5717 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

DC Adventures 3rd edition rulesbook cover

Mutants & Masterminds – New Rules File


Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Introduction

You’ll find three sorts of things in this compendium :

  • Usage and design notes explaining how we work with various rule elements. This is for the contributors to share notes, for those who like design notes to read, and to solve any doubt when reading DCA stats that use our techniques.
  • Packaged Powers we plan to re-use, and explain here rather than in every single entry using them.
  • Actual new material (Advantages, Flaws, Extras…) we had to come up with when we were really, really stuck using the the RAW (Rules As Written).

Like with our DC Heroes material, everything was designed because we actually needed it to model one or more published character.

Everything here is considered to be beta and may be fiddled with as our mastery of the system improves. If you have remarks, suggestions, questions, ideas for improvement, etc. come to the Friendly Writeups.org Thread  on Green Ronin’s Atomic Think Tank Forum.


Index


Armour-Piercing Extra

Designed for: Specialised ammunition some gun-using characters might use – see the Weapons Locker article about guns on writeups.org.
Cost: Flat +1 per rank

When an attack with Ranks in the Armour-Piercing Extra hits, check whether the target has ranks of Impervious Toughness applying against the attack. If so, each Rank of Armour-Piercing negates the Impervious Extra of one rank of Toughness.

If no Impervious Toughness applies against the attack, each rank of Armour Piercing negates a Rank of Protection, if and only if this Protection is Limited and specifically lists the attack’s Descriptor among the damages it applies against.

Examples: Deadshot open fires on 4 targets (A, B, C and D) with ammunition (Descriptor: Ballistic) that has two Ranks in the Armour-Piercing advantage.

  • Target A has generic Impervious Toughness 10. This means Imperviousness against 5 Ranks of Damage — Deadshot’s bullets still treat Target A has having Toughness 10, but only Imperviousness toward three Ranks of Damage since it has two Ranks of Armour-Piercing (5-2=3). Since Deadshot’s gun has Damage 4, this make it possible to damage Target A.
  • Target B wears a standard Bulletproof Vest, with 4 Ranks of Protection specifically against Ballistic Damage. This Protection is lowered by two Ranks by the two Ranks of Armour Piercing.
  • Target C wears armour that is simply listed as Protection 2 and thus helps against all Toughness damage. Deadshot’s bullets receive no bonus against that.
  • Target D has a Protection Effect that is Limited to Piercing, Slashing and Ballistics Descriptors. Since the Protection is Limited and the Descriptor of Deadshot’s attack is among those that are countered by it, Target D is attacked just like Target B.

Designer’s note: A niche mechanism for some peculiar attacks not well handled by Penetrating. If you want to be very, very careful you can cap it at 3 Ranks maximum in your game, just to be sure. This Extra only works well in campaigns where defensive abilities are written up in detail rather than in a sweeping style.

Designer’s note: A different but more by-the-book approach is to buy additional Ranks of Damage for the attack, which has the Limited Flaw (only works if the target has Limited Protection that applies against the attack’s descriptor) and Penetrating.


Chronic Extra

Designed for: Poison, disease, irradiation and the like.
Cost: See below

The Effect with this Extra affects the target once immediately, and will keep attempting to affect its target(s) with a set periodicity after that. Like with the Secondary Effect extra, subsequent attacks do not cost Actions, but neither can they stack with subsequent uses of the Effect by the Character – see the Secondary Effect Extra (DCA p132).

The initial attack is solved normally. Starting with the first Chronic attack onward, it becomes possible for the target to beat the Effect. If the target succeeds against the Effect with 2+ degrees, the Effect is gone and will never attack again.

There exists five Ranks of the Chronic Extra :

  • Chronic 1 lets the Effect attack on its own every 14 Ranks of time after the initial attack (one day). This costs a flat 1/Rank – thus one point (like a Feature 1).
  • Chronic 2 lets the Effect attack on its own every 9 Ranks of time (one hour). This costs a flat 1/Rank – thus two points (like a Feature 2).
  • Chronic 3 lets the Effect attack on its own every 5 Ranks of time (four minutes). This costs +1 per Rank
  • Chronic 4 lets the Effect attack on its own every 2 Ranks of time (30 seconds or five rounds). This costs +2 per Rank
  • Chronic 5 lets the Effect attack on its own every turn. This costs +3 per Rank, similar to making an Instant Effect Continuous.

Designer’s note: The switch in pricing structure — from flat to per-Rank — is the cute part, but those who dislike it can break the Extra into two different extras (Chronic 1 and 2 being Features, and Chronic 3-5 being a per-Rank Extra).


Deception/Disguise checks

This is intended to expand on the rules given in the Hero’s Handbook to cover favorable and unfavorable modifiers. The main rationale is to codify and make consistent how the skill is used. Secondarily, these rules expansions should make it difficult to create implausible disguises.

