|Heroic Action Role-Play|
This is a Metatradition; a tradition that is very wide and non-specific. Each metatradition has many orders, sects, and secret societies that see each others as rivals and believe they alone hold the key to true understanding. Some settings might include magical traditions that are this generic, but in most cases the actual traditions that player characters belong to are much more specific.
Superpowers are spurious powers resulting from more-or-less random accidents. Superpowered individuals, Supers, are larger-than life heroes and villains, but also ordinary people stuck in extraordinary situations. While their powers often have a basis in myth, fiction, or even fictionalized science, this framework is flimsy at best.
It is common for superpowers to be related to another tradition; some Supers have affinity for some other tradition as their superpower. Use dual-origin powers to work this out, Combining methods of both traditions.
Supers tend to have a tight power focus. You have the supernatural ability to control one phenomena, and then use this phenomena in creative ways to achieve all kinds of effects. In many cases, a superpower is similar to a Form, but in other cases it might be defined trough a Method or in some more oblique way.
Gaining your powers is a defining moment in the life of every super and should be part of your story and background.
Supers are typical of the Gifts origin, gaining powers seemingly at random and then striving to make the best of them.
Astrologers observe celestial events, the stars, and the planets to draw power from them. Because of the strong and obvious effect the heavens have on fate and life on earth, this is very powerful. Astrologers can predict fortuitous moments to do different things, but that is only the beginning of their craft. An accomplished astrologer can actually change the future or cause some event to occur spontaneously by creating a mystic link between certain heavenly bodies.
As an astrologer you must know your location and the current date and time of day to configure your powers. You have sufficient sense of time and location that this is not a problem unless you have been blacked out for some reason, such as unconsciousness or traveling blind. If you can see the night sky, you can instantly learn both date and location well enough to overcome this limitation.
This method rewards research and preparation. If you know the astrological signs your target, you can focus, but that focus is only good if people whose astrological sign you know are among those affected by your Limit break. Knowing the birth place and location lets you calculate someone’s astrological sign, and you can use divination power or research to find it out.
While rare among supers, this could be a superpower in itself, manifesting in various ways.
Your power draws attention. Your powers have side effects; they either have distinct and visible physical side effects or send shivers down the spines of people all around.
Whenever you use your power, it is obvious to everyone within ten meters times the sum of your and their Mind attribute that something odd is happening. This does not spoil illusion or invisibility; people can tell something is happening, but not exactly what or where. It is likely to make them more wary, however. Characters of your origin can sense your power ten times as far away. For those related to you, this sense can extend all the way across the world.
Trigger Action (Focus)
When others are watching you do power and their auras resonate with yours, your power increases. Whenever there are a dozen or more spectators who can see you use powers you can focus. Spectators are those who are not involved in the action - either because they were unaware of your presence before your power called their attention, or because they are bystanders.
There is something that stops you from using your powers. Whether this is psychological or an actual power drain is immaterial; in the presence of your bane, your powers fail. Some banes are common, others rare; this is balanced because the limitation and focus condition are so tightly tied. It is secret what your bane is; guard this secret well. Iron Susceptibility is similar to a bane, but well known and much less severe.
- Holy symbols.
- Some metal (e.g. silver, gold, cold steel).
- Specific flowers or herbs (wolvesbane, garlic).
- Types of wood (ash, yew).
- Certain books (Bible, Koran, Torah, pulp novels).
- Certain weapons.
- Specific words.
- Any memento of an old love.
- The bones of a former victim.
- Direct sunlight.
- Running water.
- Dogs with angel eyes (dark circles around the iris).
When directly exposed to your bane you cannot use your powers. It must be within ten meters and there should be no significant barriers; it it is kept in a container or behind a wall your bane does not trigger.
Trigger Action (Focus)
In any scene where you encountered your bane and survived, you can focus. You cannot focus when under the effects of the bane, but if the bane is somehow taken out of the action, the stress gives you focus.
The banes of supers are often related to how they got their powers.
