Powerful | Superhero Campaign Setting for Fifth Edition (Chapter 3)

This article series offers details and guidelines for creating a superhero campaign setting using the Fifth Edition ruleset. It is a work in progress, so that may mean that parts of the article may appear at various intervals. At any given time, I’m working on a few different Fifth Edition projects, so there is always the potential that this one gets temporarily abandoned for something more pressing (such as BroadSword Magazine). Sorry, folks. Thems the breaks.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction. How do I run a Powerful superhero campaign setting using Fifth Edition rules?
  2. Origins. Where does my character come from? What is the background story that helped shape their development?
  3. Classes. What can my character do? And as my character gains experience, how does he/she improve?
    • Big Gun. Not just an ironic name, big gun heroes usually have one specific purpose: deal damage.
    • Fighter. Ranged or melee, with weapons or bare hands, the fighter is a well-rounded master of combat.
    • Investigator. Knowledgeable and perceptive, investigators are capable problem-solvers.
    • Leader. Charismatic and wise, leaders keep the team together. A good leader can amplify his or her team’s powers and still stand up against even the most deadly foes.
    • Support. Whether it’s offering medical treatment, keeping communications open, or simply filling in where needed, support heroes often put the team before themselves.
    • Tank. The strongest toughest superheroes are usually tanks. Their role is to withstand punishment while the other heroes come to a solution. And when solutions dry up, the tank has no problem punching its way out.
    • Vigilante. A vigilante are rough-and-tumble heroes that are excellent at getting in and out of situations quickly.
  4. Equipment. What special gadgets and gizmos can my character use?
  5. Combat. How does Powerful’s combat system differ from traditional Fifth Edition?
  6. Powers. What makes my character stand out from others? What amazing feats can my character perform?

Chapter 3. Classes

The Powerful game has seven main classes suitable for player characters:

  • Big Gun. Not just an ironic name, big gun heroes usually have one specific purpose: deal damage. And lots of it.
  • Fighter. Ranged or melee, with weapons or bare hands, the fighter is a well-rounded master of combat.
  • Investigator. Knowledgeable and perceptive, investigators are capable problem-solvers.
  • Leader. Charismatic and wise, leaders keep the team together. A good leader can amplify his or her team’s powers and still stand up against even the most deadly foes.
  • Support. Whether it’s offering medical treatment, keeping communications open, or simply filling in where needed, support heroes often put the team before themselves.
  • Tank. The strongest toughest superheroes are usually tanks. Their role is to withstand punishment while the other heroes come to a solution. And when solutions dry up, the tank has no problem punching its way out.
  • Vigilante. Vigilantes are rough-and-tumble heroes who are excellent at dolling damage to evildoers, escaping tough situations, and occasionally, avoiding authorities.

Character Advancement

Experience Points Level Prof. Bonus Natural Powers Known Powers Known Power Slots Slot Level
0 1 +2 2 2 1 1st
300 2 +2 2 3 2 1st
900 3 +2 2 4 2 2nd
2,700 4 +2 3 5 2 2nd
6,500 5 +3 3 6 2 3rd
14,000 6 +3 3 7 2 3rd
23,000 7 +3 3 8 2 4th
34,000 8 +3 3 9 2 4th
48,000 9 +4 3 10 2 5th
64,000 10 +4 4 10 2 5th
85,000 11 +4 4 11 3 5th
100,000 12 +4 4 11 3 5th
120,000 13 +5 4 12 3 5th
140,000 14 +5 4 12 3 5th
165,000 15 +5 4 13 3 5th
195,000 16 +5 4 13 3 5th
225,000 17 +6 4 14 4 5th
265,000 18 +6 4 14 4 5th
305,000 19 +6 4 15 4 5th
355,000 20 +6 4 15 4 5th

Multiclass Characters

Each time your character earns a new level, you can choose to take another level in your previous class or choose a new class. Adding a new class broadens your repertoire of abilities, but at the expense of focused expertise in a single class.

Powers

Most classes gain powers as they progress. Powers work similar to spells do in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition, except with a few differences as detailed below.

Natural Powers

A natural power is a power that can be used at will, without using a power slot. These powers are second-nature to you. A natural power’s power level is 0. At 1st level, you know two natural powers of your choice. You learn additional natural powers as shown on the Natural Powers Known column of the Character Advancement chart.

Power Slots

The Character Advancement table shows you how many power slots you have. The table also shows what the level of those slots is; all of your power slots are the same level. To use one of your powers of 1st level or higher, you must expend a power slot. You regain all expended power slots when you finish a short or long rest.

For example, when you are a 5th level big gun, you have two 3rd-level power slots. To cast the 1st-level power witch bolt, you must spend one of those slots, and you use it as a 3rd-level power.

Powers Known of 1st Level and Higher

At 1st level, you know two 1st-level powers of your choice from the powers list.

The Powers Known column of the Character Advancement table shows when you learn more powers of your choice of 1st level and higher. A power you choose must be of a level no higher than what’s shown in the table’s Slot Level column for your level. When you reach 6th level, for example, you learn a new power, which can be 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level.

Additionally, when you gain a level, you can choose one of the powers you already know and replace it with another power from the powers list, which also must be of a level for which you have powers.

Powers Ability

Your powers ability is determined by your origin as shown on the Powers Ability by Origin table below, so you use that ability whenever a spell refers to your powers ability. In addition, you use the chosen ability modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a power you use and when making an attack roll with one.

Power save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your power ability

Power attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your power ability

Powers Ability by Origin

Origin Powers Ability
Augmented Constitution
Chosen One Charisma
Evolved Constitution
Freak Accident Wisdom
Inhuman Intelligence
Strong-willed Wisdom
Technological Marvel Intelligence

Powers Restrictions

Most powers have a restriction for the types of origins and/or classes that can choose the powers. When you gain a level and learn new powers, the power that you learn must be available to superheroes of your class and origin. For example, if you are a 5th-level strong-willed big gun, you could not take the 3rd-level power fireball because it is not available to strong-willed characters (despite it being available to big gun characters).


Next: Chapter 3.2. Big Guns

Art by Shutterstock (Used with Permission)

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