Heroes are more than just skilled, they often have amazing advantages, beyond the abilities of ordinary people. Advantages often allow heroes to “break the rules,” gaining access to and doing things most people cannot, or simply doing them better.
Advantages are rated in ranks and bought with Character points, just like abilities and skills. Advantages cost 1 Character point per rank. Some advantages have no ranks and are acquired only once, effectively at rank 1.
Advantage Cost = 1 Character point per advantage rank
Each advantage’s description explains the benefit it provides. It also says if the advantage can be acquired in ranks and the effects of doing so. Such advantages are listed as “Ranked” alongside the advantage name. Ranks in a advantage are noted with a number after the advantage’s name, such as “Defensive Roll 2” (for a character who has taken two ranks in the Defensive Roll advantage), just like skill and power ranks. If there is a maximum number of ranks a character can take, it’s listed in parentheses after the word “Ranked” in the advantage’s heading.
Advantages are categorized as one of four types:
Each advantage is listed by name, type, and if the advantage is available in multiple ranks, followed by a description of the advantage’s benefits. The effects of additional ranks of the advantage (if any) are noted in the text of each advantage. In some cases a advantage’s description mentions the normal conditions for characters who do not have the advantage for comparison.
When you make an accurate attack (see Maneuvers) you can take a penalty of up to –5 on the effect modifier of the attack and add the same number (up to +5) to your attack bonus.
You can use your Acrobatics bonus or movement speed rank in place of Deception to feint and trick in combat as if your skill bonus or speed rank were your Deception bonus (see Deception Skill). Your opponent opposes the attempt with Acrobatics or Insight (whichever is better).
You have a special connection with animals. You can use interaction skills on animals normally, and do not have to speak a language the animal understands; you communicate your intent through gestures and body language and learn things by studying animal behavior. Characters normally have a –10 circumstance penalty to use interaction skills on animals, due to their Intellect and lack of language.
You’re able to quickly size up an opponent’s combat capabilities. Choose a target you can accurately perceive and have the GM make a secret Insight check for you as a free action, opposed by the target’s Deception check result.
If you win, the GM tells you the target’s attack and defense bonuses relative to yours (lower, higher, or equal). With each additional degree of success, you learn one of the target’s bonuses exactly.
If you lose the opposed roll, you don’t find out anything. With more than one degree of failure, the GM may lie or otherwise exaggerate the target’s bonuses.
You’re particularly attractive, giving you a +2 circumstance bonus on Deception and Persuasion checks to deceive, seduce, or change the attitude of anyone who finds your looks appealing. With a second rank, you are Very Attractive, giving you a +5 circumstance bonus. This bonus does not count as part of your regular skill bonus in terms of the series power level, but also does not apply to people or situations which (in the GM’s opinion) would not be influenced by your appearance.
While superheroes tend to be a fairly good-looking lot, this advantage is generally reserved for characters with particularly impressive looks.
By spending a Victory point, you gain an effective 5 ranks in one skill of your choice you currently have at 4 or fewer ranks, including skills you have no ranks in, even if they can’t be used untrained. These temporary skill ranks last for the duration of the scene and grant you their normal benefits.
You have some significant perquisite or fringe benefit. The exact nature of the benefit is for you and the Gamemaster to determine. As a rule of thumb it should not exceed the benefits of any other advantage, or a power effect costing 1 point (see Feature in Powers). It should also be significant enough to cost at least 1 Character point. An example is Diplomatic Immunity (see Sample Benefits). A license to practice law or medicine, on the other hand, should not be considered a Benefit; it’s simply a part of having training in the appropriate Expertise skill and has no significant game effect.
Benefits may come in ranks for improved levels of the same benefit. The GM is the final arbiter as to what does and does not constitute a Benefit in the setting. Keep in mind some qualities may constitute Benefits in some series, but not in others, depending on whether or not they have any real impact on the game.
Alternate Identity: You have an alternate identity, complete with legal paperwork (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.). This is different from a costumed identity, which doesn’t necessarily have any special legal status (but may in some settings).
Ambidexterity: You are equally adept using either hand, suffering no circumstance penalty for using your off-hand (as you don’t have one).
Cipher: Your true history is well hidden, making it difficult to dig up information about you. Investigation checks concerning you are made at a –5 circumstance penalty per rank in this benefit.
Diplomatic Immunity: By dint of your diplomatic status, you cannot be prosecuted for crimes in nations other than your own. All another nation can do is deport you to your home nation.
Security Clearance: You have access to classified government information, installations, and possibly equipment and personnel.
