Villains, what would superheroes be without them? From the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom, Superman and Lex Luthor, Spiderman and his cadre of villains, they have been a staple of comic books for decades. Better Mousetrap by Misfit Studios is a PDF designed not only to give you the options needed to build villains, their minions, bases and organizations as detailed as you want, but also has advice on mining sources such as comic books, television shows and movies for ideas and how to make a better villain. Although designed for villains mainly, there are so many options in here any characters made for the Mutants and Masterminds 2nd edition system will benefit from this PDF. Fully bookmarked and easy to find what you are looking for, this is an excellent product. The artwork of Eric Lofgren is wonderful and fits each area perfect, helping to draw you in.
Chapter 1 starts off with a few skills, with uses listed for them and a highly detailed section on Profession [Hypnotist] and its many uses. The feats section has many ones, including expanded and revised versions of Contacts and Connected to make them more useful in specific areas. Feats to help out vehicle drivers, acrobatic individuals, to help out commanders of minions, many feats to help out those who make inventions [including those of the psionic variety] and rituals, trap makers, headquarter builders, a feat to help build organizations such as those owned by criminals of Kingpin and Lex Luthor, and even a feat to help out those who train animals. Several feats are included to help out with skill uses, including for those who uses poisons or torture.
Minion feats are included that expand the options to minions who take them. From ones which help them to aid their leader to ones which help them to survive longer in fights, the options these feats give expand the minions role greatly. 4 feats are included specifically for organizations to help file out their options and make them more effective. New powers are included, with a few new options for such things as Enhanced Feats, Enhanced Save and Enhanced Skills. The two stand out ones in this section are Marksman and Weapon Master, making the owner of such powers deadly and skilled with either ranged weapons or melee weapons. A few new power feats are included to expand the options of some powers, Easily Repaired is included as a Device power feat for those who don't want their Device to be indestructible but not hard to fix if damaged.
The new Power Extras give several new dangerous options, especially for villanous powers or those of reckless heroes. The new Power Flaws are where the ability to customize powers and Devices really shine. From Bulky to make Devices which are big and hard to conceal, Fragile for a power which has a chance not to work when you are injured or not work at all when injured even a little, Gradual for an area-based power that builds up with time, Reload which allows the design of powers which have limited uses and take time to recharge [the time and number of uses varies, you have to see the whole Reload flaw to fully understand it] and Trait Reduction where every use of the power drains one of your Ability scores, there are a lot of new things which can be made just using the Power Flaws.
A few new complications are included, good for villains and for those with some trauma in their past. New Drawbacks are another area which expands the options for characters a lot. From Bad Luck, Complex for devices, Flawed Trait for skills and feats, Light Touch for attacks that hit hard but have a lower chance of knockback, drawbacks for characters who don't heal, are poor healers or heal slowly, and many others, this section will keep you busy with the new character options for a while to come.
Chapter 2: Making a Better Badguy gives guidelines and suggestions on how to build better villains. Such things as not falling into the trap of making homage villains too much like the character they are based upon, ways to alter them such as making solo villains into team players, having a hero or villain switch sides from the source material, etc. How to make villains work with their plans, such as why they are a villain and how not to fall into the cliches of the genre. How to make different types of villains for different eras, such using the different ideals and stereotypes for both heroes and villains of an era. The art of crafting a good history or backstory for a villain that is well prepared and works with the setting and its pre-existing elements. How to design villains and different takes on the dark reflection villain, one which shows a hero the path they could have gone down. How to set up a villain as a hero or hero team's archenemy, including the different ways to make it work. A section on how to use villain teams and evil organizations to throw in some variety to your games. Also a section on how to make villains who won't be killed off or simply locked easily everytime, for good reoccuring villains.
The chapter continues with several new villain archetypes, from the Beast Lord who uses animals for his plans, to the King of Killers who is an assassin without peer, and even the Trap Master, who can set up whole buildings with deadly set-ups to take out a hero, like the X-Men [and several other heroes} villain, Arcade. The rank and file troups and minions are the last thing in this chapter, with two different power level versions for either low-powered or high-powered options. From Brutes, Cyber-Troopers, Sharp Shooters and Technicians, there are options for any villain when choosing his minions.
Chapter 3: Gadgets and Gear is just what it sounds like. From new types of poisons and illegal drugs, several new weapons from the simple to the very exotic [a sword with a chainsaw blade and net rifles are just two of the many new ones included], various explosives and grenades, new gun ammunitions types such as acid rounds, riot rounds and even tracer rounds. New Devices are included as examples of the stuff villains or their minions might use, from the flame pistol and rifle, to the quake cannon these items are perfect for superhero settings. Missiles are included, along with a few exotic versions for those villains with unusual plans. New vehicle features such as chaff, radar jammer and even ram prow are perfect for villainous vehicles or even for heroic ones.
Several robot constructs are included, from bodyguard and servent robots to the spyfly and weapon drone, these are the kind which are seen in villains bases a lot. Classic weapons of mass destruction which villains have used over the years in comic books, from the death ray and quake machine, to nuclear missile and weather machine, these items can spice up any villanous plot. Guidelines on building defense and security systems are included, with many examples from pressure plates and video cameras, to arcane and psychic sensors, these will make protecting your bases much easier. Deathtraps and how to design them, from the filling chamber and press of death, to the classic pit trap and all its variations, this is a must read for a true supervillain.
