MSH: Skills and Talents

   This page is devoted to new Talents and Skills for the old Marvel Superheroes Game. Yes, it went out of print long ago. It’s still available on the net, and even has a few new incarnations – and we had a lot of fun with it long ago. Ah, the old Superheroes of Soap, who rarely managed to actually make it out of their base… 

New Talents:

   Several “powers” can be attained by normal humans at very low levels. While the game master may disallow any or all of those listed below, these are still a reasonable place to start. Skills in italics are reputed to exist, but are probably mythical – at least in the real world. Most of the others do exist, but just how effective they are is open to debate. A few “mythic” skills are marked with an asterisk, these have a range of (12 + Users Agility) feet.

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Feeble (2)

Poor (4)

Astral Body

Astral Sight (A. Detection)

C’hi Block (True Invul.)

Awareness (Sonar/Radar)

Climbing (Spider-Climb)

Beastspeech (Communication with Animals)

Hypersenses (H. Various)

Breaking (M.A. Supremacy)

Levitation

Eagle Claw (Edged attack)

Mindspeech (Telepathy)

Iron Will

One Finger* (Mind Blast)

Light Foot (Skywalk)

Psychic Awareness (Psionic Detection)

Stealth

Self-Healing (Regeneration)

Toughening (Body Resistance)

Weakness Detection

Typical (6)

Good (10)

Beastfriend* (Emotional Control / Animals Only)

Mimic (Vocal Control)

C’hi Burst* (Kinetic Bolt)

Tracking

Cloaking (Magical Stealth)

Zen (Mental Invisibility)

Kiajitsu (Sonic Generation)

Linguist (Linguistics)

Nerve Strike (Neural Man.)

 
Talent Notes:

  • Astral Body: The users range may be very limited in this plane of reality and almost any form of mystic or psychic defences will suffice to stop the user.
  • Awareness: The user doesn’t actually use either of these powers, but the effects are roughly similar.
  • Cloaking: Reduces the effectiveness of psychic and mystic “detection” used against the possessor by three ranks.
  • Hypersenses: Boosts both the characters senses and general alertness, offering a +1 CS on relevant FEAT rolls.
  • Kaijitsu: This normally affects a radius of (endurance) feet (40 maximum), however it may be directed at a single target within that radius. Unlike most skills, it can be used to develop power stunts.
  • Light Foot: This cannot be maintained for more then four turns, a maximum duration of 24 seconds.
  • Linguist: The user will never forget his native tongue.
  • Mimic: As the user lacks the usual special adaptions of those with natural sonic powers, duplicating any damaging sonic effect will do (rank -1 CS) damage to himself.
  • Mindspeech: Is not affected by Magneto’s damping field.
  • Nerve Strike: This is much more limited then the power, it requires a successful melee attack, usually won’t work against characters in battle armor and such, and is usually made at a -2 CS. Victims with weird nervous systems and/or superhuman endurance scores may make a FEAT roll to avoid the effect.
  • One Finger: This does require a physical gesture.
  • Tracking: This skill gains an additional +1 CS if backed by any form of hypersenses.
  • Zen: This talent includes training in philosophy and in a variety of mental exercises.

 

Weapons Skills:

   Advanced Weapons: This handy talent gives the user a +1 CS when using advanced technical weaponry. While this is sometimes open to discussion, this group usually includes advanced beam weapons, anything with an onboard targeting system, monofilament weapons, energy-swords, and assorted electronic warfare gear. If the weapons and the user are equipped with “smart” circuitry it also negates the usual range penalties.

 

Fighting Skills:

   Defence: This useful, if unspectacular, talent inflicts a -1 CS penalty on all attacks on the user, provided that he has room to maneuver, knows he is under attack, and is not otherwise restrained.

   Enhanced Strike: This talent boosts the users damage in melee combat, raising it by by up two ranks – albeit to a maximum of excellent. It has no effect if the users basic damage is already remarkable or higher, but will increase the damage done by a character with excellent strength to the limit value of 25. It is compatible with weapons.

