Sunday, January 17, 2010

Supers: Sample Characters

All right. Let's put this thing to the test. Here's a Superman knock-off built on 100 points. I think he came out pretty good. He doesn't do everything every Superman can do, but he can fly, toss a bus around, see through walls, and burn holes in things just by looking at 'em. That's close enough for me.

Note that because I plugged in a standard skill pyramid with an apex skill of Great, I've just abstracted his skill costs to 20 points. However, there's no need he has to follow the standard pyramid -- I could probably squeeze another few points out of there if I wanted to -- but I wanted to make him as well-rounded as possible.

Incidentally, here's the tiers (and the cost of a stunt that lets you have a skill in that tier) so far:
Mundane (0 points)
Extraordinary (10 points)
Superhuman (20 points)
Godlike (30 points)
Cosmic (40 points)

Paragon (100 points):

  • Standard skill pyramid peaking at Great (20 points)
  • Superhuman Stunt: Great Super-Strength (20 points)
    • Trappings: Physical Force, Attack, Physical Resistance
    • Major Weakness: Riptonite (-4 points)
  • Extraordinary Stunt: Good Flight (10 points)
    • Trappings: Move, Unusual (Flight)
    • Complication: Lana Lane
  • Extraordinary Stunt: Fair Riptonian Eyes (10 points)
    • Trappings: Examine, Unusual (X-Ray), Attack, Ranged (Heat Vision)
    • Snag: No x-ray vision through lead
  • +2 Trappings for Fair Riptonian Eyes (4 points)
  • +1 Trapping for Great Super-Strength (4 points)
  • 2 Refresh (10 points)
  • +1 Average skill (1 point)
It all looks pretty self-explanatory to me, but just in case it isn't:
  • Physical Force is a combination of Might's lifting and breaking trappings. (It seems unreasonable to be able to do one but not the other, so they've been combined.) Paragon can use his Super-Strength to be super-strong.
  • Attack lets him use the super-skill to cause damage. This does mean that he's a totally awesome fist-fighter, which isn't completely in line with Superman, but I'm thinking about work-arounds for that. For example, if his regular Fists skill is Good, maybe we could re-interpret the rules for complementary skills a little to say that his Super-Strength complements the tier of his Fists skill, bumping it up from Mundane to Extraordinary. That sounds pretty good to me, but I haven't given it much thought. If that were the case, I'd replace that Attack with Health Capacity, which would let the super-skill grant him bonus Health stress boxes. (It feels weird to talk about stress tracks....)
  • Physical Resistance lets him use his Super-Strength to defend against physical attacks, not by dodging (a separate trapping) but by "taking it." He relies on his toughness to shake off damage, but his ability to avoid attacks isn't exceptional. If he uses this skill to defend against a non-damaging physical attack, his effective skill is Mediocre (and his effective tier should probably be Mundane, as well).
  • Unusual is a topping that lets a trapping work differently than usual -- in this case, it changes the Move trapping from ground movement to flight. The mechanical upshot of this is that it should let him ignore all but the largest barriers.
  • Examine is careful, prolonged examination of something, the main component of Investigation. The Unusual (X-Ray) topping lets him use Examine to see through walls.
  • Ranged lets him use the Attack trapping of his Riptonian Vision at range -- it's his heat vision. Without it, the player could still flavor it as heat vision, but he'd only be able to affect targets in the same zone.
  • Snag is a limitation on his Riptonian Vision, but not common enough to warrant a Major Snag (which would in turn net him an additional trapping for his Riptonian Vision).
Note that he's still left with 2 Refresh, which isn't terrible, really, but is still pretty low. Can't get much lower, really. Just the way it should be.

Something I noticed about the Snags and Weaknesses is that it encourages you to take a Major one of those on your most-expensive super-skills -- if you take a Major Snag on an Average super-skill, it only gets you 1 point, but on a Great super-skill it's worth 4 points. In other words, it's more efficient to put greater limits on your biggest powers than on your smallest ones. A happy accident!

(Two hours later....)

I couldn't stay away. Here's another character, this time a Captain America/drum corps tribute named Vanguard.

Vanguard (100 points):
  • Standard Skill Pyramid peaking at Great (20 points)
  • Extraordinary Stunt: Great Super-Soldier (10 points)
    • Trappings: Dodge, Health Capacity, Attack
    • Complication: Secret ID
  • Extraordinary Stunt: Good Vanguard Shield (10 points)
    • Trappings: Physical Resistance, Parry, Unusual (vs. Ranged Attacks), Attack, Ranged
    • Obvious Item (-3 points)
  • Extraordinary Stunt: Fair Resolve (10 points)
    • Major Complication: Code of Honor (-2 points)
  • +2 Trappings for Good Vanguard Shield (6 points)
  • +1 Trapping for Great Super-Soldier (4 points)
  • Two stunts (10 points)
  • 7 Refresh (35 points)
Really pleased with how this guy turned out. There's a little min-maxing to be done here, for an enterprising player -- that Major Complication could be stuck on his Super-Strength instead of his Resolve, which would net him one more point -- but that's okay. Another Average skill isn't going to break anything.


free hatani said...

