Character Complications

Hero books

Complications add dimension to your character, provide excellent role-playing situations, and give your GM something to work into the campaign. Played correctly and consistently, a character’s complications add tremendous depth to the campaign. If, however, you choose the wrong complications (complications that are too restrictive or too contrary to your character’s personality type), then you have a recipe for misery.

All characters in the campaign are required to take a minimum of 75 points of matching Complications during character creation.

There is one cardinal rule to remember when it comes to Complications: A complication that doesn’t cause your character problems or disadvantages is not worth any points! For example, if you take a Physical Limitation, Blind and then proceed to give your characters powers that allow him/her to see, then the blindness really doesn’t affect the character very much, and thus isn’t worth the points.

When selecting Complications, never choose one just to meet your matching points goal. Choose those Complications that suit your character and his/her personality and background.

What follows is a brief discussion of several Complications and how they relate to the campaign.

Berserk: This can be a fun Complication, and it fits well with certain character concepts. Think Wolverine and his bad temper or the Hulk (“don’t make me mad”). Keep in mind, however, that if you take too high a level of this Complication, your character can be just as dangerous to his/her teammates as to the bad guys. If your character kills someone while in a berserk rage, he/she will still be held responsible by the authorities.

Dependent NPC (DNPC): This is perhaps one of the oldest and most common Complications for superheroes. Peter Parker has his perpetually sick Aunt May; Superman is forever saving Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson from themselves. The more trouble your DNPC gets into on his/her own, the more points that DNPC is worth (and the more time your character must spend saving his/her life).


Psychological Limitation (Psych Lim): This complication represents beliefs and principles your character holds dear. One of the most common in this genre is the “Code versus Killing” — your character is reluctant to kill. Another popular Psych Lim is “Code of Honor” — your character observes a specific moral and ethical code, such as always telling the truth or never attacking a woman or child.

“Code versus Killing” is highly recommended for any character type where it makes sense. In the GATEWAYS setting, just as in the real world, killing another human being carries serious consequences. Your superhero should only kill as the absolute last resort, especially if he/she takes this Psych Lim. Although there may be occasions where a character is forced to kill, such situations will be relatively rare and not the norm. If you want to play a kill-crazed psychopath, you’ll need to find another campaign in which to do it.

“Code of Honor” is a good Psych Lim for most characters. If you choose this (or any other Psych Lim, for that matter), the expectation is that your character will observe his/her code, even when it becomes inconvenient.

Vulnerability: This is a classic Complication for superheroes. Superman is deathly weakened by kryptonite, for example. A flame-powered hero might suffer extra damage from exposure to cold. Think carefully when selecting this Complication. In combat situations, a vulnerability causes your character extra damage. This can be quite dangerous if you aren’t careful when exposed to your character’s vulnerability. As a side note, a vulnerability should make sense with the character concept, and should not be some silly or arbitrary thing.


Character Complications

Gateways MarkDMHart