Friday, 7 August 2015

Wild Talents in yellow

So it looks like we might end up running Definitely Not X-Men for Wild Talents, and based on my previous posts Dan suggested that trying to stat up characters you already have in mind is the way to get into the system. He's been playing with making X-Men characters. That seems eminently sensible. Wild Talents is pretty much made for running some humans with a bunch of special powers.

Naturally I consider this laughably childish in its simplicity, so instead I am going to play at making the Adeptus Astartes for Wild Talents. What could possibly go wrong?

What can a space marine do?

Here are the canonical abilities of the Adeptus Astartes:

  1. Superhuman strength
  2. Superhuman toughness
  3. Superhuman senses
  4. Mucranoid: Resistance to heat and cold
  5. Mucranoid: Ability to survive in vacuum
  6. Betcher's Gland: Ability to spit poisonous acid
  7. Secondary Heart: An additional heart to increase survivability from torso damage, and boost athletic potential
  8. Larraman's Organ: Rapid scarring of injuries to prevent further blood loss
  9. Catalepsean Node: Minimal need for sleep
  10. Preomnor, Oolotic Kidney: Resistance to poisons and diseases
  11. Omophagea: Ability to absorb memories by eating brains
  12. Multi-Lung: Ability to breathe poisons, minimal-oxygen atmospheres and water
  13. Lyman's Ear: Immunity to motion sickness and nausea
  14. Sus-An Membrane: Ability to enter suspended animation for centuries if necessary
  15. Melanchromic Organ: Ability to vary melatonin levels to resist radiation
  16. Black Caparace: Ability to synch with powered armour
  17. Massively extended lifespan
  18. No physical effects of aging
  19. Armour strength enhancement
  20. Armour resistance to physical damage
  21. Armour immunity to blinding
  22. Armour vision in infrared and ultraviolet
  23. Armour targeting enhancements
  24. Armour communication tools
  25. Armour sealed environment suit
  26. Armour built-in medical treatment
  27. Armour bloodstream nutrient supplies
  28. Armour stabilisers and magnetic fields to walk safely in space

Let's get to work.


Some of these are theoretically easy, but it's not clear what numbers I should be aiming for. Just how tough or strong, in Wild Talent terms, is a superhuman giant who can rip humans apart with their bare hands? What is the comparator?

It's probably a terrible idea, but why not look at the carry weight? Both games (Wild Talents and Deathwatch) track carrying weight limits based on Body and (Strength Bonus + Toughness Bonus) respectively. Naturally, they model them differently. WT carry weight is absolute, while DW carry weight is comfortable capacity. It looks like this means DW capacity equals one-quarter of WT capacity.

An average space marine has S+TB of 16 without their armour. This allows them to comfortably carry 675kg, so in WT terms that's 1600lb. Okay, we're somewhere around 6 dice in WT. With armour, they get 1350kg, and so 7 dice.

I really don't want to try and fiddle around too much, and the statline for Astartes is pretty flat, so let's assume that all their superabilities are going to be around 6 dice with a boost from armour.

WT abilities are Body, Coordination, Sense, Mind, Charm, Command. These don't line up super-well with DW, but everything but Charm should be substantial. I'd tend to say that Coordination might be only 6-7d based on description, Charm is down at the normal human level of 2d, and Mind is merely good at 3d. Space marines have some specific amazing mental capabilities, but they aren't particularly intelligent.

Basically, we're looking at something like 655336.

That being said, again, given how powerful marines are supposed to be, we probably don't want just normal dice. A space marine shouldn't just flub a physical challenge, at least. So let's put wiggle dice in Body, and also in Command, because They Shall Know No Fear, yo.


Hmm. How do we rate marine skills? The two systems are very different. Attack skills in DW work completely differently from other skills, which makes them a bit hard to reconcile. The list of what skills mean is rather unhelpful because it uses one skill for each rank. How does "bully the heavyweight boxing champion" correspond to fluency in French?

Thinking back to stats though, an average space marine has the same combat proficiency as the most veteran of veteran human soldiers, with only seriously extraordinary individuals like cybernetic assassins exceeding their martial skill. That sounds like human perfection to me, which makes for 5 dice. This stacks somewhat uncomfortably with the Body dice, because I don't really know what the balance is supposed to be, but let's step high wide and plentiful here.

This next bit is basically wrong. I blame Wild Talents. See below.

All Body-based skills will be at 6 dice.

Next, Coordination. Marines aren't amazingly agile, but they're still faster and more dextrous than most humans, and they have intensive training in stealth, driving and of course, shooting. Let's call that 4 dice in Dodge, 3 in Stealth, 5 in Drive and 6 in whatever ranged weapons.

