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Variant rules for MEGS


Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This is an alternate take on some rules in DC Heroes/Blood of Heroes/MEGS, to improve gameplay and patch some weaknesses.

It is a different take than most rules discussion on writeups.org, since it :

  • Directly addresses the system and how it behaves in actual play. WORG articles are usually more about patching weaknesses in the system when it comes to modelling published characters.
  • More freely reorganises the system than other WORG articles, which seek to minimise the amount of change.
  • Has Blood of Heroes: Special Edition (2nd printing) as its only reference. It isn’t synched with other Powers work on writeups.org. No character writeup on writeups.org uses these rules, unless *specifically* noted.

Related rules material

This article is part of a triad of DC Heroes rules articles :

  1. Eric L.’s variant DC Heroes Powers.
  2. Eric L.’s other variant DC Heroes rules.
  3. A modular Skills system for DC Heroes.

Character creation

Attributes

The standard cost of Attributes is FC 5, +1 FC for Physical Attributes, +1 FC for Acting Attributes. (DEX, therefore, being the Physical Acting Attribute, is FC 7.)


Character Growth

The Hero Point cost of purchasing a new Power is reduced by 1 Hero Point for every 4 Hero Points spent (cumulatively) to use that Power as a Trick Power. The cost of purchasing a new Power cannot be reduced to below 1 Hero Point in this manner.


Combat

Anathema Defenses

Any Attack made against a defense that is particularly vulnerable to that attack form (such as attacking cold-based defenses with a fire/heat-based attack) may receive up to a –2 CS modification to RV.

Any defense that specifically protects against a particular attack form (such as insulation vs. an electrical attack) may receive up to a +2 CS modification to RV.

These modifications do not stack (q.v., Flame Being), although they can cancel out.


Bashing damage

Bashing damage may accumulate to up to twice the Character’s appropriate Resistance Attribute unless a single Attack earns RAPs greater than this number.

In this case, the Character’s total bashing damage is set to the RAPs of that Attack. But only if the RAPs of the Attack are greater than the Character’s Total Bashing damage prior to the Attack.


Block

A Character may substitute the appropriate Weaponry Subskill for DEX when determining the AV/EV of a Block attempt using an object specifically designed for blocking (e.g., shields or some parrying weapons).


Dodge

A Character may perform a Dice Action in a Phase in which they Dodge, but they suffers a +1 Column Shift penalty to the OV/RV of the Dice Action in addition to any other modifiers. Also, any Attacks directed at the Character have their OVs reduced by –1 Column Shift. Thus, this option is useful only if the Character has the Acrobatics (Dodging) Subskill.


Grappling Attack

Physical Powers with Range may be used, but only against the Grappled Character.

In such a case, use the Characters’ APs of STR as AV and OV, even if the Attack would normally have some other AV.


Parry

Parrying is a Dice Action. It represents a Character using one of their own attacks to deflect or weaken an attack made by another Character. A parry can represent using a sword to deflect incoming gunfire or another sword strike, or it can represent the classic “My energy blast hits your energy blast” maneuver.

The GM has final arbitration over which attacks may be used to parry which other attacks.

To use a Parry, the Parrying Character makes an Action Check using the normal AV/EV of the Attack that they are using to Parry against an OV/RV equal to the AV/EV of the incoming Attack.

The original Attack is then resolved normally, but with its AV and EV reduced by the RAPs of the Parry Check.


Weapon Breakage

If a Character makes a melee attack with a weapon, then, after the attack is resolved, go immediately to the Result Table and apply the number of Column Shifts rolled as EV vs. the BODY of the weapon as RV. RAPs are applied as Physical damage to the weapon.

If the Character employed the Pulling a Punch Maneuver, then the EV that is applied to the weapon is the same as the amount of Knockback that the Character allowed.


