A Brief History of Nazi-Punching

posted by Fossilized Rappy Original SA post

Tasoth posted:

Alternity's art being awesome doesn't stop there. Both of the alien guides have covers by Brom and the actual illustrations are top notch. God do I love those books.
The best art for any Alternity book has been and always will be Facepalm Priest from Dark*Matter.

Meanwhile, it's time to do the opposite of April Fool's day tradition and actually write up what I said I would enter the new thread with, plowing straight through the first two chapters of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age. Excelsior!

Introduction and Chapter 1: A Brief History of Nazi-Punching
What is Mutants and Masterminds?
Assuming you don't already know about it somehow, Mutants and Masterminds is a d20 system game focused on two things: superheroes, and saying to the sacred cow of character classes. Instead, you buy your ability scores, skills, feats, and powers with a pool of points alloted to you based on the game's "Power Level". Like Dungeons and Dragons, d20 Modern, and Pathfinder, it has a System Reference Document for all your basic rules needs.

That face.
What is "The Golden Age"?
Chapter 1 of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age handily decides to lay down for us the history of the Golden Age, thus explaining what it is to those who are not comic book nerds. The Golden Age is the era of comic books from the first costumed hero in the early 1930s up to an undefined time soon after the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. This is the time where now-famous superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Captain America, and Namor the Speedo-Man Sub-Mariner. The Golden Age is stereotypically known for its colorful red-white-n'-blue costumes, jingoism, awkward pre-Civil Rights social interactions, and lots of heroes punching Nazis in the face. The invention of the Comics Code Authority and the dawning of the Atomic Age lead into the next comic book age, known as the Silver Age, which lead into the Bronze Age, and hten into the Iron Age/Dark Age that we now have our comic books set in. Yes, comic book ages are silly.

Chapter 2: The Golden Age World
Just as the first chapter was an overview of the history of comic books during the Golden Age, chapter 2 is an overview of the rest of the world during the Golden Age.

A Brief Overview of America at War
If you didn't know, there's an obscure event during the Golden Age called "World War II". This first segment covers both that and the Korean War in broad strokes. There is a game-relevant sidebar entitled "They Saved Hitler's Brain!", however, discussing the various ways you could allow the players to have repeated cases of Hitler-punching even after the war is over.

Not quite the World's Finest, but they'll do.
The Golden Age and Real-World History
It all started with the Great Depression. ...Well, this chapter does, at least, beginning with an overview of how the Great Depression lead into the rise of American Nazis and the Cosa Nostra gangsters, as well as the beginning of World War II. Like how America won the war (and those other guys too I guess).

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

The combined Axis powers were simply no match for America’s industrial might, which simultaneously kept the Soviet Union equipped, the United Kingdom fed, and buried Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan beneath a rain of steel.

What exactly does all of this mean for your supers game, though? Golden Age has the answers for you. The author is quick to note that you could do a Film Noir-style campaign focused around facing off against La Cosa Nostra, a redemption story of an individual who turned to villainy during the Great Depression seeking to become a hero, old villains becoming new allies against the greater threat of the Axis powers, and having Axis supervillains do over-the-top Golden Age things like breaking a famous Hollywood starlet's legs because mwuahaha evil.

Perhaps more interesting than Nazi Punching 101 might be the statements on what to do after WWII ends and the Golden Age begins to wane. The simplest suggestion given is to just replace Nazis with the Red Army as villains, though this might bring up obvious questions about WWII Soviet supers suddenly being treated as the villains. There are also some more interesting suggestions, such as having the enemies present be the extraterrestrials that ushered in the Silver Age of Comics or even McCarthyite finger-poiners hassling the heroes and making their life hell.

