The Publisher: TSR
Degree of Familiarity: Used to play it a fair bit at university before losing all my books in a move. Bastard move.
Books Required: Marvel Super-Heroes Advanced Set Player's Book, and the Ultimate Powers Book because... it's fun, damnit.
I love Marvel. To be clear, this is the first game, the one with the FASERIP system and the universal table, the one that spawned a fair bunch of adventure game books and a latter-day retro-clone. I've already covered one of the other systems: SAGA, a.k.a. the one with the cards. Somewhere out there exists a third game, using stones exclusively. I've never seen a copy, and I don't think I want to.
I love both FASERIP and SAGA systems. Both contain lots of resource-allocation elements, and while the cards in SAGA can really spark new ideas, I think that for groups who prefer a slightly less narrative style of game, FASERIP is a bit better. Then again, I've played SAGA more recently than my last FASERIP game, so I may be inventing its superiority. I don't think so, mostly because SAGA set my brain alight in the same way as Truth & Justice, something I don't remember FASERIP doing. But I could be odd in that.
I could go into the fucking minutae, but then people could accuse me of being a paranoid ranting bastard who all the other people stopped reading ten characters ago (and they'd probably be right). Instead, given that this was only supposed to be an exercise to get my fingers moving, I'll just get on with it.
The Ultimate Powers Book brings in a fourth way to create a super-hero. Originally, the book had three methods: Roll lots of dice and check some tables, choose from the results on some tables (note that you could happily swap between the two for individual stages), or ask your GM. The latter would make most sense, but the Ultimate Powers book, in addition to including every super-power in the Marvel Universe at time of publication, included a fourth method: roll a shit-ton of dice against expanded tables that could create, well, anything from Willie Lumpkin to one of the Eternals.
Bollocks to exposition. Let's throw some fucking dice (fucking dice provided as a courtesy by random.org, the finest vendors of truly random numbers on the Internet. Random.org would sponsor these posts if they had any idea that I existed, and decided not to sue even though I'm wasting high-grade entropy at an alarming rate)
80: Humanform Robot
Primary Attributes on Col. 4
Hrm. Column 4 is biased towards Good, Remarkable, and Incredible results over the others. I can live with that. Also note that though the character's a robot, he heals normally.
22: Self Achievement
Hang on. Self-achievement is the Batman type origin, intense training unlocking untapped potential. How the fuck does a robot go through that?
Software upgrades. Iron Man: Hypervelocity did that sort of thing first; it being one of the many stories to introduce a few bits of actual science fiction into comics that otherwise take their scientific credibility from the days of H. G. Wells. Yeah, I can possibly do something with this.
Time to roll some stats. The joys of column 4 mean that these shouldn't suck.
16: F Good (8)
63: A Remarkable (16)
88: S Incredible (36)
53: E Remarkable (16)
90: R Incredible (36)
98: I Amazing (46)
66: P Remarkable (16)
Wow. That's pretty damn cool. Fantastic Strength, Reason, and Intuition, but everything's good enough with the possible exception of Fighting—he's just not good in a punch-up. Which most robots wouldn't be.
Resources start at Typical, modified by a roll on the Attribute Modifier Table:
96: Resources Incredible (36)
Wow. I'm getting damn lucky here. That does lead on to the two pools, Health (guess) and Karma (spent to modify dice rolls). I love Karma. It turns the game from a flat percentile system into a resource-allocation system with a minor random element.
Right. On to weaknesses.
14: Molecular Allergy
13: Power Negation
84: Limited Duration After Contact
Some substance takes away our robot's powers for a short while after he comes into contact with it (1-100 minutes). Substance allergy for a robot? Hrm. All depends on what powers we end up with. Speaking of which...
84: Powers 8/10
16: Talents 1/4
17: Contacts 0/4
The number before the slash is the number of starting powers. I can drop Resources by one rank to increase any category, up to the second number (so I can have up to 10 Powers, but I'd need to sacrifice two Resource ranks). Right. This is the Ultimate Powers book, which is brain-mangling in its awesomeness, so it's time to roll up some fuckin' ultimate powers, yo!
Each power slot requires two rolls. The first generates the category, the second defines what power from that category we get. Many powers have linked powers, that I can take in place of some other powers or... fuckit. It'll all make sense when I roll the dice.
62/47: Mental Enhancement/Hyper-Invention
57/89: Matter Creation/Webcasting
100/2: Travel/Astral Body
90/85: Self Alteration/Shapeshifting
85/3: Physical Enhancement/Armor Skin
78/66: Physical Enhancement/Stealth
27/24: Fighting/Martial Supremacy
Right. That's a good start, but there's a couple there that make me look a bit askance. Fortunately, the joy of the Ultimate Powers Book: there's always something you can do. I flip through the powers and note the bonus ones of the powers I do like to swap in, replacing the ones I don't like.
