Agents of BIFROST
Powerful individuals are impressive. Some can be so overwhelming that they can make others stop and listen, or even obey commands. The HERO System simulates this with Presence Attacks.
A Presence Attack is an attempt to influence the target(s), and can have very useful effects. It affects everyone who can hear the character performing it (or sometimes just see him, depending on the Presence Attack), provided it’s intended for them. For example, a Presence Attack made by one of the PCs against Ogre might also affect Ogre’s henchmen, but wouldn’t affect the other PCs at all. Furthermore, the effects of a Presence Attack are reduced by one level when applied to anyone against whom the attack isn’t specifically directed.
Although Presence Attacks are most often used in combat (to make an opponent hesitate or surrender), they have plenty of other uses as well. Out of combat, characters can use them to persuade, inspire, or interrogate NPCs. Villains can use them to terrify innocent people or cow victims. Priests and religious characters can use them to proselytize. The possibilities are virtually endless.
To perform a Presence Attack, a character rolls 1d6 for every 5 points of PRE he has. Compare the total of the Presence Attack to the defender’s PRE or EGO (whichever is higher), and then check the Presence Attack Table. The effects of a Presence Attack last as long as the GM deems appropriate.
GMs should modify this roll heavily, according to the exact circumstances. The Presence Attack Modifiers Table lists some modifiers the GM can apply.
As the table indicates, a character’s Reputation is extremely important when he makes a Presence Attack. If the target of the Presence Attack knows of the Reputation (determining this may require a roll), it may help or hinder a Presence Attack. If the Reputation supports or agrees with, the Presence Attack, the Reputation adds bonus dice; if the Reputation and the Presence Attack conflict, it subtracts dice. For example, a character with a Reputation for being Cruel (Disadvantage, 11-) will suffer a -2d6 modifier to a Presence Attack to “Surrender and you’ll be treated well” — anyone who’s heard of the character isn’t going to trust that promise. Someone with a Reputation for being Honest (Perk, +2d6) is much more likely to succeed with that Presence Attack. Of course, a Reputation doesn’t affect Presence Attacks at all if the target of the attack is unaware of the Reputation.
Most Presence Attacks are based on intimidation or fear (“Surrender or die!” is a perfect example). However, characters can use them to evoke and manipulate emotions other than fear. A character could use a Presence Attack to command respect, impress an onlooker, get a crowd’s attention, or persuade someone to help him. A character could also use a Presence Attack to inspire friendly listeners, thereby improving their morale.
Presence Attack Modifiers Table
|Modifier||Situation or Character’s Action|
|-2d6||Very inappropriate setting|
|-1d6||At a disadvantage|
|Presence Attack conflicts with target’s Psychological Limitation|
|-1d6||Moderate Psychological Limitation|
|-2d6||Strong Psychological Limitation|
|-3d6||Total Psychological Limitation|
|Poor Reputation relevant or contrary to Presence Attack|
|-1d6 to 3d6||Presence Attack runs against existing moods|
|Varies||Character has an appropriate Reputation Perk|
|Presence Attack agrees with target’s Psychological Limitation|
|+1d6||Moderate Psychological Limitation|
|+2d6||Strong Psychological Limitation|
|+3d6||Total Psychological Limitation|
|+1d6||Character makes appropriate Interaction Skill Roll|
|+2d6||Character makes appropriate Interaction Skill Roll by half or more|
|+1d6||Target is Surprised|
|+1d6||Exhibiting a Power or superior technology|
|+2d6||Extremely violent action|
|+3d6||Incredibly violent action|
|+2d6||Very appropriate setting|
|+2d6||Target is in partial retreat|
|+4d6||Target is in full retreat/has been captured|
|+1d6||Need (character appealing for help genuinely seems to need it)|
|+1d6||Logic (statements are extremely logical and well thought out)|
Presence Attack Effect Table
|Presence Attack is…||Effect of Attack|
|Target’s PRE or EGO||Target is impressed. He hesitates enough so that the attacker may act before him this Phase, or receives +5 PRE only for purposes of resisting contrary Presence Attacks made that Phase.|
|Target’s PRE or EGO +10||Target is very impressed. He hesitates as above, and only performs a Half Phase Action during his next Phase. He considers very deeply what the attacker says, and may comply with requests or obey orders which seem worthwhile to him. He receives +5 PRE only for purposes of resisting contrary Presence Attacks made that Turn.|
|Target’s PRE or EGO +20||Target is awed. He will not act for 1 Full Phase, is at ½ DCV, and possibly will do as the attacker commands. If he’s friendly, he’s inspired and may follow the character into danger; he will comply with most requests and obey most orders. He receives +10 PRE only for purposes of resisting contrary Presence Attacks made that Turn.|
|Target’s PRE or EGO +30||Target is cowed. He may surrender, run away, or faint. He is at 0 DCV, and will nearly always follow commands. If he’s friendly, he becomes inflamed, and will follow the character into any danger, comply with virtually any request, or obey virtually any order.|
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