5686 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

DC Heroes RPG – New Rules – Advantages


Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This is a technical article for the DC Heroes RPG.

For a list of all articles like this one, see the Guide to new DC Heroes RPG rules.


Index


Aging-Reduction Advantages – New Advantages

Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Helper: Geomancer
Cost: 5/15/25 *

Slowed Aging [Cost: 5 *]

This advantage increases the life-span of a character by a factor of x4 to x10 as determined by the player and the GM during character creation. Such characters age at this reduced rate throughout their lives.

Aging attacks directed against the character, such as Spirit Drain with the Aging Bonus, will have their RV increased by 5 APs. Human characters undergoing anti-agathic treatments, supers possessed of healing factors, and long-lived aliens often have this Advantage.

Near-Immortal [Cost: 15 *]

This advantage increases the life-span of a character by a factor of x20 to x100, making his total lifespan at least a millennium. Such characters might age by this retarded rate throughout their lives or they may age normally to adulthood after which their aging is retarded.

The details of the character’s aging process should be determined by the player and GM during character creation.

Aging attacks directed against the character will have their RV increased by 15 APs. Superheroic gods and demi-gods often have this Advantage.

Immortal [Cost: 25 *]

This advantage makes the character unaging. Such characters usually age normally to their adult forms after which they stop aging completely.

Aging attacks directed against the character will have their RV increased by 25 APs. Cosmic beings often have this Advantage.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) in the middle of a battle


Area Knowledge Advantage enhancers

Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Helpers: Eric Langendorff, William Chamberlin
Cost: Each enhancer costs as much as the Area Knowledge Advantage that it is supporting.

The following 2 enhancers to Area Knowledge provide an extraordinary level of information. These are usually the result of technology (for instance being cybernetically interfaced with a large spaceship so as to know where everything is and what is happening), super-intuition, ultra-luck or magic.

Characters using these bonuses include Diego “Rush” Zhao, the Question (Veitch urban shaman take) or Mercury (the fixer working with Faith in the video game Mirror’s Edge.

Area Knowledge — Floorplans Bonus

A Character with an Area Knowledge Advantage enhanced with the Floorplans Bonus can navigate any germane area (wilderness, buildings, streets, subway tunnels, deadly labyrinths full of monsters, etc.) as if they had extensively studied its annotated floorplans.

This works even if they’ve never set foot in the specific area in question – they just know where they are, where stuff is, and how to navigate from point A to point B. Video game enthusiasts can imagine this as having the best possible minimap unfolding in one’s mind, with zooms and colour codes and flags.

Area Knowledge — Real-Time Bonus

A Character with an Area Knowledge Advantage enhanced with the Real-Time Bonus has their information current to the second. An example of use would be, rather than “where can I generally find cannabis dealers ?” as per normal Area Knowledge, to ask “where can I be certain to find a cannabis dealer right now ?“.

This is information that falls under the normal perview of Area Knowledge, but absolutely up-to-date.

Another example would be “where’s a good bar still open for at least 2 more hours ?” or “how late is the route 402 bus ?”. Smartphone enthusiasts can imagine this as having real-time status flags for every business and service, legal or not, throughout the area.

Note — Real-Time Bonus plus Floorplans Bonus

It is possible to have both Bonuses stacked on a given Area Knowledge – which means that the “minimap” is updated and retagged to the second. For instance, if a fire is raging in a building, a Character with a relevant Area Knowledge and both Bonuses will have accurate knowledge of burned out and weakened areas, collapsed floors and ceilings, etc. as they stand right now.

Another example would be navigating subways tunnels – the Character would know exactly where all the subway trains are and drive their own vehicle in the tunnels with zero risks of a collision.

Faith Connors (Mirror's Edge) hanging from a ledge


Attractive (usage note)

This Advantage, which brings a significant Bonus, can be confusing when modelling characters. The vast majority of super-hero comic book characters are “extremely physically attractive” (as per the Advantage’s wording), often impossibly so. So almost everyone could have it.

Our usual approach being evidence-based, we do use the Attractive Advantage for characters who have a markedly, consistently better track record at Persuading people attracted to their gender than with other people.

As a counter-intuitive example of this approach, modern Wonder Woman (Diana of Themyscira) doesn’t have Attractive. She may be to sex-appeal what a flamethrower is to a lighter, but people who aren’t sexually attracted toward women find her every bit as convincing, inspiring and awesome as those who are.

