Help Me Understand the GURPS Design Perspective

lordabdul

Villager
i agree that it can be, but if we’re talking about a mechanic whereby a hyper-skilled but otherwise mundane character- IOW, a Batman, not a Longshot- can thwart a “trillion mph” punch, that’s a system I personally wouldn’t want to be playing.
Sounds more like rejecting the premise than rejecting the system to me. The story always comes first, and the mechanics are only there to support that and add a little randomness and fun. If, in terms of narrative, you want Batman to be able to dodge/block/whatever Superman's punch, you come up with a rationalization of that. In the comics it might be a "wtf, how did he do that??!" moment, followed by a flashback where you see Batman preparing for that eventuality, and using some BatPlotDevice gear that uses kryptonite to weaken and slow down the punch at the last millisecond, enough for him to dodge, or maybe Batman turns out to have been a hologram for the whole scene, or whatever.

Now, assuming you wouldn't reject the rationalization presented in the comics (which is possible... I mean, comics often have very dumb and implausible plot twists, so it's ok to say "this is bullshit, I don't want to read this"), then the key is to figure out how to represent that in terms of mechanics. If you're OK with "flashback mechanics" like the Preparedness rolls in Gumshoe, you can have Batman roll for that, retroactively declare that yeah they have the BatPlotDevice, spend some extra points, and that takes whatever numbers aways from Superman's roll, maybe enough to indeed survive the attack. In something like HeroQuest or FATE or SavageWorlds you might spend some HP/FP/bennies to do that, but you would also have to work with the GM to justify what's going on (i.e: BatPlotDevice, hologram, or something else)... it's not like a free ride where you get to change the story without explaining how in the context of that story. Just saying "I spend the points and I dodge it" is not OK.

There are plenty ways to go about it depending on the system. My point is that the mechanics are irrelevant at first though -- the question is whether that story is OK or not. If it is, the GM will figure out the rules to make it happen.
 

aramis erak

Explorer
Sounds more like rejecting the premise than rejecting the system to me. The story always comes first, and the mechanics are only there to support that and add a little randomness and fun. If, in terms of narrative, you want Batman to be able to dodge/block/whatever Superman's punch, you come up with a rationalization of that. In the comics it might be a "wtf, how did he do that??!" moment, followed by a flashback where you see Batman preparing for that eventuality, and using some BatPlotDevice gear that uses kryptonite to weaken and slow down the punch at the last millisecond, enough for him to dodge, or maybe Batman turns out to have been a hologram for the whole scene, or whatever.

Now, assuming you wouldn't reject the rationalization presented in the comics (which is possible... I mean, comics often have very dumb and implausible plot twists, so it's ok to say "this is bullshit, I don't want to read this"), then the key is to figure out how to represent that in terms of mechanics. If you're OK with "flashback mechanics" like the Preparedness rolls in Gumshoe, you can have Batman roll for that, retroactively declare that yeah they have the BatPlotDevice, spend some extra points, and that takes whatever numbers aways from Superman's roll, maybe enough to indeed survive the attack. In something like HeroQuest or FATE or SavageWorlds you might spend some HP/FP/bennies to do that, but you would also have to work with the GM to justify what's going on (i.e: BatPlotDevice, hologram, or something else)... it's not like a free ride where you get to change the story without explaining how in the context of that story. Just saying "I spend the points and I dodge it" is not OK.

There are plenty ways to go about it depending on the system. My point is that the mechanics are irrelevant at first though -- the question is whether that story is OK or not. If it is, the GM will figure out the rules to make it happen.
Flashbacks are not handled in GURPS rules ... but they are stock in several other superhero games just fine. And GURPS GM's have been known to use them.
Cortex Plus (either MHRP or Smallville), the BatMacguffin is a plot point spend and an instant d6 item, or a plot point for the flashback and single roll to create a different rated device.
In Hero System, Bat's got a gadget pool, and the narration determines which skill roll he's making to allocate the gadget. All of which are OAFs once created.
Fate, a fatepoint for a flashback to create a temporary aspect is in at least a couple flavors, so not out of the question.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Sounds more like rejecting the premise than rejecting the system to me. The story always comes first, and the mechanics are only there to support that and add a little randomness and fun. If, in terms of narrative, you want Batman to be able to dodge/block/whatever Superman's punch, you come up with a rationalization of that. In the comics it might be a "wtf, how did he do that??!" moment, followed by a flashback where you see Batman preparing for that eventuality, and using some BatPlotDevice gear that uses kryptonite to weaken and slow down the punch at the last millisecond, enough for him to dodge, or maybe Batman turns out to have been a hologram for the whole scene, or whatever.

