DC Heroes RPG – New Rules – Bonuses

Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game


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.



Autofire – Variant Bonus Name

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Factor Cost Modifier: +1

Autofire is the exact same thing as the Multi-Attack 1 Bonus in Blood of Heroes: Special Edition. It lowers the penalties for Multi-Attacking by one row on the Multi-Attack Chart.

Designer’s Notes: Autofire is now redundant, but was developed before the more flexible Multi-Attack Bonus was, and had slightly different mechanics.

The terminology “Autofire” rather than “Multi-Attack Bonus 1” remains in use out of habit, because it’s snappier, and because it’s more evocative when assigned to burst-capable firearms, which is its usual use).

Automatic Defense – New Bonus

Authors: Mike Winkler and Roy Cowan.
Factor Cost Modifier: +1 or +2

This Bonus allows defensive Powers to automatically activate when an appropriate attack occurs. For example, a character whose Force Field has Automatic Defense will have the Power automatically activate when he is Physically attacked, defending him against the incoming attack.

When a Power with Automatic Defense activates, it does not consume an Automatic Action as it normally would. However, turning off the Power afterward would consume an Automatic Action.

Furthermore, the Power will automatically whether the character wishes it to or not. A character whose Teleportation Power has Automatic Defense will teleport aside to safety no matter the character’s wishes.

The standard Bonus as described above has a +1 Factor Cost. If the character can choose not to have the Power activate, the Bonus becomes Controllable Automatic Defense and has a +2 Factor Cost.

Catfall – New Bonus for the Jumping Power

Factor Cost Modifier: +1

With the Catfall Bonus, a Character can subtract their APs of Jumping plus one from the distance of any fall. For instance, Selene (Jumping: 02, Catfall Bonus) leaps from the seventh story (3 APs distance) ; the Catfall bonus reduces this to a 0 APs fall.

She thus takes no damage and can pretty much hit the ground running, her Acrobatic score trivialising a 0 APs fall.

Chain Extension – New Bonus

Author: Danielle Mendus.
Factor Cost Modifier: +1

A Power with this Bonus can pass along physical objects in contact with each other at a maximum distance equal to the Range of the power. Each significant object in the chain (excluding the target) reduces the effect of the power by 1 AP (cumulative with the Diminishing Limitation if applicable). The last object in the chain is what is targeted by the power. 

For instance, 2 thugs are about to shoot an innocent bystander. The hero has Mental Blast with Chain Extension and the thugs are within Normal Range of the power, so he touches a lamp post which touches the ground which the thugs are standing on, allowing him to use Mental Blast on them both at -2 APs.

Combined Power Usage – New Bonus

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helpers: John Colagioia, Phil Dixon, Pufnstuff, Joel Rojas.
Factor Cost Modifier: Varies

This Bonus allows multiple Powers to be used simultaneously. There are three possible ways to combine of Powers:

  • Combining two Automatic Actions (Example: Running and Air Walking) – Can usually be done without restriction or special cost, and doesn’t require this Bonus.
  • Combining an Automatic Action and a Dice Action (Example: Fog with Poison Touch or Chemical Attack) – This is a + 1FC modifier for each Power. Standard terminology is, for example, “Fog acts as a carrier for Poison touch (+1 FC)” and “Poison touch can be carried by Fog (+1 FC)”. If one of the Powers can only be used with the other, this is a – 1 FC for that Power.
  • Combining two or more Dice Actions (Example: Claws with Poison Touch or Projectile Weapon discharging Lightning on contact) – In each such array, one Power must be designated as the primary Power. The array is then handled using the following rules :
    • For each Power in the array, apply a +1 FC to all Powers in the array. Thus a combination with two Powers means +2 FC to all Powers that can be combined, three Powers means +3FC each, etc.
    • The whole attack is resolved with one roll, which is then used as the Dice Action roll for all Powers in the array. Only the main Power of the array can benefit from doubles; if doubles are rolled, use the initial value of the roll for Powers in the array that aren’t the main Power, and add any rerolls for the main Power only.
    • If Hero Points are used to defend against the attack, the HPs spent count against each and every power in the combination at no extra cost. For instance, if the target attacked by a Projectile Weapon/Lightning combination uses LDD to negate 5 RAPs of damage, 5 RAPs are subtracted from the damage inflicted by Projectile Weapons and 5 RAPs are also subtracted from Lightning’s damage.

This Bonus can be bought in conjunction with the Restricted Penetration Limitation (-1 FC applied to all Dice Action Powers in the array): None of the secondary Powers can get more RAPs than the carrier Power, with extra RAPs simply being ignored.

The Factor Cost rebate for this Limitation becomes 0 instead of -1 if the secondary Power has half or fewer APs than the carrier Power.

Counterstrike – New Bonus

Authors: Mike Winkler and Roy Cowan.
Factor Cost Modifier: +3 or +2

Offensive Powers with this Bonus automatically attack a target when a particular condition is met. For example, a character might buy Mind Blast that Counterstrikes against anyone attempting to manipulate them via mental means such as Control.

Counterstriking Powers do not consume a Dice Action. Such Powers can also be used normally and the character can choose not to Counterstrike if they so desire. This standard version of the Bonus has a +3 Factor Cost.

If a Power cannot be stopped from Counterstriking — that is, it attacks whether or not the character wants it to — then the Bonus is referred to as a Reflexive Counterstrike and only has a +2 Factor Cost.

If the character has a Power that only works when Counterstriking and cannot be used normally, this is a separate Limitation: Can only Counterstrike/Reflexively Counterstrike. This is a -1 Factor Cost Limitation.

