Primary and Secondary Abilities
Universal Heroes is a game designed to let you role-play the adventures of heroes, whether alone or in groups. But you may find yourself asking, 'just what is a hero?' Merriam-Webster ™ tells us that a hero is 'a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities'. Expanding on that a bit, we can define a hero as a man or woman that selflessly uses their talents, abilities, or resources to help others, rather than being selfish and using these qualities solely for his or her own, personal gain.
Thus, when utilizing Universal Heroes, players take on the role of a hero, whether it's an existing comic book / animated / literary / other fictional character, or an original creation designed for the game by said players. To properly play whichever character(s) you are responsible for, whether PC or NPC, it's imperative to get a basic handle on just what they are and are not capable of. The essential traits of every character, no matter how strong or weak, can be determined by their ability scores.
Just about every character in the Universal Heroes game is represented by eleven distinct ability scores. These primary statistics include a character's Fighting, Agility, Strength, Endurance, Reason, Intuition, Psyche, Resources, Popularity, Health, and Karma. The capabilities of Universal Heroes characters can be even more granular, however, in that the game allows its players to 'split' each primary ability score into two secondary abilities if they so choose - both different, but combining to represent the same net value of that primary ability score.
All eleven ability scores are described here, with generalized benchmarks provided to give one an idea what each rank in each ability score means to a character.
Fighting (Ftg): "You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war."
- Napoleon Bonaparte
Fighting is a strange hybrid ability, an amalgamation of physical and mental prowess in the field of battle. It is meant to describe both natural and trained ability in a scrap. One can certainly have more of one than the other depending on their story, but either way the sum of these two qualities can be used to describe someone's net combat skill. Fighting as an ability score is used to resolve mêlée, or hand-to-hand combat, and is also used to determine how many 'moves' a character can attempt each turn.
The Fighting ability can be divided into two separate, secondary ability scores: Offensive Fighting and Defensive Fighting. Offensive Fighting, abbreviated Ftg (off), is primarily used when one character attempts some manner of hand-to-hand assault against another, whether this involves a punch, kick, bite, or smashing a body upside the head with a chair. Offensive Fighting is also invoked when you attempt multiple direct actions in a given turn, whether they are of a combat or a non-combat nature (or a mix of the two, as the case may be).
Defensive Fighting, shortened to Ftg (def), on the other hand, comes into play when a character is trying to avoid mêlée contact with others. This most often involves an evade or weave maneuver attempt, but other situations and powers may make use of Ftg (def). Aside from aversive movements, this secondary ability is also put to work when it becomes necessary to attempt multiple defensive maneuvers in a combat turn - if more than one Weave becomes desirable, one's Ftg (def) rank determines how many aversive attempts may be made without penalty.
|Fe 2||No training or ability|
|Pr 4||Standard Human Ability|
|Ty 6||Natural ability or minimal training|
|Gd 10||Some formal training|
|Ex 20||Formal, regular training|
|Rm 30||Superior martial talent|
|In 40||Superior talent with extensive training|
|Am 50||Maximum human combat prowess|
|Mn 75||Super-human training or ability|
|Un 100||Super-human capability, extensive skill or experience|
|Sh X||Super-human ability with unnatural training and experience|
|Sh Y||Can combat several small groups simultaneously|
|Sh Z||Long-lived being with many lifetimes of battle experience|
|Cl 1k||Can combat vast crowds simultaneously|
|Cl 3k||Ageless being with unfathomable combat experience|
|Cl 5k||Can neutralize whole armies with sheer capability|
Agility (Agy): "There's no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves"
- Frank Herbert
While Fighting is a measure of a character's inherent combat prowess, Agility is instead a means of defining that character's coordination and nimbleness. It exemplifies grace, if not grace under fire, and is used whenever a character is attempting to resolve ranged combat (whether in an offensive or defensive capacity), not to mention while operating complex machinery or catching thrown objects. Agility is also important when piloting all manner of vehicles.
