This post about my house rules is intended to really expand the concepts available to V&V players and Gm’s. Taking the original set of powers and tweaking them in an unusual fashion from their original presentation as well as providing many examples of possible use from a characters point of view in order to give as much inspiration as possible. This was done in part because people can get tired of the easy dump powers and in part because there is so much possibility in even the most innocuous appearing powers when used imaginatively. This will be followed up by Parts II and III in a day or so.
There are some simple governing declarations for the description of the powers inspiredly categorized by V&V, the First Simple Statement is: All Powers Are Wildcard Powers. This means that even though the player may roll up what appears to be simply a defensive (or offensive/ sensory/ movement) themed power the player is not so limited that with a little bit of imagination and some permission the power cannot be used for a wider variety of things than originally stated. In addition, some characters may benefit from having more power but slightly offset of having other, minor weaknesses, including a much higher than normal power cost. These are not intended to “balance” a character but instead are driven by inspiration of following or creating an iconic character concept. In some cases, though the choices may not be balancing of items but may be also to provide more to hang a characters believability or verisimilitude, his story or other vital concepts for the character.
Since every power is a Wild Card Power, there are no better or worse choices in the power selection itself. For example, if a player or Gm wanted a Weather Controller and rolled up Illusions, the character could choose ‘Solid illusions’ drawing upon ‘weather energy’. A few slight changes to any power and the character could have a dramatically different feel for the weather worker than a Standard_rolled_up_the_power_off_the_rack Weather Controller, often to their advantage. Other ideas could be even though the character wanted a Special Weapon power for his technological wizard Concept (whether a trick archer/shooter/weapon hurler of some sort, a gadgeteer’s belt, power armor or some other outlet for inventiveness) the character rolled up Chemical Power. The player could pass right over the item (quite possibly writing it off as a strange undeveloped power). Instead the player could decide to take the Technological option of Charges, and form the item into a ‘weapon’ with a reasonable number of charges which could be not predefined but previously built tricks that can be used as one shot solutions to various problems presented in an adventure or session. Suddenly a power that didn’t seem relevant is developed into a key or hook into to the character concept. Whether it is providing a short reserve of easy solutions for the character, or a variety of tricks for the imaginative inventor, someone not getting that preconceived ‘optimal power’ is no longer restrained because any power is merely a vehicle for the imagination that will breathe life into the character.
Second Simple Statement: The Gm may choose wide ranging effects, like choosing to either (because after all every power is a Wild Card power) eliminate all level growth based powers (a recommendation is made to set them to at least 4th and in some cases closer to 8th level if not the intended average of the level of the campaign) or make all powers possess level based growth. There is a huge variety of options in making such campaign choices they could range from the characters having a consistent ‘group power level’ with some abilities being available when there are less people and unavailable when the group is larger (should the member attendance vary wildly) other options could be mundane like eliminating weaponry from the campaign or even death, though caution should be used to make certain believability is maintained, the Gm could choose to have all powers come from a single source, usually a dramatic campaign wide event rather than the typical variety of power sources to choose from. Though the reasons could be varied, the focus for such changes should be upon a combination of fun and playability not utility.
Third Simple Statement: No one can think of it all. The understanding we have of science and magic just can’t be done justice to in less than a series of encyclopedias, thus while a few of the more interesting concepts and more comic book style concepts can be illuminated in this book and others, trying to consider every possible combination of powers, trainings and inventive ideas for every possible character is frankly impossible. Which is again an argument for every power to be a wildcard power, a focused character could expand his powers dramatically while still adhering to his original powers scheme/concept but a new character with the same power list could start out in an entirely different direction and continue to expand with just as much versatility as the first character and still not cover the same ground. Which is good news for players and Gm’s because there is a lot of media that covers the primary genre for this book, but players should not feel constrained by what is out there, since there is so much room in just a reality the outer bounds of the multiverse are the limit.
Fourth Simple Statement: Build an Iconic Character. Any of the characters in a campaign should be structured with an eye to building toward an Iconic character rather than taking each power and attempting to construct an iconic ability out of each power. The player should consider prioritizing their character’s power selections and see how they can work together to help make the character at least interesting if not memorable/iconic. Failing that then the player should approach the GM about some sort of trade concept reducing or removing some of their powers or other abilities to improve other powers or abilities for example if a character has a Pet and telepathy the character could sell off some of the options with the telepathy making it singular for the creature then gaining more ability in some other areas, possibly a more powerful pet than usually allowed perhaps on a less than frequent basis.
A useful tool in the building an iconic character is trying to make a character stand out in play as well as when conceived, written or developed. This can be done by making a modification to the play of certain or even all of the mechanical facets of any or all powers possessed by the character. Judiciously done this tactic can create a character that not only appears different and unique on paper but one which games differently at the gaming table even among characters with an identical power set. Which is another part of being Iconic as well as having fun in a campaign is that all of the characters should be made and kept different. With the Wildcard concept any character could emulate any other character easily without regard to the differing power sources or consideration of enabling other characters to shine. Thus a great strength of the system can become a powerful weakness, the players and Gm should strive to keep characters varied using the concepts and tools not only suggested When a character is built whether randomly or through any other means the Characters should not only cover different areas of specialization or power but in order to better shine in the spotlight there should be an effort to have them operate mechanically different as well as having thematic differences. Some people give names to the various archetypical concepts such as ‘Bricks/ubermen’ ‘Gadgeteers/Techno masters/Powered Armor Smiths’ ‘Spell casters /sorcerers /witches /wizards’, ‘Speedsters’, ‘Energy Blasters’ However all of these are really very optional and truly depends upon how much difference is needed and how much the GM and Players want to handle concepts like this during and around the game.
The Artwork is hand drawn counters for my own V&V campaign (messy I know, but still my own ugly beloved children). Also these comments refer to V&V 2nd edition, inspired by little tidbits from talking to various players in Jeff Dee and Jack Herman’s Campaign as well as Jeff’s own blog from years ago crossbred with some Hero System inspired concepts. The result is of course just some house rules and commentary and is not intended to do harm.