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Common Ability and Superpower Benchmarks

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The purpose of this thread is to serve as a quick and handy resource when you're trying to decide how strong or tough or accurate to make your character. Because while numbers (like "X Strength lifts Y weight") are nice, sometimes it's good to be able to say "Well, this is probably about how strong this popular character was", or "This specific item is something you can lift" or "this is something you are as fast as or faster than". I myself find such things handy.


I'm going to be separating things out into several small, easily-digestible posts, and trying to make sure I link them all in this initial Index post. That way, if you, for instance, want to double-check just what Impervious 5 can laugh off, you can click right to that post. 


I will reference a couple of characters that exist on these boards, but for the most part refer to popular culture characters (comics, movies, what have you). 



>General Ability Benchmarks

>Attack and Defense Benchmarks

>Toughness and Impervious Toughness Benchmarks

>Damage and Power Bonus Benchmarks

>Strength/Super-Strength Benchmarks

>Speed, Swimming, and Flight Benchmarks

>Skill Benchmarks

Edited by KnightDisciple
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General Ability Benchmarks


This is about a general idea of "here's what an Ability score at this level really translates to". I'm going to try and list off not only the book's general "tiers", but also a couple of examples from comics and the like. Strength will be touched on in more detail in a later post, as that's the one that most commonly gets really, really high. 


10: This is the base/starting score, and is considered entirely "average". Anything below it is someone who is eldery, notably young, sick, infirm, crippled, etc, or is as strong/smart/wise/fast as someone who is such. Example: The average member of the human race.

12: This is "really pretty good". You're above average, but not overly so. For Intelligence, this is the kid who doesn't have to study for hours to pass a test. For the physical stats, this is probably a late high school athlete. And so on. One could argue that this might be closer to the "baseline" for the "average" hero, as most superheros are a cut above by dint of being someone who goes out to punch evil in the face, even if it's with eye punches from the punch dimension. Example: Average athletes; excellent students; the "tertiary" stats for non-powered heroes. 

14: Now we're talking people who easily stand out above the crowd. As a reference, the very, very rough rule of thumb for Intelligence is that every point in the Ability Score is about 10 IQ points. So someone with Int 14 is IQ 140, which is enough to get this character into Mensa. Example: A fair number of professional athletes (in sports that emphasize all-around fitness); the students who breeze through most every class; "secondary" stats for non-powered heroes or heroes with powers that don't boost all of their abilities, Army Rangers

16: This is not superhuman, but this is the point where you casually stand out from everyone else. Example: Cowls might have most of their stats somewhere around this level (since they tend to be mundane "peak human"); various Special Forces groups across the world. 

18: We're getting to the point of folks who might compete for the Olympics, or who would most certainly be top-billed star athletes. Mentally, these are the people who start to break truly new, revolutionary ground. Example: This is probably where a lot of the Bat-Family lives, stat-wise, or at least where it averages out over their Abilities; legendary soldiers and athletes; Iron Fits's Strength and Con probably sit somewhere around here.

20: This is the point where I think you can safely say 'peak human'. This isn't necessarily gold-winning record-setting Olympic levels, but if your character has multiple 20s across the board, they are most definitely at the very high end of any human capability ever. Example: At his peak, Batman might have 20s in every stat; Peter Parker's Int is probably around here. 

22: Olympic level, the absolute best an unaltered human should be able to achieve. Personally I would say an un-powered character with a 22 in one stat should consider having at least a couple, if not all, their other scores below 20 (but not 10 or 12 by any means). This is because a 22 represents someone whose peers can be counted on 1-2 hands. Example: I believe Eve/Blue Fox has a Dex score at this level; Dick Grayson's Dex would be at this level; Stephen Hawkin's Intelligence might be between 20 and 22.

24: Literally the best ever. Perhaps 1-2 people in a generation in the real world might hit somewhere around this level. Example: Tony Stark's Int is this high; when Bane was off his Venom but still in great shape, his Strength was likely at this level. 

26: You are superhuman. If your character has a score this high, there should be at least some explanation for it outside "they're smart" or "they work out". Mutation, chemical injection, magic, divine heritage, alien, whatever. You are beyond what humans are capable of. Example: Luke Cage's Con is likely around this level, since he's just inhumanly healthy in general; Spider-Man's Dex is likely somewhere around here; some of the more "mundane" heroes of legend and myth might sit around this level.

