Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Does System matter part VII: Truth & Justice

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 Heroes, DC Heroes, FUDGE, and, from the hands of the man with powers, Chad Underkoffler…
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Truth & Justice! (and the crowd goes wild!)

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.

chadu’s notes appear afterwards, but I have made some edits to his original (which appears on his LJ)

Dr. Zachary Zevon, the Indestructible Man

Background: Zachary is known as the smartest man on Mars. He's knowledgeable in most fields of science, and an expert in the high energy physics connected with the Philadelphia Experiment and Project Rainbow.

Motivation: Discover, analyze, create -- for and with SCIENCE!

Qualities: Expert [+4] Analysis, Expert [+4] Wealth, Good [+2] Charisma, Good [+2] In Love with teammate Deirdre and Poor [-2] Reputation: Smartest Man on Mars.

Origin: Irradiated by IF energies when an attempt to replicate the teleportational effects of the Philadelphia Experiment, Dr. Zevon, the smartest man on mars, gained his power of indestructible force fields.

Powers: Good [+2] Force Fields, Good [+2] Super-Intelligence, Average [0] Super-Gadgeteering,

Stunts: "Super-Strength" (Average [+2] Force Field Signature, shifting heavy weights, 1 HP), "Super-Punch" (Average [0] Force Field spin off, for blasting with invisible force, 1 HP), “Shield Area” (Poor [-2] to Good [+2] Force Field Signature, 0-2 HP), “Super-Breath” (Average [0] Force Field Spin Off, pushing things away 1 HP). For Zevon's Gadgets see Miscellany below.

Hero Point Pool/Max: 5/10

Uniform: Red slacks & shirt, silver gloves, boots & belt, League emblem (silver liberty bell with red dot in its center and two silver "moons" in "orbit" outside of the bell) on breast; made out of Energy Fabric.

Miscellany: Zevon's Analysis Quality shows his expertise at analyzing scientific theories, technologies, super-powers, and even opponents he has a chance to observe; this allows him to determine their strengths and weaknesses. His love for Deirdre is his secret passion, and can apply to any plan that involves her, action he takes alongside her or to protect her if she’s in trouble. His Reputation is an excellent one, but it means that he has a very public ID and is constantly besieged by those want to claim the title, pestered by those who want his help etc. His Power of Force Fields is effectively another type of Invulnerability (see T&J, p. 43) which he has learned to extend to others or project as physical force. Super-Intelligence means he's knowledgeable in most fields of science, an expert in the high energy physics connected with the Philadelphia Experiment and Project Rainbow; systemically, grants him 2 Upshifts per Scene for mental tasks or conflicts, and 2 "contingency plan" per session. While he can design super-technologies with his Super-Intelligence, it's his Super-Gadgeteering that allows him to actually construct them; furthermore, he gets four Gadgets at character generation.

Zevon's Gadgets include:
* Energy Fabric: A material with an indeterminate IF charge, making it highly resistant to damage, able to adapt to the IF powers of its wearer, and a effective form of insulation. Zevon's uniform is made out of it.

* Nanite Reconstruction Surgical Equipment (NuRSE): When a character is placed inside a NuRSE chamber, he gets +2 to all subsequent healing rolls as per Continuing Danger (see T&J, p. 62).

* League Communicators: Using cutting edge IF technology, League Communicators send messages through parallel dimensions to other communicators. They are not normally affected by distance or obstacles and can’t be traced or intercepted, but they do still suffer from lightspeed limits.

* Personal Environment Generators: A limited gravitic field is used to hold in atmosphere (and the warmth of that atmosphere), providing an unprotected body about 5 minutes life support in hard vacuum. (No combat effects.)

(Gadgets not used from the original V&V write-up: the Artificial Intelligence Emulator design, StrattonTech Scanner, pocket toolkit, and Roberto. The first one I consider as a user of Super-Intelligence to explain Zevon's Expert [+4] Wealth; this is aided by the fact that it seems to have no mechanical effect. The other three are essentially "off the shelf" purchases, which easily fall under Wealth. Roberto could be statted up as a Sidekick, if desired.)

(Since the Liberty Lair is his team's base, it would be handled under the Headquarters rules on T&J, p. 69).

Brian Notes: This looks good. I’d have to trust the GM to let me get away with the various TK stunts, but the design of T&J’s invulnerability (that he can ignore normal scale damage) makes the force field plenty tough. I imagine that an anti-tank weapon would still knock him down with accumulated Failure ranks, but it wouldn’t penetrate the field to cause damage. Chad had designed this power set, more or less, originally, but then recommended pushing for more Force Field and less super-intelligence. I disagree: as a player the force field was neat, but it’s strong enough as written, and he is both the Indestructible Man and the Smartest Man on Mars, and Good Super Intelligence is needed for that.

Most importantly I shifted around his qualities, making his Reputation a Poor [-2] to take advantage of how the T&J rules work: Zach has an excellent, wonderful reputation that causes him no end of complications: his enemies know how to draw him out, his ID is public, and everyone always looks to him and his team to save the world from whatever danger it’s gotten in to this time. This let me move his love for Dierdre into a positive quality. This was important as perhaps my favorite aspect of PDQ is how the first quality reduced by Damage Ranks is the one that generates a story hook – Zach will always take his first damage rank to his love for Deirdre, insuring an endless stream of awkward situations, prying relatives, angst filled moments and other romantic interest aspects in play.

Finally, I gave him some boosts because he isn’t a starting character: an extra quality rank for more Wealth and statted out two more stunts, just to make sure his core force field tricks were accounted for. 

Not surprising, but this is a very clear map over into another highly narrative system. I’m getting the feeling that my largest problems with mapping things over come in games where the damage of firearms is most clearly nailed down against reality and the powers in play, hence the higher costs of being invulnerable. My next step is GURPS unless someone wants to save me. This will likely take a few days, so don’t be surprised by a delay.