Building Encounters for Mutants and Masterminds 3e - Myth-Weavers

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Building Encounters for Mutants and Masterminds 3e

Building Encounters for Mutants and Masterminds 3e

This is from a post I found on Atomic Think Tank long ago (that I can't find anymore, so if someone can find it and credit the original creator, please do so and I'll add it into this post) and thought I'd post here for any new (or maybe even old) MnM 3e GMs along with some of my own thoughts. The idea is to give a way to easily and effectively build balanced encounters for your heroes to go up against. I will be the first to tell you that it's not 100 percent accurate as not all effects are created equal, but this should give you a good baseline on where to start. I've used this system for just about every encounter in my Justice League: Legacy game and found it to be very helpful.

Step 1: How Dangerous?

Encounters are rated by how dangerous they are, or how difficult it will be for the players to overcome them:

Danger Rank: Description
0: No Danger; there is almost no possible way that the PCs could suffer injury, much less defeat
1: Minimal Danger; the PCs have almost no chance of being defeated
2: Modest Danger; the PCs stand to suffer some injuries if they're not careful
3: Significant Danger; the PCs are likely to win the fight, but it will require smart play to come out on top
4: Serious Danger; the PCs are going up against a real threat and could just as easily win as they could lose, and will need to play smart to win
5: Severe Danger; The PCs are going to be outmatched and without very clever gameplay and teamwork, they're more likely than not going to lose
6: Overwhelming Danger; the PCs are very likely to lose the encounter, and only tremendous luck or playing at the top of their game can see them through

Step 2: Challenge Rank

Next, you need to figure out just how many NPCs to challenge your party with (and just how powerful to make them). Depending on how challenging you wish to make the encounter (see Step 1), you can have more or fewer NPCs of higher or lower power level. To determine this, you need to determine the total Challenge Rank for the encounter:

Encounter Challenge Rank = Danger Rank x Number of Party Members

So if a group of four PCs is going to face an encounter of Serious Danger (4), then the encounter will have a total Challenge Rank of 16.

Step 3: How Many NPCs? How Strong?

The total Challenge Rank of an encounter can be distributed in any way you like among the enemies the PCs will face. You can divide the Challenge Ranks to many NPCs, or only a few. Depending on how many ranks you assign each enemy, it will change what Power Level that NPC is.

NPC's Challenge Rank: NPC's Power Level
Challenge Rank 1: Party's PL -4 or lower
Challenge Rank 2: Party's PL -2 or -3
Challenge Rank 3: Party's PL -1
Challenge Rank 4: Party's PL
Challenge Rank 5-6: Party's PL + 1
Challenge Rank 7-9: Party's PL + 2
Challenge Rank 10-13: Party's PL + 3
Challenge Rank 14-19: Party's PL + 4
Challenge Rank 20+: Party's PL + 5

So long as the total Challenge Ranks of all of the enemies put together are equal to the Danger Rank x the number of PCs in the party, you'll still have an appropriate encounter for that Danger Rank. A Challenge Rank 16 encounter for a party of four PL 10 PCs could consist of four PL 10 enemies, or two PL 12 enemies, or one PL 14 enemy, or two PL 10 enemies and one PL 12 enemy, or eight PL 7 enemies, or just about any other combination you can imagine.

A helpful aid for this stage, especially if you're trying it for the first time, is to put a stack of poker chips or pennies in front of you for each enemy's Challenge rank. As you add or subtract enemies, or increase or decrease their power level, you can track it easily with the tokens.

Minions are weaker than villains of the same PL and their challenge ranks reflect this. Using the above notation, minions would often be worth a fraction of a challenge rank; to avoid this, minions are listed as minions per challenge rank. The minions come out of the same challenge rank budget for the encounter. For example, if you want to include challenge rank 4 worth of minions of Party PL-3, use 3 minions per challenge rank * 4 challenge rank= 12 Party PL-3 minions.

The power of minions can vary greatly with how spread out they are combined with the area attack/Takedown Attack capability of the party. Minions may not be as challenging to a particular group as these numbers suggest. This table is based on the idea that 4 minions= 1 villain of a given PL. Besides the formal minion rules, minions tend to be weaker in other ways; e.g., they generally don't have abilities like Mental Blast!

Party PL-8= 16 minions for 1 challenge rank
Party PL-7= 12 minions for 1 challenge rank
Party PL-6= 8 minions for 1 challenge rank
Party PL-5= 6 minions for 1 challenge Rank
Party PL-4= 4 minions for 1 challenge rank
Party PL-3= 3 minions for 1 challenge rank
Party PL-2= 2 minions for 1 challenge rank
Party PL-1 to Party PL= 1 minion for 1 challenge rank

The next big tip about creating encounters for Mutants and Masterminds 3e is that you don't need a full character sheet for all your Villains. There are merely a few vital statistics that you need. These are Defenses, Attack Values, and Effect Ranks. Once you establish the Power Level of your villains, these numbers are easy to just come up with off the top of your head due to the PL limits Mutants and Mastermind establishes.

That's pretty much it! As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, your mileage may vary depending on the type of powers your villains might have. If you have a player whose character uses Fire Based attacks and you decide your villain should be immune to fire, that changes things quite a bit. If your villain has the Summon effect, you may want to account the power level of the Summoned minion into your challenge rank as it could be another enemy with it's own set of actions. This also doesn't take into account some of the more dynamic aspects of Mutants and Masterminds: Tactics, movement, complications are not really a consideration as those vary wildly. At it's most basic level, this should give you a great starting point for building a balanced encounter to challenge your players!

Feedback is welcome! As well as your own tips for building encounters in MnM 3e!

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