While thinking about future campaigns I'd like to run I was mentally tinkering around with the character creation system for Villains & Vigilantes and came up with these (untested) houserules.
Create a random general origin concept from the list in the original Villains & Vigilantes (but knocking out the dud option of "Charismatic Involvement", which basically boiled down to playing a mascot - think Snapper Carr - with a 5% chance of having a single power):
Most are pretty self-explanatory ("sponsored" is an inventor who works for a company or someone employed by a company to be their "superhero" and comes with a degree of responsibility).
The character then starts with one random power and one random weakness, from the charts in the current edition of Villains & Vigilantes.
He, or she, may then "buy" powers by acquiring Ties. A Tie is an NPC, ultimately controlled by the gamesmaster, who is part of the character's civilian life and may be called into action to create obstacles in the hero's journey (think Aunt May, J Jonah Jameson or Mary Jane from Spider-Man).
The player may take up to five points worth of Ties (trading one point for one roll on an allowed power table). Obviously the lower the point cost the more "valuable" the NPC is and thus the more often they are likely to find themselves in need of saving or otherwise complicating the heroes life.
The value of Ties:
- 1 - parent (or parent figure), loved one, child
- 2 - competitive work colleague, relation, good friend
- 3 - acquaintance, work colleague, contact
Taking a leaf out of the Mutants & Masterminds approach, every superhero character would start at Level 8 - which means they would get seven, random, level increase boosts (rolled on the NPC table on page 34 of the latest edition of V&V, Section 4.3C).
Under this new power system, I would say that trained officials (e.g. police, army, supervillain's goons etc) are all Level 4, while the general populace are all Level 1.
I'm thinking about doing away with Experience Points completely and finding some more story arc way of increasing a player-character's Level.