Eclipsing Magick

So; first up among the New Mutants… an Eclipse version of a character who’s kind of tricky in Mutants and Masterminds: Illyana Rasputin – A.K.A, Magick. The problem here is pretty basic; RPG’s give the characters pretty definite attributes and abilities, while comic-book magic-users tend to vary in ability to fit the plot even more than most comic book characters do. Secondarily, they usually have a lot of minor abilities that don’t make it into the statistics, simply because the writers have them do all kinds of minor things more or less at random because it shows that they’re mysterious and magical without actually disrupting their plots. Finally, the Marvel Universe has a fairly complex magic system – personal energy magic, “universal” energy magic (which varies with the dimension), invocations of mystical beings, white and black magic (drawing on other creatures life forces), and a whole lot of minor disciplines drawing on specific power sources. Shamans calling on land-spirits, “priests” calling on various dimensions and their dimensional rulers, gaian magic, necromancy, magic channeling the power of coincidence, and many, MANY, more. Not surprisingly, building all that out of basic effects is incredibly awkward and time-consuming.

I’m most familiar with the character from the early New Mutants years, so that – and this series of posts over HERE (as requested) – is going to be my basis for comparison.

Magick was a fundamentally tragic character, a survivor of frightful abuse who’s “inner demons” (such as her “psychic familiars” when she first joined the New Mutants) were quite capable of getting loose and wrecking the area, even if that did make them easier to fight. Her choice was between accepting her role as the gateway through which the Lovecraftian Elder Gods would enter the world (and ruling over the resulting hellscape as a demon-queen) or to constantly battle her own nature to stand as a guardian at that gate – knowing that, no matter how much she might strive to do good, with three-fifths of her soul bound to evil her efforts would always be corrupt. There would always be a price – and her heroism lay in paying it herself, rather than laying it off onto others.

In many ways she was a surprisingly uncomfortable character to see. Even in the X-books which had always been metaphors for racial prejudice and hatred the incredibly blunt metaphor for child sexual abuse was well beyond the norm. Still, it did give her stories unusual depths.

As a member of the New Mutants Magick was the bad girl – a relatively limited witch who was willing to use her dark powers to their fullest extent, who voiced the unpleasant truths, and who promised vengeance against whatever hurt her friends. Cannonball rammed you like a football player, Sunspot punched you in the nose… Magick stuck a sword in your heart. Sure, it was a (usually) non-lethal magic-disrupting sword, but it was still a pretty firm statement that “My teammates would prefer to spare you. ->I<- will do what is necessary”.

“If you’ve harmed Kitty, woman, I’ll bring this entire mountain down around your ears. I’ll use my magic to move your precious academy from Earth to the heart of hell itself!”

-Magick’s internal monologue at the Massachusetts Academy – and well within her power. Given that she knew that her mind was unreadable, this was a statement of personal intent – and of her willingness to send hundreds of random teenagers to hell just to upset the White Queen.

Now when it comes to comparing or converting Eclipse / 3.5 and Mutants and Masterminds, a lot of things are very direct indeed.

Basic Attributes: 3.5-style attribute modifiers convert to the various M&M attributes and vice-versa with two complications: d20 Str has been split into M&M Str (governing melee damage) and Fighting (governing melee attacks and taking over the melee part of Dex’s AC bonus). D20 Dex has been split into M&M Dex and Agi, possibly on the theory that Initiative, Ranged Attack Bonus, AC Bonus, and Reflex Saves are bit much to load into a single attribute.

Regardless… D20 Str Mod = M&M Str. D20 Int Mod = M&M Int. D20 Wis Mod = M&M Awa. D20 Con = M&M Sta. D20 Dex Mod = M&M (Dex + Agi)/2. D20 Cha = M& Pre. Fighting is generally BAB (Specialized in Melee Only for Double Effect; Also provides a AC Bonus versus Melee Attacks, Corrupted/no iterative attacks).

Magick is shown to have Str -1, Sta 2, Agi 2, Fight 6, Dex 3, Int 0, Awa 2, and Pre 2 at PL7. The PL 10 adult version gets Str 0, Sta 2, Agi 3, Fight 6, Dex 3, Int 1, Awa 3, and Pre 3.

Personally I’m not so sure about Presence / Charisma having a positive modifier at all – Magick is notable for her prickly personality, general grumpiness, sarcasm, failures of leadership, lack of ability to manage people, constantly being betrayed, and lack of close personal relationships. She hid her own nature from the people who wanted to help her since she didn’t know how to talk about it – perhaps the first of a long string of obvious bad decisions that cast serious doubt on her Intelligence and/or Awareness as well.

Oh well. I shall chalk it up to her youth and rather extensive psychological damage.

I’ll go with Str 8 (-1), Int 12 (1), Wis 16 (3), Con 14 (2), Dex 16 (3), Chr 14 (2), and BAB 6. Given a base attribute array of 16/16/14/12/10/8 (25 Point Buy) we need two “+2’s” to get there. Of course, she gets one for being a Pathfinder Human and picking up a +2 to an attribute should be easy enough.

Special Abilities:

  • Expertise (May reduce AC by 5 to add 5 to her Attacks, 6 CP).
  • Sanctum (Limbo, 6 CP). Magick “rules” Limbo and controls it’s magic. Unfortunately, all of the power she gains in Limbo is corrupt black magic, involves constantly defending the place against various horrific magical entities who want to take it over, her control is little longer than arms reach, and the local demons are quite treacherous. This is quite enough to specialize and corrupt every power she gets from this ability. The extra 24 CP she gets in Limbo go to…
    • Ritual Magic (2 CP). Magick can perform all kinds of powerful rituals in Limbo. They usually go badly wrong of course, but she CAN.
    • Augmented Bonus: Adds (Dex Mod) to her Rune Magic Skills, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (+9) (6 CP).
    • +14 Skill Points (Wisdom-based Mastery and Casting for abjuration, conjuration, divination, enchantment, evocation, necromancy, and transmutation rune magic). Double Effect and Two-Thirds Cost. While in Limbo this provides a base of +14 (allowing the user of third level effects and providing caster level seven within those fields) (9 CP).
    • Runic Ritual (2 CP). While in Limbo Magick can use +1 Mana, ceremonies, and invocations, to increase the power of her spells.
    • Hysteria (Magical) (2 CP). Magick can draw on Limbo’s energies to augment her power.
    • Lore (Magical Artifacts, Realms, Rituals, and Creatures) (2 CP). While in Limbo Magick has an extensive magical library to draw on.
    • Specific Knowledge / the layout of Limbo (1 CP).
    • She also has a big castle full of treacherous demons, wholly unsuitable clothing, horrific relics of her gruesome past, no defenses of note, and a large bed with a soft mattress. The abuse metaphor is working overtime isn’t it?

As the Sorcereress Supreme of the Limbo Dimension, Magick commands massive magical powers there. She’s capable of pulling off sixth level effects at caster level thirteen if she cares to bother. In fact, if she uses those modifiers with her Stepping Disks… she’s quite capable of creating a dimensional overlay that will combine Limbo and Earth (and set up an entire “Inferno” storyline). Similarly, pumping up her Soulsword with those modifiers will make her a genuinely serious threat to intruding ancient dimensional overlords, such as the Dread Dormammu.

  • Blessing (6 CP): Magick is capable of passing on portions of her powers and benefits – ranging from allowing someone else to take advantage of her rendering someone else flat-footed against an attack on up to passing on her arcane powers to someone else (usually Kitty Pride) if she is slain or somehow stripped of them.
  • Evasive and Specialist (Sunder): Gains a +4 bonus and provokes no AOO when using the Sunder maneuver (6 CP, 3 CP if you skip the “No AOO” part. If you’re just building for conversion, you might want to; Mutants and Masterminds doesn’t really have attacks of opportunity, or iterative attacks, or a lot of other stuff. Of course, if you want to actually convert a character… you’ll need to either build those abilities or leave them out in the first place.
  • Mystic Artist / Intimidation, Specialized and Corrupted/only to gain the “Fascinate” ability (2 CP).
  • Leadership (The Demons of Limbo), Specialized and Corrupted for Double Effect and two-thirds cost / they’re DEMONS. They are rebellious, treacherous, misinterpret what they’re asked to do, and make endless amounts of trouble (6 CP). Magick can call up swarms of demons. This almost always proves to be more trouble than it’s worth in the end.

Magick’s supernatural armor was exceptionally ill-defined. According to the original Marvel Super Heroes rules it varied between Excellent (sufficient to automatically shrug off rifles and such) to Monstrous (sufficient to automatically shrug off nuclear weapons). In actual stories, she never seemed to be all that invulnerable, even if it did protect her from the demon-bears claws during her armors first (completely unexpected) appearance.

Well, it mostly acted like plate armor, so…

  • Innate Enchantment, Specialized for Double Effect / only while wielding her Soulsword. All spells Spell Level Zero or One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated).
    • Mage Armor, Personal-Only (x.7) = 1400 GP. +8 Force Bonus to AC.
    • Immortal Vigor I, Personal Only (x.7) = 1400 GP. +(24 + 4 x Con Mod) HP.
    • Weapon Mastery (Soulsword) L0 = 1000 GP. +6 BAB with Soulsword.
    • Resistance (L0), Personal Only (x.7) = 700 GP. +2 Resistance Bonus to all Saves.
    • Stabilize (L0), Personal Only (x.7) = 700 GP. The wearer automatically stabilizes if below zero hit points.

At an effective value of 5200 GP, this costs (6 CP). Doubling the effect of the spells instead of manipulating the cost is kind of dubious, but every character is entitled to a little cheese – and doubling up on the number of spells could produce similar results, albeit with a far more complex mess of bonus types.

  • Immunity to Dispelling (Common, Minor, Great), Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Magick’s supernatural armor, above (4 CP).

Personal Energy Magic: The weakest, if by far the safest and easiest, form of magic in the Marvel Universe is basically “psychic tricks” – little stuff that a talented child might pull off with little or no training at all. This can actually be quite effective if used cleverly, but on superheroic scales… you’d better have SOMETHING else to draw on. This, of course, is exactly what the Witchcraft system in Eclipse represents. So… Witchcraft III with an extra 6d6 (22) Power (although she usually fuels her abilities with Mana), Pacts of Guardianship (keeping the gate to the realms of the Elder Gods closed) and Possession (Magick was occasionally possessed by her own dark side) (18 CP).

