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How Super is Superman?


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Final version of the character -- taking the above info and compiling it, trying to make it all fit in a usable form, and adjusting to taste, I got the following:

(5th ed version, because it's what I know the best)

 

 

 

Superman

Max Fleischer Studios, 1941-1943

 

Str  110

Dex 20

Con 35

Body 18

Int 18  (he's smart, but not a super-scientist)

Ego 15 (generic heroic willpower, nothing ever affects Ego in the series)

Pre 20 (impressive, but people aren't crippled by his Pre attacks)

Com 12 (only Lois really seems to have the hots for him)

 

PD 30 r

ED 30 r

Spd 5 (he's quicker than any human in the show, but 'faster than a speeding bullet is clearly movement-related)

Rec 30

End 70

Stun 95

 

"Faster than a Speeding Bullet" Multipower - 85 points

--35" Flight, x 16 noncom, must have stable place to "launch" from (-1/4)

--50" Leaping x 8 noncom (1200' high jump lets him get to top of Empire State Building)

--20" Running x 4 noncom (150 mph)

--20" Swimming

 

LS: Hold breath 5 minutes

Missile Deflection: All (punches out the energy beam in first episode, forgot to list that)

X-Ray Vision

+8 Telescopic Sight and Hearing (he just seems to know right where he needs to go)

 

50% Phys and Energy Damage Reduction, only if he is aware of attack (-1/2)  (any sort of sneak attack will bypass this - such as falling debris)

 

2 levels Hand to Hand

PS: Reporter 13-

Disguise 13-

Mechanics 13-

Electronics 13-

Demolitions 13- (he's a saboteur against Japan, remember)

 

 

Disadvantages

Secret Identity

Protective of Innocents (but especially Lois)

Won't use full force against people (usually punches people for about 6 to 8d6)

Code against killing except in war

Vulnerability x2: attacks from behind / blows to back of head (classic Golden Age vulnerability, and gives him a reason to duck that sledgehammer

 

Total points: 535

 

 

 

And there you go.  That's Superman as he appeared in his very first cartoons.  No heat vision yet, no superbreath.  I'm open to any suggestions on how to change him up.  I figured the combination of the limited damage reduction and the vulnerability gives enough wiggle room to explain why the occasional unimpressive attack will knock him out of the action for a bit.

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Very impressive work! 

 

One tweak I might suggest is to lower the raw STR and make some of it "Lift Only" or "Extra Push" so that he doesn't have a basic 25d6 punch (let alone his Haymaker...) With a lot of the larger strength feats he really has to strain, suggesting that he may be Pushing the Power. Haymaker also helps cover him doing more property damage for a given lift ability. 

 

I'd also suggest that the damage he would take from a building collapsing on him would be less than the damage a point mass of the same weight falling on him would do, since only some of the building would actually be crushing his body, there would be voids in the collapse, etc. You could probably get by with lower resistant defenses, but maybe harden them. 

 

Which edition were you using, but the way? That's clearly pre-6e.

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It's 5th edition.  You know I thought about giving him a lower strength with a higher amount only for pushing, but I didn't see any real evidence that that's how his strength worked in the series.  When he really cut loose, he broke everything that he hit.  He totally trashes those robots that had walked through machine gun fire earlier in the episode, so he hits pretty damn hard.

 

Ultimately, even with 110 Str, he's gonna have to push to do some of the things he does in the show.  The 4 biggest strength feats he has are 1) stopping the large skyscraper from falling over, 2) throwing the 100+ foot boulder into the gap in the dam, 3) catching the falling freight train in midair and bringing it back up onto the tracks, and 4) catching the giant bomber and setting it down gently.  The Ultimate Brick lists the Empire State Building as requiring 120 Str to lift, so the skyscraper is already at the upper limits of what he can normally do.  With the falling train and the plane, you've also got an unknown amount of velocity that you have to take into account.  The giant boulder is anybody's guess, but based on its apparent height and the density of rock, it has to be in the 60,000+ ton range (105 Str).