Status: By virtue of birth or achievement, you have special status. Examples include nobility, knight-hood, aristocracy, and so forth.
Wealth: You have greater than average wealth or material resources, such as well-off (rank 1), independently wealthy (rank 2), a millionaire (rank 3), multi-millionaire (rank 4), or billionaire (rank 5).
If you successfully grab and restrain an opponent (see Grab), you can apply a chokehold, causing your opponent to begin suffocating for as long as you continue to restrain your target (see Suffocation).
You have a +1 bonus to close attacks checks per rank in this advantage. Your total attack bonus is still limited by power level. This advantage best suits characters with a level of overall close combat skill (armed and unarmed). For capability with a particular type of attack, use the Close Combat skill.
You know people who can help you out from time to time. It might be advice, information, help with a legal matter, or access to resources. You can call in such favors by making a Persuasion check. The GM sets the DC of the check, based on the aid required. A simple favor is DC 10, ranging up to DC 25 or higher for especially difficult, dangerous, or expensive favors. You can spend a Victory point to automatically secure the favor, if the GM allows it. The GM has the right to veto any request if it is too involved or likely to spoil the plot of the adventure. Use of this advantage always requires at least a few minutes (and often much longer) and the means to contact your allies to ask for their help.
You have such extensive and well-informed contacts you can make an Investigation check to gather information in only one minute, assuming you have some means of getting in touch with your contacts. Further Investigation checks to gather information on the same subject require the normal length of time, since you must go beyond your immediate network of contacts.
You can make a Deception or Intimidation check as a standard action (choose which skill when you acquire the advantage) to cause an opponent to hesitate in combat. Make a skill check as a standard action against your target’s resistance check (the same skill, Insight, or Will defense, whichever has the highest bonus). If you win, your target is dazed (able to take only a standard action) until the end of your next round. The ability to Daze with Deception and with Intimidation are separate advantages. Take this advantage twice in order to be able to do both.
Martial Arts and Fighting Styles
You can use combinations of advantages—particularly combat advantages—to create different “fighting styles” ranging from martial arts to superhero combat techniques. For example, a “soft” fighting style focusing primarily on defense might include the advantages Defensive Attack, Improved Defense, Improved Trip, and Instant Up. A “hard” fighting style focused on offense might include All-out Attack, Improved Critical, Improved Smash, Power Attack, and Startle for a fierce kiai shout! You can combine various advantages to create specific styles or allow players to mix-and-match to design their own unique styles.
Use the following advantage combos as examples of how to create different fighting styles. Students who have not yet mastered a style may have only some of a style’s associated advantages rather than all of them.
Any of these fighting styles might include ranks of the Close Attack advantage. Other fighting style advantages might include:
Comic book martial artists often have abilities far beyond the scope of the advantages and fighting styles given in this section. Such superhuman martial arts abilities as leaping vast distances, punching through solid stone, shrugging off damage, and killing with a mere touch are powers. See Powers for details.
You can avoid damage through agility and “rolling” with an attack. You receive a bonus to your Toughness equal to your advantage rank, but it is considered an active defense similar to Dodge and Parry (see Active Defenses in Abilities), so you lose this bonus whenever you are vulnerable or defenseless. Your total Toughness, including this advantage, is still limited by power level.
This advantage is common for heroes who lack either superhuman speed or toughness, relying on their agility and training to avoid harm.
When your condition becomes dying (see Conditions in Action & Adventure) you automatically stabilize on the following round without any need for a Stamina check, although further damage—such as a finishing attack—can still kill you.
You have perfect recall of everything you’ve experienced. You have a +5 circumstance bonus on checks to remember things, including resistance checks against effects that alter or erase memories. You can also make Expertise skill checks to answer questions and provide information as if you were trained, meaning you can answer questions involving difficult or obscure knowledge even without ranks in the skill, due to the sheer amount of trivia you have picked up.
You have 5 points per rank in this advantage to spend on equipment. This includes vehicles and headquarters. See Gadgets & Gear for details on equipment and its costs. Many heroes rely almost solely on Equipment in conjunction with their skills and other advantages.
When using extra effort (see Extra Effort in The Basics), you can gain two of the listed benefits, even stacking two of the same type of benefit. However, you also double the cost of the effort; you’re exhausted starting the turn after your extraordinary effort. If you are already fatigued, you are incapacitated. If you are already exhausted, you cannot use extraordinary effort. Spending a Victory point at the start of your next turn reduces the cost of your extraordinary effort to merely fatigued, the same as a regular extra effort.
