A supplement for Powergame 5th Edition
Edition 1.0 beta (12 March 1999)
Copyright © 1999 by Mikko Kauppinen
All rights reserved, except as noted below
All references to characters appearing in various comic books,
films and other media are made without permission. These characters are
copyrighted and/or trademarked by the respective publishing companies.
They are only referred to because they are well-known examples of different
superhero types, thus being an effective way to convey an image of a similar
character. This usage should not be taken as a challenge to their copyright
Once again, over a year has passed since the last edition
of Powergame, which was supposed to be the definitive one. But to err is
human; to try to improve on your past work is what being a writer is all
about. Powergame was good, but not as good as it could be.
Computer game companies these days rarely release games
that do not require patch files to work properly. I adopted this patch
approach because I was too tired to rewrite everything. Thus some sections
of the text are more fully defined than others. If something is not mentioned
here, it has not changed from 5.0. In the future, I plan to write a fully-fleshed
out version of the new and improved Powergame (hopefully before the year
2000). Meanwhile, armed with the 5th edition rules and this file you should
be prepared for both serious and silly superheroic roleplaying. And while
you are at it, try to use the system for other genres as well.
Once again, I must include the Universal Excuse for Loopholes
and Bad Writing: The rules of this game are only guidelines for conducting
various situations which might come up during play. In other words, if
you do not like the system, tough. But all feedback is welcome and in fact
greatly appreciated, since it is likely to be the only compensation I receive
for designing and developing the game. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org,
and the URL for my games page is http://www.uta.fi/~trmika/gameindex.html.
Any supplements will be kept on the page for downloading (note that this
text includes everything in The Good, the Bad and the Vulnerable supplement).
The page also contains instructions on how to join the Powergame mailing
UNIVERSAL POWER LEVEL TABLES
The entire game system revolves around nine power levels
(or PLs). They are used to grade all things of any importance in
the Powergame universe. The tables below give examples of the things and
effects which belong under each power level.
Levels 0, 7 and 8 are usually of little concern to player
characters. The first because PCs are rarely that bad at anything, and
the others because starting PCs cannot have powers higher than level 6.
They can never have powers higher than level 7.
PL 8 beings are the supreme entities of each GM's Powergame
universe. A Marvel Universe example would be Thanos during the Infinity
Gauntlet saga. PL 8 abilities, whatever they are, are never subject to
penalties or bonuses. They can always be used at full power.
||Weak attack. Less powerful than a normal punch
||Typical human punch or kick.
||Most muscle-powered melee or ranged weapons (swords,
bows, clubs). Large beast attacks (lions, crocodiles, gorillas). Small-caliber
firearms (less than 1,000 ft-lb. or 1350 J of muzzle energy); includes
almost all handguns and some rifles (all .22 rimfire rounds, .22 Hornet,
.30 Carbine, .44-40). Tiny explosions (40mm grenade launchers).
||Large-caliber firearms; includes shotguns, most rifles
and a few handguns (.454 Casull, .50 Action Express, some .44 Magnum hot
loads). Small explosions (hand grenades). Huge beast attacks (elephants,
dinosaurs). Huge melee weapons (two-handed swords, lances, polearms, axes).
||Portable rocket launchers. Mortars. Autocannons and light
artillery pieces (less than 100mm, a fudge factor allowed).
||Heavy artillery. Missiles. Bombs.
||Beyond modern human technology. Godlike power. Death
||Cosmic power. Matter transformation, creation or destruction.
Forces that can do basically anything.
||Easily hurt or damaged. Less resistant than a
||Human body. Normal animals.
||Ancient body armor. "Armored" animals. Weak structures
and vehicles (thin walls, motorcycles, ultralight
aircraft, inflatable boats). Light,
flexible modern body armor (clothes and concealable vests can be made of
PL 2 material).
||Heavy, rigid modern body armor. Ordinary structures
and vehicles (typical outer walls, automobiles, airplanes,
||Light armored vehicles and reinforced structures.
Armor that is thicker than "bulletproof" but thinner
than 100mm (fudge factor allowed).
||Main battle tanks. Battleships. Bunkers. Star Wars
||Deep nuclear weapon shelter.
||Beyond modern human technology, and beyond most
future technologies as well. Some superbeings
might reach this level.
||Cosmic power. Matter transformation, creation
or destruction. Forces that can do basically anything.
||Average task with only a minor risk of failure.
||Difficult task. 50% chance of failure.
||Very difficult task. Success is less likely than
failure, and critical failures are common.
||The province of divine forces.
Tech Level Table
||Everyday civilian technology.
||High-end civilian technology.
||Common military technology (2nd line weapon systems)
or uncommon civilian technology (scientific equipment).
||Advanced military technology (modern weapon systems)
or restricted civilian technology (nuclear power).
||State of the art technology; not very common in
actual use (stealth fighters).
||Limit of human technology: what can be accomplished
in theory. Prototypes.
||Beyond modern human technology, but within reach of advanced
civilizations (Blade Runner, Star Trek).
||Cosmic power. Anything is possible.
Size & Weight Table
||Smaller than man-sized. No more than 50 kg.
||Man-sized. 100-150 kg.
||Motorcycle. Snowmobile. 400-500 kg.
||Car. Small helicopter. A few tons.
||Fighter jet (F-16). Tank. Dozens of tons.
||Huge airplane (747). Hundreds of tons.
||Skyscraper. Golden Gate.
||Death Star. Small planetoid.
||Off the scale.
||Slower than a human.
||As fast as a human. Slow ship. Around 25-30 kph.
||Bicycle. Many animals. Motorboat. Tank or APC.
||Average car. Very fast boat. Civil helicopter.
Around 200 kph.
||Prop-driven airplane. Sports car. Combat helicopter.
||Jet aircraft (not necessarily supersonic). Bullet.
||Spacecraft at sublight speeds.
||Faster than light. Time travel becomes possible.
||Be where you want to be.
If the duration of a given superpower or other effect is
instant (like many attack powers), it is not assigned a PL rating. Otherwise,
this table will give a rough guideline on how long the effects of a superpower
will last. For example, PL 3 mind control would wear off after several
hours, a day at most.
||Several seconds (1 combat turn).
||Up to a minute (1D6+1 turns).
If the range of a given weapon, superpower or other effect
is limited to touch, it is not assigned a PL rating. A given weapon might
well be effective at much longer ranges than the ones listed below. Hitting
a target at extreme ranges is very unlikely, however. Superpowers are usually
limited to the ranges given on this table; thus a hero with PL 4 Plasma
Burst could hit targets a couple of kilometers away. Whether he sees them
or not is another matter entirely.
||Less than 10 meters. Short-barreled pistols (as
a rule of thumb, shorter than 10 cm/4 inches, there
is however a slight fudge factor depending on the
caliber, type and quality of weapon).
||Less than 50 meters. Most thrown objects. Normal
pistols and shotguns.
||100-150 meters. SMGs and specialty pistols (barrels
over 20 cm/8 inches, with the fudge factor explained
||Hundreds of meters. Rifles, machine
guns and anti-tank rockets.
||A few kilometers. Heavy machine guns. Short-range
tactical missiles. Tank guns. Mortars.
||Dozens of kilometers. Long-range tactical missiles.
||Intercontinental. Strategic missiles.
||Interplanetary. Death Star superlaser.
||Infinite. Cosmic power.