Now, assuming you wouldn't reject the rationalization presented in the comics (which is possible... I mean, comics often have very dumb and implausible plot twists, so it's ok to say "this is bullshit, I don't want to read this"), then the key is to figure out how to represent that in terms of mechanics. If you're OK with "flashback mechanics" like the Preparedness rolls in Gumshoe, you can have Batman roll for that, retroactively declare that yeah they have the BatPlotDevice, spend some extra points, and that takes whatever numbers aways from Superman's roll, maybe enough to indeed survive the attack. In something like HeroQuest or FATE or SavageWorlds you might spend some HP/FP/bennies to do that, but you would also have to work with the GM to justify what's going on (i.e: BatPlotDevice, hologram, or something else)... it's not like a free ride where you get to change the story without explaining how in the context of that story. Just saying "I spend the points and I dodge it" is not OK.

There are plenty ways to go about it depending on the system. My point is that the mechanics are irrelevant at first though -- the question is whether that story is OK or not. If it is, the GM will figure out the rules to make it happen.
I have been using flashbacks more and more to explain rolls that just can't easily be explained by moving the scene forward another step.

It started with a caper adventure, where we jumped right into the action, and then went back and asked, "what was the backup plan, or bait and switch, or other planning stage device, that is going to change this scene back to your favor?" I used Inspiration to help control the flashback frequency, and gave everyone a free Inspiration at the start of each of the 3 Acts of the adventure.

the best one was when the wizard rolled a 2 on his Arcana check to hack into the security system of the vault where 1 of the mcguffins was kept, in order to allow the bard to walk out with his box that contained the real nonagon, while the fake nonagon was sitting in the lock box that had held the real one.

Someone used their Inspiration to flash back, and we established that him failing the check was actually part of the plan. See, he'd enchanted the fake nonagon to implant code into a rebooting security system when it scanned all contents of the vault, switching the ID markers of the two lock boxes so that the bard's lockbox wouldn't read as containing the wrong goods upon exiting the vault. He had to trigger the alarm in a specific way, by "failing" to hack it, so that the system would need to be reset, and booted up from scratch.

A new arcana check with advantage told us how well the device worked, he hit some high number, and the caper continued.

The entire idea of needing to reset the magical security system was invented as part of the flash back, as the players recalled their planning around the table before the caper. The effect was that it mirrored the sort of voice over dialogue about "the plan" you see in a caper movie or TV episode, where we are jumping back and forth between the action, and the planning stage.

Such a mechanic formalised would be perfect for a Batman character.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
If, in terms of narrative, you want Batman to be able to dodge/block/whatever Superman's punch, you come up with a rationalization of that. In the comics it might be a "wtf, how did he do that??!" moment, followed by a flashback where you see Batman preparing for that eventuality, and using some BatPlotDevice gear that uses kryptonite to weaken and slow down the punch at the last millisecond, enough for him to dodge, or maybe Batman turns out to have been a hologram for the whole scene, or whatever.
That’s all well & good in comics (where the writers have a month to figure things out), or even as DM fiat. But if a PC’s game mechanic makes the GM have to figure out how to make this happen, that’s unanticipated work on the fly for the person on the other side of the screen.

“It was a hologram!”
“Then how was he busting skulls on thugs the second before?”
”Ummmmm...it was a solid-light hologram?”
”How long has he had solid-light holograms, and why doesn’t he use those 100% of the time?”
”Ummmmmm...”

Kryptonite zaps Supes’ powers, but doesn’t stop momentum.* Superheroic physics are wonky, but they’re not Coyote vs Roadrunner wonky.**

And if Superman is indeed capable of attacking in attoseconds*, that’s faster than an electrical signal can travel the circuitry of a BatDevice- the attack would be completed before the device could trigger.




* I love superhero comics, but sometimes the writers put things in print that are just...super problematic. See also Spider-Man being able to walk in walls due to static electricity, or soloing Firelord.