The Agility score of a character can be divided into two useful secondary abilities: Dexterity and Balance. Dexterity, abbreviated Agy (dex), is the portion of one's Agility that is dedicated to manual dexterity. Dexterity is invoked when characters attempt delicate or exacting tasks of finesse, such as firing a handgun or bow, engaging in sleight of hand, flinging thrown weapons, or carving the likeness of a person or object out of stone (or wood, or clay, or whatever). In other words, Dexterity is an active ability score.
Balance (Agy (bal)), on the other hand, is a reactive secondary ability. Players make use of a character's balance score when attempting to avoid bow or gun fire (typically with a dodge or feint maneuver), climbing up walls or other, trickier vertical surfaces, juggling, driving a car or plane or train, and the like. Used to help define equilibrium, Balance can also be referred to when checking whether or not a character falls down when they become dizzy or disoriented - very important when chasing some villain on the city's rooftops!
|Fe 2||Little hand-eye coordination, terrible sense of balance|
|Pr 4||Clumsy and inaccurate, primarily sedentary lifestyle|
|Ty 6||Normal human reaction time, coordination, balance|
|Gd 10||Casual dexterous discipline, conventional firearms training|
|Ex 20||Expert marksman, collegiate gymnast, circus acrobat|
|Rm 30||Professional gymnast, uncanny aim, supremely flexible|
|In 40||Gymnastic gold medalist, maximum human ability|
|Am 50||Serene, alien grace, super-human ballistic prowess|
|Mn 75||Super-human training or agility, unnatural ballistic prowess|
|Un 100||Instinctive knowledge of trajectories, flexible beyond mortal ken|
|Sh X||Super-human training or agility, with extensive experience|
|Sh Y||Super-human training or agility, with overwhelming experience|
|Sh Z||Agile beyond mortal ken, capable of microscopic movements|
|Cl 1k||Super-human training or agility, with lifetimes of experience|
|Cl 3k||Almost never misses, reacts to environment at near-light speed|
|Cl 5k||Absolute control of one's body, along with all it can manipulate|
Strength (Str): "Perhaps I am stronger than I think."
- Thomas Merton
A measure of the power inherent to a person's body, Strength defines one of the single most important aspects of a character's physicality. Strength, as the chart below indicates, is primarily measured by how much weight they can lift. Furthermore, Strength is referred to when determining the amount of raw damage one can inflict in mêlée combat, whether they are punching, kicking, or even biting one's foes, making it a natural complement to their Fighting rank.
The Strength ability can be divided into two closely related secondary ability scores: Might and Vigor. Might, or Str (mgt), is a quantification of the brute force available to a character, how much energy they can apply to other people or objects. It determines the base damage you inflict with your bare hands, with mêlée implements, or even with thrown weapons. Most applications of Str (mgt) are, when you get down to it, combat related - they mainly represent 'burst power'.
Vigor, or Str (vgr), on the other hand, is primarily concerned with longer applications of one's physical prowess. It is used to describe how fast a character can run over distances short and long, how quickly they can propel themselves through a liquid medium (swimming), and how much weight a character may carry on their person without being slowed down by it. Finally, it shows how much actual weight a character can lift, and by proxy how much they can successfully press.
|Fe 2||Able to lift / press up to 50 lbs, rather weak|
|Pr 4||Able to lift / press up to 100 lbs, somewhat weak|
|Ty 6||Able to lift / press up to 200 lbs, human average|
|Gd 10||Able to lift / press up to 400 lbs, well above average|
|Ex 20||Able to lift / press up to 800 lbs, human maximum|
|Rm 30||Able to lift / press up to 1 ton|
|In 40||Able to lift / press up to 10 tons|
|Am 50||Able to lift / press up to 50 tons|
|Mn 75||Able to lift / press up to 75 tons|
|Un 100||Able to lift / press up to 100 tons|
|Sh X||Able to lift / press up to 150 tons|
|Sh Y||Able to lift / press up to 200 tons|
|Sh Z||Able to lift / press up to 500 tons|
|Cl 1k||Able to lift / press up to 1,000 tons|
|Cl 3k||Able to lift / press up to 1 million tons|
|Cl 5k||Able to lift / press up to 1 billion tons|
Endurance (End): "A fight is not won by one punch or kick. Either learn to endure or hire a bodyguard."
