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.

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Champions – Professor Moriarty

Creator of Americas Unlimited, Engineer of a dozen freeware secure peer-to-peer encrypted communications networks, Enabler of Social Protest, Father of Spam, Inventor of the Pop-Up Ad, Patron of LOLCats, Financier of TVTropes, Designer of Denial Of Service Attacks, Data Harvester, Hacker Extraordinaire, Trans-humanist…

The charge was Computer Hacking. Many people thought that it should have been an awards ceremony instead. Others felt that the charge should have been Crimes Against Humanity.

But when they came to take him to trial, Professor Moriarty was dead in his cell – smoke rising from where some sort of implant in his skull had turned itself into a piece of slag.

Despite the ever-multiplying rumors of murder, and coverups, and thefts of the Professor’s secret technologies… the death was ruled a suicide, and most of Moriarty’s secrets apparently died with him.

But within the digital seas, Professor Moriarty’s uploaded consciousness swam, riding the datastreams around the world.

Special orders were placed. Backups were created. Automated systems hummed to life – and soon enough the Professor had a new “body” – and opened his now-digital eyes upon the physical world once again.

Professor Moriarty’s Digital Wizardry is no stronger than it ever was – but now he can make all of it work in the physical world and he possesses the flashing speed of a computer to back his skills. His spells may be weak, but he can unleash five of them every phase – and can take an extra phase to cast defensive spells up to twice a turn whenever he needs it. If some massive attack is coming in… well, five layered Force Walls can often take a lot of the sting out of it. Personally, he’s hard to hit anyway, since a lot of attacks will go right through his holographic “body” (if the +6 DCV for “shrinking” would cause them to miss) without causing him any trouble at all.

Professor Moriarty is seriously stretching the rules in a number of places. As far as the setting goes, his Digital Wizardry might fall under “technology” – but it might be necessary to consider him a “priest” of a rather strange Titan. Similarly, he’s really pushing the limits of what fits into an Equipment Allowance; those are supposed to be for more-or-less “normal” equipment – and his Holoemitter is pretty obviously not very conventional. Duplication is not supposed to be set up to completely cover it’s own cost,  allowing an endless stream of duplicates. Finally, of course, putting “autofire” on a multipower so as to use a bunch of extra effects each phase – and buying triggered extra phases to use with it – is a pretty weird build.

On the other hand, his spells are fairly weak and ARE explainable. The setting – where even stone knives are partially products of magic, gadgets quit working in the hands of people who haven’t got a large enough “equipment pool” to empower them, and major weapons and systems are limited by their operators abilities – hasn’t really got a good definition of what “normal” equipment is. He’s only using the “duplication” to build the classic computer-character “if you don’t get all my backups, I’ll be back!” ability – which is not only very classic (just ask Ultron/Mechannon) but is also fairly useless since comic book characters rarely die or stay dead anyway. The triggered actions is to build another classic comic wizard bit – throwing up a shield before the big attack hits, even if it was by surprise (writers let them do this because otherwise comic book magicians tend to be normal humans – so if a big surprise attack actually hits, they’ll be a smear on the wall and the story will be over) – and if it’s good enough for Dr Strange, Dr Fate, and Zatana, it’s good enough for Moriarty. Finally, the autofire multipower… The effect makes sense, but the only other way I can think to build it is to buy an enormous boost to speed (well above what the game allows) and throw all kinds of limitations on it – creating a convoluted mess.

Overall, I think he’d be fun – which is, of course, the entire point of playing, and so what’s really important.

 

Professor Moriarty

Value Characteristic Points
13 STR 3
18 DEX 24
13/25 CON 6
10 BODY 0
18 INT 8
14 EGO 8
15 PRE 5
13 COM 1
3 PD 0
5 ED 0
4 SPD 12
8 REC 0
16 END -17
30 STUN 0
Total 50

 

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. Not being material beings to start with, they have problems with material gadgets.

101 Digital Wizardry
(13) Multipower (30-pt reserve); Variable Limitations: -½, -¼; Requires Skill Roll: -½; Side Effects (Usually a 3d6 Stun Drain, but all sorts of weird things can happen.): 30/Half, -½
u-1 1d6 TVTropes / Transform Air to Steel (Major, Limited Class); Range: 130; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
u-1 2d6 Dazzling Graphics / Energy Blast; Range: 150; Versus: ED; No Normal Defense (Flash Defense 6+, Blindness): +1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½ 0
u-1 2d6 Pop-Up Ad / Flash (Normal Sight); Range: 150; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
u-1 Firewall / Force Wall (2 PD/2 ED); Range: 150; Width: 6″, +0; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Variable Special Effects (PD, ED, MD, PD, FD): Certain Group, +¼; Uncontrolled: +½; Hardened: ×3, ¾ 0
u-1 3d6 Restore Function / Standard Healing; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
u-1 2d6 Lolcats / Entangle (DEF 2); Range: 150; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
u-1 Antivirus / Force Field (6 PD/6 ED); Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼; Hardened: ×1, ¼; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½ 0
u-1 Computer Graphics / Images versus Sight (Normal Sight, 1″ radius); Range: 150; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0; Usable Against Others: ×1 mass, 1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½ 0
u-1 Denial Of Service / Superleap (+5″, versus clinging, not being mobile); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×4, +5; Non-Combat (MPH): 30; Usable Against Others: ×1 mass, 1; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
u-1 10″ IP Masking / Teleportation (Long Range 10″); Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
u-1 Virtual Reality / Images versus Physical Sensations (Detect, 1″ radius); Range: 150; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0; Usable Against Others: ×1 mass, 1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½ 0
u-1 Images: The Primary Target (Mental Awareness, 1″ radius); Range: 150; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0; Usable Against Others: ×1 mass, 1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½ 0
u-1 IP Tunneling (3″ through DEF 3); Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Tunnels: Left Behind, +0

This makes instant pits. Sadly, it only works where the ground is reasonably soft.

0
u-1 1d6 Echo Chamber / Transform: Air to Whipped Cream (Minor, Single Object); Range: 150; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Area Effect (Radius): 4″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×4, +½ 0
u-1 ½d6 Script Kiddie / Transfer: Body to End Battery (Returns 5/turn, Maximum: 3); Range: 150; Affects: Single Power, +0; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Ranged: +½; Penetrating: +½; Armor Piercing: 1, +½
u-1 1d6 Wyrm / Transform (Modify Behaviors / Programming, Minor, Limited Class); Range: 110; Cumulative: +½; Active Points: 22; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
u-1 Virtual Machine / Need Not Breathe; Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½; Ranged: +½
u-1 Bot Flood / Darkness (Normal Sight, 1″ radius); Range: 150; Usable Against Others: ×1 mass, 1; Uncontrolled: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½

This can effectively put a sphere of darkness around someone’s head and eyes.

0
u-1 2d6 Encryption / Suppress Language; Range: 150; Affect: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Uncontrolled: +½; Invisible (To Hearing and Sight): Two Sense Groups, +¾

Yes, this changes it so that everything the target tries to say or write is gibberish, but at the same time fixes it so that no one can see or hear this. They will say apparently-reasonable things, but those things will have nothing to do with what they intended to say. Don’t think about that too hard.

0
u-1 2d6 Spam / Ego Attack; Reduced END: Zero, +½

Only Moriarty can defeat his foes with ads for cheap viagra, penis enlargement, and Nigerean Princes…

0
u-1 2d6 CPU Hog / Aid to All Physical Attributes (Fade/turn, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2 3
u-1 2d6 Ebay / Aid to Equipment Allowance (+36 net Points) (Fade/day, Max. 18); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power, +0; Charges: +16, +0 0
u-1 Computer Programming; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 19-
u-1 Demolitions; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 17-
u-1 Google Maps / Combat Driving; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½

It is really annoying to have Moriarty take control of your vehicle during a high-speed chase.

19-
u-1 Autopilot / Combat Piloting; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 19-
u-1 Cryptography; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 19-
u-1 Electronics; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 17-
u-1 Forgery (Digital); Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½

Want to swamp Youtube with forged videos of your enemy doing something reprehensible? Here’s how!

17-
u-1 Gambling (Online); Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½

The “Good” Professor is quite capable of bringing internet gambling directly to you! Complete with the horrendous house odds and ability to charge your credit card directly.

17-
u-1 Professional Skill: Internet Research; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 24-
u-1 Security Systems; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 19-
u-1 Systems Operation; Ranged: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 19-
(10) Autofire on Multipower; Variable Limitations: -½, -¼; Requires Skill Roll: -½; Side Effects: 30/Half, -½
(8) +2 Computer Reflexes / SPD; Trigger (Only to respond to an attack): Set, +¼; Generic Limitation (Only to use Multipower): -1; Generic Limitation (Only for defensive applications): -1

Twice per turn, Moriarty can interrupt an incoming attack to cast five defensive spells – most often Force Walls, but sometimes life support, or force fields which will persist for a while to boost him and his allies, will be a better choice.

(12) +8 level w/Multipower Attacks; Generic Limitation (Only to allow each multipower use in an autofire burst to be rolled independently, without penalty.): -1
(7) Duplication: Reloading From Backup (1 180-point forms); Generic Limitation (Only one duplicate actually exists at a time): -4; Extra Time: 1 week, -4; No Conscious Control: -2
(5) Mind Link (The Internet); Minds: One Specific Mind, +5; Number of Minds: 1, +0; Distance: Single Planet, +0; Dimension: Current, +0; Link with: Anyone, +0
(13) Digital Wizardry (Control Skill). In general, each slot requires a check at -3 – although his focusing crystal generally makes up for that. 18-
101 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
10 +2 level w/Multipower
10 Money (Wealthy)
6 +2 level w/Flight
3 Conversation 12-
29 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

Cost Equipment
6 Elemental Control: Holoemittter (12-pt reserve); Always On: -½; Focus: Inobvious Accessible, -½

The Emitter is usually concealed within Moriarty’s “body”.

a-25 Shrinking-3 (DCV +6, Height 19¼ cm/8″) 0; Mass: 0.1210938 kg/0.27 lbs; Knockback Increase: 9; PER Bonus: -6; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Invisible (Sight): One Sense Group, +½; Generic Limitation (Does not modify perception checks).

