Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse characters

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Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse characters

Postby Quistar » Mon Dec 24, 2012 2:25 pm

I've been churning the issue of character PLs around in my head for a while and would like to know what folks on the Think Tank think, both officially and unofficially. The DC books seem to have a slightly different "plan" for PL advances compared to the Freedomverse entries (assuming those characters convert from 2e to 3e at the same PL as before) and I'd like to examine that progression for each universe.

For example, it appears that most of the Freedom League heroes are between PL 10-12, even the heavy hitters, with only rare exceptions like Centurion going beyond that level (he tops out at PL 16). In the Freedomverse the top villains run from folks like the Omega Centurion at 16, making him their Bizarro/Black Adam, and a very few other villains, with the top spot going, AFAIK, to Omega at PL 19. And as an homage to the Anti-Monitor, the Lord of the Terminus could probably be used as PL X under certain circumstances.

Meanwhile, there's more of an upward spread for JLAers in general, with more (still a majority) reaching PL 14-15 (Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern/Hal Jordan/Kyle Rayner, Wonder Woman, Superman) and others approaching them (John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Mon-El). This means the heaviest hitters are always above the heroes' PL (Darkseid, Mordru, Black Adam, Doomsday) at PL 16. Only one or two villains top that level by being PL 17, including Monarch and (I'm guessing since I haven't seen DCA Vol. 4 yet) Superboy Prime at his most powerful. Only the Spectre at his modern average PL is 18. Presumably his old foe Wotan matches him or at least comes close, meaning PL 17-18. Anything else on a truly "cosmic" scale would be assumed PL X until shown otherwise.

The basic scale I see for DCA is as follows, give or take:

PL 1-4: Truly ordinary folk and supporting characters in general.
PL 6: Weaker Golden-Age characters and sidekicks.
PL 8: Average Golden-Age "non-powered" characters, or ones with one neat power or trick.
PL 10: Average Modern heroes.
PL 12: Supers that start to go beyond the basic Super in scale and scope (i.e. Flash's dimension and time travel powers or less powerful Kryptonians like Supergirl, heroes that can go into space without a ship and survive there).
PL 14: Approaching cosmic level (the most powerful Lanterns or sub-Superman paragons like Martian Manhunter).
PL 15: The mightiest of heroes, the ones that can affect the destinies of the world and universe on a regular basis.
PL 16: Capable of fighting off armies of heroes, either by personal power or resources or a combination of both; often ruling their own countries or worlds, or capable of destroying the same over time (Black Adam, Doomsday, Darkseid, Mordru).
PL 17: Capable of easily travelling between and conquering/devastating multiple worlds/realities (Monarch)
PL 18: Power on a Biblical scale (Spectre).
PL X: Off the scale, or "There is no scale, there is only Zuul." :wink:

I don't have a comparable scale for the Freedomverse because I'm not as familiar with it. From what I recall, more heroes tend towards the lower end of that scale and more villains than heroes are at the PL 15+ end of it, and they go as high as 19 or more.

I guess there ought to be some questions to address to guide discussion so I'll toss some out here. Please add your own.

* To the game designers...did you come up with different scales for each universe in terms of where characters fell on the PL scale? If so, how did you plan it out?
* To everyone: Do you think DC's scale adequately spreads characters by PL? I ask this because it is possible for a group of PL 10 heroes, combining forces with Team Attacks, to defeat a PL 15 Superman on a fairly routine basis, something that rarely if ever happens in the comics. Of course, games differ from comic books in terms of plotting and desired outcomes (telling a story vs. letting your players share the storytelling outcomes).

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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Batgirl III » Mon Dec 24, 2012 3:18 pm

Quistar wrote:* To everyone: Do you think DC's scale adequately spreads characters by PL? I ask this because it is possible for a group of PL 10 heroes, combining forces with Team Attacks, to defeat a PL 15 Superman on a fairly routine basis, something that rarely if ever happens in the comics. Of course, games differ from comic books in terms of plotting and desired outcomes (telling a story vs. letting your players share the storytelling outcomes).


I think the scale for DCA's take on the DC Universe is actually pretty good. Oh sure, I have one or two quibbles and I probably would have done a dozen things diferently, but that was bound to happen. I am, after all, a bit of a character building obessive and I have a deranged fangirl's love of the DCU. (You are all stunned to learn this, I am sure...) I think the main reason that the DCA's DCU (which I've taken to calling the "DCGRU," since DCAU is taken) appears to be so much more powerful thn the Freedomverse is simply a matter of the much more limited sample size. After all, with the Freedomverse we have every known superhero, supervillain, and major supporting character named and biographied, with more PL'd and statted up... in the DCGRU we never, ever will come close to have even most of the well known characters statted. Let alone the also rans and has beens.