 

Regarding his defenses, I don't think I can go any lower.  In one episode, he holds some high voltage lines (5D6 killing) for quite a while and doesn't seem to take any damage.  Even in 6th, he should be taking an average of 18 Body a phase, and 36 Stun.  He also gets a huge vat of molten steel poured on him (pg 445 of 5 ed revised lists it as 4D6K and 14D6 phys normal damage, I was remembering it higher than that), and he doesn't seem to take anything from it.  So I think I've got his defenses about as low as I can put them.

 

This version of Superman isn't balanced to appear in anybody's game (I leave that to the GMs), so it doesn't matter if he turns out to be too powerful than somebody would like.  It's just supposed to be as accurate to the cartoons as possible.  People can adjust him from there for their own games knowing exactly what they're working with.  I've seen versions of Superman proposed where he's got 50 Str and 20 Def, and people say "oh yeah, that's how he really was back in the Golden Age".  I dislike that, because a lot of people may not have looked at the original stuff and they just don't know any better.  So with this version, I tried to document every little bit as to why I set the numbers where I set them.

 

At some point, I'll get around to watching the last few episodes and I'll note if anything needs to be added or subtracted.

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I've seen versions of Superman proposed where he's got 50 Str and 20 Def, and people say "oh yeah, that's how he really was back in the Golden Age".  I dislike that, because a lot of people may not have looked at the original stuff and they just don't know any better.

 

 

Well, its a mix.  When he first showed up, I mean the first strips that were supposed to be in the newspaper and turned into Action Comics #1, he couldn't fly and while he was bulletproof, he tried not to be shot.  So his power level even back then was pretty variable.  Granted it ramped up rapidly and by the cartoon serials was up in the ridiculous point values.  So "Golden Age Superman" presents a fairly big range of power.

 

Superman's main superpower seems to be "be more powerful than anyone else."  If Hulk is x strength, he's X+1.  If Flash is Y speed, he's Y+1, and so on.

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I just watched the last 3 episodes.  Nothing helpful in those as far as the character build goes.

 

Episode 8 - Volcano

 

Clark vs the Volcano.  No amazing feats or anything, he flies Lois to safety and sets off explosives that redirect the lava away from the village.

 

 

Episode 9 - Terror on the Midway

 

Superman fights Harambe.  A 10' tall gorilla escapes at the circus, everybody panics.  Other circus animals escape.  Superman has to recapture the lions, tigers and bears.  Oh my.

 

 

Episode 16 - The Underground World

 

Lois and Clark go on an expedition to explore some caves, and find an underground race of bird-men who dip people in molten gold and make statues.  Superman tussles with a few of them (no idea how strong or tough they are supposed to be) and then helps Lois and another explorer escape.  He seals the caverns with some dynamite they brought with them.

 

 

 

Nothing really applicable to what we're talking about here, but at least we now know he didn't show any new powers or anything like that.

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I did a comparable analysis of the first few issues of Action Comics when I designed my Superman back in the day. I don't have it any more, apparently.

 

I was point shaving, trying to get him into 250 points (5e), but still managed to get what I thought was a reasonable representation of the character at that date. Unfortunately, I had to trim a couple of elements of the design. I wanted to include Energy as well as Physical Damage Reduction, and I wanted him to have a bigger multipower to make it easy for him to add new abilities.

 

Including those would have allowed him to develop and increase in power level in a fairly linear manner. (Sticking some extra strength into his multipower, for example).

 

But as a baseline, 50 Str and 20 Dex worked well enough.

 

Obviously, the character operated at different power levels at different times and in different media. That's why there can't be a singular "he was like this".

 

Golden Age Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have been reprinted a few times. Other Golden Age characters are harder to track down.

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Interstingly, my old  3e/4e campaign Superman tribute character (Terrificman), only had 100STR. He was deliberately set to be well above the 250pt PC level, just in case I needed a hero to bail them out or get them to toe the line. I had the John Byrne Man of Steel version of Supes in mind when I did him, so there was no need for Silver Age shenanigans.

