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Help on Creating Powers


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Ok, so I have what I think is an interesting idea. However, it works more in "comic book" land, and possibly not so much in tabletop land. Quick background details: I have a rudimentary understanding of the 2E rules; I know more about 3E than 2E, and what I do know is a brief skimming through effects and skills. However, I think the character concept might work better in 2E, which is why I'm here.

Anyway, the character has two basic powers that are most likely linked together: the first one is simply Empathy, but should be permanent, and work in a radius around him, and the far cooler one is this; based on the "emotional level" that he can detect around him (think intensity; anger is not stronger than sadness, it's just based on how strongly they're feeling each emotion. So, rage is probably more powerful than those, and calmness is like absolute zero.) he gets better in mental and physical traits. As he progresses, he can also use some of the "stored power" around him to do all manner of nifty stuff; emotional "energy" blasts, gain better senses temporarily, etc, etc.

So, does that sound doable? Any and all help would...well, be of much help.

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Well, Empathy's really easy. Super Senses 2 (Ranged Radius Mental Sense). Congratulations, you can sense emotions with your mind.


I agree that the other one is cool. With that said, you're not permitted to be more powerful than your Power Level without the use of Hero Points (and that's just temporary) and being lower than it is...not a good idea. What I'd suggest is an array with each effect based on an emotion that could be around him, with an accompanying Complication that each effect requires a certain amount of emotion nearby to be at full power, and without it the related effect can weaken or become unusable.

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Now Empathy's a whole bag of stuff.  It could be mind reading limited to emotions.  That's the traditional way to build it, can't go wrong there.  There's also Mood Awareness as a possibility. Tacking on any enhanced senses on that additional sense.   Probably Acute and maybe Radius on a mental sense, it's ranged by default on the combined Awareness+Detect house rule.   It's less ideal, but it works too.

So there's a lot of ways you can go about your second power.  I think the two top runners of how I would go about it would be either build it as a container or as the boost effect.  I would not recommend Boost, unless you feel comfortable with the system.  Considering one has to keep in mind you can't boost an effect past your PL caps and one has to deal with the rate a boost fades.  If you built the power in such a fashion I'd build him unboosted as hitting certain PL caps already. 

Building it as a container would just mean build the effects as you would if they weren't tied to an emotion.  Rather than a limited flaw on any of the powers inside I'd say just make the whole emotions thing a Complication.  When it comes down to it, the effects he gains sounds as if you were building a very focused telepath after all.  ,

A third possibility is an array in which each slot correlates to an emotion.  Keeping in mind if you are using something like Enhanced Strength + Enhanced constitution in one slot, you have to consider your PL caps when you switch slots.  There's nothing wrong with making it so he hits on a different PL on each emotion (as long as you don't build it to past 10 as that's the highest starting slot you get), but does mean extra bookwork and makes having one emotion felt intensely is arguably more desirable than others in a combat situation.  But, that's fine

Of course you could use a combination of these factors.  Maybe his attributes  are boosted with the Emotional flaw, but the rest of the effects are an array or container or just floating around using the emotions thing as a descriptor.  Which seems in line with what you're asking as well.  It does sounds like there's going to be Complication regardless of how you go about it for when no one's feeling a particularly emotion intensely in an area.

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I think at the start he'll just have the Empathy and increasing ability traits. I'll add the other stuff in as I get more power points, or if I have some leftover after I finish the character's skills and things. With different emotions relating to different abilities...I'm torn. On one hand, if all emotions increase all abilities, it would be more versatile. On the other, part of my character's concept is being good with people, and could conceivably make people feel how he needs them to be so he can get the required stat increase. Plus, it could get those awesome moments where he manipulates different people to completely change the situation.

The Boost actually kinda sounds like what I want; if he can't sense emotions nearby, or if everyone is calm, he steadily loses the traits. The "emotional level" would bring his stats up, and stay there as it gets "refilled" over and over by the current level. If it drops, his traits drop, and if it increases, they go up. I'll have to look at Container; like I said, I only really know 3E terminology.

Thanks for the help so far!

Edited by Bookwyrm
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Yes, you can make the power of Empathy Permanent in Duration, and have its attached Boost as a Reaction to certain feelings.

Bookwyrm, I have a proposition. In the Teen Titans cartoon show Starfire, the alien girl with the funny dialect and massive strength, had to feel certain strong emotions for her powers to "work" right. Joy for flight, rage for her energy blasts, etc.