Life in the Golden Age
Ignoring minor notes such as fashion trends of the time, the biggest elephant in the room of talking about how life was in the time of the Golden Age of Comics is that people were often even more bigoted assholes than they are today. The chaptr proudly tells us that the correct way of playing with this fire is that the truth is in the middle:

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

The key, as always, is balance. Don’t rant on the Nisei internment camps so much that you forget to include the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. As bad as segregation was, don’t forget to celebrate Joe Louis and Jackie Robinson. It was an age that gave us both Charlie and Joe McCarthy–don’t let either extreme dominate your stories. Most of all, don’t lose sight of the fact that this era–like all others–had its good times and bad times, its heroes and its villains. Even in a roleplaying game about bulletproof super-mutants who can fly, a world that is painted as all good or all bad pushes the bounds of credibility too far
On the other hand, the book also discusses just what kind of bigotry you can inflict soon after, and then turns around a third time by suggesting to probably just ignore it:

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

It’s vital for the Gamemaster to remember that roleplaying games are supposed to be fun, not long, nasty historical polemics. Though it may be anachronistic, it’s often better to discard elements of the era’s bigotry than to irritate and offend the players.
This could probably be far more easily summed up by just having a single paragraph about how it is up to the GM and the players on how much to focus on prejudice, but congratulations on having three conflicting paragraphs instead, Golden Age.

The rest of the segment is just a look at popular radio and television entertainment, technology, and economics of the time. There's even a table of difficulty checks for obtaining rationed goods if you are that about the topic.

Heroes in Uniform
The final piece of chapter 2 is a brief statement on having an action military campaign set in the Golden Age. This is basically Blackhawks or (for a more modern example) GI Joe: the Campaign. You have above-average but below-superpowered heroes who engage both in action hero-style combat and help rebuild the lives of the people affected by war. There are also statements on crossing such a campaign over into supers territory, such as having a large team of action heroes fight a single war-time supervillain against the odds, introduce Weird Wars-style occult warfare, or the like.


Next time: Rocketeers, why you can't be a psychic in the Golden Age, maxing out your Hitler-punching stats, and other game rules for the Golden Age.

Optimized Hitler-Punching

posted by Fossilized Rappy Original SA post

Bitchtits McGee posted:

For those who came in late: Talents are like highly specialized mini-Feats that you can only take at character creation to supplement your character concept. I, uh, can't think of anything else to say about them, so...
Is that really how Fields uses talents? That's really terrible, if so. What made talents special in d20 Modern and Star Wars Saga Edition was that they were basically multiple choice class features, allowing a single class to take multiple roles. Diluting them down into "take this trait thing at first level" is disappointing.

Ryuujin posted:

See Dimwitted but Mighty kind of sounds fun to play, just like some of the races occasionally sound interesting. But then everything devolves into FIIIIIIIEEEEEEEELLLLDS!! tm
Fields is pretty much always like that, even outside of his pet sex settings. Some of his products appeared in an RPG grab bag that came with donating to the RPG Gamer's Charity for the Fukushima disaster back in 2011 (along with far better books such as Frost and Fur). Surely a supplement about archery wouldn't have any detail given to sex, bodily functions, or the like, right?


Billy the Yakuza turned curiously at the strange whining sound, and caught an arrow through the throat. As he lost bladder control and crumpled to the ground, he marveled at how little the wound hurt. Billy the Yakuza died without a sound and a brainless look of mild surprise on his face. Within two seconds two other Yakuza leg breakers joined him, their blood lapping against the parked silver H2’s tires like red waves on a red beach.
Of course.

Let's speed away from the topic of Fields, though, to one much more fun: Hitler-punching!

Chapter 3: Optimized Hitler-Punching

"Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

This chapter will have you slapping the lips off fascist dictactors in no time.

As stated before, Mutants and Masterminds uses the concept of "power levels" instead of classes to inform how much points you can buy stuff with. This chapter starts off by noting the different power levels that a Golden Age game will have. Long story short: a fair range of them in multiples of two. Power Level 6 action movie-type heroes, PL 8 "punch stuff really good while wearing tights" heroes, PL 8 Flash/Green Lantern/etc.-type heroes, and PL 12 Superman/Captain Marvel-type heroes are all Golden Age staples, and the book notes that most hero team-ups of the era tended to actually have at least one representative from each power level. These heroes are most likely going to be putting their ranks into physical skills rather than mental skills if you are looking for what the book calls "authentically retro characters". Brawn was supposedly as popular or more popular than brains in heroes of the time...or so this book tells us, at least.

