The super first must pick her primary Power category (Physical, Social, or Mental). Power Ranks in this category are improved at a rate of 6 times the current rating. Power Stunts cost only 3 Story Points points for Primary powers.
The super may then choose one of the two remaining categories as her secondary Power category. Secondary category Powers are improved at a cost of 8 times the current rating. Power Stunts cost 5 Story Points points for secondary Powers.
The remaining category will be the super’s tertiary Power category. The super may choose one or more powers from it; however, these may not be improved with Story Points save to purchase new Power Stunts, which cost a full 7 Story Points a piece.
A new Power, if the character gets the opportunity during the game to purchase one, costs 10 points in the primary or secondary Power category, and 15 points in the tertiary Power category.
If the super’s primary Power category is Physical, he may purchase extra health levels, as the Power, with Story Points.
If the super’s primary Power category is Mental, he may purchase the Iron Will Power with Story Points, even if he did not start the game with it.
If the super’s primary Power category is Social, he may receive one or more points in each expendable advantage at the start of every game session. This includes Willpower and Power Charge, as well as any other advantages bestowed by other Powers (Rage, for example). This will typically be within the range of one to five points each; the Mastermind may assign these, or may ask the player to roll a die and halve the result (rounding up) to get a range of 1 to 5.
The super’s primary Power category (Physical, Social, or Mental) is one in which he can exceed the 5-point limit with Story Points. Attributes in other categories may exceed 5, but only as an expression of powers. This category need not be the one you chose to spend 7 points on in character creation. The normal maximum score for an Attribute increased in this way is 10.
Power Potential and Actual Power Level
The Power Potential represents the super’s maximum potential; how great she may some day become. It is always at least equal to the Actual Power Level, and represents the ultimate limit of Rank that the super can achieve in her Powers. This level is set at the end of character creation and can't be improved with Story Points; it will not exceed 10. Normal level (to make what Marvel refers to as Alpha-Class) is 5.
The Actual Power Level is the current ceiling for the super’s Power Ranks. This level can be improved with Story Points to eventually match the Power Potential.
The super may start with no more than 4 Powers in any case (exception: see the Alter Ego Power). Mega Attributes and Hyper-Abilities do not count against this limit. Powers bought with Story Points do not count against this limit, either.
If the Power listing shows only one Rank (like ● or ●●●●) then that is the cost of the Power, and it can never be improved. If the Ranks only go up to a certain point less than 5 (like Rage, which goes to ●●●) it cannot be improved past that point.
Note: most Powers are only described to Rank 5 in the text, but can be improved past that point.
Some Powers have optional variations, which can be purchased with a few extra Freebie points. These variations may also return Freebie points if they weaken the Power. Some listings require that you pick a variation (like the Absorption/Conversion Powers). All of the energy Powers (except Energy Resistance) require that you pick a type of energy from the Energy List. Those energies marked with an asterisk (*), much like Powers with such a mark, cost double to purchase. Thus, Energy Channeling (Balefire) costs twice as much to buy and improve with Story Points than Energy Channeling (Fire).
A Power Stunt is a trick that you can do with your Power (or a special variation on the Power which might only be available at character creation) once you achieve a certain Rank. The Rank of the Power Stunt is the Rank that you need in the Power before you can use it. Some Power Stunts have prerequisites; these Stunts or Powers must be purchased, if possible, before that Stunt can be bought or even developed. A Stunt can be bought with Story Points in the following manner: first, get all of the stuff you need to buy it (proper Rank, all prerequisites). Then, attempt it successfully (if possible) at least five times, each time at the cost of a Willpower point. Once that is done, the super may purchase the Stunt with Story Points. If the Stunt cannot be tried out before it is bought, the super spends five Willpower in one lump sum (or over time) and then purchases it with the Story Points. Once a Stunt is bought, it can be used in future (usually) without expending Willpower.
Active vs. Passive Powers
All the Powers in this supplement (and some of the variants and Power Stunts, too) are marked with letters in square brackets. For example, the Power: Telepathy has [AH] after its name. The first letter in these brackets is an indicator of mitochondrial activity. The second, a measure of concentration, is treated below.
Essentially, supers typically have strange cellular structure (owing to their strange DNA). This allows them to have weird abilities like Energy Emission, etc. The fuel source for these Powers is the mitochondria. They give off an energy pattern (called a 'super signature') that is detectable to certain Powers and sophisticated equipment.
Most Powers are active, which means that some part of the Power's operation requires a burst of energy from the mitochondria. This is true even of Energy Absorption/Conversion - energy is used to change the nature of the energy the super absorbs! Note that this energy is metabolic in nature, and is expressed in a certain pattern. This pattern is unique to the super, but has many features in common with the patterns expressed by other supers. Thus, these patterns can be detected and suppressed.
Botching a roll with an active Power will frequently result in the loss of a point of Power Charge.
Passive Powers are different. They require no special metabolic energy when the Power is used. Body Weaponry is an example of this. All of the mitochondrial energy of this type was exerted in creating the Weaponry. It is not required to maintain its existence, or to 'pop the claws'.
Thus, if the super is exposed to a Power Dampening Field, it is very likely that his active Powers will be suppressed. However, it is also likely that his passive Powers will continue to work. For example, Logan loses the use of his Healing Factor when exposed to such an effect, but not his claws.
