Marvel Super Heroes
1. Draw 10 cards. For high-power games discard all 1’s, 2’s, and 3’s, then draw back up to 10, repeating if necessary. For street level games discard all 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s, then draw back up to 10.
2. Choose a Calling, and if your storyteller allows, a Secondary Calling.
3. Choose Hindrances. For each Hindrance chosen, a player may choose to draw off the fate deck, and if the card has a white aura, add it to the cards they may assign in later steps or a player may go through the fate deck and take one 4 to be assigned in later steps. Only 2 Hindrances may be chosen. Alternatively, characters may assign 3 points to a single score on their character sheet (other than Edge) instead of drawing off the fate deck.
4. Assign cards to your character’s Attributes. For normal powered games, characters are limited to only one Attribute higher than 12. For high-powered games, characters are limited to scores of 20 in all their attributes. For street level games characters are limited to only one Attribute higher than 10. The suit of the card(s) placed in a given Attribute determines the amount of training your character has received in relation to that Attribute (the ability code), and the number of skills your character starts play with from that Attribute:
-any cards from the Doom suit used-code X, 0 skills
-Card not from matching suit-code D, 1 skill
-Card from matching suit-code C, 2 skills
-2 cards from matching suit-code B, 3 skills
-3 cards from matching suit-code A, 4 skills
5. Choose skills.
6. Assign cards to powers. For each card placed in a power that matches the governing attribute, one stunt is gained in that power. Power intensities are limited to 20 at character creation. (For characters gaining their powers from items, the Triggered Powerless Hindrance should be taken, and the item should be created as detailed in the item creation section.)
7. Choose Limits for powers. For each Limit placed on a power, a player may choose to draw off the fate deck, and if the card drawn has a white aura, assign it to the power as per step 6 or a player may increase the intensity of the power by 3. A maximum of 3 Limits may be placed on any one Power.
8. Choose stunts for powers.
9. Assign remaining cards. Cards may be used to:
-Increase Edge (assign a card 7 or greater). Starting Edge is 1, and may not go higher than 3 at character creation.
-Make a skill World-class (assign a card 7 or greater).
-Select an additional skill or stunt (assign a card 1 or greater).
-Select two additional skills or stunts (assign a card 6 or greater).
-Select a piece of equipment protected from fate (assign any card). The item will be a permanent part of the character, and never permanently lost; if it is destroyed or lost permanently, a replacement of equivalent power will soon turn up. If a weapon, armor, or shield, the damage/defense value of the item will be half the value of the card played, rounded up. If the item is a gadget, the player should choose a power at half the intensity of the card played, and the character may use the item to activate that power. Multiple cards may be used to make stronger items, and items that possess powers and have attack/defense bonuses.
10. Choose Name(s).
11. Choose Costume.
12. Reality check. Make sure everything works together and makes sense. If everything works, then you are done!
Experience is gained (and lost) in 4 ways:
1) If a character responds to a random event activated off the fate deck that matches their primary calling, and they succeed in fulfilling their calling in the process (Protectors save everybody for example), the character has earned 1 experience point. These points can also be lost by failing to live up to one’s calling or failing to defeat the challenges.
2) If a player does something outstanding that increases the fun for everyone, and/or roleplays exceptionally well, they may earn a point. They may also lose points for the making everyone miserable and bad roleplaying.
3) At the end of the session, if there was a point (significantly progressed the plot, was a learning experience for characters, etc.) to the story, the characters may gain a point of experience. It should be noted that not all sessions, even if they had a point, give points for all characters. Some characters, especially those with high edge, do not always take away as much from an experience as a low edge character (saving the world from aliens is a pretty good learning experience the first few times, but when you have repelled your 30th alien invasion, its just another day at the office).
4) At the end of a story arc (several sessions of play) all characters should gain a point.
Experience loss due to poor roleplaying should be infrequent, and only should apply to extreme examples of bad play. Loss should come from either a character’s saved experience, or their scores, at Game Master discretion (keyword: discretion).
Experience can be spent on the following:
13. 1 point may be spent to add one skill, one stunt, one point of intensity to a power, or one attribute point.
14. 1 point may be spent to change costume and/or super hero name, or to permanently bond to an item in your character’s possession (protecting it from fate).
15. 1 point may be spent to permanently re-distribute points among current powers, or be placed in entirely new powers, at storyteller discretion.
16. 1 point may be spent to gain a new power at intensity one (as always, with Game Master approval), and Limits may be chosen for the power as in character creation. Alternatively, 1 point may be spent to unlock new powers in an item the character has bonded to.
