Tag Archives: Mutants and Masterminds

Hero Lab Review

Gamers and DMs are constantly looking for ways to make running and facilitating their games easier. As a DM, I love focusing more on plot than mechanics, so tools that can cut down on time spent building characters or looking up rules can be invaluable.

I’ve been using Hero Lab by Lonewolf Development for a couple months. I’ve bought the licenses for both Mutants and Masterminds 3rd edition (the game I’m currently playing most) and Pathfinder (the game I want to be playing most), and both versions work with very little trouble (that I’ve seen so far.)

If you’ve ever built a character in a video game RPG like Skyrim, Neverwinter Nights, or Dragon Age, you’re basically ready to build characters in Hero Lab.

It’s really simple, and Hero Lab automatically figures out the feats and skills you can or can’t have, and descriptions for every skill, feat, power, spell, or piece of equipment are included. The interface is easy to understand, too.

I’ve always enjoyed building characters, and now I can build characters (even ones with house rules!!) in minutes rather than hours.

Obviously that’s great for players, but Hero Lab has some features that make a DMs job easier as well.

Need a random encounter? You can easily load monsters, minions, and other baddies and modify them as needed.

Having a hard time keeping track of combat? Hero Lab includes a “tactical console” in which you can import all the heroes in the game and all the monsters, roll initiative, and keep track of status effects, spells left, and damage. It’s made my life so much easier as a DM… combat tends to get bogged down quite a bit, so anything that can speed things up is great.

Price-wise, as a gamer on a budget, I think Hero Lab is a bit pricey. It’s $30 for the initial program (this includes a license for the supported game of your choice, I chose Mutants and Masterminds). You can buy licenses for other games, but be warned, they can get expensive. I’m trying to build up my Hero Lab Pathfinder collection, and the money spent can really start to add up quickly.

That said, I can’t imaging playing RPGs without it. You can grab Hero Lab here.

 

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Con Men: GenCon Day 3

I’m just going to get this out there and say it.

If you knew about Gen Con, and you didn’t go, you lose. Plain and simple. You lose.

Know what I did today? I hung out with Green Lantern. I sang my way into battle alongside a warhammer-swinging Paladin. I served with Captain Malcolm Reynolds and a sexy assassin aboard the mighty starship Artemis.
The day started early. John and I got up around 7 o’clock (after about 4 hours of sleep), and headed out to the Con. We walked nearly the entire length of the Indiana Convention Center to get to the JW Marriott hotel, where our first event was being held. Let me say that every gaming session that happens should be in a meeting room of a fancy hotel: comfortable seating, hard candy, ice water, big tables, pens/paper provided.

Anywho, the game was called “Dead End” and was built using Mutants & Masterminds/ DC Adventures. We got the opportunity to play as many of the members of the Justice League, but mostly all the players picked B and C-list heroes. Our team consisted of Green Lantern, Batman (played by John), Dr. Light, Plastic Man, and our only D-list hero, Booster Gold (played by me, because I think he’s hilarious).

The team had their work cut out for them. Lex Luthor, Clayface, Sinestro, Deathstroke, and Gorilla Grod had all teamed up to build a dimensional portal… but our terrible Justice League team managed to fight them and send them to jail… except for that slippery Lex Luthor… he jumped through the portal. On the other side… we found Marvel Zombies.

Hands down a great game. I wish I could remember the DM’s name because he did an amazing job. He was part of North Coast Gamers from Ohio. If you’re reading this, DM, email me. I would love to ask you some questions about your DMing style or just chat. And I will definitely look for your event next year.

Next up came some Pathfinder Society action. This one… was a little disappointing, I have to say. The DM was really, really tired. And we had a really loud, jerky power-gamer incarnate sitting at our table. The guy couldn’t relinquish control of anything.

Other than that awful, harassing person, the other people at the table seemed legitimately cool, and I mostly had a good time. I felt bad for the DM, though. He looked like he needed a nap. I wonder how many games he had to run that day.

Pathfinder Society is a lot of fun. I’m going to be looking for ways to play nearer to home. I’m pretty sure there is a group in Columbus that plays. I need to start leveling up my character!