Passive Powers are also more difficult to copy using Power Mimicry, etc. The difficulty to do such a thing is two higher than normal.
Active Powers, naturally, are indicated with an 'A'. Passive Powers are indicated with a 'P'.
Note that most Power Stunts (except ones that change the nature of the Power) are active, even if the Power itself is passive. Mere permanent physical changes (such as making a set of Body Weaponry retractable) are still passive.
Note also that some Powers are marked with two or more letter pairs. This means that the Power operates either actively or passively at the Mastermind's discretion. This won't usually change over time, so ask for a ruling when you take the Power. It may also mean that some uses of the Power are active, and some are passive.
As mentioned above, all Powers in this supplement are marked with two letters in square brackets. The second letter in each pair denotes the concentration level. For example, Energy Emission is marked with [AL].
There are three levels of concentration, which basically denote how much attention the super has to pay to the Power when it is in use. High concentration Powers (marked with an 'H') take a very intense level of attention. Telepathy is a high-concentration Power. The super can do nothing more complicated than walking around, talking, etc. with this Power, and cannot split her dice pool (except in special circumstances). In the case of effects that she is concentrating to maintain, her concentration can be disrupted by a physical attack that successfully hits. Most of these maintenance effects, however, allow her to split her dice pool.
Low-concentration Powers (marked with an 'L') are the most common kind. The super has to think to activate it, and use what is referred to as light concentration to maintain it. Light concentration maintenance effects with usually either require a split of dice pool (usually equating only to the loss of one die to the other action - no new roll is usually required to maintain the concentration) or an increase in diffs to all new actions. Many low-concentration Powers do not require or feature such maintenance effects. Dice pools can nearly always be split to perform multiple actions in conjunction with this Power, as per normal. It is difficult to disrupt this level of concentration; no easier than for any other action that the super might attempt.
No-concentration Powers (marked with an 'N') are the most desirable. They require negligible concentration, or none at all. Frequently, such a Power is involuntary. Wolverine's claws are an example of this. Of course, certain uses of this Power may require normal actions - like attacking with the claws, for instance. Usually, no dice pool split is required to use this Power. It is automatic, and impossible to disrupt the concentration required using normal means. Complete unconsciousness frequently does the trick, though...
Note also that some Powers are marked with two or more letter pairs. This means that the Power operates either at one concentration level or another at the Mastermind's discretion. This won't usually change over time, so ask for a ruling when you take the Power. It may also mean that some uses of the Power require a lower level of concentration, and some require a higher level.
To those thoughtful souls who kept telling me that supers needed an exhaustible attribute to draw power from (notably John Benner and David Okum), I finally bow my head and admit the truth. The Power Charge is an Advantage that is similar, in some ways, to the Blood Pool of vampires or the Ka of werewolves. Being that supers don't necessarily have the physical advantages enjoyed by those two races, however, it was necessary to modify the concept a bit.
Power Charge has an initial value (at character creation time) equal to the super’s Actual Power Level. At no time can the Power Charge be any higher than the Power Potential, except with the use of the Power: Juju Focus or Charge Building. In essence, the Power Charge represents the super’s energy reserves. Any active Power is subject to its effects.
On the character sheet, you will notice that there are circles to fill in to denote the permanent level of the super’s Power Charge. There are also squares to denote the temporary level. Yes, this is an expendable resource. The super’s temporary Power Charge can be expended in two ways: voluntarily and involuntarily.
A voluntary expenditure of a point of Power Charge will decrease the difficulty of the super’s next roll to use a Power by one. It can also be spent in place of Willpower for Powers that require a Willpower expenditure to function (such as Horror Factor). Note that only one point of Power Charge can be spent per round in this way.
The other, less salutary way to lose a point of Power Charge is to botch a roll to use an active Power. This includes damage rolls for Energy Powers as well as activation rolls.
Power Charge points are precious, however; the super’s current level in temporary Power Charge is also the maximum level of output that he can manage. So, if a super normally has a Power Charge of four, and then spends a point, all of his active Powers immediately function at a Rank three level.
Powers that are of fixed Rank (such as Invisibility) or have a minimum Rank (such as Photographic Reflexes) will cease to function once the temporary Power Charge dips below the Rank of that Power. Therefore, if a super who had Photographic Reflexes and Invisibility were ever to have a temporary Power Charge of 3 or less, he would lose the use of those Powers until his Power Charge returned to more normal levels (four or higher).
Note that passive Powers are in no way affected by Power Charge, no matter how low the score dips. A super’s Conditional Immortality and Body Armor will continue to function even when his physical reserves are completely gone. Note, however, that many Power Stunts are not passive, but active, and some of these may be unavailable to the super if his Power Charge dips too low.
Power Charge regenerates naturally at a rate of one point per day.
After character creation, Power Charge must be improved with Story Points at a rate of 2 x current. Once again, Power Charge cannot exceed the super’s Power Potential.
New Powers and Story Points
Most of the time, a new Power cannot be bought. There are several Power Stunts which make exceptions of this rule, and the Perk: Hidden Power also serves as an exception. Campaign circumstances may dictate that the Mastermind allow a player the opportunity to buy a certain Power with Story Points. This is entirely at the Mastermind's discretion.
Some Powers cannot be improved with Story Points - for instance, most of the Altered Perceptions Powers. It would also be difficult to imagine how the super would increase her rating in Body Weaponry, but if a good reason comes up, so be it.