Advanced Battle Concepts
While the Time and Combat portion of the Universal Heroes rules covers just about everything one needs to handle conventional combat, the system is rife with things which actively resist normalcy. Advanced Battle Concepts attempts to detail a large variety of edge cases and odd conditions which may occur when you have ascendant beings using a wide array of super powers against one another.
Exotic Damage Forms and Damage Modifiers
Though most forms of damage have been discussed previously, there are some exotic forms of pain and suffering that alternate paths of power provide for. Furthermore, a lot of attacks bear a supplemental effect on top of the raw damage they can inflict. This helps to distinguish one form of damage from another, particularly when a laundry list of different attack forms use the exact same damage type.
Supplemental Damage Types
Deionic damage is that which is caused by a focused application of the power of faith. It is most often wielded by immortal beings, or at least those who traffic in their affairs. It is rather rare to encounter Deionic energies in their pure state, as they are most often shaped or otherwise put to use by their possessors as soon as possible, in order to further their agendas for the multiverse.
They are encountered, however. They may take the form of the signature power of a deity, the focused will of an entity of power aimed through one of its followers, or possibly just god-tainted mundane damage forms. As is the case with Karmic and Sorcerous damage, these attacks are handled per their standard counterparts - it's just that Deionic energies do a good job of practically ignoring armor for the most part.
Karmic damage is a form of harm which is inflicted by direct psionic attack. As is the case with Sorcerous damage, Karmic damage is not merely caused by psionic powers which generate mundane forms of attack - those are resolved normally. Instead, they represent 'pure' psi assaults, such as a psi bolt or empathic hammer, or perhaps some other attack aimed at the very consciousness of oneself.
Though again, some Karmic attacks are inflicted by seemingly ordinary offensive abilities which are 'charged' with psions. This can happen with items that are heavily empowered by psionic skills, or perhaps when encountering psi-active energies that hail from higher dimensions, which can include spectral flames. These attacks will behave normally, but affect armor as if it were Karmic in origin.
Metabolic damage is a form of physical damage that is typically delivered by indirect means. It represents an assault on the integrity of the body, whether one is talking about poisoning, radiation or even disintegration. Some forms of Metabolic damage occur as side effects of other powers, but other kinds can be used all by themselves, though all such damage is usually handled the same way.
Typically one receives an Endurance (res) FEAT roll to avoid the effects of Metabolic damage. The powers, equipment and substances that inflict it usually describe whether or not a FEAT is allowed to shrug it off, but in general one can expect a resistance roll if the Metabolic harm comes as a 'rider' on another attack (such as a blade dipped in toxin, or radiation poisoning caused by exposure).
Sorcerous damage is that which is inflicted by raw magic. 'Raw' magic is not merely fire or electricity (or whatever) that is produced by magic - such energies behave (and inflict damage) as they normally would. This form of damage, however, indicates an attack which is inherently magical in nature. Assaults such as 'generic' eldritch bolts, as well as mystical darkness, fall into this category.
On the other hand, some attacks behave like mundane assaults of various kinds, but nonetheless affect armor as if they were Sorcerous damage. Things like this are often indicative of highly enchanted objects (like swords), or seemingly mundane forms of energy which bear magical components and characteristics (such as mystic hellfire, or other campaign-specific oddities and effects).
Armor Piercing (AP) attacks are just that, they affect the protection of an individual much more effectively than an ordinary version of the same damage. Armor Piercing effects are rated in Column Shifts, and the standard AP effect affects body armor or other protections as if they were -2 CS in rank. If something was double AP, it would reduce protection by -4 CS, triple AP lowers it by -6 CS, and so on.
A related form of attack is the Armor Ignoring (AI) assault. This is a much rarer form of Armor Piercing attack, in that it ignores one's protections against it entirely. Most often, this will appear when a character has a special susceptibility to the form of damage in question, but a few specialized attack forms have the ability to wield it as well.
Probability Fallout (PF) is a distressing form of energy caused primarily by powers which are heavily magical in nature, but can also be inflicted by reality control abilities as well. The idea behind Probability Fallout is that it is the impossible (or at least highly improbable) made manifest and tangible - and alters everything it touches... usually for the worse.
When exposed to PF due to one attack or another, a character must pass a Psyche (will) FEAT roll in order to retain the integrity of their morphic field. If this FEAT fails, the character will be changed somehow, most often on a temporary basis, but occasionally permanently. Such changes can be as simple as an alteration of color, but can go as far as a complete transformation into something else entirely!
