New Year, New Character Day 13: Heroes Unlimited
New Year, New Character
Heroes Unlimited is Palladium Books take on the Super-Hero genre. It's a "universal" toolkit to make a variety of types of heroes, though not quite as universal as it likes to pretend. Each hero is based on a specific "category" of archetypes ranging from Alien visitors to Mutants to Robots to hyper-trained Super Spies. Each has their own distinct rules, and little effort is made to "balance" the various characters. Instead, the intent is to create a distinctive character, with, much like a comic book, the balance coming from what happens in the story, rather than any sort of mechanical enforcement.
Like the rest of Palladium's books, Heroes Unlimited (HU) is derived from their Palladium Fantasy game, and follows much of the same rules. There are obvious additions, of course, through super powers, psychic abilities, alien life forms, and complicated cyborg and robotic creation rules.
Perhaps it's my nostalgia guiding me, but I have a long and deep affection for HU. I've only played or run a handful of games over the years, and I'm willing to admit the game has its flaws. Mainly, it doesn't quite reach the crazy heights of what a lot of comic books do. Instead, it's a "grounded" game, where combat is nasty and lethal, and powers, while extraordinary, are still mortal and limited. I've only played a few super-hero games, but the ones done with HU have always been my favorite.
Heroes Unlimited is very similar to Palladium Fantasy. There are 8 Attributes on a scale of 3-18 (more or less), Skills are done on a percentile basis, and combat is based around a d20 + modifier, with a unique twist that defense is rolled as well as the attack. While concept, decisions, and GM guidance can be used to create characters, there is also a number of charts and tables to be used. Given the self-imposed rules of this series, I will be using the random rolls as much possible.
Step 1: Attributes
HU has 8 different attributes. Each is determined by a roll of 3d6. If any is "exceptional" (16+), the player can roll an additional d6 and add it to the total. In addition, various physical skills, power categories, and super powers will provide additional bonuses. Here are my rolls:
I rolled a total of 17 in both Mental Endurance and Physical Endurance, allowing me to roll a bonus die for each and add it to the total. The natural strength and prowess (similar to Dexterity in other systems) are quite low, but not enough for any penalties. Hopefully, I'll be able to improve these later, as I would like to play a rock 'em, sock 'em super-hero.
Step 2: Hit Points and SDC
There are two ways for a character to absorb damage in HU, Hit Points and Structural Damage Capacity (SDC). SDC, basically, represents glancing blows and flesh wounds, while Hit Points represents true, life-threatening injuries. I'll actually calculate these throughout character creation, as SDC in particular care vary based on Power Category and super powers, while Hit Points are derived from your PE +1d6. Since even my PE might change, I just make a note of how to calculate these, and then move forward.
Step 3: Determining Super Abilities
This is where you pick your Power Category, and figure out what makes your character "super." If you have a strong concept, you can pick the Category. If you're like me, you can instead roll on a chart. I do so, and get an 03, letting me know that my character is the result of an Experiment which gave him super abilities.
Step 4: Experiment
I flip forward to the Experiment section of the rules. All I know is that my character gained their powers through some sort of covert and highly dangerous experimentation. It might have been by the government, private industry, or a criminal group. I might have been a volunteer, or a prisoner, or someone who was lied to. It might have been a deliberate attempt to create a superbeing, or the result of something else. Fortunately, there are plenty of charts to figure all this out. Each one is a percentile chart.
- Nature of Experiment: 53 Chemical and Radiation combined.
- General Type of Experiment: 02 Deliberate attempt to create a superbeing, but results cannot be duplicated.
- Number of Super Abilities: 05 One Major and Three Minor abilities.
- Side Effect: 38 Vulnerable to radioactivity, all physical attributes reduced by half when exposed to even the smallest amount.
- Sponsoring Organization: 56 Military
- Status with Sponsoring Organization: 33 Left in the cold. Organization has disbanded all evidence is gone. No one will admit the program ever existed.
- 28 Flight: Wingless
- 12 Flight: Glide
- 04 Supervision: Advanced Sight