Monday, February 8, 2016

Earth 10: Powers

The original DC Heroes powers cost out was both logical and a little perverse. To explain, every power had an Active Point level to describe how potent it was, just like the stats and skills. (I’m calling this Potency because I’m a member of RUAGD, Remove Unnecessary Acronyms in Game Design.) It also had a Factor that, like the skills, determined how versatile the power was in a general framework, but that framework was pretty rigid – for instance all Defenses had a Factor of 5, whether they protected you against all physical damage (incredibly common) or just, say, Cold. Finally it had a Base Cost which was both an indicator of how rare this was in the DCU and how much more powerful it was than the baseline ability.

To give an idea on how this worked out, Cold Resistance and Skin Armor both had Factors of 5, but Cold Resistance had a base cost of 5 and Skin Armor was 50. In practice this meant you could by 1 AP of Skin Armor for what it cost to buy 8 AP of Cold Resistance. OK, that makes sense. But it also means that at 16 AP of Skin Armor you can buy… 16 AP of Cold Resistance. That’s perverse.

My solution is to loosen up the factor costs for the most common powers, of which I give plentiful examples below. Cold Resistance now would have a factor of 2, Skin Armor of 5, and Skin Armor would always be 2.5 times more expensive. It just feels better to me.

Base Cost is being renamed Scarcity, and it starts at 5. I’m charging a nominal fee for every power just to mark how they are different from skills, but otherwise the Scarcity cost is determined by the player who first buys the power (or the GM if I snag a power first) and it’s a way to flag the power as being something you want to be unique to your character. You’re essentially spending some character points to make sure that the world isn’t full of people who are just like you. The higher the scarcity, the more rare the power. Other characters have to pay that Scarcity to also have the power, but also it’s just a reminder to the GM to not go nuts with the power. Superman but a scarcity cost on his Time travel and his Super Breath because a) wants to not have a ton of time travel villains and b) super-breath is a Kryptonian ability. The Question put a high Scarcity on his Facial Chameleon so that disguising shape changers are rare and therefore people don’t defend against them, making the power more tactically useful.

Anyway, here is the base rules for most things; the rest Gms can pretty clearly ad hoc

Power Types
Description
Factor
Movement
Powers that add on to an existing movement with a special edge have a Factor of 1. The Potency does not determine speed, but some other aspect; like maximum height for Trickster's air-walking, or the amount you can carry with you for Vigilante's clinging.
1
Movement
Powers that accelerate existing human movement, i.e. Running and Swimming. Potency determines speed.
2
Movement
Powers that give you a whole new movement type, i.e. Flight and Tunneling. Potency determines speed and you will note that this has the same cost as putting a +1 factor add to the base movement.
3
Movement
Powers that give you a whole new movement type and let you evade obstacles or give you some other concrete advantage, i.e. Teleportation
4
Movement
Powers that can be used as an attack or defense on their own, such as Super-Speed or Warp Generation.
8
Movement
Powers that suffer a limitation on where they can be used, such as Superman's FTL Flight and Time Travel needing to be outside Earth's gravity well, or the Hawk's flight device needing to be in air. (And yes, you can usually 'fly' in water, but at -2 AP; because comics.)
-1
Combat
Powers that let you do more damage at no range, such as Claws. If another more versatile power has increased melee damage potential (such as Omni-Arm or Icing) this becomes a +1 to their Factor
1
Combat
Powers that let you do damage at range, such as Flame Projection or Lightning. You can always choose to use this as your damage in close combat as well.
3
Combat
If the power gives you a distinct, longer term advantage in combat, such as the ongoing damage of Poison Touch or the reduced healing of Disintegration, the Factor increases by 2 pts. This does not include helpful side effects like being able to melt things with flame projection or reduce fires with cold projection.
+2
Combat
If the attack power doesn't actually do damage you can reduce the Factor by 1 pt. This is for things like the blinding effect of Flash, or the fear effect of Aura of Fear.
-1
Combat
If the attack can have a radius or some other broader area (usually set at Potency-2 AP distance) increase the Factor by 2. This includes Flash and Super-Breath, for example.
+2
Combat
Very few powers let you modify your acting stat (Dex, Int, Infl), but if they do you REPLACE your Acting stat with the power, and it has a factor cost of +3. Normally you would buy a Combat skill with your super-powers, but doing it this way means it's not learned by you but that the power is innately more accurate.
+3
Combat
Just to math this out, the Questions fear gas starts out as working with no range (Factor 1) but has a radius (+2, now it's Factor 3). It does no damage (-1, now Factor 2) but gives a long term beneficial effect (+2, now Factor 4)