   Intimidate: This somewhat unheroic skill represents the fine art of frightening people. Provided that the user is a creditable threat, he receives a +1 CS and/or penalizes his opponent by -1 CS, when making any FEAT roll involved in such attempts. If the special intimidate rules are not in use, the user may attempt a “contest of wills” against an opponent once per battle. Both characters must make a psyche roll, the “winner” receives a +1 CS on his actions against the loser for the duration of the battle. As this requires a full turn the target may choose to forfeit the battle of wills in order to attack the user at a +1 CS at any point during said turn. A side effect is that anyone being interrogated by a character with this skill suffers a -2 CS to resist.

   Maneuver: This covers the art of gaining an advantage in combat through movement, by tiring your opponent, seeking out an improved position, or by just making it harder for him to get a clear shot. The user receives a +1 CS and/or penalizes his opponent by -1 CS, when attempting any FEAT roll involved in such an attempt. If the special maneuver rules are not in use the user may attempt an agility FEAT roll up to three times per battle. The intensity is equal to the agility of the “target”, any character in the same area. Success allows the user to position the target any- where within the same area. If using ranged movement the target can be moved to anywhere within 12 yards, provided that there is nothing in the way.

   Rolling Block: This talent allows the user to reduce the effects of almost any physical attack by one rank with an agility FEAT roll, whether by “rolling with it”, twisting partially out of the way, or simply making it hard for an opponent to get in anything except a glancing blow. This usually requires a yellow agility FEAT, white results not only fail but give the attacker a +1 CS on his next shot.

   Taunt: This talent allows the user to be an irritating, smart-ass, obnoxious pest under combat conditions. It is used to irritate an opponent to the point where he or she will, hopefully, make a mistake, rush into action, attack in a blind rage, or be spurred into taking action. While it can be used in peaceful situations, it is usually used to infuriate opponents in combat. If the taunt rules are not in use the user may attempt to so provoke an opponent up to three times per encounter using a reason FEAT roll. The intensity is determined by the targets reason. While a yellow result is required for success, a green one will provoke the target enough to focus his powers on the user during the next turn. A red success lets the user choose the targets general response during his next turn.

   Trick: This is the art of doing sneaky things in combat, ranging from luring to pulling the rug out from under the hulk. It also covers a wide variety of verbal tactics and a variety of minor tricks, like throwing sand in someones eyes. The user receives a +1 CS when making any FEAT roll involved in such actions and/or penalizes his opponent by a -1 CS as appropriate. If the special “trick” rules are not in use, the character can use minor tricks to inflict a -1 CS on one opponent up to three times per encounter.

   Vanishing: Is the art of creating or taking advantage of any momentary distraction, then moving in some unexpected direction or ducking out of sight. The net effect is that the user suddenly disappears. Success usually requires a yellow agility feat roll, green if the user has some sort of cover to use, such as a flash or smoke pellet. Success lets the user move up to twenty feet and and ensures that no one knows where he is, at least for the moment. Trying this before a crowd is difficult, the number of observers is subtracted from the users effective agility. A failure leaves the user at a serious disadvantage, allowing those attacking him a +1 CS during their next turn.

 

Professional Skills:

   Craftsman: This “talent” covers various crafts, such as pottery, gunsmithing, swordsmithing, tailoring, drafting, embroidery, winemaking, leathercrafting, woodworking, and glassblowing, as well as a variety of others. A character with this talent chooses three areas to which it applies, when he makes such an item he receives a +1 CS on any and all FEAT rolls involved, including the resource FEAT roll to see if an item can be built. Unlike most such shifts, this may allow the user to build items he couldn’t afford otherwise.

   Demolitions: Is the art of messing around with dangerous devices, arranging to see less of things you dislike, and pretecting the things you like from people like you. This allows the user to get +1 rank effect out of an explosive device with a reason feat when setting it, design, build, and use various types of bomb, lay shaped charges, set up controlled “implosions” to demolish things neatly, and dis- arm other peoples attempts at the same thing.

   Thief: This dubious talent is the art of getting to where you are not supposed to be and then departing with what was supposed to stay put. “Thief” covers lockpicking, fooling with alarms, traps, and various security systems, picking pockets, forgery, safecracking, knowledge of the streets, evading persuit, and so on. It gives a +1 CS on whatever FEAT roll the GM decides is applicable. Partial versions of this skill are available, covering two specific areas.

