The powers and abilities possessed by a superhero vary widely. Superhuman strength, the ability to fly under one's own power, enhanced senses, and energy projection are all common powers. Other characters use special weapons or technology to compete with their superpowered comrades. Still other heroes combine their own natural powers with a weapon or technology.
Strictly speaking, a character doesn't actually have to have superhuman powers to be a superhero. (People who are pedantic about it tend to use expressions like "Costumed Crime Fighter" to indicate those superheroes who lack actual powers.) In the Golden Age of Comics, most superheroes lacked actual powers, and were generally called "Mystery Men". In the Butlerverse, the phrase "Mystery Men" refers solely to the two-fisted, masked crimefighters from the Pulp Era.
A strong moral code is a requirement for such a character. Without a willingness to risk one's own safety for the good of others, the character isn't so much a superhero as he is just a superhuman. He's got to be willing to put himself on the line when the time comes. Such moral codes often include a refusal or a strong reluctance to take another peson's life. Additionally, there must be some motivation for the character's actions. The reasons for a character becoming a superhero are many. It could be an innate sense of responsibility, or an actual calling, a strong belief in justice and humanitarianism, or it could simply be the obsessive need to punish criminals. Whatever the motivation, it combines with the character's moral code to spur them on into heroic action.
Many superheroes keep a Secret Identity that protects their friends and family from being targetted by criminals (though many characters have at least one person in their life who knows there secret and has been sworn to secrecy; that person acts as a confidant and advisor in times of personal crisis). For similar reasons, most superheroes use colorful, descriptive, and often metaphoric Code Names as a means to continue their Secret Identities and for ease of recognition. The distinctive costume serves much the same purpose.
Types of SuperheroEdit
Since it is based on the Hero System, the Butlerverse does not use character classes. However, all superheroes (and all supervillains, for that matter) can be divided into at least one of several different archetypes of comic book superhero. This categorization is based on the type of powers they have, and in some cases, the type of powers they have.
- Bricks: Bricks are hand-to-hand fighters who use raw strength and high defenses.
- Energy Blaster: Characters who use some sort of ranged attack.
- Gadgeteer: A gadgeteer's powers are based on technological devices.
- Martial Artist: Lightly defended hand-to-hand fighters who rely more on skill and agility than raw strength.
- Mentalist: Characters with psionic abilities that target the mind.
- Metamorphs: Characters whose abilities involve changes in shape or size.
- Mystics: A mystic is trained in the use of magic, or that possesses mystical powers or items.
- Powered Armor: A variant of the Gadgeteer, a Powered Armor character uses a suit of armor as his "gadget."
- Speedster: A character whose powers are based around movement.
- Weapon Master: A character whose powers are based around the use of and skill with weapons.
It is possible for a character to fall into multiple categories. Batman, for example, would be classified as a martial artist and a gadgeteer. It is also possible for a character to not be easily classifiable into any easily defined categories -- they are only there to provide convenient references, and actually have no impact on game play.
The most common type of superhero story is one in which the characters combat day-to-day crime while also opposing the criminal efforts of Supervillains, who possess superhuman abilities just as the heroes do. Often, one of the supervillains will be the hero's arch-nemesis. Other times, the hero will have an entire Rogues Gallery of enemies. The heroes will also oppose alien invasions, mystic threats, natural disasters, and other threats to humanity.