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The Quiz (DC Comics) (Doom Patrol) as a header for new DC Heroes RPG powers

New Powers for the DC Heroes RPG

(Repository #3)


Sequence

This is one of our new DC Heroes RPG Powers repositories.

Everything is explained — and there’s a full table of content — at the “base camp” article about Powers.

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Illusion (Mirror Images) (Additional Rules)

Note by Eric Langendorff and John Colagioia.
Helpers: Sébastien Andrivet, Roy Cowan.

Illusions (Mirror Images) is a special Bonus for the Illusion Power. It increases Illusion’s Factor Cost by one.

If a character can *only* perform the Mirror Images application, this is a packaged limitation. The notation is Illusion (Mirror Images Only), and this results in a Power with a Base Cost of 10 and a Factor Cost of 04.

With it, the Illusion Power can only produce illusory doubles of the user. This is as per the classic Dungeons & Dragons magic-user spell of the same name.

Effects

The effects are as follow:

  • One illusory duplicate can be created by AP of Power.
  • APs of Illusion (Mirror Images) are added to the OV when attempting to attack the Character with this Power. That doesn’t apply to Area of Effect attacks that catch the Character in their radius.
  • A common tactic against this Power is to Multi-Attack to hit several Mirror Images. While the normal Multi-Attack penalties apply, this lessens the OV bonus to the number of images which are *not* attacked.
    For instance, attacking four of the seven images of a person with Illusion (Mirror Images): 07 produces an OV bonus of 3 (7-4=3) rather than the normal OV bonus of 7, although this is on top of the +2CS Penalty for Multi-attacking four targets.
  • The maximum number of Mirror Images that can be Multi-Attacked within a given Phase is equal to the current AV of the attacker. Mirror Images are confusingly identical and may not fade instantly once attacked. This doesn’t apply to Area of Effect attacks.
  • All images that get attacked are dispersed. As long as even one image is thus dispersed, the Illusion Power of the Character is lowered by one AP. This AP must be Recovered.
  • This is for images that are attacked, not hit. Any missed attack against a person with Illusion (Mirror Images) will disperse an image. What doesn’t disperse an image is a successful attack since it hits the original.
    Likewise, the example Multi-Attack against four images above will either disperse four images (if it misses) or disperse three images and hit the original (if it hits).

Timeshadow (X-Factor enemy) vs. Marvel Girl

Timeshadow demonstrates Illusions (Mirror Images) against Jean Grey.

Intangibility

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Mental Power
Link: WILL
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 100
Factor Cost: 02

This Power enables the Character to become intangible. For instance by dispersing their atoms, or somehow becoming out of phase with the normal world.

An intangible Character can freely move through physical objects and other Characters. They cannot affect matter and matter cannot affect them. Likewise, energy in the physical world (fire, electricity, etc.) is normally irrelevant for the Character. They cannot affect it and it cannot affect them.

Somehow, the Character remains able to breathe when in an Intangible state. Carried and worn items also become intangible.

Extraordinary interactions

Force fields (such as those produced by the Force Field, Force Wal or Force Shield Powers) can stop an Intangible Character.

To pass through one, the Character must pit their Intangibility APs as AV/OV against the force field’s AP value as OV/RV. If RAPs are scored the Character can pass through the force field. This takes an amount of time equal to the APs of the force field minus the RAPs.

Some settings feature Intangibility-resistant materials. These have APs of Force Wall in addition to their BODY, possibly with the Only To Oppose Intangibility (-2FC) Limitation.

Intangibility makes a Character tougher to locate using Radar, Sonar or Thermal Vision. Any Perception Check using this Power against an Intangible Character have the active APs of Intangibility added to the OV/RV.

Grappling ghosts

Two Characters with Intangibility may be able to physically interact with each other. This is automatic if both Characters are willing to interact. If a Character with Intangibility is attempting to affect another Character with Intangibility without their consent, this requires an Action Check.

Such an attempt takes an Automatic Action and pits the attacking Character’s Intangibility APs as the AV/OV against the defending Character’s Intangibility as the OV/RV. One or more RAPs allow the Characters to physically interact with each other, yet both remain intangible to the real world.

Similar interactions are possible between Characters with APs of Dispersal and APs of Intangibility. However, the GM might add modifiers if the Characters achieve Intangible and Dispersed states using very different rationales.

Associated Powers and B&L

Characters with Intangibility frequently also have APs of Air-Walking and/or comparable mobility Powers.

The “solidify inside a target” ability and Partial Dispersal Bonus from the Dispersal Power in the rulebook can also be used with Intangibility.

Wallpass Limitation (-1FC)

The Wallpass Limitation makes it harder to pass through matter. When walking through an obstacle, the Character takes an amount of time equal to the BODY of the obstacle minus their APs of Intangibility. If the object has APs of Density Increase, those are added (linear addition, e.g. 3+4=7) to its BODY for the purposes of this calculation.

Only To Affect Intangible (BC becomes 10)

The Character cannot use Intangibility to become intangible or make themselves harder to locate via Radar, Sonar or Thermal vision. They only can attempt to affect Dispersed or Intangible Characters. The APs of Intangibility for such a Character can only be used to touch a Character with Intangibility or Dispersal, as explained above.

