Bulletproof Blues 2e EN:Actions
Now we come to the most complicated part of Bulletproof Blues: actions! There are a lot of rules here because we tried to address the most common actions a character would attempt. However, just because we wrote it down doesn't mean you have to use it, nor should you feel constrained from making a call if a situation arises that we did not anticipate. You should treat these rules as examples, not as restrictions on your own sense of fun and fair play.
If you can play a fun game of Bulletproof Blues without referring to these rules, you should. Applying your best judgement is often a better solution than trying to find a rule that applies to a specific situation. Remember that player choice, not the roll of the dice, drives the game.
Time And Distance
Time is important. Without some way to keep track of time, everything would happen at once, and that would be terribly confusing.
Time in the game is usually divided into scenes. A scene typically starts when the characters arrive at a place, and ends when they leave. A scene could also be a period of time while the characters are together and moving toward a destination. In some cases, a scene might end even though the characters haven't moved at all, such as when they go to sleep, or when a fight ends and they begin talking about their plans for what to do next. Any time you feel would be a good time to "go to a commercial" or "start a new chapter", that's a good time to end the scene and start a new one.
If the characters are in combat or in some other tense situation, time seems to slow down. Every decision takes on a greater importance. A video game designer from the early 2000s might call this "bullet time", but we just call it combat time.
Combat time is divided into rounds. One combat round is six seconds, give or take, giving us ten rounds per minute. In a round, each character gets a turn. During their turn, a character can travel a distance up to their base movement (walking, typically) and still have time to do something useful (such as making an attack or using a skill) as well as engage in some banter with their teammates or anyone else nearby (such as telling one's henchmen to "run, you fools!"). We call these "movement actions", "task actions", and "roleplaying actions", respectively. A character can perform a task before they move or after they move, but they can't usually break up their movement to perform a task in the middle of it.
|Round 1||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
|Round 2||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
|Round 3||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
We assign numbers to characters' abilities so that we can tell what they can do. No one wants to guess what their characters can pick up or how fast they can fly. You will notice that the relationship between one rank and the next is not constant. At low ranks, each rank is roughly double the value of the previous rank, while at the highest ranks, the increase is approximately eightfold. In between, each rank is roughly quadruple the previous value. This variation is intentional, to offer greater variety to characters of "human" power level, while permitting truly extraordinary power levels at the highest ranks. All of the numbers in this table are approximate: don't be too concerned about it if something is on the edge between one value and the next. When in doubt, err on the side of the players.
The movement distances in this table are for powers, such as Flight, Super-running, and Teleport. If the character has only their natural movement (running, swimming, and jumping), then their movement distance is based on their Agility and Brawn. See Movement for more information.
(radius or range)
|Base Move||Double Move||All-out Move|
|Per Round||Per Round||Per Round||MPH|
|1||Cardboard||100 pounds||6 feet||50 feet||50 feet||100 feet||300 feet||30 mph|
|2||Plastic||225 pounds||12 feet||100 feet||100 feet||200 feet||600 feet||70 mph|
|3||Wood||450 pounds||25 feet||400 feet||400 feet||800 feet||2,400 feet||300 mph|
|4||Bone||900 pounds||50 feet||1,600 feet||1,600 feet||3,200 feet||2 miles||1,000 mph|
|5||Brick||2 tons||200 feet||1 mile||1 mile||2 miles||6 miles||4,000 mph|
|6||Concrete||7 tons||800 feet||5 miles||5 miles||10 miles||30 miles||20,000 mph|
|7||Stone||30 tons||4,000 feet||20 miles||20 miles||40 miles||120 miles||70,000 mph|
|8||Ceramic||100 tons||3 miles||80 miles||80 miles||160 miles||480 miles||300,000 mph|
|9||Steel||400 tons||10 miles||300 miles||300 miles||600 miles||1,800 miles||1,000,000 mph|
|10||Diamond||2,000 tons||40 miles||1,200 miles||1,200 miles||2,400 miles||7,200 miles||5,000,000 mph|
|11||Nanodiamond||10,000 tons||300 miles||10,000 miles||10,000 miles||20,000 miles||60,000 miles||30,000,000 mph|
|12||Stanlium||100,000 tons||3,000 miles||80,000 miles||80,000 miles||160,000 miles||480,000 miles||300,000,000 mph|
|13||Siegelite||1,000,000 tons||20,000 miles||600,000 miles||600,000 miles||1,200,000 miles||3,600,000 miles||0.9 c|
|14||Kirbium||10,000,000 tons||160,000 miles||5,000,000 miles||5,000,000 miles||10,000,000 miles||30,000,000 miles||0.99 c|
- Breaks indicates the strongest substance that the character would be able to break under normal circumstances. The thickness of the material and other factors make this a rough estimate, at best.
- Lifts indicates the greatest weight that the character can "clean and jerk" (pick up and lift overhead). A character carrying or supporting such a weight can take at most one or two steps per round. A character can move normally while carrying a weight corresponding to one rank less than their Brawn. For example, a character with rank 8 Brawn could carry up to 30 tons and suffer no penalties to their movement while doing so.
- Throws (50 lbs) indicates the farthest distance that a character could throw a compact object weighing 50 lbs. To see how far a character can throw heavier objects, subtract the Brawn rank required to lift the object from the character's total Brawn rank. Look up the difference in the "Rank" column: this indicates how far the character can throw the object. For example, a character with rank 4 Brawn (the peak of human potential) could throw an object weighing 100 lbs (such as a cooperative slender human) up to 25 feet.
- Affects (radius or range) indicates the radius around the character that they can affect with their powers if their powers affect a radius, or the maximum range of the power if it affects a single target. For example, [Element] Mastery can move or manipulate the chosen element within this area and can use the element to inflict direct damage to a target up to this distance away. The "radius" value is not used for powers that inflict damage directly unless they have been purchased with the Explosive Damage power enhancement.
Off The Scale
Obviously, there are values which are far below or far above what appears in this table. The Moon, with mass of roughly 8.1 × 1019 tons, is far more than even a character with rank 14 Brawn could move, while a baby or a housecat has a Brawn less than 1. Don't worry about it. At such extremes, the GM should just use their best judgement, and the rest of the players should roll with it.
SIDEBAR: How Heavy Is It?
Table: Item weights Item Weight Brawn or Power Rank (to lift) hawksbill sea turtle, large dog, slender adult 100 lbs 1 typical adult, small floor safe 200 lbs 2 heavy adult, refrigerator 300 lbs 3 gun safe, racing motorcycle 400 lbs 3 dolphin, lion 500 lbs 4 tiger, motorcycle, medium floor safe, a Twinkie 35 feet long 600 lbs 4 grizzly bear, touring motorcycle 900 lbs 4 cow, horse, sailboat 1,300 lbs 5 small civilian helicopter 1,500 lbs 5 compact car 2,000 lbs 5 medium missile 2,500 lbs 5 hippopotamus, full size car 2 tons 5 Humvee, small military helicopter 3 tons 6 armored Humvee 4.5 tons 6 elephant, empty dump truck 6 tons 6 light jet fighter plane 8 tons 7 empty tractor-trailer, large military helicopter 10 tons 7 jet fighter plane 15 tons 7 Polaris missile, international marijuana shipment 20 tons 7 loaded dump truck 25 tons 7 private jet plane, empty train car 30 tons 7 loaded tractor-trailer, empty C-130 cargo plane 40 tons 8 Easter Island stone head, bank vault, loaded tanker truck 50 tons 8 M1 Abrams tank, Trident missile, suburban house 60 tons 8 loaded C-130 cargo plane 85 tons 8 blue whale 100 tons 8 loaded train car 140 tons 9 locomotive, fishing trawler 200 tons 9 empty 747 passenger plane 300 tons 9 typical train 400 tons 9 loaded 747 passenger plane 450 tons 10 Space Shuttle 2,200 tons 10 passenger train, Coast Guard cutter 3,000 tons 11 Saturn V rocket 3,300 tons 11 Eiffel Tower 7,000 tons 11 freight train 8,000 tons 11 destroyer, nuclear submarine 9,000 tons 11 10 story building 10,000 tons 11 Brooklyn Bridge 15,000 tons 12 long frieght train 16,000 tons 12 large nuclear submarine 20,000 tons 12 aircraft carrier 90,000 tons 12 loaded tanker ship 120,000 tons 13 cruise ship 140,000 tons 13 loaded large tanker ship, large office building 200,000 tons 13 Empire State Building, empty Ultra Large Crude Carrier 400,000 tons 13 Ben Franklin Bridge, loaded Ultra Large Crude Carrier 700,000 tons 13 Golden Gate Bridge 900,000 tons 13 enormous skyscraper 1,000,000 tons 13 Great Pyramid of Giza 6,000,000 tons 14 Mount Everest 180,000,000,000 tons --
SIDEBAR: How Fast Is It?