** Welllllll...not usually. See assorted superheroes saving not splatting people falling at terminal velocity. See as counterpoint The Autocar from Automan- a holographic Lambourghini Coutache LP400 capable of making 90-degree turns without losing control and overtaking merely by strafing, rather than turning. However, human passengers not properly secured in their seats would often be thrown around inside with the momentum from the sudden position change.
 
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lordabdul

Villager
But if a PC’s game mechanic makes the GM have to figure out how to make this happen, that’s unanticipated work on the fly for the person on the other side of the screen.
I'd like to think I would be able to pull it off as a GM. But if I couldn't, again, that would be premise rejection, not a game system problem. "In this game/world, Batman is really just a human, and no amount of training or gadgetry will make him able to face Superman. Since Chad is playing Superman already, I'd recommend you all set your sights on playing Green Lantern or Wonderwoman or someone else that isn't weak".

It's the same with time travel, for instance. Many GMs avoid it because it's really really hard to pull off. Games like Timewatch go with a system that actually embraces paradoxes, so that it's a lot easier to play, but I know even people who don't want to play that (it's sad... Timewatch is super fun once you embrace the premise). And that's totally fine! I mean, GMing even a normal fantasy campaign is already a lot of work.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
"In this game/world, Batman is really just a human, and no amount of training or gadgetry will make him able to face Superman. Since Chad is playing Superman already, I'd recommend you all set your sights on playing Green Lantern or Wonderwoman or someone else that isn't weak".
i would never tell that to my players in any genre of RPG. Part of the Art of GMing is balancing adventures for all.

Besides, that quoted section is simply a straw man position no one is advocating:

1) Superman may be very capable, but he isn’t GOD. He has limitations, he can’t do everything simultaneously. Even he has to decide what to do and when, which is why you have allies.

2) as noted, if Batman plans properly, he can definitely take down all kinds of foes, including those as powerful as Supes.
 

lordabdul

Villager
2) as noted, if Batman plans properly, he can definitely take down all kinds of foes, including those as powerful as Supes.
My understanding from your post was that the whole concept of Batman as a character in a world where he might fight Superman was putting too much work on the GM's shoulders to make it work. Apologies if I didn't understand that correctly, but then maybe that means I didn't understand your point at all.
 

macd21

Explorer
i would never tell that to my players in any genre of RPG. Part of the Art of GMing is balancing adventures for all.

Besides, that quoted section is simply a straw man position no one is advocating:

1) Superman may be very capable, but he isn’t GOD. He has limitations, he can’t do everything simultaneously. Even he has to decide what to do and when, which is why you have allies.

2) as noted, if Batman plans properly, he can definitely take down all kinds of foes, including those as powerful as Supes.
And with regard to 2), that’s something that plot points can be used to represent.
 

John Dallman

Explorer
And I don't know if it's the system (GURPS 3e), the campaign (a supers setting riffed directly from Brandon Sanderson's Reckoners novels), … supers is my least favorite speculative fiction genre by a country mile ...
It is worth mentioning that the super-power mechanics of GURPS 3e were ripped out and completely replaced in GURPS 4e. I don't know how well they work for high-powered four-colour supers because I've never tried playing that under any edition of GURPS. The 4e mechanics work well for psionics, magical abilities that aren't spellcasting, and the like.
 

dbm

Explorer
You can also have variable power pools and ‘gizmo’ gadgets. Flexible and adaptive powers can be had in GURPS.

To be sure, the Supers genre pushes GURPS hard, and you need to apply quite a few optional rules to make it work. Other systems are a more natural fit, but if you aren’t playing Supers every game and still want to mainly stick to one system then GURPS can cover you.

To the original question, GURPS core premise is to assume physics and then say ‘if this can happen in game, what is the logical extension of it’. Typically, a person strong enough to lift a tank could punch through a wall, though they might smash their hand at the same time (strong <> tough, unless you want it to).

The benefit of this is that you can extrapolate to figure out niche scenarios that matter to you, but may not matter to everyone else (perhaps no one out side your table). This allows you to implement the specific game of your choice, be that a completely home-brewed world or an adaption of a book etc.

Traditionally, the downside of this has been that the GM needs to make huge amounts of material to implement their vision. This is less and less the case. There are ever more assets available to help quickly implement popular genres like dungeon fantasy, modern action, urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic and steampunk. These can give you a 75-80% solution for you to tailor. With the right group of players the creation work can be shared around, too.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
And with regard to 2), that’s something that plot points can be used to represent.
Sometimes.

