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I love the game DC Adventures. Not only does it feature half of my favorite comic book characters (the other half residing in the Marvel Universe), but it also launched the third edition of Mutants and Masterminds, one the best superhero RPGs ever created. In most respects, the game earns an A+ from me. The mechanics are streamlined and elegant, and the layout is beautiful. I’m very pleased. That being said, no game has ever satisfied me 100%, so there are a couple of areas that I feel need tweaking to suit my particular gaming style. Among those areas are the Ability Benchmarks and the actual write-ups for some of the DC Heroes characters.
ABILITY BENCHMARKS: I have two issues with the Ability Benchmarks as presented in the game. First, the values changed from Mutants and Masterminds 2E, but the designation for “human maximum” wasn’t adjusted accordingly. In Mutants and Masterminds 2E, for example, the “human maximum” for all Abilities was set at 25, which granted a +7 Modifier. A character with a Strength score at this level could lift up to 1,600 lbs., which might seem excessive, but which comes close to accurately expressing the prowess exhibited by Captain America and other “peak human” characters as they appear in the comics. Mutants and Masterminds 3E slightly changed the way Abilities work. In this version of the rules, the old Ability “score” is dropped in favor of a straight modifier. Gone, then, is the aforementioned 25, but the +7 modifier (now expressed as Strength 7) remains as the “human maximum” for Abilities. The values, however,
have changed, so a character with Strength 7 can now lift 3 tons! As far as I’m concerned, this no longer matches what I consider to be the “human maximum” as presented in either real life or in the genre material. One solution to this dilemma is to assume that Abilities now have different maxima. Indeed, the game designers seem to have assumed as much. A “peak human” (or near “peak human”) character like Batman, for instance, is presented as having a Strength 4, a Dexterity 7, and a Fighting 14. There is nothing wrong with this approach, except that I personally don’t like it. It messes with my sense of order, and it makes it confusing for my players during character creation. The rules and tables presented in this document, therefore, take a different approach, tweaking the benchmarks presented in DC Adventures. CHARACTER WRITE-UPS: Obviously, tweaking the Ability Benchmarks means tweaking some of the writeups presented in DC Adventures to match my rules changes. In addition, I prefer slightly different interpretations of some of the DC characters presented in DC Adventures. Specifically, I prefer my Batman a little more human than “Bat-God,” and I prefer my Superman a bit more powerful, cheery, optimistic, competent, and intelligent than he has been presented for the last 15 years or so. In addition, I’ve assigned values to some of my favorite Marvel Characters and included these in the tables below. Why? Just because I like ‘em! NOTES ON ADJUSTMENTS: I thought some of you might be interested in how I arrived at the new values presented below. First, I decided that 5 would be the new “human maximum” for all Abilities. That meant that I had to adjust all values from 1 – 7 to fit the new benchmarks. In general, I approved of the relative values that the game designers assigned to the various characters in the core book, so I wanted to keep those rankings consistent. In order to do so, I used the following table:
ORIGINAL RANK 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
ADJUSTED RANK 1 2 3 4 4 5 5
The exception to this rule is Fighting, which the game designers seemed to have treated differently from all the other Abilities. What I did with Fighting was divide the assigned value by two (rounding down), and then convert that value using the above table. Batman, for instance, has a Fighting 14 in the core book. Fourteen, divided by two is seven. If we then convert that value using the table above, Batman ends up with a Fighting 5. This is a good time to point out that lowering Batman’s Fighting Ability in no way lowers his combat ability in the game. Indeed, his final combat values are pretty close (if not identical) to those presented in the core book. They are just purchased differently. The use of Advantages like Close Attack or Ranged Attack (which I treat as overall fighting skills) compensate for the reduced Fighting score, so Batman remains impressive on the battlefield, even while his rank in Fighting is made consistent with the other Abilities. Stats above 7 were generally left as-is. I only adjusted them if I preferred a slightly different interpretation of a particular character. For the most part, this only happened with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor. MORE TO COME: I’m working on a similar document that provides benchmarks for Skills as well as for Combat and Defense values. I am also refining a conversion matrix that I use as a guide for converting characters between a series of systems, including HERO, SAGA, BASH and Savage Worlds. In the meantime, I hope the following tables are interesting, if not useful.