30: Skipping ahead a bit, but this is a character who's blatantly, utterly superhuman. You can rip metal apart, you can out-think entire universities, you can dodge arrows from high-powered bows, things like that. Example: DCAU Superman probably has Strength and Con somewhere around here, if not higher; if you're building a basic FISS (Flight, Invulnerability, Speed, Strength) Paragon type character, this should be what you aim for at minimum; Samson (from the Bible) would likely be pegged at this for Strength. 

40: The highest you can go at PL 10. Now you're inventing new types of physics, swaying countries and continents with your words, punching cars around, balancing on pencils, things like that. Example: This is probably where most of the Super-family's physicals average out; Luke Cage's Strength is probably around here.

50: The highest you can go on this site. At this point you can probably have a chance at sweet-talking angels (but not archangels), punching down demigods or some of the more vulnerable deities of myth, and you yourself are very assuredly equivalent to a demigod even if you lack divine parentage. Example: High-end Superman; a PC on this site, Gabriel, can boost his Charisma to this level (but only by investing the majority of his power into doing so). 


Scores higher than this are NPC territory. If your PC encounters someone with a +50 score, life is not likely to be fun. 

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Attack and Defense Benchmarks


So, I grouped these together because generally when you've got a character who's PL-shifted on one, they're PL-shifted on both. As well, both tend to imply "skill" over "power. 


So, a Solder and Assassin are both PL 5 in the Core book, and a SWAT officer is PL 6. 

I would say that this means that a super-elite non-powered mundane Special Forces type person is probably PL 6 to 7.

This means that a +7 Attack bonus makes you as good of a shot as a Green Beret.

The very best snipers (such as Simo Haya and Craig Harrison) might be PL 8 or 9, but an "under statted" 8 or 9, wherein only their attack bonus is cranked up that high (and possibly is attack-shifted). 

The thing to keep in mind is that actual range ultimately relies on the power, device, or equipment as much as it does anything else. 

For melee, good real-life examples of high Attack and Defense would be Fencing and Martial Arts experts. Anyone whose style of fighting relies on dodging, side-stepping, movement, or redirection of enemy attacks, they have high Defense. 


So, some possible benchmarks for Attack:

+8: Early Cyclops, most Robins, pretty much any sidekick who does a mix of range and close-in fighting.

+10: Either a very "middle-ground" hero, or any sidekick or the like who focuses on fighting at range (Artemis, Speedy). At this point, you are likely as good or better at hitting targets as any Olympic competitor. Hulk is probably here, because despite assuredly being damage-shifted, he's still a.) fairly high PL, and b.) hits what he intends to hit. 

+12: I would say this would be where most adult versions of Cyclops sit, as he has a comfortable mix of precision and power. Nightwing probably sits around here, as would most of the adult, experienced heroes. Batman might sit here, depending on the interpretation/story. Superman probably sits between 10 and 12, as while he's quite powerful, he is, again, able to hit what he wants. Iron Fist would be here as well. 

+15-higher: This is where Green Arrow, Red Arrow/Arsenal, Hawkeye, and any other comic book marksmen sit. This is "hit the wings off of a fly" level. When Superman uses Accurate Attack to make small, really precise cuts with his heat vision (shaving, emergency operations, whatever), this is where his attack will end up. The highest levels of Batman would sit here. Lady Shiva is quite probably around here, as is Cassandra Cain. 


For Defense:

+8: Again, this would probably be most of the early X-Men, as well as most starting sidekicks.

+10: Most Robins and most average heroes would be here.

+12: The Green Arrow family probably sits somewhere around here, as they generally don't rely over-much on body armor.

+15-higher: This is Batman, Nightwing, Spider-Man, Black Widow, and all those other heroes you just. Cannot. Hit


To point to our site, one of the highest attack bonuses (if not the highest) is held by Gizmo's Jack of All Blades character, albeit only with swords. He is THE pre-eminent swordsman in the entire world. You could hand him a wooden play sword and he could take down hardened criminals, because he's just so darn good with swords.

Arrowhawk is around the same level, but with bows. 

Once you get to +15 or higher, you are representing someone who can casually perform feats of martial accuracy that would likely outclass entire groups of special forces soldiers, with absolutely no effort on the part of the hero.


A Defense in the same range is someone who can straight-up Matrix Dodge. You are at the point you can completely dance around gunfire from any run-of-the-mill criminal or mercenary. You can, as Eve showed, dodge the terrible eye-beams of Omega. To get hit, generally your opponent must be very good, or very lucky. Often, they must be both. 