  • The Adamant Will: Magick’s psychic shields are capable of standing up to Professor Xavier, at least for a time – which is exactly what The Adamant Will does.
  • Glamour. Magick is capable of hypnosis, of causing a normal person to forget brief periods, and similar minor mental tricks.
  • Dreamfaring. Magick is capable of astral projection, quasi-clairvoyance using it, and sensing things in nearby dimensions.
  • Healing: Magick isn’t a particularly GOOD healer, but – as an adventuress – she knows a few tricks along those lines. Don’t expect anything much past first aid though.
  • Shadoweave: Magick can generate simple, obvious images, lights, and similar effects.
  • Witchsight, Specialized in Magical Detection to make it continuously active at no cost. Like most trained Marvel Universe mages, Magick pretty much automatically feels any major magical disturbances nearby thanks to their effect on her own magical core.
  • Hand of Shadows with an Upgrade (may generate telekinesis and force effects of up to level three, +6 CP). Magick can generate force-blasts and bonds, make basic shields, barriers, and “wards”, move things around, clean up rooms, and perform a lot of minor tricks.

In her very first on-earth fight, Magick deployed a variety of spells – mystic chains, bolts, a spell of forgetfulness, and likely more. They didn’t have much effect on Sym, which is why she had to use her Soulsword – but obviously at least some of her powers worked just fine on Earth. Later… she said that they didn’t, but then kept using various spells. As a compromise, her personal magic works just fine on Earth, even if it IS pretty weak by superheroic mage standards. The grandiose stuff she can pull off in Limbo does not work on Earth.

Magicks access to Universal – or Ambient – Magical Energies was far more limited on Earth; which shouldn’t be all that surprising; she learned to use the dark energies of Limbo, not the natural magic of the Earth. She only had access to some Earthly ambient magic because her mutant power was the ability to tap into some aspects of it.

OK, that makes just as much sense as being able to tap into magnetism with your mutant powers, but it still seems really awkward – if only because perfectly normal, non-mutant, human beings can learn to tap into magical energies at least as well. It’s like having your mutant power be that you’re amazingly good at literary criticism without having to study it very much. Isn’t that just a bit lame?

Access to limited fields of Universal Magic is probably best represented by Rune Magic – which relies on skill, the Mana that being in a superhero universe provides, and neatly sorts itself into a variety of specific fields which you can ignore, study, or master, entirely independently of each other. In her case, it’s going to be Wisdom-Based.

  • Augmented Bonus: Adds (Dex Mod) to Wisdom-Based Skills, Specialized for Increased Effect / only for Rune Magic Skills, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Soulsword, Stepping Disk, and Time Bender Rune Magic (4 CP).
  • Adept, Soulsword (Casting and Mastery) and Stepping Disks (Casting and Mastery) (6 CP).
  • 10 Skill Points (Paid for later). Four go to getting a +3 base in her Adept skills, the remaining six go to getting a +3 base in Time Bending (Casting and Mastery). That gives her a base of +12 in those six skills.

Magick’s Soulsword was always a very questionable thing. A spell of creation, meant to shape a pure focus for a soul touched by black magic, was fused with black magic and corruption to turn purity into a devastating weapon. It is little wonder that – the more Magick wielded the resulting abomination – the more demonic she became. Worse, like most major comic-book magics, it was never particularly consistent as to what it did, or how, or even what it looked like. Sometimes it only disrupted magic, sometimes it disrupted psychic powers, sometimes it could hurt people (at least as if it was a normal sword), and sometimes it couldn’t. That’s not “a” power. That’s a suite of powers.

  • Soulsword: Rune Magic / Negation, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Only for negating / disrupting magical / psionic effects and beings, the more Magick uses the blade the more demonic she becomes, the user becomes an evil that exists to fight other evils, drawing the attention of demon lords and eldritch horrors, she can be at least briefly “disarmed”, although the blade always seems to show up again. Magicks +12 bonus would normally give her a casting level of 6 and let her use third level effects. At triple effect, that’s casting level 18 and ninth level effects for three mana – although three of those levels normally go to making the “casting” a simple part of attacking with the sword (this is most often a touch attack). This doesn’t cover using the Soulsword as if it was a normal sword, but she can manifest a normal sword with Hand of Shadows quite casually, which covers that.
  • Stepping Disks: Rune Magic / Travel (Mastery and Casting), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / all travel involves opening portals, all portals must go through “limbo”, may accidentally move across time or scatter travelers as a GM plot option, accuracy decreases as range increases, occasional portals may open nearby without conscious control. Magick is quite capable of moving a small area to Limbo and back in the same round using two quickened effects – such as when she pulled the New Mutants (and a car) into the X-Mansion to fight Sym.
  • Time Bender: Rune Magic / Time Manipulation, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / Magick basically has very limited control over this at best. She can twist timelines, travel to the past and future, change her own timeline, and reverse catastrophic magical effects across entire cities, but none of that is ever what you’d call reliable. About all she ever did that WAS reliable was return from Limbo so quickly that it looked like direct teleportation rather than a two-step process, and that might not even have involved time magic; it could have just been two quickened stepping disks. It’s notable, however, that Dr Strange tapped into this ability to let him reshape time on a level beyond what he could handle on his own.
  • 4d6 (16) Mana, Specialized for Double Effect (32 Mana) / only for Rune Magic (24 CP). Being in a superhero universe provides Mana to work with each round – but quickened spellcasting and such can easily outrun that supply. Ergo, Magick has some mana reserves.
  • Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires at least twenty minutes worth of rest or meditation per die regained, only to restore the Mana Pool noted above (8 CP).

Combat Bonuses:

  • Finesse: Uses (Dex Mod) in place of (Str Mod) for magically empowered melee attacks (6 CP).
  • +6 BAB (36 CP). Melee +9, Soulsword +15, Ranged +9. Damage is per the magical effect used (whether Witchcraft-based, her Soulsword, or whatever she decides to do in Limbo).
  • +2 to All Saves (Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +7, 18 CP)
  • HP 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +30 (L2-7d8, 24 CP) + 14 (Con Mod x7) +32 (Immortal Vigor) = 88 HP.
  • AC 10 (Base) +3 (Dex) +8 (Mystic Armor) = 21. M&M splits that into Melee (Parry) and Ranged (Dodge), but we don’t need to bother.
  • Initiative +3 (Dex)

Converting d20 damage to M&M damage is difficult because – fundamentally – neither system actually makes any sense. For the first and most obvious benchmark… take a normal person. To score an automatic instant kill in d20 you need to inflict a minimum of 14 damage. To score an automatic instant kill in M&M they have to miss their damage resistance check by 30. A normal person will have a +0 bonus on that check, but might roll a “20″. So an automatic kill requires a DC of 50, and a damage bonus of +35. So many low-level fighters – perhaps inflicting 2d4+12 – can do +35 in M&M. But M&M defines a one megaton strategic weapon as doing +30 damage. A one megaton blast to the face thus only has a 70% chance of immediately killing a normal person in M&M.

Ergo, melee attacks default to (Str Mod + Level), while others just use (Level).

Thus most of Magicks Witchcraft effects will be Rank 7 in M&M (very effective against normal people, but easily shrugged off by Sym). Her Limbo Magics have a base effect rank of 7 but can be boosted to rank 13. Her Stepping Disks and Soulsword are at rank 18, but can be boosted to rank 24 in Limbo.

Toughness is awkward. As written, Magick can – on average, and assuming that she doesn’t throw up a force sphere or something – take one nuke to the face, but it will leave her on the verge of dropping. So against DC 45, with an average roll of 10, she’d miss by 15. Yet Toughness 20 is obviously too much. I’d go with the (square root of the characters hit points + 1). In her case… that’s 10. Good, but hardly invulnerable.

And that takes us to Skills – although we can disregard the various combat-booster skills unless she wants to purchase a martial art or two since those have been incorporated into her boosts, above. At her lower power level the M&M writeup gives her Acrobatics 2, Athletics 3, Deception 4, Expertise (Magic) 12, Expertise (Queen of Limbo) 5, Insight 3, Intimidation 6, Perception 2, and Stealth 3, for a total of 40 SP.

At the higher power level her M&M writeup gives her Acrobatics 2, Athletics 2, Deception 4, Expertise (Magic) 13, Expertise (Queen of Limbo) 5, Insight 4, Intimidation 10, Perception 4, and Stealth 4. That’s 48 SP. Superhero advancement tends to be pretty slow, but she probably picked up a level or two, which would explain it.

Personally, I’m dumping “Expertise (Queen of Limbo) because Magick has quite spectacularly (and repeatedly) demonstrated that she is, in fact, no good at all at running Limbo – a task which consists almost exclusively of keeping the demons under control.

She’s going to want to increase the human skill bonus to +2 SP/Level (3 CP), Acquire Fast Learner Specialized in Skills (6 CP), and Adept (Specialized in two skills only for Increased Effect (Adept Skills get an extra +4 Bonus)/Expertise (Magic) and Intimidation, 6 CP). That gets her 20 SP at L1, plus 5 SP/additional level, and lets her get the Adept skills at half cost. She’ll still have to purchase a few skill points – I’ll say 12 (12 CP) at level six.

Available Skill Points: 5 x (Level +3) = 50 +14 (Purchased) = 64 SP.

That will give her the high-end skill package of Acrobatics 2 (+5), Athletics 2 (+1), Deception 4 (+6), Expertise (Magic) 13 (+14), Insight 4 (+7), Intimidation 10 (+12), Perception 4 (+7), and Stealth 4 (+7) at a cost of 27 SP. Since she has another 37 available, she can boost her rune magic and other skills some more – such as buying her second language since she is bilingual and throwing in a few points in knowledge / expertise skills or perhaps some martial arts since she did all right in Xavier’s school.

So let’s add this up:

  • Four-Color Package (24 CP). As a Sorceress, she gets her Mana from her Wisdom.
  • Expertise (6 CP)
  • Sanctum (Limbo, 6 CP)
  • Blessing (6 CP).
  • Improved Sunder (6 CP).
  • Fascinating Intimidation (2 CP).
  • Leadership (6 P)
  • Darkchilde Armor (10 CP).
  • Witchery (18 CP)
  • Universal Magic (10 CP, also requires 10 SP)
  • Mana Pool and Recovery (32 CP).
  • Finesse (6 CP)
  • +6 BAB (36 CP)
  • +2 to all Saves (18 GP).
  • Hit Points (32 CP).
  • Skills (29 CP).

