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General Forge Forums => First Thoughts => Topic started by: MacLeod on June 13, 2009, 01:58:10 AM

Title: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 13, 2009, 01:58:10 AM
I am putting together the elements for a setting design to be totally gonzo... Imagine World of Synnibar combined with Rifts with the power levels cranked up to 11. The problem is, I only know the surface information and not the details of those games. Here is what I have so far...

Tag Line: A scifi multiverse full of unrealistic technology and over the top power... Where the Gods, people and even Mother Nature herself are at war.

(some of these ideas aren't full developed but I will put them here for posterity)

Alchemy is the ultimate science. With the knowledge of the elements and alchemic prosthetics, alchemists are capable of large scale transmutations such as turning mountains into a castles (stolen from Full Metal Alchemist).

Cybernetics can make a person nigh-invulnerable to conventional weapons. The technology used is reminiscent of a less malleable version of T-X from Terminator 3 to give them insane on-board weapons. These people are called Chimerics (stolen from Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds).

Dark Magic is a fell style of magic that requires the practitioner to focus black arcane magic through their bodies. This is done through dark pacts with demons most foul and perverse. Their power commonly manifests through the witch/warlock's hair, becoming both their shield and their weapon. (stolen from Bayonetta and GGXX)

Demi-Gods are born, killed and re-incarnated like a bored man whittling wooden figures before decapitating them because it is no longer amusing. Demi-Gods are avatars of the primordial powers pervading the universe.

Divine beings are created and driven to pursue causes of the their patron deity. The power they are granted allows them to shape the world around them like they are casually investing some time in a game of Populous.

God-Weapons are hugely destructive artifacts that are believed to be the final resting forms of fallen/destroyed Gods. With their sentience they find Ensiferums (Iron-Bearers) to wield them in order to pursue the goals they once had in life. (stolen from boulet and his Bloodlust thread here on the Forge)

Martial Arts embody the virtue of Hard Work to a T. Those who invest time, energy and patience into their art are capable of blazing speeds, overwhelming power and the ability to evoke energy like some sort of Gundam cannon. (stolen from Dragon Ball Z)

Mediums are unfortunate victims of a terrible curse that allow them to speak with the spirits they attract. These souls absorb into them, desire life again only to use the Mediums flesh to manifest deadly powers capable of leveling cities. (stolen from Guilty Gear XX)

Mutants are generic sorts whom are capable of manifesting any number of horrible and hideous appendages. These bizarre appendages can bite, spray acid, emit highly focused energy beams, emit anti-gravity energies and all other manner of insanity.

Nature has a way of gaining sentience and investing the common folk. Nature transforms their bodies to have a oaken skin stronger than steel, horribly deadly leaf-bladed vines cover their bodies which are wielded like chains against those that would contest Natural Law.

Ninjutsu is a style of living that emphasizes many different disciplines ranging from stealth, taijutsu to the exotic and evocative kuji-in. Ninja likes to teleport around and cut folks in half with ancient techniques. (stolen from anime ninja and GGXX again)

Psionics manifest themselves within the people, initially often in explosively dangerous ways. Psionics are capable of everything you usually associate with over-the-top psychic powers; creating flames from nothing, moving buildings, controlling minds, etc...

Rage is a random and devastating force when focused by plumbers into their fists. The adrenaline rush these madmen experience allows their muscles to transcend human norms. (stolen from Jack Brooks, Monster Slayer... sort of)

Rock 'n' Roll is a term used to fool the unknowing as to what the source of true power is in the universe; METAL! With solos that destroy landscapes and shredding that cuts down enemies, no one can match the power of Metal. (stolen from my love of metal and all the crazy things they like to say, especially 3 Inches of Blood's "Deadly Sinners")

SpellArm Magic is the art of binding magical power to martial artist discipline. These individuals are capable of devastatingly powerful magical spells, made more potent when they are focused into a kick that destroys a man's chest entirely. In addition, SpellArms etch runes of power on their skin to make enhance themselves to superhuman levels.

