WtC: the RPG, Update.

Just thought I’d continue to break my tradition of one-per-month posts by posting an update on WtC: the RPG! I am still awaiting final word from MWP to do the book, but it looks promising so I have been absorbing the Cortex Plus rules as illustrated in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game and the upcoming Firefly game (you can get a peek with a couple of mini-releases already available).

I have also gained the strong interest of an artist for the interior artwork–you can see his stuff here:

The concept for what is and isn’t going to be in WtC: the RPG is also coming together. Since the rules don’t take up much room, most of it will be the history of the Post-Event setting, places of interest, the legal, political, and  social situation, a discussion of breakthrough powers, character pages/descriptions, etc. Players will get everything they need to form their own Crisis Aid and Intervention team or play the Sentinels themselves. It’s going to include a lot of setting information not seen in the books yet, like background on how other countries have dealt with breakthroughs and been changed by them, so there will be a lot of stuff in there that readers have wanted to know.

What it isn’t going to include is characters from Villains Inc. and Young Sentinels. This was a hard decision to make, but WtC alone introduces a couple dozen capes, major and minor, lots of villains, and more supporting characters. The “sample adventure” is likely to be the California quake and the Whittier Base Attack; the players will be able to play the Sentinels, another CAI team, or new breakthroughs from the quake.

If I do all this right, I will follow up with Villains Inc. and Young Sentinels sourcebooks with all their introduced characters and updated Wearing the Cape characters as well as expansions on appropriate themes (organized crime and Hollywood heroes in Villains Inc., and Hillwood Academy and younger breakthroughs in Young Sentinels, for example).

Right now, though, here are the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying hacks I’ve decided on so far. I honestly don’t expect it to change much more than this, so if you have MHR already and want to get a start, you can build your own capes with this and start testing how the action feels. As I work out the Sentinels’ datafiles I will be releasing them to playtesters as well, along with huge blocks of background so they can better create their teams and place them in the Post-Event world.

WtC: the RPG Hacks.

1.)    Affiliations are replaced with Strengths: Physical, Mental, and Social. (Note: this is a change being made in the coming Cortex Plus game Firefly. It was obvious to me as soon as I read MHP, and I guess it was obvious to them, too.)

2.)     Multi-Dice: superhumans have access to multi-dice, two dice treated as one die when used as Action/Reaction Dice and Effect Dice to create higher values. They are always indicated by + signs, and are D8+D6, D10+D6, D12+D6, D12+D8, D12+D10, and D12+D12. Power Traits now range in value from D6 to D12+D12. If you roll a 1 on either of a pair of multi-dice, you remove the 1 (it becomes an Opportunity) but you keep the second die.

3.)    Sudden Death: when a character is Stressed Out and receives Trauma, the Trauma Die does not start at D6. Instead, Trauma builds on the Stress, and is equal to the Effect Die minus the number of steps required to max out the effected character’s Stress.

For example, a SWAT team officer (D8) gets hit by a piece of concrete thrown by a B Class Superhuman (D12+D6). He is Stressed Out, and takes Trauma equal to 12D+D6 reduced by 3 steps (for the 3 “steps” in the D8). Dropping three steps from D12+D6 converts it to D12 Trauma—still higher than the D8 Trauma he can take so he is now dead or dying. If he had already been injured, with D6 Stress, the D12+D6 would only have been reduced 1 step to D10+D6 Trauma.

4.)    Doom Dice Change: Actions not directly opposed by a Major Watcher
Character are not rolled against with the Doom Pool. Instead the Watcher
decides the difficulty of the Action (D4: Very easy, D6: Easy, D8: Challenging,
D10: Hard, D12: Really hard), adds dice for Scene Distinctions, Minor Watcher Characters
etc., and may add dice from the Doom Pool as if he were buffing up a WC’s Dice
Pool. (Note: this is also a change being made in the Cortex Plus game Firefly.)