The holoemitter is fairly small. The quasi-physical “body” it creates is not. This leads to many apparent hits on him going right through with no effect.

b-6 Buy off “No Physical Body” Limitation
c-6 Armor (8 PD/8 ED). It’s a tough little gadget.
d-12 12″ Flight (NC: 24″) 0; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 36; Reduced END: Zero, +½
e-6 +12 CON
5 +3 level w/Focusing Crystal: Digital Wizardry; Focus: Inobvious Inaccessible, -¼
66 Total Equipment

 

100+ Disadvantages
25 Phys. Lim. No Physical Body (All the Time, Fully)
10 Public Identity
10 Reputation (11-)
15 Distinctive Features: Hologram Traits; Concealability: Not Concealable, 15; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
15 Overconfidence (Very Common, Moderate)
10 Prankster (Common, Moderate)
85 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
50 + 130 = 180 185 = 85 + 100

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
6 6 / 12 5 0 11/8 13/8 3, 6, 9, 12

Original Attributes: Height: 154 cm (5’1″), Weight: 62 kg (136 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 42, Race: Afrikans

All right; Professor Moriarty here wasn’t at all what I was intending to post – but for some reason I just couldn’t get him out of my head until I put him online. Maybe he’s a bit more “real” than I originally intended…

 

Eclipse d20 – Playing With The Pulps Part III: More Pulp Powers, Pulp Drugs, and Pulp Archetypes

For Part I – the Basic Pulp Hero and Advanced Pulp Hero Templates – Click HERE.

For Part II – Advanced Pulp Powers Part I – Click HERE.

And to continue the list of advanced pulp powers…

  • Pressure Point Mastery/Elfshot: You may spend 1 Power as a free action to cause your unarmed strikes to inflict double-strength Elfshot effects that last for one minute.
  • Prophecy/Witchsight (GM controlled): You may see glimpses of destiny in visions, or hear mysterious voices, or read Tarot Cards, or throw the I-Ching – but you get occasional free clues, or mysterious warnings, or clairvoyant flashes, or what-have-you – but the mechanism remains the same for each individual seer.
  • Providential Privacy/Shadowweave (constant): Mundane attempts to subtly eavesdrop on you, bug or record you, follow you unnoticed, get a look at you when you’re insufficiently dressed, or read over your shoulder, automatically fail thanks to providential shadows, noises, and other interference – but the failure mode (of subtlety or information gathering) is up to the game master.
  • Razor Tongue Technique/Glamour (constant): Your body language, expressions, and words are subtle social weapons. As long as you aren’t actually in combat you can make people look like idiots, infuriate them, flatter them, sow rumors, or provoke dissension without appearing to say or do anything particularly out of line. You can make a Diplomacy, Bluff, Oratory, or Intimidate check once per round as a free action without this being apparent to anyone who does not make a will save. You may spend 1 Power as a swift action to gain one use of Pathfinder’s Antagonize, Call Truce, or Taunt feats.
  • Reaching Hand, The/The Hand Of Shadows: You may manipulate items within 60 feet as if you were using one hand with Str 12. This does not require line of sight if you know where the item to be manipulated is and provides tactile feedback, allowing you to pick locks and such with your usual skills. You may thus unbar doors, yank a vehicles steering wheel, throw a knife, or even inflict 3d6 damage to a target who fails to save by squeezing their internal organs (this will not work if they are immune to critical hits). This costs 1 power per minute of use.
  • Scent/Witchsight (constant): You gain the Scent ability. Note that, outside of combat, you can identify disguised individuals by their scent, detect and identify poisons and drugs in food, drinks or the air, locate herbs and other substances, gain a +6 bonus to locating food and water in the wild, identify wines, identify potions, and perform similar tricks.
  • Second Wind/Hyloka: You may spend 1 Power as an Immediate Action to gain (1d6+Con) (that’s Con, not Con Mod) temporary hit points – or twice that if you are wounded to the 50% mark or more. Unfortunately, these only last for ten minutes, this ability cannot be used more than once an hour, and such hit points do not provide healing, although new damage is (as usual) taken from temporary hit points first.
  • Sensory Filtering/Hyloka (constant): You may automatically filter out unwanted sensory stimuli. You cannot be blinded, stunned, or dazzled by bright lights, nauseated by odors, or influenced by torture or pain. You may also filter distractions, allowing you to do things like listen to a specific conversation in a crowded, noisy, room without penalty.
  • Shadow Meld/Shadowweave: You may spend 1 Power to cloak yourself in shadows for thirty minutes. During this time you gain a +12 Circumstance Bonus to Stealth and may hide in plain sight – but these benefits only apply if there are at least some natural shadows or dimly lit areas about.
  • Shamanic Adept/Dreamfaring: You may detect the presence of nature spirits and communicate with them. After that, it’s up to you to be persuasive, but anything from getting information on up to causing or preventing natural disasters is possible.
  • Signature Weapon/Witchfire (constant): A favored weapon or pair of weapons is infused with Power, gaining “+2″ worth of Enhancement Bonuses and/or special abilities (they do not have to include an enhancement bonus). You may apply this effect to your fists if you so desire.
  • Simulate Death/Hyloka: You may spend 3 power as an Immediate Action to enter a deep trance. In this state you need not breathe more than once per week, do not bleed, and are basically treated as an object; you are unaffected by poison, energy drain, nondestructive extremes of temperature, and so on. You may set triggers that will immediately awaken yourself (2 Power per Trigger) or can be awakened with twenty minutes and a DC 20 Heal check.
  • Soul Sight/Witchsight (constant): With a few moments of concentration you may look beyond the surface of reality to peer into the realms of the soul. Unfortunately, what this can show you will vary from game to game; in some settings you may see deeply into peoples personalities or prior incarnations or what mystical forces are influencing them. Perhaps you will see and interact with powerful spiritual entities, or lost gods Perhaps you will be able to guide the wandering dead to their final destinations. Or maybe you won’t. You can, however, spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to set a soul-link on anyone who fails to save within twenty feet. While you can only maintain (Cha Mod) soul-links at a time, until you drop such a link you will have a general idea of the target’s location and condition no matter where they go – and may get odd warnings and visions about what they’re up to. For 5 Power and a touch, you can attempt a meeting of souls – perhaps exploring deep motivations, or coming to an understanding, or getting to battle a neurosis or possessing entity. Discuss this one with your game master; this is a deeply mystical power and will mean different things in different settings.
  • Stage Magic/Hand of Shadows and Shadowweave: You get a +10 bonus to Sleight of Hand and Escape Artist and may perform elaborate feats of stage magic with Sleight of Hand, a few basic props, and either 1d4 rounds to prepare or the expenditure of one power as a swift action, and may spend one power to use Sleight Of Hand or Disable Device at a range of 20 feet.
  • Surge of Strength/Hyloka: You may spend 1 Power as a free action to gain a +10 bonus on a single strength-related check, including jumping, melee damage, or smashing things.
  • Synergistic Knowledge/The Inner Eye: You may pool the information available to every willing target within twenty feet, including things they have forgotten or clues that were never mentioned to the other characters. Everyone involved can attempt to aid whatever the best knowledge skill roll in the group is and theories may be assembled using those augmented skills and all of the available information. This requires a three full rounds and the expenditure of 3 Power. (Yes, this makes the user a convenient channel for game master exposition and for leading questions – such as “but didn’t you informant also say that…” – when some player hypothesis is wandering off into never-never land).
  • Talons/Hyloka (constant): The user’s “natural weapons” (hands and feet) are toughened enough to inflict 2d4 base damage. They are otherwise treated as normal weapons. Secondarily, the users hands are impervious to needles, rope burns, high voltage electricity, handling hot objects, and similar perils.
  • Thought Sensing/The Inner Eye: You may employ Detect Thoughts and Detect Hostile Intent at no cost. Given a minute, you may employ Object Reading or gather any psychic impressions that are present in the area.
  • Thundering Command/Glamour: You may spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to issue a short and simple command, targeting up to (Cha Mod) specific creatures within a 20′ radius within sixty feet. The effects of such commands persist for three rounds and cannot include self-harm beyond the trivial; ordering someone to provide a few hairs or a drop of blood is quite acceptable though. Exorcists are fond of “Begone!” (sending a spirit back to it’s home plane or, if it’s bound to something, back to whatever binds it), law enforcement is fond of “Drop your weapons!” or “Freeze!”, and so on. Focusing on a single target increases the save DC by two. Traditionally user’s are limited to seven specific commands. In this case they may opt to have some or all of them be Absolute Commands that can also affect inanimate objects, approximating effects of up to level two. For an example, “Open!” might make a creature open it’s mouth or open a gate, but the Absolute Command version would also be functionally equivalent to a Knock spell. Common Absolute Commands include “Burn!” (Combust) and “Shatter!” (Shatter). For that matter, “Jam!” can briefly disable guns or make doors stick,
  • Tinker/Hand of Shadows: You may spend 1 Power to accomplish a days worth of work on a device, vehicle, or similar, in one minute or to accomplish some simple repair or modification that would usually take up to fifteen minutes as a swift action.
  • Venomous Infusion/Hyloka and Witchfire: You gain a choice of seven different toxins or drugs that you may synthesize, and infuse into targets by touch at the cost of 2 Power and a Standard Action. Unfortunately, realistic toxins and drugs are enormously complicated,

Doing Drugs n’ D20 – DD&D

d20 really doesn’t have a useful system for drugs. That’s partially because “Drugs are Bad” and so mostly only appeared in The Book Of Vile Darkness (oddly, I know many people who take drugs for blood pressure or other conditions without any notable evil) and mostly because realistic drugs generally have no real effect in d20 terms. After all, d20 is a system that ignores pain, the effects of major injuries, and broken bones. You can be stung by a colossal scorpion, wind up with your body having more poison than blood in it, and shrug it off with a good die roll. If marijuana makes you mellow and hungry… MAYBE that’s a +1 on will saves against certain emotion-controlling spells and a roleplaying note, but is it really worth tracking?

