These are physical or energy-based manifestations that you generate with your body, will, mind, or soul. You buy them with Character Points. Most of them require that you expend Power Points, but a few don’t. Most are one-time effects, like Energy Attack. Traits, items, metapowers, spells, and psi-powers are subtypes of powers.
These are a special kind of power. When the text refers to “powers” in general, it refers to traits as well. Only when referring specifically to traits does the text use the term “traits.” Traits have no activation or sustain costs and they are inherent to your body’s physiology. They’re often physical attributes that are not necessarily supernatural, such as an extra limb (Appendages) or retractable claws (Natural Weapon), but you can also be little knacks and abilities that are so fundamental to you that you simply can’t distinguish them from your own body―Amazing Leap or Longevity, for example. This is why they are unaffected by the metapowers. Their origin is most typically Bio (they’re parts of your body), but they can be anything in theory, assuming you provide a good enough explanation.
As their name suggests, these are physical objects that act as conduits for powers. The item powers are Gadget (including Power Armour), Iconic Item, Esoteric Item, Super Vehicle, and nominally Supertech Invention.
Gadgets are items that can manifest a single power (never a trait) and are automatically replaced if you lose them. They are most typically Supertech. Power Armour is a collection of Gadgets with armour plating. Gadgets grant a CP discount as a percentage of the total cost of their power because they can be lost, used against you, or even potentially destroyed.
Iconic Items are nigh-indestructible objects that manifests all of your powers. Iconic Items grant a one-time discount because they cannot be destroyed, but on occasion could be lost or stolen.
Esoteric Items have one or more of the standard enhancements from the SRDs and/or the item/device sections of the Mystical, Psionics, and Supertech sections. Their origins are therefore mystical, psionic, or supertech. Esoteric Items do not grant powers, so there is no CP discount. Instead, there is just a cost for the item and the mystic, psionic, or supertech special abilities that the item carries.
Finally, Supertech Invention allows you to make short-term, sometimes single-use Supertech devices.
Power Absorption , Power Detection, Power Duplication, Power Leech, Power Nullification, and Power Resistance are metapowers, which means that their primary function is to interact with powers. They do not work on traits because traits are so fundamental to how your body works that they’re indistinguishable from your basic physiology.
Every power has a cost in Character Points. This is a one-time expense. Most powers also have enhancements, which also cost CPs. Costs say “varies” when there are options within a power that can change the price. Sometimes, they indicate a certain number of CPs “per rank.” In such cases, the text describes what benefit one “rank” of a power provides.
No matter how many discounts or limitations you pile on, the minimum cost of a power is its base price before enhancements, or 1CP per rank in the power. A power, trait, or item can never be entirely free of charge.
(enhancements and limitations only)
You have to have all the prerequisites for an enhancement or limitation before you can purchase it. In almost all cases, the prerequisites are other enhancements/limitations.
(PP cost; action)
This is how much time and energy it takes to start a power. It refers only to the first round in which you start a continuous power or the single use of an instantaneous power. Activation costs are listed in PPs, then a semi-colon, and an action type, such as “2PPs; standard action.” They often specify a PP cost per unit of the power, as in “2PPs per d6; standard action” or “1PP per 100lbs.; use-activated (attack).” The action type is sometimes listed as “use activated (blank),” which means that there is some other action (in brackets) that has to take place to use a power, usually the action is making an attack, moving, or employing a skill, as in “use-activated (jump).” The minimum activation cost of a power is 1PP, regardless of discounts (except “by level” powers, see below).
You can activate a continuous power only once per round, and it lasts at least one round. You can activate instantaneous powers such as attacks, as many times per round as you have the appropriate actions.
There is one special kind of activation. The “By Level” (or “By CL” for “character level”) designation means that there is a numerical element of your power (damage, healing, bonus points, weight, etc.), and you can activate a number of units of that element equal to half your character level for free. The “units” vary from power to power, and the activation line will specify them: e.g., “By CL (per 1d6)”. Usually, it’s a number of dice, a bonus amount, a weight, a distance, or the like. You get these first few units for free, after which you must pay PPs. This means that you can activate/sustain these powers at a minimum level of effectiveness for free, for ever, and at will, but if you want to exceed that minimum, then you have to pay. You must have at least 1PP left in order to activate a By Level power.