That’s 247 CP. It’s been shaping up to look like level seven or eight, so lets see what we need:

Available Character Points: 192 (Level Seven Base) +30 (Human Bonus, L1, L3, L5, and l7 Feats) +14 (Duties) +7 (Restrictions; can only call on the Elder Gods for dimensional magic, and will not do so) +10 (Disadvantages: Accursed (Bloodstones bind soul to evil and prevent the use of pure white magic), History, and Hunted (Belasco and other evils)) = 253 CP.

  • So we have 6 CP left over. Given the superheroic tendency to leap in front of attacks meant for others, throw up shields in front of incoming attacks, and so on… I’d recommend Reflex Training (the three action per day variant).

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

  • For the minor effect, we’ll pick up the remaining +2 to an Attribute that she needs (a first level effect) and a +3 competence bonus to Intimidate when she goes all demony.
  • Her equipment allowance is 13,000 GP. According to Urban Arcana, 1 GP = 20$. According to the Price Conversion Table from d20 Modern up to Purchase DC 10 is about $10 per DC. 10 = $120, 11 = $150, 12 = $200, 13= $275, 14 = $350, 15 = $500, 16 = $650, and 17 = $900. From there, each +8 DC is x10 dollars. Fortunately, we can ignore much of that except for calculating the base price of her phone.
    • Kevlar Reinforced Costume (“Leather Armor”, but 40 GP and only 5 pounds. Note that Arcane Spell Failure does not apply to Rune Magic or Witchcraft), Masterwork (+150 GP), +1 (+1000 GP), Amulet of Tears (2300 GP. This can provide up to +36 HP per day. Throwing that into her HP total for the purposes of calculation in M&M provides +2 to her Toughness – although that effect will wane as hit points increase. In theory this still takes up the appropriate item slot, but Superheroes rarely care). Armor Crystal: a Lesser Iron Ward Diamond (2000 GP).
    • 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 that’s 13,000 GP.

When it comes to equipment, Superheroes are much more vulnerable than d20 characters. That’s mostly because comic books are created by writers to present to third party audiences. If a Green Lantern is deprived of his or her power ring… even if it’s a team book in the first place, the rest of the team will either be shuffled offstage to allow a solo story, handed the idiot ball so that the powerless character can still be a leader in their adventures, or land in an incredibly contrived set of situations that still allow the character who can’t do much of anything to be the hero. None of those are good options for a RPG, since they ALL translate to “GM railroading” and/or “one or more players is not getting to actually play tonight”. Thus d20 characters may lose a piece or two of gear, and be put at a short-term disadvantage – but they pretty much never lose all their gear and get put out of action. If you’re converting to M&M, a d20 or Eclipse characters wealth-by-level is one of their powers,

Overall, this version of Magick is a fine demonstration of why throwing “an endless stream of Mana” into the character design process takes a character from a hero to a superhero. While she turns out to be built on almost exactly the same number of points in both Eclipse and in Mutants and Masterminds, the Eclipse version has a major advantage in versatility and a slight advantage in raw power – mostly because Eclipse is built using versatile fantasy magic tropes, rather than specific-powers superhero tropes. The rest of the New Mutants tend to have more specific powers, and may be a bit more awkward in Eclipse terms.


Eclipse and Four Color Heroics

The question this time is basically how some Eclipse-style superhero builds match up to Mutants and Masterminds third edition builds – with specific reference to the original “New Mutants” and their writeups over at the “Atomic Think Tank”.

Well, why not? I haven’t built very many superheroes, so this is a perfectly reasonable topic to get back to posting with.

So what do you need to buy to be a four-color superhero?

First up… the Superheroic World Template obviously applies. That’s pretty simple; it gives each character (Con Mod) points of Mana to spend each round. You generally can’t augment this, but the GM may well let you use another attribute without even taking Finesse. It only defaults to Constitution because Superheroes are almost invariably healthy types who push through terrible conditions and massive injuries, recover quickly and completely, and hardly ever get sick. Ergo, a high Constitution is encouraged – but if you must play a frail psychic or studious elderly wizard or something, swapping to Wisdom or Intelligence is pretty reasonable.

The obvious way to use that power is to make normally limited-use abilities unlimited. Go ahead. Use Berserker to keep your strength jacked up to superhuman levels all the time, or turn Grant of Aid into and endless font of regeneration, or exercise endless telekinetic control over the earth, or whatever. Really, that’s quite enough to make you a street-level superhero.

But if you want to be a true four-color superhero you’ll need a few extra ways to use that power.

Superheroic Physics (6 CP):

In some settings, characters with mighty superhuman powers have to deal with “consequences”. They have to worrry about what gets hit when they miss with an attack, the fact that buildings do not have the structural integrity to be picked up, and that trying to punch through three feet of steel will simply drive you backwards and (probably) massively damage whatever you’re standing on because it will be hit just as hard. People in such street-level superhero universes have to deal with those pesky conservation laws, leverage, and all the other factors that real people have to deal with. Superman may be strong, but no amount of strength will actually let you move planets, or lift mountain ranges, instead of going through them.

In “four-color” superhero settings – the default type for Mutants and Masterminds, Champions / Hero System, and many other games – reality need not apply. Superman is simply altering reality to go along with his heroic narrative. To do that, we want to buy an:

  • Mana / Additional Form of Natural Magic (Reality Editing), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to support the user’s heroic narrative and let the user’s abilities function without normal scaling restrictions (6 CP).

And there you go. Go ahead and lift that building and smack someone with it without having it fall apart. Catch someone who’s falling without killing them with the impact with you. Run down the stairs faster than someone can fall. Fly at incredible speeds without smashing the city around you with sonic booms. This won’t really help when you’re up against another superhuman though. When both characters are using this effect it just goes back to comparing the underlying abilities – but it will allow (for a very dramatic example) Binary to punch Rogue into orbit without serious harm to either character OR destroying the area, just as it will then allow Rogue to return from the vicinity of the moon and locate her destination in mere seconds. It means that long-range travel operates at the speed of plot rather than according to actual time and distance – with the only important measurements being however the game master chooses to distinguish between “way too late”, “just too late”, “just in time”, and “way early”.

As a side-benefit, this also means that you can and will function normally – without smashing up the scenery, punching too hard and obliterating minor street gang members, or killing your sexual partners – whenever over-the-top super-abilities do not fit your narrative.

Any character headed into a four-color superhero setting should gain this ability for free as a world law, just as they normally no longer need to worry about having limited power sources – but it’s cheap enough to buy.

Superheroic Durability (6 CP):

Superheroes are very often stunned, knocked out, or injured by their opponents attacks.

Wait. Lets just think about that for a moment. Quite a lot of superheroes are fairly normal people under their battle armor, or force field, or whatever – a lot like a normal soldier sitting in a tank. But looking at attacks on tanks… the vast majority of the time attacks either fail to get through (and leave the crew rattled but basically unscathed) or they wreck the tank and leave the crew dead. When one percent of a weapons impact is more than enough to kill someone you only get injured targets on a hit if something has used up more than 99% of the weapons total energy but still less than 99.99% or so (whatever it takes to get it down below the threshold of serious injury).

That’s a VERY narrow zone. Yet comic book characters with wildly varying defenses engage in quite a lot of combat against wildly varying opponents with all kinds of weapons, and take a fair number of hits, and yet they generally have long survival times.

3.5 and Eclipse handle this by making hit points utterly abstract and damage non-linear. A hit from a Colossal Mace should – by virtue of basic physics – be capable of doing hundreds of thousands of times as much damage as a hit from a 1d8 Medium Mace, yet according to the d20 rules it only does 6d6. That’s as if dropping a can of soup on your foot five times in a row was equivalent to being caught between a high speed loaded truck and a rockface.

Want to consider a nuke? Well, d20 Future tells us that a one-megaton nuke (one of the few weapons on the list that’s actually real and comparable) does 16d8 damage – an average of 72 points. My scaling calculations (from hand-held explosives, but the same article again) tell me that a one-megaton blast would cause either 20 or 21 d6 damage (averaging 70 and 73.5 respectively, or 71.75 together). Alternatively, we can also just go by the standard charts for explosives and weapon sizes – which tell us that a Tiny explosion causing 3d6 damage can be scaled up to a Colossal explosion causing 18d8 damage. That’s remarkably consistent really. As for what it shows us…

  • In d20 each +1 multiplier to your hit point damage represents ten times as much actual physical damage. How does that work? It’s because inflicting injury in d20 is more about convincing your target that they SHOULD be hurt than it is about actual forces that cause physical injury. Because RPG’s are “Let’s Pretend” with rules – and the hit point rules are aimed at convincing the player that their character “should be dead”. There are plenty of mid-level d20 fighter types who can take a nuke to the face without so much as flinching – and can still be wiped out by twenty to thirty blows from a club. Bombs? A bright flash, a loud noise, and a bit of an impact? Why would they believe that something that is over so fast can really hurt them? But a club now… a club is CONVINCING. EVERYONE knows that a club hurts! You learned that as a little kid!

No, that doesn’t make much of any sense from a “realistic” prospective. Because, you know, MAGIC.

Fortunately, this system works just fine for superheroes – but it’s worth noting that Superheroes are knocked out a lot more often than they’re seriously hurt or killed and take even more hits than a low-level 3.5 character can. In the comics… this is usually a version of professional courtesy. “If you restrain yourselves, so will we – because we WILL lose sometimes, and we’d rather get to survive doing so”.

When superheroes do take a serious wound it tends to be quite dramatic though. Ergo, we’ll want to buy…

  • Superhuman Resilience: DR 3/- (affecting both physical and energy damage), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (9/-) / only to reduce lethal damage to nonlethal damage, bypassed by critical hits (6 CP).

That basically amounts to “I can take twenty times as much damage as a normal person without serious harm, but can be knocked out without incredible difficulty.

Superheroic Build (A.K.A. “The Most Common Power”) (3 CP):

Ever noticed that almost all the major characters in comics look really good? Is that a standard secondary power that comes with everything?

Not really. Standard “superheroic good looks” are a consequence of the medium. Humans tend to see clearly defined and highly symmetrical features, clear skin, an average-to-slim build, and somewhat “generic” features, as indicators for good health and good genes – in other words, an attractive/handsome/beautiful potential mate. There are a lot of nonvisual cues too, but comics are primarily a visual medium.