 

Scientific Skills:

   Knowledge (Specify): This talent gives the user a +1 CS on FEAT rolls related to a particular field of knowledge, such as alien dimensions, earth history, or new york. The user may be able to apply the +1 CS when using particular powers. As an example, someone who knows a city may well be able to reach a destination more quickly then a faster fellow who isn’t familiar with the area. Someone with an extensive knowledge of “elementals” might well be able to summon and control more powerful elemental spirits then the rank of his “summoning” power would normally allow. Such benefits are always at the option of the GM.

   Master Scientist: This talent is used to represent those multitalented technical geniuses so common in the comics, it acts like the various “scientific skills”, but applies to any one of the broad fields given below.

  • Physical Sciences: Physics, chemistry, and electronics.
  • Social Sciences: Sociology, anthropology, and archeology
  • Life Sciences: Biology, zoology, botany, and genetics.
  • Paraphysics: Psionics, magic, and paraspectra.
  • Systems Operation: Computer use, instrument use, etc.
  • Field Sciences: Geology, hydrodynamics, meteorology. (Any science where many interacting factors defy laboratory solution.)

   Weird Science: This skill allows the user to reduce the “effective cost” of his inventions by adding more special requirements. These must be approved by the GM and, as a rule, are exceedingly rare, unique, or exotic items. The more powerful the device, the weirder the requirements. A weird scientist might call for a fragment of the tunguska meteorite, some crystals from a mine in the himalayas, or an adamantium eggbeater. Each new requirement reduces the effective cost by one rank, to a minimum of 3 ranks below the original value. Note that devices built through weird science tend to consist of mad collections of components, bits of junk, and haywired contrivances. Saner scientists often find it difficult to even figure out which bits are supposed to be the controls… Even weird scientists may have trouble, such devices are incredibly cranky. Simply operating one under field conditions can require a reason FEAT roll, a white result indicates that more adjustments are needed (try again next turn), green that things are a bit off (it works, but at -2 ranks), yellow gets the item working, while red gives the user the option to boost the power to one rank above the design limits for 1-10 turns, although shutting the device down afterwards will require another roll to avoid some random malfunction. Operators may roll again each turn – but are not obligated to do so unless conditions change. Given the constant tinkering a weird science gadget requires, no individual can maintain more then one per reason rank in working order. A device left “on the shelf” for a significant period will need at least a day or so of work to make it functional again.

 

Mystic and Mental Skills:

   Dreamsearch is a variant on second sight which only works when the user is sleeping. While this makes it even less reliable and comprehensible then that extremely eccentric talent, it is easy to use. Simply take a nap…

   Faith: This skill indicates that the character has very strong religious convictions and is capable of “focusing” his spiritual power. While this allows the user to wield certain “magical” forces it also makes him something of a bother to those nearby who may not share his convictions. Faith allows the user to wield the power of Resistance to Magic, Exorcism, Biophysical Control (Healing/Disruption, disruption only works against things the users faith sees as inherently evil), and Force Field Versus Hostiles (Only versus nonsentient or “inherently evil” creatures). Such powers usually operate at the “typical” level, but can be modified by any of the following: Not having a religious symbol; -1 CS, especially powerful symbol; +1 CS, head of religion; +1 CS, major religious figure; +1 CS, psyche of remarkable or higher; +1 CS. Sadly, Healing starts off at a base rank of Feeble. Characters with Rm or In religious power will have additional powers, as such characters are virtually always NPC’s, the specifics are left to the GM.

   Honor / Corruption: Taking either of these two opposing “skills” indicates that the character has aligned himself with one of the great powers of light – or darkness. This has several effects, the most obvious being that the user is immediately recognizable as a force of the appropriate ethos, and will sense the “presence” of anyone representing the opposing force. Against such foes the user gains one rank on some specific ability which must be selected when this talent is gained. More generally, anyone with either of these skills gains the ability to make one reroll each day, although its use must be announced immediately. This talent may include other abilities at the GM’s option.