Table: Item speeds Item Speed Agility Rank Power Rank avg human running 12 mph 2 1 max human running 27 mph 4 1 fast submarine 50 mph 8 2 fast bird, cheetah, sailfish 75 mph 11 2 fast car 200 mph -- 3 fast helicopter 250 mph -- 3 F5 tornado wind 300 mph -- 3 terminal velocity 327 mph -- 4 bullet train 350 mph -- 4 airplane 500 mph -- 4 pistol bullet 680 mph -- 4 sound 761 mph -- 4 supersonic airplane 1,200 mph -- 5 rifle bullet 1,900 mph -- 5 superjet 6,000 mph -- 6 escape velocity 25,000 mph -- 7 rocket 30,000 mph -- 7 solar winds 300,000 mph -- 8 interplanetary speeds 3,000,000 mph -- 10 light 670,616,629 mph -- 14
In a round, a character can normally walk ten times their Agility in feet and still have time to take an action (such as attack). This is referred to as the character's base speed. A character's running speed is double their walking speed, and their sprinting speed is six times their walking speed.
If the character has only their natural movement (running, swimming, and jumping), then their movement distance is based on their Agility and Brawn. The movement distances granted by powers, such as Super-running, Swinging, and Teleport, are significantly greater. See Benchmarks for more information.
A character's base swimming speed is twice their Agility in feet, and their base standing long jump is three times their Brawn in feet. Swimming may be used to "run" (make a double move) or "sprint" (move all-out), but jumping may not. However, with a running long jump, the character's ground movement is added to their long jump distance.
If the character is running or sprinting, they can cover more ground, but skills are more difficult, and their attacks are easier to avoid. A character who is running or making a double move incurs a +3 difficulty modifier on any attacks or task rolls. A character who is sprinting or making an all-out move incurs a +6 difficulty modifier on any attacks or task rolls. Movement powers, such as Super-swimming and Teleportation, incur the same difficulty modifiers when they are used to "run" (make a double move) or "sprint" (make an all-out move). See Rolling Dice for more information on task rolls and difficulty modifiers.
A character using their natural (Agility based) movement may move all-out for up to one minute, but then may move no faster than their base speed for an amount of time ten times as long as they were sprinting. So a character who sprinted for three rounds (18 seconds) may not run or sprint for thirty rounds (180 seconds). This limitation does not apply to characters using a movement power, such as Super-runnng or Super-swimming. A character with a movement power can move all-out without needing to rest afterward (unless they want to, of course).
If a character has a power that increases their movement rate, such as Super-running or Super-jumping, then they move at the speed indicated by the power rather than at the speed indicated by their Agility or Brawn. Super-running does not add to a character's natural (Agility-based) ground movement speed.
Weapons and powers that are useful at a distance have an effective range based on the power's rank. This distance is on the Benchmarks table under "Affects". For example, a rank 7 Blast has an effective range of 20 miles. Attacking targets at more distant ranges is more difficult or impossible (at the GM's discretion). If the GM declares that the attack is possible, the defender gains a +3 difficulty modifier (or defense bonus) for each additional range band.
For example, if a character is being attacked by someone 1,600 feet away (range band 4), and the attacker is using a pistol (which is normally useful up to 400 feet, or range band 3), the defender would gain a +3 defense bonus. See Rolling Dice for more information on task rolls and difficulty modifiers.
There are four kinds of actions a character may perform during their turn in a round: free actions, movement actions, task actions, and roleplay actions. Under normal circumstances, a character can perform one movement action and one task action during their turn. In addition, a character can perform as many free actions and roleplay actions as the GM deems reasonable.
When it is not a character's turn, they can still react to events around them. Reactions can be attempted at any time, as often as the GM deems reasonable.
A free action takes essentially no time. A character can't perform free actions until it is their turn to act in the round, but during their turn, they can perform as many free actions as the GM deems reasonable (perhaps as many as a half dozen). Typical free actions include activating a power (but not attacking with it), deactivating a power, dropping a weapon, crouching behind cover, and so on.
With a movement action, a character may stand up from a prone or seated position, they may move the distance permitted by their Agility and/or Brawn rank (depending on whether they are running, swimming, jumping, or running and jumping), or they may use a movement power to move up to the maximum distance that the rank of their power allows. With the GM's permission, the character may instead perform any equivalent action: opening a bank vault, screwing in a light bulb, or what have you.
Movement does not generally require a task roll, although the GM may require an Athletics task roll if there is some obstacle to the character's free movement (distractions, inclement weather, injury, etc.).
With a task action, a character may attempt to perform one task. This could be attempting a skill task roll, attempting to attack an opponent in combat, activating a power and attacking someone with it, or a similar activity. Under normal circumstances, a character may perform a task action before or after a movement action, but not during it.
Like a free action, a roleplay action takes essentially no time. During their turn, the character can perform as many roleplay actions as the GM deems reasonable (perhaps as many as a half dozen). Typical roleplay actions include banter with the character's teammates, making fun of an enemy's name or costume, or declaring that the opponent "shall not pass".
Unlike free actions, a character can usually perform roleplay actions at any time, whether it is their turn or not. Bulletproof Blues makes roleplaying an explicit action during combat to encourage players to roleplay. In the heat of combat, it can be easy to forget that roleplaying is an essential part of the game.
Reactions are usually responses to something another character does, and are usually made at the request of the GM. For example, if a character is hit with a staggering attack, the character will need to make a Willpower task roll to keep from being staggered. A character can perform reactions at any time, as often as the GM deems reasonable.
When a character attempts a task, and the outcome is either contested or there is some random element involved, the player rolls 2d6, counts the dots, and adds the result to their character's relevant attribute. This roll is compared to a difficulty number the GM assigns. The attempt succeeds if the player's roll equals or exceeds the assigned difficulty.
Unopposed tasks are those tasks where no one is actively working against the character. When attempting an unopposed task, the GM simply sets a task difficulty. More difficult tasks have a higher task difficulty. The attempt succeeds if the player's roll equals or exceeds the task difficulty.
Easy tasks do not require a roll at all: if a character has any competence at all with an easy task, they succeed. Similarly, routine tasks should rarely require a roll unless there is some dramatic need for it. In most cases, if the GM requires the player to roll dice to successfully complete a task, it's because the GM has deemed that task "challenging". Challenging tasks require a roll to resolve, and have a task difficulty of 12. More difficult tasks have a higher task difficulty, requiring a greater roll in order to perform the task successfully. If the task difficulty exceeds the character's relevant attribute (plus bonuses) by more than 12, the task is just too difficult for that character to perform.
|--||Easy||Operate simple machines|
|9||Routine||Understand and modify simple machines, operate current technology|
|12||Challenging||Understand and modify current technology, operate advanced technology|
|15||Demanding||Design and build current technology, understand and modify advanced technology|
|18||Frustrating||Design and build advanced technology, operate advanced alien technology|
|21||Nigh-impossible||Understand and modify advanced alien technology|
Opposed tasks are those tasks where the character is actively competing against an opponent. This is often the result of combat, but it may be something non-violent. For example, a computer hacker may be trying to penetrate a system, while the system administrator is trying to close the back door and locate the hacker. The person initiating the conflict rolls the dice, and the attack succeeds if the attacker's roll equals or exceeds the task difficulty.
If the circumstances of the conflict favor one side or the other, the side with the circumstantial advantage receives a bonus. A circumstance which favors the attacker grants a bonus to the task roll (often called an "attack bonus" when the conflict is a violent one). A circumstance which favors the defender imposes a difficulty modifier (typically called a "defense bonus" when the conflict is violent).