Does Not Affect Worn Or Carried Items (-1 FC)

Design notes

This Power was originally called Dispersal v2. The idea was to have it replace Dispersal. That was because Dispersal doesn’t model the most common forms of intangibility in comics (with some important exceptions, such as using the Speed Force to vibrate through objects).

Later on we decided to keep both approaches rather than overwrite one. “Dispersal v2” thus became “Intangibility” to avoid confusion.

Kitty confronts Dracula with a crucifix

Kitty Pryde of the X-Men is intangible.

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Interface (Additional Rules)

Note by Gareth Lewis, Eric Langendorff.

The Power description for Interface makes it overwhelming against foes like Iron Man. They do not get an opportunity to resist the control of even a single AP of the Power.

Here are some clarifications to make the Power slightly fairer.

Security Systems

While Interface allows the Character to make the Gadget perform whatever actions it’s designed to, a Gadget with Security Systems is designed to do nothing unless the security is overridden. Thus, the Character must overcome the Security Systems before doing anything else.

When trying to take control of a machine with Security Systems, the character with Interface must first overcome the Security System with a roll using his APs of Interface as AV/EV, against the APs of Security System as OV/RV.

Any RAPs scored indicate success in bypassing it, and the character won’t have trouble with the Security System of that particular device in the future, unless it gets upgraded.

Vying

If the device the Character is trying to control is already under another’s control (whether manually or by Interface), the Character must try to take control of the device away from them.

They must perform a Skill vs. Skill roll, with the APs of Interface applied to controlling the Device as the AV/EV, and the current wielder’s appropriate Skill as the OV/RV.

If RAPs are earned then the Interface character gains control of the device, although the other character may try to take back control on the subsequent phase, if applicable. For example, if the device is a car from which they’ve been ejected, they have to get back in it before trying to use their Vehicles Skill to regain control.

If the device has Security Systems, the character with Interface may spend an Automatic Action to reprogram it to only allow themselves access. In which case the other character must bypass the Security System before they can try to regain control.

Robots

Trying to control an independent robot (which aren’t usually controlled by a Skill) requires a Dice Action.

For a self aware machine (one which has Mystical Stats), the APs of Interface applied to the attempt function as APs of Control to take command of the robot.

For a non-sentient robot, the highest AP Stat or Power acts as the OV/RV against the roll. If the robot is under the control of another character, then Interface must roll against either the Skill (or Attribute) being used to control it, or the Radio Communications signal used.

Tracer shooting a pistol

Spider-Man enemy Tracer has the Interface Power.

Invisibility (Usage notes)

The rulebook specifically mentions Sight, Hearing and Smell/Taste as the senses one can be invisible toward.

However, Invisibility toward other perceptions are possible. Typical examples :

Note the wording. It’s “radar” and not “Radar Sense”, and “infrared” rather than “Thermal Vision”. This is because there are many examples where a radar is better modelled via Sonar, Detect, Full Vision or some such. And where infrared might be better modelled via Detect, Life Sense or some such. Sensory powers can be pretty varied.

Relatives

As often in DCH, small-i invisibility doesn’t necessarily corresponds to capital-I Invisibility. In some cases, the modelling is done using other Powers, if they better match observed performance.

  • Sound Nullify can correspond to audial invisibility.
  • Obscure often corresponds to invisibility toward detection-type senses. In older character writeups, preceding the Obscure Power, you might find something about, say, Invisibility applying against Magic Sense. Do note the different mechanics, and how they determine which is a better fit.
  • The Thief (Stealth) Skills. Often used for characters that are sort of invisible but not entirely, such as the translucent Spectre monsters in 1990s DooM video games. Or some sorts of chameleon-like ability to match background colours.
  • Some stealth gear (such as the Silencer’s) may have APs of Enhance for the Thief (Stealth) Skills.
  • A miscellaneous Advantage or Drawback is often the simplest way to handle niche cases. No casting a reflection in mirror usually is a sort of Creepy Appearance (it can give you away if somebody notices), rather than something that involves Invisibility APs and dice rolls.

The Invisible Girl (Susan Richards) turns invisible

The Invisible Girl has, surprisingly, the Invisibility Power.

Iron Will (Updated Power)

Note by Sébastien Andrivet.
Link: MIN
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 10
Factor Cost: 04

This Power allows a Character to resist all forms of mind-controlling Powers, including (but not limited to) :

  • Aura of Fear.
  • Broadcast Empath.
  • Control.
  • Hypnotism.
  • Some forms of Numb, Aura of Pain and Stagger.

The APs of Iron Will are added to the Character’s RV against such Powers.

Mental Freeze and Mystic Freeze normally ignore Iron Will, unless the specific Character employing this Power bases them on mind control. Straight Mental and Mystical Attacks such as Magic Blast and Mind Blast also are outside of Iron Will’s purview.

Special Limitations

This Power may be purchased with the optional Limitations Does Not Apply Against Mental effects, Does Not Apply Against Mystical Effects, and Does Not Apply against Physical Effects.

Each such Limitation represents a -1FC cost reduction.

Design notes

In the rulesbook, Iron Will is a rare remnant of the old Mental/Physical/Mystical taxonomy that used to pervade the system.