I posted this on rpgnet and garnered no replies... I can't believe that I have hit every power source available! There is creativity out there untapped, I just need someone to show it to me. =) This setting is going to be used to power a beta version of a game I posted previously... though it has changed drastically since then.

It is my hope that someone/anyone will contribute to the insanity of this setting with new and interesting power sources! I would be eternally grateful for the help!

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Vulpinoid on June 13, 2009, 09:59:00 PM
I used to love concepts like these...trying to come up with kitchen sink lists that covered everything imaginable.

I used to love Rifts...I was amazed by Synnibarr...but that was in high school when I thought "the more detail, the better". I used to be the one who knew all the obscure power combos while others just came to the table wanting to play and thinking that I was somehow "cheating".

I've moved in different directions since then, but this is an interesting nostalgia kick...

Here's a few power sources that come to mind. Some of them may have overlap thematically with what you've got...but then again, a lot of your existing categories share some overlap, so I seriously don't think this will bother you.

  • Bionics (seperate from Cybernetics): Many games like RIFTS have cybernetics in the form of electronic and sensory implants while bionics are mechanical implants.
  • Genesplicing: A specific science involving recombination of DNA strands to generate specific biological advantages.
  • Drugs: Whether this is in the form of psychoactives that allow a user to sense supernatural phenomena, steroids that boost musculature (and speed) to superhuman levels.
  • Runes: A traditional form of magic drawing on forces commonly associated with the Norse pantheon.
  • Curses: Those afflicted by mystical effects and who have suffered a major affliction, but have managed to draw strength from the magic that afflicts them.
  • Temporal Flux: Those from the far future, wielding technology beyond the comprehension of the present...or those from the past who bring knowledges now forgotten.
  • Dreams: The ability to step into dreams and manipulate the minds of others, this could also extend to the creation of illusions based on a victim's desires or fears.
  • Gemstones: Many traditional forms of mysticism believe that certain gems resonate with different energy forms that can be tapped for various purposes.
  • Possession: These characters have little strength in themselves but they are able to possess the devices or other sentient beings around them and temporarily gain their bonuses for a short time.
  • Artificing: The character is able to create items that perform amazing tasks (often using these items to do their dirty work).
  • Necromancy (separate from Black Magic): This magic form specifically deals with the spirits of the dead, using them to gain an advantage over the living in various means.
  • Insanity: Perhaps characters with an altered perception of reality actually have the rules of reality work differently for them.

As an aside, this sort of list could literally be endless, everyone could come up with their own source of amazing power. It might be more interesting mechanically to determine a shorter list of the things that could be done with such power.

As an example, categorise ten basic effects for your game [combat damage, mystic damage, disease, insanity, willpower, etc...] then give each of your kitchen sink list items a range of key traits that reflect resilience to certain effects [3-6 out of the 10 effect types might gain this], immunity to certain effects [one or two of the effect types might get this], increased vulnerability to certain effects [assign as many vulnerabilites as you have immunities], increased capacity to perform certain effects [assign as many increased capacities as there are forms of resilience].
This way you can get away with designing a general list of common powers, maybe go into some detail for some signature powers that really reflect what your game is aiming for, then provide a working section to describe how players can generate their own power sources.

Just some ideas...


Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Ashirgo on June 14, 2009, 01:10:13 AM
  • Insanity: Perhaps characters with an altered perception of reality actually have the rules of reality work differently for them.

Omg, this is my favourite one!

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 14, 2009, 02:11:38 AM
Thanks V! This is a great help! I had planned to come at my list on another day to see if I could come up with more stuff but it seems you've done an excellent job of showing me up. =D

As for your mechanical suggestions...
In the game I am rudely inserting these into, all of the power sources I am gathering are for a Sample Power Source list. They are there to provide the players with ideas of the crazy stuff they can come up with or do variations on. In addition to the Power Source's title I also write a small origin story to go along with the Power Source. So what I'm saying basically boils down to this, sample power lists are there for inspiration purposes and to color the nutty universe I plan to throw the PCs into.