But if Supes simply snapped with no precursors, Bats would have to be an Oracle or time traveler to avoid:
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RPG plot armor mechanics- to me- handle this much worse than DM fiat, which usually works worse than the actual plot armor comic book writers.

Plot armor mechanics- for the most part- depend on resources the character has. Like the comic book writer, though, the GM has no such restraint.

Batman having access to personal time travel devices to save himself from a suddenly rogue Kryptonian would require some serious ‘splainin; a GM using a time traveling NPC to save Batman really doesn’t.
 

lordabdul

Villager
But if Supes simply snapped with no precursors, Bats would have to be an Oracle or time traveler
Sure, at which point you can apply hefty penalties to the flashback mechanics rolls, or whatever you're using to model Batman's ability to be super prepared and have awesome gadgets at the ready. With those penalties, the player would probably fail the roll, and you have Bat-juice dripping out of the cowl. But, frankly, I'm sure pretty Batman prepared for this eventually the very first day he met Superman. Batman's like that. He doesn't trust anybody.

The point, I guess, is that you can't ask the player do the whole "Batman investigates and prepares" in game because, by definition, the player can't be as clever as Bruce Wayne. And also because it would be boring, as it could have all the other players sit around while the Batman player is doing his thing for 20 minutes. So "flashback mechanics" and other "let's justify this on the spot" seem to be the best viable/gameable way to do this... (people already mentioned several game systems that do this). I'd be happy to hear other ways to model that, though.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
My understanding from your post was that the whole concept of Batman as a character in a world where he might fight Superman was putting too much work on the GM's shoulders to make it work. Apologies if I didn't understand that correctly, but then maybe that means I didn't understand your point at all.
I have no problem with masterminds being able to pull the levers of the campaign world in order to take down characters with more inherent, reality bending powers.

i have issues with “I Batman this problem, let’s move along.” when we’re talking about the extremes of probability. Bats may have a terabyte of plans covering scenario where Superman (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) goes rogue, but they may not be effective in the moment at hand.

The comic book writer could devise such scenarios with ease- an evil daxamite disguised as Superman will shrug off kryptonite based tactics; Superman could decide to kill Batman by deeply inhaling while they’re in certain enclosed spaces, resulting in oxygen deprivation and/or exposure to vacuum.

But part of a GM’s duty to the players is to avoid such scenarios. I would no more place a Supers character in an unescapable death trap than place a Paladin in a paradox between being faithful to their vows or saving the day.

That said, I also would not save a player’s PC from their own idiocy, For instance, if a high-level Warlock- but not otherwise fireproof- character decided to use a magical device and set off a Fireball in his mouth, depending on their hit points alone to save them, my response would likely be “OK, roll up a new character.”
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
Sure, at which point you can apply hefty penalties to the flashback mechanics rolls, or whatever you're using to model Batman's ability to be super prepared and have awesome gadgets at the ready.
”Snapped with no precursors” means exactly that- Batman has no information upon which to base a plan.* To be prepared for an attack of every possible type Superman could use at any time with zero info strains even comic book credulity for a non-omniscient character.

If he were capable of that level of preparation would require insight so great that his plans should never fail. It would mean he should never be “outwitted” by characters like Bane, meaning he should never have had his back broken.


* think of it like this: for some people, the first sign that they are at risk for a heart attack is having a heart attack. Because they have none of the normal risk factors, their heart attacks are more likely to be fatal. Now, substitute “Superman” for “heart”.
 

pemerton

Legend
Plot armor mechanics- for the most part- depend on resources the character has.
In Marvel Heroic RP, the plot point that (as per @aramis erak's post upthread) allows Batman's player to delcare that Batman has such-and-such a gadget on him that he prepared earlier for just such a contingency is not a resource the character has. The resource the character has is the gadget. And the capabilities the character has include skill in prepraging gadgets, and cleverness in anticpating when they'll be needed. The plot point is a resource that the player has which s/he can spend in accordance with the rules of the game.

That’s all well & good in comics (where the writers have a month to figure things out), or even as DM fiat. But if a PC’s game mechanic makes the GM have to figure out how to make this happen, that’s unanticipated work on the fly for the person on the other side of the screen.
Wouldn't this be on the player? (At least primarily.)

