The Textbook Character Treatise
What are inherent transnormal abilities?
All characters can be detailed and measured by the metrics of conventional ability scores. With few exceptions, everyone can throw a punch, lift a brick or two, or even reason out math problems; these are considered inherent abilities. Those who cannot do such things are often limited somehow, whether due to physical injury or their very anatomy, in the event of particularly inhuman alien life forms.
But what of those inherent traits that cannot be described by one's ability scores? What if someone gained the ability to emit energy beams from their eyes after a freak accident with the radioactive contents of a smoke detector? Or perhaps awoke one day to realize that they were born different from everyone else, their shattered genes suddenly giving them the power to fly? Or teleport? Or to even kill with a thought?
Such abilities, and those who possess them, are the subject of the Textbook Character Treatise. Textbook characters are those that one most often thinks of when pondering the notion of super human beings - people who are simply super powered. Textbook characters do not wield powers because of some high tech whatsit they possess, much less a study of the arts arcane or the influence of faith.
And that is a vital distinction. Super humans with intrinsic ascendant abilities may eventually acquire an advanced thingus to aid in their efforts, or may even study psionics when the opportunity presents itself, but what truly sets them apart from others are the powers inherent to their very being. These powers will shape their body, and perhaps even their minds, in ways that few can foresee.
This is because, when you get down to it, textbook characters are no longer human. They may have begun as an ordinary Joe or Jane, but have acquired abilities that will forever set them apart from the pack. Those who wield futuristic technology, magical spells, or psionics (or even all of the above) may be capable of truly fantastic things, but in the end they are still human.
Textbook characters, on the other hand, are not.
Textbook characters can acquire the abilities that make them ascendant in any number of ways. Regardless of the origins of such characters and their abilities, however, all transnormals play by the same basic 'rules' where their powers are concerned. Whether said powers are a result of genetic aberrations, radiation exposure, or better living through chemistry, textbook characters must live with these concerns:
Access: one benefit of inherent transnormal abilities is that one need not 'concentrate' to keep them all active. Sorcerers and mentalists may wield a wide array of different ascendant effects, but can only maintain so many at a time. With few exceptions, each ability they use must be focused upon, however minimally, and these individuals can only concentrate on keeping so many active at once.
Textbook characters lack this problem. Many inherent super powers are always active, requiring no concentration to operate. Limitations can readily alter the state of one's inherent powers, though, either by making otherwise permanent powers dependent on one's concentration, or rendering some abilities stuck in an 'always on' condition. Unless so limited, textbook characters have access to all their powers simultaneously.
Even if one cannot necessarily activate them all at once.
Conspicuity: while some textbook characters benefit from a perfectly normal appearance, the simple truth is that a wide array of inherent super powers have an indelible effect on how one looks. While razor skin may seem like ordinary flesh (at least until someone touches it, anyway), good luck hiding those billowing, feathery wings when you're not using the things.
Even when a character's ascendant abilities are not immediately obvious when at rest, a means of detecting them may very well be available. Whether simply wielding the origin sense or using specialized electronics to detect whatever it is that grants powers (be it aberrant genes, mutagenic energies, or exotic chemicals), inquiring minds will always try to locate the ascendants amongst them.
Until a means of confusing such sensors is devised, at any rate.
Heredity: though it's not always the case, it's quite common that whatever has given a character ascendant abilities is hereditary. This is definitely the case with both mutants and degenerates, whose powers by definition come from the abnormal structure of their genes. However, other transnormals are often capable of passing on that which grants them their unique properties to their offspring, as well.
If a character's powers are a result of enhancements on a genetic level, chances are their powers can be passed on to their descendants - or copied via clones or gene therapy. If powers are a result of some sort of contaminant in the character's body, these abilities may or may not continue on down the family line, depending on just how much of it is needed.
Or if more of said contaminant can be procured.
Negation: on the down side, characters with inherent powers are subject to power negation. In a world where characters have been scientifically proven to possess transnormal abilities, you can bet any government worth its salt will have studied them intently. This will be for two purposes: to reproduce them in government operatives under their thumb, and to control civilians who overwhelmingly outgun conventional forces.
While the former can be the fodder for any number of adventures involving rogue government operatives with super powers run amok, the latter often comes in the form of technology to neutralize one's ascendant abilities. Efforts in this vein are most often transient in nature, and may very well be a fact of life in government buildings (particularly jails), but a rare few may last longer by design.
Whether stealing super powers away or permanently rendering them inert.
Becoming Super Human
Super powers are super powers, when you get down to it.
Whether a body gained persistent ascendant abilities due to a roll of the genetic dice, exposure to exotic radiation, or even thanks to the wonders of radical chemistry, their powers will basically function the same. While some powers affect a body differently based on the origins of their abilities (such as the origin sense), one can bank on a power functioning the same no matter who wields it - power customization notwithstanding.
On the other hand, the origins of one's powers can dictate how a character is treated. Some cultures seem to abhor mutants, while others instead vilify those who have been warped by science (especially if intentionally). Still more despise all manner of ascendant beings with inherent powers - they make no distinction in their bigotry. Alternately, worlds teeming with posthumans may simply care less.