For example, if the attacker is invisible (which normally grants a +3 task roll bonus) and the target of the attack is surprised (which normally grants a +3 task roll bonus), the attacker would gain a +3 bonus, not +6. Similarly, if the attacker is sprinting (which normally imposes a +6 difficulty modifier) and the defender is also sprinting (which normally imposes a +3 difficulty modifier), this would impose a +6 difficulty modifier, not +9.
|+0||Defender is walking (base movement speed)|
|+1||Defender is prone; attacker is adjacent or hand-to-hand|
|+3||Defender can't see the attacker|
|+3||Defender is restrained|
|+3||Defender is surprised|
|+6||Defender is completely blind|
|+6||Defender is unconscious or helpless|
|+0||Attacker is walking (base movement speed)|
|+1||Defender has partial cover|
|+1||Defender is prone; attacker is non-adjacent and using a ranged attack|
|+3||Attacker can't see the defender|
|+3||Attacker is restrained|
|+3||Attacker is running (base move x2)|
|+3||Defender is sprinting (base move x6)|
|+3||Attacking a held item|
|+6||Attacker is completely blind|
|+6||Attacker is sprinting (base move x6)|
Some tasks are more complex or time-consuming than can reasonably be resolved with a single task roll. For example, constructing a starship and racing through a city would be extended tasks. When attempting an extended task, the GM sets a task difficulty and the required number of successes. The GM might also set a maximum number of attempts, to indicate tasks which have a time limit or a penalty for failure, such as disarming a bomb before it explodes. If a character attempting an extended task rolls an extreme success, this counts as two successes toward accomplishing the extended task. In extended opposed tasks, such as a competition between rival scientists to create a cure for a disease, the first person or team to achieve the required number of successful task rolls succeeds at the task.
Some extended tasks might benefit from a multidisciplinary approach. For example, disabling an alien doomsday weapon would obviously benefit from engineering expertise, but a keen understanding of alien psychology or linguistics could also be helpful. This allows characters with different skills to combine their efforts to accomplish the task.
Failing a task roll, particularly a skill roll, is not the end of the world. A failed attempt may not give the character the result they wanted, but it should not mean the game grinds to a halt. Rather than having a failed skill attempt be a dead-end, it should mean that the desired outcome has a greater cost, or perhaps the desired outcome has undesirable side effects. Remember that success and failure are both paths to the same goal: to make the game more fun. Failure is okay. Boredom is not.
For example, Grimknight is trying to intimidate a low-level ASGARD technician into revealing details about the organization's plans to distribute a new, highly addictive psychoactive chemical disguised as an energy drink. The GM sets the difficulty of this task to 12, but Grimknight's player rolls a 9. Rather than having this be the end of this line of inquiry, the GM has several options.
- Quid pro quo: The technician will give Grimknight the information, but only if Grimknight gives the technician something in exchange. This could be something as prosaic as money, but with an operative of ASGARD the cost is more likely to be something rare or unique, such as blueprints for an experimental device or a sample of Grimknight's DNA.
- Red herring: The technician tells Grimknight what he wants to hear, but the information is not true or it leads Grimknight off on a wild goose chase. If the technician is clever, he may send Grimknight after a local Aegis cell that has been causing problems for ASGARD.
- Stirring the pot: Grimknight gets the information, but his activities attract attention. A rival organization, the Jade Moon Society, learns of ASGARD's psychoactive energy drink as a result of Grimknight's activities, and they try to beat him to the prize. Alternately, the rival organization might use Grimknight as a stalking horse, allowing Grimknight and ASGARD to fight each other so that the Jade Moon Society will have an easier time taking the spoils from the winner.
- Alerting the enemy: Grimknight gets the information, but ASGARD learns of Grimknight's interest in their activities and they begin to make preparations against him. It could even be that the technician was intended to be captured by Grimknight all along in order to set him up for an ambush!
Taking The Average
If the character is under no pressure, and there is either no penalty for failure or no time limit, then the player may choose to "take the average" rather than rolling. In effect, the player is assuming that they would roll average: 7. If the player chooses to take the average, the character does not attain an extreme success regardless of the difficulty.
Note that opposed rolls -- whether it is physical combat (such as a gunfight), psychic combat (such as a battle of wills), or a social conflict (such as a marital dispute) -- typically involve both a time limit and a penalty for failure, so taking the average is not an option.
Taking The Max
If the character is under no pressure, there is no penalty for failure, and there is no time limit, the player may "take the max", and assume that they would roll the maximum amount: 12. In effect, the character is trying over and over until they do the best they are capable of doing. If the player chooses to take the max, the character does not attain an extreme success regardless of the difficulty.
Note that opposed rolls -- whether it is physical combat (such as a gunfight), psychic combat (such as a battle of wills), or a social conflict (such as a marital dispute) -- typically involve both a time limit and a penalty for failure, so taking the max is not an option.
If the player's roll equals or exceeds the task difficulty, the character succeeds at the task in a completely satisfactory manner: the clue is found, the language is translated, or the lightning bolt hits its target. However, rolling higher than the required task difficulty may grant additional benefits. If the player rolls three or more over the task difficulty, the character achieves an extreme success. So if a character attempted a challenging task (task difficulty 12), and the player rolled 15 or more, this would be an extreme success.
If the player rolls an extreme success when making a skill roll, perhaps the character has a "eureka!" moment, or perhaps they have found answers to questions they didn't even know they should ask. If the player rolls an extreme success in combat, the attacker may choose one of three bonus effects, unless the description of the power says otherwise: overwhelming the target, smashing the target, or staggering the target.
One repercussion of extreme success is that characters with very high Prowess or Accuracy can often rely on doing extra damage with their attacks. Conversely, characters with very low Prowess or Accuracy will often take extra damage from attacks.
An overwhelming attack adds one rank to the power, solely for the purposes of that attack. For attack powers that inflict damage, this means that the damage rating of the power is increased by one. If the overwhelming power normally inflicts Endurance damage, then the additional damage rating is also Endurance damage, and the character's protection powers, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, apply as usual to the total damage rating of the attack. For attacks that inflict some other form of damage or have some other effect, the total rank of the power is increased by one, with the commensurate effect on the target.
Only attacks that normally inflict Endurance damage can result in a smashing attack. If a smashing attack hits a character, the target of the attack may attempt a Brawn task roll to resist being smashed. The target rolls 2d6 and adds their Brawn; the task difficulty is 8 plus the rank of the attack power. If the target succeeds with their Brawn task roll, they shrug off the smashing portion of the attack with no ill effects. If the target fails their Brawn task roll, they are "smashed" and knocked backward a considerable distance. Compare the amount the target missed their roll by to the Benchmarks table. Look up the rank that matches the amount by which they missed the roll, and match that to the distance in the "Throws" column.
A character who is smashed does not normally take additional damage when they land, but they are prone and must use a movement action to get back up.
Only attacks that normally inflict Endurance damage can result in a staggering attack. If a staggering attack hits a character, the target of the attack may attempt a Willpower task roll to resist being staggered. The target rolls 2d6 and adds their Willpower; the task difficulty is 8 plus the rank of the attack power. If the target succeeds with their Willpower task roll, they shrug off the staggering portion of the attack with no ill effects. If the target fails their Willpower task roll, they are "staggered" and lose their next turn (their turn on this round if they have not yet taken one; otherwise, their turn on the following round).
Any powers which must be activated, such as Force Field and Growth, normally turn off when a character is staggered. However, a staggered character may attempt a challenging Willpower task roll (task difficulty 12) to keep their powers activated while staggered. Any powers which are deactivated can't be turned back on until the character is able to take their next turn.
Order Of Play
Everything that happens in a round is assumed to occur more or less simultaneously, but the players can't all speak at once. To keep the game orderly, we need a way to determine the order in which characters act when combat starts.
The most important factor in determining who acts before whom is situational awareness. If a character is not aware of their opponent, then they don't have the opportunity to attack. For example, if a hero is lurking on a rooftop and observes a gang of hooligans breaking into an electronics store, there is no need to roll to see who goes first. The hooligans are unaware that there is anyone to fight, so they continue carrying boxes of loot out of the store. In the first round of combat, only the hero has the opportunity to act. Depending on what the hero does and how sneaky the hero is, it's possible that the hero might be the only one with an opportunity to act for several rounds. Only after the hooligans become aware of the hero do they get the opportunity to act. At that point, the order of action in each round is the hero first, and then the hooligans. If the combatants become aware of their adversaries in a set order, then that is the order in which they act in combat -- at least, until someone changes it.
