DC ADVENTURES Design Journal #2
The New Issue Number One
One of the goals with DC ADVENTURES was to present it as a complete RPG; DC wanted "a game" not a sourcebook for an existing game. On the other hand, it was the strength of the Mutants & Masterminds system and the production values of its products that attracted DC in the first place, so it had to be a game strongly rooted in what we’d already done. For us, the path to a new edition of the M&M rules seemed clear.
We could have simply repackaged the second edition of M&M with DC art, examples, and sample characters, but if we were going to produce a new, stand-alone game product anyway, why not take this opportunity to tune-up and spruce-up M&M? It was time: the second edition is five years old and, while it has been solid, there are things we’ve wanted to fix, either known issues with the rules (like … sigh … grappling) or ways in which we could streamline and simplify. We also had the benefit of years of supplementary material and insight, particularly Ultimate Power, to work with.
Another key reason for putting a new iteration of M&M in DC ADVENTURES was the change in the d20 System market. M&M Second Edition had long since established its independence from its Open Game License "ancestor" so why not go the rest of the way towards making it a truly independent system? That involved looking closely at what really worked in the game, and what was merely a holdover from the System Resource Document(s), whether it was terminology (*cough*feats*cough*) or mechanics (ability scores vs. ability modifiers; the scores didn’t actually do much of anything).
One of the advantages of Open Content is also that it evolves and develops, and those developments are shared. So M&M could benefit from improvements in system design in our products as well as throughout the Open Game Content "infosphere".
We also knew that it was important to hold on to what made M&M such a success, the elements of the game that worked, and to make it possible to use our extensive library of M&M 2e material with the new edition with a minimum of conversion and tinkering. That’s why we absolutely did not mess with things like the game’s core mechanic (of d20 roll + traits vs. difficulty class) or popular elements like the damage system, hero points, or power levels (and their associated trade-offs and customization). You’ll still find all of those in the game, although some of the terminology might be slightly different and some of the resolution a bit more streamlined.
Speaking of compatibility, the decision to tune-up the M&M system as the engine for DC ADVENTURES led directly to the decision to also produce a new, separate edition of Mutants & Masterminds. We wanted the two games to be 100% compatible, and for core M&M to benefit from the work we were doing on DC. So by this Fall, players will have the option of choosing from the DC ADVENTURES Hero’s Handbook (with its full-color hardcover production values and DC Universe information) or the Mutants & Masterminds Hero’s Handbook, a softcover just-the-rules approach to the game, both with the same game system content for playing and running the game. Further M&M material will be compatible and usable with DC ADVENTURES source material, giving you two game lines in one!
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