These rules are intended to cover a wide variety of genre conventions, from Silver Age  detective stories to modern action thrillers. However, no claim is made us to absolute realism, nor are these clarifications necessary in a comedic game in which a fake mustache and a set of clothes constitutes a “disguise.”

The Plausibility Rule

The number one rule of Disguise checks is that the disguise must be plausible according to some logic. With sufficient nerve and smoothness, a character might pass off the brief touch of a latex mask as rough skin, but no mask is going to withstand close physical scrutiny.

The GM defines what the absolute minimum necessary conditions are for the disguise to work. In some situations, this will mean heavy penalties, while in others, the situation is such that only minimal circumstance are necessary.

Disguise Versus Acting

As described under Disguise, a Disguise check is distinct from acting like someone. In most cases, a successful Disguise will allow you to avoid having to act. However, if you are forced to interact with someone closely, a Deception check is necessary to pull off the performance. Disguise is versus Perception, acting is versus Insight.

General Modifiers

Costumes and Clothing

  • Completely concealing armor or costume of the appropriate size +5
  • Especially appropriate costume or uniform (such as a soldier’s uniform with insignia) or a distinctive item of personal clothing (such as someone’s iconic mink coat) +2
  • Dressed or costumed as would be expected +0
  • Improvised clothes (such as a soldier’s uniform pulled off a soldier or out of the laundry, or a generic tuxedo instead of someone’s personal style) -2
  • Makeshift clothes (clothing that generally matches the color and style) -5

In general, to be plausible, a costume or clothing must be able to pass a first glance. If you are forced to make a Deception check to act like someone, these same modifiers apply, except that you can only have a penalty, not a bonus.

Additionally, if the target gets a chance to stand close to you, a simple Perception check may reveal inadequacies in your costume (such as a poor fit, missing insignia, or pants that don’t match).

Given time (at least ten minutes) and materials, someone with Expertise (Acting), Expertise (Tailoring), or the like can improvise improvements. Make a DC 15 check versus the appropriate Expertise; each degree of success lessens penalties by one step.

Physical Resemblance

  • You happen to share the same height, build, coloration, similar features and mannerisms, OR you are inside something bulky like robot armor or a huge cloak that completely conceals you (so that only your mannerisms could be discerned) +5
  • Same basic height, build, coloration, and type of features +2
  • Very close physical resemblance, at least like a favored cousin +0
  • Someone might sketch you to look the same; very plausible gender-benders take at least this penalty -2
  • You are not the same height, build, or coloration; many cross-gender disguises will be at this level if you are trying to convey a very different set of physical features; any disguise dependent on lots of opaque makeup and prosthetics is at this level -5

In general, to be plausible, the physical resemblance has to allow you to portray a physical figure and some necessary physical actions. Great differences in height or mass have to be concealed at least partially through cover, misdirection, or tricks of perspective in order to pull this one off. If you are forced to interact with someone closely, all these modifiers apply.

Given time (at least 10 minutes) and materials, someone with Expertise (Acting), Expertise (Special Effects) or the like can improvise special makeup and prosthetics. Make a DC 15 check versus the appropriate Expertise; each degree of success lessens penalties by one step.

Props and Supplies

  • You have endless time and sufficient resources to get anything you need to further your disguise +5
  • You have the chance to prepare some items, including personal items and convincing props (like an appropriate weapon or realistic jewelry) and have a chance to make your face and pad or bind your body +2
  • You have a full disguise kit of some kind at your disposal and useful materials to work with +0
  • You have some makeup, a few props, and are able to improvise some aspects of your portrayal -2
  • Mostly, you are depending on a few items, audacity, and quick thinking to bluff your way through a brief encounter -5

In general, to be plausible, you need to be able to alter your appearance with materials, appear in the right context with the right items, and apply some basic special effects to cover up huge obstacles in your disguise. If you are forced to interact with someone , these modifiers apply on subsequent Deception checks.

Familiarity

Familiarity is something largely outside your control. Your victims get the following modifiers to their Perception and Insight checks:

  • Intimate loved one +10
  • Friends +5
  • Regular associates +2
  • Known face and voice +0
  • Briefly met, don’t really know -2
  • All they really have is a description or some familiarity with a picture or three -5
  • Generic role or identity of your own creation -10

Just as a special note, if they know YOU, use the better of their familiarity with you or your subject.

In the case of intimidate loved ones or often friends, you will need some information just to make the attempt to act like the subject. In a pinch, you can attempt an Insight check opposed by their Insight to fake enough of the personality to make an attempt. An extended Investigate check may also yield enough info to make the attempt plausible.

