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Old 02-21-2024, 09:54 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2012
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Default Supers Powers as Character Lenses

So I did a thing and, idk, maybe people are interested.

Okay, context: I was reading GURPS Supers a while back, maybe 2 years at this point, and besides thinking that it was an absolute gem of a work, I thought that if you could somehow combine the superhero templates with the monster templates from GURPS Horror or GURPS Fantasy or GURPS Creatures of the Night they might just work for as very cool monsters for a higher powered monster hunters esk game. Not really built the same way MH monsters are built, different design philosophies and game expectations and such, but still. Cool idea. I messed around with it a little bit, but the character templates are built as character templates not lenses that could be added to any character template.

So here's what I did: I took every Supers character template in GURPS Supers that has its own unique power (ignored the action hero ones or ones that combine different powers like the archetype) and I built a +400 cp lens designed to be added to any 100 cp character to turn them into that kind of superhero (or supervillain).
For some of the templates, such as Biomorph, that have different iterations along a theme, I tried to build out several options. For example, I have 5 versions of Biomorph with a couple more planned, 4 versions of Manplus, 3 versions of Improvisor with 2 more coming, etc.
For others, where they might have nearly identical abilities with only minor changes, like variations of blaster where fire and lightning blasters might have a very similar set of abilities, I built out a template for building the powers with 90% done abilities that require a few plugins with specifications for what those should be, and several pre-built optional abilities to flush it out, etc.
I also added a few more powers to suit other kinds of campaigns such as "healer," "luck manipulator," "super normal," and "summoner."

The last one led to thinking about sidekick versions of the template lenses for 375 cp characters (75%) and then also to lower-powered versions. So I did that too. For each power I built:
- +400 cp heroic template for 500 cp characters
- +275 cp sidekick template for 375 cp characters
- +100 cp template for 200-250 cp lower powered characters
- +65 cp for a 125 cp character or ally (since a lot of lower cp character templates like those from GURPS Horror get down to 60 cp)

And, to accomplish the summoned minions of the summoner, I built out a meta template for how to use these templates to build all kinds of monsters.

I'm not done yet. I've got 100+ template lenses so far and 50ish more planned unless I segue into flushing out the improviser templates to construct magic systems, which I've already started but will require a few grimoires for example "spells" and systems for building new ones.

And besides being not done, it's all multiplicative modifiers, which isn't really the standard, and in some cases, I break some of the rules on purpose or apply a few home rules. And it's all stored in a huge array of GCA4 files instead of in Word documents or pdfs or something that would be easy to share. I don't really know if I'll ever get around to writing it all up. So I don't totally know how useful it would actually be to anyone. But my brother suggested people here might be interested so I thought I'd make a post about it. If anyone has any thoughts or questions or suggestions I'm interested.

Last edited by oneofmanynameless; 02-21-2024 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 02-21-2024, 10:54 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2012
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Default Re: Supers Powers as Character Lenses

Part II: Some more information, if anyone is interested.

As a rule, no template includes any +IQ or +DX. There are two reasons for this. First, a lot of character templates already include those, often at levels that are about as high as is appropriate for the type of game and genre they belong to. And second, variations in IQ and DX can radically alter how cinematic a character is relative to the game they're in. I like to set IQ and DX at fixed values, or small ranges, that I find appropriate to how cinematic I want the characters to feel in the game, and don't want the templates to mess with that balance. Keeping IQ and DX out of the picture allows a lot of variance in concept: adding the +100 cp lense to a 250 cp action hero template from GURPS Action that likely has either IQ or DX on a 16 will create a very different kind of game feel than adding a +400 cp lense to a 100 cp character built with a GURPS horror character template, and both are valid game concepts! The first is similar to GURPS Monster Hunters, while the second could be a very interesting setup for a supers game or a horror supers game that's very powers-centric.

The +400 cp lenses are typically about 340 cp of powers, 10 cp of talent, and 48 cp of skills, typically all in one or two wildcard skills. Fill in the corner with perk choices. There is some variation, like the Manplus which includes 60 cp of wildcard skills instead.

