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Character Creation 65: Wild Talents

The Game: Wild Talents
The Publisher: Arc Dream/Cublicle 7
Degree of Familiarity: Haven't yet played it, but I'm trying to get a game together.
Books Required: The corebook alone.

Wild Talents is what happens when the minds behind the One Roll Engine turn their thoughts to superheroes. Technically a modern update of the supers-in-WW2 game Godlike, the original edition of Wild Talents was notable for presenting a new way of looking at point-buy superheroes. Looking strictly at the heavier end of superhero games—Wild Talents isn't going to get as light as Marvel Saga, let alone something like Truth & Justice—WT is a thoroughly modern approach

Champions is built on top of the Hero system, and while it's changed and adapted over time, the rules show their age all the same. Mutants and Masterminds is a far newer game, but the holdovers from the D20 system still get in the way of the system properly expressing itself. I'll do both of these games soon enough, so you can see for yourself. Both of them build powers by selecting a "base effect"—an entangling attack, or a ranged blast—and stacking special effects on top of that. Notably, in Hero, Ranged Attack and Ranged Killing Attack are separate base powers. Wild Talents instead gives you the ingredients to build the powers you want.

Each Miracle is built out of Qualities, of which there are three: Attacks, Defends, and Useful. Combine them with one of five Capacities (Range, Speed, Mass, Touch, and Self) and you've got the basics of a Miracle. Add in Extras and Flaws, and you've got a power. Hyperstats and Hyperskills replace the Qualities and Capacities with the logical ones for the Stat or Skill in question, but they can still get funky effects out of Extras and Flaws. It really is that simple. A basic ranged attack? That's Attacks, with the Range capacity. Flight? Useful with Speed. That kind of thing.

Yeah, it's easy enough to break, like all the other point-build games. The book has a fun example. A Useful power can do any one non-combat thing. Like, say, suppressing nuclear fusion. Start with the Mass capacity. Add the Range capacity to affect massive objects at a distance. How big? Well, for the Sun, you need 26 ranks of Booster (Mass) and 10 ranks of Booster (Range). Hell, make it Permanent and flaw it down with One Use (to balance the duration, and to make sure the power keeps going when you die). Two points for the Useful, two more for the extra capacity, thirty-six more for the Boosters, four for Permanent minus four for One Use, and you're looking at forty points per die. Take two hard dice, so you've got a guaranteed set. 160 points, and you're guaranteed the ability to turn off the sun, let alone beat any and every nuclear weapon or reactor you encounter. A recommended starting character is 250 points.

What characters can do is nearly unlimited. What characters choose to do? That's interesting.

Despite the range of powers available, the system is dangerous. This is the One Roll Engine, and any hit that connects will hurt. The default setting, a world gone mad, reflects this, though the worldbuilding and GM advice chapters offer a metric shitload of advice on just how to build a super-powered world. Personally, I'm trying to come up with a super-powered police based setting, something that's halfway between the default and Top Ten, defaulting to maybe the level of Powers. That's possible enough, and the world I'm considering when I make this character.

Rather than a traditional character sheet, I'm incorporating a dossier at the end of the post. That way, I can put a lot more of the concept noodling right next to the character.

###I'll note as well that I'm doing things a bit out of order in a scratch-file just until I get the points to balance. I'm like that.###

Step 1: The Point Total
This is easy enough. Since I'm making a character for the aforementioned police setting, I'm trying to stick with 250 points for everyone. It's the default, and makes for suitably meaty characters, from precognitive assassins to scientists who turn into tyrannosaurs.

At this point, I need a concept. Hrm. I know I'm making a cop. But this is still a fairly weird world. Pete Winters, thirty two. Lived for the first twenty years of his life in a small, secluded town in Oregon. The town was under the thumb of the mayor, Theodore D. Richardson, who was doing his best to keep his little enclave off the map. His Talent bent the minds of people around him, slowly turning him into the highest authority figure they'd recognize—but it fed off those same minds, drawing away their power and making them subservient. Pete was immune to the old man's power. He only escaped when his power fully blossomed: Pete's able to influence the minds of people in a mob. He's seen what Mayor Richardson (now calling himself "The Father") had done with his Talent, Pete joined the Talent Squad to put his talents to use serving the people, rather than ruling them. The rest of the squad calls him "Voxpop".

