Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Power Packs: Alternative Power System [Mystery Men!]

I like to take walks - usually 2 or 3 miles. Clears the head, good exercise, etc. Also gives my mind time to wander without external influence from radio/tv/internet.

So, the other day I was walking about and an idea for a new system of buying super powers for Mystery Men! flew in and took roost. It took a couple more walks to get it to a point where it would work using an idea I'm calling Power Packs. I'm going to publish the entire thing in the next issue of NOD, but here's a sample ...


Yeah, I'm a little ashamed. But dang!
Power packs are an alternate way to handle character creation in Mystery Men! Please note that if players and masterminds wish to use this method, the method will need to be adopted by all in the game, as power packs, while blending into the rules as written, can produce more powerful characters than are produced using the normal character creation rules.

With this system, characters purchase power levels in a variety of "power packs". A power pack is a grouping of powers under a single heading. A character with electricity powers, for example, would now purchase power levels in the Electricity power pack, rather than buying individual powers. Within each power pack, individual powers are given a rank. If a character’s power level in a power pack is equal to or greater than a power’s rank, they can access that power automatically. If the power’s rank is higher than their power level, they can attempt a dice roll to activate that power. This gives heroes and villains a greater variety of powers, often at a lower cost than when using the rules as written.

As with the official MM! rules, the cost of powers can still be halved by introducing limitations on power packs. Powers can also still be invested in items, the equivalent XP cost of the powers depending on the power's power rank:

1.  1,000 XP
2.  2,000 XP
3.  3,000 XP
4.  4,000 XP
5.  6,000 XP
6.  10,000 XP
7.  15,000 XP
8.  25,000 XP
9.  35,000 XP
10.  50,000 XP

Using this system, characters have ability scores ranked from 1 to 6. Various power packs add their power levels to ability feats and other rolls without actually increasing the ability score. Ability score bonuses with this system are equal to the ability score, thus a score of 6 adds a bonus of +6 to rolls associated with that ability score.

When creating a character, all ability scores start at 3. One ability score can be increased by lowering another ability score by the same amount.

Using this system, all characters can use the same adventurer class. Sorcerers purchase power levels in the Sorcery Power Pack, among others, and Scientists purchase power levels in the Super Intelligence Power Pack.

Powers with a rank (the number in parentheses) equal to or lower than your power level can be activated by you automatically, with no roll of the dice. Powers of a rank higher than your power level can only be activated by a roll of the dice. Subtract your power level from the rank of the power (the number in parentheses after the name of the power). You must roll higher than this number on 1d6 in order to activate the power.


Here are a couple sample power packs ...

FORCE FIELDS (6,000 XP/Level)

FORCE MISSILE (1): You fire a single missile of pure force that deals 1d6 points of damage per power level and requires a ranged attack to hit.

SHIELD (1): An invisible disc of force gives you a +4 to DC and completely blocks force and energy missiles. Shield lasts one round per power level.

LEVITATE (3): You levitate up to 100 lb. per power level at rate of ascent or descent of 100 ft. per round.

FORCE SPHERE (5): You create a sphere of force 2 ft. in diameter per power level within a range of 30 ft. The sphere lasts for as long as you concentrate on it. A force sphere is only affected by disintegrate or negate power. A subject inside the sphere can breathe normally, but is otherwise trapped.

FORCE WALL (6): You create an invisible and invulnerable plane of force up to 10 sq. ft. per power level that lasts 1 round per power level. The plane cannot be damaged and it is unaffected by negate power, although it can be destroyed with disintegrate. Dimension hop and teleport can bypass the wall of force, but other powers cannot be used to get through the plane. The plane can be generated as a wall, floor or ceiling, and can be slanted like a ramp.

INVISIBILITY (6): You cannot be seen, but you can be sensed by hearing or scent. Opponents suffer a -5 penalty to hit you in combat. Lasts as long as you concentrate and 1 round per level thereafter.

FORCE CAGE (8): You create a prison cell of force 10 ft x 10 ft x 10 ft that lasts as long as you concentrate on it plus one round per power level thereafter.

FORCE SWORD (8): You create a blade of pure force that appears before you and attacks as monster of your power level. The sword deals 4d6 points of damage per hit and can affect ethereal and incorporeal creatures. The sword lasts as long as you concentrate on it.

MASS INVISIBILITY (8): As Invisibility, but affects you and one other target per power level. Mass Invisibility lasts as long as you concentrate plus 1 round per power level.

FORCE HAND (9): You create a giant hand-shaped force field that can provide a +4 bonus to you DC or can bull rush or grapple as a monster equal to your power level. The hand deals 2d6 points of damage per attacks.


A character with this power pack adds his power level to all Strength feats, melee attack rolls, and adds 1d6 per power level to damage inflicted with a melee attack.

ADRENALINE (6): For 1 round per power level you increase your STR and CON by +2 (and thus gain bonus on melee attacks and damage and hit points), gain a +1 bonus on WILL feats and suffer a -2 penalty to your Defense Class. The Adrenaline power can only be used once per day.

STOMP (10): You stomp your feet to create a shock wave that knocks people within 10 feet per power level prone (STR feat negates) and inflicts 1d6 points of damage per power level on all who fail their STR feat.

When creating a character, especially an established comic book character, the above power packs often do not quite capture the right powers for the hero or villain. Players and Masterminds alike can, therefore, buy freestyle powers (or powers à la carte). The cost per level for a freestyle power depends on the power's rank.

1.  50 XP/power level
2.  100 XP/power level
3. 150 XP/power level
4. 200 XP/power level
5. 300 XP/power level
6. 500 XP/power level
7. 800 XP/power level
8. 1,000 XP/power level
9. 1,500 XP/power level
10. 2,000 XP/power level

Here's a quick sample character who uses the Force Fields power pack above. This character is built with 50,000 XP.

LEVEL 9 | HP 58 | DC 15 | SPD 2 | XP 14,000

STR 2 | DEX 5 | CON 2 | INT 3 | WIL 2 | CHA 4

Power Packs: Force Fields [6]

Auto Powers: Force Missile (6d6), Shield (6 rounds), Levitate (600 lbs.), Force Sphere (12-ft. diameter), Force Wall (60 ft.; 6 rounds), Invisibility (6 rounds after concentration)

Activated Powers: Force Cage [3-6], Force Sword [3-6], Mass Invisibility [3-6], Force Hand [4-6]

With her 6 levels in Force Fields, Vectrix can access the following powers automatically: Force missile, shield, levitate, and force sphere. The other powers can be accessed by making an activation check. The numbers needed on a 1d6 roll to activate a power are included above.


  1. That photo. Power pack. Is there some sort of double entendre I'm missing?

  2. Funny story. No - but only because I'm dense. I wanted a pic of invisible woman (since I was previewing the force field power pack), that came up, I decided to go for some cheap hits on the blog, and was too dense to see the humor in it.


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