Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

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Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

Postby wolfkook » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:20 am

Hi, all... Long time away from these forums...

I want your help with a suggested power set for a witch character who devotes her life to fight vampires and other creatures of the night. However, I don't want her powers to be too restrictive, so as to limit her to a certain kind of enemies.

To get things in context: Right now I'm running a WWII campaign, and we have a new player in our group. On our next adventure, the heroes will get into Transylvania to fight some Nazis who want to get the power of immortality from Dracula himself. I suggested the new player to create a character that could be easily introduced in that setting, and she came up with a witch from a secret society that's bent on battling the Lord of Darkness.

She's new to the game though, and it's been difficult for us to get the power set right without making it overly complicated.

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Re: Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

Postby Doresh » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:32 am

How about a bit of Divination and Mind Control? Might not be flashy, but it's fitting for a more Golden Age flair :wink:

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Re: Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

Postby JDRook » Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:45 pm

wolfkook wrote:a witch character who devotes her life to fight vampires and other creatures of the night. However, I don't want her powers to be too restrictive, so as to limit her to a certain kind of enemies.

Okay, so she should be really effective against vampires but still competent against any other kind of foe. Since she is an expert in vampire hunting, I'd use the specific weakness of vampires in your campaign as a basis for her attacks and then broaden the effect.

Vampire weaknesses (and other traits) vary widely in fiction, and some industrious editors went to the trouble of making a pretty comprehensive Wikipedia page about it, complete with comparative charts. I'll list off Weaknesses below and suggest powers.

Stakes - Pretty simple: most opponents are going to be hurt if you stick something pointy and solid through them. The build for a stake would likely be Str-based Damage 2 or 3, possibly with a rank or 2 of Improved Critical either built into the stake or as an Advantage for the witch. Penetrating might work as well, although classic stakes are made of wood and it would be a GM call whether a sharpened wood stake should be able to overcome ranks of Impervious. The stake may also be metal, or at least metal-tipped, or in some other way treated or hardened, or wood may be a weakness as well.

Sunlight - The opposite end of the spectrum, sunlight generally hurts nobody but vampires. A simple Environment effect can make a sunlit area very cheaply, but if you want something with broader combat application, a Ranged Affliction Dazzle (Impair/Disable/Unaware, Limited to Sight) with a Sunlight Descriptor could take advantage of the vampire's weakness (possibly doing Damage equal to the Dazzle rank as well as Dazzling), while still being effective at blinding most other opponents in combat.

Decapitation - most being don't like having their heads cut off, so not really an issue. Decaps should probably only come up against vampire minions (speedy Takedown maneuvers), or critical strikes against non-minion vampires, including vampires who are bound Defenseless and Immobile.

Drowning - more environmentally based, herding vampires toward water would be a useful tactic, and almost as effective on other foes to limit their options, but it doesn't really suggest a good power. If you went really extreme, you could make a Drowning Affliction similar to Suffocation (Fatigue/Exhaust/Incap) with the descriptor of the target's lungs filling with water. That's not a very Golden Age thing to do, though.

Fire - lots of things don't like fire, so any kind of attack with a Fire descriptor would work well.

Silver - usually added to any kind of weapon or ammunition, it could either be a free descriptor or a 1p Feature that might give a +2 circumstantial bonus to effect against vampires or others vulnerable to silver.

Garlic - Difficult to work into combat, not broadly effective. Kind of lame, really, and often ignored in modern interpretations.

Holy Symbols - highly varied, and depends on how picky you want to be about it. You can easily make a cross with crossed weapons, or even your fingers. The weapon itself may be cross-shaped, like a sword. Stars of David or other holy symbols are generally harder to improvise. Mechanically, I would probably treat the holy symbol as a bonus to Intimidation. Your witch may have a few Intimidation-based Advantages that work on anybody but that are more effective on vampires and such. The Favored Foe Advantage would help with this.

Running Water - see Drowning. I recall Rifts went so far as to come up with water pistols that did Vampire damage, but if we're sticking with broad application, not that useful.

The rest get pretty obscure, and wouldn't have a lot of direct use in a combat situation.

So to summarize, I would recommend Stakes (equipment or Device), a silvered weapon of some sort, and some spell options that included Blinding Sunlight and Fire. Favored Foe, Improved Critical and some Intimidation Advantages, and probably Ritualist as well. If you wanted to build it up quick, you could use the Mystic archetype as a base, trimming out a few things to make room for the equipment and Advantages. If you have access to the Quick Character Generator I might suggest using the Mystic and just swapping the HQ for 15ep of equipment.
Sorry, I can't hear your argument for realism over the sound of my eye beams. :P

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Re: Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

Postby Stigger » Sun Nov 17, 2013 4:37 am

Back in my Old World of Darkness Storyteller days, a player of mine came up with splinter grenades, which basically sent a shard of tiny little splinters in all directions that would sting like hell if you were alive, but which would worm their way into a vampiric body towards the heart to stake them, while also pulsing magically so that it could be tracked. Annoying if you were alive, but deadly as all hell to undead, just not immediately so. To be fair, we never actually used it in play, because I basically told her to be prepared for a significant paradox hit since it was pretty damned vulgar (which probably only makes sense if you're familiar with the OWD game lines), but I still thought it was an interesting idea, a neat little take on a more modern sort of stake.

