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Synthetic Superpowers

Synthetic Superpowers

Although Cybernetics have been briefly mentioned earlier, this is a discussion of in game concepts for translating other media concepts into RPG’s.

Bionics: Are also known as Bionical Creativity Engineering, or Cybernetics this power covers the concept of the replacement or improvement of parts of a body that may just be all too frail in a world with or without superpowers.  Whether made of metal, synthetic material, organics in the modern age concepts or the ages old ideas of enchanted limbs and steam-punk powered parts in previous eras.  Often written characters have half of their body replaced or some odd amalgamation of parts frequently necessary just for survival and the symbiosis of man and machine grant enhanced abilities almost on accident.  With the advancement of science and medicine cyberwear is no longer considered to be just metal and machines grafted onto a human, instead some forms of cyberwear are now grown from a characters’ own cells or have those cells/organs/limbs altered through various means to create the desired effects.  In most recent cyber/bionics media examples there is a balancing condition to these modifications bringing a question of whether or not a person with a majority of body replacements are even truly human any more, suffering from a loss of emotions and feelings of inhumanity bringing to the fore a man versus self or society issues.  Major changes to the human body by outside forces can force a dramatic reconsideration of self-image to say the least and be a source for interesting limitations as well as role-playing ideas.Â

Because this is a power no matter the limitations it should be an advantage; and often a significant one that is able to take the character to the lower levels of metahuman combat at the least if not able to struggle against the mightiest of opponents.  And because of the infinite possible suggestions for enhancements and improvements the power may generate the Gm and player should work together to create a reasonable suite of powers and challenges for the character as well as allow advancement.

A: Attack powers for bionics can include enhanced abilities (increasing any physical/combat related characteristics), enhanced combat statistics (Damage Modifier and Accuracy bonuses), concealed weapons (pistols and poison darts are a favorite), and unusual abilities tapping into a character’s different power sources are all possibilities (whether radiation, sonic, electrical attacks or some other power source).Â

B: Bionics are often crafted with survival in mind so Defensively bionics can add a whole new dimension to the character whether it is parts that are tougher than the original organics to the ability to leave behind broken parts of the body and possibly easily repair/replace such losses, the ability to have inherently tougher bodies because of modifications (Subdermal plating, bones laced with various substances) or even reserves of air or liquids, the ability to cut off pain sensations so on and so forth can make the character a challenge to overcome. Â

C: Because there is a wide variety of unusual attachments that could be added to bionic limbs that could enhance movement (stretchable, faster or tireless limbs, magnetic grapples, etc.…) here again the options from the source materials are bewildering for the imaginative.  Common movement enhancement abilities for ‘borgs generally involve running/leaping or other leg oriented alterations, though the ability to summon or control mass transit, making all the lights go their way or against their opponents are examples of travel oriented non-vehicular or even non-standard abilities.

D: Classic bionics often deals with the replacement of the loss of an eye or an ear granting not only a restoration of the loss but superior to superhuman ranges of hearing or vision all the way out to unusual additional abilities like sub harmonic senses or infrared/ultraviolet vision.  More recent science Cyborgs are gifted with enhanced computer skills including technological communication skills that make todays cellphones look like abacuses. Magical replacements often suggest different abilities perhaps a character could lose an eye and gain a much-enhanced wisdom (represented by enhanced Intelligence or Charisma, visions of the past or future or some other ability) a hand lost could result in greater respect and many other possibilities.

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Examples of Bionic Powers (2d10+1d8-2)

