Character Development & XP Costs

This is a long post as I want to cover a range of issues around Character Creation and related point costs in some detail.

One major drawback of the system is arguably its extremely limited section on building characters. A more comprehensive list of various aspects of the Data-file would have allowed for a tiered approach to the characters that would have meant parity between PCs could be achieved more easily. It also would have aided during Scenario design and when balancing and creating suitable challenges and kept power-gaming to a minimum.

By using the Experience Point information provided in the relevant section of the Operations Manual (OM) it is possible to specify the point costs for initial character design. This immediately precedes the section titled ‘Creating New Data-files’ and as such I present the rationale so we can then compare the costs for the PCs’ character builds in order to set House Rules around suitable limits. Any assumptions will be detailed in Green.

1. Assign Affiliations (Free at inception, 5XP to switch later)

This section is mandatory but the net effect for PCs is nothing – everyone has to assign them and the net effect is nothing.

2. Choose 3 Distinctions (15XP or 5XP per Distinction)

This is also mandatory and would have been made free by me as well if not for the Spending XP section of the OM which has under the “You can spend 5 XP to do the following… Replace an existing Distinction with a new one.”

This implies to me that IF you were to allocate a cost it would seem most reasonable to assign 5XP from the total but as everyone has to do it, this is more an accounting convention than anything else.

3. Create Power Sets (varies)

This is the ‘rubber meets the road’ section.

Power Sets include a Name, a set of Traits with dice values ranging from d6 – d12, a series of related SFX (Special Effects), any Limits that may affect the way the Power works, and finally a list of Specialties or non-powered skills possessed by the PC.

a) Name – a useful reference to the underlying archetypical nature of the Power Set.

b) Traits – these may involve either Action Dice (AD) and/or Reaction Dice (RD). Notably there are no limits to the number of Traits you could assign within the Power Set – this is an underlying strength (or weakness) of the system (depending on how you feel about it).

  • 10XP to add a d6 Trait.
  • +10XP to step-up d6 to d8, d8 to d10.
  • +15XP to step-up d10 – d12

The Traits set includes the following examples (implying that perhaps additional ones may have been intended to be added later):

  • Attack Powers (Blasts, Weapons) (AD)
  • Durability (RD)
  • Elemental Control Powers (AD/RD) including (but not limited to): Air, Cosmic, Darkforce, Earth, Electric, Fire/Heat, Gravity, Ice/Cold, Kinetic/Telekinetic, Light, Magnetic, Sonic, Technology, Weather and Water.
  • Intangibility (RD)
  • Invisibility (RD)
  • Mimic (AD/RD)
  • Movement Powers (AD): Speed, Flight, Swingline, Airwalking, Burrowing, Leaping, Swimming
  • Psychic Powers (AD): Mind Control, Telepathy, Animal Control, Plant Control
  • Reflexes (AD/RD)
  • Resistance Powers (RD)
  • Senses (AD/RD)
  • Shape-shifting (AD/RD)
  • Size-Changing Powers (AD/RD): Growth, Shrinking
  • Sorcery (AD/RD)
  • Stamina (RD)
  • Strength (AD)
  • Stretching (AD)
  • Teleport (AD/RD)
  • Transmutation (AD)

c) SFX – as stated in the OM: “Use a trigger – get a benefit.” SFX are ways of distinguishing the way the power set of one character is essentially different from another even if they originate from the same Trait.

  • 10XP to add SFX to a Power Set (i.e. every Trait)

The list of SFX includes:

  • Absorption
  • Afflict
  • Area Attack (* note House Rules)
  • Berserk
  • Boost
  • Burst
  • Constructs
  • Counterattack
  • Dangerous
  • Focus
  • Healing
  • Immunity
  • Invulnerable
  • Multi-power
  • Second Chance
  • Second Wind
  • Unleashed
  • Versatile

d) Limits – every Power Set must have at least one Limit. Unlike Champions, Limits cost XP rather than decrease the cost of the Power Set. The benefit is in that the activation of some Limits allow for the acquisition of Plot Points. Sadly rather than listing them in the relevant section of the OM, you are expected to read through the data-files at the end of the rules in order to get a comprehensive set and even then, new ones may presumably be assigned with the approval of the GM/Players.

  • 5XP to add/ change
  • 10XP to remove a Limit from a Power Set that has two or more Limits (this seems an odd rule as if you didn’t want it except for dramatic purposes – why put it in in the first place?)

e) Specialties – operate at either Expert (d8) or Master (d10) levels, (our House Rules suggest a Novice rank be included as well)

  • 10XP for Novice ranking – if taken
  • 15XP to add new Expert Specialty or upgrade an Existing Expert Specialty to Master

However, my belief is that Specialties are over-priced and that rather than a step of +15 to increase from d8 to d10, a +5 increment (i.e. 20 cf. 30XP) is probably more reasonable.

