|BASIC CHARACTER DYNAMICS
How to construct a character:
- Determine what the character concept is. Define what you think the character is supposed to do.
You can either use fiction as a guide, an illustration or simply put together a character for a
- Rate the character’s assigned basestats. Instructions are found in the following Assigned
- Once you have the assigned basestats rated, choose the character’s powers from the
Supernatural Abilities Arsenal. A short explanation of each power is included with our listings.
When you find a power that suits the concept, look the power up in the Supernatural Abilities
Arsenal and read the listing further.
- All of the powers in the Supernatural Abilities Arsenal have a point cost. Many will have a base
output, depending on the level of the basestat they are linked to. The game assumes that all
powers emanate from some part of the character’s make-up, defined in game terms as Assigned
Basetats. The more powerful the underlying basestat level is, the more powerful the base output
of the ability will be. (See the Supernatural Abilities Arsenal for additional information.)
- The levels assigned to Basestats cost the SAVE in points.
- Once you have selected all of the powers, factor the character’s Derived Basestats. The
procedure is explained on a basestat per basestat basis in that section.
- Choose the character’s Skills and Trademark.
- Add up the point cost and record it. We are not strictly speaking an accounting game. The point
totals are included to give the judge an idea of how many opponents it will take to give a number
of player characters a challenge.
Non-player characters such as bad guys and monsters should be thought up and defined without undue
concern for point cost. Follow your concept and let the point total be damned. A bad guy who outpoints
your individual heroes is considered the norm.
Player characters: Range between 700 and 1800 points.
General Census: We have constructed thousands of characters using this system. Using the point levels
provided by the game as our guide, we have determined that the majority of classic monsters, mythic
creatures and comic book crooks fall within the 500 to 1800 point range. There are some otherworldly
outliers-- giant flame-shooting turtles, alien planetary emperors, masters of black magic, deities out of
Lovecraftian lore and the like—who are touching the 2000 to 10k range. Nice for spice perhaps, but there’
s frankly not enough of them to populate an ongoing campaign.
A similar survey of the hero characters found some distinctions, not in terms of genre (crimefighter,
horror, detective, urban fantasy) but rather in terms of medium.
Horror Movies: The surviving protagonists in horror movies run about 300 points. They really are
outpointed by the bad guy. Horror movie heroes are mostly out to escape the situation rather than defeat
the heavy. Either they luck out or outthink the bad guy or they wind up eaten like the other 300 point
characters they briefly shared screen time with.
Fantastic Television: Heroes with exceptional abilities who appear on TV were the next lowest in point
value, coming in at an average of 500. (Until recently the TV versions of comic book costumed
crimefighters were similarly de-powered, even the ones appearing in animation.) This is because TV is
cheap and special effects cost money. Those amazing abilities which cannot be manifested through audio
dubbing or trick photography are used sparingly.
Martial Arts Movies: The 500 point level held for the lead characters in martial arts movies and
dystopian settings. (Dystopia is somewhat outside our near real-world genre.)
Urban Fantasy Paperbacks: When it came to heroes who appeared in novels within the horror and
urban fantasy genres, we found the same general 500 to 1800 range, with almost no outliers. Pulp
magazine heroes and the heroes in spy movies (and modern setting science fiction major motion pictures)
also clung to this point level range.
Comic Books and Pulp Magazines: Costumed comic book crimefighters came in two frequencies. The
majority of the more popular ones clung to the 500 to 1800 range, with a concentration around 1000. A
minority of long in the tooth characters clustered at 2500 with outliers at the 4000, 6000 and 10K plus
Why Fight It? Since it seems the broadest portion of the genre’s shelf space is in the 500 to 1800 point
range, that is the range that the heroes should be set up at. If you are running a truly pedestrian universe
you can try shaving the point levels to the TV level of 500 or the horror movie hero level of 300. This
does force the characters to cooperate with each other and decreases the likelihood that characters will
have duplicative abilities. That said, there are other games which are more slanted towards skills and
background and specific weapons which probably do a better job at this low level of supernatural activity
than ours does. Here a gun is a gun. Normal firearms are freebies. Being armed with “more than one but
less than six specific military class weapons” is a 10 point ability. (M-W-A) An equipment set which
would make the average runner of shadows drool is a 25 point ability. (UTILITY BELT) A sensory ability
which would be the focus of a character in a vampire game is free to characters which have a Perception
basestat rated at Mutant level or higher. (SUPER SENSES) Having your own personal space ship is only
45 points. (UNITILE) For WDMA heroes certain incredible elements are quite common, even standard
issue. We consider 700 points our floor level for player characters. At 700 points the character is a
confirmed citizen of the weirdness, not merely an armed bystander.
