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How Super is Superman?

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At the height of the silver age Superman could cross the universe in 10 seconds, juggle planets with his pinky, and had every power including superknitting. Of course he wasn't always like that. But even before the silver age power creep he was still Superman. We all know the saying. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Why they don't include bulletproof I don't know. Still how powerful does this make Superman? I don't know. Being vauge faster than and the like we can't be exact. But we can estimate.

 

 

Faster than a speeding bullet.

 

The fastest bullet is about 1,700 mph. If you want to try and dodge it, you have to be 500 feet away. Now here my research if a tad faulty because I couldn't find a date on this bullet. I'm guessing two things here. This is a modern bullet, and gun technology hasn't really sped up bullets since the 1930's. So going with this as Supes minimum sped. He's twice as fast as sound. By the time you hear the swoosh of his arrival, he's got you half way to jail.

 

More powerful than a locomotive.

 

One of the post powerful locomotives of the 1930's was the Union Pacific steam engine it had 97,664 pounds force or 434 kn.For those of you who don't know what that means it had 5000 horsepower. Or the ability to lift 165,000,000 pounds. that's 825,000 tons. Even golden age Supes had a str of over 100

 

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

 

Now here we can be more exact. Superman can leap tall buildings, not all buildings. So he can't clear the tallest. Which means if you can fortify yourself at the top of the newly built Empire State building he can't leap the 1,250 ft to get you. He'll just have to run up the stairs before you can hear him, and smash through the door. Uhm Yeaa!?

 

Now I'll admit math isn't my strongest subject and I didn't spend hours researching this. So anyone who can correct the above points please do so. But on behalf of the criminals of the universe. Please Krypton make more kryptonite.

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I figure "Man of Steel" either the movie or the John Byrne series is around the 1000-1500 point area. The full-tilt-boogie Silver Age drawn by Curt Swan version is more of a throw out the calculator and just write down powers till the ink runs dry kind of thing.

There are a number of great write ups done by people on this board at many different levels.

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Hyper-Man's rookie version is nice (though I dislike density increase as it's often used, including in that build. It's a personal thing - weighing a bajillion tons doesn't inconvenience you if you can fly, and that makes DI a no brainer for 'flying super bricks' (and always has).  I kind of wish strength itself had a knockback resistance built into it (without using the brace action) to make DI at least slightly less appealing.

 

Of all those feats, though, the 'faster than a speeding bullet' one is the most difficult.  Out of combat it's super-easy (heh), sure, but in combat you're looking at a running of something ridiculous to truly be faster than a bullet.

 

Which is why you can step back and look at what he's actually doing with it.  I've mentioned before that hitting everyone in the room super fast is just an AoE on Hand Attack - you clocked everyone in a dozen meters one by one in one segment because you're just that fast.  

 

While there are rules for leaping in the way of bullets to shield a friend you could also use Deflection ... but it's pretty limited.  To shield everyone nearby you can also simulate it by taking Usable By Others (10 meter radius) on Resistant protection - the targets aren't bullet or bomb proof but fortunately Superman is nearby and he used his super speed off action to catch all the bullets shot at the targets or get in the way of that incoming missile.  He's just that fast.

 

And as for moving around the battlefield faster than the eye can see? That's teleport.  I take it on my speedsters to double dip: it covers both being faster than the eye can follow AND vibrating through anything they can see through (most fences, windowed doors, jail cell doors, out of Mr Strongsmash's bear hug, etc).

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I prefer the stripped down version of Superman before he had time travel, could juggle the planet, was utterly invulnerable to everything but magic, and had all those other weird powers like ice breath.  Just strong, fly, tough, and throw in x-ray vision to make him more unique than the usual flying brick.

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weighing a bajillion tons doesn't inconvenience you if you can fly, and that makes DI a no brainer for 'flying super bricks' (and always has). 

 

Actually It does as long as END is being tracked. END has to be paid on DI as well as any extra STR provided by it.  That extra END cost can add up very quickly.

 

HM

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That's true  - though I can't recall the last time any of my players took a constant power meant for continuous combat phase usage without taking the 'end only to activate' advantage or continuing charges: it's why I hadn't even really considered the end cost when I posted (but games aren't balanced around anecdotes or group building quirks).

 

Even factoring in the cost of that advantage you still come out way ahead of someone who tried to buy each component separately (let's use 70 AP):

 

Density Increase (102,400 kg mass, +50 STR, +10 PD/ED, -20m KB), Persistent (+1/4), Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) (70 Active Points)

 

or to save a few quite a few points (at the risk of losing the bonuses by being Stunned):

 

Density Increase (102,400 kg mass, +50 STR, +10 PD/ED, -20m KB), Costs Endurance Only To Activate (+1/4) (50 Active Points)

 

vs

 

Floor Friendly Density Increase (Total: 90 Active Cost, 90 Real Cost) +50 STR (Real Cost: 50) <b>plus</b> +10 ED (Real Cost: 10) <b>plus</b> +10 PD (Real Cost: 10) <b>plus</b> Knockback Resistance -20m (Real Cost: 20) .  (You wouldn't build this power and go over the 70 cap.  You'd buy the components individually or at least push the KB resistance out of the compound power to keep to cap.  It's just for math purposes.).

