Freeform Powers

How to support special powers like magic, psionics, mutations or other supernatural powers.

Freeform Powers allow characters to tap into innate talents, supernatural forces, mutations, or augmentations to perform extraordinary feats. Rather than provide a predefined list of powers, freeform powers give players the flexibility to imagine and create unique and special powers for their characters. Whether it's wielding magic, using advanced cybernetics, or channeling psychic energy, freeform powers let players tailor their characters to match their imaginations.

Single Purpose Powers

The remainder of this optional rule is focused on designing power systems that define collections of related powers. To add single purpose powers to a character, the simplest way is to just create a boost for each specific power.

One of the most important aspects of designing a power system for the game is deciding how you will scale powers based on ability ratings from Novice (d4) to Expert (d12). A common approach might be to start listing out various powers that can be used at each tier, but this starts to resemble spell lists and detracts from the freeform versatility of the game.

The recommended approach is to let players invoke virtually any power within the scope of the specific power set (arcane magic, divine magic) and simply scale the effect appropriately. A novice necromancer wants to conjure a devil... great! The devil that appears is 4 inches tall and lasts just long enough to stream a string of profanity at the caster before winking out of existence. Training how to channel and control powers is very difficult and can take a lifetime for some to master.

Discuss how powers scale with the group during Session Zero while considering what fits for the genre and settings selected for the story, and player preferences.

Trappings With regard to the mechanics of the game system, it doesn't matter if a Mage throws a Fire Bolt or a Lightning Bolt. Trappings give players the freedom to narrate powers in different ways that are at the discretion of the director with regard how to apply them to the game. Boosts can also be used to give mechanical significance to how a player uses trappings when designing powers for their characters.


The simplest approach to unlocking powers for a character is to define a skill set that matches the type of power. For example, a character could have a skill set named "Psychic" in order to use psionics, or "Sorcerer" to use arcane magic.

Powers can also be acquired as part of a character's backstory related to just about any skill set. A monk may have studied at the Template of Wind, Earth, Water and Fire, learning from the ancient texts and wise masters to harness and channel the power of a specific element. The monk could add "Air Bender" to their signature skills in addition to other monkish-related skills representing the focus on "Air" within the broader scope of elemental magic. A druid may have discovered an ancient, abandoned temple in the forest, freeing a trapped nature spirit who taught them how to speak the language of the natural world. The druid may add "Control Plants" or "Animal Shapeshifter" to their signature skills.

Power Origins

Players need to work with the director when creating their character's backstory to ensure that any intended powers are appropriate for the genre and setting of the story.

Once a player has determined the backstory origin of their powers, they can choose signature skills to define the limits of their powers. Many types of powers like magic and psionics already provide well-defined models for how powers are sub-divided. Below are some examples of how to divide types of powers:

  • Arcane Schools: For arcane magic consider using the common schools of magic such as Abjuration, Evocation, Conjuration, Transmutation, Illusion, Enchantment, Necromancy, Divination or Elemental.

  • Elementalism: For powers specifically related to harnessing elements, select signature skills and specializations related to specific elements (Air, Earth, Wind and Fire).

  • Psychic Disciplines: Use any of the well-established types of psionics such as Telepathy, Mind Control, Clairvoyance, Precognition, Psychometry, Astral Projection, Psychokinesis.

  • Divine Domains: For characters wielding divine powers consider divine domains. Common domains include Light, Death, Nature, War, Healing, Knowledge, Trickery, Protection, Tempest and Life.

  • Mutations: In a post-apocalyptic setting, characters with mutations might specialize as "Adaptive Shapeshifter" for morphing abilities, "Biohazard" for toxic powers, or "Telepathic Link" for animal communication.

As character's progress through character advancement, players can choose to improve the ability ratings of any signature skills related to their powers by upgrading them to specializations.


Boosts are the ideal way to make a special power feel *special*. Below is an example of a boost that a player might create for a character using arcane magic.

Arcane Overcharge You can push yourself to channel additional magical energy when casting a spell to increase one of the following spell effects: range, area of effect, duration (requires concentration), or the number of individual targets. This boost can be added to a character multiple times to allow effects to stack during a single turn.

Identify the ways that the powers in your system can potentially be boosted. Common boosts can include:

  • Duration: How long the power can be maintained?

  • Range: How far can the power extend?

  • Area of Effect: How large and what shape of area can be targeted?

  • Multiple Targets: How many individuals can be targeted in a single turn?

  • Condition Type: What kind of condition is applied to the target?

For something like a conjuring spell, the boost might include the size of the conjured item, or how many items can be conjured at once. It is up the director and the players to determine whether to pre-determine appropriate effects for boosts, or to allow them to be identified during game play to fit the specific power invoked and what fits the narrative.


If a boost has a duration that extends over multiple turns, the character is deemed to be concentrating on maintaining the effect of the original action.

Concentration is broken if the character suffers harm or takes another action on their subsequent turn. They can still move and perform an interaction, but any attempt to perform an action that requires ability breaks concentration, and the effect of the original action is terminated.

Boosting a power by extending its duration can still be extremely worthwhile. It avoids the risk of failure from performing actions rolls over the duration of the effect, ensuring success and continuing to apply the effect of the original action again on each subsequent turn without having to pay any additional cost.


Gear is often overlooked in power systems but can be a very powerful consideration. Gear offers many advantages more traditional approaches to describing the source of power. Some of the advantages of using gear to unlock powers includes:

  • Backstory Hooks: Gear introduces the potential for backstory and hooks associated with the item that can be leveraged to introduce interesting story elements, situations or new challenges.

  • Transferable: Gear can be traded between characters or non-player characters

  • Game Rewards: Gear can be easier to discover during game play or included as part of in-game rewards.

  • Lost, Stolen or Damaged: Powers associated with gear open opportunities in the story for gear to be lost, stolen and damaged creating challenges for characters who have to adapt to the loss of powers during game play.

  • Thematic: A gear item that unlocks powers may be more thematic with regard to the genre or setting.

Powers associated with gear are implemented as boosts. Boosts associated with specialized gear are considered to be integrated with the gear item. When specialized gear is acquired or traded between characters, the associated boost is transferred with the item. This key difference makes specialized gear infused with powers a great choice for adding powerful artifacts that can be used as rewards during game play.

Specialized Gear and Boosts

When boosts are associated with specialized gear, if the supporting gear is damaged or broken, the associated boost becomes unusable until the gear is repaired. If the gear is lost, stolen, traded or sold, the boost is transferred with the item.

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