Psionic Saturation (PS) is a kind of overload of the mental energies in an environment. This is most often created by the use of abilities that generate raw psions, the particles which act as carriers of psionics and thought energies, but can also occur due to (admittedly bizarre) natural phenomenon or even malfunctions that occur in the execution of mental powers occasionally.
What PS does is make all sentients within the area that it affects inherently telepathic. Even 'normals' can hear the ambient thoughts of others, unshielded as they usually are, and inadvertently share their own. Preventing both the reception of ambient thoughts, and keeping one's own from flying free in an area inundated with PS, requires a Psyche (will) FEAT roll against the intensity of the power that caused it in the first place.
Successively Decreasing (SD) damage is a form of harm which continues over a period of time. Each turn after one is exposed to an attack with an SD rider, the character in question may attempt an Endurance (res) FEAT roll to stop the SD from affecting them further. If this FEAT roll fails, the attack will inflict the damage caused on the previous round -2 CS - repeating until it is either resisted or reaches Shift 0 intensity.
This is representative of things such as fire, poison, and radiation, which linger and cause continuing harm long after they are initially encountered. Particularly potent versions of SD attacks may exist in a doubled fashion, meaning that an indicated 2x SD effect would only be reduced by -1 CS each turn, instead of the usual -2 CS (though such dangerous damage should be incredibly rare).
Powers With Special Considerations
For the most part, super powers are pretty straightforward in their application. The description of a given power will detail what it does and how it works, if necessary. A few common effects drastically affect both how easily one can hit their foe and how much damage they will inflict when they do, however. The effects of these powers are expanded upon below, for convenience.
Body Armor and Force Fields
While the effects of most attacks are rather clear-cut in nature, they can often be mitigated by characters who wield protection from injury. Body armor comes in a variety of different forms, whether inherent (nigh-invulnerable skin) or based on hardware (such as a Kevlar ™ vest). Body armor is a subtractive form of defense, directly reducing the amount of incoming damage by its power rank number.
The difficulty involved with body armor, however, is that it is more effective against some forms of damage than others. Body armor is most useful against direct physical damage, while becoming increasingly weaker against an attack the more exotic its source is. This is represented as a series of Column Shifts, based on the body armor power rank, denoting the various resistances it provides.
Body armor will offer its full rank in protection against physical attack forms (bats, bullets, etc.). It is at -2 CS effectiveness against conventional energy assaults (fire, electricity), -4 CS against Sorcerous damage (most often in the form of spells), -6 CS against Karmic damage (things like a psi bolt, or Karmic energy assaults), and -8 CS against pure Deionic energies (usually the signature powers of deities).
This can be tricky to remember, so body armor is usually listed with a series of ranks that denote the precise protection it offers, in the order listed above. Sometimes these aren't listed if most of them would be less than Feeble (2) in rank (often the case with partial armor), but can usually be inferred based on the body armor power rank if necessary. Complete listings are presented as follows:
power rank (physical) / power rank -2 CS (energy) / power rank -4 CS (magic) / power rank -6 CS (psionic) / power rank -8 CS (deionic)
A force field behaves in a similar fashion, though the nature of the protection it offers is somewhat different. A force field is most effective against energy-based assaults, while being slightly less potent against physical damage. Otherwise, the defense a force field provides is consistent with that of body armor. Complete force field protection ratings are usually shown like so:
power rank -1 CS (physical) / power rank (energy) / power rank -4 CS (magic) / power rank -6 CS (psionic) / power rank -8 CS (deionic)
There are other defensive powers, but they will usually refer to either body armor or force fields as their basis (protects per a force field, and so on). These ratings can vary slightly, depending on the origin of the defense in question. If body armor or a force field (or whatever) is created by magic, for instance, it will also offer power rank resistance to that form of damage, instead of the usual -4 CS.
Such variances in the defense a power provides will usually be demonstrated in their specific power description, but again can be inferred if not listed due to being on a 'short hand' character sheet (or whatever).
Resistances and Invulnerabilities
Resistances are like specialized forms of body armor, in that they act to subtract incoming damage of their type by their power rank number. If the resistance is higher in rank than the damage it opposes, the character with it will suffer no damage at all. But a resistance can work against more than just direct damage; one can have resistance to fire, or mind control, or even warping attacks!
