Game: Foes of Freedom
Publisher: Green Ronin
Series: d20: Mutants and Masterminds
Review Dated: 4th, July 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
The first caveat to make is that Foes of Freedom is very definitely an enemy book. If you prefer making your own your villains – as many gamers do – this probably isn’t the book for you. However, as both a boon and a bane, Foes of Freedom is interlinked with other Freedom City plot strands – the Atom family, Terminus and Dr Metropolis, etc, etc. This means that if you don’t fancy having a mass of NPCs but do fancy having all the canon world comments then you may find yourself “forced” into buying Foes of Freedom. In almost every other circumstance it’s simply good that the book intertwines with other official Mutants and Masterminds products.
As we’ve come to expect from the series, Foes of Freedom is a wonderfully visual book. It’s colourful and precise with its layout. There’s an awful lot of information; crunch and gamemeal, but it’s never overwhelming and easy on the eye. There’s a bold use of colours for the three main sections. The villainous groups have a blue masthead on every page, those villains able (or just willing) to be loners have a red masthead and the few pages of additional rules are decorated in grey.
There are 96 pages in Foes of Freedom and the villainous groups section concludes on page 48. I think we can safely say that that’s half the book. We have a decent mix here; from the techno-terror of The Foundry, to the rouges of Larceny, Inc, general monsters and even the financial clout of the Minotaur’s The Labyrinth. It’s always hard being original in a superheroes supplement and its originality and inspiration that I look for in NPC books. The first few page turns do not fair particularly well for Foes of Freedom in this respect. The very first Villain Organisation are the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign – a cult of snake people (now with human minions) who worship an imaginable alien intelligence. Uh-uh. I don’t need to pay money to have someone rip off Lovecraft. I was bored of this spin years ago and it’s sorely disappointing to see it here. At least there’s a tie back between the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign and the villain organisation The Mayombe a spooky voodoo group.
One of the strengths of Foes of Freedom as a worthwhile addition to Freedom City is that these villain organisations do riff off one another. These groups oppose one another where their interests, egos or backgrounds overlap. In the interests of spoilers I’m not going to detail this much more, though.
The solo villains share a similar diversity of styles; we’ve psychological enemies like the Fear-Master, almost meta-plot foes like The Curator, anti-heroes like the Crimson Katana (deadly, better than most heroes, but who tries not to kill…), actual plot-only villains like the living city of X-Isle and typical thugs like Megalodon.
A good test of Foes of Freedom is the Power Level scope presented by the book. The supplement does well here and finds room for mere PL1 enemies (such as human cultists and Foundry Servodroids) all the way up to the scary levels of PL17 for Taurus, PL18 for The Curator and *eep* PL28 for Hades himself. Freedom City has absolutely no qualms about dipping into Greek Mythology. I wish it hadn’t started but now it has I’m glad it has leapt in with both feet forward.
Mutants and Masterminds does well not to succumb to the Big Guns syndrome. The Big Guns syndrome occurs when RPG supplements have to publish increasingly powerful and outlandish abilities, secrets or twists in order to pry open people’s wallets. However, superhero supplements do work by introducing heroes or villains with unpredictable new powers (as is the case in superhero comics) so its entirely appropriate for Foes of Freedom to include just a few pages of powers and for some of the new villains to have some of these abilities.
I’ll honestly be entirely surprised if Mutants and Masterminds have not already picked up their copy of Foes of Freedom by the time this review has seen the light of the internet. It’s one to buy for all fans. If you’re less of a core fan and more of a gamer who happens to have Mutants and Masterminds then Foes of Freedom still doesn’t to be much in the way of a troublesome decision. If you want canon plot and characters then pick up a copy of the book or if you need villains and don’t mind taking them off the shelf then splash the cash (nearly $24) for this supplement too.