Power Experiments (Action)
|Heroic Action Role-Play|
Power experiments is what you use to exceed the limitations of powers in Action. Powers are designed for everyday use in an action context, not for solving large social or engineering problems, make inventions, or otherwise perform world-altering events. In other games, this might be called ritual magic, but the powers of action need not be magical and thus a more generic term is used here. Power Experiments has some similarities to Tinkering.
A power experiment represents a significant muster of resources and time. The more resources you use, the easier it becomes to succeed.
In Action adventures, miracles are performed with frenzied effort and leaps of genius in very short time. These rules give a framework for power experiments; the game master must always interpret these rules in ways that fit the campaign. The following table gives benchmarks for calculating the difficulty of power experiments. There are schticks and powers that use or modify the power experiments rules.
A power experiment consists of six steps, each requiring a separate skill roll using a separate skill. This might sound daunting, but in many cases you can compensate for a low skill rating by making that aspect of the power experiment easier. Each step has a difficulty dependent on what you are trying to achieve.
Power Experiments Table
|Skill||Relevant Skill||Charm or Know||Create or Impress||Maneuver Recon||Shoot or Ride||Origin Skill||Skill|
|DC 4||Month||Exact Power||Factory||Dangerous||Personal||Normal||DC 4|
|DC 8||Week||Expert in the field||Lab||Annoying||Building||Day||DC 8|
|DC 12||Day||Similar Power or Schtick||Field kit||Public||Town||Month||DC 12|
|DC 16||Hour||Relevant Form||Basic tools||Private||County||Year||DC 16|
|DC 20||Limit Break||Relevant Tradition||Nothing||Secret||Regional||Century||DC 20|
|DC 24||Basic Action||Nothing||Handicapped||Isolated||Widespread||Permanent||DC 24|
Reading the Table
Time: This is how long each participant must spend on the project. For a Basic Action or Limit Break, the effect does not happen until all participants have performed the relevant action, which can be several rounds. The skill used is that of the power you are working with, or as determined by the GM if there is no comparable power.If the power experiment happens in detailed time, Advantages can't be spent to change the time.
Theory: This is where you work out a theory for the experiment using your Know, deciding what to do and how to proceed. Depending how relevant the powers, schticks or Forms you already have are, power experiments become harder. Expert refers to the schtick. Similar powers and schtick are those that get a similar result or use similar means, but not both. Relevant Forms and Traditions are those that would allow you to learn the power assuming it existed. This category also decides what background is needed to understand and use the result of the power experiment. Tradition, Form, Origin, and Schticks/Powers used as a part of the power experiment also facilitate the use and understanding of the final result. GM are encouraged to use this in the story, and perhaps impose some Item Limitations on the result. If Advantages are spent to change this category, it makes the result more or less accessible to users depending on the modified category.
Resources: How much resources you have at your disposal to work your experiments. It is harder to improvise something out of rubber bands in the field than it is to order your ten thousand mooks to build it using state-of-the-art tools.
- Factory: A full set of equipment, plentiful supplies, and a willing and able workforce.
- Lab: Plentiful equipment, supplies or work force and not an absolute death of the other two. A truck full of gear, access to a large trash heap, or a village of craftspeople.
- Field kit A man-portable power experiments kit, plus suitable resources to work with.
- Basic tools: A small toolkit and some junk. A Swiss army knife and what you can loot from a wreck.
- Nothing: Your own will and power prevails!
- Handicapped You cannot put in normal effort, perhaps because you are imprisoned, lack the full use of your body, or have other demands on your attention.
Secrecy: How tightly the lid is on, which is important if what you're doing is illegal, amoral, or if there is opposition to your project. Charm and Recon are the skills to keep things secret and root out spies. A failed roll means there is a leak, which can result in a conflict or be a plot hook for later. It may seem strange that it is easier to perform power experiments that harm their surroundings. The explanation fort this is twofold. First it is easier to work with fewer security and environmental measures. Second this Action, and high drama is both the goal and a means to an end. Whenever plausible, the consequences of secrecy happen before the ritual finishes, but in case of very short times, it can happen soon after.