Fortunately, these are Pulp and Fantasy drugs, rather than realistic ones, and do have dramatic and impressive effects: Ergo…

  • Pulp and Fantasy Drugs and Toxins approximate the effects of spells of up to level two.
  • They have Alchemical effects, and provide alchemical modifiers.
  • They will not affect creatures with no constitution scores.
  • No more than three doses of a particular drug will work on any one individual in any one day. Doses after that are wasted.
  • The more powerful beneficial drugs exhaust the bodies resources. After they wear off, the user suffers Fatigue. If the user is immune to Fatigue in the first place, they won’t work.
  • Ingested substances require 2d4 rounds to take effect. Directly infused substances take effect in the round of use.
  • Pre-prepared substances are normally good for 1d4+1 days.
  • Real drugs and toxins often have a wide variety of deleterious long-term effects. In D20 being stabbed a dozen times is easily endurable and will heal up without a trace in days even without treatment. Ergo, D20 drugs have no long-term effects.
  • Addiction is not a problem either. D20 characters routinely ignore pain, stress, and comfort, stay awake for days on end, and more. If they want to quit using something, it really isn’t a problem for them.

So here are some drugs and toxins, ready to go:

  • Aggrande I through VI (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma): Enhance Attribute +2, 1 Hour/Level Duration (The Practical Enchanter). Variants have double effect if limited to a particular purpose – boosting Strength for Carrying Capacity, Intelligence for enhanced recall (Knowledge Skills) or to raise Spell DC’s, Wisdom for Enhanced Senses or for Will Saves, Constitution for Hit Points or Fortitude Saves (or the ever-popular Sexual Capacity), Dexterity for Armor Class, or Extra AOO or Reflex Saves, and so on. Anti-Trauma: Light Revival (The Practical Enchanter, as Cure Light Wounds but will work for a few rounds after “death”).
  • Antipsychotic: Allows a madman to function relatively normally for 3d6 hours.
  • Apercept: Induce Blindness/Deafness.
  • Aphrodisiac: Suggestion (Infatuation/Have Sex). Note that other specific drugs produce other specific suggestions and so induce other moods and effects. Still, nothing has ever been as popular as the search for a genuine aphrodisiac except the search for money and power.
  • Augamenti I through VI:(Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma): Bulls Strength, Foxes Cunning, etcetera. Variants have double effect if limited to a particular purpose – boosting Strength for Carrying Capacity, Intelligence for enhanced recall (Knowledge Skills) or to raise Spell DC’s, Wisdom for Enhanced Senses or for Will Saves, Constitution for Hit Points or Fortitude Saves (or the ever-popular Sexual Capacity), Dexterity for Armor Class, or Extra AOO or Reflex Saves, and so on.
  • Bactril: Induces minor regeneration and tissue adaption, facilitating the regrowth / reconstruction of things like noses, eyes, and fingers, cosmetic surgery, and reducing the difficulty and tissue-matching needed for transplants – making such things possible with the Heal skill at reasonably low DC’s.
  • Berserkerite: Wrath (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Bloodstop: Immortal Vigor II (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Botulism: Torn Muscle (Pathfinder).
  • Cancerphage: Cures cancer given about a weeks worth of once per day doses.
  • Clarity: +4 to Perception and Knowledge Checks but -4 to Charisma Checks for the day.
  • Combat Drug: Heroism.
  • Comprehensive Immunization: Provides a wide range of inoculations.
  • Contraceptive (Hedge Magic) Lasts one day for males, one month for females.
  • Depressant: Induces Exhaustion.
  • Elixir Of Health (A.K.A. “Azoth”): Make two immediate extra saves versus a disease, each with a +5 bonus.
  • Ephemera: This drug greatly accelerates cognition. The user gets to ask (Int Mod +2) extra questions as free actions each round. In combat the user may give up two questions (presumed to be about possible openings) in exchange for a +1 Insight Bonus to an attack or a +1 Insight Bonus to their AC. The effect lasts for about ten minutes, but it seems much longer.
  • Fleshknitter: Fast Healing II (The Practical Enchanter, lasts 2d8 + Caster Level (max 10) rounds).
  • Halcyon Tonic: Cures vitamin and mineral deficiencies, +2 on all rolls against diseases for one week.
  • Hypercaf: Postpones all feelings of Fatigue or Exhaustion for a full day. Then you crash.
  • Hyperstim: Negates the effects of one negative level for twenty-four hours.
  • Immunobooster: Rite of Bodily Purity (Pathfinder). It does not require an hour to administer, but does to take effect.
  • Intoxicant: Touch of Idiocy.
  • Lethe: Confuses memories of the last hour and prevents the effective formation of new memories for another hour.
  • Lifebane: Victim must save or Heal Checks on the victim take a -12 penalty and using healing magic on the victim requires a DC 27 caster level check. This effect lasts for 24 hours.
  • Metset: Adjusts the user’s metabolic rate. May be used to induce (relatively) rapid weight loss (Heal DC 10), induce a deep coma approaching true suspended animation in a willing recipient (Heal DC 20), or reduce the aging rate to 50% of normal (Heal DC 30). A dose lasts for 1d4+1 weeks.
  • Muscle Relaxer: Ray of Enfeeblement.
  • Neurostim: Remove Paralysis.
  • Numbwort: Delay Pain (Pathfinder).
  • Paralytic: Ghoul Touch; 10 minutes/level but no odor.
  • Physiological Regulator: Soothing Word (Pathfinder)
  • Psybane: Allows the user to voluntarily suppress memories, possession, lycanthropy, and similar disorders leading to the loss of mental control for twenty-four hours.
  • Rejuvenation Serum: Lesser Restoration. No fatigue if simply used to eliminate the effects of over-indulgence (hangovers, etc) or to eliminate fatigue or reduce exhaustion.
  • Soma: Makes the user cheerful and happy for twenty-four hours.
  • Sophoric (Nightsnare, Pathfinder). No range, but the victim will remain normally asleep after the effects wear off until they awaken or are awakened naturally.
  • Soulflight: Gives a willing user strange visions, out-of-body experiences, glimpses of the afterlife, and similar experiences – none of them predictably. Usually has a subjective duration of 1d6 x 1d6 hours, lasts about an hour on the physical level.
  • Suppressant (Strength, Intelligence, Etc. -4 for one hour per level). Note that most intoxicants and hallucinogens are simply wisdom suppressants with exotic special effects. Specialized Suppressants – for example, reducing Wisdom for Perception purposes only – are doubly effective.
  • Susparin: Corrects homeostasis malfunctions, such as diabetes, hypo- or hyper-thyroidism,
  • Thermaset: Allows the user’s body to quickly adjust to livable (if possibly very uncomfortable) environmental extremes, including desert heat, arctic cold, water scarcity, and high altitudes.
  • Tranquilizer: Calm Emotions (single target, but ten minutes per level).
  • Troll Serum: User automatically stabilizes if below zero hit points and automatically stops bleeding after the first round. This effect persists for one hour per level.
  • Truth Serum: Touch of Truthtelling (Pathfinder) plus Suggestion (Babble). If the first save fails, the ongoing Suggestion effect will require a save for each question to resist answering – usually with many digressions and at excessive length.
  • Universal Antitoxin: Gain a +10 bonus versus Poison for one hour.
  • Vermifuge: Renders the user’s blood mildly poisonous to other organisms, eliminating various worms, bloodsucking insects, and other parasites for the next day. They’ll need an hourly save.

What with the various variations on aphrodisiacs (or general mood-influencing drugs), augmentations and suppressants, that should easily provide you with eighty or so drugs to work with – which should be more than enough.

  • Ventriloquism/Witchfire: You may create noises, including voices, music, footfalls, and even deafening roars or claps of thunder (fortitude save or deafens for 1d4+1 rounds), anywhere within a sixty foot radius. Extremely loud noises, or very complex ones (including music and equivalents of Shatter and Sound Burst) cost 1 power to generate, voices and simple noises of reasonable volume have no cost.
  • Visage Of The Dragon/Glamour: You may spend 2 Power as a part of an Intimidation check to target all non-allies within a sixty foot radius. If you focus on a single target and succeed you may cause them to freeze in terror as long as you continue to concentrate and they are not blatantly distracted (perhaps by the interposition of a barrier, or being attacked) from your terrifying visage.
  • You Cheat!/Witchsight: You almost invariably win at games of chance and can find any game that happens to be in the vicinity. This can be a good social gateway – no one will mind much if you join in, win twenty dollars, and buy everyone a round of drinks – but using this gift to get large quantities of money tends to attract a LOT of hostility. Unfortunately, you cannot try to turn a situation into a game to get a guaranteed win; betting your companion that you will win a solo fight against thirty opponents is not a game of chance.