    Mystic Arts: This isn’t really a talent, it’s more of a selection of them. The character taking this talent must select a particular mystic art, the possibilities include such things as; rune magic, c’hi manipulation, mediumism, martial arts, psychic focusing, and a wide variety of other oddities. All involve drawing on natural, if usually un- tapped, human potentials. Each mystic art is linked to a single characteristic, commonly psyche or endurance. Each use of the talent temporarily drains that characteristic, costing one “point” for each rank of the effect produced. This loss is temporary, but recovering them usually takes several hours. The user can attempt any “power” that fits his field, but is limited to three ranks below the linked attribute and a maximum of good rank in any case. Simply getting a “power” to work requires a FEAT roll versus the linked characteristic. “Drain” always occurs, whether the roll is a success or a failure. A white result fails and the user is subject to “drain”. A green result succeeds, but the “drain” is doubled. A yellow result succeeds, at the cost of the usual drain, while a red result succeeds, and the drain is reduced by 2 points. This FEAT roll can be modified by time constraints. If the user has lots of time the result is improved by one color, results of “red plus” reduce the cost to zero. If the user does not take at least one turn to prepare the result is reduced by one color, results of “white minus” indicate failure, and two times the usual drain. This “lack-of-time” penalty can be “bought off” on specific cases through expenditure of 150 karma points. The duration is a bit variable, attacks and such normally only lasts for seconds, a continuous effect must be rerolled, and inflicts drain, every five turns or so. Failing a FEAT roll normally precludes any additional attempts at any particular effect for the next few hours, details are up to the GM. While Mystic Arts is normally a double talent, specific psychic gifts such as recognizer, mediumism, aura vision, dowsing, and nymic awareness, are not.

   Psychic Link: This talent creates a vague, but definite, quasitelepathic link between the character who takes it and any one other character or creature. The link has an in- definite range, driven by stress it can cross light years and dimensional barriers, but more often fades at such an extreme separation. Only one character needs to purchase this talent to create a link although it will be far more effective if both do so. A “one-sided” link gives both of those involved a basic “awareness” of each others general health and situation and can transmit occasional, strong, images or impressions. If one of the two participants is nonsentient the link will be stronger, thanks to the lack of mental interference. This allows full communications, but tends to limit the content drastically, a nonsentient mind is very limited. Taking this option during character setup allows the character to start with said creature as a companion, gaining it later usually requires working on it for quite a while with the creature. A “double-ended” link is far more powerful. It not only improves the basic functions of the link, it lets the users track each other at long range, deduce each others probable actions, gives easy “telepathic” communications at close range, and can, at the option of the game master, allow really odd things to happen. As an example, Magik and Shadowcat had such a link. On several occasions when Magik either temporarily lost her powers or died, Shadowcat “inherited” them. Some characters use a variant form of this talent to link into computer systems. This is reliable and permits high-quality communications but is basically technological and thus is subject to a variety of bothersome range and interference restrictions. This variant can be taken either as a link to a specific computer, or as a radio-modem implant which allows short-range communications with any computer which is equipped and programed to accept such communications.

   Reality: Allows the user to expend karma to make things work in dimensions and situations where they usually will not. Expending one point of karma suffices for one turn, five points for ten turns, and 15 points for ten minutes, or a full 100 turns.

   Ritual Magic: While this talent does allow the character to wield magic, it is rarely of much use in an emergency. Unlike Mystic Background, Ritual Magic simply isn’t fast. It also doesn’t demand any great ability to handle mystic energy, a very minimal talent will suffice for an immense variety of effects – provided that the user has the time, materials, decent working conditions, and the appropriate references. Even simple rituals normally demands at least ten minutes and a satchel full of equipment, more complex rites often demand hours or days, weird mystic tomes with obscure bits of the ritual in them, and a trunkfull of junk to work with. Worse, only about two-thirds of this stuff is common to many rituals, a lot of it is specific to one ritual or, at best, a closely related group of rituals. A character with this skill must also take Occult Lore, the combination usually includes such perks as the ability to “sense” the presence and general nature of magic, various minor divinatory skills, poor magic control and force field vrs magic abilities, and knowledge of one to four rituals selected by the GM. Such “powers” tend to vary with each characters background and are, in any case, wholly at the option of the GM.

