Superheroes Anonymous

Optional Super Advantages and Super Disadvantages for GURPS

by Dmitri Scull

What follows is an assortment of "fill in the gaps" advantages and disadvantages, appropriate for use as racial or super traits. Some of them, such as Universal Translator, are even moderately common powers. Body of Electricity is derived from the Body of Lightning spell in GURPS Grimoire; it's also good for lightning-wielding superheroes.

Emotion Field is designed to represent supernatural auras that key emotions, such as a lust aura emitted by a succubus or an aura of terror surrounding a more traditional demon. It works just as well for superheroes (and supervillains).

Irritant is a good minor disadvantage for nocturnal and supernatural races, it can even be used to represent an allergic reaction, in which case it is a good mundane disadvantage. Light Bones is good for avian races (or those descended from avian races) that have some combat ability, as such races would have heavier frames than avian races built only for flight.


Body of Electricity

80 points

The character is composed entirely of electricity, rather than flesh and blood. You are immune to the effects of electricity and beam weapons, and physical attacks pass through you, but you cannot pick anything up. Your touch does electrical damage equal to your punching damage, as does direct contact with you through a metal object (such as a sword), but you can only deliver damage once per turn; others merely receive a nasty shock. You retain your senses and may cast spells at a -2 penalty. You can also travel through an electrical conductor; at ten times your normal Move, and while in an object you are immune to harm, but a ST -5 roll is required to leave it. Unlike the Body of Lightning spell in Grimoire, you still need to breathe, and you cannot do so while inside a conductor.

Special Enhancements: Objects may be carried. They change into electrical form when picked up, and turn back when set down. +10% for No Encumbrance, +20% for Light, +50% for Medium, and +100% for Heavy.

Special Limitation: You cannot switch out of Body of Electricity form; you are stuck in it. You cannot touch anything without damaging it and are insubstantial (however, you have no penalty to cast magic if you cannot leave this form). This is treated as a Disadvantage worth -10 points. If you can carry objects, use the percentage to reduce the value of the disadvantage, as with Body of Air.

Emotion Field

10 points for first level, 5 points for each additional level

The character radiates a field that triggers a specific emotion in all who come within the area of the field. The field fills the caster's hex(es) at first level, and radiates out 1 hex per additional level. The emotion must be specified at character creation (such as fear). All within the area must make a HT roll or be overcome by the emotion. If there are circumstances that would enhance the emotion (such as a being of incredible beauty in the presence of a lust aura or a ferocious beast in the presence of a fear aura) the HT roll can be modified by as much as -5 (there is no corresponding bonus, however). If the victim critically fails the HT roll, the victim is subject to severe penalties (for fear, treat as a failed Fright Check, for other emotions, use similarly strong penalties, but appropriate for the emotion).

Special Enhancement: The character can inspire more than a single emotion; +25% for each additional emotion possible; or +200% if the character can inspire any emotion.

Special Limitation: The character cannot turn the field off. -50% for emotions that cause others to react negatively (like fear) to -10% for emotions that merely cause problems (such as love). There is no reduction if the emotion would not be a hindrance (like trust).

Universal Translator

Variable cost

The character can communicate with any intelligent being (for unintelligent creatures, buy Speak with Animals, Speak with Fish, or Speak with Plants). The level of communication sets the base cost of this advantage; if the character can only "send" empathic cues, this is worth 10 points. If this is telepathic communication (which does not count as contact for psionic abilities, and is not necessarily psionic or magical in nature) it is worth 15 points. If the target can understand the character's spoken words, but is aware that there is translation occurring, it is worth 20 points, and if the target hears his own language (and is unaware of any translation, unless it is pointed out to him) it is worth 25 points. If either of the latter two forms include telepathic communication, add 10 points to them. Only one person at a time may be "translated" to.

Special Enhancement: Everyone within earshot can understand you, but you cannot "single out" a target, +10%. If you can choose to speak to one person or to everyone, it is worth +20%.

Special Limitations: If only certain beings can understand you, that is a limitation. For a rough, general class (elementals, humanoid beings, etc.) it is worth -10%. If limited to a rough "family" of beings (such as mammalian humanoids or avians) it is worth -30%. If limited to a single race or group of related races (including subraces, such as elves or orcs), it is worth -50%.


Body of Electricity

-10 points

If you cannot switch out of Body of Electricity form, it is a Disadvantage. See the Body of Electricity Advantage above for details.


Variable cost

You have a weakness to a substance that, while it does not inhibit your actions or cause you harm, it does distract you; you are at -1 to all rolls while in contact with the Irritant substance. Cost is based on rarity of the substance or situation; very common situations (like sunlight) are worth -5 points. Common items, such as high humidity or temperature are worth -4 points. Uncommon items or situations (such as dusty areas, very high humidity, rain) are worth -3 points. Rare situations or items, such as a specific metal (like silver) are worth -2 points. A very rare substance, such as gems or weak acid is basically a quirk, worth -1 point. Note that the individual can take pains (and likely does) to avoid the substance; a heavy cloak to shield from the sun, etc.

Light Bones

-5/-10 points

The character's bone structure is especially light; this is essentially a lesser form of the Fragile Disadvantage. For -5 points, you take 125% damage from crushing weapons; for -10 points, you take 150% damage.

Article publication date: November 9, 2001

Copyright © 2001 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to