What Supers Game Handles Powers The Bestest?

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PolarBlues

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And yet, The Thing does seem to hit harder when he yells that out.

We ran several sessions of ICONS as a break from our ETU campaign and this didn't bother us at all. YMMV and all, though.

That is true and I am not saying it's a bad idea, just saying that gradually, overtime, without really ever explicitly making it a houserule, calling out "It's cloberring time" or reminding everyone that you were "Every lovin', blue-eyed Thing" became kind of optional. Sometimes you'd invoke you Aspect because it was fun to do so, sometimes you kind of forgot or didn't bother. As long as you still have DPs it was all good.
 

Gabriel

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Maybe my crew was too stingy with Karma in MSH, but no one ever really did Stunts. If it wasn't already in the repertoire of the character, no one would even try.

For one reason, there was hardly ever that much Karma. To even attempt a stunt you needed to shell out 100 Karma. Then for a first attempt you'd need a red feat for it to even work, so there's some indeterminate further amount of Karma right there. No one every had that kind of Karma for that kind of expenditure. I guess other groups had a lot more Karma and just had 200 points waiting to be used, but none of us ever did.

I certainly liked the idea of Stunts, but in the actual play I was familiar with, they didn't get used because the cost was prohibitive.
 

hawkeyefan

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I think I was overly giving of Karma.

TristramEvans TristramEvans I know you're a system guru, so I'm curious if my group did something wrong. When it came to the karma awards for defeating a villain, we always went with the highest power rank that villain had, so if they had IN strength as their highest stat, you'd get 40 karma, or if they had MN Energy Generation, you'd get 75, and so on.

But there were some powers that really threw that off. So Invulnerabilities had CL1000 as their default rank, and Ultimate Skill had UN as a default.....did those count toward Karma awards?

My players always had a ton of karma and it would actually be an issue at times....I think I've mentioned this before.
 

TristramEvans

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I think I was overly giving of Karma.

TristramEvans TristramEvans I know you're a system guru, so I'm curious if my group did something wrong. When it came to the karma awards for defeating a villain, we always went with the highest power rank that villain had, so if they had IN strength as their highest stat, you'd get 40 karma, or if they had MN Energy Generation, you'd get 75, and so on.

But there were some powers that really threw that off. So Invulnerabilities had CL1000 as their default rank, and Ultimate Skill had UN as a default.....did those count toward Karma awards?

My players always had a ton of karma and it would actually be an issue at times....I think I've mentioned this before.

I am curious about how your players ended up with too much Karma, but short of transcriptions of your game sessions I'm not sure how to answer that issue - were they so competant they rarely needed to wager Karma on FEATs? Were they always able to defeat their oppoenents without property damage, or the villain getting away with some crimes before they stopped them?

I think the game defaults to highest power or Abiity Rank, so yeah I'd include a class 1000 Invulnerability in that regard. In my games I tend to give about 200 Karma for a major supervillain, or 100/a piece if defeated by a team of heroes.
 

hawkeyefan

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I am curious about how your players ended up with too much Karma, but short of transcriptions of your game sessions I'm not sure how to answer that issue - were they so competant they rarely needed to wager Karma on FEATs? Were they always able to defeat their oppoenents without property damage, or the villain getting away with some crimes before they stopped them?

I think the game defaults to highest power or Abiity Rank, so yeah I'd include a class 1000 Invulnerability in that regard. In my games I tend to give about 200 Karma for a major supervillain, or 100/a piece if defeated by a team of heroes.

I haven't really played since we were teenagers, except for a few nostalgic one shots, so there's a strong chance we were not doing things exactly as they should have, or that we handwaved certain elements that may have helped balance the distribution of karma better. I mean, ultimately we were having a blast, so it's more just a case of curiosity on my part, looking back.

May have been a feedback loop of sorts. Once they had a big enough pool of karma, I'd throw a few more bad guys into the mix....and they'd get more karma as a result.....so more bad guys.....

Power stunts needed some karma spent and that helped a bit. But in some cases, that's less likely....Thing probably doesn't have as many stunts as the other FF members, for example.
 

Tristan

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I’ve always said Karma should be handed out at 2-3x the listed rates.
Yes! We never utilized the power stunt rules as one hundred karma was too high a cost for something that highly likely wasn't going to work for at least ten times. Those points were needed for rolls. I was thinking 20-30 for stunts to encourage their use.

For DC someone had added a rule to that game essentially using the pushing a power rules into power stunting. I never got a chance to try that out but I like the idea. Hero Points are even more precious in DCH than Karma I thought.
 

Silverlion

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By the Vishanti! Yes, make the karma flow. That's what makes stunting easier! It's what allows players to buy up low attributes fairly nicely, though doesn't help really high ones, which is a good thing in my book. Honestly, I give 100-300 easily per session depending on what the players are doing. If a major (mastermind) is in the fight himself, and they manage to force him into fight or flight response, I give them EACH the highest rank he had plus the usual amount and I don't think my players are complaining, and oh yeah do they power stunt, use it for rolls, etc.

