Sunday, August 25, 2013

Mystery Men Revealed Pt. 3 Men and Gods

Super strength is one the most common if not most common super powers (I'm pretty sure that's an oxymoron.) Wikipedia defines it as ranging from just above that of a powerful weightlifter to nearly limitless. So far I've dealt with more or less human characters now I'm taking on those of god-like stature. In the 40's there were a lot of them. Their strength levels were all pretty ludicrous.

Super strength often leads to greatly inflated character stats. Captain Marvel was shown restarting the earth's rotation, surviving the explosion of a billion tons of TNT, and stopping the eruption of a volcano (and that was just in one story!) I don't even want to think about how many dice in lifting and stamina he'd have.

Super strength falls into two categories: limited and (for most purposes) unlimited. Limited super strength is anything between 6d and 10d in lifting and stamina. Heavy firepower can still mess these people up. It's the gm's call on just how much you can lift.

Unlimited Super Strength costs 12 skill dice and is only available to superhumans.  Most opponents are treated as mooks (this includes tanks or battleships if the super is swimming.) One hit and they go down. Similarly most attacks doing physical damage do nothing (bullets, artillery etc.) The character never has to make a lifting or stamina roll under normal circumstances.

So what stops these guys and why does a story with one of them last longer than three panels?

First and foremost the villain can run away! Escaping and sneaking away are maneuvers using skill and superhumans have a low skill default and lower skills than most heroes. Giving the hero a few tasks that require finesse and not brawn will make his life a lot more interesting

A villain’s plan can also have several parts to it requiring the hero to figure out exactly what’s going on and stop several disasters or decoys before he finally catches the rat (I mean it took Captain Marvel 25 chapters to capture Mr. Mind and he was a freaking intelligent worm.)

Finally there are some things that even these powerhouses find difficult. Moving mountains or stopping a volcano or suffering the detonation of several million tons of dynamite. In this case it's good to have a few dice in lifting and stamina and the gm should rate the difficulty of the challenge with the hero in mind. In general only global disasters should be 2d or more over the character's lifting skill. Anymore and then finding the right tools to reduce the difficulty becomes the story hook (for example Captain Marvel used several hundred ship anchors and chains to help him start the Earth rotating and it was still a close thing.)

Other characters with unlimited super strength can also fight the hero of course which is handled like a normal combat. Characters with limited super strength are at a great disadvantage. Run the combat normally but reduce the mere mortal's lifting and stamina by 5d (minimum of 1d) and consider the unlimited character to have 10d in lifting and stamina. Such characters can hold their own briefly using hero points or character points or through strength of numbers.

In addition even when a hero (or villain) outmatches his opposition fate can still play a hand. More on that to follow.