Obviously enough, when you get a set of five powers for your investment, a lot of characters will have themed sets. To cover those here are thirty sets of themed abilities for making quick characters or gathering inspiration.

  1. Academic: Defining Aura (famous world-class expert with invaluable expertise and impeccable credentials), Focused Mind, Synergistic Knowledge, I Planned For This Contingency, and Instant Inclusion.
  2. Artiste: Defining Aura (Celebrity Artist, to be pampered and indulged), Grandiose Gesture, Impeccable Image, Instant Inclusion, and Razor Tongue Technique.
  3. Cavalier Cowboy: Adroit Cavalier, Forced March, Greased Lightning, Visage Of The Dragon, and Second Wind.
  4. Doctor: Bioawareness, Defining Aura (Noncombatant healer; an authorative physician and an amazing expert to be recruited if possible), Mystic Adept (Healing), Simulate Death, Venemous Infusion, and You Cheat!
  5. Dragonborn: Blinding Flash, Elemental Mastery, Gliding, Longevity, and Ventriloquism.
  6. Ghost Hunter: Elemental Mastery, Ghost Strike, Medium, Mystic Adept (Dreamfaring), and Soul Sight.
  7. Interrogator: Analytical Gaze, Handwriting Analysis, Lay Of The Land, Sensory Filtering, and Thought Sensing.
  8. Jungle Lord/Lady: Animal Companion, Animal Friend, Outrun The Fireball, Scent, and Surge Of Strength.
  9. Mafia Don: Defining Aura (A deadly criminal mastermind, with wealth, favors, and minions to call upon and a deserved reputation for dealing harshly with those who cross him), I Planned For This Contingency, Inspiring Presence, Instant Inclusion, and Providential Privacy.
  10. Martial Artist: All-Around Sight, Athletic Paragon, Focused Mind, Pressure Point Mastery, and Talons.
  11. Master Investigator: Analytical Gaze, Bioawareness, Handwriting Analysis, Lay Of The Land, and Providential Privacy.
  12. Mechanic: Demolitions, Intuitive Operator, My God That’s A Big Gun, Signature Weapon, and Tinker,
  13. Mercenary: Forced March, Outrun The Fireball, Perfect Healing, Second Wind, and My God That’s A Big Gun.
  14. Munitions Master: Blinding Flash, Demolitions, Kangaroo Pouch, My God That’s A Big Gun, and Signature Weapon.
  15. Mystic: Gliding, Draught Of Eternity, Hypnosis, Mystic Adept (Shadowweave), and Ventriloquism.
  16. Night Phantom: Adhesion, Gliding, Providential Privacy, Sensory Filtering, and Visage Of The Dragon.
  17. Officer: Inspiring Presence, I Planned For This Contingency, Papers Please, Thundering Command, and Visage Of The Dragon.
  18. Operator or Special Agent: A Thousand Faces, Kangaroo Pouch, Demolitions, Impeccable Image, and Signature Weapon.
  19. Orator: Grandiose Gesture, Inspiring Presence, Linguistic Acquisition, Papers Please, and Ventriloquism.
  20. Physical Adept: Athletic Paragon, Draught Of Eternity, Mind Over Body, Perfect Healing, and
  21. Psychic Master: Cloud The Senses, Focused Mind, Prophecy, The Reaching Hand, and Thought Sensing.
  22. Shadow Walker: A Thousand Faces, Cloud The Senses, Darkness, Darksight, and Shadow Meld.
  23. Shaman: All-Around Sight, Ghost Strike, Shamanic Adept, Soul Sight, and Thundering Command.
  24. Socialite: Defining Aura (Utterly harmless, if extremely good-looking, and wealthy party-goer who should be invited to all the best parties and have their expenses paid), Venomous Infusion, Grandiose Gesture, Instant Inclusion, and Razor Tongue Technique.
  25. Speedster: Athletic Paragon, Clouds Above The Earth, Evasive Jinx, Greased Lightning, and Outrun The Fireball.
  26. Stage Magician: Blinding Flash, Stage Magic, Simulate Death, Hypnosis, and Grandiose Gesture.
  27. Street Urchin: Defining Aura (Young, Innocent, Trustworthy, and other descriptives of choice), Demolitions, Evasive Jinx, Lay Of The Land, and You Cheat!
  28. Survivor: Forced March, Outrun The Fireball, Perfect Healing, Second Wind, and Venomous Infusion (usually rare herbs).
  29. Tenacious Bruiser: Athletic Paragon, Forced March, Greased Lightning, Second Wind, and Surge of Strength.
  30. Wandering Exorcist: Focused Mind, Ghost Strike, Medium, Prophecy, and Thundering Command.

Next time around on this; other pulp abilities – including how to acquire early modern-style vehicles.

Eclipse d20 – Playing With The Pulps Part II: Pulp Powers

For Part I – the Basic Pulp Hero and Advanced Pulp Hero Templates – Click HERE.

The first, and largest, option for Advanced Pulp Heroes is Pulp Powers – the weird abilities that make many of them just a bit more than human. For an awful lot of those powers the mechanism of choice is Witchcraft. At its base Witchcraft is low-powered, low-cost, and very versatile – which means that it can easily be specialized in particular functions to make it medium powered (just right for pulp powers) while maintaining it’s low cost. That’s important because pulp heroes generally aren’t of particularly high level and rarely grow in power all that much – so unlike a baseline d20 character they don’t go from “slightly above ordinary” to “stronger than most classical gods” over the course of their careers.

And the next step in basic Witchcraft is a simple feat – The Secret Order. So we can take that ability and build what we want as…

Pulp Powers/The Secret Order: +5 Basic Abilities, +4 Power (6 CP). Where saves are relevant, they have a DC of (16 + User’s Cha Mod). This gives our Advanced Pulp Hero a choice of five pulp powers, either drawn from the list below or built from the basic witchcraft abilities using these powers as examples.

It’s worth noting that the special effects are up to the user; if you want Venomous Infusion to be represented by a pouch full of vials and needles, then so be it. Do you carry bottles of special adhesives to use the Adhesion effect? Use C’hi powers? Or weird technology? Go right ahead; changing what your powers look like is quite acceptable.

