Bulletproof Blues 2e EN:Advantages
Advantages are exceptional abilities that a normal human can have, but that most humans do not have. In a game where the players are supposed to be portraying characters within the range of human possibility, they could probably purchase advantages, but not powers. The details of each advantage are highly dependent on a character's background, so the player should work with the GM to flesh out these details. Each advantage costs one character point.
This is a list of typical advantages found in a Bulletproof Blues game. This list is not exhaustive. A character may well have an advantage not listed here, subject to GM approval. However, any new advantages should be approximately as useful as these advantages, in order to maintain a sense of fairness with other characters.
|Animal Empathy||Use Manipulation and Social skills on animals|
|Charming||Excel at getting people to do what you want|
|Common Sense||Get a warning from the GM before doing something stupid|
|Connected||Get a favor from people with influence or authority|
|Daredevil||Excel at dangerous physical activities|
|Exceptional Beauty||Get attention, and perhaps favors, from admirers|
|Famous||Get attention, and perhaps favors, from strangers|
|Grifter||Excel at vapid conversation and sleight of hand|
|Headquarters||A base of operations for the hero|
|Intuition||Have greater awareness and keener perception|
|Lightning Strike||Use Agility for damage in hand-to-hand combat|
|Linguist||Learn new languages with minimal effort|
|Master Plan||Get a bonus if there is time to prepare for an encounter|
|Mental Calculator||Solve complex mathematical operations by thinking about them|
|Minions||Minor, mostly nameless lackeys of marginal usefulness|
|Perfect Recall||Remember something perfectly with a Reason roll|
|Professor||Proficient with scientific and medical endeavors|
|Quick Change||Change into superhero garb with a free action|
|Savant||Excel at intellectual pursuits|
|Sleuth||Track down leads and get information|
|Team Player||Spend plot points for others on the same team|
|Unsettling||Make people nervous for no real reason|
|Vehicles||Sundry modes of fast and stylish transportation|
|Wealthy||Solve problems with money|
|Wily||Hard to lose and hard to follow|
SIDEBAR: No "Veteran"?
You will notice that none of these advantages give the character a bonus to combat skills. That's intentional. Advantages are primarily intended to make characters distinctive and interesting, not to enhance their combat effectiveness. A character with extraordinary combat competence should increase their Accuracy or Prowess, or perhaps buy expertise with a specific power or combat maneuver.
The character has a bond with animals, and can use Manipulation and Social skills on them. Normal animals are more likely to be calm around the character, although a dangerous, hostile animal might require a successful Manipulation or Social task roll to keep the animal from attacking. A character's Animal Empathy might be limited to a specific type of animal, such as cats or sea creatures. If this is the case, the character gains a +3 bonus on Manipulation and Social task rolls when interacting with that animal type.
The character is a good listener and a smooth talker. The character gains a +1 bonus on Manipulation and Social task rolls.
A character with Common Sense possesses sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation, helping them live in a reasonable and safe way. If the character is about to do something which would be considered stupid or self-destructive by a person with normal intelligence and real-life experience, the GM will warn the player that this is so. The player is not required to heed this advice.
The character is on a first-name basis with people who have influence or authority. For example, perhaps the character is a college buddy of the Mayor's and is a childhood friend of a major player in an organized crime syndicate. From time to time, the character can ask these people for favors and have a reasonable chance of having the favor granted. The likelihood of having the favor granted will be much greater if the character does favors in return from time to time. On the other hand, having friends in high places may mean that the character attracts the attention of the friends' enemies.
A character with the Daredevil advantage is more adept at extreme sports and dangerous stunts. The character gains a +1 bonus on Athletics and Piloting task rolls.
The character is naturally, effortlessly attractive. It is difficult for the character to pass unnoticed, because they will be the focus of attention in nearly any circumstances. People who are swayed by appearance may be more likely to cooperate with the character, and the character can sometimes gain favors from admirers. If this is the case, the character gains a +1 bonus on relevant Manipulation and Social task rolls.
The character's name and likeness are widely known, perhaps due to their exploits or achievements. It is difficult for the character to pass unnoticed, because paparazzi are often nearby. People who are impressed by celebrity may be more likely to cooperate with the character, and the character can sometimes gain favors from strangers. If this is the case, the character gains a +1 bonus on relevant Manipulation and Social task rolls.
A character with the Grifter advantage is more adept at making vapid conversation and moving their hands while others' eyes are looking elsewhere. The character gains a +1 bonus on Culture and Legerdemain task rolls.
The character has one or more bases of operation, equipped with supplies and equipment reasonable for the character's background and skills. If the character is a member of a team, the base(s) might be shared with the other team members, at the player's discretion. A headquarters is primarily a convenience for the GM and a fun asset for the character. It is not generally useful in combat, and is mainly used for flavor and a setting for roleplaying. For example, a high-tech base might have an air-tight security system, complete with laser turrets and knockout gas, but this won't keep the base from being broken into by villains or taken over by an evil computer virus.
