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Power Profile: Speed Powers

Super-speed is one of the more common powers,


whether a characters main theme or just one amongst a Speed Hazards
collection of abilities. Speed powers are all about moving,
acting, and reacting fast: at the upper-end, speedsters can Comic book speed powers tend to be truly extraordi-
circle the globe in seconds or perform a weeks work in the nary, allowing otherwise ordinary people to run many
blink of an eye. times the speed of sound, perhaps even nearing the
speed of light! They tend to ignore the various physics

Speed Descriptors problems involved in a human-sized figure moving at


that speed; realistically, theres no way for a human body
to withstand such stress and, even if that were possible,
Speed is the key descriptor for the powers in this
someone moving a Mach 20 (to say nothing of any sig-
profile. The Heros Handbook covers the concept of
nificant fraction of lightspeed) through a crowded city
speed in relation to ranks and measures on pages
would cause tremendous damage from air turbulence
1012: to determine speed in miles per hour (MPH)
and vibration.
simply add 9 (the time value of one hour) to the
speed rank. So speed rank 0 is 2 MPH, rank 1 is 4 The comics hand-wave away such concerns with talk of
MPH, and so on. The speed of sound is 770 MPH at frictionless auras or molecular vibration control and
sea level (speed rank 9 is enough to break the sound other unconscious safety mechanisms built-in to keep
barrier). super-speed from wrecking either the user or the environ-
ment. Likewise, they tend to ignore issues like perceiving
Lightspeed: The speed of light is 186,000 miles per
and reacting to obstacles at such high speeds or the dy-
second, putting it at nearly 670 million miles per hour,
namics of collisions: a speedster who tripped or slammed
or speed rank 29. Most characters are not likely to
into something moving even at the speed of sound would
have such a high rank (although, at 58 power points,
be instantly pulped by the kinetic energy, to say nothing of
its not outside the realm of possibility). On an Earth-
the effect of truly high speeds.
sized planet, with a circumference of approximately
25,000 miles, speed rank 24 is sufficient to circle the Like the comics, M&M tends to be quite forgiving when it
globe and be back at your starting point in a single comes to speedsters interacting with the environment; col-
move action. If youre okay making that a double lision damage based on speed rank may not be realistic,
move, speed rank 23 will do the trick. Anything faster but its sufficient and reflects how things tend to work in the
is largely wasted unless youre racing against another comics, where a speedster can get tripped up but not splat-
super-fast opponent, which the GM may prefer to tered all over the pavement. Brief and occasional failures of
handle as a challenge (Heros Handbook, page 185 the safety mechanisms of super-speed can make for good
See also Chapter 5 of the Gamemasters Guide). complications (see Speed Complications).

Power Profile: Speed Powers 1


Countering Flattening Wake
Speed powers by themselves are not used to counter many By zooming through an area at high speed, you can knock
effects: possibly slowing, paralyzing, or even biochemical people over like tenpins, making it that much easier for
effects (which could be countered or overcome by a super- you or your allies to mop them up.
fast metabolism). Some of the potential applications of
speed powerslike kicking up a powerful windmight be Flattening Wake: Reaction (while moving at high speed) Line
used to counter (see the Air Powers profile for some ex- Area Affliction (Resisted by Dodge; Dazed, Prone), Instant
amples). Recovery, Limited Degree, Limited to Directly Behind You 2
point per rank.
Effects countering speed powers either slow the character
down or create some environmental condition that does
so. Most speedsters cannot move fast if they cannot stand,
Lightning Disarm
much less run! One moment youre surrounded by people with guns, the
next, youre surrounded by startled opponents, wonder-

Speed Features ing how all their guns ended up in a pile at your feet!

Some potential Feature effects associated with Speed Lightning Disarm: Burst Area on Strength for Disarming,
Selective 2 points per rank (maximum rank equal to Strength).
Powers include the following:
You can subtly vibrate to blur your features enough
to make it difficult to recognize you even if you do Rapid Strike
not wear a mask to conceal your identity (or if your
You can land multiple hits in the time it takes most people
mask is lost for some reason).
to make one.
You (and anything you are wearing or carrying) are
immune to the various effects of moving at high Rapid Strike: Multiattack on Strength Damage 1 point per rank
speeds. This Feature may be an assumed benefit of up to Strength rank, 2 points per additional rank.
having speed powers in many settings, having no
cost associated with it. Sonic Boom
You have an innate sense of speed and can tell how
A deceptively simple attack: you snap your fingers at
fast something is moving (including yourself ) just
super-sonic speed, creating a micro sonic boom able to
by looking or by feeling its movement (such as from
momentarily stun or even incapacitate a target at close
within a vehicle).
range.
In a blur of motion, you can instantly change your
A speedster with this power and the Move-by Action ad-
clothes, allowing you to switch into your costume
vantage might also create a sonic boom by zipping past a
(for example) or back into civilian garb. If you have
target at high speed, perhaps even adding the Burst Area
5 or more ranks of Fast Action (following), then you
modifier to the power.
dont need this feature, as it can do the same thing.
Sonic Boom: Affliction (Resisted and Overcome by Fortitude;
Offensive Powers Dazed, Stunned, Incapacitated) 1 point per rank.