- Bruce Lee
This ability is a gauge of physical toughness and fortitude. Endurance describes how long a character can continue strenuous physical activity, how resistant to killing blows and metabolic attacks they are, and how quickly they can heal actual damage inflicted upon their person. Endurance closely ties into Strength for movement purposes. While Strength shows how fast one can move and with how much weight, Endurance details just how long he or she can do so before collapsing in a sweaty heap.
Endurance can be divided into two equally important secondary abilities: Resistance and Stamina. Resistance, abbreviated End (res), shows just how well your character can resist the effects of disease, toxins, radiation, and other metabolic attack forms (most often specialized super-human abilities). Furthermore, it denotes how well one overcomes the effects of Slam, Stun, and Kill results rolled against them in combat. This is handy if you're not too good at avoiding enemy attacks.
While End (res) is a handy descriptor of one's hardiness, Stamina, abbreviated End (sta), showcases one's overall staying power, both in and out of combat. End (sta) is referenced when determining the amount of time one can maintain strenuous physical activity, whether it be running, swimming, heavy lifting, or grappling. The results of fatigue are checked against this ability score when enough has been built up to matter when engaging in the previous activities. Additionally, End (sta) is used to determine a character's base healing and recovery rates over time.
|Fe 2||Reduced or impaired health or function, limited activity|
|Pr 4||Minimal exercise, poor diet, sedentary 'desk jockey'|
|Ty 6||Occasional exercise or physical activity, human average|
|Gd 10||Regular athletic activity or training, 'blue collar' occupation|
|Ex 20||Intensive exercise and/or training, excellent staying power|
|Rm 30||Gold medalist-level staying power, maximum human ability|
|In 40||Astounding stamina, shrugs off that which would kill lesser men|
|Am 50||Enhanced metabolism, super-human immunities|
|Mn 75||Super-human metabolism complemented by intense training|
|Un 100||Great physical fortitude, rarely tires even under extreme duress|
|Sh X||Super-human staying power / immunity, with constant training|
|Sh Y||Never tires, never slows down, physically relentless|
|Sh Z||Recovers quickly from most injury, no matter how severe|
|Cl 1k||Metabolically perfect, nigh-immune to poison, disease|
|Cl 3k||Physically self-contained, needs food and water only after injury|
|Cl 5k||Virtually immortal, can recover even after apparent death|
Reason (Rsn): "Let every man judge according to his own standards, by what he has himself read, not by what others tell him." - Albert Einstein
In loose terms, a character's Reason score is an indicator of his or her IQ - itself a measure of intelligence and the capacity for logical thought. It describes their ability to create items either from scratch or from the spare parts and salvage of others, as well as their ability to understand and operate equipment from the simple to the arcane. Furthermore, Reason shows how well your character can learn and retain knowledge, which comes in handy when either trying to solve a crime or graduate from college.
Reason is split between two secondary abilities: Logic and Memory. Logic, often shortened to Rsn (log), denotes raw cerebral capability. It is an indicator of a character's ability to learn and create, not to mention the ability to think in multiple languages; logic helps when learning either geometry or German. The vast majority of knowledge-based talents (such as Law, Medicine and their ilk) will refer to Logic, as they are based on years of study on top of practical experience both in school and 'on the job'.