If a character possesses resistance to a non-damaging effect (such as time control), the effect in question is negated if less than or equal to the rank of his resistance. If it is greater than the resistance possessed, the offending power can still affect its target - though at a diminished intensity, one which is equal to the power rank number of the offending effect minus the power rank number of the resistance.
Note that some resistances have a minimum rank associated with them. Resistance to emotion controls, for instance, is based on one's Intuition score. Thus, a power which provides additional resistance to such assaults should be wielded at a minimum value that is equal to that ability score +1 CS - which will reduce the cost of such powers, when purchased through the point-based character generation system.
Finally, the ultimate form of a resistance is an invulnerability. Invulnerabilities are absolute protections against the named effect (such as invulnerability to cold attacks), and prevent it from affecting the character at all. Even at a rating of Beyond, or infinite power, something a character is invulnerable to will not harm or affect him or her - though their friends and their stuff aren't always so lucky.
Damage Reduction and Deflection
While body armor, force fields, and other protections from injury are usually subtractive, numerically reducing the intensity of incoming damage, damage reduction operates a bit differently. This form of defense reduces incoming damage by whatever Column Shift the power is rated at. Possessing 3 CS of damage reduction, for example, will cut all incoming damage by that much before it is applied to one's person.
This differing defense function has the effect of dampening damage of a higher intensity much more effectively than weaker attacks. Thus, damage reduction might be more favorable when attempting to represent certain characters who are able to shrug off massive attacks while not being completely invulnerable at the same time.
For instance, Excellent (20) ranked body armor would completely prevent physical damage of equal or lesser rank from affecting its target, while that 3 CS of damage reduction indicated above would 'only' reduce it to Poor (4) rank. On the other hand, that Excellent body armor would only cut twenty points off of an Unearthly (100) physical attack, while 3 CS of damage reduction would reduce it by sixty points.
Deflection operates using the same basic game mechanic, but applies to the FEATs intended to connect with an attack - not the damage inflicted. A character with 2 CS of deflection, for instance, would inflict a -2 CS penalty to hit him or her in the first place. Such a negative modifier would apply along with any other efforts the character with deflection made to avoid injury (such as a dodge maneuver).
Deflection in and of itself does not reduce incoming damage at all, its protection coming in the form of keeping attacks from hitting in the first place. Though when it works, deflection can be considered one hundred percent damage mitigation.
Flight and Other Travel Powers
Travel powers offer their possessor a significant advantage in mobility. When you can fly around the world in mere minutes, it's incredibly easy to split your attention across various global hot spots. They're also quite a boon in combat directly, in that whoever can hold the high ground typically has a significant advantage - even if the 'high ground' consists of blasting goons while hovering a few feet overhead.
A major consideration of some travel powers, however, is that while in use many of them leave their possessor without ground (or any other surface) with which to brace themselves. This isn't much of an issue with the likes of teleportation, in that its effects are almost instantaneous, but abilities such as flight, gliding, super leaping, and super swimming (and variants therein) suffer from this problem.
When airborne (or underwater) using this kind of power, or otherwise unmoored from the ground, a character is often more vulnerable to being Slammed. When an attack against a flying (or whatever) individual scores a Slam result, they must resist such results with either their Endurance or their travel power's rank - using whichever of the two is weaker.
A veritable tank with an Unearthly Endurance and only Typical flight is very likely to be knocked around while airborne, as is a ranged sniper with a Typical Endurance and an Unearthly ranked flight. Characters with traveling powers can avoid this threat with the use of additional powers to maintain their trajectories (like anchor or telekinesis), or by having ranks in both their Endurance and their travel power that are similar.
Growth and Shrinking
For the most part, the average height of an adult character is considered to be six feet tall. In reality, people will be taller or shorter than this basic benchmark for a variety of different reasons, of course. But this specific height makes it a lot easier for us to calculate the difference in combat that characters of one size will experience when facing characters of another size entirely.
In the Universal Heroes system, a size difference is in effect when one character interacts with another who is half (or less) their size. Size differences are rated by a metric known as a size factor, based on that six foot tall person described previously. A character of the appropriate, average height (give or take a foot, of course) has a size factor of zero (0).
In relation to someone with a size factor of zero, a character who is twelve foot tall - twice the person's height - will have a +1 size factor. Each subsequent doubling of size based on the original height will increase this size factor by an additional point. Thus, someone twenty four foot tall will have a +2 size factor, a body forty eight feet tall will have a +3 size factor, and so on.