  1. Additional Limbs: the character has locations to attach additional limbs that can provide a variety of interesting effects, the character may not be able to always run faster by adding additional legs but by becoming in effect a centaur the character may be able to move more like a quadruped gain additional carrying capacity and reduced knock back effects as well as the character may be able to ignore certain disabling effects simply by having enough limbs to compensate for the loss of a few.  While more arms may mean more opportunities to attack, the character will probably still have to expend the power and take the Accuracy penalties for multiple attacks (dealing with their own limbs having less effective avenues of opportunity as well as keeping game balance).
  2. Bio-Organics: After being altered with grafts of perfectly matched biological material (frequently cloned) there is any one of several ways this character could have some interesting abilities.  Externally speaking the character could gain some of the following ideas such as +1d6 to STR, and/or End, +1d3 to Agility, +4d10 to weight, +1d10 to initiative, etc… increased stats are not the only way to go because there are potentially a lot of other interesting options.  Internally speaking with an increased liver function the character not only never gets drunk but has either a 50% reduction in the effects, duration or a 50/50 save against poisons even those that don’t normally allow them. The possibilities of an improved digestion and fat storage system could enable the character to gain sustenance from nearly any organic compound as well as only needing to eat once a week for up to six months at a stretch.  Other ideas could be drawn from the Body Powers section, as well as other different sources of internal modified powers, Supplemental to the other advantages, the character is able to pass through metal detectors as well as avoid the attentions of Magnetic Masters and metal manipulators that frequently target other Cyborgs with ease.
  3. Bowling Ball Butt: the characters’ butt is usable as a weapon in addition to a resting place for several other kinds of items.  The character gains a free attack on opponents to the side they face away from when changing facings for free but these attacks do not gain accuracy benefits.  In addition, the character finds that those that like them for this cyber enhancement have a significant difficulty telling untruths facing a challenge of at least ([5+ the reaction modifier as an absolute] x 5% chance) checked per untruth.
  4. Combat Computers & Programs: the character gains a pool of points equal to current level + accuracy mods and damage mods (which are not lost) divided by 2, rounded up. This pool may be spent to gain bonuses to hit, deal damage and penalties to the attackers’ accuracy when aware.  Each point only lasts a round and are recovered between fights.
  5. Concealed Weapons: As an expansion of some of the more common cyborg options is the ability to bring along a variety of weaponry often integrated into the base systems making it difficult to find, alter or remove ranging from concealed blades, slug throwers and flame throwers to hidden energy weapons possibly powered off of the characters’ internal systems.  Bio organics systems like these can be more like Animal inspired offensive capacity possibly similar to concealed stingers, retractable teeth and claws or concealed marsupial like pouches for smuggling tools for others in some cases. Care should be taken to keep to a minimum any sort of overlap between this power and Poisons or Innate/Natural Weaponry though certainly the powers can inspire each other with options.
  6. Crystal Chip Element: The character possesses structured silicates instead of merely metals with results in a few changes to the mechanics of being a cyborg.  The character is more resistant to Magnetic attacks but Sonic/Vibratory abilities are more dangerous(Cyborg defense does not apply to Magnetism but Sonic/Vibratory effects are at +2/+4 to hit the character).   Also the character is faster gaining +1d6 to initiative, +1d3 to HTH damage and +1d6 to Intelligence.
  7. Deflective Dermal Armor: the character has plates either cunningly hidden under or by some sort of skin or as the final dermal layer designed to protect internal organs or systems from damaging blows.  the character gains 4d10 hit points and 2d10 power only to be used for absorbing damage. The power like effect is recovered immediately after a battle while the health is restored at 5 times the characters Healing rate per hour spent actively repairing the plates and skin.
  8. E Legs: the character has only Cyberized legs though the ‘ware is concentrated in the characters’ lower half, the movement advantages can make up for the lack of upper torso alterations.  The character can perform up to four kicks in a round dealing +1d3 Steps worth of damage and has 20 pr per combat for covering the costs of multiple attacks. Also these attacks are difficult to defend against (-1 to evasion efforts) but take place 1 phase after their regular attack phase.  In addition, these kicking attacks are at only -1 for each additional attack.
  9. Energy Based Economy: no longer driven by simple machines the character has gained new conceptual parts that are beginning to cross over into energy based life forms. In some cases the character may collect and provide condensed energy supplies that are of much use to others.  At the base for the character may gain an additional power reserve equal to Level +Int in points, these effects may be used to attack opponents typically as either light control or Lightning control dealing damage on a 1 step for 1 point used in the attack.  In some cases this accumulation may be sold or traded for other valuable items to strange beings.
