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DC Heroes RPG – Optional skills


Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This is an older technical article for the DC Heroes RPG. It harbours some older work on Skills. These work OK, but we’re not entirely happy about them and/or they’re too niche and in most cases the default rules are fine.

Still, they could be useful so we keep them around.

The “real” document about new Skills is the DC Heroes – New Rules – Skills page.


SCIENTIST (computer science) Subskill v2

By Unknown (please step forward) and Sébastien Andrivet
Use: This Subskill should be considered for every campaign where computers are a significant element.
Scientist (computer science) is NOT a standard Subskill of the Scientist Skill – meaning that a Character with the Scientist skill is not to be assumed to have the Computer Science Subskill at the same level as the remainder of the Skill. A Character wishing to have the Scientist (computer science) Subskill as a part of the Scientist Skill thus raises the Factor Cost of the Scientist Skill from 5 to 6 (or more as other Subskills are added) – and should explicitly note the Computer Science Subskill.

For writeups in the database, a shorthand notation Scientist (computers) is often used. That means the Character has both computer Subskills (computer science and computer hacking) ; this shorthand can also be used for Player Characters.

This Subskill has two main uses – using computers and networks with proficiency, and programming.

Computer and network usage includes hardware skills (knowing how to assemble a computer, to test suspected equipment failures, general knowledge of available hardware and its abilities, installing new pieces of hardware, etc.), operating system skills (solving computer problems, recovering crashes, ensuring that a computer runs smoothly with good stability and security), scripting skills (adding small routines in easy languages (shell scripting, PERL, AppleScript…) to automate small tasks, or have them occur at certain times), applications skill (knowledge and use of basic applications such as word processors, spreadsheet, web browser, mailers, image workshops, etc.) as well as knowledge of network administration, Internet and other network protocols and contents available via those protocols (specific databases, proper use of search engines, Usenet and web rings, etc.)

All of those tasks can be solved with a simple roll against the estimated difficulty of the task.

Programming cover the writing of actual applications. Small, relatively basic programs such as a text based calculator, would be a 2 AP program. Writing one’s own Word Processor or Database would be a say 6 AP program. A Network management/network control program would be an 8 AP program. The measure also represents the speed and efficiency of coding and the “strength” of your code (how hard it is to ’hack‘ it). Hardware programming is also included in this category, not just software programming. Skill in programming also represents how well it is coded, such that the AV/EV of a virus would be the APs of the programmers’ skill. The Skill is also the OV/RV versus other programs. This is the anticipation of attempts of hacking.

Time Considerations: For any programming attempt, take the AP level of the program and add 8 APs. Using a base ½ hr for the most basic of programs (1 AP). If the programmer’s APs of skill is higher than the time required, subtract the difference in APs from the time required to write the program.

Benchmarks for programs :
Basic text based Program : 2
Basic GUI Program : 4+
Operating System : 5-6+
Network Management software : 6-8+


SCIENTIST (computer hacking) Subskill v1.4

By Unknown (please step forward) and Sébastien Alexandre Andrivet
Use: This Subskill should be considered for every campaign where computers are a significant element.
Scientist (computer hacking) is NOT a standard Subskill of the Scientist Skill – meaning that a Character with the Scientist skill is not to be assumed to have the Hacking Subskill at the same level as the remainder of the Skill. A Character wishing to have the Scientist (computer hacking) Subskill as a part of the Scientist Skill thus raises the Factor Cost of the Scientist Skill from 5 to 6 (more as other Subskills are added) – and should explicitly note the Hacking Subskill.

A Character must have at least as many APs in the Scientist (computer science) Subskill as he does in the Scientist (computer hacking) Subskill.

For writeups in the database, a shorthand notation Scientist (computers) is often used. That means the Character has both computer Subskills (computer science and computer hacking) ; this shorthand can also be used for Player Characters.