Other Modifiers

  • You refuse to speak or step into good lighting, or other suspicious behavior -2
  • You completely act out their personality at noticeable personal cost (while impersonating a hero, you save someone from a crime or disaster; impersonating a victim of intimidation, you cut and bruise yourself so that your injuries match your role) +2
  • Obscurity: apply Concealment modifiers to your target’s Perception check.

These modifiers, when appropriate, apply both to Disguise checks and acting attempts.


Defensive Powers

This is a formalisation about our handling of defensive abilities such as Protection and Enhanced Defences. The main objective of these usage notes is to have a coherent statting practice (for instance whether a Protection against Lightning is Limited 2 or Limited 3).

Limited Protection, Impervious, Enhanced Will, Enhanced Fortitude, etc.

Defences against specific attacks or groups of attacks are best built up – as scores that get added to the base, general Defences of the character. Being specific, they have to be Limited.

Here is a hierarchy for Limited defences, both in order to have coherent pricing and to define standard groups of Descriptors so we don’t have to repeat lists over and again.

Limited Defences are not counted in PLs, though individual GMs may prefer Limited 1 Defences to count.

Limited 1 – About 40% or less of likely attacks

Fortitude examples: Pathogens (covers Toxins and Disease)
Will examples: Magic, Telepathy
Toughness examples: Electromagnetic Energies, Physical Impacts (covers Blunt Impact, Sharp Impact, Structural Impact – the equivalent of DCH Skin Armour), Cellular Trauma (covers Corrosives, Flame, Disintegration, Compression/Pressure, and Radiation)

Limited 2 – About 20% or less of likely attacks

Fortitude examples: Poison, Temperature Extremes, Vibration/Sonics, Pain/Torture
Will examples: Emotion manipulation, Hypnosis, Mind Control — those are best expressed as a small suite (three or so) of related Conditions from the Affliction table — Pain/Torture
Toughness examples: Heat/Cold, Blunt Impact (includes Unarmed), Sharp Impact (includes Slashing, Piercing, Ballistics, Claws, Arrow, etc.), Structural Impact (Falls, Explosions, Collisions with a large object, Compression/Pressure…), Electricity/Magnetism, Corrosion (acids, alkalines, oxidizing chemicals), Vibration/Sonics

Limited 3 – About 10% or less of likely attacks

Fortitude examples: Disease, Electricity, Heat, Cold, Pressure, Sonics, Bright Lights, Radiation, Compression/Pressure, Vibration
Will examples: A specific school of magic, a specific sort of character interaction (such as making the character feel a given emotion), a specific compulsion or power (often expressed as a particular Condition)
Toughness examples: Sonics, Lightning, Ballistics, Flame, Cold, Slashing/Piercing, Falls, Lasers, Acid, Disintegration, Compression/Pressure, Radiation, Unarmed, Vibration

Descriptors that are narrower still are best treated as Partial Immunities.

Some GMs prefer to set these three tiers as Quirk, Limited 1, Limited 2 rather than Limited 1, Limited 2, Limited 3. Below 5 Ranks, the difference is trivial. The three Limited tiers align better with some 2nd edition precedents and with Partial Immunity prices, but this is not conclusive.

Multiple Enhanced Defences against a single attack form

The common case is that attack-specific protections affect multiple defences. A common example is that Limited Protection effects against an energy form normally come paired with a Limited Enhanced Fortitude against the same attack.

A typical example is Protection (Limited 3 – Only against lightning). Most characters with this should also be protected against Taser™, stun guns, etc. despite the fact that they usually attack Fortitude rather than Toughness, as an Affliction. A typical notation would be :

Impervious Protection 6, Impervious Enhanced Fortitude 6 (Both Limited 3 – only vs. electricity).

Quirked Defences

In some cases, it is best to build Defences down. Most vulnerabilities are built as Complications, but there are cases where the form of attack is common enough not to be well-handled as a Complication, yet rare enough that building defences against everything else is nonsensical.

A defensive Power that doesn’t work against one Limited 1, one Limited 2, one Limited 3, or two Limited 3 will have a Quirk. Alternatively, a defence only half-as-effective against those (for instance Toughness 12 treated as Toughness 6) will have a Quirk.

A typical example would be Venom, with his vulnerability against fire and sonics. These are rules of thumb, the granularity here being low.

Immunities

Those do not usually exist in DCH. Exceptions include the Life Support Advantages (which are self-explanatory and match well with corresponding DCA Immunities) and a few special cases such as Daredevil being immune to sigh-based attacks – though the later is more a limitation of the attack than an Immunity of the character.

DCH Resistance Values in the 20s and beyond might, cautiously, be Immunity candidates. In certain cases. Maybe.

