Campaign Settings and House Rules for Earthrise
The rules in use will be the HERO system 6th edition rules, superheroic campaign, except as noted below. New PCs are normally built using 400 Total Points, with 75 points in Matching Complications. Normally a character should get no more than 40 points from a single category of Complication, but that is not a hard and fast rule. These house rules may change from time to time, either to add something left out, or to make an adjustment based on the play. Bear in mind that all characters need my approval both for balance and for fitting into the campaign world, regardless of house rules.
The following changes/choices in the rule system are best characterized as features of the setting and genre:
- Ability Guidelines: The "Standard Superheroic" guidelines are a reasonable starting point. The PCs' main attacks are mostly 10-12 DC, the PCs' SPDs are usually in the range 4-6, and most have defenses in the 20-30 point range. The PCs' CVs vary from 7-12+ including skill levels.
- Everyman Skills: I won't make a detailed list of everyman skills (skills all characters have by default). Instead, use the standard modern list as a default; this may need to be modified in play if it doesn't fit somehow.
- Weapon Familiarity: You don't need to buy weapon familiarity to use any weapon you have paid for with points, but you need weapon familiarity to use a weapon you pick up during an adventure or you suffer a -3 OCV penalty. In addition to the categories listed in the book, there is also a "Personal Energy Weapons" group (2 pts.), containing the 1 pt. categories "Blasters", "Impact Guns", and "Lasers". Also, there is a 1 pt. category "Heavy Energy Weapons" that must be bought separately. By default, Weapon Familiarity is for human weapons. As a 1-pt. additional category, the character can also use weapons from a particular alien species of types similar to those human weapons for which he or she has Weapon Familiarity.
- Mental Powers: There are a number of changes to how mental powers work. There is no separate "psionic ability" in the setting, so mental powers must use some other special effect. Any aspect not mentioned below should be considered to be the same as in the standard rules.
- Power Type: Mental powers are now considered Standard powers and work like other standard powers.
- Range: By default, mental powers have Standard Range (10m x Base Points), and use standard range modifiers. The exception is Mind Scan, which retains its normal range.
- Perceivability: By default, mental powers must be perceivable (usually Obvious) to one uncommon or non-standard sense appropriate to the special effects of the mental power. If the power is Inobvious or Obvious to the normal two common Sense Groups, that is worth a -1/4 or -1/2 Limitation. To make a Mental Power Inobvious or imperceivable using Invisible Power Effects requires a +1/4 or +1/2 Advantage.
- Mental Awareness: There is no standard Mental Awareness sense.
- Sense Groups: There is not normally a Mental Sense Group available, although some particular special effects (like Shapeshift vs. Mental Sense Group) may still use it. There are two new Sense Groups: Force/Gravitic Group (which provides no free Sense Modifiers) and Dimensional/Hyperwave Group (which provides Range for free).
- Warchildren: There is occasional prejudice against warchildren, so a warchild should have a 5 pt. Social Complication (Infrequently, Minor). Also, you may have distinctive features that make it obvious you are a warchild, but these are usually at the +0 level (noticed and recognizeable) unless the mutations are particularly hideous or otherwise likely to cause a bad reaction.
- Artificial Intelligences: AIs have no legal rights currently, although in practice a PC AI will have freedom to act as he or she wishes. An AI should have a 15 pt. Social Complication (Frequently, Major) to reflect this.
- Aliens: Aliens are rare on Earth, so an alien PC should take a Distinctive Features Complication at an appropriate level.
- Optional Combat Rules: All optional combat maneuvers are available. However, Club Weapon only does 2/3 of the DC of the KA in normal damage. The only optional damage rule in use is Knockback.
- Zero Characteristics: In the standard rules, when a characteristic is reduced to 0, a roll against that characteristic is required in order to perform many kinds of actions. (This rule only applies to some characteristics.) The house rule is that this characteristic roll receives a +2.
- Special effects: This is not so much a house rule as a reminder: Not all detailed quirks of the power need to be spelled out with advantages and limitations. They can be subsumed instead into the power's special effects, which can give minor advantages and limitations based on how the power works.