The game began as a Tournament/DBZ emulation kit, meant to revive an old homebrew RPG of mine from high school that I lost... This may sound like stupidity but Power Sources in the game are merely color. They actually have no effect mechanically. At least, no effect that is any different than the other Power Sources. However, each character is composed of 8 Techniques (3 common, 5 they choose) so the Techs chosen represent the unique effects of their Power Source.
I have included simple guidelines for allowing PCs to do things outside of combat with their Power Sources. You could say that the game has a heavy narrative-bent in that area. I've gone extremely rules-lite with it overall. I've thrown some tactical elements in the character building and combat options but it is still pretty lite. The character sheet for the game is hardly even half a page but it is only that big cuz I wanted some space for vivid descriptions. If one doesn't like the combat system then lively, colorful descriptions are all that is left of the game!!!

I do like your mechanical suggestions though... If I ever get around to writing a sister game to this one that is rules heavy, I'll have to remember your idea!

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Abkajud on June 14, 2009, 10:33:25 AM
Hey, Matt,

you know, V's idea doesn't necessarily require a complicated set of rules to work. At this point, given your description of what you've got (which brings to mind a phrase, "micro-system"), this could give a bit more meat to work with. It implies strategies, combat roles, task assignments, etc.

Example - My Possessed character, say, is immune to Insanity damage. Therefore, have him be the one to enter the Ever-Shifting Mirrorhall, which is a shortcut, while the rest of the group goes the long way, through the Harlequins' Palace. Any mere mortal would probably have their ego rent asunder by the conflicting self-images and endless, chattering voices of the Mirrorhall, but if one's reflection only betrays a flawed human husk, and not the great big ghede (voudoun spirit of death and/or fertility) within. While the necromancer, the gemstone-bearing psychic, and the alchemy-altered mutie-warrior fight clockwork jesters and giant chess sets (I dunno), the one with the ghost-god in his heart can just trot along, taking his time, laughing at all the shameful images of his host displayed in a thousand thousand reflections.

Any chance of a link to your system, or even a brief description of it? The latter sounds doable in this format, given the length of the rules you've indicated.

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 14, 2009, 11:04:31 AM
The thing is, as I noted before, I'm writing this to re-capture an old home brew of mine that got wiped from my hard drive. This means that I am trying to keep it lite in very particular areas where the GM and player are s'pose to share ideas on how something works. The example you've given is quite doable without actually writing rules for it...
but at the same time...
It does sound like it would be a cool addition to the game if it was made malleable enough. I love adding new layers of rules to my games... I just have to figure out when it goes from being lite to being medium so I prevent it from becoming that guy. I've got less than 30 pages right now... but the setting is paper thin; Power Sources, very short species profiles, tiny amount of background info and a couple of guilds. Setting is weak point. =( Especially sci-fi!

As far the game itself... It isn't quite ready for consumption*... especially presentation-wise. On the other hand, if you want to look at it still... I can probably t'row together a lil' pdf of it and upload it to rapidshare or mediafire. I had a link to an extremely old copy in a previous thread but I've since deleted that.

* hehe, I'm not actually going to sell this game, it really has no value to anyone except for me but that is sorta the point...

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Abkajud on June 14, 2009, 03:41:38 PM
Oh, setting is a bit of a red herring anyway, sometimes - it doesn't complete or jazz up the game all by itself, any more than Tolkien's endless descriptions of mountains and hills and whatnot in LotR make people want to read them. It's the interaction of characters that people look at, and setting supports or makes room for that interaction in some way.
Any old commercial, mainstream RPG you pick up is going to be about 200 pages of setting, and who really gets to/wants to use all that stuff, ALL of it, in the game, anyway? The way that Unknown Armies portrays some of its stuff is pretty cool, though: there's a section with dozens of one-or-two-sentence descriptions of supernatural events/urban legends, and they're in the book solely to provide interesting story ideas.
That's the role of setting, I think - to give some cool stuff to work with, but not to get in the way of the story or the action.

There's nothing wrong with devising your own setting through play; Sorcerer and Sword gives all sorts of suggestions on how to do that. What is tricky, though, is the urge to come up with a really robust setting for your design, and then shoving that into the book and saying everybody who plays my game needs to play with my setting.
I never bothered with the world-modules for D&D, and I didn't need them; on the other hand, a premise of some kind is useful so people know what you want them to do with your system.