Which clearly doesn’t match the mechanics of the Attractive Advantage.

This evolution in usage can be seen in its earlier stages in the changes between DC Heroes 3rd edition and Blood of Heroes: Special Edition (ditching the heteronormative  language was the other goal).

Nightwing (Dick Grayson) face and shoulders closeup


Conditional Soaking – New Advantage

Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Cost: 20 *

The Character has the ability to endure amounts of a specifc type of damage superior that which their BODY and HPs would suggest. The specific form of attack (e.g., fists and blunt weapons, heat and flame, suffocation, etc.) should be specified when taking the Advantage : for instance Conditional Soaking (Blunt damage).

When attempting LDD against the attack type their Conditional Soaking applies against, the Character will use a HP cost for LDD that is one point lower than the current Genre. For instance a Character in a Gritty campaign (where LDD cost is 3) with Conditional Soaking (Punches) would have a Last Ditch Defense cost of 2 versus such attacks.

This Advantage cannot reduce LDD cost below 1, and is thus useless in Humor and Action Genres. It is normally taken by Characters operating in “lower” Genres.

Classic drawing of Spider-Man (Peter Parker) swinging over the city


Dream Team – New Advantage

Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Cost: 5 or 15 †

Dream Team is a cheap version of Leadership, and allows for transferring Hero Points in the same manner. However, this only allows for the transfer of HPs among the core members of a specific group ; these members must be listed when the Advantage is taken.

A Rupture Condition can be specified by the group when this Advantage is taken. When this Condition is met, the Dream Team Advantage is lost (though it can be bought again later through Character Advancement) *and* all members of the core group with this Advantage lose half their current HPs with it (round the remainder up).

In the case of the Cold War version of the Suicide Squad — for which the Dream Team Advantage was originally designed — the Rupture Condition was “Doc Evans and Jess realise that Karin is in love with Rick”.

The Rupture Condition must be approved by the GM and all group members with the Advantage. In particular, the GM must make sure the players are interested in going through the drama of the Rupture Condition happening at some point in the campaign.

If the group is not interested in having the Rupture Condition — and/or the players are likely to do everything they can so it never happens — do not allow for a Rupture Condition.

The Dream Team Advantage costs 5 Hero Points if it has a shared Rupture Condition, 15 points otherwise.

In the case of the original Suicide Squad, Karin Grace was often the ’HPs dispatcher‘ – the other two sent HPs to her and she would pump those plus hers into the person doing the actions they wanted to boost, delivering pep talks and the like to go along with the HPs she was transmitting.

The Silver Age Suicide Squad by George Perez


Edge (Attribute, Power or Skill)

Author: Sébastien Andrivet and Peter Piispanen
Helpers: Ethan Roe, Eric Langendorff, Vincent Bartilucci, Adam Fuqua
Cost: See below

A Character with this Advantage can spend Hero Points on a Dice Action as if the specified Attribute, Power or Skill were one AP higher. If Pushing an Automatic Action using this Attribute, the roll to Push receives a special +1 Bonus to the final die roll.

The cost of this Advantage can be paid in two manners :

  • Accept an equivalent penalty to another Attribute on the same line, or on the same column, of the Attributes grid. This is only feasible for Attributes.
  • A character creation cost equal to 25% of the cost for raising this Attribute, Power or Skill to the next higher AP (round down).

Designers’ note: This Advantage was created for several characters (such as Wildcat (Ted Grant), Cullen Bohannon or Yoko Tsuno) who seem to occasionally have a higher score in, say, STR, Weaponry (Firearms) or DEX.

This performance isn’t consistent enough to peg them to the upper AP, but is regular enough to not be a result of dice rolls and occurs when they are clearly straining. Back during the 1990s, this was referred to (in Wildcat’s case) as “having a STR of 4.5 APs”.

This Advantage is a micro-adjustment to reflect the results of the research about the character rather than forcibly fit an oval peg into a round hole.

Yoko Tsuno does judo


Free Access (usage note)

For those of you who do not have Blood of Heroes: Special Edition, this Advantage was replaced by a more comprehensive one called Credentials.

It may still used in some old writeups.org profiles we haven’t gotten around to updating, though.

Sarge Steel briefing agents


Iron Nerves (usage note)

When modelling a character, deciding whether they have Iron Nerves can be difficult. We suggest considering two heuristics.