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Toughness and Impervious Toughness Benchmarks


This is probably one of the ones I think we need the most, because the books don't give us a handy flowchart for "what can this toughness stand up to".


Now, the thing to keep in mind with Toughness itself is that it's still ultimately a bonus to a d20 roll, so it's not an absolute definition of defensive ability or anything like that.


But to use an example, let's say the Avengers from the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie The Avengers were all PL 10 characters. What would I, personally, peg their Toughness scores at, using that metric? 

Black Widow would probably be at Toughness 5-7. She's very much focused on agility, speed, dodging. At least some of that toughness is from Defensive Roll; she knows how to roll with blows to avoid most damage. She's likely got a decent Con score, but she's not been shown to be even close to superhuman.

Hawkeye's probably 6-8. He's also agility-focused, but seems built a bit thicker overall. Honestly you could peg both him and Widow at the same score and I wouldn't even blink.

Captain America is an even 10. He's tough, he's got that shield of his, but he also moves around a lot trying to avoid blows. So an equal mix of defense and toughness.

Iron Man is probably about 12. He can take a lot of hits, but his armor gets wear and tear, and you do see him trying to avoid at least some hits. 

Thor is likely around 13, or maybe even 14. He's very much a mobile fighter, and we do see him dodge some attacks...but mostly he just laughs and takes them on the face before hitting you with a hammer.

Hulk is fully (per our site's rules) Toughness-shifted for sure, giving him Toughness 15, with a fair bit of Impervious to boot.


Which brings us to the more important part of this post: What can you completely ignore, on average, with a particular Impervious Toughness rank? This is with keeping in mind that your Impervious needs to be 1 rank higher than the Damage Bonus of the attack. (Please note: all listed weapons are the standard equipment from the Core Rulebook, and not custom Devices with higher ranks of damage.)

Impervious 2: Brass knuckles, regular knives, tonfa

Impervious 3: Clubs, staves, saps,  chains, nunchaku, javelins, boomerangs, holdout pistols

Impervious 4: Battleaxes, swords, spears, warhammers, light pistols, machine pistols, bows, crossbows

Impervious 5: Heavy pistols, submachine guns

Impervious 6: Shotguns (buckshot), assault rifles, sniper rifles, generic blaster/energy pistol, a single stick of dynamite, fragmentation grenades, grenade launcher

Impervious 7: Chainsaws, shotgun (slug), flamethrower, heavy machine gun, generic APC cannon, most fires in general


So as you can see, 7 ranks of Impervious means your character can routinely laugh off just about anything an average street thug would have access to. It would take dedicated anti-vehicle weaponry to even have a chance at injuring them. You can walk around on fire and not care at all. 


Impervious 11 would allow you to ignore rocket launchers, plastic explosives, the primary cannon of a Main Battle Tank, the main gun on a naval destroyer, military helicopter weaponry, space fighter weaponry, and pretty much any PL 10 or lower PC or NPC. 


Imperivous 16 (which honestly would get kind of boring and isn't technically legal) lets you laugh off pretty much anything that isn't Omega, Geez3r's Blockbusters, or a nuclear (or equivalent) weapon.


If you want a character who can ignore light gunfire but still has to watch out for guys with more serious weaponry, Impervious 4 could be a good target. 

If you want the Incredible Hulk, I would say between 8 and 10.


I should note that while Impervious 10 is technically legal on a starting PL 10 character, it's on very shaky ground, and you'd need to a.) give some excellent reasoning why, and b.) consider ways your character can still be hurt so as to provide tension in a fight. 

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Damage Bonus and Power Bonus Benchmarks


So, this isn't going to be as extensive as previous and following posts, because this is a lot harder to really pin down. I mean, to a degree we can point to various RL weapons that a particular damage bonus is roughly equivalent to, but I find that it's just as helpful to look at comic characters who might be at that level. 


+5: I'm starting here, because going much below this point is probably not the best idea. Too low of a damage bonus, and you'll almost never actually do damage. Anyways, +5 Damage puts you around the level of most firearms and melee weapons. A PL 10 character who's fully attack-shifted would have this as their damage bonus. So, a PL 10 Martial Artist or Cowl might be rocking this for their attacks. Nightwing, or an older Speedy, might be around here. 

