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Writeups.org WORG Guy mascot presenting the DC Heroes RPG 3rd edition rulesbook (header version)

DC Heroes RPG – New Rules – Gadgetry & Equipment


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.


Words between /slashes/ in Gadgets statistics

For many Gadgets (especially power armourStrength-enhancing body armour, like Iron Man’s.) you’ll see notation such as /BODY/.

It’s from back in the days of raw text displays, and denotes that a word is in italics. Thus, when you see /STR/ or /BODY/ those are actually italicised Attributes, and would be written in the rulesbook STR or BODY.

You have to imagine that the letters align their vertical lines with the slashes, see?

Though our work is no longer displayed in raw text, we have kept this notation. Italics do not pop out on older and/or smaller displays – and could thus be missed by some readers.

The Cat (Greer Nelson)'s claws (Marvel Comics)

The illustrations in this specific article are sort of random. They’re just here to make reading more comfortable. This one depicts the mechanical claws of the Cat (Green Nelson).

Maximum discount on Equipment from Drawbacks

Commentators: Interrobang75, Ethan Roe, Sébastien Andrivet.

A Gadget may never have its cost reduced by Drawbacks to lower than one-half (fractions rounded up) of its cost without those Drawbacks.

A 33-Hero-Point Gadget with two 10-point Drawbacks, therefore, would have a final cost of 17 Hero Points.

This rule was present in the third edition of DC Heroes. It vanished from Blood of Heroes: Special Edition, which likely was an error.

Chris Redfield - Resident Evil Revelations - some diving gear aiming pistol

That one depicts some equipment used by Chris Redfield in Resident Evil games.

Capital-E Equipment vs. small-e equipment

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helper(s): Roy Cowan.

There are two kinds of gear in DC Heroes.

  1. Gadgets and Equipment that gets bought via Hero Points and/or Skill use.
  2. Gear that is procured via ordinary means – for instance bought at the store. Shop smart, shop S-Mart.

Most bought-with-points .357 Magnum revolvers will have the same game stats as a bought-from-the-store, or looted-from-enemies, .357 Magnum revolver. Unless the bought-with-points gun is supposed to be extraordinary, in a way that affects stats.

Yet, most GMs are not going to tell players their Characters can’t buy (or steal…) cell phones (Radio Communication, Data Storage, etc.), cars (Running, STR, etc.) and the like unless they pay the HP costs.

Proposed approach

Decide that HPs-bought Equipment has a degree of narrative immunity.

It might be confiscated, stolen, might fail its R#, etc.. But ultimately it will not leave the Character’s side for long as it is a part of their signature style and image.

It will always be recovered, rebuilt, repaired, replaced, etc.. Even if that involves some amazing coincidences – or unexplained off-screen events. The player paid for it, and it’s part of the character concept.

By contrast, equipment not paid for in Hero Points is disposable and alterable for any or no reason, at the GM’s whim. As any soldier knows, being in the field is rough on gear. Even if it’s milspec.


If, in a 1970s Urban Gangland game, the protagonists are ambushed by Uzi-toting, leather-clad, long-haired irredeemably brutal youths (with earrings !), it’s entirely okay for the car they were in to be shot to pieces as they hug cover.

However, if said motorcar were a signature piece of gear strongly associated with the characters (like Starsky and Hutch’s white-swooshed red 1976 Ford Torino  ), it would somehow escape all but cosmetic damage.

If the “heroic” car does get more seriously damaged, it will be fully repaired by the next episode without any fanfare, cost, dice roll or complication.

Likewise, the GM might arbitrarily raise the R# of not-bought-with-HPs equipment due to environmental conditions (such as exposure to sand, immunity, dust, etc.). Whereas equipment-bought-with-HPs will stubbornly keep their R# since that’s what the player paid for.


However, don’t get carried away. Equipment bought with HPs comes with a significant cost break compared to intrinsic abilities. Especially if it can be Taken Away.

This should be reflected in play by :

  • Being inconvenient. Having the Running Power via your truck, and having the Running Power period are two different things.
  • Getting confiscated. Say, when the Characters are captured.
  • Being unavailable. Say, the Character was in the shower when the aliens attacked.

Gaming groups with an interest in fair pricing may wish to adjust the cost divisors for equipment to reflect this.

