Friday, June 27, 2014

Character Creation: DC Universe RPG

I think I got a superhero in me somewhere.

The Game: DC Universe Roleplaying Game
The Publisher: West End Games, now defunct
Degree of Familiarity: None with the system. I know the major DC characters well enough.
Books Required: Just the one.

License of major comic book labels to RPGs just seems a chancy proposition, but I do find myself wondering how WEG got the DC license after declaring bankruptcy in 1998. Dunno.

Anyway, this book goes through the basics of "what is an RPG," and then takes us through a little "play as Robin" (Tim Drake) solo adventure to teach the system (popular thing to do in older RPGs; the Batman RPG does it, as does one of the older editions of Paranoia).

Creating a superhero...well. I've done this before. More than a few times. Wow.

So, our hero creation system requires that we decide what power level we're working with. Power level one gives us Robin as the upper end, while power level five gives us Superman as the apex. Hrm.

Well, I'm not opposed to a little random in my life. I roll a d5 (that's a d10 in half, son), and get 4. That gives me 80D dice pool, maximum of 10D in Disadvantages, maximum 10D in Physical, Mental, Transportation and Protection powers, with all others max'd at 2K. Not entirely sure what all that means specifically, but let's get to it. Interestingly, I'm not given an example of the high-end of this category. Oh, wait, there it is: Starman. OK. Not familiar with him.

To create a hero, I first calculate advantages and disadvantages. Let's get on that.

I can take a max of 10D from Disadvantages, and I usually like to do that because Disadvantages are fun and I like having more points.

Determining a background for my character is actually the last step, but it's hard to start without some kind of concept. Let's see. What kind of hero haven't I done already? I've done gadgeteers, I've done magic folks, and a couple of heroes with parkour-movement kind of schticks going on (it's a thing, I like it, sue me). But what I haven't done is a blaster type of character, someone who does straight-up energy manipulation. Hmm.

A while back, I asked on Facebook for song inspirations for characters (have I mentioned how much I miss Livejournal and how easy it is to log things like that? 'cause I do). A couple of people suggested this song by Avicii. I like it, and it's got me an idea.

So, my character was a twin. He had a twin sister, and they were pretty inseparable for much of their young life. And then the Origin Story happened - some major rift in time and space, and an alternate universe formed. In that universe, their parents had never had children. The universes almost merged, which would have caused widespread panic and destruction, but with the help of some superheroes and some all-around weirdness, they manage to keep that from happening. But this time, in one universe, their parents had a girl, in the other, a boy. They're the only ones that remember that they used to be twins. I want their powers to allow them to switch places briefly; they have similar power sets and stats (because I don't want to create two characters), but switching places allows for some kind of neat effect, which I'll figure out when I get to that section. In the instant that they switch, they meet up in a kind of null-space, allowing them to keep each other informed about what they're stepping into. (It gets awkward sometimes.)

So, Advantages/Disadvantages, then? I'll take Disadvantages first. I take Secret Identity (3D); seems appropriate. I take Dark Secret at 1D to reflect that fact that I switch universes with my twin sister sometimes; seems like that's inconvenient more than life-threatening if people found out. I think I'll leave it there for now, just in case I want to take more Disadvantages later.

Advantage-wise, I'll take Attractive Appearance (I picture this guy/girl as being cute). Along that vein, I'll take Charismatic (3D). I'll take Preparedness, reflecting that upon switching places, my guy has a few seconds to consider a plan (4D). And that'll do for Advantages.

And now, attributes. Basic stats; we've got Reflexes, Coordination, Physique, Knowledge, Perception, and Presence. Each die costs 2 from my pool, which is now down to 75, by the way. 5D is maximum, 2D is average.

Reflexes is balance and gross motor. I want above average here, so I'll blow 8 points for 4D.

Coordination is fine motor control. I'll put it at 3D.

Physique is strength and endurance. 3D again.

Knowledge is intelligence and information gathering. Let's go 3D, just to keep the streak up.

