So after I used Green Ronin's DC Adventures as an example of a game that didn't match our design specs one of the people involved was nice enough to send me a Quickstart Character Generator the M&M people are working on.
Now since the generator was more designed to quickly introduce newbies to the system via archetypal characters, it wasn't exactly the kind of random table system that I get all excited about, but it did get me thinking about what kind of character generation tables I would make if I was making a superhero game. Plus I am laid up in bed with a cold. So anyway, I hereby present:
THE RANDOM SUPERHERO GENERATION SYSTEM THAT'S COMPATIBLE WITH ALL SUPERHERO SYSTEMS and that is fun.
Note: The term "bonus points" used below means one set of bonus points--roll d10 or some other die scaled to the system (I'd say d10 for M&M and d20 for Mayfair DC) to determine exactly how many or just tack on extra bonuses ranks if it's MSH. Basically: on average, enough mojo to get one new skill at a usable rank or a power at a halfway-to-useful rank.
Base creature: (roll or pick)
1-5 Human--Roll ability stats that randomize across the entire range of what a human being can be ranked in your system. Like if the maximum human strength is 6 and the minimum is 1, roll d6.
6 Animal--Roll stats that randomize across the entire range of what the animal of your choice can be ranked in your system. Also, give the character any abilities that animal has.
7 Hybrid being--Roll twice on this table and use both sets of stats for the two parts of you, weirdo. Rolling this again means it's a tripartite hybrid.
8-10 Something else--Roll stats that randomize from the lowest possible rank in the system to the highest nongodlike stat in the system. Basically: up to Superman level for strength, up to Reed Richards intelligence, etc. If you can swing it, roll multiple dice to give you a bell curve so average results are more likely. After you've rolled stats, look at them and figure out what it is--Sentient plant? God? Alien? Mutant? Semianthropomorphized brick?
This is how you start off. You're probably pretty lame, but don't worry, you will get lots of points to improve this schmuck...
Power level of the character: (roll or pick)
1-2 Low-You have half the number of points it takes to create a low-powered (Punisher, The Question) hero in your system with which to build on top of your base creature. If the system doesn't have build points, just find a guy like that, figure out how many skill, ability, and power score points they have total, divide it by 2, and that's how many points you have to add to stuff.
3-6 Medium-You have half the number of points it'd take to create a standard superhero (Starfire, Spider-Man) in your system with which to build on your base creature. If the system doesn't have build points blah blah blah, see "Low" above.
7-8 High-I bet you know what I'm going to say here.
9-10 Weird-Roll dice that will randomize between half the cost of a high-level superhero in your system and the lowest number you can get using that set of dice.
Ok, now you've got some build-points and you've got a creature to spend them on, but how to spend them? What's the main idea here? Roll d20...
1 Roll twice, if you get this again roll three times, etc.
2 Fantasy/sci-fi trope lifeform that innately has an array of powers that make sense considering what it is (demon, ghost, Atlantean, robot, alien-from-frozen-planet, etc.)
3 No powers or almost no powers but kicks ass anyway somehow
4 Constant, passively surreal relationship to some ordinary physical laws (makes no sound, gravity doesn't affect him/her, can eat anything, etc.)
5 Control over a property of human behavior or a philosophical concept (can force people to tell the truth, feeds on fear or ignorance, etc.)
7 Physically looks weird and therefore has powers derived from that
8 Can remotely make strange things happen to other people with a thought, and no intervening "zap"--like make them teleport away or melt two people into one or something
10 Big strong guy/gal standing behind everyone on the cover of the comic
13 Mutable/adaptable--changes body or mind in many different ways depending on situation-Reed Richards, Taskmaster, Changeling, etc..
14 Unusual means of locomotion (teleportation, superspeed, etc.)
15 Something that could not possibly fit into any other category on this table (like someone who can pull their hands off and throw them at people).
16 Cyborg or battlesuit
17 All-around supertype like Wonder Woman or Superman
18 Elemental in the sense of earth-air-fire-water or in the sense of controls some elemental force like time or gravity or something. Possibly turns one kind into another.
19 A living generator equivalent to some common contemporary or sci-fi tech trope like force fields or net guns or lasers or whatever. Like Cyclops' eyebeams or Spider-Man's webs.
20 Powers that are mainly defensive (stealth, invulnerability, healing, invisibility, etc.).
Think of a concept that fits what you rolled. You can get powers or ability scores beyond human level that don't fit your "main idea" but they cost twice as much. Hold on, don't spend those points yet, it's not over...
Day Job roll or pick...
1-None. You're a supertype and nothing else all day. Bonus points for skills related to investigation or combat but ones not related to that cost twice as much.
2-None. You're a man or woman of leisure. Bonus points to spend on hobbies but any skills not related to that, investigation, or combat cost twice as much.