  • A Thousand Faces/Shadowweave: You may spend 1 Power to gain a +12 bonus on Disguise checks for thirty minutes. During this time you may disguise yourself or change disguises as a Standard Action without penalty and gain a similar bonus to attempts to imitate voices.
  • Adhesion/Witchfire (constant): You can cause items you touch to stick together. You may perform small repairs (as per Mending), add +10 to the DC of escaping any bindings you apply, gain a +6 bonus on any rolls to hang onto creatures or things or to keep your footing, and may employ a Spider Climb effect at will.
  • Adroit Cavalier/Hyloka and Glamour (constant): Any mount you ride gains the benefits of Personal Haste (The Practical Enchanter), Surefooted Stride, Jump, and Fast Healing I, all cast at your level, while you gain a +10 bonus to Ride checks. If you keep a personal mount for a week or more, those benefits will remain in force for it for up to forty-eight hours between contacts. Your mount will come when called, can perform any “trick” without training, and needs only one-quarter the usual amount of food, rest, air, and water.
  • All-Around Sight/Shadowweave (no cost, works until deactivated): Subtly guiding light to the user’s eyes allows the user to see in all directions. He or she cannot be flanked and gains a +4 bonus to Perception, but suffers a -4 penalty on saves against gaze attacks.
  • Analytical Gaze/Hyloka: You may spend 1 Power to commit up to five minutes worth of material to memory with photographic exactness – making it easy (at least with an advanced pulp heroes augmented intelligence) to deduce things like a targets likely profession, the presence of hidden weapons, the tiny inconsistencies that may indicate a disguise, likely guard routes and blind spots in surveillance, and similar elements. As a side effect, you do not need a spell book, may sketch or draw what you’ve seen with great precision, can read off all the titles of a shelf of books you merely glanced at from memory, and may perform many similar stunts.
  • Animal Companion/The Inner Eye (constant): You have a vague link with a normal animal with a range of about a mile. Within that range you can get bits of what it sees and hears and you can influence it with Animal Handling rolls. If something happens to it (including dying of old age) you will need at least a month to replace it and will probably be upset.
  • Animal Friend/The Inner Eye (constant): The user can gain simple clues, warnings, and even some facts from observing animals and can get simple messages across to them. Thus observing frightened birds might reveal an ambush and Lassie can both reveal that Little Timmy is down the well and be sent to fuss at the main house, and perhaps bring additional aid.
  • Athletic Paragon/Hand Of Shadows (constant): You gain a +4 bonus on Acrobatics, Climb, Fly, Ride, Swim, and Martial Arts based on Str or Dex (this does increase the number of techniques that you know) in each such art, +10 feet/round to all of your movement rates, subtract six dice from any falling damage you take, and can never become overweight or out of shape.
  • Bioawareness/Witchsight (constant): You are a walking lie detector. When you focus on a target within 20′ you become aware of their heartbeat, eye movements, any pains they may be feeling, whether or not they are sweating, and similar responses. You gain a +10 bonus to Sense Motive, a +6 bonus to Heal, and can easily tell if someone is merely pretending to be unconscious or dead, when people are nervous, and if they are ill or drugged.
  • Blinding Flash/Shadowweave: You may spend 1 Power as a standard action to create a burst of light equivalent to the effects of a Pyrotechnics spell cast on a fire source. While this has only a sixty foot range, you are automatically immune to the effects.
  • Cloud The Senses/Glamour: You gain a +6 bonus on your Social Skills and may subtly influence perceptions; you may “set the theme” of the immediate setting (adding minor descriptive items to it – adding a dry wind, a tumbling tumbleweed, appropriate subtle “background noises”, and other “western” cliches, or setting up a haunted house with creaking doors, flickering shadows, chill drafts, and cobwebs. This adds +4 to the DC of penetrating any deception which matches the theme), With concentration you can erase your presence from other minds; for 1 Power per Minute you can use the Pathfinder version of Cloud Minds, at an effective power point total equal to your level.
  • Clouds Above The Earth/Hand Of Shadows: You may spend one power to create footing (small force disks) where none exists for one minute. During this time you may walk silently and without putting pressure on the floor, stand on water, and perform similar stunts.
  • Cultivated Blandness/Shadowweave (constant): You may make a Disguise check each morning; the result is the DC of the will save needed to recall any details about your name, face, or voice. This does not, however, interfere with memories of what you actually did – just of your identity. If you opt to present yourself as a generic member of a group, those you encounter must save successfully before they can become suspicious.
  • Darkness/Shadowweave: You may spend 1 Power and a Swift Action to render normal vision useless within a radius of up to 20 feet. If this is an ability, it centers on you and moves with you for up to ten minutes. If it is device (such as a smoke bomb) the effect is immobile and only lasts for three rounds, but you may place the effect anywhere within sixty feet as long as you have line of sight and get three uses per Power expended.
  • Darksight/Witchsight (constant): You get 120′ Darksight.
  • Defining Aura/Glamour (constant): You may give yourself a brief personal description; those who interact with you will accept it as the truth, and react accordingly, unless they make their saving throw. Once chosen, your description will not change without months of work. For example, you could be “A deadly criminal mastermind, with wealth, favors, and minions to call upon and a deserved reputation for dealing harshly with those who cross him” – and watch people get out of your way, try and curry favor with you, and cower in fear if you seem upset. Be “A wealthy playboy whom every woman secretly wants, with loads of money and a reputation for throwing marvelous get-togethers and attending every social function” and watch the invitations pour in, doormen wave you into exclusive clubs, and bartenders and caterers gladly run a tab for you. Play the role of an incredibly brilliant scientist, a great detective, or whatever you wish. Sadly, if you act too far out of character, a new save can be made every day.
  • Demolitions/Infliction: You may spend one minute and 3 Power to rig up a stationary explosion that inflicts triple the normal Infliction damage in up to a 10′ radius. Unfortunately, such lash-ups are too fragile to be thrown, although they can be rigged up with various triggers, such as when a car starts.
  • Draught Of Eternity/Hyloka (constant): You age extremely slowly, if at all. You may spend 1 power to heal 1d6 points of attribute damage or drain as a free action once per round. As a side effect, if you are more than sixty years old and still adventuring, you will find that people will believe almost any story about your exploits and abilities.
  • Elder Sorcery/Various (normally villains only): This is any single Basic Witchcraft Ability, Specialized for Double Effect/requires gestures and incantations, calls upon terrible elder beings and occasionally lets them or their minions slip into the world, is widely recognized as terrible black magic, requires occasional sacrifices to or missions for the eldritch powers that back it. (Witchcraft is generally fairly low-powered. Doubling up a basic ability this way gets it up to the lower-mid power level as far as basic d20 goes – but in a pulp setting this tends to be the terrifying upper limit of magical power.)
  • Elemental Mastery/Witchfire: While it’s a distinct rarity in the pulps (and a transitional phase towards more modern superheroes), a very few pulp characters can control elemental forces. What makes them distinctly “pulp”, however, is that these abilities tend to be relatively weak, but versatile; a Firemaster may be able to generate weak blasts and bolts of flame within a very limited radius – but he or she can also weld, heat their coffee, generate heat to shrug off cold weather, melt an incoming fusillade of bullets, snuff out flames, and provide light. Someone with cold powers might create a chill mist, prevent explosives from detonating, shatter metal, protect themselves from heat or cold, extinguish fires, preserve specimens, or spread a film of ice over nearby surfaces. In general, the user must select a specific type of energy to manipulate and may create effects within their field equivalent to Cantrips without cost, may create first level effects as Standard Actions for 1 Power. The elemental forces may also be employed defensively as an Immediate Action for 2 Power, reducing the effects of an appropriate incoming attack or group of attacks by 1d6 per level (to a minimum of zero).
  • Evasive Jinx/Elfshot (constant): Anyone within a two block radius who is actively pursuing you must save on the first round and every four rounds thereafter or suffer some minor, transient, hindrance – someone getting in the way, a flat tire, a minor accident, being tripped, or some similar difficulty. Similar Jinx abilities may be developed for other activities – such as Theft and Burglary or (if the game master is willing to allow it) even Combat.
  • Focused Mind: You may spend 1 Power at any time to gain the results of a DC 25 Autohypnosis check, to regain your Psionic Focus, or to throw off a Confused, Dazed, or Stunned condition.
  • Forced March/Hyloka (constant): You may go for up to a week without food or water, up to three days without sleep, and up to three minutes without air, with no penalty. Thereafter penalties accumulate normally. As a side effect, you gain the Endure Elements and Longstrider effects.
  • Ghost Strike/Dreamfaring (constant): You and your attacks effectively have the Ghost Touch property. You may spend 1/2/3 Power to briefly phase a small/large/complete portion of your body into the Ethereal plane; this can be used to get things out of sealed boxes, reach through doors to unlock them, or even to step through walls.
  • Gliding/The Hand Of Shadows: If conscious, you may control your falls – moving up to 15′ per 5′ of fall and taking no damage when you land. Strong winds may make it hard to make progress upwind, but can be used to gain height. This has no cost and does not require an action.
  • Grandiose Gesture/Glamour: You may spend 2 Power as an Immediate Action to get everyone in a sixty foot radius who fails to save to focus their attention on you this round. You gain a +2 to +6 (GMO) bonus on the DC of the save if you actually do something attention-grabbing or very dramatic. If you keep speaking, you create an effect similar to the Enthrall spell.
  • Greased Lightning/Hyloka (constant): You gain a +3 bonus to Initiative checks and may perform minor “super speed” tricks such as getting a fire started by friction in mere moments, moving the shells in a shall game too fast for anyone to track, using a sword to put your initial on someone’s chest, or shuffling and dealing cards in mere moments.
  • Handwriting Analysis/The Inner Eye: Given a few minutes to examine a sample of someone’s handiwork – a sample of their handwriting, something they built, a piece of art they created, or a house they decorated – you can recognize other examples of their handiwork, create a profile of them (getting a good idea of their traits, behaviors, and personality), and may make a Perception check to try to obtain a (very) general physical description of them.
  • Hypnosis/Glamour: You may spend one power as a standard action to Hypnotize (as the spell) up to 4d4 levels of creatures. If you choose a single target, they may be given a Suggestion (classics include inducing temporary delusions (“You are a chicken!”), getting them to answer questions, getting them to remember things that didn’t happen (“You met with a Dragon that demanded…”), inducing a Delayed Suggestion (“When the clock strikes two in the morning, open the south gate”) although this allows a second save when it activates, and even undo the effects of other mind-affecting abilities (allowing a new save).
  • I Planned For This Contingency!/Glamour and The Inner Eye: As a free action you may spend 3 Power to create a near-instant psychic conference. This lets the players take a five minute break to plan, solve some puzzle, or what-have-you – although the usual special effect is “we planned for this in advance”. Secondarily, for the next one minute, everyone in the group receives a pair of +2 Insight Bonuses which they may elect to apply to any two of Attacks, An Attribute, Damage, Checks, Saves, or Armor Class – although the choice is fixed for the duration once made.
  • Illusion Projection: You may spend 1 Power as a standard action to generate the equivalent of a Minor Image anywhere to which you have line of sight within sixty feet.
  • Impeccable Image/Multiple (constant): You look good at all times. Your clothing is clean, your hair styled, your manners impeccable, and your manner suave. You can automatically fit into any social gathering and never make faux pas. Any accusers tend to be seen as lying villains and your actions are generally seen in the best possible light. Any legal or social troubles are automatically reduced by one level in severity and you are an extremely credible witness. If there are any rolls involved in such things you gain a +6 bonus.
  • Inspiring Presence/Glamour (constant): Every ally within 30 feet gains a +1 Morale Bonus to attacks, weapon damage, saves, and checks. You may spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to increase this bonus to +2 for 3d6 rounds or to counter fear and/or negative morale effects.
  • Instant Inclusion/The Inner Eye: You have an amazing knack for finding friends, both new and old. You may call on up to (Base Cha/2) character points worth of Contacts and Favors during each adventure without having actually purchased them and may make Gather Information checks in a mere ten minutes.
  • Intuitive Operator/Witchsight (constant): You know how to properly operate any device you come across. This does not necessarily mean that you have any idea what it DOES, but you intuitively know what to do to make it work. You enjoy a +6 bonus on any rolls to operate a vehicle or otherwise operate machinery.
  • Kangaroo Pouch/Shadowweave (constant): You gain a +20 Circumstance Bonus on any attempts to conceal objects around your person and may employ Call Item at the 100 GP level up to once per round.
  • Lay Of The Land/Witchsight: You may sense what you would have learned if you had taken the time to search an area throughly, gone through a stack of books to research a topic, or spent an hour interrogating a suspect or checking their computer files – effectively substituting a moments glance for several hours of effort. Even better, this does not disturb the area and gives no external sign of what you’re doing. It does not, however, obviate the need for the relevant skill checks and costs 1 Power each time you use it.
  • Linguistic Acquisition/The Inner Eye: If you can spend five minutes in the company of someone who speaks or reads a language (and who isn’t shielding their mind against you) you may expend 1 Power to pick up that language. If you wish to maintain it, you must spend 1 power per day – although contact with the source is no longer necessary unless you let it drop. If you maintain it for thirty days or more, you may “forget” and old language and substitute the new one for it permanently.
  • Longevity/Hyloka (constant): Aging has little effect on you; you do not suffer attribute penalties for middle age until old age, do not suffer old age penalties until you are venerable, and are treated as having obtained the greatest possible result + 1d (of whatever type the roll normally uses) for your maximum age. Thanks to your many experiences, three times per day you may apply a +4 Insight Bonus to any in-game roll, this does not require an action. Yes, this overlaps with Draught of Eternity; this is for characters who are just extraordinarily healthy and vigorous, not semi-immortal.
  • Medium/Dreamfaring: You may sense the presence of the dead (constant) or – given something linked to a deceased individual – hold a seance. This requires the expenditure of 2d4 Power which the spirit, if it chooses to appear at all, may draw on to power witchcraft effects of its own. Most spirits are willing to talk to a medium, even if it’s only to mock and threaten them, and they generally don’t know (or won’t admit to knowing) anything that they didn’t know in life.
  • Mind Over Body/Hyloka: You possess an utterly unnatural ability to manipulate your physical form. You may contort and compress your flesh to achieve a +12 bonus on Escape Artist checks at no cost, fit yourself into a container capable of holding your volume (about 100 liters or 3.5 cubic feet) for 1 Power/Hour, squeeze through cracks, crevices, and pipes as small as four inches in diameter (2 power per 30 feet or part thereof), or temporarily suppress your Constitution Score (taking on the attributes of a “creature” with no constitution score, including picking up size-based HP and losing any constitution-based bonus hit points) for 3 Power for one minute. All of these require a Standard Action.
  • My God That’s A Big Gun/Infliction: Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (three times the base damage) /requires an especially prepared material focus (worth 100 GP), can only be used three times per session. Yes, you can pull out your rarely-used missile launcher, wand of disruption, death ray, or similar every so often.
  • Mystic Adept/Various: You have one Basic Witch Ability in unmodified form. This is rare, and no heroic pulp character will have more than one such general ability. Basic Witchcraft is simply too flexible to fit into
  • Outrun The Fireball/Hand Of Shadows: Once per minute you may spend 6 Power as an Immediate Action to accomplish some incredible acrobatic stunt powered by telekinesis as well as musculature. You may dart across a rooftop to grab someone who has just fallen off before they fall, reach the ground fifteen floors below by safely by “bouncing” back and forth between two buildings, snatch a parachute, dive out of a plane, catch up with someone who’s falling while you put your parachute on, grab them, and open your chute dramatically close to the ground, or run up a wall, tumble over your opponents, and reach the self-destruct button before they can fire their city-destroying death ray. You cannot, however, directly attack or interfere with anyone who’s unwilling while accomplishing this maneuver.
  • Papers Please/Glamour: You may spend a Standard Action to attempt to convince up to six people that you do indeed have proper authorization for whatever you’re up to. Sadly, those who save will not be convinced and cannot be affected again for at least an hour.
  • Perfect Healing/Hyloka (constant): You can slowly heal from any injury that you can survive for an hour or more – although the process of regrowing a leg, or healing a major traumatic brain injury, or similar injuries may require months. Permanent attribute drain is treated as attribute damage and negative levels never become permanent.