For instance, if the GM seldom if ever has NPC attempts to Take Away equipment in combat (or it almost always fails), reducing the divisor to 3 or even 2.5 might be fairer for this group.

Taser rifles ATF agents - Marvel Comics Agents of Atlas - Grizzly

That one depicts Grizzly alongside ATF agents with advanced taser rifles.

Weapons Theorem Rules

Authors: Dr Peter S Piispanen & John Colagioia.
Helper(s): Roy Cowan.

This material was obsoleted by the Enhance Power. But we keep it for those who preferred the old approach.

  • Melee weapons either have Claws, Claws Being, or EV depending on the type of damage.
  • Ranged weapons either have EV, Projectile Weapons or any other ranged offensive Power as appropriate.
  • Weapons with Claws, Projectile Weapons, or other Powers use the Power’s APs as EV.
  • Melee Weapons with their own EV have the Bonus that any APs of EV above 2 can be added to the user’s STR or Martial Artist EV using normal math (not AP math) when those values are substituted for the weapon’s EV. This adds +1FC to the cost of EV.
  • The EV Bonus add-on to STR/Martial Artist has a maximum possible combined EV of the weapon’s BODY+1 APs. If used at this level the weapon will break immediately unless it has the Hardened Defenses Advantage.
  • With Hardened Defenses, the maximum possible combined EV is BODY+2 APs, which will immediately break the weapon. Use of an EV at BODY+1 APs will result in damage to the weapons as per the Result Table (using combined EV versus the weapon’s BODY), with the weapon remaining operations until at a Current Body condition of 0 or less.
  • Weapons used for Blocking will take damage if the incoming EV exceeds the Body of the blocking object. The blocking weapon is then broken immediately unless it possesses Hardened Defenses in which case it takes damage as per the Result Table.
  • A melee weapon may have a higher EV than its BODY although this would be very rare. If such a weapon’s EV is further increased by use of STR/Martial Artist as above it will immediately break. Furthermore, the STR/Martial Artist score must be within 3 APs of the weapon’s base EV or it will not add at all; if it is within 3 APs it will add in the using AP math, not normal math.
  • Though thrown weapons are not covered by the above rules, the above melee weapons rules can also be extended to thrown weapons at the GM’s choice. Optional rules for bows can be found on WORG.


Example 1: A sword with BODY: 08 and EV: 04 is swung by a person with STR: 03. The sword’s EV will be: STR + (base EV-2) = 3 + (4-2) = 5 APs. Thus the Big Guy attacks with 5 APs of EV due to his higher-than-normal STR.

Example 2: As above, but with STR: 07. The maximum possible EV would be (7+ (4-2)) 9 APs. If he chose to use the full EV of 9 APs it would break the Sword since it does not have Hardened Defenses, but any EV up to the Body of the Sword (8 in this case) is usable without damaging it.

Example 3: A character with STR: 12 uses the above sword. With full STR, he still only has an EV of 9 (BODY+1 of Sword) and the weapon is destroyed in the process.

Example 4: A character with STR: 12 picks up the legendary spear (EV: 5, BODY: 20). He can utilize the highest possible combined EV of 15 without any damage to the spear.

Example 5: A person with STR: 03 uses a Molecular-Strand Garrote (Body: 01, EV: 50). He decides not to use his higher-than-normal STR and instead rely on the weapon’s base EV alone. If he had decided to use his full STR he would have destroyed the weapon in the process (EV: 50 vs BODY: 01 on the Result Table) and would have gotten no EV increase since his STR is well below the 3 AP cut-off noted under paragraph 8 above.

Archery - Tomb Raider Lara Croft Alicia Vikander aiming bow

Alicia Vikander as a live action version of Lara Croft.


This material is now in our comprehensive Archery in DCH article.

EV for Gadgets

This material now is the “Claws and EV pricing” discussion in the New Powers for DC Heroes RPG part #1 document.

Kate Waynesboro of SHIELD (Hulk character) (Marvel Comics) firing a disruptor pistol

Kate Waynesboro firing a S.H.I.E.L.D. disruptor pistol.

Recommended Strength (Rec. STR) attribute

Recommended Strength (“Rec. STR”) is an optional characteristic that can be assigned to a Gadget. Usually a weapon.

If a person with a STR Attribute lower than the stated Recommended Strength attempts to wield the Gadget, the OV of their actions using the Gadget is raised by one Column Shift for each AP of Strength under the Recommended Strength threshold.

