Character Generation Example Four – DC Adventures

DC Adventures

 

Good day you, I would say all but I’m not convinced that enough people read this for ‘all’ to be in any way accurate or appropriate. 🙂

Well, I’ve been thinking about what to do in my next blog post, something other than a character generation example.  I’ve got a couple of ideas that I’m fleshing out but until I get one of those more fully formed I’m going to put up another example character for another game system/genre.

This time I’m going to do a superhero. My system of choice for this is going to be DC Adventures, I’ve always been a massive DC Fan, much more so than Marvel. Not that I have anything against Marvel or think they are bad I just prefer the DC universe.

Also, I really like the DC Adventures system, it’s based on champions, it’s medium crunchy, as opposed to the deep fried crunchy peanut butter on crisp rice cakes that is HERO system, it plays fast and there are some really sensible checks and balances built into the game.

Lets get going shall we…

Before you start designing your hero you have to set the campaign power level, this determines your starting pool of points and your various calculated maximums.

We’re going to choose power level 10, that is the suggested default starting level, this puts you in the same power category as well known heroes like Green Arrow or Black Canary and a large percentage of the Teen Titans.  PL10 is suggested to represent powerful but inexperienced heroes.  Sounds good.

About Those Checks and Balances

As I mentioned before the various checks and balances in the game are something that I think has been executed really well, most GMs will recognise these as things they have been implementing for years on an unofficial basis.

Skill Modifier: Your hero’s total modifier in any skill (ability rank + skill rank + advantage modifiers) cannot exceed the series PL+10.  In this case 20.

Attack & Effect: The total of your hero’s attack bonus and the effect rank with that attack cannot exceed the series PLx2.  This is a great leveller, it means that you can be stupendously strong but if you are then your to hit roll is going to be total garbage.  Equally it means that if you are so accurate that you hardly ever miss your target then you are not going to be doing massive amounts of damage.

Dodge & Toughness: The total of your hero’s Dodge & Toughness defences cannot exceed PLx2.  Again this should be pretty obvious as to why, it stops the GM from having to deal with characters that are both as agile as Batman and as tough as Superman.

Parry & Toughness: The total of your hero’s Parry & Toughness defences cannot exceed PLx2.  Same reasoning as above.  If you’re going to be the quick evade/parry type hero then you can’t also be mega tough.

Fortitude & Will: The total of your hero’s Fortitude & Will defences cannot exceed PLx2.  Same reasoning, difference stats.  You can be exceptionally strong of mind or body but not both.

Of course this still gives you massive amounts of wiggle room, you can choose an extreme or you can focus on balancing yourself somewhere between the two.  What it does mean though is that the GM doesn’t have to worry too much about players taking game breaking levels in powers too much.

We are creating a PL10 hero which means we have 150 points to spend across everything.  The costs are:

Ability – 2 per ability rank
Defence – 1 per defence rank
Skill – 1 per 2 skill ranks
Advantage – 1 per advantage or advantage rank
Power – (base effect cost + modifiers) x rank + flat modifiers

On to the Character Generation

When it comes to creating the actual character you are advised to follow this order:

Concept, Abilities, Skills, Advantages, Powers

I have found that as long as you have a decent concept you’ll generally be fine whatever the order, I tend to do abilities (stats) first and then it depends on the concept what I’ll do next, if I’m creating an agile fighter like Nightwing then I’m going to pick Advantages and Skills first and then once I’ve got everything see if I have any points left over for gadgets.  If I’m going metahuman though I’ll probably have a strong concept of powers I want so I will take those powers and then go over what advantages and skills work for me.  That’s a pretty good concept for a set of powers, now I need to make sure this is an actual character, which means I need a real concept for who he is and what he does.