Normally, characters take their actions in the same order that they have an opportunity to act. However, if the various combatants become aware of each other more or less simultaneously, or if you would prefer to roll dice to see who goes first, the players and the GM should each make a Perception task roll at the beginning of the scene. Turns proceed each round from the highest roller to lowest. If a character (or one of the non-player characters) has the Super-speed power, the player (or GM) gets a bonus to the Perception task roll equal to the rank in Super-speed (for example, rank 4 Super-speed would provide a +4 bonus to the Perception roll).
The environment always goes last in a round. Any falling objects (including characters) fall, and any free-rolling vehicles move, after all characters have had the opportunity to use their actions. This does not include thrown projectiles or character-controlled vehicles. If any object or vehicle is under direct control by a character, then the object or vehicle will move when that character moves it or at the end of the round, at the character's option. If a character chooses not to control a vehicle, then the vehicle will move at the end of the round.
If your character starts the scene by going last, either because your character was caught unaware or because you rolled poorly at the beginning of the scene, don't worry too much about it. The order of play will change almost immediately. Any character may delay their turn in a round, or force their next action to do something defensive. Additionally, characters who achieve an extreme success on a block or dodge roll revise the order of play so that the attacker whose attack was foiled goes after the defender in the following rounds.
Of course, this is all just an abstraction to make task resolution easier. In reality, everything that happens in a round occurs more or less simultaneously. The difference between going first in a round and going last in a round is less a matter of time and more a matter of who has the better awareness of the situation at that moment.
Delaying A Turn
If a player does not wish to use their character's turn when they have the opportunity, perhaps wanting to wait and see what an opponent does, the character may delay their turn, with the option of using it later in the round or on a successive round. The character may then pre-empt another character's turn.
Delaying a turn does not alter the order of play. After the character has taken their turn, the order of play resumes its previous sequence.
Combat starts when Blueshift runs around a corner and sees Ganyeka, who is giving commands to his henchmen. The GM declares that the order of play is Blueshift, then Ganyeka, then Ganyeka's henchmen.
|Round 1||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
On the second round, Monolith runs around the corner, startling Ganyeka's henchmen because, wow, that guy is huge. The GM declares that the order of play is Blueshift, then Ganyeka, then Monolith, then Ganyeka's henchmen.
|Round 2||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
On the third round, Blueshift delays her turn, waiting to see what Monolith does. When it is Monolith's turn, he attempts to grapple with Ganyeka. Blueshift uses her delayed turn to assist Monolith by coordinating her attack with his.
|Round 3||Ganyeka's turn|
Blueshift's turn (delayed)
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
On the fourth round, order of play returns to its previous sequence.
|Round 4||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
Forcing An Action
Sometimes a character might need to take a desperate action before they have had the opportunity to take their turn in a round or after they have already taken their turn in a round. This is known as forcing the character's action. Forcing an action allows a character to sacrifice their next turn in order to block, dodge, dive for cover, activate a defensive power, or take another purely defensive action. A forced action can also be used to take a defensive action on someone else's behalf, such as diving in front of an attack to protect an innocent bystander. The character may not force an action which the GM could construe as an attack, such as blocking a bullet with an opponent's unconscious body or running into someone. When a character forces their action, they sacrifice their next available turn, whether that action would be in the current round or on the next round. A character may only force an action once per round.
Because a forced action is always defensive, it always takes place at the appropriate time, either before or during the attack which triggered it. The attacker does not have the opportunity to "take back" their attack.
Forcing an action does not alter the order of play. After the character's next available turn has passed (the turn they sacrificed in order to take a defensive action sooner), the order of play resumes its previous sequence.
Continuing from the previous example, on the fifth round, the order of play is Blueshift, then Ganyeka, then Monolith, then Ganyeka's henchmen.
|Round 5||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
On the sixth round, Blueshift makes short work of two of Ganyeka's henchmen with a sweep attack. Ganyeka then pulls out a sinister-looking weapon, aims it at Monolith, and fires. Blueshift forces her next action to leap between Ganyeka and Monolith, taking the full brunt of Ganyeka's attack.
|Round 6||Blueshift's turn|
Blueshift's turn (forced from round 7)
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
On the seventh round, Blueshift loses her turn because she forced it in the previous round.
|Round 7||Ganyeka's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
On the eighth round, order of play returns to its previous sequence.
|Round 8||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
Attacks generally have four steps: a task roll to affect the target, determination of the consequences of extreme success (if the attacker rolled an extreme success), subtraction of the defender's protection value (PV) from the damage rating (DR) of the attack, and the determination of the effect on the target. Attacks require a task action by the attacker. See Actions for more details.
Multiple characters can gang up on an opponent to increase the damage they inflict when they hit. In order to gang up and combine their damage, each character's attack must use the same attribute to target their attack and inflict the same type of damage. For example, two characters using Blast could gang up even if their Blast powers are dissimilar (an ice blast and a wind blast, for example), but a character using a Mind Blast would not be able to gang up with them since Mind Blast is targeted using Willpower rather than Accuracy.
All of the characters ganging up on an opponent must strike simultaneously. The successful attack which would inflict the most damage (or have the greatest effect, for non-damaging powers) provides the base damage (or effect) for the combined attack. Each additional successful attack increases the damage rating of the combined attack by +1.
Zero K, Manticore, and Tempest gang up on Thornmallow in an attempt to overcome his impenetrable rank 9 Force Field. All three characters are using the Blast power: Zero K uses her ice blast, Manticore uses a Gatling gun mounted on her jet wing, and Tempest calls down lightning to strike Thornmallow. All three powers require an Accuracy task roll to hit, and all three powers inflict Endurance damage. Zero K and Manticore delay their turns so that they can attack at the same time Tempest does.
The GM declares that the task difficulty to hit Thornmallow is 11. Zero K's player rolls a 10: Zero K's attack misses. However, Manticore and Tempest both hit successfully with a 12 and a 17, respectively. This is an extreme success for Tempest. Tempest's player chooses the "overwhelming" effect of an extreme success, increasing the damage rating of Tempest's attack from 7 to 8. This forms the base damage for the combined attack. Manticore's gatling gun, which normally has a damage rating of 6, adds +1 to the damage rating of the combined attack, making it 9.
Unfortunately, this is not enough to penetrate the protection value of Thornmallow's rank 9 Force Field. If Zero K's attack had been successful, the damage rating of the combined attack would have been 10, which would have reduced Thornmallow's Endurance by 1.
Zero K, Manticore, and Tempest need to find some other way to defeat Thornmallow than by sheer brute force. Perhaps they can use the environment against him, perhaps they can outsmart him somehow, or perhaps they need to retreat and seek additional help.
Multiple characters can work together to increase their chances of hitting an opponent. One character will actually make the attack, and the rest of the characters will attempt to assist them. Each character wishing to assist with the attack attempts a challenging task roll (task difficulty 12) using the appropriate attribute (usually Prowess or Accuracy). Each successful task roll increases the attack bonus of the attack by +1. If one of the characters attempting to coordinate their attacks rolls an extreme success, this increases the attack bonus of the attack by +2 rather than by +1. The character who actually rolls to hit the target provides the base damage (or effect) for the coordinated attack. If the character who actually rolls to hit the target fails their task roll, the entire coordinated attack fails.
Monolith and Grimknight attempt to coordinate their attacks in order to hit the inhumanly fast Karen X. Because Grimknight has a better chance to hit Karen X in combat (his Prowess is higher than Monolith's Prowess or Accuracy), they decide that Monolith will assist with the attack, and Grimknight will be the one actually attacking. It is up to the players to decide what this coordinated attack looks like, so they decide that Monolith picks up Grimknight and hurls him at Karen X.
Because this is a ranged attack for Monolith, he must attempt a challenging Accuracy task roll (task difficulty 12). If his roll is successful, then Grimknight's attack roll will have a +1 attack bonus.
Monolith's player rolls a 17: extreme success! Because this is an extreme success, Grimknight is granted a bonus of +2 on the coordinated attack.
The GM declares that Grimknight's task difficulty to hit Karen X is 17. Including the +2 bonus provided by Monolith's extreme success on the coordinated attack, Grimknight rolls a 16: Karen X sees the attack coming, and sidesteps.
Distraction can be used by a character to mislead an enemy into dropping their guard. Distracting an opponent requires a Willpower task roll against the Willpower of the opponent. If the distraction is successful, the next attack against the distracted opponent on the following round receives a +3 attack bonus.
SIDEBAR: Why Willpower?
