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Super Speed and Sonic Booms

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  • Super Speed and Sonic Booms

    I'm supposed to run my first ever M&M session here in a few hours. I gave the basic rules a quick read but I feel under-prepared to run a game for the first time in my life because there are so many specific power rules.

    I have one question in regards to Super Speed. A player handed in a character sheet with Super Speed of 13 at a cost of 12. Do all players have a base rating of Speed 0, and buying up Super Speed of 13 should cost 13 or 12 for 12?

    Even Super Speed 12 is pretty crazy and intimidating when you think about it, running at 8,000 MPH. For reference, for the longest time, the fastest plane in the world could only get up to Mach 3.2. Eventually NASA built something that got up to Mach 6.8. Speed 12 would be like RUNNING at Mach 10.7. Speed 13 would double that.

    I get that we should assume the power allows the hero to ignore friction, heat, etc. Part of their super power is pushing the air away in front of them apparently in the hand waving needed for super powers. But what about a sonic boom?

    Something going Mach 10 or 20 would cause a massive sonic boom. That could be used to push back enemies, but in turn it could also hurt the other party of heroes if the speedster went to full speed in close quarters with the party. Have you ever put a sonic boom effect in game with super speed powers?

  • #2
    Re: Super Speed and Sonic Booms

    Because M&M is an effects-based game, your player is certainly capable of doing that - but only if they pay for it.

    You could do it as an alternate effect of an array built around their Speed power (such as a Damage effect), or you could create it as some kind of effect with Reaction: Moving and Limited: Must exceed speed X (whatever Speed rank corresponds with breaking the sound barrier, I don't remember off the top of my head).

    Speed = 1 pp/rank. Normal humans have base speed rank 0 (30 ft/round), so it's 13 pp for the ability to move at speed rank 13 (30 miles/round, which is actually 16,000 mph).

    If you are particularly uncomfortable with how fast he can move, you can set a house rule to cap Speed ranks at PL. But I would just run with it and find neat complications or environments that will force your player to be more creative.
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    • #3
      Re: Super Speed and Sonic Booms

      Actually if you look at a lot of the builds for Flash, you see a 1 point Immunity to Friction Heat. Speed does not give that for free, but for a 1 PP difference it isn't much.
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      • #4
        Re: Super Speed and Sonic Booms

        Every GM needs to decide for him/herself how "real" they wish their game to be. The comics are not real good guides on this because they constantly alter the characters depending on the whims of the writer and needs of the story. In one comic the Flash can run around the earth in a second without causing harm from a sonic boom while in another comic he cannot run down the street faster then 700 MPH without causing cars to flip over, etc. So it's hard to balance for the players when even the source material is all over the place.

        A constant game problem for a GM is the concern about how much you should give a player for free based on descriptor. Most players want to win; they're more concerned with winning the encounter then staying in character or within the genre. So if the GM gives a player a "free" sonic boom due to descriptor there's a real concern that the player is going to take advantage of that generosity and try to use it every encounter. That's why many GMs are so quick to start talking about paying for it. There's no one right way to handle this. Each GM need to work it out themselves based on how they feel the player will handle it.

        For myself, and knowing my players, I give free sonic booms to people who can travel faster then 700 mph, but that bonus power comes with a bonus problem: windows break, cars flip, etc. The sonic boom causes harm to those in the character's wake, friend, foe, and innocent. So when the speedster knows he's going super-sonic downtown he also knows there's a ton of problems which can come from that. That way most of the time super-sonic is used in open areas rather then in urban environments. it's the tradeoff the player gets for the descriptor bonus.
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        • #5
          Re: Super Speed and Sonic Booms

          In my experience, things like that 1-PP Immunity to Friction Heat are just a way of a player telling the GM, "Look, I don't want this to come up, and I'm willing to spend a point so that this isn't an issue." Is it strictly necessary? Probably not, but it means that there'll never be a case of the GM saying, "Okay, I know this is comic book physics, but you're carrying a temperature-sensitive bomb at Mach 120 so I really feel like the heat that would generate has to come up..."

          Same for the sonic booms. If you want to use it as an attack, buy it as an attack. If you want it to come up as a problem, take the Accident Complication. Otherwise, it's really not going to come up much except as a cool special effect. In my experience, most speedsters don't bother either way, but then if they want to "attack with a sonic boom," they use Extra Effort to make that a temporary AE of their speed! That's the great thing about M&M -- if it feels like you should be able to "use X to accomplish Y," then Y is probably an AE or extra effort stunt.
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