 

Either of the 'Densities' could throw in 12 m of flight and come out ahead without threatening the landscape.  That's why I consider it a 'no brainer'.

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I never used density increase for anything except to represent, you know, extra dense characters.  As a GM I have always been pretty strict about the real world limitations of both density increase and growth.  No, you cant ride in a taxi.  No the elevator can't hold you.  No, you can't fit through the doorway.

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That's true  - though I can't recall the last time any of my players took a constant power meant for continuous combat phase usage without taking the 'end only to activate' advantage or continuing charges: it's why I hadn't even really considered the end cost when I posted (but games aren't balanced around anecdotes or group building quirks).

 

Even factoring in the cost of that advantage you still come out way ahead of someone who tried to buy each component separately (let's use 70 AP):

 

Density Increase (102,400 kg mass, +50 STR, +10 PD/ED, -20m KB), Persistent (+1/4), Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) (70 Active Points)

 

or to save a few quite a few points (at the risk of losing the bonuses by being Stunned):

 

Density Increase (102,400 kg mass, +50 STR, +10 PD/ED, -20m KB), Costs Endurance Only To Activate (+1/4) (50 Active Points)

 

vs

 

Floor Friendly Density Increase (Total: 90 Active Cost, 90 Real Cost) +50 STR (Real Cost: 50) <b>plus</b> +10 ED (Real Cost: 10) <b>plus</b> +10 PD (Real Cost: 10) <b>plus</b> Knockback Resistance -20m (Real Cost: 20) .  (You wouldn't build this power and go over the 70 cap.  You'd buy the components individually or at least push the KB resistance out of the compound power to keep to cap.  It's just for math purposes.).

 

Either of the 'Densities' could throw in 12 m of flight and come out ahead without threatening the landscape.  That's why I consider it a 'no brainer'.

 

I don't recall ever seeing this type of use of DI used on any published or forum posted characters before or since I first used it in my original 'namesake' character build back in 2004. I don't see how it could be considered a no brainer if practically no one else is doing it.

 

Also, as a slot in a framework where only 2 slots can be active at 1 time typically, there is a strong desire to use 2 aspects of superspeed as well (4 overall levels & some form of movement).  Using DI is an easy choice but is not always going to be the best choice.

 

HM

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I never used density increase for anything except to represent, you know, extra dense characters.  As a GM I have always been pretty strict about the real world limitations of both density increase and growth.  No, you cant ride in a taxi.  No the elevator can't hold you.  No, you can't fit through the doorway.

 

Just as the old 'Force Field' and 'Armor' Powers do not by default have a force field and armor sfx there is no reason that the Density Increase Power has to have a density special effect. 

 

I cant think of a good Growth example right now but I have used Shrinking combined with a huge Size to represent the dichotomy of the TARDIS being small on the outside but HUGE on the inside (because 'HERO mechanically' all passengers are shrunk when they enter the 'police box'.

 

HM

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There's an excellent Superman pastiche in Galactic Champions. Supernova has strength, flight, high defences, an EB --and two cosmic VPPs, a small one without restrictions, and a larger one with a "Brick Tricks" limitation. It seems as though that gets everything you need in a Silver Age Superman done, at 1800 points. 

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Just as the old 'Force Field' and 'Armor' Powers do not by default have a force field and armor sfx there is no reason that the Density Increase Power has to have a density special effect. 

 

 

The description of the power reads:

 

A character with Density Increase (“DI”) can increase his density, thereby making himself stronger and physically tougher

 

 

This is much the same as "force field" giving you defenses.  The special effect is how it gives you the base power, not what the base power is.  It makes you heavier, it reduces your knockback.  It always makes you more dense, by definition, just like flight makes you fly and teleportation makes you teleport.  How it works and what it looks like is the special effect, not the actual function of the power.

 

Force field was misleading in the name, it wasn't always a force field it just gave you resistant defenses you paid for with endurance.  But Density Increase is always increasing density in some way.

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I can see it, though. If this is simulating the Man of Steel version of Superman, that movie also included technology that mimics increased mass via manipulation of gravity, which Superman's flight also appears to be doing if those levitating pebbles are any indication. It nicely mimics something I've seen in the comics, where he's resistant to being knocked back while flying but once he puts his feet on the ground he behaves as a 225 lb. object that can be pushed back by a skidding bus or flipped by a martial artist.