Situational modifiers – underwater

  • Holding breath: Characters are Attacked once per minute (4 APs) starting with the second minute. AV/EV = Time/Time; OV/RV = STR/BODY; Positive RAPs = 1 Bashing damage. Unconscious Characters automatically suffer 1 Killing damage every minute.
  • Pressure: Each time a Character descends to a Depth greater than 5 APs, they are Attacked with AV/EV = Depth/Depth, and OV/RV = STR/BODY + APs of Water Freedom (–2 CS OV/RV unless the Character has Water Freedom or an appropriate Scholar Advantage). RAPs are Killing damage.

Situational modifiers – space

  • Movement: If using recoil, Speed = EV of the Attack – Character’s Weight.
  • Holding breath: Characters are Attacked once per minute (4 APs) starting with the second minute.
    AV/EV = Time/Time; OV/RV = STR/BODY (–2 CS each unless the Character has the Vehicles (Spacecraft) Skill or an appropriate Scholar Advantage); Positive RAPs = 1 Killing damage. Unconscious Characters automatically suffer 1 Killing damage every minute.
  • Pressure: Characters are Attacked every time the number of APs of Time they spend in space increases. However, the Character may ignore all such pressure Attacks for an amount of Time equal to half their STR (round down) –1.
    AV/EV = Time/Time; OV/RV = STR/BODY (–2 CS each unless the Character has an appropriate Scholar Advantage). RAPs are Killing damage.

Hero Points

Adding to the Roll

Hero Points may be added to Dice Rolls at a cost equal to the sum of the integers from 1 to the number to be added. So, n(n+1)/2.

This expenditure must be declared before the roll is made, and it is calculated after checking for Reliability Numbers or for doubles (including double-1’s).

Example: a Player wishes to add three points to their Character’s roll. This costs them 1 + 2 + 3 = 6 Hero Points.

For those who prefer a table :

Points Cost
1 1
2 1+2=3
3 1+2+3=6
4 1+2+3+4=10
5 1+2+3+4+5=15
6 1+2+3+4+5+6=21
7 As above +7=28
8 As above +8=36
9 As above +9=45
10 As above +10=55
11 As above +11=66
12 As above +12=78
13 As above +13=91
14 As above +14=105

Additive Defenses

Characters who are protected from a particular Attack by an “adds to RV” Power may spend Hero Points on a one-for-one basis to convert Physical, Mental, or Mystical damage into Ability damage against their defensive Power.

This cannot be applied to Powers with the Always On Limitation.


Advantages and Drawbacks

Combat Mastery

Replaces: n/a.
Cost: 10 – 50 †

Description:
A Character with Combat Mastery may use more than one of the Assault, Battery, Blocking and Defense Subskills in a phase.

  • At the 10 point level, they may use up to two of the Subskills in one phase.
  • For 25 points, they may use up to three of the Subskills.
  • For 50 points, they may use all four Subskills in the same phase.

Credentials

Replaces: Credentials (p. 40).
Cost: 5 – 50 †
Description: See Credentials (p. 40).

Special:
A Character may purchase forged Credentials. Forged Credentials cost 5 fewer Hero Points than the same legitimate Credentials and have an OV/RV against detection of 4/4. Of course, they may incur some undesirable effects if discovered.


Intensive Training

Replaces: Intensive Training (p. 43).
Cost: 20 *
Description: See Intensive Training (p. 43).

Special:
A Character who chooses the –1 Factor Cost Linking option (see below) receives only an additional –1 Factor Cost modifier due to Intensive Training.


Martial Technique

Replaces: Techniques Subskill of Martial Artist (p. 112).
Cost: 5 †

Description:
See Martial Artist (p. 43), Laying Back (p. 144), Concentrated Attack (p. 144), Counterstrike (p. 145), Submission Hold (p. 147), Throwing Maneuver (p. 149).

Special:
A Character must possess at least 0 APs of the Martial Artist Skill in order to purchase a Martial Technique.

Martial Technique must be purchased separately for each individual Technique the Character wishes to use.

Martial Technique: Concentrated Attack may be purchased multiple times. The limit on the number of Column Shifts that may be accumulated by observing a target is determined by the number of times the Character has purchased Concentrated Attack rather than the APs of the Techniques Subskill.

