Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Body Powers

I did a little preview of how powers will be formatted the other day and then discussed one of the ways that the Scope of powers is defined (Breadth).  Today I want to focus on another way to define powers: Category.  

A power's Category is a sort of genus for powers.  Categories are thematic and there are seven Categories: Body Powers, Energy Powers, Matter Powers, Mental Powers, Movement Powers, Sensory Powers, and Super-Qualities.  Categories have little direct mechanical impact on play, but they provide a great deal of the flavour of the power.  And that can have mechanical impacts when deciding what does and doesn't fall under the scope of a power.  

For example, Air Blast and Power Blast are both...well, blasty.  The principle mechanical use is to damage something at range (this is the Effect; I haven't discussed that yet, but the idea should be familiar from Champions and all the effects-based games depending therefrom).  However, Power Blast is from the Energy Powers category and Air Blast is from the Matter Powers Category.  In a game, there may be something that functions as an Energy Deflection Shield.  That would probably be effective against Power Blast, but not Air Blast.

Categories are also the foundation of the Random Roll Method for powers (the last version is here, although I have made changes in the interim).  Let's look at the Body Powers Table:

You'll notice that several of the powers require you to make a further roll on a sub-table.  Sub-tables!  How often do we see those anymore in these anti-wargame days?  Well, take that you haters of sub-tables.  I got sub-tables out the wazoo here.  OK: I have four for Body Powers which may not be out the wazoo, but it's some way along the wazoo.  Here's the sub-tables:

The dice mechanic here goes from a variety of simplified D66 to a straight 2d6.  Why?  It's all about the numbers, baby.  The main Tables have a lot of entries so that 2d6 just doesn't work, not without making really odd probabilities such that every other hero would have Invisibility.  I wanted the odds on this table to be pretty equal with the notable exception of Resistance (which is what I'm calling the generic Armour/Damage Resistance/Invulnerability power) since pretty much every other hero does have some form of super-protection. 

But the sub-tables have too few entries to make D66 practicable.  Plus, I wanted to have less balanced probabilities on the sub-tables.  Alert, imaginary readers will note that I have put rough odds out to the right on the sub-tables.

Some of these powers may be Focused or Meta-Powers.  Sub-tables 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4 make that determination, as does Table 9 which is the generic Power Breadth table discussed last time).  One Power (Inhuman) is automatically a Meta-Power.  The player who rolls this is free to choose the exact nature of his inhumanity (Alien, Robot, God, Hard-Light Hologram, Golem,  Living Planet, whatever) and he and the GM then work out appropriate sub-powers.  Consider it my homage to Villains & Vigilantes' Body Power (speaking of which, that venerable game has finally passed back into the control of creators Jeff Dee and Jack Herman, who have released a cleaned-up version as edition 2.1).

Some of these powers, such as Animal Powers and New/Extra Body Parts are similarly open to interpretation, while others, such as Size-Change and Stretching are fairly straight-forward.  This is something I agonized about a great deal: how specific should the powers be?  Make them too general and you lose the point of even having a random roll method; make them too specific and you end up with characters who look more like Gamma World mutants than super-heroes.  I again took a leaf from V&V and mixed it up a bit, producing what I think is a nice balance.

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