Step 2: Stats
I know that a very rough guideline for 250 point characters is ~100 Stats (including Base Will), ~100 Powers, the remainder in Skills. It's a suggestion, but a good one.

Six Stats. I don't see Pete being particularly deficient in any of them, so I'll base them all at 2d. At five points per, that's sixty points to begin with. He's plenty likeable, so I'm going to boost his Charm and Command to 3d each. Seventy points spent.

Step 3: Skills
I look down the Skill list, and see what I want. A rough selection for "Police Training" would include Athletics, Brawlng, Dodge, Driving (Cruiser), Endurance, First Aid, Interrogation, Knowledge (Criminal Procedure), Leadership, Perception, Scrutiny, Stability, Ranged (Pistol), Streetwise, and Weapon (Club). I drop a die into all of those. 14 Skills at two points per is 28 points spent so far. I know I also want Lie, Persuasion, Empathy, and Tactics, so add those in at 1d to get 36 points spent.

Add an extra die to Brawling, Driving, Lie, Ranged, Scrutiny, and Weapon. 48 points. An extra two dice in Dodge, Empathy, and Persuasion. 60 points. I may come back to boost the skills up some. We shall see.

Astute players of ORE games will note that Stability, traditionally the "Do not fuck with my mind" Skill, has a single die in it. We'll get to that soon.

Step 4: The Archetype
An Archetype covers "Why is your character super-powered", and incorporates at least one Source, one Permission, and possibly one or more Intrinsics.

A Source is, well, the source of one's powers. Anyone with the Extraterrestial Source and the Teleport power can teleport because he's an Alien. Sometimes, characters have two Sources, but we're not getting to that. Pete's Source is simply that he's psychic: Psi. The first Source is free, so this costs no points.

Permissions tell you what kind of powers a character can have. One of the most useful, and most versatile, is Power Theme. I'm going for that, Power Theme: Crowd-based Telepathy. That Permission costs 5 points. I don't see any of the Intrinsics being at all useful, so that's the Archetype. An additional 5 points gone.

Step 5: Powers
First things first. I want to model Pete's psychic immunity. Just about every psychic power is in a contest with the Stability Skill, which makes sense. So let's make him untouchable.

Hyperskills are Skills that can a) have funky dice types (Hard dice, always set to 10 before the roll, and Wiggle dice, set to whatever you want after the roll), b) can break the normal maximum of 5 points, and c) can have Extras and Flaws.

A basic Hyperskill: Stability is one point per die. However, Pete's not strong-willed in general. Mind-affecting powers bounce off him. That's modelled with the If/Then (Only to resist mental powers) flaw, which saves us one point per die. But wait! Powers must cost at least one per die, even if the final total is less than 0. To balance things out, we'll say that this isn't actually a superpower, it's a natural part of who Pete is that doesn't come from his Source or Permission. Native Power is a +1 extra, bringing the cost up to 1 per die.

The easiest way to beat any roll is to buy 10 hard dice, and automatically resist any psychic whammy with a 10x10 set. Up yours, Professor X. Hard dice cost double, so it's two points per hd, times 10 hd, equals 20 points.

Moving on, we get to his Mob Control power. The core of this doesn't directly hurt anyone, or directly prevent Pete from being hurt, so it's a Useful quality, call it "Control Mob". We want it to last, rather than having to roll every turn to control the mob, so add Duration (a +2 extra) so it runs for the scene. It only affects people who identify as part of a group; rather than another If/Then this is actually Controlled Effect, but since it makes the power less useful it's a -1 flaw. The mob has to be a proper mob—say more than 15 people, so If/Then (Must affect >15 people) saves us a point. A power with the Range capacity only affects one target in the range, we want to affect lots of targets who may be spread out. 8 points of Radius gives it an effective area of 80 yards: as long as the mob members are within 80 yards of each other and within range normally, the power works. It takes work to see that Pete's actually controlling the mob, so we add Subtle as another Extra.

That's brought the cost up high, so to ease the pain add Mental Strain (each use deals a point of Shock damage to his head), and Willpower Investment, meaning that while the power's running he can't access a good chunk of his Willpower.

