James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > Post

With My Superhuman Might

Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook

By Crystal Frasier & Steve Kenson 

8 Sep, 2020

Roleplaying Games

1 comment

Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

Crystal Frasier & Steve Kenson’s1 2018 Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook is a streamlined version of the Mutants and Masterminds roleplaying game.

I wish the publisher, Green Ronin, were a bit better at spotting typos than they are. Still, it’s a well-known fact some typos can render themselves invisible until it is too late to fix them.

Aimed at players (novices in particular), it presents in 128 pages what the Mutants & Masterminds Deluxe Hero's Handbook covered in 320. On the plus side, a smaller price tag, less reading! On the minus, there is a lot of material to cover and less room in which to cover it.

It’s interesting to compare and contrast the personalization system used in the Deluxe version and the one provided here. Both produce playable characters but they don’t produce the same playable characters. Presumably, Green Ronin felt the presentation used here was less confusing.

Although overall the design flow is much the same as the Deluxe Handbook, this version of the rules assumes an audience unfamiliar with the game. Thus, there are more explanations, often in the form of cartoons and scripts, that are intended to convey a sense of what playing (or running, for that matter) the game would be like for novices.

Although this version of the game is shorter, I didn’t notice anything essential left out. This is compact, not some sort of, uh, basic version with large swaths of the game omitted in the hope the players will be inspired to pay more money for the expert version.

The Mutants & Masterminds Basic Hero’s Handbook is available here.

Lengthy Descriptive Stuff!

To get players into the mood of things, the rulebook begins with a short comic-strip depiction of a group new to M&M playing a session.

How to Play

This covers the essential rules a player needs to know, with a scripted session added so reader can see how the rules play out at the table.

How to Make A Character

Eight easy steps to go from a vague idea of a character to that character realized (or at least a bunch of words and numbers that list what the character can do). Several common archetypes are provided, each with several options. This is to help a new player personalize their character without needed a detailed understanding of the rules.

(An actual check list is good, says the person who once forgot to purchase defense abilities for his character)

Character Rules

An explanation of what the various attributes, powers, skills and what have youmean in game terms. Yeah, knowing this before designing the characters is useful, but players might not get as far as designing a character if they had to wade through lots of minutiae first.

Playing the Game

Having designed characters and being armed with what those designs mean, the text explains the mechanics for interacting with the fictional world around them.


Advice on how to run M&M games.

Adventures to Astonish!

Five sample adventures.

Rogues Gallery

Advice on how to design antagonists, with assorted pre-designed examples.

Where to Go from Here

AKA More Cool Stuff to Buy!


What it says on the tin. One should be able to assume any decent ruleset comes with an index but many do not.

1: As usual for roleplaying games, BHH is more of a team effort than the byline above suggests. Full credits are:

Writing and Design: Crystal Frasier & Steve Kenson

Additional Design: Jon Leitheusser

Editing: Samantha Chapman & Alexander Thomas

Art Direction: Hal Mangold Graphic Design: Crystal Frasier Cover Art: Conceptopolis

Comic Spreads: Kyler Clodfelter, Denis Medri, and Domenico Neziti

Interior Art: Michael Atiyeh, Brett Barkley, Dennis Callero, Darren Calvert, Eric Canete, Sean Chen, Conceptopolis, Steve Connelly, Storn Cook, Talon Dunning, Steve Ellis,Alberto Foche, Grant Gould, Kyle Hunter, Sean Izaakse, Scott James, Greg Kirkpatrick, Jason & Heather Martin, Denis Medri, MK Ultra Studios, Domenico Neziti, Octographics, Jake Parker, Tony Parker, Ramon Perez, Alex Sheikman, Andy Smith, Chris Stevens, Craig Taillifer, and Alex Williamson

Publisher: Chris Pramas

Green Ronin Staff: Joseph Carriker, Crystal Frasier, Jaym Gates, Kara Hamilton, Steve Kenson, Nicole Lindroos,

Hal Mangold, Jack Norris, Chris Pramas, Evan Sass, Marc Schmalz, Malcolm Sheppard, Mat Smith, Will Sobel,

Owen K.C. Stephens, Dylan Templar, Veronica Templar, and Barry Wilson

Playtesters: Jim Auwaerter, Rich Benson, Byron Blanchard, George Brown, Tony Brown, C.D. Ens-Butchino, D.T. Butchino, David Carriss, Austin Currier, Sara Dean, Ralph Duell, Tom Hackett, Rob Hall, Nathan Harwell, James Kavanagh, Des Kirkpatrick, Dave Laramie, Jim Long, Kerry Marley, Ian McCauley, Prof. Christopher McGlothlin, M. Ed., Glenn Myer, Ethan Parker, Shalea Rhodes, David Ridout, Chris Rodgers, Erin Sandercombe, Jerome Satterwhite, Aaron Sullivan, James Taylor, Derrick Thomas, Steve Trustrum, Johnathan Turner, Jeff Voreis, Tom Welch

Special thanks to the Atomic Think Tank members, especially Jameson, Psistrike, and mageofthesands, for help proofreading