Looking in the other direction, in relation to that character with a size factor of zero, an opponent who is half their height - or three feet tall - will have a -1 size factor. Each further halving of height based on that original value of six foot tall will decrease a body's size factor by one. Being one and a half feet tall gives you a size factor of -2, while being nine inches tall gives you a -3 size factor, etc.
If dealing with two different characters with a non-zero size factor, players can determine the effective size factor between the two by subtracting the larger size factor from the smaller one. A person with a +3 size factor facing an opponent with a +1 size factor would see the taller character having an effective +2 size factor compared to his or her smaller foe, for the purposes of determining combat modifiers.
For every +1 size factor a character has against their foes in combat, he or she may add a +1 CS to the damage they inflict - but at the same time, suffers a -1 CS to strike that foe in the first place. Similarly, for every -1 size factor a character has against his or her enemy, they inflict -1 CS less damage with each attack, but benefits from a +1 CS to strike their larger enemy with each assault.
So, as an example, let us consider a twelve foot tall character doing battle with one that is but three foot tall. One has a +1 size factor while the other has a -1 size factor - for a net difference of two. Thus, the twelve foot tall character suffers a -2 CS to hit their diminutive foe, but inflicts +2 CS damage when they do connect. The three foot tall character, on the other hand, has a +2 CS to hit - but inflicts -2 CS damage!
Tactics (Super Powered or Otherwise)
An important means by which a character can maximize his, her, or its combat potential is with the use of tactics. Tactics are advanced combat maneuvers that each have their own special benefits, above and beyond merely hitting foes until they submit. Some tactics are only available to characters that possess the required power or powers to make use of them, however.
Some of the more common tactics used by both heroes and villains alike include the following:
Aiming / Ambush: each of these tactics involve a character lying in wait, spending at least a full turn in preparation of their attack. By expending at least this much time in wait, a character either aiming a precision attack or lying in ambush benefits from a +2 CS to hit. Furthermore, unless equipped with a danger sense or like forewarning, the target cannot attempt a defensive maneuver against this tactic.
Dazing: a difficult maneuver to pull off, dazing involves attacking a foe in a fashion that is not directly lethal, most often by grazing one's temples with a bullet or the back of their head with a sap. This requires a yellow FEAT roll with the attack in question, though if an attacker attempting to daze his or her foe rolls red, that result stands regardless.
Disarming: an attack of this type is designed not to harm a foe, but to instead remove something from their person. Most often this is a gun or some other weapon. Disarming requires a yellow attack roll with most attack powers, as it is a tricky maneuver to execute during the best of times. However, the advantage is that a red attack roll is always downgraded to yellow in such instances (which is great for non-lethal gunplay).
Dive Bomb: whenever one is rapidly accelerating towards the earth, they can aim towards a specific target below in order to attempt a tremendous charging attack. A dive bomb maneuver provides those who attempt it a +1 CS to hit - +2 CS if they're actually flying, and not just falling or leaping downward. A dive bomb provides a like damage increase, on top of that provided for the space moved through.
Ensnaring: a large number of tools and weapons exist to ensnare a foe - trapping them such that they cannot move. Nets, bolos, and (when used carefully) whips can be wielded in this fashion. Such items require an Agility FEAT to hit their target, who (if this FEAT is successful) may attempt a Strength check to wriggle out of his or her bindings. Failing this, the ensnared foe must escape from their bonds in some other fashion.
Firing Point Blank: when close enough to touch one's target, special rules apply to ranged combat. If firing at a foe within point blank range, a character should receive a +3 CS to hit said foe - but only if that character wins the initiative, or the target is not resisting. Otherwise, a -3 CS applies to the character's ability to hit, as a change in position so close to the firer has a much more dramatic effect.
Ganging Up: a mainstay of bullies everywhere, this involves one character holding a target so that another may hit him or her with impunity. This requires the first to achieve either a partial or full hold on the target, thus preventing them from performing defensive maneuvers. Others receive a +1 CS to hit the target, but if they miss they must immediately check to see if they in turn strike the grappler.
Indirect Strike: an assault of this type involves the character striking the ground beneath themselves in order to affect others. This is often a great way to wield the full intensity of otherwise lethal attacks in a less lethal fashion, though it's incredibly rough on the surroundings; an indirect strike requires an attack that is equal to the m.s. of the ground +2 CS, as it smashes it up in the process.
