Supers: High Power, Low Control

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
I was like "That can't be right" and then I went and looked. I wonder why it feels so much shorter? Must reconsider.

Note: for your purposes, some of those skills are what are used to drive powers - capping them at game start may get you part of where you want to go

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.

Well, if you play long enough, you start taking Adult Moves, and eventually Retire.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

In SWADE if you characters are just discovering their powers they use them as unskilled in Focus (assuming Focus is the skill you are using for power activation); D4-2 + Wild Die.

It wouldn’t be hard to leverage the skill specialities setting rule to build custom Focus skill specializations for different categories or powers.

Advances used like normal to increase skills/ specialities or you could build an Edge to handle growing competence, Limited in the same way a lot of the Powers edges are, only one time per rank.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
It wouldn’t be hard to leverage the skill specialities setting rule to build custom Focus skill specializations for different categories or powers.

And, there's already Faith, Focus, Psionics, and Spellcasting to cover the broad categories.
 

dbm

Savage!
Plus, in SWADE Super Powers Companion the characters powers don’t actually increase by default. Your power level remains consistent and only your skills and edges improve. Sounds like a possible fit for your theme to me.

Start the characters at d4 or d6 only in Focus and they will be powerful but very much with low capability. That skill can then improve and build up as the characters advance. Encourage the players to put ‘requires activation‘ on passive powers and even things like invulnerability or flight become unreliable with low skill levels.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
but with an eye toward increasing their control of their powers, with the actual power level remaining pretty flat.
On this aspect, many supers systems have mechanisms to model “lack of control”:

Naked “Activation Rolls”- unique to each power- are one common one. You gain control by improving your odds of success with that roll. Sometimes, activation rolls might be skills based, and certain skills may cover a variety of powers. A character who can alter matter at an atomic level might have to make an “Alchemy”/“Science”/whatever roll to get the result they want.

Side Effects that trigger when a power is used. This could be ANY and EVERY time the power is used, or only when there’s some kind of mishap with the power (like a failed activation roll). Increased control of a power with side effects could be reflected in reduced severity or frequency of the side effect, or both.

Attack powers might have to be targeted just like mundane attacks. A relatively uncontrollable power might be extremely difficult to use with any accuracy.

A character might not be able to manifest the ability at a consistent & reliable power level. Imagine having uncontrolled super strength that might usually manifest as merely doubling but occasionally being an exponential increase…or vice versa.
 

Reynard

Legend
On this aspect, many supers systems have mechanisms to model “lack of control”:

Naked “Activation Rolls”- unique to each power- are one common one. You gain control by improving your odds of success with that roll. Sometimes, activation rolls might be skills based, and certain skills may cover a variety of powers. A character who can alter matter at an atomic level might have to make an “Alchemy”/“Science”/whatever roll to get the result they want.

Side Effects that trigger when a power is used. This could be ANY and EVERY time the power is used, or only when there’s some kind of mishap with the power (like a failed activation roll). Increased control of a power with side effects could be reflected in reduced severity or frequency of the side effect, or both.

Attack powers might have to be targeted just like mundane attacks. A relatively uncontrollable power might be extremely difficult to use with any accuracy.

A character might not be able to manifest the ability at a consistent & reliable power level. Imagine having uncontrolled super strength that might usually manifest as merely doubling but occasionally being an exponential increase…or vice versa.
All ofvthis I'd true and are tools I would employ, which is why I put Hero and M&M at the top of the list. SWADE might get a bump given some oversights I had made, but I am curious if there are any other games that embrace these elements in a mechanically satisfying way so as to give a real sense of progression without a constant power increase.
 

Reynard

Legend
Just working on a pitch here, because I really like writing campaign pitches:

In a fantasy world similar to our earth in the early modern (aka medieval) age, the Blessed and Cursed are those infused with power. While some are hailed as heroes and others are considered pariahs, none are able to live quiet, anonymous once they have been touched. But even though such beings are known, something new happens with your characters: naïve villagers from the hinterlands are suddenly infused with unprecedented levels of power and very little control over it. Now forces good and evil, manipulative and helpful, mystical and mundane all seek to control your heroes even as you must learn to master your powers before something terribly dark and powerful finds you.

I have kind of narrowed it down between M&M3E and SWADE Supers at this point, both systems I know well and both are about as good as the other on Fantasy Grounds (my preferred VTT). Now I just have to figure out which system will serve the intent of play better.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top