Supers: High Power, Low Control

Reynard

Legend
I am mulling ideas for my next campaign and one thing I have wanted to do is a fantasy supers game -- not D&D style fantasy, but a super hero world in its medieval era. Anyway, one element of the idea that interests me is doing the "zero to hero" thing but in context of skill and control, not power level. I am imagining characters with Justice League level super powers at "old D&D 1st level" skill. They would of course be hunted by people ("good" and "evil") that want to control their powers, go on adventures, fight villains, and all that, but with an eye toward increasing their control of their powers, with the actual power level remaining pretty flat.

What is a good system to model this? I could use SWADE with the Supers and Fantasy Companions. Alternatively, i could use a pure point buy game like M&M or even Champions. I am not sure if there are any bespoke supers games out there that would help get where I am trying to go.

Thoughts or ideas?
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
Thoughts or ideas?

So, the old FASERIP Marvel system had an option for doing much of what you describe, in their "Power Stunt" mechanics. A base power did basic things, but if you wanted to develop specific applications, you'd have to spend Karma Points to develop a power stunt.

So, for example, the basic Light Control power would allow you to blast someone with a beam of light. If you wanted to use that power to create realistic illusions, you'd need to build that up as a Power Stunt.

Whatever system you use, you might want to look at that for inspiration.
 

Reynard

Legend
So, the old FASERIP Marvel system had an option for doing much of what you describe, in their "Power Stunt" mechanics. A base power did basic things, but if you wanted to develop specific applications, you'd have to spend Karma Points to develop a power stunt.

So, for example, the basic Light Control power would allow you to blast someone with a beam of light. If you wanted to use that power to create realistic illusions, you'd need to build that up as a Power Stunt.

Whatever system you use, you might want to look at that for inspiration.
Yeah, that is the sort of thing I am talking about. In Hero it is a slot in a multipower. In M&M it is a "alternate power." I'll have to look and see if ICONS and SWADE (my other two contenders so far) have similar elements.

My problem with SWADE is that it is not very nuanced with skills and things, and I am aiming for a "learn to control your powers while learning to also be a grown up" X-Men vibe.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
My problem with SWADE is that it is not very nuanced with skills and things

Do you have an example of something you feel is nuanced with skills? I am not sure what "things" might be in this context.

Most specifically, in your mind is there a difference between "nuanced" and "granular"?

... and I am aiming for a "learn to control your powers while learning to also be a grown up" X-Men vibe.

While learning to be a grown up? That's more a New Mutants vibe. The X-Men haven't been young people for a long time.

If you want that "learning to be a grown-up" vibe, have you looked at Masks, which is specifically about teen superheros?
 

Reynard

Legend
Do you have an example of something you feel is nuanced with skills? I am not sure what "things" might be in this context.

Most specifically, in your mind is there a difference between "nuanced" and "granular"?
SWADE has a short skill list that doesn't really make room for specialties and stuff. Because what i am looking for is characters who grow in skill and knowledge both with their powers and in general, but whose powers remain fairly static intensity wise, I want a system that has a lot of tools for showing mechanical growth outside of adding damage dice.
While learning to be a grown up? That's more a New Mutants vibe. The X-Men haven't been young people for a long time.
The last time I looked at X-Men was in 1990s and early 2000s, and there was still plenty of "becoming adults" in those stories.
If you want that "learning to be a grown-up vibe, have you looked at Masks, which is specifically about teen superheros?
I am not interested in Masks. This isn't a "teen hero" campaign story, but a "zero to hero" campaign story built around high powered supers.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I am mulling ideas for my next campaign and one thing I have wanted to do is a fantasy supers game -- not D&D style fantasy, but a super hero world in its medieval era. Anyway, one element of the idea that interests me is doing the "zero to hero" thing but in context of skill and control, not power level. I am imagining characters with Justice League level super powers at "old D&D 1st level" skill. They would of course be hunted by people ("good" and "evil") that want to control their powers, go on adventures, fight villains, and all that, but with an eye toward increasing their control of their powers, with the actual power level remaining pretty flat.
One thing point buy systems like Mutants and Masterminds has going for it is the ability to take a relatively high power level power/ability and saddling it with limitations that reflect a lower level of control and that would be bought off over time as the heroes gain skill and control. M&M also makes it pretty easy to set limitations on other factors too like attack bonuses and saves - all of which may reflect relatively neophyte heroes.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
I’d advise using your favorite “toolbox”
system of choice. For me, that would be HERO or M&M (1 or 2Ed).

But I also recognize GURPS would have an overall advantage in running a grittier, lower powered supers game.
 

Reynard

Legend
I’d advise using your favorite “toolbox”
system of choice. For me, that would be HERO or M&M (1 or 2Ed).
Those are my two leading candidates so far, though I think I am more likely to use M&M3. I like 2E as my alternative to Hero since with the extra powers book it is super crunchy.
But I also recognize GURPS would have an overall advantage in running a grittier, lower powered supers game.
I have never been a huge fan of GURPS' supers implementation. But this game is decidedly not "lower powered" so it isn't really in the running regardless.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
SWADE has a short skill list

Maybe you have a different idea of "short" than I do. D&D 5e has 18 skills (not counting tool proficiencies). I think that's pretty short. Core SWADE has 32 skills.

How many skills are you looking for?

that doesn't really make room for specialties and stuff. Because what i am looking for is characters who grow in skill and knowledge both with their powers and in general, but whose powers remain fairly static intensity wise, I want a system that has a lot of tools for showing mechanical growth outside of adding damage dice.

Don't forget to look at Hindrances for such - Clueless, Clumsy, Tongue-Tied, and Young can be used to emulate a need for growth.

I am not interested in Masks. This isn't a "teen hero" campaign story, but a "zero to hero" campaign story built around high powered supers.

Sorry, "learning to be grown-ups" implies not actually being a grown-up yet, to me.
 

Reynard

Legend
Maybe you have a different idea of "short" than I do. D&D 5e has 18 skills (not counting tool proficiencies). I think that's pretty short. Core SWADE has 32 skills.

How many skills are you looking for?
I was like "That can't be right" and then I went and looked. I wonder why it feels so much shorter? Must reconsider.
Don't forget to look at Hindrances for such - Clueless, Clumsy, Tongue-Tied, and Young can be used to emulate a need for growth.
Fair point.
Sorry, "learning to be grown-ups" implies not actually being a grown-up yet, to me.
In my head I was talking more about the characters as the beginning of the Wheel of Time, say, where clearly the arc for those characters is into "adulthood". I think that is different than a perpetual "teen hero" story.
 

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