Though the current game I'm running the players are getting slightly less, but since they started out with normal human stats completely, and I've upped those for free, and their powers. I think it's a fair trade.

A note about Karma: I think they originally intended a lot of games to start with mundane life stuff, and the PC's earning small amounts of karma from those rewards to power stunts and things--usually not large amounts, but still enough for a conflict, unfortunately, they didn't quite balance it well. Plus games spending too much time on a single character's life are a challenge to manage, without players of other characters getting bored. It's possible, its just a challenge. Usually, I cut back and forth, but not everyone juggles things the same way.
 
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TristramEvans

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I haven't really played since we were teenagers, except for a few nostalgic one shots, so there's a strong chance we were not doing things exactly as they should have, or that we handwaved certain elements that may have helped balance the distribution of karma better. I mean, ultimately we were having a blast, so it's more just a case of curiosity on my part, looking back.

May have been a feedback loop of sorts. Once they had a big enough pool of karma, I'd throw a few more bad guys into the mix....and they'd get more karma as a result.....so more bad guys.....

Power stunts needed some karma spent and that helped a bit. But in some cases, that's less likely....Thing probably doesn't have as many stunts as the other FF members, for example.
It's an interesting conundrum, as one I haven't encountered using the game myself in these many years, but as you say, you were young and having fun, so that's really all that matters.

I guess if it was posed as a problem in the here and now, I'd suggest inserting more problems that rely on creativity and can't be solved simply through combat or the standard use of powers - investigations, blackmail, insane fan, wrongly accused of a crime, stuff like that
 

hawkeyefan

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It's an intereting conundrum, as one I haven't encountered using the game myself in these many years, but as you say, you were young and having fun, so that's really all that matters.

I guess if it was posed as a problem in the here and now, I'd suggest inserting more problems that rely on creativity and can't be solved simply through combat or the standard use of powers - investigations, blackmail, insane fan, wrongly accused of a crime, stuff like that

Oh for sure. I'd also not hesitate to tweak things to suit where as when I was a kid, that was less likely.
 

Gabriel

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But there were some powers that really threw that off. So Invulnerabilities had CL1000 as their default rank, and Ultimate Skill had UN as a default.....did those count toward Karma awards?
We'd always exclude those, as there were lots of villains with Class 1000 Life Support, or Class 1000 Invulnerability to Pollen and stuff like that.
 

Paragon

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There's also the question of whether you really want to conflate your extra-effort mechanic with your advancement mechanic (which both DCH and MSH did). There's an argument that minimal advancement is actually a proper feature for traditional superhero settings, but that doesn't eliminate the degenerate conditions that can come with a group where some people are sitting on their Karma/Hero Points for advancement and others are spending them regularly; given time it can easily produce
 

Tommy Brownell

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There's also the question of whether you really want to conflate your extra-effort mechanic with your advancement mechanic (which both DCH and MSH did). There's an argument that minimal advancement is actually a proper feature for traditional superhero settings, but that doesn't eliminate the degenerate conditions that can come with a group where some people are sitting on their Karma/Hero Points for advancement and others are spending them regularly; given time it can easily produce
Hell, I hated that stuff in Deadlands Classic. Rewarding people for not taking risks and punishing them for trying to stand up to evil isn’t my idea of a good time.

Oddly didn’t bother me for Marvel, though, as advancement was rarely on our radar as even being a thing due to the relatively high costs.
 

Paragon

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Hell, I hated that stuff in Deadlands Classic. Rewarding people for not taking risks and punishing them for trying to stand up to evil isn’t my idea of a good time.

Oddly didn’t bother me for Marvel, though, as advancement was rarely on our radar as even being a thing due to the relatively high costs.

I've heard the latter comment before, but it seems to be that's going to have the exact opposite effect on some people, so why not either just make advancement not a thing, or split it into a separate pool? I'm really hard pressed to see the value in combining them, and the few times I've heard it explained, it seems to place a value on something (making people decide) that I've never seen produce a particularly positive result.
 

Endless Flight

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Advancement costs in supers game should be outrageously high. Now, comics do feature heroes and villains who gain other powers or skills for a short period of time due to exposure to certain stimuli. That should be modeled separately from advancement.
 

Paragon

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Advancement costs in supers game should be outrageously high. Now, comics do feature heroes and villains who gain other powers or skills for a short period of time due to exposure to certain stimuli. That should be modeled separately from advancement.

Its a defensible position. BASH UE doesn't even have advancement at all. I think it badly suits a lot of people, but that's just as it is.

But I think mixing it with hero point mechanics is just the wrong way to go about it if that's what you want.
 