17. A skill may be upgraded to World-Class after extended roleplaying with the character, many sessions, heavy use of the skill in question, and much in game training. The cost is dependent on the number of world-class skills possessed.
1st World-Class skill=1exp
2nd World-Class skill=2exp
3rd World-Class skill=4exp
4th World-Class skill=8 exp
5th World-Class skill=16exp
18. Edge may be increased only after many harrowing story arcs and life changing events have been experienced by a character. The cost is high, and it is a rare character indeed that ever exceeds an edge of 3. The cost to gain edge is:
19. After therapy, exhaustive training, or some other difficult trial, a character may buy off a Hindrance or a Limit using experience. Before buying off a Hindrance or Limit both the Game Master and the player should consider if such an action is appropriate, and whether such an action would be overall detrimental to the nature of the character and its place within the game. Hindrances and Limits cost the same amount to buy off, and are calculated together for the purposes of the following chart:
-1st Hindrance or Limit=1
-2nd Hindrance or Limit=2
-3rd Hindrance or Limit=4
-4th Hindrance or Limit=8
-5th Hindrance or Limit=16
The limits in place at character creation concerning maximum Power and Attribute scores are not in effect where experience is concerned, with the exception that characters should still have a maximum of 20 in all scores unless otherwise stated by the Game Master. Powers and Attributes over 20 are often too much for the mortal frame to deal with and can result in serious drawbacks in some cases (for example, 21 intensity telepaths may have to shut off their telepathy in order to stay sane in the face of the thoughts of their entire world bombarding them at once, or they may pick up on things they should never have found out…).
All Actions in Marvel start at a difficulty of 4, even before modifiers for environment, stress, time, etc., have been applied. Some particularly complex actions start at an even higher difficulty, dependent on the complexity of the action. If a character possesses the skill most appropriate for performing the action, the difficulty of the action is reduced by 4. If the character possesses multiple appropriate skills in addition to the primary skill, the difficulty of the action is reduced by 1 for every appropriate skill the character possesses in addition to the primary skill. World class skills double the reduction (-8 and –2).
Once the difficulty is determined, a character makes a card play, adding whatever the appropriate attribute or power may be to the card. If the card played matches the attribute or power suit, it is considered a Trump, and the next card on the fate deck is turned face up and added to the total. If the next card also matches, the process is repeated until a non-matching card is turned face up. World-class characters are considered to automatically trump on their actions (only for determining initial Trump, not for later cards revealed off the fate deck) unless the card played is from the Doom suit.
Edge also has an effect on card play. A character may play any number of cards equal to or less than their edge along with the single card that is played on an action, and they may play them in any order (the card played last is the only card that determines trump, so they may effectively use any of the cards played to determine whether the play was a Trump).
After all cards are played, the character may draw up to their full hand size (unless wounded).
Characters may also Push themselves to gain a bonus to their attributes or powers for a limited amount of time (the process is different depending on the length of the action). To Push, a character discards a card and adds the value of that card to any one Power or Attribute for the duration of one round/exchange, and the card is not re-drawn until at least the end of the scene (Game Master prerogative). A character may also Push on an extended action by discarding the card, and refraining from re-drawing it until the action is played. The bonus from the Push, in the case of extended actions, only applies to the action being performed (this represents long sleepless nights spent working on a new device, or intense concentration needed to diffuse a bomb). Pushing using Doom cards can be dangerous, resulting in injury from the strain or a loss of control. Whenever a Doom card is used for a push, after the action is resolved, flip over the top card of the fate deck. If the card revealed has a black aura, the narrator may choose to either have the character lose the push card for an extended period of time, or flip over another card from the fate deck and activate a random (hopefully unpleasant) event based on the card (if the character actually succeeded in the action, the event or punishment should not negate their success).
Often in comics, characters are seen spending extra time concentrating on extremely important actions in order to achieve a more powerful effect. To emulate this, characters may choose to Focus on a single action that would fulfill their Calling, and that can be performed in one round(damage plays or to hit plays are both legitimate Focuses, though if the attack misses, the Damage Focus is wasted) to potentially get a better score on the card play for it. The character chooses to do nothing for a number of rounds up to their Edge (may not concentrate on other actions, may not make card plays, and may only use base Attributes to defend). The character then must make a card play that trumps (either through World Class, or through a card of the appropriate suit), applying normal rules for card play (such as playing multiple cards under edge) to gain the benefit of Focus and if they cannot make a trump play (due to card loss over the rounds Focusing, for example) then the effort is wasted. If the trump is successful, the character may, instead of turning over one card, turn over as many cards as rounds spent Focusing, add any of those cards under the character's edge to the play, and then choose any one other card to add to the play, with the final card played triggering additional trumps as normal. (This must be done in order, unlike normal card play. The player must play cards under edge before the card over edge. If the player wishes, they may forgo playing a card over edge and play one of the cards under edge instead, [this is generally for the purposes of triggering another trump].)
