Context for power levels

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Context for power levels

Post by RainOnTheSun » Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:58 pm

Open question to GMs and players, whether you play games in your own setting or a published one: how does a Power Level 10 character on 150 points fit into your world? In the post-a-character threads I've seen on this board and others, I've seen PL 10 treated like a special elite status, and I've also seen it treated as the equivalent of level one in Dungeons and Dragons. How significant is somebody on the level of a beginning PC? I know they're the protagonists, so on one level they're the most important people in the world, but how rare or common is that level of ability in the world? And are there any handy tricks you've seen used to establish that context for the players?

If you don't use PL 10 and 150 points as a starting level, please replace that with whatever you do use.

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Re: Context for power levels

Post by Ken » Sat Oct 14, 2017 4:29 pm

Well, the thing to remember is that Power Level is an aggregate measurement of power and skill. It's also an abstraction that while the players are presumably aware of it, the player characters aren't.

In the RC Universe, the PL 10/160 (we use 16 pts per PL) level is simply the most common level for costumed adventurers. It includes rookie powerful beings who don't possess gobs of skill, such as Mister Might, and it includes non-powered individuals at the top of their form, such as Shrike. And of course it includes the people who are between the two extremes.

But we have some PL 9/144 characters out there. These represent people who are either slightly less powerful or slightly less skilled or both. And we have some PL 11/176 characters, and some PL 12s, etc.

But the thing of it is that most of the RCU campaigns are one PL campaigns. All of Force d'Orleans and the Nevada Strike Force Consultants are PL 10s, all of Eclipse and the Allied Defenders are PL 11s. B.A.D.A.S.S. has been mostly PL 11s, with maybe one PL 10, but we're about to pick up a bunch of characters from the Pacific Coast Paranormals, which was a PL 10 game. I'm not sure how it will play out.

My Champions of Justice game is the only campaign where the range for PCs can range between PL 10 and PL 14. But it is done Troupe Play style so what happens is that most of the PCs have one character who is a PL 11 and another that is PL 13, and I usually allow the players to choose who they play. Sometimes I may tell them, please play __________, depending one what I have planned, and scale accordingly. But the CoJ are the RCU's JLA/Avengers type group so the "I lack the raw power of my teammates so I need to work harder" type role-playing is actively encouraged.

So, in the end, no, we haven't found any tricks to convey the context to the players. In fact, if anything, I'm not sure if the players who don't GM really do have much context. Actually, we have one player/GM who I think doesn't have context.
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Re: Context for power levels

Post by Jabroniville » Fri Oct 20, 2017 8:06 am

For the "Jabverse", PL 10 (150) is actually quite a lot of power, with many villains falling below the points-cost, with many heroes rising above it. There are experienced, respected heroes like Osprey who are only PL 9, but cost more than 150 points, for example, while Big Dumb Brawler types can hit PL 10 pretty easily, but not the points-cost.

To me, a PL 10 implies either a lot of power and less accuracy, or a very well-rounded, respectable super-character. A professional or a jumped-up rookie, more or less. The more "typical" Starter Hero PL is more likely PL 8 (120), especially for super-powered types. "Normal Human" characters are usually less powerful, with only a few (like Night Dragon) hitting PL 10.

I think in the context of the universe, the GM could "break the fourth wall" and suggest that the hero is PL 10-13 or whatever to the players. Maybe not be ultra-specific, but point out the experience level, popularity and Power Feats of the guy in question, allowing them to figure them out in context. Obviously, if they meet entirely new characters, it'll all be treated as a surprise.

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