Area of Effect Table
In most cases, the area of effect for an explosive weapon
or superpower can be determined by comparing its damage PL to the table
below. For example, most hand grenades are deadly within 10-15 meters,
which fits their PL 3 damage nicely. Powergame is not a simulation, however,
so these are only guidelines which the GM can modify.
Most anti-tank weapons (such as missiles and tank guns)
produce a secondary blast when they hit a target. For simplicity, this
is ignored in their descriptions, that is, they are not assigned an area
effect. If the GM believes they should have one, subtracting two from the
damage PL will produce a rough approximation of the secondary blast. For
example, a PL 4 LAW rocket will hurt anyone standing within a couple of
meters from the point of impact. This rule borders dangerously close on
realism and thus you are free to ignore it.
This table is also used to determine the distances of
certain effects for which the Range table does not offer enough precision.
The most common example is falling distance. Falls do lethal damage equal
to the distance fallen on the table below. First you roll Agility versus
distance to see how hard you land (in effect "dodging" an attack), then
you proceed normally to find out how badly you were hurt.
||Area (or distance)
||Roughly one meter.
||A dozen meters.
||Several dozen meters.
||A few hundred meters.
BASIC TASK RESOLUTION
The basic rule mechanics are explained in the main rules;
they have not been changed at all. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Please
read that section before continuing if you are unfamiliar with Powergame.
Assisting in a task
Several characters might succeed where a single hero would
fail. If the GM believes that the other characters could reasonably help
the "main" PC in his attempt, for example lifting something or researching
a topic, the difficulty of the task is lowered by one PL. One example of
this is the Team Attack maneuver explained below.
All humans and most aliens share the following innate abilities
known as basic attributes: Agility (includes manual dexterity;
used to dodge attacks and hit in ranged combat), Strength (used
to hit in melee combat and determine unarmed combat damage), Health
(general fitness and resistance to various ailments; used to determine
how much lethal damage you can take), Charisma (includes appearance),
Wits (intelligence and senses; used to determine initiative), and
Psyche (willpower; used to attack and defend in mental combat).
All basic attributes of a normal human being are at PL
1 at the beginning of character creation. PL 0 represents impaired ability
while PL 2 is the absolute peak of human ability. Anything beyond
PL 2 is superhuman. There are also two intermediate levels: 1-1
and 1+1. These will be explained later.
Characters also have two secondary attributes known
as Protection and Speed. The first indicates, literally,
how hard the PC is to kill, and the second how fast he can run. In secondary
attributes, anything beyond PL 1+1 is considered superhuman. Also, skills
(see below) cannot be based on secondary attributes. Otherwise they are
similar to the basic attributes.
The abbreviated form of the attribute list is ASHCWP/PS,
or "ashcup-p.s." for ease of pronunciation. Players of the old TSR-published
Marvel game will remember FASERIP, a similar alphabet soup.
Each PC has a list of skills which he is familiar
with. Skills describe, literally, what the character can do; they also
represent his profession, education, hobbies and other experience. Skills
can be written down concisely, just mentioning the character's profession
(Doctor of Medicine, US Navy F-14 pilot, small-town used car salesman)
or expanded into long, detailed lists (driving, swimming, playing guitar,
Chinese cooking, firing, disassembling and cleaning the Colt M1911A1 automatic
pistol). Any combination of the two is also fine. One good way is to note
the character's profession and then add hobbies and any other skills not
obviously learned in his job.
Skills do not have a PL of their own; they are based on
the character's basic attributes. Deciding which attribute is used with
which skill is a GM call, though the players will no doubt offer their
suggestions without being prompted. Depending on the situation, it might
not even be the same attribute every time.
The player can freely write up his list of skills, but
the GM must approve it afterwards. Nobody can do everything. Most unfamiliar
(unlisted) skills are used with a -1 PL penalty; some extremely easy
ones or those common to almost all people of the character's culture and
background can be considered to be part of the character's skill list even
if they are not mentioned. They can be used without a penalty. For example,
most people from modern, Western countries know how to read and write.
(At least most PCs do...) The GM must still be careful with players who
insist that "everyone can do this and this and..."
On the other hand, some skills are so difficult that they
receive a -2 PL penalty if the PC does not know them, which makes it impossible
for most people to even give it a try. Nuclear physics and genetic engineering
are good examples. These are known as specialized skills.
After skills have been determined, the character needs some
superpowers. The player rolls 1D6; the result is the number of
powers. Possible powers are only limited by the player's imagination;
comic books are a great source for ideas. Increased attributes are a very
common type of power. Superhuman levels of skill (PL 3+) are also counted
as superpowers (they are referred to as superskills and explained
below). The origin of powers does not usually matter here. However, if
the PC receives his powers from an outside source, for example a high-tech
suit of armor, he gains some benefits to offset the risk of losing the
source of powers (this is explained under Vulnerabilities). The GM must
in any case decide whether or not to accept any proposed power. He might
want to tone it down a bit, for instance. A power called Design A Mechanical
Device For Any Purpose will likely not pass your GM's scrutiny. Then again,
if it fits the campaign world, it might, especially if it was the PC's
sole power. The X-Men had a friend called Forge who could build just about
Each power has a level, determined by rolling 1D6.
After you have rolled a PL for each power, you can swap the numbers
around if you are not entirely happy. However, it is not possible to
increase one number while decreasing another. (This has changed from the
previous edition: I felt it was a very arbitrary restriction, and if you
prefer true randomness you can just leave the numbers alone anyway.) For
finer control, see Option 1: Point allocation system, below.
If you are trying to increase a basic attribute (NOT a
secondary attribute) by taking a power, and happen to roll a result which
would not improve it at all, the level of the power will be the attribute
PL +1. This is known as a boost. For example, if you normally have
PL 1 Strength (as all humans do), decide to take Increased Strength as
a superpower and roll 1 for the PL, it is boosted to PL 2. This means that
any rolls of 1 are possibly best swapped to increase your basic attributes.
If you take a power which is not normally present in a human, such as Laser
Vision, it is possible to end up with PL 1, though. This modification can
only be applied to your basic attributes.
Options: Point allocation system, Modeling, Low-powered heroes,
Divine beings, Common people, Aliens
Option 1: Point allocation system (PASS)
If you want to have more control over the creation of
your character, do not despair. There is a way. The Point Allocation
SyStem (PASS, named after "Thanks, I'll pass") is a non-random
method to create PCs and NPCs. It can also be used if you left your dice
at home. Under PASS you always get three (3) superpowers and 10 levels
to divide between them. However, PASS is not a guaranteed method to get
overwhelmingly powerful PCs. You cannot take a power level less than 2
or higher than 5. Thus the possible level combinations are: 5-3-2, 4-4-2
and 4-3-3. Besides giving better control, PASS is a fast way to create
For example, if you need a power-suited goon quickly,
just say that his suit has PL 4 armor, PL 3 wrist lasers and PL 3 artificial
There are also other ways to use PASS; they are explained
below. But in general, any 1D6 roll in character creation can be rolled
normally or used as a 3, unless otherwise indicated.
