Monday, December 14, 2015

Does System Matter, part VI – FUDGE

Last week I started a Thought Experiment in supers games, looking at what changes a character goes through when converted from one system to another. This is meant to test the validity of most supers games claims that you can use the system to build “any” character or run “any” kind of game. The character in question – Dr. Zachary Zevon, the Indestructible Man - started in Villains and Vigilantes, and now exists in Silver Age Sentinels, HERO, Marvel Super HeroesDC Heroes and now, thanks to whswhs,
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FUDGE.

A quick recap: Dr. Z is the Reed Richards analogue in a Fantastic Four style game. His natural abilities include a massive intellect and scientific skill, a powerful presence & sense-of-self, and an ability to analyze his opponents’ fighting style and the scientific basis for their powers. His superhuman ability is an invisible, highly versatile force field. He is renowned as the smartest man on Mars and is a millionaire with access to advanced technology and the Liberty Lair, his team’s base.

From Bill Stoddard: “Brian asked people familiar with rules systems to design versions of these characters. I don't have time just now to do a GURPS Supers version. But I also wrote the current FUDGE supers rules. So here's a sketch of Zevon in FUDGE.

Zachary Zevon, The Indestructible Man

Attributes [nine levels: two free levels: six levels from gifts: nine levels from scale: eight levels spent on skills]:

Body: Good
Mind: Legendary 2
Soul: Superb

Skills [thirty-four levels: ten free levels: twenty-four levels from attributes]:

Brawling: Good [base is Body]
Cybernetics: Superb
Experimental Physics: Legendary 2
Force Field Engineering: Superb
Materials Science: Great
Nanotechnology: Great
Theoretical Physics: Great
Weakness Identification: Superb

Gifts [eight gifts: two free gifts: nine gifts from scale: three gifts spent on attributes]:

Force Field (supernormal gift): equivalent to wearing full body armor: +4 to damage capacity: battery option, 25 charges, one charge consumed per attack stopped, can expend multiple charges to stop stronger attacks, up to +8 added damage capacity for all 25 charges: 2 gifts
Force Field Expansion: can extend force field to 1-yard bubble at -4 to damage capacity (stops melee attacks, but a missile attack can shoot through it to hit him): 1 gift
Force Field Manipulation: can use force field for power stunts giving +4 to strength scale: with expenditure of a FUDGE point, can come up with other applications: 1 gift
Invention: can invent advanced state-of-the-art devices: 1 gift
Instant Invention (supernormal gift): can invent new devices during the course of an adventure, with portable tools: invented devices have duration one adventure: 2 gifts
Wealth: millionaire: 1 gift

Scale [total scale 24: 9 scale steps converted to nine gifts and nine attribute levels]:

Scale 15 for force field: additional +15 to damage capacity

Notes: The twenty-four scale steps are my standard quota for "heavy hitter" superheroes, as opposed to streetlevel, who would be built on twelve. A twelve-point version of Zevon would do just fine in a street fight but not on a battlefield. Think of the difference between the Avengers first team (Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man, the Wasp, the Hulk) and second team (Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch).

I handwaved the various "adventuring gear" items, such as the nanotech healing system and robot butler at team HQ, and the energy cloth costumes and personal communicators. None of those would actually count as "superpowers," in that they're not trademark items for individual heroes. A fussier accounting could try to figure out how to define each of them as a gift—for example, the nanotech healing system would be one supernormal gift for allowing 24 hours healing (one wound level, in a cinematic setting) in one hour; the energy cloth is effectively damage capacity 2 armor with negligible weight and bulk.

The Indestructible Man has +19 to damage capacity with his force field set skintight, for 25 shots; this drops to +15 for 1 yard radius, +13 for 1.5 yards, +11 for 2.25 yards, +9 for 3.3 yards, +7 for 5 yards, and so on. If he takes a really big hit, he can stand one attack at up to +27 damage capacity. We don't really have detailed stats for weapons, but I figure that gets him up to surviving attacks from antitank weapons. Small arms fire hasn't got a chance of hurting him. 
Notes from Brian: This looks like a very solid translation of the character, with minimal loss of fidelity. All the key aspects are clearly listed, with the opening for FUDGE point expenditures to get things like his super-breath tricks. 

With a Legendary 2 Mind and Experimental Physics his lowest possible roll is a Good, which is equivalent to normal people doing pretty well. That feels about right. I’m not familiar enough with FUDGE Supers to comment on the damage mechanics, but I’ll trust Mr. Stoddard when he says that the force field will bounce small arms fire and conceivably withstand an anti-tank weapon– that’s good enough to capture the feel of things (assuming we don’t have a circumstance like DC Heroes where people whose fists are as potent as anti-tank weapons grow on trees). The 25 charges tie nearly with the Power scores and Energy points in the other two games, so Zach can still get tired out or overwhelmed – important things to keep the character from being immune to threats. It’s interesting that HERO and DC Heroes don’t have that, where the threat is not time but people having standard access to amounts of force that would break the wall. The more systems we see him in, the more that distinction becomes clear and changes how he would appear in play. 

As with V&V, all of the gear is just handwaved away – he’s a genius, he invented it, and it’s secondary to the character concept. I still feel that’s the best way to handle it, with second best being SAS’s “spend some points on having general gear”. Thinking it through, this would be much less viable if one of the other PCs had the power of super-senses, in which case Zach’s scanner would have to be considerably less useful than his teammate’s power. HERO tries to make this less of an issue by charging points for the scanner, but I’d still feel bad if my character’s secondary gear stomped all over someone else’s primary power. 

Thanks for the help, Mr. Stoddard. Tomorrow we look at chadu’s Truth & Justice write up.