It just depends, really.
Origins of Power
Even without the intervention of advanced technology, magical spells, psionic awakening, or even deific imposition, a character can still manifest ascendant powers. These abilities will usually be inherent in nature, and quite often leave a visible mark on their possessor - though not always. There are seven means of acquiring powers without the aid (or meddling) of the aforementioned sources, some more common than others.
Altered humans are formerly normal individuals who have been changed - whether by accident or by design. The impetus for this change can be virtually anything unusual in the environment, ranging from bizarre energies to complex chemicals - or even a mix of the two. Similarly, something 'strange' in the character's genetic makeup may simply respond unusually to otherwise normal stimuli.
This stimuli, whatever it happens to be, is the cause of the character developing powers. If it has affected the character's genes, it's quite possible that the changed can pass on their abilities to their offspring. However, if powers persist due to the presence of the stimuli (whether material or energetic), one cannot 'share' their powers with their descendants unless the contaminant is similarly passed along.
An altered human character has the benefit, after otherwise being generated, of adding a +1 CS to any two ability scores they choose.
Freak occurrences and strange happenstances are the cause of a person gaining inherent powers on many occasions. But sometimes, these events don't just invest powers in someone - they cause an entire transnormal being to manifest from seeming nothingness! These rare and bizarre incidents will generate a super human, their costumes, and whatever 'stuff' they acquired during character generation.
The strange thing about such suddenly existing people is that they can often function well in society, save for their complete lack of memories. They can talk, use their body and their abilities with competence, and may even possess useful skills. Which may inevitably make others wonder if the arisen being is truly extant because of the incident during which they first appeared, or if they instead had origins elsewhere.
Which may, in fact, eventually prove to be the case.
Arisen transnormals, once they've completed their character generation, may add a +1 CS to one ability score and one power of their choice.
A character of this type is one who is comprised of the parts of many different individuals. On occasion this will involve the pieces of various dead bodies being reassembled into what is at first glance a coherent body, thus making the composite a variant on the reanimate theme. In other circumstances, this might reflect a character drastically modified by the aciurgy power - whether or not they possess that power.
Such a character will possess their ascendant abilities due to either the strange mix of body parts and their interactions, because of the agency which prevents catastrophic tissue rejection from killing them outright, or even due to whatever reignited the spark of life within their formerly dead bits. This process can often be reproduced, however ghastly the prospect may at first appear.
After otherwise finishing character generation, a composite may automatically add a +1 CS to their Strength score, and gains the Fast Healing quirk.
An accident of conception can cause advances in evolution, with beneficial mutations moving the species forward. However, similar accidents can cause reversions in the genome, thrusting a given lifeform backwards down their path of evolution. Of course, this leaves the suddenly regressed creature with a lot of 'extra' genetic material - which often combines in a random fashion to generate ascendant abilities!
These super-powered throwbacks to an earlier time, often known as degenerates, are of great interest to scientists who study evolution... and enjoy having a live specimen of a formerly extinct species to tinker with. On the other hand, society often frowns upon such powerful 'Neanderthals' or 'monkey men', because they can be brutish and primitive in their behavior as well as their appearance.
Degenerate characters may add a +1 CS to their Fighting and Strength scores once their generation is otherwise complete.
Descendants are posthumans who inherited their transnormal abilities from either one or both of their parents. This can involve receiving smashed genes from one's parents or a like exposure to the same... whatever it was... that caused such abilities to form in their progenitor(s) in the first place. As such, the abilities of a descendant will usually be somewhat predictable, based on what others know about their parents.
As long as a descendant has the same power(s) as one of their parents, they are not technically mutants or altered humans - though agencies that can detect these states of being will still indicate such... unless refined enough to reveal multiple generations of ascendant abilities have occurred. In fact, with enough breeding over time, the descendants of an ascendant human may be considered a distinct species!
A descendant may add a +1 CS to their Intuition score - and an additional +1 CS bonus a parent's origin provides for, as well.
A mutant is an ascendant being who was literally born different than his or her parents... very different. When first conceived, a mutant acquires genetic information that was not donated by either parent, yet is a completely viable organism nonetheless. Some mutants simply possess extra digits or perhaps heterochromia, but others manifest truly fantastic, ascendant abilities instead!
An offshoot of their parents' species by definition, mutants are a race unto themselves. Each mutant who demonstrates different ascendant abilities is technically a different species, though they can usually interbreed with humans... as well as mutants with differing mutations. Which leads more enlightened individuals to keep in mind the fact that 'mutants are people, too'.
A mutant character, once their generation is otherwise complete, may add a +1 CS to their Endurance rank, and a +1 CS to any power rank they choose.
Reanimates were normal human beings their entire lives - well, physically at any rate. However, they eventually died... and instead of the normal biological processes taking over at that point, they suddenly lurched back to life - with incredible powers, no less! Such an individual is not undead, but instead has inexplicably seen their spark of life reignited somehow.
