Character Creation Checklist
First think about what kind of character you want to have and what he can do. If you are having trouble coming up with an idea, read the "Inspiration" section. Once you have a basic concept, you may want to consider the questions in the "Initial Stage" section to help focus your thoughts. Then, go through the detailed checklist and fill out as much of it as you can to send to me. Based on that, I will try to make a writeup for your character, a process which will probably involve more questions to try to narrow down the character's abilities.
Even if you've bought some version of the rules, either the Basic rules or full version, and want to try writing up your own character, you may find it helpful to read through the detailed checklist, as it contains advice as well as questions.
This page mostly focuses on the mechanical aspects of the character, things that will help me come up with a character sheet for him or her. However, don't let this discourage you from thinking about other aspects of your character, such as history and personality. Those are important too, perhaps more so than the mechanical aspects. Similarly, the focus of the rules tends to be on combat capabilities, but don't let that tie you down; also think about what useful things your character can do outside of combat.
See also the setting information, further technology notes, and other basic information about the setting and the system. You will need to design a character that fits into the setting.
Since some players have not previously used a system with this much leeway in how to design a character, here are some tips on how to get started. Really, you need just a single feature of the character to start with, then add additional features which seem to you to fit with the original one. Some possible starting points:
- A Name: Perhaps you have in mind an interesting name for your character, either as a heroic pseudonym or the character's real name. Start there, and come up with a personality and set of powers that match the name.
- A Superpower: You want your character to have a specific power. Figure out a set of other powers that match and a character background that would lead to that power.
- A Power Source: You have an idea how the character gets one or more of his powers or how those powers work. Perhaps you initially don't know what the powers actually do, so try to determine what abilities would naturally or potentially follow from the power source.
- An Event: You have in mind a pivotal event in the character's history. Perhaps this is the event that led to the character's becoming a superhero or simply shaped his personality. Either way, this event then tells you something about what motivates the character and his personality; now come up with a set of powers that matches that personality.
- Fiction: Perhaps you want to emulate a character you like from fiction, in any medium. If the character is already a superhero, you can file off the serial numbers and duplicate the character as much as possible. Personally, I prefer to find the one or two aspects of the character I find most appealing and keep those, building the rest of the character from scratch. This method also works well when the original character is not a superhero. Another approach is to take two characters from fiction and blend them together.
Often, just one of the above points is not enough to get you too far, but if you can take two, such as a name and a superpower, frequently that provides enough inspiration to rapidly complete the character.
- Overall Concept: What is the main idea behind this character? What is his or her source of powers? How did he gain those powers? Why is he joining the superteam? What is his personality? What are his limitations and weaknesses?
- Offense: In combat, how does he attack his enemies? Does he do a lot of damage or only a little? Will his attacks kill his enemies or only knock them out (the latter is preferable, but I will not make an absolute rule)? Or do his attacks have some other effect?
- Defense: How does he avoid being hurt by enemies? Is he naturally tough and resistant to damage, does he have a power that helps soak up enemy attacks, or does he rely on avoiding attacks?
- Movement: How does your character get around? Is he quick in combat or slow? How does he get around outside of combat -- under his own power, a vehicle he owns, or does he need to get a ride with others?
- Other Abilities: Does your character have any abilities which are useful outside of combat? Is he good at hunting down criminals, can he ferry less mobile characters around, can he sneak into a supervillian's base, is he good at persuading other people to help you, etc.?
- Fleshing Out the Character: Do you have any other abilities which may not be very useful, but help support the character concept or otherwise define his personality?
Here is a more detailed list of questions that will help me create your full character writeup. There is a good chance parts of it will need to be adjusted to allow the character's point totals to balance, but this will serve as a useful starting point. Also, note that all characters are subject to my approval; for instance, I am unlikely to approve a character which is totally optimized for combat with no other interesting features.
Recall that we will be using basically the standard superheroic power level in the game. This means your characters will be capable of easily handling non-superpowered enemies, except perhaps in large numbers, but still have trouble going face-to-face with world-threatening powers.
Fill out as much of the checklist as you can, but if you haven't decided on a given point, leave it blank and go on. We can decide later on that part of the character, perhaps based on how many points you have left.
- Character Name: The name of your superhero, and name of any secret ID or alternate identities, as applicable.
- Basic concept: Describe the basic idea of your character.
- Background/History: Describe your character's history, including the source of his powers if it is not otherwise obvious. A fully detailed history is not necessary unless you want to write one, but at least a couple of sentences can help immensely to put the character into context.
- General Information: Include any other information you wish to include about your character, such as personality, friends and enemies, combat tactics, etc.
- Strength (STR): Is your strength within the normal human range (and if so, where in that range) or is it superhuman? If the latter, how much damage does your punch do compared to other superhero's attacks? (Low/medium/high)
- Dexterity (DEX): Dexterity determines how agile you are. In the HERO system, DEX determines who acts first and your chance of success with dexterity-based skills. (Success with skills can also be affected by skill levels.) DEX is a bit more expensive than most other characteristics. Most superheros have DEX on the mid to high end of the normal human range. Where does yours fit in the scale?
