In many RPGs skills represent a characters learned abilities. Some games use broad sweeping categorizes such as Fighting and Guns others are very specific with skills as specialized as NBC Survival, that’s survival in a nuclear, biological or chemical war zone. With Fractured Kingdom we tried to present a selection of Skills that covered a given topic. For example Biology, characters could then specialize further with things like Human Anatomy or Immune Systems. While this worked well for the dark future setting we were looking to achieve this was not as appropriate for a world of superheroes.
Superheroes are often experts in their fields. Characters aren’t just a biologist or a chemist but a scientist with a broad understanding of many different scientific disciplines. A musician isn’t just a vocalist but possesses an understanding of various instruments and styles. While these styles of characters could be achieved before it would take a major dedication to the topic. For Metahumans Rising we took a step back to look at broader categories.
Bulwark, becoming a living volcano was an archaeologist before touching Hephaestus’ Circlet. His Talents include Science with a Specialty in Social Science. This means the character has a basis for understanding any given scientific problem be it in physics, geology or chemistry but really shines when it comes to things like psychology, sociology or archaeology. Not that we’ve ever seen characters operating that far outside their field before.
Part of changing Skills to Talents is not just expanding on certain skills but it allowed us to create new Talents that felt appropriate to the setting.
Perseverance (Constitution): Through conditioning, or natural ability, pain, torture, and other hardships can be ignored. The Character may use their Perseverance to negate penalties from exhaustion on Non-Combat Rolls.
Advantage: The Character may add their Perseverance to any Normal Defense Roll after they have suffered a number of Wounds equal to their Perseverance. This lasts for 1 Turn and may be used Once per Session.
A staple of comic book Reality are those people that seem to operate better when they are exhausted or pushed to their limits. This is not a skill by many definitions but fits nicely into the broader classification of Talents.
Many Talents also come with an added Advantage. This is a combat bonus based on the talent. In this case Perseverance grants a character a momentary boost to defense that scales based on the amount of damage they have suffered. What does this mean? Characters with a high Perseverance may take a major beating but after they hit a certain point they are granted a burst of toughness making them that much harder to defeat. A staple of superheroes.
Many superheroes often have unique abilities such as a 7th Sense. Often times these will be Powers in their own right. However, there are times when a simple re-branding makes for a unique take on a Talent.
Elf was once a Chimera Drifter, a genetically engineered hive solider. Freed from her mental link to her brood her unstable gene structure underwent a spontaneous evolution. Gifted with a host of new senses Elf often receives information on a level she cannot comprehend. For this we start with Intuition:
Intuition (Fortune): This Talent signifies good judgment even when the character may not have information to actually go on. When the character must make a choice with no justification for any possibility, the GM may allow an Intuition roll. On a successful roll, the GM may offer suggestions.
Advantage: Once per Session the Character may use Intuition with Surprised Defense.
By making a simple name change: So Many Senses, we have redefined the Talent to fit the character and add a new dimension to her powers.
Finally, there may be times when the GM or a player may wish to simply create a new Talent altogether. For instance, a player making a master in information gathering may want the character to be an expert interrogator. Typically, this would be represented by the Negotiations Talent. However, the player wants to also be able to play mind games like Good Cop Bad Cop and to represent a seedy past have an understanding of torture. Normally, this would mean taking Etiquette and Intimidation as well. However, the player does not see this character as being all that Intimidating.
While they plan to take both Etiquette and Negotiations the player also jots down Interrogation as a new Mental Talent. This Talent would supplement either Etiquette or Negotiations depending on how they are playing the scene or be used to identify torture techniques that may have been used.