You are the linchpin of all your power; when you cease to concentrate your power dissipates. You cannot create power effects that continue to work when you are not paying attention to them.
If you relax, fall asleep, or become unconscious all your power effects lapse. This includes any Inherent powers you have. Power effects end when a stance would normally end, such as when you are prevented from taking actions.
Trigger Action (Focus)
Whenever you are not using any powers, including stances, you can focus.
Contagion is the magical theorem of like attracts like. By manipulating a symbol, you can affect the real thing. You use this principle in all your power. Generally, it is sufficient to have rough substitutes; a person is symbolized with a small doll, a rock with his name on it or a rough image.
You need your props in order to work power. These props are simple and easily improvised. You must also have some kind of link to your target; you usually arrange this by putting a name or symbol on a blank prop you are carrying. This takes no extra time, but requires that you have such a prop and an exact visual description of the target.
You can use a Limit Break on those you have you have a personal object or former body part from; others are unaffected. Any such items you have against the target are consumed in use.
While rare among supers, this could be a superpower in itself, manifesting in various ways.
You have a special look you wear to work your power. This is distinctive, and marks you as odd; people in the know can learn things about your Tradition from it. It need not be a specific outfit, rather it is a range of outfits with some common and identifiable characteristic. The exact details vary, but specific colors, long robes, pointy hats, or embroidered signs and glyphs are standard. Variant costumes include extensive tattoos, nudity, a certain style of jewelry or accessories, or a very funky hairdo. If your costume includes a type of armor, you must wear that type of armor to count as being in costume, If it does not, you cannot wear armor while in costume.
If your costume is damage and worn, burned or otherwise mishandled it still works and is still recognizable.
You must be in costume to work powers. Donning your costume is a basic action. It is possible to use powers while wearing the costume under other clothes, but this counts as a Disguise stunt.
You can always focus at any time when in costume, but it costs you a Fortune point to do so.
Very common, most supers wear a costume as a kind of heraldry. Not everyone is as dependent on their costume as this method implies.
Your powers derive from an secret innernature shocking to common sensibilities. As you use your powers, your power origin becomes shockingly obvious, making people shun and dread you. Typical examples are necromancers and demonologists turning into the monstrosities they control, androids losing their skin to expose the machinery below, or energies bleeding out in a frightening display.
Degeneration is measured in points; each time you take a Hit, roll a snake eyes or boxcars, use a Finisher, or use a Limit Break result when using a power, you gain one degeneration point. All Charm checks (but not defense values) suffer a penalty equal to the number of degeneration points you have. When you have degeneration points equal to your Mind, you are no longer recognizably human (or whatever creature you normally look like); sensible people will run from you. In more tolerant settings, your degeneration becomes more disgusting so that they still break the mold of "normal" sufficiently to have you ostracized.
This is a side effect of your powers; it never prevents you from using your powers, except that powers cannot hide your degeneration and Charm powers suffer the penalties mentioned.
Degeneration points reset to zero each game session. Full degeneration can be overcome/adapted to given time and care; this usually only happens between stories or when you take a time out from adventuring, not at the end of each session.
Trigger Action (Focus)
You can focus at will as your current degeneration points are less than your Mind. Doing so gives you a degeneration point.
Echoes add chance to your powers, and this does not stop at the effects you produce consciously. This can be because your powers affects the world in a very fundamental way, a form of backlash, a result of your rampant subconscious, or simply the workings of blind chance.
Your powers are subject to chance and strange effects occur around you constantly. What these side effects are can vary from time to time or have a set theme, as decided when you take the limitation. They are often origin-based. Echoes manifest spontaneously and outside your control. They are noticeable, and can give people in the know information they would not otherwise have. Technological powers cause technological side effects, such as brownouts or glitches. Mystic powers have effects similar to the ones you produce yourself. Echoes are generally funny, in a sadistic kind of way; they never obstruct the story, but can create setbacks and hindrances for you and (rarely) your friends. They are a great plot device for the GM to use when you are taking too much camera time or are using your power for tasks that should be role-played.