One of your interaction skills is so effective you can capture and hold other’s attention with it. Choose Deception, Intimidation, or Persuasion when you acquire this advantage. You can also use Fascinate with an appropriate Expertise skill, like musician or singer, at the GM’s discretion.
You are subject to the normal guidelines for interaction skills, and combat or other immediate danger makes this advantage ineffective. Take a standard action and make an interaction skill check against your target’s opposing check (Insight or Will defense). If you succeed, the target is entranced. You can maintain the effect with a standard action each round, giving the target a new resistance check. The effect ends when you stop performing, the target successfully resists, or any immediate danger presents itself. Like all interaction skills, you can use Fascinate on a group, but you must affect everyone in the group in the same way.
You may take this advantage more than once. Each time, it applies to a different skill.
When you hit with an unarmed attack you can immediately make a grab check against that opponent as a free action (see Grab). Your unarmed attack inflicts its normal damage and counts as the initial attack check required to grab your opponent.
You have an environment you’re especially suited for fighting in. Examples include in the air, underwater, in space, in extreme heat or cold, in jungles or woodlands, and so forth. While you are in your favored environment, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to attack checks or your active defenses. Choose at the start of the round whether the bonus applies to attack or defense. The choice remains until the start of your next round. This circumstance bonus is not affected by power level.
You have a particular type of opponent you’ve studied or are especially effective against. It may be a type of creature (aliens, animals, constructs, mutants, undead, etc.), a profession (soldiers, police officers, Yakuza, etc.) or any other category the GM approves. Especially broad categories like “humans” or “villains” are not permitted. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus on Deception, Intimidation, Insight, and Perception checks dealing with your Favored Foe. This circumstance bonus is not limited by power level.
You can use your Dexterity bonus, rather than your Strength bonus, to make grab attacks. You are not vulnerable while grabbing. See Grab, for details. This is a good advantage for skilled unarmed combatants focused more on speed than strength.
You have a +5 bonus on checks to avoid becoming fatigued and checks to hold your breath, avoid damage from starvation or thirst, avoid damage from hot or cold environments, and to resist suffocation and drowning. See Hazards and the Environment in Action & Adventure for details on these checks.
You can hide (see Hiding under Stealth in Skills) without any need for a Deception or Intimidation check or any sort of diversion, and without penalty to your Stealth check. You’re literally there one moment, and gone the next. You must still have some form of cover or concealment within range of your normal movement speed in order to hide.
You have an even keener eye when it comes to ranged combat. When you take a standard action to aim, you gain double the normal circumstance bonus: +10 for a close attack or ranged attack adjacent to the target, +5 for a ranged attack at a greater distance. See Aim for details.
Increase your critical threat range with a particular attack (chosen when you acquire this advantage) by 1, allowing you to score a critical hit on a natural 19 or 20. Only a natural 20 is an automatic hit, however, and an attack that misses is not a critical. Each additional rank applies to a different attack or increases your threat range with an existing attack by one more, to a maximum threat range of 16-20 with 4 ranks.
You can make grab attacks with only one arm, leaving the other free. You can also maintain the grab while using your other hand to perform actions. You are not vulnerable while grabbing (see Grabbing in Action & Adventure).
Your grab attacks are particularly difficult to escape. Opponents you grab suffer a –5 circumstance penalty on checks to escape.
You have a +4 bonus to your initiative checks per rank in this advantage.
You have no penalty to your attack check to trip an opponent and they do not get the opportunity to trip you. When making a trip attack, make an opposed check of your Acrobatics or Athletics against your opponent’s Acrobatics or Athletics, you choose which your opponent uses to defend, rather than the target choosing (see Trip in Action & Adventure). This is a good martial arts advantage for unarmed fighters.
You ignore the circumstance penalty for using skills without proper tools, since you can improvise sufficient tools with whatever is at hand. If you’re forced to work without tools at all, you suffer only a –2 penalty.
When wielding an improvised close combat weapon—anything from a chair to a telephone pole or entire car—you use your Close Combat: Unarmed skill bonus for attack checks with the “weapon” rather than relying on your general Close Combat skill bonus. Additional ranks in this advantage give you a +1 bonus to Damage with improvised weapons per rank. Your maximum Damage bonus is still limited by power level, as usual.
You can inspire your allies to greatness. Once per scene, by taking a standard action and spending a Victory point, allies able to interact with you gain a +1 circumstance bonus per Inspire rank on all checks until the start of your next round, with a maximum bonus of +5. You do not gain the bonus, only your allies do. The inspiration bonus ignores power level limits, like other uses of Victory points. Multiple uses of Inspire do not stack, only the highest bonus applies.