Sense. Not so hot. Marines have excellent perception (another 5) but don't go for detective work or light conversation. Let's call that just 1 for emotion. However, they are good at tracking, so let's call that a 3 in Scrutiny.

Mind. Space marines are good at navigating, survival and of course, tactics (5). They don't research, burgle, or do medicine (that's a specialist role) so nothing there. They do know some first aid (3). They also have an array of specialist knowledge about their enemies; let's call this four skills of Xenos, Astartes, Imperium and War, each at 3 dice.

Charm. Nothing. Marines don't need to charm people. They are living avatars of the God-Emperor.

Command. Interrogation is a bit of a specialist thing, though they might know a bit (1). However, they are terrifying (6), inspiring (5) and incredibly mentally resilient (8).

UPDATE: Marines already have huge body dice, so let's just have a couple of extra points in each Body skill, except Melee (chainsword) stays at 4d. The Coordination skills drop to 2d, with 3d in Ranged Weapon (bolters). Senses have 0 in emotion, 2 in perception, and 2 in scrutiny. The mind dice drop to 3s and 2s. No charm. Command is based on a massive score anyway, so let's just have a couple of points, with Stability alone staying at 4d.


Okay, let's try starting with the more straightforward abilities and working down. First we need a power source.

Actually, firstly we need to deal with the pesky rule that claims all superhero abilities are fuelled by willpower, which is arrant nonsense.

Actually actually, firstly we need to create an Astartes Archetype that governs the powers available to a space marine, because that's just how the game works. I think.


Okay, we need a source that defines where special abilities come from. Space marines are a product of genetic manipulation via super-science, so they need both the Genetic and the Technological source (not least because this reduces the chance of the game arbitrarily cutting off most of their abilities, which doesn't fit the narrative well).

Next, permissions. This is a random points-costing thing where you spend points to get permission to spend more points on things that actually do things. I genuinely have no idea what the point (no pun intended) of this is, since it will always cost you more points to buy more things anyway. I'm assuming it's some kind of tool to let GMs lock down player options for a specific campaign.

I actually have no idea what to do here. Does "space marine" count as a power theme, allowing me to get everything for 5p? How about "supersoldier"? Or do I need to go all the way to "super" and buy the permission to buy absolutely anything? Ahh, let's just go with that. It leaves room for librarians, after all.

Intrinsics. Obviously, all these space marine powers are obligatory. This means they are "automatically covered by your Archetype's sources, at no additional cost", a sentence which I can't understand anyway.

Is that it? I'm not confident, but I don't know what else to do, so I'm going to get back to that willpower nonsense. Obviously, zero space marine abilities are willpower-based. As a mutant superengineered thingummybob of human perfection, astartes do not mysteriously stop being strong, tough, or being able to see in the dark when they're lonely. Apparently this means I must purchase Inhuman Stats at 3p per stat, so we're looking at everything other than Charm (some Astartes, such as librarians, tech-priests and chaplains, have inhuman will). That makes 15p.

Right, powers again.

Let's try that heat resistance first (I'm 90% sure cold resistance will be a separate power).

That sounds like a Defends power, but possibly also a Useful power. I don't know. It depends whether Defends covers literally anything that is narratively protective, or whether it's for combat-type situations and Useful is required if you want your heat resistance to let you ignore environmental inconvenience short of damage. It looks like the latter. In fact, it looks like this might only be a Useful power, since I don't think the Astartes typically have any actual damage resistance, they're not fireproof or anything, they just don't care about being hot.

The rules talk about extra levels of Useful to avoid penalty dice. Do I need them? What are the "use the power in difficult circumstances" bits? Scroll away again... no, I don't think so. I think this because I think I'm going to need to use another special rule to make the power always-on, so rolling won't be necessary. Maybe.

It has the Self capacity, of course. This is awkward. By default, Useful powers must affect either Mass, Range or Speed, but those are utterly irrelevant to not being inconvenienced by excessive warmth. That seems a really weird mechanics decision - is Self somehow OP in some way I literally cannot conceive? Apparently I have to buy Self as an Extra. In theory this means I have both Self and something else.

Apparently I'm also going to need some dice. How many dice do I need to function normally in extreme heat and cold? It's a thing space marines just do, so it shouldn't not succeed in normal circumstances. Slightly annoyingly, there isn't a way in game to build in fixed levels of stuff. You can have a random chance of success (inappropriate), or always succeed at the maximum possible extent (what does that mean here?) with Hard Dice, or buy really expensive Wiggle Dice to choose what level to succeed at each time (ditto). Somewhat reluctantly, I'll just buy Hard Dice. I suspect this is going to be a theme.

Okay, time for duration. Apparently, after much reading, I need both Permanent and Always On, because heaven forfend that something be true at all times just because it's permanent. This costs (4-1=)3p.