Superman may be very capable, but he isn’t GOD. He has limitations, he can’t do everything simultaneously. Even he has to decide what to do and when
Given the speeds at which you are saying Superman can move, in fact he can do everything worth doing in the context of a RPG scenario effectively simultaneously.

why doesn’t he use those 100% of the time?”
This is a more general question that arises in any superhero fiction (and often in genre fiction more generally). In some Marvel comics (I think 70s Super-Villain Team-Ups) Magneto could control minds by manipulating blood flow in the brain by manipulating the iron in the blood. Why not do it all the time?

Superman can (you've been emphasising) travel much much faster than light, yet he doesn't race around the world stopping every act of violence, or taking every gun from every villain, before anyone can react.

Just like readers do (whether for an official No-Prize, or not) in a RPG we can construct our own explicit or implicit rationalistaions. And the system mechanics establish the rationing (eg in MHRP the GM can establish that Dr Doom was really a Doombot, but that costs points; Nick Fury can turn out to really be a Life Model Decoy, but that costs points; etc).

Playing a superhero game with the mindset and aesthetic expectations of ASL seems misguided.

]Kryptonite zaps Supes’ powers, but doesn’t stop momentum.* Superheroic physics are wonky, but they’re not Coyote vs Roadrunner wonky.**
You give your own counterexamples to this.

In literal terms there's no such thing as "superhero physics". There's genre convention and narrative conceit.

they do go out of their way to make the physics as consistent as possible, given the seemingly-inconsistent precedents from across the decades. For example, they describe why giant bugs can't exist due to square-cube law, and then make explicit exceptions for Pym particles and cosmic radiation.
But this is incoherent. In our world, the very same things that explain the square-cube law make it the case that there are no Pym particles or cosmic radiation as those things exist in the Marvel Universes.

There's no physics there - in the sense of a systematic body of knowledge that explains the fundamental ways that the world is. It's all tropes - the use of particular vocabulary, paritcular sorts of fictional framing, etc - used to tell a story.
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
i agree that it can be, but if we’re talking about a mechanic whereby a hyper-skilled but otherwise mundane character- IOW, a Batman, not a Longshot- can thwart a “trillion mph” punch, that’s a system I personally wouldn’t want to be playing.
You get to play what you like, of course.

But... do you realize that you're kind of cherry picking here? The "trillion mph punch" is faster than light, by several orders of magnitude - that is completely nonsensical. If you want to have the physically nonsensical, but not other forms of nonsense, that's your choice. But, maybe it isn't a good position to criticize from.

For me...

Batman is the greatest detective, and a far more technically trained fighter than Superman. Bats is an expert in psychology and at reading body language - to him, there is no such thing as "no precursors" only precursors that others don't notice, and Clark Kent is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. Bats sees the signs - the narrowing of the eye, the furrowing of a brow, the vocal tone - that sub-consciously Superman has come to the point where he'll throw a punch, several entire seconds before Supes is even consciously aware of his own decision. Knowing that, when upset with another hero, Superman uses an emotionally demonstrative roundhouse punch to the head rather than the controlled jab to the torso, all Bats does is lean back 2.3", just outside Superman's roundhouse reach... and while the punch is moving too fast for Bats to see, it doesn't connect....

Note - I'm not actually a huge Batman fan. I just accept the genre for what it is, and I'm okay with absurd mental gymnastics as narration alongside the physical. Failing to do this... basically says that brawn beats brains, and I'm not up for all my stories ending up like that.

Late edit:
Nor am I saying "Batman always wins". I give plausible narrations for how he could win. The point being that Batman and Superman are both top heroes in their universes. For our purposes, their game stats are built with the same level of build resources, and so in some way, shape, or form, their abilities are of equal effectiveness. We note that they are also both top combatant characters. So it isn't like we are putting Superman against, "Captain IncrediblySmartWimp". So, we put the mechanic to them, and if we find Bats succeeds, we find a plausible narration for it.

I note that the "without precursors" is not really a valid stipulation for Superman. He is not known for being stone-faced or unreadable - so it isn't in his power-set. Superman is actually fairly emotional and open with his feelings. If Bats sees Superman even seeming to be cold and unreadable, that actually twigs Bats that something is up even earlier, because that's uncharacteristic.
 
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DrunkonDuty

Explorer
I'm not sure I'm following the plot armour discussion properly. I get the feeling that people are not all using the same definition of what plot armour in an RPG actually is. I think that plot armour is anything that protects the character but is not a game mechanical benefit which the player had to spend their resources to acquire.