+8: This is at the point you're starting to exceed the power of most any man-made weapon that's not a tank's main gun or a high-powered missile. Early Cyclops would be around here. In fact, this is around where you could peg a lot of the X-Men early in their careers, or any of the X-teams; most of them are equally good at hitting and hurting, and would be starting around PL 7 or 8.

+10: This is where Iron Man starts out at (I would say), this is Cap throwing his Mighty Shield, this is your average PL 10 character. You're punching through walls and steel armor at this point. A fully Accurate Attack shifted Superman would peg his heat vision at this level. 

+12: Either a balanced PL 12, or a PL14-15 that's Attack-shifted. I would personally peg Justice League (as in, when he's in stories with the League) Batman between 10 and 12, as while he's Attack-shifted, his punches seem effective against a lot of fores. Alternatively, Batman when he's tossing exploding Batarangs or the like. Most of Cyclop's career, he's probably hanging out at this spot. All the comic book archers likely don't exceed this, even when maxed out, unless they're using some really big *boom* for their arrows. 

+15: Congratulations, you're a mountain-shatterer. Thor, Superman, any folks like that probably hang out around here for their damage bonus. These are your big league characters who can still hit worth a darn.

+20: You don't care about accuracy, just making really big dents in a planet's crust. Hulk (on a bad day for his enemies), Darkseid, Omega, Geez3r's Blockbusters (a couple of them, anyways), this is for either a PC who's going for nothing but damage, or an NPC villain who is, at minimum, a planet-ending threat, if not solar or higher level. 

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Strength/Super-Strength Benchmarks


Specifically, this is about "how much can you lift and carry". Now, the book has the full range of this, but I'm just going to hit highlights by 5's, as I think those are good benchmarking points. 

I'll also try to give examples of stuff your Light Load can lift as well as the book examples (for higher levels) of Heavy Load. 

Remember: Light Load has no penalties. Heavy Load makes you easy to hit, and doesn't let you move more than 2/3 speed. I'll leave Maximum Load and Push/Drag off, as that's less likely to need quick reference. And I don't want to copy everything! 

I'm taking this up to 100, as I'm not sure we have any characters who currently exceed that weight.

Obviously this isn't every strength score, but it's a good start. And it gives you a range, at least. 




10: You're a normal human. Congratulations! Light Load: 33 lbs. (so, a heavy box or something like that). Heavy Load: 100 lbs (a small person, a really big thing).

15:  Light Load: 66 lbs. (a child, a fully-loaded infantryman's pack). Heavy Load: 200 lbs (a large-average person).

20:  Light Load: 133 lbs. (a light-average person, a large dog). Heavy Load: 400 lbs (a couple of average-ish people, or one really big person).

25:  Light Load: 266 lbs. (a heavy person, or a couple light people). Heavy Load: 800 lbs (a couple of smaller engine blocks from cars). (You also have right around enough Strength to lift a Smart Car, 1st gen, over your head.)

30:  Light Load: 532 lbs. (most car engine blocks, Andre the Giant). Heavy Load: 1600 lbs (a 1st Gen Smart Car, Sumatran Rhino).

35:  Light Load: 1,064 lbs. (a horse, 3 pandas). Heavy Load: 1.5 tons (a cow, a van, a couple polar bears).

40:  Light Load: 1 ton (blue whale heart; a Smart Car with weight to spare). Heavy Load: 3 tons (giraffe, a rhino with weight to spare, a pickup truck ).

45:  Light Load: 2 tons (multiple bears, an Indian or White Rhino). Heavy Load: 6 tons (an elephant, Stegosaurus, Lear Jet, subway car).

50:  Light Load: 4 tons (Asian Elephant, hippo). Heavy Load: 12 tons (Tyrannosaurus Rex, semi truck, fighter jet).

55:  Light Load: 8 tons (All but the heaviest African Elephants). Heavy Load: 24 tons (APC, humpback whale, mid-range Apatasaurus).

60:  Light Load: 16 tons (Cruise Ship Anchor, mid-size Spinosaurus). Heavy Load: 50 tons (battle tank, locomotive, Sauroposeidon).

65:  Light Load: 32 tons (Diplodocus, Bradley Fighting Vehicle (with tons to spare)). Heavy Load: 100 tons (Space Shuttle, cargo jet). 

70:  Light Load: 64 tons (5 cruise ship anchors, M-1 Abrams (a couple tons short)). Heavy Load: 200 tons (fishing trawler, 747 jet, a house).