Think about it, the DC Universe as we know it is actually an almagamation of dozens of seperate publishers books stretching back to at least 1934, when DC Comics was formed as National Allied Publications. That DC bought out and eventually folded into its DCU companies like Fawcett Comics or Charleton COmics is pretty well known, but there have been dozens more. Each of those books has at least one main character and one or two villains. Most run for years, some a decade or so. That's a lot of stories, a lot of characters, and a lot of wildly swinging pendulms of power. Hell, the "big three" of the DCU -- Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Batman -- have been in continous publication since there debuts in 1938, 1941, and 1939 respectively. Even if you only use characters from there three books and only look at stuff from afterthe famous Crisis on Infinite Earths... that's twenty-seven years with an average of four monthly books per character per year.

Just for spits and giggles, let's start with a post-Crisis count of zero stat-worthy characters in the universe and assume one new stat-worthy supporting hero was introduced each year, along with a new stat-worthy villain every fourth issue. Over 27 years, that's 1,296 characters... plus Clark, Diana, and Bruce. :shock:

So the writers at Green Ronin had to make some tough choices. Faced with the literally hundreds of thousands of characters that the DC Universe contains they had to go with the ones that the most of the fans would want. That means the guys tat have been in publication the longest, with the best sales, the most media tie-ins, and the most popularity. So you wind up with a lot of Justice League of America power level types, and very few Captain Carrots.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Earth-Two_Kenn » Mon Dec 24, 2012 3:28 pm

Batgirl III wrote:I have a deranged fangirl's love of the DCU.


No. If you were truly deranged, you'd be one of those people who insist we change the term to 'deranged fanWOMAN' because 'fangirl' is sexist.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Inscribed » Mon Dec 24, 2012 3:38 pm

But isn't it called fanboy?
Wouldn't it be sexist to say fanwoman, then?

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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Earth-Two_Kenn » Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:26 pm

Inscribed wrote:But isn't it called fanboy?
Wouldn't it be sexist to say fanwoman, then?


Okay, don't try to make sense of the logic. There is none. That's the 'deranged' part.

Sorry, spent too much time on DC's Power Girl forums, back when DC liked the colour of my money.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby saint_matthew » Mon Dec 24, 2012 9:51 pm

Inscribed wrote:But isn't it called fanboy?
Wouldn't it be sexist to say fanwoman, then?


Heck, even fanboy is meant to be used as a derogatory term.

Earth-Two_Kenn wrote:Okay, don't try to make sense of the logic. There is none. That's the 'deranged' part.

Sorry, spent too much time on DC's Power Girl forums, back when DC liked the colour of my money.


M'eh: You think thats bad, try spending time on the Newsarama Wonder Woman forum pages. I swear every time any movie with a female protagonist came out you'd end up with 30 different threads all on the same topic; that of how this new movie with a female protagonist shows that there now has to be a wonder woman movie & if there isn't one announced in the next 2 seconds its because of DC/WB/Patriarchies institutionalised sexism.

Honestly that section of the newsarama boards would make a great petri dish for anyone wanting to study confirmation bias in action.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby saint_matthew » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:02 pm

Quistar wrote:PL X: Off the scale, or "There is no scale, there is only Zuul." :wink:


I'm interested in that scale of game... Because it sleeps above the covers... 3 feet above the covers.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Batgirl III » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:24 pm

Earth-Two_Kenn wrote:
Batgirl III wrote:I have a deranged fangirl's love of the DCU.


No. If you were truly deranged, you'd be one of those people who insist we change the term to 'deranged fanWOMAN' because 'fangirl' is sexist.


Back off man, I'm a scientist.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby MistahFixIt » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:32 pm

saint_matthew wrote:
Quistar wrote:PL X: Off the scale, or "There is no scale, there is only Zuul." :wink:


I'm interested in that scale of game... Because it sleeps above the covers... 3 feet above the covers.

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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby saint_matthew » Mon Dec 24, 2012 10:36 pm

Next time someone asks you if you are power level X, YOU SAY YES! :lol:

Guess what movie i'm watching. :roll:
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Earth-Two_Kenn » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:24 am

saint_matthew wrote:M'eh: You think thats bad, try spending time on the Newsarama Wonder Woman forum pages.


Gave it up for Lent, in like '05, never went back.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Earth-Two_Kenn » Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:26 am

saint_matthew wrote:Next time someone asks you if you are power level X, YOU SAY YES! :lol:

Guess what movie i'm watching. :roll:


That Bill Murray/Harold Ramis pic from the early '80s.... What was it called?