Indirect strikes can be used in two fashions. The first involves aiming all of one's effort directly below themselves, which creates a shockwave that affects everyone in the character's area. This wave will not inflict damage directly, but can definitely inflict a Slam result depending on the character's attack FEAT. Whether or not those present are Slammed, they may suffer indirect damage due to the collapse of their surroundings.
Alternately, a character may attack the ground between themselves and their target. This has the effect of spraying dirt, rock, concrete, or whatever else lies between the two foes at the target, causing damage of a type and intensity appropriate to its composition. This form of indirect strike is ideal for those characters with inherently lethal attacks, who wish to use them without killing everyone present.
Luring: a lure is an attempt to make oneself a target. Not quite a shielding maneuver, luring involves convincing a foe to attack them, only to move at the last minute. By making oneself an enticing target, the luring character grants his or her opponent a +2 CS to hit, but has the option of performing a defensive maneuver at the last second. If they miss, the attacker will strike whatever is immediately behind their target.
Moving Targets: hitting a target moving at high speed is considerably difficult - even before considering any defensive maneuvers they attempt! A character moving from one to five areas per turn inflicts a -1 CS to hit, another traveling at up to ten areas per turn causes their foes to attack them at a -2 CS, and anyone traveling faster inflicts a -4 CS to hit on anyone targeting them.
Multiple Targets: attacks can sometimes strike multiple targets at once. Projectile attacks may have a cone effect or may simply move straight through one target and into another. Similarly, a large melee weapon just might be able to strike many foes. Characters may attempt to hit multiple targets with a single attack at their leisure, but when doing so they consistently suffer a -4 CS penalty (on top of any defensive maneuvers made).
Players may resolve such assaults with either a single roll or one for each target - their choice.
Non-adjacent Melee: sometimes your foe is just barely out of reach of your fists... but not a lamp post! Using very large objects, super-strong characters can engage in melee even when not within striking distance of each other - as long as their weapons are long enough. Melee attempted in this fashion works normally, though again, one must be strong enough to lift that bus before hitting someone with it.
Postponing: a character who has the initiative against their foe may hold off on their action until the most ideal time - which is usually right before said foe executes his or her own. There is no consistent benefit or penalty to postponing in a rules sense, though doing so may conditionally prevent the loser of initiative from acting entirely, depending on the success of a postponer.
Restraint: though not applicable to all forms of attack, characters do have the option of restraining themselves in combat, holding back from unleashing their full power. The decision to pull one's punch may be made at any point, either before or after the dice are rolled - this is allowed in order to better protect players from inadvertently losing Karma.
One can reduce the damage indicated with Blunt Attack damage, Blunt Throwing damage, Energy damage, Force damage, and grappling attacks. Similarly, one can reduce the color result rolled on Blunt Attack damage, and both charging and grappling attacks.
Shielding: any character can perform a shield maneuver. With a green Fighting FEAT roll, one character can successfully interpose something between an attacker and the target of his or her ire. Most often, this involves someone trying to shield themselves from an assault; when successful, the object being used as a shield effectively becomes the target, and the attack must get through it to affect its wielder.
Sometimes, however, a character makes themselves the shield, absorbing an attack that was intended for someone else. The same basic rules apply in this instance, though typically the shielding character will absorb all of an assault unless it is particularly overpowering or lethal. Even more so if they actually use a shield while shielding someone else from an attack (a trick that requires a yellow FEAT, instead)!
If a shield maneuver is executed as a character's stated action, they may then perform an additional action afterward, if applicable - though at a -2 CS, unless they're used to wielding that object as a shield normally. However, if a character originally intended to do something else, and changed their action to a shielding maneuver, they may not perform any other action on that turn... assuming the maneuver succeeds to begin with.
The previous assumes that all else is normal, that there are no mitigating circumstances affecting a fight. As anyone can readily attest, however, the weather rarely plays ball with one's well laid plans. Sometimes, the situation around a battle - or even a specific character - will influence how actions play out. Special circumstances can occasionally help a body, but usually they make everything trickier.