Option 2: Modeling
If you have an absolutely perfect character concept in
mind but it cannot be realized by using PASS, and you feel that using the
random method would probably result in something quite far removed from
your brilliant idea (as it likely would), you should start being nice to
the GM. He might allow you to use the modeling approach. Actually
you do not have to ask: just create your PC and hand it to the GM. If he
approves it, why bother telling him it was not generated randomly?
Modeling is really very simple. You just write up your
character the way you want it. The method is possibly best used to recreate
heroes from comic books, but if your GM allows it, it can be used to create
original characters just as well. Or, in humor campaigns, to create hilariously
powerful original characters. Needless to say, the GM must approve any
and all modeled PCs, just as he has to approve normally created characters.
Option 3: Low-powered heroes
If you do not feel like playing a ridiculously powerful
spandex-clad superhero, there is another option. You can choose to play
one of several types of low-powered heroes. You do not get any special
advantages by choosing to do so, though. They just might suit some campaigns
better. In Powergame terms there are three kinds of low-powered heroes:
the super normal, someone who has trained for years and years to
hone his body and mind (examples include Batman, the Shadow and Captain
America); the brilliant scientist or specialist called genius (like
Anthony Stark outside his Iron Man suit, or Zarkov from Flash Gordon);
and the almost-normal action hero (James Bond, Indiana Jones and
Dirk Pitt are good examples).
Super normals get the usual 1D6 powers but at PL 2
(or simply 3 powers if you use PASS), which are almost always used to increase
the basic attributes since these characters rarely have any supernatural
powers. They might have some relatively low-key powers, such as PL 2 Danger
Sense or Telepathy. These could be explained by latent psionic talents,
oriental martial arts training etc.
Geniuses get a single superskill, the level of
which is determined by rolling 1D6 (using PASS, PL 3 is what you get).
A superskill is an area of knowledge, skill and/or training which can be
defined as loosely or narrowly as the player and GM prefer. Superskills
are always non-physical (that means no sharpshooters or martial arts masters).
They allow the character to use the skill's PL rating instead of basing
it on his attributes. Since Powergame does not have skill lists, superskills
can occasionally be somewhat awkward to define. NPCs present no problems,
since the GM can model them as he sees fit. For PCs, superskills must be
agreed upon between the player and the GM, considering the PC's role and
function in the campaign. Superskills follow all rules for normal powers
unless otherwise indicated.
In a pulp game, a superskill named Rocket Science would
be perfectly apt. The skill would cover anything related to the design
and construction of spaceships. In a more serious game, Nuclear Physics
or Marine Biology might be better. Alternatively, just Physics or Biology
might do. Because most geniuses have only one superskill, the GM is encouraged
to be lenient. It is hardly exciting to be the leading expert on Romanesque
Usually only geniuses have superskills. But it is perfectly
legal for other kinds of heroes to take them, since they count as normal
superpowers. Reed Richards is the textbook example of this. Super normals
can have superskills, but they are limited to the usual PL 2 rating. By
taking vulnerabilities, any character type can have superskills, but they
seldom fit the character concept. However, it can be interesting to play
a true crackpot inventor (a genius in game terms), who has two superskills
and a mental affliction, or is confined to a wheelchair.
Action heroes have no abilities even remotely superhuman.
Compared to ordinary citizens, however, they might as well come from Mars.
These PCs get 1D6+1 free Good Things, or 4 if they elect to use
PASS (Good Things are explained later).
Option 4: Divine beings
There are examples of men and women who are powerful enough
to be considered gods, or divine beings. They might be aliens (Superman)
or actual gods of long-forgotten pantheons (Thor and Hercules). Nevertheless,
they look like us but are even more powerful than most superheroes. They
are not generally recommended as PCs, but an individual GM might have no
problem with them. These rules are intended to be used for human-looking
(or at least humanoid in shape) deities, but if you really want to recreate
Cthulhu, go ahead. You have been warned.
Divine beings are created exactly as normal superheroes,
with one important distinction. Their basic attributes do not start
at PL 1. Instead, the starting PL for each basic attribute is determined
by rolling 1D6. You can also use PASS: an average divine race has PL
3 in every attribute but Protection and Speed (most divine beings use their
first superpower to increase Protection). It is possible to mix the two
methods: if you wish to be sure of having at least PL 3 in some attributes,
you can use PASS with them and roll for the other attributes. Divine beings
do not get any extra superpowers or Good Things (explained below) in addition
to their extraordinary basic attribute levels.
A note to GMs: if you decide that a divine race exists
in your campaign world, you can pre-determine its attributes. This way,
if a player wants to play a deity, you can control the character's power
levels to some extent. Of course PC gods tend to be more powerful than
average members of their race; this is accounted for by giving them super
powers, some of which might increase their basic abilities (Thor is more
powerful than an average Asgardian).
Option 5: Common people
There might be a player who thinks that even low-powered
heroes are too powerful. He is probably playing the wrong game, but it
is nevertheless perfectly possible to create common people, characters
who have no special abilities. They receive no superpowers of any kind,
unless they take at least a PL 2 vulnerability and spend the points to
take a power. However, being PCs, they still get a tiny break: one (1)
free Good Thing. They are normal people, but slightly above average
normal people. NPC common people are similar in every respect, but they
do not get the free Good Thing.
Option 6: Alien races
The GM, if he allows alien PCs, must work out the
characteristics of each race before he presents it to the players. This
includes determining the starting PLs for its attributes (as opposed to
PL 1 for humans) and choosing any innate superpowers. If he creates a race
that is super-strong, highly intelligent, nearly invulnerable and capable
of using devastating psionics, and then allows players of that alien species
to roll for superpowers normally, game balance will suffer quickly. Thus
caution is advised. These rules are built for normal humans. If an alien
race already has many powers beyond human norm, it is probably best that
they are not allowed to have extra powers.
If a player wants to have an alien character but the GM
has no alien races prepared, or the player is not happy with any of them,
he may let the player to create an alien PC using normal rules. The powers
of that character could then portray a typical representative of the alien
race. Various technological and magical beings (androids like Vision, golems,
T-1000 series killer robots) can be similarly created. See also Option
4: Divine beings for ultra-powerful aliens.
Summary of hero categories and their benefits
Divine beings: increased basic attributes, 1D6 powers, 1D6
Superheroes: 1D6 powers, 1D6 GTs
Super normals: 1D6 PL 2 powers, 1D6 GTs
Geniuses: 1 superskill power, 1D6 GTs
Action heroes: 1D6+1 GTs
PC common people (and noteworthy NPCs): 1 GT
Good and Bad Things
In addition to their attributes, skills and powers, all characters
also receive additional abilities known as Good Things (abbreviated
GT). Most types of PCs receive 1D6 GT for free. Good Things
could be called "everyday superpowers". They include things like
Wealth and Connections. In other RPGs they are known as Advantages, Traits
or Quirks. A reasonably comprehensive list of common Good and Bad Things
can be found at the end of this chapter. In game terms, they usually do
not affect any dice rolls. The GM just takes them into account when roleplaying
his NPCs and judging the result of the roll.
