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The Ultimate Powers Book (Marvel Super Heroes Accessory MA3)

by David E. Martin

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(This review is based on the first printing of the book; some of the problems (such as missing powers) were corrected in later printings.)

This accessory feels like it should be a lot better than it is. Unfortunately, some oversights and several design flaws hamper the final result.

The oversights are things that mostly should have been caught by an editor. First, several obvious powers are missing, although some are referred to in other powers. Characters such as Mr. Fantastic, Kitty Pryde, and the Wasp, all significant at the time this was published, can't be created using this book as written. There are also several terms which show up repeatedly in power descriptions, such as bonus and optional powers, which aren't ever defined. (According to errata, these are different, based on whether or not you have to take the power in question.) Several of the numerous body/origin types also lack the information on which column to roll for ability scores, a detail which can have very significant effects on a character's power.

Playtesting probably should have discovered some of the design flaws and at least toned them down somewhat. The completely random character generation can result in characters with completely nonsensical power lists, characters the player has no interest in playing, or ones that aren't suitable for super-heroing. It is also quite possible for characters in the same group to wind up with vast differences in power levels, due to the ability to wind up with anywhere from 1 to 14 powers combined with several character types rolling ability scores on a table originally intended for bystanders, faceless minions, and the like. Several powers in the lengthy list are also almost completely redundant; there are, for example, at least five powers that are just minor variations of flight, none of which correspond to winged flight.

The book is still worthwhile for anyone who plays (or wishes to play) this system, but it will require some work to get it to work properly. ( )
  Gryphon-kl | Mar 19, 2011 |
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