The list of Specialties includes:

  • Acrobatic
  • Business
  • Combat
  • Cosmic
  • Covert
  • Crime
  • Medical
  • Menace
  • Mystic
  • Psych
  • Science
  • Tech
  • Vehicle

Since Milestones are a way for Characters to gain XP, they cost nothing but I will devote a separate post to the issue of Gaining XP as the Scenario progresses and we get an opportunity to test the rate of XP increase.

Inter-Character Point Costs

So how do the existing (as at 22 March, 2014) PCs stand in respect of one-another based on the above costs?

Blacklight (245XP)

  • Affiliations (0XP)
  • Distinctions (15XP)
  • Power Group (Light Form) (110XP) – Invisibility d10 (30XP), Flight d8 (20XP), Intangibility d8 (20XP), Enhanced Senses d8 (20XP),  Durability d8 (20XP)
  • SFX (0XP) – none
  • Limits (5XP) – Conscious Activation
  • Power Group (Light Manipulation) (50XP) – Light Mastery d10 (30XP), Energy Blast d8 (20XP)
  • SFX (20XP) – Area Effect (10XP), Constructs (10XP)
  • Limits (5XP) – Conscious Activation
  • Specialties (40XP) – Acrobatics Novice d6 (10XP), Combat Novice d6 (10XP), Covert Novice d6 (10XP), Crime Novice d6 (10XP)

Catalyst (250XP)

  • Affiliations (0XP)
  • Distinctions (15XP)
  • Power Group (Inter-nuclear Force Control) (80XP) – Catalytic Mastery d10 (30XP), Energy Blast d8 (20XP), Altered Senses d8 (20XP), Flight d6 (10XP)
  • SFX (30XP) – Area of Effect (10XP), Collateral Damage (10XP), Unleashed (10XP)
  • Limits (10XP) – Conscious Activation (5XP), Exhausted (5XP)
  • Power Group (True Invulnerability) (50XP) – Durability d10 (30XP), Stamina d8 (20XP)
  • SFX (20XP) – Invulnerability (10XP), Immunity (10XP)
  • Specialties (45XP) – Science Expert d8 (15XP), Combat Novice d6 (10XP), Medicine Novice d6 (10XP), Psychology Novice d6 (10XP)

J’Accuse (255XP)

  • Affiliations (0XP)
  • Distinctions (15XP)
  • Power Group (Empath) (90XP) – Senses d10 (30XP), Projective Empathy d10 (30XP), Reflexes d10 (30XP)
  • SFX (40XP) – Area of Effect (10XP), Danger Sense (10XP), Find Weakness (10XP), Versatile (10XP)
  • Limits (10XP) – Conscious Activation (5XP), Exhausted (5XP)
  • Specialties (100XP) – Acrobatics d8 (15XP), Business d6 (10XP), Combat d6 (10XP), Covert d6 (10XP), Crime d8 (15XP), Menace d8 (15XP), Psych d8 (15XP), Vehicle d6 (10XP)

Livewire (240XP)

  • Affiliations (0XP)
  • Distinctions (15XP)
  • Power Group (Super-speed)  (130XP) – Durability d8 (20XP), Intangibility d8 (20XP), Reflexes d8 (20XP), Senses d8 (20XP), Stamina d8 (20XP), Speed  d10 (30XP)
  • SFX (40XP) – Area of Effect (10XP), Immunity (10XP), No-Physics (10XP), Second Wind (10XP)
  • Limits (10XP) – Conscious Activation (5XP), Exhausted (5XP)
  • Specialties (45XP) – Combat d8 (15XP), Crime d8 (15XP), Menace d8 (15XP)

Comparison with MHRP Data-files (ranked)


  • Armor (160)
  • Cyclops (175)
  • Human Torch (205)
  • Daredevil (210)
  • Colossus (225)
  • Luke Cage (230)
  • Livewire (240)
  • Blacklight (245)
  • Thing (245)
  • Catalyst (250)
  • J’Accuse (255)
  • Shadowcat (255)
  • Ms. Marvel (255)
  • Black Widow (265)
  • Invisible Woman (275)
  • Sentry (285)
  • Beast (295)
  • Captain America (295)
  • Iron Man (305)
  • Iron Fist (310)
  • Mister Fantastic (310)
  • Spider-Woman (310)
  • Storm (330)
  • Black Panther (335)
  • Emma Frost (350)
  • Spider-Man (350)
  • Wolverine (355)

So the team so far appears to resemble a lower-powered version of the Fantastic Four – the ‘Civic-minded Five’ perhaps?
The next step will be ensuring that not every villain faced by the group effectively becomes a punching bag where the PCs take turns – no threat; no tension; no challenge.

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