The Ultimate Addenda

Fixing super-powers in the Advanced MARVEL SUPER HEROES game by David Edward Martin from Dragon Magazine #122 June 1987 pp. 82-85

When I was finishing MA3 The Ultimate Powers Book (herein called the UPB), I had the vain idea that no addenda would ever be needed. The book would simply be the ultimate word on the subject of super-powers: any addenda would be pointless because everything would already be in the original book. That was the theory, anyway.

One week after the UPB hit the stores, that bubble burst. Karen, my wife and editor, told me she had gotten a call from a UPB reader (Matt from Washington, D.C., actually) who asked where the power of Elongation was. When she asked me, I said I thought we'd decided to incorporate it into Topological Change. Then she pointed out that Topological Change wasn't in the book, either. That night, as we sat watching 'Alf', I compared my original draft with the published version - and discovered that I had forgotten not one or two powers, but NINE powers!

Character types

Some of the Character Type listings do not include what columns of the Random Ranks Table (page 11) the players roll on to determine their heroes' abilities and powers. The types and their columns are shown in Table 1.

Character Types and Columns

Table 1.
Type Column
Modified Human 1
Modified Human: Extra Parts 2
Centaurs 5
Equimen 3
Fauns 2
Felinoids 1
Lupinoids 4
Avians (Angelics) 3
Avians(Harpies) 2
Chiropterans 2
Lamians 3
Merhumans 2
Angels/Demons 5
Deities 5

Definitions of terms

I had forgotten to define some terms used extensively throughout the UPB. Definitions are given below.

Self-Alteration Powers Table

Table 2 incorporates the accidentally omitted self-alteration powers. Use it instead of the one on page 16 of the UPB. Powers marked on the table with a number symbol (#) are new powers. Those marked with an asterisk (*) count as two powers.

Table 2.
Die roll Self-Alteration Power Code
Age-Shift S1
Alter Ego S2
Anatomical Separation S3
Animal Transformation S4
Animal Mimicry S5
Blending S6
Body Adaptation* S7
Body Transformation* S8
Body Coating S9
Chemical Mimicry S10
Energy Body* S11
Energy Sheath S12
Evolution S13
Imitation S14
Invisibility S15
Physical Gestalt S16
Plant Mimicry S17
Prehensile Hair S18
Self-Duplication* S19
Self-Vegetation S20
Shapeshifting S21
Spirit Gestalt S22
Bouncing Ball# S23
Elongation# S24
Growth# S25
Mass Decrease# S26
Mass Increase# S27
Phasing# S28
Plasticity# S29
Shrinking# S30
Two-dimensionality# S31

S23 - Bouncing Ball: This is a specialized form of Shapeshifting. The hero can transform his body into a resilient sphere, apparently transforming his body into a balloon-like caricature of himself. Heroes with this power are rarely taken seriously, but - despite the image problem - this power offers substantial benefits to the hero. While he is inflated, the bouncer can travel at power rank speed. His Fighting rank is increased by this power's rank number. He has +3CS resistance to blunt physical attacks. On the down side, he also has a -2CS resistance to slashing attacks. In a given situation, the bouncer can maintain this power for the number of turns up to his power rank number before he has to deflate and rest. After 10 turns, he can then reinflate himself.

S24 - Elongation: This is a specialized form of Shapeshifting. The hero can temporarily increase the length of any part or his body without losing leverage or strength. The hero can elongate any single part a maximum number of yards equal to his power rank number. If two or more parts are elongated, this limit is the total combined length for all parts concerned. The hand counts as part of the arm unless the hero is specifically elongating his fingers; in this case, the maximum is divided by the number of fingers elongated. For example, Mr. Fantastic is usually shown elongating an arm with a normal hand at the end of it; this gives him a greater reach than if he elongated his hand instead. The hero can maintain any single act of Elongation for a number of turns up to his power rank number.

This power is primarily used by heroes like Mr. Fantastic to extend their reach or stride. Other heroes might also use the power to elongate body parts like the nose, ears, or eyes. This useful, albeit grotesque, tactic enables the hero to use his nose as a snorkel, his eyes as periscopes, and to eavesdrop on a room several floors away by sending his ear through the ceiling vent. The optional power is Plasticity.