So Fate/Hero/Plot Points are NOT plot armour. Buying a power that you call Plot Armour that is mechanically represented as a massive resistance to damage is NOT plot armour. In both these cases the player has expended some of their game resources to acquire a game mechanical benefit.

The GM having to regularly come up with reasons why a given character is not targeted by bad guys, even when there is no in-game reason, IS plot armour. The goodies always win IS plot armour.

... So, um, I'm not sure what my definition contributes to the discussion at hand. But it came to my mind and I felt the need to share. <insert I feel kinda awkward emoji here>
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
I'm not sure I'm following the plot armour discussion properly. I get the feeling that people are not all using the same definition of what plot armour in an RPG actually is. I think that plot armour is anything that protects the character but is not a game mechanical benefit which the player had to spend their resources to acquire.

So Fate/Hero/Plot Points are NOT plot armour. Buying a power that you call Plot Armour that is mechanically represented as a massive resistance to damage is NOT plot armour. In both these cases the player has expended some of their game resources to acquire a game mechanical benefit.

The GM having to regularly come up with reasons why a given character is not targeted by bad guys, even when there is no in-game reason, IS plot armour. The goodies always win IS plot armour.

... So, um, I'm not sure what my definition contributes to the discussion at hand. But it came to my mind and I felt the need to share. <insert I feel kinda awkward emoji here>
I think I get what you’re saying. I’d include genre expectations into the realm of plot armor. Superman, based on his powers, technically could throw high strength, supersonic punches at living targets... but he doesn’t. He generally doesn’t seem to throw them at all. While they’d be undeniably effective, it’s more genre appropriate that he doesn’t, and so skilled combatants like Batman, Black Canary, or Chameleon Boy have a chance to outfight someone in Superman’s league (even if they can’t out-slug him). The plot armor they receive from the genre conventions enable the powers and abilities they have to be effective.
 

DrunkonDuty

Explorer
Agreed. Genre conventions are, by my definition, plot armour.

Whether plot armour is good or bad can vary from situation to situation. Generally, I'd prefer not to have it. To me it feels like lazy writing.

But there are times it's needed. I think it becomes bad when it is required to keep the game running. And a game that includes Superman level threats against Batman level heroes is in danger of requiring a lot of plot armour.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
You get to play what you like, of course.

But... do you realize that you're kind of cherry picking here? The "trillion mph punch" is faster than light, by several orders of magnitude - that is completely nonsensical. If you want to have the physically nonsensical, but not other forms of nonsense, that's your choice. But, maybe it isn't a good position to criticize from.
Umbran, I’m criticizing from the basis of the comic books’ actual storylines.

In one femtosecond, light travels just 300 nanometers. According to the panels in the Superman comic I linked to in post #97, Superman covers several city blocks in a femtosecond, but he still hasn’t reached the hostage with the gun to her head when the trigger is pulled. When that happens...

Quoting the panels:
“She’s reckless...It catches him off guard...It buys her an attosecond.

But it’s not enough to stop the bullet. Fortunately...”

NEWS FLASH: He then bursts through the building wall, crosses the room, and stops the bullet he just said would end her life in an attosecond! (FWIW, in a shared conversation, Flash has also mentioned being able to percieve events lasting under an attosecond as well. So I’m pretty sure Supes understands just fine what an attosecond is.)

It should also be noted that in previous panels in that sequence, he says he knows what his top speed is...but that he hasn’t traveled like this ”since Pa.” AFAIK, at no point is there an indication that- like the Flash- he has traveled through time.

So, even if “trillion mph“ punch is off, according to the writers creating the DC universe, Superman can indeed travel several orders of magnitude faster than light in normal space. Maybe not all day, every day, but occasionally is enough to be problematic.

If, in the stated scenario, Batman is indeed badass enough to anticipate that previously perfectly fine Superman with that kind of speed & power is homicidally snapping RIGHT NOW so well that he survives, he has no business being outwitted by The Joker or Bane. Whatever mental blocks reign in his speed (and other powers) to sub-FTL levels probably wouldn’t be operant if Superman went full Ed Gein.

I’m pretty sure, brilliant though he is, Batman hasn’t invented any gear that can trigger in under an attosecond.

About the only only way Bats could survive would be the intervention of a similarly powerful being- say, Green Lantern- or being tipped off by a time traveler (the Flash?).