You can suggest echoes, or your game master can invent them. If you invent funny and annoying echoes, the game master will probably go easy on you with his own. In either case, it is the game master that has the final word on what happens.
Echoes makes small odd things occur around you, but this is mostly flavor, tough they can sometimes provide clues to enemies or distractions to you. When you use your powers in obvious ways, they manifest more strongly; on a Snakeyes roll when using obvious powers you suffer a Setback from your echoes. This Setback often mimics the power you were using, escalating or reversing it, or changing targets. As setbacks go, this is usually pretty mild.
If you invent a creative echo, you can focus. Alternatively, you can ask the GM for an echo, in which case it might be slightly more severe for making him think one up on his feet. In either case, it is an unusually mild Setback and usually manifests at the end of the round - after you've had a chance to use a Limit Break.
Blind seers and lame but magically powerful smiths are a staple of legends. This is also something the GM can impose temporarily on players, due to damage or other complications of limited duration. Perhament handicaps should be left for the player to decide.
You have some physical handicap that is tied to your power. Perhaps you developed your power to make up for the handicap, or it is a side effect of having acquired the power. You can even have several handicaps if you like. Some examples:
- Blind - Still has a general awareness of moving creatures within Mind meters.
- Deaf - You cannot hear spoken conversation and are easily surprised. The perception element of all your skills are equal to your Mind, but you can use the perception element normally with actions, including as an active defense.
- Lame - Prevent movement as a part of normal basic actions. On a full move action, you can take a normal move instead of a full move
- Crippled arms prevent most physical manipulation and the use of weapons and implements.
- Mute - Prevents mundane speech. Make sure to enforce this strictly.
- Albino - Highly sensitive to sunlight, imposing visual penalties and causing Hits with extended exposure. Looks spooky.
The handicap does not limit your power, instead the handicap itself is limiting. Your powers develop at the price of your physical prowess.
Whenever your handicap causes you acute problems, actual penalties, setbacks, or damage, you can focus. Willfully provoking your handicap does work, but the situation must actually cause you some penalty or discomfort. Using powers to overcome your handicap prevents you from using it to focus, but often powers will only negate part of the handicap, in which case you can still use the remainder to focus.
Brian is lame, but has the magical ability to hover. He needs to kick a fallen branch out of the way to clear a path for his friends. Since he cannot, he can focus, despite that Hover negates most of the penalties of being lame.
Loss of Control
You are channeling powers beyond your control: sometimes these powers take you over and force you to go wild. You must specify the nature of the power you are connecting to, as this will influence how you focus and what happens when you lose control. In general, this amounts to a specific vice; focusing means tickling this vice, loss of control is when you are overwhelmed.
The actions you do when you lose control can be nonsensical or even destructive. You lose sight of your normal goals and live out your vice in an immediate and direct way. Such actions can indirectly benefit your normal cause, but you pursue them beyond what is reasonable and productive.
You risk losing control in certain situations, especially when doing things somehow relevant to the nature or source of your powers. When you roll Snakeyes on any task, the GM proposes an action your powers tries to force you to do. The GM can also make one such proposition of his own per scene. You can agree, and behave as suggested. In extreme cases, the GM might even take temporary control of your character. If you resist, you lose access to your powers for the rest of the scene.
When doing the type of actions you do when you lose control, you can focus. This can either be because because you gave in to the GMs suggestion or because you came up with a course of action the GM agrees is in accordance with your vice. When you are taking the initiative and choose to skirt the danger, you have to continue to act out your vice until it plays itself out, or risk losing your powers.
Mark of Power
Your power has left its mark on you and you draw power from this monstrous nature. This can be a demonic or angelic form, sharp claws, obvious cybernetics, huge green muscles, or some other distinctive appearance of your choice. You look quite out of the ordinary and are likely to attract attention and be recognized. It is possible but difficult to disguise this, and it is always visible on close inspection.