You can use any skill untrained, even skills or aspects of skills that normally cannot be used untrained, although you must still have proper tools if the skill requires them.
Characters are assumed to be literate in their native language and any other language they know. At the GM’s discretion, characters may have to spend an additional Languages rank to be literate in a language with a different alphabet or style of writing from the character’s native language (such as Arabic, Japanese kanji or Russian Cyrillic for an English speaker). Completely illiterate characters are faced with a potential Disability complication during the game.
The Language Barrier
Generally speaking, languages are not terribly important in comic book superhero stories except as background color or occasional plot complications. Gamemasters should allow players with characters fluent in other languages the occasional opportunity to show them off or put them to good use. If you specifically set up the language barrier as an obstacle by confronting the heroes with a language they cannot possibly understand, that should count as a complication and be worth a Victory point.
You can speak and understand additional languages. With one rank in this advantage, you know an additional language. For each additional rank, you double your additional known languages: two at rank 2, four at rank 3, eight at rank 4, etc. So a character with Languages 7 is fluent in 64 languages! Characters are assumed to be fluent in any languages they know, including being able to read and write in them.
Your presence reassures and lends courage to your allies. As a standard action, you can spend a Victory point to remove one of the following conditions from an ally with whom you can interact: dazed, fatigued, or stunned.
You can go from prone to standing as a free action without the need for an Acrobatics skill check.
Once per round, when an ally within range of your normal movement is hit by an attack, you can choose to place yourself between the attacker and your ally as a reaction, making you the target of the attack instead. The attack hits you rather than your ally, and you suffer the effects normally. You cannot use this advantage against area effects or perception range attacks, only those requiring an attack check.
Once per round, you can choose to reroll a die roll, like spending a Victory point (see Victory points), including adding 10 to rerolls of 10 or less. You can do this a number of times per game session equal to your Luck rank, with a maximum rank of half the series power level (rounded down). Your Luck ranks refresh when your Victory points “reset” at the start of an adventure. The GM may choose to set a different limit on ranks in this advantage, depending on the series.
You have a follower or minion. This minion is an independent character with a Character point total of (advantage rank x 15). Minions are subject to the normal power level limits, and cannot have minions themselves. Your minions (if capable of independent thought) automatically have a helpful attitude toward you. They are subject to the normal rules for minions (see Minions).
Minions do not earn Character points. Instead, you must spend earned Character points to increase your rank in this advantage to improve the minion’s Character point total and traits. Minions also do not have Victory points. Any lost minions are replaced in between adventures with other followers with similar abilities at the Gamemaster’s discretion.
When taking a standard action and a move action you can move both before and after your standard action, provided the total distance moved isn’t greater than your normal movement speed.
When you make a power attack (see Maneuvers) you can take a penalty of up to –5 on your attack bonus and add the same number (up to +5) to the effect bonus of your attack.
When you make close or ranged attacks (choose one) you ignore attack check penalties for cover or concealment (choose one), although total cover still prevents you from making attacks. Each additional rank in this advantage lets you choose an additional option, so with Precise Attack 4, all your attacks (both close and ranged) ignore penalties for both cover and concealment.
You suffer no circumstance penalty to attack checks for being prone, and adjacent opponents do not gain the usual circumstance bonus for close attacks against you.
You can draw a weapon from a holster or sheath as a free action, rather than a move action.
You have a +1 bonus to ranged attacks checks per rank in this advantage. Your total attack bonus is still limited by power level.
If you successfully trick an opponent (see Trick under Deception in Skills), you can redirect a missed attack against you from that opponent at another target as a reaction. The new target must be adjacent to you and within range of the attack. The attacker makes a new attack check with the same modifiers as the first against the new target.
You can use the Expertise: Magic skill to create and cast magical rituals (see Magic Rituals). This advantage is often a back-up or secondary magical power for superhuman sorcerers, and may be the only form of magic available to some “dabbler” types.
Choose a particular hazard, such as falling, being tripped, triggering traps, mind control (or another fairly specific power effect, such as Damage with the fire descriptor) or a particular skill with consequences for failure. If you fail a check against that hazard, you can make another immediately and use the better of the two results. You only get one second chance for any given check, and the GM decides if a particular hazard or skill is an appropriate focus for this advantage. You can take this advantage multiple times, each for a different hazard.
You can spend a Victory point to automatically go first in the initiative order. You may only do so at the start of combat, when you would normally make your initiative check. If more than one character uses this advantage, they all make initiative checks normally and act in order of their initiative result, followed by all the other characters who do not have this advantage.