This has been slightly changed here so Iron Will works like similar Powers, rather than in a First Edition way. It’s just a tiny bit of tidying up.

Black Tarantula (Carlos LaMuerto) fights Hand ninja

Black Tarantula has the Iron Will Power.

Kinetic Absorption (Structural only)

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helper(s): Eric Langendorff, Roy Cowan.
Link: BODY
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 25
Factor Cost: 05

This Limitation of the Kinetic Absorption Power means that Kinetic Absorption APs can only be applied against structural impacts.

This means damage that would shatter the Character’s corporeal infrastructure. Examples include :

  • Falls.
  • Collisions, vehicular crashes, and other body-wide impacts (such as being hit by a giant robot whose hand is larger than you are).
  • Explosions of a primarily concussive nature.
  • Attacks specifically described as aiming to break the bones and joints. Such as some wrestling attacks, trying to hit somebody in the head or arms with a nunchaku, etc..
  • Being run over by most vehicles.
  • And similar attacks.

Design notes

Kinetic Absorption (Structural only) is a Power that almost was necessary on many occasions, over more than a decade.

However, a limited version of Skin Armour usually turned out to be a satisfying solution. It was used as a reasonable approximation of what we were trying to model (starting, IIRC, with modelling the Angel (Worthington)’s ability to soak up falls).

For a while a Kinetic Absorption (Structural only)-like approach was discussed for certain forms of body armour. But the Blunting Power ended up being the preferred approach and a better fit.

Still, Skin Armour wasn’t fully, entirely satisfying for some Characters – primarily those with abnormally flexible or armoured bones. It gave a smudgy resolution of the situation, with incorrect incomes for low-EV or high-EV attacks.

Thus did Kinetic Absorption (Structural only) eventually emerge, first as a new Power and then as a Limitation after Eric reminded me of Kinetic Absorption in BOH:SE.

The notion of “structural damage” was also used in the Descriptors mechanics.

Gamora vs. Ronan the Accuser

Gamora has the Kinetic Absorption (Structural only) Power due to her artificial bones.

Lightning Immunity

Link: BODY
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 05
Factor Cost: 04

This Power allows a Character to protect themselves against electricity-based attacks. The APs of Power are added to the Character’s RV against any and all such attacks.

Design notes

This Power has been used for years and never really detailed, being an obvious variation on Cold Immunity and Flame Immunity. But let’s be thorough.

Menoetius chasing the Angel

You can just tell that Menoetius has the Lightning Immunity Power.

Mass Effect Powers

The Powers representing heavy defenses and biotic abilities in the Mass Effect games have not been integrated in this document, being too universe-specific.

They can instead be found in the Mass Effect biotics articles.

Kaidan Alenko surrounded by biotic dark energy

Lt. Kaidan Alenko using his biotic powers.

Morphic Stability

Author: Gareth Lewis.
Helper(s): Dr. Peter S Piispanen, Sébastien Andrivet, Eric Langendorff.
Physical Power
Link:
Body
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 25
Factor Cost: 06

The APs of Morphic Stability are added to the RV against offensive Powers that attempt to alter the Character’s body. Such as attempting to transform them into an animal. This includes Powers such as :

  • Diminution.
  • Dismember.
  • Enlarge.
  • Mutation.
  • Petrification.
  • Transform.
  • Transmutation.

The character may choose to voluntarily drop their resistance, to accept beneficial alterations from their allies. Unless they took the Always On Limitation (-1 FC) at character creation.

Special Bonuses

This Power may be purchased with the following Bonus: Transform Immunity (+1 FC). The Power protects against any and all attempts to change the base template, form and physical characteristic of the character.

Examples would include Dispersal with the Area Effect Bonus, or Fluid Form with the Usable on Others Bonus.

Design Note

When a Power such as Morphic Stability, which has a list of Powers it protects against, actually only protects against a subset of the listed Powers, the Cost of the Power is reduced for each two Powers removed from the list by -10 BC and -1 FC (it should never be reduced below BC: 05 and FC: 04).

Silverclaw (Maria Santiago) leaps to the attack

Silverclaw has the Morphic Stability Power.

Numb

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Physical Power
Link: STR
Range: Normal
Type: Dice
Base Cost: 25
Factor Cost: 05

This Power allows a Character to numb opponents, making them slower and weaker – possibly to the point of unconsciousness.

Such an attack involves an Action Check with AV/EV equal to the APs of Numb and OV/RV equal to the victim’s DEX/BODY.

Half the RAPs gained are subtracted from the target’s STR, and the other half from his DEX. Any odd RAP left over is applied against STR.

For instance, getting 5 RAPs from the Numb Power would reduce the target’s STR by 03 and DEX by 02, while 6 RAPs would reduce both Attributes by 03.

When both an opponent’s DEX and STR reach 0, his BODY automatically reaches a Current Condition of 0 and he’s knocked out. All Physical Attributes are Recovered normally.

Recovery

A powerful enough organism can rapidly recover from the effects of the Numb power – as long as the subject is still conscious. This is a special Recovery Check, which can be attempted every (APs of Numb Power) – (BODY of target + APs of Regeneration Power) APs of time, with a minimum of O APs of time.

