Batgirl's Guide to Capes
A Mutants & Masterminds 2E Rule Option
Superheroes and capes go togetehr like cowboys and hats, pirates and peglegs, peanut butter and jelly. For most heroes though, the cape is just a matter of style, an accessory that enhances or complements their flashy and iconic uniform. For more than a few other heroes, the cape is another tool in their arsenal in the fight against crime.
A cape can be part of the super hero's accutrements that is just as effective as their sword, Batarang, Web Shooter, or Cosmic Staff. But they are not without their drawbacks. These optional rules are, in fact, just a heavily worked extension of the equipment rules already present in the M&M2E game, a hero may wear a cape without gaining any of these benefits or drawbacks even in a campaign where another player uses them. That character simply never uses their cape to gain the benefits, and the GM never uses any of the drawbacks. This shold just be accepted as part of the genre's "polite agreements" like not recognizing a hero's secret identiy due to common reading glasses, an not shooting the Big Bad Evil Guy during his monolouge.
Capes come in all shapes and sizes, but for game purposes we can define them into four distinct categories: Short
(reaches from the middle of the back to the waist, e.g. Captain Marvel
(reaches between the waist and the knees, e.g. Mary Marvel, Powergirl
(the most common, reaches between the knees to just brushing the floor, e.g. Superman, Thor, Robin
); and Extra Long
(drapes on the floor, e.g. Batman, Dr. Strange
Short (0 EP)
Capes of Short length are exceptionally limited in their application, although they run the least risk of interfering with any of the hero's actions. If the cape is going to be used for any of the benefits listed herein, it must be removed first, requiring a Move Action.
A hero with a Short cape cannot use the cape for the Dodge
, or Intimidate
benefits at all. They are at a -4 to all attempts with the Blind
, Melee Weapon
, or Thrown Weapon
benefits. Although the hero's cape can be Caught
at the normal difficulty, the hero doesn't run the risk of tripping
over it unless it has fallen on the ground.
Medium (0 EP)
Capes of Medium length have more versatlity but are still somewhat limited. The hero may not use the cape for any benefits without removing it first, requiring a Move Action.
A hero with a Medium cape cannot use it to Intimidate
. He can however use the Blind
, Melee Weapon
, and Thrown Weapon
benefits with a -2 penalty. A hero with this length of cape can have it Caught
at the normal difficulty, but he can not be tripped
unless the cape is on the ground.
Long (1 EP)
Capes of Long length have several different uses, although the have a greater opportunity for being used against the hero. A cape of Long length offers any of the benefits, whether the hero is wearing the cape or not, with the exception of Thrown Weapon
. The hero must remove his cape to use it as a thrown weapon.
The hero can use any of the benefits with no penalty, but he can be affected by the Caught
drawback at a -2 to his Defense. The hero can also be tripped
by the cape while wearing it.
Extra Long (1 EP)
A cape of Extra Long length gives the hero the greatest amount of versatility, but it runs the greatest risk of interferring with the hero. All of the benefits can be used while the cape is worn by the hero or after it has been removed.
The hero with an Extra Long cape gains a +2 bonus to all attempts made with any of the benefits. However, he is affected by the Caught
drawback at a -4 to his Defense and can be tripped
by the cape while wearing it.
Most capes are made from cotton-polyester blend cloth, but they can also be fabricated from various other types of material. For example, Batman, Robin (Tim Drake), and Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) all wear capes made out of a triple-weave Kevlar and Nomex fabric that is fire retardant and protects against projectiles.
Gamemasters should allow their players to create capes with armor values, immunities, or other special properties. But those with extremly high armor values (+3 or higher) should be made with the Device power ratehr than the equipment creation rules. The standard "Batman Family" cape grants a Subtle +1 Toughness bonus. The fire retardant descriptor is just for flavor.
The hero can blind or disorient his opponent with his cape. The character wraps the head of his opponent either by removing the cape and throwing it around his opponent's head, or whipping thecape around and wrapping the end around his opponent's head while the cape is still attached to the hero's back (this can only be done with a cape of Long or Extra Long length.)
On a successful melee or thown attack roll, the opponent loses their Dodge bonus to defense and must lose their next action as they try to get out of the cape.
One of the best uses of a cape is for cover or to add to the size and overall presence of the hero. Batman, and many of his allies, use a voluminous scalloped cape that not only gives him the image of having bat wings, but also greatly increases his apparent size, makign him harder to hit.
A hero with a cape gains a bonus to his Defense when taking a Total Defense action based on the lenght of the cape. +1 for a Long cape, +2 for an Extra Long cape. He may also gain this bonus on Reflex saving throws during the turn he uses Total Defense, but if he rolls a critical failure on the Reflex save, he trips on his cape (see below).
A dark cap can allow the hero to bled into shadows or the general surroundings, even though is costume may be of a lighter color.
When attempting a Stealth skill roll, the hero receaives a bonus based on the size of the cape: +1 for a Medium cape, +2 for a Long cape, and +4 for an Extra Long cape. Gamemasters should not allow this benefit if the hero has a cape of a bright color (such as Superman's).
The hero uses his cape for dramatic effect to seem more menacing and impressive.
When attemping an Demoralize, Startle, or Trick action and actively using his cape in a relevant manner (such as Batman crouching down and partially covering his face his his cape), the hero gains a +2 bonus to his skill check.
By weighting th tips of his cape, a hero can lash out at a target with it, much like using a whip. The hero could also strike targets while the cape is still attached to his back, but there is a -4 penalty to the attack roll because of the awkwardness of this maneuver. The maxium effective range of this manuever is the length of the cape, essentially making it no different than a normal striking attack.
If the ends of the cape are weighted, the cape can do +0 or +1 damage (plus the attacker's Strength bonus). A +0 cape costs the same as listed above, a +1 damage bonus fo a heavier weighted or edged cape costs an additional 1 EP.
Short or Medium length capes can be used to snap at opponents, but must be removed first.
A hero can use their cape to attempt to entangle their foe's feet and tripping their opponent.
The hero may make a ranged thrown attack roll to Trip an opponent. IF the attack succes, make a Strength or Dexterity check opposed by the target's Strength, Dexterity, or Acrobatcis check. The hero gets a bonus based on the size of the cape: -4 for a Short cape, -2 for a Medium cape, +0 for a Long cape, and +2 for an Extra Long cape. A defender may get a +4 stability bonus if he has more than two legs or other appropriate bonuses. If the hero wins, he trips his opponent. If the hero fails his opponent does not get an opportunity to trip him as in a normal Trip attempt. A tripped character falls prone.
The hero has his cape caught either by an object or an opponent.
A characetr may make a called shot to grab hold of an opponent's cape. This is treated as a standard Grapple attempt with bonus determined by the cape's size (see above). Also, if the hero rolls a critical failor, or the Gamemaster gives the player a Hero Point or a Complication, teh Gamemaster may declare that he may have gotten his cape caught (by a nail, twig, a bank's revolving door, or other hazard).
If the hero has his cape caught, he must either spend a move action removing the cape (if the cape is on an inanimate object) or make an opposed Grapple roll gainst his attacker to pull it free.
The hero has tread on his cape and caused himself to stumble.
Heroes with any length of cape can trip on them if they have been removed and and are near the hero's feet. Heroes with Long or Extra Long capes can trip on them even if the heroes are still wearign them. If a hero with a Long or Extra Long cape fails a Reflex Save, Acrobatics, or Stealth check with a critical failure, he has tripped over his cape. Alternativly, the Gamemaster may give the player a Hero Point for a Complication and declare that the hero has tripped. A tripped character falls prone (and if critically failing a Stealth roll is no longer hidden!).