First, the Iron Nerves bonus is huge. 2CSes, and to both OV/RV to boot, is enormous.

Second, our current test is “is this character consistently, *markedly* more resilient toward fear and intimidation than other mental and emotional stressors ?”.

If the answer is “no”, then we are dealing with general Mental and Mystical RVs — MIN and SPI — rather than Iron Nerves.

Lastly, note that for some characters the Schtick (Pain Management) is the better tool.

Axe (New Mutants enemy) (Marvel Comics) fighting Sunspot


Mystique – New Advantage

Author: Mayfair Games
Designer’s Notes: This is a formal description of the Advantage first introduced for Batman’s official DC Heroes 3rd Edition writeup.
Cost: 10 †

Characters with Mystique have developed a particularly unnerving reputation among a particular group. Common examples include a specific city (such as Gotham for Batman, or Dos Rios for El Diablo), or a specific group (such as vampires for the movie version of Blade).

When the character makes an Intimidation Check, they receive a -1CS bonus to the OV. The Gamemaster may decide that this bonus doesn’t apply – for instance criminals who are reasonably sure that the Batman never kills, or who are certain that El Diablo isn’t a supernatural being.

Batman being all scary, in the rain


Omni-Knowledge – New Advantage

Author: Unknown
Cost: 50 *

Omni-Knowledge is a more flexible version of Omni-Scholar, allowing the Character to spend 15 HPs to acquire a Scholar of his choice, 10 HPs to gain an Expertise or Language, or 5 HPs to acquire a Familiarity.

The acquired Advantage lasts for the whole adventure ; if the player want her Character to retain the Advantage for the following adventure, she must pay the HP fee again.

The player can also opt to pay a +5HPs fee to have the HPs serve for Character Advancement.

For instance, if a Character with Omni-Knowledge pays 20 HPs to acquire Scholar (Military Fixed-Wing Aircraft) for the adventure’s duration, this counts as 15Hps being used for Character Advancement to acquire that Scholar as per standard Character Advancement rules.

Doctor Who (Tom Baker) and two Daleks in a parking lot


Police Rank – New Advantage

Author: Peter Piispanen
Helpers: Thomas Clinch, Roy Cowan, Sébastien Andrivet
Cost: 0-25 HPs

The Police Rank Advantage works like the military Rank Advantage described in the World at War sourcebook, except for law enforcement organizations. This Advantage gives many possibilities for interesting character interactions, role-playing and subplots and is primarily intended for campaigns where the player characters are police officers.

A character with this Advantage, an appropriate Credentials Advantage and a Connection to a police department can be considered to be a police officer.

Police officers usually follow the orders of persons of a higher rank than themselves. However, unlike the Rank Advantage disobeying the legal orders of a superior will only result in institutional sanctions up to and including being fired rather than the possible criminal charges that could result when a soldier disobeys an order.

They have the power of arrest and various legal prerogatives. These vary considerably by time and location, and of course their fictional depiction is often complete fantasy.

Additionally, a person with this Advantage can acquire civilian or police vehicles in the field by waving their badge. This is a combined benefit of Police Rank with police Credentials. The state will repay the owner of such acquisitions in case the vehicles gets damaged/destroyed.

An additional benefit of the Advantage is an increase in Wealth by 1 AP freely upon acquiring the rank of Captain. Attaining any Chief rank increases this Wealth score by another AP freely. The cost of the advantage represents the work put into the work of attaining that rank.

Anyone being at least a Police Officer may purchase the Police Credentials (Low) Advantage, while it is common for Lieutenants and Detectives and above to purchase the Police Credentials (Medium) advantage. Police Credentials (High) usually corresponds to Commanders, Chiefs and the like.

Ranks: Cost in HPs: Normal minimum work experience time needed:
Probationary Police Officer (Rookie) 0 None
Police Officer / Deputy 3 Some weeks
Corporal / Detective 5 1 year
Sergeant 8 2 years
Lieutenant / Sheriff 12 4-8 years
Captain 15 4-8 years
Inspector / Operational Commander 18 10 years
Deputy Chief of Police 20 12 years
Assistant Chief of Police 23 15 years
Chief of Police / Commissioner 25 Also requires several political contacts

1975 police academy classroom with closeup on DC Comics' Lady Cop


Reputation – New Advantage

Author: Dr Peter S Piispanen
Cost: 25 †

A character with this Advantage is largely perceived as particularly fearsome. Whenever this character’s name is spoken aloud an Intimidation check is made by the speaker against anyone of an opposing Motivation (villainous if the character is heroic, for example) who happens to be within earshot. Standard Multi-Attack Penalties apply at the GM’s discretion.