The Check itself is done using an AV/EV equal to (BODY + APs of Regeneration + APs of Systemic Antidote) against an OV/RV equal the APs of the Numb power.

Half the RAPs gained via this Recovery Check are used to recover the target’s STR, and the other half his DEX. Any odd RAP left over is applied to STR. Desperation Recovery can also be attempted.

Sabra with her original flag costume

Sabra’s weapons have the Numb Power.

Omni-Ability

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Special Power
Link: Special.
Range: Varies.
Type: Auto.
Base Cost: 50
Factor Cost: 10

The Omni-Ability Power covers those highly flexible capabilities that do not fit cleanly enough with other flexible Powers such as Omni-Power, Sorcery, Force Manipulation, Self-Manipulation, Mimic, Omni-Arm, Acuity, Adaptation, etc..

It is a broom wagon of sorts. When nothing else works.

Components

Omni-Ability has two components :

  • Its AP level, as with any Power. These APs do nothing in themselves, but they mark the highest level Omni-Ability can emulate. A Character with Omni-Ability: 06 cannot use Omni-Ability to emulate something with more than 6 APs.
  • A pool of points. These points are used to buy abilities within the Omni-Ability framework, and can be reassigned. However, costs are four times those of Character Creation.

Example:
Omar Omnipants has Omni-Ability: 05 with a 50-points pool. So this means he bought the 5 APs at a Factor Cost of 10, plus a Base Cost of 50, plus 200 points (50*4) for the pool.

He can use his pool to buy Powers, Skills, Attributes, Advantages, etc. as part of his Omni-Ability, with a cap of 5 APs. For instance he could get :

  1. 5 APs of Force Shield for 30 points (10 points Base Cost, plus 5 APs at the Force Shield’s Factor Cost of 5).
  2. And put the rest into 2 APs of Acid (15 points of Base Cost and FC 3 – Omar is 1 point short of getting a third AP of Acid).

Limitations

Omni-Ability must have a GM-approved theme. All abilities emulated by Omni-Ability must fit that theme. Examples include “wild psionics”, “fire powers”, “projectile payloads”, “liquids secretion”, “abjuration spells”, “collective memory of the species”, etc..

Omni-Ability takes 8 APs of time (about 15 minutes) to be reconfigured. The currently emulated abilities are deleted, and the points in the pool can be assigned anew.

Exceptionally narrow themes *could* lower the Omni-Ability divisor from 4 to 3. That is, it takes three points from the pool to buy one point of an ability, rather than four.

The GM must agree that the proposed scope is markedly smaller than the norm for Omni-Ability in their game. And there are good odds that the sought-after effect can be modelled using another Power.

Most other Bonuses and Limitations can be applied to the FC as per normal procedure.

Deployment

Omni-Ability is even more flexible than the usual “do anything” Powers in DC Heroes. But it is more complex in practice, since you need to compute the cost of the Powers you’re emulating.

The usual recommendation for this type of Power in SHRPGs is to pre-compute a few standard configurations the Character uses often. And to give the Player a list of BCs and a copy of the FC table, of course.

It should be OK for the Player to slap on Special Range Bonuses, Special Volume Bonuses, etc.. This is true even it’s a bit exploitative, such as adding Range to Radio Communications (whose APs are all about Range). Communication and travel Powers often use more APs than combat-oriented Powers of the same tier, so it should work out okay.

Design notes

Like the Enhance Power, Omni-Ability uses *two* numbers, since it comes with a cap to the APs it can deploy. This allows these optional Powers to be flexible without being riddled with Bonuses and Limitations, and without producing absurd and/or overpowered results.

Omni-Ability resembles the “Variable” Effect in Mutants & Masterminds or the Variable Power Pool in Champions.

In fact, Omni-Ability is primarily useful when emulating other tabletop RPGs and CRPGs , rather than modelling something seen in a comic book, novel, movie, etc.. Some versions of the Mimic (Calvin Rankins) would be the main exception to that.

It was spurred into creation by modelling abilities in Diablo III, where the Player chooses from a large menu of class abilities and modifiers – but can only slot a few on their action bar.

Diablo 3 - Female witch doctor cinematic art

Guardian of Death’ magic is modelled as an Omni-Ability.

Omni-Power and Sorcery mimicking Bonuses and Limitations

Commenter: Sean MacDonald.

Bonuses can be applied to Powers created by Omni-Power or Sorcery at a cost of 3 active APs per 1 FC of the Bonus.

For example, a character with Omni-Power: 10 duplicating an Energy Blast with an FC 1 Bonus would have to spend 3 of his APs on the Bonus, leaving 7 APs remaining for Energy Blast.

Bonuses are suggested to be this expensive because they can add considerable effectiveness to an ability. Allowing the spending a single AP to get Area of Effect or only 2 APs to get Usable on Others and Area of Effect can quickly get abusive.

This is also why allowing Limitations to be taken using the same guidelines is not suggested. It would be too easy to take Limitations that would have no effect in the current circumstances as an easy means to generate additional APs.

Doctor Strange and the Eye of Agamotto

Doctor Strange, you will be surprised to learn, has Sorcery.