  10. Enhanced Hearing: A fairly standard bionic power dating back to some of the first bionic character concepts is to add some sensory improvements, in this case starting with the auditory system.  The character gains +3% per level to dh and dd with an auditory component, but in combat with inhumanly loud noises critical effects may include a loss of this ability additional damage or even loss of hearing in some cases.
  11. Experimental Medicine:  the character is powered not by mechanical science but instead by pharmaceutical/alchemical sciences that enable the character to operate at higher levels of ability that those without, some of these are much more powerful than the temptations athletes and others in demanding high performance positions desire. The effects are variable as well as potential risks endured but mechanical examples can include a secondary PR reserve (at the same starting value as the characters normal PR) that lasts for d6 hours followed by exhaustion that lasts twice as long, expendable only on innate PR costs.  Other options include Increases to Physical or Mental Stats (+1d6 to three stats or 1d8 to two stats) also with durations of increase and subsequent doubled penalties. SS-22 001.jpg
  12. Genetic grafts: unlike many bionically endowed characters the person has had alterations to their genetic code grafted on as part of an operation to repair, subsume or enhance their abilities. The advanced medicines remove the Cybernetic defense, allow the character to heal 1 hp per hour and add 10% to c cap for hth damage calculations most often.  In some cases, the character may have mental enhancements to rival those felt by others including being so genetically perfect they have powerful personal charisma, astonishing intellect or other powers.
  13. Half-man: Having had close to or over 50% of his body replaced, the often experimental body parts can give the following modifiers: +1d6 to Strength overall, +1d4 damage steps with the replacement limbs, -2 to be hit from the mechanical side (the parts and implants occasionally deflect attacks or absorb more damage than human parts would) and the ability to continue to walk while resting or unconscious as well as+30-65% bonus hit points (1d8x5%+25%) if both legs are replaced, however the healing of these additional hit points is performed by having a character (including the character themselves if they are conscious) with the Mechanic or a Cyber or Id Sciences roll work upon the cyber parts of the character.  Characters are capable of making repair attempts at a rate of one attempt per hour, repairing the characters healing rate in damage per success and costing $1000 in materials and energies per point repaired.
  14. Hook me up: the character can enter various alternate reality areas representing the net/cyberspace/etc… and then proceed to perform various actions.  The character could uncover valuable information or perform activities that impact the outside world through the links if the two worlds interact resulting in possible Offensive, Defensive, Movement or Sensory enhancements as regulated by the GM.  The Character may also have challenges to overcome in the location depending upon story needs.   A Gm should also be careful that individuals inside and outside of the alternate reality have enough to do or are quickly enough resolved in order to keep things interesting for both groups of players in a session of a game.
  15. Indestructible Skeleton: In this scenario, the character is gifted with an internal skeleton that has a much higher ability to absorb and alter combat effects than the ordinary human skeletal system, usually represented by granting Armor or other defensive benefits.  Primarily there are two effects of this the first is that there is a fiat declaration that the characters’ bones will not be broken and certain other agreements of the benefits of indestructible bones (the characters; skull won’t be broken even by a planetary force trying to crush it, so the character could take some damage from events like a door being closed on his head but it will stay a heads width open possibly allowing others out or in).  The character also gains a 1.5 Weight and Basic Hits multiplier representing the presumed additional mass and defensive benefits of the skeletal alterations.
  16. Infrared Scope and Beam: Similar in design to an Infrared sighting system this has two settings: the first setting uses ambient heat differentials in order to pick up targets by their heat signature.  The second setting uses the IR projector as the primary light source generating a beam similar to a flashlight that can only be seen by those with IR senses.  This beam though directional (and can be as fine as a laser) does allow those with IR senses to pick up the directed radiations much further in the same direction but does give the prime user a great deal of sensory input and control.  This power can invalidate some forms of Invisibility and Darkness control (which should be regulated as to how much or often this power reduces the utility of those powers).
  17. Limb independence: One to four of a Cybernetically enhanced individuals limbs can be detached and obey the character through mental radio or pre-programmed commands, each limb could be useful in combat as much as an independent agent and in some cases may fly at up to 50 MPH for up to an hour, even if the character does not normally possess flight.  Of course, the character must give up the use of the limbs while they are independently operating.
  18. My God, what did they Do?: is an example of giving someone else control in a situation in the hopes of receiving additional power from the ability.  The character receives 1d3 additional power like abilities of the chosen theme as well as 20% chance per power like ability of having an additional Challenge. All of these Powers are either chosen by the GM or another player in order to best represent someone else making the call as to what to have installed and then kept secret from the player until the player and character determine how things operate (resulting in an internal mystery or sub-game to be solved by the player).  The Gm is encouraged to reward the players involved appropriately with in game experience for playing along.
