Make Your Own Powers

By Bill Browne

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Attribution Required: Attribute to Bill Browne
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The core 4C System is in some ways quite simple and in others quite complex. My previous 4C System Power Revision makes the acquisition of powers complicated, with lots of calculations and addition. This system makes the acquisition of powers simple, with few calculations required. It leaves a lot up to the players and Game Master to decide.

This power system uses points: see Point-Buy Character Generation for more details, but note that this model makes most powers more expensive than they are in that document.

How to Create a Power

1. Decide on your character's theme and what your character can do. Each distinct thing your character can do is a different power. It's important to separate your power source from your powers.
Example: Whizzboy may run very fast, but is that his power or is that the source of his powers?

2. Name the powers, and give them a short description. Try to identify one thing that each power can do. That will stop them from becoming too generalised.
Example: Whizzboy can run very fast (power 1), leap very far (power 2), vibrate his molecules to slip through matter (power 3) and create a painful sonic boom (power 4). Note how running very fast isn't one power, it's three.

3. Decide what sub-powers you want for each power. This will determine how many points each rank in a power costs. See below for more details.
Example: Whizzboy thinks Fast Running is the priority, so he puts 50 points in it. Superleap is next, with 40 points. Sonic Boom gets 30, while Phasing gets 40.

4. Although we've been quite strict so far about each power only doing one thing, there is room for flexibility. For every 25 points you have in a power, you can describe a “stunt” involving that power. Stunts let you stretch the rules a little or use a power for something a little bit out of its league. If you leave some of your stunts blank, you can make them up on the fly during a game.
Example: Inspired by a certain video game, Whizzboy envisages creating a Sonic Boom to launch himself even higher, allowing one Superleap on top of another. This is a Sonic Boom stunt. It'll take a successful Sonic Boom check, but if it works he'll get plenty of bang for his Superleap points.

Whizzboy's Powers

Fast Running 50 (Travel) [2 points/rank] {100 points}
Whizzboy considered buying Water Walking as well, to make his Fast Running power the same as Superspeed, but decided against it. So what does Fast Running do? Whizzboy checks the Amazing Table and sees that rank 50 is worth a speed of 8 sectors/turn. Whizzboy adds that to his existing speed.

Superleap 40 (Travel) [2 points/rank] {80 points}
Whizzboy wants to jump fast and high. The Amazing Table tells him that rank 40 is worth a speed of 7 sectors/turn. Since Whizzboy hasn't already got a jumping speed, his leap distance is 7 sectors.

Sonic Boom 30 (Attack) [2 points/rank] {60 points}
Stunts (1): You can make one Superleap on top of another by making a successful Sonic Boom check. (Later Whizzboy will pick up another stunt that lets him attack everyone in the sector with his Sonic Boom)
Whizzboy wants to jump fast and high. The Amazing Table tells him that rank 40 is worth a speed of 7 sectors/turn. Since Whizzboy hasn't already got a jumping speed, his leap distance is 7 sectors.

Phasing 40 (Incorporeal) [40 points] {40 points}
Whizzboy can vibrate his molecules so fast he slips through matter.

Sub-Powers

Powers are made by combining sub-powers (or taking just one).

Rank-Based Sub-Powers:

