sdsichero wrote:What system did the original M&M use?
It was D20, but only really on the surface. It replaced Hit Points with a damage save that really worked well to capture the feel of a comic book superhero battle. Replaced levels with "power levels', which weren't a measure of experience at all, but rather comparative ability. For each Power level, you were assigned 15 points to assign to attributes or powers. So, by setting an average of PL 10 for most characters, you had 150 points with which to build a character. You could easily build both Batman and Superman at PL10. As long as they both are built on the same amount of points, their abilities may vary, but their relative capability won't.
Power Level was kinda like a threat level; it gives you a sense of what foes and challenges your character can handle easily, which ones he can handle with difficulty, and which one are likely to whup his ever-lovin' ass.
In this manner, you could easily build teams of widely varied characters, from super powerhouses who can zoom through space, to grim-n-gritty pugilists who bitch-slap crime with the back of their pimpgloves. And they can be balanced out.
That was one of the big problems with Marvel SuperHeroes; look at the capabilities of, say Cyclops and Colossus, there's no way Cyclops can really keep up with the big shiny. I mean, one hit, and it's over for Cyke.
But if both characters were constructed in M&M, you'd have a game that flowed more like the comics.
They still had the fort, will and ref saves; they still had feats (though some of the shared feats worked differently than in other D20 games). There were no classes or anything like that. The Attributes functioned largely the same, but could be supplemented with super-attributes, which expanded attribute capabilities to (obviously) superhuman levels. There were even superhuman versions of skills.
Powers each had a rank, which is a number that cannot exceed your PL. So, if you're running a PL15 character, you can't have any power that is higher than 15 ranks.
They were constructed of component "Effects". Such as a Movement Effect, or an Attack Effect. Each effect was purchased with points. Say you wanna build a flight power that surrounds you with a fiery aura that can harm anyone coming close: you buy a movement effect and slave an attack effect to it.
There are bonuses and flaws available for powers. Say you wanna build a guy with claws. You buy an attack effect and take the flaw, no range. That flaw gives you extra points to purchase other things, such as an indestructible bonus. Now, you've got adamantium claws.
Each power can have a different source. Say, magical, like Shazam; Cosmic, like Silver Surfer, technological, like iron Man, Training, like Batman, and so on. In this way, you can give batman a couple of Superskills, like acrobatics or Investigation, and slap a training source on them to explain how he can keep up with guys like Spider-Man or Taskmaster or whoever.
very simple, very quick, very clean.
it takes D20, throws away the parts that are too crunchy and numbers-driven, and leaves you with a lean system that is perfect for literally replicating splash pages from comics.
Even the device building rules followed the same basic principle, allowing you to build any gear-guy from iron man to that Scalphunter dude from the marauders, who can literally build any sort of weapon on the fly.
Plus, they had an optional rule called Dramatic Editing or something similar, which borrowed very heavily from White Wolf's Adventure! game. This worked a little bit like Karma in MSH, allowing you to alter failed dice rolls on the fly or augment them, if you really need a dramatic success (say, grabbing an infant while both of you are falling, and swinging on a flagpole to safety just in the nick of time). Or you could use it to push your strength or speed, like when Superman has to lift more than he's ever lifted before, or fly faster than he's ever flown before.
The GM governed uses of Dramatic Editing very closely. You couldn't just do it all the time. But even villain NPCs could use it to escape from "certain death" as they are wont to do at times.
I don't know how much was changed in 2nd ed, because I was out of gaming by the time that was released. But a lot of people on the boards really seem to like it. These days, I don't much keep up with the rules changes and what-not, so I'm not sure how much impact 4th ed D&D will have on M&M through the Open Source licensing.
But if you can find the 1st ed rules in a bargain bin, it's a totally serviceable product, with a good deal of supplement material still around for it. Even more supplement material for 2nd ed, but the overwhelming majority of it is totally optional.