 

Golden Age Terrificman had 50 STR and fitted into 250 pts. 

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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.

It is all very well fortifying yourself at the top of the Empire State Building, but what is Doc Savage going to say when you start trying to rearrange his lounge room ?

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It is all very well fortifying yourself at the top of the Empire State Building, but what is Doc Savage going to say when you start trying to rearrange his lounge room ?

 

Doc doesn't technically live at the top - his suite is on the 86th floor.

 

You could fortify yourself on the upper observation deck and not bother him much :)

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Doc doesn't technically live at the top - his suite is on the 86th floor.

 

You could fortify yourself on the upper observation deck and not bother him much :)

How many floors on the Empire State Building ? I was going by the description in ""Doc Savage " His Apocalyptic Life" which  states  (p 69) that it is 86 stories tall. True any new building would therefore be on his roof, but i think he'd still object !

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The original Superman could leap an 1/8 of a mile.  A mile is 810 hexes (Fifth Edition rules).  A character with Leaping +13" with 8x NCM would simulate that nicely without using adding their STR.

 

He can survive an artillery shell bursting against his skin, which would by PD 25 with Hardened Damage Resistance, or Missile Deflection.

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He can survive an artillery shell bursting against his skin, which would by PD 25 with Hardened Damage Resistance, or Missile Deflection.

 

The original wording was "nothing less than a bursting shell can penetrate his skin". In other words, a "bursting shell" could penetrate his skin.

 

The definition of "bursting shell" is fuzzy, of course, but around 20 resistant PD would do the trick. 18 if you stack it with Damage Reduction (to handle the Stun lottery). Hardened isn't necessary.

 

Your build would better reflect a slightly later version.

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The original wording was "nothing less than a bursting shell can penetrate his skin". In other words, a "bursting shell" could penetrate his skin.

 

The definition of "bursting shell" is fuzzy, of course, but around 20 resistant PD would do the trick. 18 if you stack it with Damage Reduction (to handle the Stun lottery). Hardened isn't necessary.

 

Your build would better reflect a slightly later version.

 

I stand corrected. 

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OOPS - wrong thread.

 

To me, Superman is Super enough that he is at or near the top end of characters in the game. It's all relative. Had he retained his original power suite, he'd be pretty wimpy compared to his JLA companions.

 

Right.  To appear in a Champions game, at least if he's retaining the same stature he has in the DC Universe, then he needs to be right at the top.  He has high-end brick level strength and durability, speedster level movement and OCV, he's an effective blaster, has a great range of senses, and a pretty good skill selection.  In addition, he's lots got perks and contacts and other noncombat abilities.

 

It's hard to do Supes on the same points budget as other characters, unless they're also JLA types.  His concept is "I'm more powerful than those other guys".  So without a brutally efficient build, he's just going to require more points.

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Right.  To appear in a Champions game, at least if he's retaining the same stature he has in the DC Universe, then he needs to be right at the top.  He has high-end brick level strength and durability, speedster level movement and OCV, he's an effective blaster, has a great range of senses, and a pretty good skill selection.  In addition, he's lots got perks and contacts and other noncombat abilities.

 

It's hard to do Supes on the same points budget as other characters, unless they're also JLA types.  His concept is "I'm more powerful than those other guys".  So without a brutally efficient build, he's just going to require more points.

 

To take this concept one step further it's actually easy to conceptualize that Batman and later Superman were originally 400 point solo characters in the DCAU.  It just so happens that Batman adventured for several years before Superman showed up.  And Superman had a solo career of at least a few years before the Justice League was formed.  Many if not all the other members could then be built on 400 points. Batman and Superman just have a lot more XP to start with.  In Superman's case a lot of XP could arguably be used to buy down any Kryptonite Limitation on his Powers as most if not all of that substance had been dealt with during his solo career.