How about reversing that, and certain emotional responses from others is what powers up and lets him use various powers from an Array. Instead of a Boost, others' rage lets him shoot lasers from his eyes/mouth or make him really strong, calm gives him increased intelligence or Super-Senses or Insubstantial, fear makes him fast/be scary, love makes him invulnerable/lets hin fly, etc. With a Dynamic Array, you could mix and match from the various  Alternate Powers in cases of different feelings in the area. 

There's nothing wrong with Boost, per se, but I feel this is a better way to do it.

Edited by Ari
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I think I'll do kinda a mix of what you and HG said; all emotions wi ll increase his Abilities, but the special powers have to be provided by certain emotions. However, one of his Complications is that he can't tell people that he has powers (made a promise to his dead mother, bla bla bla, backstory), so I think he won't have the special powers at first unless they're more subtle in nature; better senses, Insubstantial, etc. Of course, I'm sure at some point everyone will know, and then the more obvious powers can start to show up.

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Boost is not a good power, and especially not a good power to build your character around if you're not experienced with the system. The problem is two-fold; M&M expects you to hit your combat caps, and combats are usually over in three rounds or less. So a character whose strategy revolves around getting Boosts spends one round getting near the source of their Boost, another rounding Boost'ing themselves, and then has maybe one round to actually contribute before the fight's over. The way I would build this is to have a big Array with different powers linked to different emotional states, and maybe give it a Concentration check to switch between them. Perhaps give him a complication that he has to actually feel anger/fear/sadness/whatever to use those powers.

If you are absolutely set on this, I would start with a build that hits his combat caps without those powers; a martial artist, maybe, with full +ATT/-DAM trade-off, so that even alone he can still kick limited amounts of ass. Otherwise I predict you are going to find yourself very frustrated when you cannot contribute materially to combat.

Out of curiosity, why can't he tell anyone about his powers?

Edited by Raveled
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So for a permanent empathy effect a super sense (Emotion Awareness maybe?) with probably ranged radius and maybe analytical to pick up on the specifics would be my suggestion rather than trying to build out of an emotions only mind reading.  

As for the powers themselves skip boost as raveled says it rarely works out in use.  I would recommend as he suggested an array with a complication regarding the emotional states around him.  Thus if there is no or not enough emotion of a type for full power he can get an HP.  You might be able to get away with a source type drawback or rarely even limitation but most emotions are common enough that limitation would be a stretch and generally a complication and its HP is better than a Power Point or two for drawbacks.  

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Well, what if the source of their boost was essentially just...sentient things? I mean, unless there were some humans or animals that didn't have emotions nearby, the source is kinda all-or-nothing, especially considering that it doesn't just have to be enemies' emotions; other players, random civilians, etc. And the action would only be a reaction so he should be able to not have to spend another round boosting. Though you're right, I'm certainly not experienced, but I'm ok at learning new (/old, depending on how you look at it) rules. He is sort of a martial artist...he fights with a cane, but yeah, will probably get to the damage caps. And he definitely won't have to feel the emotions himself. As to the backstory, his mother was a supervillain, and through her line is a long history of supers, heroes and villains. There's a special family ring, that allows the next Clivius (their last name) to unlock his/her powers, and gives preset "memory messages" to the receiver. In them, she told Quinn (char's name) to not tell anyone. Honestly, I don't even know the full reason, but I suppose it has something to do with her being a villain. I like having vague threads in my characters' backstory, that are up for speculation.

--Raveled + angrydurf--

Yeah, actually might go with somethin' like that. If it's not the Boost, it's almost certainly a dynamic array with Enhanced Traits. Maybe with the Quirk/Limitation/Complication that I can only have "X" number of ranks depending on the nearby intensity like you said, and then a different array of normal Alternate Effects with the actual powers there? Sorry if my newbiness angers you; I tend to have a way of gravitating towards the "worst/most inefficient" things when I look into an RPG for the first time. :D


Edited by Bookwyrm
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We were all newbs once and we all made inefficient builds at one point or another.  The advice is just to avoid the letdown of building up to a certain idea of a character and having it fall flat on mechanics.  Boost is really pretty much at it's best when it's kinda fire and forget giving a bump in power that lasts X time ala hourman or sometimes Bane, or if tied to a drain/absorb kinda deal where you power up when hit by or when 'feeding' off some power source.  If it's more ambient (Like emotion) it's better represented by a complication where it's absence is the noteable state or a drawback though really complications pay off in the long run.

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