GTs can also be used to increase PL 1 attributes
(higher PLs cannot be improved in this fashion). One Good Thing equals
a +1 increase to one of your character's attributes. This bonus is added
to the 1D6 rolls; it is NOT the same as a +1 PL bonus. A PL 2 basic attribute
means that the character is among the best humans ever in that respect.
A +1 bonus in a basic attribute indicates that the character is good at
what he does, but not exceptional.
However, if we are talking about secondary attributes,
putting +1 in either one represents a truly remarkable individual, someone
who laughs at normal punches or runs as fast as Carl Lewis. PL 2 in a secondary
attribute would mean someone with supernatural ability. Someone with PL
2 Speed could keep up with a greyhound, while someone with PL 2 Protection
would have a skin as thick as a rhino's.
If a +1 increase is not enough, it is possible to put
three (3) Good Things into a basic attribute and thus raise the attribute
to PL 2. The intermediate step, using 2 GTs to get an attribute at
1+2, is NOT allowed. This can help unlucky super normals who get only one
or two PL 2 abilities and lots of Good Things. It also makes action heroes
more competitive. Please note that you cannot increase a secondary attribute
to PL 2 (for reasons explained above) or take a PL 2 superpower in this
fashion. If an attribute is raised to PL 2 by spending three Good Things,
it is called an Ideal attribute.
Note that skills cannot be increased with Good Things
since they do not have power levels of their own. Besides, increasing attributes
directly results in more powerful characters anyway. However, exotic skills
or training which would otherwise be hard to justify can be taken as Good
Things and based on the attributes as usual.
NPC common people have to balance every Good Thing with
a Bad Thing. However, PCs and major NPCs, superpowered or not, can take
1D6 Good Things for free (3 if they want to use PASS and play it
safe), and add some more by taking Bad Things if they so desire.
Bad Things (abbreviated BT) are the opposite
of Good Things. They include things such as Bad Reputation and Poverty.
They can also decrease your attributes. A -1 decrease is the largest
allowed. If you put a BT in Protection, it means your PC is unusually frail,
and if you put one in Speed, it might indicate a limp or other form of
My general guideline was to keep personality traits outside
GTs and BTs. If you feel that a given trait could be faked or acted out,
it is probably part of the character's personality instead of a Good or
Bad Thing. For example, someone could act honestly, even for longer periods
if forced to, but it is hard to pretend you are wealthier than you actually
are if you are forced to purchase something expensive.
This list was previously released as a separate supplement.
The only change was the addition of Ideal attributes.
Good Things with opposite Bad Things
Separate Good Things
Increased and Ideal attributes are explained
Good reputation: the people who know the character
think highly of him as a professional or as a person. This can include
a small amount of fame in general. Bad reputation works the same
way, it just has an opposite effect. People think you can't do your job
properly or they don't like you as a person.
Fame: many people have heard of the character and
quite possibly idolize him. Note that this is different from having a good
reputation: compare a world-famous rock star to a politician who is known
for his honesty in a city plagued with corruption. The opposite, being
Infamous, is relatively rare among player characters, but someone
like Saddam Hussein or any of the major Nazi figures would easily qualify.
Family name: the character's family is rich and/or
well-known, which usually means that they have friends in high places too.
This is yet another form of fame/reputation. This works just as well as
a Bad Thing.
Wealth: the character has more money than most. This
tends to include a certain degree of fame as well. Poverty is a
good Bad Thing.
Connections: a specific person, small group of people
or organization is friendly to the character and very likely to offer him
assistance when required. GMs should be careful to avoid abuse of connections;
if the character persists, take away his connection at least temporarily.
The opposite of this is having a Mortal enemy. Whether it is a lone
psychopath or an organization you have crossed once too many times, your
enemy wants you dead. Alternatively they could settle for just capturing
you: the police rarely have shoot-to-kill orders, at least in the Western
countries. Then again, if you end up in a gas chamber, the end result is
Acute senses: this is different from putting +1 into
Wits. The latter indicates general ability to think fast and notice details,
while the former means that one (or more if the GM agrees) of your senses
can distinguish between very small differences. Someone with acute hearing
might have an absolute ear for music and/or hear unusual frequencies, while
a person with acute taste could work as a wine taster. This Good Thing
does not bestow a +1 bonus to Wits rolls, even those directly related to
the given sense. The opposite would be Impaired senses, which usually
means bad eyesight or hearing since not all GMs think an impaired sense
of smell is worth a Bad Thing alone. Combined with the loss of taste buds...
Animal friendship: for some reason, your PC can easily
befriend animals. Wounded, angry and frightened animals or those trained
to attack may be a different case altogether. The opposite, Animal enmity,
means that most animals hate you on sight.
Separate Bad Things
Special knowledge: of a place, culture/subculture,
organization, field of technology... Most skills bring with them knowledge
about related issues. However, this Good Thing goes above and beyond that,
indicating an uncommon level of knowledge in the character's specialty.
To offer an example, many policemen know a thing or two about the underworld
of their city or district. Someone with this Good Thing would still be
much better off, having more and better information. This often includes
some low-level connections, though they are not as good as those acquired
via a separate Good Thing. This doesn't work very well as a Bad Thing.
Natural talent: artistic, linguistic, mathematical,
mechanical... whatever his specialty, the character is a natural talent
and seldom suffers the penalty for unfamiliar skill use in related tasks.
This also means that he is some kind of an expert in his chosen field and
known as such, at least to his peers/colleagues. This includes talented
authors, sculptors, translators, scientists etc. Note that there is no
bonus to skill or attribute rolls, and thus athletic talent is better indicated
by putting +1 to the desired attribute. Natural talent doesn't work very
well as a Bad Thing either.
Sixth sense: your character has occasional gut feelings
about things. They can concern both immediate events (someone is about
to shoot me from that building) or those in the future (better not take
this plane), and they can be both negative and positive (bet on this horse).
Intuition: your character can interpret people's body
language, facial expressions and gestures better than others. It is very
hard to lie to an intuitive person. He can also sense the general mood
of a group of people, for example whether a demonstration is going to turn
Photographic memory: your PC tends to remember whatever
he sees very well. An opposite would be absent-mindedness, which is an
acceptable Bad Thing if the player can roleplay it properly.
Sidekick: this is a single individual who is a very
good friend of your character, to the point of accompanying him for potentially
dangerous adventures. Sidekicks do not have as much information or other
resources as Connections, but the latter will not fight side by side with
you. The above note on abusing Connections is just as valid here. Sidekicks
have their own lives to lead (yes, really); they don't spend their days
waiting for your phone call. This Good Thing is most common in the superhero
genre, but it is also seen elsewhere.
