Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rethinking Powers: Power Theft

Tonight on the ICONS Yahoo Groups Mailing list, Paul (bliss_infinite) asked if Power Theft was possibly the most powerful - if not too powerful - of the powers in ICONS. This is something I've recently been thinking about myself as well. While Power Theft does cost two power slots in random character generation, it also potentially has a very long duration (based on power level). When I think of Power Theft I think of Rogue from the X-Men as being the iconic example of a hero with the power. When she uses her power theft ability, we often see her take on some of the other characteristics of the target - a raging temper, physical changes, and mental states (like fear and depression), for example. So here is my first attempt at a re-write of Power Theft where I've added a hindrance to its use - the acquisition of the target's challenge aspects as if they were your own for the duration of the power. So while Rogue might get Sabretooth's Invulnerability temporarily, she would also get his Quick to Rage challenge for awhile too. I've also thrown in a little bit about a touch attack as well (Prowess vs. Prowess) that is implied but not always expressly stated in every ICONS power description with a touch component. As always, please feel free to critique and evaluate in the comment section below.
Rogue - X-Men Evolution

Power Theft (x2)
Alteration Power
By touching another character, you can steal their powers and use them yourself!

When selecting this power at character creation, decide if Power Theft can be used to acquire natural, innate powers by touching another person or gimmick powers by touching a power device (it cannot be used on both).

Roll a Prowess test to touch the target against a difficulty of the target’s Prowess (an evading reaction, Acrobatics specialty bonus may apply). If successful, subtract your power level from the levels of all the target’s powers. You gain the powers at that level (the lesser of your Power Theft level and the target’s original level). The target retains any remaining power level. So if you have Power Theft 4 and touch a target with Fire Control 7, you gain Fire Control 4 and your target retains Fire Control 3. If your power level exceeds the subject’s power, you gain it at the target’s level and the target loses it entirely. Multiple touches have a cumulative effect, until all of the target’s power levels are gone (at which point there is no more left for you to steal).

You retain the stolen powers for ten times your Power Theft level in pages. Then you lose 1 level from each stolen power per page, and your target regains 1 level per page, until the stolen powers are completely gone.

You can steal powers from multiple targets, but only the highest level of any given power applies.

Using this power often comes with a price: you take on and internalize some of the negative baggage of the target. On a moderate success, you acquire all the target's challenge aspects for the duration the power is in effect as if they were your own. On a major success, you acquire one of the target's challenge aspects for the duration of the power (chosen randomly or by the GM). With a massive success, you do not take on any of the target's challenge aspects. You do not take on any of the target's challenge aspects with a failure outcome.

As a bonus power, you can make a power theft attack at extended range. You must make a Coordination test to hit the target of your attack.
Rogue's appearance after stealing Mystique's powers


  1. I think that acquiring as if they were yours the negative challenge aspects of other characters which can then be compelled by the GM opens up some interesting possibilities. Thoughts?

  2. I think that is a creative solution to add a challenge aspect to the power. My only thought would be that it may be, at times, difficult to incorporate the challenge in game. Story-wise it's great but some challenges might not be appropriate to take on. Then again, it could open up other story possibilities. It may be worth a try.

    One idea our group had was that the character had to 'learn' to use the power. Example: if the hero stole super speed he might run himself into a wall the first time he uses that power or over-shoots an enemy. The power itself would be a challenge. We haven't put it into practice so I'm not sure how that might work in game flow.

    I still think that power theft would either work on 'natural' powers or gimmick powers but not both.

    It's an interesting power in game.

  3. I like the idea of having to learn how to use the power before you can use it effectively.

    I think you are right about either limiting Power Theft to natural powers only or perhaps choosing between natural powers or devices/gimmicks when the power is selected during character creation.

  4. Joe,

    Are you intending to take on Wizardry too? I'd like to see your interpretation of this particularly troublesome power...

  5. I probably will take another look at Wizardry at some point. I have a couple of ideas for additional types of Wizardry related to the physical abilities (Prowess, Coordination and Strength), but I haven't really convinced myself Wizardry needs fixing based on my play experiences. I may need to do a little research on what issues other people are having with the power first.

  6. What about a topic like "Wizardry, a guide for dummies" or "Wizardry 101" ;)