Partial Immunities

Those have a strange behaviour and fit a niche. The two identified uses for writeups.org profiles are :

  • Upping defences against an attack form more specific than Limited 3 (see the Immunity Power)
  • Normalising resistance. This is for characters who can be hurt by relatively modest attacks of the type being considered, but at the same time are unlikely to go down after just one such attack, even a very powerful one. Most characters with the Conditional Soaking Advantage have something along these lines, though it doesn’t align very well.

Second Chance Advantage

The Second Chance Advantage is an option for a defensive ability that tends to eliminate low-probability events at the low end. If people have but a small chance of affecting the character with their Ranks of Effect, a Second Chance against the Descriptor further worsen their chances.

At the high end, Second Chance increases the odds of a freak roll where the Character withstand an assault that should have had a more dramatic effect.

It is less absolute than Impervious at the low end, but remains effective against even powerful attacks. Second Chance has a similar normalizing effect to Immunity, Limited to Half Effect, but does not tend to shift someone out of their “weight class.”

In the long run — on average — Second Chance is reportedly the equivalent of 3 Ranks of Protection. It can thus be an alternative to low Protection scores for characters whose durability behaves as above, or a way to shave off about 2 or 3 points from large Resistances that may not otherwise behave as desired.

The rules do not define what’s an appropriate scope for Second Chance – what is too broad a Descriptor and what is too narrow.

Since this article has a handy hierarchy of Descriptors, we’ll suggest that a Rank of Second Chance applies against a Descriptor from the Limited 3 group. Two Ranks of Second Chance protecting against a Descriptor from the Limited 2 group sounds quite reasonable, especially since those are often a pair of Descriptors from the Limited 3 group – which works exactly like in the rulesbook.

Thus on writeups.org you may see things like Second Chance 2 (Heat/cold) – since Heat/cold is a Limited 2 group Descriptor consisting of two Limited 3 group Descriptors that often go together.

Impervious

Low-balled levels of Impervious are mentioned in the RV → Defence equivalence OMACS II tables. This avoids resilient characters having a significant chance to falling prey to weak attacks. The text under these tables discusses adjustment by character types.

3rd Edition Impervious seems to he house-ruled a lot – though of course the observation of Internet forums is not a good way to know how people play. So the entries sometimes include Impervious levels that are only marginally useful, for those who have house rules about Power Attack not affecting the damage for Imperviousness purposes or some similar approach.

Folks who have further altered Immunity may have to adjust scores for their games.


Human-Level Alternate Form

Certain characters have a heroic form and a drastically less powerful form – Captain Marvel / little Billy Batson being the classic example of such an alter-ego at DC, and the Hulk / Dr. Bruce Banner at Marvel.

Green Ronin entries use several approaches to model this – a Complication with very quick notes (Captain Marvel), a Complication with an alternate character sheet (the Demon/Jason Blood), a Feature (the Creeper) or no mention of a weaker form (Hawk and Dove). The Feature approach is the more robust one, and we’re going to use it for the characters we stat up.

Feature 1 is when changing to one’s human form requires a Move Action, and Feature 2 when the change can be done as a Free Action. If there’s a condition to be met (such as shouting “Shazam”) add a Complication. Stats are normally given for the alternate form.

This feature corresponds to one level of Morph with the Metamorph Extra and two Limiteds 1 (alternate form has no super-human level, and alternate form is of a significantly lower PL). This is worth 2 points, with the possibility of having a Quirk (requires a Move Action) to make it worth one point – based on the precedent of the Alternate Form Power.

GMs deciding to use this approach will have to define what a “significantly lower PL” is in the context of their current campaign and the character concept. Clearly Dr. Banner is a more expensive character than lil‘ Billy Batson.

This approach doesn’t apply to characters who can power up to become an enhanced version of themselves.

For instance White Tiger (Angela del Toro) becomes stronger, faster, a better fighter, etc. when she puts on the tiger amulets. But there’s no change of appearance, she conserves her human skillset, etc. Thus, a Device with Powers and Enhanced Attributes and the like is a much better approach than separate forms.

However, a character who has a powerful Permanent alternate form, but who can still transform into a normal form, would use an alternate form Feature. Enhanced traits, being Sustained, would be inadequate, while applying Continuous to multiple linked effects would be expensive while providing little meaningful benefit.

When it comes to super-heroes, such judgement calls are often necessary – their abilities are just too diverse.


Limited Penetration Flaw

Designed for: Specialised ammunition some gun-using characters might use – see the Weapons Locker article about guns on writeups.org.
Cost: Flat -1 per rank

When an attack with the Limited Penetration Flaw hits, check whether the target has ranks of Impervious Toughness applying against the attack. If so, each Rank of Limited Penetration means that the target is considered to have one more point of the Impervious Extra.

