City of Heroes: House Rules

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Optional Rules

Multiplicative Modifiers

(Found in GURPS Powers, page 102)

Normally, Enhancements and Limitations are additive: If you have -20% in limitations and +50% in enhancements, you simply increase the cost of your advantage by 30% - on a 100-point advantage, you'd end up paying 130 points.

With Multiplicative Modifiers, you apply Enhancements first, then apply Limitations to the final cost. In our example above, you'd take your 100-point advantage, apply the 50% enhancement (getting a cost of 150 points), then apply the -20% in limitations to *that*, for a final cost of 120 points.

Skills For Everyone

(Found in GURPS Powers, page 162)

This following limitation must be used for any Active ability, and for any ability which can benefit from Extra Effort or from Power Stunts. It represents that training improves a character's control over his abilities, and also helps represent the kind of power stunts that characters in comic books frequently use.

Requires (Skill) Roll (+0%/-10%)

This is a +0% limitation for any ability that already requires an attack roll (Innate Attack, Affliction) or any ability that requires an attribute roll to activate (Mind Probe, Metabolism Control). Skills are Hard, and are based on the attribute used by the underlying advantage; attacks are based on DX. Power skills default to Attribute -6, and Power Talent adds to skill normally.

For abilities that are normally 'always on', this is a -10% limitation. Examples are Damage Resistance (using a skill roll to put up a force field) or Invisibility (requiring a skill roll to become invisible). For most passive abilities, a successful skill roll lasts for either one minute or one 'use' (GM's judgment), though the user can always turn an ability off as a free action. Whether it requires an action to turn the ability on depends on the underlying advantage; discuss it with the GM. Notably, adding 'Requires Skill Roll' makes an 'always on' ability Switchable; you do not need to pay for that enhancement (though see below).

An option for passive, always on abilities is to take this as a +0% limitation. This enables the use of Extra Effort and Power Stunts with the ability, but does not impede normal use (for example, your force field would always protect you, but you could use a power stunt to extend it to cover allies as well).
Example: Sifu Chen, an aged mystic with great mastery over his own Chi, has an ability that he calls 'Soul Split'; he can actually create a copy of himself to fight at his side. This ability would be written up like this:

Soul Split: This ability is the pinnacle of Chi Mastery. The master channels his Chi to create a temporary duplicate of himself to fight at his side. You must concentrate for one second and make a skill roll in order to create the duplicate. It has all of your Attributes, Advantages (except Duplication), and Skills, but none of your equipment. The duplicate is under your mental control, and requires no actions to direct. You can merge with the duplicate at any time by concentrating for one second. You must make a new skill roll each minute to maintain the duplicate, or it vanishes.

Soul Split (Duplication): Construct (+60%); Reduced Fatigue Cost 10 (+200%); Chi (-10%); Requires IQ Roll (-10%) [101 points]

Skill: Soul Split (IQ/H)

This system also allows for 'power stunts' to be performed, temporarily enhancing your abilities. To perform a stunt, spend 2 FP (this is a form of Extra Effort) and roll against the ability's skill at a penalty. The guideline is -1 for every 10% value of the enhancement, but this is subject to GM's judgment.

Example: Sifu Chen would like to create a duplicate who also carries a copy of his family sword, so that it's a more effective fighter. 'Duplicated Gear' is a +100% enhancement for Duplication, so we would write this stunt up as follows:

Stunt - Duplicate Gear: Your duplicate also appears with a copy of any Signature Gear your character may have. This requires 2 FP and a skill roll at -10. This can be bought up from default as a Hard technique.

No One Dies

Character death should be a major event in both comics and in supers games; City of Heroes is a particularly forgiving setting in this regard. In general, unless it's dramatically appropriate and explicitly intended, combat will not be lethal. This isn't to say that people aren't injured, crippled, or disabled - that can happen all too easily - but even a sword-wielding PC will rarely kill his targets, and PC death happens only when it serves the cause of the story. Several rules help accomplish this:

  • Flesh Wounds (Basic Set, p. 417) is in use. PCs may use an unspent character point to reduce all damage from a single attack (including multiple hits from a rapid fire attack) to just 1 point of injury. Desperate PCs may go into CP debt, up to 2 points.
  • Cannon Fodder (Basic Set, p. 417) is also in effect. 'Minion'-class enemies will not make defense or resistance rolls, and will fall over if even a single point of damage penetrates DR. This doesn't mean they're dead, but does mean that PCs rarely need to go for high-injury 'kill shots' to disable most targets.
  • Death Checks are still rolled as normal; however, any failure (including critical failure) on a Death Check merely means an automatically-stable Mortal Wound and unconsciousness.
  • Finally, Buying Success (Basic Set, p. 347) is PARTIALLY in effect. Players may spend 2 CP to turn a critical failure into a failure, or to turn an enemy's critical success on an attack into a normal success. Other applications of Buying Success are not in use. Again, characters may go into CP debt by up to 2 points total.

New Advantages/Perks

Stunt Mastery [1 point]: This perk requires that you have bought a particular power stunt up from its default (that is, put at least two points into the technique for that stunt). You only spend 1 FP to perform this stunt instead of 2.

House Rules/Changes

Power Blow, Flying Leap, and other Chi Skills: Chi skills that normally require preparation can be used in one second at no penalty. Like Imbuements, the user may accept a -5 penalty to the skill to remove the FP cost. This applies to Power Blow, Flying Leap, Breaking Blow, Zen Archery, and other Chi Skills that normally suffer a -10 penalty for instant use.

Trained by a Master: In addition to its normal effects, being Trained by a Master lets you treat your body as a weapon - you are considered to be armed any time this is beneficial, such as when striking rigid DR or being parried by armed opponents.

Contacts: Contacts and Contact groups are overpriced, especially beside Allies in high point value games. Remove 'Contact Group' entirely; a Contact purchased at the normal point cost provides access to an appropriate Wildcard skill - for instance, a friend in the police department would provide "Police!", while a member of an ancient magical order might provide "Magical Research!". Describe your Contact and work out appropriate skills with the GM. For base cost, the contact is available only in the campaign's primary area. For a network of contacts that stretches through a nation or other large area, pay double cost; for a network that stretches through the civilized world, pay five times cost. Effective Skill and Reliability costs are as normal.

Aging Traits: The values of all age-related traits (Extended Lifespan, Longevity, Self-Destruct, Short Lifespan) are halved, except for Unaging, which costs 5 points. Terminally Ill no longer exists, except when granted via an Affliction. (Thanks go to Rev. Pee Kitty for this one)