Examples Intimidation Check Modifier:
“I hear he’s in the area.” +2 to OV/RV
“He’s been patrolling your neighborhood” Standard OV/RV
“I hear he wants to talk to you.” -2 CS to OV/RV
“He’s onto us!” -4 CS to OV/RV

Designer’s Notes: This Advantage is best suited to pulp/four-color  campaigns and might be out of place in grittier Genres unless the character in question is extremely powerful and widely feared. It is an enhanced version of Mystique.

Judge Dredd by Simon Bisley


Scholar (Spellcraft) – New Scholar speciality

Author: Dr Peter S Piispanen
Cost: 20 †

When researching existing spells (in a magic library, an old tome, etc), the character rolls his Occultist Skill vs. the APs of the Ritual. When trying to recognize or understand a new ritual, the character makes a Perception/Detective check vs. the APs of the Ritual. In both cases, the character gets a bonus of -2 CS to the OV/RV.

Additionally, characters with this Scholar can easily come up with new rituals “on the fly” during adventures. This enables such characters to buy rituals for various attacking powers (with low casting time and no components needed, but still paying the HPs for it) in the middle of combat.

When creating a new ritual, the character has a +2CS higher Ritual Casting skill. The Spellcraft bonus only applies to ritual creation — casting rolls does not benefit from Spellcraft.

Designer’s Notes: This was developed for such magicians as Dr. Strange and John Constantine.

Doctor Strange in a dramatic pose


Stroke of Genius – New Advantage

Author: Unknown
Cost: 10 *

This Advantage functions as Genius, but only for a specific item. That item can be modified as long as the modifications themselves would not require genius. For example, a character with Stroke of Genius (Battle suits) could add a standard computer to his power armor, but he couldn’t add an artificial intelligence.

Saturn Girl (Imra Ardeen) flying over a city during the Silver Age


Surreal Sensitivity – New Advantage

Author: Sébastien Andrivet
Helper(s): Eric Langendorff
Cost: 15 †

“See, what we’ve been forgetting is that Orqwith is not real. It’s a fiction that’s somehow been boosted into reality. So it’s not as complex as the real world. Haven’t you noticed all the coincidences ?”
– Crazy Jane

The Character has a power of intuition that allows her to grok  surreal, phantasmagorical events that would leave others completely puzzled and unable to progress past the impression that what is happening doesn’t make any sense.

Such intuitions are reached by spending Hero Points, allowing a bewildered Player to rely on her Character’s sensitivity to gain some insight. In a Mock Real Genre (a common Genre for such stories), spending one Hero Point will result in vague sensations about what sort of phenomena are at work, scattered impressions, a fuzzy idea of themes, some images.

Spending 5 Hero Points will result into a more useful intuitive leap, one that leaves a stumped Player with some plausible course of action and at least a partial understanding of why such a course of action would make sense.

(HP fees may be adjusted for harsher or more free-flowing Genres).

This form of intuition works with the sort of high weirdness and unreal crises that is often associated with DC’s Vertigo imprint  in the early 1990s, in books such as Doom Patrol, Shade the Changing Man, Enigma, Kid Eternity and the like.

Other paranormal situations (such as Gothic Horror or UFO Conspiracies) have sets of rules that are better-known and more obvious, and are much less likely to leave the Players completely stumped as to what to do.

A typical application would be Characters with an exceptional sensitivity toward the surreal, such as Crazy Jane and Rebis, intuitively gaining an understanding of what’s going on and what all these weird events and characters mean and how they work.

In contrast, a Character devoid of such an Advantage, such as Cliff Steel, has no idea about what is going on and reacts blindly since very little makes sense from his point of view.

Having such an Advantage works well in a RPG context, where it is quite easy for things to make perfect sense from the Gamemaster’s point of view but leave even a penetrating Player stumped by the surreal events going on.

Designer’s Notes: Advantage originally developed for Crazy Jane, Rebis and the Scarab.