I also need Native Power because this ability isn't like a superpower, it's just what Astartes are like. That's 1p. Does the combination of all these things prevent penalty dice from screwing me over? I have no idea.

Assuming I haven't missed anything (and I'm pretty sure I have, because this game is complicated and there seem to be a lot of rules you don't know you need until you've seen them) that seems to be it? So how much does this all cost?

Okay, so "The number of Power Qualities on a power, and their Extras and Flaws, determine its cost per die. This is the most basic cost to buy one regular die in that particular power. Double that cost to buy a Hard Die in the same power. Quadruple the basic cost per die to buy a Wiggle Die in the same power".

I have one Power Quality (Useful) and +5 points of Extras/Flaws. What about this Capacity thing? I'm supposed to buy an additional one, but I can't find a rule for that. I do find a Flaw that restricts the range of a power to Self only, which is what I wanted, at -3. Oh, fine. I'll use that. This seems pretty badly-explained.

Right now I make that a cost of 2 by default, then +5 for Extras, and -4 for Flaws, doubled to 6 points total.

Hang on, though! The Mucranoid takes time to activate, and in theory requires activation by an outside source. That's another couple of modifiers. Hmm. Reading up a bit more, it seems Astartes can in fact self-administer the treatment. I think what we need to do is swap out Always On (which isn't technically true) for another flaw.

Cooldown (-1):

Your power takes a while to shut down after activation. Exactly how long this takes depends on the nature of the power and the situation, and is up to you and the GM; a power with more Extras should take longer to dissipate than one with just the basic Power Qualities.

If a power has no downside, this Flaw is worth nothing. On a power with significant negative effects, it may be worth more.

In our case, Cooldown counts for nothing (being resistant to heat isn't a downside) but I'll get it for the sake of completeness. We also need to buy the Delayed Effect flaw for -2 points. By my reading, the cost is now (2 basic, Native +1, Permanent +4, Cooldown -0, Self Only -3, Delayed Effect -2) x 2 Hard Dice per die, so having two dice to ensure it actually works costs 8p. It's not explicit as far as I can see whether you multiply for special dice before or after modifiers, but I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be after, so the full value of Delayed Effect doesn't actually kick in.

Rinse and repeat for cold resistance. 8 more points.

Betcher's Gland

Next, number 5 on our list, blinding toxic acid spit! Hoorah. This should be easy.

Betcher's Gland needs two Qualities: Useful and Attacks.

The Useful part allows you to slowly corrode through things. It's only occasionally useful when you have superhuman strength, but hey. This will have the Range Capacity. Here's a problem. Increasing the number of dice greatly increases the range, and Astartes cannot spit acid dozens of yards. However, sticking with 10 yards (which is still excessive) limits us to 1d which means it can't possibly work.

I think we're going to have to grab Reduced Capacities for Range here. That seems the best way round. I can stick a few dice in and still limit us to a few yards.

This is of course another Native Power (all the biological ones will be). Because it's a gland, it's also getting the Exhausted property. A marine might slowly corrode through a steel bulkhead over many hours, but can only spit so much at a time.

So I think we're looking at a 3d Useful (2p) dissolving ability with Range, Native Power +1, Reduced Capacities (Range) -1, Exhausted -3. Exhausted is, annoyingly once again, a big disadvantage whose cost is still ignored. This gives us 3p total.

The Attacks Quality is different. Let's keep that at 3d again; it's a nasty attack, but not a devastating one. Again, we take Range, Native Power +1, Reduced Capacities (Range) -1, Exhausted -3. It's blinding, so let's have the Daze extra for +1. This gives a total cost of 3p.

Although the game includes rules for poisons, fire and so on, I couldn't easily find rules for making powers that count as or resist particular types of damage. So I gave up.

Life In Spaaaaace

Vacuum survival? That looks like I need to hack the premade Invulnerability power.

Ignoring the combat stuff, this is a Useful power. It's Native of course, for +1. It's another Mucranoid ability, so we're talking about Cooldown -0, Self Only -3, Delayed Effect -2. This ability is not immunity, but it's serious protection from vacuum, which seems tricky. Do we just pile dice in here, assuming vacuum will be a harm-over-time thing, or should we have a reliable protection that gradually weakens over time?

Without knowing how the vacuum of space works, which doesn't seem to be discussed in the rules, I can't finish this power properly. I have no idea if it's something that would be handwaved as a simple hardship that can be ignored with a roll, or something where successes cancel out problems caused by vacuum, or what.

Secondary Heart

Number 6, our secondary heart, is simple. It boost athleticism. I think we already covered that in Body. In theory the extra heart lets them survive lethal injury, but I don't think Wild Talents' damage system allows us to model that well.