Along with the base two-point cost for the Useful Quality, that comes out at eight points per die (the dossier at the end has a better writeup). We take six dice and one wiggle die to ensure that the power always works and quite often works with a nice large set. Since it's a mental power, it's resisted by the highest Stability in the mob, another reason to want a wiggle die. The WD costs four times as much as a regular die, so the total ends up at 80 points. With Willpower Investment, Pete needs to commit ten points of Willpower to use the full pool.

100 points exactly on powers. 225 down in total.

Step 6: Base Will and Willpower
Base Will starts out equal to Charm + Command, or 6. This is measured in points, not dice. Each one can be broken down for 10 willpower points, or spent for various big-time effects. It's three points per to raise it, and I bring it up to 12 for 18 points. 7 left

Willpower starts equal to Base Will, but can be bought up for one point per point. It's a useful place to drop final points. I first look back at Skills. Raise Endurance to 2d. Persuasion to 4d, and put the remaining 3 into Willpower. There we are, 250 spent.

Willpower's regained through Motivations. Every character has two, a Loyalty and a Passion, with the Base Will rating divided between them. Pete's Loyalty is to the NYPD as a whole (5), and his Passion involves opposing those who use their Talents to sate their personal greed (7)

Dossier: Officer Pete “Voxpop” Winters

Nationality American
Race Caucasian
DOB 1982-12-21
Height 1.8m
Weight 80kg

Appearance Nothing stands out about Officer Winters. He’s average height, average build, and apart from the bright yellow “T” of the Talent Squad he could be just about any other cop. He keeps his sandy hair cropped short, and doesn’t smile much. He smokes, more when he gets stressed or something reminds him of his past.

Known Superhuman Abilities Officer Winters is able to telepathically manipulate the mob mentality that links people, moving and manipulating them as a group. He is also fundamentally immune to mind control, even when exposed to in-cell Nullifiers.

History Pete Winters spent the first twenty years of his life in a small, secluded town in Oregon. The town was under the thumb of the mayor, a Talent whose abilities bent the minds of people around him, slowly turning him into the highest authority figure they’d recognize. He fed off those same minds, drawing away their power and making them subservient. Pete discovered that he was immune to the old man’s power at a young age, but was never able to get away. He only escaped when his power fully blossomed, letting him direct the group of townspeople searching him on a wild-goose chase while he ran for it. His Talent next flared in a bar fight in Chicago—he got all the people fighting to turn against him, then used that common cause to redirect them out onto the street where they waited for the cops. Under police investigation because of his abilities, Pete moved on to New York City, where he applied to join the NYPD’s Talent Squad. He’s been a cop for five years, partnered with Katya “Shine” Iverson.

Archetype (5pts)
Crowd Controller
Source Psi
Permission Power Theme (Crowd-based Telepathy)

Stats (81pts)
Body 2d
Coordination 2d
Sense 2d
Mind 2d
Charm 3d
Command 3d
Base Will 12
Willpower 15
Motivations Loyal to NYPD (5), Prevent people using Talents selfishly (7)

Skills (64pts)
Athletics 1d, Brawlng 2d, Dodge 3d, Driving (Cruiser) 2d, Empathy 3d, Endurance 2d, Interrogation 1d, Knowledge (Criminal Procedure) 1d, Leadership 1d, Lie 2d, Perception 1d, Persuasion 4d, Ranged (Pistol) 2d, Stability 1d, Scrutiny 2d, Streetwise 1d, Tactics 1d, Weapon (Club) 2d

Powers (100pts)
Psychic Shield (Hyperskill: Stability) [1] 10hd (20pts)
If/Then (Only to resist mental powers) -1, Native +1
Effect: Pete’s mind cannot be controlled by external forces, even if his other powers are nullified.

Mob Mentality (U) [8] 6d+1wd (80pts)
U (Control Mob): Controlled Effect (Only people who identify as a group) -1 Duration +2 If/Then (Must affect >15 people) -1 Mental Strain -2 Radius +8 Subtle +1 Willpower Investment -1 Capacity: Range
Effect: Voxpop can control the actions of a group as a whole as long as all members are within his power’s range (640 yards) and 80 yards of each other. He controls the mob as an entity, able to issue commands to the group, rather than individual people—he can’t tell the one experienced brawler in a bar fight who to hit, he can only tell the mob to prioritize one target. The power is resisted by a Stability roll made by the group member with the highest Stability.

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