There is a brief skills section in this title, but it is pretty much just a note that the Computer Use is nerfed to hell in the Golden Age and that the Survival skill can be - gasp - used in urban environments to scavenge things rather than just in the wilderness to find nuts and berries. As for feats, they start out wit an exemplary list of exemptions. Want to be exempt from the draft? Take a feat. Want to be exempt from rationing rules? Take a feat. Want to have positive rather than negative amounts of wealth? Tak-you get the idea. There is also a feat you can take to have a beneficial military rank, one for driving a vehicle in combat without screwing things up, and one for flying a plane in combat without similarly screwing things up.

Yet again, we have a section that begins with talk about what is and is not good for the "authentically retro character". First off is a no-go on psychic powers and anything too super-sciencey. Why? According to the author of this little tome, the first is because mesmerism was almost always a villain trait in the Golden Age, while the second is because kids at the time were unlikely to understand what things like vibrating super-speed or spatial distortion were. I'm sure that obscure Golden Age heroes known as the Flash and Dr. Occult might disagree on at least two of those points. Second, you should have powers related to punching things. Punching things is always better in the Golden Age. Third, you should only have a few drawbacks, if any, as the heroes of the time were meant to be larger than life. As for new powers, there aren't any. Sorry if you wanted some.

Devices and Equipment
This section doesn't really have much in the way of new material so much as classifying what would and wouldn't be common weapons or vehicles in the Golden Age. it does, however, have this image that could not be skipped:

Broncosaurus Rex is over, yet the Confederates still refuse to stop following me.

Hero Archetypes
Last, but not least, are some free archetypes for you to use. These can be used as either NPCs, pre-made PCs, or as springboards for your own character designs. We have - in total in M&M: Golden Age:


Next time: Stats for Hitler, evil aliens, fly-Cthulhu, and more in the Game Master's chapter.

That Hitler You're Supposed to Punch

posted by Fossilized Rappy Original SA post

Chapter 4: That Hitler you're supposed to punch

Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age posted:

While it's important to keep in mind the actual history of the era, its many complexities should not be allowed to get in the way of true Good, pure Evil, and their chosen costumed representatives.
Just as last chapter was meant to introduce the players to what they should and should not do in a "proper" Golden Age campaign, the surprisingly short chapter 4 is meant to do the same for the Game Master. The two things it discusses right off the bat are the concepts of Absolutes balanced with Impermanence. For the Absolutes, the quote I used to start this review out should give you a general idea. Good guys are always Good, bad guys are always Bad, America's military is Always Right, etc. At the same time, the book suggests that you should go for Impermanence if you want a traditional Golden Age experience. This means letting continuity be a little slippery by reusing the same plot or having aliens from Venus be one thing one adventure and then something the complete opposite the next.

The discussion of superpowers and sidekicks are similarly colored very specifically. Heroes prefer to just punch people rather than actively use their powers if they can, while sidekicks are meant to either accentuate the hero or be doofy comic relief. The book seems to be unsure as to what to do about comic relief characters, though. One the one hand, they discuss how comic relief sidekicks and characters were really popular in the Golden Age to draw the attention of kids. On the other, it drones on repeatedly about how stolen slapstick gags and casual racism were the main repertoire of such characters and probably don't work for a modern audience.

If you really, really want to play Watchmen, though, don't feel left out. The book is here for your Alan Moore needs as well. The suggestion is more or less "don't do as we said earlier": swap out the patriotic longjohns for nationalist dicks, have lots of crime and violence, showcase the racism and bigotry of the time, and go get the Iron Age sourcebook.

Supporting Cast Archetypes
Or, as other games like to call them, generic NPCs. Let's take a look at them, shall we?

"Ha ha! Questionable art originality."
Villain Archetypes
Like hero archetypes, but with villains.


Next time: The Golden Age in M&M's Freedom City setting.

Hitler-Punching in Freedom City

posted by Fossilized Rappy Original SA post

All this talk of AD&D makes me wish Wizards of the Coast would release PDF versions faster. They have already started repopulating 3E and AD&D titles into the PDF circuit, but a lot of things I'd personally love to get a hold of such as The Sea Devils are still in the pipes. Of course, I'd really love a release of some of their non-D&D property in PDF form as well, especially Alternity and d20 Modern.

That's quite unrelated to my current review, though, so let's get on track.

Chapter 5: Hitler-Punching in Freedom City
Freedom City is the de facto setting Mutants and Masterminds plays in. I don't have the Freedom City Sourcebook, however, so I'm afraid it's a bit of a SOL situation as far as that field goes. I'll try to deal with the Golden Age Freedom City chapter nonetheless.