Superhuman Toughness

Looking at the damage rules, though, I realise that simply boosting Body doesn't actually make you tough. I need extra hit boxes! This looks like a simple copy of the Extra Tough power from the off-the-peg list, at 5 points per dice. Marines are really super tough, so I'm going for three dice, and they need to be Hard Dice to guarantee succeess, so that's 30 points.

Larraman's Organ

This looks like a Useful power. I think we're looking at Useful (2p) with Self Only (-3) ability to end ongoing Burn-type damage from bleeding and equivalent physical damage (If/Then -1). This is Permanent (+4) and Always On (-1). I make that 1p per die. It should be reliable, but not instantly infallible, so I think I'm actually going for 2d and a Wiggle Die just to allow for it to sometimes not work right away on bad injuries. That makes 6p total.

Catalepsean Node

I think the question here is whether or not this is a Dud, and that depends on the GM. If PCs going to sleep (and things happening in the meantime), or struggling to keep going for hour after hour, are going to be a thing, then it's a Useful power. Most of the time, it's going to be irrelevant.

You know what, I'm just pricing this up as a Dud. That's two hard dice for 4p.

Preomnor / Melanchromic Organ

Ah, another one. Unlike the environmental resistance, this is something that should only sometimes work. Note that poison doesn't necessarily cause damage, so I'm going to have to take a Defends/Useful double power.

This is a Useful (2) ability, Native (+1), Permanent (+4), Self Only (-3), Always On (should be -1, but I can't think of any circumstance where this would be a likely downside in play, so -0). I make that 4 per die. Since I don't want any pettifogging little poisons slipping through and embarrassing me, I'm going to include a Wiggle Die so it has a base threshold of effectiveness. Potent poisons might still work. Let's say 2d+1wd. That makes 16p.

The Defends ability is different, because we need to soak damage. Let's check the rules.

When poisoned, make an Endurance roll. Reduce the poison’s Shock and Killing damage by the width of your roll. If the poison is radiation, your roll must beat the height and width of the radiation dice pool’s roll.

We need width here - I'll tackle radiation later. I think what we actually want here is an Augment power that enhances Endurance rolls.

This is a Defends (2) ability, Native (+1), Permanent (+4), Always On (-0 again). Augment is +4. It only applies to poison and disease rolls, so that's If/Then (-1). I get 10 points per die. We want width here, but the height doesn't seem to matter. Unfortunately, there's no very good way to reliably increase width. Damage is typically 5-10 and very nasty, so I think I'll mix things up here and take 2 Wiggle Dice and 3 normal dice, which will stack with my endurance rolls. I should definitely get something that way. It will cost me 70 points, though!

Given the cost, I'm not going to try and handle radiation separately! I'll just wrap it in with generic poison.

Interestingly, it would cost me a mere 12 points for two Hard Dice to be completely immune to something, including radiation, according to the Immunity power. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, or maybe the system just isn't built to handle sub-immunity resistance well.

EDIT: Yes, there's a better way. See below.


Now the fun starts.

When a marine eats a brain, they can absorb memories and even knowledge for a short time.

This is definitely a Useful power. I'm going to model it on the Precognition premade power, but swapping out knowledge of the future for knowledge of the target's past experiences. Unlike Precognition, it won't cost Willpower because it doesn't affect the future.

This is a Useful power (2), which would have the Range quality except that clearly it's a Self Only (-3) because only the Astartes gain the benefit. It's also, of course, Native (+1). The benefits last for a while, so that is Duration (+2). Since they have to eat a brain to trigger it, it has If/Then (-1), Delayed Effect (-2), and of course Horrifying (-1).

What about the bit where they gain temporary knowledge? That sounds like an Attached power to me.

The Attached power (-2) is Useful (2) and has Duration (+2). Native (+1) of course. It's not clear whether Self Only makes any difference or not - you could in theory have a Self Only power with a ranged Attached power, so I'm going to say its -3 applies as normal. The effects are automatically delayed because the main power has that property. It's an Augment (+4) that boosts Knowledge skills. And it's Automatic (-1) when the main power is used.

This really should be linked to the knowledge that was in the brain, but there's no obvious way to do that. Another If/Then? Yeah, let's go with that.

So our power also has If/Then (-1) because it's only useful if the target had applicable knowledge. I'm going to price that at -2 because it's affecting only a small subset of rolls and only when the GM thinks the brain was relevant.

I make this... minimal cost for the main power (should be -2, but minimum 1), and 1 point per die for the attached power. Each has to be bought separately, though. Let's put (yet again) a Wiggle Die in here, because I really don't want to go eating brains and not getting anything out of it. I'll just go one die and one Wiggle Die for the main, and three dice in the knowledge subpower (which will stack with my Mind and Knowledge pools), so that's 5p and 3p respectively.

