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Backlash (aggressive Reactive Talents) an energy absorber

edited September 2012 in Heroes and Villains


Early on in the development of Superheroes Unleashed (several years ago in fact) a friend created an energy absorbing character who could turn opponents attacks against them. I believe Backlash was actually one of the first 6 characters ever created. This was before reactive talents had become a part of the game. Looking back at the character now I can see that reactive talents would have been key for designing this character.


On Reactive Talents:

Reactive Talents are used to respond immediately to some sort of trigger. This is usually things like catching a falling person or object, jumping in front of a companion to take the hit (or similarly compelling an opponent to attack the hero rather than someone else), putting a force field around innocent bystanders as soon as a villain goes to target them.


Reactive talents can also be used more aggressively: the hero covered in flames or spikes could have a reactive talent that damages opponents hitting them with their body.


Recently, at FanExpo, I had a player make a hero named WARP, in the scenario "House of Bolchavar." This was a Telekinetic spatial warping hero who, if he blocked a physical ranged attack completely could reverse the fired the projectile back with his reactive talent.


Illustration of an agressive Reactive Talent: A Sword-Master and his ripost

Before moving on to Backlash and his Talents, lets discuss and easier case. A player wants to make a hero who we will simply refer to as Sword-Master. He creates the following three Talents for his character (the hero would have more talents but they aren not important for this example):


Accuracy: 4- sword strike [O], 3- ripost (counter-attack) [RO*]

Mobility: 4- parry [D]

Sword-Master is exactly that, an extremely skilled fighter with a blade. When he manages to fully parry any melee attack (eg the assailant fails to get a single success against him) he can immediately counter attack with his ripost. Reactive Talents allow you to react to as many occurrences of the trigger as you have ranks in the reactive talent. If Sword-Master completely blocked 3 attacks he would be able to ripost 3 times, rolling 3 dice each time.

*Why is this annotate RO rather than simply R? Sometimes Talents may have multiple intents. In this case the R indicates that ripost is reactive and can only be used when it is triggered, when it is triggered it causes damage, hence the O indicating offensive.


Backlash and other Energy Absorbers

So how does this apply to Backlash? First lets take a look at the original character sheet. Keep in mind this was before Intent was an explicit part of the system.


Backlash (Johnny Paterson) -- Energy Absorber

Accuracy: 2- kung fu

Mobility: 2- acrobatics, 3- kung fu dodge and block

Toughness: 4- absorb kinetic, 3- absorb non-kinetic

Might: 4- backlash

Brains: 2- centred Qi



Superpower Finesse: 3- backlash, 3- kung fu

Original character notes:

Must absorb energy to use backlash or spend Strainpoints.

One absorbed point allows 1 attack at 4 dice. Two absorbed points allow attack at 5 dice.

Special can hold up to 4 ?backlash? points.


Keep in mind under the above model (being before reactive Talents were introduced) using the ?backlash? Talent always required the character to use an action.


How would I write up this character under the current version of Superheroes Unleashed? I will get to that soon. But I am also open to any thoughts you might have.


Also feel free to ask about Reactive talents or anything else from the above.


  • So how do we revise Backlash using reactive Talents? I've given each of the above Talents an intent. (For those less familiar with the game, intents are: offensive, defensive, functional and reactive.) I've also remove the Mobility 3- kung fu dodge and block, adding instead a functional talent called backlash.



    Backlash (Johnny Paterson) -- Energy Absorber

    Accuracy: 2- kung fu [O]

    Mobility: 2- acrobatics [F], 3- kung fu dodge and block [D]

    Toughness: 4- absorb kinetic [D], 3- absorb energy non-kinetic [D]

    Might: 4- backlash strike [RO], 3- backlash [F]

    Brains: 2- centred Qi [D]



    Superpower Finesse: 4- backlash, 2- kung fu

    Relations: ? __________________________ [note: Backlash was created so early in the Games development that there were no relations.]


    Lifepoints: 6

    Strainpoints: 6

    Special Backlash points: min 0 max 6


    Weakness: Backlash cannot "charge" his backlash points himself. His mental state requires him to view the attack or energy as hostile. (He also can't ask a friend to charge him up.) This means he cannot deliberately jump off a cliff or reach into a fire and use his absorbtion abilities to protect himself.



    New notes:


    Kung Fu (2- accuracy): Johnny Paterson trained with some of the most skilled sensei before he unlocked his ability to absorb and unleash energy. He can skillfully strike sensitive areas.


    Acrobatics (2- mobility): Johnny can flip, somersault, jump, walk on a narrow surface and similar.


    Absorb Kinetic (4- toughness): Johnny has developed the ability to absorb the energy of physical attacks. He can use this against things like superpowered punches, being thrown off a building and gunfire.


    Absorb Energy (3- toughness): Johnny can absorb attacks involving heat or fire, cold, electricity and sound. He has not yet developed the ability to absorb mystic energy, life or soul affecting, poisons, intoxicants and many other kinds of attacks.


    Backlash Strike (4- might): If Johnny completely absorbs an attack he may immediately react by striking someone in close range. He can roll a maximum of this Talents rank dice (potentially this could be increased by spending Stainpoints), however this cannot exceed the number of dice originally rolled against him. He may also spend backlash points to activate this talent.

    Johnny can spend 1 backlash point to use this Backlash Strike as an action

    Johnny can spend 2 backlash points to add a die to Backlash Strike

    Johnny can spend 2 backlash points to make Backlash Strike use an energy that he recently absorbed into his pool of backlash points


    Backlash (3- might): This Talent allows Johnny to charge up a pool of backlash points. Whenever Johnny completely blocks an attack with either Absorb talents, instead of immediately reacting he may gain up to 3 backlash points. He rolls this Talent and gains as many backlash points as basic successes he scores -- the gain cannot exceed the number of dice initially rolled against him. On a partially successful defense where Johnny's Absorb dice block at least two attacking dice, he gains a single Backlash point.


    Centered Qi (2- brains): Johnny's training and 'zen-like' state make him difficult to influence with mental abilities or attacks.



    Thoughts, comments or questions? Maybe Backlashes original creator will respond with some background on who Johnny is, how he got his powers, his relations etc.

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