Superheroics

I’ve been reading a lot and prepping my ‘superhero’ game and though I love the concept of GODLIKE and Wild Talents, it’s really turned into an exercise of accountancy.

I don’t like point buy systems which encourage you to minmax.

I’m frustrated by this because I can’t therefore find a system I want to use. And that means I’m going to have to stop procrastinating and write my own. I’d already done some of this before, then lost all of my notes, and now have to almost start from scratch.

I think using the basis of the 23rd Letter is probably a great idea. What say you?

23L Superhumans

Having some spare time yesterday evening I resurrected some of my notes for ‘superpowers’ in T23L. It wasn’t part of the plan to have 23L superhumans – though I was accused by Jeremy of writing my own ‘supers’ game when we published The 23rd Letter. We did have quasi-superhumans in the form of the Furies and the Terata but nothing was ever done with them.

Some of the thought process for the superhuman system was taken from the Amber system. I quite liked the way their stats were arranged:

  • Human – covering the full range of Human ability
  • Chaos – stronger than any human
  • Amber – stronger than both Chaos and Human
  • Ranked – allowing you to be a stronger Amber-ite, perhaps even the strongest.

For 23L/Supers, I envisaged a triple scale over and above the abilities of Humanity.

The 23rd Letter has a range of 1-7 for human endeavour. Given the media it is trying to emulate, I expanded this to 1-9 so that there could be some decent Batman/Captain America/peak of human ability in there. The rationale obviously was that someone with Strength of 1 would be weedy and weak whereas someone with Strength 9 would be sprouting muscles on their muscles!

I added a second level, Superhuman 1 (also called Basic) which covered the range from 11-19, inferring that even the weakest superhuman was still stronger than the strongest human. All individuals with Strength at Superhuman 1 would be of similar strength ability – the second digit giving you an idea of the amount they had ‘worked’ it. Someone with Strength 11 would probably be able to press a ton and could be thin and unmuscled. In comparison someone with Strength 19 would be heavily muscled or, at least, tremendously toned and should, in theory have better control over their strength.

I then added a third level, Superhuman 2 (also called Advanced) covering the range 21-29 and a fourth, Superhuman 3 (also called Master) for very high level supers.

This also extended to the Powers they would have. And even within powers there were powers that may not be available to all superhumans (essentially the first generation superhumans had access to some powers and could get very competent with them, later ‘model’ superhumans had access to better powers but didn’t have as much opportunity to become skilled with them). The Powers were in broad categories like ‘Flight’ or ‘Coordination’ or ‘Strength’. Each power would have a description of ‘Basic’, ‘Advanced’ or ‘Master’ and were meant to be built as packages, e.g.

  • Basic Flight – the character can fly up to 70 mph.
  • Advanced Flight – the character can fly at up to Mach 1. He also gains modifications to his body to better enable this, skin toughness and resistance to wind chill and friction. The player can buy Basic Coordination at half cost.
  • Master Flight – the character can fly at virtually unlimited speeds. He is resistance to the effects of this travel, gaining Basic Resistance for free. The player can buy Basic or Advanced Coordination at half cost.

Like in The 23rd Letter, the ‘powers’ were tied into the game world so that someone with Basic Strength (boosting them from Strength of 1-9 to Strength of 11-19 as well as other benefits) would be called Achilles-class. Someone with Advanced Strength would be Talos-class. A Master-Strength superhuman might be Heracles-class. A Heracles-class superhuman might have other benefits too, like being virtually impervious to harm.

This was the basis of the system of ‘More Than Human’ which was on the LateGaming site for years (since about 2001 when Jared put together the first edition of this web site) but now comes uncomfortably close to the as-yet-unreleased ‘Beyond Human’ touted by Eden (which will undoubtedly come to market around the time we release whatever this game turns out to be – if history (Zombi vs All Flesh Must be Eaten) is anything to go by.

I’ll post more on this later.