Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Futurist's Guide to Gadgets!
Volume 1!

  Comics have always had a strange relationship with weapons. Many heroes and villains use them. Well, they use bows, boomerangs, and hammers- guns are rarely seen except in the hands of villains, who are never quite satisfied with lead and gunpowder if they can get freeze rays, lasers, and sonic blasters. Guns are seen as very deadly, but swords and arrow aren't. Being frozen solid, blown up by a bomb, or hit by a laser are all pretty easy to survive, but a shot from a pistol is deadly. Then there is Wonder Woman, who can block gunfire with her bracelets- despite being as tough as Superman!

In re-examining weapons for DC Heroes I had a few goals in mind. 
  • I wanted to make it possible for weapons from different genres to be played as easily in DC Heroes as they were in their own games (because two of my favorite comic book heroes of all time are Conan the Barbarian and Flash Gordon); 
  • I wanted weapons to be consistent with all the other aspects of the game (no more AV, EV, or Range attributes); 
  • I wanted weapons to have consistant numbers and traits (the laser gun in the DC Heroes rulebook has an EV of 4, but the one Adam Strange uses has a Heat Vision of 8, etc); 
  • I wanted weapons to be more realistic, but not too much so; and
  • I wanted the rules and write-ups to be mostly compatible with previous editions of the game.

Weapons have been altered in the following ways:

Weapons are almost always considered Killing Combat. Thus, most attack powers for weapons have the Lethal limitation. If a character wishes to use a weapon in non-lethal fashion, he must choose to reduce his EV. This represents aiming for less vital areas. Reducing his EV like this causes the character to suffer the loss of half his HP reward, instead of all of it.

      Some weapons, like whips and clubs, can still be used for Bashing damage. These weapons cause blunt trauma or entangle a character, attacks that can easily be used to subdue instead of kill.

All weapons now use an attack power. EV has been eliminated. The most common attack powers are
  •      Bows, crossbows, firearms, and slings all use Projectile Weapons.
  •      Bazookas, mortars, and rocket launchers all use Bomb.
  •     Edged and pointed melee weapons, likes swords, axes, spears, knives,  etc, all use Claws.
  •      Blunt melee weapons, like clubs, maces, staves, etc, all use Strike.
  •     Thrown weapons use Claws or Strike, depending on whether they are  edged or blunt, but always have the Diminishing limitation (see the Half  STR optional rule as well).
  •      Whips, bolas, and nets all use Snare.
  •      Flame throwers use Flame Project.
  •      Tasers use Lightning.
  •      Lasers use Heat Vision.
  •      Blasters, Phasers, and Disruptors use Energy Blast.

     HPs cannot be spent to increase the EV of ranged weapons. Once the weapon is out of the hand of the attacker, he no longer has any control over it. Melee weapons can have their EV increased only by an amount equal to their APs of attack power.

  The AV of most weapon attacks is determined by the DEX or skill of the user. AV as a separate attribute has been eliminated. If the power normally has an AV, then apply the No AV limitation to it when designing the weapon. If the weapon is a smart gun of some type and has its own independent firing mechanisms, then it uses the weapon’s attack power as its AV, either using the power normally or adding the Targeting bonus to it.

     If the weapon is guided by sensors, such as a heat seeking missile or programmable batarang, then it has an AV equal to its sensory power, usually Radar.  Use this as the AV of the attack.

     Unless they possess a bonus or limitation, ranged weapons have a range equal to their attack power. Bows and thrown weapons are an exception to this rule.:
      *Bows have a range equal to the weapon’s STR. 
       *Thrown weapons have a range equal to the user’s STR + any APs of Gliding the weapon may have. Do not subtract the weapon’s APs of weight from the range. Assume that since the weapon is designed to be thrown, its weight is not a factor in its range. A character using a throwing weapon can choose a lower EV. However, when doing so, he must also decrease his AV and Range by the same amount.

OPTIONAL: In comics, thrown weapons like knives and shuriken are generally just as powerful as guns. If the GM desires a more realistic option, he may allow the Limitation Half-STR. This limitation can be applied to Claws and Strike and indicates that the weapon adds its APs of power to half of the attacker’s APs of STR, round down.

    Ranged weapons can use Trick Shots to bypass the Skin Armor power of armor, inflicting damage directly to the wearer. Melee weapons cannot. This is why armor is so effective against melee weapons. Thrown weapons can use the same Trick Shots, but it is more difficult, incurring an additional +1 CS to OV.

Ammo is a realistic option for weapons, but for comics (and comic book-style movies) realism is often abandoned in favor of what looks cool. Thus, as an option for more cinematic games, weapons may have Power Burnouts instead of Ammo. When burnt out, the attack power can be recovered through reloading the next phase. Reloading is an automatic action. Modern weapons should have a Serious Power Burn Out, Antiquated weapons should have a Catastrophic Power Burn Out, and Futuristic weapons should have a Minor Power Burn Out. In the case of rolling a number that overlaps with Reliability when using this option with a weapon, the weapon first runs out of ammunition. On the second overlapping roll in a single game session, it has malfunctioned.

     A character who is skilled can use two weapons- or rather, one in each hand- assuming the weapons are designed to be used one handed. Treat this as a Team Attack.

   Grenades and sticks of dynamite (and other similar explosives) can be thrown at a range equal to the attacker’s STR. Use the Weaponry (Missile Weapons) subskill as the AV in these cases. Using one of these weapons without possessing the Military Science (Demolitions) subskill will result in a premature detonation in the hand of the attacker on a failed Reliability roll. If the character possesses both subskills, then a failed Reliability roll only results in a dud.

Shotguns always have the Diminishing limitation applied to their attack power.

   Missile weapons, especially thrown ones, can be given the 25 HP Miscellaneous Advantage Returns. This allows the weapon to return safely to the attacker, like a boomerang. By spending 5 HPs the returning weapon can attack the target if it missed it the first time. To do this, compare the original dice roll against the defender’s OV, but apply a -1 CS bonus (due to the defender’s turned back). If this results in a hit, resolve damage normally.

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