When Life Gives You Hero Points

It’s Tabletop Tuesday again, and today we’re going to take some advice from the first tabletop RPG I ever played: Mutants and Masterminds.

For those of you who could potentially be unfamiliar with the concept of a tabletop RPG, I’ll offer an explanation. If you’ve heard of Dungeons and Dragons, you’ve at least heard of these before. A tabletop RPG is a game you play with some paper, dice (in most cases), and your imagination. The players each create a character in the universe of the game. One player does not create a character and instead serves as the Gamemaster (or Dungeon Master, or Master of Ceremonies, etc). The GM runs the game by providing the story that the characters experience, and by playing the supporting characters in the universe.

Okay, so my explanation is not ideal. But basically, you get together with a group of friends and tell a story together. When someone wants their character to take an action that has a chance of success or failure, you roll dice to decide what happens. The dice add rules and mechanics to the process and are what ultimately make tabletop RPGs a game. The difference between different tabletops is what the dice mean and the setting of the world. In this case, Mutants and Masterminds is set in a superhero world.

I don’t have to explain what a superhero is, right?

So here’s the thing. In Mutants and Masterminds (I’m gonna call this M&M from now on), every hero has complications. These aren’t complications like what regular people have: these complications are what makes it difficult to be a hero. To give some examples, a complication for Superman would be kryptonite. A complication for Batman would be his secret identity. A complication for Iron Man would be his alcoholism. Whenever a complication effects a hero’s life, he or she gains something called a hero point.

“What’s a hero point?” Glad you asked! A hero point is what the player can spend to do something ridiculously awesome. This includes “conveniently” finding an object that they need in a certain situation, overcoming degrees of damage or fatigue, and even displaying abilities the hero never even knew she had. You know, the kind of stuff that superheroes do all the time to win the fight at the end of the movie.

So wait a minute. Rewind please. Did I just say that to do cool, heroic things, heroes have to first experience complications?

Yes. Yes I did.

Superheroes are meant to be examples to us. They represent the pinnacle of what humanity can achieve. They aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. But they are truly incredible, and should inspire us to be incredible as well. And one way they do that is by teaching us that we have to go through hardships to become stronger people.

I encourage you to think about the complications in your life. Do you have a difficult relationship with a family member, coworker, or friend? Do you have an illness you are fighting? A secret that could change the public’s perception of you if it was ever discovered? These complications are scary, yes, but the message from M&M and the superheroes who populate it is this:

Don’t fear your complications. Embrace them. Let them happen. Because going through your complications and facing hardship is what gives you the potential to do something truly incredible.

When life gives you hero points, spend them.

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