Character A Day, Day Nine
Marvel Super Heroes
Probably TSR’s Most Successful License
Here we are, day nine. I ended up picking Marvel Super Heroes, or MSH, by a slightly roundabout route, namely, I was thinking of some of my favorite systems, GURPS and Hero, and wondering how to decide what to create, since I can do almost any character in them, and then, I had an epiphany, which I’ve really got to see a doctor about. I could randomly generate a hero in MSH, and then, try to recreate them in various point based generic systems.
I didn’t get into MSH back in the day. It looked far too simplistic compared to Champions, then and now my go-to for superhero games. But it attracted a huge and passionate fan base which is still (via a kind of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unspoken agreement with the copyright holders) churning out surprisingly high quality expansions, keeping the roster up to date, 30 years past the game’s end of life. I’ll be sticking to the official material, namely, the Ultimate Powers Book and one article in Dragon that corrected some notable errors in same. Since I have a goal of remaking whatever I end up with in another system, I reserve the right to start over if it looks untenable or just no fun, but otherwise, I shall let the dice fall where they may! Usually on the floor, where they become cat toys.
With Remarkable Strength Comes Remarkable Melee Damage
(See, stats in MSH are words, like ‘Typical’, ‘Good’, Monstrous’, etc., but there’s no ‘Great’, so I made it ‘Remarkable’, and it… oh, never mind.)
Physical Form: Induced Mutant. This is the “fell into a vat of radioactive spaghetti sauce and gained pasta powers” type of character, someone who had powers granted to them by some twist of fate after spending most of their life as a human. The FF, Spider-Man, and the Hulk all fit here.
I gained my powers via a Technical Procedure, which is odd, because that’s not in the descriptions, but “Technical Experiment” is. So, who or whatever I am, I was the subject of a deliberate attempt to grant superpowers.
My Physical Form means I roll on Column I of the table, and can shift one attribute up a step when I’m done.
Fighting: Incredible (40)
Agility: Good (10)
Strength: Remarkable (30) (Hey, look at that! Matches the header!)
Endurance: Excellent (20) (Stepped up from Good)
Reason: Good (10)
Intuition: Good (10)
Psyche: Excellent (20)
Resources: Feeble (ouch)
Now, I must roll a weakness. This is kind of odd, because the “Egad! My powers fade if I am exposed to Blue Xenonite!” trope is much more DC than Marvel. Weaknesses should be an optional pick that allows a reroll or a column shift, but, they’re not. So it goes.
I suffer Energy Depletion that causes Incapacitation with a Limited Duration with contact, which means I lose health for some number of turns after contact with the source of my weakness. Trying to make this make sense, I’ll say that use of my powers — whatever they are — in combat causes them to consume my body, causing damage after 10 turns, but stops and heals after another 10 turns of not using my powers. If I end up with long term powers like flight, I’ll impose a fair time limit on them. (This, by the way, is a key part of MSH — rather than precisely define exactly what powers do to the nth degree, there’s an understanding that player and GM will work together to define the specifics from a defined baseline.)
I have 2 powers, no Talents, and 1 Contact. Given my Feeble resources, I can’t trade them in for more ranks. The man is keeping me down!
My first power is under Detection: Thermal Vision at Excellent (20) rank. This lets me see in infra-red, not shoot lasers from my eyes.
My second power is under Matter Control: Disruption. This is potent; I can turn people to dust or the like. There’s also some rules to trade off range for volume. Let’s get the initial rank: Good (10). That’s less impressive. It gives me a range of 4 areas, (MSH uses a map, with abstract spaces called “areas” rather than squares or hexes) and I can affect 10 pounds. I can drop this to Typical range , giving me two areas, which increases volume affected to Excellent, or 20 pounds. It’s still a Good rank power, though. (This means I can affect materials of up to Good strength, such as asphalt or advanced plastics; with a good roll, I can sometimes affect tougher materials.)
That’s the end of the process. But now I just have a pile of pieces that need to be pounded into some kind of coherent (by comic book standards) whole.
First, my Fighting and Strength alone make me at least street-level superhero material — freakin’ Iron Fist has Incredible fighting, and only good Strength. (Remarkable strength is low-end superhuman, enough to lift a ton, more if I roll well.)
My mental stats are above average, but not superheroic; they’re probably my baseline. So let’s say I was an elite soldier who volunteered for an experiment to provide an internal power source, a kind of cellular fusion engine. It worked — hypercharging my muscles, and giving me the ability to expend the energy to weaken atomic bonds. The thermal vision was an unexpected side effect. My natural Fighting was probably Excellent; this kicked it up even further, although my overall reaction speed and agility was not notably improved. The experiment was deemed a failure, and the project shuttered, when it became obvious that use of my abilities for more than a minute or so triggered a “chain reaction” that would consume my own cells; this was not something they could roll out to the entire army. For some yet-to-be-determined reason, mysterious “higher ups” wanted the fact the project ever took place wiped from the record… along with its only subject, me, Marc Callahan (yay, random name generators!). I managed to escape, killing someone with my disruption power in the process. Now, like many heroes, I am on the run (hence, my Feeble resources), drifting from town to town, while the closing music from the 1970s Hulk TV show plays forlornly in the background. I have sworn to never use my disruption power on a living being… but how long will it be until I am forced to break that oath?
Name, name, name… I sat here for like 10 minutes running through things. Finally, it hit me: I have to come up with something or my wife will be mad. So, I decided “Warburn” was the least bad of the options. Warburn it is, then.