In the previous blog on Health, we touched briefly upon the concept of “Powers“. Here we look at Powers in Hack100 in more detail.

Power is any form of extraordinary or supernatural Specialism. Most obviously, a Power might be the ability to cast spells or perform miracles. However, Powers could also encompass a wide range of other special abilities – shapeshifting, psionics, berserking, or whatever. As with all Specialisms, Powers are Abilities that differentiate an individual from the vast majority. Unlike Specialisms, Powers go beyond rational everyday understanding. 

Hack100’s use of “Powers” is the aspect of its rules that varies most significantly from traditional d100 games. The intention is to provide a flexible system that dispenses with conventional lists of predefined spells or talents. Instead, it uses an approach based on open-ended collaboration between the players and the Referee. In this respect, as discussed previously, Hack100 is much inspired by Christian Mehrstam’s “Whitehack”. 

How Powers Work 

The underlying consequence of using Powers is that they are mentally and/or physically draining. As such, whenever a character uses a Power, there is an associated Health cost. The more significant the Power, the higher the Health cost. Therefore, characters with Powers must manage their use carefully. Do the benefits of using a Power in a given situation outweigh the detrimental effects on the character’s Health? 

The exact effects of a Power, in terms of its effect, intensity and duration, along with the associated Health cost, are agreed between the player and the Referee at the point of use, with the Referee always having the final say. The procedure for using a Power is as follows: 

  1. The character describes the desired effect of using the Power.
  2. Taking into account the nature of the effect, as well as its intended intensity and duration, the Referee rules on the associated Health cost.
  3. The Referee may also impose a Difficulty Modifier for the upcoming Task Roll if the desired effect seems particularly challenging compared to the scope of the associated Power. Similarly, a player might agree to accept a higher Difficulty Modifier in return, for example, for a lower Health cost.
  4. Steps 1-3 are repeated until the player and the Referee reach a negotiated agreement on the balance between the effect of the Power, the corresponding Health cost and any Difficulty Modifier. This isn’t intended to be a prolonged bargaining exercise. Rather it is the Referee and the player reaching an agreement on the use of the Power. The Referee ultimately makes the final ruling.
  5. The character makes a Task Roll against the relevant Power.
  6. If the Task Roll is successful, the Power takes effect. Otherwise, nothing happens.
  7. The Health cost applies only AFTER the effects of the Power have expired. This implies, therefore, that all Powers must have a fixed duration (which might be instantaneous).
  8. A Major Success means that the Power only costs 1 Health. A Major Failure means that the Power consumes the full Health cost, but nothing happens. 

It is recommended that the Referee keeps a record of negotiated Power uses. This will save time when the Power is used in a similar way again. It also provides a benchmark or precedent for other uses of the Power in the future. 

In the upcoming blogs, we’ll take a look at some specific examples of Power use.

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