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I don't recall ever seeing this type of use of DI used on any published or forum posted characters before or since I first used it in my original 'namesake' character build back in 2004. I don't see how it could be considered a no brainer if practically no one else is doing it.

 

HM

 

It was literally the main power of the first character I ever made back in the late 80s: He was a living black hole. I've had players use it every game since through several gaming groups in entirely different countries.  Last game someone tried (cleverly) to use a 'structural integrity field' (an Aid to a floor's PD) to stomp around inside without falling into basements all the time.

 

Anecdotal evidence is anecdotal so I should have said 'in my experience'.... but I'm as surprised to see that you haven't encountered it frequently as you may be to see that I have.

 

Don't get me wrong... I like the build and I like the power (itself):  The Vision is one of my favorite heroes, power wise.  I just find it a little stacked when its main drawback (which is always been a RP thing - I've had players not take it because they didn't WANT to weigh a hundred tons) is so easily overcome.  At the same time I acknowledge that Limitations are supposed to be *applied* to powers, not come with them.  It's just a personal thing. 

 

I can see it, though. If this is simulating the Man of Steel version of Superman, that movie also included technology that mimics increased mass via manipulation of gravity, which Superman's flight also appears to be doing if those levitating pebbles are any indication. It nicely mimics something I've seen in the comics, where he's resistant to being knocked back while flying but once he puts his feet on the ground he behaves as a 225 lb. object that can be pushed back by a skidding bus or flipped by a martial artist.

 

Except for the moment he touches down and becomes a 225 pound man he loses dozens of strength points if he doesn't want to fall into the sewers. Still, I like that reasoning. 

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I see the increased Mass from Density Increase and Growth as a feature of the powers, not a drawback (although certainly there are times when it isn't advantageous).

A Superheroine with Persistent DI isn't as easily captured as one who is simply super-strong and super-tough, because the villain has to actually be strong enough to carry her off (not just powerful enough to knock her out). Likewise its hard to suspend her over a vat of acid if she breaks your crane cannot lift her (or your chain/rope cannot support her). Plus she can crush weak villains just by sitting on them if their own Strength isn't enough to carry her.

 

By the way, I'd think that if Superman were using gravity manipulation to fly it would make him more​ susceptible to Knockback, not less. I'll also admit I'm not so familiar with the present cinematic versions of Superman, but I thought the rationale for his strength and durability was that he generated a localized kinetic field (which explained how he could pick up huge objects without them buckling and falling apart, and why his costume was rarely damaged when he took hits).

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I guess my favorite versions of the character are the original John Byrne run on the comic and the DCAU version. In Byrne's post crisis reboot Clark's main power is really flight. When Darkseid first captures Clark and attempts to brainwash him he initially ends up with an underpowered lacky who can't fly. Byrne's original "Man of Steel" comic also established that at least part of Clark's strength was Psychokinetic in nature due to his ability to lift large ships without cracking the hulls. This also borrows from Byrne's earlier run on Fantastic Four where he had them encounter Gladiator (just one of the many* Marvel pastiche supermen) who was able to lift The Baxter Building without destroying it (something only feasible with some form of TK).

 

I never liked the direct TK angle but I did like the idea of the energy behind the power of flight being concentrated way beyond the typical 'bracing maneuver from HERO'. And taking that to the logical conclusion (E=mc...) then enough energy concentrated would begin to have mass. As a side note, I did give the character the ability to fly/hover outside of the VPP partly to address the issue of property damage from DI.

 

I could have sidestepped the issue by just adding 'Strength' as a Power to the VPP instead but that seemed too easy and distasteful when DI did everything else I wanted.

 

*I personally count Vision as a Superman pastiche of a lower order so borrowing a Power based on him for the character he's partially based on seems fair. Heck, Iron Man is one as well considering his name is just another way of saying Man of Steel.

 

:D

HM

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My main character has a spell that channels the power of the Mongol/Turkic earth mother goddess to turn himself into super-dense living stone via Density Increase. As part of that special effect I've always approached it as if he can walk normally without sinking into bare earth or rock, but let him step on artificial ground like concrete sidewalks or asphalt roads and everything underneath his feet is crushed by hundreds of tons of weight.

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I've always downplayed the surface area issue of walking with density increase - basically if what you're walking on could hold an object of your weight (like a road can hold a 100 ton tank rolling along) it can hold you (despite the fact that a hundred tons of weight focused on a size 12 foot would probably punch you straight through the asphalt and waist deep into the ground below with every step).  

 

I have used 'density' as a special effect on hand killing attacks with penetrating before, though - all that mass and power focused into a finger? Right through the battleship hull.

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There is a certain degree to which you have to bow to the cinematic expectations when you adjudicate the side effects of powers like Density Increase (or Swinging). Although it couldn't hurt to at least keep a note of what the Crushing Damage is for a character of that mass to compare to the PD of strengthless objects they interact with (such as floors, and furniture).

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