Combat actions, like normal actions, start at a difficulty of 4. The player makes a card play as normal, but unlike normal, they must not only beat the difficulty of the action, but must also beat the play of their opponent, after accounting for difficulty. For example: Spiderman attempts to hit the Vulture. Spiderman makes a 20 card play (Strength) to hit Vulture, subtracts the difficulty (0, because he has the Brawling skill), for a total of 20. The Vulture makes a 21 (Agility) play, modified by difficulty (0 again, as he has Aerial combat) for a total of 21, just barely dodging the attack.
Close combat attacks may use either Strength or Agility to hit, and are modified by the appropriate skills from their categories. Ranged attacks and dodges add Agility to their plays, though occasionally Willpower or Intelligence may be called on for ranged combat.
The combat round is resolved in steps. The steps are: Primary Actions Step, Damage Resolution Step, and the Contingent Step. Within a given step, all actions happen simultaneously, though the order of action declaration and play is announced in order from lowest to highest intelligence character. A character with a higher intelligence than the one currently taking an action (if the higher intelligence character has not already taken an action) may preempt the action of the other character, and choose to act before them in the round. The character with the highest intelligence may also delay their action until the Contingent Actions step.
Generally, only one action is taken in a round, but some skills and powers allow for contingent actions to be taken. These actions occur after all the primary actions have been taken in a round, during the Contingent Step. The governing Attribute or Power is generally divided evenly among the contingent actions and main action before card play. In the case of contingent actions involving two different Powers or Attributes, divide the score by the number of contingent actions plus the main action in order to determine the intensity (before card play) at which the actions are performed.
The Contingent Step is similar to a series of Primary Action and Damage Steps. During the Contingent Step, all characters with contingent actions take their first contingent action (in intelligence order as listed above), then resolve any damage or effects from them. Then all characters take their second contingent action and resolve the effects/damage of that. This process continues until there are no more characters with remaining contingent actions, at which point a new round starts. Characters that delay their action will take their actions during this step, and events such as grenade explosions or the effects of spells occur at the beginning of this step as well.
Actions such as drawing a weapon, flipping a switch on a gadget in the character's possession, or activating certain powers all fall under the Free Actions category, due to the small amount of time and focus they require. A character may take a number of free actions in a round equal to their edge. Free Actions occur as they are declared, outside of the initiative order (unless they would cause damage; in such cases the damage occurs in initiative order, though the action does not).
Optional rule: a character may trade 3 unused Free actions from a round to gain an additional action that occurs during the Contingent Action step.
Dodging is considered an automatic action, and characters may dodge any attack that they know is coming (surprise attacks cannot be actively dodged with a card play, but if the character being attacked is in motion their movement power or agility is compared to the attacker's score to hit, and if the to hit score is not greater than the defenders score, the attack misses.), but for each attack dodged past the first, they add 1 to the difficulty of dodging (2nd attack dodged is at +1 difficulty, 3rd is at +2, etc.).
Called shots add to the difficulty of a play, but if successful add half their difficulty to additional damage (for every 2 points of additional difficulty, 1 point of extra damage is dealt). Called shots may in some cases negate armor rather than (or in addition to) causing additional damage.
In combat there are multiple skills that can modify actions. Dodges can be accomplished with Martial Arts or Acrobatics for example, but the character that has both should be able to dodge even better. A small, but not comprehensive, list of actions and modifying Skills follows:
Close combat-grappling: Brawling, Martial Arts, Wrestling, Aerial Combat (in air only). Any may serve as a primary skill or modifying skill.
Close combat-striking: Martial Arts, Boxing, Brawling, Aerial Combat (in air only). Any may serve as a primary skill or modifying skill.
Close combat-weapons: Martial Arts Weapons or another Weapon skill may serve as a primary skill, while Martial Arts, Brawling or Aerial Combat (in air only) may serve as modifying skills.
Ranged combat: Flinging, Archery, or Marksmanship may serve as primary skills, while Observation and Physics may serve as modifying skills. In the case of non-blast powers, such as magnetically removing the iron in someones body, Energy Control would be the primary skill, while Chemistry, Physics, or Biology would be appropriate modifying skills.
Mental combat: Mental Control would be the primary skill, while Assessment, Psychology, or Sociology could serve as modifying skills.
