|Yet more superpowers for the MARVEL SUPER HEROES game by David Edward Martin from
Dragon Magazine #134 June 1988 pp. 89-91.
This column also deals with a new class of "rule powers" which are powers that alter the game mechanics. Players and Judges should rewrite the Power Generation tables on pages 14-16 of the TUPB in order to accommodate these additions, if they are used.
New Physical Form
S32/Collective Mass: Tom Lamphier looked at the Marvel Super Villain Swarm and came up with this variation of the S16/Physical Gestalt body type. The body of the character is a collection of individual bodies held tightly together and functioning as a single unit. Unlike Physical Gestalt, the individuals retain their distinct physical forms (though admittedly it may be hard to actually spot any given individual if they are tiny). One helpful side effect of this power is that the individual bodies do not physically suffer while they are joined together; breathing is assumed to occur without difficulty. However, the Collective Mass will probably have to break apart in order to allow the individual units to eat.
Primary and secondary abilities are rolled on Column 1 of the Rank Table on page 11 of the TUPB. Because of its peculiar dual nature, a Collective Mass has two sets of primary abilities. The first set represents the average abilities possessed by the individual component entities; the second set is that of the Collective Mass. The majority of powers can only be manifested by the Collective Mass. Individual entities can at best exhibit Feeble-rank versions of the available powers; otherwise, why bother to be a Collective Mass in the first place? The Collective Mass's abilities may be affected by the loss or addition of more individual entities to its form.
A Collective Mass gains +2CS Resistance to physical or directed energy attacks (lasers, for example). Its unique physical structure allows it to simply create holes in its body to avoid making contact with the attacking force. However, such beings have a peculiar weakness: A successful Grappling attack breaks the body into two masses! The body can automatically rejoin in 1-4 turns unless something prevents this, like teleporting half the body into a parallel dimension.
The Collective Mass can be any size, depending on the size and number of the individuals entities that compose it. Most Collective Masses in Marvel Universe campaigns are human-size and composed of smaller creatures generally less than 3" long (between the size of a mouse and a dragonfly). If the judge allows, a Collective Mass may be a giant composed of human size entities. In special cases, the Collective Mass may even be a titan composed of relatively large beings.
Ordinarily the number of individuals composing the Collective Mass is less than the rank number of the Collective Mass's Reason, multiplied by 100. The individual entities can be of any nature, whether animal, plant, or machine; the individual components may be sentient or not. If the Collective Mass is composed of relatively ordinary creatures (as opposed to something strange, like a colony of snakes mutated by a nuclear test at Los Alamos), the Collective Mass has the option of absorbing more of these component creatures into itself. A Red Psyche FEAT allows this to occur. In such a case, the addition may have the effect of increasing the Collective Mass's primary abilities.
In an Earth-based Marvel Universe campaign, the Collective Mass has the ability to transform itself into a human likeness by making a Psyche FEAT. However, the visual appearance of the individual bodies does not change; a disguise is needed if the Collective Mass is to impersonate a normal human.
Each of these superpowers has a 2% chance of appearing during the random power-selection process.
P18/Hyper-Intake/Expulsion: This power was in my original TUPB proposal, yet not only did I forget to put this in the TUPB, I also forgot to put it in the original addenda article! This power is usually referred to as "Super Breath" and, while it is technically a Matter Control power, should be listed under the class of Physical Enhancement powers in the TUPB. The hero has the ability to ingest awesome amounts of matter, retain them indefinitely, then expel them with power rank force. When creating a hero with this power, the player must decide what the hero can handle. A random die roll determines his chance of having the power to handle gas, liquid, solids, or some combination of these.
This power enables the hero to absorb quantities far exceeding the normal volume of the human body. He can absorb a volume of gas equal to the power rank number times 100 cubic feet. Liquids and solids are limited to the number of cubic feet equal to the power rank number. A side effect of this power is that the ingested matter is somehow compressed, diminished in size, or displaced into a pocket dimension: this enables the hero to retain his ordinary shape, although his weight does increase a token amount. It is up to the Judge's discretion as to how much weight is gained, with a 1% weight increase being a rule of thumb. Note that a sudden failure of this power can be disastrous! Such catastrophes range from (at best) the sudden expulsion of all ingested matter, retention of the ingested matter with the hero suddenly bearing all of its weight, or the rapid expansion of the ingested matter to its original size (this latter possibility being quite fatal).
Normally, a hero can retain the ingested matter indefinitely. A side effect of the power gives the hero internal invulnerability equal to his power rank, preventing major internal damage due to ingested poisons or physically damaging materials. Solids and liquids can be retained for as long as the hero can go without food; digestion normally stops while this power is in effect. If the gases ingested are toxic, the hero can only retain them for the amount of time he can hold his breath. If the mixture is not toxic and contains a sufficient quantity of oxygen, then the hero can hold his breath indefinitely.