If no Impervious Toughness is present against the attack, check whether the target has Ranks of Protection that apply against the attack’s Descriptor. If so, consider that the target has one more Rank of Protection per Rank of Limited Penetration of the attack, even if that goes above the campaign’s PL.

Examples: Deadshot is shooting three targets (A, B and C) with ammunition (Descriptor: Ballistic) that has two ranks of Limited Penetration.

  • Target A has Impervious Toughness 6. This being Impervious to three Ranks of Damage, which the two Ranks of Limited Penetration increase to 5. Since Deadshot’s gun has Damage 4, target A is immune to this ammunition.
  • Target B wears a standard Bulletproof vest, with 4 Ranks of Protection specifically against Ballistic Damage. This Protection is increased to 6 Ranks thanks to the two Ranks of Limited Penetration of the attack.
  • Target C wears armour that is simply listed as Protection 2 and thus helps against all Toughness damage. This Protection is increased to 4 by the two Ranks of Limited Penetration, since the Ranks of Protection do apply against Deadshot’s attack.

Designer’s note: This niche ability is used for attacks that excel against unarmoured targets – they’re given a higher Damage plus this Flaw to represent that.


Limited Skills

Applying Extras and Flaws to Skills is not specifically covered in the rulesbook, but there’s no reason not to.

Specifically, writeups.org entries use Limited Flaws for Skills to represent the numerous characters who do not know all the applications within the broad Skills available in DC Adventures.

The general usage is :

  • if the character knows only one application of the skill it’s a Limited 2
  • if the character knows only 2 or 3 applications of the skill it’s a Limited 1
  • other cases are Quirks

Some Skills necessitate some adaptation – for instance Stealth has only two applications, and the tailing application is of less value than the hiding one. Not knowing the tailing application would be just a Quirk, and only knowing the tailing application would be a Limited 2 – unless tailing people is of particular importance in the campaign.

Likewise most applications of Insight are seldom used in most campaigns.

As with all uses of the Limited Flaw, the GM should consider whether what is actually lost indeed represents about 50% (Limited 1), or about 80% (Limited 2) of the usefulness of the Skill.
In practice, the Limited Flaws used for Skills are almost always those :

  • Deception (Limited 1 – no Disguise or Feinting)
  • Sleight of hand (Limited 2 – Only for Concealment)
  • Technology (Limited 1 – Only for Demolitions, Security and Operating)
  • Technology (Limited 2 – Security application only)
  • Technology (Limited 2 – to Demolitions application)
  • Treatment (Limited 1 – Revive and Stabilise only)
  • Vehicles (Limited 1 – Common land and air vehicles only)
  • Vehicles (Limited 1 – Common and military air and land vehicles)
  • Vehicles (Limited 1 – no space or air vehicles)
  • Vehicles (Limited 2 – Common land vehicles only)


Melee weaponry note

Traditionally, in d20-based games, two-handed melee weapons inflict more damage. A two-handed sword hits harder than a longsword. This led to some hesitation as to whether the sample melee weapons in the rulesbook’s Gadgets & Gear chapter represented one-handed or two-handed melee weapons.

After some discussion the convention we’ll use is that it doesn’t matter and that one-handed, two-handed, one-or-two-handed, etc. melee weapons all use the same stats.


Minions Advantage note

After collectively comparing complex computations, it seems reasonable to allow for the Multiple Minions Extra from the Summoning Effect to be applied to the Minions Advantage.

For instance, having four 30-points street thugs as Minions would be Minion 2 — buying a 30-point Minion — plus the Multiple Minions 2 Extra, for a total of 8 points.


Permanent Growth notes

In most super-heroes RPG Growth effects are a bit complicated to use. The most common use of this Effect is not for characters who can turn themselves into physically impossible giants, like Giant-Man or Giganta – it’s for persons who are permanently larger and heavier than most humans.

On the site we use two ways to make sure this Effect is used in a coherent manner for large persons :

1/ Growth is often one Effect amidst a general Power about the character’s stature. Other Effects will often include Enhanced Abilities and Advantages modelling the character as – usually – a towering strongman. The Power containing Growth and other Effects will be Permanent, and the Growth Power will be noted as, frex, Growth 2 (Already Factored In).
The “Already Factored In” is to make sure readers understand that all the adjustments for having a Permanent Rank of Growth have been done to Abilities, Defences, etc.

2/ Howbeit for the specific case of Growth 1 (the most common Rank), the “Already Factored In” is best unused. Growth 2+ has complex effects, whereas Growth 1 is straightforward – so “Already factored in” would make the notation more complex rather than less.