Tommy Brownell

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I've heard the latter comment before, but it seems to be that's going to have the exact opposite effect on some people, so why not either just make advancement not a thing, or split it into a separate pool? I'm really hard pressed to see the value in combining them, and the few times I've heard it explained, it seems to place a value on something (making people decide) that I've never seen produce a particularly positive result.
I’m not saying it was great design, just that we understood the nature of it.

There’s a reason I haven’t touched FASERIP since Marvel SAGA came out.
 

TristramEvans

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Advancement costs in supers game should be outrageously high. Now, comics do feature heroes and villains who gain other powers or skills for a short period of time due to exposure to certain stimuli. That should be modeled separately from advancement.

Yeah, the "zero to hero" model of level systems really doesn't reflect superheroes at all. I prefer, instead of a linear advancement, to arrange for "Events"" in the game periodically, as suits what's going on in the character's lives at the time. So "advancement" could mean the opportunity for a new job or new relationship, as much as a scientific breakthrough that facillitates an improvement to power armour, or a temporary powerset reconfiguration like finding a n alien symbiote costume, getting turned into a frog, or being possessed by the Enigma Force for a time...
 

Paragon

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Yeah, the "zero to hero" model of level systems really doesn't reflect superheroes at all. I prefer, instead of a linear advancement, to arrange for "Events"" in the game periodically, as suits what's going on in the character's lives at the time. So "advancement" could mean the opportunity for a new job or new relationship, as much as a scientific breakthrough that facillitates an improvement to power armour, or a temporary powerset reconfiguration like finding a n alien symbiote costume, getting turned into a frog, or being possessed by the Enigma Force for a time...

Of course this in passing illustrates the problem: how static in capability super heroes are varies considerably. You have characters like Captain America who have, other than one-off reworks, generally been pretty static throughout most of their history. And then you have people like Iron Man or the Invisible Girl who have increased in power, versatility, or both, and been acknowledge as such in-setting. Even among characters who haven't increased meaningfully in power, you have people who've improved in their skill in using them (Cyclops comes to mind, just because my brain's stuck on Marvel), especially if they started out in the "Well, I pretty much got this power yesterday so I'm still learning how to use it" (particularly common with the teen-hero subclass of character, but not entirely limited to them).

I guess what I'm saying is that while I think lateral movement is defensible, you can find enough exceptions to argue the other way if you're of a mind.
 

TristramEvans

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Of course this in passing illustrates the problem: how static in capability super heroes are varies considerably. You have characters like Captain America who have, other than one-off reworks, generally been pretty static throughout most of their history. And then you have people like Iron Man or the Invisible Girl who have increased in power, versatility, or both, and been acknowledge as such in-setting. Even among characters who haven't increased meaningfully in power, you have people who've improved in their skill in using them (Cyclops comes to mind, just because my brain's stuck on Marvel), especially if they started out in the "Well, I pretty much got this power yesterday so I'm still learning how to use it" (particularly common with the teen-hero subclass of character, but not entirely limited to them).

Even the progress you're describing takes place over years and years, sometimes decades.
 

SavAce

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There's also the question of whether you really want to conflate your extra-effort mechanic with your advancement mechanic (which both DCH and MSH did). There's an argument that minimal advancement is actually a proper feature for traditional superhero settings, but that doesn't eliminate the degenerate conditions that can come with a group where some people are sitting on their Karma/Hero Points for advancement and others are spending them regularly; given time it can easily produce
As a player in a DCH game, I remember I tended to spend more Hero Points in the moment than the 2 other most regular players. They liked to look at what they might spend HP on to advance in the future, making long term plans, etc. I guess my opinion was something like "Spend your HP to be cool now, because there is no guarantee any campaign will continue into the future." HP let my character be more daring and take risks that felt comic-book while they played more conservatively. I still got to buy this and that to fill out the character. Also, if "Crazy Crocodile" successfully assassinates the Mayor because you couldn't be bothered to dump a few HP into Initiative or your AV, EV, etc., it kinda says something about your character. I like how HP in DCH created this "I've gotta push, I can't fail!" thing, and you were gambling with those HP and it could all be for nothing! The fact they also acted as advancement points is part of what made them valuable, and why gambling them on a roll was a risk that had teeth. It's like what creates tension in poker. You're spending real money. I like the conflicted feelings it gives me as a player.
 

Paragon

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Even the progress you're describing takes place over years and years, sometimes decades.

Yes, but given the relatively slow rate of publication, its not clear that still doesn't describe a discernable progression within the course of a campaign. Is a given issue of a comic a longer time frame than an episode of a game? I don't generally think so.

And of course not all advancement systems are grossly and immediately visible. Someone playing a Hero System super who was regularly using their experience might only notice a modest difference themselves, let alone someone viewing it from the outside. Not all advancement system have as big dramatic jumps as leveled systems.
 