The hero can expel the matter harmlessly or direct it into a blast that has power rank range and damage. He can also do damage by ingesting. For example, by inhaling all the air in a room, he can cause certain events to occur. One, everyone in the room must make an Endurance FEAT or pass out from the sudden absence of air. Two, the room can implode if the pressure difference exceeds the walls' material strength.
P19/Hyper-Endurance: A number of readers pointed out that I referred to this in the TUPB as a power rather than as a primary ability. Sorry! Hyper-Endurance is designed to increase your hero's (hopefully) already formidable Endurance. The randomly determined rank is added to your PC's previously determined Endurance rank whenever he uses a power that drains his Endurance. In this way, heroes can exceed their physical limitations. Hyper-Endurance is an optional power for such things as Hyper-Running, Hyper-Swimming, and other powers requiring muscular effort.
P20/Hyper-Strength: I kept referring to this as a power, too, so here it is. Hyper-Strength is an addition to your hero's previously determined Strength rank. The player has two choices here: He can permanently combine the two ranks, or else make the addition a temporary one. In the latter case, the hero can "Hulk out" and manifest great strength during a limited time. The daily limit on this form of Hyper-Strength is a number of game turns equal to the power rank number. Also, the temporary form carries with it a bonus of +1CS rank.
MG14/Probability Control: I had intended this to be a variation of MG10/ Reality Alteration (Alter Future). However, enough people have this power to justify its status as an independent power. Unlike the Alter Future power, this power functions at a more limited range; the power takes effect the same turn it is used. The original Marvel heroine with this power, Scarlet Witch, could only create entropic effects. Other superhumans such as Roulette developed the ability to produce beneficial effects as well. There are three ways the hero can use the power to affect his immediate future. The first way pits his power against the Psyche of the target. In this effect, the hero makes the target act in the way the hero intends. The second method pits this power's power rank against the material strength of the target. In this case, the hero can temporarily control the physical properties of the target. In the third case, the hero pits his power against the intensity rank of a target phenomenon (energy fields, magic, powers, etc.). In all three cases, the range is limited to the hero's immediate area.
T24/Spinner: George O'Ravis looked to the Whirlwind to come up with this peculiar Travel power. The hero can attain power rank ground speed by rapidly pivoting. The visual effect is that he blurs into a human top. The hero gains several useful side effects. This power's rank is added to the Fighting rank when a grappling attack is used against the Spinner. He gains power rank resistance to physical attacks. His Endurance rank increases by this power's rank number; this enables him to maintain his power for extended periods as well as avoid the obvious dizziness and nausea. The hero's visual acuity increases to give him the equivalent of Circular Vision; despite his rapid rotation, the hero perceives the world as a static, 360-degree field of vision. However, unless the player states otherwise, it is assumed that he is only looking directly outward. Thus, he can be surprised by attacks from below or above. If the hero has such powers as increased Strength (Incredible rank or better), Invulnerability, or Hyper-Digging, he can bore his way through any target with a Material Strength less than this power's rank. As a power stunt, the hero can develop his power to attain flight. This is treated as T23/Whirlwind flight of one rank lower than the Spinner's power rank.
F6/Unique Weapon: Edward and Adam Nevraumont brought up this variant from the Fighting Powers class. The hero possesses a specific tool or device that contains many of the powers assigned to the hero. When creating the hero, the player should assign only the Mental and Physical Powers to the hero himself; all other powers should be assigned to the Unique Weapon. Such assigned powers then can only be manifested by the weapon itself or by the hero's direct contact with the device. The player should work with the Judge to determine the shape and nature of the item, as well as who gets what power.
The nature and function of each Unique Weapon should reflect the powers available, the player's imagination, the hero's background and physical type, and the campaign setting. The randomly rolled power rank becomes the material strength of the item. A Unique Weapon is just that; lose it and you're out of luck. The hero can acquire his item in a number of ways. The most common are "I Found It;" "I Received It;" and "I Created It." The player should roll once on the Origin of Power Table (page 10, TUPB) to see what the background on his item is. If the device was attained by accident or as a gift, the hero might not be able to replace or repair it. Such conditions must be resolved by the Judge.
