wasn�t really any secret to the way I approached the task. I just started at the first page of the book, and worked my way through. Occasionally I�d revise how I had converted a character due to how I converted another, but all in all, it was fairly straightforward. I do have to say the input from playtesters was invaluable, as was the brilliant Simpsons spreadsheet, which made character design a breeze.

What were the biggest differences you noticed between the first and second edition versions of the characters?

The biggest differences where the combat statistics. Most of them had to be rationalised in some way, and I think I did the characters justice with the way I handled it. Breaking down all the extras into Alternate powers was also an interesting challenge, as I wanted to keep the characters as true to their concepts as possible, even if that meant making major changes to their first edition power sets.

Who's your favorite Crooks character?

That�s a difficult question to answer, as all of the characters featured in Crooks are great in their own way, but if I had to narrow it down to one, it would have to be Moodswing, as I can see so much potential in him as a foil against player characters.

Which character was the most difficult or challenging to update?

I would have to say that honor falls to two characters: Moodswing and Kalak. Moodswing because I wasn�t sure whether to make his various powers and personalities a set of Morphs with the Metamorph feat, or go with the Involuntary Transformation drawback. I decided to use the drawback, as the poor blighter really has no control of when he changes personality.

As for Kalak, I felt he needed a complete redesign, which was damned hard, but I�m really proud of how he came out.

What other M&M projects are you involved with?

At the moment, I�m working quite a few projects, some of which I can�t really talk about just yet. Personally, I still have to get around to publishing the M&M Superlink adventures Shut Up & Drive, A World Without Heroes, and the Awesome Eight compilation. I�ve just signed a contract to write some adventures for Arbor Productions for their Autumn Arbor setting. Along with Protocol Zero Productions we�ve got issue two of Capes & Crooks due out soon, with issue three well on its way, the �Something Borrowed� adventure, and we�re just beginning to start work on the Hands of Destiny Superlink adventure path series. So it looks like I�ll have a busy year ahead of me.

Thanks for your time, Darren, and thanks for giving M&M 2e heroes some new challenges!

Anytime, and thanks to Green Ronin for the opportunity to work on bringing across some amazing Crooks to second edition!