There's no available distinction that I can see between an Augment power than can affect every single non-attack roll you make ever, and one that only applies when you're attempting to classify moths. You can use If/Then like I just did, though.


Breathe poison, water and low-oxygen atmospheres? That sounds Useful to me.

Again, this is a Useful (2) Native (+1) power, Permanent (+4), Self Only (-3). I'm already highly resistant to poison (see above) so I'm not worried about that. I'm just going to decide this is adequate and buy two hard dice for 16p.

Lyman's Ear

You know, I don't think motion sickness is going to be a big deal in this kind of game, so let's just call this another Dud, bung a couple of Hard Dice in for 4p and leave it there.

Sus-An Membrane

Pretty sure this is also going to be a Dud. Hibernate for long periods? Not a big thing in most games. Another 4p?

But what if it isn't? The membrance apparently isn't just for being lost in space; it allows a Marine to survive after mortal wounds.

That's a Useful (2) power, Native (+1), Permanent (+4), Self Only (-3). It triggers If/Then (-1) the Marine spends Willpower to use the Stay Alive ability. As well as the normal effects, the Sus-An Membrane activates. With a successful roll, the marine stabilises and stays alive indefinitely, potentially for centuries. However, he cannot wake without outside intervention, even if he heals completely.

That costs 3 points per dice. Let's pop 4d in there for 12p. This isn't always going to work! It's a fallback mechanic. Another 4d for the Dud part brings us to 16p.

Black Carapace

I suppose in theory you could price this up, but there doesn't seem to be any particular support for things that let you use a Focus and prevent other people from using it.

Increased Lifespan

Dud, two Hard Dice for 4p.


Dud, two Hard Dice for 4p.

The Cost of a Space Marine

Looking at that, here's how the costs for a pure, unarmoured, unarmed space marine seem to break down:

  • Source, permissions and stuff: 15p for the Super permission, 5 points to have both Genetic and Technological sources, and 15p so that all stats other than Charm can be Inhuman. That makes 35p.
  • Stats are 5d1wd 5d 5d 3d 3d 5d1wd. At 5p per die and 20p per wiggle die, this makes for 170 points just for stats.
  • We have 30d of Body skills, 18d of Coordination skills, 9d of Sense skills, 30d of Knowledge skills, 0d of Charm, and 20d of Command skills. A grand total of 107d for 214p. Am I doing something wrong here? I think I'm doing something wrong.

See, the rulebook offers a list of what different "skill levels" indicate, but looking at this and at some sample builds online, I think this is actually what different total dice, including stats indicate. That's a massive, massive difference.

Time to go back and revise those skills...

  • Okay, so post-revision, we have 12d of Body skills, 9d of Coordination skills, 4d of Sense skills, 19d of Knowledge skills, 0d of Charm, and 10d of Command skills. That makes 54d for 108p, which is still an alarming amount.
  • Heat Resistance: 8p
  • Cold Resistance: 8p
  • Betcher's Gland: two powers for 6p
  • Mucranoid Vacuum Survival: I'm just calling this 4p for now, as though it were a Dud
  • Superhuman Toughness: 30 points
  • Larraman's Orgen: 6 points
  • Catalepsean Node: 4p
  • Preomnor: 16p plus 70p gives 86p
  • Omophagea: 5p and 3p gives 8p
  • Multi-Lung: 16p
  • Lyman's Ear: 4p
  • Sus-An Membrane: 16p
  • Black Carapace: 0p
  • Extended lifespan: 4p.
  • Ageless: 4p.

A grand, horrific total of 517p, which is more than people are throwing around for Captain America or Batman. A significant chunk of that comes from the Preomnor working strangely, but an awful lot is built in. Hey, Astartes are amazing.

The Armour

Power armour is amazing stuff.


Obviously, armour is primarily protective, so let's model that first. It has two protective effects: some attacks simply bounce off, while others are cushioned. The first is Heavy Armour Rating, the second is Light Armour Rating. I cribbed this off a website with Iron Man specs, for the record - I find the armour rules pretty confusing.

Defense HAR (2) Armoured Defence (-2) Permanent (+4) Interference (+3) Focus (-1). This is 6p per die.

Defense LAR (2) Armoured Defence (-2) Permanent (+4) Focus (-1) for 3p per die.

How much armour to take? It took me a while to find weapon stats, because they're a bit spread out. Most basic weapons do Width +1 or Width +2, which means on average 3-4 if they hit at all. This is a bit annoying. Astartes armour is canonically essentially immune to small arms fire and primitive weapons, but the game doesn't give penetration to normal firearms so I can't work off that. Looking at the list of armour values, where HAR3 is light tank, I think we need to go with 2 points in HAR. It's serious armour, so those should be hard dice to make sure it always works. That clocks in at 24p for HAR.