The OV/RV for a Defensive Throw (see p. 149: Throwing Maneuver) is the target’s DEX/STR, DEX/BODY, or the RAPs on the opponent’s Attack, whichever is highest.


Omni-Scholar

Replaces: Omni-Scholar (p. 45).
Cost: 25/35 *
Description: See Omni-Scholar (p. 45).

Special:
The Scholar gained by the 35 point version of Omni-Scholar does not disappear as soon as it’s used; it lasts until the end of the adventure.


Shield Mastery

Replaces: n/a.
Cost: 50 †

Description:
While holding any shield or shield-like object, a Character with Shield Mastery may automatically (no Action required) Block incoming Ranged Attacks — but not explosions or area effect attacks — with the shield.

An attacker may circumvent the Character’s Shield Mastery with a Trick Shot, although in such cases the Character with Shield Mastery may still choose to perform a regular Block Maneuver.


Alter Ego

Replaces: Alter Ego (p. 47).
Bonus: 25/75 *
Description: See Alter Ego (p. 47).

Special:
Wealth does not necessarily belong to the Skills set for Alter Egos with shared Abilities. Advantages, Drawbacks, and Wealth may belong to any set, depending on the nature of the Alter Ego.

The Player and GM should determine at Character Creation to which sets the Character’s Wealth and each Advantage or Drawback belong.


Enemy

Replaces: Enemy (p. 49).
Bonus: 2 – 15 †
Description: See Enemy (p. 49).

Special:
The Character does not choose the frequency of appearance for an Enemy. Instead, they get the “Every other adventure” Hero Point Bonus when they take the Enemy Drawback the first time. They also gain the Bonus again each time the enemy appears in a new adventure.


Strange Appearance

Replaces: Creepy, Distinct, and Strange Appearances (p. 48). Thanks to Kevin J. Mulder.

Description:
A Character with Strange Appearance is so strange-looking that people tend to fear them.

Strange Appearances come in three degrees of severity: Minor, Serious, and Catastrophic. The degree of Strange Appearance must be selected when the Drawback is adopted.

Associated with each degree is a Resistance Number (Minor: 5, Serious: 11, Catastrophic: 18). Whenever exposed to “normals” (i.e., Characters who are not heroes, villains, or important NPCs), the Character must roll greater than or equal to the Resistance Number to avoid frightening people. Hero Points may never be spent to affect this roll in any way.

If the roll is successful, the normals are not frightened. Otherwise, the Character’s Strange Appearance bothers the normals, possibly to the point of panic.

A Character who has failed to roll greater than or equal to their Resistance Number automatically causes a +1 Column Shift modifier to a target’s OV/RV for any Persuasion attempts against normals. Intimidation attempts, however, have normals’ OV/RV adjusted by –1 Column Shift.

During day-to-day existence, a Character with this Drawback might accidentally frighten any normals encountered (if they fail their Resistance roll). In such a case, a Character with Strange Appearance must make an Intimidation attempt (with the –1 Column Shift) against all normals in the area (Multi-Attack penalties apply).

The Character with the Strange Appearance must use their full INFL/AURA as the AV/EV of this Action Check. Hero Points may never be spent to affect this roll in any way. Positive RAPs indicate that the affected normals are paralyzed with fear. RAPs in excess of the RV indicate that the affected normals panic and try to run.

The special Intimidation Check does not count as an Action for the Intimidating Character.

This Intimidation Check should be made whenever a Character with Strange Appearance encounters normals for the first time or makes a sudden appearance, threatening move, or other surprising action.

Characters with both the Attractive Advantage and Strange Appearance may only use the Attractive Advantage if they succeed in their Resistance roll against Strange Appearance (even if the target isn’t a “normal”).

Hero Point Bonuses and examples of features are as follows:

Severity R# Bonus Possible Features (with example characters)
Minor 5 5 Basically human with cosmetic differences, such as skin color, fur, or unusual limbs (Changeling, Jade, She-Hulk, Blue Devil), or non-human but obviously non-threatening (G’nort, Captain Carrot, the Impossible Man).
Serious 11 15 Multiple odd features (Nightcrawler, Martian Manhunter, Beast), or human-like, but unusually threatening (Darkseid, Hulk, Lobo).
Catastrophic 18 30 Totally inhuman (Starro, Shuma-Gorath) or utterly hostile (The Lizard, Doomsday).