Physical addiction (drug addiction): the character
uses alcohol and/or tobacco frequently, but still retains some degree of
control. He can also be an occasional user of more serious drugs. A severe
addiction is treated as a vulnerability. It is conceivable that there are
other physical addictions beside drug addictions, but these cases are best
dealt with between individual GMs and players.
Mental addiction: the character is, for instance,
a hopeless gambler, who finds it hard to pass a slot machine, let alone
a roulette table. This often leads to financial problems. There are other
forms of mental addictions; some people spend way too much time on the
Internet, for example. Intense greed for money, sex or power could be considered
a form of mental addiction.
Persecution: the character is constantly being hassled
by others. He might be stopped by the police without any obvious reason,
he has difficulties dealing with the local bureaucracy or total strangers
may call him names to his face. A likely reason for this is belonging to
some sort of a minority group, such as an ethnic group or extremist political
party. This doesn't affect your reputation with the people who know you,
since it has nothing to do with your abilities or personality.
Sexual disorder: the character's sexual behavior is
considered aberrant by most people. This includes homosexuals, sadomasochists,
nymphomaniacs, transvestites, voyeurs etc. It is not my business to judge
what is right and what is wrong, but this is labeled a Bad Thing since
it often provokes negative reactions if people know of the character's
sexual orientation. This is another form of persecution.
Illness: your character has a more or less permanent
illness. It is normally not life-threatening, but inconvenient nevertheless.
Examples include diabetes, epilepsy and various allergies. Something as
serious as AIDS or cancer would probably be worth vulnerability points.
Injury: the PC was once seriously injured. Examples
include brain damage (Wits, Psyche and/or Charisma penalties are possible),
knee injury (Speed or Agility is reduced), lung damage (reduced Health),
kidney damage and so on. The GM determines if a given injury is accompanied
by an attribute penalty or if it affects you in some other way. Some injuries
might be too insignificant to be accepted as Bad Things.
Dependents: there is a person or several persons who
depend on the PC for their well-being. He must spend considerable time
with them to ensure everything is fine, which can make adventuring a bit
difficult. This includes children, disabled adults and old people. If you
want to have more capable persons as your dependents, such as families
or girlfriends, you should come up with a good enough story for the GM
to accept this. After all, most people can take care of themselves pretty
well without someone hovering about constantly.
Finally, your character may have a vulnerability.
They are not mandatory, but they can be used to balance earlier bad rolls.
Possibly the most famous example in comic books is Superman's vulnerability
to Kryptonite. Examples from real life include various phobias and illnesses.
In some cases the GM must carefully consider whether a given vulnerability
is actually more like a Bad Thing. At the end of this chapter you can find
a list of suggested vulnerabilities. Some of them have been released previously
in a separate supplement.
The vulnerability is often assigned a power level,
which is used to "attack" your character. For example, if your PC had
a PL 3 Fear Of Heights (a very serious phobia indeed), he would defend
against a PL 3 attack with his Psyche in appropriate situations. A normal
human with a Psyche of PL 1 would likely be paralyzed or driven insane
by such a strong phobia if, say, he were forced to board an airplane. Other
vulnerabilities may attack different abilities, and not all vulnerabilities
have power levels.
Basically anything than can be assigned a PL to fight
against can be considered a possible vulnerability. The idea of being literally
vulnerable to some substance works well, but its usefulness is quite limited
outside superpowered campaigns and thus I have expanded the idea a bit.
It doesn't matter if you fight against your vulnerability on a physical
or mental level (or both). Some of the above-mentioned Good and Bad Things
can be vulnerabilities if they are serious enough and if they could logically
be fought against.
For each PL you put into your chosen vulnerability (if
applicable; some vulnerabilities have special rules), you get one vulnerability
point. These points can be used to get more superpowers (2 p./power),
increase the levels of existing ones (1 p./level), or get additional
Good Things (1 p./2 Good Things). The PL for a new superpower is determined
as usual, either by rolling 1D6 or using PASS and taking 3.
With the new vulnerabilities presented in this patch,
the rules have changed a little. The basic rule of only one vulnerability
per PC still holds, with the following exceptions: a PC can take either
Gizmo, Transformer OR Magic, AND any desired Power Limitations (including
Gadgets), AND one other vulnerability. Also, a given attribute or power
can only be increased by 1 PL by any vulnerability. If a more severe
vulnerability is chosen, the additional PLs must be divided across the
character's abilities. Any type of character may spend his vulnerability
points as the player sees fit. Action heroes can have a superpower and
so on. However, remember to remain true to your character concept and the
overall tone of the campaign. The GM can always disallow things he doesn't
Please note that you cannot raise any power level above
6 with any vulnerability. In the Powergame reality PL 6 is the limit
of humanity's cosmic potential. They can only achieve power level 7 with
the help of powerful beings. For example, Dark Phoenix, while it looked
and acted like Jean Grey, was really an alien being, and Galan of Taa became
Galactus when the dying universe gave him unbelievable powers. The PL 6
limitation applies equally to player-created aliens and divine beings in
order to maintain play balance.
Substance or condition (the "literal vulnerability"):
your PC is uncommonly vulnerable to something, be it Kryptonite, water
Phobia: possible phobias include fear of darkness,
enclosed spaces, fire, flying, heights, open spaces, snakes or spiders.
When a PC with a phobia encounters the object of his fear, he must make
a Psyche contest against the PL of the phobia. If the PC wins, he can function
more or less normally; if the phobia wins, it takes over and the player
must roleplay accordingly.
Mental affliction: these are numerous and new ones
seem to be discovered every day. Well-known ones include depression, manic
depression, mindless aggression, obsessive behavior and split personality.
The affliction is usually in effect, and the PC must win a Psyche contest
if he wants to override it temporarily. Mild versions of these are just
personality traits; most of us are occasionally depressed and we all have
our little habits.
Addiction: if you have an addiction as a Bad Thing,
you are expected to roleplay it out. But if you have one as a vulnerability,
you must make a Psyche or Health roll (GM's call) whenever you want to
fight it. Longtime drug users fit this category well.
Serious illness: these can be somewhat difficult in
play, but are offered as a suggestion nevertheless. An illness as a vulnerability
usually means a life-threatening condition, such as cancer or AIDS. Its
effects are seldom as immediate and frequent as those of a phobia, for
instance, but they tend to be lethal in the long run. One way to play this
is to have the PC make annual (or whatever the GM sees fit) Health rolls
against the illness PL. If he wins, he has bought himself some extra time;
if he loses, his condition becomes worse. If the PC seems to struggle on
forever, the GM has a right to advance the illness regardless of dice rolls.
AIDS is expected to kill within ten years or something like that.
Impairment: a special case of a two-point vulnerability.
Impairment means putting PL 0 in one of your attributes. For humans
this means an impairment of some kind. You can choose an attribute which
has a higher PL than 1, but you still get only 2 vulnerability points since
this rule was balanced for normal humans, not aliens or demigods.