This Subskill covers the other side of programming, trying to break into or ’hack‘ some piece of code. Note that hardware is controlled by ’hard-software‘ and is therefore hack-able, you control the code, you control the device/program. Knowing HOW to hack gives a better ability to program against hacking. When attempting to hack into a system/program, the AV/EV is the hacker’s APs of Hacking skill. The OV is the highest the systems programmer’s hacking or programming skill (or INT if neither). The RV is the opposing programming skill (or INT if no skill). Basically, Hacking can supersede a programmers base skill level. Such that hacking can be substituted when writing programs of this genre, security, hacking,

Time Considerations: For a hacking attempt, add 10 APs to the AP level of the ’defense‘, the system/program being hacked, then subtract the APs of Hacking from it. This is how long it takes for the attempt to hack the system. It is at the end of this period that the player gets a roll to try the Hack. If a player is attempting to Hack without the Hacking Subskill, subtract only ½ the APs of the programming OR ⅓ the APs of operation subskills.

Benchmark for systems :
Basic PC : 2
Network: 4+
Supercomputer : 8+
Military Supercomputer : 12+
S.T.A.R. Labs (or LexCorp) Supercomp.: 15+


Language skills v1.1

By Peter S Piispanen and John Colagioia (help from JD and Sean MacDonald)
Use: This Skill should be considered for every campaign where use of foreign languages will be an important issue. Most popular fiction do not pay much attention to the matters – in this case, knowledge of foreign languages is simply a Language advantage. However, more realistic campaigns may use the Language Skill.
Link: INT
Range: Self
Type: Auto/Dice
Base Cost: 0
Factor Cost: 1, 1.5 or 2 (depending on Campaign)

A Character with Language knows how to read and write or speak in the Native or a Foreign tongue. Player characters automatically know how to read, write, and speak their Native language at an AP level equal to their INT score. Additional Foreign Languages have to be bought as usual. The AP level is seen as the AP level of any other knowledge-based skill; their AP level represents their knowledge in the use, understanding, writing, reading and vocabulary as well as the grammar of the chosen language. The AP level of a Language may be described as follows:

AP level Description
1-2 Beginner’s knowledge in the use of a language. For a Foreign Language at this level normal life situations are no problem, but there is a strong accent and the use of language is sometimes hindered. Native Language at this level is considered to be impaired.
Example: Citizens having studied any language at Basic school or the knowledge level acquired being abroad for a while. A less bright player character would also have a linguistic knowledge at this level (at INT 02). Normal thugs would have this level of proficiency in their Native language.

3-4 Intermediate knowledge at the level of a High School Graduate. Any Foreign Language at this level would be considered to be at a fluent level, but still with an accent. Other quite similar languages may be understood occasionally.
Example: Most folks would fit into this category in their native language and a character with a Foreign Language at this level could very well be a teacher in it.

5-7 The University level of proficiency. An extremely good understanding of the Native Language and a Foreign Language at this level is better than most natives and is completely without accent. A character at this level may attempt to understand similar languages quite easily.
Example: Not uncommon among supers and highly educated normals such as Professors.

8-10 A level which is rare among normals. A character at this level knows nearly all there is to know about a language and may very easily use it to encrypt messages in other languages and extremely different languages with some effort.
Example: Marvel’s Beast would fit in this category with English (10) and he might also understand Shi’ar which is extremely remote from any Earth language.

11+ A rare level even among supers. Such a character may speak in ways that nobody understands and may, if listener is receptive, gain a -1CS to the OV/RV of any Persuasion attempt made.
Example: The world’s leading authority in any language would be put at this level such as a Professor who has studied the language his/her entire life and is a linguistic genius.

These levels are handled in all cases as if they were APs of knowledge and will be used as the AV/EV for dice actions involving Languages. Normal and simple conversation may be accomplished with an automatic action (such as player characters discussing).

Common use of language is always an automatic action, while Language use where the RAPs make a difference (such as encoding a code in a different language, trying to hide ones accent etc) are dice actions. Trying to understand a similar language has an OV/RV as based on the ’Languages Chart‘ and are subject to ’Universal Modifiers’. The OV/RV is also subject changes due to other miscellaneous events.