  19. Mystical Life Additions: this version of the ‘Bionics’ power covers some of the legendary ideas of limb replacement or physiological improvements through better mysticism.  The two famous examples in some of the more common legends of Nuada having a Silver hand replacement while Odin sacrificed an eye in order to gain wisdom.  A character in a campaign is encouraged to come up with their own iconic bedeviling choice of what to sacrifice for what benefit.
  20. Necronics: Instead of using Bio (life) nics this variant uses the parts of the dead in order to improve human functioning thus exchanging Necro (death) for Bio resulting in Necronics (Necro + nics). For those who wish to reject this concept, keep in mind the organ donor program which does use the donated organs of the deceased to grant others the benefits of improved life quality.  In many mundane cases this does not trigger the bionic weakness or grant the character additional powers however from a powered world point of the view the abilities could be as simple as granting additional skills (typically gained from the deceased) to granting incredible powers, sometimes with a price ranging from being associated with the undead, susceptible to magics others are not, to having a possibly hostile spirit the character only can interact with.
  21. Not a Robot: Cyborgs generally differ from robots in that they still have much of their humanity about them. At the level of full body replacement the character has so few parts of their own body left that the ability to differentiate between the two without surgery becomes challenging and at this level the character may choose to duplicate the strengths and weaknesses of a Robotic Form as an ability as well as other Bionic related abilities.  Though this should be moderated by the story and campaign needs, many characters at this level do suffer from dehumanizing feelings and doubts.
  22. Server Rape: although this power has a dreadful name it does reflect the current status of what some Cyborgs and ‘hackers’ can do by making an I d20 save versus the opposing systems main operators I d20 roll (then followed by a secret Cd20 vs. Cd20 roll) the attacker of the server if they win can gain information housed in the systems by paying 5 PR per valued secret accessed (this is not necessarily something as small as a single fiscal identity, but getting all of the fiscal identities is).  A defender may spend 2 PR to raise the PR cost for a particular secret by 1, and either character may expend 3 PR to add a +1 to both of the rolls.
  23. Solving Cyberwear: By growing cultures from the host body that duplicates the bone and fingernail growth locations the body grows a hardened outer sheath for the upcoming Cyber-limb attachment location providing much more stability & wear reduction as well as preventing/reducing pain during dislocation or necrotizing events and circumstances.  These characters may take 1d6x10% less damage from attacks in general, and when dealing damage gain the same benefit over similarly built cyborgs in HTH combat.
  24. Springborg: Unlike modern or magical Cyborgs this is a more clockwork or steam tech version of a cybernetic individual.  This version of Cybernetics could rely upon a variety of interesting advantages and limitations to make the character varied from most of his opponents.  This is especially true in a heavily Cyborg populated campaign.  Ideas like ‘Here’s the wind up’ the character by spending 1 action winding up expends no power on his next action set so long as he declares the actions to his GM beforehand or secretly records them, can recover power from heat based attacks or by replenishing steam tech resources (wood/coal/water) and hard to challenge with electricity.  Other ideas include using early or pre-gunpowder age weaponry (swords and crossbows), and devices/concepts (Babbabageian punchcards and grappling hooks or chains). For complication ideas these characters often are noisy, heavy and bulky.
  25. Switch out joints: One of the advantages of having cybernetics is unlike a purely organic form this bionicist can change out 10-100% (1d10x10%, with 10% means fingers/ toes while 100% means at the torso) of the characters limb length enabling the character to repair up to 50% of the replacement percentage very quickly (1 minute or less) as well as have limbs designed for special situations like ‘remote limbs’ that can operate independently, ‘frog legs’ that increase swimming speed, special gun arms, and other sorts of specialized items for increasing the characters odds of success on a mission or performing specialized events.  This can even be as specialized as having a choice of a Laser Arm, Oxygen supply arm, Neutralizer arm, etc… and many kinds of Critical Assignment Arms & Legs the character can use in a variety of situations without needing surgical alterations.
  26. Telescoping Spine: The characters’ body has been modified so the character can attack anyone within an extra 1″simply by extending his spine.  Though the character should be careful about low ceilings and overhangs as a general rule when using this power; any round the character desires they can change facings up to 3 times for no PR cost.
  27. Trionics: a more advanced form than bi (or two)-onics, Tri (or three)-onics is supposed to be a step above the ordinary.  This concept is more useful to those longer running campaigns wherein Bionics could be outdated.  Sometimes this power is used to indicate the most modern/advanced form of mechanized-organic adaption.  Typically, the Character by constantly updating their systems operates at 1d4 levels higher than their current experience indicates, and gains +3/15% to one roll per round in or out of combat.
Projecting ones self.

