Glossary of Terms

Following are a collection of important terms used throughout this game. The definitions of these terms are taken from the text found earlier in this book. For the clearest explanation of what each term means it may be best refer to the complete text in which the term was introduced.

Ability Rank

The numerical rating of an ability, from –5 to 20 or more, with an average of 0.


One of eight basic character traits: Strength (Str), Stamina (Sta), Dexterity (Dex), Agility (Agl), Fighting (Fgt), Intellect (Int), Awareness (Awe), and Presence (Pre).


Entirely lacking a particular ability. Absent abilities impose specific penalties greater than just a low (negative) rank in an ability. For example, absent Strength indicates a character unable to exert any physical force.

Accurate Sense

A sense you can use to pinpoint something’s location precisely enough to target it in combat. Vision is the only natural accurate sense for humans. Other accurate senses are available from the Senses effect.

Accurately Perceive (also Accurately Sense)

To perceive something with an accurate sense.


A character activity. There are standard, move, and free actions and you can trade a “higher” type of action for a “lower” type, such as a standard for a move action.

Acute Sense

A sense able to discern fine details about a subject. Human visual and auditory senses are normally acute.


A character trait involving a specific benefit or enhancement. Some advantages allow characters to overcome certain limitations (changing how certain maneuvers work, for example) while others add a new capability.


A story for players to experience, like a single issue of a comic book.

Alternate Effect

One power or effect that may be substituted for another, but not usable at the same time, giving a power different options or “settings.”


A pregenerated character representing a particular type commonly seen in comic book stories.


A collection of alternate effects making up a single power.


A combined condition. While asleep, a character is defenseless, stunned, and unaware. A hearing Perception check with three or more degrees of success wakes the character and removes all these conditions, as does any sudden movement (such as shaking the sleeping character) or any effect allowing a resistance check.

Attack Bonus

The total modifier applied to an attack check.

Attack Check

A check to determine if an attack hits. To make an attack check, roll d20 and add the appropriate modifiers for the attack type. An attack hits if the check result is equal to or greater than the target’s appropriate defense. A natural 20 on an attack check always hits, while a natural 1 always misses.


Any of numerous actions intended to harm, disable, or neutralize an opponent. An attack is usually a standard action and involves a check versus a target’s defense.


A combined condition. The character cannot see, so everything effectively has full visual concealment from him. He is hindered, visually unaware, and vulnerable, and may be impaired or disabled for activities where vision is a factor.


A positive modifier to a die roll.


A combined condition. A bound character is defenseless, immobile, and impaired.


A fictional individual in the game. The players control player characters, while the Gamemaster controls all non-player characters (NPCs), including adversaries and supporting cast.


A method of deciding the outcome of an action. Checks are based on a relevant character ability, skill, power, or other trait. To make a check, roll d20 and add any relevant modifiers to get a check result. If the check result equals or exceeds the difficulty class of a task or the result of an opponent’s check, it succeeds. If it does not, it fails.

Character Points

Points allocated to a character’s different traits during character creation, also awarded for advancement.

Circumstance Modifier

A value added to, or subtracted from, checks to reflect circumstances making the check easier (a circumstance bonus) or harder (a circumstance penalty). Circumstance modifiers are +/–2 (for a bonus or penalty) and +/–5 (for a major bonus or penalty).

Close attack

An attack used in close (hand-to-hand or melee) combat.

Combined Condition

a set of basic conditions tied to a common descriptor. They’re essentially a kind of “short-hand” for talking about a group of basic conditions that go together in a particular circumstance.

Comparison Check(s)

A comparison of the trait ranks of two characters to determine which is higher. The character with the higher rank wins the check.


A compelled character is directed by an outside force, but struggling against it; the character is limited to free actions and a single standard action per turn, with both types of action being chosen by another, controlling character. As usual, this standard action can be traded for a move action. Controlled supersedes compelled.


A story or background element about a character that poses difficulties. Players are awarded victory points for roleplaying and dealing with characters’ complications.


Conditions making someone or something difficult to perceive, and therefore aim at. Concealment imposes a circumstance penalty on attack checks: –2 for partial concealment and –5 for total concealment.


A game term describing a character’s overall health and state of being.


A non-living being, having an absent Stamina, but still possessing other abilities. Constructs including things like robots and the undead.


A controlled character has no free will; the character’s actions each turn are dictated by another, controlling, character.


The use of one effect to block or eliminate another, requiring an opposed power check between the two effects. Countering normally requires a readied action, unless using a victory point to counter immediately as a reaction.

Critical Hit (a.k.a “Crit”)

An especially successful attack inflicting additional damage. To score a critical hit, an attacker must first score a threat (usually a natural 20 on an attack check, depending on the attack being used) and the attack total must equal or exceed the target’s Defense. A critical hit does +5 damage over the attack’s normal damage, or you may add an effect, or use an alternate effect.

Critical Success

An especially successful use of a skill which grants an additional degree of success. To score a critical success, the skill user must roll a 20 on the die when making a check. Determine the degree of success normally and then increase it by one degree.

Damage Bonus

A modifier used to determine the damage of an attack.


