Wild Talents Campaign – Black Dawn

Some work to do as I get ready to run the first game in a little under two weeks.  It is rushed, absolutely, but I also don’t want there to be significant downtime for my players between the end of Shadowrun and the start of this game. 

Since the game is taking place in what is our world with additions due to an alien invasion there’s less world building then there would be if I were making the world from scratch.

The first steps are setting out some parameters, sketching out the invaders and picking a place to center the action.  I also need a campaign name.  Right now I’m debating between a disorganized local resistance, or an organized military response that the characters are part of.  My brain immediately jumps to Red Dawn and Black Hawk Down which leads to Black Dawn.  Not terrible and I feel like if the word Operation is put in front of it then it completely feels like some sort of military game.

Archetypes and Meta-Qualities

There is some crucial basic stuff I need to get done for characters.  That starts with a general framework for the PCs.  Wild Talents, since it is very open for the GM to design the world, has what are called Archetypes.

Wild Talents Page 95 – 

An Archetype is the foundation of a character. It’s a conglomeration of special abilities called Meta-Qualities that define your character on a fundamental level, totaled to a Point cost. Meta-Qualities do many things—they might grant bonuses in-game, define the source of your powers, or establish some unique aspect of your character. Most importantly, Meta-Qualities define the types of powers your character can possess. Archetypes and Meta-Qualities allow the game moderator to define exactly what kinds of superhuman characters are appropriate to the game”

An archetype has three components, three things that make a Magic character different from a Mutant (for example). 

  1. Source – Where the powers come from.
  2. Permissions – what kind of powers or what kind of restrictions there are
  3. Intrinsics – Bonuses or penalties based on the innate nature of the Archetype.

Power Source

There’s two that immediately jump out – Genetic and Technological.  Genetics because part of the concept for this game is that the strange devices and chemicals etc. used by the invaders to quickly overrun the planet also altered some humans on the genetic level.  That one makes sense.  Technological also makes sense because some characters would use stolen/salvaged invader tech against them.  Note that since these are the only Sources available this means that none of the PCs are mages (that would be Supernatural Power Source) or robots (that would be Construct Power Source) etc.  If you’re anything other than stock human then you’re genetically alter or using Alien tech (or both!).

By clearly stating what the Source is it shapes the types of powered beings the PCs can be.


This is where things can get narrowed down even further.   Permissions are a short listing of what sorts of powers are allowed for the power source.  I could say that the Permissions are Hypertrained, meaning the characters can buy superhuman skills but no “powers”.  I could say that the permissions are Peak Performer which allows the purchase of any type of dice for Attributes and Skills but still bound by the human limit of 5 dice.  There’s a fair amount of leeway here but I’m going to go with the Permission of Power Theme.  This means that characters can buy any Hyperstats or Hyperskills or Powers they wish but they have to fit those into a fairly narrow them – Fire Powers, Cold Powers, Animal Powers, etc.  Mainly because I just really like thematic power suites as opposed to a mishmash of powers that sounded cool with no underlying theme.


This is where you look to see both if there are any baseline changes that all characters get based on the archetype – for example if the archetype is Alien perhaps they all have an allergy to some glowing green mineral.  There’s nothing that really catches my eye.  Individual characters can have allergies or draw their power from their own life force or whatever but that’s nothing inherent to the archetype.  However when I look at an archetype for the invaders this is 100% going to come in to play.


So the Archetype for the game looks like this

Source – Genetic or Technological

Permissions – Power Theme

Intrinsics – None

For a total cost of 5 points if the player chooses either Genetics or Technology but 10 if they choose both.  Since those are separate archetypes each could have it’s own Power Theme.  So a character could have the Genetic archetype for Fire powers and also have stolen invader tech for healing abilities. 

I know I’m going to have to revisit this because limiting the tech to just one power suite doesn’t make sense.   If you have alien tech, the odds of it only doing Fire things is slim.  I have an idea for that though just need to hit the books on it.

Point costs/Power level

Since Wild Talents is a point buy character creator there is a lot of room to finesse the numbers and a ton of ways to make broken powers.  heck the game even tells you exactly how to break it with dodge everything powers and make everyone’s head explode all the time powers.  With the normal starting points you can make a character with the power to turn off the sun (and they show you the math!)  In short there’s a lot of responsibility on the GM and the players to keep things in check.

One of the first steps to keeping things in check is to determine the starting points.  Looking at the chart in the book they list normal human games at 40-100 and exceptional human as 100-200.  Powerful superhuman at 200-500.  The default game is 250, the Godlike setting works out to 125.  I think I’m going to set my game at 200 points.  The high end of Exceptional Human and the low end of Powerful Superhuman.  This should put us around the power level of the Defenders as seen on Netflix (as opposed to the comics).  Taking in to account the Archetype Cost of either 5 or 10 points that gives the players 190-195 points to make their characters with.  

Something else I’ll need to keep in mind is how various extras and flaws affect power scale.  There’s an extra called “Booster” which boosts an element of a power (Mass, Range, Speed) by a factor of 10.  At low levels that’s fine.  Rather than Telekinesis being able to pick up 10lbs you can pick up 100lbs of 1000lbs.  However with no limit on Booster you can get to the point where a low die pool could lift 100,000,000 lbs for relatively low cost.   Applied to speed the same Booster can get a low die pool from 5 yards/round to 29,000 miles per round.  That’s roughly Mach 2267.  So something I absolutely need to keep in mind and will likely set absolute limits.  Some Booster is nice as a way to amplify a power without making you better at the power – basically low dice but lots of Capacity.   I’ll have to play around with the math some but my first thought is to have each level of Booster double the Capacity as opposed to x10 and then cap out the maximum levels of Booster that can be bought to perhaps 5.  

For each of the main Capacities I’m concerned with his gives an upper limit of 

Mass – 409 tons
Distance – 163,840 yards(93 miles)
Speed – 40,960 yards per round (Mach 18)

Definitely going to need to play around with those numbers a bit and likely have separate maximums for Booster for each Capacity.  I’m good with 93 miles as a maximum range for say a Teleport, I’m less good with a maximum speed of Mach 18 when really Mach 1-2 is ideal (think early Wally West Flash).

More to come...

So far really just scratching the surface of things I need to get down but I’ve got my Archetype set out, my point level figured out and just fine tuning some potential issues due to the open nature of the Wild Talents system.  Next time, fine tuning the Booster extra and starting to work out the whos and whats and whys of the invaders the PCs will be resisting.

Chris Fougere
Currently running - Conan, Shadow of the Demon Lord, D&D Odyssey of the Dragonlords, Stars Without Numbers, D&D Greyhawk and Fallout 2d20

Currently playing - Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG, Forbidden Lands, D&D

Chris Fougere

Currently running - Conan, Shadow of the Demon Lord, D&D Odyssey of the Dragonlords, Stars Without Numbers, D&D Greyhawk and Fallout 2d20 Currently playing - Sentinels of the Multiverse RPG, Forbidden Lands, D&D

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