Projecting ones self.

Furthering talks about various powers and ways to look at them this time around i am talking about Astral Projection: this power is primarily considered to be one where in the character takes his soul/mind/spirit/senses out of his body and perceives other realms and places at his mental choice but not physical direction.  There is an assumption that the character while doing so is physically resting (like sleep) or at least not exerting his primary physical form while the character traverses to where they wish to investigate whether in the real or another world. Usually the character needs to have guards or other ways to protect the body in order to safely/fearlessly use the power.  If the body usually occupied is left un-maintained and unoccupied for long enough all sorts of problems may arise from greater recuperative needs to another being may take the original characters place and begins to fulfill its own priorities with the new body it has.

A: Usually by leaving the body behind a character rarely takes enough along to attack with.  Other abilities like Mental and Emotional Control could easily be effective as does other nonphysical or non-contact abilities.  Because the projected form nearly always fails to have enough substance to reflect all light at best the appearance itself can rarely cause shock in opponents; in some cases the character can possess targets as a way of gaining an offensive power but this should be reserved for those characters without other offensive capacity.

B: Defensively this ability can be considered almost like not being there, making it a truly marvelous defense in that case.  However no defense is perfect so a GM may have to come up with situations wherein either some forms of energy or matter prevent the easy passage of such a character or abilities that can seek to harm the Projecting creature. In addition to projecting into different parts of the real world from their own body, Astral powers do well for duplicating projection into other ‘worlds’ like dream lands, computer realities or as a variant of self only dimensional travel (early Sci-Fi Stories sometimes handled interplanetary travel this way).

C: This power could be viewed as one of the safer forms of movement by simply being able to pass through many of the more classical hindrances to travel. Yet the character, though passing through the area (and likely discovering much in their travels) the character does have a certain level of leaving the obstacles to be still overcome even if their secrets have been revealed.  Defended castle walls must still be breeched by some sort of attack or subterfuge, caverns though mapped still need to be traversed, after finding the kidnapped NPCs in the Intergalactic HQ they must still be returned, etc.

D: In some scenarios, the safety of the travel form can result in a decision by the Gm and players to shortcut the travel parts of this powers use (making it a speed of plot power) and make the power a variant of a safe far sensory ability.  In these cases, the GM and player should take short periods wherein the astrally scouting character investigates something then re teams up with the other characters in order to share the spotlight properly with others.

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Examples of Astral Projection Powers: (1d10)

-Astral Scout: the character can with little difficulty send forth his body as a sort of clairvoyance, seeing (or more) of the likely obstacles to be faced.  Depending upon certain factors the character may only be able to see or hear the likely obstacles, though some variants may allow other opportunities for a showcasing of the other senses. Unlike certain forms of this power the character is not allowed to actively encounter individuals (i.e. fight, speak, alter physical objects etc.) but in most cases, can still be cut off from access by certain powers (force fields are the most notable power) whether magics or technologies are used to hedge the character out. The Character also most likely must leave their body somewhere during these scouting missions, perhaps their fellows must deal with a challenge of keeping their scout alive.

-Be still my soul: Rather than traveling the character can determine their location in the multi-verse and communicate this to the characters’ allies or possibly someone they have a generally supernatural connection with, this is still subject to other limitations of the standard astral projection suite of abilities.  Other versions of the power may have the character appearing to be dead to the senses of others resulting in the characters body being treated as other dead bodies are and perhaps left unguarded allowing ample escape opportunities, though used recklessly this may result in more dangers.

-Constant Companion: The character has a spirit self that is constantly around unless blocked. Perhaps the characters’ soul has been separated from their body, the soul was split, was twinned, a deceased acquaintance (a friend or relative for example) or it is an unrelated spirit (whether dead or a native of the spirit place/realm) with a purpose sometimes benign to the character.  Sometimes the spirit has its own motivations and goals for the character to discover and deal with as a part of the characters’ or NPCs’ story. The stranger the story for the why the character has a companion most likely the stranger the spirit will be.  The character can use Charisma vs. Charisma Challenges in order to get help of some sort from the Companion (and the more powerful the spirit the greater the Spirits Charisma should be), the better the player rolls (though better roleplaying is preferred) the more helpful the Companion can be while failure reduces the willingness of the companion to aid, or as an alternate requiring more sacrifices, presenting more complex riddles/less useful answers.

-Dream travel: When this style of power is accessed the character has typically two choices in the base operation of projection power; the power only works while dreaming or the power only operates to allow entrance to other characters currently dreaming.  These other realms of existence may have some modified rules for their behavior but should follow the conventions dreaming have.  Other versions have even greater restrictions requiring, for example, that the power must be used within the nightmare realm, which can be far more horrific and possibly deadlier to the characters.  Some offensive versions of this power can be used to force a target into sleep for 20 pr, but because of the link between the characters both parties take the damage inflicted on each other as well as effects of combat up to and including death.