S25 - Growth: This is a self-directed form of MC6/Enlargement. The hero can temporarily increase his physical size at will. As he grows, the hero becomes an easier target. The bonuses to be hit, given in Table 3, are not cumulative. There are three ways the power can be attained: Atomic Dispersal, Atomic Gain, and Atomic Growth. The player randomly determines the method when he creates the character or when the character first gains this power, using the subtable below.

Die rollForm
01-25 Atomic Dispersal
26-75 Atomic Gain
76-00 Atomic Growth

With Atomic Dispersal, the hero increases the distance between his own atoms, thus increasing his overall size. His mass remains the same no matter how large he becomes. The hero also becomes increasingly fragile; his body's material strength decreases -1CS with each doubling in size. At Shift-X rank, the body becomes less dense than air. At CL1000 rank, the hero becomes intangible and can Phase through normal matter.

Atomic Gain enables the hero to somehow create or gain new atoms and incorporate them into his atomic structure. As the hero gains new matter, his size and mass increase as well. As the hero grows, his strength increases +1CS for each +2CS of growth. The hero's Primary and Secondary abilities are unaffected. However, Health seems to increase because physical attacks do less relative damage. Bullets, for example, would be nothing more than grains of high-velocity sand to a giant hero. Note that when the hero returns to his original size, wounds decrease in size - but imbedded bullets and other objects do not!

Atomic Growth enables the hero to increase the size of his own atoms, thus increasing his overall size and mass. The hero's strength increases only enough to enable him to move his own body; lifting strength does not increase. This form of Growth has a dangerous side effect. As the hero's atoms grow, they are unable to interact with normal atoms. The hero is unable to breathe, drink, or eat normal matter. Fortunately, there is a 95% chance (determined at the time the hero is created) that the power envelops the hero's body in a field that temporarily increases the size of consumed matter. Note that this is the only form of growth that will enable the hero to travel into macroverses or, if the hero is originally from a microverse, enable the hero to reach our own universe.

The nemesis is MC4 - Diminution; the specific nemeses for each form are, in order: Atomic Collapse, Atomic Reduction, and Atomic Shrinkage (see Shrinking).

To-Hit Bonuses Against Growth-Using Characters

Table 3.
Rank Resultant Size Bonus to be hit
Feeble 1.5x +1CS
Poor 2x +1CS
Typical 3x +1CS
Good 4x +1CS
Excellent 6x +1CS
Remarkable 8x +2CS
Incredible 10x +2CS
Amazing 12x +2CS
Monstrous 15x +3CS
Unearthly 20x +3CS
Shift-X 50x +3CS
Shift-Y 100x +3CS
Shift-Z 200x +3CS
Class 1000 500x +4CS
Class 3000 1000x +5CS
Class 5000 10,000x +6CS

S26 - Mass Decrease: The hero can diminish his body's mass. His weight decreases to a percentage equal to his power rank number. For example, the Vision's Unearthly rank in this power decreases his weight by 100%, making him completely weightless. At Shift-X and higher, the hero attains buoyancy and can lift additional weight. The added weight is a percentage of his normal body weight; for example, a 160 lb. man with Shift-Z rank in this power can carry an additional 800 pounds (500% of 160 lbs.). When the hero is created, the player can increase the power's rank +1CS by making its effect permanent. The optional power is Gravity Manipulation.

S27 - Mass Increase: The hero can increase his body's mass. His weight is multiplied by the power rank number. For example, a 98-pound weakling with Remarkable rank can increase his mass to 2,940 pounds (30 x 98). Fortunately, a side effect of this power increases the hero's basic strength. No matter how much the hero weighs, he can still move as if he were his normal weight. Lifting strength remains the same. Of course, as the hero weighs more, he has a greater effect on the environment. At 2,940 pounds, our hero can fall through previously sound flooring or collapse the shocks on his 1973 VW Beetle. Physical force has a decreased effect on the hero because of his greater mass. In game terms, the power gives the hero power rank resistance to physical attacks. The hero can also use the power rank instead of his strength to inflict charging damage. Formerly weak characters can embarrass their adversaries with this new-found might. For example, the macho super-criminal Manbrute may flee into obscurity when Wimp-man simply sits on him with all 2,940 pounds, then delivers a stinging lecture on the benefits of niceness while the camera crews have a field day.