Generally, a mundane death won't be enough to cause a character to come back as a reanimate. People are shot and stabbed and have heart attacks all the time, but you don't hear about them waking up in the morgue - not that often, at any rate. No, a reanimate is usually the result of a formerly normal character dying in a spectacular fashion, often involving freakish chemicals or exotic forms of energy.
After a reanimate's character generation is otherwise done, he or she may add a +1 CS to both their Psyche score and one power of their choice.
Textbook Character Generation
Random (Dice Roll) Method
Characters generated with the Textbook Character Treatise are all inherently super human. As such, when determining primary ability scores, players may use table A to generate one ability score, table B to generate their next three ability scores, and table D to generate their final three ability scores. These rolls may be made in any order the player chooses, in case they want super human statistics in a specific area.
Bear in mind that textbook characters have access to hyperkinetic ability ranks, if your Judge allows their use. When this is the case, substitute table C for table B, and table E for table D where applicable (though disregard hyperhexhaustive results). If hyperkinetic ranks are desired but cannot be rolled, they can always be adopted as a character enhancement (as they are not applied to powers; see below).
Players may then roll on table A to determine their initial Resources rank, and begin play with a Popularity score of zero. Add up the character's Health and Karma totals as per the normal, along with their Negative and Mental Health scores.
Table 1: Rank Generation
|Table A||Table B||Table C||Table D||Table E||Table F||Table G||Table H||Table I||Rank
Once these rolls are complete, one may gamble on any two ability scores of their choice, potentially shoring up any areas you feel need some help. The only limits in this regard are the results of the tables themselves, as well as the power rank ceiling for a campaign, as set by the Judge. If you're not already aware of this power rank ceiling, go ahead and ask your Judge now!
Table 2: Rank Modifiers (Gambling)
|(Shift X max.)||(Un 100 max.)||(Mn 75 max.)||(Am 50 max.)||(In 40 max.)||
Origins of Power
Before any other steps may be taken, it must be decided how the character acquired their powers, if this has not been determined already. Did the character receive powers after exposure to freakish radiation or bizarre chemicals? Is he or she a mutant? Or did they die, only to rise again as a super human? Table 3 is provided for random determination, but this facet of a character is entirely up to the player behind them.
Table 3: Origins of Power
Number of Inherent Powers
When determining a character's inherent super powers, start by figuring out exactly how many he or she will have to begin with. This is done simply by rolling randomly on table 4, which will give a character anywhere between two and seven ascendant powers with which to fight (or commit) crime. And these will be all the character has for a good long while, barring power stunts, so bear that in mind for later.
Table 4: Initial Inherent Powers
|01-17||Two Powers||18-33||Three Powers||34-50||Four Powers
|51-67||Five Powers||68-83||Six Powers||84-00||Seven Powers
Determining Character Powers
After determining how many powers a character will begin play with, it's time to actually figure out which powers they'll have. This process begins by rolling on either table 5a or 5b to determine the category a character's first power will fall within. There are two versions of this table because some power categories are entirely optional; ask your Judge if he or she wishes you to use 5a or 5b.
Once table 5a or 5b determines a power category, roll on the subsequent power category table (tables 6 through 20) for an individual power. With this first, randomly determined power decided, read its description. This is because, at the beginning of almost every power description in the Textbook Character Treatise, there is a list of related powers, abilities that dovetail well with the indicated power.
A player may opt to either choose one of these related powers for his or her next power selection(s), or may instead roll again randomly. And so on, and so forth, until the player's power selections have all been determined (one way or another). What this does is allow a player to build a character with ascendant abilities that are closely related to one another, if desired.
Theme characters are more easily assembled when the player can add related powers to one or two abilities which are randomly generated, instead of just dealing with a hodgepodge of completely random powers. Though that, too, can lend itself to the creative process, tying so many disparate abilities together into a cohesive whole!
Note that some powers are vastly more potent than others. These particularly versatile abilities will occupy more than one power 'slot' on a character, whether chosen or rolled up randomly. These powers will have a number in parenthesis after their name (such as (2), for instance). This will determine how many power 'slots' they use up when added to one's character.
Table 5a: Power Categories (standard)
|01-08||Biological Control||09-15||Combination||16-23||Energy Control
|24-31||Energy Generation||32-38||Matter Control||39-46||Mental Control
|47-54||Mental Enhancement||55-61||Movement||62-69||Physical Control
|70-77||Physical Enhancement||78-84||Physical Weaponry||85-92||Power Control
Table 5b: Power Categories (optional)
|01-07||Biological Control||08-14||Combination||15-21||Energy Control
|22-28||Energy Generation||29-35||Matter Control||36-42||Mental Control
|43-49||Mental Enhancement||50-56||Movement||57-63||Physical Control
|64-70||Physical Enhancement||71-77||Physical Weaponry||78-84||Power Control
|85-91||Reality Control||92-99||Sensory||00||Ultimate Power?