-Ghost Forest: In this case, the character instead of projecting himself into the astral plane chooses to partially project others into the plane perhaps as a form of punishment or maybe as a way to grant unusual powers (such as a lifespan long enough as to grant immortality, but typically not enough to make a target into a superhero level of power), as a good rule of thumb any major transformation of a character should cost 20 PR or more typically with at least one save opportunity if not two.  Most times the power should be less ‘powerful’ than the Death Touch base ability.

-I am living still: Unlike true resurrection powers the character with this power can to a certain extent survive death whether like a ghost or by becoming a motive concept with the forces of the universe.  Essentially the character upon death joins those who have this power permanently ‘on’.  Becoming limited yet more powerful upon ‘death’ by not passing on/re merging with the flow of the universe this also means that the character has goals or unfinished business in some cases.

-Light Speed Search: the character can search a reasonably sized area via this power concept. Up to 75% of Small outdoor maps +5%/ Stat over 15, up to 35% of Medium outdoor maps +5%/ Stat over 15 is searchable this quickly with up to 10% of Large scale outdoor maps +5%/ Stat over 15 is easily searchable at this speed for only 15 Power and a minimum of 1 turn action.  Alternately up to 10% Globally +5%/ 2 points of power spent on this effect alone. The Character can as an action pay the power expenses & make another to hit roll per additional area to be searched.  How long this takes and its effectiveness may be determined by the plot needs as well as noting that there are ways to stop this power from effectively working in certain cases.

-Mystic Memoriam: The Character has access a superior form of a base located in the Astral plane (or wherever the character considers a relatively stable locus for his activities) from which they may recover from combat better, access stores of knowledge, strange allies, training techniques or other items appropriate to the concept for the power. In some cases, this place is only accessible when the character is ‘dead’ hosting the eternal version of the character in between reincarnations or only some of the advantages are available during short visits with longer stays needed to gain the full abilities in the location.

-Spirit Guide: The character is always partially projected into the astral universe whether from a near death experience, mutation or miscast spell.  Having such an anchor can serve several purposes depending upon how the character uses this connection but typically this ability is information gathering based.  The Character may be able to see the unseen or do the impossible because of the guidance from the spirit world whether passive, active overt or subversive.  Unfortunately, this power does mean that the character may not be able to cross certain barriers or wards even if the effect does not typically pass into the physical realm or influence others without this ability.

-Web Master: the character is projected into the World Wide Web /Internet /The Net /Appland /Cyberspace /whatever the appropriate name is for the medium of information exchange.  Since this is a power it most likely makes the character very powerful if not godlike in this information realm depending upon how ubiquitous the power is the characters’ relative power levels are highly variable. In some cases there may be defenses in a very real and dangerous sense in others the character may end up treating even the highest and most top secret of defenses available as little more than speed bumps in the quest for impact upon this realm.

The photograph is mine modified by and taken in the Crown Hill Cemetery near 32nd and Wadsworth, while the art features (from left to right) Enigma, Envisioner & Wraith.

9 less common Water Breathing powers.

9 less common Water Breathing powers.

Water Breathing: This is a power concept that deals with environmental defense and to a certain extent movement since the primary function of this power is to enable a character to survive and even thrive in water. Water breathing is both immensely powerful and very limited in scope; a Las Vegas campaign may find the Water Breathing power challenging to make a high utility power in scope while in a costal or island based campaign (Florida or Hawaii) may find the power invaluable.

A: In cases where the character is at home and far more powerful in a water environment than in the air is a typical example of this becoming likened to an offense, if they get one or more opponents in the characters favored environment.  If the character while under water instantly recovers all power then the character can go through insane amounts of power use limited only by Common sense and GM Fiat.

B: As a defensive concept this is the ability to normally breathe air or water though primarily considered an air breathing creature (or land dweller in most cases).  The character does not drown or suffocate in standard liquid environments found on his home planet/location of origin.  Typically, there is no differential between salt and fresh water as suitable environments (in part because this power is considered to be a touch under powered/utilized in most campaigns).  A defensive option could be to give the character while submerged the Ice defense for free if it is merited and the opponent stays above the surface. Expanded effects could include if the character in question has no need to eat, breathe, excrete etc. in essence the person is a self-contained individual of some sort though there may be a minor, easily sustained need (such as sunlight or low levels of electricity, or just something to breathe without regards to composition).

