Friday, April 15, 2016

Making TSR Marvel Super-Heroes Wrong

You get a small pool of points for FASERIP and a pool of points for powers. You can transfer any amount of power points to FASERIP but not the other way. For every super power you have you pay a high tax: your overall pool of power points is way lowered. Please note those values below aren't per-power, those are what you have to spend for all your powers. Yes you can start with Poor stats in all FASERIP and one Unearthly power but I do not recommend that at all - put some of those points in FASERIP please.

Choose between:
  1. 30 pts for FASERIP, 100pts for 1 power
  2. 30 pts for FASERIP, 50pts for 2 powers (or one of those powers with an asterisk. That's 50 pts total, not 50 for each power)
  3. 30 pts for FASERIP, 30pts for 3 powers (or one asterisk power and a second power; that's 30 pts total, not 30 for each power)
You can keep going down like that and end up with 10 pts for 4 super powers but I think that would be dumb.

Talents cost 10 power points and do not count as super powers
Talents with an asterisk cost 10 points but DO count as super powers

I only choose 1 power so I have a total of 130 pts to work with. I take Body Armor at Remarkable (30) so I have 100 pts left to put into my base ability scores, my FASERIP. I decide this gal is clever and her armor augments her physical abilities. That plays out like so:

F Poor (Good)
A Poor (Good)
S Feeble (Excellent)
E Poor (Good)
R Remarkable (Remarkable)
I Typical (Good)
P Poor (Good)

She has only 50 pts dumped into her FASERIP without her armor's augmentation and 100 pts spent in parentheses representing her armored abilities. We've essentially left all those points back in her armor, we've just made that power work for something other than flat damage reduction. We don't have points left for extra Talents. Her overall HP is only going to be 14 but she has strong defense and better than human ability in most areas so long as her armor stays intact. If the armor is targeted directly by magic or magnetic attack we can see at a glance it'll have 50HP.


I want 2 powers, so I have a total of 80pts to play with. I want Matter-Eater-Lad powers and I want Medusa powers, because I am insane. I take Digestive Adaptation at Good (10) and Prehensile Hair at Good (10) leaving me 60 to work with, but wait: I can take a talent; maybe my guy is some weird biologist. That sounds right, so I take the Biologist talent at a cost to me of 10. I then put 50 into my FASERIP:

F Typical
A Good
S Typical
E Typical
R Good
I Typical
P Typical

We've got 28HP but we're way more naked than the first example.


I want 3 powers, giving me a total of 60 pts to work with. If you go with this method know that all your various normal or super abilities will be low level. The key is picking things that still let you do what you want. Here's a straightforward superhero type: I want Communication with Animals, Animal Transformation, and Animal Mimicry. I'll take each of these at Typical (6) and pick up a talent in Zoology leaving me only 32 pts for FASERIP. Ouch, that hurts because even taking every ability at Typical would cost 42! We've got to shave...

F Typical
A Typical
S Poor
E Poor
R Poor
I Poor
P Poor

It's important to note here that having Poor reason doesn't necessarily make you act like a dumbass, you just have low problem solving and innovation skills.

Here's a fun trick for this kind of character, though: intentionally limit your power. This will let you roll that power as if it is 1-2 categories better than normal. So if I say the above 3 powers only work with Spiders then I'd probably give this character a +2CS for those powers, meaning they roll them as Excellent, not Typical, but can never mimic bat sonar or turn into a cat. If I further say that Zoology is the even narrower Arachnology then I can say I have +2CS to identifying and fun spider facts, and if I say communicate-with-animals only works with spiders WHILE this character is a spider then that might be worth +3CS. This stuff adds up. OBVIOUSLY I WOULD NEED TO RUN ALL OF THIS BY THE GUY RUNNING THE GAME, because he might think my adjustments are too generous....or not generous enough! HP for this silk-sack is only 20.
Do not bother about resources, popularity, or contacts. For that matter if you're building yourself a Stun Rod go ahead and take super powers equivalent to a stun rod but if you want to buy a gun do not buy a gun. Anything you can equip yourself with at a Bass Pro Shop please neglect.