Oh, yeah, 'Stripes'.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Batgirl III » Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:16 am

Well, this went of topic in an epic manner. :roll:
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby pawsplay » Fri Jan 04, 2013 10:00 pm

If they allowed the characters' exploits to stat themselves, Superman would have higher offense and defense bonuses, and Wonder Woman would be a match for Batman in hand-to-hand (and Batman's hand to hand bonus would presumably be lowered to a saner level, at the same time). The characters would sit in at PL 18 or so, and Darkseid could be comfortably upgraded to PL 20. In my view, PL 20, your basic soft limit, probably should be, "This is pretty much Darkseid." But, different choices were made at GR. On the characterization side, the heroes were squished in ability to reflect a JLA teamup situation where somehow Superman doesn't just destroy everything with his hands, Wonder Woman doesn't defeat every single melee opponent in seconds flat, and Batman doesn't mostly just hide when power armor is involved (and he didn't bring his own). If you want to see what happens when the writers do cut loose, read Marvel's Squadron Supreme book (which is fantastic) and you'll witness a fairly thoughtful demonstration of what those powers would mean if played straight. But if you're watching the animated JLA, it's pretty much a given that the more deadly the attack, the more likely it is to miss. So Superman's reputed speed has to be balanced against dramatic concerns, and if you think carefully about what you see in screen, you realize Superman as presented would have to be a mindnumbing klutz in order to have his speed and strength and be only as effective as what you see. The second part of that is the same concept, realized in game form. While some things obviously require Superman-class power or Batman-class skill checks, for the game to work, you have to put the characters in a near enough ballpark where characters of in-between ability can matter.

That said, if it were up to me, I would use more rigorously benchmarked of the DC characters with only the barest nod to playability. Because I figure, if you want to play Batman and Superman, you probably want the real deal. I would probably benchmark Superman and Wonder Woman to 18, Darkseid to 20, and Batman's unarmed attack to around PL 10. But I'd be generous in statting the explosive batarangs, which are generally robot-destruction capable.
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Re: Power Levels of DC Characters vs. Freedomverse character

Postby Foreshadow » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:48 pm

pawsplay wrote: That said, if it were up to me, I would use more rigorously benchmarked of the DC characters with only the barest nod to playability. Because I figure, if you want to play Batman and Superman, you probably want the real deal. I would probably benchmark Superman and Wonder Woman to 18, Darkseid to 20, and Batman's unarmed attack to around PL 10. But I'd be generous in statting the explosive batarangs, which are generally robot-destruction capable.


That is perhaps what I will do. I am making the Marvel Adentures pdf (yes I have a good desktop publishing software so it will look good, probably a bit better than the HnV book because I'll add a bit more flair, whereas that blue and red is a bit simple).

Making the characters does involve a set of choices. If you make Superman, and most of the PL 15 characters into something like a PL 17 (or perhaps 16 for some of them) then you end up with other choices. Superman at PL 17 can have a 23 Strength, no need for powerlifting and he has the same +11 attack. So if you want to raise his attack 4 points, and leave it at 19 strength, you can do that. Using PL 15 limits the build more than opening it up.

I haven't done this yet, as I am debating what is more useful, a set of marvel characters that complement the Dc ones and use the same design logic, yet since I don't necessarily like some of those design elements. For example, Batman is hand waved into just having 4 ranks of Defensive Roll, no custom protection even though clearly even in Brave and the Bold series where is a clearly a more iconic type batman, he does in fact gain protection from the costume, especially the cape. So if you made marvel characters 'like' the HnV Dc charcters, then you'd make a Captain American with his Stamina and just give him like 4 ranks in defensive roll and be done with it, no Costume +2 protection. I thought the best approach might be instead to take the HnV approach and then do a little entry for other versions of the character. For example, for Batman you'd include his costume which grants at least +1 unarmed damage, is capable of protection and the gliding. You don't need a full write up, only modification (s) or add on, sort of like 'if you want an Arkham Asylum video game version of Batman this is what you use'. That version of batman based on the modern mostly movie versions of batman has things like a cool tactical vision (Super-Senses) and true Night vision and other little aspects. I would also probably give the gloves something like Improved Block and if Batman had it, I'd want to remove it from his standard build as he uses stuff like that to get it. Part of going with the HnV build is your limited to what it was included and if you wanted to remove stuff you'd have to consider that, rather than the add on approach i'm exploring.

In end, the HnV book is a great product as it can be used in a few ways.


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