Awhile back, I did a blog on Dark Superheroes with Night Shift: VSW. In that blog, I talked about using the Supernatural Species in the core book to represent mutants, metahumans, or whatever your preferred term for supers might be. That's a 100% valid approach which well replicates the idea of a superpowered being who is "born" with their abilities.
At the end of that blog, however, I mention a different (or complementary) take on the superpowered individual that I'd like to dig into a bit more here. If you want a superpowered character class, the Inventor is the ticket. At its core, the modification to the Inventor character class for a superpowered character seems simple: instead of building gadgets, you're buying superpowers.
On the surface, that's really all it takes. To capture the full flavor of a superpowered character, however, you need to make a few other tweaks to the class.
Re-Skinning the Inventor
Thes steps you need to take to re-skin the Inventor are as follows:
- First, the class should be re-named "Powered."
- Second, the Powered character's Prime Requisite is Wisdom, not Intelligence.
- Science Points are re-named to Power Points.
- Powered heroes gain first level Power Points using their Wisdom bonus instead of their Intelligence bonus.
- The Science! class ability should be customized to reflect specialized knowledge of the hero in question. As such, they may keep Science! If they are a scientist. Otherwise, they may choose to swap out Science! with the Sage's Lore ability, the Witch/Warlock's Arcana ability, the Veteran's Tracking ability, or the Survivor's Perception ability. Alternately, they may choose to take an ability named Underworld, reflecting their knowledge of the city's criminal underground. Regardless of which of these abilities they choose, it begins at 50% and increases by 5% per level.
- The Instant Gadgets (Instant Powers) ability remains, but is slightly re-skinned; this one is now called Emergency Powers and represents a freak explosion of power which the hero has possibly never manifested before, which may or may not become part of their permanent power suite in the future, but is otherwise just a manifestation of their current stress or need.
That's really it: a different way to skin the Inventor to turn it into a Powered character class. In this manner, you can run a supers game without the need to have every hero be a mutant or metahuman who was born with their powers, who are more, less, or "other" than human.
The prior blog talked about allowing the Supernatural's ability bonus to raise ability scores (attributes) above 20. If you're running a supers game, this is reasonable. An additional option for the Inventor class is a second-level power called Enhance Attribute. This power adds +4 to the attribute in question for one hour per use, and can raise attributes above level 20. While using this power, multipliers of what you can do increase with every point above 18: thus, Strength 19 means you can double your carrying limit, 20 trebles it, and 21 quadruples it. For Dex 19 you'd double your base speed, for 20, treble it, and for 21, quadruple it, etc. This doesn't affect your bonuses for your attribute checks, which still scale as normal, just what you can lift, how fast you can run, etc. Since it is only a second-level power, it can be used at will as often as the hero likes.
Since powered heroes don't have the potential to lose gadgets, they must instead make a check to use their powers. At first level, the chance to use a given power is 50%, modified downward by 10% per level of the power. Thus, using a first-level power at first level has a 40% chance of success. This Power Use check is also what is used to produce Emergency Powers.
Whether there is a penalty for a failed Power Check is left to the discretion of the GM. Failed power usage might cause burn similar to when a psychic critically fails at their psionic power check, or it could have a similar effect to spell backlash, potentially causing harm and robbing the character of their power for a day or so. Or it could simply be that the power fails to work at a time when the hero needs it, and that may be enough of a penalty.
When a hero enters an anti-magic zone or is targeted by dispel magic, they must succeed at a Wisdom saving throw, or their powers cease to function for the duration of the effect. In terms of dispel magic, they may attempt a new save each round after the spell is cast, and cannot use their powers until they succeed. In terms of some sort of anti-magic zone, the effect lasts so long as they are within the zone; they get one attempt to save, with success meaning they are not affected by the zone, and failure meaning they are.
Every hero should also have a weakness that they discuss with the game master. This weakness, when used to attack the hero, deals double damage. In addition, any time the hero is in physical contact with the weakness they suffer 1d6 damage per round they are in contact, with no saving throw. Finally, so long as the hero is within 10 yards of the substance, they suffer -5/-25% to all attacks, checks, saving throws, and class abilities. Heroes never get a save against their weakness.