Offensive speed powers involve the ability to make oth-


erwise ordinary attacks very fast or take advantage of Super-Sonic Punch
the side-effects of moving at high speeds. Many of these
You put a lot of momentum behind your punch, allowing
powers benefit from advantages like Move-by Action and
you to hit an opponent like a freight train!
Takedown (particularly the second rank), allowing speed-
sters to combine their considerable movement with their Super-Sonic Punch: Strength-based Damage (momentum) 1
attacks. point per rank.

Speed Arrays
A common arrangement for speed powers is to assemble the power effects requiring move and free actions as stand-
alone powerssuch as a Super-Speed power consisting of Improved Initiative, Quickness, and a movement effect like
Speedand the effects requiring standard actions as an array of Super-Speed Stunts or similar effects, allowing the
character to switch between different offensive and utility speed powers from round to round. This array is also typi-
cally where less frequently used movement powers (like Dimensional Vibration) are found and it is the natural resource
for performing speed-related power stunts, essentially adding temporary Alternate Effects to the existing effects of
the array. You can also construct a Dynamic array of Quickness and Speed effects for a speedster who must balance
precision and fast action and flat-out linear movement speed.

2 Power Profile: Speed Powers


attack, you can instantly move somewhere else. Only
Vacuum attacks which catch you by surprise, or which cannot be
avoided by Dodge or Parry, have a chance of affecting
Moving at super-speed, you whip up a whirlwind that draws
you. A sufficiently large area effect might do so as well, if
all the air from an area, causing the targets to suffocate.
your Speed is insufficient to move you entirely out of the
Vacuum: Burst Area Affliction (Resisted and Overcome by targeted area (unlikely except for large area effects).
Fortitude; Fatigued, Exhausted, Incapacitated), Concentration,
Cumulative 4 points per rank. Untouchable: Immunity 80 (Dodge and Parry based attacks),
Concentration, Limited (not against surprise attacks or
sufficiently large area effects); Reaction (when targeted by an
Whirlwind Attack attack) on Speed 1 30 points + 3 points per additional rank of
Reaction on Speed.
You are everywhere on the battlefield at once, striking at
will against multiple opponents, taking on whole groups
by yourself.
Vibrational Phasing
By vibrating your molecules you can shift out of phase with
Power: Burst Area on Strength Damage, Selective 2 points per
ordinary matter, passing through it like a phantom. This is
rank up to Strength rank, 3 points per additional rank.
especially useful for speedsters able to run at speeds where
a collision with a solid object would be devastating, and it
Defensive Powers allows you to take straight paths through obstacles rather
than having to go around them.
The primary defensive power of speed is not being there
when the attack comes. Other defensive powers are Vibrational Phasing: Insubstantial 4 (Incorporeal) 20 points.
suited to dealing with the hazards of high speeds or react-
ing quicker than an attacker can follow. If you are only able to vibrate to pass through obstacles
while moving at high speeds, rather than becoming incor-
Fast Defense poreal at will to avoid attacks and such, use the following
(less expensive) version:
Your power enhances your reaction time, allowing you to
more easily dodge and evade attacks. Vibrational Phasing: Movement 3 (Permeate 3) 6 points.

Movement Powers
Fast Defense: Enhanced Dodge, Enhanced Parry 1 points per
rank of Enhanced Defense, 2 points per rank for both.

Movement powers are central speed abilities, given the


Frictionless focus on the ability to move quickly in various ways.

Even more than just basic immunity to the friction effects


of moving at high speeds (see Features) you are immune
Air Brakes
to all effects relying upon friction, including grabs and Stirring the air with your hands at super-speed whips up a
various types of bindings; you slip out of them easily, so powerful enough downdraft to provide an air cushion to
long as there is any means for you to do so. slow your fall and allow you to land safely.
Frictionless: Immunity 5 (grab and entrapment effects) 5 points. Air Brakes: Movement 1 (Safe Fall) 2 points.