C:  Since the character has fairly unlimited underwater capacity, travel by or under water is a significant possibility.  With 75% of Earth surface being water this is not an insignificant power, even if 99% of all encounters are on land. There is also the possibility that cold, high pressures, and even freezing temperatures may not have as large of an impact upon the character again increasing number of avenues a character can use over most humans.

D: The power may be expanded by viewing the ability as granting some solutions to the problems of an average human sensory effectiveness for operating in the depths of the ocean as an example.  The character may gain some counters to the challenges of the variety of environments the deep sea provides, whether ability to operate in total darkness gained by such things as a limited form of sonar, sensitive eyes, enhanced sense of smell or neuro-electrical senses, nictating membranes and may even have technological counterparts like fish finders, sonar, limited illumination abilities etc.

Examples of Water Breathing Powers (1d10, pick on 10)

  1. Enhanced Breathing: The character can not only breathe water but can breathe any substance of a gaseous or liquid form.  This character is basically immune then to any sort of inhalant gas attack, does not suffer from drowning or suffocation. In most cases the character rarely lacks the ability to gain power while resting and may be depending upon design, unable to be strangled.
  2. Fish Eyes: Granted this obvious physical power the character can see normally in any dim light except total lightlessness (i.e. darkness) and halving the characters’ penalties for being attacked from the sides yet the disturbing shape of the characters’ eyes causes him to suffer -1d3 Charisma. In land combat, the character gains +1 accuracy/+1d6 in HTH because of his combat effectiveness to counter the increased resistance to attacks under water.
  3. Gills, Lower: Lower gills are usually found on the back along the approximate lung area for bipedal creatures. When going from water to air the lungs automatically drain just by standing up in air, thus eliminating the need for the character to actively void their lungs; however, it makes it impossible for the character to keep water in his lungs thus if faced with a dangerous gas that does not cross aquatic barriers the lower lung creature would have difficulties an upper gill character could avoid simply by voiding his lungs after passing the barrier.  Because of the location of the gills the character has difficulties with wearing any sort of back armor not specifically designed with this problem in mind.
  4. Gills, Upper: Upper gills are most often found on the neck of sub aquatic humanoids these fill the lungs easily while under water but in order to breathe air the character must void his lungs of water by expending half of his movement to do so while within an appropriate environment. The character may also find certain kinds of neck armor, covering or wear causing the character problems and unlike lower gill breathers this character can still be choked by having his or her neck wrung.
  5. Rock Claws: In this case, the water breather has some abilities in addition to the enhanced breathing ability.  The character possesses strong and natural claws that are excellent for performing certain tasks (holding onto objects with a 50% higher carrying capacity) in addition to providing a combat bonus of +1d4 to hit/+1d8 to damage in Hth and finally the character will never need a nutcracker ever again.  This may not be just a genetic modifications or differences but could include Bionical Creativity Engineering and even diving suits or spells of alteration.
  6. Secret Ocean City: One of the advantages of having a different breathing medium may be the ability to live in places other consider inhospitable for example the bottom of the ocean has a great deal of “ocean front” property for sale, cheap.
  7. Sonar Sensitive: In addition, the character having the ability to breathe water the character has -2 to be hit under water but takes +1d12 damage from sound based attacks and can operate above or below the water in total darkness with no penalty so long as he or she can hear reasonably well.
  8. Strong Swimmer: in addition to being able to breathe underwater and in the air with great ease, the Strong Swimmer has 3 Points of invulnerability at sea level and gains a point of Invulnerability for every 50 feet below the surface of the water to a maximum of 10 points of Invulnerability.  The character is also much tougher and stronger gaining 2d6 to be split among his Strength and Endurance scores as desired.
  9. Webbed limbs: in addition to some water breathing abilities the character gains + 2d10x2″ to their swimming speed movement from their anatomical advantages from a human. This difference from the human norm may provide some challenges of its own like finding gloves that fit.

The photograph is one I took of a building on Federal here in Denver that I think I will be using as a Aquatic Research Center of some sort in my Supers Campaign….

1d8 Vulnerability Challenges

1d8 Vulnerability Challenges


Vulnerability Challenge: the character suffers from more dramatic and/or painful encounters with a substance or situation than similar characters without this Challenge. Though this is typically thought of as a weakness and is a price the character must face paying sometimes the vulnerability is the source of the power making it something to be endured rather than risk removing the challenge and the source of power itself.


A: Typically, vulnerability doesn’t cause an offensive situation though there are possibilities say for example a character with a vulnerability to ice entangles taking longer to get out.  Or a character with the problem of dealing with a distinct color being unable to use his best attack ability against a target of that color is another example of a vulnerability difficulty compromising a character’s offensive capacity.