Photographic Reflexes

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Michael A. Ficklin, Adam Fuqua, Eric Langendorff, Tyler.
Mental Power
Link: INT
Range: Special
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 100
Factor Cost: 10

This Power allows a Character to duplicate DEX or any existing Physical Skill from any other Character.

To use Photographic Reflexes, the Character must have access to extensive visual data about the Character whose DEX or Skill they want to duplicate – movies, film footage, direct observation, Remote Sensing (visual) and such are all valid sources.

It takes about half a week (17 APs) to study one person and duplicate their DEX and/or the Skills they’re seen using.

This time can be reduced under certain circumstances as allowed by the GM. For example, Superspeed could subtract its APs from the time necessary if the Character can play recordings at a corresponding speed.

Perimeter

The Character can duplicate any number of Skills and Subskills. However, the total APs of duplicated DEX and Skills held at one time cannot exceed the APs of Photographic Reflexes.

Only the absolute value of Skills is used, with no consideration as to whether the original Character bought them linked or not.

Physical Skills that can be duplicated using Photographic Reflexes include :

  • Accuracy (Physical).
  • Acrobatics.
  • Evasion.
  • Martial Artist.
  • Thief.
  • Vehicles.
  • Weaponry.

However, Photographic Reflexes can only duplicate their physical aspects. For instance :

  • Observing a pilot allows for learning how to perform flight manoeuvres. But not how to read the instruments panel readings or how to compensate for damage to a plane’s control surfaces.
  • Watching a safecracker open a lock would allow the mimic to unlock similar mechanisms. But not to defeat locks with different designs, or analyse a lock’s design in the first place.

Some elements of non-Physical Skills can also be mimicked, subject to the GM’s judgment. For instance :

  • Animal Handling (Riding) might be duplicated to the extent of using observed techniques on mounts taught to respond to those orders. Such as watching an equestrian and then riding a trained horse.
  • The physical bases of Artist Subskills could also be mimicked. The Character could replicate a piano player’s performance but would not be able to read musical notation – or play variations over the observed music.

Specific applications of Medicine (First Aid) and Military Science (Demolitions) can be duplicated after observation but only within the limits of that singular example. Frex :

  • The Character might be able to perform a particular first aid procedure such as CPR. But they would not know how to deal with a complication not seen in the original studied event.
  • Watching a demolitionist arm or defuse a certain type of bomb would only allow the Character to do so with other bombs of the same type.

If the GM accepts, some Powers that are actually Skills (i.e., they have the Skilled Power Bonus) can be duplicated. Likewise some Skills that are actually Powers (with the Powered Skill Limitation) can be excluded from Photographic reflexes.

Mirror-fighting

When using duplicated combat techniques against the original Character, the Character with Adaptation (Photographic reflexes) is at an advantage, since they know the exact moves the Character will perform.

They thus benefit from both a -1CS to that opponent’s Physical OV when attacking them and a +1CS to their own Physical OV against attacks by that opponent.

Maintenance

Like any physical skill, the Skills acquired through Photographic Reflexes must be maintained and trained or they will atrophy. Each Adapted Skill and Adapted DEX loses one AP per week after the initial study. The loss of each AP can be prevented with a 10 Hero Points fee.

This represent basic and advanced physical conditioning needed to physically “carry” the skill. As well as further study of the subject and other users of that Skill to gain a deeper understanding besides the immediately useful.

HPs used for the maintenance fee are not lost, however. They can be used to buy the Skill or raise DEX as per normal Character Advancement.

Unlike Adapted Skills and DEX, the knowledge of the individual’s fighting skills for the OV bonuses does not fade, nor does the ability to imitate specific movements from a studied Character.

However, at the GM’s call an opponent’s fighting style may have changed enough since he was last studied that the Character with Photographic Reflexes cannot use the OV bonuses until the opponent has been studied again.

By using Character advancement the Character can have Skills higher than anybody he ever Adapted a Skill from. For instance purchasing Artist (Juggling): 06 although he never Adapted any Artist (Juggling) Skill higher than 5 APs.

The Recall Power and the Data Storage Power do not allow for longer retention of the APs of Adapted Skills – Photographic Reflexes is committed to muscle memory instead.

Maintenance example

The Street Mime has Photographic Reflexes: 10.

One day he breaks into an abandoned gymnasium and discovers that it is the place where Kung Fu Lad himself is training. The Street Mime avidly watches the Lad’s katas and by returning there several times actually manages to get the hang of Kung Fu Lad’s techniques.

He thus adapts Kung Fu Lad’s Martial Artist: 10.

Since everybody’s kung fu fightin’ , the Street Mime wants to keep Kung Fu Lad’s skill as long as possible. He’ll work out to keep the necessary muscles, suppleness and so on.

Each week for 20 weeks he spends 10 HPs to keep his Martial Arts at 10 APs. He has chosen to spend a total of 200 HPs on the Martial Artist skill – that’s hard work and real training.

Before seeing Kung Fu Lad the Street Mime had no Martial Artist skill. So those 200 HPs slowly pay for the 125 HPs entry fee to buy Martial Artist using the standard Character Advancement rules. The first AP costs 60 HPs, so after 185 HPs spent he has Martial Artist: 01, and 15 extra HPs remaining to buy the next AP.