Throwback Many speedsters also develop the ability to whip up Air


Cushions for other people, catching them in a powerful
When you defend, you can react fast enough to catch an updraft like a net of compressed air.
incoming projectileeven a bulletand hurl it back at
the attacker at the same speed. The powers range allows Air Cushion: Movement 1 (Safe Fall), Affects Others, Burst Area
you to intercept attacks on others within your range. If 3 points.
you can throw the attack at any target, rather than just
back at the attacker, apply the Redirect modifier, increas-
ing cost by 1 point per rank.
Dimensional Vibration
Combining high speeds and changes in your molecular vi-
Throwback: Deflect, Reflect, Limited to Projectiles 1 point bratory frequency, you can phase shift out of this dimen-
per rank. sion altogether and into others. Many speedsters encoun-
ter this effect as a complication of their powers rather
Untouchable than an ability they control although they may develop it
as a regular power stunt in order to get back home.
You react so fast that when you go on the defensive
(taking your standard action each round to concentrate), Dimensional Vibration: Movement 2 (Dimensional Travel,
you are practically untouchable: when you perceive an parallel universes) 4 points.

Power Profile: Speed Powers 3


materials (using your speed and vibratory rate like an actual
Run on Water drill). You can even shift direction as you bore downwards,
moving through the earth like a drilling machine.
You move fast enough that your feet are like stones skip-
ping across the surface of a pond, allowing you to run
Spinning Drill: Burrowing 1 point per rank.
across the surface of water without breaking the surface
tension enough to sink.
Super-Temporal Speed
Run On Water: Movement 1 (Water-Walking), Limited to while
moving 1 point. A combination of tremendous speed (although it may not
need to be more than 88 miles per hour...) and vibrational
control allows you to break the time barrier and travel
Run up Walls through time. Like Dimensional Vibration (previously)
You can run fast enough to defy gravity over short dis- speedsters often discover this power by accident after
tances, allowing you to run up the sides of sheer surfaces, being pushed to their limits in other circumstances, having
barely slowing down. to duplicate it as a power stunt in order to return to their
own time (after having an adventure or two in other time
Run Up Walls: Movement 1 (Wall-Crawling), Limited to while periods).
moving 1 point.
Super-Temporal Speed: Movement 3 (Time Travel) 6 points.

Running Jump
You take advantage of the considerable momentum of your Utility Powers
movement to fling yourself through the air like a catapult. Speed utility powers harness the various beneficial side-
effects of moving and reacting at high speeds.
Running Jump: Leaping, Quirk (Requires a running start, 1
point) 1 point for 2 ranks, than +1 point per rank.
Cyclone
Running Speed Stirring the air at super-speed, you kick up a power-
ful cyclone capable of picking up and moving objects
One of the primary speed powers, you have considerable where you direct them. The effect is relatively crude,
running speed. At low ranks, youre as fast as a swift land capable of moving things, but no good for delicate work
animal (like a horse or cheetah), while at high ranks, you or much more than moving something someplace and
are faster than even the fastest aircraft! then setting it down with a final gust. The winds kicked
up by the cyclone may also stir up dust and small loose
Note that this power is strictly linear movement speed,
objects.
in order to accomplish tasks (other than moving from
place to place) faster, see the Fast Action power. The Cyclone: Burst Area Move Object, Concentration, Side-Effect
combination of the two lets you do things like search an (limited fine movement and powerful winds) 1 point per rank.
entire building: moving at great speed and also opening,
closing, and looking through hiding places quickly.
Fast Action
Running Speed: Speed 1 point per rank.
Rather than sheer linear ground speed, you act fast, able
Some speedsters have high flight speed rather than to do things quicker than ordinary people, perhaps so
ground speed, substituting Flight for Speed. quick that you can accomplish tasks in the blink of an eye.
This is the second common component of super-speed,
Flight Speed: Flight 2 points per rank. and it allows you to accomplish a variety of tricks, from
disassembling a getaway car out from under a group of
crooks to rebuilding a destroyed house in seconds.
Share Speed
Note that Quickness does not increase movement speed
You enable others to move as fast as you. Some speed- over distance, so this power is limited without accompa-
sters may have this modifier for powers like Fast Action nying Speed. For example, you cannot search an entire
and Lightning Reflexes as well as Running Speed. If you city with just enough ranks of Quickness to cover the
can Share Speed at a distance, add the Ranged modifier. time, unless you also have the Speed to cover the dis-
tance. The same with searching through every volume
Share Speed: Affects Others on Running Speed 1 point per rank. in a vast library. On the other hand, you can read a
book amazingly fast, or attempt all the possible code
combinations in a lock, or assemble (or disassemble) a
Spinning Drill machine, and so forth.
By spinning rapidly in place, you become like a human drill-
Fast Action: Quickness 1 point per rank.
bit, able to bore down into the earth or even through harder