  • Armor (2 point/rank): Reduce the damage you take by the rank value of this power.
  • Attack (2 point/rank): Use the rank value of this power to make attacks. This does 15 damage unless you have the Damage sub-power as well. It'll cost you a stunt to do it at range.
  • Damage (2 point/rank): Use the rank value of this power to determine how much damage you do. Use whatever trait is relevant for the attack unless you have the Attack sub-power as well.
  • Regeneration (2 points/rank): Instead of another action, heal equal to your Regeneration ranks.
  • Paralysing Touch (1 point/rank): As the power.
  • Absorption (1 point/rank): As the power. Add other elements and energies to absorb as stunts.
  • Nullification (1 point/rank): As the power.
  • Reflection (2 points/rank): As the power.
  • Mind Control (2 points/rank): As the power, but you always use your Mind Control rank: your Willpower doesn't come into it.
  • Mind Shield (0.5 points/rank): You add your Mind Shield rank to your Willpower to resist Mind Control, Telepathy and other powers like them.
  • Plant Control (1 point/rank): Use this power to control plants. Not to use them to attack, though: use the Attack sub-power for that.
  • Animal Control (1 point/rank): Use this power to control a type of animal. Not to use them to attack, though: use the Attack sub-power for that. Control more types with stunts.
  • Lift Objects (1 point/rank): Use this power to lift objects.
  • Paralysing Touch (2 points/rank): As the power.
  • Travel (2 point/rank): You can fly, leap, run, swim, climb or teleport. Teleporting others without teleporting yourself, or levitating others into the air, giving others the power to burrow, that sort of thing requires stunts.
  • Telepathy (1 point/rank): Use this power to invade other people's mind. It'll take a stunt to do it without them noticing.
  • Supersense (1 point/rank): You have a new sense.
  • Burrow (0.5 points/rank): You can burrow at your movement speed through materials of a rank value equal to or lower than your Burrow rank.
  • Detection (1 point/rank): Detect a specific form of energy, matter, presence, power or the like.
  • Vehicle (1 point/rank): You have a snazzy vehicle.
  • Dimension Jump (1 point/rank): Travel into different dimensions.
  • Elasticity (1 point/rank): Stretch your body.
  • Wealthy (1 point/rank): You own something really sweet.
  • Invisibility (1 point/rank): You can make yourself unseen.
  • Trait Boost (1 point/rank): Boost one trait by this much for 10 turns, then that trait is halved for 10 turns.
  • Nine Lives (1 point/rank): Begin each session with bonus Fortune points equal to your Nine Lives rank. These can only be spent on color shifts.

Flat Benefits

These benefits do not improve as your ranks do.

  • Weather Control (100 points): You can control the weather.
  • Extra Attack (50 points): You get two attacks. For a total of 150 points, you get three attacks. For a total of 350 points, you get three attacks.
  • Wall-Crawling (20 points): You can move across surfaces from which most people would fall.
  • Amphibian (30 points): You can breathe water as well as air.
  • Water Walking (50 points): You can walk on water.
  • Protected Sense (10 points): One of your senses can't be damaged.
  • Small or Liquid Form (40 points): You can move through small cracks.
  • Travel Really, Really Fast (100 points): At the speed of light, through powerlines, that sort of thing.
  • Incorporeal (40 points): You can move through walls and other physical objects.
  • Celebrity (20 points): When you gain or lose Repute, double the amount you gain or lose.
  • Bonus Skill (20 points): You get a bonus skill.

I haven't figured out temporary changes yet: so there's no shapechanging or trait boosts, nor sidekicks.

The Amazing Table

This table shows what a rank value is actually worth. Rank value 40 lets you stretch your body 7 sectors or detect magic 7 sectors away or fly at 7 sectors per turn or lift 10 tons or own a large international corporation or break through iron or own a car that goes at +20 sectors/turn more than usual. What a useful little table.

What it doesn't tell you is how difficult it is to affect your enemies with your powers. Here's the gist of it: if your power exceeds their relevant trait (Willpower if you're using telepathy, Brawn if you're knocking them over with a strong wind), you make a check with your power. Red to yellow, you succeed. If your power is lower than their relevant trait, they make a check with their trait. Red to yellow, you fail.
It's that simple.

Rank Value Weight Lifted Speed (Sectors/Turn) Headquarters Vehicle's Durability, Handling and Velocity Improve by Material Broken Through
1-2 50 lbs. 1 Car boot. 1 Paper.
3-5 100 lbs. 2 Secret room in apartment. 2 Plastic.
6-9 200 lbs. 3 An apartment. 4 Aluminium.
10-19 400 lbs. 4 A house. 8 Brick.
20-29 800 lbs. 5 A mansion. 13 Concrete.
30-39 1 ton. 6 A compound. 18 Stone.
40-49 10 tons. 7 A skyscraper. 23 Iron.
50-74 50 tons. 8 An inter-dimensional residence. 32 Steel.
75-99 80 tons. 9 A subterranean city. 50 Diamond.
100-149 100 tons. 10 An orbital complex. 100 Magical or alien substance
150-999 200 tons. 15 250
1000 400 tons. Circle the world in a turn. 500

But What About Teleporting?

In the regular rules, there are details about what happens if you fail a teleport. How come there aren't any in here? Because the GM is expected to make them up. If you roll a black for any power, watch out for the full force of your GM's malicious creativity.

Discounts?

You might want to discount each sub-power of the same type you take after the first. For example, Whizzboy isn't getting as much use out of Superleap if he also has Fast Running, and vice versa. If you prefer this variant, subtract 1 from the cost per rank of the sub-power if you have already taken that sub-power for another power.