At this point, he has *both* Martial Artist: 10 Adapted from Kung Fu Lad, with a maintenance fee, and Martial Artist: 01 that he has bought with his own HPs as a normal skill. The backstory in how he learned it is linked to his power, but that’s just backstory. The first Martial Artist score is actually a Power, while the second is a native Skill.

Special Bonus

This Power can be purchased with the following special Bonus : Can Adapt Non-Physical Skills (BC +100). However, this requires some mean of observing the thought processes of the Character whose Skills are to be duplicated – such as the Telepathy power.

If the Character can *only* Adapt non-physical skills, BC and FC are the same as for standard Photographic Reflexes.

Design notes

Those Characters could conceivably be modeled by simply giving them high DEX and numerous Physical Skills. The point of Photographic Reflexes is to add :

  • Characters with Photographic Reflexes have to locate and study people who are actually good enough in the given skill. This is unimportant for NPCs but if PCs are to have this one this is part of the fun. They also have to find ever-tougher Characters and specialists.
  • Photographic Reflexes provides an advantage against people the Character has specifically studied. It’s one of the big aspects of the ability as depicted in comics.
  • Characters with Photographic Reflexes can get pick-up skills and then never use them again, particularly non-standard background skills sometimes found in writeups such as Artist (Cooking).
  • Some skills are not Skills — a Character with Photographic Reflexes watches a great basketball game, learns the killer shot that won the match – now they have a power that simply allows them to redo that specific gesture over and over again, as often as they like.
    If they later want to talk with some street kids on a playground about the murder last night, the ability to do that is a guaranteed ice-breaker. A psionic with this ability can copy a surgical procedure from a top surgeon to save someone’s life, and then delete the skills from their mind.
  • There is also the matter of Skilled Powers. A Character with Photographic Reflexes would be able to duplicate abilities such as the missile Reflection/Deflection trick some superheroic martial artists use.

Echo (Maya Lopez) kicks Daredevil

Echo (Maya Lopez) has the Photographic Reflexes Power.

Plant Animation

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helper(s): Nicolas Lemaçon.
Link: AUR
Range: Normal
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 10
Factor Cost: 07

This Power allows a Character to animate plants such as brushes and trees into creatures following their instructions.

They will remain animated and obedient for a length of time (in APs) equal to the Character’s APs of Plant Animation. At the end of this time, the plants revert to their previous existence where they stand.

A character using Plant Animation divides the APs of Power into two numbers as desired. The first number serves as the plant creature’s Dex, Str and Body while the second number serves as the creature’s Infl, Aura and Spirit against Mystical Attacks.

Plant creatures do not possess Mental Attributes and, as such, are immune to all Mental Attacks. On the other hand they have a -2CS RV toward fire-based attacks, and are vulnerable toward defoliants.

No plant creature can possess an Attribute with an AP value above its APs of weight, plus 3. Thus, a typical 10′ tree, weighing 4 APs, cannot have Attributes above 7. Of course, a Character who also has the Plant Growth Power has ways around that.

A frequent Limitation for all Animation Powers is the Half-Dex Limitation, where the Dex value of the plant creature (before any reduction for weight) is halved (rounding down) once the creature starts moving. This Limitation is a -1 FC one.

Groot makes a forest come to him

Groot using the Plant Animation Power.

Power Reserve (Zoomorph)

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Link: WIL
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 10
Factor Cost: 10

This is a packaged set of Limitations for the basic Power Reserve Power. Said Limitations are :

  • APs of Power Reserve (Zoomorph) can only be used to augment scores that have been adopted from an animal using the Zoomorph Power. This includes Growth and Shrinking.
  • No such score can be augmented by more than 2 APs
  • The Power Reserve APs are assigned when a new form is taken using the Zoomorph Power. A new assignation cannot be done without changing form.

Snowbird flying as an Arctic owl

Snowbird has the Power Reserve (Zoomorph) Power.

Sealed Systems (Free Diving Only)

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helper(s): Ethan Roe, Eric Langendorff, Roy Cowan, Adam Fuqua, Pawsplay.
Link: BODY
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 05
Factor Cost: 01

This is a packaged Limitation for the Sealed System Powers. With this Limitation, the *only* functions of Sealed Systems APs become :

  • They are added (using a linear addition, e.g. 4+5=9, not 6) to the OV/RV against suffocation.
  • They are added to the time during which the Character can hold their breath. This is also a linear addition, so 1 AP of Sealed Systems (Free Diving Only) doubles the time one can hold their breath.
    Unlike with the fuller Sealed Systems Power, there is no +4 Special Duration Bonus.

The Free Diving Only packaged Limitation for Sealed Systems does not specify OV/RVs used against suffocation or how much one can hold their breath. This is to be compatible with house rules, since DCH’s rules about drowning are odd.

Wonder Woman flying over a white background, by Nicola Scott

Wonder Woman has Sealed Systems (Free Diving Only).

Sharpness

Author: Nick Yankovec, Sébastien Andrivet, and Eric Langendorff.
Helper(s): William Chamberlin, Roy Cowan, Pawsplay, Peter Piispanen, Quintanads.
Link: BODY
Range: Self
Type: Auto
Base Cost: 25
Factor Cost: 07

Powers augmented by Sharpness have an extraordinary ability to penetrate defenses even if they do not otherwise inflict extreme amounts of damage.

