Monday, August 23, 2010

Creating Powers in Heroes of Industry

If you can describe a Power and decide upon its Effect, you should be able to create just about any power you need in Heroes of Industry. One of the most important things to keep in mind is how often or how easily the Power can be used in unusual ways. A Power that generally functions in one way is best represented as a Power with a single Effect, which can be occasionally expanded through Stunts (this is called a “Focused Power” in the Powers List below). A Power that has no single, usual function is better represented as a Meta-Power with several Effects through its Sub-Powers.

Notice that the above does not say “if it is flexible”. All super-powers are flexible in the comics; ingenious uses of one‘s power is one of the backbone of the genre. Thus it makes more sense to presume that all Powers will be used in unusual or less obvious ways. This is perhaps a bit counter-intuitive: the game-determined uses of a Power are just the baseline from which the players are expected work.

Does that mean that a player is “bad” if he can’t come up with lots of great stunts for his Powers? No, it doesn’t. But it does mean that this player is going to be doing a lot of the same over and over (“I blast him!”, “I blast him!”, “I blast him!”). Still, he can always make it up with snappy patter.

Sometimes, a Power would seem to have maybe two Effects; not enough to justify a Meta-Power, but enough to feel constrained by a single Effect. For example, consider a Power that allows the hero to turn his body into pure light so that he can fly and is also intangible. This is two different Effects (Motion and Alter for those keeping score at home). This seems tricky, but isn’t really. There are two simple ways to represent this kind of Power.

The first is using Signature Stunts.  A Signature Stunt effectively adds an Effect to a Power at the cost of 1 Hero Point per use. Buy one of the Powers (Flight) and take a Signature Stunt to allow the other use (Intangibility). In this case, the player will have to decide if he has the ability to use the base Power without the other; if not, then he should take the Limitation “Cannot Use Without Activating Signature Stunt”. What does that accomplish? Well, it means that if the hero is out of Hero Points and therefore unable to use the Signature Stunt, he cannot use his Flight Power either. That sucks except that he will probably earn a Hero Point for having his Limitation come into effect.  Getting screwed in order to come back and kick evil's ass is how the genre works.

The second option is even simpler. List the Power on the character sheet as one Power (“Body of Light”), but list both Flight and Intangibility beneath it. Mechanically, you have two Powers (which can even have differing Ranks if you like), but the Description is the same for both of them; that is, they are understood as being part of the same Power in the game world.

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