Rage

Replaces: Rage (p. 53).
Bonus: 5/25/50 †
Description: See Rage (p. 53).

Special:
A Character may spend Hero Points to recover from Rage, but only if the Character has a Heroic Motivation.


Automatic Ammo (Gadgetry Advantage)

Replaces: Automatic Ammo (p. 169).

Description:
This Advantage is only available to Gadgets with the Ammo Restriction Drawback (see p. 171) and may not be taken if the Ammo rating is 1.

To account for the Automatic Ammo Advantage, the Bonus gained from the Ammo Restriction is halved (round down). Automatic Ammo is usually abbreviated as Auto Ammo.

Automatic Ammo allows the user of a Gadget with the Ammo Restriction to increase their chances of success in hitting by expending more ammunition, simulating bursts or fully automatic fire.

The user may add +1 to the AV of the attack for every doubling of Ammo spent (round up to the nearest power of 2).

For example, a Character gets +1 AV for expending 2 Ammo, +2 AV for expending 3–4 Ammo, +3 AV for expending 5-8 Ammo, etc.. Note that this adds directly to the AV. It does not add Column Shifts.


Bonuses and Limitations

Linking

Replaces: Linking Abilities (p. 24).
Factor Cost Modifier: –1 or –2.
Description: See Linking (p. 24).

Special:
Abilities may be Linked with a –1 Factor Cost modifier instead of the usual –2 FC, in which case the requirement that the Ability’s APs equal the Link Attribute’s APs is removed.

If such a Skill has more APs than its Link Attribute, however, and if the Link Attribute is reduced to 0, then any effect that would target the Link Attribute may instead target the Skill, but using 0 for the OV or RV if those values would normally be equal to the APs of the Link Attribute.

Abilities Linked with the –1 FC option are denoted with an ‘L’ after the AP amount. Abilities Linked with the –2 FC option are listed with the name of the Attribute in place of the Ability’s APs.


Area Effect

Replaces: Area Effect (p. 55).
Factor Cost Modifier: +1 or more.
Description: See Area Effect (p. 55).

Special:
Area Effect Powers whose usual Range is Self or Touch can be used only on as many targets as the Character can simultaneously touch or on each target in a chain of physical contact, provided each target is within the range of the Area Effect.

The +1 FC “Diminishing” Area Effect Bonus is renamed “Dilating” to distinguish it from the Diminishing Limitation.


Form Function v1.1

Replaces: n/a. Thanks to Danielle Mendus.
Base Cost Modifier: +5.
Factor Cost Modifier: +1.

Description:
A Power purchased with the Form Function Bonus is a direct result of the Character’s physical form (e.g., a bird’s Flight, which is derived from it’s wings).

Such a Power is immune to the effects of Neutralize, Power Drain, and other similar Powers, and any Movement derived from Form Function Powers is considered non-Powered Movement.

Many animal forms assumed via Shape Change and some forms assumed via Self Manipulation are considered to have this Bonus for their Powers. However, no Factor Cost modifier is required for the Shape Change or Self Manipulation Powers themselves. Under these circumstances, the GM has final say over which Powers do and do not have this Bonus.


Interdimensional

Replaces: n/a. Thanks to Dr. Peter S Piispanen for the name.
Factor Cost Modifier: +1 to +3.

Description:
The Interdimensional Bonus allows Powers to be used across dimensional barriers.

The Travel Distance to the dimension (see Dimension Travel: Travel Distances, p. 68) in which the target is located is added both to the Range to the target and to the OV/RV for any Dice Actions used on the target.

Interdimensional adds +1 to the Factor Cost of Automatic Powers and +3 to the Factor Cost of Dice (or Auto/Dice) Powers.

Interdimensional may not be purchased on Movement Powers. For that, use the Dimension Travel Power.