For me...

Batman is the greatest detective, and a far more technically trained fighter than Superman. Bats is an expert in psychology and at reading body language - to him, there is no such thing as "no precursors" only precursors that others don't notice,
....so he‘s hyper aware of Kryptonian psychology and microexpression? Or his in particular? Do Kryptonians HAVE microexpressions? Hell- do Kryptonians change from sane to insane at humanlike speeds, or are they faster? Or slower?

(If we include the disguised Daxamite variant of the scenario I mentioned upthread, Bats may detect that something is off, but if he’s relying on his familiarity with Clark or with Kryptonians in general, his reactions to the attack could doom him.)

I am no expert- I’m not even an MD- but I personally witnessed and correctly diagnosed my paternal grandmother having a stroke, missed by the two MDs in the room. It was a miniscule change in expression, a fleeting thing, but I saw it.

But I was looking her dead in the face, nobody else was.

Even for The World’s Greatest Detective, anticipating Supes‘ trigger flipping would require great fortune indeed.

Besides which, “he’s noticing things others missed“ in this case changes the posited scenario. If Kryptonian insanity has tells, what’s the time window between “Supes seems a little off...” to full-on super rampage?

...and Clark Kent is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve. Bats sees the signs - the narrowing of the eye, the furrowing of a brow, the vocal tone - that sub-consciously Superman has come to the point where he'll throw a punch, several entire seconds before Supes is even consciously aware of his own decision. Knowing that, when upset with another hero, Superman uses an emotionally demonstrative roundhouse punch to the head rather than the controlled jab to the torso, all Bats does is lean back 2.3", just outside Superman's roundhouse reach... and while the punch is moving too fast for Bats to see, it doesn't connect....

Note - I'm not actually a huge Batman fan. I just accept the genre for what it is, and I'm okay with absurd mental gymnastics as narration alongside the physical. Failing to do this... basically says that brawn beats brains, and I'm not up for all my stories ending up like that.
I‘m not positing brawn beats brains 100% either, but I AM saying there are times when Batman can and will be caught flat and unprepared, and will not be able to save himself or the person he’s trying to save. That’s how Bane beat him.

In those cases, he’ll need an ally who can either percieve what Bats cannot or who can supply a counterbalancing force he cannot. The ”Supeman snapped” scenario is one such situation.

Even a more mundane situation like being in a crashing airliner may take him out, or greatly restrict the number of people he can save, depending on the reasons for the impending disaster.

Late edit:
Nor am I saying "Batman always wins". I give plausible narrations for how he could win. The point being that Batman and Superman are both top heroes in their universes. For our purposes, their game stats are built with the same level of build resources, and so in some way, shape, or form, their abilities are of equal effectiveness. We note that they are also both top combatant characters. So it isn't like we are putting Superman against, "Captain IncrediblySmartWimp". So, we put the mechanic to them, and if we find Bats succeeds, we find a plausible narration for it.
That’s what writers and GMs are for, not game mechanics hard baked into BP characters.

I note that the "without precursors" is not really a valid stipulation for Superman. He is not known for being stone-faced or unreadable - so it isn't in his power-set. Superman is actually fairly emotional and open with his feelings. If Bats sees Superman even seeming to be cold and unreadable, that actually twigs Bats that something is up even earlier, because that's uncharacteristic.
I didn’t say he was unreadable, but he IS an alien. Just because he looks like us doesn’t mean he has all the same kind of tells as we do. They may count megalomaniacs (Zod), serial killers (Faora) and psychopaths (Rog-Ar) among their number, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to react to a Rorschach test like an insane human.

So what Bats knows of humans could conceivably wrongfoot him if/when profiling Kal-El. Some/much/all of his terabyte of data and plans to handle Superman could be founded on flawed hypotheses. (See again the disguised Daxamite*.)

For all I know, it might be in DC’s unwritten rules that Kryptonians simply don’t have anything resembling psychotic breaks, for whatever reason. But that we cannot know.



* I’ve seen “evil Supeman“ type stories printed in Marvel, Dark Horse and other companies’ lines, but the Daxamite swap would be an interesting one for me. Imagine, the Daxamite teams up with Lex Luthor, who thinks his stockpile of kryptonite will keep his hand on “Superman’s“ leash. Which seemingly works fine until the ruse is dropped...
 
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