The LAR is there to handle whatever gets through. I'll take 3 points, again making these Hard. Most damage will get knocked down to shock. That's another 18p.

I'm having some trouble working out how to build a focus. The rules don't really seem to want to discuss this. There are bits and pieces of Focus rules all over the place: the Flaws section explains how to use them to penalise a power and gives them hit boxes, there's a section of special flaws for foci, but even the example character who uses a power armoured suit (perfect, no?) doesn't actually detail the focus as a separate thing. Instead it proves a set of powers that are in theory derived from the suit, with no particular information about its resilience, or which are parts of the suit versus individual foci, or how they might deal with damage.

"You must designate one hit location number where the focus can be attacked with a called shot. An ordinary hit on that number still hits you, not the focus, but if an enemy wants to target the focus itself that’s the number he or she needs to target."

"It has one wound box for every die (of any kind) in each Power Quality with the same Focus Flaw. Use the Heavy Armor power to give the focus a Heavy Armor Rating"

"It’s possible to have more than one power included in a single focus. In that case each power should have the Focus Flaw. However, each power should be treated as a separate “part” of the overall focus, with its own wound boxes"

Why? How does this work with foci that aren't some kind of machine, like magic wands or the Green Lantern ring? It would be ludicrous to have each of the ring's capabilities separately vulnerable to being disabled through damage. How does this work when powers are narratively the exact same power, but mechanically need to be modelled differently, like Useful/Attacks/Defends abilities based off the same "telekinetic force" power?

How are the second and third quotes reconciled?

How is this supposed to work with a focus that's a big power armoured suit, like quite a lot of foci will probably be? How does this work with foci that combine multiple powers? If you want, say, helmet sensors separate from a suit's power generator, do you need to make them separate foci so they can be targeted differently, even though this will modify the way their hit boxes work? The quote above seems to suggest so. Do I need to separately track a series of wound boxes for a) the actual armour, b) the servo-motors, c) the sensors, d) etc.? Are they seriously saying that if I want a focus that is a big suit of armour, I need armour on the focus separately from the armour that is the focus if I want the focus to be armoured?!?


Obviously, nobody but an Astartes is capable of using their armour. This is going to be a Friends Only (+2) mod that limits use to the Adeptus Astartes, but it should also have Booby-Trapped (+1) because Astartes gear notoriously doesn't tolerate being handled by mere mortals. Except that this extra does literally nothing because it only works if the focus contains an attack power in the first place, which strangely enough, suits of armour don't.

I'm not paying for an attack power just for this. That would be silly.

You know what else is weird? I can't actually add this. Why? Because a focus doesn't actually exist. It isn't a thing. It's a collection of powers. To make the ability work, it seems like I would have to add it to every single power individually.

Hmm. I suppose I could use Attached to attach each of the suit powers to the armour..? No, I don't think that works.


Here's a nice basic one, I hope. Power armour increases strength by at least 1 die. Naturally, this has two parts, a Useful and an Attacks.

Useful (2) Augment (+4) Permanent (+4) Self Only (-3) Focus (-1). We take one wiggle die in this for 12p and leave it there. While armoured, the Astartes can always guarantee at least one pair on physical challenges.

Attacks (2) Augment (+4) Permanent (+4) Self Only (-3) Focus (-1). We take one wiggle die in this for 12p and leave it there. While armoured, the Astartes can always guarantee basic competence in physical attacks.

Or I can just build this as a Hyperstat. That's Hyperstat Body (16) with Focus (-1), one wiggle die for 15 points. Done. know, can't I do the same with that wretched Preomnor?

Preomnor / Melanchromic Organ

Ah, another one. Unlike the environmental resistance, this is something that should only sometimes work. Note that poison doesn't necessarily cause damage, so I'm going to have to take a Defends/Useful double power.

This is a Useful (2) ability, Native (+1), Permanent (+4), Self Only (-3), Always On (should be -1, but I can't think of any circumstance where this would be a likely downside in play, so -0). I make that 4 per die. Since I don't want any pettifogging little poisons slipping through and embarrassing me, I'm going to include a Wiggle Die so it has a base threshold of effectiveness. Potent poisons might still work. Let's say 2d+1wd. That makes 16p.

This is a Defends (2) ability, Native (+1), Permanent (+4), Always On (-0 again). Augment is +4. It only applies to poison and disease rolls, so that's If/Then (-1). I get 10 points per die. We want width here, but the height doesn't seem to matter. Unfortunately, there's no very good way to reliably increase width. Damage is typically 5-10 and very nasty, so I think I'll mix things up here and take 2 Wiggle Dice and 3 normal dice, which will stack with my endurance rolls. I should definitely get something that way. It will cost me 70 points, though!