If you are transformed into a mundane shape, you lose your powers. Mere illusions won't do, it has to be a physical change. The most radical variant of this is if powers are used to alter your shape, but failing to maintain your supernatural form also triggers power loss. If your form depends on powers, such as Mutations or Cybernetic Implants and these are dispelled, all your powers fail. If you are constantly in disguise for long periods, your powers will gradually weaken, tough you get plenty of advance warning of this.
This kind of power loss has a duration based on the extent of the change; minor changes can cause a power loss for the round, while greater changes can cause power loss for a scene or even one or more sessions in extreme cases.
When an NPCs reaction towards you changes significantly because of your appearance, you can focus. This creates the odd situation that you can often focus in less important confrontations on the street, but rarely when faced with cool villains - unless they have a particular prejudice.
Everything has a True Name, a key to its essence. Knowing this true name gives you power over the thing. Great power is given to those who know the true names of many things. If you know the true name of your enemy, you have him in your power.
Learning a true name is a difficult, often mystic experience. Visions and spirit quests play an important role, and an accomplished sorcerer can sometimes guess a true name through sheer intuition. What a true name is to you depends on your Tradition. If your origin is mystical, true names are precisely that, names. If your origin is technological, it is things like root passwords, DNA code, and the like.
Only some intelligent creatures have individual true names. Each named creature has an individual true name, but faceless dimensional hordes do not. Unnamed creatures have one True Name per type of creature; all unnamed imps share the same true Name. Essentially one true name equals one set of creature abilities. Objects also share names with others of their type. You can learn the true names of your friends with their cooperation, becoming able to focus power on them but also giving you a potentially devastating weapon against them.
True names are also used in Binding powers. These are the same true names used for this method, but you can use Binding powers without the True Name method and vice versa. The Naming and Power Secret methods are related; naming magicians often have their own true name as their secret.
You cannot target a named creature directly unless you know his true name. Mind control, transmutation and other effects which directly and dramatically changes a person require that you know the target's true name.
Whenever you know someone's individual True Name, you can use powers against them as if you were focused. A Limit Break used this way cannot affect a creature whose True Name you do not know.
While rare among supers, this could be a superpower in itself, manifesting in various ways.
Hi-Mi-Tsu! - Xellos, the Mysterious priest, Slayers
You have some secret that must not become known. A magical secret can be almost anything. A technological secret is a wavelength, passcode or other sensitive data that is easily used. It can be nonsense, such as a particular number or the name of some higher being or your own secret name. It can be some fact about you, such as that you are a woman, your exact age or that you are the descendant of Zeus. It cannot be something people would ordinarily say; people will not accidentally blurt out your secret unless the GM is using this as a plot device.
It is possible to find your secret through research or investigation, but this is always an important story development and should have its own dangers and drama. You might intuitively feel when someone is close to discovering your secret, which often leads to dramatic confrontations at the point of discovery.
Anyone who finds out your secret can use it to blackmail you and to gain dominance over you, as you cannot effectively use your powers against them. If your secret ever becomes common knowledge, you are doomed. But this should never happen if you play your cards right; the GM can invoke this as a plot device, but as long as you play along, no villain would waste the hook he has on you by publishing your secret.
The Naming and Power Secret methods are linked; naming magicians often have their own name as their secret.
Anyone stating this secret in your presence negates your powers for the rest of the scene.
Whenever your secret is in immediate danger of being discovered or used, you can focus. This means that an involving secret is much more useful than an obtuse one.
Your powers give hints about you. Anyone who sees or even describes your powers can recognize them, but this might not be connected to you unless you are publicly known as a power user. Maybe your fireballs have your personal rune emblazoned on them or your electronic remote-control signals are poorly shielded. This can be very dangerous in combination with methods like Astrology, Power Secret, or Naming.
The information contained in your power signature for enemies to learn must be fairly important, and the GM decides exactly what it is. If you or they use secrets or information in methods, such information is a good pick. Other possible secrets include embarrassing facts that give large bonuses on interactions stunts, blackmail material, codes that give access to your telephone, bank, or internet accounts, personal information about loved ones that can be kidnapped, or your True Name.
