Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[V&V]New Series: FBI Guide To Metahumans: Ice Queen

I love Villains & Vigilantes, because it is the one superhero game that is easiest to create a character, and is inspirational just by looking at the list of powers. The others require either too much effort (Champions, GURPS Supers, Supergame, Superworld), end up forcing particular powers on the characters (Superworld, Champions), are too closely tied to a particular background (Marvel Super Heroes), or are not to my taste in other ways (DC Heroes, just about any superhero game from the last 10 years except Godlike). It is possible to make a character in V&V almost as quickly as a character in original D&D, which is no small feat.

Anyway, I have a superhero (or, more accurately, metahuman) world in my head, where I've been coming up with metahumans off and on for years. In the world I envision, there are a couple of characters taken from my favorites in V&V's default background and from GURPS IST, but the majority are my own creations. Obviously, some are inspired by heroes and villains from the comics, but with the serial numbers filed off (though a few remain recognizable). In that world, things are not so simple as the V&V alignments of Good, Evil, and Neutral, but then neither is V&V as presented in the supplements. Instead, there are a number of "alignments" that can be chosen, which amount to factions. Some factions are allied, some are opposed, and some are indifferent to each other, which determine the equivalent to the basic Good/Evil sides. The major factions include: US Government, The Public (which is a catch-all for everyday people, and can't be chosen by heroes, villains, or mutants), Mutants, Mutant Supremacists, the State Governments, other national Governments, and so on.

Mutants (that is, any metahuman character or character with psionic powers) are treated by the "One in a Million" rule. That is, metahumans with significant powers exist in the world with a frequency of about one per million population. There are about 313 in the US in 2012, for example. There are other heroes, who have powers from devices, or magical powers, or extreme training. The FBI Guide that will be given in this series, though, covers only the one in a million and perhaps other mutants.

Things are not so simple in the world, of course, as just humans and metahuman powers. There are mutants who do not have significant powers - these are the completely disenfranchised. They are mutants and undergo the same prejudice and treatment, but have no compensating abilities or talents. They might look bizarre, but some are fortunate to look human. They simply carry mutated genes. Their children might have abilities, or look inhuman, or perhaps they will just be another generation of carriers. There are also a couple of mutant races, where particular mutant powers bred true. There will probably be a few entries in the FBI Guide dealing with those.

To kick it off, here's an entry for you:

Ice Queen

Identity: Lily Snowfield
Side: Protectors
Sex: Female
Experience: 5722
Level: 3
Age: 22
Training: Agility


1. Ice Powers: 6" range, 1d12 dmg, PR=5 per attack

2. Emotion Control (Love the Ice Queen): 12" range, PR=8 per successful hit

Weight: 125 lbs
Basic Hits: 3
Agility Mod: -

Strength: 15
Endurance: 11
Agility: 8
Intelligence: 12
Charisma: 14

Reactions from:
Allies: +1
Enemies: -1

Hit Mod: 1.078
Hit Points: 4
Damage Mod: 0
Heal Rate: 0.75
Accuracy: -2
Power: 46
Carrying Cap: 280 lbs.
Basic HTH: 1d6
Movement Rates: 34" ground
Det. Hidden: 10%
Det. Danger: 14%
Inventing Points: 3.6
Inventing: 36%

Origin & Background: In High School, Lily was thought of as the most attractive girl, and she developed a cold disposition to fend off her suitors. When her mutant powers manifested, they enhanced her icy disposition, even as they drew in everyone who saw her.

(As an aside, the following mutant characters from V&V's default background are part of this one: Skyhawk, Nomad, The Shrew, Evergreen, Dreamweaver, and Marionette. I may include others, such as Kali, who is not a metahuman.)


  1. I agree that it is easier to make characters in V&V than in Champions. I also agree that the V&V powers list sparks the imagination. However, I don't know what you mean by Champions "forcing particular powers on the characters."

    1. It's next to impossible to build a Champions superhero without buying extra DEX, PD, ED, and SPD. Those stats are valuable out of all proportion. I've rarely seen a character that doesn't have Force Field or Armor, or at least Resistant PD/ED, usually with limitations to make it look more like a suit, or like tough skin, or whatever. I admit that I've stopped with 4th edition, and those issues may have been fixed in 5 or 6, but they hadn't been touched up to then.

    2. This is a fair statement. (Semantically, I was thinking of characteristics as distinct from powers.) Also, in Champions, there is the perceived need to 'max out' on disadvantages.

    3. I once made a Champions character whose primary powers were a SPD of 9 or something (11? I forget), a very high DEX (uh, 29? 35? something ridiculous like that), Shrinking, and Flight. He'd sidle up, unseen, with his movement unaffected by the Shrinking and pummel people to death with STR 10 blows and martial arts bonus maneuvers, all while avoiding return attacks like a boss. Maybe one day I'll write a post discussing the insights I gained about point-based character design systems from that and other experiments.

    4. I should add that the character was called "Dragonfly", and was based on a combination of thinking about the precision flight of that insect and the things that I saw people (and sample characters) buying for every character in the game.

    5. Speaking of point-buy systems, I believe I heard Jeff Dee say in a recent BAMF podcast that he's looking to include a point-buy option in the next version of V&V. He definitely sang the praises of random chargen, but wants to include point-buy for those occasions when the dice give you a power set that is not just weird, but unworkable. You'll be able, if you like, to swap out a left-field power for another more fitting one of the same point value.

    6. It sounds like it could be a good idea, but since I already allow reasonable changes (in fact, if the player wants and knows the system well enough, or is willing to work with me, I'd allow complete discretion in choosing powers to suit a conception), it won't really change much for me.

  2. I like the introduction of the "completely disenfranchised" into your setting. That touch of realism in regard to mutation changes up the conflict a bit between humans and mutants. Some mutants become "just freaks", but there is also little to envy about their situation. It would be interesting to see how that plays out at the table. I know this isn't new to the genre, but I'm glad you're including it.

    1. Thanks! I got the idea from two places: the Morlocks in the Marvel setting, some of whom have ridiculously worthless powers, and the Deuces from the Wild Cards setting. I actually had to struggle with the idea for a while, as I was thinking that maybe there should be more moral ambiguity (mutants really are going to replace "normal" humans, so their fears are justifiable), but finally decided that the civil rights parallels are just too ripe with possibility to ignore. So, yeah, it's been done, but that's because it's a really good idea!

    2. Er, Jokers from Wild Cards (Deuces, too, but they weren't the main idea source).