Paragon

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As a player in a DCH game, I remember I tended to spend more Hero Points in the moment than the 2 other most regular players. They liked to look at what they might spend HP on to advance in the future, making long term plans, etc. I guess my opinion was something like "Spend your HP to be cool now, because there is no guarantee any campaign will continue into the future." HP let my character be more daring and take risks that felt comic-book while they played more conservatively. I still got to buy this and that to fill out the character. Also, if "Crazy Crocodile" successfully assassinates the Mayor because you couldn't be bothered to dump a few HP into Initiative or your AV, EV, etc., it kinda says something about your character. I like how HP in DCH created this "I've gotta push, I can't fail!" thing, and you were gambling with those HP and it could all be for nothing! The fact they also acted as advancement points is part of what made them valuable, and why gambling them on a roll was a risk that had teeth. It's like what creates tension in poker. You're spending real money. I like the conflicted feelings it gives me as a player.

That's a legitimate POV if you're used to erratic campaign lengths. But if you're used to campaigns with a healthy length, saving up is the winner. In fact it can produce a death spiral, as the person not doing that ends up needing to spend the short term points just to keep up with the sort of opponents being put against their higher AV, EV, OV and RV companions over time. I'm not speaking hypothetically; I saw it happen in several DCH games run by different people (DCH was the go-to supers game for a period locally back in the day).
 

Endless Flight

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Yeah, the "zero to hero" model of level systems really doesn't reflect superheroes at all. I prefer, instead of a linear advancement, to arrange for "Events"" in the game periodically, as suits what's going on in the character's lives at the time. So "advancement" could mean the opportunity for a new job or new relationship, as much as a scientific breakthrough that facillitates an improvement to power armour, or a temporary powerset reconfiguration like finding a n alien symbiote costume, getting turned into a frog, or being possessed by the Enigma Force for a time...

B764E772-E461-4BC8-A43B-BFF388AD8459.jpeg
 

TristramEvans

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Yes, but given the relatively slow rate of publication, its not clear that still doesn't describe a discernable progression within the course of a campaign. Is a given issue of a comic a longer time frame than an episode of a game? I don't generally think so.

The time frame is 5 to 1, at least for Marvel until Continuity was broken in the 90s.

So 60 issues equals a year. And even taking that into account, there's simply no correlation within the universe as a whole to level progression.

And DC never managed to have anything resembling continuity
 

PolarBlues

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I honestly don't think there a sensible way you can map roleplaying game character progression to what happens to characters in comics. Characters in comics sometimes get stronger, sometimes the get weaker. They sometimes discover new abilites that are used once and never mentioned again, other times their entire power set is completely changed.

Take Carol Danvers, Ms Marvel,Warbird,Binary, Captain Marvel. It's not exactly a linear progression based on XP gained per session. Perhaps Marvel Heroic with its different character write up based on the Event being played, but then is that really character progression in the rpg sense of the term?

Now of course, games are not comics. If people enjoy traditional character progression, that's cool. There is no reason why character advancement rule should not be included in their favourite supers system. I just skeptical that this inclusion is being done primarily for genre emulation purposes.
 
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TristramEvans

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I honestly don't think there no sensible way you can map roleplaying game character progression to what happens to characters in comics. Characters in comics sometimes get stronger, sometimes the get weaker. They sometimes discover new abilites that are used once and never mentioned again, other times their entire power set is completely changed.

Take Carol Danvers, Ms Marvel,Warbird,Binary, Captain Marvel. It's not exactly a linear progression based on XP gained per session. Perhaps Marvel Heroic with its different character write up based on the Event being played, but then is that really character progression in the rpg sense of the term?

Now of course, games are not comics. If people enjoy traditional character progression, that's cool. There is no reason why character advancement rule should not be included in their favourite supers system. I just skeptical that this inclusion is being done primarily for genre emulation purposes.

Yeah, and there's no reason every superhero game needs to emulate ALL superheroes - you could have a New Mutants type set up, with high school superheroes slowly getting used to/dicovering their powers (like Invincible).
 

Paragon

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Now of course, games are not comics. If people enjoy traditional character progression, that's cool. There is no reason why character advancement rule should not be included in their favourite supers system. I just skeptical that this inclusion is being done primarily for genre emulation purposes.

Absolutely true. Its just notable that almost all genres are colored by the medium they're in, so you can at least argue "Why should games be different?" You just should be aware that you are introducing a generally counter-genre element (noting my comment earlier that there's some clear exceptions). if you want a discernible advancement system.
 

Paragon

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The time frame is 5 to 1, at least for Marvel until Continuity was broken in the 90s.

I'd be really interested in the support for this. They may have kept that as a broad stroke, but I'd bet I could find runs of comics in the Marvel line that didn't seem to follow that in any consistent fashion even as early as the 60's.
 
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