Freedom Throughout the Ages
Players can influence the outcome of tests and conflicts using their heroes’ Determination.
You can spend Determination during the game for several different things, described here. Heroes
gain and lose Determination as the game progresses and the characters face different challenges.
A hero’s use and acquisition of Determination is influenced by various aspects of the character. Players define these aspects when creating and playing their heroes and the GM does the same when creating the villains and other characters of the game.
Aspects essentially describe the character in terms other than their abilities, they involve who the characters are rather than what they are capable of doing.
Aspects come in two types: qualities define the character’s generally positive descriptive traits, whereas challenges generally describe difficulties the hero faces.
By their very nature, aspects are broad and somewhat vague. Some aspects tend to come up in
play more often than others. However, since all aspects are governed by the use and acquisition of Determination, their “value” is essentially all the same.
The following are types of Qualities to consider for your hero; you can have up to five to start off and you can have multiple instances of one type and none of another, the categories are not restrictive, just for reference.
Your hero has a particular catchphrase, battle-cry, or pithy saying, such as “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” or “I Say Thee Nay, Villain!” or even “Sweet Christmas!” You can tag your catchphrase quality by saying it at the appropriate time for a suitable action. However, you (the player) must say the catchphrase in a suitably dramatic fashion! You can have multiple catchphrases, but it is fairly rare for a hero to do so; most are just minor variations on a theme, which do not necessarily count as separate qualities, such as “Holy [insert exclamation here]” or “Great [name of deity]!” The complex rhyming spells of a comic book sorcerer may also be considered catchphrases, belted out at dramatically appropriate moments.
Many, if not most, heroes have the Connections quality, which represents the various important people in the character’s life. While heroes are sworn to protect people in general, they typically have families, loved ones, friends, romantic interests, and so forth, people special to them in some way. If you have the Connections quality, you can declare any number of people important to your character, though the GM may use these connections against your character at just the wrong moment. As a quality, Connections are assumed to provide your hero with some help, if only in the form of motivation.
An epithet is a title or descriptive phrase applied to your character, often used in dramatic dialog. Examples include: Man of Tomorrow, Maiden of Might, Master of the Mystic Arts, and World’s Greatest [fill-in the blank]. It typically describes something about the hero’s style, powers, or qualities beyond just abilities. You can tag an epithet in a situation where the GM agrees that it applies.
Singular Epithets: Some epithets are unique, such as “World’s Greatest” anything, since only one character by definition can have that epithet. The GM should ensure that the character with the epithet really does qualify for it! The only case where more than one character can have a singular epithet is when two or more are competing for it. In this case, the aspect can be compelled to put those characters into competition whenever they encounter each other: two heroes who both have “World’s Fastest Hero,” for example, can be compelled into a race or
some other test of who’s faster whenever they get together. Plus there could still be the “World’s Fastest Villain”…
Heroes are more than just a colorful costume and a collection of powers (or, at least, we hope that they are). The identity quality deals with a description of who the hero is outside of the costume and mask, touching upon other aspects of the character’s background, personality, and life. Examples include Billionaire Playboy, Mild-Mannered Reporter, Freelance Photographer, Exiled European Prince, or Alien Soldier, to name just a few. You can tag your hero’s identity quality in situations where it might come to bear: an Intrepid Reporter might be able to acquire information a colorfully clad and world-famous hero might not. A Wealthy Industrialist has access to certain resources, and so forth.
It takes more than the acquisition of powers to make a hero. After all, villains often go through the same origins. What makes some choose heroism over villainy? In short, what motivates someone to become a hero? A motivation quality describes what made your character take the hero’s path, and what keeps him or her on it, even when things get tough. It might be vengeance for some wrong the character suffered or an unflagging belief in truth and justice, god and country, or that with great power also comes great responsibility. It could be the thrills and excitement of the hero game or the need to be rid of some unwanted power or ability. You can tag your hero’s motivation when dealing with situations where it makes the difference between giving up and pushing ahead.
Challenges are aspects similar to Qualities in that they serve to describe things about your
character. Unlike Qualities, Challenges are all about the things your hero works to overcome. While the GM can compel Challenges, earning you Determination, you cannot tag them to gain bonuses or use Determination yourself; you need to use your qualities for that.
Also like qualities, challenges come in particular categories or types and you must have as many Challenges as you do Qualities, no more, no less. Thus, a character can choose the maximum amount of Qualities to ensure plenty of chances to use Determination, but this is offset by a greater number of Challenges he has to face.
Sometimes it just seems like the universe hates your hero: when this challenge is compelled, bad things happen. Your hero’s car might be booted or repossessed, the rent might come due when there’s no money to pay it, a critical device might stop working … pretty much any cruel thing the GM can think of that does not outright remove your character from the game.
Heroes make enemies, often lifelong archenemies. This challenge involves an enemy with a specific vendetta against your hero. The GM can compel it to have your enemy show up or gain an advantage over you, such as springing a trap or ambush. Note that just having your enemy show up in an adventure does not necessarily constitute a compel, unless the enemy gains some advantage in the process.
Let’s face it, superheroes often have issues, sometimes a lot of issues. Personal challenges are just that: They may be psychological, ranging from claustrophobia to a berserker temper, or physical, from being confined to a wheelchair to blindness. Whatever the case, the GM can compel your hero’s personal challenge in any situation where it might be a hindrance. In the case of psychological challenges, it may temporarily dominate the character’s behavior (panicking when confronted with a phobia, losing control when angered, etc.).
Superheroes are not usually the most normal folks. Even if you ignore the form-fitting colorful costumes, some heroes look downright weird. This leads people to make assumptions and react negatively to the hero who looks like, say, a classical demon or a rocky monster. It can make it difficult for a hero to get a point across, deal with the public, or otherwise make a good impression when one is needed. Other social challenges can involve a hero with a bad reputation, or subject to certain social prejudices, basically anything that causes other people to react poorly to the hero or to judge him or her unfairly.
The Achilles’ heel is a major element of many superheroes, a specific weakness or vulnerability, be it to a metal, color, time of the day or night, or strange radioactive mineral. This challenge is basically something the GM can compel to give your hero a handicap, from a loss of powers to a life-threatening situation, such as a hero who needs water to survive or dies if exposed to a particular substance for too long. Weaknesses are ready-made for villainous death traps and ambushes, and provide a way to make otherwise “invincible” heroes vulnerable enough to defeat. Compelling your weakness lets the GM inflict pretty much any effect short of killing the hero outright. Powers that are Devices are considered Weaknesses.