# How do the Checks and Balances work in Mutants and Masterminds 3 and DC Adventures?

Using the specific example of Attack Bonus v Effect Ranks, the rules state that when added together your attack bonus and the effect ranks of your attack cannot exceed twice the series power level. And for the sake of this question lets assume the power level is 10 for easier math, so the attack bonus+effect ranks = 20.

Now, let's consider a character who has an 11 Strength AND 11 Fighting, who goes to punch an enemy. The attack bonus's base would be 11 (close combat skill is based on fighting) and the damage from a punch is also 11 as it's strength based damage. However, the effect+attack bonus is 22, and this isn't even considering everything else that could raise either number.

How then do you calculate the numbers for the actual attack as you cannot have a +11 to the attack roll and have a rank 11 damage effect? Do you choose which stat isn't used to its full potential and would it be a choice for the player to make, or the DM? Or is there a sentence I am forgetting in the rules that state what to do in this case? Nothing prevents you from having 11 STR and 11 FGT in a PL10 game, yet you cannot make a Damage 11 attack with an attack bonus of +11. So which stat isn't utilized fully?

As a related question: would an attack with 10 ranks of damage and 10 ranks of affliction be considered a 10 or 20 effect rank power? I'm assuming it's 20, and therefore in a PL10 game would not be able to have an attack bonus (or effectively a +0 to the d20 roll).

I would prefer an answer based on RAW, with citations. Failing RAW, I'd like the community's take on Rules As Intended - as an educated guess as to what the creators of the game intend you to infer from any vaguely worded passages. An explanation of why/how you came to your conclusions would be appreciated as well.

In general you should build your character to fit the power level of the game. In other words, if you have an attack with a damage of 11, it's bonus to hit should be 9. If you want some versatility, there are options that allow you to take penalties to hit to get extra damage, or visa versa. They only cost 1 point each.

TL;DR: You shouldn't have a Fighting of 11 and a Strength of 11, because that's a Power Level 11 character.

• Can you add the relevant page numbers that explicitly state that having a trait like strength higher than 10 is not allowed for a PL10 game? I can't find rules that specify a hard limit on the attributes in regards to PL. There is that hard cap of 20, but that is a general cap for all PLs. Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 5:02
• You mis-read my reply. I didn't say you can't have a strength higher than 10 in a PL10 game. I said you couldn't have a strength of 11 and a fighting of 11, because the total would be 22. See page 24 of the DC Adventures Hero's Handbook in the description of Power Level. For example, if you're playing a PL8 game, you could have a laser gun with a total attack bonus of +8 and a damage rating of +8, then have an alternate setting on the gun that's only +4 to hit but +12 damage, and a third that's +12 to hit but only +4 damage. Any combination, as long as the two together total 16 or less. Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 6:17
• I added a little to the question to clarify my point, but the idea is you CAN have both STR 11 and FGT 11, but you cant fully utilize both (so while it doesnt make sense to purchase those skills at that level in a PL 10 game the fact is, you can) so the question is which Ability isn't used to its full potential, does the player or GM get to choose or is there an actual rule about this? Commented Jun 20, 2015 at 6:55
• Sigh. The game is designed so that no, you don't buy both at 11 in a PL10 game. What would happen in that case is you would simply decide which one is 11 and which one is 9 (or if both are 10) from one attack to the next. However, there are already rules in the game (such as Power Attack) to grant you that sort of versatility, so what you're describing is not how to do it. Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 8:46

For 3E/DCA, Green Ronin basically stopped providing FAQs or rules clarifications (from one comment I got during a Facebook livecast from Steve, he genuinely didn't enjoy doing those clarifications because a) he feels that individual groups should interpret the rules as is fun for them and b) no matter what he said, there would be people who would point to a particular part of his wording and say he was wrong), so we only have the core rules for clarification, which talk about the tradeoff for the attacks having to be balanced rather than discussing attributes, which does open up the possibility of there being more flexibility.

However, from the Mutants and Masterminds 2E FAQ, there's a relevant question:

Can you acquire additional ranks in a power level limited power (e.g. Blast or Protection) if those ranks are ignored for power level purposes, that is, they don’t add to limited traits like save DC or bonus, and the ranks are just used to resist things like Drain effects?

This is a GM call. The official answer is that power level limits are “hard” limits: if a power would push a trait beyond the limit, you can’t even spend power points on it. However, power level is intended as more of a guideline than a hard-and-fast rule, and Gamemasters should feel free to bend or waive it as they see fit. Generally speaking, allowing ineffective “virtual” ranks in a power over the PL limit is pretty harmless, given the player is paying full price for a pretty limited benefit (particularly considering that making any power immune to effects like Drain costs only 1 point for the Innate power feat).

To me, that suggests that the intent is that you can't buy those attributes that high without something limiting their effects, and if a GM allows such a situation, it should be designated at the time of play, and the "sandbagged" ranks only apply in the case of an attribute being drained, not to allow the player to have a dynamic Attack bonus/Damage tradeoff on top of the one already present.