An effect that causes a character harm. Damage is resisted by Toughness.

Damage Condition

A condition imposed by a damage effect.


A condition. A dazed character is limited to free actions and a single standard action per round, although the character may use that action to perform a move, as usual. Stunned supersedes dazed.


A combined condition. The character cannot hear, giving everything total auditory concealment from him. This may allow for surprise attacks on the unaware character (see Surprise Attack in the Action & Adventure). Interaction with other characters is limited to sign-language and lip-reading. (See Interaction Skills.)


A condition. The character has one or more abilities lowered below –5. (See Debilitated Abilities in the Abilities.)

Defense Class

The difficulty for an attack check, based on a particular defense, plus 10.


A trait measuring how capable a character is at avoiding certain hazards, based on the Agility, Awareness, Stamina, and Fighting abilities. Defenses include: Dodge, Will, Fortitude, Toughness, and Parry.


A condition. A defenseless character has active defense bonuses of 0. Attackers can make attacks on defenseless opponents as routine checks. If the attacker chooses to forgo the routine check and make a normal attack check, any hit is treated as a critical hit. Defenseless characters are often prone, providing opponents with an additional bonus to attack checks.

Degree(s) of Failure

A measure of the failure of an action. Every five points a check result is under the required difficulty Class is a degree of failure.

Degree(s) of Success

A measure of the success of an action. Every five points a check result is over the required Difficulty Class is a degree of success.


A term describing the nature of a power. A descriptor may define how certain power effects appear or function.

Difficulty Class (DC)

The number a player must equal or exceed for a check to succeed.


A condition. A disabled character is at a –5 circumstance penalty on checks. If the penalty applies to specific checks, they are added to the name of the condition, such as Attack Disabled, Fighting Disabled, Perception Disabled, and so forth. Debilitated, if it applies to the same trait(s), supersedes disabled.


How long an effect lasts. There are five durations: instant, concentration, sustained, continuous, and permanent. Instant effects occur and end in the same turn. Concentration effects require a standard action each round to maintain. Sustained effects require a free action each round to maintain. Continuous effects require no action to maintain. Permanent effects also require no action to maintain, but cannot be turned off.


A combined condition. A dying character is incapacitated (defenseless, stunned, and unaware) and near death. When the character gains this condition, immediately make a Fortitude check (DC 15). If the check succeeds, nothing happens. With two degrees of success, the character stabilizes, removing this condition. If the check fails, the character remains dying. Three or more total degrees of failure mean the character dies; so three failed Fortitude checks or one or two checks adding up to three degrees. Dying characters make a Fortitude check each round until they either die or stabilize. Another character can stabilize a dying character with a successful Treatment check (DC 15) or use of a Healing effect (see Powers).


An aspect of a power with a particular defined game effect.


A combined condition. An entranced character is stunned, taking no actions other than paying attention to the entrancing effect. Any obvious threat automatically breaks the trance. An ally can also shake a character free of the condition with an interaction skill check (DC 10 + effect rank).


A combined condition. Exhausted characters are near collapse. They are impaired and hindered. characters recover from an exhausted condition after an hour of rest in comfortable surroundings.


A power modifier that enhances a power, increasing its cost.

Extra Effort

Players can use extra effort to improve a hero’s abilities in exchange for the hero suffering some fatigue.


Achieve an unsuccessful result for a check or other die roll.


A condition. Fatigued characters are hindered. Characters recover from a fatigued condition after an hour of rest.


A modifier that increases or decreases an effect’s total cost by a set or “flat” value, rather than increasing or decreasing its cost per rank of the effect.


A power modifier that limits a power, reducing its cost.

Free Action

A minor activity, requiring very little time and effort.

Gamemaster (GM)

The player who portrays characters not controlled by the other players, makes up the story setting for the game, and serves as the referee for game play.

Graded Check(s)

A check where degree of success or failure is counted.

Hero (also Superhero or Player Character)

A character controlled by a player, one of the main protagonists of an adventure or series.


A condition. A hindered character moves at half normal speed (–1 speed rank). Immobile supersedes hindered.


A condition. Immobile characters have no movement speed and cannot move from the spot they occupy, although they are still capable of taking actions unless prohibited by another condition.


A condition. An impaired character is at a –2 circumstance penalty on checks. If the impairment applies to specific checks, they are added to the name of the condition, such as Attack Impaired, Fighting Impaired, Perception Impaired, and so forth. If it applies to the same trait(s), disabled supersedes impaired


A combined condition. An incapacitated character is defenseless, stunned, and unaware. Incapacitated characters generally also fall prone, unless some outside force or aid keeps them standing.

Melee Weapon

A handheld weapon designed for close combat.


A minor NPC with less influence on the story than the main characters. Minions are subject to special rules regarding their abilities, particularly in combat, that make them easier to defeat.


Any bonus or penalty applied to a die roll.

Move Action

An action intended to move a distance or to manipulate or move an object or the equivalent.


A natural result on a roll is the actual number appearing on the die, not the modified result obtained by applying modifiers to that number.

Non-Player Character (NPC)

A character controlled by the Gamemaster (as opposed to a character controlled by a player).


