Rolling for Powers
Yes, indeedy, we're still using the random power roll rules. You know the drill. 1d6+2 power rolls, 1 weakness roll, one power dropped automatically, one dropped to lose the weakness. There are a few changes, however.
First is the number of power facets per power rule. This is where we get into the realm of campaign power level a little more clearly. Alpha level variants get 2 facets per power rolled, Betas get 3, Gammas get 5, Deltas get 7 and Epsilons get 9. This means that with the standard rolling system, Alphas have 2-14 facets, Betas have 3-21, Gammas have 5-35, Deltas have 7-49 and Epsilons have 9-63 (!). Everyone still has the same number of powers, but the higher powered variants get a lot more facets. Why? Well, the number of powers rules serves as a good fluctuating power level for PCs and their adversaries, while rolling that number of powers usually gives the best spread as a "what powers do I have" springboard. Mind you, the GM has the option of just locking the number of rolls or number of facets for a particular campaign, if he wants the PCs to all be evenly balanced, but experience has proven that to be a pipe-dreamtrue power determination comes in the interaction of the character's powers and how the player takes advantage of them.
Second is the new tables for Variance, Technology, Magic and so on. I'm providing as many tables as possible to make things easier, but in the end everything is still on the big table, for when you just can't make up your mind.
Alpha Beta Gamma Delta Epsilon
I mentioned this above, and it deserves a little more detail. These are ratings for use in game, to make one set of variants more powerful than another, without having to develop whole new systems of power generation and while still having the characters on a particular team roughly equivalent without things getting out of hand. Thus, this little Greek ratings chart.
Alpha level variants are often not variants at all, but instead people who have trained themselves (or were born) well above the human average. This was the realm of the pulp heroes, and is still home to some street level vigilantes, but below the range of most PCs. Tue variants with this level of power are not any more rare than any other, but seldom do silly things like don costumes and rob banks.
Beta level variants are an even mix of actual variants and humans who have trained themselves to absolute peak human levels. Beta variants are as good as pure humans get, and even there they have some limits. Still, this is most often the BEST power level for a game, as it is potent without being too much, and allows an even mix of most all character concepts.
Gamma level variants are potent individuals. Often they are variants who would be classified as Beta, but they also have extreme natural training tacked onto their variant abilities, jacking them into this range. This is the power level of hero teams who operate on a national or international level.
Delta level variants don't need no stinking teams. These are individuals who are in and of themselves powerful players on the international scene. At this level and beyond we enter realms usually reserved for NPCs because they are just too powerful to challenge as a team.
Epsilon level variants are phenomenally powerful, like well outside the range of the average player character in the average game. They are reserved for the sporadic NPC or for alien races, giant monsters and the like.
NotePower shifting: Players can decide to downshift or upshift their locked power level just by saying sothe character gets the same number of power facets, but can either make more or fewer rolls (if before that point of character creation) or just have the distinction of being an exceptional member of the lower class or an inferior member of the upper class. For example, Bob rolls a 4 on his powers roll in a Beta-level variant campaign, giving him 12 facets. Bob would rather say that his character is a high end Alpha than a mid-ranked Beta, so now his character has 6 power rolls, with 2 facets. This can't hurt you (nor does it really help you); it's just color.
NoteLimits: Ignoring what I just said about it not helping, you may want to consider having a logical cap on the number of stacked facets equal to the amount of the number of facets per power. Thus beta variants have a limit of 3 on stacked powers. Gamma variants have a limit of 5, etc. If this limit is in place and someone decides to upshift, they can only do so one level (which is pretty well standard anyway) and lose any power facets that don't divide evenly, and are bound by the limits of the power level of the campaign during character creation, though they can expand their new limits afterwards. People who choose to downshift are assumed to be doing it for character reasons, and are held to the limits of their new level during character creation and after.
NotesPartial Limits: Some games, such as the Host and the Exordium File, started with the characters being exceptional normal humans, around Alpha level, who then gain additional powers through high technology or experimentation. To emulate this, have the players roll a number of powers (though set powers works better for this) and set aside how many of them are from conventional training. Uriel set 1 power roll aside, gaining 5 facets, or three power rolls (one for only 1 facet) marking her as a low end Alpha before she dons the Uriel armor. Rashiel set 3 aside, for the equivalent of 7 power rolls as an Alpha, one for 3 facets! High end Alpha indeed, she's damn near a Beta! Again, this is all just color.
Structure of Powers
Major powers are large things (variant physiology, Electrical Powers) under which Minor powers are grouped. Regardless of what the players may think, all of their characters' abilities fall into a major power of one sort or another. When you roll major powers, you pick one or more minor powers under it in which to focus your training and attention, (when you roll minor powers you pick which major power those minor powers are affiliated with, to give a basis for broader training). In theory, all of the minor powers associated with your major power are open to you.
Minor Powers are small, direct abilities, such as flight, energy blast, or enhanced strength. As stated with major powers, all of your minor powers are grouped under major powers, determined by the question "how?" How do you fly? How is your strength enhanced? The scope of the powers and the character's future varies drastically based on how you decide to answer the question. Each minor power has 1 or more facets, in which you've learned to use this minor aspect of your major powers.
Power Facets are the base level of the powers system. They are quite literally what aspects of your minor powers you have focused in to date. Facets an be stacked one on top of another (each facet in flight speed lets you move faster) or spread out (a facet in speed, a facet in maneuverability, a facet in carrying others without penalty...). These are choices you have to make on how you want the your powers to work.
