Superior Synergy: Superheroic
Author: Steven Trustrum
Page count: 27 (landscape); 23 plus cover and OGL (portrait)
Price: $3.25 at RPG Now or Drive-Thru RPG
Superior Synergy: Superheroic is the third in a line of products designed to expand on the concept of skill synergy as found in many d20 and OGL games. Superior Synergy: Superheroic is designed specifically for use with Mutants and Masterminds RPG Second Edition. Superior Synergy: Superheroic includes two files – one is landscape with more color for screen reading, and the other is portrait and less color heavy for printing.
Superior Synergy: Superheroic (from here SSS) beings with standard declarations of Product Identity, Open Gaming Content, and a sidebar explaining the lack of feat synergy* in this product.
The basic idea in SSS is the same as the basic idea in the other Superior Synergy books – skill synergy shouldn't cap at a mere five ranks in a skill. Therefore, this document provides bonuses for skill synergy at 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks. Unlike the previous Superior Synergy products, however, this expands synergy to 25 ranks in a skill.
For example, take the Bluff skill. Five ranks in Bluff provides the following synergy bonuses:
Synergy (5 ranks): If you have 5 or more ranks in Bluff, you get a +2 bonus on Diplomacy checks.
-If you have 5 or more ranks in Bluff, you get a +2 bonus on Disguise checks made when you know you’re being observed and you try to act in character.
-If you have 5 or more ranks in Bluff, you get a +2 bonus on Intimidate checks.
-If you have 5 or more ranks in Bluff, you get a +2 bonus on Sleight of Hand checks.
This is standard fare. However, if you have 20 ranks in Bluff, you gain these bonuses:
Synergy (20 ranks): If you have 20 or more ranks in Bluff, you can change the attitudes of others with Diplomacy in roughly half the normal time.
-If you have 20 or more ranks in Bluff, Notice checks are made against your Disguise immediately upon meeting you and every two hours thereafter instead of every hour.
-If you have 20 or more ranks in Bluff, you are allowed to retry a failed Intimidate check but the DC will be 5 higher than the original check’s DC.
-If you have 20 or more ranks in Bluff, your Sleight of Hand DC does not increase when performing a retry.
SSS provides expanded bonuses for all of the skills to which skill synergy normally applies.
SSS also includes the idea of Power Synergy – the acquisition of new effects by combining certain powers. See the following examples.
As a full-round action you may use your connection to an object you’ve animated to invisibly broadcast your Blast’s energy to it, allowing it to then use your Blast instead of the attack coming directly from you.
As a standard action, you may deliver your electrical blast through your tether against anyone it has snared.
Living Rail Gun
If your Magnetic Control has sufficient ranks to lift and move your body in its metal state you may “throw” yourself at a target, causing you to perform a slam attack
As a full-round action, you may internalize your blast so that you absorb and store the energy directly rather than channeling it outwards in an attack, as normal.
For Mutants and Masterminds games, the power synergy section is sure to prove even more useful than the skill synergy section. While this section provides several combinations, it is by no means exhaustive. Power synergy is something the GM will have to keep a tight rein on however, lest his players go mad with the possibilities this inspires (or if he has players that like to viciously, violently, and brutally abuse the rules).
One of the particularly nice things about SSS is the use of sidebars. There are numerous sidebars that provide information on options for integrating this with Mutants and Masterminds, examples of power synergy use, and explanations for requirements.
* Superior Synergy and Superior Synergy: Modern and Future both expand on skill synergy as found in the appropriate books, but also introduce the concept of feat synergy, which allows certain combinations of feats to provide additional bonuses and abilities. SSS lacks this feature due to the structuring of feat rules in Mutants and Masterminds Second Edition.
Layout and Style
(Landscape) SSS uses a standard two-column format, with easy to read small text. The headers are blue, and in a different font, and easy to single out. The sidebars are inline with the columns and use a purplish-blue background with red headers. The red headings in the sidebars are nice – they act as further distinction for options, but the background color is questionable. My eyes are pretty good, but reading the black text on that background is a touch difficult. The sidebar fonts could be larger, darker, or the background color should be different. The use of blues and purples gives SSS a very subdued look.
The portrait file uses much less color, being optimized for printing. As with the landscape version, it uses the standard two-column format, with a good text flow. The sidebars are only outlined in blue, with simple white interiors, making for much easier reading. However, the regular headers are a medium-grey. Dark grey or black would be a better choice for ease of reading.
SSS has several pieces of art, most of which is only marginally better than what I can accomplish (that's not a compliment). None of the art is particularly comic bookish (well, maybe comic bookish in a bad "Our company existed for 3 weeks in the 90s when we tried to rip off TMNT" way), nor superheroic.
Game mechanic and statistics text is open. While I prefer for documents to be completely open, I understand that some things people just don't want to release. However, the important parts of SSS are open.
SSS is an open file, allowing you to copy and paste, extract, delete and so forth. It includes complete bookmarks, linking to each skill synergy and power combination. Open files are good things. I like to be able to rip pieces from files and mutilate them while crouching in the bathroom listening to Enya.
Seriously, I like to make handouts and little booklets for my games, customize the feel for my players, and closed pdfs make this much more difficult. So I truly appreciate open files.
Superior Synergy: Superheroic is a good product. Players and GMs will appreciate the increased versatility found in the synergies. It will help when trying to recreate the special comic character your player absolutely has to have. The only problems are those regarding the art and the sidebar coloration. Otherwise, this is a must-have for Mutants and Masterminds games. One thing I would recommend is a similar document, or at least a web enhancement for the first edition of Mutants and Masterminds. The first edition has a strong, and from what I understand, large following and they would appreciate this.