Memory, abbreviated Rsn (mem), dictates your character's ability to recall their past experiences, including facets of both short and long-term memory. This is utilized for recalling the features of a person's face, specific details of an encounter, or even the schematics of a device you've invented after some villain makes off with them. Memory also comes into play with psionic and matter control powers, and can determine how many of the former can be maintained simultaneously, and how versatile the latter can be.
|Fe 2||Understands only the simplest machines, limited intellect|
|Pr 4||Grasps complex machines, basic electronics and math|
|Ty 6||Competent problem solving capabilities, human average|
|Gd 10||Can easily repair / install modern technology for self or others|
|Ex 20||Master of a single discipline, or familiarity with several others|
|Rm 30||Disciplinary polymath, world-class expert in one discipline|
|In 40||Understands and creates leading-edge devices, technologies|
|Am 50||Can decipher alien technologies, maximum human ability|
|Mn 75||Develops technology far beyond modern understanding|
|Un 100||Super-human intellect with vast knowledge in many areas|
|Sh X||Walking encyclopedia, mastery of all terrestrial sciences|
|Sh Y||Frighteningly smart, can process advanced math in real-time|
|Sh Z||Intelligent enough to be considered an alien technology|
|Cl 1k||Can multitask in multiple advanced areas at near-light speeds|
|Cl 3k||Intellect beyond mortal ken, knows all which must not be known|
|Cl 5k||Contemplates the whole of space-time simultaneously|
Intuition (Int): "Those with the greatest awareness have the greatest nightmares."
- Mahatma Gandhi
Intuition is the sum of a person's wisdom, common sense, and that sense of self that (most) people possess. A counterpart of sorts to Reason, Intuition tends to rely upon inspirational leaps and bounds as opposed to logical deductions - a fine distinction, but an important one. It also helps to gauge a person's awareness of their surroundings, showing just how in tune with the multiverse they really are (or aren't). Furthermore, a person's base Intuition score determines their initiative modifier in combat.
Intuition is divided into two equally important secondary abilities: Alertness and Awareness. Alertness (Int (alt)) measures sensory acuity. In other words, it shows how easily you detect potential sensory cues, in addition to how well you can distinguish any one sensory input from many. Spotting that spent bullet casing in the ash tray, focusing on one voice in a crowd, or even determining the vintage of a fine wine you may be sipping. Furthermore, Int (alt) is often a base score for many enhanced sensory abilities.
Awareness (Int (awr)), meanwhile, treads on trickier ground. While Alertness covers the things your senses tell you directly, Awareness instead relies upon 'gut feelings' and an ability to 'read between the lines'. A measure of how well you're in tune with your surroundings and the universe as a whole, Awareness sometimes lets you pick up on things that are not readily apparent, allowing you a greater empathy towards other beings (or a good idea what they're feeling) as well as what some might term the 'zeitgeist', the mood of the crowd/people/whatever.
|Fe 2||Limited or impaired senses, extremely inattentive|
|Pr 4||Generally clueless, a little slow on the uptake|
|Ty 6||Normal human situational awareness, sensory acuity|
|Gd 10||A fine eye for the little details around oneself|
|Ex 20||Keener than normal capabilities in at least one sense|
|Rm 30||Superior situational awareness, deductive ability|
|In 40||Highly accurate 'gut feelings', multiple superior senses|
|Am 50||Maximum human awareness / alertness of surroundings|
|Mn 75||At least one super-human sense, superior awareness|
|Un 100||Aware of all major events in one's city as they occur|
|Sh X||Completely aware of one's surroundings, all senses 'super'|
|Sh Y||Knows of all major events world-wide simultaneously|
|Sh Z||Awareness of environment extends to the atomic level|
|Cl 1k||In tune with the universe, cannot be blindsided|
|Cl 3k||Is in tune with other dimensions as well as one's own|
|Cl 5k||Mind is one with all reality, aware of all simultaneously|
Psyche (Psc): "He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful." - Lao Tzu
Somewhat similar in function to the Endurance ability, Psyche is a gauge of one's mental fortitude. It is an excellent descriptor of the sheer strength of will and personality one has, detailing such elusive quantities as mental presence and a sense of focus. While all mental abilities are used in psychic combat to some extent, one's Psyche determines a large component of their success in such arenas, making it vital to anyone making use of mental powers, regardless of their origins.
