“Blades in the Dark” Superpower Game Notes

Okay, so the chassis with fictional positioning remains (desperate, risky, controlled.) The failure, success with a complication, success, and critical success remains.

For superpowers, we need a frame story; an alien ship approached the Earth, tried and failed to communicate, and was hit by a massive nuclear arsenal. In the months following, a combination of the radiation and falling debris from the alien ship triggered unusual abilities all over the world. There. A single consistent point so we can expect a level of consistency for the base superpower rules.

Describing a Power

Powers must be bought, and they are described with traits in tiers. Each power gets Potency, Range, Flexibility, and Drain. For a first outing, give characters 30 points to buy powers.

Potency

  • Tier 1: something you could normally do, but now you can do it with a power.
    • Move an object, start a fire, hit someone, move faster, look around.
  • Tier 2: Something you could normally do with a special machine.
    • Move a big object, imitate military grade weapons, move like a car or plane, see through walls, telepathy.
  • Tier 3: Something you could normally do with a team and specialized machines.
    • Cargo craft, artillery, carpet bombing, space travel, resurrection.
  • Tier 4: Something humans can’t do yet.
    • Teleportation, mind control, create life, see the future.

Range

  • Tier 1: Self only.
  • Tier 2: Touch only.
  • Tier 3: 30 feet or so.
  • Tier 4: Line of sight, 100 feet or so.
  • Tier 5: 5 miles.
  • Tier 6: 100 miles.
  • Tier 7: 1,000 miles.
  • Tier 8: 10,000 miles.
  • Tier 9: 100,000 miles.
  • Tier 10: 1,000,000 miles.

A power like super strength would be tier 1, but would allow throwing objects as fictionally appropriate.

Flexibility

  • Tier 1: Do one thing in one way.
    • Fire eye beams straight ahead.
    • Mighty super-punch.
  • Tier 2: Do one thing, but applications may be creative.
    • Fire eye beams straight ahead, but may bank them off reflective surfaces, or sustain a pivoting beam.
    • Overall super strength.
  • Tier 3: One power but different plausible applications.
    • Eye beams can focus to be armor piercing, blunt to do bashing damage only, split to hit multiple targets, parry incoming attacks, cut or weld metal, or modulate frequency to defeat an energy shield.
    • Super strong body also allows for super toughness, and allows for super jumping.
  • Tier 4: One energy source allows a suite of powers.
    • Eye beams can allow rocket-jump flight, adjust to provide power to machinery, soften to hypnotize foes, trickle hard light into a lock to pick it, and bathe an area in trap-detecting energy.
    • Super strong body also highly resistant to diseases, and protects against many kinds of energy attacks with its native virility, and it extends a load-bearing force field to heavy objects lifted so they don’t break apart.
  • Tier 5: One energy source allows experimentation to try to develop new powers spontaneously.
    • The eye beams can reveal the dimensional trail of an intruder and match energy to open a gate to follow. They can suffuse the eyeballs of a corpse and reveal their last vision. They can draw the temper out of metal so it becomes brittle and crumbles when struck.

Drain

Add up all the tiers so far. Every 5 points (3 rounds up to 5) costs 1 Drain when activated. If a power has Potency 2, Range 3, Flexibility 3, then that’s 8, so that’s 2 Drain. It would cost 1 to go down to 7, which would round down to 1.

Drain need not be every round a power is active necessarily; it’s fiction first. If it seems like the power is established and can be maintained, that’s fine; a complication is a fine time to charge more for continuing use of the power.

EXAMPLES

So, put it all together. Jane wants “Teleport” as a power, that’s Potency 4 and Range 6, so she’s already at 10. She wants to be able to take people and try the occasional stunt, but not get crazy with it, so she goes for Flexibility 2. That is 12 tiers, so 2 Drain, and she wants to lower it by 5 so it only costs 1 Drain to use. “Teleport” at Potency 4, Range 6, Flexibility 2, and Drain 5 costs her 17 points.

Harvey wants “Regeneration” as a power, that’s Potency 4 (could be less to heal faster and negate the need for medicine and surgery, but he wants like magical healing power) and Range 2 (so he can share it with those he touches.) Flexibility is Tier 3 so he can try to cure cancer and maybe even fix mental problems as well as patch up broken bones and burns. Drain is 9 to cost 2 per activation, and he buys off 7 to drop it to 2, which rounds down to free to use. Cost is 16 points.

Stress and Power

So there’s a stress track with 9 points, and a Power track with 9 points. (Special abilities, and maybe some starting point adjustments, allow these to be raised or lowered by up to 5 each. Details for later.)

Stress functions with the Blades of Doskvol alternative Resilience method.

Power can be handled by powers that recharge, or regaining 1 per 4 good hours of sleep or 8 hours of light activity. Soon enough there will be drinks and equipment that can accelerate that regeneration, and maybe be consumed in the field for more power.

When using powers, they are fiction-first as everything else. Complications are creatively applied when things go sideways. To try and coax a power into doing more than it was meant to do, or finesse work for blunt power, etc., then that costs a stress and possibly more Power to activate; it is negotiated.

Players who want to channel complications may note a “glitch” that their powers (or the whole character) suffers from. This might be mandatory. It provides a default way to interpret complications on the fly.

The “Attune” ability helps sense other supernatural power, sense information from looking at a power in action, get a handle on a power that’s slipping while being used by the character, and maybe detect traces of other power used in the area recently.

Overall Structure

So you have these super powered characters–now what? The “heist” is replaced by crisis points, where there is an attack or a natural disaster and they are involved in repelling the danger and restoring status quo as best as possible.

Down time projects can include working on technology, diplomacy, contract negotiations, study of self or others, relationships, investigations, and so on.

Ongoing Development

Can they develop existing powers or manifest new ones? There should be a suite of special abilities that can be taken to allow cannibalizing powers, making them cheaper, adding to one tier or another, and so on. These would not be written on the sheet, but when taken, they would allow adjusting existing powers.

Also, there would be setting-appropriate special abilities to further round out characters.

Playbooks would not be necessary, though suites of powers could be developed to be dropped in for quick readiness.

It’s sketchy, but it could be tested and further developed.

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