S28 - Phasing: The hero can render his body intangible to normal matter. This enables him to pass harmlessly through any object. The hero's power rank must exceed the barrier's material strength in order for Phasing to occur. The hero can Phase through Force Fields, Body Armors, Resistances, and Invulnerabilities of lower ranks by making a green FEAT. Because the hero is out of phase with normal matter, he cannot breathe. Thus, the practical duration limit on this power is the length of time the hero can hold his breath. If the hero has some way around this problem, the duration is unlimited. Note that if the power is somehow "turned on" permanently, as happened to Kitty Pryde, the power gains the ability to transform air into phased particles that the hero can breathe. In the Marvel Universe, Phasing has a damaging effect on delicate electronic devices. By Phasing through such devices, the hero can disrupt normal activity and scramble any on-line programming. If, during the character creation process, the player decides to forego this side effect, he can raise his hero's power rank +1CS. For modesty's sake, it is assumed that the power also transforms the hero's clothing and carried possessions into phased matter. The power's side effect automatically scrambles any electronics the hero is carrying (Kitty Pryde wears a wind-up watch, never a digital one). If the player wants to risk his hero's modesty for the sake of a more realistic game, the player can assume either that the power only transforms whatever the hero was wearing when he first got this power (severely limiting the hero's wardrobe) or that there is a base 70% chance that the power automatically transforms whatever the hero is wearing at the time. In either case, this must be determined when the hero is first created.

S29 - Plasticity: The hero can change his body's topology; that is, he can twist, bend, pull, stretch or otherwise distort his body's shape into any form. The only limitation is that the hero cannot normally create new holes in his body. For example, Mr. Fantastic can form himself into a parachute but not a sieve. If the hero wants to assume a shape that requires holes, he must make a red FEAT. For example, a higher-ranked hero could regularly transform himself into nets and ladders.

The hero's malleable flesh gives him power rank resistance to blunt Physical attacks. The hero is able to survive without harm a fall from the number of floors equal to his power rank number by turning into a bouncing shape before he hits the ground.

The hero gains the bonus power of Elongation. Bouncing Ball is an optional power or may be simulated by a Power Stunt.

S30 - Shrinking: This is a personal form of MC4/Diminution. The hero can temporarily decrease his body's size. The hero's primary and secondary abilities remain unaffected. Even Strength is undiminished, although it is much harder for a shrunken hero to gain enough leverage to perform tasks that would otherwise be simple to perform. For example, consider the act of sharpening a pencil if you are only ladybug-size.

As the hero shrinks, he becomes harder to hit but conversely suffers greater damage if struck. This is handled by the column shift as shown in Table 4. The column shift decreases the attacker's chance to hit and increases the damage by an equal shift. For example, a hero with Remarkable rank is -2CS to hit but suffers +2CS damage if the attack is successful.

Attack Modifiers Against Shrinking Characters

Table 4.
Rank Resultant Size Column Shift
Feeble 50% 0
Poor 25% 0
Typical 12.5% 0
Good 6.25% 1
Excellent 3% 1
Remarkable 1% 2
Incredible .5% 2
Amazing .25% 2
Monstrous .1% 3
Unearthly .01% 3
Shift-X .001% 4
Shift-Y .00001% 5
Shift-Z .0000001% 6
Class 1000 10 E -12 8
Class 3000 10 E -18 10
Class 5000 10 E -33 12

In practical terms, a Shrinking rank of Shift-X, Y, or Z is sufficient to reduce a normal human to the size of a single cell or virus. Either CL1000 or CL3000 will reduce him to atomic scale. CL5000 reduces him to the point a which [sic] he can enter microverse worlds. On such worlds, the hero is proportional to his new environment.

There are three forms of this power. When the power or the hero is first created, the player must determine which form is involved, using the following subtable.

Die roll
Atomic Collapse
Atomic Reduction
Atomic Shrinkage

Atomic Collapse decreases the distance between the body's atoms and subatomic particles, thus decreasing overall size. Mass and strength are unaffected. As density increases, the hero's body could collapse into neutronium (Class 3000) or into a black hole (Class 5000).