Psyche is subdivided into two secondary abilities: Willpower and Presence. Willpower, often shortened to Psc (will), is a body's mental core, how intent and focused they can be in the face of distraction and adversity. Willpower comes into play when fending off efforts to bend a body's will, such as mind control, hypnosis, and sometimes even drugging. Those with a lesser Willpower score are easily swayed by the dogmas and manipulations of others, while those with greater Willpower walk their own path.
Presence, abbreviated Psc (pre), denotes how well a character can exert his or her personality upon others. It describes how persuasive one can be, either by using leadership skills or intimidation techniques (or both), and describes how hard said character has to work to get what they want from others. It also comes into play when teaching others or training animals, manipulating others subtly, and in various other tactics used on the job by policemen, lawyers, and politicians to control their environment.
|Fe 2||Readily dominated or (re)programmed by others|
|Pr 4||Young or untrained minds, easily indoctrinated or bullied|
|Ty 6||Normal human willpower, standard resistance to influence|
|Gd 10||Can fend off standard mesmerism with some effort|
|Ex 20||Somewhat experienced with mystic / mental forces|
|Rm 30||Trained to counter external psychic influences / forces|
|In 40||Impressive force of personality, sways others with ease|
|Am 50||Seemingly indomitable willpower, maximum human ability|
|Mn 75||Incredible focus, has seeming mastery of one's own body|
|Un 100||Intense training and experience in the use of mental powers|
|Sh X||Overwhelming force of personality, can sway an entire nation|
|Sh Y||Uncanny convergence of will, focus, and drive inspires others|
|Sh Z||Supreme force of personality, sways worlds with their words|
|Cl 1k||Can often sway others without even speaking or acting|
|Cl 3k||Absolute focus, can manipulate the world with one's thoughts|
|Cl 5k||Mind is impregnable, only affected by external stimuli if willing|
Resources (Res): "A penny saved is a penny earned."
- Ben Franklin
A measure of personal wealth, Resources describes all of the assets currently at a character's disposal. While this is mostly used to showcase the material wealth an individual has access to in the day-to-day functions of the game, it can also be used to detail additional resources available to them through an organization they are a member of. Bank accounts, furniture in storage, a perfectly preserved comic book collection, that old cave filled with high tech gadgets. All these and more contribute to the Resources score.
For the sake of organization, Resources is broken down into two secondary abilities: Materials and Cash. Materials (Res (mat)) is a description of how much ... stuff a character has. That pristine comic book collection, the late parents' house you haven't sold yet, your furniture, and, naturally, all that high tech super-heroic doo-dad-ery. This is that which is accumulated over time, so may include various items of up to (and possibly beyond) this rank in raw price (things like houses, vast tracts of land, or hero lairs).
Cash (Res ($)), meanwhile, describes the liquid assets a character has access to, such as currency (in a bank, squirreled away under a mattress or in a freezer), stocks, bonds, gold coins, and other financial entities that can easily change hands. It is often hard for characters to maintain a high 'cash' rank as buying nifty new toys tends to shift those assets from this ability to the Materials score, but this is not the case for governments and large corporations, who tend to have plenty of liquidity on hand for most any contingency.
|Fe 2||Reduced circumstances, on public assistance / allowance|
|Pr 4||Freelancer, college students, lower class wages|
|Ty 6||Lower middle class wages, salaried pay, novice executives|
|Gd 10||Professional salaries, middle class wages, small trust fund|
|Ex 20||Small inheritance, small business owner, military officer|
|Rm 30||City economy, millionaire playboy, small business chain|
|In 40||Large business, small corporation, small family fortune|
|Am 50||Regional economy, multi-millionaire, large corporation|
|Mn 75||Tiny national economy, large trust fund or inheritance|
|Un 100||Small national economy, billionaire, world-class investor or fund|
|Sh X||Medium sized national economy, multi-national corporation|
|Sh Y||Large sized national economy, trillionaire investor|
|Sh Z||Global super-power's economy, mega-corporations|
|Cl 1k||Planetary government economy, space-faring corporation|
|Cl 3k||Multi-planetary economy, universe-spanning corporation|
|Cl 5k||Universal economy, trans-dimensional corporation|
Popularity (Pop): "Avoid popularity if you would have peace."
