|BASIC CHARACTER DYNAMICS
How to construct a character:
IMAGINE: Determine what the character concept is. Define what you think the character is supposed to do.
You can either use fiction as a guide, or use an illustration or simply put together a character for a
ITEMIZE: Rate the character’s assigned basestats. The levels assigned to Assigned Basestats cost the SAVE
in points. Instructions are found in the following pages of this unit.
ADORN: Once you have the assigned basestats rated, choose the character’s powers from the
Supernatural Abilities Arsenal. All genre-specific abilities are listed in the Arsenal, whether they are specifically
“supernatural” or not. A short explanation of each ability/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
ARM: 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.)
ADJUST: 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.
ROUND OUT: Choose the character’s Skills and Trademark.
CHECK OUT: Add up the point cost and record it. We are not strictly speaking an accounting game. The
point totals are there for general reference.
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 950 points.
General Census: We have constructed thousands of characters using this system. We determined the general
point level demographics using a sample of 333 historical continuing adventure characters created with the
current version of our game. The lowest point character weighed in at 323 (a teenage heroine from
newspaper comic strips of the 1940s, known mostly for her ability to become invisible). The highest defined
hero character was Craig Carter from Centaur Comics (a guy who bosses around deities) who came in at
6,558 points. 276 of the 333 characters (83%) fell within the 450 to 1200 range, with an absolute average of
1073. A similar survey of bad guy characters showed largely the same results. The majority of classic
monsters, mythic creatures and comic book crooks also fall within the 450 to 1200 point range. Like the
heroes, there is an 11% population of Major Leaguers falling in the range of 1200 to 2000. From 2001 to
infinity are some otherworldly outliers-- giant flame-shooting turtles, alien planetary emperors, masters of
black magic, deities out of Lovecraftian lore and the like. More than half of this Very Powerful population falls
within the 2000 to 3000 point level. Nice for spice perhaps, but there’s frankly not enough of them to populate
an ongoing campaign.
All of that said, historical characters are nice models, but they are not necessarily good player characters.
While there are some long-lived and perfectly functional 450 point heroes banging around fantastic fictionland,
twenty years of game-testing has shown that players become disinterested in portraying characters under 600
points. It’s a game about comic book heroes. At 700 points or above, you are a standard issue comic book
crime fighter, with all the bells and whistles. Conversely, at above 950 points, the game starts to socially bog
down. Too much time is spent with Mr. Wonderful deciding which seven of the fourteen things he can do
right now he intends to do, and in what order. Given the general demographics of the heroes’ potential
adversaries, there is little need for any individual player hero to exceed 950 points. Moreover, there is not
much that a team of half a dozen heroes at the 700 to 950 point range can’t handle.
120 Point Wobble: The point value system is imperfect to the tune of about 120 points. Characters who are
within 120 points of each other are effectively at the same point level. Some of this is attributable to playing
style and some of it is character knitting. Judge controlled characters are always going to be underplayed.
There is a trade-off between versatility and having complementary abilities which impacts some characters.
EXAMPLE: Let us take two characters who are at the same point levels. Character One is endowed
with COMBAT, ELONGATION, HEIGHTENED SENSES, SUPER SPEED and TELEPATHY. Character
Two has BODY CONTROL, CLOAK, COMBAT, LIGHTNING REFLEXES and THE MOVE. While
Character One is the life of the party and probably fun to play, Character Two is an invisible
freaking ninja. The point value system totals up the cost of parts. It does not factor how
complementary or disparate those parts may be.
RUN ME: It is suggested that the judge make the player characters from concepts provided by the players.
This is assuming that the judge is the person who is the most familiar with the rules. A lot of players like to
make characters. It’s part of their fun in the game and it could save the judge time. We have provided
guidelines for player made heroes in the Advanced Character Dynamics Unit.
START HERE: All originated player characters start at around 700 points. By this we mean that they are at
least 700 points and not more than 749 points. Play them as is for a few sessions.
AS TIME GOES ON: Announce when the players can improve their characters. There is some wiggle room
here, but in general you want to go up in 50 point increments. During this time it is intended that the players
address deficiencies in their characters or try out some new stuff to build on their concepts.
THIS IS LARGELY A PULP FICTION SIMULATION GAME. The hero does not change much past the
initial development phase. As long as the heroes remain in the 700 to 950 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.
THE GAME IS A SIMULATION ADAPTED FOR EQUITABLE SOCIAL INTERACTION. 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
2000 point character, a pair of 1200 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.
END HERE: The character development phase ends when (A) everyone is happy with their characters, all the
player characters are between 700 and 951 points and all of the player characters are within 120 points of
each other, or (B) all of the characters are at 950 points. From that point on, we never mess with player
character sheets ever again. Just show up and play!
Some campaigns build to something—a final, very large conflict. In the Advanced Character Dynamics Unit
we propose several build levels based on games with four or less continuing players. In these sort of
campaigns, you start the team off at 700 and then advance them, through stages, to 1800. The stopping points
are at 1000, 1200 and 1800 points. Unless you really have a wonderful building plotline which ends in an alien
invasion or some other mass disaster, keeping the player characters at 950 is suggested. The hypothetical
levels mentioned are primarily for illustration purposes.
For one time games or simulations using historical characters point levels matter less. You should hand out
even amounts of points to each player.
THE NITTY GRITTY SKINNY: When it comes to monsters and gangsters and any character not portrayed
by a player, follow your bliss and endow such creations with whatever they might require. When it comes to
characters portrayed by players in a continual campaign, we channel them into a level where there is the most
genre shelf-space. Violate the 950 player character ceiling at your peril. You have been warned!
THE DIRTY LOW DOWN: A well knit together 950 point player character will run like a 1070 point non
player character. And 1073 is the absolute mid-point for all characters in fantastic fiction, so our hero is
exactly where he needs to be. On the other hand, a perhaps not so focused character—a bag of odds and ends
in supernatural form—plays like an 830 point character. Although he/she may not be a hyper efficient dealer
of death super invisible ninja, 830 is not a drunk on a bow-legged donkey with a guitar, either. At 950 points,
no matter how oddly deployed, no one is anyone’s rolly-polly sidekick. (If you want a sidekick you have to
PRE-GAME HEADS UP: Before you start your game, let the players get together to determine what types of
toons they want to play. 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