The comic-book exemplar of Sharpness is the X-Men’s Wolverine. His adamantiumAn indestructible metal in Marvel comics claws only do damage equivalent to very sharp short swords against human opponents but can still slash through foot-thick steel walls with ease.

Mechanics

When an attack is made using Sharpness, the APs of Sharpness are subtracted from the RV of the target versus that attack. An attack using Sharpness: 04 versus an RV of 14 would reduce the RV to 10.

The target’s RV cannot be reduced below the base EV of the attack it is augmenting. If Sharpness is used with Claws: 08, the final RV cannot be reduced below 08 APs.

When attacking an inanimate object (and thus using BODY/BODY as the OV/RV), the Sharpness effect is applied to both the OV and the RV.

The Sharpness modifier is applied before Hero Point expenditure or Column Shifts of the EV or RV are added. Sharpness only reduces RV for the purposes of calculating the RAPs achieved by that attack. It does not reduce the amount of HPs that could be spent on raising RV versus the attack or to reduce RAPs with Last Ditch Defense.

Purchase

The attack that Sharpness augments is designated when it is purchased. For each attack after the first that Sharpness enhances, the Base Cost is increased by 5 points. Sharpness is usually partnered with offensive Physical Powers but can also be connected to Martial Artist EV.

Sharpness can be purchased with Psychic Link or Mystic Link to enhance Mental or Mystical Powers respectively. If a Character has Sharpness for abilities in multiple categories, Sharpness must be purchased separately for each type.

For example, Razorr wants to enhance Claws, Projectile Weapons and Mystic Blast (No Range) with Sharpness. She purchases standard Sharpness for the first two Powers and then buys Sharpness with Mystic Link for Mystic Blast.

Special Limitation

This Power may be purchased with a special Factor Cost Limitation: Ineffective versus Energy Barriers (-1FC), which includes force fields and similar “hard-energy” constructs.

Examples

Beyond Wolverine, Characters with Sharpness include :

  • Silver Samurai (weapon EV augmentation).
  • Harpoon of the Marauders (weapon EV augmentation).
  • Mantis of the Avengers (Martial Artist EV augmentation).
  • Magnus Robot-Fighter (Martial Artist EV augmentation).
  • Aliens from the eponymous movies (enhancing their acidic blood).

Design notes

Sharpness being unable to reduce the opposing RV below the EV of the attached attack makes it less useful for high EV abilities.

This is deliberate, as it is intended to represent lower-EV attacks that still routinely inflict damage against high-RV targets. It also limits the potential abuses of the Power. For this reason, it is not recommended that the Power be purchased with a Bonus to ignore that innate limit.

Mantis knocks Thor out

Mantis has the Sharpness (Martial Artist (EV)) Power.

Shockwave

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helper(s): Eric Langendorff, Black Adam, William Chamberlin.
Link: STR
Range: Touch – Explosive Radius
Type: Dice
Base Cost: 20
Factor Cost: 05

A Character with the Power of Shockwave can knock down and unbalance nearby persons with but a Dice Action.

A Shockwave doesn’t inflict damage per se – it staggers, dazes and knocks prone.

Attack

  • The Character makes an Action Check using the APs of Power as the AV/EV against the target(s) DEX/DEX as the OV/RV.
  • APs of Density Increase can be used to increase one’s RV against Shockwave. APs of Joined can be used to increase both OV and RV against Shockwave. APs of Growth do not usually provide a defense.
  • The Bracing Manoeuvre (BOH:SE) p150 can be used to reduce the RAPs from a Shockwave attack.
  • Targets who are currently in the air — more than a metre or so above the ground — receive a +1CS OV/RV Bonus against a Shockwave.

Effects

  • The target’s AVs and movement rate are all reduced by the RAPs inflicted by the Shockwave Dice Action. This concerns all AVs (Physical, Perception, Mental, Character Interaction, etc.) and movement rates (Running, Swimming, Flight, DEX-derived running speed, etc.)
  • On the Phase that follows the Shockwave Dice Action, targets can attempt to shake the RAPs inflicted by the Shockwave attack. This is a Dice Action using DEX/STR against the RAPs gained by Shockwave. Each RAP erases one RAP inflicted by the Shockwave Dice Action.
  • The RAPs inflicted by Shockwave automatically fade, at the rate of 2 RAPs per Phase. This is on top of any RAPs gained by a Dice Actions to shrug the effects off. This fading effect takes place at the very end of the Phase, once all Actions have been resolved.

Variants

It is not uncommon for this Power to be a Skilled Power that is Contingent on STR – and it sometimes appear as a Trick Power based on STR. This is the most common form of Shockwave – hitting the ground to knock nearby persons prone.

Note that exceptional grounds (for instance a super-metal with a BODY well above the Character’s STR) may make Shockwave impossible.

Some Characters who deliver particularly violent Shockwave attacks may also have a Bomb Power that is Combined with their Shockwave Power.

Design notes

Some GMS may opt to make Shockwave attacks a Combat Manoeuvre based on STR. But we find the Power-based approach cleaner.

