I'm just futzing around with Mutants and Masterminds 3e again and had an idea for a magic user. my thought was that they'd carry around a spellbook that they would reference to prepare their casts for the day (as Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons), resulting in a device that had a variable array focused on creating triggered powers. If they didn't prepare beforehand, or they left some free "slots" for flexibility, they'd have to burn a round or two (depending on the reading) to reference the power in-field before doing anything else.

My issue revolves around Variable Summon powers; there are a number of things that I am not sure about concerning how expensive that would be, as well as some other particulars.

Firstly, is this even possible? the Triggered extra states that it needs to be an Instant duration effect and I'm not sure if there was some way to modify Summon to have it fit or if this was something I needed GM approval for.

And secondly, are there any drawbacks that I'm missing? The thing about Variable is that it's a sustained effect, which may mean that the powers I'm stacking on top of myself are under the same limitations. Would this mean that I'd lose all my prepared spells if I couldn't take a free action?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm really not entirely clear on what you're trying to do. What do you mean by a "variable array"? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 29, 2020 at 20:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Side note, I believe the reason that Triggered only applies to Instant powers is that there's no one there to "sustain" them if it's going off on a trigger. This would be a good use case for the 2E Independent modifier, but they didn't port that to 3E (and admittedly, it was a modifier that had its issues). \$\endgroup\$ Mar 30, 2020 at 11:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there anything I can add to my answer for you? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 3, 2020 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


Rather than Triggered, I'd suggest Activation, which imposes an action to prepare a power before using it with its actual action, which works fairly decently for "take time to memorize the spell". The rules do not really cover how long that power stays up, or under what circumstances, but I generally treat it as a Sustained situation such that it's possible to see that you've prepared the power for use (maybe a slight glow), and otherwise the powers have the duration they normally would.

I believe the reason that Triggered only applies to Instant powers in that, once triggered, there's no one there to "sustain" them. This would be a good use case for the 2E Independent modifier, but they didn't port that to 3E (and admittedly, it was a modifier that had its issues).

Independent - +0 Modifier

Applied to a sustained effect, this modifier makes its duration independent of the user and based instead on the number of power points in the effect. The effect occurs normally and then fades at a rate of 1 power point of effectiveness per round until it is gone. While it lasts, it requires no attention or maintenance from the user, like a continuous duration effect, although it can still be countered or nullified (also like a continuous effect). This is like a combination of the Duration (continuous) and Fades modifiers. An Independent Alternate Power continues to function even when the Array is switched to a different configuration. If an effect is not sustained, modify its duration before applying this modifier.

Independent is useful for effects like Create Object (for objects that fade or melt away), Environmental Control (for changes to the environment that slowly return to normal), or Obscure (for obscured areas that slowly shrink and disappear, like the effects of a smoke or gas grenade). The Slow Fade power feat can modify the rate at which the Independent effect fades, and the Total Fade modifier can keep it at full strength until its duration runs out, although the GM should approve any increases in the fade duration as best suits the effect and the series.

And yes, normally, Sustained means that you could lose the power if you cannot take a Free action. Spending one more power point per rank would get you up to Continuous. Similarly, individual powers which are Sustained or less will go away if you can't take a Free action.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The reason I was trying to go for a variable array for the summons version was bc each summon power that you know is technically it’s own power (each instance being you can summon up to y instances of x with z stats). So just going with variable would have given me one summon a day that could be anything while just going with an array would have given me a library of static summons. Again, the goal was to prepare a bunch of summons for the day and finishing each cast from a daily pool as necessary \$\endgroup\$
    – Areadbhair
    Apr 5, 2020 at 12:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ The extended cast time thing was meant to be an inherent punishment for not finalizing all of your summons for the day before the session \$\endgroup\$
    – Areadbhair
    Apr 5, 2020 at 12:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still don't quite understand whether you mean an Array of Variable powers or if you're buying a Variable power geared to creating Arrays. Especially since Summon generally doesn't stick around when their array slots switch as they're not being maintained. Same reason Triggered doesn't really work with them. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 5, 2020 at 14:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry for the weird way I started the question; I was referring to a variable power that made an array of summons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Areadbhair
    Apr 9, 2020 at 3:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, an array of Summons in 3E could be less than effective, as you can only have one active at a time. I could see trying to use Triggered to get around that (since it's a bit ambiguous on whether Triggered effects stick around when you switch), but as we've established, Triggered effects to be Instant because there's nothing to sustain them. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 9, 2020 at 4:10

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