3-None. You're unemployed and life is tough. Bonus points for any skills related to basic urban survival. Professional-type skills cost twice as much.
4-McDonalds or something. No extra useful skills.
5-Professional in something interesting (reporter, etc.). One set of bonus points to spend on a skill you can tie to this job.
6-You're kind of a big deal in some intellectual field (archaeology, etc.). d10 sets of bonus points to spend on skills you can tie to this job. Raising mental stats is half price.
7-Military, paramilitary or law enforcement. One set of bonus points to spend on skills you can tie to this job.
8-Super-secret almost-superhero in-and-of-itself military/paramilitary/espionage/or law enforcement. d10 sets of bonus points you can spend on skills you can tie to this job. Raising physical stats is half price.
9-When you're not fighting evil you're doing something else equally unlikely and adventure-fictional, like transforming into a sentient computer virus and travelling throughout the world's mainframes or translating for Chron-Schormus The Time Emperor, bonus points to spend on anything (skills or powers) you can tie to this other activity.
10-You've had an exciting life and are a very big deal in Asgard or on Tellax Prime or in Madripoor or whatever. d10 sets of bonus points to spend on skills you acquired doing stuff all over the place.
When was your character created?
Roll or pick, then consult the entry matching your power level...
1. Golden Age or Earlier
Things were simpler then. Bonus points to spend on skills if you can think up a name beginning with the word "The" or "(first name)(last name), the ____ _____" that hasn't been taken yet.
Low: You're a pulp vigilante! Bonus points to distribute to any physical or investigative skills or to raise your ability scores toward but not over the human limit. You get to use a gun. However, if you've survived 'til the present day, you've become Morally Ambiguous and can only buy technological skills by adding psychological complications to your character. If you want to keep that gun, it'll cost you twice as many psychological complications. (You can get around this by having a gun that shoots something non-lethal.) You can have bonus points to use on powers if you only have ONE power and it involves using some gimmicky device that only works under certain limited conditions. Bonus points to mental stats and skills if you have some day job which pretty much already involves fighting crime: cop, reporter, PI, etc.
Medium: You're an iconic concept! You're all about fire or water or America or something. Bonus points to use on powers if they all relate to the same concept. Also: you're probably the best in the world at whatever you do. The fastest, the smartest, the wettest, etc. If you can get within 2 points of being better than everyone else in the campaign at something, the last 2 points are free. (Only works once). You're also probably part of a team, one bonus point to use on personality stuff (charisma, etc.) for each made-up ex-teammate you can invent in the next minute: GO!
High: You're godlike! You were invented during a time period when it was totally ok to hit a villain over the head with Jupiter. Triple bonus points on powers if your powers are a consequence of you being inherently Radically Other--like you're an alien, or a ghost or an android or some other thing that means no amount of technology could make a normal person as badass as you. However, you're a little one-dimensional since you haven't changed much since you were created: double bonus points to spend on anything you like (so long as it pushes you above human) for each basic human concept you fail to completely grasp like (the Spectre) mercy, or (Namor) humility, or (Superman) fun.
Weird: You're appalling! Your fucked-upness either derives from how totally racially or culturally insensitive your original concept was or from just being unbelievably lame. Bonus points to spend on any power or skill if:
-it can be linked to some egregious stereotype (a la Egg Fu and his prehensile moustache), or...
-it in no way could possibly be interpreted as cool (like: you're the Red Bee and you wear a pink costume and shoot bees out of your belt buckle)
2. Silver Age:
All Silver Age characters get Drama bonuses: for each boring non-super-powered schmuck you can invent who can be a source of angst/drama in the next 30 seconds add bonus points. Half bonus points if they are super-powered but you have some angst-provoking relationship with them (family member, lover, etc.)--double bonus points if it's yourself.
Low: You have a dumb gimmick! Like juggling or "leaving a feather for your foes" or you're blind. Bonus points to spend on skills if you invent a gimmick that seems like there's no way
it's cool or could help you fight crime (Bread Man!). Double bonus points if it's something that would actually appear to make you less capable of fighting crime (being blind).
Medium: You're not like everybody else and it freaks them out! Bonus points for each complication you invent that makes them scared of you. Bonus points for each unconcealable alteration to your body that makes you look different. Bonus points if you once were like other men (or thought you were) but now no longer are. Bonus points for powers if they involve radiation.
High: You kind of make sense! You're a lot like your Golden Age High-Level supercounterpart but, all things considered, your powers are somewhat more plausible sounding. Double bonus points for powers if you can explain why each one of them makes sense considering who/what you are. No points if any of them fall outside the explanation.