Defense
Your baseline defensive powers adds to your Resistance stats (Body, Mind, Spirit). Defenses cost more than attacks - This is in part to prioritize action over inaction, but also because attacks have two components in the hitting and the damaging.

Defense
Narrow defensive powers, such as resisting Cold, or Gas, or Fear, or Mental Detection, have a factor of 2
2
Defense
If you broaden that a little, such as Temperature, Gas/Radiation, Emotion Manipulation or Mental Detection and Mind Reading , increase the Factor to 3.
3
Defense
If the power defends against an even broader array, such as kinetic attacks, energy, elemental magic, all mental controls, etc. increase the factor to 4
4
Defense
If the power defends against everything in a particular realm - all Physical, Mental or Spiritual - increase the factor to 5. This was where the original game factored nearly all defenses. Now, if you already have a high body this is kinda irrelevant, but it's a cheaper way to be able to bounce attacks but not soak as much of what gets through.
5
Defense
If the defense lets you soak more rather than resist more, such the ability to keep acting even if at 0 Body from the Hawk's Mind over Matter has a Factor of 1
1
Defense
If the Defense lets you recover faster (which people underestimate how damn useful this is) in one realm it has a Factor cost of 5. Increase it to 7 for two realms and 8 for all three. Your AP determine how much more often you get to make recovery checks
5+
Defense
If you can use the power to defend someone else in 0 AP (5'), increase the factor cost by 1
+1
Defense
If you can use the power to defend someone else at AP range, increase the factor by 3
+3
Defense
If the defense carries a touch range counter attack (such as icing, which only protects against cold but damages anyone who touches you) increase the cost by 2. This is more expensive than the usual no range attack because it is assumed to not cost you any time to do
+2
Defense
If the defense carries a ranged counter attack, such as a mental field that damages people making psychic combat, or an energy pulse that lances back up a ranged attack, increase the cost by 4
+4
Defense
If the defense offers some other tangible advantage, such as the ability to go extended periods without breathing from Sealed Systems (otherwise it's Gas/Rad defense) or the ability to pass through solid objects like Dispersal increase factor by 2
+2
Defense
If the defense has some special vulnerability (such as Armor that protects vs. everything except Fire) or requirement (Vigilante' Inevitable comeback only works when he's unconscious) reduce the Factor by 1
-1
Defense
If you can't attack at all while using the defense reduce the factor by 2
-2
Defense
If you can't attack in the realm you're defending against while using the defense, reduce the factor by 1
-1
Senses
Sensory powers that increase one of your existing senses generally have a Factor cost of 1 - telescopic or microscopic vision, ultrasonic, super-sensitive of long distance hearing, hyper-sensitive touch or taste, analytical/tracking scent all fall into this category.
1
Senses
Sensory powers that let you do something really weird - under your control - have a Factor of 3. This is x-ray vision, precognition, clairsentience and other things that seriously change your sensory array
3
Senses
Sensory powers that let you do something really weird but that are under the GMs control, such as Cosmic Awareness or Precognitive Dreaming and other things that feed story clues ave a Factor of 1
1
Senses
To save space on the character sheets I lump as many of these as possible together under a single power and add up the factor costs. Hence Superman's telescopic microscopic, x-ray vision + his super ultrasonic hearing have a combined Factor of 7