Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Advanced Supervillain

Whiz Comics #20; 1941, Fawcett Comics; Art by C. C. Beck

In the advanced game of Supervillains, in addition to strength and dexterity, characters have an intelligence level.

An intelligence level of “A” means that “the character will possess an almost animal-like intelligence...[and] will probably be too stupid to plan anything on his own, and will be hard pressed to carry out any but the most elementary orders.”  Although there is a 10% chance for a character to receive an “A” intelligence level, the rules suggest ignoring such a result because “the player can easily become frustrated with this type of character.”

An intelligence level of “C” (5% chance) means “the character will be a super-genius, and will probably possess a mutant brain (or a highly advanced artificial intelligence, in the case of an android).”  In fact, androids have a 15% chance of “C” level intelligence and aliens have a 25% chance.  The remaining intelligence level is “B” – normal human.

The only practical effect of intelligence is the determination of the number of skills a character possesses.  Characters with “B” level intelligence have up to four skills while characters with “C” level intelligence have up to six.  The rules list one hundred skills (each associated with an occupation) which characters obtain through random determination.  An exhaustive list of vocational skills is a fine thing, but perhaps unnecessary.  Far be it from me to disparage the important work that home economists, speech therapists, and agricultural agents perform for the benefit of society, but they serve no purpose in a game about super-powered beings.

If the same skill is rolled twice, then the character possesses that skill at the next higher intelligence level.  For example, if a “B” level intelligence character gets “Hotel Manager” twice, then he or she has “Hotel Manager” at a “C” intelligence level; a super-genius hotel manager so to speak.  You can see how this could be useful.

There is no experience system in Supervillains, yet it is possible for characters to improve.  A character with the Weapons Expert ability can train other characters to gain expertise in combat, meaning they receive +2 combat strength.  Such training requires the trainee to engage in “a month of intense practice.”  After that month, there is a 1-in-3 chance the trainee will gain the combat strength bonus.  Otherwise, the trainee “cannot attempt another period of study from any weapons master.”

Typically, when a character with the Radioactivity ability touches a normal being, that being will perish from radiation poisoning in one to six days.  Superbeings have a 25% chance of avoiding such a fatal radiation exposure.  There is a 10% chance that anyone (normal being or superbeing) will not die from radiation.  Instead, said being “will become a mutant and will gain an ability after '1-6' days...”  Such a character cannot hope to become a 'mutant' a second time; further exposure to the Radioactivity ability will be fatal.  I assume the 25% chance 'saving roll' still applies – even a previously normal being will have become a superbeing by virtue of mutation.  (Incidentally, “Androids will also have the capability to 'mutate' due to a radioactivity attack...”)

Of course, DAGGER experimentation can cause a character's ability to double in terms of effectiveness, but that's the least likely result among a variety of otherwise unsavory alternatives.

Victims of a Strong Force attack – assuming they survive – might have one or more limbs crippled.  One should not consider this a handicap, but rather an opportunity.  A character with “C” level electrical engineering can install “a bionic replacement limb.”  The cost is $10,000 and there is a 60% chance of success.  “D” level electrical engineers charge double, but the chance of success is 80%.  Also, “D” level electrical engineers can build 'extra strength' into an artificial limb.  The cost is $10,000 per additional point of strength, but the chance of success drops by 10% per point.  For $100,000, a pair of legs can be attached that confer the 'Leap Great Distances' ability.

Electrical engineers are also useful for repairing androids.  Normally, androids are self-repairing, but when they are “down to zero hit points or below,” only an electrical engineer (of at least “C” level) can reactivate them.  The base chance of success for a “C” level electrical engineer is 50%; for “D” level, 90%.  The number of 'negative' hit points an android has reduces this base chance.  Specifically, for each point, ten is subtracted from one hundred, this number is then multiplied by the base chance.  For instance, “a character with a 'C' intelligence level in electrical engineering who is working on an android with '-6' hit points will have a 20% (40% × 50% = 20%) chance of successful repair...” Androids should be leery of non-player character electrical engineers (in addition to player character electrical engineers).  There is a 20% chance that an electrical engineer repairing an android will “betray” the android while it is vulnerable.  If he (or she) doesn't destroy the android outright, the engineer will “meddle with the android's 'mind'” allowing the engineer “to dictate the android's actions from that point on...”


  1. I would have thoughT "A level" experts were better than "D level."

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