Eclipsing Cannonballs

Samuel Guthrie / Cannonball is a pretty typical “hometown country hero”. He’s serious, very mature and responsible for his age, a reluctant – but fairly effective – leader, shows high intelligence in the form of common sense and reasonableness rather than “book-larnin”, has a “country” accent, took over looking after his mother and (many) younger siblings after his father died, has been known to reach for a shotgun when “something is going on out there”, and is honest, dependable, and all the rest of the boy scout oath.

He’s also a much more typical hero than Magick. He’s only got a few major special abilities, but they’re quite flexible and very powerful.

  • Rocket Blasts: He can release blasts resembling a high-powered rocket exhaust from his skin – strong enough to drive him through the ground at fair speed.
  • Blast Shield: He can generate and manipulate a powerful force field, capable of absorbing and rechanneling great quantities of kinetic energy, around himself. This also seems to protect him against most environmental complications. Unfortunately, like many comic book (and few RPG) characters, his power level varies wildly to suit the story.
  • Immortality: As a secondary mutation he heals very rapidly, and can heal from death. Some writers have ignored this, but it’s hard to just write it off considering that he has indeed been killed and regenerated himself.
  • He also has excellent psychic defenses, thanks to his training by Professor Xavier – basically a good Will save.

His basic, instinctive, combo is to shield himself and whoever he might be carrying with the blast shield and rocket away, ramming into (and often through) anything in the way. Thus “Cannonball”.

Finally, at least according to THIS build. he’s got a VERY nice attribute array – Str 16, Int 14, Wis 16, Dex 14, Con 18, Chr 14, and BAB +7 – as an adult. Personally I don’t really see it – Cannonball always struck me as a “straight 12’s” kind of guy – but I suppose the points for being power level nine or ten had to go SOMEWHERE.


Available Character Points: I’ll assume Level Seven to match Magick. That’s 192 CP (L6 Base) +30 (Human, L1, L3, L5, and L7 Bonus Feats) +10 (Disadvantages; Obligations to his large family, History, and Outcast (Mutant)) +14 (Duties: As a good guy, Sam will not use poisons or other dishonorable weapons, keeps his promises, will avoid endangering civilians if at all possible, places a high priority on rescues, and so on) = 246 Points.

To spend these buy…

The basic four-color character package (24 CP).

Attributes: Starting with an array of 16/16/14/12/10/8 (25 Point-Buy Base) we have a total of 76. We need to get up to 92, so we need sixteen more attribute points. Two of those (getting his Con up to 18) come from being a Pathfinder Human.

  • Berserker with Odinpower, Odinmight, Controlled, and Enduring, powered by Mana. That gets us a total of +18 in bonuses to his attributes and things to play with – four of which can go to BAB (21 CP). Keep his base intelligence and (especially!) constitution high; he can use the skill and mana points. That gets him up to
  • Str 16 (20 when blasting, see below), Int 14, Wis 16, Dex 14, Con 18, and Chr 14.


  • Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP). Assume Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills at level One (6 CP).

Skills as Listed: Acrobatics 2, Athletics 1, Close Combat (Unarmed) 1, Close Combat (Blast Field Ram) 3, Deception 4, Expertise (Pop Culture) 5, Expertise (Farming/Mining) 2, Insight 5, Investigation 2, Perception 3, Persuasion 5, Stealth 2,Technology 2, Vehicles 5.

That’s a total of 42 SP. Of course with Int 14 and Fast Learner (once from birth, once from level -1) he gets a minimum of 20 SP at level one and +6 per additional level. Presuming level seven… that’s 56 SP as a base. More than enough, even figuring that his “Close Combat” skills get merged into an Unarmed Combat skill and upgraded

Unarmed Combat Style (Str-Based): 10 SP = +13, +15 when blasting. 7 or 8 techniques. +2 to Attacks (2), Strike (can do stun or lethal, always considered armed, 1), Power 1 (1d6 damage, 1), Mighty Blow (1), Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes (1), Expertise (May reduce AC by up to 5 to add a similar bonus to attacks, 1), and – only when “blasting” – Improved Critical).