All of those features turn up in comics simply because comics start off as long sequences of line drawings. That means that making the main characters easier to draw is quite important. Clearly defined features? Line drawing. Highly symmetrical? Far easier to draw in a variety of poses and from various angles. Clear skin? Who wants to waste time and effort drawing skin blemishes? Average build? Easy to draw and lots of sample shots to look at. Somewhat generic features? Helps avoid any accusations of drawing stereotypes AND makes it easy for the audience to accept and identify with the characters. Result: standardized generic good looks. Buy this as…

  • Minor Privilege: Cultivated Appearance. Regardless of their actual Charisma, this character gets to describe themselves as good looking, horrifying, or utterly ordinary as they prefer (3 CP). Yes, pretty much ANY super can get groupies.

Rapid Recovery (3 CP):

Real people break bones, lose blood, and can take a vary long time indeed to recover from very small amounts of damage. Supers, however, recover quickly, rarely suffer lingering effects from their injuries, and wake up again on a moments notice. That’s…

  • Grant of Aid, Specialized/requires at least one minute to activate (3 CP).

That’s not a LOT of recovery – but it’s fairly broad spectrum, will suffice to automatically stabilize a dying character, and will start at the player’s call – so it will wake the character up if he or she is unconscious or something.

Minor Conventions (6 CP):

Given that everyone needs to be readily identifiable, and that drawing costume changes and/or damage complicates things, comic book characters tend to wear their colorful, easily-identifiable, negative stealth modifier, and wholly impractical costumes everywhere (or at least change into them impractically fast). For the same reason they’re virtually never damaged too badly and are good enough for broiling deserts and arctic conditions – although, to be fair, most superheroes seem to shrug off petty inconveniences like “estimated survival time of twenty minutes” anyway.

  • Innate Enchantment, all powers Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated. Specialized for Increased Effect (counts as extraordinary abilities, not magic) /
    • Ready for Inspection: Prestidigitation, Only to keep the user clean and neat and help perform quick costume changes (Note that characters with minor signature traits – always chewing on a cigar, having a few jelly babies in a pocket, etc, may count a couple of those as a part of their “costume”) x.5 = 500 GP.
    • Comics Code: Mending, Only to keep the “necessary” bits of the user’s costume in good repair. Thus, men can lose their shirts, but never their pants – unless it’s THAT sort of comic of course. X.25 = 250 GP.
    • It’s Sufficient: Endure Elements , Personal Only (x.7), 2/Day Only (x.4) = 560 GP. Whatever the costume looks like, it’s perfectly comfortable and adequate for all normal earthly climactic conditions.
    • Heroic Will: Protection From Evil, Personal Only (x.7), 3/Day Only (x.6), Only when the GM feels that the user is being compelled to do something against their personal code or otherwise is likely to summon a mighty surge of will to throw off possession/mind control/etc (x.25) = 210 GP.
    • Heroic Rally: Remove Fear, 2/Day Only (x.4), user must make an adequate inspiring speech (x.6) = 480 GP.
    • Coincidental Catch: Feather Fall, 2/Day Only (x.4), activates automatically (x1.5), but only works 50% of the time (x.4) = 480 GP. When a hero falls off a roof or gets dropped, there is a substantial chance that SOMETHING will happen to break his or her fall.
    • Heroic Health: Relieve Illness (from the Hedge Wizardry spell list) 1/Day (x.2), Personal Only (x.7) = 280 GP. Relieve Poison (from the Hedge Wizardry spell list) 1/Day (x.2), Personal Only (x.7) = 280 GP, Lesser Restoration 1/Day (x.2), Personal Only (x.7) = 280 GP. Fast Healing I (from The Practical Enchanter, for 18 rounds, 2/Day (x.4), Personal Only (x.7)) = 560 GP.

This leaves 2100 GP value open – enough for a trio of personal-only cantrips, an as-needed first level spell (even if perpetual healing is banned). Can you evaluate an area at a glance (L1, Sift), perform impressive card tricks (very limited Prestidigitation, L0), be perpetually optimistic (Good Hope, L1), never run out of bullets (Abundant Ammunition, L1), disguise yourself quickly (Disguise, L1), act extremely innocent (Innocence, L1), perform ventriloquism (ventriloquism, L1), look young despite your advanced age (Youthful Appearance, L1), smell poison (Detect Poison, L0), always know True North (Know Direction, L0), have small bonuses on a few skills (Skill Mastery spell template from The Practical Enchanter), always Stabilize when dying? (Stabilize, L0), hold your breath for a long time (Air Bubble, L1), have a knack with animals (Calm or Charm Animal, both L1), ignore movement penalties for difficult terrain (Feather Step, L1), jump well (Jump, L1), have exceptional senses (Keen Senses, L1), leave no tracks (Pass Without Trace, L1), communicate with animals (Speak With Animals, L1), or just swim really well (Touch of the Sea, L1)? Well, here’s a way to add it to your list of attributes as a minor quirk, mostly unrelated to being a super. You don’t have to limit yourself to what’s listed; if you want to always have a pocketful of smoke pellets… well, “produce puff of smoke” is probably a L0 effect.

That’s 24 CP – half of what a first level character gets as a base. And while it doesn’t provide any major powers as of yet… it’s not a bad start. Next up; building a few mutants.

Linear Fighter, Assistant Wizard

For today, we have a retrospective question about just when “wizards got so overpowered!”.

For the quick answer, is 3.0. For the long answer…

Originally, back in Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (First and Second Edition), if you played the game as written… spellcasting didn’t really dominate the game. Over more than a decade of play with several different groups it soon became pretty obvious that Fighters did. Paladins, Rangers and Monks were all good – but the entry requirements kept them rare. Thieves helped with scouting and traps and taking out bosses with carefully set up backstabbing, but the main drive against the enemy was always the fighters.

And that was about right. In a very large proportion of legends, myths, and fantasy stories… wizards were either enemies or they were assistants to the heroic warriors who were the real stars. They had many interesting powers, and their spells might turn the tide at a dramatic moment, enable visits to strange locations of adventure, and trick overwhelming foes – but they were still secondary. Swords, bows, secondary weapons, and (sometimes) martial arts still did the main work.

But wait! Magic-Users had all those incredibly powerful spells! Almost as many as Wizards and Sorcerers do in 3.5 or Pathfinder!

Yes, they did. And they had segmented casting times at ten segments to the round and usually at least one segment per spell level. It was often more; looking back at my first edition books, many first level spells required three or four segments. Hold Person, at level two, required five segments – in a system where you determined initiative with opposing d6 rolls and any interruption ruined the spell. There were no “concentration” checks, saving throws were fixed numbers, spellcasters couldn’t evade attacks while casting, only got to know a limited number of spells, often couldn’t learn spells they wanted, some of them couldn’t use armor at all, and might take many days of rest and study (or prayer) to prepare all their spells.

Thus the Dungeon Masters Guide told us

Because spell casting will be so difficult, most magic-users and clerics will opt to use magical devices whenever possible in melee, if they are wise.

For that matter… it took a lot longer to go up in level. For example… killing an Orc was worth an average of 14.5 XP. Getting to level three as a Magic User required 4501 XP. That meant that your party of four needed to kill off 1242 orcs to reach level three through combat experience if no one died (if someone died the doubling experience point tables let a new character catch up very quickly, which was good because older edition characters died a lot). Even with experience for treasure… a party usually only gained 3-6 levels per year of play – 50-odd sessions.

So what would those spellcasting limitations look like if you imported them into a current d20 game? Well, at least in Eclipse, such “Old School” magic levels are blatantly Specialized and Corrupted for one-third cost (or possibly even double-specialized given the number and severity of limitations here).

Basic Spellcasting Limitations:

Casting Spells takes more time. If the base casting time is:

  • One Standard Action the spell requires three initiative counts per spell level including metamagic other than “Quicken”).
  • One Full Round the spell requires sixty initiative counts.
  • More Than One Round the spell requires ten times as long to cast.
  • A Free Action the spell requires one initiative count.
  • A Swift or Immediate Action the spell requires two initiative counts.
  • Scrolls require the normal casting time, and are subject to the same limitations as direct casting. Wands and Rods only require three counts to activate, while Staves require six. Unfortunately, the save DC for wands, rods, and staves is only 14.
  • If such an action would not be completed before “0”, the countdown continues into the next round.

There is no such thing as a concentration check. Any damage or distraction that would normally call for a concentration check causes your spell to fail automatically, and be lost.

Spellcasting does not invoke attacks of opportunity, but the spellcaster cannot apply Dodge or Dexterity bonuses to his or her AC while spellcasting without losing the spell.

You may only prepare spells after a period of uninterrupted rest or meditation.

  • 1’st and 2’nd level spells require four hours.
  • 3’rd and 4’th level spells require six hours.
  • 5’th and 6’th level spells require eight hours.
  • 7’th and 8’th level spells require ten hours.
  • 9’th level spells require twelve hours.

It takes fifteen minutes per level of the spell per spell to prepare a spell. Thus preparing a third-level spell requires forty-five minutes. If you then go on to prepare a fifth level spell, that’s an hour and fifteen minutes – for a total of two hours to prepare two spells.

You cannot spend more than eight hours preparing spells before you will need to rest again to prepare more.

There is no such thing as spontaneous spellcasting. All spells must be prepared.

The spell charts are not “spells per day”. The spell chars show the maximum number of spells a spellcaster may have prepared. A powerful spellcaster may need many days to prepare all of his or her spells.

This means that a spellcasters daily “spell budget” is basically sixteen to thirty-two levels of spells. At the low end that might be four first, three second, and two third level spells. It would take a seventh level magic user five hours to memorize his or her selection of 4/3/2/1 (twenty spell levels in total) spells after at least six hours of uninterrupted rest. A ninth level magic user with the capacity to store 4/4/3/2/1 spells needs eight hours of rest and eight and a quarter hours to prepare spells – and if he or she tried to cast them in a fight, a fair chunk of those would probably be disrupted and lost.

The DC of saving against a spell is fixed at 16. Yes, this means that high-level targets will almost always make their saving throws.

Counterspelling is possible, but usually pointless. If you have time to hold an action for a counterspell, why aren’t you tossing off a quick Magic Missile or something and stopping your opponent from casting a spell in the first place?