75:  Light Load: 125 tons (heaviest dinosaur ever, blue whale). Heavy Load: 400 tons (oil drilling rig).

80:  Light Load: 250 tons (two blue whales). Heavy Load: 800 tons (Christ the Redeemer statue, a small bridge).

85:  Light Load: 500 tons (modern Airbus jet). Heavy Load: 1,600 tons (naval destroyer, Sierra Redwood tree).

90:  Light Load: 1,000 tons (6 houses, WW1 Submarine). Heavy Load: 3,200 tons (freight train, modern submarine).

95:  Light Load: 2,000 tons (WW2 Submarine, WW2 Destroyer). Heavy Load: 6,400 tons (empty cargo ship).

100:  Light Load: 4,000 tons (Farragut-class destroyer). Heavy Load: 12,500 tons (Eiffel Tower).

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Speed, Flight, Swimming, and Space Travel Benchmarks


So, these are a bit funky because all 3 are on slightly different scales. Because that's simpler, right? Right? Anyways. Again, not necessarily going to hit every rank (though I'll be hitting the lower ranks more than the upper ranks), just the highlights. 

Also, these speeds are for regular movement, not running/all out. That means that a character with a particular rank can keep that speed up for a day; the only endurance rules you get into are the general "up and about" rules. 


Speed 1: 10 MPH. This is close to the top speed of a Segway. 

Speed 2: 25 MPH. This is Usain Bolt speed levels. 

Speed 3: 50 MPH. Lions and wildebeests move this fast.

Speed 4: 100 MPH. You are faster than a cheetah, and faster than many people will ever go in a standard automotive vehicle.

Speed 5: 250 MPH. Faster than most cars, including the McLaren F1.

Speed 6: 500 MPH. You are about as fast as the first Spirit of America jet car.

Speed 7: 1,000 MPH. You are faster than the Thrust SSC (fastest land vehicle), and are well above the speed of sound. You are officially at Mach 1.3.

Speed 10: 10,000 MPH. Mach 13, you've more than doubled the top speed of the X-15 test plane.

Speed 15: 500,000 MPH. You can circle the earth in about 30 minutes. 

Speed 19: 10,000,000 MPH. You could run from Earth to Sol in about 9 hours.

Speed 20: Near Lightspeed. You can get from the Earth to Sol in about 8-9 minutes. 


Flight uses the same speed scale. Some aeronautic highlights (more for the lower end) :

Speed 4: 100 MPH. Fastest flapping bird flight, by this guy. Slower single-engine planes. 

Speed 5: 250 MPH. Peregrine falcon diving speeds. Roughly the speed of a B-17 Flying Fortress.

Speed 6: 500 MPH. You're a bit faster than WW2 fighter planes like the P-51 and the P-38. You're a bit slower than a Boeing 747.

Speed 7: 1,000 MPH. You are officially at Mach 1.3. Slower still than a lot of 70s and later jet fighters, faster than most early 50s-60s or earlier craft (such as the F-102 Delta Dagger).

Speed 8: 2,500 MPH. You're faster than the SR-71 Blackbird

Speed 9: 5,000 MPH. Faster than the X-15 rocket plane. Mach 6.5

Speed 11: 25,000 MPH. Faster than the Space Shuttle on reentry. Mach 32.8.


And so on.


Swimming is weird because it cuts down the scale, so you never reach "Near Light Speed" (which admittedly would probably do terrible, terrible things to the ocean). 


Swimming 1: 2.5 mph. Probably an athletic human swimmer. 

Swimming 4: 25 mph. Leatherback Sea Turtle speeds!

Swimming 6: 100mph. Faster than a Black Marlin (fastest sea creature), but not by much. 

Swimming 7: 250mph. Top end torpedo speeds. Also not much lower than the current water speed record vehicle, Spirit of Australia (which achieved 317 mph).

Swimming 10: 2,500 MPH.

Swimming 15: 100,000 MPH.

Swimming 20:  5,000,000 MPH


I decided to throw Space Travel in here as well, just for the heck of it. Remember, c is the speed of light, so this is measured as Xc, where X is the multiple of c. I'm just hitting some comparative highlights, since Space Travel doesn't come up too often. I'm going with the more conservative speeds for the sci-fi universes, just because these things end up less than consistent. 


Space Travel 1: 1c (speed of light). 8 minutes from Sol to Terra. often given as the upper limit of Superman's speed in flight (as well as Flash's speed). Warp 1 in Star Trek. 