- Power visibility: The rule book states each power must be perceptible (Obvious or Inobvious, depending on power type) by two sense groups unless it is bought with the invisible power effects advantage. Don't take this too seriously; instead, if an Obvious power is bought without invisible power effects, it will always be obvious that it is in use, and usually obvious who is using it. An Inobvious power can similarly be detected when appropriate. If you buy Invisible Power Effects, you can conceal these things against the appropriate sense groups.
- Positive Adjustment Powers vs. Frameworks: When a character uses a positive adjustment power on a power in a framework, he does not first have to increase the pool size. The positively adjusted power does use up more of the framework's pool points, but it can still be used at the adjusted strength even if its new Active Point value exceeds the framework's pool size. E.g., if a character has an 8d6 Blast in a 50 pt. Multipower, normally there are 10 points left for the multipower to allocate elsewhere. If the Blast gets 20 more points from an Aid, it is now a 12d6 Blast. It uses up all 50 points from the multipower, but can be used at full 12d6 strength.
- Adjusting Framework Power Pools: A character who has the +1/2 Variable Effect advantage for an Adjustment Power (positive or negative) can use it to adjust the points available in the pool for a framework with the appropriate special effect. For a VPP, this affects both the available Active Points and Real Points in the same ratio as they are bought in. Positively adjusting the pool points allows the character to use more powers in the framework simultaneously, but does not make the individual powers more powerful (although for a VPP, increasing the Control Cost does allow the character to create more powerful powers). Negatively adjusting the pool points reduces the total points the character has to spread between powers and also lowers the strength of the strongest powers usable in the framework. If a Multipower has fixed slots which now exceed the size of the pool, those slots can still be used at a proportionally lower level to fit into the new size of the framework.
- Adjusting Incremental Powers: An Adjustment Power acting on a power with a 5 pts./d6 cost can produce half die damages.
- Damaging foci: The DEF of a focus and the effects of damaging one will be based loosely on the standard rules in the book, but there will likely be ad hoc changes depending on the specific instance. Foci are only damaged if specifically targetted.
- Computers on vehicles: A computer installed on a vehicle inherits the vehicle's DEX, OCV, DCV, and SPD by default. The computer's characteristics can be made different from the vehicle's characteristics using limitations.
- Initiative: Characters with the same DEX make a d6 roll once at the beginning of combat and use that to determine who acts first for the remainder of combat. Rolling again is used as a tie-breaker, but only against others who had the same value of the first roll.
- Ignoring an Enemy: If you ignore an enemy, you will be at 1/2 DCV vs. attacks from that enemy. Generally, ignoring an enemy occurs when you are being attacked but instead chose to do some other action than fighting back, including attacking a different enemy who is not attacking you. If you are attacked by multiple enemies and only counterattack against one of them, you do not get this penalty.
- Thrown Characters: If a character throws another character without careful aim (i.e., as part of the same Attack Action as the original grab), he can choose a general direction but not a specific target. The thrown character takes half STR damage if he lands on the ground or similar surface, full STR damage if he hits a wall, up to PD + BODY of the wall. If a character throws another character at a target and misses, the thrown character takes damage as if he were thrown without careful aim. The thrown character must take a Half Phase to right himself as if he were knocked back (or use Acrobatics to land on his feet or Breakfall to stand instantly), but does not suffer any other penalties from being prone. In addition, a character who is thrown at a target and misses may make a DEX roll to avoid any damage at all. Even if that roll fails, he may make a Breakfall roll to halve damage.
- Knocking Back Into an Object: When a character tries to knock someone back into a small object or other person, he may use skill levels that are allocated specifically to this purpose and have not been used for another purpose in the same Phase. However, he also has an OCV penalty, usually -4, as if he were throwing an unbalanced non-aerodynamic object.
- Attacking with Large Objects: A character using a large object as a weapon or throwing a large object, can spread the attack using the normal rules for spreading, either for OCV or area, up to the OCV size modifier of the object or an area equal to the size of the object. (Note, though, that the object starts with an OCV penalty as normal for throwing or using it as a weapon.)