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February 5, 2007

Instant Superheroes Design Journal #3

As you already know, Instant Superheroes is loaded with ready-to-run characters. What you may not realize, though, is that there are more than just stat blocks in the book.

One of the ideas author Michael Hammes incorporated into the book early on in the design process was the concept of customization notes, quick ideas that will help you to take an archetype � like the Agent, for example � and twist it around just enough to quickly make it different from other Agents.

Consider these customization notes for the Android, Costumed Detective, Duplicator, and Martian:

Construction And Programming Flaws: Make the Android less than perfect by giving it one or more of the following drawbacks: Power Loss (immersed in water), Vulnerable (electricity), Weak Point; each of these drawbacks represents an error in the Android�s construction. To simulate an error in programming add the Unreliable flaw to one or more of the Android�s powers (except Immunity). Alternately you can make the misfiring of a power into a complication; causing either an Accident complication (i.e. the Android�s Strike goes awry) or the power simply doesn�t work for this encounter.

It�s Not Easy Wearing A Mask: Add some additional complications to the hero. Some appropriate ones include Enemy (villain, member of law enforcement out to arrest the hero, reporter out to expose the hero�s identity), Hatred (criminals), Obsession (justice), Reputation (vigilante), and Responsibility (chiefly those faced by the hero�s secret identity).

Quantity vs. Quality: Replace the Action extra with the Heroic extra to keep the duplicates from being subject to the minion rules. Because this makes the duplicates much tougher to take out of a fight you should also reduce the Progression feat to either one or two ranks (2 or 5 duplicates) or even eliminate it altogether so that the game does not become bogged down too much.

It�s All In The Mind: Since aliens are often assumed to have awesome mental powers increase those of the Martian by removing ranks of Immunity and/or Flight and placing the resulting points into Telepathy with the Mental Blast or ESP alternate powers. For example, by removing all ranks you can create the following: Telepathy 9 (anywhere on Earth; Extras: Linked Comprehend 1 [anyone can understand you]; Alternate Powers: Mental Blast 4)

These are just a small sample of the customization notes that you�ll find in Instant Superheroes; there are over 90 customization notes included in the book.