A character with the Intuition advantage is more aware of their surroundings. A character with the Intuition advantage gains a +1 bonus with Survival skills and when attempting to resist Deception skills.
A character with Lightning Strike can deal devastating blows using speed and finesse rather than brute force. When in hand-to-hand combat, the character may substitute their rank in Agility for their rank in Brawn when determining the damage they inflict on their opponent. This can reflect the character's advanced advanced martial arts training, their superhuman speed, the harnessing of the character's chi, or some other effect, depending on the specifics of the character's archetype and abilities.
Languages are essentially background skills. The character is assumed to have varying fluency in whatever languages it makes sense for them to know. For example, a character might have spent a summer at their grandfather's estate in Cyprus, where they picked up a smattering of Greek and Turkish. Languages are also highly plot dependent. Some games may have everyone speaking English, while other games might have a bewildering collection of terrestrial and extraterrestrial tongues. A character with the Linguist advantage would obviously be more useful in the latter than in the former.
With sufficient time and preparation beforehand, a character with the Master Plan advantage is able to gain a tactical benefit during an encounter at a time chosen by the player. The form this takes can vary, and should be negotiated between the player and the GM, but a relatively typical use of a Master Plan would be similar to the use of a plot point. The amount of time needed to formulate a Master Plan should be long enough to be believable, but not so long that it renders the advantage useless. Generally speaking, a character should only be permitted to concoct one Master Plan per game session, unless the GM makes an exception.
The character can perform complex mathematical calculations in their head in the same amount of time that a skilled mathematician could perform the same calculations on a powerful scientific calculator. Also, the character has an intuitive understanding of higher mathematics, and is able to comprehend and remember intricate formulae and equations after examining them briefly.
The character has one or more minor, mostly nameless lackeys of marginal usefulness. Such minions might be mooks, agents, armed guards, administrative staff, or technicians to keep the character's equipment in proper working order. There is no set limit to the number of minions a character might have, subject to the GM's approval, but the more minions there are, the less competent they are. For example, if a character has just three minions -- an administrative assistant, a chauffeur/auto mechanic, and a computer expert, for example -- they might be reasonably competent at their respective assignments (rank 3 in their pertinent attributes). If the character has dozens of minions, however, the best among them would be rank 2, and none of them would have any background skills requiring advanced education or technical expertise.
Minions are primarily a fun asset for the character. They are not generally useful in combat, and are mainly used for flavor and as a foil for roleplaying. Minions never have expertise, and they should never steal the limelight from a player character.
The character may perfectly remember any event, document, recording, or picture which the character has taken the effort to study and memorize. The character does not need to understand the items to be memorized, because the information memorized is not stored as text; it is in the character's memory as a picture. As such, the information is not subject to instantaneous retrieval, but the character may mentally "scroll down" or "fast forward" looking for a specific bit of data.
A character with the Professor advantage is particularly proficient with scientific and medical endeavors. The character gains a +1 bonus on Medicine and Science task rolls.
The Quick Change advantage is usually possessed only by posthumans and stage magicians (and posthuman stage magicians). Quick Change enables a character to change into superhero garb with a free action. This could be made possible by super-speed, a costume stored in a ring, or just wearing a different outfit underneath street clothes.
A character with the Savant advantage is more adept at intellectual pursuits. The character gains a +1 bonus on Computing and Engineering task rolls.
A character with the Sleuth advantage is more adept at tracking down clues and getting information. The character gains a +1 bonus on Investigation and Manipulation task rolls.
A character with the Team Player advantage excels at working with others, and other people are more effective with the character than they are alone. A Team Player can spend their own plot points on behalf of their teammates and allies. For example, this could be to help an ally do something the Team Player is not in a position to do, or to provide support for a teammate who is in trouble.
The character puts off a disturbing vibe that makes people nervous for no discernible reason. Strangers will find themselves disliking the character without knowing why, and normal animals will avoid the character unless forced to approach by a trainer or some other circumstance. On the other hand, the character may find it easier to intimidate others, providing a +3 bonus to relevant Manipulation task rolls.
The character has one or more vehicles which provide fast and stylish transportation. If the character is a member of a team, the vehicle(s) might be shared with the other team members, at the player's discretion. A vehicle is primarily a convenience for the GM and a fun asset for the character. It is not generally useful in combat, and is mainly used for flavor and to make it easier for the character to get around. For example, a character might have a tricked-out Tushek TS 600 equipped with rocket launchers, active camouflage, and biometric security, but it won't defeat a rampaging posthuman and it's not immune to being hacked by a deformed genius and his circus-themed minions.
If a problem can be solved by throwing money at it, a character with the Wealth advantage can probably solve that problem. Food, clothing, and shelter cease to be concerns for a character with Wealth, but they are still plagued by the same interpersonal issues that are behind the serious problems most people face. In addition, sometimes wealth itself can be a source of problems. The character may have responsibilities related to their source of income, or they might need to fend off attempts to deprive them of their inheritance.
A character with the Wily advantage is more adept at sneaking, following, and surviving on their own. The character gains a +1 bonus on Stealth and Survival task rolls.