The Game Mechanic: Building a better metahuman archer

Not pictured: Bow, arrows, sensible crime-fighting outfit.

The Super Archer is a highly versatile character, usually sporting a technologically advanced bow and a variety of arrows ranging from the devastating to the ridiculous. It can, however, be a righteous pain to properly capture their flexibility and potency while still maintaining some semblance of game balance.  After the jump, we’ll be grabbing the Savage Worlds Super Powers Companion and slapping together a proper powerset for this ubiquitous, if not somewhat abstract, archetype.

Step 1: What can you do without Powers? 

Sometimes, your character can make do with equipment instead of Powers, which will free up those delicious, delicious points for things that can’t be covered with mundane gear. The book already has stats for a composite bow and a variety of trick projectiles that your character can keep accessible at all times. Armor piercing, flashbang, net, and rope arrows are all available as bits of mundane gear. Given that most of your points will go into building your arrow-based abilities, investing in some armor or a shield belt would also be a good idea, as you’re probably going to wind up a little on the squishy side compared to some of your other party members.

Step 2: Cover the Basics 

The path we’ll be taking today will make use of the Invent power, which basically lets you replicate any power in the book on a limited basis. The requirements for this power are pretty steep, with d10’s needed in a couple of different places to qualify for it at all. In addition to those requirements, you will also want to make sure to keep your Shooting die as high as you can, and beefing up your Vigor might help keep you from becoming a super-fine paste.

Step 3: Make it work. 

The problem with using the Invent power is that you are restricted to one Power Point pool divided among all your different projectiles. For example, let’s say you wanted to whip up a few Panzerschreck arrows to take out a few of those pesky alien speeders. After buying Attack (Ranged) and slapping the Focus modifier on it to bypass the armor and an extra d6 worth of damage to make sure the damn thing stays down, you’ve just spent 9 points on a single type of arrow. That’s the vast majority of the points you’d have available as a starting character, which doesn’t really live up your character concept of quick-thinking adaptability. So how do we make this a functional build?

  • Buy the initial power for less. Trick Arrows are a very specific niche of inventing, and while you can justify just about anything with enough time and BS, there are some things your powers just aren’t meant to do. Generic gadgeteers have the luxury of slapping together whatever suits their fancy; robotic limbs, chameleon suits, cybernetic monkey butlers, and any other such random extravagances are part and parcel of the Gadgeteer lifestyle. The super-powered archer, however, is a little less free-range in their abilities. While arrows of Paralysis or Malfunction might make perfectly good sense, there’s just something wrong about drilling someone in the head with a Mind Reading arrow or shooting Minions out of your bow. Since the super archer is less versatile than the generic gadgeteer, it stands to reason that they should get a discount on the Invention Power. Discuss the details with your GM, but a discount of -1 for every 4 points spent on Invention is a good baseline to start with. You could either limit your inventions strictly to offensive powers, or perhaps take a little bit less of a discount in exchange for the GM letting you create a few basic utility arrows alongside your offensive options.
  • With GM permission, you could create a baseline Attack (Ranged) power, then use your Power Points to add modifiers as the system warrants. This will let you stack on more damage, armor penetration, enable rapid fire, and more. You can also pay extra Power Points to attach other powers to your basic ranged attack, such as Paralysis. The cost for doing so should vary from power to power, but it will likely stay between +2 and +4. Alternatively, the GM may allow you to trade your point discount on the initial purchase of the Invention power in exchange for automatically attaching any invented powers you whip to your basic Attack (Ranged.)
  • Travel lightly. You probably don’t need an entire quiver full of EMP arrows to take out a single security camera, so cutting them down to one should free up some Power Points for other ventures. The following modifier can be applied on each item to generic Inventions as well as those employed by the Super Archer. Single Use (-3): This particular device has a very limited lifespan. After being used once, the item is considered spent and must be rebuilt before it can be used again. The power points from a single-use invention are available for other devices, but the standard rules for item creation still apply.


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