This is a concept I’ve had kicking around for a while, it is for a Metahuman with the ability to control gravity, we’ll call him (perhaps un-originally) Singularity, I see his power giving him enhanced strength, some kind of gravity protection (either toughness or a forcefield) & some kind of gravity blast), now he’ll need some kind of movement power, either flight or teleportation

Given that we’re playing at power level 10 he’s likely to be an inexperienced hero which means he’s new to his powers.  I’m going to make him an employee of Star Labs and I’m going to share the origin they are using in the new Flash TV show, the Star Labs hyper-collider in Central City was sabotaged and exploded during it’s initial start up, this is the same explosion that turned a young Barry Allen into the fastest man alive and from what we know from the trailer for the TV show it also released a whole bunch of random elements and strange energy into our world.  This surge of energy hit our luck(y/less) hero and activated his latent metahuman genes causing him to gain the power to create and control gravitational fields.

Ok, that sounds good.  What did he do at Star Labs?  Making him a scientist seems a bit obvious, I could make him an executive but I’m not really feeling that.  Lets make him a member of the experimental technologies area and make him a tester, so he’s ex-military and works for Star Labs field testing their new hardware and advising on the needs and design considerations that have to be accounted for with military gear.

Hmm, that’s pretty cool.  Let’s also make him an ex A.R.G.U.S agent who took a job in the civilian sector after his tour was up.

So I now have a pretty strong concept and am ready to get started putting some numbers to paper.

We’re going to start with Attributes (Stats), the stats in the DC Universe RPG are:

Strength – Sheer muscle power and the ability to apply it.
Stamina – Health, Endurance and overall physical conditioning.
Agility – Balance, grace, speed.  Used mostly for dodge vs range and melee attacks, also acrobatics etc.
Dexterity – Hand eye coordination, precision & accuracy.  Used for ranged attack, vehicles etc.
Fighting – Ability in close combat, close combat attack checks and parry defence.
Intellect – Reasoning ability, ability to learn and problem solving.
Awareness – Common sense, intuition, will defence and perception.
Presence – Force of personality, persuasiveness, leadership etc.

Lets assign some points, before we do however it’s worth noting the scale.  Adult Human Average for these abilities is 0, 1-3 above average to gifted, 4-6 is highly gifted up to best in nation, 7 represents the peak of human ability, 8 is the low end of superhuman and 15 is the high end of superhuman.

For this character I see his basic stats being pretty standard with bonuses coming from his powers and advantages rather than from him being innately exceptional.

There is an important thing to note here, while mechanically the same in effect buying high stats here is different than buying them as powers.  High base stats are considered innate to your character and cannot be taken away from, buying stat boosts as powers means they can be lost (say by someone using nullify on you), so for example Superman has a high base strength but Steel doesn’t, both are strong but Steels strength comes from his armour (a power) where as Supermans is natural to him as a Kryptonian (yes yes, Kryptonite & Red Sun Radiation, but those are complications which we’ll cover later).

Strength – 3
Stamina – 4
Agility – 2
Dexterity – 2
Fighting – 4
Intellect – 0
Awareness – 2
Presence – 3

Total = 20 Attribute Points
Cost = 40 Character Creation Points

Defences

You have 4 primary defences, Dodge, Parry, Toughness, Will and each of these is calculated from a stat (Agility, Stamina, Dexterity & Awareness).  You can also increase your defences by +1 by spending 1 point on it.  Although there are often better ways to improve your defences.

Dodge: 2
Parry: 2
Toughness: 4
Will: 2

Now lets look at some powers.

I’m going to call my power set Singularity Form, I’m going to state that it takes an action for my character to change to this form and that without changing he can’t access any of his powers.

Powers are made up of either one or multiple effects, some or all of which may be joined in a power array (called an Alternate Effect here).

Power Arrays in DC Adventures, these are lists of thematically connected powers, there are advantages and disadvantages to this, the advantage is that you pay for one power at full costs (usually the most expensive) and then you spend one point to have another power that is part of the array up to the same cost as the primary power, the disadvantage is that you can only have one power in an array active at once.

This means that the best approach is often to have some powers in arrays and some not, for example if you have a ranged blast attack of some kind it totally makes sense to also have an area blast and a stun blast in the same array as you’re likely to want only one of them at a time, but you don’t want to put your protection and say flight in the same array as you’ll only be able to use either or.