  • Most super-strong characters never pull that trick (or just once or twice, which is within the remit of a Trick Power).
  • The APs are not necessarily correlated with the STR and should be set independently.
  • Producing effects comparable to some Powers without having bought a Power isn’t clean.
  • Etc.

Shockwave was designed before Stagger. But it is now best considered as a version of Stagger with built-in changes to keep the notation short.

Poundcakes yelling about her rep

Poundcakes’ seismatic boots have the Shockwave Power.

Shotgun Blast

Author: Sébastien Andrivet.
Helper(s): Eric Langendorff.
Link: STR
Range: None — see below.
Type: Dice
Base Cost: 10
Factor Cost: 01 (plus Range, see below).

This Power allows a Character to fire blasts of small projectiles at an opponent or target.

The AV/EV of an attack using Shotgun Blast is DEX/APs of Power while OV/RVs is the target’s DEX/BODY. If the Shotgun Blast Power is part of the Powers of a Gadget, the AV becomes the relevant Weaponry Subskill instead – as normal for a DEX-based Power.

A Shotgun Blast automatically has both the Scattershot Advantage and the Diminishing Limitation.

The Shotgun Blast’s Range should be bought separately (BC 0, FC 1). It is listed immediately after the Power — for instance Shogun Blast (Range 03): 05.

Slugs

In details-oriented stories such as techno-thrillers, equipment with Shotgun Blast will usually also have Projectile Weapons, to represent firing solids (“slugs”) rather than pellets (“buckshot”).

This Projectile Weapons Power usually has the Ammo Switch Drawback — noted as Projectile Weapons (Ammo Switch): XX.

This subtlety is not present in most stories, where shotguns always fire buckshot.

Design notes

Shotgun Blast is simply a shorthand to avoid writing over and again “Projectile Weapons has no Range and uses the listed Range instead” and “Advantage: Scattershot”.

This makes the game stats for shotguns much briefer.

Demon killed with a shotgun in the Doom video game

“Doom Guy” is an iconic shotgunner, as this demon can attest.

Shrink (Additional Rules)

Note by Dr. Peter Piispanen and Vincent Bartilucci.

Here are proposed rules for two common applications of the Shrink Power in comics. This doesn’t change the FC, BC or other attributes of the Shrink Power.

Shrinking out of a Grappling or Wrestling attempt

The Character with the Shrink Power can substitute their APs of Shrink for either the AV or the EV to get out of a grapple.

They will also get the Blindside Bonus if the person Grappling or Wrestling is not aware that they can shrink.

Bluff Character Interaction Manoeuvre

The Shrink Power is often used to trick observers into assuming that the Character teleported away or became invisible.

By default the Shrink Power acts quickly enough to allow this. Howbeit, the Character with the Shrink Power must be able to hide to make it look like they vanished. How many APs of Shrink this requires depends on the cover available nearby.

This provides a -1CS OV/RV Bonus to the Bluff Interaction Manoeuvre. But this bonus only works if the targets are not aware that the Character can shrink.

The Atom (Ray Palmer) shrinking

The Atom (Ray Palmer) is one of the emblematic Shrinking heroes.

Shrink (Always On) (Usage Notes)

Note by Eric Langendorff and Sébastien Andrivet.

Should every Character under, say, 5′ or 1.50m have APs of Always On Shrinking Power ? The answer is, of course, a resounding “it depends”.

The Shrinking Power is a package that comes with OV increases, a lower movement speed, a form of stealth, and of course being smaller. It doesn’t come with mechanics about a small size being inconvenient (say, to operate vehicles and devices) since you could always un-Shrink if needed.

For a short Character, the exercise becomes to assess how many of these aspects apply, and what is the clearest way to model those. What are the specific disadvantages and advantages affecting this Character in the stories ?

A typical example would be the many characters who are small (from a medical condition, because they’re from a short humanoid species, because they’re children…) yet who never seem to run slower than a standard-sized person with the same DEX. Say, mightily-bearded dwarves in a heroic fantasy first-person video game, because moving slowly would be unfun.

If only a few of those aspects apply, it may be simpler to drop Shrinking. Thief (Stealth) might be simpler if the Character clearly leverage their size for it, but shows few other Shrinking characteristics. Or Evasion – often limited to Ranged attacks, since many small Characters do not seem that much harder to hit in melee.

If few or none of the stock effects of Shrinking apply to a short Character, they may end up with just a Minor Physical Restriction (Small size). Since they can’t un-Shrink to bypass the inconveniences of being small in a society designed for larger persons. They are facing a hindrance, so having them pay for APs of the Shrinking Power would be nonsensical.

And some Characters might have Shrinking, but *also* Skills that are Contingent Upon that Power, and perhaps Physical Restriction Drawbacks. Because the numbers we get from Shrinking didn’t align correctly with what we see them doing in the stories.

Modelling the Character’s story beats = good. Categorical thinking = so-so.

As a side note, to determine APs of Shrinking, using the Character’s mass is often a cleaner way than trying to evaluate height. Provided, of course, that a mass is given *and* that it’s based on at least an approximation of a cubic root calculation.

Fin Raziel - Willow fantasy movie - challenging to surrender

Willow Ufgood has Always On APs of Shrink.

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