Atomic Reduction decreases the number of atoms in the hero's body. The lost atoms are either disintegrated (if the shrinkage is permanent) or temporarily removed from the hero's plane of existence and stored "elsewhere" until the hero reverts to his original size. Both mass and strength decrease as the hero shrinks; these ranks remain proportional to the hero's new size. If the hero loses too many atoms (by exceeding Shift-X rank), his remaining structure becomes too simple to sustain his life force. For this reason, a hero with this form cannot voluntarily exceed Unearthly rank. If the limit is passed, the hero's lifeforce is automatically stored away on the same plane with all the displaced matter that normally forms his body. At Shift-Z rank, the hero's body consists of a single DNA molecule, which then vanishes when the next rank is reached.

Atomic Shrinkage reduces the size of the hero's atoms, thus reducing overall size and mass. Strength remains proportional to the hero's current size. This is the only form that enables the hero to reach a microverse. While this is the most popular form of Shrinking, it has a potentially deadly disadvantage. As the hero's atoms shrink, they can no longer interact with other, normal-size atoms. As a result, the hero cannot breathe, drink, or eat normal-size matter. Fortunately, there is a flat 95% chance (determined at the time this power is first gained) that the power envelops the hero with an aura that temporarily reduces all atoms to be consumed. If the hero lacks this aura, he must have a proportionally sized supply of material for consumption or somehow not need to breathe. If not, the duration for this power is equal to the time the hero can hold his breath. There is an advantage to not possessing this aura in that electrons cannot flow from normal to shrunken matter; hence, the power acts as rank-level Resistance to Electricity.

The optional power is MC4/Diminution. The nemesis is MC6 - Enlargement; the specific forms are, in order, Atomic Dispersal, Atomic Gain, and Atomic Growth (see Enlargement).

S31 - Two-Dimensionality: The hero can harmlessly reduce his body (and any nonliving matter he carries) to a flat, two-dimensional version. To an onlooker, the hero appears to have transformed himself into a life-size photograph. The hero's body functions and abilities are unaffected. Because the hero is now extremely thin, gaining leverage on three-dimensional objects is extremely difficult. He is also extremely hard to hit if he can turn his flat side toward his opponents. While in a flattened state, the hero suffers less damage from blunt physical attacks; the power rank number decreases the damage by that much for each attack. On the other hand, a flat hero can suffer all sorts of abuse that he would normally ignore. For example, Flatman could be forcibly folded like a map and locked in a glove compartment!

How thin the hero can get is determined by an Intensity FEAT. A green FEAT reduces the hero to the width of a piece of paper (about 1/256"). At this point, the hero can pass through the cracks around a door or adhere to a wall and pretend to be a poster. A yellow FEAT reduces the hero to one atom's width. At this width, the hero can pass through solid barriers by slicing through them as if he were an incredibly fine knife. The power enables the hero to pass any barrier with a Material Strength up to +5CS greater than this power's rank. Note that if the barrier is larger than the hero's body (such as a wall), then the slice made by the hero's passage immediately reseals itself. But, if the barrier was smaller than the hero (such as a chain), then the pieces fall apart as soon as the hero severs the entire width. A red FEAT removes the third dimension entirely; at this point, the hero can pass through barriers without damaging them, or he can be transported into a Flatland-type dimension where everyone has only two dimensions. In the latter case, the hero vanishes from sight.

The hero can choose to flatten himself in any direction. He can appear to be a front-back, left profile-right profile, top- view-bottom view, or similar-shaped two-dimensional image. Note that while one dimension is drastically altered, the remaining measurements remain the same.

When this power is applied to a weapon, the result is a micron-sword such as the one used by the late Nemesis. Such a blade completely severs any matter with a Material Strength up to +5CS greater than this power's rank.

The name "Two-Dimensionality" is a misnomer. While in the Marvel Universe it most commonly describes the ability of normal beings to pass into a Flatland-like state, it can also be used to shed more than one dimension. Three-dimensional beings can reduce themselves all the way down to a single line one atom or even one "point" in diameter. The power can also be used by multidimensional beings to enter into this one.