The first effect I’m going to buy is Immunity, this is brought in Ranks with one rank being immune to environmental heat or cold, disease or poison, two ranks being something a bit more substantial like critical hits or all powers with the ‘necrotic’ descriptor.  I’m going to spent 10 points and buy Immunity: Full Life Support, includes immunity to disease, poison, all environmental conditions, suffocation, and starvation and thirst.  This immediately gets rid of a bunch of stuff I’d otherwise have to worry about.  Immunity costs 1pt/Rank, so 10 points.

Next up we need some form of defence, lets create a Gravity powered forcefield.  We’ll say that when he transforms into the Singularity form he creates an intense gravitic field just above his clothing/skin that crushes projectiles and deflects energy attacks and melee swings.  To create this facet of the power I’m going to use the Protection effect and apply the Sustained Extra, this means that the effect can be switched on or off depending on the needs of the situation.  Protection costs 1pt per rank and adds to your toughness defence, the sustained extra costs nothing as the advantages balance the disadvantages.  So 10 ranks in this power will cost us 10 points.

Now lets get some attack options.  First up we’ll get ourselves a Gravitic Blast power, this is easy to create for a base power.  The Damage Effect is 1pt/rank and deals damage at close range, we’re going for a blast here so we’ll add the extra ‘Ranged’ that increases the cost by +1/rank.  So basic ranged attack is 2 points per rank.  Lets buy 10 ranks for 20 points.  Now we’re going to add some alternate effects and make an array.  I reckon that as we’re using gravity for our theme we’re going to want some kind of trap power maybe with an area option, something armour piercing and then something cool an unique.

First Alternate Effect, a trapping effect sounds like an affliction to me.  Afflictions are ways of inflicting status effects on other people as opposed to damage, so we’ve got 20pts worth of total cost to play with, thankfully Affliction has the same cost as Damage, 1pt/rank close range, we add ranged for +1pt/Rank.  Now we pick 3 conditions which it escalates through depending on how well they resist.  Lets have Vulnerable/Immobile/Paralysed.  As an alternate effect this costs 1pt.

Now an area affliction, looking at the extras I see that area has the same cost as range so if I take an area effect in place of range I can keep the same stats and have an attack that hits everyone within 30ft Radius of my character with the same Vulnerable/Immobile/Paralysed progression.  This also costs 1pt.

Ok, AP.  Lets call this Black Hole Punch, we’ll replace the Ranged extra with Penetrating, it keeps the costs the same, so high power and slices through armour however it has to be used as a melee attack.

Something cool an unique is all that’s left.  I’m going to take a power effect called ‘Deflection’ it allows you to defend others at range, that cots 1pt a rank and allows me to make a defence for another character, I see this as using a projected gravitic waves to deflect attacks.  I’m going to buy the multi-attack extra for the effect at a cost of +1pt/rank that allows me to defend a whole bunch of civilians or all team members in an arc.  Very cool and something the badguys might not be expecting.  Again as an alternate effect this costs 1pt.

After some consideration for movement I choose to take Flight.  Flight costs 2pt/rank and I’m going to take 10 ranks.  That gives me a speed of 2000 Miles per Hour, which is Mach 2.63.  As I have life support I don’t have to worry about environmental conditions such as friction.

Finally let take some enhanced strength, this is the basically using the forces of gravity making him stronger.  Enhanced strength is 2pts level, lets take 7 levels at a cost of 14pts.  The reason for taking 7 levels is that it raises my strength to 10 when form shifted, which is a nice round number.