    (The) Second Sight is an odd psychic talent incorporating aspects of pre- and postcognition, psychometry, astral and/or true sight, clairvoyance, clauraudience, and environmental awareness, as well as anything the GM feels like throwing in. The trouble is that it rarely works. The ability is quixotic, symbolic, and downright weird, although it does tend to provide visions and images. It works whenever the GM thinks that the players really need a clue, it’s handy for the plot, the GM wishes to hand out some information, or the talent is stimulated by something really powerful. Characters with this talent can try to use it voluntarily three times a day with a psyche FEAT roll. While a yellow roll will activate it, only a red roll allows the user to control it. As the range depends more on the strength of the source then the user this talent has no rank. “Second Sight” can be taken as a as a single psychic talent, this approach limits it to a single effect but allows the user to attempt to call on his talent up to seven times a day.

   Will Force: A character with this talent has heightened willpower, has studied advanced mediative disciplines, or is simply very self-disciplined. In any case, this gives the user a heightened ability to resist attempts to seize control of his mind or emotions. Such attacks are reduced in effect, losing one rank. Note that this does not apply against attempts to injure, knock out, or induce hallucinations, it only applies against attempts to override the users will.

 

Other Talents:

   Cultural Adaptability: While this talent includes a wide knowledge of other cultures, it isn’t really a knowledge- based ability. The user simply has a “knack” for getting along in other cultures, “fitting in”, adjusting to local expectations and behavior patterns, and otherwise merging with background. Characters with this talent will be able to “fit in” almost anywhere, given a day or so to adjust, and receives a +1 CS on FEAT rolls related to understanding local situations and customs. In fact the character is so adaptable that he may well confuse his friends. Note that this skill is not limited to earthly cultures, it extends to alien cultures as well. In such cases it may be needed to make sense of overly literal translations.

   Disguise: Requires few explanations, suffice it to note that disguises are usually of “good” intensity, a skilled application of makeup and sufficient time can raise this to the excellent level. Other modifications are GMO

   Escape Artist: This covers escaping from ropes, chains, cells, and other means of restraint. This normally takes a successful agility FEAT, although this talent does give the user a +1 CS. It can also be used to escape from the various houdini-style predicaments, although these often require a yellow (or even red) FEAT.   Immunity: This “talent” makes the user “immune” to some specific type of “attack”, such as snake venoms, knockout drugs, intoxicants, or even something like the darkforce. Immunity can only be taken only with the GM’s permission, and only if the character has a good reason for having or developing a resistance to that particular item. Immunity does not offer the user total protection, but does reduce the effects of such an attack by four ranks. Thus a dose of remarkable rank cobra venom would be reduced to a poor rank against a character with “immunity to snake venom”. Personal Immunity is a popular variant which reduces the effects of the appropriate attacks by five ranks, however it only applies against the users own powers. Optionally, the GM may apply a two or three rank reduction to closely related attacks. In rare cases personal immunity applies against another characters powers at full value, this can only occur when the origins of their powers are linked in some way and both characters have the talent. The effect is mutual. As an example, the mutant brothers Cyclops and Havok are virtually immune to each others powers, as well as to their own.

   Night Sight: While this talent doesn’t actually let the user see in the dark, it does greatly improve his ability to see in poor lighting conditions. Characters with this talent can see normally under standard “night” conditions and can usually make out something under what most people would describe as total darkness. If relevant this should be treated as having a good rank. There is a disadvantage to the use of this talent, it takes a full turn to adjust to dark conditions and if the user is exposed to a bright source of light while using this talent it will result in temporary blindness until his eyes readjust in 3 turns.

   Persuasion: This useful talent covers charm, seduction, oratory, charm, con artistry, and salesmanship. It gives the user a +1 CS on any FEAT rolls required to talk some- one into something. Such attempts can be based on reason or popularity as the situation merits. As a rule, reason governs appeals based on logic or long-term interactions, popularity governs those based on the users reputation or pure emotion, such as charities.

   Riding: This skill covers both actually riding any sort of mount and a great deal of information on the behavior, care, and characteristics of a particular type of mount. A character with this skill can expect to be able to manage when mounted on a horse, dragon, griffon, dolphin, rhino, hawk, spaceling, or dimension-jumpping alien whatsis, but can only expect to know with the care, psychology, and so on of one general type. This talent gives a +2 CS on any FEAT rolls involving the characters favored type of mount and a +1 CS on rolls involving other types.

