View Full Version : What use is a Device anyway?

07-04-2012, 05:20 PM
Dear All,

Please help me find what I've missed. I can't find any reference to Device usage in Supers, and assume that I've missed it somewhere.

As a Device gives a bonus to a stat when taken, I assume that there is some disadvantage to its use during game play - something along the lines of 'Cyclops losing his visor' or 'Hawkeye dropping his quiver' etc.. How do GM's create/deal with this?

To me, the most obvious method of creating this effect is by having an opponent target the device. But I can't find any reference to this in the rules. Can someone give me either a page reference to this, or describe how they rule this. I suppose that one method would be to say a targetted shot is at (say) -2D, but as I haven't GMed a game I'm uncertain what effect would this have. This then raises the problem of how muh damage can a device take? Should devices have armour? Or does any 'damage' taken by the device equate to the number of rounds the device is unusable (for whatever reason).

Many Thanks.

07-04-2012, 08:03 PM
I ran SUPERS! on Monday for a group of friends (which included Golden Age Superhero) and the Device complication came up at the end of the adventure. Two of the heroes have power armor suits. Both were knocked unconscious at the end of the first session. Guess what's gonna happen when they wake up? Yep. No power armor suits. Hello escapting from captivity and fighting supervillains using only your Resistances and Aptitudes!

As for in-combat targetting. First a larger point. SUPERS! is purposefully skimpy on pre-determining how Judges resolve each and every type of combat maneuver, so you have to be ready to improvise.

One way to do it might be to have the attacker make an attack roll against the Device. Use the damage rolled as a Target Number for the defender to beat with an Aptitude or Power of his or her choosing. That might be Reaction, to pull the device away before it could be struck, or perhaps Athleticism to jump out of the way entirely. If the Device is a defensive weapon, like a Shield, you can allow the defender to roll his or her dice in the power. Failing to meet or beat the TN means that the defender loses the Device. If the Device is a power armor suit or a ring, you might not be able to shoot it out of somebody's hand at all. As I mentioned in my opening statement, though, it can still be taken when the character is knocked out.

There are probably other ways to adjudicate this situation. Feel free to be creative!



07-04-2012, 08:40 PM
This is one of those situations where you have to fill in the blanks yourself. Here's my thoughts on it...

For me, a device must be an item that can be taken during combat from you. Something that can't be disarmed doesn't qualify (powered armor). Also something that instantaneously returns to the user doesn't qualify (Thor's hammer). I guess you could allow someone to "break" the power armor, that's between you and your players.

You got it right on the drawback to having an item as a device but there's two ways to not have the device:
1) Have it taken from you.
2) Simply not having it at the time. For adventures taking place during a character's normal activities (went to the bank to cash a check and the bank got robbed), this could be a major hindrance. Also if a character is captured and stripped of gear (dang, got thrown in jail!), Device comes into play. There are also places where they simply won't allow obvious harmful devices, say a courthouse (gotta go testify against the crook!) or a tour of the White House.

As to how to handle a "disarm" attack...

Opposed roll, defender may defend with whatever they wish as normal. If the attackers hits by 6+, the targeted device is knocked out of their hand. 12+ and the attacker can dictate exactly where the device goes, even into his own hand!

If the device is simply knocked out of the target's hand, they may spend their action recovering the device (within reason; if you rolled 12+ and knocked the Device over the cliff, well, too bad).

If you want to represent damaging a device without complicating matters...

Attacker wins 6+ and the device is scrambled, jammed, the batteries knocked out, etc. The target may spend their action fixing the situation.

Attacker wins 12+ and the device is broken until the target can take some time to get it working again (ie out of combat time, hour+?)

Same target numbers and virtually the same in-game effects, but you can simulate both types of attacks on devices.

All this is just how I'd handle the situation. I like to use increments of 3/6 to set benchmarks, but feel free to adjust according to your tastes and the player's power levels, just keep the rules consistent!

07-04-2012, 08:48 PM
Hey Dustland,

I like the increments of 6 as a guideline for what happens with the opposed roll!

As you said, the important thing is to be flexible and keep whatever rulings one comes up with consistent.



07-04-2012, 09:50 PM
Thanks very much for the prompt replies. I need comments like these to get me into the right mindset for GMing Supers!.

Sorry about not being specific regarding device loss - I had recognised the possibility of device loss through removal whilst unconsious/absent etc.. I was looking for combat based decisions. Just to let you know what's influencing my ideas about what comic book rpgs should model, I read Xmen in the 80's ( roughly 110-200) and have been watching the Avengers: Earths Mightiest Heroes with my kids (target players).

Now as to Dustlands 3/6/12 over guidelines. I'm assuming they've come from experience associated with playing the game (although I can see that they roughly match expected values of 1d/2d/3-4d). But is there a limit to when these apply. Part of what I'm asking is do your players have a certain D build (+experience) total limit or single power limit that makes these values work.

Why I ask this is that the Avengers builds (great to see them by the way) all seem to be way above the level I'd expected from looking at the Supers! manual (eg Black Panther 50D, Hawkeye 45D and Iron Man 50D, yet Superubermind (equivalent to Dr Doom level in Avengers) maxed out at 40D). Do your players have similarly powered characters and face their equivalent level in foes? What happens with scale? Would you still recommend these as values?