Additional Arcane Caster Limitations Include:

  • Arcane Casters may only learn (Int/2) spells of each level they can cast. Read Magic is automatically one of them. They normally begin with another three first level spells – one offensive, one defensive, and one utility, selected at random.
  • Arcane Casters must record the spells they gain access to along with the results of a roll of (1d20 + Spell Level). If that is under their current intelligence, they can comprehend the spell and may choose to add it to their spells known.
    • For an example, Tim the Intelligence 14 Magic User has gotten ahold of scrolls or spell formulas for Color Spray (19), Burning Hands (3), Glitterdust (15), Pyrotechnics (12), Fireball (9), and Fly (16). With a maximum spell list of seven spells of each level he can cast, he may opt to learn Burning Hands, Pyrotechnics, and Fireball. If he gets his Int up to 15 he could opt to learn Glitterdust, and at 16 he could opt to learn Fly. Sadly, Color Spray is likely to remain far out of reach at any level where it might be useful – unless Tim saves a first level slot and opts to research (say) Tim’s Scintillating Butterflies, which is a different spell with the same basic effect. Note that, if you successfully research a spell you still roll – but the maximum result is equal to your current intelligence.
  • Arcane Casters only automatically gain one spell formula from among those they could potentially cast each level (although they may seek out or buy more if the game master allows it or they capture a spellbook or something). They may check (and record) their spell comprehension for desired spells until they find one that they can currently comprehend to add to their spellbooks. They may add a spell that they cannot currently cast to their books if they so desire, but usually have no reason to do so.
    • For example, Tim has made level seven, and wants a fourth level spell – in his case he wants Wall of Fire. Unfortunately, the check results in a roll of 23 – far beyond his intelligence! He doesn’t pick that one. Dimension Door turns up a 15. That’s tempting – next level he’ll get his Int up to 15 and be able to use it – but why not choose it next level? Next up, his third choice of Lesser Globe Of Invulnerability comes up a “7” – and so Lesser Globe Of Invulnerability goes into his book and onto his list of learned spells.
  • Arcane Casters will find that any armor or shield that would normally produce a 5% or more chance of arcane spell failure causes automatic arcane spell failure.
  • As a note, spellbooks do NOT have plot immunity. They may be stolen, destroyed by area-effect spells and attacks, and so on. It is VERY WISE to use backup spell books and traveling spell books!

Additional Divine Caster Limitations Include:

  • Divine spellcasters may only pray for a limited list (Wis/2) of spells of each level they can cast. “Consecrate Holy Symbol” (L1) is always one of them.
  • Divine spellcasters may only select spells for their list that are appropriate to their god. For a quick example, Odin does not grant Sanctuary and Poseidon does not grant Flame Strike. If the game master has the time, and wishes to make the effort, gods may also offer access to unique spells related to their particular specialties.
  • Divine spellcasters gain spells beyond level three from spiritual servants of their god and gain spells of level seven or above directly from their god at the discretion of those entities. They may be denied spells, granted spells other than what they prayed for, be assigned missions or quests, or be asked to attone for misdeeds at the whim of those entities.
  • Divine spellcasters who change gods must prove themselves worthy followers of their new god with mighty oaths, quests, and deeds in the service of their new god. If they attempt to leave the service of their new god, those same oaths will utterly destroy them.
  • As a rule, Clerics will be asked to spend time preaching, to refuse missions that their god does not approve of and to undertake ones that he or she does approve of without further reward, to use weapons and armor only as approved of by their god, to build and maintain temples, and so on.

Spellcasters operating under those restrictions will be roughly back to where they were in first and second edition; they may have some useful noncombat effects that they may use for special circumstances and they will have a very limited range of combat spells and game-changing effects that they can cast once in a while during fights IF a bunch of other characters protect them while they do it. Their spells, however, often will not work against high-end opponents, who can be counted on to make their saving throws. Magic will become, once again, a very limited special resource, to be husbanded carefully and deployed with planning – or in extreme emergencies.

Of course, in Eclipse, all this reduces the cost of your magic levels to the point where you can easily afford to add some weapons skills, a better BAB, a few more hit points, and other bennies – resulting in the modern equivalent of an old-style multi-classed character without any major complications or sacrifices.

Looking at all this also helps explain why so many players made Elven Fighter/Magic-Users in first and second edition days despite the 7/11 level limitation. After all… level eleven was well past the point where you could prepare all your spells each day. Were you on a long adventure? You’d have just as many spells each day as a higher-level human mage. They’d be weaker spells (at least in some cases), but YOU could wear armor. Not only did you have a better chance of getting your spells cast because you were harder to hit, but you weren’t an obvious target like that unarmored guy. If you started from level one, a human magic-user wouldn’t really have much of a magical edge on you for nearly two hundred sessions. Even better, the high-end magical gear worked for you just as well as it did for a higher-level wizard – reducing the gap even more. I, personally, played a maxed-out elven fighter/magic-user for a couple of years in a game that went up past level eighteen (for the human wizard, characters with easier advancement tables had higher levels) and it worked just fine. I even got some better items than the higher-level mage because they were used more often, and so did more good for the party, in the hands of someone who didn’t have so many other high-level spell options. And best of all… you could reasonably play your fighter/magic-user through the fifty-odd lower-level sessions before adding a human wizard to the party became really viable.

Champions – Ares Reborn

The untamed violence of war is not what it was. In a world of drones, snipers, carpet bombing, trenches, machine guns, and mortars… individual strength, and courage, and personal skill means a lot less than it did. Even looking back into history, personal battle skills and the terrible joy of battle lust began to fade long, long, ago. Even at the time of the Trojan War… organized warfare under the aegis of Athena was beginning to surpass personal valor.

The Romans improved things for quite some time – but twisted things more towards the virtues of an organized soldier. There was strength in their worship – but a subtle disconnect as well.

Eventually, on the blood-soaked battlegrounds of the first world war… valor meant almost nothing. To survive, one cowered in trenches, or crawled to the attack, darting from cover to cover to avoid the machine gun fire, hoping that you would not inhale a lethal dose of mustard gas, and – preferably – killing with stealth and surprise, rather than valiant challenge.

And Ares fell to Athena, was slain, and was cast into the formless void of fallen Titans – his connection to the greater aspects of his portfolio, as well as his old persona, lost.

But then Jann – the Voice Of Ancient Sorrows, a channel for the fallen – meddled recklessly, as he so often does. He called upon powers far beyond his control or understanding – opening a way for Ares (if weakened and cut off from his original sources of power) to return to the world and bond with a new aspect of war.

Jann, for his own reasons, has cheerily set about getting this new version of Ares hooked up with a new myth – one that’s surprisingly ubiquitous, but which has never really drawn a Titan to take it up. That’s because, under normal circumstances, they are too independent for this particular semi-faceless role. Still, there’s plenty of unclaimed belief and myth there – even if Ares WILL have to put up with being mostly known as “Sarge”.

Sarge, of course, is a pragmatic, tough-as-nails, career military man. Grand strategies and determining objectives are not for him; his task is to take a squad into battle and carry out whatever mission he’s been given. Fortunately, he’s got enough weapons to equip a battalion, is an expert in small unit tactics, and is pretty tough.

Ares is not entirely happy with his new tendency to let other people set the agenda – but it’s a LOT better than the condition he was in just a little while ago and this mythos… has a surprising amount of raw power behind it (thanks to appearing in virtually every war movie ever made) and is a fabulous step up from being lost in the formless void searching for a new role to step into.

Ol’ Sarge, Incarnation of Ares

Value Characteristic Points
25 STR 15
23 DEX 39
23 CON 26
10 BODY 0
13 INT 3
11 EGO 2
15 PRE 5
8 COM -1
5 PD 0
5 ED 0
4 SPD 7
10 REC 0
36 END -5
35 STUN 0
Total 91


Points Powers END
0 Minor Titan Racial Package
(20) Physical Limitation: Shaped By Belief. Titans may be powerful in their fields, but they are limited to a single, and invariably fairly straightforward, domain. A Spirit of Invention makes gadgets and – possibly – provides grants and teaches. Similarly, the spirit of Memorial Day is a formidable soldier, has lots of weapons, and can operate military vehicles – but that’s about it . (Frequently, Fully)
(20) Mental Characteristic Maxima of 15 (-20 Points). People never really think that their “gods” are really much smarter, or more perceptive, or whatever, than they are – no matter what their theme is. The God of Knowledge may have a lot of knowledge skills, but he or she normally won’t actually be much smarter than the average person. If there’s any one thing that the Titans find annoying about their relationship with mortals… this may be it. (All the Time, Greatly)
(20) Psychological Limitation: Themed. Titans aren’t even CAPABLE of getting seriously off-theme. A war god won’t be negotiating, the healing goddess won’t be building gadgets, and the god of justice won’t be letting criminals go, no matter how necessary it may be (Common, Total)
(12) Regeneration (1 BODY/week); Regenerate: From Death, +20
(3) Immune to Aging
16 Domain: 15 Points worth of ablities appropriate to their domain.
(16) +2 level w/All Combat
1 Overcost on his Domain Powers, above
20 Multipower (75-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Infantry Powers Only): -½; Visible (Mystically Conspicuous to Other Titans): -¼; Side Effects (Various Hunteds): 30/Half, -½; Generic Limitation (Side Effects cannot be avoided): -½; Variable Limitations: -1, -½; Generic Limitation (Cannot subdivide the points in the reserve, even if a slot does not use all of them): -½
Portfolio Powers
u-1 2d6 Righteous Wrath: Aid to All Physical Attributes (Fade/min., Max. 20); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Reduced END: Zero, +1; Generic Limitation (Aid to self only): -½; Extra Time: full phase, -½; Only in Hero ID: -¼; Visible (Creates quite a flare of magical power): -¼

Net: +20 Str, +2 OCV, +2 DCV, +10 Con, +10 PD, +10 ED, +2 Spd, +10 Recovery, +40 Endurance, +20 Stun.

u-1 2d6 Campaign Outfitting: Aid to Papers, Maps, Languages, Vehicles, More Multipower Slots, Etc (Fade/day, Max. 50); Range: 0; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Generic Limitation (Only between missions or when a source is available)): -1½; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼

In general, outfitting for a campaign will include a low-level military vehicle (Jeep, APC, or similar), maps and a GPS (Area Knowledge), the local Language, an ID and any necessary permits/orders, MRE’s, a tent, and whatever other specialty gear (or multipower weapons slots) is appropriate for the job.

u-1 Commando Training
(4) +4 level w/HTH Combat; Only in Hero ID: -¼; Visible (Creates quite a flare of magical power): -¼; Generic Limitation (Must be struck in melee before this can be activated): -½
(11) Hand-to-Hand Attack (6d6, Total 7½d6); Range: 0; Variable Advantage: Max. Advantage 1, +2

Total of 9d6 when Str boosted to 45. Can also just be 0 End and do 15d strikes under similar circumstances.

u-1 Small Unit Tactics
(15) +2 level w/All Combat; Area Effect (Radius): 128″ radius, +1; Selective Target: +¼; Increased Area: ×32, +1¼; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½; Generic Limitation (Only works on people who are willing to listen to his orders): -½; Generic Limitation (Lasts a maximum of five minutes after he stops shouting): -½
u-1 Plot Armor; Focus (Wrist Bracer): Obvious Inaccessible, -½; Activation: 14-, -½; Charges: 16, +¾; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev
(7) Force Field (10 PD/10 ED) 0
(4) Power Defense (10 pts)
(4) Mental Defense (12 pts)
General Equipment
u-1 Flares: Change Environment/Brightly Lit (32″ rad.); Effect: Fixed, +0; Charges: 6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev 0
u-1 2d6 Heavy Pistol/Bow/Crossbow/Gyrojet: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 150; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4 0
u-1 Entrenching Tool / Tunneling (1″ through DEF 8); Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Focus (Entrenching Tool): Obvious Accessible, -1; Tunnels: Left Behind, +0 1
u-1 6d6 Concussion Grenade Stun-Only Energy Blast; Range: 225; Versus: PD; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +½; OAF: -1; Charges: +12, -¼ 0
u-1 2d6 Fragmentation Grenades: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 225; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +½; Charges: 8, -½; OAF: – 0
u-1 6d6 Inciendary Grenade: Energy Blast (Fire); Range: 225; Versus: ED; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +½; OAF: -1; Charges: +8, -½ 0
u-1 1d6+1 Light Machine Gun: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 300; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Area Effect (Radius): 4″ radius, +1; Charges: 60, +½; OAF: -1; Extra Time: full phase, -½

Yes, a machine gun fires a lot faster than this, it just rarely hits the same target more than this.

u-1 4d6 LAW Missile Launcher: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 300; OAF: -1; Charges: 8, -½ 0
u-1 4d6 Sword: Killing Attack (HTH) (Total 5½d6); Range: 0; Focus (Sword): Obvious Accessible, -1 6
u-1 15d6 Assault Cannon: Energy Blast; Range: 375; Versus: PD; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Extra Time: full phase, -½; Charges: 6, -¼; Clips: 4 0
u-1 2d6 Claymore Mine: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 375; Area Effect (Cone): 14″ long, +1; Increased Area: ×2, +¼; Trigger: Set, +¼; OAF: -1; Focus Mobility: Immobile, -1; Extra Time: full phase, -½ 7
u-1 1d6+1 Flamethrower: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 350; Area Effect (Radius): 5″ radius, +1; Penetrating: +½; Continuous: +1; Charges: +6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; OAF: -1; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½ 0
u-1 2d6 Heavy Machine Gun: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 335; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Armor Piercing: 1, +½; Charges: 16, +¼; Clips: 4; OAF: -1; Extra Time: full phase, -½; Focus Mobility: Immobile, -1 0
u-1 2d6 Surface to Air Guided Missile: Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 3000; No Range Penalty: +½; Armor Piercing: 1, +½; Increased Maximum Range: ×25, +½; OAF: -1; Charges: 8, -½; Extra Time: full phase, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½ 0
2 Light Power Armor Elemental Control (6-pt reserve); All abilities -.5 OIF (Power Armor), -1 (Conventional Technology Only), -.25 (Visible: power armor is pretty obvious).
a-10 Armor (12 PD/8 ED); Hardened: ×1, ¼; Always On: -½
b-2 Flash Defense (Sight, 12 pts)
c-4 Life Support Systems
(1) Life Support: High Pressure/Vacuum
(1) Life Support: High Radiation
(4) Need Not Breathe
(1) Life Support: Intense Heat/Cold
d-2 Running (+4″, 10″, NC: 20″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 12; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
e-2 Superleap (+12″, 17″, NC: 34″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 36 2
62 Total Powers  


Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
16 +2 level w/All Combat
3 Combat Driving 14-
3 Stealth 14-
3 Survival 11-
0 English (Native Accent); Literacy: Standard, 0
0 Greek (Native Accent); Literacy: Standard, 0
2 German (Fluent Conv.); Literacy: Standard, 0
27 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  


100+ Disadvantages
10 Vengeful (Uncommon, Strong)
20 Extremely Violent (Very Common, Strong)
10 Public Identity
15 Reputation (14-)
5 Rivalry: Tacticians; Situation: Professional, 5; Position: Equal, +0; Rival: NPC, +0
10 2d6 Unluck
20 Hunted: Divine Enemies (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
90 Total Disadvantages


COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
91 + 89 = 180 190 = 90 + 100


OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
8 8 4 12 17/12 13/8 3, 6, 9, 12


Height: 182cm (6’0″), Weight: 73kg (161 lbs), Sex: Male, Race: Titan

Champions – Dr Cronus

Old Gods Take New Names.
A Myth Entombed In Dusty Tomes Lies Fallow.
Its Titan Bound, Its Might Fading.
While Lesser Figures Of Ancient Tales
Still Mostly Formless, And Full With Possibility.
Seize Easily On New Tales And Forms
While Elders Fade And Formlessness Creeps In.
Each In Their Turn, Across The Ages.
The Fading And Rebirth, The Cycle Turns
Old Gods Take New Names.

The shape was new, and it’s powers still limited – but the tales were many, the followers a mighty host, and legends only grow stronger as the years pass. An elder master of time, the last of a primal race of reality-masters… it was a near-perfect fit.

Old Gods Take New Names.

And at an English museum-shrine, a Titan stepped forth from a blue Police Box. Doctor Cronus – the last Doctor that would ever be needed – had come forth from legend into reality.

Doctor Cronus is fairly new to this incarnation, but so far it’s going quite well. Being stuck with the TARDIS is something of a pain though. After all, the things actual function is to separate you from most of your allies and resources, prevent you from planning ahead, dump you into potentially deadly situations where the fate of the universe relies on you with little or no information to go on, and trap you there until you fix said situation. Attracting swarms of powerful enemies is just icing on the cake. Does it occasionally acting as a plot coupon and an excuse to play tourist REALLY make up for that? Especially in a setting where time travel isn’t particularly difficult in the first place?


Doctor Cronus

Value Characteristic Points
13 STR 3
14 DEX 12
13 CON 6
10 BODY 0
18 INT 8
11 EGO 2
15 PRE 5
10 COM 0
5 PD 2
5 ED 2
3 SPD 6
6 REC 0
24 END -1
24 STUN 0
Total 45


Points Powers END
0 Minor Titan Racial Package
(20) Physical Limitation: Shaped By Belief. Titans may be powerful in their fields, but they are limited to a single, and invariably fairly straightforward, domain. A Spirit of Invention makes gadgets and – possibly – provides grants and teaches. Similarly, the spirit of Memorial Day is a formidable soldier, has lots of weapons, and can operate military vehicles – but that’s about it . (Frequently, Fully)
(20) Mental Characteristic Maxima of 15 (-20 Points). People never really think that their “gods” are really much smarter, or more perceptive, or whatever, than they are – no matter what their theme is. The God of Knowledge may have a lot of knowledge skills, but he or she normally won’t actually be much smarter than the average person. If there’s any one thing that the Titans find annoying about their relationship with mortals… this may be it. (All the Time, Greatly)
(20) Psychological Limitation: Themed. Titans aren’t even CAPABLE of getting seriously off-theme. A war god won’t be negotiating, the healing goddess won’t be building gadgets, and the god of justice won’t be letting criminals go, no matter how necessary it may be (Common, Total)
(12) Regeneration (1 BODY/week); Regenerate: From Death, +20
(3) Immune to Aging
15 Domain: 15 Points worth of ablities appropriate to their domain.
(3) Absolute Time Sense
(3) Speed Reading
(3) Lightning Calculator
(3) Resistance (+3 to EGO Rolls)
(1) Immunity to Temporal Paradoxes; Frequency: Rare
(1) Immunity to Timeline Shifts; Frequency: Rare
(1) Immunity to Temporal Distortion; Frequency: Rare
25 Timelord Multipower (50-pt reserve); Side Effects: Attracts opponents from across all space and time, has to travel by Tardis, obliged to gratuitously meddle. 60/All, -1
u-3 2d6 Regenerative Energies: Aid to All Physical Attributes (Fade/turn, Max. 20); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Active Points: 52; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Charges: 32, +¼ 0
u-1 Clairsentience (Hearing, Sight); See: Future, +20; Charges: +6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; No Conscious Control: -2; Dimensions: Current, +0; Range: 250″ 0
u-2 25″ Moment Out Of Time / Teleportation (Long Range 25″); Increased Range: ×1, +0; Long Range: 25″; Long Range (miles): 0.03; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Fixed Locations: 0; Floating Locations: 0; Charges: +16, +0 0
u-1 2d6 Aid to Knowledge Skills (Fade/day, Max. 32); Range: 0; Charges: +8, -½; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Generic Limitation (Very Limited Conscious Control; The GM picks 16 points worth of skills and the user picks the other 16 – but the user may only change his choices at one point per week. ): -1

The Doctor generally knows a lot – but, oddly enough, never enough to really derail his current adventure.

u-1 Shape Shift (Various Humanoid Forms) (Limited Group); Charges: 1, +¼; Continuing Charges: 1 week, -8 lev; Generic Limitation (Only to periodically take on a new appearance and personality, which will then last for years or decades. ): -2; Difficult to Dispel: ×16, + 0
u-2 4d6 Telepathy; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Transdimensional: Any Dimension, +1

The Doctor occasionally receives messages, or gets into touch with someone, across space and time.