To avoid confusion now: There is no advantage or detriment to rolling major powers over minor ones or vice versa. None Nada Zip Zilch. For each power you have, you have X power facets (determined by the GM)those determine your ability, strength, versatility and what have you. The major and minor power rolls are there just to help you define what the character can do, to focus your decision making if you don't know what you want, and to bring to mind power combinations that you may never have thought of.
For example, I roll the minor power of flight. How do I fly?, I ask myself, and decide like the image of flying on waves of electromagnetic force. Cool enough. With that in mind, I can decide to spend three facets on flight speed, or two on flight speed and one on an EM force fieldit costs me nothing to up-shift from a minor power roll (flight) to a major power roll (magnetic powers). In fact, the moment I decided on EM flight, I could have written down the Major Power of Electromagnetic Powers, with the minor power of flight underneath it.
The rolls are just there to provide ideas. If you know exactly what you want, you could do without them altogether, but then you're denying yourself some cool possibilities that the randomness provides. If you can't come up with anything on your own, use the defaults listed with the power. They should help the recalcitrant players somewhat.
Powers Chart - will open in a new window ('cause it's huge - ed.).
Potency of Power Facets
When you stack power facets, and most of you will stack power facets, the power increases on a curve the more facets you stackhalf a facet (yes, there are half facets, and no, I'm not happy about it, but it just worked better that way damn it!) is negligible, while 5 facets stacked is pretty much the top of the power curve. Most of the time 2 or 3 facets is the most characters have stacked in a single ability. The following chart shows how the curve works for most basic power types.
||+4 w/highly focused
||+4 w/Small Group
||+4 w/Large Group
Speed notes: 1/2 = 15 mph; 1 = 75 mph; 2 =300 mph; 3 = mach 1; 4 = Mach 4, 5 = Mach 5, on average. Each facet past 5 adds x100 to speed.
Distance Manipulation Notes: 1/2 = 15 lb.' 1 = 75 lb.; 2 =375 lb.; 3 = 1875 lb.; 4 = 3 tons, 5 = 4.5 tons, on average. Each facet past 5 adds x200 to capacity. Note that this is just lifting and moving, not punching.
Ability notes: For a rough scale, go Revolver, Firearms, Modern Weapons, Military Activities, All
Everyone is assumed to have a control level in their powers of 12+ to start. This is modified by the most appropriate characteristic. Whenever you attempt a piece of fine control, funky maneuvering or the development of a power facet with the power, Save vs. your control level (usually d20, but this can change). Success (less than or equal to) means you succeed. This number can also be bumped up by Ht. Expertise. You can raise the control for one of your minor powers +4 with a 1/2 power facet of Ht. Expertise devoted to it. You can raise the control of a major power +4 either with a full facet of Ht. Expertise devoted to the major power. These facets are dedicated to the control of the power, and not to combat bonuses (though further levels can link the two together). As always, this is dependent on the character and the power, with common sense as the guide.
As your characters go up levels, they have the ability to gain new power facets in their existing abilities. These either provide the character with entirely new ways of using their powers or make their existing abilities more potent. There are two types of character in this regard: Broad characters usually take more and more different types of power facets, improving the scope of what they can do. Stack characters pile power facets onto existing abilities, becoming more potent in their area of specialization.
In order to develop new power facets, you must tell the GM what it is you wish to do, and then consistently use that ability over the course of the level. Until you master the ability (i.e., make next level) you may be called upon to make checks to activate the new facet or ability when in stressful situations. This is a 1d20 check against the power's control level, just as if you were making a career or hobby check. If the roll fails, the new power facet doesn't function that time.
It is possible to use power facets to improve heightened attributes, or to gain new heightened attributes, but considering a) the difficulty of re-figuring attributes multiple times in the course of a level to show when the facet works and when it doesn't, and b) the sheer effectiveness of such increases, actually doing so is strictly limited. There is no necessity clause for characters to improve attributesyou can't tell me you NEED to raise your willpower just because it's your lowest attribute.
Nor is there a training clausejust because Lucky is looking into training in mystical abilities, it does not mean that she has the potential to seriously raise her Willpower. After all, none of Lucky's abilities have anything to do with the sort of training that would increase her willpowerwhile the game is very flexible about building on existing structures for characters, it's very inflexible when it comes to building whole new structures. Otherwise every character would have every skill and a 24 in every statistic.
There is a cinematic appropriateness clause. Lucky doesn't really NEED more Strength, but it is comic book appropriate for the super strong character to get even stronger as time goes on, and her being able to lift 3 tons rather than 1, or doing 2d8 HTH rather than 1d12 isn't really going to change the balance of power between the PCs. On the other hand, Lucky could make a good case for Heightened Agility off of her Martial Arts Training or Variant Body, but I'd definitely slap it down. That would change the character too much in relation to the others, making her too effective. After all, Talon is supposed to be the fast-agile-bouncing-around fighter while Lucky is the big-strong-invulnerable fighter. Having Lucky be the big-strong-invulnerable-fast-agile-bouncy fighter is too much overlap.
Default Power Facets
At some point I will do a re-introduction of default power groupings for the major powers (and heck, maybe even for the minor powers if I get around to it). Something I noticed when helping make characters for the some groups is that a lot of gamers just want to be told what that gets them and what they can do, rather than making it up for themselves which, I admit, can be a little confusing in a system as comprehensive as this one. Thus, I'm adding the default power facet choices for the character for powers, when you just don't want to think for yourselves. The power scale listed for them is beta, because it's the most common, but even that will help give people somewhere to hang their hats.
(this section is still being worked on)
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Copyright © 1998 Brian Rogers