Weird: You make no sense at all! You turn into an animal except the animal always has a green face, or you fall unconscious wrapped in bandages while an electrical spirit shadow fights your foes for you or you ride through space on a surfboard made of cosmic energy. Bonus points for each person who, when you earnestly describe your character concept to them, tells you to seek therapy, asks you what you're smoking or goes "What. The. Fuck?"
3. Bronze Age
Nobody trusts characters invented in the Bronze Age. Bonus points for every 2 ranks you subtract from popularity, charisma, presence or whatever the relevant stat is.
Low: You're socially relevant! Bonus points to skills or non-super ability scores if you learned them fighting off racism, sexism, or some other social ill or if you resemble a comic-book version of some non-superhero from a popular movie. Martial arts costs half the normal amount of points.
Medium: You're creepy! Bonus points if your powers were given to you by Satan or some other like-minded fiend. Bonus points for powers if they involve bats, goat horns/legs, spiders, skulls and/or snakes.
High: You're, like, totally in tune with, like, the cosmos. Bonus points for any powers that are due to the fact that you draw on, grasp, or incarnate some essential truth about the universe. Bonus points if your costume invovles part of your body being an uninflected pattern of swirls or stars.
Weird: You're a bad trip. Bonus points for powers if you can find an album cover made between 1967 and 1978 that resembles your character. Bonus points for being Socially Relevant, Creepy and In tune With The Cosmos as above but only if they're all thrown together in some unsettling melange like with The Black Racer.
4. Modern Age
You're self-aware. Bonus points to social interaction skills with ordinary people and pop culture checks.
Low: You're a genetically-engineered cyber ninja! Or something. Bonus points for each of those descriptors that applies to you. You may carry a gun without the moral complications that pulp heroes have, but only if you are willing to have a Hero vs. Hero fight the first time you meet any non-gun-carrying hero. Bonus points to purchase equipment if it is strapped to your character's arm or thigh.
Medium: You're dark! Maybe not because of Satan like you would've been a few years ago, but just, well, because. Because anything really. Bonus points for any powers or skills if they might easily accidentally kill somebody and people you now would give you grief about it.
High: You're inscrutable! Nobody, including you, can figure out the upper limit of your powers and you seem prone to fits of inexplicable behavior. Bonus points for powers. Triple bonus points for powers if you let the GM decide what happens every other time you use them and if you let the GM run your character for you every time you don't show up to play.
Weird: You're well-written! You're well-rounded, or at least interesting. Bonus points for powers or heightened abilities any time you can explain how having that power would actually make you act or feel or describe consequences of having it that someone else hasn't already thought of. Bonus points for powers if you never ever act normal but adopt some behavioral restrictions based on your concept (for example: if you're a mutant dog and so only ever bark).
Why are you still being published?
1. Inertia: There's an Atlantis, somebody has to be king of it. Any stat that makes you good at your main gimmick can be raised to be higher than any other known hero or villain with the same gimmick for half price. i.e. If you're the Riddler, then raising your riddling skill so it's higher than anyone else in the setting is half price. (This does stack with being a medium powered golden age best-in-the-world. Good for you, World's Scariest Ape.)
2. Publisher overcompensation: Without you, there'd be no women/minorities in some supergroup you used to or continue to belong to. Raise the level of all your powers by 2 ranks to reflect writers' attempts to make you look badass despite the fact that they often ignore you when it comes to the plot and can't really keep your "voice" consistent. Raise your intelligence so you're smarter than any non-inventor in your supergroup. Raise you charisma stat so it's higher than any non-wizard in the group.
3. Style: You fucking rock, is why. Double your presence/charisma/whatever and if there's a luck stat or hero points, double that, too. Your costume is a classic, and if it gets changed it'll always change back eventually.
4. Gritty Makeover: Frank Miller or one of his acolytes got a hold of you and rescued you from irrelevance. Add 3 power stunts or other gimmicks derived from whatever you already have going on. Double bonus skill points if you choose an insanity, physical ability augmentations are half price if you have anger or obsession issues.
5. Postmodern Makeover: Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, or some other British person who reads real books a lot has marked you as a Person of Interest. You may derive one new superpower for each one you used to have, so long as it makes your character weirder. You may add any new superpowers related to your old ones once per adventure so long as it depends on the whims of some mysterious power source controlled by the DM's whims. Add a few points to your charisma stat or equivalent to reflect your newfound confidence, then subtract them right back again to reflect the fact that nobody gets you since you went all Vertigo. Add d6 to intelligence and your cosmic awareness-type stat to reflect your superior understanding of your place in the cosmos, however, if you roll a one, then you've been postmodern-re-made as a tragicomic joke character and have to take d6 disadvantages and suffer some delusions which require you to make a willpower or equivalent test in order to use your powers in a consistent, rational, or helpful manner.