Space Travel 4: 10c. A bit faster than Warp 2.

Space Travel 5: 25c. Right around Warp 3.

Space Travel 7: 100c. Around Warp 4 or so. At this speed, you could travel from the Sol System to the Alpha Centauri System in about 2 weeks. 

Space Travel 8: 250c. Around Warp 5. Capable of reaching anywhere in the Local Bubble within a year or less. 

Space Travel 10: 1,000c. Around Warp 9 or so. Travel within the Local Bubble in a few months.

Space Travel 14: 25,000c. About the speed of a Goauld hyperdrive in Stargate (give or take a few thousand c). It would take a few months to move about the Orion Arm of the galaxy at this speed. It would take a little over a year to travel from the Sol System to the center of the galaxy at this speed. 

Space Travel 16: 100,000c. It would take only a year or so to travel across the entire Milky Way Galaxy at this speed.

Space Travel 19: 1,000,000c. You're traversing the entire Galaxy in a month or less (this is probably around where Star Wars FTL travel lies). You could easily travel to the likes of the Large Magellanic Cloud or many other satellite galaxies in just a few months, or less.

Space Travel 20: 2,500,000c. It would take you right at about a year to move from our galaxy to the Andromeda II Galaxy at this speed.


Now, obviously, that's stupid-fast. And if I recall correctly, within the context of the Freedom City Universe, everything is happening within the Milky Way, or, at most, the Local Group (which you could traverse within about...oh, call it 4 years or so at ST 20). And a lot of science fiction shows (Star Trek among them) happen within just a small slice of the Milky Way.

But some shows (Stargate) span the entire Local Group, or even further. Even more crazily, said shows have groups that traverse these distances (literally millions of light-years) in the span of months, weeks, or days! 

And that's not even counting things like DC Comics, where apparently the Guardians of the Universe live at literally the Center of the Universe (such as there is one). For context, the furthest object we have observed is estimated to be roughly 32.7 billion light-years away. So even moving at ST20 speeds, it would take you 13,080 years to reach it! And in DC, the Green Lanterns casually travel back and forth to Oa (center of the universe) and every corner of the universe (at least in theory). 

So, you can either keep extrapolating up Space Travel ranks (shaky ground), or fudge the numbers a bit and simulate settings like Stargate or DC by taping together lots of Space Travel and lots of Teleport (with the latter getting you across the universe as a whole, and the former getting you around local clusters and whatnot). 

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Skill Benchmarks


So, this one is a bit hazier. Why? Because with the way Skills work, you could have someone with just a couple of ranks, but a souped-up Ability, who easily hits DCs of 15 and higher. But that's not an insurmountable problem; generally speaking, the way to approach that situation is that a character has a lot of "raw talent", but little formal education or training. So someone with stupid-high Dex but only a couple ranks of Acrobatics is good at Acrobatics because of how good they are at moving themselves, not hours practicing those movements. Someone with a high Int who makes a difficult Knowledge check with 1-2 ranks just remembers the fact(s) because of how awesome their brain is, not how long they studied that subject.

Tremble in fear when you face a character who is capable in both Ability and Skill. 

So, this particular post will focus on benchmarks for ranks in a skill. Now, this is probably mostly going to rehash the Core book, but I'll put my own spin, and where I think things fall, so hopefully it's not a 1-for-1 translation. 

I'm going up to 20 Ranks, which is the absolute cap for a PL 15 character. Because I like to go one step further. 


0 Ranks: Untrained! You might theoretically could do something with this skill (depending on the skill), but you won't really be good at it.

1-2 Ranks: You know a thing or two. This is, like, basic schooling, or a few lessons, something like that. The bare-bones, at-least-I-recognize-it basics. Average non-hero probably has a few skills here.

3-4 Ranks: Basic knowledge. Graduated high school, something you maybe do regularly but not as a full-time profession. You're decent enough you can probably consistently make DC 10 checks. 

5-6 Ranks: Low level professional. So, maybe a couple years of college, or you're an amateur athlete, or you can reliably open doors, you can do basic computer tricks. If comparing to job skill, this is probably the "just starting career/job" level.

7-8 Ranks: Thoroughly professional. Full Bachelor's degree. You're pretty well guaranteed to auto-hit DC 10 checks, even rolling a 1. You're very familiar with the subject, or you're quite good at the activity. 5-8 is a good range for a PL 7 or 8 to aim for, rank-wise. 