Table 6: Biological Control Powers
Table 7: Combination Powers
Table 8: Energy Control Powers
Table 9: Energy Generation Powers
Table 10: Matter Control Powers
Table 12: Mental Enhancement Powers
Table 13: Movement Powers
Table 14: Physical Control Powers
Table 15: Physical Enhancement Powers
Table 16: Physical Weaponry Powers
Table 17: Power Control Powers
Table 18: Reality Control Powers
Determining Power Ranks
Once a character's powers have been determined, one must indicate how potent they will be. Do this by rolling once on table B for half of one's ascendant powers, and table D for the other half. As is the case with primary ability scores, campaigns with access to hyperexhaustive and hyperkinetic ranks may instead roll on tables C and E, respectively. With this done, the player may gamble on the ranks so indicated.
Players may do this once if their character has three or less transnormalities, twice if he or she has from four to six super powers, or thrice if the character has seven ascendant abilities.
Character / Power Limitations
Players are often unhappy with the ranks they've rolled up for their character. Even after adjusting various ranks with gambling attempts, they're just not satisfied with what they've come up with. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as sometimes one has a specific vision in mind for their character; this is where limitations come in. A player may subject their character to limitations in order to make them more powerful.
Limitations come in two distinct flavors: power limitations and character limitations. A power limitation is just that, an altering of how said power works to the detriment of the player, as compared to others who can use this ability. A power so limited may not affect certain objects or beings, can only be used during certain specific time periods, or may otherwise function in a manner others may find unusual or restrictive.
Character limitations, however, change the nature of every power a person uses, not just one. A character limitation may simply be a power limitation that 'works' on every single power, an alteration to the basic working of powers in general, or even some other constraint that seriously hampers how a character operates (such as an inability to move without the aid of powers).
At any rate, the severity of the limitation determines just how much of a power boost the character may receive. Limitations come in four flavors: weak, strong, very strong, and extreme. A weak limitation is just that, a minor crimp in an ability's effectiveness, and only offers a +1 CS. Each succeeding limitation offers another +1 CS to the power rank, but as their names imply, they become increasingly, well, limiting.
Alternately, a character can take a limitation on a power to replace one already built in to it; some powers, like those involving time, have several such constraints already worked into them. With the Judge's permission, players may swap out one limitation for another, as long as the new limitation would be equally as inconvenient, which allows a player to better craft the character they imagine in their heads.
Character / Power Enhancements
Similarly, a player might have more than enough power (or might think such, at any rate), or simply wants more 'bang for their buck' out of their existing power roster. If this is the case, they may decide to empower their abilities with enhancements. Like limitations, enhancements have four levels of power, including weak, strong, very strong, and extreme, each of which adds a subsequent -1 CS modifier to one's power ranks.
In exchange for suffering from the effects of this modifier, the character's ability will benefit from an improvement of some sort. Moving a power up one speed or range category is considered a strong enhancement, while two is an extreme enhancement. At the same time, a power can be given a hyperkinetic rank if not already rolled randomly, serving as an extreme enhancement to the specific power it applies to.
Like limitations, enhancements are difficult to apply across an entire character, though this isn't impossible. While speeds and ranges vary from power to power, things such as initiative penalties can apply to all a character's actions and powers. Alternately, one might opt to gain a hyperkinetic ability score, which is considered a weak character enhancement (thus applying a -1 CS to all of one's powers).
Usually, the reduction in rank an enhancement inflicts is enough to make up the difference. This can make purchasing new powers more difficult down the line, though, particularly if a character enhancement is in effect; a new power to be affected by an enhancement must be bought at a rank high enough that, upon applying the negative CS, it will at least work at the normal starting value.
Slightly more palatable than limitations or enhancements, quirks are minor changes to a character that either saddle him or her with some disadvantage, or enhance a trait of theirs. They can also be used to raise the rank one or more of a character's powers work at if so desired, within the confines of that system. The quirks rules have more on this, but the quirk tables are presented here, for convenience.
Normally, quirks are a voluntary affair - players may or may not use quirks, as they see fit. They are presented below, in the format of random rolling tables, for two reasons. The first is for the Judge's use, to quickly generate random characters when time is of the essence. Alternately, a player may roll randomly if he or she wants or needs a quirk and doesn't know what to pick. Not that they're bound by such a roll, of course.
Quirks are divided up into the beneficial and deleterious quirks of a physical, mental, and role play nature. Those quirks which cost (or grant) two quirk points are noted with a two in parenthesis (2), while those that can be taken at multiple levels are noted with an asterisk in parenthesis (*).
Table 21: Quirks Categories
|01-17||Physical (beneficial)||18-33||Physical (deleterious)||34-50||Mental (beneficial)
|51-67||Mental (deleterious)||68-83||Role-Play (beneficial)||84-00||Role-Play (deleterious)
Table 22: Physical Quirks (beneficial)
Table 23: Physical Quirks (deleterious)
Table 24: Mental Quirks (beneficial)
Table 25: Mental Quirks (deleterious)
Table 26: Role-Play Quirks (beneficial)
Table 27: Role-Play Quirks (deleterious)
The talents your freshly built transnormal human begins play with can be determined as per any other character type, beginning by rolling up their number of initial talents on table 28. Then, roll for the category each talent will belong to on table 29. To finish up, roll for individual talents using tables 30 through 37, one table for each applicable category of talents.