Anyone who knows your style can recognize your powers by sight. Know stunts made against you by someone who has seen your powers or their results have a difficulty equal to your Mind or Know, whichever is lower. You never suffer power loss from this limitation, but might clue others in on how to give you Power Loss.
You can focus anytime, but when you do all enemies get to do an immediate Analyze Weakness stunt without spending any shots.
You are dependent on an external supply of energy to work your powers. This could be an electric grid, the universal web of power, the stars being right, the mystic field of force that connects all life, or the attention and good will of a supernatural entity or god. This method tends to be universal; either everyone of a tradition uses it, or no-one does. This makes the method suitable for campaigns where mysterious and remote events dwarf the efforts of the heroes.
When you are out of contact or favor with your power supply, your powers don't work. There might be means for others to disrupt this flow of power, but mostly its something between you and your supplier. Unlike similar methods, this supply is either turned on or off at a remote location; it is not something you can carry an inventory of and use as needed, though there might be ways of getting around it.
Whenever you have been out of supply, your focus sharpens and you have an easier time focusing as your powers come back to you. This free focus lasts for about as long as the power interruption, measured in real-world time; if you were out of power for half a session, you can automatically focus for the remainder of the session.
You focus your power in exclamations, battle cries, and sharp yells. It is not enough to mumble an arcane formula; you shout the name of your power, berate your target, and otherwise make a nuisance of yourself expressing your power.
You cannot use your powers silently. Your words of power need to be audible over your surroundings; in a noisy place your powers themselves might roar. When using Power Words but not focusing, it is not obvious what specific power you are using, only that you are using powers.
You must shout out what Limit Break you intend to use at the start of the round. You can only use this specific limit break this round.
You have a reserve of inner power, called mana for supernatural powers and by some technical term such as battery or capacitors for technology. You can use this reserve to fuel your power, but when you have done so you become weak and need to restore your power reserve afterward.
When you have used your power intensely, such as in a fight, you grow tired at the end of the scene. Once the fight is over, you cannot use powers until you have replenished your power; a short ritual taking about 15 minutes. Exactly what you do to recover power reserve depends on your power tradition; eating, meditation, prayer, reading, recharging capacitors or connecting to a power outlet are all examples. If there is a condition placed on your recovery that is out of your control, such as sunlight, use of a power outlet, or high wind, your recovery varies - it becomes 5 minutes with access to this recovery aid, 1 hour without the aid.
You can focus at any time. The first use is safe. Roll 1d6 when you focus this way. If the result is lower than the number of times you used this method to focus this session, the power limitation of Power Reserve kicks in immediately.
Physical activity can hinder mystical ability; energies that could have been channeled into the mystical are used for base physical body needs. By applying restraint, the distractions of the physical body are eliminated, which frees your power. For technological origins, the same can apply; nerves and brain capacity are re-routed from body control to power control.
Restraint in an extended sense can be considered costume as well. If you are a submissive you might also want the Power Submission limitation.
You must be physically restrained in some way or your powers become weaker. You cannot use Limit Break powers when not bound. Being bound involves at least one of the conditions below. You must be restrained in such a way that you cannot quickly free yourself; it should take at least 15 minutes for you to get free on your own, someone else can free you with a stunt. Note that it is possible, even encouraged, to use powers to overcome the handicap of restraints.
When you use your powers, there is a risk you will become further restrained; on a Snakeyes roll when using powers you must accept Power Loss or roll 1d6 for a random restraint, adding +1 for each previous restraint.Restraints last at least a scene, and often for the rest of the session. Physical restraint in Action does not completely prevent a hero from action, they impose handicaps to be overcome.
- Gagging prevents mundane speech. Stymies all Charm and Impress checks.
- Handcuffing is when your hands are tied in front of you, but not so tightly as to make them completely unusable; you can still use one hand effectively, such as using weapons or tools of Small size or smaller.