And next time around on this topic… the rest of the Advanced Pulp Powers List, Pulp Drugs, and some Pulp Archetypes.

Champions – Nightmare Shard Invictus

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

-William Ernest Henley, Invictus

The cities have fallen. Without the spirits of nature to draw strength from, gun restrictions, police hamstrung by regulations, and a soft and unprepared citizenry, spelled out their doom. Warnings from the REAL America had fallen on deaf ears. They had had no chance when the Enemy came – horrific aliens, breaching the borders of reality, and simply going around the few, feeble, wards that supposedly guarded those borders.

Their people were slaughtered. What was left of the military – the REAL soldiers, not the soft air force pilots and high command but the Marines, Navy SEALS, and other groups – had fallen back into the countryside, joining forces with the folk who yet remained rooted there – and who were being aided and reinforced by the spirits of the land itself.

In the face of growing resistance and ever-fewer targets, the advance slowed – but the resistance still only holds small patches of territory, and even those only by constant vigilance and endless war against the Aliens. And every so often… another center of resistance falls.

Invictus is more or less a combined parody of the post-apocalyptic invasion “Survivalist Redneck Resistance”, “Last Patrol”, and “Egotistical Magical Shapeshifter Guardians” genres – a realm where highly patriotic redneck shapeshifters (usually werewolves or tigers or other big predators) with shotguns working with tough-as-nails military patrols still hold the hills and wilds in the face of a nigh-invincible alien invasion.

No, that doesn’t really make a lot of sense. Or even a LITTLE sense. This is a Nightmare Shard. It doesn’t HAVE to make sense. It’s history and rules are whatever fits it’s internal narrative – which is the only thing giving it enough stability to survive for a time. It isn’t really very big either; the map turns back upon itself , drifts off into vagueness, or sometimes fades into another shard after you’re fifty or eighty miles into “enemy territory” – and most of the storied lands beyond the remaining human territories never really existed in the first place. There will be no aid from THERE.

——————————————————————————–

Amadin Striking Hawk is a notable leader of the resistance. His Amerindian ancestry gives him a greater bond with the spirits (yep, that’s another racist stereotype, but that’s the way that this Shard runs) and allows him to use a wide variety of magic granted by the great totems. While that lacks the destructive power (and easy reloadability) of the more conventional weapons that most of his friends use, it’s versatility has been a boon to the resistance.

And yes, he’s an arrogant, chauvinistic, prejudiced, racist, domineering, asshole. He’s also brave, determined, protective, and willing to put himself in danger to protect people whom he doesn’t much like. More importantly… even if he didn’t have any worthwhile qualities, he and his equally obnoxious allies still wouldn’t deserve to spend a few millennia being slowly devoured by Lovecraftian horrors from beyond.

——————————————————————————–

Amadin’s powers are pretty straightforward; he’s been bonded with a wolf-spirit to become a Loup-Garou – a werewolf with spirit-senses. In his wolf and wolf-man forms he’s faster, stronger, tougher, and far more alert than any normal mortal He also happens to have some shamanistic magic – nothing all that powerful, but he can use his selection of minor spiritual gifts to boost himself in a variety of ways and for some special tricks even if he can’t use any individual trick more than three times per day.

As a human he’s a decent car mechanic – and something of a womanizer.

A party of Primeworlder Champions will probably find him most useful for his special senses – although whether it’s worth putting up with him to get them is an open question.

Amadin’s Loup-Garou package is pretty standard locally (with minor tweaks to represent other kinds of shapeshifters), although most of the other local Loup-Garou / werewolves are built on fewer points and have the “equipment allowance” power (and conventional weapons and vehicles) instead of his Spirit Magic multipower.

 

Amadin Striking Hawk

Value Characteristic Points
0/40 STR -10
18 DEX 24
13/23 CON 6
10/15 BODY 0
8 INT -2
11 EGO 2
15 PRE 5
12 COM 1
6/8 PD 0
5/7 ED 0
4 SPD 12
11 REC 0
46 END 0
30 STUN -12
Total 26

 

Points Powers END
2 Elemental Control; Loup-Garou Powers (5-pt reserve);

Generic Limitations (Comes with powerful wolf instincts. The “user” is highly territorial, desperately wants a pack, is inclined to chase things that run, and so on. ): -½; “User” is Touched by the Qliphoth, and must make Ego checks to resist flying into rages, considers normal people inferior, finds it hard to stop fighting, and has little empathy: -½.

a-6 Armor (8 PD/4 ED)
b-7 Regeneration (1 BODY/5 min.); Regenerate: From Death, +20; Generic Limitation (Cannot heal damage caused by magic, silver, or the natural weapons of other shapeshifters. This is commonly known.): -1
c-3 Enhanced Perception (all) (+4 to PER)
d-4 Tracking Scent; Addition (Discriminatory): +5
e-2 See The Spirit World(s) (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5
f-2 Hear The Spirit World(s) (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5
g-4 Shape Shift; Wolf/Wolfman/Human (Single Form); Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
h-6 Running (+5″, 11″, NC: 44″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×4, +5; Non-Combat (MPH): 30; Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1
i-12 1½d6 Killing Attack (HTH) (Total 3d6+1); Range: 0; Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1
j-2 Power Defense (10 pts); Automatically protects against any attempt to remove werewolf disadvantages or abilities, but only works for that.: -½
k-14 +30 STR; Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1
l-7 +10 CON
m-2 +5 BODY
n-4 Density Increase-2 (×4 mass); Mass: 208 kg/458 lbs; Extra PD: +2; Extra ED: +2; Extra STR: +10; Knockback: -2″; Reduced END: Zero, +½ 0
o-4 Survival 17- 0
12 Multipower: Spirit Magic (30-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (All slots must have three charges per day.): -½; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼; Incantation: Instant Power, -¼; Costs END: -½
u-1 3d6 Vine Growth / Entangle (DEF 3); Range: 150 3
u-1 6d6 Healing / Mother Moon’s Touch 3
u-1 Clairsentience / Eyes of the Spider (Hearing, Sight); See: Present, +0; Dimensions: Current, +0; Range: 150″; Charges: +3, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev. 3
u-1 Clinging / Gift of the Chameleon (Clinging STR +15); Charges: +3, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev
u-1 Force Field / The Turtle’s Shell (15 PD/15 ED); Charges: +3, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev 3
u-1 Stealth / Stance of the Coyote; Charges: +3, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev 25-
u-1 Superleap / Leap of the Cricket (+30″, 38″, NC: 76″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 89 6
u-1 30″ Gliding / Wings of the Bat (NC: 60″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 89; Charges: +3, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev
u-1 Extra-Dimensional Movement / Walk The Spirit Worlds; Dimensions: Group, +10; Charges: +6, -¾; Time Travel: None, +0; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Carrying Mass: None 3
u-1 Darkness / Call the Night (Normal Sight, 3″ radius); Range: 150; Charges: +3, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev 3
u-1 1d6 Killing Attack (RKA) / Summon Wasp Swarm; Range: 150; Continuous: +1; Charges: +3, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev 3
u-1 2d6 Aid to Multipower Slots / Communing with the Spirits (Fade/month, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Charges: +3, -1¼ 3
105 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
10 +2 level w/HTH Combat
3 Mechanics 11-
2 Knowledge: Automobiles 11-
3 Seduction 12-
1 Tactics 8-
19 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