- Dangerous means the power experiment in itself has a detrimental effect, attracting the ire of your neighbors. Things like mutations, kidnappings, earthquakes, or wildfires attract dangerous attention.
- Annoying: Annoys the neighbors; lights and sounds at odd hours, strange odors, ghost sightings, and the like. Likely to stir an investigation.
- Public: Announced so that anyone interested know what you're doing, but not in itself dangerous and annoying. There are prejudiced people that object, but the experiment itself is not dangerous or annoying. Expect to be picketed ad become notorious in certain circles.
- Private: Not publicly announced, but not secret either. Does not draw attention to itself. If there is an investigation or surveillance, the experiment will be noted. Likewise, its is pretty easy to find clues afterward about what you did.
- Isolated: The experiment is conducted in a secluded spot with no access for outsiders. Often on a base hidden in the wilderness. Very hard to detect beforehand, tough a paper trail remains.
- Secret: The experiment is hidden, and evidence is hidden. A thorough investigation may uncover it, but that requires specific effort.
Size: This is the area affected by the power experiment. Larger effects are harder to achieve.
Duration: Power experiments have effects that last from days to centuries. All such effects are considered Curses and can be broken with enough effort, with longer-lasting the effects being harder to break. The Normal category means the duration is the same as whatever power the power experiment is based on; most often a scene or less, but is some cases permanent. What skill you roll here depends on your power origin; Chi: Maneuver, Gifts: Recon, Fey: Dodge, Magic: Know, occult: Know, Psi: Charm, Spiritual: Impress, Tech: Create. If you have several origins, negotiate with the GM on which is most appropriate; certain origins may find the theory to be harder or easier..
You need to roll for each category, but you need not succeed on all of the rolls. Rather, the effect of success and failure are modifiers on the next roll in the series. First you must decide what you want to achieve, and negotiate with the GM about each column in the table. Once that is done, you can begin rolling for the power Experiment.
You can have one character make all the rolls, or split the tasks in a group, as decided. The difficulty in each category is based on the person who actually makes the roll; if you make the Know roll the difficulty is based on your selection of powers and schticks and so on. A character that makes one of these rolls can't affect the Power Experiment in other ways, such as by Assisting or using powers that grant re-rolls. Named NPCs can participate in power experiments just as PCs can, but unnamed characters cannot directly assist; their contribution is to the Resources column of the table. You can make the rolls in any order desired.
Progress in the task is described in Advantages. For each roll you fail, the GM gains one Advantage. If the failure is particularly bad and fails to meet the category lower than what you choose, the GM gains an additional Advantage for each extra class of failure. Success does not grant any advantage, but if you meed the DC of a higher their of difficulty (a lower row in the table), you gain one [|Advantage (Action)|Advantage]] for each extra category. Every four points of result above 24 gives an additional [|Advantage (Action)|Advantage]]. These advantages can be spent to succeed at the rolls and also determine the success or failure at the end of the project.
When all the rolls are made, the GM can spend one of her Advantage to negate a player Advantage or keep them to impose penalties. Once this is done, the players can voluntarily abort the process, losing any time and resources spent but potentially avoiding disaster. If the power experiment proceeds the GM can spend these Advantages to reduce the effect. Even if you do not have any negative Advantage the GM may want to change the effect, giving you one additional Advantage to spend at the end of the process for each additional Advantage the GM spends. Each advantage the GM spends lowers one column in the table by one category under your stated goals (going up rows in one column of the table). Alternatively the GM can spend an Advantage to impose a Action on the process and/or participants, often creating a lesser or slightly different effect than desired. Lastly, the GM can spend two Advantages to impose a Curse. The GM is encouraged to consider which rolls failed when determining the consequences, but are not bound by this and can make up the difference somewhere else. You must decide to abort before the GM decides how to spend the negative advantages.
If you have positive Advantages at the end, you can improve the result, going down one category in one of the columns for every two Advantage spent.