A few of the most common environmental concerns include the following:
Fire: attacks that use fire directly are pretty straight-forward. Whether one is using a flamethrower or a psionic to produce flames, the basic damage inflicted is the same. Sure, the former's SD effect may be a bit more pronounced, but each directly inflicts Energy damage. But what of fires burning in the environment? These are generally handled a bit differently.
|A match||Feeble (2)|
|A campfire||Poor (4)|
|A burning room||Typical (6)|
|A burning house||Excellent (20)|
|A burning building||Remarkable (30)|
|Forest fire||Incredible (40)|
|Blast furnace interior||Amazing (50)|
|Volcano interior||Unearthly (100)|
|Surface of a star||Class 1000|
|Stellar core||Class 3000|
For one thing, an open fire radiates heat - a fact that humans have taken advantage of for thousands of years. Characters within the same area as a blaze will suffer -3 CS heat (Energy) damage, while those in the areas immediately surrounding that one will instead suffer -6 CS heat damage. Protective clothing and powers can blunt this damage, but individuals in the former may grow uncomfortable (ask a fireman).
The space blanketed in heat by a fire is also illuminated with a like intensity of light, unless it is filled with obscuring (and choking) smoke. If caught unaware by smoke, characters must pass an Endurance FEAT roll in order to act. This simulates an inability to breathe, and those who fail this FEAT will spend that turn coughing, unable to do anything else save for moving (hopefully) out of the area.
This is treated as if a character has held their breath for some time (green End (sta) FEAT) on the exhaustion table for the purposes of eventually losing consciousness. If a character is aware of smoke in advance, they can hold their breath or don protective breathing devices when available, and act relatively normally - for as long as they last in the face of whatever calamity surrounds them.
The other thing about fires is that they have a tendency to spread... and fast. Depending on the flammability of materials in the surroundings, a fire can spread at a maximum speed of one area each turn, though usually a bit slower depending on the circumstances involved. A campfire surrounded by rocks won't generally spread, while an open blaze in a refinery is cause to flee - and fast!
When an object either catches fire or is placed on (or in) an open flame, it may readily be destroyed. Fuel will explode, of course, while an icicle will melt and wood will burn. If something is less obvious, make a material strength check against the intensity of the fire. Objects that aren't destroyed will nonetheless channel heat through themselves, and their effective m.s. may be reduced by -1 CS if this FEAT fails.
Heat and Cold: in a perfect world, it would be pleasant out all the time, every day. Sadly, weather control technology is still in its infancy. Thus, characters should be mindful of temperature extremes in the midst of their adventures. Temperatures ranging from zero to thirty two degrees Fahrenheit, or from ninety to one hundred and twenty degrees Fahrenheit, are of Good (10) intensity.
|90° F to 120° F||Good (10)|
|120° F to 150° F||Excellent (20)|
|150° F to 212° F||Remarkable (30)|
Under such conditions, a character will generally suffer a -1 CS on all action FEATs they attempt. Furthermore, heavy exertion (such as running for your life) is incredibly difficult in extreme temperatures, and halves the amount of time a character can engage in such activity before FEAT rolls for exhaustion are called for. More intense levels of heat or cold will increase this to a -2 CS penalty on all action FEATs.
This is not necessarily set in stone, as characters who are acclimatized to non-temperate climates might be able to disregard these penalties somewhat. The inhabitants of a hot, steamy jungle might not suffer a penalty under Good (10) heat conditions - though higher temperatures would affect them normally. Similarly, growing up in the Arctic (or simply using basic cold weather gear) offers the same benefit for like cold.
When one's body is directly exposed to extreme temperatures (beyond Good (10) intensity), the danger of serious health hazards appears. The time it takes for such hazards to manifest is determined by one's Endurance score, on the exhaustion rate table. When a character finally fails a FEAT to avoid temperature hazards, they will begin to suffer from heat exhaustion or hypothermia, as is appropriate.
|0° F to 32° F||Good (10)|
|-30° F to 0° F||Excellent (20)|
|-100° F to -30° F||Remarkable (30)|
|Absolute zero||Unearthly (100)|
Each of these conditions will affect a character in three stages. Once the first is achieved, the hazard 'clock' will reset, and failing a temperature 'exhaustion' FEAT during this time will escalate a condition from its current stage to the next. Each stage of either hypothermia or heat exhaustion inflicts a -1 CS penalty to all rolls a character makes - on top of the penalties caused by the temperature itself.