For reference, D Class Powers are D6 to D10, C Class Powers are D12 and D8+D6, B Class Powers are D10+D6 and D12+D6, A Class Powers are D12+D8 and D12+D10, and Ultra Class Powers are D12+D12. Here are the changed scales for Attack Power, Durability, and Superhuman Strength.

Attack Power:

At D6 to D10, the power is roughly equivalent to small and medium arms fire, including semi-automatic weapons, or dangerous but “normal” close combat weapons.

At D12 and D8+D6, the power is capable of greater injury or harm, roughly equivalent to fully automatic weapons with armor piercing rounds or small explosives (such as grenades).

At D10+D6 and D12+D6, the power is equivalent to heavy explosives, shoulder-launched missiles, or lightning bolts.

At D12+D8 and D12+D10, the power is truly devastating, equal to anti-tank rounds and mobile field artillery, even if the area of effect isn’t widespread.

At D12+D12, the power is equivalent to heavy aerial bombardment, with the kinds of weapon yields used to destroy heavy bunkers and other hardened targets.


At D6 to D10, Durability confers toughened skin and muscle, as well as the ability to withstand most minor blunt trauma or pain and low-level extremes of heat or cold.

At D12 and D8+D6, Durability begins to grant bulletproof skin and resistance to fire, corrosives, and other hazards.

At D10+D6 and D12+D6, Durability means physical immunity to anything short of armor-piercing high caliber rounds, intense fires, and the strongest acids and corrosives.

At D12+D8 and D12+D10, hurting the hero requires military grade weapons capable of penetrating main battle-tank armor. They are virtually immune to all natural physical hazards and resistant to attacks by nerve agents and other lab-made killers.

At D12+D12, forget about anything short of megawatt lasers and hypersonic depleted uranium anti-tank rounds (small nukes at ground zero will work too). They can survive forever in space so long as their oxygen holds out.

Superhuman Strength:

Superhuman Strength D6 to D10 allows you to lift like an Olympic weightlifter on the low end (Olympic Record: 580 lbs.) and pick up compact cars or flip trucks on the high end. You can force open most normal doors and easily punch through lighter interior walls.

Superhuman Strength D12 and D8+D6 allows you to lift trucks, toss small cars, force security doors, break  free of normal police restraints, and go through most interior walls.

Superhuman Strength D10+D8 and D12+D6 allows you to toss trucks, tip busses and fully loaded semi-trucks, knock holes in most exterior walls, escape heavy restraints, and punch through or force heavy security doors.

Superhuman Strength D12+D8 and D12+D10 allow you to rip down telephone poles and power poles if you have the leverage, flip or toss tanks and punch holes in their armor, escape massive restraints, punch through thick concrete or brick-and-mortar walls, and go through any door less massive than a bank vault.

Superhuman Strength D12+D12 confers the power to knock down thick stone walls, rip open bank vaults, toss a tank a city block, escape any restraints and generally destroy anything made by man although large targets may take a while. Battleship armor can stop you. Probably.

Enjoy. Comments Welcome!


About George

I am a reasonably successful self-published author ("successful" means I can pay the bills and am highly rated in my Amazon category), former financial advisor (writing is more fun), and have something in common with Mitt Romney and Donny Osmond. Guess.
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24 Responses to WtC: the RPG, Update.

  1. waysideinnmd says:

    Well George, while I am a great fan of your books, I am not a RPG player, so i really am not interested nor understand anything of what you discussed above. I mean no disrespect however. I hope that what looks to me to be a huge amount of work for you does not distract you from further adventures for Hope and the rest of the WTC gang!! I continue to read your work as soon as it is published and hope there are many more books in your furture! 🙂


    • George says:

      Thanks! The RPG project will not slow down my regular writing schedule, I hope, but it is an itch that I just had to scratch. It’s also an excuse for me to finally create a Post-Event background guide–something some readers have been asking about. For some reason they want to know what happened in other places…

  2. Konrad says:

    Multi dice in a dice pool is a deal breaker for me. it pushes the game into the too hard to play catagory, at least with physical dice.

