The Power system is the core offering of The Contract and the reason we published the game as a website instead of a book or PDF. It allows Players to create highly-custom, balanced, and well-defined Powers for almost any Character Concept with an easy-to-use interface.
Creating a Power
The overall procedure for creating Powers is as follows
- Come up with an idea for a Power that fits your Character Concept.
- Visit the Create Power page and select a Base Power that matches the effect of your conceptualized Power.
- Select Enhancements and Drawbacks and adjust Parameters to achieve the mechanical effect you'd like.
- If the Power costs more than one Gift, add Drawbacks and adjust Parameters until the Power costs a single Gift (it can be improved in the future).
- Fill out the Power's Description to establish its flavor and any mechanics that are not significant enough to warrant taking an Enhancement or Drawback.
- Update the System text, add some Flavor text, and name the Power.
Congratulations, you just made a Power!
This was a brief overview. For more detailed information on how to create your own Powers, read our guide: How to Create Powers
Base Powers are the mechanical starting point for all Powers, and each completed Power is built from a single Base Power. Each overall effect a Power might have (e.g. injure, memory manipulation, investigate individual) has a representative Base Power.
Any given Base Power can be used to create a vast number of mechanically and flavorfully distinct Powers. There are currently over 70 Base Powers available in The Contract, with more being added all the time.
Base Powers have a generic "starting point" Power that Players customize using that Base Power's Enhancements and Drawbacks. The Base Power is further customized by filling out a Description that establishes all visual, flavorful, and mechanical elements that do not affect balance enough to warrant a Gift cost or credit.
Unless the Base Power specifies otherwise, all Powers are obviously supernatural. This means that in addition to its effect, the Power causes a supernatural experience (sparkles, a darkening of the room, or whatever), OR it can cause a mutation that marks its owner as supernatural (a cyborg arm-cannon that is always visible even when it is not being fired, perked-up animal ears, etc).
Enhancements, Drawbacks, and Parameters
Enhancements, Drawbacks, and Parameters are the primary means of customizing the mechanics of your Power.
Enhancements and Drawbacks can fundamentally alter the behavior of the Power. Each Enhancement you take increases the cost of the Power by one Gift, and each Drawback decreases it by a Gift. As such, their effects are significant.
The generic effect that comes with each Base Power can be underwhelming, but you can quickly increase the potency of the Power by taking Drawbacks. Be careful about taking too many Drawbacks; an unusable Power is not fun. We recommend taking no more than three on any given Power.
Simple dice bonuses and roll modifiers are not common. We make an effort to supply Enhancements and Drawbacks that enable a variety of Power concepts and cause interesting gameplay and story situations.
Some Enhancements and Drawbacks are available on several Base Powers, but many are unique to a given Base Power. There are currently over 600 Enhancements and Drawbacks in the system, with more being added all the time.
Some Base Powers also have Parameters. These represent a linear progression of balance-relevant values that are relevant to all Powers created from a Base Power. Examples include the Power's range, or the time it takes to activate. Increasing a Parameter by a level costs one Gift, and decreasing it credits one.
A Power's Description is extremely important. Here you must describe, in non-mechanical terms, what the Power is, what it looks like when used, and any other details you wish to establish.
The text you enter here can have real, significant, in-game impacts. For example, when you can create an Injure Power you may choose to flavor it in many ways. If you put "hurls a ball of white-hot fire" in the Description, your Power may behave very differently in-game than if you put "causes the target's internal organs to fail." The mechanics (dice, damage, etc) will be the same, but there may be significant secondary effects to using a fireball at a gas station, say.
Likewise you may establish additional limitations on your Power, if desired. For example, if you specify "Preston must flourish his hands and shout 'Magic Missile!'", then a hand flourish and a shout are now officially required to activate the Power.
The amount of freedom provided by the Description field is limited balance-wise to what could intuitively be called less than a "Gift's worth" of impact. Refer to the Base Power's Enhancements and Drawbacks for reference. You can never specify mechanical modifiers in the Power's Description. Cell Leaders have the final say as to whether or not a given Power's Description goes too far. Players should act in good faith and not abuse the freedom afforded by the Description field.
GMs must respect the Description text of a Power, but they are free to use their discretion in the extent of its effect. A fireball-flavored Injure Power can reasonably be expected to detonate an open can of gasoline, but the GM is well within their rights to say that it cannot light a building on fire. The only parts of a Power that are truly sacred and not subject to GM discretion is the System derived from the Power's Base, Enhancements, Drawbacks, and Parameters.
Treat the Description field as you would your equipment list. If you want to establish something, do it up-front. GMs can fill in the blanks you leave at their discretion (though it is bad form to be malicious or go against the intent of the Power). Providing more detail will always result in a more consistent, well-defined Power.
Finally, unless the Base Power specifies otherwise or you have taken the "Concealed" Enhancement, all Powers are obviously supernatural. This means that in addition to its effect, the Power causes a supernatural experience (sparkles, a darkening of the room, or whatever), OR it can cause a mutation that marks its owner as supernatural (a cyborg arm-cannon that is always visible even when it is not being fired, perked-up animal ears, etc).
System, Flavor text, and Name
The final three elements of the Power system are the easiest to fill out when creating a Power.
The System text describes the mechanical rules of a Power. For now, these must be manually entered, but it is a simple, non-creative process. The System is wholly derived from the Base Power's starting System and any Enhancements and Drawbacks that are taken. There may be other elements in the System box that must be decided at the time the Power is created, such as any associated rolls. Values of Parameters may be referenced by entering the name of the parameter, lowercase, with spaces replaced with hyphens, surrounded in [[two-pairs-of-brackets]].
The Flavor Text can be anything you'd like. It has no in-game effect and only serves to introduce the Power in a fun way. The Name field is self-explanatory.
The Contract (will have) a collection of over a hundred premade Powers. Premade Powers can be Gifted as-is, customized, or used as inspiration.
Some Premade Powers are highly specific and not suited for general use. These are provided as examples of the sorts of highly flavorful, Character-specific Powers that come from using The Contract's Power system to its full potential.