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 14, 2009, 03:57:23 PM
I definitely agree with you 100%. I've always been one to create setting mid-game. My pre-graduation RPGing career was composed of my ol' home brew with no pre-written setting and everything made up directly on the spot. Everything. NPCs, locations, dialogue, fights, goals, etc... I hate prep work. =)

I'm going to smash together the files tomorrow, pdf-alize the whole thing and upload it to this thread. The associated disclaimer, outside of paper thin setting, is that the game isn't complete in certain ways... its also written for me, very few In Examples are included. Its not a difficult system to grasp I don't think but then again, I wrote it... so who knows.
I'd get the stuff together right now but it is bedtime... at least, that's what my eyelids are telling me. =P

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Abkajud on June 14, 2009, 05:35:06 PM
As a general design suggestion, I'm a big fan of at least trying to come up with examples for the rulebook, so as to be sure that the game concepts can be played out at the table. Sometimes I get an idea I have no clue as to how to make into rules.

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 15, 2009, 02:17:55 AM
I agree. I have some examples written up but not for everything. In the future, I'd like to have a sample character being written to demonstrate character creation and also a sample battle.

In any event, if you want to take a look at what I have so far, you can find the pdf uploaded to mediafire right here (

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Vordark on June 15, 2009, 07:34:38 AM
I think an interesting (and suitably "over the top") central mechanic for your game should have checks resolved by consulting three different, relatively simple tables, one with twelve entries, one with ten entries and one with eight entries.  Whenever someone attempts an action, they should roll four dice: d12, d10, d8 and d6.  The first three dice are used to pick elements out of the respective tables (they could add flavor text, determine success/failure, side effects, something else suitably ponderous) and the d6 is used for determining the magnitude of success/failure or some other damnable thing.

Just what popped into my head when I read the OP. :)

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 15, 2009, 08:05:36 AM
That actually does sound like it could produce some pretty fun situations. =) I wonder if I could work something like that in but as a modular rule.

The basic mechanic for the game is as follows...
Every Round combatants ration out Setup Points amongst two things; Powering Up and Speeding Up. Powering Up gives Ki Points which are used to power Techniques. Speeding Up gives bonuses to initiative. Turn Order fluctuates based on the outcome of actions and some Techs. Attacks, or Clashes, have this lil' thing where the players allocate their Kp secretly and then reveal them to one another before the attacker rolls. Task Resolution is handled much like Talislanta, add bonuses then subtract penalties, roll, apply the previously worked out final modifier, check Table for outcome, resolve. Damage dealt can be anywhere from barely noticeable to one-shot kills. Health, or Fighting Spirit as it is called in the game, regenerates every Round based on a die roll. There are only four Attributes; Power, Toughness, Defense and Accuracy. The first two impact damage dealt, Fighting Spirit and Lift capacity while the last two impact chances to hit, dodge, how many feet you can move in a second and how high/far you can jump.

There are a few more details and other lil' nuances but this about sums it up mechanically.

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Abkajud on June 15, 2009, 09:17:55 AM
Matt, if you like Vordark's idea, you could look up Otherkind - when you roll, you establish what you're trying to accomplish *with* the action (I punch him! Why? To get him off my case, already!), and then establish 2 or more things that could go wrong, even if you complete the action successfully.

So, do this:
roll 3d6. After you've rolled them, assign one each to the three things.

Assign one of the dice to the accomplishment at stake:
1-2: the character does not accomplish it. The character punches him but doesn't get past him. Update the circumstances and roll another conflict, or go forward with the accomplishment totally unachieved.
3-4: the character makes progress toward the accomplishment, but doesn't achieve it outright. Update the circumstances and roll another conflict, or go forward with the accomplishment partly achieved.
5-6: the character accomplishes it!

Assign the two remaining dice to the two dangers:
1-3: the danger comes true.
4-6: the danger doesn't come true.
If the 1-2/3-4/5-6 scale works for the dangers too, feel free to use it.

