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Old 11-17-2023, 10:05 PM   #111
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Lawrence, KS
Default Re: supers: nine options

Now I've take another look at Mutants and Masterminds, bearing in mind that it allows buying Super-Strength on top of Strength, which avoids one of the problems that I thought I saw.

I made the very strong character my test case again. I was aiming at 5x human strength, but each level of Super-Strength roughly doubled lifting capacity, so I gave her three levels (equivalent to 15 levels of Strength), for 8x human strength.

There was a bit of ambiguity in the rules, which said on one hand that the damage bonus for a power was equal to the number of levels of the power, but on the other hand, under Super-Strength, that it didn't add anything to damage from striking or grappling. That doesn't make much sense to me, but okay. But since I wanted her to hit hard, I gave her Strike 3 for 3 points, effectively raising the cost of her strength to 3/level and making it work the way I thought it ought to; and I gave her Protection 3 for 3 points, letting her stand up to her own blows. When I finished giving her stats, skills, and feats, I had her nearly up to 30 points, so I added on a couple of minor extras. That made me think that 30 points was the right budget.

To do this, though, I needed to ignore the rule that a 30-point character could only have two levels of any power. It seems as if M&M is aiming at characters with several different powers, where I was looking for a narrower spread.

On the other hand, this didn't seem to make her very superhuman when I looked at how the combat rules actually worked. She had a 60% chance of hitting Mr. T.C. Mits, an 85% chance of bruising him, and only a 60% chance of stunning him. And Mr. Mits has a 55% chance of hitting her (dropped to 30% if she blocks, but then she forfeits her own attack), a 45% chance of bruising her, and a 20% chance of stunning her; that seems kind of fragile for a character whose strength is boosted by a factor of 8! The odds work out that she'll stun him 36% of the time and he'll stun her 11% of the time.

I would be okay if I got this result for the street tough, I think, but getting it for the Average Man doesn't feel right.
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Last edited by whswhs; 11-18-2023 at 02:39 AM.
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Old 12-03-2023, 10:27 PM   #112
whswhs
 
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Default Re: supers: nine options

Carrying on with this, I wrote up my sample characters in terms of GURPS Supers. This was a somewhat longer process than for some of the other systems, even though I was more familiar with GURPS Supers than with any of the others; GURPS characters are defined in more detail than characters in most other systems, and take longer to create, especially in choosing the skills.

I found that I could build the super-strong character on 175 points, which let me give her Lifting Strength 13, Striking Strength 13, and a few minor powers, making her 5.75 times as strong as an average human being. So I took that as my points budget.

The telepathic spy was marginally better in a fight than an average man, despite low ST, but didn't stand a chance against the street tough, unless she held him at gunpoint—and shot him as soon as he thought about attacking her. However, she had useful noncombat traits, including detecting and locating human minds (with a 50% chance at 7 yards) and reading surface thoughts of minds she had detected, with an 83% chance; she also had empathic abilities that gave her Detect Lies-13 and Psychology-13, and a danger sense that could warn her of physical threats. So she could probably be an effective operative in noncombat situations.

The indestructible man could stand up to rifle fire, with DR 25, though it was flexible and subjected him to blunt trauma. He could batter the street tough to the point of losing consciousness in 10 seconds, during which time the tough might land a couple of minor bruises on him; he'd do even better against the average man.

The night stalker could do well against the street tough by sneaking up behind him in the dark; in closing to 3 yards he had only a 14% chance of being heard, so he would probably get a surprise attack, either striking for the vitals or using a rope garrote, which would let him do some serious damage by the time the tough came out of partial surprise. In the daytime he would be much less effective and that wouldn't be his preferred approach.

The speedster could run at a top speed of 84 mph, and if he had to he could slam a foe for 17.5 points, which would take out the tough—but also would do the same to him. He wasn't so good at a standup fight, though having Dodge-11 would be a significant help. The average man wouldn't have a chance against him.

The super-strong woman could inflict a major injury on either the tough or the average man with an average punch; and between toughness and wearing a heavy leather jacket, she could shrug off most of their blows.