However, the actual talents a character has really should be determined by his or her origin. Keeping this in mind, the Judge may well opt to let a player choose some (or all of) the talents their ascendant human possesses, allowing him or her a lot more creative control over their character. Another thing to consider is that a talent can function at a higher 'level' than normal.
There are three 'tiers' of talents, each providing an increasing bonus to the applicable FEATs involved with said talent. When generating these heightened skills, however, keep in mind that they cost more; a level 2 talent counts as two talents, while a level 3 talent counts as four. This can get expensive fast, but is a great way to showcase what your character is really good at.
Also, some talents cost more than others, even before higher level talents are considered. A talent that has a number in parenthesis counts as that many talents during character generation; these are mostly background talents, but others can cost more as well. Similarly, the Student talent costs all of one's initial talent slots, for it by definition implies that a body does not have any other talents.
Table 28: Number of Talents
|01-17||Two talents||18-33||Three talents||34-50||Four talents
|51-67||Five talents||68-83||Six talents||84-00||Seven talents
Table 29: Talent Categories
Table 30: Background Talents
Table 31: Behavioral Talents
Table 32: Environmental Talents
Table 33: Fighting Talents
Table 34: Miscellaneous Talents
Table 35: Professional Talents
Table 36: Scientific Talents
Also presented for your convenience is the table used to detail the initial number of contacts a new character will have; it is available as table 38 in the Treatise. Table 39, then, lists the types of contacts a textbook character may have upon the start their career, if the player needs any ideas; one does not need to roll up contact types randomly if they don't want to.
Like quirks and talents, contacts can be taken at one of three levels of importance; for example, a police contact might be a beat cop (level 1), an FBI operative (level 2), or even an Interpol agent (level 3). Similarly, contacts of a higher level cost an increased amount of contact 'slots' - a level 2 contact counts as two contacts, while a level 3 contact costs four contact 'slots'.
Table 38: Number of Starting Contacts
|01-17||Two contacts||18-33||Three contacts||34-50||Four contacts
|51-67||Five contacts||68-83||Six contacts||84-00||Seven contacts
On top of all of their stupendous, ascendant capabilities, posthuman adventurers also have their pick of conventional, mundane equipment. These devices won't be the kind that make or break their style, for the most part, but they often fill in holes on a texbook character's roster when needed - or, at the very least, add a bit of luxury to their life.
Common equipment a character can possess depends on their Resources. One may automatically have any gear with a price equal to his or her Resources rank or less, and may start out with materials of up to their Resources rank +2 CS with but a small explanation (the character has a condominium that he paid off previously). Anything more exorbitant must be approved by the Judge, but isn't necessarily out of the question.
It's mostly just a matter of feasibility and availability at that point.
And Last, But Not Least
Once everything else has been determined about a new character, the bonuses they should receive as a part of their special origin should be applied. These are always placed on a character last, in order to let them enhance the results of random character generation. In fact, if the Judge is willing, the ranks enhanced by such bonuses can even be allowed to exceed his or her normal campaign power limits!
Systematic (Point Based) Method
Players begin with fifty (50) points with which to build a textbook character. They may spend these points as they wish, only limited by the campaign's power level ceiling. For example, an earth-bound campaign may limit characters to Monstrous (75) or less on most ranks. Ask your Judge about his or her campaign limits before you proceed any further, if you're not sure what they are!
To begin with, determine how far above (or below) the norm the character will be in each ability score; for our purposes, the 'norm' will be Typical (6) rank. For every +1 CS a player applies to each spend one point, and for each -1 CS applied to these values, add one point. One ability score should remain within the normal human limits, but otherwise the sky is the limit (such limits are detailed in the Core Rules).
A starting character is assumed to have Typical (6) Resources and a Popularity score of zero (0). One may alter these ability scores as they can any other, though at double the cost for each CS (Remarkable (30) ranked Resources would cost six points, for example). If one intends to purchase the Heir to Fortune background talent, they shouldn't alter this 'base' Resources score any. Health and Karma are determined normally.
An opposed Popularity score (negative for heroes, positive for villains) is worth two points, no matter how great it is.
Before purchasing a character's powers, one should determine their origin, if this has not already been decided, for it will provide added benefits down the line. When buying powers, each rank in each power costs one point, starting at Feeble (2) rank. The upper rank of each ascendant ability is only limited by the campaign's power level ceiling (again, ask your Judge about this if necessary).
Costs can be controlled by adding limitations, which can apply to either one or all a character's powers. Whether applied to one power or globally to the character as a whole, weak limitations reduce the cost of a power by one point, strong limitations by two points, very strong limitations by three points, and extreme limitations by four points. Consider the effect of such limitations before counting your point savings!
Remember that all powers have a minimum cost of one (1) point, no matter how limited they may be.
Moving the other direction, a player may enhance one or more powers. A weak enhancement increases the cost by one point, strong enhancements add two points, very strong enhancements raise the cost by three points, and extreme enhancements add four points to a power's final cost. Such enhancements include improving the range or speed categories of a power, as well as other augmentations to its functionality.