So say I roll 1 3 4. How do I assign them? It depends on my priorities, of course. Maybe what matters most to me is Millicent's regard: I assign 4 to that danger, so it doesn't come true. Maybe what matters next is getting past the guy, who cares about a black eye: I assign 3 to getting past the guy, we'll roll again, but pow! he gave me a real shiner.

Say instead I roll 4 6 6. I do the butt dance of victory!

From Lumpley's page about Otherkind dice. This is what Vordark's idea brought up in my mind. Since Vordark mentioned "flavor text... success/failure, side effects, something suitably ponderous", I think this is one approach you could use.

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 15, 2009, 09:27:22 AM
Yeah, I've looked into the Otherkind dice mechanic before... I think I mentioned it on the Forge somewhere before. I wrote up a little system around a modified version of it and then never bothered with it again. =) It was one of those... things? As in, "This is a really neat idea. I have to write something with this in it, or I won't be able to work on my primary project." =D

The game this thread is about, Intergalactic League of Brawlers, is also a secondary project... My Fantasy Heartbreaker (gasp!) being the primary. Everyone has to do one, right? @_@

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: whiteknife on June 15, 2009, 11:09:10 AM
I have nothing much productive to comment on, but I think it's a pretty sweet idea. Good luck with it.

Also, I thought upon first seeing the opening post that 'tag line' was a power source, being bolded and all. I was imagining people screaming overly complex names of their attacks and spouting catch phrases as they kick people, and that this was actually the source of their power.

Other power source ideas, how about:

Guns: The power to have and obtain massive amounts of heavy weaponry. Anything from pistols firing depleted uranium bullets to shoulder mounted mass-driver canons is fair game.
Smarts: Use the power of planning and science! to succeed at whatever you choose to do. Invent giant robots, genetically experiment mid-battle, or simply declare that you thought of the opponents move ahead of time and spontaneously pull out the perfect counter measure.

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 15, 2009, 11:17:24 AM
Haha, thanks. =) While the game carelessly pushes over the boundaries of realism and casually pacing its way into utter insanity, slapstick style power sources hadn't really occurred to me yet (outside of Rock'n'Roll).

Hm, yes... At the Guns Power Source, I'm imagining Desperado levels of gun wielding insanity only more over-the-top as the hero grabs weapons from "off screen." =) I also think Gun-Kata would be entertaining as well... If you don't know what I mean, go watch Equilibrium and its brilliant action scenes. You'll get to see Batman shooting guns and smackin' folks! =D

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: Imizaru on June 15, 2009, 07:03:15 PM
Some power source ideas:

Optimism[/b ]- Blind Pollyanna optimism can surmount any difficulty! Pull hope out of the darkest night, find the silver lining that just might save your life, and could even save the day.

Oration - With the power of your words you can sway the masses and wield them like a sword, or a battering ram. Talk your way into or out of anything! Have nations march to your beck and call!

Bureaucracy - Even the laws of nature must follow proceedure. Red tape can blunt any attack, can make a puppet of even the gods themselves.

Geomancy - Serving Mother Earth is easy when she gives you this much power! Turn the tides? I am the tide! Move the mountain? I am the mountain!

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 16, 2009, 07:43:13 AM
Intriguing. =) I think I'll have to make a new section dedicated to slapstick Power Sources or something. =D

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on June 18, 2009, 05:43:02 AM
I noticed that the previous link went to a folder instead of the download link...
So I'm going to post the direct link to the download page.

Intergalactic League of Brawlers super rough beta in a difficult to contend with, and bookmark-less, format. (

Title: Re: [Setting] Over-the-Top Power Sources
Post by: MacLeod on November 21, 2009, 09:19:37 AM
I thought of some new Power Sources. =) I'm still looking for new ideas if anyone has anything to add!!!

Ripper Slayers have an inherent ability that allows them to borrow the powers of the dark beings they combat. Certain powers tend to stick longer than others (such as strength, toughness, speed, etc...).

Shadowsteel Slayers are powerful warriors that can alter the shape and composition of their weapons in addition to being able to teleport using shadows. Slayers often have their weapon on a chain, the chain spirals through their flesh because it is powered by their blood.