Author: Chris Field
Page count: (landscape) 16 + OGL; (portrait) 15 + Cover + OGL
Price: $3.00 at RPGNow or DriveThru RPG.
The Paint is an M&M Superlink product, for use with Mutants and Masterminds 2nd edition. It's not so much an adventure as it is a collection of ideas for incorporation into a game.
The Paint is, at its core, an illegal global bloodsport for superbeings. If you want to fight in The Paint, you have to be tough. Seriously tough – the tryout involves surviving getting shot in the face tough. Literally.
If you survive the audition, you're in. This isn't necessarily a good thing, since once you're in, you're in until you win 25 matches or you die. I can hear you thinking '"Why can't I just up and leave if I'm tired of it?" Good question. The answer lies in the name "The Paint".
Once you're in, a lovely individual by the name of Dead Blue Fish tattoos you, marking you. But more importantly, she implants a locator beacon. That right – once you join The Paint, you get lojacked. As long as you are a fighter in good standing, your beacon is dormant, and you can refuse challenges. However, should you try to duck your obligations, your beacon is activated, and then you are screwed. The beacon allows other Painted fighters to track you down anytime, anywhere.
Painted fighters who try to escape the operation, avoiding their fights, are open game to the other Painted. In fact, they are more than open game, they're prime targets, since if a Painted fighter takes out a runner, it counts as one of his 25 victories.
The Paint provides information on the operation, run by Eric the Red and some of the technology involved (there is more than just the locator beacon). It includes details on how to find The Paint (Eric doesn't recruit – people have to come to him), and how to find out things about The Paint.
It provides six different ideas for ways to involve the PCs in The Paint, ranging from simple "retrieve a valuable tech" to "avenge my dead brother/sister/friend/dog".
The Paint describes a timeline for a particular fighting event to take place in Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam. It then goes on to provide a basic overview of the area. This is not overly detailed, but sufficient for most gaming needs, and serves as a good starting point for research if you're interested.
The Paint also provides biographical, personality, and game stat information on several prominent figures in The Paint, including Eric the Red (the man in charge, a giant techno-cancerous Canadian ex-hacker [PL 13]); his woman, Dead Blue Fish [PL 11]; Fray, a Painted with prehensile hair laced with industrial grade diamonds and depleted uranium [PL 11]; and Sunshadow, an ex-Marine supersoldier-angry-depressed-alcoholic-homosexual [PL 12]. An interesting cast of major characters to be sure.
The Paint ends with notes on a few minor characters, providing a paragraph or two on each, along with notes for creation, but not full stats.
Layout and Style
Both the landscape and portrait versions use a two-column layout and obvious headers for the sections. Both files are easy to read with a nice text flow, although the landscape version's use of black and red headers is a touch difficult on the eyes.
The borders and the art contribute to an amount of blank or wasted space. Improving the text wrapping around the art would improve this, as would reducing the size of the page borders.
There are several pieces of art in The Paint. Each of the major and minor characters has a picture, all of decent quality, but all could use some more shading.
Game mechanics and statistics are open. In many products, this declaration results in a lot of OGC. However, The Paint is mostly "fluff", so in terms of OGC, there's not much OGC here.
The Paint is a bookmarked file – bookmarks are good, even in smaller files. Both files in The Paint are locked however. Therefore, you cannot copy and paste, or insert/extract pages. This is always a strike against a product. Adventures and the like may have less material that I want to strip and use for homemade projects, but it should still be an option.
If you've always wanted to include a kumite-style vent in your supers games, then The Paint is a good starting point. If you have no interest in such a thing, thing this isn't for you. Overall, The Paint is fairly interesting, with some spiffy ideas, but it could stand to be more detailed, more linear in presenting an adventure. If you like the basic idea, and you're the type of GM that prefers to flesh out ideas from bits, you'll find this a good product. If you like your adventures pre-fleshed out, then The Paint will disappoint.