Using Willpower for distracting an opponent may seem counterintuitive. Wouldn't Prowess or Perception seem more appropriate? Not at all. Distracting an opponent -- whether in physical combat (such as a gunfight), psychic combat (such as a battle of wills), or in a social conflict (such as a marital dispute) -- isn't about how good you are in a fight or how good you are at noticing things. Anyone who has ever seen a talented stage magician at work knows that the real "trick" to most illusions is getting the audience to look where the magician wants them to look. In game system terms, that's a classic Willpower vs. Willpower task roll.
Additionally, one of the main reasons we added the distraction maneuver to Bulletproof Blues was to help characters with low physical attributes cope with combat. Characters with high physical attributes don't usually need to resort to distraction. Characters with high Willpower, on the other hand, are exactly the type of characters that need to use tactics like distraction.
A grapple involves using one's extremities to hold or restrain another character. The maximum mass the character can effectively grapple is based on the rank of their Brawn. Find the rank of their Brawn in the Benchmarks table and look up the corresponding value in the "Lifts" column.
Grappling requires a Prowess task roll against the Prowess of the intended target. Grappling inanimate objects is generally automatic, unless the GM wants to make it difficult for some reason. To break free of the Grapple, the defender must make a successful task roll using their Brawn or Agility attribute (whichever is greater) against the attacker's Brawn or Agility (whichever is greater).
If the attacker rolls an extreme success, then the rank of their Brawn (or Agility) is increased by 1 for the purpose of breaking free of it. For example, if a character is being held by an attacker with rank 6 Brawn, and the attacker rolled an extreme success, the affected character would need to make a task roll against task difficulty 15 (7 + 8) to break free of the grapple.
If the defender succeeds at the task roll to break free, they may use their remaining movement action. If the character being grappled gets an extreme success on this roll, then they break free as a free action instead of a task action. For example, if a character is being held by an attacker with rank 6 Brawn, they would need to make a Brawn (or Agility) task roll against task difficulty 14 (6 + 8). If they roll a 17 or more, they achieve an extreme success, and breaking free is a free action. If the defender has Telekinesis, they may use the rank of their Telekinesis in lieu of their Brawn or Agility to break free.
Characters being grappled are considered "restrained". A restrained character is not helpless, but they can't use normal movement until they break free of the grapple. Attacking the held character is easier (attackers gain a +3 attack bonus when attacking the held character), and their attacks are easier to avoid (defenders gain a +3 defense bonus when the held character attacks them).
If the attacker wishes to exert strength or leverage in an attempt to hurt the grappled character, this causes Endurance damage, and the damage rating (DR) of this attack is equal to the attacker's rank in Brawn or Agility (whichever is greater). Any power or equipment that provides protection from Endurance damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, reduces the amount of damage the held character takes from the attack. The protection value (PV) of the protection power is subtracted from the damage rating of the grapple. The remaining damage is subtracted from the target's Endurance. Characters with human level Brawn or Agility (rank 3 or less) inflict stunning damage with their grappling attacks. A character with rank 3 Brawn or Agility would have damage rating 3, and any damage inflicted would be stunning, and therefore temporary. A character with rank 4 Brawn or Agility would have damage rating 4, and the damage inflicted would be normal. See Stunning for more details.
If the attacker wishes to move or throw the grappled character, the distance the attacker may move the defender is based on the Brawn of the attacker and the mass of the defender. First, look up the mass of the defender or object to be moved in the "Lifts" column of the Benchmarks table (rounding to the nearest weight value), and find the corresponding rank for that weight. Subtract that rank from the Brawn of the attacker, and look up that resulting rank in the Benchmarks table. Find the corresponding distance in the "Throws" column. This is how far the attacker could throw an object of that weight. This rank is also the damage rating (DR) of the impact if the attacker makes the defender hit a solid object such as a wall or the ground. Particularly soft or yielding surfaces can reduce the impact damage by as much as half.
Ganyeka has Brawn 5 and wants to throw Widow, whom he has successfully grappled. Widow weighs 148 pounds, which would be rank 1 in the "Lifts" column in the Benchmarks table. Subtracting 1 from Ganyeka's rank 5 Brawn, we find that Ganyeka can throw Widow 50 feet.
Instead, he throws her at a nearby brick wall. The impact has a damage rating of 4, which is the rank of 50 feet in the "Throws" column in the Benchmarks table. After subtracting Widow's rank 2 Invulnerability, she takes 2 Endurance damage from hitting the wall, and so she subtracts 2 from her current Endurance. The wall, being brick, has rank 5 Invulnerability, and is undamaged by having Widow thrown at it.
A ramming attack involves using the velocity of the attacker to increase the damage inflicted. Ramming requires the attacker to use their movement action to travel directly toward the target, followed by a hand-to-hand attack. The ramming attack itself requires a Prowess task roll against the Prowess of the intended target, and the target receives a +1 defense bonus against the ramming attack. The damage rating of the ramming attack is equal to the attacker's rank in Brawn + 1 or the rank of the attacker's movement power, whichever is greater. Ramming may be called by various names depending on the technique the attacker uses, such as "flying tackle", "charge", or "pounce".
A slam or takedown involves using a target's mass and velocity against them so that they fall to the ground. Slams are only effective against targets whose feet are on the ground to begin with. A slam can represent an aikido throw, a leg sweep, a judo hip toss, or even tripping someone with an umbrella, depending on the attacker's fighting style.
A slam requires a Prowess task roll against the Prowess of the intended target. If the slam attack is successful, the defender falls to the ground and may be injured by the impact. The damage rating of this attack is normally equal to the attacker's rank in Agility. Characters with human level Agility (rank 3 or less) inflict stunning damage with their slams. A character with rank 3 Agility would have damage rating 3, and any damage inflicted would be temporary. See Stunning for more details.
If the defender was moving, the damage rating of this attack is equal to the defender's rank in their movement power or the attacker's rank in Agility, whichever is greater. If the defender's rank in their movement power is 3 or less, the slam inflicts stunning damage.
A sweep attack permits a character to make a hand-to-hand attack against everyone within reach. A sweep attack requires a single Prowess task roll against the Prowess of each of the intended targets. Each defender receives a +3 defense bonus against the sweep attack. The damage rating of the sweep attack is equal to the attacker's rank in Brawn.
Taunts can be used to goad an opponent into attacking. Taunting requires a Willpower task roll against the Willpower of the character being taunted. If the taunt is successful, then the target of the taunt will use their next available action to attack the taunting character. If that attack misses the taunting character, the attack will instead strike whatever or whomever is directly behind the taunting character.
Defending against an attack typically has two parts: determining the difficulty against which the attacker must roll to successfully hit the target, and withstanding the damage that results from a successful task roll to hit. Avoiding an attack is referred to as defense, while the ability of a target to withstand all or part of the damage is called protection. Invulnerability and Force Field, for example, provide a protection value (PV) equal to the rank of the power.
If the target of an attack is unconscious or unable to move freely to avoid the attack, the attacker gains a +6 attack bonus. This applies to powers such as Telepathy in addition to more overtly damaging powers such as Blast.
During their turn, or as a forced action, a character may use a task action to attempt to block an attack against them. The defender may continue attempting to block additional attacks until their next action.
A block might entail using brute force to withstand the attack, or it might involve using finesse to harmlessly divert an attack away: the choice is up to the player. To attempt a block, the player attempts a Prowess task roll against the rank of the attacker's power or weapon. For example, if the attacker had rank a 9 Blast, the task difficulty to block it would be 9 + 8 = 17. If the defender has expertise with blocking, they gain a +3 bonus on their Prowess task roll.
If the defender rolls an extreme success, then the order of play is revised so that on future rounds, the character whose attack was blocked acts after the character who successfully blocked the attack.
Ganyeka attacks Monolith, and Monolith forces his action in order to block. Monolith rolls an extreme success on his block. This revises the order of play so that Ganyeka's turn comes after Monolith's turn on successive rounds.
|Round 1||Blueshift's turn|
Monolith's turn (blocks attack by Ganyeka)
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
|Round 2||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
Normally, only attacks which inflict Endurance damage may be blocked. However, if the defender has the same power as the attacker, they may use that power to attempt to block. For example, a defender with Telepathy may use their Telepathy to attempt to block the Telepathy of an attacker. With the GM's permission, a character may attempt to block with a power that has a similar theme or power source. For example, a GM might permit a character to use their Telepathy to attempt to block an attacker's Mind Control.