u-2 Warp Probability: Luck (10d6); Charges: +8
u-1 Summon TARDIS (1 100-point creatures); Range: 0; Summon: Single Type, +0; Generic Limitation (Always the same TARDIS, so problems carry over): -1; Generic Limitation (Only works when convenient for the plot or the current plotline is resolved. ): -1; Charges: +4, -1 0
u-2 Detect Dimensional Location and Structure (+20 to PER); Time Required: Half Phase, +0; Range: Ranged, +5
u-1 1d6 Mental Manipulation: Transform (Minor, Limited Class); Range: 0; Cumulative: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +1; No Range: -½; Autofire: 5 shots, ½

This is routinely used to acquire languages if the convenient “tardis translation effect” is not available.

u-2 +40 PRE; Charges: +8, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Turn, -2 lev
u-2 1d6 Tinker: Transform random bits to any needed device (Major, Limited Class); Range: 245; Cumulative: +½; Autofire: 10 shots, ¾; Charges: 125, +¾ 0
7 Elemental Control: Timelord Powers (10-pt reserve); Side Effects (Often recognized, attracts weirdness): 30/Half, -½
a-4 Life Support (total); Generic Limitation (Greatly slows the effects of hostile environments, diseases, etc, and mitigates the effects to some extent, but does not stop them.): -2; Generic Limitation (Only works against things that a normal human would find survivable for at least a minute. ): -2
b-2 Detect:Temporal Effects and Locations (+5 to PER); No Conscious Control: -2; Side Effects (Has difficulties dealing with fixed points in time, paradoxes, etc.): 30/Half, -½; Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5
c-7 Armor (7 PD/7 ED)
d-7 Enhanced Perception (all) (+7 to PER)
e-7 Mental Defense (22 pts); Add to Total
79 Total Powers  


Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
40 +4 level w/Timeline Selection / Overall Level
10 Eidetic Memory
3 Immunity: Any distinction between attribute rolls and skills; Frequency: Common

This is downright abusive. On the other hand… you can achieve exactly the same result with a small Aid to Any Skill, or a Skill Power Pool, or in several other ways – and skills generally aren’t all that important in a setting where actual powers appear.

3 Simulate Death
56 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  


Cost Equipment
But where is the sonic screwdriver? It’s a penlight case, filled with a bunch of random bits and pieces. Thanks to his “Tinker” power it can be readily transformed into any needed small gadget up to a maximum of 25 active points. This also keeps it from being used for EVERYTHING, since he has a limited number of uses of that ability each day.
0 Total Equipment


100+ Disadvantages
5 Dependent NPC: Random Companion (Normal, 8-); Skills: Useful, -5

These actually appear on a 14- or so, but often do not get into trouble, merely providing a target for more exposition.

20 Hunted: Daleks, Cybermen, Etc. (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Actions: Hunting, ×1; Punishment: Harsh, 0
15 Code of Chivalry (Common, Strong)
15 Honorable (Common, Strong)
15 Overconfidence (Very Common, Moderate)
5 Prankster (Uncommon, Moderate)
15 Reputation: Timelord (11-, Extreme)
10 Watched: Practically Everyone (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
100 Total Disadvantages


COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
45 + 135 = 180 200 = 100 + 100


OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
5 5 4 22 12/7 12/7 4, 8, 12


The Doctor is annoyingly omnicompetent, and can pop up anywhere to be a bother – but he really isn’t all that powerful in superhero terms; in a lot of ways he’s more of a pulp hero than anything else – albeit an intellectual version rather than the usual two-fisted fighter.


Eclipse d20 – Playing With The Pulps Part V; Narrative Feats

  • For Part I – the Basic Pulp Hero and Advanced Pulp Hero Templates – Click HERE.
  • For Part II – Advanced Pulp Powers Part I – Click HERE.
  • For Part III – Advanced Pulp Powers Part II, Pulp Drugs, and Pulp Archetypes – Click HERE.
  • For Part IV – Buying Pulp Vehicles – Click HERE.

The situation looks hopeless! The spiked ceiling is descending, a vile henchman is taking the captured heroes out to sea to drop them overboard, or they are trapped in a warehouse, almost out of ammunition, and the army of thugs is closing in. Whatever the details, it looks like their tale is at an end. The only thing that can save them now is some contrived deus ex machina as the raw force of their heroic narrative carries them through. Will a henchman abruptly pull off a mask, revealing that he has been an ally “all along”? Will the cavalry arrive at the last moment? Will the Tyrannosaur eat the Raptors? For some pulp heroes, the answer is usually “Yes!” – no matter how unlikely that coincidental rescue may be.

So how do you spend your bonus pulp feat to focus narrative forces on your life like that? Well, there are a variety of possibilities for making your life more like an old-time Republic Serial or piece of… pulp fiction. You can buy…

  • Crazy Prepared: Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (six floating CP)/only to buy Immunities to particular unique characters, specific types of monsters, or similar groups, requires that the user do research and practice special techniques against the target group. In general, Uncommon (against a particular villain type), Severe (they do tend to kill you), and Minor (protects the user against twelve points of damage from each of the enemies attacks and from effects of up to level three (with a +4 bonus on saves against higher-level effects) as well as allowing the user to bypass up to ten points of damage reduction or other minor defenses). That costs 6 CP – and will give your hero quite an advantage against their chosen foe.
  • Destined Hero: Backed by either some supernatural force or bad writing, some pulp heroes make a habit of pulling off astounding (and usually never-to-be-repeated) stunts – albeit mostly only when backed into a corner or involved in a cliffhanger. This is usually Action Hero (Stunts), but Karma (which is more easily renewed, if far less versatile) may be a better choice in a slower-advancement game. If a character wants the forces of destiny to be even more reliable than that… he or she will want Luck with Bonus Uses, Specialized in a particular application such as saving throws, attacks, or skill checks.
  • Force Of Narrative: 1d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to cause for unlikely plot twists (6 CP). This talent will let you do almost anything in the way of twisting the plot – albeit not very often. If you want to pull your tricks as a routine thing… you’ll want a far more specialized ability or to invest more points in Mana an in Rite of Chi with Bonus Uses to get the Mana back in a reasonable length of time.
  • Man of Mystery: Access to two Occult Skills (6 CP) – most likely two of the Action Skills from the Shadowed Galaxy setting. (I’d recommend that Stealing The Scene be one of them). This will basically let a Pulp Hero start off every session with a personal special effects budget – allowing him or her to reliably pull off a few special stunts every session.
  • Mirror Dance: Whether you have an archenemy, oppose some sinister cult, are a hunter of monsters, or are locked in battle with some conspiracy, whether you are driven by rage, an oath, or vengeance, you have a personal rogues gallery of enemies who appear over and over again – and whom you have become very, VERY, good at opposing. Take Favored Enemy or Favored Foe (6 CP).
  • Oathsworn: Your word is more than your bond; your oaths – whatever they’re sworn by – have genuine power. They influence events, sustain you in times of need, and shape reality on your behalf, driving you to fulfill your oath regardless of the cost. Inherent Spell/Questing Oath (A form of Malediction from The Practical Enchanter. Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / Only usable on yourself, only intervenes seven times, for a level nine base effect. A Questing Oath allows the user to swear to complete a specified and (relatively) immediate task – holding off a dragon, holding a pass, getting a group of villagers across a desert – as long as the task will (or at least should) take a month or less to complete. For the duration of the oath you only need a quarter of the usual food, drink, and sleep and will be assisted as needed by a level four spell effect of the game masters choice up to seven times – possibly including turning you into an undead if that seems required. You can only be sworn to a single task at a time and renouncing an uncompleted oath will cause the remaining spell effects to cause trouble for you at the worst possible times and keep you from swearing another oath for a year and a day – or until you undergo some suitable ritual ordeal of atonement and purification.
  • Signature Device: Do you have a mystic blade, some weird piece of alien technology, a compass that points towards your hearts desire, a key that opens any door, or some similar device? Buy Create Relic (Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only with points from Enthusiast, three point relics maximum, limited to a maximum list of (Int/3) specific relics (2 CP), Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (four floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for use in creating relics, only for (Int/3) specific relics, all relics must carry a disadvantage (4 CP). If someone swipes your special gadget the special effect is usually that you get it back somehow (rather than just dissolving and recreating it) between adventures, but the effect is pretty much the same.
  • Soliloquy: Some heroes – especially in western graphic novels – can do astounding amounts of talking in the time it takes to throw a punch. If you happen to be one of those, and want to have the action pause while you make a dramatic speech, attempt some negotiation, or offer a bribe, then what you want is Reflex Training/Three extra actions per day variant, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (you get to make a full speech and observe the reactions) / only for communications actions.

Obviously enough many other abilities can fit a Pulp Hero – take Acrobatics to allow even more impressive stunts, Adept for those academics who want to have heaps of skills, Augmented Bonus to boost your existing talents, Berserker for the great brawlers, Cloaking for those never-unmasked mystery men, a Companion to gain a mighty mount, Damage Reduction or Grant of Aid to be tough as nails, Lore to become known as “Mr Exposition”, Mana with the Resilience option to power Martial Arts C’hi Powers, Mystic Artist to inspire with Oratory, Reflex Training to keep escaping explosions and death traps, Returning to come back again and again, Sanctum to build your own secret base, Traceless to leave no clues behind, Track to shadow your opponents through the streets, and various Combat Enhancements to be even more badass. You can even learn a little Channeling to repel the supernatural. Study the use of Ritual Magic, and learn the Martial Arts – but that’s about as far as it should go. Beyond that point… you are crossing over into superhero territory. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, the point was to be a pulp hero, not a comic book super-hero.

For the game masters side… you’ll want mad scientists of subtle, creepy, mystics instead of flashy super-powers, hidden lands filled with creatures and cultures from the distant past, weird vehicles, foreigners, criminals, and traitors who are undermining the heroes good, upright, and proper culture and morality, individual heroes versus swarms of faceless thugs with weird unique leaders, cliffhangers, occult mysteries, and ancient tombs/temples/ruins full of traps. If you need a list of sources, TV Tropes has a lot of them – but it also has a tendency to suck up hours of your time, so proceed with caution.

And that’s really about it for the pulps – unless I happen to have the urge to build some pulp heroes or there are some questions to inspire a further article.