ALTERNATE ABILITY BENCHMARK TABLE
CATEGORY RANK -5 -4 WEAK HUMAN -3 -2 -1 AVERAGE HUMAN 0 1 2 HEROIC HUMAN 3 4 5 6 7 SUPERHUMAN 8 9 10 11 12 WORLD CLASS SUPERHUMAN 13 14 15 16 17 LEGENDARY SUPERHUMAN 18 19 20 21 22 COSMIC ENTITY 23 24 25 Superman’s Strength and Stamina Thing’s Strength and Stamina Wonder Woman’s Strength and Stamina Sub-Mariner’s Strength and Stamina Spider-Man’s Agility, Mister Fantastic’s Intellect EXAMPLES Completely inept or disabled Weak; infant Younger child Child, elderly, impaired Below average; teenager Average adult Above average Gifted Best in a nation One of the best in the world Best ever, peak human
RANK -1 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Captain Marvel, Superman Hulk Thing J’onn J’onzz, Thor, Wonder Woman Iron Man She-Hulk, Sub-Mariner Spider-Man Aquaman Doctor Strange, Zatanna Flash II, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mister Fantastic Black Canary, Cyclops, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Nightcrawler, Plastic Man, Robin, Storm Daredevil, Hawkeye, Nightwing Batman, Black Panther, Wolverine Captain America EXAMPLES
RANK -1 0 1 2 3 Iron Man, Robin Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Zatanna Black Canary, Cyclops, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Flash II, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Mister Fantastic, Nightcrawler, Nightwing, Storm Batman, Black Panther, Plastic Man Captain America Spider-Man, Wolverine EXAMPLES
4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
J’onn J’onzz, Wonder Woman
Captain Marvel, Superman
RANK -1 0 1 2 Hulk Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Green Lantern, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, J’onn J’onzz, She-Hulk, Superman, Thing, Thor, Zatanna, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Storm, SubMariner Aquaman, Batman, Black Canary, Flash II, Plastic Man, Robin Black Panther, Captain America, Daredevil, Nightwing, Wolverine EXAMPLES
RANK -1 0 1 Mister Fantastic, Thing Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Doctor Strange, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, J’onn J’onzz, She-Hulk, Storm, Sub-Mariner, Superman, Thor Black Canary, Flash II, Green Lantern, Human Torch, Wolverine Batman, Black Panther, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Nightwing, Plastic Man, Robin, Zatanna Captain America, Daredevil, Nightcrawler Wonder Woman Spider-Man Hulk EXAMPLES
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
3 4 5 6
Nightcrawler Wonder Woman Spider-Man 7
RANK -1 0 1 Cyclops, Doctor Strange, Flash II, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Nightcrawler, Plastic Man, Zatanna Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Storm Aquaman, Black Canary, Hulk, J’onn J’onzz, Nightwing, Robin, Sub-Mariner, Superman, Thing Batman, Black Panther, Captain America, Daredevil, Wolverine, Wonder Woman EXAMPLES
3 4 5 6 7
RANK -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 Plastic Man Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Thor Aquaman, Black Canary, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Nightcrawler, She-Hulk, Storm, Sub-Mariner, Thing, Wolverine, Wonder Woman Daredevil, Doctor Strange, J’onn J’onzz, Nightwing, Spider-Man, Zatanna Black Panther, Flash II, Robin, Superman Batman, Iron Man Hulk EXAMPLES
RANK -1 0 1 2 Black Canary, Green Arrow, Human Torch, Plastic Man, She-Hulk, Sub-Mariner, Thing, Thor, Wolverine Aquaman, Cyclops, Flash II, Green Lantern, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Mister Fantastic, Nightcrawler, Storm Daredevil, Invisible Woman, J’onn J’onzz, Nightwing, Robin, Spider-Man, Zatanna Batman, Black Panther, Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman Hulk EXAMPLES
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
4 5 6 7 8
Doctor Strange Captain Marvel
RANK -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 Spider-Man Black Canary, Daredevil, Flash II, Invisible Woman, Mister Fantastic, Plastic Man, Robin, She-Hulk, Thing Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Cyclops, Doctor Strange, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkeye, Human Torch, Iron Man, J’onn J’onzz, Nightcrawler, Sub-Mariner, Wolverine Black Panther, Nightwing, Storm, Thor, Zatanna Batman, Captain America, Superman, Wonder Woman Hulk EXAMPLES
ALTERNATE SKILL BENCHMARKS FOR MUTANTS AND MASTERMINDS: 3E
Having finished my Alternate Ability Benchmarks for Mutants and Masterminds 3E, I decided to tackle the issue of Skill benchmarks. In this case, I’m using the term “Skill” pretty liberally to include not only Skills, but also levels of the Advantages Close Attack and Ranged Attack, as well as Defenses. The values found in the following table are meant to provide players with guidelines for how to think about these various factors while building their characters, and are not meant to be proscriptive. The “Skill Category” column provides labels for the various levels of training. The “Description” column equates the character’s level of proficiency to real world measures of skill mastery. That doesn’t, however, mean that a character with a skill at +15 necessarily has a Ph.D. or elite training in that particular field. It simply means that the individual performs at that level of ability. Spider-Man, for instance, might only have purchased +5 in Dodge (the equivalent of “basic training”), but when added to his Agility 9 that +5 becomes a +14. Spidey has achieved the level of Master with his Dodge ability, despite his lack of training! The “Total Bonus” column refers to the sum of Ability + Advantages + Skills. To determine what your character’s level of training is, subtract the Ability from the total modifier and compare the result to the table below. Captain America, for instance, might have the attack Shield Bash +20. To find out what his level of training is, subtract his Fighting 5 from that total. Compare the +15 to the table below, and you end up with “elite training” (or the equivalent of a seasoned Ph.D. in the sweet science of shield-slinging).
ALTERNATE SKILL BENCHMARK TABLE
SKILL CATEGORY UNTRAINED TOTAL BONUS 0 The equivalent of a Bachelor’s degree and other forms of basic training The equivalent of a Master’s degree or professional training The equivalent of a Ph.D. or other forms of elite training Equivalent to a human being with the highest possible levels of training and talent Truly beyond the reach of un-augmented human beings DESCRIPTION
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