Street Level Combat

One of the many things I love about Mutants & Masterminds is the way it handles combat. It’s fast, fun and designed to hit the players right between the eyes with everything they’ll see in the comics. Add in an Action Point system that actually works and encourages clever, innovative playing and you end up with battle that the players will talk about for months.

But enough smart talk. Let’s prove it.

I’m going to run through a short street-level combat between Darkwing (the Shadow Who Walks) and three Thugs. Here’s the setup:

Let’s begin with the bad guys.

Thug (x3), PL2
Str 14, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 8
Craft:Mechanical +4, Drive +5, Intimidate +3, KS:Pop culture +2, KS:Streetwise +4, Profession +4, Swim +4
Leather jacket (+1 Toughness), pistol (+3 damage), cell phone.

Attack +2, Damage +2 (punch), +3 (pistol), Defense +2, Initiative +1
Toughness +2, Fortitude +4, Reflex +1, Will +0

Here’s your generic Thugs, straight out of the M&M book. They’re tough normals, pretty unpleasant and come complete with leather jackets, pistols and attitude.

Against them is Darkwing, your all-purpose Daredevil wannabe in black. His stats are out of the Instant Superheroes book from the Sidekicks section. Power Level 6 is perfect for Street-level games where you want the heroes to be challenged by normals with guns as well as moderate super-villains. I’d put the more experienced street-level guys (Daredevil and Nightwing, among others) around Power Level 8.

He’s all primed and ready complete with regulation-issue zipline, throwable billy clubs and utility belt stocked with all the latest hero goodies. Boy, are these Thugs are in trouble.

Darkwing, PL 6
Str 16, Dex, 16, Con 14, Int, 14, Wis 14, Cha 14
Acrobatics +9, Bluff +8, Climb +9, Disable Device +8, Escape Artist +9, Gather  Information +8, Intimidate +8, Investigate +8, KS:Streetwise +8, Notice +8, Search +8, Sense Motive +6, Stealth +9

Defensive Roll, Dodge Focus, Equipment 4, Evasion 2, Uncanny Dodge (visual)

Costume (Protection 2)
Zipline (Super-Movement 1:Swinging)
Utility Belt:
– Flash-Bangs (Dazzle 3 [visual and auditory; area:burst)
– Bolas (Snare 6)
– Concussion Grenade (Stun 3, area:burst, range:ranged)
– Smoke Bombs (Obscure 4, visual, independent)
– Throwing Club (Blast 2 [mighty 3, ricochet 2)

Attack +7, Grapple +10, Damage +3 (unarmed), +5 (throwing club), Defense +7 (+3 flat-footed), Knockback -2, Initiative +3
Toughness +5 (+4 flat-footed, +2 without costume), Fortitude +5, Reflex +5, Will +5
Abilities 28 + Skills 19 + Feats 9 + Combat 26 + Saves 8 = Total 90

I’ll take this round by round, showing the crunch and dice rolls after the fluffy text.

Round Zero
Darkwing drops from the rooftop, landing silently. The Thugs are preoccupied with their poor vic and fail to notice him. Darkwing has surprise next round. Their victim drops to the floor, unconscious but alive – for now.

Darkwing: Acrobatics (16 +9 = 25) is good for a 20′ drop. Stealth (10 +9 = 19) vs. Passive Notice 10. The victim (a Minion) is out of action but any further attacks against him are Lethal. One hit, and he’s dead.

Round One
Darkwing is 20′ away from the action, and needs to either take the Thugs out or draw them away as quickly as possible. He pulls out a Bola and throws it at the closest Thug. It snakes around his legs and he’s on the ground. The other two Thugs turn. One draws a gun, the other prepares to charge, fists bunched; “You next, motherf…..”

Darkwing: Rolls initiative 14. Snare (9+7 = 16) vs. Defense 12, a hit. Thug’s Reflex (7 +1 = 8 ) vs. DC16 is a fail by more than 5 so he’s bound and helpless.

Round Two
Our hero lunges, lobbing a Throwing Club mid-leap at the closest Thug then closing the distance. It bounces off the Thug’s head, stunning him. On the floor, the Bola’d Thug tries to break free without success. The final Thug fires, but misses wildly.

Darkwing: Attack (12+7 = 19) vs Defense 12 is a hit against the first Thug. Toughness save (12 +2 =14) vs. DC20 is a fail by more than 5 – he’s Stunned and Bruised
Thugs: Roll initiative 8; they’ll all act at the same time. The Snared Thug needs to make an Escape Artist check vs DC26 to escape or do enough damage using only his Strength to break it. That’s not going to happen anytime soon; he’s out of play. Thug 3’s Attack (11 +2 = 13) vs Defense 17; a miss.

Round Three
Darkwing rams an elbow in the the closest Thug’s face, hard. The floor hits him harder. He’s out. He closes on the last Thug, who turns the gun on the victim laying on the floor, “This yo’ fault, sucker!” he shouts, and fires. Somehow, Darkwing is there, and the bullet hits slashing through his armour at such close range.

Darkwing: Attack (18 +7 = 25) vs Defense 12. Toughness save (2 +2 -1 = 3) vs DC18. The Thug has failed by 15 – unconscious. Move to close.
Thugs: The last Thug fires at close range against a helpless target – a coup de grace. Darkwing uses a Hero Point to gain the Interpose Feat for one round, taking the hit. Attack (16 +2 +4 (point blank) = 22) vs. Defense 17; he’s Stunned and Bruised.

Round Four
Our hero is in pain, blood pouring from the wound in his arm. The Thug grins wickedly and pulls the trigger. The bullet hits and glances off his armour!

Darkwing: Stunned!
Thug: Attack (8 +2 = 10) vs. Defense 11 (he’s at +3 flat-footed, -2 stunned). Yay!

Round Five
With a grunt, Darkwing closes the final distance and swings. “That hurt. Does this?”. The impact echoes down the alley and the Thug goes down.

Darkwing: Attack (10 +7 = 17) vs. Defense 12. Toughness save (1 +2 = 3) vs DC18. Bad rolls for the Thugs. Fail by 15. Out.

Darkwing kneels beside their victim. “You, I want to talk to. Let’s get you someplace safe and you can tell me all about your boss………….”


9 Comments on “Street Level Combat”

  1. I’m with Gamefiend. I’m already dithering over whether to run a Pirates/Swashbucklers fantasy campaign or a Wuxia Cowboys campaign. I really don’t need the temptation – but this looks intriguing.

  2. I’ve recently become interested in M&M. I really love the customisability of character creation, and the ability to do anything you want. It’s also really cool that you start off (by default) with these amazing characters that can do pretty much anything you can think of, and it just gets better from there. I definitely plan to run a few games of this in the next month or so.

    Thank you for showing us this play example. It does make it sound exciting and cool.

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