Gizmo: the character's powers come from a Gizmo,
whatever it may be. The Gizmo can be taken away, but while the PC has it
there are no other hindrances. Amulets are easy to carry but equally easy
to grab; power suits are slow to get into (a nominal 1D6+1 turns at least)
but hard to steal while worn. No power works without the Gizmo, but Good
Things, Bad Things, skills and (usually) other vulnerabilities do. Iron
Man and Green Lantern are Gizmo-type characters. This is worth 2 vulnerability
points. It is possible (though a little unusual) to have a Genius character
whose superskill(s) are tied to a Gizmo.
Transformer: the PC has to change shape or form
before he can use his superpowers. Good Things, Bad Things, skills
and (usually) other vulnerabilities are shared between the two forms. The
transformation takes one action (not turn). The two forms must be obviously
different to even a casual observer. Colossus and the original Hulk are
Transformers. Worth 1 vulnerability point. It is possible (though
more than a little weird) to have transforming Geniuses.
Magic: the character's powers are not internal, but
derived from magical sources. There are three possible source mechanisms:
Ritual, Talisman and Spellcraft. A Ritual-based PC must perform
an elaborate ritual each time he uses a power. Alchemy, spirit summoning
and your basic ritual chanting are all forms of Ritual, since they tend
to take a long time. The duration of the ritual is derived from the Duration
table: the desired power PL determines the duration. Whipping up an intercontinental
PL 6 spell could take months, which is why Ritual is worth 3 vulnerability
points. Talisman works exactly like Gizmo; use the rules above.
Spellcraft works like Transforming, that is, every use of power
necessitates one action's worth of chanting, singing, gesturing etc. Spellcraft
is also worth 1 vulnerability point. At first glance it may seem
that Spellcraft mages are penalized more than Transformers, since they
have to spend an action before EVERY use of power, but remember that they
can remain in their normal form and thus avoid uninvited attention. Having
said that, muttering "Iä iä, Cthulhu fhtagn" in a crowd tends
to attract SOME attention, except in New York and Innsmouth.
Power Limitation: limit a power somehow and
gain +1 PL to it. Examples include limited range (touch),
duration (must be "kept up", during which no other targets can be engaged),
type of targets (affects only humans, does not affect yellow targets),
slow activation (must spend one action charging or preparing the power)
and availability (can only be used during day or night or while under direct
sunlight etc.). The GM must accept the limitation in every case. Superskills
cannot be modified by limitations.
Gadget (a piece of super-equipment) is usually a valid
Power Limitation too. For example, if a PC takes a Flight power, but only
rolls PL 2 as its rating, he could say the power is tied to a jet-pack
or rocket belt and raise it to PL 3. It is recommended that these
gadgets are easy to notice and somewhat inconvenient to carry all
day long: giving the hero a magical ring with the power of flight makes
it too easy for him. (If all his powers were tied to the ring, it would
be a different matter. He could take the Gizmo vulnerability instead.)
Gadgets also have a tendency to malfunction or run out of energy at a critical
moment. Finally, some kind of an explanation for the gadget is usually
expected. The film Rocketeer offers a perfect example of a Gadget-based
The old free-form descriptive system is still valid, should
you prefer it. All the new rules are basically just optional chrome to
help the GM in his thankless job. You are free to use only those modifiers
and rules which you like.
Note 1: Unarmed combat is still assumed to be a familiar
skill to everyone.
Note 2: There are situations where some superpowers could
logically be substituted for an attribute. Rather than name all possible
substitutions, I leave these to each GM to decide on a case-by-case basis.
Note 3: PL 4+ non-lethal attacks are no longer automatically
lethal; they are merely often lethal (see Damage, below).
Note 4: If an attribute which has been modified by Good
or Bad Things (PL 1+1 or 1-1) is affected by a bonus or penalty, the modifier
will remain. Thus the character can temporarily possess the equivalent
of a PL 2+1, 2-1, 0+1 or 0-1 ability, even though these ratings are impossible
to have normally. This only became important after the introduction of
situational modifiers, and it is only fair to allow the characters to keep
the slight edge (or hindrance) they had before.
A person who had no idea that he was going to be attacked
loses initiative automatically and cannot do anything on the first turn,
EXCEPT DODGE. However, there is a -1 PL penalty, as noted below.
Defender Completely Surprised (see initiative rules):
-1 PL to dodge. Cannot do anything else. Evading is not possible.
Darkness (includes smoke etc.): attacker gets -1 PL
to hit, unless the darkness is negated by his equipment or superpowers
(IR goggles, radar sense...).
Hard Cover: if reasonable cover is present (it must
cover at least half of the defender's body and be strong enough to stop
the attack or slow it down considerably), he gets +1 PL to dodge behind
it. If there is no cover, the defender can try to evade the attack (see
Defender Evading: +1 PL to dodge all attacks, but
he cannot attack himself. This maneuver gives some protection to defenders
who are caught in the open.
Superior Position in Melee Combat: the attacker gets
+1 PL to hit. This is a GM call; one of the most common situations is when
the defender has fallen down and the attacker tries to kick his head in.
Evading might be useful while the defender gets back on his feet.
Trick Shots: a common example is shooting a weapon
out of someone's hand. This requires a critical success in the attack roll.
No damage is done, so there is no need for the damage roll. Must be declared
in advance. These are always subject to GM judgment.
Team Attack: if multiple PCs gang up on someone, the
target gets -1 PL to dodge each attack. The penalty is not cumulative in
case there are more than two attackers. This also applies if one PC is
holding on to the target and another is attacking him.
Two-Weapon Combat: if a character is wielding two
melee weapons or carrying two guns, he can attack with both during a single
action. However, both attacks receive a -1 PL penalty. Unless the character
has superhuman Strength or some other advantage, he is limited to using
only one-handed melee weapons (pretty obvious) or small firearms (handguns
and machine pistols). This fighting style works best for super normals
and other characters with at least PL 2 relevant abilities. Normal humans
have trouble hitting anything this way.
Modifier Limits: no modifier will take an ability below PL
0 or above PL 7. Ever. PL 8 abilities are never subject to penalties or
Weak Spots: armored vehicles usually have weaker rear,
side, top and bottom armor (-1 PL to defense roll). This applies to most
modern and obsolete armored vehicles; however, exceptions are certainly
possible. For instance, a UFO might be equally well armored from every
Critical Hits: a critical success in the attack roll
will reduce the effective Protection PL by one, representing a hit to a
less protected or more vulnerable location. A failed damage roll still
does no damage. Affects even unarmored targets, reducing their Protection
to PL 0 (representing a hit to solar plexus, throat or groin, for example).
Pulling Punches: the attacker can adjust the damage
done by his attack downwards to any desired PL before rolling the damage
dice, unless he is using a weapon which has a fixed power setting (guns,
grenades, missiles etc.). He can also declare that a non-lethal attack
which is powerful enough to do lethal damage will remain non-lethal ("I'll
just slap him real good!").
Aiming at a Non-Vital Area: Must be declared in advance.
The attacker rolls to hit normally, but applies -1 PL to damage. Does not
work with area attacks. This is the equivalent of pulling a punch if you
are firing a gun, for example. Critical hits work normally.