A condition. The character is unharmed and unaffected by other conditions, acting normally.

Opposed Check(s)

A check where the Difficulty Class is set by another character’s check result; the two checks are compared and the character with the higher check result wins.


A combined condition. A paralyzed character is defenseless, immobile, and physically stunned, frozen in place and unable to move, but still aware and able to take purely mental actions, involving no physical movement whatsoever.

Partial Modifier

A modifier that applies to only some of an effect’s ranks and not others. A modifier must apply to at least one rank, and may apply to as many ranks as the effect has.


A negative modifier to a die roll.


You, your Gamemaster, or one of your friends playing the game.

Player Character (PC, also Hero)

A character controlled by a player, one of the main protagonists of an adventure or series.

Power Level (also Level or PL)

A limit on overall power and ability in a series, also sometimes used to describe the overall power of a character (e.g. a level 11 hero, a power level 15 villain, etc.).

Power Modifier

An increase or decrease in a power’s capabilities, also increasing or decreasing its cost.

Power Stunt

An alternate effect acquired temporarily through extra effort.


A superhuman trait, like the ability to fly or shoot blasts of energy. Powers are made up of one or more effects with various descriptors defining the power’s nature.


A combined condition. A prone character is lying on the ground, receiving a –5 circumstance penalty on close attack checks. Opponents receive a +5 circumstance bonus to close attack checks but a –5 penalty to ranged attack checks (effectively giving the prone character total cover against ranged attacks). Prone characters are hindered. Standing up from a prone position is a move action.


The distance over which an effect works. There are five ranges: Personal, Close, Ranged, Rank, and Perception. Personal range effects work only on the user. Close range effects work only on subject the user touches. Ranged effects work over a distance, usually a maximum of (rank x 100 feet). Rank range effects have a distance set by the specific effect’s rank. Perception range effects work over any distance where the user can accurately perceive the subject of the effect.

Ranged Attack

Any attack made at a distance.

Ranged Weapon

An energy, projectile, or thrown weapon designed for attacking at a distance.


A measure of a character’s level of ability with a skill or power.

Resistance Check

A roll made with a defense to avoid or reduce harm. Most Resistance checks are DC 10 plus the effect rank.


A combined condition. A restrained character is hindered and vulnerable. If the restraints are anchored to an immobile object, the character is immobile rather than hindered. If restrained by another character, the restrained character is immobile but may be moved by the restraining character.


A roughly six-second unit of game time used to manage fast-paced action.

Routine Check(s)

A check for an action taken under routine circumstances, where the character is not under any time pressure. Rather than rolling the die, add 10 to the modifier for the check to get the check result.


A portion of an adventure, like a chapter of a story.


A linked collection of adventures, forming the backdrop against which the characters interact and participate in the setting, like an ongoing comic book or television series.


Combine for a cumulative effect. If modifiers do not stack, it is specified in the rules. In most cases, modifiers to a given check stack. If the modifiers of a particular roll do not stack, only the best bonus or worst penalty applies. Sometimes there is a limit to how high a stacked bonus or penalty can be.


A combined condition. A staggered character is dazed and hindered.

Standard Action

An action intended to do or act upon something. You can perform a single standard action per round.


A condition. Stunned characters cannot take any actions.


A combined condition. A surprised character is stunned and vulnerable, caught off-guard and therefore unable to act and less able to avoid attacks.

Target (also subject)

The intended recipient of an attack, action, or power.

Threat Range

All natural die roll results constituting a critical threat when rolled for an attack check. For most attacks, the threat range is a natural roll of 20. Some attacks have greater threat ranges.


A possible critical hit. The attack check result of a threat must equal or exceed the target’s defense for the threat to constitute a critical hit.


A measure of a character’s ability to resist and endure physical harm. Toughness checks are DC 15 plus the effect rank.


Having at least 1 rank in a skill.


Any of a character’s game-defined qualities: abilities, skills, advantages, and powers are all traits.


A condition. Transformed characters have some or all of their traits altered by an outside agency. This may range from a change in the character’s appearance to a complete change in trait ranks, even the removal of some traits and the addition of others! The primary limit on the transformed condition is the character’s character point total cannot increase, although it can effectively decrease for the duration of the transformation, such as when a powerful superhero is turned into an otherwise powerless mouse or frog (obviously based on considerably fewer character points).

Unarmed Attack

A close attack made with no weapon in hand.


A condition. The character is completely unaware of his surroundings, unable to make interaction or Perception checks or perform any action based on them. If the condition applies to a specific sense or senses, they are added to the name of the condition, such as visually unaware, tactilely unaware (or numb), and so forth. Subjects have full concealment from all of a character’s unaware senses.


Having no ranks in a skill. Some skills cannot be used untrained.

Victory Points

Points players can spend to gain bonuses with particular actions.

Villain (also Supervillain)

An adversary controlled by the Gamemaster.


A condition. Vulnerable characters are limited in their ability to defend themselves, halving their active defenses (round up the final value). Defenseless supersedes vulnerable.


A condition. The character has temporarily lost character points in a trait. See the Weaken effect in Powers for more. Debilitated supersedes weakened.

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