Housing The Team
Where Do Bases Come From?
The HERO system rules go into detail on the size, shape and capabilities of a base. What is missing is the origin. Unless your base is techno-organic, it probably didn’t just grow up out of the Earth one day. And even if it did, chances are somebody planted the seed. So where does the base come from?
There are any number of origins for a base, and each of them can suggest some capabilities or disadvantages.
Financed By Wealthy Team Member
This is probably the safest origin for a base, or at least one with the least strings attached. This base is likely to look like a mansion or high-rise skyscraper, the kind of thing that the wealthy team member is used to dealing with. If he is comfortable in the boardroom, he’ll build the same kind of structure to provide the same kind of comfort in his extracurricular activities.
This suggests a downtown location, although a mansion in the suburbs isn’t entirely unheard of. It also suggests that most of the size will be vertical, with several floors or sub-basements being dedicated to team functions. If it’s on the roof of a skyscraper, it better have a helipad or hangar up there for the team transport. Some of the larger bases may encompass the entirety of a skyscraper, perhaps even renting out to more normal tenants to help cover team expenses.
Capabilities for these bases tend to be on the light side. Defenses will ordinarily be hidden, such as concealed blasters or extending grappler arms. No one wants their beautiful mansion spoiled by open weaponry on display, aimed at everyone in the foyer!
Several disadvantages are suggested by this type of base. The most obvious is the dangerous link between the funding for the base and the secret identity of the owner. If someone can research the sale far enough, they may be able to deduce which member of the team is secretly a rich industrialist, posing as his own bodyguard in armor to work with the team. This can be bought in many ways:
1) Simply buy a Secret ID for the base. This doesn’t mean the base’s location or any of that information is unknown. Instead, it means that it was bought through dummy corporations, pseudonyms and other such tricks. It’s not impossible to crack, which is why this is a disadvantage. The GM should take advantage of this by having some computer hacker occasionally happen on files revealing the corporation used to purchase the base as false, or having someone in the corporation start to wonder why all this money for maintenance is being funneled into some off-shore company they’ve never heard of.
2) Adding a “Watched” or “Hunted” to the base which has NCI, marked as some individual or organization that wants to know who owns the base. The local government makes a good Hunted for this, as does a would-be member of the team who wants to blackmail his way in.
3) Give the base a Physical Limitation: Could compromise buyer’s Secret ID. It’s severity and frequency depend entirely upon how cautious the buyer was. If he simply paid cash and didn’t use any names, it should be pretty easy to crack by talking to the real estate agent. On the other hand, if he set up off-shore accounts and had proxy corporations buy it using those accounts, it might be a bit tougher to crack.
A Gift from the Stars
The base was given by or taken from an alien race. Either a starship or satellite that was being used as a monitor station or part of an invasion force, or possibly a highly technological gift from a grateful alien race. This type of structure can range from ultra high-tech to techno-organic, with a benevolent feeling or the sense that the unknown lurks in every room. It could even be left over from an alien race that roamed the Earth in days gone by, and have a mystical, reverent feel to it.
At any rate, this type of base is almost always in a remote location. Most of them will be orbital facilities or even huge ships, capable of movement. Some might have been found, crashed under the ocean or shut down and weed-encrusted in some remote part of Africa or Asia. Rarely will this type of base be located in the city or suburbs, unless it crashed there during a campaign event and the PCs just took up living there.
More often than not, these bases have amazing technology.
It may be hard to understand, it may be dangerous, but it will be amazing.
Note: These bases are most often given out as a reward, in lieu of experience
points, by the GM, and players generally will not know its capabilities.
It may be a fantastic base, but it will almost certainly have a dangerous
downside that must be bought off with experience points (and time studying
Some possible capabilities:
1) An alien healing device (4d6 Aid, OIF Immobile) that can be used on humans. In the same vein, if the aliens were here for a covert operation, they may have devices which can modify their appearance (Shape Shift, Usable By Others) or even make them invisible. For that matter, the base itself may have these capabilities, able to shift itself into looking like a harmless cliff formation or able to cloak itself from prying satellites or human eyes.
2) The defenses will tend toward the more esoteric. Rather than just standard energy blasters (although a starship will tend to have a few of those), they might have pain-givers (Drain CON), high-pitched sonics (NND EB or even Ego Blast), aversion devices (Mind Control, single command only “leave this place”) or any number of other technical miracles. Go for the bizarre. Have a bad luck generator that temporarily transforms someone, giving them 1d6 Unluck with each successful transformation. Have mental illusions that make them think, one by one, that everyone else has turned into a monster. Have devices which shut down various senses and then use attacks invisible to that sense. Think sneaky, dangerous and alien. If you’re feeling whimsical, put in a change environment that does something apparently useless (turns all leather pink) but might have had a useful defensive effect on other alien species.
3) Laboraties may be abundant, but they may also be incomprehensible. Your mechanic might have trouble using a glepnork instead of a wrench, and the last thing you want to hear from a chemist is “I’ve never seen this green bubbling compound before in my life.” To simulate this, you might try a rather unusual set-up, either using Skills with an activation roll (to simulate random understanding) or even better, give them a limitation based on high intelligence (only usable by those with skill higher than 16- or INT 25+).
4) Life support is essential, but might need to be a human retrofit. It does little good if your base is safe in oxygen environments, providing a constant flow of “life-giving” methane. Or if it maintains a Venusian comfortable 135 degree temperature at all times. However, if these life support systems do exist, and can’t be turned off, they can make good physical limitations.
Some possible disadvantages:
1) This is one of the few situations where it makes sense for a base to have berserk or enraged. The wrong computer command or code word could set it off, launching all the defenses at whoever is inside.
2) Nuisance systems are a great source of disadvantages. Having to wear oxygen tanks to overcome the constant flow of deadly gases is a physical limitation for the base. So is requiring a STR of 20 or more to walk around because the gravity controls were left on alien standard. Or constant flashing lights that can cause seizures. Or strange noises and lights causing a few people to go insane every now and then, thinking they hear the voices of the Old Ones.
3) Really advanced alien bases might even try to make the inhabitants like its former masters. This can simply be a physical limitation: changes inhabitants into different lifeform or it can be more subtle. For example, say the inhabitants of planet Kerlon are vulnerable to fire. That’s how the invasion was beaten back. Having a Vulnerability to Fire, Usable Against Others at the disposal of the artificial intelligence running the base is certainly a limitation for the inhabitants.
4) Besides the obvious notion of being hunted by the base’s former inhabitants (or their enemies), there are also several other possible Hunteds. Alien races may have very deadly predators that they consider only as annoying as cockroaches or rats. Nothing like being hunted in your own base.