Today I’m going to share one way you might use trademarks in your games of FU – to represent amazing super powers and incredible talents. This is how I actually came up with trademarks in the first place. I wanted a way to simulate the awesome powers and abilities that characters in comics and films have, while not being too hand wavy in defining exactly what characters can do.
Descriptors supported by trademarks
Using trademarks to represent super powers can be done in two ways. I originally had players create characters as normal, with their standard four descriptors (Body, Mind, Edge, Flaw) and then used trademarks as an extra layer of detail. This meant your character could still be “Handsome, Quick Witted, Great Driver and Clumsy”, but layer over that two or more amazing abilities that have a very clear scope in the form of trademarks. If we take a classic hero like Spider-Man, this character might look something like this:
- BODY: Athletic
- MIND: Wisecracking
- EDGE: Science!
- FLAW: With great power comes great responsibility*
- TRADEMARK: Spider-Powers (Wall crawling, Danger sense, Reflexes)
- TRADEMARK: Webslinger (Swinging, Stick things in place, Tangle opponents, Grab and snatch)
This works out pretty well for defining our friendly neighbourhood spider-man and allows us to get a good sense of who the character is. The use of trademarks as super powers is a simple way of keeping balance between all players and ensuring everyone knows the power and limitations of each amazing ability. The trademarks don’t overpower the rest of the character, either, as the descriptors cover skills and abilities quite different to the super powers.
*As a flaw this is pretty vague and might actually make a better drive.
If you were to only use trademarks to define characters, jettisoning the descriptors entirely, then you would need players to really “dig” into what makes the character unique and/or interesting. We might define Spidey as follows:
Spider-Man – Webslinging acrobat
- Budding Scientist (Understanding science, Building gadgets, Solving puzzles, Impressing teachers and scientists)
- Acrobat (Amazing leaps, Duck and dodge, Tumble with the blows)
- Webslinger (Swinging from webs, Stick things in place, Tangle opponents, Grab and snatch)
- Spider-Powers (Wall crawling, Danger sense, Reflexes)
While this particular iteration of Spider-Man has many similarities with the previous one, they are potentially very different characters to play. In particular we lose the wisecracking descriptor, which is a real feature of the character we know and love. Perhaps we need to rethink this:
Spider-Man – Friendly neighbourhood hero
- Wisecracking Hero (Infuriate opponents, Inspire citizens of NYC, Notice small details about people / places)
- Troubled Nerd (Great at science, Solving puzzles, Impressing teachers, Easy target for bullies, Poor timing)
- Web-Slinging (Swing from webs, Grapple and tangle things, Fling webs, Stick things)
- Spider-Powers (Wall crawling, Danger sense, Impressive strength, Quick reflexes)
I really like this interpretation as it captures (for me) the key elements of Spider-Man and provides a variety of tags to use in play. I particularly like the “Troubled Nerd” trademark as it is loaded with disadvantages that might earn the player FU points.
At the end of the day, it come down to a player’s interpretation of a character and their ability to define this concept through the trademarks and meta-tags.
More characters with super powers
I was going to present a list of example super power trademarks, but I had too much fun writing up Spider-Man above! So, instead, here are a couple more of my favourite comic book heroes. This should give you an idea of what is possible.
- Billionaire Playboy (Buy whatever I need, Nobody takes me seriously, Get invited to parties)
- Dark Knight Detective (Find clues, Make connections, Intimidate suspects, Notice things)
- Martial Artist (Hand-to-hand combat, Master of many fighting styles, Subdue opponents, Deflect blows)
- Gadgets (Batarang, Grappling hooks, Handy utility belt, Smoke)
I think the key to making this character really come to life (and perhaps making all such heroes come to life) will be choosing appropriate drive that reflect exactly why Batman does what he does.
- Weapon X (Adamantium skeleton, Claws, Strong, Magnetic, Heavy)
- Healing factor (Amazing stamina, Heal quickly, Endure pain)
- The best there is at what I do (Tear and rend, Threaten and intimidate, Cause violence)
- Old man Logan (Seen a lot, Done a lot, Enemy in every port, Blunt, Protective of young mutants)
While this (once again) doesn’t capture the full depth of Wolverine, I like this interpretation. It doesn’t hang everything on his (awesome) claws, but instead focuses on things like his bestial nature and the curse of his mysteriously long life.
There we have it – some ideas on how you might use trademarks to represent super powers in your games of FU. I will immediately point out that I have stuck to comparatively “low level” powers here, for no other reason than i like these characters! Perhaps I will write a follow-up article with some more extreme powers.