   Scrounging: This talent acts as a sort of substitute for resources, allowing the user to scrape something up, even if he has insufficient funds to do so. Scrounging grants the equivalent of poor resources – however it also allows the user to attempt a red resource FEAT to purchase items with prices one rank beyond his resource level. This does take more time then a normal purchase, requiring anything from a few hours to a week at the discretion of the GM.

   Survival: This is the art of getting along in unfriendly environments, ranging from fields and forests, to a howling arctic wilderness or, in extreme cases, to something like the asteroid belt. The user can be expected to know basic techniques for a wide variety of environments including a selection of methods for obtaining food, drinkable water, warmth, shelter, and any other necessities beginning with minimal equipment. Given time, the user will probably be able to arrange a fairly comfortable life. Using survival in emergency situations often requires a FEAT roll. Such a roll is usually made against the users reason, although sometimes endurance or intution may be appropriate. This talent does include basic hunting and fishing skills.

   Towel (Mis-) Use: This eccentric skill is a sample of a wider group of skills which work in similar ways. All of them allow you to wander through some strange environment using an item in wildly inappropriate ways. Oddly enough, the results are often unreasonably good (and generally at the “good” rank, or at least one rank over whatever seems reasonable). The character gets a +1 CS when using “his” item for some inappropriate purpose, a +2 if using it for something for which it is hopelessly unsuited. Using said towel as (a) club, whip, blanket, gas mask, robe, or rope qualifies for the +1 CS, using it as a shield, parachute, hammock, safety net, cast, or fishing lure (for whales?), qualifies for the +2 CS, but is commonly less successful, yielding feeble to typical results. Towel Use also allows the user to catch rides on passing spaceships, own a copy of the genuine Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and see the universe on less then thirty altarian dollars a day. Some of the other variants on this skill include Magical Staff Use, Pocket Watch Use, and Satchel Use, allowing the user to blunder through a magical realm, historical earth, and alternate dimensions respectively. Heroes rarely get this talent, but sidekicks often seem to.

   Ventriloquism: Is the art of throwing your voice as well as the art of mimicry. Any character with this talent can “throw” his voice to any reasonable point within about 40 feet and do a decent imitation of someone elses voice (or any other reasonable noise) as he does so. It can also be used to conceal just who is speaking, literally put words into someones mouth, bluff or distract opponents, and be a general nuisance.

 

Power Control Talents

   Power Control Talents are, unlike most talents, only used by superhuman characters. Since they all relate to using one or another power, they are useless to anyone else. In general each PCT only applies to a single power. They may apply to more if the GM feels that the powers in question are closely related to each other.

   Affects Incorporeals: This talent allows a users powers to affect incorporeal beings including ethereals, ghosts, gaseous creatures, and beings with powers such as phasing or ionization. This talent may be taken during character creation but not later, – unless the GM gives permission.Armor-Piercing: This talent can represent finely focused attacks, practice in aiming at vulnerable points, a weird attack using penetrating energies, or virtually any other method of partially bypassing an opponents defences. Any attack made using this skill reduces the effect of armor, body resistance, true invulnerability, force fields, and a variety of other “generic” defences, reduces their effect by two ranks. Specific defences and “resistances” are far harder to overcome, being reduced by only one rank.

   Continuous: Lets the user maintain an ongoing attack or effect from turn to turn without making additional rolls. This does not free the user from the need to maintain his power but may allow him to do other things as well at the option of the GM. Such an ongoing attack will eventually “burn through” most armor, body resistance, or even “true invulnerability”, reducing the value of such defences by 1 rank for every 5 full turns of continuous attack. This is normally limited to a maximum of -2 ranks at the 11’th and succeeding turns. If combined with Armor-Piercing the effects reach a minimum of -3 ranks on the 6’th and later turns.Increased Range: This useful talent increases the users power rank by one for range purposes only. It can be used with talents which are usually contact-only, in this case it gives them a range of approximately twenty feet.

   (Power) Control: Characters with this talent are skilled in the use of their power(s) under pressure, have lots of practice in using them, or have intensive training. They receive a +1 CS on any feat rolls involving fine control, targeting, or special-purpose uses of their power(s). The most common use of this is to boost the characters combat skills, but it can also be used with special applications of said power. With the GM’s permission this skill can be taken more then once, for a total bonus of up to +3 CS.