  • +4 BAB (24 CP). With his attribute boosts, that’s +8. His attacks are usually at (+8 BAB, +3 (5 when blasting) Str +2 Martial Art = +13 (+15 when blasting). Usually 1 attack for 7d6 + Str Mod damage, Crit 19-20/x2 and knockdown. (Mutants and Masterminds that’s usually damage +10, +12 when blasting).

His flight and “blasting” capabilities are mana-powered inherent spells.

  • Inherent Spell I: Rocket Blast / Master Air (L2 Druid, Flight 90, Good Maneuverability), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (very high speed, greatly increased lifting capacity) / has horrible maneuverability, must make acrobatics checks to turn or perform even basic maneuvers (6 CP). Does not get a second base use, but does cost only 1 Mana to activate. Sam was originally very noisy, but has since bought off that limitation.
  • Inherent Spell II: Blasting Touch (L3. The user may add +6d6 damage to his or her melee attacks each round. If making multiple attacks, it may be devided as desired, but the amount used on each attack must be specified before the roll is made and damage added to missed attacks is wasted. This lasts for (Caster Level +2) Rounds). This is normal physical damage, but may cause knockback. 2 Mana to activate (6 CP).
  • Inherent Spell III: Shockwave Blast (L4): Cast as a part of a move action this spell turns your normal melee attack into an area effect – a 30′ radius, a 120′ line, or 60′ Cone, set off at some point along your path. This costs 2 Mana. (This also lets him blast through a line of thugs to reach someone, then stop and have a standard action to help them) (6 CP).

His basic “while blasting” defense is…

  • Innate Enchantment, Specialized for Double Effect/only while “Blasting”. The first three automatically extend to anyone he’s carrying (7400 GP effective value, 8 CP). Note that, as a “mutant power”, this is subject to power neutralizers and supressor fields, not “dispel magic” and “antimagic”.
    • Force Armor I: +4 (8) Force Armor Bonus to AC. (2000 GP).
    • Force Shield I: +4 (8) Force Shield Bonus to AC. (2000 GP).
    • Resist Energy: 10 (20) Point Resistance to All Energy Attacks (2000 GP).
    • Enhanced Strength: +2 (4) Enhancement Bonus to Strength, Personal-Only (1400 GP).
  • This results in AC 15 (+2 Dex +3 Armor, see Equipment, below) normally, AC 28 (+2 Dex, +8 Armor, +8 Shield) when “blasting”.

Converting Sam’s Force Field in full is awkward because it’s a plot device power. Sam, and anything he extends his field around, is pretty much invulnerable and nigh-unstoppable – until, whenever it’s convenient for the story, he gets hit with some effect that bypasses it (psychic attack, sensory disruption, teleportation, induced suspended animation, magical bindings, whatever) or gets hit when his protection is weakened or down – when he has to stop to help someone, or gets distracted, or hits the ground (or a target) and has to reorient himself, or simply has turned off his power to twist around and make a sharp turn. Then he goes down.

So… High AC? That would fit most of it, but won’t protect against area effects or hitting things. Damage Reduction and Energy Resistance? But it’s going to be really expensive to buy that much and would make him take ages to take down – and Sam doesn’t usually last all that long in a fight. Damage absorbing effect? Maybe – but Sam seems to have no reasonable upper limits up until the point where he just goes down.