Task OV/RV Example
Understanding an extremely similar language 00 Swedish-Norwegian
Understanding a similar language 02 Swedish-Danish
Understanding a related language 04 Swedish-German
Understanding a far related language 06 English-Swedish
Understanding a very different language 08 English-Arabic
Understanding a completely different language 10 English-Navaho
Understanding an alien language 12 English-Royal Shi’ar
Being under stress (or Intimidated) +1 CS
Not being fluent in the language which is used for encoding another language +1 CS
Attempting Persuasion with a language at extreme proficiency and with Gift of Gab advantage -2 CS
Attempting Persuasion with extremely bad knowledge in the language +1 CS
Language studied is written in a very complicated way +1 CS

RAPs acquired in such a roll is used as the RAPs of any other knowledge-based skill. A Character may increase his/her proficiency at start in the Native Language by paying the difference in costs on the ’AP Purchase Chart‘ from their basic level (INT) to the new level. Any Scholar (language) adds 2 CS of knowledge to the ’APs’ of the Language Advantage, but the Advantages are still kept separate on the Advantages list of the character.

Optional Rules:

  • All characters may be assumed to be English-speaking and as such there is no need to write English on the Character Sheet unless the AP level is greatly different from the character’s INT score.
  • Similar languages to the characters Native language may be purchased with a -1FC to represent the ease of learning also including Character Growth.
  • Any language which is bought as either ’only read/write‘ or ’speak only‘ has its final cost either halved or Deduct 5 HPs (as a misc drawback) from total cost.
  • In previous write-ups where knowledge of a language is represented by having a scholar in it, it might be applicable to see it as if the character had that language at INT level proficiency.

The Language Groups are from related to completely different to each other:

  1. African: Native languages of continental Africa, except Egyptian.
  2. Amerindian: Languages of the Native American tribes of the Americas.
  3. Asiatic 1: All Chinese dialects, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, Indonesian, Laotian, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian languages.
  4. Asiatic 2: The languages of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
  5. Polynesian: The languages of Hawaii, Tahiti, the Philippines, and other South Pacific islands.
  6. Celtic 1: Gaelic, Celtic, and Welsh.
  7. European 1: The Germanic Languages, including English, German, Danish, Dutch, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish (no, not really!).
  8. European 2: The Romance Languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
  9. European 3: The Slavic Languages, including Czech, Polish, Russian, Slovak, Ukrainian and Finnish (should be placed here!)
  10. Middle Eastern: Hebrew, Arabic, Egyptian, Greek, Farsi (Persian), and Turkish.
  11. Ancient/Alien/Dead/Exotic/Lost: Each separate Exotic, Ancient, Lost or Dead language, or Alien tongue is seen as a language group consisting of a single alien language. Other languages that may be in those groups are subject to GM discretion.
    Examples: Hieroglyphs, Latin, Interlac, Durlan, Exorian

The table from ’Sidekick Sourcebook‘ is also fine.


MARTIAL ARTIST (mystic arts) Subskill v1.1

By Zaran Black and Angel
Use: This Subskill should be considered for specific genres – it models martial artists having access to abilities that are neither Powers or Occult Rituals. Those abilities are often introduced as the harnessing of chi, oneness with the Way, hypnosis techniques, etc. They are most often in certain manga, and popular action novels where martial arts are all-powerful – such as Remo the Destroyer.
Martial Artist (mystic arts) is NOT a standard Subskill of the Martial Artist Skill – meaning that a Character with the Martial Artist skill is not to be assumed to have the Mystic arts Subskill at the same level as the remainder of the Skill. A Character wishing to have the Martial Artist (mystic arts) Subskill as a part of the Martial Artist Skill thus raises the Factor Cost of the Martial Artist Skill from 6 to 7 – and should explicitly note the Mystic arts Subskill.

The Subskill is highly similar to the Occultist (Ritual Magic) Subskill. All rules pertaining to the Occultist (Ritual Magic) Subskill apply to the Martial Artist (Mystic Arts) Subskill. It allows to buy and use Rituals-like abilities that are neither considered, in technical terms, as Rituals or as Powers – but as Skills. Note that, in almost of cases, these quasi-Rituals require no components.