6. You're New: You're basically still around because you haven't been cancelled yet. Feel free to add any powers or skills that would make you more like some previously-published character you might already be compared to, however, each time you do you have to subtract twice that from your luck/hero points/whatever and your charisma stat.
7. You're A Joiner: You're a team player like The Vision or Nightcrawler or the Red Tornado or The Wasp. While everybody else is off doing solo books, you're holding down the fort. As long as you exist, the group exists. You can trade charisma for twice as many power points if you have a cool costume.
8. Somebody Up There Likes You: You're a quirky oddball, even by comic book standards, but a powerful creator either likes you or has taken a shine to you on account of your freakish charm. Extra luck points or equivalent. Double that if your powers or your personality make you seem completely useless to everyone else.
9. Ummmm...Nobody's Sure, Actually: They've brought you back because...because you were there. You're in a transitional phase, though, to be honest, you're always in a transitional phase. They change your secret identity they change your face they change your powers, the only thing that stays the same is your code name--because it's trademarked. You may change anything about yourself between sessions to represent the effects of stunning revelations about your past so long as you keep the same name and power level.
10. You're The Only Superhero In That Country: When there's trouble in Belgium, there's nobody else to call. Bonus points for extra languages.
Me and Mandy sketched out 7 characters using these rules and had fun doing it. If anybody wants to try it in the system they use and see if it goes off, lemme know.
Still sick in bed, so I went ahead and made it a whole game....
Well That's Just Super, a superhero game for people who are already familiar with superhero games
Stats as D&D: str, dex, charisma, etc.
Humans roll stats as D&D. Animals roll as described above. Others roll as humans, except...
str and con: d20--if you roll 20 you get to add another 3d6 (str and con start out the same number).
Buying Skills and Powers, and Raising Ability Scores:
Describe it and you've got it. Maximum power rank is 30. Maximum skill rank is 10. Superhuman abilities is any ability over 18. Superhuman charisma, wisdom and intelligence are impossible, though skills and powers that add to them for certain purposes are possible.
Low level heroes start with d20 points to spend on powers, skills, equipment, or raising ability scores. Bonus points (as described above in character generation) are awarded in packets of d6.
Medium level heroes start with 2d20 points. Bonus points are awarded in packets of d10.
High level heroes get 2d20 + 20 points. Bonus points are awarded in d20s.
Weird heroes get d100 divided by 2 points. Bonus points are awarded in d10.
Skills generally add to a stat for doing a thing. Like Dance: 4 skill would add 4 to your dex roll vs. the audience DM-determined jadedness level of the audience to dance well.
Points can be spent on whatever equally. Yeah, I know that means that 4 points of strength (which will allow you to leap farther, among other things) costs the same as 4 points of super-leaping (which will only allow you to leap farther), but, hey, you're a grown-up and you have a character concept, and your GM can always make bad guys stronger than you, so go crazy, munchkin.
If you want a complex and varied kung-fu system, you can use this one. If you want a simple one, you can use a variant of the DC system where you have a modifier you can apply to any one stat once per round. If you want a low-level one which is a little more demanding on players' creatvity, you can use this one.
To hit is dex (+any bonuses) + d10 vs. armor + dex (+any bonuses) +d10
if the attacker hits
roll weapon strength (+any bonuses) +d10 vs. con (+any bonuses) +d10.
If the difference is positive on the attacker's side, that's how many points of damage the weapon did.
Attackers: You have the option in most cases (depending on how the armor is described) to just attack the armor itself, in which case it's just dex (+any bonuses) v. armor and if the armor (or forcefield) is hit then, it takes damage like a person.
Defenders: You have the option to do extra dodges which means you get to roll twice and pick the best when you dodge. Declare when the other guy is about to roll. This costs you an action.
Damage is done to your con stat. If reduced below zero, treat that as being reduced to zero and then handle it however you would in D&D.
Everything else is handled as stat (+any bonuses) +d10 vs. opposing stat (or difficulty level) (+any bonuses) +d10.
The bigger the number the bigger the success, if that's relevant.
If one person rolls a 1 and the other rolls a 10, that's always a success for whoever rolled a 10, no matter what the ranks are.
19 strength means you can lift a ton and every rank after that is double the one before--20 means 2 tons etc. Superman is in the low 30's, Maximum is 36.
If there's a question of how, numerically, a power works in a game--how long does your sleeping gas last? What's the range of you power blast?-- and the power rank doesn't provide an immediate guide, the PC says what they think it should be, the GM picks the lowest possible number that fits the idea of the power as it was originally described, the roll dice to decide where in the range the effect falls.
Healing's rare. If somebody goes out of the way to kill you after you're at 0 hit points, you're dead. If they don't, you'll be fine the next session, but you have only have one minute to think of some crackpot explanation why.
Experience rewards are granted in the form of re-rolls. Generally 1-4 per session.