So who are you anyway? Well you can see that by most superhero standards your abilities will be either modest or way crazy powerful compared to how typical you are, beyond your ability to effectively control them often. I'm going for a kind of Planetary/Doom Patrol thing where you are usually the most powerful motherfucker in the room but your powers are really dwarfed in the face of the weirdness and forces around you.

This is the Green Room. It's a teleporting room, a base of operations that superpositions itself over an existing room somewhere in the world. Within it are medical facilities and technology that while not out of this world will not be available to the public for fifty years or more. Any pie in the sky tech you've read about lately - 3D printed organs, smart food, cockroach drones, this room does not have those things but it can hook you up. It's not a room out of time, just a place ahead of its time.

It is run by machine intelligence that is in turn composited from one million minds around the globe. It is an aware social media mind that is keyed into people whose mental processing it deems valuable, and it uses their engagement with it to power itself and improve itself. These are the Subscribers and they can make a superhero out of nothing.

You're Shift. It's not your job to save the world or the change the world. It's your job to make change possible, to save those capable of bringing change, to remove obstacles to change. The Green Room is neither good nor evil, merely forward, and so to must you be for to be else is to be monkey.

This is what you were told about the Green Room. By the Green Room.

When it is time to kick all ass, when you are preparing yourself to go be super, you have your chi manually centered and spend some time waiting in the Green Room until the time is ripe.

You have no idea how many other Shifts may be employed by the intelligence, or how many are working at seeming cross purposes to one another. When you die someone else will join the Shift.


What you do know is that there are worlds and worlds and most worlds are set on a mathematical path oh let's call it predestination. Ruin or Eden in their atomic structure, everything in between. Yours is one of few worlds that are Fireweed, universes which exist in the void left behind from entropic collapse. You were born and thrived only through chaos so this is a chaos universe. Anything can happen here. The Green Room wants to give anything, literally anything, the chance. It is a breeder of possibilities. You have to fight for any future you can, and anything that produces more possible futures than not has to be nurtured. Sometimes that means killing the President. Sometimes it means erasing everyone's memory of that President. Sometimes it means becoming that President so the dominos continue to fall. You have no idea how many of you there are, no, nor any idea how many there have BEEN. You may have lost colleagues, friends, brothers, and now even their absence doesn't exist for you. To the good of all futures.

Quite apart from that, in this world there are angels and demons.

No one gang or league holds sway in this world, though there are scores of little power cults all over. Most individuals who are special operate singly. Some have multiple identities. Some are incredibly public in their displays of power. Almost to exception however these agents operate covertly.

If Superman lived here everybody would know who Superman was. If Godzilla lived here everybody would know who Godzilla was. And if one particular journalist made it his life's mission to spread the word about threat/menace Spider-Man then yes that would get out. For the most part people are ignorant of the small wars around them. A bank is robbed, there is an explosive confrontation, maybe he gets away or disappears. Maybe he's apprehended but some men in suits are there before the car even pulls away, taking custody, working for Not My Concern. Ireland seemed to be on fire with light and sound last night. Then it stopped, this phenomena people are calling a mass hallucination, here's someone in a wig to scream about how ISIS probably did it.

The knowledge is out there. People know the angels and demons visit them. But knowing them, tracking them, is the domain of the conspiracy buff and secret intelligence. Apart from them these super powers are as mysterious as the strange forces they fight.


Naming conventions run the gamut from pulpy stuff like Jack Lightning, Marvel Age stuff like Golden Goose, obscure 90s alt superhero stuff like Mse. Extacy, R&B style stage names like Flicka or G2E, or just go all 21st century and use your own name or a screen name (Batman2482).

Killing is discouraged as it is in the original Marvel rules. Unless you're being sent out explicitly to kill someone, killing anybody else is eroding potential and attracting the attention of people who want to kill or imprison you. It is bad all around so don't kill anybody you don't have to. Absolutely fucking murder them, though.

All this being said this is not necessarily a super grimdark affair. Have fun with it.