This particular request (from Alzarius) was how to set up an anime-style “power up”.
You know how that works; the hero is on the edge of total defeat, and then gets inspired, or the villain says the one thing that makes him go berserk, or the love interest screams, or there’s some pesky flashback – and suddenly the hero is filled with determination, shrugs off his wounds, gets much more powerful, and begins a dramatic smackdown of the enemy who’d just been defeating him handily.
The wounds catch up with the hero later and the power-up is generally short-term, and has serious downsides (overstress, going berserk, leaving the hero exhausted for a week, and so on) – at first. As the episodes pass, the less extreme abilities displayed during the power up generally get incorporated into the heroes normal ability set and the enemies get tougher and tougher – until it’s time for another power-up.
In some ways that’s the standard for level-based role playing games; the characters power increases in discrete steps – albeit sometimes after some bizarre training.
You could produce most of the basic effect by simply handing out several levels at a time with long gaps in between. Throw in “Leveling up heals all injuries, but will have odd side effects and leave the character subject to bouts of weakness for some time thereafter”. That would be an unusual world law, but hardly a very complicated one.
Of course, that wouldn’t let some of the abilities that didn’t work out fade into the background. For that, we need some sort of temporary levels that partially – but ONLY partially – mandate how the character is going to develop for the next few levels.
To buy that, we’ll want Specialized and Corrupted abilities. They can only be used when the game master feels that it’s an appropriate dramatic moment (or possibly attract masses of enemies), and have annoying side effects at the option of the game master.
Dominion (Double Effect/May only be used to power True Aspect, 4 CP).
Wrath of the Overlord: Curse (Specialized again/only as a prerequisite, 1 CP). That’s double-specialized, which requires special permission from the game master – but I think I’ll allow it this time.
Wrath of the Overlord/True Aspect (Double effect, 4 CP).
Now, we’ll want Grant of Aid at Triple Effect (6 CP). That should suffice to get a character fairly well patched up on demand – although that “side effects” limitation (like needing intensive care) may catch up with our hero later on.
That’s 15 CP. It will allow the character to slowly accumulate Dominion (Drama?) Points by being in charge and taking responsibility for things. When the game master thinks that the moment is dramatic enough, the character may spend some of them – gaining 24 CP (up to a limit of 72) per point spent for the next hour. Of course, once you’ve decided what to spend those points on, you’re committed to purchasing two-thirds of those abilities within the next two levels per 24 CP
Is that enough for an instant anime power-up? Seventy-two well-spent character points can be quite a big boost, but it’s only equivalent to three levels. Of course, the fact that you don’t have to keep ALL of those abilities later on lets you buy some pretty specialized abilities to suit the current situation.
If it’s not big enough, go ahead and throw in Berserker at double effect (4 CP) – or spend 2 CP to go from double effect on True Aspect to triple effect.
If you need some REALLY absurd power-ups, use Siddhisyoga with Inner Whispers (12 CP base). One use of a use-activated spell at caster level twenty costs a mere (1000 GP x Spell Level) even before any special limitations are applied – and such spells are normally restricted to personal-only effects, have annoying side effects, and only work in really dramatic situations. Call it half cost.
Heal would thus cost some 3000 GP – and 240 XP per use after the first time.
A few ninth-level boosting spells would cost some 4500 GP each, and 360 XP each to use after the first time.
That, of course, provides a really good reason why characters will be reluctant to use boosts of this kind. It will probably burn all the XP they’d normally get from the encounter they used them in – and from the next couple of encounters to boot. Worse, it takes a lot of the tension out of things. If you had any chance at all before you turned on your boosts, you’ll suddenly completely dominate the situation.
On the other hand, suddenly healing all your wounds and applying some major enhancements to yourself can be a real lifesaver.