Example Powers

  • Absorption (Absorption) [1 point/rank]
  • Animal Command (Animal Command) [1 point/rank]
  • Body Armor (Armor) [2 points/rank]
  • Burrowing (Burrow) [0.5 points/rank]
  • Claws (Attack) [2 points/rank]
  • Contaminant Resistance (Bonus Skill – Resist Contaminants) [20 points]
  • Detection (Detection) [1 point/rank]
  • Dimension Jump (Dimension Jump) [1 point/rank]
  • Elasticity (Elasticity) [1 point/rank]
  • Air Control (Attack, Lift Objects, Armor) [5 points/rank] (Stunts (1): Attack at range.)
  • Earth Control (Attack, Lift Objects, Armor) [5 points/rank] Stunts (1): (Attack at range.)
  • Fire Control (Attack, Damage, Armor) [6 points/rank] (Stunts (3): Attack at range; create a wall of fire; lower the temperature of a flame** (apply your Armor to someone or something else).)
  • Water Control (Attack, Lift Objects, Armor) [5 points/rank](Stunts (1): Attack at range.)
  • Light Control (Attack, Lift Objects, Armor) [5 points/rank] (Stunts (2): Blind targets, attack at range.)
  • Magnetic Control (Attack, Lift Objects, Armor) [5 points/rank] (Stunts (1): Attack at range.)
  • Special: Magnetic Control only affects metal objects.
  • Sound Control** (Attack, Lift Objects, Armor) [5 points/rank] (Stunts (1): Attack at range.)
  • Weather Control (Weather Control) [100 points]
  • Extra Body Part (claws) (Attack) [2 points/rank]
  • Extra Body Part (arms) (Extra Attack) [50 points]
  • Extra Body Part (extra legs) (Travel) [2 points/rank]
  • Extra Body Part (shell) (Armor) [2 points/rank]
  • Extra Body Part (tail) (Extra Attack) [50 points]
  • Extra Body Part (wings) (Travel) [2 points/rank]
  • Fast Attack (Extra Attack) [50 points (or more)]
  • Flight (Travel) [2 points/rank]
  • Force Field (Armor) [2 points/rank]
  • Special: If you take more damage than your Force Field rank, it shorts out for 1d10 turns.
  • Growth** (Trait Boost – Brawn) [1 point/rank]
  • Headquarters (Wealthy) [1 point/rank]
  • Invisibility (Invisibility) [1 point/rank]
  • Mind Control (Mind Control) [2 point/rank] (Stunts (1): Attack at range.)
  • Mind Shield (Mind Shield) [1 point/rank]
  • Nine Lives (Nine Lives) [1 point/rank]
  • Nullification (Nullification) [1 point/rank]
  • One-of-a-Kind Weapon (Attack) [2 points/rank]
  • Paralyzing Touch (Paralyzing Touch) [2 points/rank]
  • Phasing (Armor) [2 points/rank] (Incorporeal) [40 points]
  • Physical Metamorphosis (Energy) (Armor, Attack, Damage) [6 points/rank]** (Travel Really, Really Fast) [100 points] (This is radiation burns for nuclear metamorphosis, electric shocks, burns or the sheer radiance of light.)
  • Physical Metamorphosis (Metal) (Armor, Damage, Trait Boost – Brawn) [5 points/rank]
  • Physical Metamorphosis (Water) (Armor) [2 points/rank] (Small or Liquid Form) [40 points]
  • Plant Control (Plant Control, Attack) [3 points/rank]
  • Protected Sense (Protected Sense) [10 points]
  • Reflection (Reflection) [2 points/rank]
  • Regeneration (Regeneration) [2 points/rank]
  • Shrinking (Bonus Skill – Shrunk, Small or Liquid Form) [60 points]
  • Superleap (Travel) [2 points/rank]
  • Supersense (Supersense) [1 point/rank]
  • Superspeed (Travel) [2 points/level] (Water Walking) [50 points] (Stunts (1): Run up walls.)
  • Telekinesis (Attack, Lift Objects) [3 points/level] (Stunts (1): Attack at range.)
  • Telepathy (Telepathy) [1 point/rank] (Stunts (1): Do it without the target noticing.)
  • Teleportation (Travel) [2 points/rank] (Stunts (1): Teleport someone else.)
  • Vehicle (Vehicle) [1 point/level]
  • Wall-Crawling (Wall-Crawling) [20 points]
  • Water Native (Travel) [2 points/rank] (Amphibian) [30 points]