Furthermore, Range penalties will be worsened by one Genre.

Recommended Strength can be indicated for a specific manner of wielding the Gadget. The typical example being using a machinegun like a rifle, rather than using it prone and from a bipod.

Recommended Strength is points-neutral. It simply reflects the Gadget’s form and mass.

Rec. STR might become a problem if the wielder’s STR is Drained or otherwise lowered. But then it might also prevent foes from using it against them.

Prawn aliens - District 9 movie - alien machinegun

Prawn alien with a machinegun in the District 9 movie.

Multiple attack Descriptors

The Descriptors for attacks are discussed in our New Rules – Miscellanea article. They’re chiefly here to determine which defenses apply against which attacks.

Weapons could have multiple Descriptors. For instance a halberd with an axe blade (front), spear head (top) and hammer head (back) can do slashing attacks, piercing attacks and blunt attacks.

Weapons with multiple Descriptors are thus better able to exploit weakness and vulnerabilities. For instance if the enemy’s body armour is less reliable against some Descriptors.


The first Descriptor is free, but others are considered an Advantage of the weapons.

Number of Descriptors Cost
One 0
Two 2
Three 4
Four 8
Five 13
Six 19


Whether the attack is Physical/Mental/Mystical, and whether it is Kinetic/Energy/Neither/Both is determined by the Power that the Gadget or Artefact is using to attack.

The free Descriptor, and any paid Descriptors beyond the free one, are those beyond the categorisation above.

So our example halberd has an Enhance Power (or Claws, or EV) that is defined as Physical and Kinetic. As the free Descriptor, the gadgeteer picks Slashing. Then the Piercing and Blunt Descriptors are bought and added to the Gadget.

Guild Wars II - Asura engineer - Talking with Zojja

Pixxel and Zojja, two Asuran engineers.

Realistic Genre Gadgetry Rules

This section is for campaigns where building Gadgets should feel more realistic than in a standard super-hero campaign.

Building a Gadget

Gadgets will generally require a set of blueprints. If blueprints do not already exist, they can be created using the Scientist (Drawing Plans) Subskill.

Unlike the standard rules, the blueprints do not provide a Bonus for constructing a Gadget. Instead they allow the construction of a Gadget without penalty.

Attempting to build a Gadget without blueprints will generally add at least +2CS to the OV/RV of all related Gadgetry Checks. The penalty may be higher if the GM judges that the device in question is particularly complex. Or that the parts available for the project are poorly suited to their intended purpose.

Next, the character must build each component separately. The separate components are determined by the GM. But as a guideline each stat is usually a separate construction process. Each component’s construction requires the normal base time, Wealth Check, and HP cost for that part on its own.

For example, building a compact car with STR 04 BODY 06 and Running: 06 would involve three separate building projects:

  • One to build the frame of the car (BODY).
  • One to build the suspension and steering (STR).
  • One to build the motor and drive train (Running).

Once the parts are complete, one more construction project is required to assemble the completed product. This uses the normal Gadgetry building rules – except that the HP cost and Wealth Check are not included for this final process. Since they have already been incorporated in the previous steps.

While the HP cost need not be paid, HPs can still be spent as usual to assist in the Gadgetry Check.

If this final check fails the assembly Check can be undertaken again with a -1CS to the OV/RV. It is assumed the Gadgeteer has learned enough from the original failed process to approach it better the next time. This bonus is cumulative if there are multiple failed attempts.

If a double 2 is rolled during this Check it is assumed a substantial design flaw has emerged. Any accumulated Bonuses are lost, and the next Check suffers a +1CS to the OV/RV.

Repair a Gadget

Repair Gadget is a limited form of the Build Gadget Subskill. A character with this Subskill can Repair a damaged Gadget normally, but cannot Build a new Gadget.

This Subskill can also be used to Modify an existing Gadget. However, the character must have a set of blueprints or a similar type of guide in order to do so. Furthermore, the blueprints do not provide any additional Bonus beyond allowing the character to make the Modification attempt.

A destroyed Gadget can be recreated using the Repair Gadget Subskill if the character has the blueprints. But the character must make the Gadgetry and Wealth Checks, pay the appropriate HP cost, and use the building base time of 18 APs (one week) rather than the re-creation base time of 16 APs (2 days).