A character chooses to block after determining if the attack will successfully hit: there is no need to block an attack that misses. A successful block completely negates the attack. An unsuccessful block has no effect on the attack.
During their turn, or as a forced action, a character may use a task action to attempt to dodge an attack against them. The defender may continue attempting to dodge additional attacks until their next action.
To attempt a dodge, the player attempts an Agility task roll against the rank of the attacker's power or weapon. For example, if the attacker had rank a 9 Blast, the task difficulty to dodge it would be 9 + 8 = 17. If the defender has expertise with dodging, they gain a +3 bonus on their Agility task roll.
If the defender rolls an extreme success, then the order of play is revised so that on future rounds, the character whose attack was dodged acts after the character who successfully dodged the attack.
Continuing the example above, Blueshift attacks Ganyeka, and Ganyeka forces his action in order to dodge. Ganyeka rolls an extreme success on his dodge. This revises the order of play so that Blueshift's turn comes after Ganyeka's turn on successive rounds.
|Round 3||Blueshift's turn|
Ganyeka's turn (dodges an attack by Blueshift)
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
|Round 4||Monolith's turn|
Ganyeka's henchmen's turn
Normally, only attacks which inflict Endurance damage may be dodged. However, if the defender has the same power as the attacker, they may use that power to attempt to dodge. For example, a defender with Telepathy may use their Telepathy to attempt to dodge the Telepathy of an attacker. With the GM's permission, a character may attempt to dodge with a power that has a similar theme or power source. For example, a GM might permit a character to use their Telepathy to attempt to dodge an attacker's Mind Control.
A character chooses to dodge after determining if the attack will successfully hit: there is no need to dodge an attack that misses. A successful dodge completely negates the attack. An unsuccessful dodge has no effect on the attack.
SIDEBAR: Why Power Rank?
Basing the task difficulty of blocking and dodging on the rank of the attacker's power or weapon might seem strange to you. Wouldn't it make more sense to make these rolls against the attacker's Accuracy or Prowess? We base these rolls on the rank of the attacker's power for two reasons.
First, a character only chooses to block or dodge if the attack has already hit them, which means that there has already been an Accuracy or Prowess roll, and the attacker rolled well enough to hit. There is a good chance that a second roll would have a similar outcome, so we base the block and dodge rolls on the rank of the attacker's power or weapon in order to give the defender a chance to change the odds, particularly against attackers with very high Accuracy and Prowess.
Second, the rank of a power is more than just how much damage it does. The power's rank also reflects the character's skill and finesse in using that power. By basing block and dodge on the rank of the power, we take into account how much control the attacker has over the power in addition to how much sheer force they are using.
Having Partial Cover
If a character is hiding behind an obstruction that conceals at least half of their body from an attacker, the character is said to have partial cover. A character with partial cover is more difficult to hit. The defender gains a +1 defense bonus, which increases the difficulty of the attacker's task roll by +1.
Diving For Cover
Attacks which are particularly large, such as a thrown car or bus, are much more difficult to avoid. The only way to avoid such attacks is to not be under them when they land. If a character is about to be hit by a large attack, they can take a forced action to dive for cover. When diving for cover, the character moves to the nearest open ground beyond the area of the attack or behind the nearest cover, and ends up on the ground prone. A character may perform a forced action to dive for cover from an ordinary attack, if they want, but since it leaves the character prone and vulnerable, and it sacrifices their next action, doing so is probably unwise.
If the nearest safe area or cover is too far away for the character to reach it with an all-out move, then there is no benefit to diving for cover. Sorry.
A prone character is easier for adjacent attackers to hit, but harder to hit with ranged, non-adjacent attacks. If the defender is prone and the attacker is adjacent or engaging in hand-to-hand combat, the attacker receives a +1 attack bonus on their task roll to hit the defender. If the defender is prone and the attacker is non-adjacent and using a ranged attack, the defender gains a +1 defense bonus, which increases the difficulty of the attacker's task roll by +1.
Once the attacker successfully makes their task roll to affect the target and the consequences of extreme success (if any) are determined, the damage rating (DR) of the attack is applied against the defender's protection value (PV).
In hand-to-hand combat, an unarmed character's damage rating is equal to their rank in Brawn. Characters with human level Brawn (rank 3 or less) inflict stunning damage with their unarmed hand-to-hand attacks. For example, a character with rank 3 Brawn would have damage rating 3, and any damage inflicted would be stunning, and therefore temporary. A character with rank 4 Brawn, however, would have damage rating 4, and the damage inflicted would be normal. See Stunning for more details.
Hand-to-hand weapons such as clubs and knives have a damage rating equal to the rank of the weapon or the character's Brawn rank + 1, whichever is greater. A knife with damage rating 1 wielded by a character with rank 2 Brawn would have an effective damage rating of 3. Using a weapon allows a character with Brawn of 3 or less to inflict normal damage rather than stunning damage.
The damage rating of a ranged attack is generally equal to the rank of the power or weapon being used.
Exploding, penetrating, and stunning attacks modify how much damage is caused or how a character defends against it.
An exploding attack causes its damage to everyone within a certain range of the target. Because an exploding attack does not need to be aimed at a specific target, the difficulty of the task roll is 9. However, because exploding attacks are not targeted at specific individuals, they do not benefit from extreme success.
The damage rating of the explosion diminishes with distance from the center. The damage rating is at its full value within half of the total radius, and at one-half of its full value in the remainder of the explosion. For example, a typical fragmentation grenade would have a damage rating of 5 from the center out to a radius of 25 feet (half its total radius), and a damage rating of 3 from 25 feet out to the limit of its radius of 50 feet.
Damage from a penetrating attack ignores 50% of the defender's protection (round in defender's favor).
Damage from a stunning attack is temporary. Record it separately; it all comes back after the fight is over, when the character has had a chance to rest and recuperate.
After determining the effective damage rating (DR) of the attack, that total is applied against the target's protection value (PV). The protection value is subtracted from the damage rating, and any remaining damage is subtracted from target's appropriate attribute (typically Endurance).
Endurance damage and Endurance protection are the most common, but some attacks inflict other forms of damage, and require other forms of protection. For example, a character attacked with Reason Drain would need some form of protection against Reason damage (Attribute Invulnerability, for example).
Multiple layers of the same type of protection do not stack: only the greatest protection value applies. For example, a character with rank 6 Invulnerability would not benefit from a rank 5 Force Field, nor from wearing an armored vest that provides rank 2 Invulnerability.
After a chance to rest and recuperate (maybe half an hour), an injured character recovers half the endurance they have recently lost. After that, injuries normally heal only with extended rest or with medical care. With this rest or medical care, the character will regain one Endurance per day; without it, they will regain one Endurance per week.
If the character has taken some other form of damage, such as damage to one of their abilities or powers, this damage is temporary. It all comes back after the fight is over, when the character has had a chance to rest and recuperate.
If a character's Endurance is reduced to zero, they are rendered unconscious. If a character's Endurance is reduced to the negative of its starting value (-6 for a character whose normal Endurance is 6, for example), death is the most likely result. However, if most of the damage was mental rather than physical, the character may be rendered comatose for an indefinite period of time.
Even if the character dies, there is precedent in the Kalos Universe for death not being final. Depending on the character, their background, and the needs of the story, death may be temporary or merely a transitional phase. For example, when Dryad was killed during the Audobon Park Massacre, her oak tree on the grounds of the Vanguard headquarters seemed to die as well. It was only later when Doctor Morpheus joined Vanguard that it was discovered that her tree was not dead, but merely dormant, setting the stage for Dryad's eventual return.
Whether death is final for a character also depends on how they died. Did the manner of their death leave any room for doubt? Might their powers provide a way for them to return from the circumstances that killed them? And most importantly, did their death have an important impact on the story? The way a character dies may be their most defining moment; if so, it would cheat them and the story for their death to be temporary. Still, there is always a loophole if you need one. The most important thing to remember about death is that it should never be decided by a roll of the dice.
Each player begins each game session with one plot point. A player gains a plot point when one of their character's complications causes a serious problem for them during the game, or as a reward when they do something particularly entertaining or interesting, or when they cooperate with the GM to make things more difficult for the characters. Plot points are spent for an automatic success, to gain a temporary increase in power, to gain a temporary power, or to alter the game world in some way.