3/ A set of standards for common Ranks of Permanent Growth. To wit :

  • Growth 0. Characters who weight more than 220 lbs. do not automatically get Ranks of Growth, as they should by a strict interpretation of the Measurements Table. 220+ lbs. characters should have 3 Ranks of weight re.: getting knocked back and Move Objects effects, but writing this up as Growth is just too counter-intuitive. Our proposed solution is thus to live in denial.
  • Growth 1. Characters depicted as being markedly larger than a modern male heavyweight boxer. It’s impossible to have a firm threshold without producing ridiculous results, but characters who are 6’6” or more and/or 250 lbs. or more will often have one Rank of Permanent Growth (Already Factored In). Another way to express it is – characters who are markedly bigger than Captain America or Batman probably have Growth. Most towering strongmen live in this zip code.
  • Growth 2. Characters who weight more than 440 lbs. but less than 885 lbs., with the exception of characters with an abnormal body density (like Marvel’s Asgardians, or Ferro Lad, who are quite heavy but not particularly large). The first Marvel example that comes to mind is the Rhino. Well it’s the second, but General Wo is a bit obscure. The first DC example that comes to mind is Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday.
  • Growth 3. Behemoths in the 885 lbs. to 1,760 lbs. range, usually drawn as superhumanly broad and well above 7’. This is Savage Hulk territory, well above recorded human maximums.

(Though the numbers above are listed in pounds, they are the values from the *metric* version of the Measurement Table since they work better with comic book character weights.)

From the pricing of the Growth Effect, the Noticeable Flaw doesn’t seem appropriate for most Permanent Growth Characters – it seems implicit. Likewise, using the Innate Extra for most such Characters seems appropriate for 2-3 Ranks of Growth, given the points break they represent.

When assessing in which category a very large character should fit, remember that the official heights and weights given for characters are not always in synch with how they are actually drawn. The official weights are frequently low-balled – the weights mentioned above assume official values, not realistic ones.


Power Attack notes

Due to the ways the attacks bonus vs. effect bonus trade-offs work, a Power Attack — with or without the Advantage of the same name — can represent at least two very different tactics:

  1. Aiming at weak points, for instance areas not covered by body armour
  2. Heavier but slower strikes intended to overcome the opponent’s durability

It also means that armour offering but partial coverage (like a ballistic vest) do not represent a flaw, as aiming at unarmoured or less armoured points is baked into the system.

Lastly, it means that many proficient fighters have the the Advantage, since it represents such different tactical approaches. Do note that Green Arrow (Oliver Queen), the archetypal projectile placement fighter, has the Advantage (it’s missing in the Hero Handbook, but that’s a glitch).


Rapid Fire Advantage (Combat ● Ranked)

Designed for: Extraordinary fighters whose style allow them to Multiattack with ordinary weapons. Pistolera was the first example of this.

Each Rank of this Advantage allows to assign the Multiattack Bonus to one Rank of an ability among a broad group. This works like the Close Combat and Ranged Combat Skills. For instance valid applications are Rapid Fire (Firearms), Rapid Fire (Swords), Rapid Fire (Unarmed) and Rapid Fire (Fire powers), whereas Rapid Fire (Melee Weapons) or Rapid Fire (Powers) are not allowed.

As always, Ranks without the modifier cannot be used with Multiattack. In terms of Equipment, this usually means that weapons with too many Ranks of effect cannot be used with the Advantage though the GM may allow them to be used with reduced Ranks matching the Multiattack Ranks.

Designer’s note: Numerous approaches were attempted and, in the end, it appears that a simple Advantage like this is the most elegant way to have a “floating Multiattack” a person can attach to certain weapons. There was a lot of reticence to end up with something not in the rulesbook, but other approaches create too many problems.

The main precedent for an Advantage enhancing gear is Throwing Mastery.

Designer’s note: A key advantage of this is to make sure that it’s the shooter’s skill that grants the Multiattack Extra, rather than a property of the weapon. This way, those who pick up the arms of the weapons master are not mysteriously able to Multiattack, and the weapons master can pick up any suitable weapon and start Multiattacking.

This is cleaner design than enhancing the equipment’s stats, and the Advantage is priced so that having it rather than slapping Multiattack onto the equipment is not inordinate.

Designer’s note: The line of thought that led to this was how to represent people using paired weapons — dual-wielding. It evolved beyond that as we realised that a lot of the “well-executed flurry of attacks” aspects were handled well by Takedown, higher attack bonuses, Power Attack, Close/Ranged Attack and Precise Attack, and we developed a clear framework to tie those to specific weapons techniques.

See the “Signature Fighting Styles” usage clarification section in this document for more about the latter.

In the end, the Rapid Fire advantage – the ability to Multiattack – is only useful for a few characters. Multiattack means that they have the ability to unleash a flurry of attacks that can overwhelm a single opponent in multiple vulnerable spots (effectively raising their Damage even beyond PL, though not against Impervious) or effectively hit multiple targets, without any drawback (as an All-Out or Power Attack would).