- Abraham Lincoln
A quirky statistic, this primary ability measures the public acknowledgment or approval people have in their normal environment. Popularity, then, is used to modify the reaction result characters receive when they interact with others (when such results are not determined in the course of regular role-play). Popularity does not 'split' like the previous ability scores, however, in that such mostly comes into play only if a character maintains more than one identity to speak of.
If one does so, they can use two Popularity scores instead of just the one: Primary and Secondary Popularity. Primary Popularity (Pop (pri)) describes how well one is regarded by their peers and the world at large in their costumed identity - in other words, this ability score isn't about the person so much as the heroic (or villainous) persona he or she shows to the world. Most often, this secondary ability will be the greater of the two - hey, super-powers are pretty flashy - but not always; this depends on the character's place in society.
Secondary Popularity (Pop (sec)), meanwhile, covers the character's secret identity. While the former may involve super-powered theatrics in front of the masses, this role is most often the quiet, mundane existence maintained for the benefits of down time, making money, or the protection of one's relatives. Pop (sec) is normally lower than Pop (pri), but this may not be the case if the character is a notable figure such as an actor, politician, captain of industry, wanted felon, or the like. In fact, they may be reviled in one identity and loved in the other!
|Fe 2||'Local boy made good', neighborhood hooligans|
|Pr 4||Beloved neighbors, local media, city-wide hooligans|
|Ty 6||Local celebrities or politicians, national media|
|Gd 10||National politicians, local heroes, low-rent villains|
|Ex 20||Major hero, national leader or religious figure|
|Rm 30||Nationwide hero, FBI's most wanted, war criminals|
|In 40||Well-received hero, world-famous actor, convicted traitors|
|Am 50||Mass-murdering terrorist, notorious super-villain|
|Mn 75||National hero, despised tyrants or super-villains|
|Un 100||International hero or religious figure, global threat|
|Sh X||Hero on multiple planets, role-model for billions|
|Sh Y||Timeless hero, modern messiah, eternal villain|
|Sh Z||Well-known throughout near space, for good or ill|
|Cl 1k||Beings throughout the cosmos familiar with you|
|Cl 3k||Well-known throughout the universe, for good or ill|
|Cl 5k||(In)Famous in multiple planes of existence|
Health (Hpts): "Health is worth more than learning." - Thomas Jefferson
Health is a descriptor of the amount of damage a character can sustain before losing consciousness, and possibly their life as a result. Instead of being represented with ranks as are most other primary abilities, a character's Health is instead determined by adding together the rank numbers of their Fighting, Agility, Strength, and Endurance ability scores. One can further expand the role of Health in a character by making use of Health's secondary abilities, which are negative health and mental health.
Negative health (abbreviated NH) is not a negative number, so much as a portrayal of the damage an unconscious character can 'soak' up before they automatically die. Negative health is determined by adding the successive rank numbers of a character's Endurance score together. This means that the rank numbers of all power ranks up to (and including) the character's Endurance score are all added together to determine one's NH. For example, Bob's new hero has a Good (10) ranked Endurance, so his negative health would add up to 22 (the sum of all the successive rank numbers for Good (10) rank is 2 (Fe (2)) + 4 (Pr (4)) + 6 (Typical (6)) + 10 (Good (10)) = 22).
Mental health (abbreviated MH), meanwhile, shows the amount of damage a character's mind can withstand before collapsing. It is determined in the same fashion as is negative health, but uses a character's Psyche rank as a base, instead. This can be useful in a campaign that sees a lot of psionic attack powers (regardless of their origin), or possibly as a means to measure one's sanity in the face of baffling and incomprehensible horror. For convenience, a table of NH and MH sums is provided for ease of use during character generation.
