Powers

Although some heroes and villains rely solely on their skills and advantages, most are set apart by their superhuman powers. Characters can lift tanks, fly through the air, throw lightning from their hands, shoot lasers from their eyes, or any number of other amazing things. This page describes these and many other powers and how you can create your own.

To the right is a short list of sample, pre-made powers. You can either start with those or build your own powers using effects, descriptors, and modifiers.

POWERS THAT AREN’T

“Powers” refer to all extraordinary traits other than abilities, skills, and advantages. Whether a character with powers is “superhuman” or not is largely a matter of opinion and the descriptors used. For example, there are lots of comic book characters with superhuman traits still considered “normal” humans. Their amazing effects come from talent, training, luck, self-discipline, devices, or some similar source, with appropriate descriptors. They’re still “powers” in game terms, but they don’t necessarily mean the character is something other than human.

Ultimately it’s up to the GM to decide if having certain effects makes a character something “other than human,” (and what, if anything, that means) depending on the nature of powers in the setting.

EFFECTS
 

Players spend character points on various powers for their heroes, like acquiring skills or other traits. A power is made up of one or more effects, possibly with different modifiers, which increase or decrease the cost of the effects.

Effects can be used to create any number of different powers. A hero with the Concealment effect could use it to create a power called Blending, Blur, Cloak, Invisibility, Shadowmeld, or anything else appropriate to the character you wish to play. It’s all a matter of how powerful the effect is and what modifiers have been placed on it to increase or decrease its performance. Another way to think of it is that this book is filled with effects, but your character sheet is filled with powers.

Go to Effects >

NOTICING POWER EFFECTS

Effects with a duration of instant, concentration, or sustained must be noticeable in some way. For example, a Blast effect might have a visible beam or make a loud noise (ZAP!) or both. Some effects are quite obvious, such as Flight, Insubstantiality, Growth, or Shrinking. Effects with a continuous or permanent duration are not noticeable by default.

If an instant, concentration, or sustained effect’s base duration is changed using modifiers, the effect remains noticeable. A continuous or permanent effect made instant, concentration, or sustained also becomes noticeable. The Subtle modifier can make noticeable powers difficult or impossible to detect. Conversely, the Noticeable modifier makes a normally subtle effect noticeable.

DESCRIPTORS
Sample Descriptors

Allegiances: Anarchy, Balance, Chaos, Evil, Good, Justice, Law, Liberty, Tyranny

Elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Plant, Water, Weather

Energy: Acid, Chemical, Cold, Cosmic, Darkness, Electricity, Gravity, Heat, Kinetic, Light, Magnetic, Radiation, Sonic, Vibration

Phenomena: Colors, Dimensions, Dreams, Entropy, Ideas, Luck, Madness, Memes, Mind, Quantum Forces, Space, Thought, Time

Sources: Alien, Biological, Chi, Divine, Magic, Mystic, Mutant, Preternatural, Primal, Psionic, Psychic, Skill, Technology, Training

These rules here explain what the various powers do, that is, what their game effects are, but it is left up to the player and Gamemaster to apply descriptors to define exactly what a power is and what it looks (and sounds, and feels) like to observers beyond just a collection of game effects.

A power’s descriptors are primarily for color. It’s more interesting and clear to say a hero has a “Flame Blast” or “Lightning Bolt” power than a generic “Damage effect.” “Flame” and “lightning” are descriptors for the Damage effect. Descriptors do have some impact on the game since some effects work only on or with effects of a particular descriptor. A hero may be immune to fire and heat, for example, so any effect with the “fire” or “heat” descriptor doesn’t affect that character. The different sense types are descriptors pertaining to sensory effects.

Generally speaking, a descriptor is part of what a power is called beyond its game system name. For example, a weather-controlling heroine has the following effects: Damage, Concealment, and Environment. Her Damage effect is the power to throw lightning bolts, so it has the descriptor “lightning.” If a villain can absorb electricity, then his power works against the heroine’s Damage (since lightning is electrical in nature). Concealment creates thick banks of fog, giving it the “fog” or “mist” descriptor. So if an opponent transforms into mist, with the ability to regenerate in clouds or fog, he can regenerate inside the heroine’s Concealment area. Her Environment is the power to control the weather, giving it the descriptor “weather.” If the heroine’s power comes as a gift from the gods, it may also have the descriptor “divine” or “magical.” On the other hand, if it comes from her mutant genetic structure, then it has the descriptor “mutant.” A villain able to nullify mutant powers could potentially nullify all of the heroine’s powers!

The number of power descriptors is virtually limitless. The players and Gamemaster should cooperate to apply the appropriate descriptors to characters’ powers and use common sense when dealing with how the different descriptors interact. Just because one hero throws “lightning” and an opponent can absorb “electricity” doesn’t mean the villain’s absorption doesn’t work because it’s not the exact same descriptor. Lightning is a form of electricity. A certain amount of flexibility is built into descriptors, allowing them to cover the full range of possible powers. As in all things, the GM is the final arbitrator and should be consistent when ruling on whether or not a particular descriptor is appropriate and how all effects and descriptors interact in the series.

Go to Descriptors >

REQUIRED DESCRIPTORS

In some settings, the Gamemaster may require certain descriptors for all powers. Usually, a required descriptor reflects some common element of the series. For example, if all characters with powers are mutants, then all powers have the “mutant” descriptor by definition, unless the player comes up with a good explanation why they should not. If all superhumans are psychic mutants, then all powers have both the “psychic” and “mutant” descriptors. The GM sets the rules as far as what descriptors are required (or restricted) in the series. A character who breaks this guideline—say the one alien in a setting where all powers are otherwise mutant in origin—might have a Benefit (unusual origin) or face certain complications, possibly both.

MODIFIERS

Modifiers change how an effect works, making it more effective (an extra) or less effective (a flaw). Modifiers have ranks, just like other traits. Extras increase a power’s cost while flaws decrease it. Some modifiers increase an effect’s cost per rank, others apply an unchanging cost to the power’s total; these are called flat modifiers. For more information see Modifiers.

Go to Modifiers >