Next came the movieMisfit Heights.It’s a zombie puppet musical that we went to see because we liked that Vampire Puppet show fromForgetting Sarah Marshall.I don’t consider myself much a film critic… but I was a little disappointed. It’s ultra-low budget, and you can really tell. The picture was OFTEN too dark to see. The singing wasn’t really great. The sound editing seemed a little off. It also seemed a little overly long. However, I did laugh out loud more than a few times, so I suppose it was certainly worth seeing. And it was free, so the price was hard to beat.

Finally, the highlight of my day. Artemis, a starship bridge simulator. I’m going to try my best to adequately describe to you how amazing I think this game is.

How it works: Artemis is basically a program that runs using a LAN or internet connection. 6 displays are linked together, and each display represents a different station on a starship: Helm, Tactical (John got to shoot the bad guys), Communications, Science, Engineering (this was my specialty for the evening), and the Captain.

The Captain has the job of overseeing all the stations and giving orders. He’s the macro-organizer of the ship, and you mostly have to depend on him to organize all the stations to work together. The guy who volunteered to be our Captain was pretty amazing. He seriously took to it instantly, and by the end, we were all calling him “sir” or “captain.” Pretty impressive.

The Helm steers the ship by controlling the maneuvering engines, the impulse engines, and the warp engines. Our Helmsman started off a little shaky, but by the end was controlling the ship like a pro.

The Comm officer monitors communications throughout the star system and relays them to the Captain. Our comm officer was played by a cosplayer dressed as Malcolm Reynolds. It was weird to have the Browncoat hero sitting in the comm, but he did a great job. Comm officers are also able to get enemies to surrender and can also taunt the baddies into attacking us rather than one of our allied ships or space stations.

The Science Officer is responsible for keeping tabs on approaching ships and scanning the many anomalies in the darkness of space. Our Science Officer was played by the girl hanging out with Malcolm Reynolds (wife, girlfriend?) who was dressed as a sexy assassin. She did a good job keeping tabs on the bad guys.

The Tactical Officer is responsible for shooting bad guys and defending the starship. John was our guy, and he was the king of setting off nukes in such a way as to kill 3-5 ships in one fell swoop. After learning how to manually control the lasers, he basically became the boss of killing bad guys. Seriously.

Represent.

Finally, my part the Engineer. I was the guy responsible for shunting power into various systems, making sure those same systems don’t overheat, and sending engineering teams to fix any damage to the ship. I don’t want to toot my own horn too much, but I think I did a pretty excellent job of Scotty-ing (I’m giving her all she’s got, Captain!!) my way through the game. By the end, I was a master of repairing shield damage and shunting enough power into John’s lasers to cut enemy warships into ribbons.

Basically, everyone should play Artemis. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to turn my shed into a starship bridge. I was so impressed with the game, I’m even considering getting an Engineer’s badge to show off my love for both the good ship Artemis and the lonely Engineering station.

After that, we headed to BW3s for some chicken wings, and we got to watch this woman at the bar have a terrible date.

All-in all, a pretty awesome day at the con.

Editor’s Note: John ended up remembering the DM’s name.

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The Week in Geek: Aug. 3, 2012

One thing I’ve learned watching the Olympics this week is that it’s all about techn-geek (technique, get it?). That doesn’t really work, but I’m bad with puns. Here’s what you need to know to sound fascinating this weekend!

Avengers Babies! We make our dreams come true! Avengers babies! We'll do the same for you!

This is probably the only way to make AvX interesting – make it adorable. Image courtesy of Scottie Young on Deviant Art.

British gymnast Jennifer Pinches flashed the Nerdfighter sign before her routine, but that wasn’t the only nerdtastic moment from the ladies in leotards.  Mexican gymnast Elsa Garcia Rodriguez Blancas did her floor exercise to a Zelda medley.

Some tremendously disturbed and wonderful person created Goodnight Dune.

TJ is filling his custom world in Mutants and Masterminds with superheroes and intrigue and he wants to fill you in.

Some guy who has only ever seen the first 30 minutes of Jurassic Park wants to build his own. With live dinosaurs. Before you say it, no, Mike, we will not honeymoon there. 

Oh, Coulson!

Oh, Coulson, you old stalker, you! Image courtesy of krusca on Deviant Art.

Proving that sometimes stereotypes exist for a reason, a team of Russian scientists is working on the more than slightly unethical mission of making us immortal. What’s better is that they’re supposed to have it by 2045, comrade.

Proof that not only am a geek, I’m kind of a jerk.

Someone get a squeegee because the trailer for the 7th season of Doctor Who is out, and it’s making Whovian heads explode.

