There have been a few questions about just how much destructive power the Champions characters have available. Well, here are a few calculations to illustrate the point:
A one-pound stick of dynamite releases 2E5 Joules, creating a 5d6 explosive energy blast – 37 active points.
TNT is ten times as powerful, releasing some 2E6 Joules per pound.
A one-megaton bomb is as powerful as 2E9 pounds of TNT, or 2E10 sticks of dynamite.
In Champions, +5 points represents a doubling of the power level.
34.22 doublings gives us 2E10 – so a one megaton explosion represents 37 + 171 = 208 active points. A lot of that probably should go into buying the explosive modifier and extending the radius (about eight levels of that to give a matching nuclear blast radius), for a net +2.5 advantage. On that basis, a nuclear weapon would represent about a 12d6 energy blast or 4d6 killing attack – about the same as a direct hit from an anti-tank weapon. That’s not entirely unreasonable given a small target (although its less so when distributed across a surface), but it also means that a substantial chunk of the normal population will survive a direct hit from a strategic nuclear weapon.
That won’t do. Lets not count the explosive and extended-radius modifiers.
That gives us 195 active points. Since we’re handing out free advantages (and I like round numbers), we’ll call it 180 active points for our one-megaton bomb – 36d6 of energy blast, or 12 dice of killing attack. That’s impressive, and will handily blow away normal people, armored vehicles, and major buildings – but quite a lot of superheroes will survive handily. With Body 20 you’d have a better than 50-50 shot even without any defenses.
A factor of 1000 is about 50 active points – so a 1-kiloton device does about 27 dice of energy blast or about 9 dice of killing attack. A 10-kiloton device does 30 dice of normal damage or 10 dice of killing damage (that’s how hard those warrior-demons hit). Quite a lot of superheroes can hit things that hard, even if they rarely actually go in for the amplified-haymaker-boosted-pushed-all-out-power-attack.
Is this reasonable?
Well, in Champions, a “Competent Normal” – a skilled professional, like your local cop – has a PD of 5. This means that they can sit on a detonating stick of dynamite and – better than 50% of the time – take no physical damage, although they may be briefly stunned. A forty-foot fall onto concrete also does 5d6 normal physical damage. A called shot to the heart does 1.5x normal damage – for a .22 that inflicts (1d6-1) killing damage, that means a maximum of 7 points. It takes three .22 bullets through the heart (presuming that that’s the most damaging spot you can possibly hit in the chest) to kill a normal person. A direct hit to the chest from an anti-tank weapon (4d6 AP RKA, x1.5 for a hit to the vitals) may kill, but there’s almost a 50% chance that someone with a decent first aid skill will be able to save the victim.
If they want too, a normal person can buy up to 10 additional body.
No, that’s not reasonable – but this is a superhero game. If you want a game that represents normal people well, Champions probably isn’t the system to pick.