The flying gadgeteer wasn't much in a fight, though he could use his artificial wings as strikers for improved reach and damage. But he could jump 52" vertically, fly at top speed 48 mph, or glide at twice that; his usual strategy would be to ascend to 1440 yards, and then glide for 10 minutes, covering 16 miles. If he did a slam attack at top speed he could probably take out the street tough and also himself.

All of these come to mildly superhuman abilities, which is what I was aiming for. A 175-point budget is moderately high but it's bargain basement for supers.
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Old 12-04-2023, 06:09 AM   #113
whswhs
 
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Default Re: supers: nine options

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
So at this point I've come up with multiple engines that might be used for this: Absolute Power, Champions, FUDGE, GURPS Supers, Mage: The Ascension, Mutants and Masterminds, Savage Worlds, Smallville, and Villains and Vigilantes (edition 2.1, not the recent new version).
And at this point I've evaluated all of those, more or less.

Absolute Power: For those who haven't looked at it, this is the update of Silver Age Sentinels, which was the supers game system derived from Big Eyes Small Mouth mechanics. The primary update was the change from "roll under" to "roll over." I'm not sympathetic to the idea that "roll over" is simpler and easier to use in general; on the other hand, this version of it is quite comprehensible, whereas I never did make sense of the previous edition. It took some tinkering to get a power level that I liked, but once I settled on 60 points I was happy with the capabilities, and building the characters went quickly. A.

Champions: Building the characters on 50+50 gave what looked like playable results. Mostly the powers were a little overcomplicated, but the characters as a whole took less time than GURPS Supers versions. The noncombat characterization seemed scanty, but I suppose it's really detailed enough to give a character Acting, Bureaucratics, Conversation, Persuasion, and Shadowing, plus a couple of Familiarities and Knowledges; or Streetwise and Trading; or Inventor, Mechanics, Navigation, Survival, and a couple of Sciences. A.

FUDGE: The conceptual framework of FUDGE suits me as a way to conceptualize superheroes, particularly with the consistent application of the scale concept. I could build characters very quickly, with a fixed list of four attributes (Body, Mind, Will, and Status) but with free improvisation of skills, and the power level seemed okay. The big flaw is that with a fudge dice roll, a character with a Fair attribute or skill has a chance of a Legendary outcome, and with anything better you get a lot of them; the dispersion of outcomes is wider than I really like. B.

GURPS Supers: Even though I know this really well, building characters took rather a long time, what with picking skills, perks, and quirks (I mostly avoided techniques). A 175-point base seemed right at the margin between underpowered and Just right. Character concepts had a lot of detail, which was both a plus and a minus. B.

Mage: The Ascension: This is the one I haven't actually tried. I actually like classic World of Darkness as a system, and I think superpowers could be defined as static applications of one sphere or another (Mind for the telepath, Time and Forces for the speedster, perhaps Life for the strong character), but it would take a whole lot of work to benchmark the power level and define the character build rules. D.

Mutants and Masterminds: I could build all the characters in this, and fairly quickly, though I dislike the Feats rules, which offer a tediously long list of options. The dice mechanics is roll over, which I'm neutral about, but it uses 1d20, which makes extreme results much likelier than I prefer; and the scaling of this particular roll over system means that ordinary humans are too likely to have high-end results, and supers are too likely to have unimpressive ones. It didn't seem that I could build combat-effective supers without also giving them higher power levels than in any other system as far as basic physical capabilities were concerned. I suppose this is designed to emulate four-color comics where the Flash or the Hulk can have meaningful fights with nonsuper characters, but I wasn't looking for four-color as an idiom. D.

Savage Worlds: The core rules don't seem to define a way for a character to be super all the time: the indestructible man, for example, can be resistant to damage when he consciously activates that trait, and it lasts for a few turns, but he can't just be passively invulnerable. There are rules for passive traits for "monsters" in a later chapter, but no guidelines that I could see for using them in character creation. I couldn't see any way to use the core rules for what I wanted. F.

