There was an interesting topic of discussion over on Margaret Weis’ forums regarding the designer’s decision not to include a trait to represent Intelligence in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying.

To quote Cam Banks, the Design Lead for MHRP, on why Intellect was not included in the game:

I admit to being biased toward the physical in creating power traits.

Almost every power trait is a physical expression of powers, and if not physical, it’s a psychic or magical or energy-based kind of thing. There’s no super powered charisma, either, although there is Mind Control. I went for power traits that covered expressions or effects, and in almost every case Intelligence falls outside of that. Using Senses [for Amadeus Cho’s QUANTUM PROBABILITY AWARENESS power set] may seem like a cheap dodge, but it wasn’t – it’s a way to represent the expression of that kind of hyper-intelligence, much as Strength or Stamina are expressions of a powerful musculature or endocrine system…

He continues later on in the thread:

…I do want to underscore that I don’t consider Senses to be the universal power trait for super smarts. We didn’t give it to Reed, we gave it to Amadeus Cho. I believe it definitely belongs in a Hyper-Intelligence Power Set, but then I believe we should be talking about Power Sets anyway, not power traits. The game wasn’t designed to be about the power traits as standalone elements.

You can do a lot to represent certain uses of intelligence with the Senses power, or the Mimic power with a limit built around technology. Check out Forge in Civil War: X-men, or Amadeus Cho in Civil War: Young Avengers / Runaways for great examples of that.  There is a special place in my heart for the sort of raw brainpower intelligence that an Intellect trait might represent, and in my MHRP games, it would feel totally appropriate.

Luckily for me, Margaret Weis forums user Doc Hydrogen, who also writes for the blog overgeeked came up with a write up for an Intellect power trait that I think is spot on.


Intellect may be used in action or reaction dice pools.

Intellect covers reasoning ability and learning. A character with a high Intellect rank tends to be knowledgeable and well-educated.

Enhanced Intellect d8 represents two to three times the normal human intelligence, meaning you’re highly gifted or one of the smartest people in a nation.

Superhuman Intellect d10 indicates as much as ten times the intelligence of a normal human, meaning you’re one of the smartest people in the world or clearly beyond the normal range of human intelligence.

Godlike Intellect d12 indicates your intelligence surpasses even the smartest people in history, possibly bordering on the cosmic.

This is a common superpower, representing everything from mutation-enhanced intelligence to natural born smarts. As with many power traits, it’s often assumed to just work if there’s nothing challenging the hero, or if using Intellect is part of the description of an action (like figuring out the proper trajectory for a flight to take to minimize flight time).

Just as some other traits (Strength, Stamina, Reflexes) represent the raw ability but not necessarily the knowledge to use it, Intellect represents sheer brainpower while Specialties such as Cosmic, Medical, Science, and Tech represent the actual education, knowledge, and contacts represented by diligently studying those subjects.

So, how would I use these new intellect powers for good?  Below I present to you my datafile for Mr. Fantastic / Reed Richards, circa Fantastic Four #570 when he joins the Council of Reeds.

Mister Fantastic

Reed Richards
Reed Richards, Fantastic Four #570

Reed Richards, Fantastic Four#570.


Solo d10          Buddy d6          Team d8


By the Numbers     Family Man    Scientific Paragon


Superhuman Intellect d10, Superhuman Senses d10, Mimic d10

SFX: Versatile Mind. Replace a HYPER-INTELLIGENCE die with 2d8 or 3d6 on your next roll.

SFX: Redefine the Problem. If your pool includes both HYPER-INTELLIGENCE and a Master-level Specialty, spend 1 PP to reroll your dice.

SFX: Visionary Theoretician. If your pool includes HYPER-INTELLIGENCE, step up or double any die in that roll. If your action generates an opportunity, add an additional die to the doom pool equal to your effect die.

SFX: Problem Solver. If your pool includes HYPER-INTELLIGENCE, spend 1 PP to borrow a die from the doom pool for that roll. Then step back that doom die and return it to the doom pool.

SFX: Continued Education. In a reaction against an opponent that included a Specialty that is also included in your pool, spend 1 PP to add a die equal to the opponent’s specialty to your dice pool.

SFX: Uncanny Intuition. When using HYPER-INTELLIGENCE to create assets or complications, add a d6 and step up your effect die.

SFX: Practical Engineering. When you activate an opportunity to create a Science or Tech resource, step up that resource die. If another player gives you 1 pp, their hero may also use this resource.

SFX: Fine Tuning. Sacrifice your action to step up Science or Tech resources created from an opportunity.

Limit: Exhausted. Shutdown any HYPER-INTELLIGENCE power to gain 1 PP. Activate an opportunity or participate in a Transition Scene to recover that power.

Limit: Prototype. When you create an asset or complication with Mimic, shutdown Mimic and gain 1PP. Recover Mimic when the asset or complication is eliminated, removed, or recovered.


Enhanced Reflexes d8, Enhanced Speed d8, Stretching d10, Superhuman Durability d10

SFX: All Tied Up.When inflicting a grappling complication on a target, add a d6 and step up your effect die.

SFX: Area Attack. Against multiple targets, for each additional target add a d6 and keep an additional effect die.

SFX: Bounding Attack. Against a single target, step up or double Stretching. Remove the highest rolling die and use three dice for your total.

SFX: Versatile. Replace Stretching die with 2d8 or 3d6 on your next roll.

Limit: Exhausted. Shutdown any Hyperelasticity power to gain 1 PP. Activate an opportunity or participate in a Transition Scene to recover that power.


Cosmic Master d10, Tech Master d10, Science Master d10
Menace Expert d8, Medical Expert d8, Vehicle Expert d8


Idea #101: Solve Everything

1 XP: When you talk about the “big problems” that you could solve, if only you had enough time to focus on them.

3 XP: When you stop a task to focus on the needs of a family or team member, or you ignore the needs of a family or team member to focus on a “big problem”.

10 XP: When you stop trying to solve everything and turn your focus to being a family man and team player, or you abandon your family to focus on solving the bigger problems of the cosmos.

Overprotective Patriarch

1 XP: When you spare your family from unwelcome news, but you discuss the issue with a hero or villain who isn’t part of your family.

3 XP: When you suffer emotional stress in an argument about keeping secrets.

10 XP: When you finally come clean and tell your family everything, or you fix the problem without ever telling your family about it.


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