Keep in mind that many powers cost more than the base value; power duplication, for example, costs four points per rank. Powers with a heightened cost are so noted in the character generation tables listed above (those with numbers in parenthesis after the name). Limitations and enhancements are multiplied in value by this cost; for instance, a very strong limitation on ultimate power would reap a fifteen point discount.
If your Judge allows their use in his or her campaign, one thing to consider is the use of Hyperkinetic and Hyperexhaustive rank qualifiers. These can each be purchased in the point system if allowed, being treated as either an extreme enhancement (in the form of a Hyperkinetic power) or an extreme limitation (in the form of a Hyperexhaustive power). Creating a hyperkinetic ability score is a weak character enhancement.
Both can be very unbalancing in their own way, however, so check to make sure their use is okay.
Once a character's powers are determined, he or she may purchase talents and contacts as they see fit, each costing one point. If one would like heightened talents or contacts (both come in three tiers), they must pay two points for a level two talent or contact, or four points for a level three talent or contact. The Student background talent costs five points, but cannot be purchased with any other (save for Heir to Fortune).
A player may use remaining points to purchase beneficial quirks - or add a few points to pad weak areas with deleterious quirks. Most quirks give (or take) one point, but if purchased at a higher level, they function in much the same way as talents or contacts in this regard (two points for a level two quirk, four points for a level three quirk). Also, quirks without level but that count double cost (or give) two points.
Next, determine the normal gear the character possesses. As is the case with randomly generated characters, posthumans built with the point based system may choose any standard gear that is readily available in the campaign, as long as it falls within a few CS of their Resources rank. If they want something more expensive, the player must give a good reason for such, though the Judge has veto power over improbable items.
Finally, add those bonuses that the character's origin affords him or her.
Once the player is out of points, it's up to the Judge to look over what the player has wrought. Does the character's math add up? Does it fall within predetermined campaign limitations for power level? If nothing appears to be wrong, and the Judge likes what he or she sees, they should approve what a player has created, and then allow him or her to complete the last portion of their character's creation.
Assuming they didn't actually start with such.
Filling in the blanks
Once all the basic details concerning your character have been ascertained, it is time to 'fill in the blanks', or to detail all of their personal and background information, the stuff you can't quantify with dice rolls or points. Who are they? What do they look like? Where are they from? What are they like? How did they acquire their astounding super human abilities?
All of this character information must be determined by the player in order to make it truly his or her own, and to really 'flesh them out'. This is often the most difficult part of the character generation process, the portion where many tend to fail. However, with a little effort and some serious consideration, the answers to these questions can make that simple little piece of paper with all the funny words on it really come alive!
So what's it like to be a posthuman being?
Much to the consternation of the mundanes, many ascendant humans with inherent powers betray no visual hints to the fact that they possess inexplicable abilities beyond the pale. One could be minding their own business, doing their level best to coast their way through a career doing whatever, none the wiser that the new human resources guy has the power of Murdervision ™!
Those transnormals who lack a weird appearance can quite often maintain a secret identity, and persist in the life they led before fate blessed (or cursed) them with their powers. This allows them a sort of downtime when not engaging in ascendant behavior, whether this involves committing crimes against the teeming masses of the powerless that swarm in and out of their awareness, or protecting normals from such actions.
Mind you, this assumes that such individuals even want to maintain the trappings of a normal human existence. The acquisition of inherent ascendant abilities often changes a character's mind as much as it alters their physical existence, and many transnormals decide that they're no longer a part of human society... whether due to a sense of superiority or perhaps a fear of rejection by one's peers.
On the other hand, quite a few posthumans are unmistakably operating on a different level than their mundane counterparts. These individuals can occasionally conceal their ascendant nature, though this never works reliably over time. Body armor that looks like polished nickel can be covered up with cosmetics, for example, but the slightest bit of moisture will reveal its true nature for all to see.
Regularly rendered outcast by their very appearance, these posthumans often find themselves thrust into a life of conflict, constantly battling with other ascendant beings, or perhaps even the normals who fear and hate them simply for existing. Textbook characters of this stripe might gladly lose their powers if only to resume a 'normal' life, though such may be impossible if their true identity is known to the public.
Mind you, a lot of this may depend on the campaign featuring textbook characters. If society is used to people with transnormal abilities roaming about, they may be perfectly okay that Bob in accounting has tentacles instead of arms. In a world that embraces its powered citizens, such people might be revered by the masses, and have special privileges - and of course responsibilities - that come with their posthuman status.
Other cultures may harbor inexplicable prejudices against posthumans of one type that simply don't apply to another. Perhaps a world particularly hates degenerates. Or has a religious issue with reanimates. Or even considers composites an abomination! This can cause such hated character types all manner of grief, both during adventures and in their 'off time' while not officially in play.
Still more games might feature societies that loathe all forms of posthuman beings, whether mutants or mere freaks of science. Normals' prejudices are leveled equally at all of those with transnormal powers - and possibly even those who gained their powers through other means. This environment tends to make heroism particularly harrowing, much less difficult to justify when the people you protect are out to kill you.