Chapter 4: The Many Faces of Evil gives guidelines and some examples on how to build organizations like you would build characters. Along with all of the things needed to represent them, from only having mental stats to represent the abilities of the organization as a whole, to which skills to give them and how they are used by an organization, to how to give them minions, arsenals, headquarters, super-weapons and drawbacks to flesh them out. As well as how to choose which members of an organization to stat up as individual characters. 3 sample organizations are included, a demon worshiping cult, an urban police precinct and a terrorist brotherhood, although the final chapter has two larger and fully detailed examples of organizations and what they have. Organization morale and how to keep track of it is included, such that with a low enough morale the whole organization could fall apart.
Rules for crowds and mobs are found in this section as well. From how to figure out the stats for the overall stats for group from as small as 2 beings upward to millions, how powers, feats and skills work with crowds and mobs, and how they work in combat. Some examples are included such as a C.O.R.E. Assault Team [from the C.O.R.E. organization in Chapter 6], a platoon of soldiers, a swat squad and even a street gang. Overall this chapter gives you ways to include criminal empires or even government agencies without having to detail every little thing about them.
Chapter 5: Headquarters, Revised and Revisted is just what the chapter title says it is. A greatly expanded version of the headquarters rules from the main books, with many more options and the ability to detail things in ways you never were capable of before. It uses an optional Space rule, with each feature taking up a certain amount of Space(s) from the headquarters total. The number of Spaces used for a feature can vary greatly for some based on the size of the headquarters or be set no matter what the size of the headquarters. If not using the Space rules given herein, it is suggested you keep with the Equipment feat for building headquaters instead of the Headquaters feat given in Chapter 1.
From as small as a single room to the size of a small town or village, headquarters vary in size a lot but the larger they are the Space they have for Features. Features are as many and varied as seen over the years in comic books, television shows and movies, from an Amplifier designed to boost a specific power, labs for any type [arcane or scientific] and workshops, combat simulators, computer systems, communication systems of all sorts, defensive options such as automation to control some of the bases systems, barrier of any sort, living quarters of many levels of comfort, and everything inbetween. It can include defense systems, security systems, areas for any type of vehicles, be concealed in many different ways, including electronically. Exotic options such as a dimensional gate and mystic locale, make designing magical villains or inter-dimensional warlords a lot easier.
The ability to add powers to a base are included, with some Power Feats for specific powers and their interaction with a headquarters. Drawbacks specifically for headquarters are included, from accessible bowls large enough for Medium sized beings to crawl around in like ductwork, etc., having taken it from someone else and they might come back for it, being in a dangerous location, being famous, or even having weak defenses. Everything in this chapter is designed to allow the building of headquarters of any sort, including satellite bases in orbit, ones built over a volcano or even at the bottom of the sea.
The sample headquarters include many examples seen in comic books. From the abandoned warehouse, moon base and orbitting satellite, to the stately manor, underground lair and urban fortress, these examples show only the tip of the iceberg of what can be built using the revised and revisted headquarters rules.
Chapter 6: Evil to the Upmost shows how things from the previous chapters can all come together. First up is the world-wide terrorist organization and warmongers, CORE. Detailed history and listing of their tactics and goals are shown, along with organization stats showing how powerful an organization can be, this one is PL 27 with all of its resources. It list CORE equipment and weapons next, which there many, from such things as stealth armor and plasma pistols, to jet packs, personal mecha, exoskeleton armored suits, all the way up to several flying fortresses completely outfited with staff and crew, vehicles, armory, and so many weapons and options it could take on a whole nation's army and win. The rank and file members of CORE are listed here, from drivers and pilots, to field agents and stealth operatives. The Elite are a group of 9 superhumans that work for CORE, carrying out tasks at their command. They don't all get along well and normally are sent out in smaller groups as needed. From an individual capable of stealing the identity of anyone, to a cruel psychic, disease-spreading ex-doctor and even a man of living magma, this group is ruthless and not above killing. They are CORE and its mysterious leader's trump card.
Master Inc is an international conglomerate with many subsidiaries it uses to keep the heat off the many company. The company is known for making charitable donations, although it is suppected they do this to distract from their many illegal activities they keep concealed from the public. The whole organization was built up and is run by Maxwell Masters, a genius who has been able to keep himself out of trouble for a long time. The organization and its leader is a good foil for any superhero team who hate corrupt coporations and wish to find out the truth behind everything Mr. Masters does.
The last section are of a few solo villains. From the Craftsman who is a retired supervillain now designing headquarters for others, The Gamemaster who makes deadly traps and locations based on science fiction and fantasy shows, movies, etc., to Gunpunk who has a nature skill with ranged weapons and works as an assassin for hire, Scarlet Jester who is a crazed circus girl out to get revenge on all superheroes and villains for the deaths of her parents caused by one and with her glider and themed weapons is like a cross between the Joker and Green Goblin and finally Tarantula, a French genius orphan who gained the powers of a spider and....well you will just have to get the PDF and read his history for yourself, anything more would spoil it completely.
Overall this PDF is jam-packed with a lot of good stuff for everyone to use, not just people designing villains for the Mutants and Masterminds 2nd edition system. It is a fun read and the ideas behind a lot of the mechanics spark ideas easily.
Liked: Virtually everything, especially Chapter 2 and how to improved on making villains and Chapters 3, 4 and 5 for all of the new things to use.
Disliked: The only thing that I remotely disliked was the math involved with the Crowd rules, although an example table is given to help out, it is complex compaired to anything else found in this PDF or the Mutants and Masterminds 2nd edition system as a whole.
Value: Very Satisfied
[5 of 5 Stars!]