Contingent

Replaces: n/a.
Factor Cost Modifier: –1.

Description:
A Contingent Power is a sub-Power of another “source” Power, which must be designated at the time that the Contingent Power is purchased.

Any reduction in the APs of the source Power will result in an equal amount of reduction in the APs of the Contingent Power.

Furthermore, if a Character attempts to Neutralize, Power Drain, or otherwise reduce the APs of a Contingent Power, they may instead make the Action Check using the OV/RV of the source Power instead.


Decaying

Replaces: n/a.
Factor Cost Modifier: –1.

Description:
A Decaying Power gets weaker the more it is used.

The Power takes 1 Ability damage at the end of each phase in which the Power is used and each time the Power adds to or substitutes for OV or RV (if applicable, to a maximum of 1 Ability damage per Dice Action).

Ability damage must then be Recovered normally.


Strenuous

Replaces: n/a.
Factor Cost Modifier: –1 to –3.

Description:
A Power with the Strenuous Limitation requires a considerable amount of effort to use.

In order to use the Power, the Character must pay a Hero Point Fee equal to the APs being activated divided by the Threshold number (rounded down) as determined by the Severity of the Limitation (see below).

This fee must be paid for each use of a Power in a Dice Action, or for the first use as an Automatic Action in any given encounter or “scene.”

Severity Threshold Factor Cost Modifier
Minor 3 –1
Serious 2 –2
Catastrophic 1 –3

Examples:
A Power with Minor Strenuous would be freely usable at 1 or 2 APs, would require 1 Hero Point to use at 3-5 APs, 2 Hero Points to use at 6-8 APs, etc.

A Power with Catastrophic Strenuous requires 1 Hero Point for each active AP of the Power.


Skills

In general, I use the modular Skills system, explained in another document. However, when using the standard Skills system, the following apply.


Hero Point Expenditure

When using the APs of a Skill as a Value (AV, EV, OV, or RV) in a Dice Action, the maximum Hero Point Expenditure is limited by the Skill’s Link Attribute rather than by the APs of the Skill. (Martial Artist’s special case still applies.)


Acrobatics

Replaces: Acrobatics (p. 109).
Link Attribute: DEX
Base Cost: 15
AV/EV: APs/APs
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 7
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Auto/Dice/Move
Description: See Acrobatics (p. 109).

Special:
The leaping portion of the Gymnastics Subskill may be accessed via Unskilled Use using DEX/STR as AV/EV (instead of the usual DEX/DEX).

When using Acrobatics to jump, apply a +1 Column Shift modifier to the OV/RV if the Character is leaping up; apply a –1 Column Shift modifier to the OV/RV if the Character is leaping down.

When using Traversement, Speed is limited to 7 APs or the Character’s APs of Acrobatics (whichever is less).

Special:
The Aerial Superiority Subskill may be added to the Acrobatics Skill at a cost of +2 FC.

Aerial Superiority enables a Character with the power of flight (Flight, Gliding, Air Walking, etc.) to perform daring maneuvers — many in the style of dogfight duels — that are beyond what the Character’s raw DEX would allow. Aerial Superiority can be used in three ways:

  1. If the Character wants to perform an aerial maneuver that is difficult enough to require a Dice Action (flying very quickly between obstacles, for example), the Character may substitute their APs of Aerial Superiority in place of DEX as the AV/EV.
  2. A Character may substitute their APs of Aerial Superiority for DEX as the OV vs. Physical Attacks while performing aerial maneuvers and during aerial combat provided the Character is not performing a Dodge Maneuver in that Phase. (Aerial combat is combat conducted while the Character is fully in flight, including swooping attacks on targets that are on the ground.)
  3. While the Character is in flight, Aerial Superiority can be used just like the Dodging Subskill to enhance a Dodge Maneuver.

Animal Handling

Replaces: Animal Handling (p. 110). Thanks to Adam Fuqua.
Link Attribute: INFL
Base Cost: 5
AV/EV: APs/APs
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 4
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Auto/Dice
Description: See Animal Handling (p. 110).

