Tabletop Review: The Manual of Mutants and Monsters: Cthulhu (Mutants & Masterminds)

The Manual of Mutants and Monsters: Cthulhu (Mutants & Masterminds)
Publisher: Misfit Studios
Cost: $1.55
Page Count: Special (See below)
Release Date: 02/04/2014
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com

The Manual of Mutants and Monsters: Cthulhu is the latest in the “manual” line of supplements for the roleplaying game Mutants & Masterminds. The supplement is created by Misfit Studios, while the core RPG is by Green Ronin Games. Obviously, to get any use out of this Cthulhu Mythos themed piece, you will need the core Mutants & Masterminds rulebook.

For only a buck fifty-five, you’re actually getting three PDFs. The first is a two page “Metahuman Threat Scale” piece that rates antagonists. The second is the core fourteen page PDF. The third is a thirteen page “print friendly” PDF, which is essentially the same as the core one, save it lacks the cover and everything is in black and white. Because the print friendly PDF is the same as the full colour one, assume all commentary is the same for both.

Although the core PDF is fourteen pages long, only seven and a half pages are actually devoted to content. The other seven pages are the cover, the title page, two pages of open game license stuff, a page and a half of ads and a full page of art showcasing Cthulhu in all its otherworldly glory. It’s quite comical too. So while only half the PDF is content, remember, that’s still seven pages for roughly a dollar and a half – all of which are quite good.

So what content DO you get with this piece? Well there are two pages of New Complications. As this is a Cthulhu themed piece, it’s all about mental disorders. Here you’ll find a whopping seventeen different versions, ranging from Anxiety Disorder to Schizophrenia. The mental disorders are not in alphabetical order, but they are all ones relevant to the Cthulhu Mythos or super hero gaming in general. After all, a lot of supervillians (and even some super heroes) are insane, so I’m surprised many of these haven’t been touched on by the core Mutants & Masterminds game.

Next up are two and a half pages on Deep Ones, although the art for these look more like classic fantasy lizardmen/draconian entities than fish folk. You get all the stats for a regular Deep One as well as two hybrid variants. It’s all pretty standard stuff, and it’s fun to see M&M stats for creatures generally only seen in Call of Cthulhu or its multiple variants. I do think the Deep Ones should have a higher Swimming rating, and also some points in Intelligence and Awareness. They aren’t mindless beasts after all, and many of them can cast magic – another aspect missing from their stat block.

Great Cthulhu himself gets three pages devoted to him. Again, his stats are a bit weak considering what Cthulhu is. He definitely needs his Awareness and Presence doubled. He’s a god who communicates across time and space via dreams, after all. His powers are exceptionally well done though, as is everything else about everyone’s favorite Great Old One. I’m really impressed by this stat pack. It looks as if someone cracked open the fifth or sixth edition of Call of Cthulhu and just tried to translate those stats into Mutants & Masterminds, which was a really smart way to do things. The background and description sections nicely mirror the CoC standard too. There are also three story seeds for M&M GMs to take and flesh out if they want to use Cthulhu and/or Deep Ones in their campaign. That was a pleasant surprise to see, and while they are fairly standard tropes for Cthulhu usage, they’re good ones.

Finally, I have to say I really liked the art in this piece. You have a full page comedy piece showcasing Cthulhu, a picture of the Great Old One in a town and the aforementioned lizard looking Deep Ones. All the art pieces are really nice and look like they could have actually been ripped from a comic book somewhere. Considering Mutants & Masterminds is a super hero based RPG, that makes the art all the more fitting and fun where it might otherwise be considered too bright or light-spirited to work. There’s also a picture of a guy in a straightjacket confined to a padded cell, which is a nice touch.

All in all, The Manual of Mutants and Monsters: Cthulhuis a fine piece of reference for combining superheroes with the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s definitely worth $1.55 if you really want to do a crossover style campaign. The GM should probably be knowledgeable about Lovecraft’s most famous creation though – otherwise the players will nitpick a scenario to pieces if it’s not in line with how the Great Old One should behave (such as making it the leader of an international smuggling ring or something).

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