I don't think I can do much about the Useful.

So, that Defends bit. Forget it. What we want is some Endurance Hyperskill (1-4p) with the If/Then (-1) modifier for poison and disease effects only. Also, Native (+1) because this doesn't require willpower. I take 2 Wiggle Dice and 3 normal dice for 11p. A great saving!

Our Marine is now down to only 458 points, sans equipment!


The armour grants immunity to glare blinding, ability to see through smoke, and IR/UV vision.

First is the Perceive off-the-shelf power. Useful, Range (2) with Focus (-1), Permanent (+4). Because we want three types of vision, the cheapest option is probably to take Variable Effect (+4) and If/Then (-1)? This is a separate dicepool to normal vision, so let's go with 5 dice at 40 points.

Secondly, immunity to glare blinding is Useful (2) Self Only (-3) Focus (-1) Permanent (+4) If/Then (-1). This costs 1 point, so let's have three Hard Dice for 6 points. It's really hard to blind the Adeptus Astartes.


There don't seem to be any rules for comm units, so hey.

Sealed Environment Suit

"With the helmet on, the armour is environmentally sealed and can maintain an adequate oxygen supply as long as the unit is powered."

Useful (2) Permanent (+4) Self Only (-3) Focus (-1). Two Hard Dice for 8p.

Bio-Monitor and Injectors

"If the internal cogitator detects a problem with the wearer’s bio-signs, it can administer pain suppressors, combat stimms, and anti-toxins."

There's no system for pain here, but there is a serious injury system.

Useful (2) Permanent (+4) Self Only (-3) Focus (-1) If/Then (-1) Always On (-1) Depleted (-1). With a successful roll, instantly heal width in Shock and Killing damage from a single hit location whose hit boxes are full. 2 Hard Dice for 4 points.

Nutrient Recycling

"Filters in the armour capture and purify body waste, re-constituting it into a nutrient solution that is intravenously returned to the body. This can sustain a Battle Brother for long periods of time, but not indefinitely."

I'm going to call this a Dud, to be honest. Eating isn't usually a narrative issue in superhero games. 2 points for Hard Dice and done.

Magnetized Boot Soles

Useful (2) Permanent (+4) Self Only (-3) If/Then (-1). The marine can use magnetic fields to walk on suitable surfaces, even in the absence of gravity.

The Cost of Power Armour

  • Heavy Armour 24p
  • Light Armour 18p
  • Only Astartes can wear their armour: I can't work out how to do this
  • Strength boost: 15p
  • Vision: 46 points
  • Communications: None
  • Sealed Environment: 4p
  • Nutrient Recycling: 2p
  • Magnetized Boots: 2p

That makes 111 points more for Astartes Power Armour.

Our running total is 569 points! Not as many as Superman... yet.

Of course, you know what's a problem? Poor old Battle-Brother Genericus doesn't have any weapons.

Arm and Equip

A generic space marine should be armed with the classics: a boltgun and chainsword.

What's the right power level for these, though? Let's consult Deathwatch.

In Deathwatch, a lasgun or autogun (rifle, basically) do 1d10+3 damage. A grenade launcher does 2d10 over a blast radius (note: ordinary frag grenade, not Astartes grenade). An Astartes boltgun does 2d10+5, which is nasty.

In WT, a rifle does +1 damage on top of the width rolled. A grenade does width +1, and +2 Shock to every location, and +1 Killing to three separate locations, for a total of w+1+12S+3K, which is huge.

What to do with that bolter? It shouldn't do as much as the grenade, because the damage will be single-location rather than spread. Using the machine gun as a basis, I'm inclined to say about width+2-4?

Bolter: Attack Range (2) Focus (-1) Penetration (+1). 2 points per die.

No, no, wait. There's a problem here.

See, powers are not based on skills. They are their own dicepool. A gun Focus doesn't use your firearms skill, even if you are the most amazing shooter ever. This is actually quite a bit problem. It means that your crack shot becomes significantly worse if they pick up their custom-made tailored gun that's mystically bonded to them than if they just picked up a revolver. Worse, if that custom gun is actually really good, then Joe Misfire will be able to use it just as effectively as Abdul Deadeye.

I consulted Dan about this. He suggested that you can build a gun as a hyperskill with Focus, Adaptation and an attack boost. This is therefore compatible with your normal firearms skill. It's a cunning ploy and highlights a lot of what I find frustrating about this system. A gun is a gun. It is a weapon you pick up and use. Although it is, apparently, quite possible to build a gun by stacking some modifiers onto the rules for enhanced skills, it makes no bloody sense whatsoever.

Nevertheless, it works, so...