This is a rather badass ability that’s only likely to be seen in the fastest, deadliest, most precise fighters.


Second Chance Advantage notes

The advice about Second Chance is now a sub-section in the defensive abilities discussion since it refers to various concepts used in this article.


Shotgun Blast Power

Effects: Array, see below ● 3 points per Rank

Much like Snare (DC Adventures p117), Shotgun Blast is a pre-built Power to avoid repeating the same specifications over and over again. It uses standard game elements. Shotgun Blast represents shotguns as seen in Hollywood movies and most video games. It doesn’t represent realistic ballistics.

Specifically, Shotgun Blast is an Array representing the three most common, always-available types of rounds any shotgun can fire, and their most salient features.

The three Alternate Powers follow, with a “XX” standing for the Ranks in the Shotgun Blast Power.

  • Slug: Ranged Ballistic Damage XX. Quirk 1 (changing ammunition type requires reloading)
  • Buckshot: Ranged Ballistic Damage XX, Diminished Range 1, Precise Attack (Ranged Concealment) Linked with Line-Area 2 Ballistic Damage (XX minus 1). Both Damage Effects have Quirk 1 (each Rank of Range lowers Damage by 1). Quirk 1 (changing ammunition type requires reloading)
  • Birdshot: Ranged Ballistic Affliction XX, Diminished Range 1, Precise Attack (Ranged Concealment), Accurate 1 Linked with Line-Area 2 Ballistic Affliction (XX minus 1), Accurate 1. Both Affliction effects have Quirk 1 (each Rank of Range lowers Damage by 1), are resisted by Toughness, go Dazed/Stunned/Incapacitated. Quirk 1 (changing ammunition type requires reloading)

In plain English –
The Slug Alternate Power is a big bullet. It’s chiefly useful at a range, where the Alternate Powers quickly lose steam, or to avoid collateral damage.

The Buckshot Alternate Power is an attack with a blast zone travelling along with it, but it becomes less accurate and less powerful as range increases. The Line-Area Damage can catch targets that are in the way or are standing close to the target, and will deliver a secondary Damage effect against the target barring evasive measures.
This makes Shotgun Blast particularly effective against low-Toughness targets unless they have Evasion.

The Birdshot Alternate Power is mostly like the Buckshot Alternate Power, but it causes pain and shock rather than damage (at least for targets tougher than a bird) and is useless against hardened targets. It can also describe rock salt. Birdshot and rock salt are seldom used in fiction or games, but some character may be interested in such an option.

Note that Flaws stack. For instance if a specific weapon lists Shotgun Blast 4 Diminished Ranged 1 this means that the Slug Alternate Power has Diminished Range 1 and the Buckshot and Birdshot Alternate Powers, which already have Diminished Range 1, escalate to Diminished Range 2.


Shotgun Blast Power – Wide Choke

Effects: Array, see below ● 3 points per Rank

This works exactly like the Shotgun Blast Power, except that all mentions of Line Area are replaces by a Cone Area.

Like the Shotgun Blast Power itself this is not meant to simulate any sort of realistic ballistics.


Signature Fighting Styles notes

DC Adventures profiles on writeups.org tend toward a greater level of detail than the official blocky style, and highlight the distinctive assets of the characters being written up — for instance their fighting style.

This is often done by having a Power built with Advantages, Effects and Skills representing their style or part of their style.

Those are sometimes called “little rubber duck powers” — because they are not Powers in the sense of superhuman abilities, because it’s a bit of cutesy to draw attention toward something interesting, and because the rules document for cool moves in DC Heroes on writeups.org (“Schticks”) has a rubber duck as its mascot.

Example #1 (Bolshoi)

Ballet-like kicks ● 2 points ● Descriptor: Skill
Strength-Based Damage 1, Reach 1

A straightforward example, representing Bolshoi’s spectacular kicks as hitting hard and having good reach (because he excels at jumping kicks). The important part is the Descriptor – “Skill”. This is our solution to ensure that the little rubber duck power behaves correctly versus meta-effects such as Nullify, Weaken, Mimic, etc.

Bolschoi’s kicking techniques being Described as Skills, they won’t be unduly affected by Effects that eliminate super-powers (say, power dampeners). In a sense, they are are Innate.

However, the Descriptor means that the Ballet-Like Kicks can be affected by meta-effects affecting Skills. For instance duplicated by characters who can replicate know-how like Taskmaster, Echo or (briefly) Vixen, or nullified by an hypnotist who makes Bolshoi forget his training.

