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Re: Highly skilled characters...

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  • Ed Northcott
    ... From: Steven Roman ... That s exactly the issue that writers have wrestled with since those characters first teamed up. It s
    Message 1 of 46 , Nov 2, 2004
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      ----- Original Message -----
      >
      From: "Steven Roman" <ashesascending@...>
      > But then what do you do when he's on the same team as Superman?
      > Where's the consistency without getting ridiculous amounts of ranks,
      > etc.?
      >
      > (Not picking, but *genuinely* wondering how you set the bar when you
      > want to play _The Authority_ and, even among such powerful
      > characters, there's such an incredible diversity among power levels,
      > strength, etc.)


      That's exactly the issue that writers have wrestled with since those
      characters first teamed up. It's been solved in a variety of ways, but the
      one most often used (and my favourite) is to temper them somewhat:
      Superman's power levels have varied tremendously through the years, as has
      Batman's level of competence. If you're looking at throwing such diverse
      characters together, it helps to use the most competent version of one, and
      a weaker version of the other: a guy who's super-intelligent, invulnerable,
      and can juggle planets is not only makes for freakin' boring stories, but
      can make an entire team boring through his presence. (Does that count as a
      super power?) ;)

      So if you go with the characters as seen in Morrison's run, with a
      super-competent Batman who's always nine steps ahead of everyone else, and
      completely prepared for -every- situation, then the character works when
      standing among companions possessing God-like power.

      Let's look at the animated version of the Justice League as an example:
      Dini's version of Batman is similar to Morrison's in many ways, and his
      Superman is heavily inspired by John Byrne's '85 reboot of the character.
      Looking at those characters as six phase creations, the real story of how
      they balance lies not in the Aspects, but in how they split Skills and
      Extras.

      If we go with the idea that Skills represent a character's intrinsic
      capabilities and/or what they know (strength, willpower, athleticism,
      gadgeteering, martial arts, journalism, etc), and Extras represent
      persistent advantages or items that provide such (magic sword, power ring,
      super strength, invulnerability, flight, etc), then supers tend to work,
      imo, a little more cleanly: Batman would have more -- or all -- of his
      points allocated into a massive skill pyramid (with Deduction probably being
      his strongest ability), whereas Superman might have a minority of his points
      put into a simple skill pyramid with the majority going into his remarkable
      abilities.

      That's only one take, of course. The other is to dump everything into
      skills and let it sort itself out that way: this also makes a great deal of
      sense. Both can work well, and both find a certain amount of balance. I
      tend to prefer the latter because it provides a clear seperation on the
      sheet, and allows for comic book tropes like the character that hits less
      often, but it hurts a hell of a lot more when they do make contact
      (Super-strength as an Extra adding damage to blows, but doesn't affect the
      combat roll), or invulnerable characters perhaps being easier to hit but
      harder to hurt (the Extra, Invulnerable, providing a reduction in damage
      rather than aiding the combat roll). So a superior combatant like Captain
      America can beat on Colossus all day long, but will have a devil of a time
      hurting him: on the flipside, Colossus will have great difficulty landing a
      blow in hand-to-hand combat with Cap, but should he make contact then Cap's
      going to be nursing a terrible "Owie". :)

      Using skills to represent powers works well, but I think it starts to trip
      when it starts to require multiple rolls to resolve combat: Instead of Cap
      and Colossus simply contrasting their Hand-to-hand combat skill and
      modifying the results according to powers, it would require that Colossus'
      strength (being greater than his invulnerability) be contrasted against
      Cap's defensive abilities (which are greater than his ability to cause
      damage), and vice-versa when Cap moves to attack. The simplest way to
      retain Fate's elegant single-exchange contest of skill is to make liberal
      use of Extras.




      Ed Northcott
      enorthcott@...
      http://home.golden.net/~enorthcott
      "...But besides this, there is a love for the marvellous, a belief in the
      marvellous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the
      common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am
      about to explore."
      Mary Shelly, Frankenstein
    • Mike Holmes
      Ed, I ve tried to make two small points. Neither of which were intended to (nor could I see how they could) derail the thread in question. By all means carry
      Message 46 of 46 , Nov 7, 2004
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        Ed,

        I've tried to make two small points. Neither of which were intended to (nor
        could I see how they could) derail the thread in question. By all means
        carry on.

        As far as going round and round, the problem is that apparently I'm not
        getting through, because when I make my point, it gets attacked as being
        something other than it is entirely. But that's fine, as you say, we're just
        talking preferences here, so no big whup. I no longer care if I'm understood
        or not, my efforts are apparently not appreciated.

        Mike

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