[Read ‘Em ‘Cause You Got ‘Em] Masterminds & Madmen

The Read ‘Em ‘Cause You Got ‘Em series charts my attempt to read all the books in my gaming library that crept in over the years and went overlooked for too long.

For a surprisingly long time, for reasons I have never been clear on myself, I was infatuated with the HERO System. Or at least, I spent a lot of money and time accumulating and reading supplements written for it. I have since shaken the compulsion, realizing that most of the setting material for the various eras and lands of the Hero Universe just wasn’t doing it for me. There are, however, some exceptions.

Take Masterminds & Madmen, for example. It’s a catalog of villains for adventures in the pulp action genre; not just Indiana Jones-style, but also The Shadow and Doc Savage. On the whole, it’s a traditional Hero Games supplement in that a lot of ground is covered and lots of homages made without any particular sparkle or pizzazz.

But what I like about this book is it’s a one-shot factory. Even ignoring the customary plot seed sidebars attending every character, they all want something. Some times it’s a specific thing, other times it’s a kind of thing or to achieve an idea or whatever. But this themed, one-note blackguards and megalomaniacs all want something; and that’s the key to any good one-shot adventure. Once you know what the antagonist wants, the challenges and obstacles with which to beset the doughty PCs suggest themselves.

So that’s why I’m hanging on to Masterminds & Madmen, even though my flirtation with the HERO System is long over and I’m looking to offload most of the books I accumulated. It’s a great pulp adventure generation resource.

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