As far as M&M, I'd guess it would be a Progressive Affliction, Ranged Burst Area, obviously, but limited to Vampires, and probably Limited Degree 2 (3rd - Paralyzed), and I'd probably take a rank, or two maybe, of decreased range as well to make the throw ranges a bit more palatable. As to ranks, well, I'd leave to the group, but probably relatively high to make it effective against even tougher vampires, though not quite high enough to make it too effective against the older or particularly powerful ones.

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Re: Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

Postby wolfkook » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:53 am

Thank you all for your replies!!! I think I'll merge some of your ideas. However, I've got a question about JDRooks suggestions: How do you create a power that works one way with certain kind of creatures, and other way with all others??? Would that be handled through an Alternate Effect with the Limited Flaw, or is there another way to do that?

On the other hand, I guess vampires would have their weaknesses written as complications... However, handling them like that adds a lot of uncertainty to the actual effects of those powers...

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Re: Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

Postby JDRook » Fri Nov 22, 2013 12:27 pm

wolfkook wrote:On the other hand, I guess vampires would have their weaknesses written as complications... However, handling them like that adds a lot of uncertainty to the actual effects of those powers...

Do you mean uncertainty as a GM or as a player? As GM, you would define what kind of weaknesses vampires would have in your setting. You could also vary it, having different types, clans or ages of vampires with different abilities and weaknesses. And you can have false information on vampire slaying techniques ("Why isn't my Garlic Gun working on them?"), as well as opponents pretending to be vampires to mislead your players. Suddenly player assumptions and metagame knowledge of vampires isn't so useful and getting good rolls on Expertise: Vampires becomes very important. It can also add some suspense and tension, which is a big part of the fun of fighting supernatural creatures.

Now, if you're talking about actual mechanics of weaknesses (ie how much do they affect), I have good news and bad news: it's completely up to the GM. To illustrate, here's the official Complications for a villainous Vampire Archetype from the GM Guide:
Dependence: The Vampire must feed on blood or weaken.
Weaknesses: Traditional vampires are destroyed by exposure to sunlight and repelled by religious icons and certain plants (particularly garlic).

That's it. You have a lot of room for interpretation on that. If we focus on short-term (ie combat-effective) weaknesses, you could say that actual sunlight does X damage every round but an Environment Effect or Affliction with a Sunlight descriptor would do rank damage every round it hits or is active. Religious icons and funky plants could just give a circumstantial bonus to Intimidate the vampire (+5 is a good base), or could affect like a Mind Control Affliction (Limited to "Stay Back!"), or simply keep vampires away automatically without rolls or numbers. To add to these, if you used Fire/Silver/Holy Weapons as a Weakness, you could say that attacks with those descriptors automatically do an extra degree of damage (essentially +5 circumstantial bonus, just like getting a critical hit), or that they cause a Secondary Effect, burning or sizzling into the next round, which is much more dramatic narratively speaking.

With this in mind,the simplest way to make your Vampire Hunting Witch extra-effective against Vampires but still on par with the other PCs at everything else is to build her mostly normally, with all combat capabilities at or near PL cap, with a focus on skills, equipment and tactics that would take advantage of your setting's vampire weaknesses. Making specialized attacks for vampires can be done, but in most cases would require you to lower ranks on a vanilla attack to allow for the vampire-tuned attack to hit caps.

That said, there are a few ways you could do it if you did want to use specialty attacks. Let's say:

Path of Flame: Line Area Damage 10 - 20p
AE - Path of Holy Flame - Line Area Damage 10, Secondary Effect, Limited to Vampires/Unholy Creatures - 20p - 1p

The base power affects everyone normally at PL cap, while the Holy version would only effect Vampires, leaving everyone else caught in the area untouched, plus the vamps burn for an extra round.
This is kind of all-or-nothing, which can be handy if you only want to hurt the vamps and nothing else. Also, adding a modifier like Secondary Effect or Penetrating and essentially countering the cost with the Vamp Limit means you can easily keep it at the same rank.

You could also combine the two powers into one by making the Limit only apply to the modifier:

Holy Path of Flame: Line Area Damage 10, Secondary Effect (Limited to Vampires/Unholy Creatures) - 25p

This does 10 damage to everyone plus the Secondary burn to vamps only. The partial modifier can be used in a few ways, like limiting some of the Damage ranks, but as I mentioned before that can limit your effectiveness against non-vamp opponents. I personally think Limiting Extras is the best way to go, and I really like Secondary Effect for these in case you haven't noticed, so I strongly recommend mixing that in. It's a much more interesting way for players to see that edge against vampires taking effect. :)

And of course you could combine the Weaknesses with Specialized Attacks and make your Witch absurdly effective against vampires, but I wouldn't recommend that unless you intend to make at least one or two major Master Vampire types that could challenge her, requiring her to bring a team, because while it can be great to have a powerful niche character, the goal here should be a fun challenge for everybody.
Sorry, I can't hear your argument for realism over the sound of my eye beams. :P

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Re: Advice on Gothic Witch Power Set

Postby wolfkook » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:38 pm

Never closed this thread. Thanks all. :wink:


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