In Freedom City's Golden Age, the proliferation of supers goes from occult figures in Germany and Japan to the first costumed fighters in America and then to costumed fighters across the board. The first superhero team, the Liberty League, gets founded in 1941 by Roosevelt himself. The actual events of World War II are pretty much the same as in real life, as are those of the Korean War. The end of the Freedom City Golden Age is marked by the disbanding of the Liberty League and growing fear of a secret invasion by the shapeshifting extraterrestrial Skrulls Grue. After a brief timeline of these events, we immediately get into game statistics for the dramatis personae of Golden Age Freedom City.

The Liberty League

The Allies of Freedom

Other Allied Heroes
A collection of heroes that either just use archetype stats or were in the Freedom City Sourcebook. The only noteworthy one to me is Codename Kilroy, a character using the Master of Disguise archetype who was known for leaving his eponymous symbol all around the warzones of the world as he traveled.

Die Übersoldaten
Just as the Liberty League is the main All-American Allies squad, Die Übersoldaten is the primary Axis supervillain team.

The Japanese equivalent of the Übersoldaten. They are less stocked with supervillains than most, as the book states the Nazi occultists weren't really keen on sharing and the magic aura of Japan itself seemed opposed to the Axis.

Other Golden Age Villains
This brief list has no actual stats (or either use archetypes or only have stats in the Freedom City Sourcebook), so it's pretty much just a collection of ideas if you don't want to have Japanese or German foes or are on the very early or very late ends of the Golden Age.

Chapter 6: A Hitler-Void Adventure
The final full and proper chapter of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age is an adventure. Since I'm not really the adventure type, I'll just sum it up briefly as "that adventure where Gorilla Grodd Geistmann hypnotizes the Justice Liberty League into being stereotypical mustache-twirling villains and the players have to break the control".


Next time: We finish off Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age with the Field Battle System Rules appendix and final thoughts.

Hitler-Status: Punched

posted by Fossilized Rappy Original SA post

Evil Mastermind posted:

The "current" Freedom League does have the next-generation versions of Johnny Rocket and Siren. According to the Freedom City sourcebook (the first edition of which is probably the best superhero citybook I've ever read), Dr. Tomorrow vanished three days after VJ Day in 1945, and Centurion died fighting Omega, the setting's Darkseid-equivalent.
Yeah, I forgot to mention it, but there is at least a minor rundown of what happens to Golden Age Freedom City characters in their "future". Most of them consist of either "go see Freedom City Sourcebook" or " ", though, so I didn't really take the time to write them down.

The only really noteworthy one is that apparently the second Crimson Katana may have made a new blade out of the Human Tank's corpse.

Appendix: Group Fighting
The final bit of Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age is the Field Battle Rules. The FBR is a system set up to allow for a handful of heroes to fight entire armies without having so many foes you lose your marbles keeping the tab on hundreds of NPCs. It does this by condensing a whole group of individuals into a single stat block whose power is based on several factors. Unit size ranges from a squad of 10 inividuals to an army of 20,000 to 50,000, providing a "Force modifier" of +3 to +14 depending on size to attack, damage, and Toughness, while the quality of a unit – green, trained, or veteran – has its own specific bonus to the attack, damage, Toughness, Defense, Initiative, and Morale of the unit. It's not the only mass combat rules Green Ronin Publishing has done, but it's probably the most straightforward.

Final Thoughts
Mutants and Masterminds: Golden Age in a nutshell: it certainly isn't a bad sourcebook, but it caters to a very specific crowd. It's for the crowd who wants data on the Golden Age or military feats and rules. It's not for someone who wants to do a faux-Golden Age like Watchmen unless they happen to also have Iron Age, it's not for people who want a lot of shiny new powers, and it's definitely not for people who can't take a fair amount of cheese and homages.


Next time: Well, there's a fair amount I want to do sooner and later. D&D in World War II, a myriad of post-apocalyptic settings, Japanese monsters, extraterrestrials, Maztica, maybe something from GURPS, the list goes on and on...

I should probably finish up what I started and do the bestiary for Supernatural: the RPG first, though.