Superheroics, Champions, and the Action Guy

After weeks of writers block, I’m going to try to kickstart things a bit with some quick heroes – mostly inspired by an encounter with a REALLY bad game master.

Seriously… if you don’t know the rules (combat, movement, etc), can’t design decent (or even functional) characters, produce nonsensical scenarios full of plot holes, portray all your NPC’s as utter idiots who either do (and know) nothing or just go berserk and attack, provide only one “clue” (the address for your fight scene with amazingly convenient timing), and know nothing at all about law enforcement (even what you’d get from watching a few episodes of cop shows)… run another game.

“Action Guy” is pretty straightforward: he’s an athletic, but otherwise normal, human being with a bit of firearms training, light body armor, and a selection of conventional weapons. He’d make a decent star for a lower-end action movie – but he’s certainly no superhero. You can expect to find plenty of elite military types, dedicated survivalists, and enforcers who are as good or better.

And that’s why a player should take a look. Superhero games involve a lot of conflict. If your hero – however young and inexperienced – will likely have some real trouble with this guy… He or she has no business trying to take up a career as a superhero. Sure, “with great power comes great responsibility” – but if you can’t handle several people like this with little trouble, you don’t HAVE great power.

Yes, there are plenty of characters in actual comic books who manage to get along with lower-grade powers (or no powers at all) and no real defenses. Squirrel Girl, Power Pack, the Riddler… all of them do just fine don’t they?

Yes, yes, they do. That’s because they, and everything that happens to them, is wholly under the control of the author. You don’t get that luxury with RPG’s. Superheroic RPG characters… have to be tough enough to survive poor decisions, lousy die rolls, villains that unexpectedly connect with their massive attack, stray bullets, and failing to disarm bombs.

Like it or not, Squirrel Girl and Power Pack and the Riddler would not make it as major characters in an RPG. If this guy has a good chance to do your character any real damage, then your character is too weak to be a superhero. He or she might be a heroic sidekick, or an empowered agent, or some such – but running around on superheroic patrol, looking for random trouble to dive into without scouting out the situation first, is simply going to get him or her killed.

Action Guy

Value Characteristic Points
15 STR 5
15 DEX 15
15 CON 10
10 BODY 0
10 INT 0
10 EGO 0
10 PRE 0
10 COM 0
4 PD 1
4 ED 1
3 SPD 5
6 REC 0
30 END 0
20 STUN -6
Total 31

 

Points Powers END
6 1d6 30-Point Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/month, Max. 30); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×4, +½; Increased END: ×10, -4; This allows a character to haul along 30 CP worth of customized gear. 20
6 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
3 Acrobatics 12-
10 +2 level w/Ranged Combat
13 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

Cost Equipment
13 Multipower: Weapons (40-pt reserve); OAF (Guns and Weapons): -1; Generic Limitation (Conventional Technology. User must gesture, all powers other than basic melee weapons must run on charges, technological limitations, etc.): -1
u-1 8d6 Energy Blast / Shotgun with Gel Shells 0; Range: 200; Versus: PD; Charges: +6, -¼; Clips: 4
u-1 4d6 Entangle / Netgun (DEF 4) 0; Range: 200; Charges: +6, -¼; Clips: 4
u-1 2½d6 Killing Attack (RKA) / The Most Powerful Handgun In The World 0; Range: 200; Charges: 8, +0; Clips: 3
u-1 8d6 Energy Blast / Heavy Taser 0; Range: 200; Versus: ED; Charges: 8, +0; Clips: 3
u-1 2d6 Energy Blast / Dart Gun 0; Range: 200; Versus: ED; Continuous (Turned off by Caffeine or any other strong stimulant): +1; No Normal Defense: +1; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1
u-1 2d6 Killing Attack (HTH) / Big Knife (Total 3d6) 1; Range: 0; Reduced END: Half, +¼
u-1 Tonfa
(7) Hand-to-Hand Attack (6d6, Total 9d6) 1; Range: 0; Reduced END: Half, +¼
(4) Force Field (Blocking) (10 PD/0 ED) 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Generic Limitation (Only versus melee and slow-moving ranged attacks that the user is aware of.): -½
7 Armored Undersuit; Focus: Inobvious Inaccessible, -¼; Generic Limitation (Conventional Technology): -1
(5) Armor (4 PD/4 ED)
(2) Protective Goggles: Flash Defense (Sight, 5 pts)
1 Good Shoes / Running (+1″, 7″, NC: 14″) 1; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 2; OIF: -½
2 Smartphone (0kg)
30 Total Equipment

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
31 + 19 = 50 100 = 0 + 100

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
5 5 3 0 8/4 8/4 4, 8, 12

 

“Action Guy” isn’t very powerful – but honestly, if you’ve gone and made a character who’s concept doesn’t really include offensive and/or notable defensive powers… Going ahead and grabbing Action Guy’s equipment package is cheap even if you DON’T use the equipment-allowance cheese slice – and it’s certainly sensible.

And yes; Action Guy would have handily defeated most of the characters that were handed out for that game… A melee specialist with a total physical defense of “2”, Speed 4, OCV / DCV 5, and a 4d6 autofire punch (without enough Endurance to use it even if he could expect to hit something?) Really?

 

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2 Responses

  1. To be fair, the Riddler is (usually) a villain, and he tends to get beaten as soon as he runs out of insane gadgets. The rules for villains, especially the much-beloved gadgeteers, mad scientist, and masterminds, can be a bit different.

    • A bit – but the biggest special advantage that Characters like the Riddler get is that they normally only show up once in a while – and only when they’re ready. Player characters have to show up all the time, and have to fight villains who won’t always pull their punches because they’re up against a soft target.

      I suppose the proper way to convert such characters for use in a genuine role playing game is to give them a “plot armor” package of invisible defenses and boosts – making them much more durable, and quicker to recover, because some mysterious force out there is watching out for them.

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