Though that, in and of itself, might make one even more heroic in nature!
After undertaking many adventures, or simply vanquishing one's foes, a character just might have gained new insight into the world and how it works; in other words, Karma. For the most part, textbook characters spend Karma much like any other, paying just as much when purchasing new talents or contacts, or when enhancing a current ability or power rank; this is handled as is defined in the Living and Dying document.
One facet of Karma use that is different for those with inherent powers is when one purchases all new ones.
Purchasing New Inherent Powers
Extensive changes to one's body, the inherent ascendant abilities that textbook characters are (in)famous for are a bit more difficult to come by than are powers wielded by other character types. These are permanent changes to one's mind, body, or soul after all, changes which lack many of the disadvantages of wielding powers externally (provided by a device) or those that are knowledge-based (provided by obscure training).
New inherent powers sometimes manifest spontaneously - whatever caused one's other powers to emerge simply wasn't done with them yet. However, acquiring all new powers most often involves risky endeavors that match the original impetus for developing ascendant abilities in the first place. Exposure to additional hazardous energies comes to mind, or perhaps the activation of a secondary mutation atop the original.
Succeeding in such an endeavor will generally have conditions set by the game's Judge, and will most often involve a special adventure - this is a big deal for the character, after all! Assuming that the character avoids getting themselves killed in the process of manifesting a new ascendant ability, all that remains is the matter of paying for their shiny new super power.
A new inherent ascendant ability has a base cost of three thousand (3,000) Karma points, in addition to a fee equal to the new power's original rank number times one hundred (100). Picking up a brand new power at Incredible (40) rank, for instance, would cost the character a total of seven thousand (7,000) Karma (base cost of 3,000 plus the power rank (40) times 100).
If the adventure (or whatever) a character underwent to gain their new power(s) involves the acquisition of a special catalyst, the player may reduce the base cost of that power by one thousand (1,000) Karma. Depending on just how complicated the procedure is, up to three catalysts may be required, which can completely eliminate the base cost of the power entirely.
The idea here is to properly reward a player's effort when they genuinely work for their new powers.
All of the above assumes powers with a standard cost; in other words, a power that has a listed cost of one point per rank. If a power is listed as having a cost equal to 2 points per rank, double its total Karma cost, and so on. If a power is listed with a 'flat cost', the price (after the base fee) is only 250 Karma points per point; invulnerability, for instance, would cost 3,000 additional Karma.
As difficult as it is to manifest entirely new powers, textbook characters are often more inclined to develop those abilities they already possess to their fullest, wielding them in new and interesting ways. Such developments are called power stunts. Every attempt to create a power stunt costs 100 Karma points per try, but they are otherwise governed by the same basic rules that exist for all other characters.
So, if you have a new idea for the uses of a dusty old power, give it a shot, already!
The rank a power stunt operates at depends on the cost of its parent ability. A power that has a stated cost of one point per rank will allow for power stunts which operate at its own rank, though each additional point the power costs will reduce a stunt's rank by -1 CS. The idea here is to reflect just how potent powers with a higher cost (such as power absorption, or even ultimate power) happen to be.
Optional Posthuman Concerns
Much ado has been made about how textbook characters are inherently super human, how they're different from most others who wield ascendant abilities because their very nature reflects their unique powers. In game play, this aspect of textbook characters can be simulated by adopting one or more of the following notions. In other words, the rules presented here are optional.
On the other hand, if a given rule is not in play in one's campaign, it can make for a great character limitation! For example, fatigue rules can really put a damper on posthumans in a long-running battle, particularly against other super-powered foes who lack such a limitation (such as, say, a killer robot). Saddling oneself with such concerns willingly can quickly make for a very powerful, if somewhat constrained, character!
Concentration: one of the main advantages of a character with inherent super powers is that they don't typically have to concentrate simply to keep their powers working; once they're on, powers stay on until deactivated. However, players may simulate a character who isn't quite 'one' with his or her powers by forcing them to abide by the same concentration rules that constrain psi-actives and wizards alike.
Characters with the requirement to concentrate to keep their powers functioning can activate them as per normal, but keeping their ascendant abilities functional depends on how well they can multitask. A character with a Reason (mem) score of Typical (6) or less can only concentrate on maintaining one super human power, with each +1 CS to that statistic adding an additional power they can keep going simultaneously.
Fatigue: wielding powers is difficult work; dishing out lightning bolts uses a lot of energy, after all!
Depending on the version of fatigue rules one is subject to in their game, wielding active inherent abilities will either increase one's fatigue intensity by one point, or count as one turn of exertion. This applies for each ability newly activated on a given turn, though one's 'automatic' abilities don't count against a body for the purposes of fatigue; always-on powers such as physical weaponry doesn't rack up fatigue, for example.
How does one avoid loss of power due to fatigue, you ask? Quite simply? Quite simply, by not using their powers! A character who refrains from using powers in a given turn can reduce their fatigue by one point - or reduce their total effective exertion time, for the purposes of determining exhaustion, by one turn. Where fatigue is concerned, it is best to invoke powers in moderation - or to end a conflict quickly.