The Scarab (Louis Sendak) during the 1940s


Wanderer’s Connections – New Connection type

Author: Sébastien Andrivet

Most super-hero campaigns feature operations from a set place (often with impressive headquarters) and sophisticated telecoms. This encourages heavy, stable alliances of the sort handled by the default DC Heroes Connections rules.

However, other traditional campaign types feature roaming heroes. They regularly revisit old haunts, but they’re on the move. This includes many heroic-fantasy adventurers, post-apocalyptic road warriors, xia fighters, Old West gunslingers, enigmatic ronin, etc.. Wanderer’s Connections are adapted to such campaigns.

For campaigns where places are almost never revisited and without sophisticated telecoms (at least telegrams or an equivalent), there’s little need for either sort of Connections. These can simply be role-played given their transient nature.

Establishing Wanderer’s Connections

The bulk of creating Wanderer’s Connections comes from playing, as the Characters develop ties with the locals. A typical example would be conducting mercenary jobs for them. Or helping them against the black hats. If an affinity emerges, a Character can :

  • Role-play the creation of some form of friendship or alliance.
  • Pay a 1 HP fee for a Low Wanderer’s Connection.
  • Or pay a 2 HPs fee for a High Wanderer’s Connection, if the GM deems it feasible.

The HP fees represent the extra social effort involved in forging a bond. The low cost acknowledges that this connection will not come into play often, since the Characters are roaming.

Testing a Wanderer’s Connections

Whenever a Character wants to draw upon an established Wanderer’s Connection, it must be tested. The Character has not been around in a while and isn’t part of the local social setup – they are an *outsider*. Thus, there’s a constant danger of such connections decaying.

The baseline test is AUR/AUR against an OV/RV of 02/02. Charisma (Persuasion) can be subbed for either AV or EV if desired. Attitude Adjustments are used as normal, likely based on the sort of services the Character performed in the past and how grateful the Connection is for those.

One RAP is sufficient for the Connection to work as intended. Zero RAPs means that a High Wanderer’s Connection drops to Low, or that a Low Wanderer’s Connection is deleted. It’s not easy, being an outsider.

The test is only necessary when a character returns to the place the Wanderer’s Connection live in and reestablishes contact. It will then hold at this level until the Character leaves.

Benefits of a Wanderer’s Connection

A Low Wanderer’s Connection is primarily good for information, but probably nothing secret. Current local events, job opportunities, threats to be aware of, advice, explanations about local bits of history or politics, credible rumours, etc.. It also comes with a certain willingness to hire and compensate the wanderer (and their allies) if there’s a need.

A High Connection also includes some services. For instance letting the Character crash on the couch, introducing them to people, giving them a ride to a nearby place, granting them a 10% discount… A High Connection will almost always consider hiring the Character is there’s a need, as a trusted contractor.

Other sorts of connections

A Wanderer’s Connection means that the Characters will return to a place. Just not often, and for a brief time, and with but weak ties. But the other two kinds of Connections can still exist :

  1. If the Characters will likely never return to a specific, out-of-the-way place treat any alliances there as transient and carrying no HP costs.
  2. If the Character can be in frequent communication with an ally, or receive significant backing in a place where they return regularly, it is a baseline Connection.

Examples of the latter would include a patron wizard whom the Character can communicate with magically to benefit from their expertise and perhaps even long-range spells. Or a fortified, well-equipped base the Character returns to monthly or so to resupply and report.

Likewise, even in a traditional “big city” super-hero game, some RP groups may wish to use Wanderer’s Connection. One example would be NPC heroes with whom the hero teams up with superior chemistry, but with no real way to reach them so such team-ups happen infrequently and randomly.

Another example is a setting with a natural hub location, such as the Citadel in Mass Effect. Some minor players here (say, your favourite shop on the Citadel) could conceivably become Wanderer’s Connections.

Use on Writeups.org

Wanderer’s Connection are used in character profiles:

  1. done or rewritten in 2017 or later
  2. where the character operates in a setting where Wanderer’s Connections are the dominant form of Connection

In other profiles they are not spelled out.

Designer’s Notes: Advantage originally developed for the Chosen One (Fallout 2), but it should have come earlier.

Chosen One (Fallout 1) banner portrait side hair


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.

Compiled, formatted, edited, etc. by Roy Cowan

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Lists what's been done on writeups.org during the previous month. That's it. Learn more.