The +275 cp lenses are toned down from the 400 cp ones: 240 cp of powers (typically losing some of the higher strength abilities and toning down some of the other stuff while keeping things generally very strong), 10 cp of talent, and 24 cp of the same skills. With some exceptions.

The +100 cp lenses are actually toned up from the 65 cp ones, but usually have about 80 cp of powers, 5 cp of talent, and 15 cp of skills focusing on non-wildcard skills that are essential to the power use, or to characters who have that power.

The +65 cp lenses are 5 cp of talent, 5-10 cp of skill, and the rest in powers.

There is also a collection of +25 and +50 cp lenses for easy modification of character templates to get them closer to different values without changing their underlying vibe and level of cinematic strength.

For monsters and summoned minions I have a -25 cp "minion of summoner" template that gets combined with a 150 cp racial template that is typically a "generic" type of the thing (generic vampire, generic demon, etc) to be 125 cp so that it can be attached to a (100 cp character +275 sidekick lense) character for a 500 cp 100% of strength ally, or attached to a (60 cp character +65 cp lense) for a 250 cp 50% of strength ally, etc. To go along with this, I built a number of -25 or 60 cp animal templates, and a number of standardized spirit and undead templates. I plan to do robot templates too, for all those gadgeteer villains with their armies of automatons. And finally flushed it out with a bunch of abilities that look like minions but aren't built with allies. This template also includes your duplication supers.
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Old 02-23-2024, 06:31 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2021
Default Re: Supers Powers as Character Lenses

Well, I don't know how much use I'd get out of it, but I'm intrigued by the system you're describing. Would you mind posting a few examples of how they tie together?
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Old 02-24-2024, 03:50 PM   #4
Join Date: May 2012
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Default Re: Supers Powers as Character Lenses

Originally Posted by 5too View Post
Well, I don't know how much use I'd get out of it, but I'm intrigued by the system you're describing. Would you mind posting a few examples of how they tie together?
Do you mean, like, a few example characters that are built with these templates? In particular, a few examples of building a character by combining several of them together? I could easily do that, if that's what you're talking about.
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Old 02-24-2024, 09:36 PM   #5
Join Date: May 2012
Location: New Hampshire, USA
Default Re: Supers Powers as Character Lenses

Ono Sakiko [1500 cp]
Ono Sakiko is a high school girl with an ever-complicated social life and a revolving door of potential love interests who, after making a contract with the spirit of the phoenix that now resides within her, moonlights battling otherworldly monsters to protect her community in a secret war with the forces of evil. Sakiko is earnest and well-meaning, often getting roped into other people's personal problems simply because she notices them and can't stop herself.
Normally a pretty 5'6" Japanese girl with glasses, a skateboard, and a mystery novel in her backpack; with a command, she can become enroiled in phoenix flames that transform her into a super-powered enemy of evil clad in armor that will stop bullets and wielding both the devastating flames of the phoenix and a naginata that can take apart cars.
Even while outside of her battle form, the phoenix within her is still a source of great power that may bust forth in times of trouble to protect her or those around her, and which she can contact and awaken from within her with the assistance of sacred scrolls detailing the many abilities and correspondences of the phoenix. And finally, should the need arise, she can call forth manifestations of the eternal phoenix from within herself to fight by her side, protect those she loves, and light up the night.

Ono Sakiko is a very powerful hero suitable as the magical girl protagonist of an over-the-top anime. She's built to handle enemies that would take coordinated assaults by teams of well-equipped special forces to take down. In magical girl form, her strength, speed, reflexes, grace, and durability are enhanced to the very limits of human capacities, and in some ways beyond them, with capacities on par with Captain America. Her jets and blasts of phoenix fire are similar in power to a suite of modern weaponry, with her main attack similar in strength to an assault rifle with a bottomless clip, but the option to do blasts on par with RPGs, or storms on par with localized napalm strikes.