Dodge: Acrobatics, Martial arts, Aerial Combat (in air only) may be used as primary or modifying skills, and Assessment and Fast exit may serve as modifying skills.
Many situations can increase the difficulty of actions, or make certain skills difficult or even impossible to use. Creativity on the part of players can and should reduce difficulty or allow for skills to add to plays. If number stacking becomes too complex, Game Masters should limit the number of skills/modifiers applied in a given action.
Some modifiers and situations follow:
-Small area: Acrobatics and Aerial Combat are impossible to use for dodging as primary skills, but the additional flexibility and reflexes afforded the character by Acrobatics might still provide a modifying bonus.
-Low visibility: Increases the difficulty of ranged attacks. The Observation skill might be able to negate some or all of the difficulty.
World-Class skills modify combat actions much as they do normal actions, but often the additional bonus they provide may be given up to provide some special benefit.
The amount of damage dealt by an attack is determined by adding the strength (or other relevant intensity; guns deal a set amount of damage and do not add in attribute scores, while most powers deal their intensity in damage) of the attacker and any modifiers to damage, such as weapons or powers, plus a card play (trumping off the appropriate suit as normal). The defending player then adds their strength (or willpower in some cases) and any appropriate modifiers, such as armor, together. The defender's total is then subtracted from the attacker's total, and the difference is the amount of damage taken (negatives result in zero damage). If damage is dealt, the damaged character makes a note of the damage suffered and continues the round (further attacks are treated the same). After all primary attacks, but before the contingent action step (damage resolution step), the damaged character adds up all the damage taken, then discards cards from hand until the discarded cards, when their values are added together, are equal to or greater than the damage taken. When discarding, the damaged character may discard any type of card, though if the character uses a Strength or Willpower card, they may turn over the top card of the fate deck, and add the card turned over to the total cards played (using the same rules for trumping), effectively reducing the amount of cards discarded from the players hand.
Using powers: Using a Power to accomplish something is similar to using an Attribute; the character makes a card play, modified by the intensity of the power being used, against the difficulty of the action, usually at an Easy(4) difficulty. In the case of attacks, the power must beat the difficulty and any opposed score. Damage is resolved separately from the play to make sure the Power hits/works, and is done in the same way as any other attack.
Stunts: Stunts are special uses of a power that allow for greater effects, more precise results, and sometimes the replication of other powers or skills. Their base difficulty is Average(8), while new stunts may be 2 or even 3 difficulty levels higher (should be at least 2 difficulty levels(8) higher than the intensity of the character's power), depending on the situation and appropriateness of the stunt to the character's powers and intensity. Characters may gain new Stunts through the expenditure of experience, or by successfully using them in game, though if a character attempts a new Stunt and fails, it should be noted on their character sheet, as such a stunt can then only be bought with experience, and at 4x the cost. If a character gains a Stunt that duplicates another Power, the character may not learn Stunts from that power (unless of course the character already has that power in the first place), though the character may attempt to use Stunts from that Power at an increased difficulty (1-3 difficulty levels above the difficulty to activate the stunt, dependent upon the complexity of the stunt).
Number of powers active: A character may have a number of abilities active from one power equal to their edge. A character may have a number of concentration powers active at once equal to their edge, and may also take a primary action (which may create contingent actions as normal) in a given round.
If a character has more abilities active from a given power than their edge, they risk power overload, which causes the power to be inaccessible for an aura duration. To avoid power overload, the character must make a Daunting(16) Willpower action upon activating a number of abilities over their Edge, and the difficulty goes up by one level(+4) for every additional ability activated past the first over their edge.
If a character Concentrates on a number of actions greater than their Edge, the intensity of all Powers and Attributes being used is decreased by one level (-4) per concentration action over the character's Edge.
Activation Time: The amount of time required to turn on or use a power. Activation can be Automatic, or it can require a Free Action, Primary Action, or several rounds of Preparation.
Duration: The amount of time a power remains active. Especially volatile or unpredictable powers remain active for and Aura duration. Blast powers and other attacks generally only last for an Instant duration, while Force Fields and complex activities usually last as long as the character's Concentration. Some Powers, especially those originating from a Device, may be also be Timed (work for a predetermined period, then stop functioning).
Range: The distance at which an action may be taken. The Ranges are Personal, Close Combat, Near Missile, Far Missile, Artillery, Visual, and Beyond Visual (different from blocked visibility, which can occur at any of these ranges). For descriptions of these categories refer to pg. 41 of Reed Richards Guide To Everything.
Limits definition/list-must cut usefulness in half.
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