9-10 Ranks: Not only can you automatically hit DC 10, you've got a good chance of hitting DC 15 with little to no effort. DC 20 is at least an even chance. You could be considered at least something of an expert; perhaps a Master's degree. A good "sweet spot" for a PL 10 character; perhaps your "primary" skills are here, while your "secondary" skills are in the 5-8 range. 

11-12 Ranks: You know your stuff, inside and out. I'd say this pegs you at Doctorate level. You're getting toward the point that DC 20 isn't very hard to hit. Alternatively, we're talking career soldiers here.

13-14 Ranks: You're pretty close to being an utter master of whatever skill this is. You're easily performing feats that are better than a vast majority of people out there. Olympic athletes, special forces soldiers.

15-16 Ranks: You are a master, plain and simple. You can, with little to no effort, do very amazing things. This is "multiple doctorates" level of skill. This is the point where, in the ancient days, you'd get a couple legends about yourself. 

17-18 Ranks: You're good. You're really good. Like, even among superheroes, you're really good. That's how good you are.

19-20 Ranks: You are the 1%...for the 1%. You automatically make DC 20 checks, not even taking into account Ability bonuses. 


A few things you can automatically do with 20 ranks in a skill (again, not counting Ability bonus, or rolls):

-Instantly stand up as a free action.

-Climb a sheer cliff without gear.

-Take 1 minute to find a file on a large office network.

-Create engine components. 

-Convince someone to go from Hostile to Unfriendly. 

-Defeat a home door alarm.

-Pull off a bootlegger reverse in a car.

-Track someone down in a Metropolis (who isn't trying to hide).

-Perform all but the most complex medical procedures.


-Notice a secret compartment.

-Plant a small object on someone.

-Do pretty darn well at surviving outdoors, even in harsh conditions.

-Swim the English Channel (probably).

Edited by KnightDisciple
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Heroes in MUTANTS & MASTERMINDS cover a diverse range of power levels, from the first costumed adventurers of the Golden Age, who relied solely on their skills and a few gimmicks (and modern vigilantes of the mean streets, who do much the same), to the greatest protectors of the world, who take on cosmic threats on a regular basis. 
This power level fits the “Mystery Men” era of the Golden Age of comic books, as well as for teams of mostly non-powered adventurers: heroes who rely more on their skills and wits (and maybe a few gadgets) rather than amazing powers. The suggested starting value of 120 power points creates well-rounded heroes at this level, particularly if the emphasis is on skills and advantages—and maybe a power or two—rather than a lot of powers. Think Dr Mid-Nite and Hourman rather than the Flash and Iron Man. A higher starting power point total allows for more diverse capabilities within the same limits. Heroes at this level often focus more on skill than sheer damage output, often having fighting skills in the 10–12 range, but commensurately lower damage and effect ranks (using just their fists or weapons).
The suggested starting power level for MUTANTS & MASTERMINDS suits mature and experienced “adventurers” of the previous level along with a wide range of younger or focused superhumans. This is the power level of the Legion of Superheroes, characters like Green Arrow and Black Canary, and a great many of the Teen Titans or members of Young Justice. It’s also good for powerful, but relatively inexperienced heroes like Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes).  Power level 10 heroes may have a balance of attack and effect, defense and resistance, or may go for being stronger on one side than the other, having great combat skill, but comparatively limited damage, for example, or great Toughness, but lowered defenses.
Power level 12 is where you find many of the members of the book's the Justice League or Avengers: Aquaman, Batman, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Flash, to name a few. They are “senior” heroes, usually with considerable capabilities (and, often, experience). Those lacking superhuman powers (such as Batman) have amazing levels of skill and resources to draw upon while the superhuman types are often among the most capable in their particular area, often worthy of titles like “King” and “World’s Greatest”.  In areas where power level 12 heroes tip the balance of their combat capabilities, they can have amazing ranks in attack (like the Batman's Melee skill) or defense (like Iron Man’s Toughness).
Heroes at this level are closing in on the power levels of the paragons of the DC Universe like Superman, Wonder Woman and Shazam. They are largely capable of ignoring lesser concerns and tend to focus on “big picture” problems like alien invasions and world-conquerors along with natural disasters (although they may still handle some of the “small stuff” as well).  This is the level of the “heavy-hitters” of the Freedomverse.

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