#Foresee GMing: stupidly incredibly ridiculously powerful characters in #4C

I’ve honestly never had an issue with god level or beyond power levels in my roleplaying games.

On the contrary, it’s infuriated me to see gods nerfed, from the terrible low scores in 1AD&D all the way through to today.

In my old game Eternium we provided what I think might have been the very first d20 chart to actually list statistics as high as comicbook characters must have them, especially for Strength.

In Foresee the Forerunners have statistics at 10,000 (although other statistics are Normal). It doesn’t imbalance the game any more than an episode of ST TNG with Q in it imbalances Star Trek. It can do, but if you run the game intelligently, it won’t.

In the case of the Forerunners, who are a bit like Q, or a genie from I Dream Of Genie, the catch is that firstly as I said not every single statistic is 10,000. But even if it was, the real catch is what they do with the power.

Yes, an entire campaign setting (Red Star Of The Mind) is caused by them protecting the World of Mystery TM solar system from some insane kind of black hole event. But even though Forerunners are powerful enough to turn a Demigod character to ash, or a God for that matter, they wouldn’t unless seriously provoked. They’re obvservers, a cosmic television audience. That can make them assholish, but anybody with 10k for a statistic is going to come off as an asshole to lesser beings.

The trick to god level or cosmic play sessions is to keep the motivation clear, and to remember that there is always ALWAYS something bigger or nastier than them. In the case of Forerunners, even they couldn’t survive the tidal forces of the black hole, not unaided. That turns them back into normal characters effectively, limited only by the imagination of the players helping them. Also I was careful to add into the Forerunner chapter of Campaign Modulator #1 the description of their society – they walk amongst us unseen and any Forerunner breaching this low key approach gets disciplined (with one exception). So they regulate themselves similarly to human society.

As for Demigods who inherit their God parent’s statistic, yes, that statistic(s) is going to be insanely high compared to most (not all) of the other characters. But under the Foresee rules, especially with for example poisons and bullseye, no matter what your statistics are, some effects BAM! take you down to zero Damage or zero Fortitude, no further roll allowed. No matter who or what you are playing, a trained Town Guard, none of whose statistics are going to be very good, can shoot at you again and again (along with his friends the other guards) and sooner or later they’ll score a bullseye AND KILL YOU OUTRIGHT.

But quite apart from power gamers and their craziness, the most important single challenge is not to barge through ignoring all threats and overwhelming things with numbers. It is to get a story told.

In the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, one of my major inspirations for Foresee, the kids don’t kill anyone or anything other than some undead. The undead are skeletal and seem more like robots anyway. Anything with any real personality is treated as “alive” and therefore not to be killed. Tripped up, clobbered, scooby doo’ed sure but not killed. Stripped of that compulsive need for lethal violence the stories have to be better than simple combat tales, and most of them are. There are quests, puzzles and a lot of lethal violence directed AT the children, very much like a more old fashioned comicbook. In MSH RPG or 4C terms the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon conforms perfectly to the Karma system for both goodies and baddies.

Get the story right, and the power level starts not to matter very much at all.

A very important feature of 4C and Foresee is the turn based actions and the requirement that an activity fit in a comicbook panel. This also severely limits power gaming. USE IT.

Finally, NEVER let any player con you as GM into giving them de facto extra powers. Even if they’re playing an energy being, if they’re physical enough to throw their weight around, they’re physical enough for any effect in the game to hurt them unless their powers specifically and logically say otherwise. An example of this is physical metamorphosis. So what if they’re made of Shadow, Light or Steel? If they’re “flesh” and blood there is a living system there somewhere. If at a pinch it isn’t logical for plant toxins to hurt them, would an enemy not feed a Steel Man some acid? Or some sort of magical or mythical poison that can hurt him? Logic cuts both ways and Foresee is a magical cosmos. A lot of that sort of power gaming relies on “common sense” from Earth. Well, it isn’t Earth. End of.

Enjoy!

 

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