   (Power) Manipulation: Characters with this talent have a “knack” for using a power in new and unusual ways, coming up with exotic uses for standard effects, and for finding original applications of old powers. This translates into a 25% decrease in the karma cost of trying a power stunt. In some cases this skill can be taken twice, doubling its effects. This is usually limited to powers such as Dark- force, Gravity, or Weather Manipulation, which consist in large part of power stunts.

   (Power) Reserve: A talent often developed by characters with limitations like “power negation” or “finite limit”, this lets the user build up an internal store of power, a reserve that can be tapped to; allow the character to use a power under conditions that would usually negate it, to boost it to the upper limit of its rank, to fuel it after reaching its normal limit, or to “refresh” an “exhausted” one. The points in the reserve are normally equal to the characters endurance. “Forcing” a power to work costs one point per rank, boosting one costs 3, fueling it costs 6, and “refreshing” it costs whatever the GM specifies. The reserve recovers at a rate of 1 point per day per rank of endurance the user possesses. Note that this can be taken as a limitation on a power. This reduces the costs given above by 2 points each and doubles the recovery rate, but the power can only be driven by points from the reserve.

   (Power) Surge: Characters with this talent can “push” a power beyond its normal limits, raising its effect by one rank. This requires an endurance FEAT; green, yellow, or red results boost the users power for 1, 2, or 3 turns. A white result fails. After the boost expires the character must make a “depletion roll” using his normal power rank. A white result temporarily reduces said power to shift-0, green by four ranks, yellow by two ranks, and red by one. The “lost” ranks are recovered at a rate of one every ten turns. The GM may make an exception if more then one rank was lost, in this case the user may require up to twenty- four hours to recover the final rank. Note that the power is boosted to the standard value of the next rank, not to its lowest point.

 

Self-Improvement Talents

   Self-Improvement Talents are used to “get around” a major flaw in the marvel system. It is easier to improve things you’re bad at then to improve the ones you’re good at. It is easier to add four new powers at “unearthly” rank then it is too improve an existing power from the Am to the Mn level, high-level ability improvements are prohibitively expensive, and original characters “officially” start off tens of thousands of karma points behind any official MSH character. Unfortunately, characters in comic books work in exactly the opposite way. They improve the things that they’re good at rather then bad at, rarely add new powers but often improve old ones, and just do not seem to start out “behind” established characters. In fact the advance- ment system seems to be designed to keep the pregenerated characters from changing too much. Fair enough. Most of them have already honed their abilities to the limits (+1 rank over the original) of what practice and work-outs will do for them. They should be presumed to already have one or more of the applicable skills given below.

   Adolescence: This “skill” is only available to children, and only with the consent of the GM. Adolescence acts to increase the characters strength, endurance, reason, size and mass. While it often increases the rank of any powers the character possesses, it also tends to make them a bit erratic, subject to occasional power surges and losses. A character without powers may develop them at adolescence, but this is usually irrelevant to player-characters. The aforementioned attributes normally increase by one rank – but powers are less predictable. If they increase at all, it can be by up to two ranks. The GM is the final arbiter on the exact effects of adolescence, the guidelines above are only intended to represent the more common advantages of leaving childhood.

   Adulthood: This skill is only available to adolescents, a group that includes such characters as the new mutants, the hellions, and characters with the adolescence “talent”. Like that talent, taking “adulthood” requires the consent of the GM and is subject to his arbitration. Adulthood acts to increase a characters mass and strength of will, as well bringing the final natural increase in his innate powers. This usually translates into boosting fighting, strength, and psyche by one rank each. A one-rank increase is also applied to any one attribute or power. Alternatively, the character may select any one professional or money-making skill with which to make a living (Normal Child: F4, A6, S2, E4, R4, I6, P4, Normal Adolescent: F4, A6, S4, E6, R6, I6, P4, and Normal Adult: F6, A6, S6, E6, R6, I6, P6, +1 skill).