- Hobbling indicates restrained legs, but not fixed to each other. It means you cannot move as part of a normal Basic Action, and can only move your normal move when you do a Full Move action or otherwise do an action that grants extra movement..
- Immobilized, stuck to something, alternatively on a short leash which prevents movement beyond one or two meters. If you are stuck to a creature whose Body is greater than yours, you are forced along as it moves, otherwise you are both immobilized unless you two cooperate.
- Bound Legs you fall prone and cannot stand unsupported, which prevents and hinders many actions as determined by the situation and stunt description. Your Move is reduced to 1. Swimming and flying creatures are entangled, with similar effects.
- Bound Arms prevent most physical manipulation and the use of weapons and implements. You can still use tackles and head butts for (Body +0) damage or a Tiny Ranged Weapon, but limited to Close range.
- Blinded restricts your awareness, giving you only a rough estimate of objects and creatures in a diameter equal to your Mind; you are insensitive to things beyond this range. Everyone has enough concealment to Sneak on you, and against creatures beyond your perception range, you have to use Reflexes rather than Recon for defense against Recon stunts.
- (or more) Hogtie A hogtied character cannot act physically and can only move one meter as a standard action; no movement is otherwise allowed. This also prevents all Defense actions.
You can focus when bound, but if you are not fully restrained, there is a chance the process will backfire. Roll 1d6 when you use this power. If you currently lack the type of restraint indicated by the roll, you are either thus restrained, or the focus fails. Which of these happens can vary depending on tradition, outlook, availability of restrains and even sometimes personal choice. If the focus fails, you cannot try again until the enxt round.
Pyrotesse has hands and legs bound uses this power. Since she lacks some kinds of restraint, she rolls 1d6, rolling a 5, adding +2 for her two current restraints for a total of 7, which indicates blindfolding, which she lacks. Since she has no blindfold and it just doesn't make sense for the scene, she is not blindfolded and focusing fails. She cannot try to use this method to focus again for the current round.
You have some unique item you must have to work your power. Talismans are reasonably large and obvious, like a staff, diadem, dowsing pin, special hat, gizmo or whatever. Without it, you are powerless. Unlike props, this is one specific item. Your talisman is a signature item; it will not disappear unless there is some plot-driven reason for it to disappear, and customs officials and other bystanders will generally ignore it. But its function is always apparent to others of your tradition and to everyone once you start using it for obvious effects. Those in the know might try to take it away from you.
This focus can be either destructible or indestructible. If it is indestructible, it cannot be replaced; you MUST get your unique item back. If it is destructible, it is still tough and hard to destroy, but it can be damaged, and you can replace it.
It takes a Basic Action and a Know roll against your Dodge to identify a talisman for what it is, except when you use it to focus whereupon it becomes obvious.
You suffer power loss when you are without your focus item.
Trigger Action (Focus, Combo)
When your focus item is directly involved in a successful use of your power, such as if you strike with your staff or throw your power diadem, you can focus. You can even do this as a combo with your Limit Break if the Limit Break itself fulfills the condition. This involves a bit of risk; you call attention to your talisman and could potentially lose it.
Your power is fueled by sexuality, both your own and that of your targets.
You must have regular sex to replenish your power. You must engage is some sexual activity each day (even if it is as modest as masturbation or sexual fantasies), and you must have a full-fleshed sexual encounter with a partner at least once a week.
Whenever you manage to create sexual tension you can focus. If this is with a friend, it must be a sexual act or a noteworthy development in your relationship. If it is with an opponent, a successful sexually-themed stunt involving Charm or Presence is sufficient.
Your powers work best when you are in a trance, and you are aware even when asleep.
When you use your powers, you enter a trance until your next shot comes up. You cannot use Trigger Actions while in this trance. You do not sleep. Instead you trance as above, and you can still act in this trance.
You enter into a trance (as above) for the rest of the scene. You can break out of the trance trough conscious effort - a Basic Action.