 

HM

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To take this concept one step further it's actually easy to conceptualize that Batman and later Superman were originally 400 point solo characters in the DCAU.  It just so happens that Batman adventured for several years before Superman showed up.  And Superman had a solo career of at least a few years before the Justice League was formed.  Many if not all the other members could then be built on 400 points. Batman and Superman just have a lot more XP to start with.  In Superman's case a lot of XP could arguably be used to buy down any Kryptonite Limitation on his Powers as most if not all of that substance had been dealt with during his solo career.

 

HM

 

 

I'd say the traditional DC comics universe (post-Crisis, pre-52 is the one I'm most familiar with) would probably be best represented by a collection of a bunch of different campaigns by different GMs.  And all of them kind of coordinate their games together, sort of.

 

Pre-Crisis Superman came out of a solo game that somebody ran for their 10 year old nephew.  They gave out XP like candy and just let him do whatever he wanted.  The only way to affect the character was through GM fiat, but the kid didn't care because he didn't really know the rules that well and just thought the whole thing was awesome.  Sometimes he'd get to play in the GM's regular Champions group, and everybody humored the kid as long as it was for a session or two.  After a few years he got old enough to show up regularly, but at that point nobody wanted him to bring in his 5000 point monstrosity of a character.  So since they had some new players coming in anyway, and the existing campaigns had run for a long time, they decided to start fresh and everybody created new characters (or revised their existing ones).  They did a big, campaign-ending blowout of an adventure, the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  A few characters that the GM really hated got killed off, as well as characters from people who weren't playing in the game anymore.

 

Then the new, Post-Crisis campaign began.

 

The Justice League were a bunch of characters from their old old campaign, back in college.  And those guys had tons of XP devoted to all kinds of stuff.  The character sheets were like 4 or 5 pages long, filled with skills and contacts and so many other things that the players couldn't always remember that they had.  So they built revised versions of these characters on like 600+ points, stripping them down to their "essentials" but still remaining quite powerful.  The regular GM helped his nephew build a Superman that fit within the high-powered guidelines of the new game, but wasn't anything close to the monster he had been before.  He was still probably the most powerful guy in the campaign, and the character build was probably kinda cheesy, but it wasn't bad enough for people to complain.  They were just glad the old version was gone.

 

Batman, Superman, and a few other characters still got their own solo adventures under a different GM, but mostly there was an agreement that the stuff in those games couldn't interfere with the main game.  Batman can get XP, but it has to be spent on stuff that won't really come up in the JLA game.  Eventually the GM stopped paying attention to it and Batman dumped all his XP into Overall Skill Levels and a big "utility belt" VPP, and he became the BatGod of the late-90s to present.  There was also a bit of a hiccup when one of the guys running the solo campaigns lost his job and went through a divorce, and he just started maiming and killing off characters.  Superman's player showed up for his regular solo game, and suddenly got attacked by this monster he'd never seen before who had 75% damage reduction and was throwing 9D6 hand killing attacks.  "Ha!  Your character is dead!" the GM screamed, and then he got up and stormed out.  He did the same thing to poor Batman and Green Lantern, and then he cut off Aquaman's hand, and really screwed up Hawkman's backstory.  "Actually, you just found out you're not an alien.  You're a reincarnation of an Egyptian prince.  And an alien.  And you just arrived on Earth.  And you're a totem spirit of the hawk god."  He just kept adding more stuff just to piss the player off.

 

Eventually the group told Doug that he couldn't run games anymore, and they had to do a couple of story arcs to get everybody back to a playable state.  Except poor Hawkman's player, he was so disgusted he just wanted to make a new character.  Green Lantern's player just renamed his secret ID and said "this other dude finds the ring, oh and I'm buying off the yellow vulnerability.  Oh and I didn't have quite enough points, so I lowered my Int down to 8."  And everybody was so distracted, this was when Batman's player quietly wrote in all the XP he'd gotten from solo games.

 

--

 

Sorry, this started out as me trying to make it fit with a Champions campaign, and then just turned into me trying to make it funny. ;)

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