  • Blasting Stunts: 2d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Only for Reality Editing, only for edits related to his powers, only for a list of specific edits and up to (Wis Mod) “stunts” during any single combat, must be “blasting” (IE: no giving medical care, working on defusing bombs, etc) to use this ability. In any case, his tricks usually cover himself and anyone he’s carrying (12 CP).
    • 1 Mana (Minor): Ignore a minor physical attack, blast free of chains or similar restraints. project his blasting touch as a ranged attack, use his field as temporary life support, pull off a “bootlegger reverse” or similar maneuver (and thus leave himself briefly vulnerable), survive a high speed crash only briefly dazed.
    • 2 Mana (Notable): Ignore a serious physical attack, protect a small area against minor attacks, blast free of being held by moderate superhuman strength, disperse a mist or “cloud” type effect.
    • 3 Mana (Major): Ignore a major physical attack or protect a fair sized area against notable physical attacks, collapsing buildings, and similar, blast out of the grip of a major superhuman, drill through the ground at high speed, carry a giant robot into orbit with him.
    • 4 Mana (Grandiose, always count as “stunts” as above): Protect an area against a major physical attack, absorb and redirect a massive attack, contain a strategic nuclear weapon, catch a space ship entering FTL flight.
  • Reflex Training with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / no more than three actions may be used during any one fight (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to renew the pool above, only restores one die per ten minutes of downtime (6 CP).

That makes Sam pretty nearly invulnerable – but only while “blasting”, not if too many attacks hit at one time, and not against non-physical attacks. Moreover, if he’s busy making fancy maneuvers. he’ll have to shut down his major defenses, even if only briefly.


  • Grant of Aid with Spark of Life, Mighty, and Regenerative, Powered by Mana, Specialized/maximum of 1 Mana every three turns (9 CP).
  • Returning (6 CP).
  • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Severe, Major, 6 CP).

Sam has fairly low-grade immortality – more or less “Highlander” style. You can kill him – although it takes a while – and if you then burn him to ashes in a blast furnace or something, he’s dead until a normal comic-book resurrection pops up. Still, destroying his heart, or pulling his guts out, or a lot of other usually-fatal injuries won’t slow him up for long.

Other Basics:

  • Hit Dice: 10 (L1d10, 6 CP) +17 (L2-L7d4, 0 CP) +49 (( Con Mod + Str Mod) x 7)) = 86, 100 when “blasting”. In Mutants and Masterminds, that’s a base Toughness of 10 (11 when “blasting”).
  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Con Mod) for determining HP (18 CP).
  • Saves: Fortitude +4, Reflex +2, Will +4 (30 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Sam knows how to use various weapons, but isn’t especially well-practiced with any of them. In game terms, he is not proficient with weapons or armor and will just have to live with the -4 penalty on weapons and the armor check penalty (fortunately, his uniform does not have such a penalty to worry about).

Minor Notes:

  • Improved Initiative +4 (6 CP). +7 Total.
  • Opportunist: May take an attack for any target within normal movement range once per round (6 CP).
  • Leadership: Mystic Artist / Oratory, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to use Inspiration abilities, only positive effects are possible, only through Skill 18, Costs 2 Mana per use (4 CP). Sam’s style of leadership shows up early – in the “Demon Bear” storyline in The New Mutants – and seems to mostly revolve around “Common sense, stick to what’s important, and invoke people’s finer qualities to inspire them”. Ergo a bardic-style knack.
  • +10 to Oratory (10 CP). This isn’t one of his listed skills, but – looking at the Demon Bear storyline again – I think he showed a knack for it early on.
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Initiative for Reduced Cost (6 CP). Maybe it’s only having one basic approach to things (Charge!), but Sam is very, VERY, often first to act.
  • Major Favors (The various X-Groups) (6 CP). Good old reliable Sam gets along just fine with pretty much everyone he’s EVER worked with. That… isn’t bad for a christian country boy who’s just found out that someone is a demon-witch.

Total Costs:

  • Four-Color Package (24 CP)
  • Attribute Boosts (21 CP)
  • Skill Boosts (9 CP)
  • BAB (24 CP)
  • Inherent Spells (18 CP)
  • Innate Enchantment (8 CP)
  • Blasting Stunts (18 CP)
  • Immortality (21 CP)
  • Hit Dice (24 CP)
  • Saves (30 CP)
  • Minor Items (38 CP).

That comes to 235 CP – which leaves 11 CP left over. I’m going to save those in case I forgot about something (or there’s something in later books that I haven’t seen).

For the remaining details… we have a minor effect or two to add from the Four Color Package and his Wealth-By-Level equipment.