Champions – Junior Lt. Ulrich “Firestorm” Grant

Junior Lt. Grant is a bit of an odd case; he’s very talented with personal boosting “C’hi Powers”, deadly accurate, as fast as greased lightning, able to manage a flight harness, and can handle a more-than-maximum equipment loadout – but he’s got a woeful tendency to follow his own judgement, jumps into situations, and the usual special forces powers and training are beyond him. He simply doesn’t fit into most of the usual Afrikans military slots.

On the other hand, being assigned as a glorified babysitter to weird idiots seems a bit beneath him – not that he’ll open his mouth about THAT.

Lt. Grant is a splendid example of “I have things that go BANG” as a character concept – a fairly normal, if well-trained and fairly high end special forces, human with a plentiful supply of military gear. He’s built as a starting character for the Apex setting, and thus at the peak end of what you can expect any normal organization to field. He doesn’t do much except combat of course, but – for his job – he doesn’t really need to. He’d be right at home in a lot of action movies. He’ll usually be running at OCV and DCV 9, with three levels to switch between them in ranged combat. Of course, since he wears a flight harness, he can usually avoid hand to hand quite readily. 

Junior Lt. Ulrich “Firestorm” Grant

Value Characteristic Points
18/38 STR 8
18 DEX 24
13 CON 6
10 BODY 0
10 INT 0
11 EGO 2
15 PRE 5
12 COM 1
6 PD 2
6 ED 3
4 SPD 12
7 REC 0
16 END -5
26 STUN 0
Total 58


Points Powers END
0 Afrikans Racial Package
(20) Physical Limitation: Elemental Powers Only. Afrikans can create and maintain advanced “conventional” technologies (which do indeed require a bit of magic to keep working in the face of supernatural resistance) and can manipulate the various elements, the states of matter, and the elemental forces of life and death (Frequently, Fully)
20 Normal Characteristic Maxima
(20) Psychological Limitation: Pyramidal Psychology. Afrikans form large organizations easily, but have difficulties handling internal feedback within those organizations and with understanding systems involving it. Dominant leaders thus tend to hear only what they want to – and so less-dominant subgroups resort to factional infighting to advance their ideas. Groups of Afrikans have been known to obey obviously stupid orders simply because they came from the top – and may select very poor leaders and then follow them blindly. (Very Common, Strong)
(15) +3 level w/Ranged Combat
(15) 30-Point Equipment Allowance; An equipment allowance is spent on more-or-less conventional gear; each point invested in the equipment allowance allows the purchase of two points worth of equipment, bases, or vehicles – up to a normal maximum of 15 points invested. Beyond that, you can use an Aid effect to boost your equipment allowance and Afrikans characters get a racial boost.

Atlantean characters with an equipment allowance normally have at least half of it invested in weird magical stuff, but the effects are much the same.

Titans and Demi-titans normally cannot buy an equipment allowance.

18 Advanced Afrikans Warrior Multipower (40-pt reserve); Variable Limitations: -1½, -¾; Generic Limitation (All powers must be 0 End Cost and work on Charges): -½
u-1 2d6 Packing A Full Kit: Aid to Equipment Allowance (Fade/week, Max. 24); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power, +0; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Charges: 12, -¼ 0
u-1 2d6 Second Wind: Aid to All Damaged Attributes (Fade/turn, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Restore Only Lost Characteristics and Powers: -½; Charges: +8, -½; Trigger (4 Body or less): Set, +¼; Trigger (Unconscious): Set, +¼; Generic Limitation (Only works for the user, not others): -½ 0
u-1 Lightning Reflexes: +4 Speed; Only for taking extra movement in each phase, -1.5.; Charges: 6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼; Activation: 15-, -¼
u-1 Forced March: +4 Speed; Only for making an extra attack each phase, -1.5. The Special Effect is usually a weapon in each hand; Charges: 6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; Activation: 15-, -¼; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼
u-2 Adrenaline Rush; Charges: 6, +0; Must allow at least an hour to pass between uses.: -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev
(8) +20 STR; Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½; Generic Limitation (Only for combat purposes; cannot life massive weights, rip apart entangles, etc.): -½ 0
(13) Force Field (5 PD/5 ED); Invisible (Sight and Hearing. Detectable by Medical and Mystical Senses): Two Sense Groups, +¾; Hardened: ×1, ¼ 0
15 Equipment Allowance (30 + 24 Boost +30 Race = 84)
9 Hard Training: Modified Characteristic: STR; Reduced END: Half, +¼
6 Marathon Running (+2″, 8″, NC: 16″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 6; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
9 Enhanced Perception (all) (+3 to PER)
63 Total Powers  


Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
15 +3 level w/Equipment Multipower
9 +3 level w/Flight Harness
1 French (Basic Conv.); Literacy: Standard, 0
1 German (Basic Conv.); Literacy: Standard, 0
3 Combat Driving 13-
2 Professional Skill: Military 11-
5 Stealth 14-
3 Professional Skill: Bodyguard 12-
5 Tactics 12-
1 Active Duty Military ]Passport
3 Basic Strike (OCV +1, DCV +0, 9½d6)
4 Martial Block (OCV +2, DCV +2)
4 Martial Dodge (OCV –, DCV +5)
3 Martial Grab (OCV -1, DCV -1, STR 48)
59 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  


Cost Equipment
15 Equipment Multipower (45-pt reserve); Variable Limitations (Various Obvious Accessible Foci): -1, -½; Conventional Equipment Only: -1; Full Power Only: -¼; Gestures (Must be able to use gear): Instant Power, -¼
Heavy Pistols
u-1 9d6 Physical Energy Blast (Rubber Bullets) 0; Range: 225; Versus: PD; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4
u-1 4d6 NND Energy Blast (Gas Pellets) 0; Range: 200; Versus: ED; No Normal Defense (Vrs Need Not Breathe): +1; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4
u-1 4d6 Entangle (Glue Pellets) (DEF 4) 0; Range: 200; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4
u-1 3d6 Killing Attack (RKA) (Depleted Uranium Slugs) 0; Range: 225; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4
u-1 6d6 Incendiary Grenades: Fire Energy Blast 0; Range: 225; Versus: ED; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +½; Charges: +16, +0
u-1 Smoke Grenades: Darkness (Radar, Sight, 1″ radius) 0; Range: 225; Area Effect (Radius): 4″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×2, +¼; Charges: +6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev
u-1 2d6 Fragmentation Grenades: Killing Attack (RKA) 0; Range: 225; Explosion (Extended Area +0″/DC): +½; Charges: +16, +0
Flare Pistols
u-1 Fired into Air: Change Environment/Light (2″ rad.) 0; Effect: Fixed, +0; Area Effect (Radius): 250″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×250, +2; Charges: +6, +0; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev
u-1 9d6 Fired Into Something: Flame Energy Blast 0; Range: 225; Versus: ED; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4
u-1 3d6 Fired into a Hex: Visual Flash (Normal Sight) 0; Range: 225; Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4
Other Devices
u-1 Extending Staff: Hand-to-Hand Attack (5d6, Total 12½d6) 0; Range: 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½
u-1 1d6+1 Combat Knife: Killing Attack (HTH) (Total 2½d6) 0; Range: 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Armor Piercing: 1, +½;
u-1 Bugs/Tracers: Radio Listen and Transmit ; Ranged: +½; Usable Against Others: ×1 mass, 1; Charges: +8, +1½; Continuing Charges: 1 week, -8 lev; Transmits Only: -1
u-1 Binoculars: Telescopic Sense (Sight, +7 to PER) ; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½
u-1 Demolitions Kit 19-
u-1 Survival Pack (Survival Skill) 17-; Charges: 1, +¼; Continuing Charges: 1 week, -8 lev
u-1 Lockpicking Kit: Lockpicking 19-
u-1 Security Systems Kit 19-
u-1 Breaching Charges: Tunneling (2″ through DEF 12) 0; Charges: +8, -½; Tunnels: Left Behind, +0
u-1 4d6 Thermite Pencils: Energy Blast/Fire 0; Range: 200; Versus: ED; Explosion: +½; Time Delay: +¼; Trigger (Radio Signal): Set, +¼; Charges: +8, -½
u-1 2d6 Knockout Drugs: Energy Blast 0; Range: 200; Versus: ED; No Normal Defense (vrs not ingesting or being injected with it, alien metabolism.): +1; Continuous: +1; Charges: +12, +1; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 lev; Extra Time: full phase, -½
u-1 Wrist Grapnel and LIne: Swinging (+23″, NC: 46″) 2; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 68; Reduced END: Half, +¼; Reduced END: Zero, +½
8 Flight Harness Multipower (30-pt reserve); OIF (Flight Harness): -½; Requires a minute or so to strap the thing on: -¼; Limited Fuel Reserve: 2-3 hours straight flight, half that much dogfighting. No long-range flights.: -¼; Restrainable: Must have room to extend the wings: -½; Will not work underwater, in vacuum, etc.: -¼; Flight powers only: -1
u-1 12″ Flight (NC: 24″) 1; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 36; Reduced END: Half, +¼
u-1 5″ Flight (NC: 160″) 1; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×32, +20; Non-Combat (MPH): 238
2 Elemental Control: Advanced Uniform (5-pt reserve); Focus: Obvious Inaccessible, -½; Conventional Technology Only: -1
a-8 Armor (8 PD/8 ED) ; Hardened: ×1, ¼; Always On: -½
6 Sensory Enhancements
(5) Infrared Vision
(5) Ultraviolet Vision
(5) Radio Listen and Transmit
4 Shielded Senses
(5) Flash Defense (Sight, 5 pts)
(5) Flash Defense (Hearing, 5 pts)
67 Total Equipment


100+ Disadvantages
10 No Code Versus Killing (Common, Moderate)
15 Always Obeys Orders of Superiors (Very Common, Moderate)
20 Honorable (Common, Total)
10 Public Identity
10 Reputation: Special Forces Soldier (11-)
15 Watched: Superiors (14-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
15 Active Service Duties (Common, Strong); Situation: Common, +10; Intensity: Strong, +5
10 Phys. Lim. Terrible Liar (+5 bonus to anyone trying to spot it) (Frequently, Slightly)
15 Phys. Lim. Only good at personal boosting magic, nothing else. (Infrequently, Fully)
120 Total Disadvantages


COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
58 + 122 = 180 220 = 120 + 100


OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
6 6 4 0 19/13 19/13 3, 6, 9, 12

Height: 179cm (5’10”), Weight: 64kg (141 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 22, Race: Afrikans