Charging: use collision rules. For example, a normal
man would inflict PL 1 damage by running into something, while a super-speedster
could do truly serious damage to his target (and possibly himself).
Area Attack: cannot be avoided entirely (unless the
target has special movement powers, in which case the GM might allow a
normal dodge). Successful dodge reduces damage by 1 PL; critical success
is worth -2 PL. Evading does not give additional bonuses, since this is
essentially evading. Cover modifiers apply. If a superpower is used for
area attack (the GM will determine if it is possible), its damage is reduced
by 1 PL. It will be harder to dodge, though. See the Area of Effect table
for guidelines on different power levels.
Knockback: all brute force attacks (punches, kicks,
baseball bats, telephone poles, force rays) cause knockback on a critical
damage roll. The knockback distance can be calculated by subtracting the
target's Size from the attacker's Strength and comparing the resulting
PL to the Area of Effect table. Thus a normal man hitting another would
just make him step back, while someone in the Hulk's power range (PL 5)
would hurl a normal man dozens of meters away. The target is also knocked
down; this is mainly important in close combat, where he would be at a
disadvantage during the next turn. Knockbacks inflict no additional damage,
unless you happen to hit something before you hit the ground. In this case
use the collision rules, using the knockback distance as the speed PL.
Tossing: One of the favorite tactics of Colossus and
Wolverine. Calculate the maximum distance as for knockbacks, above, but
add one to the PL. Thus a normal man could throw another roughly one meter
away. Damage is done as above, so the thrown person better be well protected.
This can also be used as an attack against involuntary targets; you must
first grapple the target successfully, and if he does not break free during
the next turn (or if you win initiative), you can perform a martial arts
throw. For normal men, the damage remains the same but you gain superior
position for your next attack.
Grappling: Must be declared in advance. Roll to hit
normally. Success indicates the target is held until he wins a Strength
contest (which can be attempted every action). A critical success indicates
a stranglehold, doing normal Strength damage (or less, if the attacker
so desires) every turn. This lasts until the victim passes out, breaks
free or dies. Garrotes and similar implements allow PL 2 to be substituted
for the attacker's Strength, both for damage and contests (it is really
hard to break free).
Disarming: A disarm attempt follows the rules for
grappling. A normal success indicates both parties are holding on to the
weapon and struggling. The eventual winner of a Strength contest gains
possession. During the struggle, if either party gets a critical success
in the Strength roll, he can roll normal weapon damage against the opponent,
who cannot dodge (your old "the gun went off while we struggled!" routine).
A critical hit in the beginning indicates an instant disarm, but the weapon
goes flying and lands nearby.
Full-Auto Fire: If a full-auto attack hits, roll the
damage dice twice and pick the better result. Each burst from a magazine-fed
automatic weapon (most often a SMG or an assault rifle) uses up 3 rounds
(or 2, if no more are left). Belt-fed machine guns use 5 rounds per burst
(or fraction thereof), vehicle-mounted automatic weapons use 10 rounds
and multi-barreled weapons (such as twin AA autocannons or six-barreled
miniguns) use 30. Just because I say so. Of course, tracking ammo is quite
If the damage PL of a non-lethal attack is higher than the
Protection PL of the target, the attack will do lethal damage. That is,
unless the attacker pulls his punch and declares otherwise. Good and Bad
Things do not count in determining the difference.
Damage vs. Protection roll (from the attacker's viewpoint)
Non-lethal damage: Bruises. Nothing serious.
Lethal damage: Scratches. Ditto.
Penalties for non-lethal and lethal damage are cumulative.
Non-lethal: -1 PL to your next action, whatever it is. If
you are hit several times, more than one action will be affected. If you
spend an action doing nothing but trying to clear your head, one penalty
goes away, but this can be suicidal in combat.
Lethal: -1 PL to all actions until healed. Also reduces your
Health by 1 PL (until healed). Further lethal damage does not increase
the penalty, but requires a knockout roll (see below) every time lethal
damage is taken. It also continues to reduce Health; if it drops BELOW
PL 0, you drop too and begin to bleed to death. Compare your original Health
to the Duration table to find out how long you will survive without help.
Non-lethal: Apply normal -1 PL penalty to next TWO actions.
Also, roll Health PL vs. Damage PL; failure means you are out cold for
a while. 1D6+1 turns is a workable default, if a more precise duration
is needed. If you are knocked out, the penalty will remain and affect your
next conscious action.
Lethal: Apply normal -1 PL penalty. Also, reduce Health by
TWO PLs, thus requiring an immediate knockout roll, as explained above.
Non-lethal: Mortal blow! Equivalent to a lethal damage critical
success, above. If the punch is pulled, this becomes an instant knockout
lasting at least 1D6 MINUTES or until the GM says you wake up.
Lethal: Instant death! Better spend an E-point and reroll.
If the GM does not want to see a hero or villain die, he can always rule
that the victim is only dying. However, if this is done all the time, players
will not fear death the way they should.
Non-lethal damage will wear off pretty fast, as explained
above. No skill check (but one action) is required to wake up someone who
has been knocked unconscious because of non-lethal damage.
A PL 1 difficulty first aid skill roll will stabilize
someone who is dying. Please note that first aid, especially in this sense,
is not an automatic skill on 20th century Earth. Anyone can apply a Band-Aid,
but stabilizing a person in critical condition is another matter entirely.
In game terms, unskilled first aid receives a -1 PL penalty.
If someone has been wounded but is not dying, a successful
first aid roll will return one Health PL. If this brings it back to the
original number, the penalty for being wounded also disappears. Beyond
this, it takes 1D6 days to heal one Health PL if you are in a hospital
or equivalent facility (i.e. trained personnel and proper equipment and
supplies). If you are not, it takes 2D6 days per PL, during which you must
rest or healing will not take place. Superior technology may speed up healing.
Regenerative or healing superpowers speed the process
up considerably. For every PL of such a power, subtract one day from the
required healing time. If the result is zero or lower, you heal one PL
basically immediately (if you are still in combat, it takes one turn) and
can roll a new healing period for the next missing PL (if any). You can
always roll 1D6 for the healing period, no matter where you are. However,
a double critical can kill anyone, no matter how good regenerative powers
they have. (Yes, this rule means that beings with a PL 6+ regeneration
power heal almost instantly if they are not killed outright. They should.)
There are rumors of beings who have the power of resurrection.
Bringing someone back from the dead is a PL 7 difficulty task, and the
methods by which this is accomplished vary widely. Deities can just snap
their fingers, while highly advanced civilizations may possess the medical
technology needed to resurrect a person (as long as the body is found).
Resurrection is very much different from creating an undead monster of
some poor victim's body. The latter tends to be easier than PL 7, but the
resulting life is somewhat lacking in quality.
The difference between healing and regeneration superpowers
is basically this: One must be conscious to use a healing power. Regeneration
works automatically. However, the latter cannot be used on other people,
whereas a healing power can be used on yourself (unless a power limitation
is taken). Resurrection powers cannot be used to heal or vice versa.
