Sunday, June 2, 2013

Characters in Superhero 2044

More art by Mike Cagle

Last week, we discussed the first step in Superhero 2044 “character design.”  Specifically, 140 points are allocated among seven 'prime requisites' which, in other games, would be termed 'characteristics.'

The next step is to select a “group” for the character – either Unique, Toolmaster, or Ubermensch.  (I would have called them Phenomenals, Equipment-Users, and Specialists, respectively – but whatever.)  Uniques “are true supermen possessing powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men...The archetypal [Unique] is Superman.”  Toolmasters are “men and women who are self proclaimed technological excellent example of a heroic toolmaster is Iron Man.”  Ubers “specialize in one or more fields and are trained to the utmost in those fields...A classic Ubermensch is Lord Greystroke [sic], Tarzan of the Apes.”

Prime requisites are modified based upon “group.”  Ubers receive a bonus to all prime requisites other than Ego, Charisma, and Mentality.  (They actually get a penalty to Mentality.)  Toolmasters get a bonus to Mentality, but a penalty to Vigor, Stamina, and Endurance.  Uniques get a bonus to Charisma.

Next, up to fifty bonus points can be used to define the character's abilities.  Saxman's 'Rules Enhancements' (published last month on Thoul's Paradise) demonstrate how to apply points to represent a variety of concepts.  Of course, this material was not available twenty-five years ago to purchasers of the game.  Oddly, there is no listing of powers that provides details about how said powers relate to game mechanics.  Simply stated, Superhero 2044 is a superhero role-playing game without superpower descriptions.  I know it's old school and that – because it's old school – many of the rules are open to interpretation.  However, this is like D&D without spell descriptions.

At least Saxman provides three sample characters “not to be used, but rather to illustrate the principles of character design.”  They are good examples as far as they go, but they are not sufficient to provide a thorough understanding.

The Charmer is a Unique.  After the Unique bonus, she has a Charisma of fifty.  As a superpower, she can use her Charisma “as a mental attack and can force humans only to follow her vocal commands.”  OK, that's simple enough.

Apollyon (the destroyer) is an Ubermensch.  He is “a master of disguise and of computers.  (His 50 point bonuses are gained in these areas).”  This would seem to be what the Rules Enhancements call a “Superb Skillset.”  So far, so good.

The Avenging Knight is a Toolmaster.  “He built a special set of powered armor which magnifies his puny stamina twenty times (albeit with a considerable loss of dexterity) and has an intrinsic Vigor of 100...”  Prime Requisites for his armored form are not listed.  Are we to assume that he has a Stamina of 200 when wearing his armor?  The Avenging Knight can also fly and “has developed a weapon that disrupts matter and can be set to stun or completely disintegrate.”  We are left in ignorance as to how the fifty bonus points were distributed to gain these abilities.

The appendix provides two more characters.  (Presumably, these can be used.)  Sunburst (The Radiant Man) is a Unique.  He possesses infra-red vision and “can project laser like beams.”  He can also generate an effect like a flash grenade.  Multiplex (The Multiple Man) is another Unique.  Multiplex is actually a pair of twin brothers who can merge into one being.  Alternately, “each twin can split into two bodies.”  The single being is the most powerful; each split results in weaker versions.  Additionally, “each body can project an image of itself.”  The descriptions for Sunburst and Multiplex do not provide the 'cost' of their respective abilities.

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