Otherness: while some characters with innate powers can look quite normal, and would otherwise reveal no evidence of special abilities when they're not actively in use, it's quite possible that posthuman beings nonetheless radiate an aura of 'otherness'. This strange sensation is one that mundanes will perceive in close proximity to transnormal entities.
This might manifest in the form of general unease, inexplicable revulsion, or perhaps even irrational fear. This gut feeling operates on a basic, primal level, and colors the reactions of those without powers to those with such. This translates into a column shift penalty when a super human interacts with a normal human, ranging from -1 CS (if the posthuman looks normal) to -4 CS (if the posthuman looks quite abnormal).
Synchronicity: characters often manifest powers that appear to reflect their inner self, their core personality. Inversely, a character's personality might transform once they acquire their inherent powers, their thought processes slowly changing until they seem to reflect the expression of their transnormalities. This tendency is known as synchronicity to those that study posthuman beings.
Sometimes the reasons for this seem sensible; a super speedster can often be forgiven for being impatient all the time, for example, as they're used to moving faster than everyone else. Other times, a character might seem almost irrational in their behavior, their thoughts and actions reflecting a conceptual framework that echoes their powers; the fire generator growing ill-tempered and destructive, and so on.
When synchronicity is a common occurrence in a campaign, players might consider the adoption of deleterious mental or social quirks that reflect the manifestation of their powers in order to better actualize it, though are by no means required to do so.
Biological Control Power Collection: abilities which involve the manipulation of organic matter, whether living or dead, biological control powers afford their possessor a wide array of capabilities with which to help or hinder others. Whether directly controlling or drastically transforming biological tissues, these thirty seven powers are all incredibly useful... and vastly dangerous!
Combination Power Collection: combination powers are those which require the use of multiple ascendant abilities in order to work. Certain powerful and specialized abilities fall under this heading, though several combination powers included in this section are examples of what a player can concoct with the use of the combining powers power.
Energy Control Power Collection: there are thirty energy control powers in all. Some of these are dedicated to the manipulation of but one form of energy, while others have a specific effect on all energy types, regardless of their origins or effects. Either way, all of these abilities afford their possessor extensive mastery over the world around them.
Energy Generation Power Collection: flashy and explosive in the extreme, the fifteen energy generation powers are some of the most obvious abilities that mark someone as 'super'. While some of these can be used in a more useful fashion, or even when just showing off, powers of this stripe truly shine when they're used against others in combat.
Matter Control Power Collection: powers which allow their wielder to manipulate all manner of materials, matter control abilities work equally well on biological or inorganic substances (save for a few exceptions). There are thirty three known matter control powers, each of which can readily effect change in substances - or simply create them outright!
Mental Power Collection: while there are assuredly more such abilities, these fifty mental powers are those which are known to be most common in an inherent sense. These psionic powers are those which allow their wielder to directly interact with the minds of others, either for the purposes of sharing information with, or directly controlling them!
Mental Enhancement Power Collection: a bit different from the majority of ascendant mental abilities, mental enhancements are powers that don't necessarily require that one's mind interact with another to work. In fact, these thirteen powers are often just augmentations to one's extant mental faculties, being based on other ability scores to some extent.
Movement Power Collection: movement powers are those which involve a character rapidly crossing vast distances, often above and beyond that which any ordinary human can perform - even when vehicles are involved! There are twenty four movement powers in all, each of which greatly expands the range with which a character can act upon the world!
Physical Control Power Collection: the thirty known physical control powers are means by which a character can manipulate their own physicality to some extent. Physical controls are more active, and thus more transient in nature, than physical enhancements or physical weaponry, but can be used in a much more granular fashion than these other ascendant powers.
Physical Enhancement Power Collection: powers of this variety are generally active most or all the time, functioning in an automatic fashion - though of course they can be limited to work otherwise. All twenty four physical enhancement powers act to bolster the bodies of their possessors, making them much abler to survive in a variety of hostile conditions.
Physical Weaponry Power Collection: the sixteen physical weaponry powers are anatomical enhancements to a character which allow him or her superior performance in melee combat. Generally, physical weapons are inherent features of one's anatomy, and are immune to the use of power control powers for the most part - making them even more useful in ascendant battles!
Power Control Power Collection: this document is a collection of all thirty three power control powers, culled from the comprehensive power list and organized in one place for ease of use. When seeing them all together like this, one can easily spy just how dangerous each of them can be - much less several of them working in tandem...!
Reality Control Power Collection: the eighteen reality control powers are optional additions to any game, in that they are often incredibly difficult to manage (ask your Judge if they are available in his or her campaign). This is, of course, because they readily stretch the rules of the Universal Heroes game like taffy. Sweet, sweet causality taffy.
Sensory Power Collection: this document is a collection of all twenty six sensory powers, culled from the comprehensive power list and organized in one place for ease of use. This is an effort to showcase this group of less aggressive powers, in order to allow them to stand out against the 'noise' generated by being next to all the others in the master list.
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