Making the joke that everyone else has made because I love me a bandwagon – the title for the X-Men: First Class sequel has been released, and it is not X-Men: Second Class.

Speaking of film developments and Dr. Who, ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston has been tapped to play the villain in Thor 2. Before you get your panties in a twist, Loki will be there, and Rose will not.

They just ordered in schwarma.

Black Widow isn’t there because she’s out being a spy, not slacking like these Aven-jerks here. Image courtesy of Hallpen on Deviant Art.

Everyone needs an inspiration. J. Fortune’s was none other than the manliest man of mystery, James Bond.

Proving the nerds are more successful than normies, Todd McFarlane’s cover art of Amazing Spider-Man #328, featuring Spidey gut-busting the Hulk, sold at auction for a record $675,250.

Even though Bane sounded like he was narrating a particularly violent episode of Masterpiece Theater, I presume starring Dame Maggie Smith as the Tomb Raider (Armed only with withering comebacks no less! Admit it, you’d watch it.), it could have sounded much worse.

Felicity took a long look at Mitt Romney, and the longer she looked the more she found wrong.

J.K. Rowling has said the wizarding gene it dominant, but how to you explain wizards born to muggles or squibs? Biology student has it all figured out.

In a theme near and dear to my journo heart, Topless Robot, in addition to having a wonderful name, has a list of the 10 best journalists from comics.

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My Current Campaign — Superheroes

I love superheroes.

The fascination began when I was but a wee lad watching Batman: The Animated Series at my babysitter’s house. Movies, video games, and comic books soon followed. Since I’m also a big fan of role-playing games, it didn’t take me too long to find a couple of superhero RPGs to play.

That brings us my current campaign, a custom world for Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd edition.

My buddy John approached me with a scenario and an idea for a character he had: a sidekick apprenticed to an ultraparanoid superhero is left alone after his mentor is murdered. I loved the idea and started worldbuilding right away.

It’s a combination of all the tropes I love about the superhero genre. In fact, my main goal was to take characters from all over the various comic book publishers and combine them in interesting ways. I’ve also given them some fun, goofy names that either elicit laughter or groans from the players. They’re superheroes, so you can’t take them too seriously.

Here are some of the characters:

Big Brother – He’s the superhero who was murdered. He’s basically a combination of Batman and Big Daddy from Kick-Ass. He was brutal in his dealings with criminals, and he owned the private prison and insane asylum, so he was able to continually torture them in terrible ways. He didn’t really trust anyone, and that includes his sidekick, Kid Impulse (played by John), whom he just barely seemed to tolerate.

Prometheus – The world’s foremost superhero, Prometheus is a combination of Superman and Thor. Unlike Superman, he doesn’t have a secret identity, and he doesn’t care to. Nor does he try to understand humanity. His motivations for protecting the Earth are unclear.

The Blue Beast – TBB is a combination of Hulk and Nightcrawler. Not much is known about him except that he will randomly teleport from place to place, rampaging and destroying wherever he goes. In our first session, our player characters had to fight him off long enough for Prometheus to arrive and take him to superjail.

The Hedge Knight – She’s a combination of the classic knight archetype and Poison Ivy. She’s a swordswoman who controls plant life.

That’s just a few of the (so far) 60 super characters I’ve made for the campaign. It’s a lot of fun, and I love that basically anything can happen.

The player characters are as follows:

Impulse – Formerly Kid Impulse, Impulse was kicked out of the mansion by Big Brother’s mysterious oldest son after the superhero’s death. Impulse is a superb hand-to-hand combatant and hacker. If you hadn’t guessed, he’s based on Robin/Nightwing.

Lightspeed -A superfast superhero, he’s another sidekick trying to prove himself. He and Impulse are used to hanging out in the same circles, so it was obvious that they should team up.

The War Witch – A magic wielding warrioress and a  fixture in the Justice Gang, she is the sponsor of the other heroes. It is intimated that she once had an affair with Big Brother.

Crackshot – He’s a rich, ruthless, cocaine-addicted assassin. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him; he just likes to kill. He’s more of an antihero (obviously) and tends to show up whenever something major is going down in the city (which inevitably leads to him begrudgingly teaming up with the other heroes).

My campaign isn’t exactly groundbreaking in any way, but it is a ton of fun to play.

What is your favorite campaign setting?

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