Special:
The maximum number of commands that an animal can be trained to perform is equal to twice the animal’s WILL unless the Character accepts a –2 CS penalty to the OV/RV.

For short-term use, the Animal Training Subskill can mimic the Charisma Skill, but only on animals. Doing so imposes a +1 CS OV/RV penalty.

When Animal Training is used in this manner, complex commands and information cannot be exchanged unless the Character also has the Speak with Animals Power.


Charisma

Replaces: Charisma (p. 111). Thanks to Adam Fuqua.
Link Attribute: INFL
Base Cost: 20
AV/EV: APs/APs
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 6
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Auto/Dice
Description: See Charisma (p. 111).

Special:
Charisma may be used on animals, but doing so imposes a +2 CS OV/RV penalty.

When used with animals, complex commands and information cannot be exchanged unless the Character also has the Speak with Animals Power.


Martial Artist

Replaces: Martial Artist (p. 112).
Link Attribute: DEX
Base Cost: 20
AV/EV: Special
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 7
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Auto/Dice/Free
Description: See Martial Artist (p. 112).

Special:
Substitution of APs of Battery for EV does not automatically constitute Killing combat unless the genre specifies a “yes” for killing combat.

The Blocking and Defense Subskills may also be used against thrown objects.

The Assault and Blocking Subskills do not automatically add to a Character’s Initiative.

Instead, a Character may purchase the Martial Reflexes Subskill at +5 FC. APs of Martial Reflexes are added to the Character’s Initiative. Martial Reflexes does not require an Action to use.

A Character using the Assault Skill with a weapon receives a +1 Column Shift modifier to the OV of the Action Check unless they possesses at least half as many APs of Melee Weapons as the APs of Assault being used.

The Techniques Subskill is not used. Instead, the Character may purchase Martial Technique Advantages (see above).


Medicine

Replaces: Medicine (p. 113).
Link Attribute: DEX
Base Cost: 5
AV/EV: APs/APs
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 7
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Auto/Dice/Free
Description: See Medicine (p. 113).

Special:
A Character using Medicine (Brainwashing) receives a +1 Column Shift modifier to the OV of the Action Check unless they possess at least half as many APs of Medical Treatment as the APs of Brainwashing being used.


Occultist

Replaces: Occultist (p. 115).
Link Attribute: INFL
Base Cost: 20
AV/EV: APs/APs
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 9
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Dice
Description: See Occultist (p. 115).

Special:
Occult Knowledge has been eliminated. It is simply a normal knowledge Check (AV/EV = INT/WILL) to which a Character may apply occult-oriented Scholars.

The Hero Point fee for the Sense Good or Evil aspect of Premonition is twice the APs of the Premonition Subskill the Character wishes to use for the Action Check, to a maximum fee of 50 Hero Points.


Thief

Replaces: Thief (p. 117).
Link Attribute: DEX
Base Cost: 10
AV/EV: APs/APs
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 9
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Dice/Free
Description: See Thief (p. 117).

Special:
A Character using Thief (Forgery) to copy artwork receives a +1 Column Shift modifier to the OV of the Action Check unless they possess at least half as many APs of the appropriate Artist Subskill as the APs of Thief (Forgery) being used.

The OV/RV of Pickpocketing attempts is the target’s INT/DEX rather than DEX/INT.


Weaponry

Replaces: Weaponry (p. 118).
Link Attribute: DEX
Base Cost: 5
AV/EV: APs/Special
Range: Self
Factor Cost: 6
OV/RV: Special
Action Type: Automatic/Dice
Description: See Weaponry (p. 118).

Special:
Weaponry Skills also enable a Character to repair weapons that become damaged or malfunction. A gun that jams or a bowstring that breaks may automatically be repaired by a Character in one minute (4 APs).

Exotic Weapons must be purchased separately for each type of exotic weapon the Character wishes to be able to use.

The AV of an attempt to use another Character’s Exotic weapon is equal to the Character’s INT rather than the APs of Weaponry. (EV is still APs of Weaponry, as normal.)

By Eric Langendorff.

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