Cumulative – New Bonus

Author: Gareth Lewis.
Helpers: Peter Piispanen.
Factor Cost Modifier: +2

This Bonus allows attacks whose RAPs aren’t enough to affect a target accrue as it continues to attack that target on consecutive rounds.

The Power must strike the target each turn, even if it scores no RAPs. While it continues to do so the RAPs are added together until they’re high enough for the Power to take effect.

If the Power does not successfully strike the target one turn, the target gets a Recovery Check against the accumulated RAPs.

Discerning – Usage note

Author: Sébastien Andrivet et al.

The Discerning Bonus is described under the Detect Power (BoH:SE p67). However, it is worthwhile to note that it can be applied to other Powers than Detect, primarily :

  1. Powers that arguably should fall under the remit of Detect (Foo), such as Life Sense, Awareness or Magic Sense.
  2. Other sensory Powers, though this is much less common.

An example of the latter is Wolfsbane, with Discerning Thermal Vision since she can see detailed, real-time heat maps rather than have a blurry sense of the presence or absence of heat. Another example is Discerning Analytical Smell/Tracking Scent used to read chemming  trails of some species.

Form Function (a.k.a. Innate) – New Bonus

Author: Danielle Mendus.
Factor Cost Modifier: +1

A Power purchased with this Bonus is a direct result of a Character’s physical form, such as a bird’s Flight being derived from its wings. This power is therefore immune to the effects of Neutralize and Power Theft.

Many animal forms assumed through Shape Change (and some forms assumed through Self Manipulation) are considered to have this Bonus for Powers though no Factor Cost modifier is applied to Shape Change or Self Manipulation.

These powers with Form Function may not be Neutralized, Adapted nor Mimicked, though Shape Change and Self Manipulation may be used to recreate them.

Note that special circumstances may allow certain characters to ignore some of the above restrictions. For example, a character who prevents his targets from accessing their Powers using subconscious suggestion might be able to effectively Neutralize such innate Powers by imposing a mental block.

Likewise, a character who mimicks abilities by some esoteric means such as “tapping into the morphic field for the animal’s ideal form” can mimic animal abilities without taking on the necessary form.

Partywide – New Bonus

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Base Cost Modifier: +65 Factor Cost Modifier: +4

To be eligible the Partywide Bonus, a Power must have a Range of Self and a Type of Auto.

A Power with the Partywide Bonus is bestowed to all members of the party, including the Character with the Power. Doing so takes a Dice Action, though no actual dice roll is needed.

The effect is maintained for 9 APs of time and within 4 APs of Range. With the GM’s authorisation, these quantities can be adjusted when the Power is bought. The GM will likely want them to add up to 13 or less, though. It can be renewed with a Dice Action at any point.

A “party” is usually 3 to 6 persons, counting the Character. Affecting significantly larger groups requires additional FC penalties when buying the Bonus.

Design notes, part 1

This doesn’t appear much in super-hero stories. But it is recurrent in RPGs and in particular CRPGs  as buffs .

In DCH, the concept sits awkwardly between :

  1. Area of Effect (+1 FC).
  2. Usable on Others (which would have a *huge* + FC, given how little +5 FC gets you).
  3. The Enchantment Power (BC 200, FC 10, can enhance any existing quantity).

The cleanest approach is to get Enchantment, and slap on Bonuses and Limitations. This is what we use for the pricing computations here. But using Enchantment results in cumbersome notation, whereas expressing it as a Bonus keeps things short and simple.

Design notes, part 2

If a given Character is projected to have multiple Powers with the Partywide bonus, going with Enchantment instead (with appropriate Bonuses and Limitations) will often be preferable (and cheaper). Selective (+1) Area of Effect (+1) to Enchantment will usually be part of the mix.

You can also review the part about stacking defensive APs, in the New Powers part #1 document. Powers with the partywide bonus often are concerned by this.

Scattershot – New Bonus

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Base Cost Modifier: +0

An effect with the Scattershot Bonus is an indiscriminate blast. For simplicity’s sake it is best imagined as a cylinder about one yard or one metre in diameter, affecting whatever and whoever it hits.

In most circumstances, it is impossible to perform a Trick Shot to be selective as to whom is affected – the one-yard zone is not precisely aimed with an exact awareness of its boundaries, it is collateral effects.

Thus, Scattershot is considered cost-neutral. Hitting two opponents standing next to each other with a single attack done without penalties is a boon, but being unable to attack a person holding a hostage is problematic.

In most cases this represents shotguns firing buckshot or a similar ammunition – or rather it represents the common cinematic and video game depiction of these weapons, who usually display a projectiles spread far in excess of how they perform in the real world.

Occasionally a Power displays the same behaviour, for instance an energy blast wielded by a young mutant still training to use their powers.

Skilled Power – New Bonus

Authors: Sébastien Andrivet & Roy Cowan.
Helper: Eric Langendorff, Adam Fuqua.
Base Cost Modifier: +20

The converse of the Powered Skill Bonus, this represents Powers that are actually the result of intense training.

For example, a super-heroic martial artist that developed their leg muscles and engaged in intense physical conditioning might have Jumping and Skin Armor as Skilled Powers at 01 AP each.

The Base Cost modifier is higher than the equivalent Powered Skill Bonus, described in Blood of Heroes Special Edition on page 108. This reflects two significant advantages of this trait.

  1. Skilled Powers are usually not subject to effects such as Neutralize and Mimic, unlike normal Powers.
  2. It is possible, even common in some comic book settings for Powers to be detectable by various means (scanning devices, special sensory abilities) while Skills usually are not.

In campaigns where such factors are not present or lessened, the Base Cost Modifier should be adjusted – or the Bonus dropped outright if it is irrelevant.

Compiled, formatted, edited, etc. by Roy Cowan and Sébastien Andrivet.