Perception is exactly that. I'll leave this at 2D.

Presence is force of personality; let's call it 4D. That's a total of 38 on Attributes, giving me 37 remaining.

Skills are rated 1D to 15D, with 3D being rough human average. They start with a value equal to an attribute, and can go up from there, but to a maximum of 8D at chargen (with specializations, which I can also buy). I need to save some for powers, but let's do this.

Acrobatics 5D
Martial Arts 5D
Catch 5D
Marksmanship 6D (energy blast 2D)
Sleight of Hand 4D
Flying 6D
Resistance 4D
Science 4D (quantum physics 1D)
Search 4D
Charm 6D
Disguise 5D (quick-change 2D)
Persuasion 5D
Willpower 5D

That's at total of 27 on Skills. 10 remaining for powers. Erm. May have to go back and take some Disadvantages. Powers have a base cost, and then start at 1D and go up one for one. Let's see; I may need to scale down skills a little.

OK. I want Flight, Teleportation (line of sight, to represent the dimensional switch), and some kind of energy-blast power. However, I suspect I do not have the dice available without some seriously reworking of things...unless I specialize things all to heck. Hrm. Well, I can't specialize Flight, so if I want to buy that, it'll eat my 10 remaining dice. I'd better go refigure my skills, dammit.

Actually, y'know what? Let's drop Physique, Knowledge, and Presence down one step. That gives me six back. And then I'll refigure my skills thusly:

Acrobatics 5D
Martial Arts 5D
Marksmanship 5D (energy blast 2D)
Flying 6D
Resistance 3D
Science 3D (quantum physics 1D)
Search 4D
Charm 5D
Disguise 4D (quick-change 2D)
Persuasion 4D
Willpower 4D

That means I've spent 22 on skills, meaning I now have 21D remaining. OK

So, 10 on Flight drops me to 11. If I want just the blast aspect of, say, light manipulation, I'd need to pay 5D. That leave me with 6D left. I'd love a Teleportation power to represent my switcheroo power with my sister, but I don't think the points are gonna let that happen. Oh, but wait, there are limitations. Hmm. Well, Self-Only would work for Teleportation, since it's not really teleporting anyway. That'd take me down to 1D to buy it. And then I'll call it short range, meaning at 1D I can only go about 10 feet, which is fine. That leaves me 5D left for my other two powers. Better shore things up a bit. I'll take a Weakness.

My hero is vulnerable to diamonds. The universe merging crisis that nearly destroyed everything was the product of some mad genius who used diamonds as linchpin between the two universe, and now they have enough resonance between them to weak my character by disrupting his/her position in both realities. Diamonds strike me a rare in some places, common in others (-2D), and I want them to weaken him/her, not kill (-2D) and it starts happening within a few minutes of exposure to diamonds (-3D). That's 7D back, in total. Perfect. I'm up to 12D. I'll put 4D into Flight (I can fly for 4 hours) and...hm. 9D in the blast is a bit much. I think I'll put 6D into the blast for a total of 7D, leaving me with 2. I'll use that to raise my freaking Physique back to 3, which then nets me one point back (because of how my skills were arranged), so I'll buy Search up.

And then some derived traits and then background. Well, I did some background already. Now I need the name and description and stuff.

OK. So Paul and Laura Winter were at the epicenter of the crisis, at the tender age of 19. When they were separated into their respective universes, they found that they exposure to reality-warping weirdness had changed them, making them able to fly and project focused light blasts, but also to switch places (and, in the process, take advantage of certain quantum niggles to move a few feet, which is more useful than you'd think).

They both use the same superhero identity - Flicker - in reference to the glimmer of light that accompanies the switch. They're both lean and lithe, and wear the superhero spandex outfit (blues and reds with a gold mask), and they look similar enough that it's hard to tell that a switch took place at all. I think that if Flicker winds up on a team, the reveal that "he" is really two people would be a fun one. Laura is annoyed that everyone assumes - on both universes - that Flicker is male, and Paul isn't really sure what to do about changing that perception.