Gaining Plot Points
Players receive plot points for helping make the game more fun, and they spend them to make their character more effective. Each player starts each game session with one plot point, and should get one or two more during each game session. It's in the players' best interests to spend these plot points before the end of the game session, because any unspent plot points do not carry over to the next game (unless the GM makes an exception).
Plot points shouldn't be given to a player just for roleplaying their character -- they should be doing that anyway. The GM should give out a plot point when the player does something really exceptional or inventive, or when the player volunteers for their character to suffer some dramatic setback. The player might even suggest ways that their character's complications can come into play, giving the GM an opportunity to ramp up the tension. The GM can also reward a player for roleplaying in accordance with their character's motivations when it's not in the character's best interests to do so.
It's important for the GM to remember that while plot points are a reward for making the game fun, they also make the characters more powerful. A game in which plots points are handed out by the handful will have a much different feel than one in which they are given out sparingly. It's probably reasonable for each player to receive two or three plot points over the course of a typical three or four hour game session.
Spending Plot Points
The examples listed here are the most common uses for plot points, but they aren't the only ones. If a player wants to spend a plot point to make something fun happen, and it has about the same impact on the game as these examples, the GM should consider permitting it. For example, let's say an invasion of lava pygmies has caused extensive damage to a street, destroyed a few cars, and melted a mailbox. If a character with time control powers wanted to spend a plot point to reverse time and undo this damage after the lava pygmies have been repelled, should the GM permit it? Sure! It's fun, and it doesn't unbalance the game.
An automatic success is just that: the player spends a plot point, and their character succeeds at the current task roll. This can be a skill roll, or it can be an attempt to hit in combat. If the player wants to check for extreme success, the player should roll as usual: anything less than extreme success is treated as a normal successful roll. The GM may forbid the use of a plot point to achieve an automatic success if the task is simply impossible.
An automatic success lasts as long as the effects of the roll would normally last.
Despite the best intentions of the GM, sometimes players get stuck. All of the leads have been followed, all of the witnesses have been interviewed, and the players are oblivious to the obvious solution the GM has given them to their dilemma. When all else fails, a player can spend a plot point to make an intuitive leap and receive a hint from the GM on what to do next.
If the GM finds this happening with any regularity, it might be worthwhile for them to make their plots a bit less challenging.
A power boost increases one of the character's attributes or powers by one rank (rank 14 maximum). A character with Brawn 5 could gain a temporary boost to Brawn 6, or a character with Flight 7 could gain a temporary boost to Flight 8. Power boost can also be used to add a power enhancement to a power. For example, a character with rank 4 Healing could use a power boost to add the Diseases and Toxins power enhancement, or a character with the Blast power could use a power boost to add the Explosive Damage power enhancement.
Power boosts usually only last for one round, but they might last as long as a scene if that seems to make sense and the GM agrees.
A power stunt permits a character to use their current powers in new and creative ways. For example, a character with a rank 4 Ice Blast might use a power stunt to hack into a computer by freezing its memory, giving them a rank 4 in Computing for that purpose. A character with a rank 8 Force Field might use a power stunt to turn their force field into a rank 8 force blade. The outcome of a power stunt is not automatically successful: the player still needs to roll to determine the outcome, if the outcome is contested or subject to some uncontrolled factor. A character who used a power stunt to gain rank 4 in Computing would still need to make a Computing task roll in order to hack the computer.
Power stunts usually only last for one round, but they might last as long as a scene if that seems to make sense and the GM agrees. For example, if a character with a rank 6 Time Control used a power stunt to gain rank 6 Extra Attacks, then the Extra Attacks power should last until the end of the scene or until the six Extra Attacks are used, whichever comes first.
Under normal circumstances, an injured character recovers half the endurance they have recently lost after they have had a chance to rest and recuperate (maybe half an hour). Spending a plot point allows a character to rally, and recover as though they'd had a half-hour's worth of rest.
"Retcon" is short for "retroactive continuity": changing the past in some way that supports the current needs of the plot. This can involve the realization that a needed resource is available, but had previously been overlooked ("Oh, what I wouldn't give for a holocaust cloak"), or it can take the form of a character revealing a previously unknown era in their history, thus giving them new background skills ("As a matter of fact, I spent my senior year of high school studying in Japan").
A good retcon should not overtly violate what has been established in the game: it should build on what has been established in a fun and inventive way.
Retcons are essentially permanent.
A character who needs to breath but is unable to do so, such as someone drowning or suffocating, loses one Endurance per minute until they can breathe freely again. Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against this damage, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
A character with Immunity to Asphyxia is unaffected by asphyxia.
Darkness, fog, rain, blizzards, and other visual impediments can make combat much more difficult. If an attacker can't see the defender, the defender gains a +3 defense bonus; if the attacker can't see at all, the defender gains a +6 defense bonus. Conversely, if a defender can't see the attacker but the attacker can see them, the attacker gains a +3 attack bonus; if the defender can't see at all but the attacker can, the attacker gains a +6 attacker bonus.
A character with Super Senses such that they can perceive normally suffer no ill effects from darkness.
A character who goes more than 24 hours without drinking begins to suffer the effects of dehydration. Initially, the character experiences headaches, loss of appetite, and dry skin, followed by rapid heart rates, elevated body temperatures, and fatigue. After three days without water, the character experiences tiredness, irritability, and dizziness. Severe dehydration results in death.
Characters suffering from dehydration lose 1 Endurance per day until they either die or are rehydrated. Additionally, the difficulty of any task roll the character attempts increases by 1 for every day that the character has been without water. Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against this damage, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
A character with Immunity to Starvation is unaffected by dehydration.
Extremes of heat and cold can be dangerous to those without adequate protection from the elements. Characters exposed to extreme temperatures gradually lose Endurance until they either die or find shelter. How quickly they lose Endurance depends on the severity of the conditions. A hot summer day without shade or water, or a frosty winter night without a coat cost a character one point of Endurance every six hours or so: brutal, but not immediately life-threatening. The same character in a blazing hot desert or standing on a ridge in the Antarctic would lose a point of Endurance once per minute. Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against this damage, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
Falling inflicts damage based on the distance fallen. Look up the distance the character falls in the "Throws" column in the Benchmarks table, and find the corresponding rank. This rank is the damage rating inflicted by falling that distance. Under normal circumstances, the maximum damage inflicted by falling is 8, due to the resistance of the Earth's atmosphere.
Particularly soft or yielding surfaces can reduce the impact damage by as much as half.
The rank and damage rating of a fire depends on its heat and intensity. Any power or equipment that provides protection from Endurance damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, reduces the amount of damage a character takes from a fire. The protection value of the power is subtracted from the damage rating of the fire. The remaining damage is subtracted from the target's Endurance once per round.
A character with Immunity to Exposure (Heat) may apply one-half of their rank in Immunity against the damage rating of the fire.
|6||Flame thrower, napalm|
|7||Burning flammable chemicals|
|8||Interior of a blast furnace|
|9||Burning explosive chemicals|
|10||Oxy-fuel cutting torch|
|12||Interior of a volcano|
|13||Surface of the Sun|
Very cool and very hot fires are outside of this range. A common household match can cause painful burns, for example, but it's less damaging than a rank 1 fire. On the other hand, the interior of the sun is far beyond the temperature of even a rank 14 fire.
Pathogens are usually infectious microorganisms which cause disease, such as bacteria and viruses, or parasites, such as fungi and protozoans. Each disease has its own array of symptoms, and not every person afflicted with a given disease will present every symptom.
Most diseases caused by pathogens can be categorized as either acute or chronic. Acute infections affect the patient quickly, run their course, and the patient typically recovers completely. Chronic diseases are long lasting and may have debilitating effects.
If the GM determines that a character has been exposed to a pathogen that could cause an acute infection, the character must make a Brawn task roll against the rank of the pathogen (usually rank 4). If the Brawn task roll is successful, the character resists the pathogen and may suffer only incidental side-effects such as an itchy throat. If the Brawn task roll is not successful, the character has succumbed to the pathogen. The disease lasts for 2d6 days, during which the character feels terrible. Additionally, the difficulty of any task roll the character attempts increases by 1 until the disease runs its course. Complete rest and appropriate treatment reduces the recovery time by one-half, and rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, is also effective at reducing the recovery time.