B: As an example of a defensive vulnerability characters could have flammable feathers or costume, Other examples could include a vulnerability to “Certain Death traps” typically employed by super villains as a way to finish off the character without actually soiling their hands physically.  Other options include vulnerability to certain minerals that then remove all of a character’s power especially if those are primarily defensive in nature then it has the effect of reducing the character’s defensive capacity.


C: In most cases a character doesn’t have a vulnerability that interferes with their ability to flee the interesting item however if the character has travel related powers then if the item removed all or part of his power set then a reduced ability to flee this challenge type is certainly very likely. On the other hand, if it doesn’t remove some capacity for the character to evade the effects of the item then the place the item would be a real threat would be if the item was used by supervillains as a part of their death traps.


D: The standard options for vulnerabilities are also unlikely to cause sensory deficits however if a character went blind or deaf when exposed to a certain mineral that could be an interesting idea dealing with this sort of challenge.




Examples of Vulnerability Challenges: (1d8)


  1. A job for… Someone Else: the character gets tangled up in some portion of his gear or the environment, though usually depicted as a cape it could be anything from rope mishaps, difficulties with local vegetation, all the way to having an NPC around who likes to tie the character’s shoelaces together when the challenged character isn’t looking
  2. Deer Crossing: Wildlife more frequently causes its share of difficulties for the character than most others, whether combat delays or harboring a desire to not unduly sway the natural balance the character should be working around natural challenges that other characters may not face or notice.  Another way to view this is as the character is also opposed/challenged by some of the forces of neutrality or nature (uncontrolled by another character) resulting in spotlighting  the character having difficulties and the  theme this challenge is tied to
  3. Hollow Bones: having bones built similar to some kinds of animal species like birds and some other creatures the individual suffers from impact attacks more profoundly (most notably falling and many HTH attacks) as well as a 10% loss in body weight with no loss in Carrying capacity.  The result of these impacts is the attacker who successfully strikes a hollow boned individual roll his HTH damage at +1 level (thus 1d10 becomes 1d12, and 5d10 becomes 6d10 as a few examples).
  4. The Missing Gem: Ordinarily this restriction is found among mythical creatures with legendary defenses that the unprepared or unwary will perish while fruitlessly assaulting the defenses of the creature without finding a well-protected weakness much like an Achilles Heel.  In technology, the classic example of this is a chain reaction from striking an exhaust port typically done by a rebellious group against a tyrannical overweening empire’s greatest weapon.
  5. Poorly designed cape: the builder of this costume did not unfortunately consider the potential hindrances a suitably flashy cape can cause.  Though the dramatic appearance of the cape adds 1d6 to Charisma (except for situations wherein a GM feels it would not give a benefit) there is a 25% chance Checked per session that once in the session the cape will get the character hung up (on a flag pole, in a revolving door etc.…) or pulled into a hazardous situation (a motor/engine or vehicular wheel are likely culprits).  Note these events by themselves are regularly not instantly deadly but may be and should represent a challenge, not a foul way to easily die
  6. St. Peter Won’t call my Name: the character is particularly vulnerable to the temptations of Evil. Since a truly evil character is considered an NPC the resolution to this is that mechanically speaking the character loses experience points (reward of truly being good) depending upon how dark and evil he acts. A good GM should consider awarding role playing awards as compensation for the player roleplaying this well without generating so much conflict game play is hampered. Thusly keeping the character close to the other characters allowing darker characters some spotlight time but not all the rewards of a truly noble and unchallenged character would receive.
  7. Suicide Sled: The character has an attraction around machines to particularly dangerous target objectives in other words the character is very likely to choose a path of danger and frequent adrenaline rushes over one of more likely success and simple joy.  More so than a thrill seeker the character would jump at opportunities to pilot test vehicles and otherwise engage in risky maneuver’s, with or without their fellow players along for the ride.
  8. Venomous Fate: This is a vulnerability to the character’s own future.  The character has a vulnerability to alterations to the timeline, either making the character darker and more villainous in future sensing’s and alternate dimensions’ paths or the character does not exist, is deceased/unnotable or unpowered.

Lile’ Joon pictured above is known to have vulnerabilities to herbicides in addition to a possible addiction to catnip…


Uh oh…

Uh oh…

Apparently my Preferred GM has a bit of a bad reputation in the parts where we are filming…  We may have to smuggle him in…