Example #2 (Big Ben Donovan)

Sheer size ● 36 points (Permanent, Innate)
– Growth 1 (Already Factored In)
– Great strength — Enhanced Strength 3, Enhanced Fighting 2
– Great mass — Impervious Protection 2 (Limited 3 to Unarmed Damage), Enhanced Stamina 3, Enhanced Fortitude 3, Defensive Roll 1
– Great reach — Enhanced Fighting 2, Strength-Based Unarmed Damage w/Reach 1, Improved Grab
– Towering — Intimidation 6 (+7)

This Power represents the fact that “Big” Ben Donovan is 7’4” and at least 330 lbs. Here the presentation emphasises how much of an advantage in combat his height, reach and mass represent.

It’s not that Mr. Donovan is skilled, fast, exercises a lot, has a scary personality or is highly resilient to pain (he’s none of these things). It’s that he’s big in such a way that represents a serious advantage in a fight, to impress people, to lift heavy things, to resist poison, etc.

Rather than ventilate this stuff throughout the character sheet, we draw attention to Big Ben’s big schtick – he’s big. Which means that the rest of the character sheet had an easier time explaining what he does beyond being big (he’s not half-bad a lawyer, he’s pretty smart and he’s connected).

And in the unlikely case Big Ben is shrunk down to a more average stature by Pym particles, well you’ll know what to do.

Example #3 (Battlestar)

Shieldsman ● 2 points (Sustained, Easily removable – requires a shield) ● Descriptor: Skill
Enhanced Parry 1, Enhanced Dodge 1, Defensive Attack, Interpose

We now move on to a guy with a little rubber duck power that requires equipment – in Battlestar’s case, a shield. The Power groups various Effects and Advantages that make him a tougher, more flexible combatant whenever he has a shield handy – and Describes those as a Skill to avoid weird corner cases.

Thus, Battlestar can get extra mileage out of any shield because he’s specially trained to use those — and his own shield (a Device, since it’s unique equipment) can have stats that are appropriate for a flat piece of metal. Random people can pick Battlestar‘ shield and use it, but Battlestar is clearly better at it because of his Shieldsman Power.

The Shieldsman Power is described as being Sustained. Its varied defensive assets are not passive like a suit of body armour, and require an active fighter who’s concentrating on using his special shield techniques.

Furthermore, we have the Removable Flaw assigned to a Power (see the Weapon-Master character archetype for the official precedent).

This represents the fact that he needs a shield for these Effects and Advantages to come in effect, and it ensures that the points cost of his little rubber duck power are perfectly aligned with the cost these abilities would have were they baked into the stats of a Device, for balance purposes.

It’s also a good way to handle characters with a little rubber duck power tied to equipment that is Removable rather than Easily Removable as most weapons are – since the points break for these should be smaller.

Example #4 (Diamondback (Willis Stryker))

Handy with the steel ● 2 points (Sustained, Easily removable – requires a fighting knife) ● Descriptor: Skill
Enhanced Parry 2, Power Attack, Precise Attack (Concealment, Ranged)

This little rubber duck power is interesting in that it models a character who’s not a good hand-to-hand fighter, but becomes significantly deadlier when he has a knife.

Suddenly he can control the space around him with the threat of his blade (Enhanced Parry) and can strike vicious blows against those less skilled than he is (Power Attack), whereas with his bare hands he doesn’t know to block or to strike to kill. We thus have a character with two distinct speeds – knife (dangerous) and no knife (much less dangerous).

The character also has Improved Critical (Knives) and Close combat (Knives). Aesthetically these could be listed under “Handy with the steel” to showcase his emphasis on knives, but these are already specialised skills, and thus cannot benefit from the Easily Removable Flaw – that would be double-dipping.

The Precise Attack to make him a better knife-thrower, though, belongs to Handy With The Steel since it normally can be used with any ranged attack.

Example 5 (Vicious)

Right-hand knife ● 2 points (Sustained, Easily Removable – requires a fighting knife) ● Descriptor: Skill
Enhanced Parry 2, Power Attack, Close attack 1

Left-hand knife ● 2 points (Sustained, Easily Removable – requires a fighting knife) ● Descriptor: Skill
Enhanced Parry 2, Takedown 1, Enhanced Initiative 1

Vicious is a typical example of a character who’s an expert with paired weapons. She usually fights with a knife in each hand, a fighting style that makes her much more dangerous than she’d otherwise be (Enhanced Parry 4, Power Attack, Enhanced Initiative, etc.).

Presenting her style as 2 Powers, one for each hand, makes it easy to decide what happens if she’s deprived of one of her knives – and is more nuanced than an all-or-nothing arrangement.

It also means that if she has to fight with just one blade, she has to make a decision as to which half of her fighting style she’ll use. Her right-hand knife is the hard-hitting one and her left-hand knife is the fast-hitting one, so if she has just one blade she’ll have to renounce one of these strengths.


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