Game: Mutatis Mutandis: Minigame issue #3
Publisher: Valent Games
Review Dated: 26th, February 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 21
Average Score: 7.00
Mutatis Mutandis is the third minigame magazine from Valent Games. The downside to GameWyrd being snowed under and months behind in reviews is that this magazine is far from being hot off the PDF press. The upside is that you can pick up Mutatis Mutandis more cheaply as Valent Games kindly drop the price for the back issues.
“Mutatis Mutandis” can commonly translate as “with the necessary changes” although the more literal translation would be “that having been changed which had to be changed”. I’d like to seem clever and wise but I took that straight from the Mutatis Mutandis MUX website. Although the MUX is superhero based it has no (apparent) connection to Valent’s Mutatis Mutandis.
This minigame is typical for Valent Games. Take what you know, scoop up a typical RPG groove, go to the widest part of the bell curve – and shake it all about. Mutatis Mutandis is a superhero setting where everyone has super powers. The postman delivers the mail with his telekinesis. Firemen fight fires with ice magic and freezing beams. Librarians remember every word they’ve ever read. Supermarket checkout girls know the total of your purchase before you reach the checkout and your bag’s packed before you pocket your change.
Quite clearly the world of Mutatis Mutandis is very different from ours.
In many ways, though, Mutatis Mutandis is very similar with ours. We’ve had the two World Wars, we’ve had Vietnam, 9/11 and are currently in action against al-Qaeda.
It was electricity which brought the super powers to mankind. In the early days a few people had powers but these days everyone does. There has been legislation to cope with supers in the work force – no discriminating against or for these people – but in 2004 everyone has powers and there’s little point.
Mutatis Mutandis is a Mutants & Masterminds Superlink product. This means it uses d20 rules but isn’t D&D. There is a difference. There are no character classes or character levels in Mutants and Masterminds. Mutants & Masterminds really is one of the best superhero RPGs on the market.
The majority of this 48-paged PDF discusses the game setting. There’s more though. There are new feats – I think “Useless Power” is a great feat. Useless Power does what it says it does – you’ve a useless power. Perhaps you can turn things blue. Perhaps you can mow the lawn with just a thought. Great! Useless Power lets you have this without the faff of Power Levels. This is a game enriching feat and players who take it without attempting to abuse it (slyly getting powers for nothing) should be commended (though I can already think of situations where being able to turn things blue could be handy).
There are new powers too; power scan, remove immunity, suppress weakness and restricted powers. The theme here is important. In a world where everyone has superpowers can be a tricky one to police. Prisons recover quickly from nuclear strikes (should that happen), have walls so thick that super-strong heroes/villains would struggle against and fields which suppress powers. These are interesting issues and its easy to see why so much of the 48-paged PDF talks us through them.
There are stats for NPCs and even a section which covers “Random Bystanders Powers”. This is a world where causal crime is dangerous to the criminal’s health. You’d think twice about attempting to grab a purse if the little old lady had super speed and strength or could turn into a ball of blazing cosmic fire.
The possibilities for plot are great. The PDF looks at plot for “Normal People” and there are samples in literature where you might have a non-powered cop in a world full of super powers, of Police and Rescue, of Government and Military and, of course, of Superheroes too.
Mutatis Mutandis is well written and interesting. It pitches the possibilities of the setting in such a positive, believable and tempting way that I suspect many doubters will become converts. Mutatis Matandis, the third minigame, is certainly worth checking out and so are The Other Side the first and The Book of Guilds the second in the series.