4 Power Profile: Speed Powers


Fast Healing Disability
Speedsters generally need to be pretty physically capable
Your metabolism is so fast you can heal in a mere fraction
in order to use their powers, but the demands of moving
of the usual time.
at super-speed may lead to some complications. The most
common is for speedsters to have tremendous metabolic
Fast Healing: Regeneration 1 point per rank.
needs; some of their energy may come from elsewhere
but they might need to consume a massive number of
Lightning Reflexes calories to fuel their powers. A speedster who doesnt get
the necessary fuel might suffer from Power Loss or other
Along with moving and acting fast, the third major com- physical side-effects like fatigue or even incapacitation.
ponent of super-speed is reacting quickly. This power im-
proves your initiative modifier, often so much that only The other common disability for speedsters is that their
other speedsters have any chance at all of beating you accelerated metabolism causes them to age at a faster
when it comes to acting first in the initiative order. rate, essentially burning out. A speedster a thousand
times faster than a normal person might also have a lifes-
Lightning Reflexes: Enhanced Advantage (Improved Initiative) pan one hundred times shorter, aging to death in just a
1 point per rank. year! This complication mainly comes into play as a mo-
tivation for the character to seek a cure for the condition.
Quicker Than The Eye
Power Loss
You move in a blur of motion, almost impossible to see
(although others with Quickness or Rapid Vision might be Speed powers are not easily countered or removed, other
able to counter this power). than by Nullify effects which specifically target them. In-
dividual speedsters may have their own peculiarities to
Quicker Than the Eye: Concealment 4 (Visual), Limited to while their powers, such as a blessing from the Gods of Speed,
moving 4 points. which can be revoked at their whim for a failure to live
up to their expectations, or dependence on a mysterious
Speed-Learning extradimensional power source, which could be cut off by
certain conditions.
You can cram at super-speed, instantly learning how to
A more common sort of Power Loss for speedsters is tem-
do something. The knowledge doesnt stick however, so
porary loss of their protection from the side-effects of
you dont retain the information for more than one use of
moving at super-speeds (see Speed Descriptors). These
the skill.
types of losses may be due to in the characters powers,
Speed-Learning: Enhanced Advantage 1 (Beginners Luck)
natural interference (due to anything from sunspots to
1 point. exposure to experimental energies or chemicals), or the
nefarious schemes of a foe.

Speed Complications Reputation


Complications of speed powers often involve the discon-
A speedster unable to slow down, who always looks like
nect between a super-fast character and a world moving
a jittery blur, or gives off sparks of electricity or the like, is
at a normal pace.
going to have to deal with some strange reactions.

Accident Temper
Moving and reacting at tremendous speed can lead to ac-
To a speedster, the whole world can appear painfully slow,
cidents due to the side-effects of a speedsters powers (see
and dealing with ordinary people is a constant exercise in
Speed Descriptors for more on this). Fortunately, speedsters
patience. This leads to speedsters who are hotheads with
can clean up their messes almost as quickly as they can cause
short tempers, likely to go off at a moments provocation
them, although some things cannot be repaired or replaced.
or otherwise act without thinking in comparison to others.

Addiction Weakness
While it is not a common complication for heroes, some
A super-fast metabolism can make a speedster vulnerable
speedsters may literally be on speed for their powers,
to certain Fortitude effects, particular toxins and diseases,
dependent on some type of drug or chemical. Without it,
which have a more pronounced effect: an increase in the
they may suffer from Power Loss or the drug may be psy-
resistance DC or one or more additional degrees of effect
chologically or physically addictive. Similarly, a speedster
imposed by the GM (including having successful resis-
may depend on medications in order to slow down and
tance still inflict at least one degree of effect).
interact with the world at close to normal speeds.

Power Profile: Speed Powers 5


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6 Power Profile: Speed Powers