Building her with the System
I started with the "That Darn Kid" 65 cp template from GURPS Mysteries; reduced the patron because parents aren't a major feature of the genre and really only supply cost of living, education, and an allowance sort of situation; upped the DX to 12 to match the IQ, and then flushed character with more advantages and skills from the "Child" Template of GURPS Horror until I had a 100 cp character.

As the hero of a high powered cinematic game, I gave her two of the +50 cp upgrade lenses, bringing her up to 200 cp. The first of those lenses is "extremely hard to kill" which is just the unkillable advantage justified by cinematic convention: she simply never actually fails death checks and always pulls through no matter how badly hurt she gets, letting the story continue even if she badly loses a fight. The second is "Plot Protection" which includes Luck, Destiny 3 (using MH rules), and Injury Tolerance (no brain, no eyes, no vitals, unbreakable bones, but not against aimed, evaluated, or all out attacks that specifically target those things). The last item mostly means that random hits will never brain her or cripple limbs.

The rest is superpowers:
Her Magical Girl Alternate Form is Alternate Form (Manplus + Blaster), both at the 400 cp versions.

Manplus is mostly low levels of super strength, super speed, and enhanced durability all taken a little past the highest-performing athletes. The only choices to make are about its Super Gadget, modeled as 50 cp worth of gadget-limited abilities. In this case I give her a suit of armor, and a "ultra fine" naginata with armor divisor 10 with the special ability to perform a whirlwind attack.

Blaster is a suite of innate attacks described above but with a few choices: you have to choose the damage type and +70% worth of special modifiers. Phoenix fire does burning damage and I selected 1 10-second cycle, and "selective effect" because Phoenix fire is benevolent and won't hurt who she doesn't want to hurt. It also takes 45 cp of optional abilities. In this case, I took flight and a smoke-based Obscure.

The last two components are:

A 400 cp "Innate Abilities" improviser template that is about having a great power within you that comes out in times of trouble, or that you tap into to temporarily acquire abilities you normally don't have, or to perform incredible feats. It includes some impressive information-gathering tools relating to intuitive sensing of entities and phenomena connected to your power source, and some anti-powers (or metapowers). All of these tools help her fight monsters by helping her adapt to more complicated scenarios that require more than just fighting.

And finally, a 100 cp "summoner" template. The template uses a static point total for the campaign that the GM sets based on the assumed power level of the game. This is a very powerful game, so I set the static point total to 1000 cp, the approximate strength of Sakiko in her magical girl form. As is typical in Anime, her summoner template is focused on having one very powerful minion that you have very direct and extensive control over, rather than lots of little minions. So between the focus on fewer stronger minions and the high static point total of the game she didn't need more than the 100 cp version of the summoner to make a fairly substantial impact. This template mostly gives her one summonable minion that can never truly die and is very powerful, and a collection of telecommunication, mindlink, and mind reading for staying in contact with it.

Note that one could easily scale Ono Sakiko down to about 500 cp by replacing the 400 cp Manplus, Blaster, and Improvisor templates with 100 cp versions, and removing the two +50 cp lenses. Her phoenix fire would be a bit like having a PDW, with a grenade and storm options. Her enhanced athletics would put her into the range of being notably in-shape and strong, with extra durability. Her armor and weapon would become signature gear very fine armor and weapon with one neat trick, and her summon would likely become much much weaker. She could impress in a fight, and be fun to play, but wouldn't be better at killing monsters than spec ops teams.

Last edited by oneofmanynameless; 02-24-2024 at 10:00 PM.
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Old 04-13-2024, 09:52 PM   #6
Join Date: Dec 2004
Default Re: Supers Powers as Character Lenses

Coming in late on this. I'd be curious to see what one of the lenses looked like. I tried (never completed) a conversion of V&V to GURPS superpowers as a similar concept. On reflection, shooting for a few hundred points in value is probably more practical.
GURPS Historical Folks Skill Sets - A list of skill sets for low tech characters based on the Historical Folks unofficial supplement.

GURPS Gulliver Using the Size/Speed Table - A GURPS Gulliver inspired system for setting stats for unusually large and small creatures
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