75+ Disadvantages
15 Accidental Change when exposed to the Full Moon or Major Magic (11-)
15 Superpatriot (Common, Strong)
15 Feels nature is far superior to technology and cities (Common, Strong)
15 Wants to be dominant (Common, Strong)
15 Reputation: Everyone knows about werewolves (11-, Extreme)
75 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
26 + 124 = 150 150 = 75 + 75

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
6 6 4 0 16/8 11/4 3, 6, 9, 12

Height: 168cm (5’6″), Weight: 52/208kg (114 lbs/458 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 16, Race: Human (Werewolf)

 

Champions – The Young Heroes Setting and the Gates of the Qliphoth

PART THE FIRST: ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE WORLDS

No one knows if there is something that can see it clearly – but in the spaces between the worlds, amidst the wild flux of dimensional energies and the reality storms, the world-lines of the multiverse coil like tangled threads. The myriad worlds cluster, supporting each others reality – pooling bits of history, of natural laws, or reality and continuity. The worlds of a cluster mirror each other like the strands of a cable or the members of a herd.

For linked groups of worlds are stronger; where one is damaged or threatened, others support it. Worlds which stray too far from their shared essence become vulnerable. Occasionally, a new world springs into being near a cluster’s heart, and souls take up residence there. Occasionally, a world-line wanders from it’s cluster – sometimes becoming the heart of a new cluster, sometimes joining another cluster- but more often falling back into chaos and being destroyed. Memetic echoes of such events echo through the spaces between the worlds in warning, and other worlds tell tales of apocalypse – destruction and revelation in one, just as the members of a cluster tell tales of each other.

The multiverse thus favors groups of linked universes. usually clustered around one or more worlds of great strength. Those “prime” worlds, filled with powers, and wonders, support clusters of hangers-on, worlds which follow the broad sweep of their history even if they are more limited realms. Prime worlds draw on the secondary ones for stability in their structure, history, and laws – much of which they have forfeited in having rules so loose as to allow marvelous powers to their inhabitants. Secondary worlds also enjoy the stabilization of history (although that is a lesser concern to them since it is not so easily altered there in the first place) and access to empowered Champions when such are needed – for there is that which threatens.

The Earth we live on… is a secondary world. The tales told here… are of the Primeworlds and their Champions.

PART THE SECOND: THAT WHICH AIDS AND OPPOSES

As for what threatens… there are those from OUTSIDE. From the spaces which are not. Things that should have been dead for eons, things that have grown into the Qliphoth – the negative spaces left behind where worlds have died, becoming embodiments of death, decay, and futility.

They are the enemies of all creation. They hunger, and feed upon the death of worlds. They lay in wait, they besiege the gates, they slip through the gaps in the defenses – and where they lay even the faintest touch, they corrupt. Where they are invited… they empower destructive madmen, and seek a bridgehead.

They are less than dust, and yet rise to do far, far, worse than kill.

Intelligent life can open the gates – and Intelligent life can close them. Throughout the history of an intelligent species, the long battle will wax and wane – most often focused upon the prime worlds of a cluster, those which can empower champions and lend their strength to lesser worlds.

What foes do the Champions face?

  • Least among foes are the Petty Criminals – sneak-thieves, embezzlers, shoplifters, pickpockets, and even thugs and murderers. Such “enemies” are rarely all that threatening, and are not worth a heroes time if something more important is going on. There are plenty of Petty Criminals – and, since they are targets of the Qliphoth just like everyone else, they are usually more than willing to cooperate with a Champion when an actual menace is in play.
  • The Touched are all too common. It doesn’t matter exactly HOW they were exposed to the Qliphoth. Weird experiments, mystic rituals, using (whether accidently or on purpose) some talisman of device, and all kinds of accidents will work if they happen to take place at the wrong place at the wrong time. The Qliphoth grants the Touched various reality-breaching and/or destructive powers – and damages their minds to at least some degree. Super-powered obsessive vigilantes, criminals, and psychopaths are all counted among the Touched, and all help to undermine the order of the world in their own ways.
  • Warlocks – whether out of desperation, foolishness, or a (rightful or wrongful) desire to strike out – have called upon the Qliphoth willingly, and with at least some knowledge of what they were doing. Many or most believe (or believed) that they can at least mitigate the mental damage of dealing with the Qliphoth. Some of them are even right – but the mental state of those who would call on the Destroyers of All Creation for help is rarely good in the first place. Warlocks tend to become more powerful, more reckless, and less sane, as time passes.
  • The Nameless: These lost folk have been devoured – a process which often wipes them from history as if they never were if they are not simply from a lost world to start with – and are little more than concealing shells for the power of the Qliphoth. While powerful, the Nameless cannot remain in a living universe for long after their shells are destroyed unless they can cause enough local damage to it’s structure to create a Qliphothic Bridgehead – and are usually fairly easily identified by perceptive heroes. A group of Nameless can easily qualify as a potential extinction event, so it is most unwise to let them gather.
  • The Heartless: Some of those who fight gaze too long into that abyss. They become lost in the battle, forgetting the things which make the world worth defending. They are become void, the world their chessboard, and all those within it merely pawns to be played and sacrificed in the great war – even if the chessmasters are no longer sure of why they fight.

The Heartless generally do not directly serve the Qliphoth. In fact, they can be powerful patrons and allies for those who oppose it. Still, the greatest weapons against the Qliphoth are emotional and spiritual. The affirmation of life found in love, honor, idealism, youthful energy, heroism, determination, loyalty, conviction, and self-sacrifice empower the greatest Champions and multiply their efforts against the creatures of the Qliphoth (yes, they have vulnerabilities). Calculation, massive power, and a willingness to make “the hard choices” can help – but are not nearly as effective. The tactics of the Heartless rarely win in the long run, which does not stop them from trying to fix things by recruiting more pawns. After all, if they could understand the problem, they would not be Heartless in the first place.

The Heartless also make good hunteds: the desire to recruit pawns and agents can be just as pernacious as any other motive – and can complicate things a lot more than just having a captured hero put into a deathtrap. Unfortunately for any plans to fight them directly… they tend to be very experienced, obscenely powerful, and have great resources.

  • The Elemental Powers of the Natural World need humans to focus and channel their might – but make powerful allies and empowering patrons, even if they don’t understand humans all that well.
  • Then there are the Champions – heroes with any of a wide variety of cosmic exemptions from the normal rules. Sorcerers, Psychics, Mutants, Martial Artists, and more. Some abuse their power, and many of them aren’t very nice at all – but in the end all except the occasional utter nihilist are allies against nonexistence.
  • Finally, of course, there are the normal folk – caught in the middle, pretty much as always.

PART THE THIRD: PLACES TO GO

Thule:

Centuries ago a world started to drift away from the main cluster. Thule’s history slowly diverged as the shared souls that hold the clustered universes together were born into it less and less frequently and the links between it and the other worlds of the cluster stretched thinner and thinner – and began to break. Worse… it was a universe that allowed only minor powers to it’s residents. It’s chances of survival on its own to gather it’s own sheaf of variants around it, was not so good.

Thule’s version of the Second World War was twisted, and dark, even beyond what most of the worlds in the primary cluster experienced. Madmen, either unknowing or uncaring that they were ultimately dooming their world, called upon the Qliphoth with rivers of blood, and turned what answered against their enemies. The armies and champions of that world defeated those fools in the end – but it was a pyrrhic victory, and the lights of their reality began to go out as darkness descended.

The touch of the Qliphoth corrupted. Dark cults, twisted mockeries of humanity, and outright horrors stalked the world. Civilization – and the bonds which held Thule stable – began to fail. The Qliphoth gradually corroded the structure, unity, and coherence of the realm. Its history became debatable, its very nature began to vary from place to place as its reality was undermined more and more.

Eventually… Thule shattered. All that remains now is an incoherent swarm of fragments of reality – each tiny worldlet reasonably consistent internally (if small) – but each facing immanent doom via some Qliphothic nightmare. Each a Shard of Nightmare.

The only hope for the inhabitants of a Nightmare Shard is to either escape to a stable universe (and hope that the path can be sealed behind them) or to somehow merge their shard with a stable universe and hope that its Champions will accept their presence and can seal off the potential bridgehead

Nightmare Shards are ultimately a dilemma; they are too small to be stable. Even if you fight off the zombie horde, or alien invasion, or persuade the protective werewolf tribe to shelter you, or deal with the failing reactor that provides the only warmth in a sunless world… another menace will rise. How far will you risk your own world to save a handful of people from another? Will you try to save the entire shard, or just the people in it?

Nightmare Shard characters are normally built on a 75-point base with a grand total of 100 to 150 points after disadvantages. Any super-powers must be relatively subtle, technological, or classical supernatural so as to fit in with their origin shard.