Examples of Mystic Arts :

Art of the Feather
Effect:
Gravity Reduction: 4
Casting Time: 0 AP (4 seconds)
Special Restriction: Power is limited to Self Only.
HP cost: Not calculated
Note: This ability will enable the artist to, for example, jump among the trees while carrying nearly not weight at all. It also enables one to do amazing acrobatic feats when used in combination with the Gymnastics Subskill.

Blinding Touch
Effect:
Flash: 6
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
Special Restriction: The victim must be touched on the forehead (Trick Shot) and uses OV/RV of Body/Body instead of Dex/Dex to resist.
HP cost: 17
Note: After casting this Mystic Art, the Martial Artist must touch the special pressure point on the victim’s forehead, causing temporary blindness much like the Flash Power.

Body Control
Effect:
Suspension: 4
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
HP cost: 4
Note: This Art allows the Martial Artist to slow down vital processes of the body to feign death, conserve on air, etc.

Chi Focusing
Effect:
Power Reserve 3
Casting Time: 2 APs (16 seconds)
HP cost: not calculated
Note: This Art allows the Martial Artist to focus all of his/her chi-energies into one single physical action. The effect is usable with DEX, STR and any physical skill or power. Martial Artist much first purchase the ’Body Control‘&‘Immovable Stance‘ abilities.

Forgetfulness
Effect:
Hypnosis: 9
Casting Time: 2 APs (16 seconds)
Special Restriction: Hypnosis may only be used for suppressing selective memories from a subject by pressing a certain nerve in the throat and speaking which memories are now forgotten.
HP cost: not calculated
Note: This Art allows the user, by combining acupuncture and mesmerism, to suppress certain memories in the victim of this manoeuvre.

Hand of Death
Effect:
Poison Touch: 6
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
Special Restriction: Instead of attacking the victim every phase, this Art attacks the victim an hour after being touch by the Hand of Death and every hour afterwards until no RAPs are gained.
HP cost: 15 (Must also have the Pressure Point Art before purchasing)
Note: Western Medicine will have Extreme difficulty to counteract the Hand of Death. This is the famed Death Touch or Dim Mak. The victim may not even know that their nervous systems is breaking down because the Artist must only touch the person to initiate this diabolical attack (no Trick Shot is required). Even in a four-colour martial art campaign this ability will be extremely rare for it is a well-guarded secret known by few. This is a Killing Attack.

Immovable Stance
Effect:
Joined: 6
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
HP cost: 6
Note: This ability allows the Artist to hold ones ground from Knockback through expert balance and Chi channeling.

Invisibility Art
Effect:
Mental Illusion: 6
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
Special Restriction: Only makes the Martial Artist invisible to the victim instead of causing an illusion.
HP cost: 22
Note: The Martial Artist can use this ability to become invisible to the victim’s eyes. Like the Mental Illusion power, Vision powers will not work to counteract this Mystic Art. Anything that affects Hypnotism will help defend against this ability. This ability is often bough with the ’Usable By Others’ Bonus.

Pain Ignorance
Effect:
Mind over Matter: 3
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
HP cost: not calculated
Note: The Artist with this ability has such a good control over his nervous system and pain tolerance that pain from physical damage may be ignored to a large extent.

Pressure Points
Effect:
Paralysis: 6
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
Special Restriction: Touch only
HP cost: 10
Note: Touching certain points on the human body (Trick Shot required), this ability causes paralysis in the victim. See the Paralysis power for details.

Surrounding Awareness
Effect:
Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent 4, Directional Hearing 4, Extended Hearing 4 or Ultra Vision 4
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
HP cost: variable
Note: This ability simulates the Artists ability to sense variations in the energy fields of all things, living or un-living, and thus simulate the effect of any of the above sensorial powers.

Water-running
Effect:
Superspeed 9
Casting Time: 1 AP (8 seconds)
HP cost: not calculated
Special Restriction: Power is only usable to run on water, using normal land movement speed up to the AP level of this Art.
Note: This powerful and rare ability (thus the high cost) enables the Artist to move with such speed and grace that running on water becomes a possibility. Any land movement power or ability may be utilized on water as if it was solid ground.


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Compiled by Sébastien Andrivet

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