I've got a number of different questions to ask as to how you would model 'x' in game. Do you think that I should ask each question as a separate thread or continue on in this one?
Sample questions -
1) How would you model (or maybe would you model) Captain America's Ricochet Shield Attack (as features prominently in A:EMH
2) Given that Supers! seems to me to be more on the narrative side than I'm used to (sorry only ever played AD&D) do you give bonus dice for spectacular descriptions of outcomes, the ones that leave everyone at the table going 'Yes!'?
3) What do you think of 'Armour' and 'Mind Shield' as being the only reusable defence? What do you think about using the Base Fortitudes in the same manner (except say have a requirement that each subsequent use requires the previous use to be successful). I suppose what I'm thinking about is Spiderman or Captain America dodging multiple attacks in A:EMH - perhaps Athletics would be a better stat to use.
4) How do you model team-ups - ie. Wolverine and Colossus's 'fast-ball' special?

07-04-2012, 10:37 PM
I am a firm believer in dice caps. I don't really care for high powered games and I like characters to be well rounded rather than having one or two go-to powers that they max out. 5d as a cap works pretty well for me; if you start with a 20d character and regularly allow characters to "level up", you can get some fun builds without having to constantly throw more and more dice at the players.

On a side note, the 5d cap does not include dice spent on things like Split Attack.

You could also allow people to purchase 6d+ but make it cost twice the dice, or something along those lines. Sure you can get to a 10d Super Strength, but you'd have to be committed as heck to the power.

1) I had a character, Mr America, that used a ricochetting shield! I don't have the character sheet anymore, but it was something like this:
-Armor 3d (device:shield)
-Special Attack 3d (Area of Effect 2d; device:shield)
-total cost: 6d
I dumped dice into the shield as they were awarded, I think he eventually had 3d Area of Effect and 1d Split Attack and Tough Defense to boot. Of course without the shield he was a wee-little man :) (ok, not true, he was a muscle bound paragon regardless)

2) A 1d reward is appropriate IMO, maybe 2d if it's incredibly clever and leaves me laughing my butt off. It pays to be entertaining. However one trick ponies don't keep getting the reward once they've pulled it off once before.

3) Armor doesn't have to be physical armor, it could be incredible agility, danger sense, stupid luck, etc. Of course it makes Armor Piercing an argument waiting to happen (but I'd still apply it, otherwise you'll end up with a game full of exceptions which makes my head hurt). It's been suggested to allow players to purchase a 1d boost to apply to any aptitude/power/resistance so that it acts like Armor. Works for me, I wouldn't make it free though, otherwise Armor becomes a waste of dice.

4) In a supplement I'm working on I introduce the Aid Another action (it's somewhere on these boards too). The "assisting" character rolls first, and for every 6 points they score, the target character gets to roll +1d6 on their upcoming action. For instance, Colossus would roll his Super Strength first. Let's say he scores an 18. Wolverine can then make his attack with a +3d bonus! Of course the two actions must take place in the same round, generally at the same time, and the bonus dice must be used for their intended purpose, so Wolverine couldn't decide at the last second to use the bonus dice to dodge an incoming attack.

Hope that helps! And yes, I'm a 20+ year veteran of DnD so making the transition to a narrative game is funky, but well worth it! For a supers game, I'll never go back to a more traditional, hide-bound system and I'm itching to try other genres with this system. I ran a short-lived fantasy game with it. Had to tweak a few rules but it worked well. Had an archer type that could fire salvos of arrows vie split attack, he was death incarnate to mooks (goblins in that case)!

Simon W
07-05-2012, 01:00 AM
Looks like the answers given are better than the ones I could have given so I'll just move along...:)

07-05-2012, 06:25 AM
Hey Toric:

Dustland pretty much answered everything the way I would have, but here are two additional comments:

1) The Avengers write-ups: When I engaged that project I told myself that I was going to be as faithful to the comics as possible - or at least as faithful as I could to the iconic versions of those characters. That's what accounts for those inflated point costs. I wouldn't play a game with characters like that. It's totally feasible, however, to build characters similar to those appearing in the comics at more "playable" die totals. The upcoming supplement The Freedom Ring is an example. That being said, I did run my Avengers write-ups through a battle with the Hulk. The game played surprisingly well, even at those high die totals. My preference, however, is to play with 5D - 6D as a maximum (before Boosts)

2) Resisting: For a long time I stayed away from SUPERS! because I didn't like the idea that Spidey couldn't use his Reaction to evade an attack each from the Sinister Six. Then I realized that Spide COULD do that. He can dodge attacks with his Reaction, Webs, Athleticism, Wall Crawling, Danger Sense, Super Leap, and Fighting and still have Super-Strength to attack with! Captain America doesn't have as many options, but he does have his Reaction, Athleticism, Fighting and Shield as easy options. Both (all) characters also have other Aptitudes and Resistances that might serve is a good narrative reason can be given. Maybe Captain America defends with his Composure, essentially meeting a villains eyes with a steely, confident stare that causes said villain to falter in his attack? In short, I don't think you need to have non-armor powers defend multiple times in order to pull off what you see in the comics. You just need to be creative, flexible, and have characters that diversify (at least just a little).

3) Armor: I'm personally not a big fan of Armor being used to model things like Danger Sense or Agility, but that's just my personal taste. I can totally see how it works conceptually and in-system, I just prefer not to play that way. I am, however, intrigued by Dustland's suggestion for a Boost that could be applied to a non-armor power to allow for multiple resistance checks. I've been toying with a Split-Defense Boost myself, but this would work a little differently. Something else to consider...