If the GM determines that a character has been exposed to a pathogen that could cause a chronic infection, the character must make a Brawn task roll against the rank of the pathogen (usually rank 4). If the Brawn task roll is successful, the character resists the pathogen, typically without any symptoms whatsoever. If the Brawn task roll is not successful, the character has succumbed to the pathogen, and they immediately lose 1 Endurance.
The character must attempt another Brawn task roll once per week. Each failed Brawn task roll results in another point of Endurance lost. Additionally, the difficulty of any task roll the character attempts (other than the Brawn task roll to resist the pathogen) increases by 1 for every failed Brawn task roll. This continues until the character makes an extreme success on their Brawn task roll, or they are administered the appropriate cure for the disease (if one exists), or they die. Once the character makes an extreme success on their Brawn task roll against the rank of the pathogen or is administered the appropriate cure, they stop losing Endurance and begin to heal normally. Rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, is effective at reducing the recovery time.
A character with Immunity to Pathogens is unaffected by infectious microorganisms, parasites, and other pathogens such as prions.
SIDEBAR: The Burroughs Plague
In 2011, a macabre linguistic infection known as the Burroughs Plague resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people in College Park and Beltsville, Maryland. The symptoms of the disease included aphasia, dyslexia, dementia, and psychosis, ultimately resulting in irreversible homicidal rage. The epidemic was contained and sterilized by the Justifiers before it could spread, and there have been no other outbreaks since.
Poisons, venoms, and toxins are substances which disrupt biological processes when a sufficient quantity is absorbed by an organism. The symptoms of poisoning are so variable that there is no easy way to classify them. Some poisons increase heart rate, while others cause lowered heart rate. Some poisons cause lethargy, while others cause hyperactivity. Some poisons cause pain or gastrointestinal distress, while others cause a mild, pleasant elation.
Immediately after exposure or ingestion (depending on the type of poison), a poisoned character must make a Brawn task roll against the rank of the poison. If the Brawn task roll is successful, the character takes no damage from the poison and suffers only incidental side-effects such as nausea. If the Brawn task roll is not successful, the character has succumbed to the poison, and they immediately lose 1 Endurance. Periodically thereafter, the character must attempt another Brawn task roll (once a round for very potent poisons, once an hour for very weak poisons, and once a minute for normal poisons, at the GM's discretion). Each failed Brawn task roll results in another point of Endurance lost. This continues until the character successfully makes a Brawn task roll, or they are administered the appropriate antidote, or they die. Once the character successfully makes a Brawn task roll against the rank of the poison or is administered the appropriate antidote, they stop losing Endurance and begin to heal normally.
Some poisons have effects other than or in addition to Endurance damage and eventual death. A few such effects are indicated in the table of poisons below.
Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against damage from poisoning, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
A character with Immunity to Poisons is unaffected by poisons.
|3||Lead Arsenate (gas)||inhaled|
|3||Lead Arsenate (solid)||ingested|
|4||Paris Green (gas)||inhaled|
|4||Paris Green (solid)||ingested|
|4||Puffer Fish Poison1||injected|
|5||Blue-ringed Octopus Venom||injected|
|8||Sarin Nerve Agent||inhaled|
|8||VX Nerve Agent||contact|
|10||VX Nerve Agent||inhaled|
- Also inflicts Hold at the poison's rank
- Also inflicts Blindness at the poison's rank
- Non-lethal: will not reduce Endurance below 0
- Corrosive effects on the skin, eyes, and exposed mucous membranes
Characters exposed to extreme atmospheric pressure lose Endurance until they return to their natural atmosphere, or their internal and external pressure is equalized (generally through the use of an air supply specifically designed for use at that pressure), or they die. How quickly they lose Endurance depends on how prepared they are and the severity of the conditions. A trained diver 100 feet under water would lose a point of Endurance once per minute: life threatening, but not immediately fatal. The same character 1000 feet under water (approximately 30 atmospheres, or 450 psi) would lose a point of Endurance once per round unless they had specialized breathing apparatus designed to maintain a constant pressure inside their bodies. At higher pressures, even specialized breathing apparatus is not enough to protect the body from the structural failure of tissue, not to mention the pressure on unprotected nerves causing them to stop transmitting impulses.
Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against exposure to extreme pressure, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
A character with Immunity to Pressure is unaffected by high pressure.
Radioactivity is caused by the decay of the atomic nucleus of an unstable atom. Living things exposed to high amounts of ionizing radiation develop acute radiation syndrome (ARS), also known as radiation poisoning or radiation sickness. Acute radiation syndrome is an umbrella term for a variety of symptoms which occur within 24 hours of exposure and which may last for several months.
The symptoms of acute radiation syndrome depend on the exposure. Relatively small doses of radiation result in nausea and vomiting, headaches, fatigue, fever, and a reddening of the skin. Intermediate exposure can result in more severe gastrointestinal disorders and symptoms related to a drop in the number of blood cells, such as infection and bleeding. Larger doses can result in neurological effects such as dizziness, headache, or decreased level of consciousness, followed shortly thereafter by death.
Twenty-four hours after exposure, a character exposed to radiation must make a successful Brawn task roll against the rank of the radiation. Failure indicates that the character has developed acute radiation syndrome and they immediately lose 1 Endurance. Each week thereafter, the character must attempt another Brawn task roll. Each failed Brawn task roll results in another point of Endurance lost. Additionally, the difficulty of any task roll (including Brawn task rolls) the character attempts increases by 1 for every week that the character has been suffering from acute radiation syndrome. This continues until the character dies or successfully makes the Brawn task roll. Once the character successfully makes the Brawn task roll against the rank of the radiation, they stop losing Endurance and may begin to heal normally.
Suitable treatment grants a +3 bonus on the victim's Brawn task roll. Small doses of radiation are treated with blood transfusions and antibiotics, while greater doses of radiation require exotic treatments such as bone marrow transplants. Large doses of radiation are invariably fatal to normal human beings.
Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against damage from acute radiation syndrome, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
A character with Immunity to Radiation is unaffected by radiation.
|4||Fallout from a recent nuclear explosion|
|6||Vial of plutonium|
|8||Interior of a nuclear reactor|
SIDEBAR: Liefeld Radiation
Exposure to Liefeld radiation typically results in spontaneous painful deformity followed by death. Symptoms include atrophy of the hands, feet, and abdomen, and a grotesque increase in musculature in the chest and thighs. However, in rare and isolated cases, exposure to Liefeld radiation has resulted in a permanent transformation from human to posthuman. Such cases are one in a million, at best.
A character who goes more than 24 hours without sleep begins to suffer the effects of sleep deprivation. Initially, the character experiences weariness, confusion, and irritability. After three days without sleep, the character experiences hallucinations and decreased cognitive ability. Prolonged, complete sleep deprivation results in weight loss and ultimately death.
A character suffering from sleep deprivation loses 1 Reason per day until their Reason equals 0. Once the character's Reason is reduced to 0, the character loses 1 Willpower per day until their Willpower equals 0. Once the character's Willpower is reduced to 0, the character loses 1 Endurance per day until their Endurance equals 0. Under normal circumstances, the character will fall unconscious at this point and remain so for at least a day. However, if the character is physically prevented from sleeping they will continue to lose 1 Endurance per day until they die. Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against the effects of sleep deprivation, nor is rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration.
A character with Immunity to Sleep Deprivation is unaffected by sleep deprivation.
A character who goes more than 7 days without eating begins to suffer the effects of starvation. Initially, the character experiences weakness, confusion, and irritability. After three weeks without food, the character experiences hallucinations and convulsions. Starvation eventually results in death.
Characters suffering from starvation lose 1 Endurance per week until they either die or eat again. Additionally, the difficulty of any task roll the character attempts increases by 1 for every week that the character has been without food. Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against the effects of starvation, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
A character with Immunity to Starvation is unaffected by starvation.
Characters exposed to vacuum lose Endurance until they return to their natural atmosphere or they die. How quickly they lose Endurance depends on how prepared they are and the rapidity of the loss of atmosphere. A trained astronaut who is exposed to a loss of atmosphere over the course of a minute would lose a point of Endurance once per minute: life threatening, but not immediately fatal. The same character exposed to a vacuum without warning would lose a point of Endurance once per round.
Protection against conventional forms of damage, such as Invulnerability and Force Field, are not effective against exposure to vacuum, but rapid healing, such as that provided by Regeneration, may offset the effects.
A character with Immunity to Vacuum is unaffected by vacuum.