   Athletics: This talent can represent extensive athletic training, natural ability, or simply enthusiastic amateur participation. A character using this skill gain a +1 CS on any FEAT involving the usual track-and-field activities, and any three specific games (EG; football, rugby, scuba, soccer, etc). This is not cumulative with bonuses due to other talents (EG; throwing). More usefully, a character with athletics gets one extra area of ground movement per turn in emergency situations, may undertake long distance movement as if his endurance was one rank higher, and may reduce the damage from falls by 50% with an agility FEAT.

   Body Building: This is a specific variant of the “self- improvement” skill, if that skill is in use then this one counts as one level of it. Taking body building increases the characters strength by one rank, although not by more then one rank above its initial level, or above unearthly in any case. This usually represents an intensive regime of workouts, weight lifting, and “power” exercises.

   Combat Training: Represents regular, intensive, practice in hand-to-hand combat, whether due to formal training or just to a tendency to get into brawls. Taking this talent raises the characters fighting by one rank, although this may not exceed the incredible level or one rank above its initial level, whichever comes first. This is simply due to the fact that, at the incredible level it is virtually impossible to find opponents who can teach you very much. Like Endurance Training and Body Building, this is merely a variant on the basic self-improvement skill.

   Endurance Training: Save for the fact that it increases endurance instead of strength, this talent is effectively identical to Body Building. The exercise program stresses marathon running, health food, and cardiovascular training, instead of power lifting and high-protein meals – but the general routine is similar. Sadly this regime can’t raise endurance above the amazing rank, higher ranks are simply beyond the reach of this sort of training.

   Investment: Unlike most of the self-improvement skills, taking this talent requires at least “good” resources, it cannot be taken by characters with resources of “typical” or less. It raises the characters resources by one rank, to a maximum of an amazing rank, two ranks over the users initial resource rank, or two ranks over his reason rank, whichever comes first.

   Meditation: Unlike most of the self-improvement skills, this talent is still useful even if the characters psyche exceeds the limits of the skill. If taken by a character with a psyche of remarkable (or less) it raises it by one rank, up to a maximum of incredible, or one rank over its initial value, whichever comes first. Used by a character with a psyche rank of incredible or higher it allows them to sense the patterns of reality, a talent related to the power of Cosmic Awareness. Such characters can take out a few hours to meditate and attempt a psyche FEAT roll. For each level of success beyond white the GM will either ask a significant question, assist in a deduction, or provide an interesting bit of information. Note that, while the user can select the general subject the exact results are entirely up to the GM. The character can’t just try again if the first attempt doesn’t suit him, he must wait until the situation changes in some way, he acquires some major piece of new information, or 48 hours have passed.

   Mind Like Moon: Named for a term from the martial arts, this talent grants an enhanced awareness of the surround- ings, a discarding of preconceptions, and a near-immunity to surprise since, without expectations, nothing can be a surprise. This raises a characters intuition by one rank, to a maximum limit of one rank over its initial value, or shift-x, whichever comes first.

   Reflex Training: Save for the fact that it increases the characters agility, this talent is basically identical to Body Building, Endurance Training, and the rest. Like them, it’s limited to one rank over the characters initial rank or the unearthly level, whichever is less.

   Scholar: While this talent is related to the other self- improvement talents, its target is far more nebulous. It concentrates on logic, argument, concentration, critical thinking, epistemology, semantics, and deduction. Instead of focusing on acquiring raw knowledge it concentrates on knowing how to use it. This boosts the characters reason score by one rank but, like the others, is limited to one rank over the initial value or incredible rank, whichever comes first. Beyond this point, there simply haven’t been enough prior geniuses to provide guidance.

  Self-Improvement I, II, and III: Is the “basic”, as well as the most generic, talent on this list. Each “level” of self-improvement boosts any one power or attribute by one rank to a limit of unearthly or one rank over its initial rank, whichever comes first. “Standard” marvel characters have usually already taken self-improvement I and II. Elder characters such as Mr Fantastic and Thor have usually taken III as well. Such younger characters as Jubilee may well not have taken any – as of yet. The exact availability of this talent is at the option of the GM, who may choose to allow only specific variants on this skill (EG; Endurance Training or Body Building as listed above), not permit it at all, allow only I or I and II, allow it at levels IV+, or even let it to applied to an ability more then once.

 

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