Mutants & Masterminds gives players the opportunity to play as a superhero – complete with all the fancy powers and abilities. It can be very tempting to just make a copy of your favorite superhero and play as them. It is much more fun to consider your favorite as a starting point and build your character from there.
My favorite superhero is Kamala Khan (the current Ms. Marvel). I’m fairly new to Mutants & Masterminds, and with help, learned that what I wanted to play was a Shapeshifter. Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) became Emily Johnson (Dr. Stretch).
I started with some of Ms. Marvel’s skills that fit the Shapeshifter. Next, I had to translate them to fit into Mutants & Masterminds. Ms. Marvel can elongate her limbs, torso, or neck. (Elongation) Her hands and feet can become extra large. (Density-Changer, Foot Stomp) She can become giant sized (Size Change, Giant Size) or shrink to the size of an action figure (Size Change, Shrinking). She has the ability to heal quickly. (Bonus to regeneration).
How did Kamala Khan get her abilities? Marvel has a thing called Terrigenesis, which is a mist that can give people superpowers. In short, it was on accident.
To make my character, Emily Johnson, different, I gave her a backstory with a different kind of accident. She was working in a science lab on a chemical that provided both strength and elasticity. One day, those properties were transferred to Emily Johnson herself. The lab stopped its work, and Emily went to physical therapy to learn how to control her new-found abilities.
In order for that to work, I needed Emily to be older than the teenaged Kamala. Emily graduated with a PhD in chemical engineering, and started working in the lab. She can’t be a teenager with those accomplishments, so I decided she is in her early-twenties. Her superhero name is Dr. Stretch, encompassing both her academic background and her superpowers.
Ms. Marvel is a Pakistani-American teenager who was born in New Jersey. She and her family are Muslim. Her costume is red and blue and includes a face mask. What would Dr. Stretch look like?
I decided that Emily Johnson / Dr. Stretch, would be African-American, born in Chicago. It didn’t feel right to “whitewash” my favorite superhero, and I didn’t want her to be a slightly older Kamala Kahn. Dr. Stretch wears a light blue full length leotard, part of which is made from an altered version of the chemical she got her powers from. To me, it made sense to have her superhero outfit stretch with her.
Why Chicago? I grew up in Illinois, and have a Chicago accent when I’m tired. The Mutant & Masterminds game we are playing takes place in Philadelphia, where I’ve never been. I needed a good reason why Dr. Stretch didn’t know much about the city.