The activation entry will state the cost in PPs as “per” the power’s effects (e.g., damage, healing, weight, distance, etc.) but By Level. This means that if you stay under your By CL maximum, the activation is free, but go above that maximum and you pay per effect. For example, you are a 10th-level character with Energy Strike, which is “1PP per d6 By Level.” That means that you can activate up to a 5d6 Energy Strike for free, but a 6d6 Energy Strike would cost 1PP.
A power’s activation time determines whether it provokes attacks of opportunity. The rule is that activation times that take up actions in combat do provoke, but activation times that are roughly equivalent to free actions do not, and use-activated powers do or don’t provoke based on the action needed to activate them.
The upshot is that the following activation times do provoke attacks of opportunity:
- full-round action
- move action
- standard action
- use-activated (manifesting)
- use-activated (skill check)
- use-activated (spell-casting)
While the following activation times do not provoke attacks of opportunity:
- free action
- immediate action
- swift action
- use-activated (attack)
- use-activated (move)
- use-activated (special)
In addition, any power with an activation time of “use-activated (attack)” automatically counts as a weapon. Therefore, you are armed if you have one of those powers and can activate them (i.e., you’re awake, you have PPs left, etc.). Also, you can apply weapon-based feats to them, so you can take Improved Critical Range for Energy Attack, for example. You still need to qualify for all the prerequisites of the feat(s), of course, and some feats have no affect on some powers. For example, Improved Critical Damage would have no affect, one way or the other, on Power Absorption.
It is possible to provoke an attack of opportunity just by moving (i.e., exiting a threatened space) but activating a power that enhances movement or provides a kind of movement does not by itself provoke attacks of opportunity even though the movement itself could.
(PP cost; action)
This entry applies only to powers with continuous effects that have to be reactivated every round. Where there is no Sustain line on a continuous power, you must use a free action to spend the Activation cost (in PPs) to keep the power “on.” The easiest way to adjudicate this at the table is to announce only when you activate and then deactivate a power, rather than declaring, round after round, that the power is still active. GMs will assume that if you activate a power, it stays active and you are paying the PP cost every round. However, some powers indicate different sustain costs, either in PPs or actions or both. If you take one such power, make sure to note the special rules on your character sheet and follow them. It’s a trust-based game, for the most part, so just police yourself.
There are special Sustain times that have a different PP cost in combat than outside combat. In this latter case, the entry will say “per round/minute” or “per round/hour,” for example. This means that in combat, you must pay the PP cost per round, and out of combat, you pay only per minute, hour, etc. Powers just take a lot more juice when you’re in a fight.
Ranges of “self” affect only you. Ranges of “touch” require a touch or touch attack. You can always touch yourself. Other ranges are listed in feet or, very rarely, miles.
Some powers provoke saving throws from your targets. A few list a set DC (e.g., “Reflex 15”), and some indicate what happens if you pass the save (e.g., “Reflex 15 [half]”). Most power DCs, however, follow a standard formula: 10 + half your character level + ability modifier. When a save DC is not specified, that means that you use the standard DC, as in: “Reflex (half), Intelligence.” This line indicates that the save type is Reflex (and the target takes half damage if they succeed), the DC is the standard formula, and the relevant ability for the power user is Intelligence.
These are add-ons to a power, tailor-made for that power in particular, and that you can buy with CPs. Enhancements work just like mini-powers and some use the same short-hand as above (activate, sustain, etc.). Every enhancement is specific to its power. You cannot buy an enhancement and apply it to a power other than the one it is listed with, although you will find quite a few enhancements that are common to many powers.
These are limiting factors for powers, like a vulnerability, an in-game hindrance, or some other annoyance. Unlike enhancements, Limitations reduce the price of the power to which they’re attached. That’s the whole point of them. Limitations do not grant CPs. They reduce the cost of the power you’re buying. No matter what limitations you put on a power, you cannot reduce its price to lower than the cost of the base power or to the cost of 1 rank in the power.