Hyperskill (Firearms, Bolter) +2, Focus -1, Accessible -1, Adaptation -2, Penetration +1, Booby-Trapped +1, Friends Only (Astartes) +2. This costs a mighty 4 per die, and I take exactly one die in it for 4p. Technically this makes the marine slightly better at shooting. I quietly ignore this because I can't do anything much about it.

An interesting canonical point about the bolter is how it works. It fires mass-reactive shells that detonate once they sense they're surrounded by mass, which means, they either ping off armour inertly, or penetrate and then explode.

I think this calls for an If/Then clause.

Bolt Shells: Attack (2), Augment +4, Permanent +4, Focus -1, Always On -1, Attached (bolter attack) -2, If/Then (attack must penetrate target's armour) -1, If/Then (only augments bolter attack) -2, Limited Damage (killing) -1. That's 2p per die. I take, oh... 2 Wiggle dice for 16p. Bolters are nasty. You can't really subdue someone with shells that explode inside their living tissue.

I could have taken flat dice, but that's a bad idea - remember the attack needs to penetrate armour before this kicks in, which means you're looking to match a specific set of dice rather than just create matches. Since something exploding inside your body absolutely should inflict extra damage, Wiggle dice are the way to go here.

The chainsword I'll use Dan's trick on again.

Hyperskill (Melee weapon, Chainsword) +2, Focus -1, Accessible -1, Adaptation -2, Penetration +1, Attacks (1) +1, Obvious -1 (sounds like a chainsaw). This costs a mighty 1 per die, and I take two dice in it for 2p. I don't mind so much that the chainsword makes you better at fighting, because frankly swinging a chainsaw sword around will freak out most opponents enough that you have a distinct advantage.

Adding it all up

So I think we're done. And looking through this...

  • Cost of Adeptus Astartes Battle Brother: 458 points
  • Cost of Adeptus Astartes Mk 7ish Power Armour: 111 points
  • Cost of Adeptus Astartes Boltgun and Chainsword: 22 points

In the final reckoning, our Battle-Brother costs 591 points. This is more than Spider-Man, Batman and Iron Man seem to come in at (in fan builds, since presumably WT can't go officially modelling licensed properties - one of the slightly tiresome interactions of IP law and gaming) but less than Superman's 800ish. Probably okay, then.


  1. I don't know how it's modelled in Wild Talents, but in Godlike the Extra Tough cafeteria power just costs 4 points per extra hit box, no need to buy dice or anything.

    I think this exercise neatly illustrates that what makes characters expensive in Wild Talents/Godlike (or really any superhero game working off a points-based power construction system like Champions/Hero) is having a big fat long list of powers - regardless of how niche the individual powers actually are (how often do Marines actually use their omophagia? How many of Superman's powers are used once in a blue moon and then forgotten about?) - means you have to model and pay each of them, and that's much more punishing than having a few powers you use all the damn time.

    Do you/anyone else know how power construction works in Mutants & Masterminds? It seems to be the pre-eminent superhero RPG and I'd be interested to know if it follows the point-buy model that most post-Champions supers games seem to have used or whether it uses something else.

    1. In Wild Talents, "When you activate this power, it gives you width in additional wound boxes on every hit location. Extra Tough is typically bought with Hard Dice to guarantee its width."

      I could probably have saved yet more points on skills. The trouble is, it's really hard to know what level of competence is actually expected. The rules explicitly require a die in a skill to do anything more than the absolute rudiments, but beyond that the stat/skill balance is hard to guess. Arguably, there is no reason for high-stat people to invest in skills that their stats make them good at, because they're already good at those and adding skills just makes them better. It feels wrong, though!

      Looking at the list of abilities, the only ones that seem genuinely likely to come up are Superhuman Toughness, Larraman’s Organ, the Sus-An Membrane and Betcher’s Gland. That’s 28 points out of 100+. This is where I am suspicious of the game because it feels like system mastery is a big thing here. You could take a Variable Effect power limited to immunities for about 5p per die and replicate all these specific powers, plus a lot of others. It's apparently way more expensive to be resistant to things than just immune to them, because one requires specific mechanical effects and the other requires a simple Useful.

      I'm pretty sure you could also make a power that grants you a load of stat boosts and it might well work out cheaper than paying for a set of highish stats.

      I'm A Cheesy Space Marine:
      Useful (2) Augment (4) Permanent (4) Self Only (-3) Always On (0 because it can't be a disadvantage) Native (1)
      This makes 8p per die, so take 5 dice for 40p, a wiggle die for 32 and you get the full statblock at 72p. Another 30p for one die in each makes it 102p, saving 68p and giving you a significantly better statline as well.

      I found a Mutants and Masterminds SRD. It looks like the powers are somewhat simpler to begin with, and just have a broad category of What Does This Do. You can modify the precise results with advantages and flaws, but there aren't that many. It's still point-buy though.