  • For the minor effect, we’ll pick up Air Bubble (Sam has had no trouble operating at extremely high altitude).
  • Equipment is basically the same as Magick’s – as is his 13,000 GP equipment allowance.
  • Kevlar Reinforced Costume (“Leather Armor”, but 40 GP and only 5 pounds), Masterwork (+150 GP), +1 (+1000 GP), Amulet of Tears (2300 GP. This can provide up to +36 HP per day. Throwing that into his HP total for the purposes of calculation in M&M provides Toughness 12 normally, 13 when “blasting”. Armor Crystal: a Lesser Iron Ward Diamond (2000 GP). This isn’t a big deal, but every little bit helps.
  • Advanced First Aid Kit / Healing Belt (750 GP).
  • “Pocket Secretary”/Hero Team Comlink: Satellite Smartphone with HUD and hands-free links (250 GP), Smartsearch (As per a Tome of Worldly Memory, 1500 GP), Intelligent (500 GP), Int, Wis, Chr all 10 (0 GP), 30′ senses, uses Message at will (1000 GP). Note that, since smartphones can talk anyway, there is no need to buy speech for it.
  • Reactive Contact Lenses / Raptors Mask (3500 GP).+5 to Spot (Perception), Immunity to being Blinded or Dazzled.
  • Utility Pouch: Keys, LED minilight, multitool, chalk, nylon ties, etc. All the little junk that pops up once in a blue moon (10 GP).

And I’ve accidentally carried over the reading-the-wrong-table mistake from Magick; like her, Sam should have 23,500 GP worth of gear – leaving some 10,500 GP worth. And just like her, he doesn’t really use much more gear. In his case, I’m going to assume that most of his extra funds are going to owning a car, someplace to live, and supporting his large collection of responsibilities.

Sam comes out significantly more powerful than the linked Mutants and Masterminds build. He’s tougher (+13, even before just bending reality to ignore attacks), he’s stronger (+5), he’s more accurate (+15), he hits harder (+12 Damage, with various area-effect options), and he’s a LOT harder to hit (Dodge/Parry only +5 when not blasting but +18 when blasting). Fortitude +8, Reflex +4, Will +7 (but access to Protection From Evil through the four-color package), he has more skills, and he regenerates faster. At least his +7 Initiative is the same.

That’s actually fair enough; Sam’s had a high-powered (if focused and fairly clumsy) ability set in the first place, has lots of experience under his belt, and has beaten more than a few major opponents such as Gladiator – and Gladiator’s basically a Superman knockoff. (Of course, Sam too is a down-on-the-farm flying, nigh-indestructible, hits-super-hard boy scout…).

On the other hand, Sam pretty well defines “straightforward”. Throw him up against a telepath, or an illusionist, or a demon-possessed child, or pretty much anyone who isn’t in the “trade mighty blows” club, and there isn’t a whole lot he can do.

2 Responses

  1. […] Cannonball (L7) is your classic flying brick – Flight, Invulnerability, Super-Strength (with immortality as a bonus). With ranged and area effect blasts and a variety of special tricks – including reflecting major attacks and containing strategic nuclear weaponry as well as flying through earth and stone. About the only thing that keeps him from competing with Superman is that his defenses drop when he’s not using his powers. While he’s got Inherent Spells and Innate Enchantments, like many characters at this level he’s a specialized Reality Editor as well. […]

  2. […] Sam Guthrie / Cannonball (Marvel Comics, The New Mutants) has basic returning – in his case representing the super-advanced healing factor that’s a part of his rather low-grade immortality, more or less “Highlander” style. You can kill him, altough it takes a while, and if you then burn him to ashes in a blast furnace or something, he’s dead until a normal comic-book resurrection pops up. Still, destroying his heart, or pulling his guts out, or a lot of other usually-fatal injuries won’t slow him up for very long. Oddly enough, this is the about the closest thing to general “Combat Returning” on the list. If he’s just been stabbed through the heart or something that doesn’t dismember him or inflict massive tissue damage he might be back in good shape in no more then ten minutes or so. […]

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