Singularity Form (10+10+24+20+14 = 78pts for effects, then we subtract -2pts for requiring an action to transform into this form for a total of 76pts)

Immunity Rank 10 – Life Support (1pt/Rank – 10pts)
Gravitic Forcefield – Protection 10, Sustained (10pts)
Gravitic Blast Array (Cost 24pts)
Ranged Blast – Damage Rank 10, Ranged (20pts)
Gravity Trap – Affliction Rank 10, Ranged, Vulnerable/Immobile/Paralysed (1pt Alternate Effect)
Area Trap – Affliction Rank 10, Area (30ft Burst Radius), Vulnerable/Immobile/Paralysed (1pt Alternate Effect)
Black Hole Punch – Damage Rank 10, Close, Penetrating 10 (1pt Alternate Effect)
Gravitic Deflection – Deflection Rank 10, Multi-attack. (1pt Alternate Effect)
Flight – Rank 10, Mach 2.63/2000mph (20pts)
Enhanced Strength – Rank 7, 14pts.

Ok, now lets tally what we’ve spent.

Attributes: 40
Powers: 78

Total: 118

This means we now have 32pts left for skills and advantages.

Lets pick some shall we.

Advantages are a bit like D20 feats and cost 1pt per rank of advantage.  Looking over the list I like the look of the following:

Agile Feint – Feint using acrobatics or movement speed rank.
Accurate Attack – Take up to -5 from Damage to add to To Hit.
Power Attack – Take up to -5 from To Hit and add to Damage.
Ranged Attack (Rank 6) – Adds rank to all ranged attack checks.
Setup – Transfer the bonus of a feint to an ally.

Total Advantage Cost = 10pts.

Skills

Acrobatics                5
Athletics                5
Close Combat            5
Expertise (STAR Labs)    4
Expertise (ARGUS)        4
Perception                4
Persuasion                4
Stealth                    4
Technology                4
Vehicles                5

Total Skills Cost = 22pts.

That’s, we’re now spent out.  Last thing to do is to pick two complications (one motivation and one other thing) and a name.

For the characters Motivation I’m going to choose Doing Good:

Doing Good: Some heroes fight the good fight simply because it’s the right thing to do and they believe in doing the right thing no matter what. Their strong moral centre may come from a good upbringing (or a bad one that showed them what not to do) or the guidance or inspiration of a mentor or idol.

Our hero is a good person, he’s ex-military and was raised to believe in the principle that it is the duty of the strong to defend the weak.

For my second complication I’m going to take the classic Secret Identity, his job as a member of STAR Labs means that our hero is privy to a lot of useful data, however he’s not sure who he can trust at the company.

Lets summarise the character shall we.

Name: Delmar Steele
Heroic Identity: Singularity

Attributes

Strength     3
Stamina      4
Agility         2
Dexterity    2
Fighting      4
Intellect      0
Awareness  2
Presence     3

Defences

Dodge: 2
Parry: 4
Toughness: 4/14 (with Forcefield)
Will: 2

Complications

Motivation: Doing Good
Secret Identity

Advantages

Agile Feint – Feint using acrobatics or movement speed rank.
Accurate Attack – Take up to -5 from Damage to add to To Hit.
Power Attack – Take up to -5 from To Hit and add to Damage.
Ranged Attack (Rank 6) – Adds rank to all ranged attack checks.
Setup – Transfer the bonus of a feint to an ally.

Skills

Acrobatics                5
Athletics                5
Close Combat            5
Expertise (STAR Labs)    4
Expertise (ARGUS)        4
Perception                4
Persuasion                4
Stealth                    4
Technology                4
Vehicles                5

Singularity Form (Requires one full action to change forms.)

Immunity Rank 10 – Life Support
Gravitic Forcefield – Protection 10, Sustained
Gravitic Blast Array
Ranged Blast – Damage Rank 10, Ranged
Gravity Trap – Affliction Rank 10, Ranged, Vulnerable/Immobile/Paralysed
Area Trap – Affliction Rank 10, Area (30ft Burst Radius), Vulnerable/Immobile/Paralysed
Black Hole Punch – Damage Rank 10, Close, Penetrating 10
Gravitic Deflection – Deflection Rank 10, Multi-attack
Flight – Rank 10, Mach 2.63/2000mph
Enhanced Strength – Rank 7

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