Finally, if these powers are used to cure diseases, the
GM must determine a suitable difficulty. Currently incurable (but known)
diseases, such as AIDS, should be of PL 6 difficulty, while curing a hangover
would be PL 1 or PL 2.
Vehicles ignore non-lethal damage (unless it is powerful
enough to convert to lethal). Otherwise:
These rules replace the old "excess damage rule." If you
preferred it, by all means continue using it. I just felt it should not
use a different mechanism from everything else.
Failure: Scratched paint, dented body panels.
Normal success: -1 PL to all actions until repaired. If multiple
hits are taken, the vehicle suffers the effects of a critical hit.
Critical success: The vehicle is rendered inoperable and
comes to a halt. This can be dangerous if you are flying. A randomly chosen
passenger will also take damage equal to the attack PL. Additional normal
hits will each hurt a single passenger; another critical hit totally destroys
the vehicle, as explained below.
Double critical: Fireball! The vehicle is destroyed in a
most spectacular fashion. Everyone takes damage equal to the attack PL.
Other vehicle combat modifications
The handling rating of a vehicle cannot reduce the PL used
in the maneuver roll below PL 0 or raise it above PL 7. For instance, tanks
which usually have 2 penalty PLs almost always roll against PL 0. Deities
can always maneuver at PL 8 should they so desire.
Maneuver rolls are only made if the vehicle is indeed maneuvering
for position. For example, if a tank is sitting still behind a ridge, it
can make a normal initiative roll to engage targets moving in the valley.
However, the commander still rolls for the whole crew, unless he lets the
gunner operate independently (or the latter ignores his boss). Handling
PLs obviously have no effect on these rolls.
Fire control systems only help in vehicle-to-vehicle combat
unless the GM decides otherwise. Giving a bonus for shooting a flaming
supervillain with a heat-seeking missile IS perfectly justified, if not
exactly fair play.
Fire control systems (user-guided or self-guided missiles,
smart weapons etc.) give +1 PL to the attacker, while appropriate countermeasures
give +1 PL to the defender. Superior technology could be indicated with
ineffective defenses (alien missiles breezing past jamming attempts and
so on). Fully independent weapons systems have to be assigned a skill PL
by the GM. They obviously don't get the fire control bonus.
Fire control system types for the technically-minded: user-guided
(the operator must steer the missile to its target), laser-guided (the
operator or someone else must 'paint' the target with a laser designator,
but the missile will ride the beam on its own), self-guided/radar (the
missile has an integral radar, which will lock on the target and correct
the flight path as needed) and self-guided/infra-red (the missile has an
IR sensor, which will lock on a hot object such as a jet engine and correct
the flight path as needed). Radar-guided missiles can be defeated by jamming
devices or chaff and heatseeking missiles by flares. Laser guidance is
harder to beat.
Smart weapons, that is, those which have the guidance on
the weapon instead of the projectile, get the same +1 PL bonus as guided
missiles. They have the benefit of being very difficult to defend against,
as there are few effective countermeasures. An example of smart weapons
was seen in the film Robocop, where the main character had a gun which
was directly linked to his visor. Another, more common example is a radar-guided
Technological Edge: sometimes there are situations in which
two basically similar vehicles have identical game stats but one of them
is obviously superior in the real world. An example would be a M1A1 Abrams
fighting a T-55. They are both main battle tanks, but the Abrams is perhaps
the best tank in the world today whereas the T-55 dates from 1960 and has
inferior firepower, mobility and protection. Yet they fall in the same
categories in Powergame. If the GM is concerned about this, he can use
the following rule: whenever a considerably more sophisticated machine
is fighting an inferior vehicle of the same general class, its crew can
always reroll the lowest die (but only that die) of any attack, damage,
defense or maneuver roll. If the reroll is lower than the original, the
original roll will be used. This rule will no doubt raise lots of arguments
about the relative merits of various vehicles.
If really big vehicles are involved in combat, even a
double critical with a typical weapon (anything below PL 6; nukes CAN take
out most targets) might not be enough to destroy them. This I suggest the
following simple system: when a huge vehicle (Size PL 5 minimum) is hit,
roll 1D6 on the following table. This indicates the general hit location.
Then, roll for damage as usual, but apply the results ONLY to the location
in question. The exact results are very much up to the GM. If the rolled
location is not present in the target vehicle (for example, not all ships
have weapons), it represents a hit to a non-critical location (empty space).
These do only cosmetic damage.
Vehicle hit location table
Mobility: powerplant, propulsion system
Crew: bridge, control center, other stations
Cargo: passengers are also a type of cargo
Systems: sensors, communications, life support
Firepower: weapons, ammunition, fire control
Finally, huge vehicles often have active defense systems,
such as Phalanx CIWS autocannons or point defense missiles. These can stop
an incoming attack if there is enough time (a GM call again). This is resolved
by a defense system tech level PL versus weapon's speed PL roll, and only
one try is allowed. Since most attacks come in at PL 5 speeds, interception
is anything but easy. For example, the Phalanx is probably PL 4 technology,
which means an incoming missile has a slight edge.
Example: Let's take a British Type 42 destroyer. Two of
them were sunk in the Falklands war, so they know how to play the role
of a target. Two enemy airplanes approach H.M.S. Unlucky Alf undetected.
The flight leader fires an Exocet antiship missile. He achieves a normal
hit. Now he rolls for location. 1 indicates mobility, which the GM decides
to be the engine room. He gets a critical success, which means that the
ship loses all mobility (dead in the water) and someone working on the
engines is injured. ALL OTHER systems continue to function. The second
pilot fires his missile. The ship tries to stop the attack with a Sea Dart
SAM, but fails. The Exocet inflicts normal damage to firepower. The GM
rules that the fire control devices were damaged, giving a -1 PL penalty
to all gunfire. Later, under cover of the night, an enemy submarine sneaks
up to this floating gunnery target. It fires a torpedo... double critical
to fuel! The poor destroyer catches fire and all hands must abandon ship.
The blast also killed or injured some sailors immediately.
Crash damage uses the table for combat damage to determine
its effects on the vehicle.
Always use Protection to defend against crash damage. Size
is now important in a different fashion (see below). While a crashing car
might well do damage to a building, remember that the damage is very localized
and only affects a small area.
If the participants of a crash belong to different size classes,
the larger party subtracts one PL from the damage before rolling. This
also applies to damage for passengers. Also, the vehicle might be big enough
to use the rules for huge vehicles.
Besides giving one extra PL for an attempt, spending one
E-point allows you to reroll the dice and pick the better result. This
can be done after you have seen the opposing roll. The two methods can
be combined: if you really need to succeed in something, you can spend
one E-point in advance to give you an additional die and spend another
point to reroll the increased number of dice, if the first roll was not
All PCs now receive one free E-point at the beginning
of their careers, after the creation process is over. This further distinguishes
them from normal folks and improves their changes to survive during that
all-important first adventure. Major NPCs receive this benefit as well.
A patch does not need one. Go and playtest the crap out of
this thing. BTW, thanks to everyone on the mailing list who sent me feedback.
I just wish there had been more of you.