M34/Omni-Knowledge: A reader named "Comalite J" created this interesting variant on the learning process. A character with this power has an innate, subconscious link to a sort of cosmic reference library. When he is presented with a question concerning information of which he was previously ignorant, the PC must make a FEAT. Green FEATs give him access to contemporary human knowledge. Yellow FEATs give him access to alien knowledge. Red FEATs give him access to Entity-level knowledge. Success means he is able to give a short, concise answer that only answers the initial question. As a limit to this power, the question must be asked of the hero by another person. Also, despite his ability to "know" any given topic, the PC might not be able to understand it. His comprehension is still limited by his Reason. This power enables the Judge to create idiot savants who can decipher the workings of Galactus's Worldship but are unable to tie their shoelaces. For example: Ref-Book and his buddy Jaunt find themselves in the Watcher's recreation room, facing a piece of alien technology. Ref-Book has no idea of what the thing is, but when Jaunt asks the magic question "What is that?" Ref-Book's power goes to work. He makes a Red FEAT, gains the necessary knowledge, and says "It's a television set." "Well, how do we turn it on?" asks Jaunt. Ref-Book fails his next FEAT and says, "Beats me."
Table for Random Rule Powers
Several powers in current RPGs exist only for the sake of altering the mechanics of that specific game. Such examples include Mystic Link (from Mayfair's DC HEROES game) and Spending Karma (in the MARVEL SUPER HEROES game). I hadn't touched on these because most of these powers only function within the confines of their home games. They cannot be easily transformed into other settings, such as actions in a comic book. However, that doesn't justify my further ignoring their existence; hence, the creation of a new class of powers. The rule powers class is the rarest form of power. During the Character Creation process, this class of powers has only a base 3% chance of occurring. All rule powers have extremely short ranges; their initial effects are limited to the hero and those beings and objects within the immediate vicinity (i.e., the same area). Rule powers include the following:
R1/Attribute Change: The hero has the ability to temporarily increase the rank of a specific ability or power by the rule power's rank. He can automatically retain the enhanced rank for 1-10 game turns, but he must make a Psyche FEAT each turn beyond that to retain the enhancement. For example, Cosmic Dasher possesses Incredible Attribute Change. He uses it to increases his normally Amazing Hyperspeed with an additional burst of energy, thus attaining Unearthly speed.
R2/Attribute Pool: The hero is able to directly combine his powers' or abilities' ranks with those of other heroes. The combined energy can then be channeled into a specific power or attribute shared by the affected characters and then used to perform a specific action. A Green FEAT is needed to perform this. In game terms, the players add their characters' ranks of the chosen ability; the sum is then temporarily reassigned as a new rank for each member of the group. For example, Cyber1, Cyber2, and Cyber3 pool their Excellent, Remarkable, and Amazing Strengths together; they each then achieve an effective rank of Unearthly Strength.
R3/Attribute Rearrangement: The hero can reassign the basic value of his various abilities to enhance other abilities. In effect, the player has the ability to rewrite his hero's abilities and powers at will. The rule power's rank is used to make this FEAT. The effect initially lasts 1-10 game turns; beyond that, he must make a successful Psyche FEAT each turn to maintain the rearrangement.
R4/Award Change: The player can temporarily increase the size of the Karma game award previously given his or another's character. The player can increase his hero's Karma by this power's rank by means of a Green FEAT. The player can increase the size of an ally's Karma with a Yellow FEAT. A Red FEAT can either increase or decrease an opponent's Karma. Such changes occur in the same turn the power is used and last for 1-10 turns; after that, the hero must make a Psyche FEAT to maintain the effects.
R5/Award Pool: In the MARVEL SUPER HEROES game, this is called Karma Pooling. The player can temporarily pool his award value with that of other player characters, then use that increased reward to perform a group function. The pooling lasts for 10 turns plus a number of turns equal to the number of PCs participating in the pool.
R6/Award Rearrangement: The player can temporarily reassign the Karma values of other players' characters by means of a Green FEAT. He can transfer a number of Karma Points equal to his power rank between either allies or opponents. Unscrupulous PCs can use this power to siphon Karma from civilian NPCs (onlookers, passers-by, etc.); this is considered a villainous act since it is akin to Vampirism.
R7/Initiative Change: The player can temporarily alter the order of play, deciding who plays in what order if he makes a successful Green FEAT. A Red FEAT can be used to either take away another character's turn or to instate a turn at a time when the affected player would otherwise be unable to roll.
R8/Power Combination: This power normally occurs only during the Character Creation process. Rolling this rule power requires the player to combine two of his hero's already existing powers into a new hybrid form. The new hybrid power permanently replaces the affected powers. Power Combination enables the player to create some really peculiar, unique characters. High-ranked NPCs may possess a special form of this power with which they can alter another character's powers at any time. However, the power's use is limited to once per day and only in noncombative situations. In this way, the Judge can create character-transforming incidents to enliven, confuse, or rearrange the existing campaign.