Playable Point Levels: This is largely a simulation game. Once set up, the hero does not change much
over time. (See Design Notes and Champaign Mechanics.) As long as the hero and his associates remain
in the 700 to 1800 point range, there is plenty of variety in the genre. They are ready for witches and
mobsters and aliens. There’s no reason to work your way up from fighting orcs. None of the heroes in
this fiction got here through beating their way up the food chain. He got where he is by having chemicals
dumped on his head, by being the member of a lost near-human race of aliens, through specialized training
obtained in Tibet/an ultra-secret government agency, by pulling a magic sword from a stone or by
whipping himself into Olympian condition while also studying engineering and chemistry at a PHD level
without ever obtaining a degree. There is no drive to seek additional improvement, to obtain further
power. (That’s what the bad guys do.) Having been gifted with the Holy Grail the hero’s mission is to
apply it in some noble cause.
Pre-Game Player Heads Up: Although this is a simulation game, we do caution you against having
player characters who are photocopies of characters found in fiction. Player’s preferences for such are
widely disparate. The guy who time travels in a box is going to want to time travel. The jungle lord is
going to want to stick to the bushes. The hard-boiled detective is going to want to beat up thugs. Spy guy
is going to want to spy. Before you set your player’s hearts aflame, set some sort of tone, explain the
group’s common purpose. While there are always players who will set up characters that they simply
want to play, most of the players will come up with a division of labor. A little heads-up from the judge
will allow the players to come up with parts which work together.
Player Character Rules: If you simulated one of the comic book super teams exactly, you would find
some degree of disparity in power levels between the characters. Comic book heroes are not placed in
teams because they are necessary compatible or complimentary, but rather for their ability to sell comic
books. You’re typically going to find a 4000 point character, a pair of 2400 point characters and then the
rest at around 600 or so points. Even if the players were saints, there are several obvious problems with
handing out a team like this. What works in fiction does not necessarily work for a social event wherein
everyone is entitled to an equal opportunity to participate in the action. Departing from the conventions of
the genre, we have established a few rules when it comes to player characters.
All player characters are the same point level. Try to give each player as much of his/her concept as
you can. You don’t have to be perfect. If there is no more than a 120 point difference between the highest
total character and the lowest, you have come close enough.
Players come up with the character concept. The judge makes the player characters. While there is
no real outlawing of power gaming, we are attempting to control for the following:
- Too many high order psychic abilities. I personally have banned ESP as a player character ability
in my game. An abundance of psychic abilities sucks the “Detective” and “Mystery” out of the
game. The game becomes one person asking the judge questions followed by incidents of
unprepared bad guys being pounced on. Plotlines should be resolved by going places, finding things,
talking to folks and making educated guesses. While it is fine for the characters to have a psychic
on call, consulting them should be a last resort. The game comes with an entire listing of PSYCHIC
POWERS which are erratically functioning enough to be suitable for player use.
- Damage yield. There’s a tendency to escalate damage potential. The way the game is set up, two
evenly matched opponents should be able to knock each other senseless after landing three blows.
First guy to land three blows wins. If the character is specifically combat centered, two blows
should send the opponent to nappy town. While one-punching the henchmen and mad scientists and
mentalists is fine, routinely laying waste to equal level beings is a sign of the hero being overamped.
In my game flat footed damage potential ranges from 20 dice to 42 dice for heroes. (There are
powers which do more damage, but it is usually at a cost in time or the ability to use the attack
- Duplicative powers. People who are rough and tough and then have some sort of gimmick sideline
are a mainstay of the game. You can have as many of those people on a team as you want. What
you don’t want is two psychics, two wizards, two spacemen, two shapeshifters, two invisible
ninjas… Make sure everyone has their lane.
Character point levels are determined by the number of players in the game. 700 points for games
with ten or more players. 900 points for games with 7 to 9 well behaved active participants. 1000 points
for campaigns with an average of 4-6 players attending per session. 1200 points for 3 players. 1800 points
for two or less players. Point totals can be modified upwards as the judge and the players become more
experienced. These guidelines are primarily for continuing campaigns. For stand alone, one-time scenarios
there are no point guidelines, except that you should have players controlling even point totals of