Explosive Benchmarks

   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.

2 Responses

  1. I hereby decree that normal people do not have statistics and live or die at the whim of the GM. Player characters and notable npc’s will have to fend for themselves however

  2. Actually, this is primarily for the benefit of Ranko and company: the NPC’s in that game do indeed have statistics – and if they were at all “realistic” every super-hero battle would leave a trail of corpses. Not very heroic that.

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