- Constitution (CON): A single large hit will briefly stun you, rendering you unable to act. CON determines how big a blow it takes to stun you. Again, most superheros have CON on the high end of the normal human range or above it. What is yours like?
- Intelligence (INT): Besides the obvious role-playing aspects of INT, Intelligence determines your chance of success with intelligence-based skills and how keen your senses are (although both can be increased by appropriate skill levels or powers). How does your intelligence compare to a normal human's?
- Ego (EGO): Ego represents your willpower. Ego largely determines your ability to resist mental attacks. How does your EGO compare to a normal human's?
- Presence (PRE): Presence indicates both how impressive your character is, and how likely they are to be impressed by others. Presence affects your chance of success with skills based on human interactions, and high presence characters can make a "presence attack", basically intimidating the enemy into hesitating or giving up. What is your Presence like?
- Offensive Combat Value (OCV): OCV indicates your chance to hit when you attack (for most kinds of attacks). To determine the actual probability of hitting with your attack, you compare your OCV with the opponent's DCV. Most superheros have OCV well above the typical human's. How does yours compare to other superheros'? (Low/medium/high)
- Defensive Combat Value (DCV): DCV influences your chance to be hit when attacked (for most kinds of attacks). To determine the actual probability of being hit, your opponent's OCV is compared with your DCV. Many superheros have DCV well above a typical human's. How high is yours, compared to your OCV or to other superheros'?
- Offensive Mental Combat Value (OMCV): OMCV is like OCV, but for mental powers. In a mental attack, the attacker's OMCV is compared with the defender's DMCV to determine the chance to hit. OMCV is not very useful unless you have mental powers, so for non-mentalists, OMCV is most often at the normal human level. How high is yours?
- Defensive Mental Combat Value (DMCV): DMCV is like DCV, but for mental powers. In a mental attack, the attacker's OMCV is compared with the defender's DMCV to determine the chance to hit. DMCV for superheros varies from a normal human's to a considerably higher value. How high is your DMCV?
- Speed (SPD): Speed determines how often you get to take an action. A typical superhero can act 2-3 times as often as a normal human. SPD is expensive (but worthwhile). The maximum value is 6x normal human speed. How high is your speed?
- Physical Defense (PD): Physical defense reduces the amount of damage you take from physical attacks. PD reflects your inherent resistance to damage; you can also buy powers such as Resistant Defense which will soak up damage separately from PD or otherwise reduce how much damage you take. How high is your PD?
- Energy Defense (ED): Energy defense reduces the amount of damage you take from energy attacks. As with PD, you can buy additional powers to soak up energy damage. How high is your ED?
- Recovery (REC): Recovery determines how quickly you recover from being knocked out or from having used up your energy. Periodically in combat, and more often when resting, you will recover your REC value for both STUN and END. What is your REC like?
- Endurance (END): Using superpowers can use up a lot of energy, and END determines how long you can keep it up. How long can you fight using your full power?
- Body (BODY): Body is one of the two types of hit points in HERO system. When you run out of body, you are dead or dying. Most attacks do primarily non-lethal damage, but when you come up against a potentially deadly attack, you will want either good defenses, high BODY, or both. How does your BODY rank compared to a normal human's?
- Stun (STUN): STUN is the second and most frequently used type of hit points. When you run out of STUN, you are knocked out, a much more common result in HERO system than dying. How high is your level of STUN?
- Powers: Powers include most special equipment.
- Attacks: What attacks does your character have available? How much damage do they do, or how effective are they, compared to a typical superheroic attack? (Low/medium/high)
- Defense: What are your character's defenses? Does he have any powers that augment his ability to soak up damage or to avoid it altogether? How high do his overall defenses against physical attacks and energy attacks rate? (Low/medium/high) Does he have defenses against other kinds of attacks forms?
- Movement: What movement abilities does your character have? How fast is he in combat and out of combat? (Compare to regular human, car, airplane, etc.)
- Senses: Does your character have any extraordinary senses, or enhanced regular senses?
- Other powers: What other powers does your character have, and how effective are they?
- Skills: What skills does your character have? Are you especially skilled in combat, or do you know martial arts? What other skills do you have?
- Other Abilities: What other abilities do you have? Do you have a useful vehicle or follower/sidekick, or know other people who might be able to provide help? (Follower is not recommended with so many players, but there might be cases where it is appropriate.)
- Features of your powers: Do your powers consume a lot of energy (END) or only a little? Can you only use them a certain number of times in an encounter (e.g., limited ammunition)? Can you use them all at the same time, or do you need to shift power between them? Are there situations in which some or all of your powers do not work? Do they affect just one person or many people? How else are your powers unique?
- Complications: What limits does your character have? Does he keep his identity a secret or is he well-known? Are there any substances or types of attacks that particularly damage him? Does he have enemies or groups keeping him under surveillance? Does he have friends or family that frequently get into trouble and need rescuing? Are there any situations that cause him to behave irrationally, does he have a code of honor that prevents him taking full advantage of a situation, or other constraints on his behavior?