The Primeworlds:

For the Primeworlds the slow fall of Thule offered a small benefit; it relieved the pressure on the worlds remaining in the cluster. With the dimensionally-local monsters of the Qliphoth tearing at easy prey… the attacks elsewhere lessened. In many cases to the point where the battles were mere border skirmishes at the very edges of the world. With the forces of the Qliphoth held back, the Touched became rare – and fewer would-be Warlocks could manage the initial contact. With little need… fewer Champions were created.

It wasn’t exactly a golden age, but it was calm enough to let most of the world pretty much forget about the Champions and major super powers for a century or so. The Primeworlds are a little bit better than Earth – shinier, better technology, and nicer all around. There weren’t a lot of famines, or major wars, or other nonsense.

And then – just a few months ago – Thule shattered. Refugees and assorted horrors started to flee to the Primeworlds. The eternally-hungering forces of the Qliphoth turned their attentions back to the Cluster as well, attacking both directly and through their empowerment of Touched and Warlocks. New Champions were needed – and so they came into being.

Today in the Primeworlds old legends are made manifest, the Heartless move their pieces once more according to their own visions, and confusion reigns. It is a new heroic age – and the new Champions have little to guide them; the vast majority of the older Champions are long since retired or dead of old age.

Primeworld Characters are starting superheroes – usually with powers that aren’t entirely reliable yet, are highly limited, or which they do not yet know how to use. They’re built on a 100 point base, with up to 150 points worth of disadvantages – but cannot actually spend more than 180 points to start with. Unspent points will come in to play as they gain experience – tripling what they get for their first adventure and doubling awards after that until they’ve exhausted their unspent points. Many of them are fairly young as well.

The Secondary Worlds are defined by their limits. They may allow low-grade psychic powers and magic, or shapeshifters and lycanthropes, or impossibly-skilled weaponmasters, or advanced computer technology, or “steampunk” stuff, and they may be a few centuries behind or ahead – but everything in one of them is restricted to things that fit the local “theme”. The major elements of their history – their languages, nations, and so on – remains much the same as well. Other than that… they come in an immense variety.

Secondary World Characters are normally built on a hundred point base with up to fifty points worth of disadvantages and must always follow the themes of their origin world. They can grow beyond those restrictions if they spend a lot of time in the Primeworlds however.

Errant Time, Time Patrol Starship

Even a single sector of the galaxy is a lot of room for things to go wrong in. When you throw in time travel as well… things can get very complicated indeed – which is where ships like the Errant Time come in.

The Errant Time isn’t an especially large ship, and it isn’t all that heavily armed or shielded – but it has excellent internal facilities, good navigational sensors (allowing it to travel freely instead of sticking to the charted routes), and a fairly good FTL drive. It also has a time-drive capable of reaching the past, the future, and alternate probability lines with a paradox evasion circuit; when an incoming paradox is changing the current timeline the ship will automatically transport itself, it’s passengers, and it’s cargo to the new one – allowing them to try and fix the issue.

Similarly, it’s AI system is not especially powerful – but it’s got a reasonable set of databases, is equipped to detect temporal disturbances, and is a pretty good at determining the ships current location. It can’t actually run the ship for you

Still, while it’s more than a bit cramped, has a mere fifty ton cargo capacity, and- at least in its base configuration – is easily identifiable and has no stealth systems whatsoever, it’s also got the one thing that’s important to most player characters. At a mere 20 CP, it’s cheap.

Cost / Vehicle Characteristics
0 STR 10/55
0 DEX 10
-1 BODY 9/18
0 SPD 2
45 Size Increase-9: 32 hexes (1,377 sq ft), 16 inside, 32 passengers, 8″ long x 4″ wide, 50,000 kg, KB -9, DCV -2 (Mod -5)
9 DEF 5; Coverage: Complete, -0; Protects: Top and Bottom, -0
-12 Ground Movement (0″, NC: 0″, 0mph); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0

5 Elemental Control: Starship Powers (15-pt reserve); OIF (Drive and Power Systems): -½; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Generic Limitation (Primary Starship Systems Only): -½

  • a-5 Life Support (total)
  • b-10 Thrusters / Flight (10″, NC: 1,250″, 930mph); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×125, +30; Stall: None, -0; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½
  • c-4 Vortex Drive / Faster-Than-Light Travel (1000 LY/Year); Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½
  • d-9 Temporal Drive / Extra-Dimensional Movement; Dimensions: One, +0; Time Travel: Any Time, +40; Extra Time: 5 min., -2; Generic Limitation (Time and Timeline Travel Only): -½; Generic Limitation (Unreliable in GMO ways.): -1; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Carrying Mass: None; Trigger (Incoming Paradox): Set, +¼ (7 End)
  • e-5 Navigational Warp Sensors / Danger Sense (Out of Combat, Anywhere); Works: Out of Combat, +5; Range: Anywhere, +15; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; Generic Limitation (Only to detect upcoming navigational hazards during high-speed travel): -2; Auxiliary Cost (Analytical; Provides data on the nature of the navigational or ship hazard): 1 (cost 5); OIF (Drive and Power Systems): -½; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Generic Limitation (Primary Starship Systems Only): -½ 17-
  • f-22 Computer Enhancement / Enhanced Perception (all) (+36 to PER); Generic Limitation (Only versus range modifiers): -½; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; OIF (Drive and Power Systems): -½; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Generic Limitation (Primary Starship Systems Only): -½. Operators using sight and ship systems take no penalty to perception checks at ranges of up to 4,200 Kilometers, -2 for each doubling of the range beyond that.
  • g-14 Sensor Systems; Generic Limitation (Only versus range modifiers): -½; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; OIF (Drive and Power Systems): -½; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Generic Limitation (Primary Starship Systems Only): -½
    • (6) 360-Degree Sensing (All); Generic Limitation (Only versus range modifiers): -½; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; OIF (Drive and Power Systems): -½; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Generic Limitation (Primary Starship Systems Only): -½
      (2) Communications / Radio Listen and Transmit; Based on EGO Combat Value (No lightspeed delay, interstellar range): vs. ECV, +1; Generic Limitation (Only versus range modifiers): -½; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½
    • (6) Ship Scans / Spatial Awareness; Generic Limitation (Only versus range modifiers): -½; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½
    • (4) Detect Life Forms (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Addition (Discriminatory Sense): +5; Generic Limitation (Only versus range modifiers): -½; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½
  • h-8 2d6 Superior Facilities and Gear: Aid Skills (Fade/hour, Max. 12); Range: 0; Generic Limitation (Effects vanish instantly on leaving the ship): -½; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Reduced END: Zero, +1; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Generic Limitation (Provides a maximum bonus of +3 to rolls): -1. The Errant Time carries a wide variety of equipment, library data, and other gear – offering those aboard a substantial boost in the use of their various skills.
  • i-12 Shields / Force Field (15 PD/15 ED); Reduced END: Zero, +½; Hardened: ×1, ¼
  • j-5 Power Plant / END Reserve (200 END, 10 REC/turn). This is for the benefit of any equipment that the passengers bring aboard; the engines provide all the power the ship itself needs since all the ship systems are at 0 End cost anyway.
  • k-4 Internal Lights, Gravity, Etc / Change Environment (2″ rad.); Effect: Variable, +1; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Selective Target: +¼; Generic Limitation (Only internal): -1
  • l-27 1d6 Warp Cannon Battery: Ranged Killing Attack; Range: 485; Based on EGO Combat Value: vs. ECV, +1; Champions Advantage (Does Body. Use normal DCV versus operators ECV): +2; Reduced END: Zero, +1; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Penetrating: +1
  • m-4 Autorepair Systems / Regeneration (3 BODY/day); Regenerate: Lost Limbs and Organs, +10; Charges: 1, -2. Basically the ship can self-repair up to three points of body per day. It can repair specific systems as well, but it will take more time.

175 Vehicle Cost

100+ Disadvantages (Cost: 100/5 = 20)

  • 15 Distinctive Features: Starship; Concealability: Not Concealable, 15; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
  • 10 Watched: Law Enforcement (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful,
  • 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
  • 20 Vulnerability: Magic (2× Effect); Attack: Common, +10
  • 20 Requires regular resupply, refueling, and skilled maintenance. (Frequently, Fully)
  • 10 2d6 Unluck (Despite how BORING space really is, weird stuff happens to or aboard the ship at regular intervals).

75 Disadvantages Total

Herodotus, the onboard AI:

Val / Char / Cost
23 INT 13
8 EGO -4
0 DEX -30
1 SPD 0

Characteristic Rolls: STR: 9-, DEX: 9-, CON: 9-, INT: 14-, EGO: 11-, PER: 14-

Cost Powers END/Roll

  • 15 Detect Temporal Disturbances (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Transdimensional (Through Time. “Range Modifiers” are based on how far in the past or the future the disturbance is.): Single Dimension, +½
  • 3 Detect Current Location (+0 to PER); Time Required: Half Phase, +0; Range: Touch, +0

Cost Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
10 Universal Translator; Generic Limitation (Written Material Only): -1 14-
3 Absolute Time Sense
3 Cryptography 14-
3 Scholar
2 History 14-
2 Alternate Timelines 14-
2 Paratemporal Equipment 14-
2 Galactigraphy 14-
2 Current Dimensional News 14-
2 Astronomy 14-
2 Immunity to Temporal Shifts; Frequency: Fairly Common

0+ Disadvantages
15 Highly Protective of Existing Timelines (Common, Strong)
15 Always Obeys Orders of Superiors (Very Common, Moderate)

ECV: 3; Mental Def.: 0; Phases: 7

Costs: Char: -21, Disad:30, Powers: + 51, Total: = 30