Sunday, January 25, 2015

Superpowers in Supervillains

The Amazing Adventures of Holo-Man #1;
1978, Peter Pan Records; Art by Joe Giella

As one might expect from “an exciting game of super human role-playing,” player characters have superpowers – or “Abilities” as the rules refer to them.  A character's Ability is determined by rolling a percentile die and consulting the Ability Chart (sometimes called the Ability Table) and subsequent Ability Descriptions.  There are thirty-three Abilities.  Many of them are standard comic book superhero fare, some are unusual yet not without comic book precedent, and a few are original and...interesting.

There is a one to four percent chance of obtaining any given Ability; however, there is a ten percent chance that a character will not have any Ability.  There is a one percent chance of getting two rolls on the Ability Chart and a one percent chance of getting three rolls.  It is possible to obtain the Abilities of 'Enhanced Vision', 'Bulletproof Skin', 'Leap Great distances', and 'Flight' by themselves; however, for each of them, there is a one percent chance of obtaining the Ability and an extra roll.  ('Leap Great Distances' is identical to 'Flight' except the character “cannot hover...and cannot change direction or his landing site once he is in the air.”  Also, the Ability “may be countered by a punch from another superbeing that hits.”)  So, there is a six percent chance that a character will have at least two Abilities.

Under the Ability Descriptions, each Ability indicates its Area of Effect and the amount of stun and/or kill damage it inflicts (if any).  Abilities that can be used to attack also indicate if said attack is a “Material Attack Form,” which is whether or not the damage “is caused by a tangible object.”  Material Attack Form may not be intuitive; for instance, Heat Control has a Material Attack Form but Sound Control does not.

“A character that possesses the LIVING HAIR ability will have hair that is approximately 10 feet long...The character will have total control over every strand of hair.”  This is obviously based on Marvel Comics' Medusalith Amaquelin Boltagon.  Living Hair can be used in three 'forms' – attack, defense, and movement (using hair to climb a building).  When an Ability has multiple 'forms', only two can be used simultaneously.

Inspired by DC Comics' Wildfire, “The entire body of a character which possesses the LIVING ENERGY ability will be composed of LIVING ENERGY which will be held together only by the special suit that the character wears.”  Should the suit be punctured, an “energy output” explosion occurs.  “This energy output will have a duration of one combat phase, after which the suit will repair itself completely.”  Similarly, Explosive Demolecularization allows a character “to literally blow himself up...[then] his molecules will re-form at the same spot” in the fashion of Marvel Comics' Nitro.

Designer Rick Register created 'original' Abilities based on scientific principles.
A character having the STRONG FORCE ability will possess one of the fundamental forces of nature; the STRONG FORCE ability which suspends the atom's strong force, thus causing the electrons to fall into the nucleus.  The remaining material, after a successful STRONG FORCE attack, will basically be white-dwarf star matter, which, under normal gravity conditions, will sink through anything to the center of the earth.
If a character survives a Strong Force attack, there is a possibility that one or more of the character's limbs will become crippled.

Another 'original' Ability is Conversion:  “In accordance with Einstein's Unified Field Theory, a character with the CONVERSION ability may convert an ELECTRICITY, a MAGNETISM, a GRAVITY CONTROL, a RADIOACTIVITY, and/or a STRONG FORCE attack into one another.”

Last but not least (actually, 'least' may be accurate), we have Oxidation/Reduction:
Following the principles found in chemistry, a character possessing the OXIDATION/REDUCTION ability will be able to cause a bridge support to rust through, or will have the ability to to reduce water to hydrogen and oxygen, etc.  When the OXIDATION/REDUCTION ability is applied to a target character, this will change that character's molecules to carbon if the attack is successful.  The result is that the victim will look and will feel as if he were a burn victim.  A character using the OXIDATION/REDUCTION ability will have the capability to produce an atmosphere as long as there is some source from which to obtain oxygen nearby...  
Yeah, without the oxygen it's kind of tough, isn't it?

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