Building Superheroes in Alternity

Building superheroes in Alternity isn’t that different from building normal characters.

Alternity is one of the last “Old School Games” wherein advancement means very little. You gain no additional attacks, no additional hit points, damage dealt is constant between levels, and ability score increases aren’t automatic (they are, in fact, extremely costly and cannot surpass a species maximum). This means that if a level 1 character attacks a giant, slobbering monster with a sword, he will do the same damage that a level 25 hero will do to that monster. The 25th level hero, however, may have a higher likelihood of doing better damage because he has more ranks in a relevant skill.

What this means for superheroes is that the better use of your skill points is to improve your superpowers.

Follow the steps for hero creation found in chapter 2 of the Player’s Handbook, modified as follows:

Step 1: Develop a Hero Concept

The best use of the Alternity rules is to pick something that your character is known for and channel all of your skill points into maxing those things out. That means if you’re a superhero, max your powers out to the 12 rank as quickly as you can. Obviously, a superhero should be able to do other things, but you need not worry so much about mundane skills. Wise starting stats (especially reasonable Dexterity and Intelligence scores) will give a playable hero.

defines

Let the power define your hero. Everything else can be handled with the proper starting packages defined below. How often will your hero need to fire a gun or fly a plane? Not often enough to warrant buying more than 1-2 ranks in either of those skills. Max out the superpower!

Step 2: Choose a Species

Refer to the species on pp. 20-30 of the Player’s Handbook, unless the Gamemaster is using a different set of options.

Step 3: Choose a Career

Clark Kent is a reporter. Hal Jordan, a test pilot. Natasha Romanov, a spy. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are both billionaire dilettantes. Steve Rogers is a soldier. Dr. Stephen Strange, a surgeon.

Your hero’s secret identity has a day job. Picking a good one will give you all of the skills you will ever need, allowing you to put the rest of the skill points you earn into improving the superpowers.

Check here for careers based upon the Avengers.

Step 4: Pick a Profession

Select a profession that logically matches the hero’s day job. Refer to pp. 30-32 of the Player’s Handbook. The Gamemaster may also allow the hero to be an Adept, detailed on pp. 6-7 of Beyond Science.

Step 5: Assign Ability Scores

Follow the directions on p. 32-34 of the Player’s Handbook. If the Gamemaster allows mutations or cybertech, refer to chapters 14 or 15 in the Player’s Handbook respectively to equip your hero.

Step 6: Purchase Skills

Skills are less important in a superhero campaign, because the superpowers should define the hero and form the backbone of all of his actions. Therefore, selecting a good starting career package means you’ll never have to put points into improving what you began with.

Unarmed Attack–brawl or power martial arts and at least 2 ranks of a specialty skill in Modern Ranged Weapons are key to a hero’s survival in the tough, high crime urban environments that we find our superheroes. Therefore, even if the starting career package doesn’t include those skills, consider putting a few points into them.

Refer to Chapter 4 in the Player’s Handbook for a complete list of skills.

Step 7: Select Perks & Flaws

Refer to the perks and flaws detailed in chapter 5 of the Player’s Handbook. Consider checking Chapter 1 of Beyond Science for additional perks or flaws that could improve your hero’s use of FX.

Step 8: Choose Attributes

Refer to chapter 7 of the Player’s Handbook for ideas on how to play your hero.

Step 9: Complete the Hero Sheet

Refer to pp. 38-41 for directions on completing the hero sheet.