    I might still look at the book for flavour text but that is about it.

    • George says:

      No worries–no game pleases everybody. Truthfully, though, the multi-dice seem to work pretty well; no additional complexity, just make sure you have colored pairs to use in your Die Pools, and most Die Pools will use just one, sometimes two, pair of multi-dice.

      It has certainly solved the scaling problem.

      • When I was playing MHRP I found myself buying a lot of extra dice mostly d8s and d10s. Not having the best vision in the world It took a while to pick dice with good contrast. Getting matched pairs in enough distinct colours is going to be both time consuming an expensive.

      • George says:

        Sorry about that. For myself, I just priced four sets of jewel-toned Chessex dice sets on Amazon (prime). $20 gives me two of each multi-die. It will give me a bunch of extra D4s and combos I don’t need, so I’m stopping at a game store this week to see if they sell individual die out of a bucket.

    • Alice (W.Rose) says:

      Multi-Dice heads back towards the original Cortex rather than the MHRPG so you’re not alone in that opinion. I’m reserving judgement to see what the rest of the system looks like so far.

  3. Adam Rice says:

    Looks fantastic, I think the descriptive text for each level provides a good idea of effect without moving away from the more narrative style of MHR. I also like increased granularity of powers.
    I am beyond thrilled with the focus of the book, it’s going to really open the whole WtC universe and explore alot of the areas the chapter headers have hinted at.
    Beyond that, I really feel this book may open you up to a whole new audience of readers, I’ll be the first to post a review of the game on!

  4. Adam Rice says:

    On re-reading, I do have one question. Do you plan on providing a (reasonably) comprehensive list of powers and their effects at various levels or is the plan to provide examples and let the readers extrapolate? Coming from the crunchier systems I prefer the former but Im sure you’re trying to pack as much setting information as possible into your decided page count.

  5. Alice (W.Rose) says:

    Hello again, I read through your MHRPG Hacks and it just so happens I have played Marvel Heroic so I totally understood the language in your post. Have you gotten and read through the Cortex + Hacker’s Guide yet btw? I highly recommend that you do so.
    I’m going to get together with my friends and playtest your hacks with the given setting. I think that you are playing a mixed bag with the idea that you want to create the setting but not use the iconics from the setting because it can quickly become too much like every other super hero setting or generic campaign. I also understand that you don’t want the iconic setting because that nearly automatically sets up what I call “My NPC is cooler than your PC” syndrome meaning why be the cool PCs of the story when there are people who are out there doing it bigger and better than you? Especially if you are playing a lower class like D (so street level by some other system’s standards). If you have any experience with Prowlers & Paragons, I think you might be able to pull some inspiration from the system (it is NOT Cortex but I think it can help you differentiate yourself from MHRPG. If you want more feedback from me please e-mail me. My gaming group and I will happily be your sounding boards.

    Alice (W.Rose on Goodreads)

    • Alice (W.Rose) says:

      One more thing, I hesitated to mention this in my initial post but after speaking with my husband, we both are in agreement that the affiliation change won’t influence the style of play as much as the MHRPG methodology. For example, in MHRPG Astra is terrible solo so she always actively sought out a partner (be it Atlas, Artemis, or Seven). She was mediocre in team so her affiliations were D6 Solo, D10 Buddy, D8 Team. Now take a look at the way the character approached things and change affiliations to mental, physical, and social. She’s clearly D10 Physical, D8 Social, D6 Mental but how does that really affect her play outside of combat? This is another reason why I’m suggesting you read P&P and see if you draw any inspiration from it.

    • George says:

      I absolutely appreciate the feedback and will email you.