You can transfer the benefits of a successful combat use of an interaction skill to your teammate(s). For example, you can feint and have your target vulnerable against one or more allies next attack(s), rather than yours. Each rank in the advantage lets you transfer the benefit to one ally. The interaction skill check requires its normal action, and the affected allies must be capable of interacting with you (or at least seeing the set-up) to benefit from it.
You have another character serving as your partner and aide. Create your sidekick as an independent character with (advantage rank x 5) Character points, and subject to the series power level. A sidekick’s Character point total must be less than yours. Your sidekick is an NPC, but automatically helpful and loyal to you. Gamemasters should generally allow you to control your sidekick, although sidekicks remain NPCs and the GM has final say in their actions.
Sidekicks do not earn Character points. Instead, you must spend earned Character points to increase your rank in Side-kick to improve the sidekick’s Character point total and traits; each point you spend to increase your rank in Sidekick grants the sidekick 5 additional Character points. Sidekicks also do not have Victory points, but you can spend your own Victory points on the sidekick’s behalf with the usual benefits. Sidekicks are not minions, but full-fledged characters, so they are not subject to the minion rules.
Choose a skill. You can make routine checks with that skill even when under pressure (see Routine Checks in The Basics). This advantage does not allow you to make routine checks with skills that do not normally allow you to do so. You can take this advantage multiple times for different skills.
If you render a minion incapacitated with an attack, you get an immediate extra attack as a free action against another minion within range and adjacent to the previous target’s location. The extra attack is with the same attack and bonus as the first. You can continue using this advantage until you miss or there are no more minions within range of your attack or your last target.
A second rank in this advantage allows you to attack non-adjacent minion targets, moving between attacks if necessary to do so. You cannot move more than your total speed in the round, regardless of the number of attacks you make. You stop attacking once you miss, run out of movement, or there are no more minions within range of your attack.
You can demoralize an opponent with Deception rather than Intimidation (see Demoralize use of Intimidation Skill), disparaging and undermining confidence rather than threatening. Targets resist using Deception, Insight, or Will defense.
You’re effective at helping out your friends. When you support a team check (see Team Checks in The Basics) you have a +5 circumstance bonus to your check. This bonus also applies to the Aid action and Team Attacks.
You have a +1 damage bonus with thrown weapons per rank in this advantage. You can also throw normally harmless objects—playing cards, pens, paper clips, and so forth—as weapons with a damage bonus equal to your advantage rank and range based on the higher of your advantage rank or Strength (see Ranged in Powers). Your maximum damage bonus with any given weapon or attack is still limited by power level.
Through breathing and bodily control, you can slip into a deep trance. This takes a minute of uninterrupted meditation and a DC 15 Awareness check. While in the trance you add your Awareness rank to your Stamina rank to determine how long you can hold your breath and you use the higher of your Fortitude or Will defenses for resistance checks against suffocation (see Suffocation). Poison and disease effects are suspended for the duration of the trance. It requires a Perception check with a DC equal to your Awareness check result to determine you’re not dead because your bodily functions are so slow. You are aware of your surroundings while in trance and can come out of it at any time at will. You cannot take any actions while in the trance, but your GM may allow mental communication while in a trance.
You can spend a Victory point on a particular check and treat the roll as a 20 (meaning you don’t need to roll the die at all, just apply a result of 20 to your modifier). This is not a natural 20, but is treated as a roll of 20 in all other respects. You choose the particular check the advantage applies to when you acquire it and the GM must approve it. You can take Ultimate Effort multiple times, each time, it applies to a different check. This advantage may not be used after you’ve rolled the die to determine if you succeed.
The following are some potential Ultimate Efforts. The GM is free to add others suitable to the series.
You are especially attuned to danger. You are not vulnerable when surprised or otherwise caught off-guard. You are still made vulnerable by effects that limit your mobility.
If you take the defend action (see Defend in Action & Adventure) and successfully defend against a close weapon attack, you can make a disarm attempt against the attacker immediately as a reaction. The disarm attempt is carried out normally, including the attacker getting the opportunity to disarm you.
If you take the defend action (see Defend in Action & Adventure) and successfully defend against a close weapon attack, you can make an attack against the attacker’s weapon immediately as a reaction. This requires an attack check and inflicts normal damage to the weapon if it hits (see Smash in Action & Adventure).
You are exceptionally well-informed. When encountering an individual, group, or organization for the first time, you can make an immediate Investigation or Persuasion skill check to see if your character has heard something about the subject. Use the guidelines for gathering information in the Investigation Skill description to determine the level of information you gain. You receive only one check per subject upon first encountering them, although the GM may allow another upon encountering the subject again once significant time has passed.