Further details on Health in the game are explained later on.
|Rank||Negative / Mental Health Totals|
|Pr 4||6 (the previous plus this rank number (4))|
|Ty 6||12 (the previous plus this rank number (6))|
|Gd 10||22 (the previous plus this rank number (10))|
|Ex 20||42 (the previous plus this rank number (20))|
|Rm 30||72 (the previous plus this rank number (30))|
|In 40||112 (the previous plus this rank number (40))|
|Am 50||162 (the previous plus this rank number (50))|
|Rank||Negative / Mental Health Totals|
|Mn 75||237 (the previous plus this rank number (75))|
|Un 100||337 (the previous plus this rank number (100))|
|Sh X||487 (the previous plus this rank number (150))|
|Sh Y||687 (the previous plus this rank number (200))|
|Sh Z||1187 (the previous plus this rank number (500))|
|Cl 1k||2187 (the previous plus this rank number (1000))|
|Cl 3k||5187 (the previous plus this rank number (3000))|
|Cl 5k||10187 (the previous plus this rank number (5000))|
Karma (Kpts): "Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don't even notice it." - Sakyong Mipham
Karma is essentially a measure of a person's placement in the universal scheme of things. Though all characters begin play with a little bit of Karma (an amount which is equal to the sum of their Reason, Intuition and Psyche rank numbers), additional Karma can be obtained by performing acts that fit specific characters' ethos. Being a sum as is the Health score, one can see that Karma comes in a 'point' form, so he or she just might ask what they can do with their Karma points. A good question!
Karma may be spent to influence FEAT rolls and to improve oneself in a variety of ways. To this end, Karma is often dedicated to specialized pools once earned, each of which is noted as a secondary ability of Karma. A team pool is a special sum of Karma that binds one character to several others, one which they may donate to and withdraw from as is needed in the course of an adventure. While this can be advantageous, it does have limitations in that actions of pool members can have ramifications for the entire team's Karma totals.
As such, membership in a team pool is purely optional.
An advancement pool is just that, Karma one sets aside for personal advancement, whether it involves improving an existing ability or power rank, buying new powers, talents, or contacts, or possibly 'buying off' character limitations or quirks. In this capacity an advancement pool functions as 'experience' does in other games, though once you spend it (as is the case with one's regular and team pool), it is gone forever. But, at the very least, you'll have something new to show for it.
As is Health, Karma is expanded upon greatly later on.
Each character, in addition to the standard eleven attributes that are used to describe their basic capabilities, may also be quantified in terms of special abilities. These are traits that are not common to every single entity in the game, and may in fact be unique to a specific character. There are four types of special abilities, including powers, talents, contacts, and quirks.
Powers: powers are what make super-heroes super, as opposed to being 'just' a hero. Most PCs have at least one power, whether it be in the form of an inborn ability, a sample of high tech equipment, or such studied equivalents as spells or psionics. Just like primary abilities, almost all powers are gauged by ranks, though some are instead quantified with Column Shifts.
Quirks: quirks are modifications added to a character towards the end of its creation. They are oddities that contribute to the uniqueness of a character, potentially adding or subtracting a Column Shift to certain rolls, or merely making their life a little more interesting. Whether beneficial or an impediment, they will typically come into play at least once in a given adventure.
Talents: talents are skills that may be learned by virtually anyone, whether they be super-human or not. Instead of having a rank, almost all talents offer a boost to ability or power scores in the form of a +1 or +2 Column Shift to the standard rank on all talent rolls, making the character more proficient in that area than someone who does not have that talent.
Contacts: a contact is a person or an organization that a body can rely upon when needed, for either information, resources, or whatever else may be necessary. Contacts are automatically considered friendly to a character for the purpose of NPC reaction rolls. A character's contacts may help to shape his or her origin, and are rather useful for background information.
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