Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Villains & Vigilantes +What If 1963 Part 6

Heightened Speed, Regeneration: Delta V

OK, I lied, but that’s just because I want to round out July on this cleanly before moving on to something else.

Heightened Speed

This is another power that V&V gets mostly right, assuming you’re a fan of Silver Age marvel. The distinction between ground speed and flight speed is very Marvel Comics, but the maximum speed increase of 225 mph is a little low for modeling Quicksilver. Now, while I was all keen with multiple Heightened Strengths being needed to kick into the Thor range you’d need Heightened Speed x4 to match Quicksilvers speed of sound movement, and that would give an initiative bonus of +100 or so, which is too much.

There are a few ways around this. We can extrapolate the rules mods we discussed for Speed Bonus to here, letting the PC add their movement bonus (but not their initiative bonus) again for each 8 power spent per turn. This lets someone who can run at 235 mph normally sprint at Mach 1 for 16 power per turn. That actually sound pretty good for matching Marvel speedsters.

Another solution is borrow the idea of hyper-speed from Flight: that in a non-combat situation the character can move ten times as fast. This would be an assumed part of Ht. Speed, since without it you’re closer to Speed Bonus. But this idea is also sound for building a game with faster speedsters. This means someone with a 235 mph speed can clock in at Mach 3 which, as we saw with Flight, is enough to outrace even really fast bullets. And without the high power increase of the other option the character is more reliably faster. This takes you closer to DC, but honestly nothing in V&V is going to get you up to lightspeed levels of ht. speed.

The initiative boost on a Ht. Speed generally works, unless it’s layered multiple times (which is why I’m leery of advocating doubling up on this power), backed with Ht. Agility or, as we discussed for Ht Agility earlier, in a game where all but one or two PCs have some sort of initiative boost. Going 10 to 30 phases earlier is a huge boost, but is balanced nicely against high agility PCs to model the comics.

What people have to remember about Ht. Speed to really make it work is that it adds to your base movement rate, and that means it increases the amount of general purpose stuff you can do. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS. Seriously, anything that is not a direct attack on someone or something is movement. If you’re a really fast speedster with 900” of movement, and a base initiative of 45. On your first action burn 250” of movement to clear the battlefield of any civilians, and then set up an evasion. On your second action attack someone close to you and then spend 300” of movement into an obstacle course by rearranging what’s in it, building walls, isolating opponents, painting the ground with grease from the nearby auto lube shop, whatever. It’s all good. You still have 2 actions and 35” of movement left.

Try to think about it like this: 30” of movement is what a normal person can do in 15 seconds. Therefore 300” of movement is what a normal person can do in 150 seconds, or 2.5 minutes. Sure, at +300” movement you have a move of 330” and only run 75 miles an hour (a mere 5 times faster than the world record) and don’t even reliably get an extra action per round, but you can do eleven times as much as a normal person each round of combat. And if you have +900” of movement a 15 second round for everyone else is 7 minutes and 45 second to you. That’s what makes Ht. Speed powerful; the initiative bonus is just a sideshow.

Of course if the initiative bonus is a problem in that your PC is acting 2-3 times before any other player moves and they’re getting sick of it another option is rather than making you go first your Ht. Speed can make you go faster. Every 100” of Ht. Speed you reduce your initiative interval by 1? That is to say rather than act every 15 phases you act ever 12? Or 8? The fastest PCs with +1000” movement would act every 5 phases.

Sure it SOUNDS crazy, but look at it like this: a 15 Agility hero has +990” of ht. speed. Assume he rolls a 6 for initiative every turn. In the existing system he acts first on 54, then 39, then 24, then 9, and likely got to act twice before anyone else could move. In the alternate system his initiative interval is 6 and he acts first on 21, then 15, then 9 then 3. It’s still 4 actions but they’re interspersed with the other PCs so the character isn’t hogging the first part of each round. For some groups this makes a lot of sense.

Personally I’m not a fan of layering other powers into Ht. Speed without them being real powers. If you want to hit more often and do more damage you can invent it as a version of Natural Weaponry, or just have rolled the natural weaponry power in. All the wind tunnel and vortex creation and running through walls the Flash does are just Vibratory Powers reskinned very loosely for speed. You should be able to do plenty enough with the movement bonus if played right.


There’s a trick that clever players pulled on me once, saying that rather than having 1 attack type they can’t heal from there are a handful that they regenerate from half as fast. Since Regeneration lets you heal 5,760 times faster than normal this is not a balanced trade! Only healing 2,880 times faster than normal is not really a hardship.

It does, however, make regeneration work more like the comics as off the top of my head I can’t think of any heroes who have one specific thing they can’t heal against. But if you want to take away that limitation, just do it. The average hero’s healing rate is not enough for actions of healing in the fight to make a huge difference. Its actions of healing IN BETWEEN fights where regeneration rules the day.

Mind you, many Regeneration Heroes also have Ht. Endurance, or invent themselves an increased endurance score off of it, but it still takes a lot of endurance for regaining a HP or two in a fight to make a big difference. If you really want to bring regeneration under control have HP come back per minute or at the end of every 4th round with no action. That stops people from losing an action to gain back a very small number of HP, but it also reduces the healing rate to… 1,440 times normal. That’s still a lot, but it means regenerators take 10 minutes to be fresh as a daisy, not 2.

As with invulnerability ask the player how they see their regeneration – do they want to be the one who gets hammered on to prove how tough the bad guy is? Do they want to just never fall down? Is it because they want to stretch things out into longer fights of endurance? These are all valid ways to play the power, but if it’s option 3 they’ll get peeved if you open every fight with knocking out 90% of their HP score to showcase the baddies. No one wants to be Worf.

Curt “Delta V” Conners

A perfectly straightforward character, he’s a scientist and a speedster. He was never played as being a super-inventor so as a result I didn’t give him Ht. Int but a very high natural Intelligence score. He would definitely dominate play if the plot hinged on a medical or biological catastrophe. His origin is pretty straightforward Conners – injected self with regenerative serum to regain his arm – which in this case gave him speed rather than lizard-y ness. The player was aiming for a straight up heightened speed character and he got one.

Villains and Vigilantes 2nd Edition
Identity: Side: Good
Name: Gender: Male
Experience: 9,500 Level: 4 Age: 35
Powers: Training: 1) I; 2) A; 3)A, currently E
Heightened Speed: +900" to ground movement rate, +30 to initiative
Regeneration: heals per turn except vs. chemical damage
Heightened Endurance B: +10
Natural Weaponry: 12 to hit, +1d4 damage from high speed blows
Weight: 170 Basic Hits: 4 Agility Mod: 0  
Strength: 12 Endurance: 23
Agility: 15 Intelligence: 18
Charisma: 12 React. Mod.: 1
Hit Mod. 6.49 Hit Points: 26
Dmg. Mod.: 2 Healing Rate: 2.4
Accuracy: 2 Power: 68
Carrying Capacity:               318 Base HTH Damage: 1d6
Movement Rates: 950 " Running (Base) 216 MPH
Det. Hidden: 14 % Det. Danger: 18 %
Inventing Points: 7.2 Cash:   $            -  
Inventing: 54 %  
Origin and Background: (American) Science & Medicine
Legal Status: Member of the Avengers
(Sec. Clearance = 18 )