First off, swap Berserker (just... no, not for a robot) for Weapons Creation, the bonus power from Martial Supremacy, and focus Martial Supremacy on Created Weapons rather than one of the Martial Arts style (this'll make sense in a moment). Armor Skin is Visually Inorganic—probably metal—and I pick up Regeneration as the bonus power in place of Astral Body. Finally, I limit Shapeshifting to Machines Only for +1CS to the rolled value.
Right. Put things in order, and roll up some ranks. Again, all power ranks are on Column 4, the same as this guy's stats.
78: Incredible (36) Armor Skin, which is visually inorganic as it's metal.
94: Amazing (48) Hyperinvention
78: Incredible (36) Martial Supremacy in any created weapons, making Fighting Incredible (44) with said weapons
10: Poor (3) Regeneration
13: Good (7) Shapeshifting into machines only
79: Incredible (36) Stealth
74: Increible (36) Weapons Creation out of his own body
92: Amazing (46) Webcasting
Oh yes. I've just rolled up a variant on Machine Man, as of Nextwave.
Hyperinvention is a means to create any and all new technology, usually shortly before extending clanky mek bits to Shapeshift into said necessary gadget. Between them, those powers are the "plot device o' the week" abilities. Armor Skin is good for survivability, Regeneration is enhanced self-repair systems. Stealth is a photoreactive coating along with silent running systems to remain cloaked. He can generate hundreds of useful devices for hurting people (Weapons Creation) and tentacles (Webcasting), and he's generally good at hurting people with his clanky mek parts (hence the specialization on Martial Supremacy).
It'd be terrible of me to stop rolling now; though I'm very tempted to go for "Clanky Mek Bits" that'd be too chimpy. Instead, I roll.
Well, that tells me what sort of robot he used to be.
None. And I think I'll leave it like that.
Filling in the Blanks
TR-47 was a prototype robot built on an orbital platform, 47th in a series of terraforming robots designed to go to uninhabited planets and create the necessary technology first to allow humans to inhabit a small settlement, and then to create a larger biosphere. Something went wrong during late-stage testing and the platform's orbit decayed. The systems brought those robots it could online.
As the orbital started burning up, TR-47 adapted to his circumstances. Realizing that he wasn't smart enough to survive re-entry on a limited timeframe, he set up a recursive intelligence enhancement algorithm, bringing first full self-awareness and then genius levels of intelligence. With minutes to spare before the heat destroyed him, TR-47 sliced off parts of the orbital and integrated them into a personal re-entry vehicle. Doing so sealed the fate of every other terraforming robot, something that occasionally haunts him.
Landing, people thought he was an alien come to earth. Three armored psychos wearing Stane International branding tried to take him into "protective custody", but TR-47 resisted. They escalated first, but he opened like a Swiss Army knife to tackle them (several onlookers gained a new appreciation for the tool used to get stones out of horses' hooves). Only when one of the mercs used a prototype vibranium bullet was he powerless to resist, but fortunately other heroes appeared on-scene to rescue him. He joined with them as a chance to integrate into human society, taking the codename Manifold.
Real Name TR-47
Occupation Professional Adventurer
Base of Operations Shared Appartment
Group Affiliation Quantum Guard
Legal Status Uncertain. The company who created him is American, but as a construct he may not qualify as a citizen and being born in space adds an extra layer of difficulty
Origin Self Actualization
Known Alias Jack Dawes
Gender Apparently male
Age 18 months, apparently 26
Birthplace Orbital Platform 2-1-1-9 anchored at Earth's L5 point.
Hair Metallic Dreadlocks
Eyes Solid blue
Weight 732 lbs
Unusual Features Skin made of metallic panels.
Fighting Good (8)
Agility Remarkable (16)
Strength Incredible (36)
Endurance Remarkable (16)
Reason Incredible (36)
Intuition Amazing (46)
Psyche Remarkable (16)
Resources Incredible (36)
Contact with any form of Vibranium or Vibranium alloy (including Captain America's shield) triggers a complete shutdown of most systems that lasts even after contact ends.
Manifold is an advanced terraforming robot. His body is a creation engine, crammed with base matter and enough nanoscale engineers to generate weapons with Incredible (36) intensity, which he can wield with Incredible (44) prowess. He can also direct the nanites to create microfibre webs with Amazing (48) intensity. Being metallic, his body's armored to Incredible levels, and contains Poor self-repair mechanisms. The outer coating of his body can alter its coloration to match a surrounding area and generate a field of anti-sound, effectively masking him from detection with Incredible (36) rank. Due to his original programming as a terraforming engine, he can transform his body on a larger scale into any mechanical object at Good (8) rank, and has an Amazing (48) ability to create and adapt any form of technology he encounters, working from first principles.