  6. Adam Rice says:

    I came across this discussion of MHR and Cortex plus this morning, good food for thought if nothing else…

  7. ereshkigala says:

    Mechanically speaking, there are some minor issues with the scaling here. Modern tank armor for example is the equivalent of three-four feet of rolled homogenous steel. Most bank vaults are not as tough as that so if you can pierce tank armor with a punch, bank vaults are no more than an inconvenience. Also, if you can break or bend a steel rod a foot thick, you shouldn’t have problems throwing around a tank. Yield strength of common structural steel is 250 megapascals, meaning that a steel rod a foot thick can support several thousand tons. A tank is only sixty tons.

    As for explosions, unfocused blasts like typical bombardments or even nuclear weapons deal surprisingly little damage per area. A typical tank shell focuses 20 pounds of explosive over a few square inches. A megaton range nuke that explodes a mere 200 feet away is actually going to apply less explosive force per given surface than said tank shell because at that distance the explosive force is applied over a hundred million square inches, spred thin accordingly. Thus if an A-Class guy takes the tank shell as if it were a punch, he will take the megaton-range nuke blowing up 200 feet away as if he were punched once all over his body. If its only a ten-kiloton nuke a thousand feet away, like it was in Hiroshima ground zero, he should barely feel it.

    The above issue of force in a given surface area is why bunkers can survive nuclear attacks but they can’t survive a non-nuclear bunker buster that hits them after being accelerated by gravity from the height of a couple of miles.

    • George says:

      Actually an A Class Atlas-type would feel a tank shell like a heavy punch backed by weighted brass knuckles–it may take him out of a fight and could do serious damage. And the killing damage from a nuke would as likely be the heat and radiation flash, but I take your point.

      I don’t suppose it would be possible for you to point me to a source for comparative figures like this–or possibly even do up a list or mini-essay? In keeping with the general tone of Wearing the Cape, I really need to have something like it in the rules.

      • ereshkigala says:

        There are comparison charts for surveys by the US army on nuclear weapons that are available online, if you want to read things in detail. But if you want a very simple chart, damage is basically (yield/surface) – target’s damage threshold, all other things being equal.

        Explosions basically deliver energy on the surface of a sphere that has a radius equal to your distance from a bomb. Astra’s surface is 10 square feet and she’s standing 10 feet from a bomb? She’s going to take less than 1/100 of the bomb’s total yield. She turns feet-first and her surface towards the bomb drops to only 2 square feet? She’ll only take 1/500 of the bomb’s total yield. She also flies away to 50 feet before the bomb explodes? She’s only going to take 1/12500 of the bomb’s yield.

        Weapons use the same rules. Astra may be 1/3 as strong as a really strong and manly Atlas-type but her hands are only half as wide as his so their striking surface is 4 times smaller; thus Astra is actually going to deal more damage than he is in most situations.
        If she uses Malleus, let’s say she doubles the amount of energy she can deliver per hit with about the same striking surface, thus the blow is twice as damaging.
        However, what if she used a spear or a sword? Yes, she wouldn’t add any more total power to her blows like with Malleus but, assuming the spear or sword could stand up to the stress, her striking surface would be divived by a factor of 10, increasing the damage per blow by an order of magnitude; a strike with Malleus might put a big dent into heavy tank armor or break a couple of Altas-type ribs but the sword would cut through the armor or sever limbs outright.
        (what happened to Seif Al’Din’s sword BTW?)

        PS: practical testing showed that the human body is more resilient to explosions than surfaces of most civilian buildings. Normal people have also survived the bombings of Hiroshima/Nagasaki being as close as 300 yards from ground zero.

  8. George says:

    Thanks for this! I’m considering doing a single-page essay on the physics of damage for the game–just part of the Keeping It Real meme.

    And Seif-al-Din’s sword is in a museum; it turned out to just be normal steel empowered by his breakthrough into the amazing flaming and unbreakable weapon it was.

  9. ereshkigala says:

    I’ve been wondering… will there be rules on how to combine powers? Now that I am in a gaming mindset, I see all those interesting (munchkin) possibilities.

