Powers are a lot like stunts, except bigger, flashier, more powerful, and more complex. Each power you build costs a certain number of stunts, but don’t worry about not having enough! We’re giving you three bonus stunts on top of what you normally get from Fate Core to use exclusively for building powers. To add to your powers or build new ones, you can also spend refresh and use your normal allotment of free stunts as you would when building normal stunts. The three free stunts you’re getting in this adventure have to be used for powers, though.
Most characters have a single power. Some might have two, but that’s where it tops off. Powers are big and complex enough that more than two would be a bit unwieldy. What you can do, however, is build multiple effects into a single power, creating a power suite that does a bunch of related things.
To build powers, you can use the list of powers to create a working power suite in just a few minutes. As a player, if you know the basic sort of super you want to play, you can jump straight into the action. As a GM, this can help you come up with powers quickly when players encounter new super-powered NPCs.
NPCs’ power suites aren’t usually as complex as the player characters’, so when you’re designing powers for them, you’ll be spending fewer stunts. Nameless NPCs, when they have powers at all, have one or at most two stunts’ worth of powers, and they don’t get collateral damage or special effects. Supporting NPCs may have three to four stunts’ worth of powers, including a collateral damage effect.
Main NPCs are built the same way as PCs, including their powers.
Anatomy of a Power
As you read through how to a build a power below, you can use this as a reference:
To start, think about what you want your power to do. What is your character’s shtick? What’s the big flashy thing you do that other people can’t do? Maybe you’re inhumanly fast, or super strong, or you can fly, or you shoot energy blasts from your hands.
Then, find a power that matches your concept and buy its basic form. This is the stunt-like ability that covers the absolute minimum of what the power can do, and purchasing it costs one stunt. This is just the most stripped-down form of your power, so don’t worry if sounds a little generic; you’ll make it more exciting in a moment.
An enhancement is an extra effect that you stack onto your basic power. Every enhancement costs one stunt. You can purchase as many enhancements as you can afford, and some enhancements can be purchased multiple times. For instance, most powers have an enhancement titled Master [Power Name], which just improves the basic power, usually by adding a +2 bonus to the appropriate rolls. You can buy that enhancement as many times as you want, knocking the bonus up to +4, +6, or beyond.
A power synergy is another basic power added to your foundational power. You’re not making a new power from scratch: your power suite will still only have one drawback and one collateral damage effect. The synergy just adds a new facet to the power suite you’re creating. Purchasing a power synergy costs one stunt.
Each power has a short list of common synergies: powers that often work well with the foundational power. Your synergy might be a set of complementary powers—like being super strong and super tough—or perhaps your synergy lets you use a power in a specific, new way—like combining your abilities to summon fire and to shoot energy blasts in order to throw fireballs at your enemy.
You are not limited to the suggested synergies, though. You can take any other power you want, as long as you can justify how they’re part of the same power suite. For instance, Wall-Crawling and Energy Blast don’t necessarily go together, but if you explain that the energy blast is really a concentrated ball of the same sticky stuff you use to climb walls, then you have a power synergy.
When you purchase a power synergy, you can also purchase any enhancements that apply to your new power. In addition, when it comes time to pick special effects, drawbacks, and collateral damage effects, you can pull from your foundational power or any of the power synergies you’ve added to it.
Power themes are like enhancements and power synergies, but they don’t add new abilities to your power suite. Instead, they color how your power presents itself. You might add an elemental effect to your power, or make it based on technology rather than on the superpower gene.
Because the actual effects of power themes are limited, you may purchase one for free. Each theme beyond the first added to a power costs one stunt. Like power synergies, each theme has a short list of enhancements, drawbacks, and collateral damage effects, which become available to purchase or select when you purchase the theme.
Special Effects and Improved Special Effects
A special effect is an extra-special thing you can pull off when you succeed with style. Whenever you succeed with style on a roll that utilizes one of your powers, you can forgo the normal benefits of succeeding with style to add one of your special effects instead. You can also spend a fate point to add a special effect to any successful roll, even if you’ve already got a special effect attached to that action. Special effects always happen in addition to the normal effects of success.
Your power starts with two special effects. If you want more, you can buy them with a stunt or refresh; each stunt or refresh you spend gets you two more special effects. If you need special effects, use the following list. If our suggestions don’t suffice, you can create your own special effects using this list as a guideline.
- Forced Movement: You move your target up to two zones.
- Area Attack: Attack everyone in a zone.
- Inflict Condition: You add an aspect to the target, which you can invoke once for free.
- Extra Movement: You can move up to two zones for free.
- Physical Recovery: You recover from all physical stress.
- Mental Recovery: You recover from all mental stress.
- Extra Action: You can split your shifts between two different yet related actions, adding a +1 to each action.
In addition, some powers have an improved special effect. An improved special effect works just like a special effect: you can use the effect when you succeed with style or spend a fate point while using your power. However, improved special effects are unique to their power and do bigger stuff than regular ones. The trade-off is that they’re more expensive: one stunt buys one improved special effect.
Every power has a short list of possible drawbacks. These highlight problems that the power may bring you—a limitation on the power or a nasty side effect. Drawbacks are aspects, like a power’s trouble, but do not replace your character’s trouble. Choose one drawback or create one of your own.
Collateral Damage Effects
Super-beings throw a lot of power around, power that often has unintended consequences. Sometimes city blocks get leveled; sometimes innocent bystanders get hurt. Your collateral damage effect is an extra benefit—something super-potent you can do with your power, often to great narrative effect.
Each power lists a number of collateral damage effects. Choose one from a power you’ve chosen, or make one of your own.
You can choose to use this effect at any time, but using it comes at a cost: you inflict a situation aspect on the area around you that represents the collateral damage you’ve caused. The GM gets to determine the exact nature of that aspect each time you use it.
Other Collateral Damage Options
Instead of picking the collateral damage effect for a power you’ve purchased, you can pick a power that you don’t have, and either use a collateral damage effect from its list, or create a collateral damage effect from the basic power itself. This can represent an aspect of your character’s power suite that they haven’t trained with, or an application of their power that’s a bit outside what it should be able to do, which is why it causes collateral damage. Building a collateral damage effect like this is especially useful for adding versatility to a character, granting someone with a lot of utility powers a strong attack, or giving a character who’s built for fighting a way to get out of trouble fast.