As with Modifying Gadgets, the blueprints do not provide a Bonus to the Gadgetry Checks when using Repair Gadget. And in this circumstance there is an additional +2CS to the OV/RV of the relevant Gadgetry Checks.

The GM may that the Repair Gadget Subskill is not sufficient for re-creating a given Gadget depending on the situation. Examples include:

  • The original Gadget requiring Genius to be constructed and the character with Repair Gadgetry not having that Advantage.
  • The destroyed Gadget requiring exotic components that the would-be rebuilder would not have available.

If the full Gadgetry Skill is purchased with Repair Gadget replacing Build Gadget, the FC is reduced to 06. Buying Gadgetry (Repair Gadget) without Identify Gadget reduces the FC to 03.

Defiance 2050 game - crater bar inn - post-apocalyptic building

The Crater Bar in the Defiance 2050 post-apoc world.

Scrounging-based Gadgetry

Some campaigns may take place in a setting where traditional purchase of parts for a Gadget isn’t an option. Such as a post-apocalyptic wasteland, or a country in the throes of societal collapse due to civil war.

Likewise, some gadgeteers may not have immediate access to many goods or services. For instance:

  • As a temporary circumstance like being in an isolated, resource-poor locale.
  • As a on-going issue such as lack of funds forcing them to rely on whatever makeshift components they can beg, borrow, or steal.

In these cases a gadgeteer may have to Scrounge for necessary parts rather than making a standard Wealth Check.

The Scrounging Check uses the same OV/RV as a standard Gadget-building Wealth Check, but:

  • The AV/EV is equal to the character’s APs of Gadgetry.
  • The RAPs are compared against the Scrounging Table.

The base time for a Scrounging Check is two days (16 APs) as the character makes a scrounging run through the surrounding area to find the necessary parts.

Each AP of time added to the base time reduces the OV/RV by 1 CS, while each AP of time subtracted from the base time add 1CS to the OV/RV.

The GM may include additional modifiers as appropriate. For instance:

  • Trying to kit-bash a car when a large junkyard is in the vicinity might reduce the OV/RV by 2CS.
  • Trying to find the necessary parts in a desert wasteland where there is nothing more than the occasional rickety shack or stripped frame of a very old vehicle might add 3CS to the OV/RV.

Scrounging Table

RAPs Result
1 RAP Some of vital components are unavailable and the character will need to make a dedicated effort to find them. The GM should concoct an appropriate mini-mission of sorts which ties into the current scenario (a common trope which will also help keep gameplay running smoothly for the group as a whole), after which the character can make another Scrounging Check with a -1CS to the OV/RV of the Check.
½RV RAPs The character found some of the needed items but must do some more scrounging to find the remaining necessary parts. After making a routine scrounging run, the character can make a new Scrounging Check with a -1CS to the OV/RV.
Full RV RAPs The character has compiled enough of the necessary parts to get by. She can either build the Gadget normally albeit with a +2 to the final R# or make a scrounging run followed by a new Scrounging Check with a -2CS to the OV/RV.
2xRV RAPs The character has all of the necessary parts easily available and can proceed to build the Gadget normally.
Madmartigan (1988 Willow movie) (Val Kilmer) guarding a door with sword and armour

Madmartigan in body armour.

Stealth penalties

Some equipment, often body armour, makes it more difficult to be stealthy.

Gadgets and equipment can therefore have the Stealth Penalty Drawback. Which is explained in the Body Armour Chapter Zero document.

From a technical standpoint, this is simply a Power Loss Drawback (BoH:SE p51) applied to a FC 3 ability. Namely Thief (Stealth).

Therefore, each AP of reduction is a 1 pt Drawback.

The Stealth penalty distinguishes an OV penalty and a RV penalty, for granularity. Therefore each AP of OV penalty is a 0.5pt Drawback, and each AP of RV penalty is a 0.5pt Drawback, with the total being rounded up.

Note that this costing assumes that attempting Stealth checks is a Rare occurrence. The assumption being that Characters in heavier armour are less likely to sneak around in the first place.

In some games, the GM might consider it Common rather than Rare. Say, if there are a lot of group-wide Stealth checks.

Compiled, formatted, edited, etc. by Roy Cowan.

Helper(s): Eric Langendorff, Adam Fuqua, Sébastien Andrivet.