The action round (or simply round) is how Mutants & Masterminds breaks down time when things like who goes first and how much each character can accomplish are important. A round represents about six seconds of time in the game world. During a round, each character involved takes a turn, which is that character’s opportunity to do something. A character has an allotment of actions, used during that character’s turn. Players decide what their characters do on their turns, while the GM handles everyone else’s turn.
Base initiative bonus is equal to your character’s Agility rank. At the start of a conflict, roll an initiative check for each character: d20 + initiative modifier
The initiative check determines what order characters act in, counting down from highest check result to lowest. If two characters have the same initiative result, they act in order of highest Dodge bonus first, then highest Agility and highest Awareness. If there is still a tie, each tied player should roll a die, with the highest roll going first.
The four types of actions characters can take are standard, move, free, and reaction. In a normal round, you can perform a standard action and a move action, or two move actions. You can also perform as many free and reactions actions as your GM allows.
A standard action allows you to do something. You can make an attack, use a skill, advantage, or power, or perform other similar actions. During a combat round, you can take a standard action and a move action.
A move action allows you to move your speed. You can take a move action in place of a standard action. You can make a DC 15 Athletics check as a free action to run faster: one or more degree of success increases your ground speed rank by +1 for one round.
Free actions consume very little time and, over the span of the round, their impact is so minor they are considered to take no real time at all. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action. For instance, picking up or dropping an object, stowing a weapon or other object, standing up, dropping to a prone position, speaking a sentence or two, ceasing to concentrate on maintaining a power or perform some equivalent action are all free actions.
A reaction is something that happens in response to something else, like a reflex. Like free actions, reactions take so little time they’re considered free. The difference between the two is a free action is a conscious choice made on the character’s turn to act. A reaction can occur even when it’s not your turn to act. Some powers and other traits are usable as reactions.
In Mutants & Masterminds game terms, a challenge is an action or series of actions where players are called upon to make checks of their characters’ traits, but which do not involve direct conflict, such as fighting. Some challenges are quick and involve only a single character, such as a hero making a daring leap or acrobatic maneuver, while others are more involved and require the efforts of a whole team, such as clearing all of the people out of a burning building or searching the entire city (or world!) for an escaped criminal.
A conflict is when two or more characters go up against each other, typically in a fight of some sort. Conflict between heroes and villains is a prime part of Mutants & Masterminds and a big element of the fun, just like the colorful and spectacular fights in the superhero comic books.
An attack check represents an attempt to hit a target with an attack. When you make an attack check, roll the die and add your bonus with that attack. If your result equals or exceeds the target’s defense, your attack hits and may have some effect.
Attack Check = d20 + attack bonus vs. defense class
When you make an attack check and get a natural 20 (the d20 actually shows 20), you automatically hit, regardless of your target’s defense, and you score a threat. The hit might also be a critical hit (sometimes called a “crit”). To find out if it’s a critical hit, determine if the attack check total is equal to or greater than the target’s defense. If so, it is a critical hit. If not, the attack still hits, but as a normal attack, not a critical. A critical hit can have one of the following three effects, chosen by the player when the critical hit is determined:
• Increased Effect: The critical hit increases the difficulty to resist the attack’s effect by +5. Against a minion, this bypasses the resistance check entirely; the minion automatically receives the highest degree of the attack’s effect.
• Added Effect: The critical hit adds another effect onto the attack, but its effective rank is 0, so the resistance DC is just the base value (10, or 15 for Damage). The added effect can be anything the player can reasonably describe and justify as adjunct to the original effect: an Affliction (useful for all sorts of “gut checks,” blows to the head or vitals, etc.), Dazzle (blood in the eyes, boxing the ears, etc.), or Weaken to name a few. The GM decides if the effect suits the circumstances of the attack. The target makes resistance checks against the attack’s initial and added effects separately.
• Alternate Effect: The critical hit results in an alternate effect for the attack, like a use of extra effort for a power stunt, except the character suffers no fatigue as a result. This option can represent a “lucky” attack that does something completely different, like blinding a target, or imposing a condition such as those found under the Affliction effect.
Conversely, a natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack check is always a miss, regardless of your total result.
Your defenses determine how difficult it is to hit you with various attacks. Most attacks target your active defenses, Dodge and Parry: close attacks target Parry while ranged attacks target Dodge.
You add your defense rank to a base value of 10 (like a routine check) to determine your defense class against an attack, which is the DC of the attack check:
Defense Class = defense + 10
So a hero with Parry 11 has a defense class of 21 (11 + 10) against close attacks. If the same hero has Dodge 9, that is a defense class of 19 (9 + 10) against ranged attacks.
A successful attack with a Damage effect requires the target to make a Toughness resistance check. The circumstance penalties to Toughness checks are cumulative, so a target who fails three resistance checks against Damage, each with one degree of failure, has a total –3 penalty. Strength provides a “built-in” Damage effect: the ability to hit things! Like other Damage effects, a character’s Strength Damage is close range and instant duration by default.
Any decrease in your Strength reduces the amount you can add to your Damage, and negative Strength subtracts from your Damage! Likewise, anything
that prevents you from exerting your Strength also
stops you from using a Strength-based Damage effect. If you can’t swing your fist, you can’t swing a sword, either.
An attack has one of three ranges: close, ranged, and perception. A close attack can only affect a target you can physically reach, by touch or wielding a melee weapon, for example. A ranged attack can affect a target at a distance, while a perception attack can hit a target you are able to accurately perceive automatically without need
for an attack check. A ranged attack has a short range up to its rank x 25 feet, at which it has no penalties. At medium range (up to rank x 50 feet), the attack check has a –2 circumstance modifier.
At long range (up to rank x 100 feet), the attack check has a –5 circumstance modifier. Ranged attacks cannot go beyond long range; a target further away is out of range and cannot be attacked.