    Let’s think on Omega Night for example. The US plan of using Atlas-types for defense is seriously inefficient. Instead of a whole space program, a dozen Atlas-types, weird vehicle-thingies carrying a couple of even weirder experimental, breakthrough-enabled warheads, the whole thing would be far easier to do with two fairly normal spacesuits, a large reinforced grocery bag, lots of duct tape, some demolition charges and Astra and Rush.
    1) Put Astra and Rush in spacesuits with only large oxygen supplies and not the normal propulsion systems. Say, a day of air supply.
    2) Put demolition charges in grocery bag.
    3) Tie Rush to Astra with duct tape securely.
    4) Have Astra lift Rush and the grocery bag easily – she can lift trucks after all.
    5) Rush takes them to Hypertime.
    Aaaand, that’s it. They can take it easy to cross ANY distance, not bothering to rush since it will take them no time at all in the physical world. And they can get within touching distance of the target, have Astra pick up the demolition charge with the dead-man’s switch, arm and let go. When the Rush-Astra pair are no longer touching the explosive, it falls to the normal timestream. A thousandth of a second later in real-time it explodes at point-blank range of the missile, destroying it. A man-portable atomic demolition charge weighs what, 40 pounds? Astra can easily carry a hundred of them in one hand. Fancy nuking all the military bases of an entire country or leveling all buildings in a city of millions with two people and a minute of preparation? (of course, you also need to get the nukes but with over 30.000 much larger warheads on the US alone that is a non-issue, politics aside)

    What I did above is combine an Atlas-type with a Speedster. The pair would have the instantaneous move capability of a speedster with the carrying capacity of an Atlas-type. They don’t even need to drop out of Hypertime themselves to point-blank nuke any threat anywhere on the planet.
    I’m really surprised I didn’t think of this sooner. Hell, I’m surprised the Sentinels don’t simply step into a container, have Astra lift the container and Rush take them to Hypertime. He can take small vehicles but you don’t need an engine at all when you got an Atlas-type, or a vehicle; merely a surface barely big enough to fit everyone and tough enough to have Astra lift it.
    Being able to get anywhere in an instant? Check.
    Bypassing any and all non-predictive surveillance? Check.
    Having total surprise on arrival? Check.
    Not wasting fuel/cash for vehicles? Check.
    Total protection from any attack in transit? Check.
    Instantaneous traceless assassination of anyone by putting an explosive collar around their neck while they’re frozen in relation to you? Check.
    (though Rush could do the last one on his own)

    • George says:

      Yeah, I actually figured out just how broken an Atlas-type/Speedster-type combination could be when I wrote Villains Inc. There is the scene where Astra and Rush combine to take out the steel dragon in the first part of the book. I don’t go there for the same reason comics writers don’t go there: since canonically Superman has been–in some iterations–been shown to be as fast as the Flash, he embodies the same unstoppable combo (okay, the Flash doesn’t go into Hypertime, but since he moves so fast as to make his arrival anywhere instantaneous, it amounts to the same thing).

      I’ve never really listed the Why Nots, but for all munchkins out there:

      1.) Rush and other speedsters have a fairly low carrying capacity; his motorcycle is designed to be as super-light as possible, and even so he can carry at most one passenger with him.
      2.) Psychology being the key to lots of breakthrough powers, Rush can only stay in Hypertime for extended periods if he is moving and under his own power–even if that just means he’s the one driving.
      3.) While he can stay in Hypertime as long as he is moving, jumping completely into Hypertime is physically taxing–which is why in a fight he spends most of his time just going at 10/1 speed (and that’s still plenty fast).

      That still leaves him and any other speedster a nearly unstoppable assassin, but what can you do? He’s no more broke than DC and Marvel speedsters, but no less broke either. Fortunately, there aren’t that many Speedster-types and only the A Class Speedster-types can go all the way into Hypertime.

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