Once a character has progressed past the third stage of either heat exhaustion or hypothermia, they are immediately subject to a Kill result, and will be every subsequent turn until they fall unconscious and begin losing Endurance ranks, or are removed from the temperature extremes that assail them. The time it takes to recover from either condition generally follows an arc mirroring that which saw it take place to begin with.
Inanimate matter is not immune to the effects of extreme temperatures, either. Objects subjected to very low or very high temperatures generally suffer from a -1 CS reduction to their material strength. If the heat or cold of an object reaches an intensity equal to at least its own m.s. -1 CS, a material strength check must be made to see if the object either melts, catches fire, suffers heat damage, or becomes especially brittle.
Depending on its composition, of course.
Ice: a common component of foul weather is ice. In nature, ice is most often of Typical (6) material strength. This will vary due to the thickness of the ice, though it is important to note that specialized powers (namely ice generation) can concoct ice that is of much greater material strength - it's all about how the water molecules align, really.
On the other hand, the material strength of ice - whatever it happens to be - is considered -2 CS when either fire or heat is applied to it.
Inclement Weather: on top of the actual temperature involved, the weather can cause further impediment quite literally by raining on one's parade.
|Normal fog, sprinkles, a dusting||Typical (6)|
|Standard rain, snow||Good (10)|
|Pea soup fog, hail||Excellent (20)|
|Thundershower, blizzard||Remarkable (30)|
|Thunderstorm, high winds||Incredible (40)|
|Normal tornadoes||Amazing (50)|
|Hurricane force winds||Unearthly (100)|
Strong winds or precipitation, whether it comes in the form of rain, sleet, or snow, will seriously hamper ranged combat. Though a light dusting or gentle breeze won't cause too many problems, strong weather (defined as Good (10) intensity or greater) will inflict a -1 CS penalty on all ranged combat. Remarkable (30) or greater weather events inflict a -1 CS penalty on all FEATs (on top of the previous).
Fog, on the other hand, has the effect of reducing the extent to which ranged combat may occur - primarily because it curtails long range vision. Each rank of fog (or smoke, for that matter) reduces the effective range of a character's vision, to a minimum of one area (just like poor lighting). As long as one can see their target, though, they do not suffer the -4 CS 'blindness' penalty.
Illness: during the adventures a character will undertake, they will be exposed to all manner of hazards. Most of these are pretty straight-forward, and can be readily avoided with a minimum of caution. Others are much more insidious, and may in fact not be apparent to one's senses (regular or otherwise). Most of these are environmental in nature, but some may be induced by super powers.
The primary causes of serious illness in characters, aside from the ascendant abilities of their foes, come in the form of either disease, poison, or radiation. Sure, the 'super' versions of these usually wear off in the short term, but what about those caused by the environment? Plodding about in the shadow of a nuclear reactor is begging for trouble, as is poking around in the sewers on a search for something or other.
In such instances, the Judge may call for an Endurance FEAT roll when the immediate situation is over, in order to determine if the character involved contracted any sort of illness. A green FEAT roll is usually all that is necessary in such situations, unless the exposure to... whatever... was particularly dire (like swallowing plutonium, or being dunked in an alien septic tank).
A minor illness, such as a cold or the flu, will typically run its course in a week (half that with proper bed rest). A major illness, on the other hand, might instead hamper a character for 1d10 months. At the end of each, they must pass an Endurance FEAT roll or lose one rank of such - suffering all the penalties that entails. At the end of the illness' duration, if they have any ranks of Endurance left, they'll live!
And if not, well, you know.
Recovery from such illnesses generally takes one quarter the total amount of time they were active in a character's body. If a character suffered from cancer due to acute asbestos inhalation for six months, they'll need six weeks after the illness is cured (or at least put into remission) before they'll be back to normal. Characters in recovery from an illness can regain one lost rank of Endurance for each week spent resting.
Poor Lighting: sadly, crime doesn't always occur at high noon. On occasion, characters will find themselves in combat at odd hours, and under dubious lighting conditions.
|Poorly lit room, city at night||Feeble (2)|
|Night in the country, overcast city night||Poor (4)|
|Overcast country night, dark rooms||Typical (6)|
|No light at all||Excellent (20)|
Each rank of darkness reduces the effective range of a character's sight by one area. It also imposes a -1 CS penalty on all action FEATs, with a maximum hindrance of -4 CS. Darkness of Excellent (20) or greater impedes one's sense of vision entirely, baring super human sensory capabilities, meaning one must rely upon those, or other senses, in order to act. Higher intensities of darkness actively work against anything generating light.