Looks awesome! Please keep it coming. Any chance this is going to end up as a pdf? Or a book?

Robert Stehwien said...

This is only a guess on points but and example of why people will need to buy up their defenses in every area up to the campaign tier or suffer the consequences. Superman, meet Titan (based on the Legon of Superheroes psychics on Titan) ...
Titan (96 points):
- A psychic from titan with tk and telepathy

Standard skill pyramid peaking at Great (20 points)

Superhuman Stunt: Great Telekinesis (20 points)
Trappings: Physical Force, Attack, Range, Physical Resistance
+2 Trappings for Great Telekinesis Eyes (8 points)

Superhuman Stunt: Great Telepathy (20 points)
Trappings: Mental Communication, Mental Attack, Range, Mental Resistance
+2 Trapping for Great Telepathy (8 points)

Extraordinary Stunt: Good Flight (10 points)
Trappings: Move, Unusual (Flight)

2 Refresh (10 points)

Can match superman physically but mentally attacking superman is just pure win rolling 2dF+2d6

Mike Olson said...

Well-taken -- as is your comment on the other day's post, BTW.

This reminds me a little of that episode of South Park when Cartman buys the amusement park for himself but won't let anyone else in. Eventually he has to hire a security guard to keep people out, which means he has to let a couple people in each day to pay his salary. Then a ride breaks down, and he has to hire a maintenance guy, which means more guests to pay for his salary. Then people want to be able to buy food and drinks, and so on and so on, until the park is constantly packed with guests, which is what the opposite of what he wanted in the first place.

I sincerely hope I'm not going down the road of complexity with this, but I recognize that to make the thing work, more complexity may be required. I just don't want to end up with an amusement park full of mechanics to get it there.

Part of me sees the Defense Dilemma and says, "Okay, so you don't have a defense against that. Tough." I mean, in Hero, if you don't buy yourself around 10 Resistant Physical Defense or so, you're just asking for a pounding. So find a reason to get that defense up.

But then I also understand what you're saying about Superman being taken out in short order by a decent psychic, and how that might suck (unless you're the psychic, in which case, y'know, awesome). Regardless of anything else, Superman shouldn't go down so easily. He's a hero. He should be able to take it, at least for a while, even if he doesn't have a reason to have significant mental defenses. Conversely, the guy's bullet-proof. He can take a shot to the eye without flinching, if that awful movie is to be believed, so where his defenses are strong, they need to be so strong as to essentially make him immune to mundane attacks.

Now, I think I have a solution -- or at least an answer -- for this. I'll post it later tonight. I have a friend in from out of town, and the usual demands on my time, but I think I can get to it tonight. It's pretty simple, really. I probably could've explained it in this very paragraph, if I hadn't typed all that other stuff about how busy I am, but y'know, at the time, I just didn't think of doing that, and now it's too late. So it'll have to be tonight.

Robert Stehwien said...

For my personal preference it might be growing too complicated and I don't like players and their opponents operating on multiple scales (think it obsuscates ability). But I think the project shows merit enough to comment from the peanut gallery.

I totally understand the amusement park reference. My first writeup of a fate supers game went much along the lines you are with trappings. I kept the pyramid and powers were like skills but renamed and it had extra costs for adding more trappings (I'll post it up on my site). Things looked great in my head and then the players got at it.... damn players.

In Hero you are fubared if you don't buy defenses (but they made sure you had at least DCV and ECV and artificially increased the cost of ego attacks because the defense is "rare"). Mutant and Masterminds also has the same thing happen if you don't buy up all your saves.

Hero and M&M have guidelines on what range attacks and defenses should be in for point costs and all the players should be in that range (M&M needs better guidelines on the non-toughness saves but enforces that no player is above the range without tradeoff). I had several players who were unpleasantly surprised they had to buy up attack, defense, and saves (after playing d20 for a long time).

free hatani said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but couldn't Superman, under you hack, just pay a Fate point to gain "Mental Defense" trapping on his Super-skill for the scene?

Mike Olson said...

Indeed he could, as long as he had a super-skill to which it could reasonably be attached.

If he had super-skills of, say, Man of Steel, Kryptonian Vision, and Alien Physiology, Alien Physiology would be the best choice, Man of Steel would be very iffy (and require a little metaphorical interpretation), and Kryptonian Vision would be right out. I don't want to leave too much up to GM fiat, but there should be something of a balance between common sense and dramatic license.