Smallville took a lot of fudging to create characters who didn't appear from the outset as a tight knit ensemble cast; and while most of the powers you could want are there, there's no quantitative scaling at all—a character either is or isn't "super-strong," for example. There are a lot of ingenious ideas here, but it's not what I was targeting. C.

Villains and Vigilantes: With one major tweak, not using random dice rolls to assign powers; I gave each character either two powers, or three powers and a weakness. The physical scale was what I was looking for, and the combat effectiveness seemed acceptable. However, this is so purely a system for running superheroic fights that it makes Champions look like a narrativist system; the concept of "skills" hardly exists, even for directly supers-relevant things like stealth. Building characters was something of an exercise in nostalgia, but I'm really looking for more roleplaying support. C.

After this test, I liked Absolute Power enough to order a physical copy, though only of volume 1; volume 2 is a lot of worldbuilding that I just don't find inspiring. (Ironically, the Mutants and Masterminds campaign worlds seem a lot more interesting at least to read about!) I could make do with any of the A or B systems, I think.
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Old 12-04-2023, 11:22 AM   #114
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Default Re: supers: nine options

Mutants and Masterminds is definitely designed for four color; you could make it street level but it requires some adjustments (easier to do with 3rd edition because they standardized everything in the ranks and measures table, so you could just change that table and the entire scaling of the game changes).
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Old 12-04-2023, 07:54 PM   #115
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: supers: nine options

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The telepathic spy was marginally better in a fight than an average man, despite low ST, but didn't stand a chance against the street tough
What was the benchmark for the various opponents? A 50-point "average", 75 (or 100) point "tough"? Skill levels?
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Old 12-04-2023, 08:17 PM   #116
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Default Re: supers: nine options

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
What was the benchmark for the various opponents? A 50-point "average", 75 (or 100) point "tough"? Skill levels?
I didn't figure point values for the adversaries. I looked, on one hand, at an average man with all attributes 10, figured characteristics not bought up, and no combat training; and on the other, at a tough guy with ST 13, DX and HT 11, Combat Reflexes and Dodge-9, access to a handgun, and the skills of Brawling-11 and Guns (Handgun)-11.
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Old 12-04-2023, 09:11 PM   #117
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: supers: nine options

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I didn't figure point values for the adversaries...
Makes sense. (Why bother with points when you already know what "average" means?)

Thanks!
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Old 12-04-2023, 09:39 PM   #118
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Default Re: supers: nine options

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Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Makes sense. (Why bother with points when you already know what "average" means?)
In quite the same way, I first built the super-strong woman, and then figured out how many points were needed to built her, and took that as a benchmark.

Anyone who is curious can pm me with an e-mail address, and I'll send whichever they want of my designs for Absolute Power, Champions, FUDGE, GURPS Supers, Mutants and Masterminds, Smallville, and/or Villains and Vigilantes. I ended up not doing builds for Mage: The Ascension or Savage Worlds, so I can't offer those.
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Old 12-04-2023, 11:00 PM   #119
corwyn
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Saskatoon, SK
Default Re: supers: nine options

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Mutants and Masterminds is definitely designed for four color; you could make it street level but it requires some adjustments (easier to do with 3rd edition because they standardized everything in the ranks and measures table, so you could just change that table and the entire scaling of the game changes).
I've used it for Fantasy, though it might have been 2e, and I'm working on a conversion for a pulp mad science kinda game.
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Old 12-05-2023, 11:38 AM   #120
Anthony
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Berkeley, CA
Default Re: supers: nine options

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I've used it for Fantasy, though it might have been 2e, and I'm working on a conversion for a pulp mad science kinda game.
For 3e, the ranks and measures table amounts to
mass = 50 * 2^rank
time = 6s * 2*rank
distance = 30' * 2^rank
volume = 2^rank cf

Just change that to, say, 10^(rank/10) (decibels) and it's a whole lot less cinematic in its scaling with very little that needs changing elsewhere.
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