Radiation: while most comic books celebrate radiation and the wonderful things it can do for you, the truth is that the stuff is a highly toxic form of energy. The vast, vast majority of people that suffer extreme radiation exposure don't develop super powers. No, they mostly just get very, very ill, and usually die in relatively short order. Once it gets into something, you see, radiation is sticky.
|Ancient nuclear event||Poor (4)|
|Chunk of uranium||Typical (6)|
|Solar wind (constant)||Good (10)|
|Recent nuclear event||Excellent (20)|
|Vial of plutonium||Incredible (40)|
|Nuclear reactor core||Amazing (50)|
|Solar flare||Monstrous (75)|
|Atomic weapon discharge||Shift X (150)|
When an area is irradiated, it tends to hold onto that energy for quite a while. Most cannot perceive radiation directly, and in time it may not be readily apparent that a release of radioactivity had even occurred (see: Chernobyl). Radiation will discharge into non-radioactive materials coming in contact with irradiated matter in a SD fashion, though - until it's all used up, at least.
In play, most exposure to radiation will come in the form of characters blundering into a radioactive area. When this happens, they must pass an Endurance FEAT roll against the intensity of the lingering radioactivity each turn or suffer SD Energy damage. If some characters are affected and others are not, they may inadvertently discharge radiation into each other on contact.
For the most part, super powers that emit hazardous radiation inflict AP SD Energy damage, but once a character has shaken off (or 'shared') the SD component of such they won't suffer any serious ill effect. After exposure to radiation, however, all characters must usually make an Endurance FEAT roll to determine whether or not they suffer any illness as a result (even if that 'illness' involves mutation of some sort).
Slickness: there are several situations wherein a character might have to deal with the slickness of a surface.
|Asphalt, brickwork, concrete||Feeble (2)|
|Glass, unpolished steel||Typical (6)|
|Polished steel alloys||Good (10)|
|Ice-covered surface||Excellent (20)|
|Oil-slicked surface||Remarkable (30)|
|Non-stick surface||Incredible (40)|
|Frictionless surface||Class 1000|
Primarily, slickness comes into play when a character is attempting to traverse or climb an area that has been coated in something else, thus changing how slippery it is. Such substances tend to 'smooth out' the natural bumps and uneven nature of a surface, making it harder to safely interact with. Alternately, these substances can simply act as incredible lubricants, giving a surface less 'gription'.
On the other hand, some materials are built with being slick as a part of their design. Polished steel is incredibly smooth; getting a hand-hold on it is easier said than done! One must pass an Agility FEAT against the slickness of a surface in order to either act, climb or walk upon it, the failure of which might lead to a character falling to his or her doom (or at least onto their posterior).
Submersion: on occasion, adventurers will find themselves in the water - or, as it happens, beneath its surface. Water (or any other liquid, for that matter) is much more resistant to anything attempting to pass through it, which halves the range of thrown weapons and most other distance attacks. Projectile weapons not specifically built with water in mind are utterly useless.
Unless clinging onto an object, characters in the water are subject to being Slammed as if their Endurance was Shift 0 in rank - though luckily, water halves the distance of all Slam results. There is also the quintessential question of breathing; without some means to do so underwater, battle beneath the waves will often be very short - and usually quite deadly.
Finally, making attacks underwater generally inflicts a -2 CS penalty to hit.
Variant Gravity: one of those things that most everyone takes for granted, gravity is usually considered a constant. On occasion, however, characters will find themselves in an area with gravity vastly different than their own. In such circumstances, they need to be aware that many actions that they normally don't even think about will need to be executed in a considerably different fashion.
In situations with zero or microgravity, you can't walk anywhere - unless you have devices to aid in that form of locomotion. Instead, one must either crawl about the surface, holding on for dear life, or 'push' themselves from one surface to another. Similarly, ranged attacks have a line of sight range, as gravity won't bend their trajectories towards a surface. Unanchored characters may be Slammed as if they possessed Shift 0 Endurance.
When the gravity is higher than normal, on the other hand, everything is harder. The weight of everything is multiplied by the 'G' value, including that of the character. This means that all movement is hampered, if not nullified entirely. Projectile weapons are reduced in range by a like value; bullets in twice earth's gravity, for example, can only travel half as far before falling to the surface.