Retcons Revisited

I’ve seen discussion and complaints regarding the fact that some of the retcon options (such as swapping dice around) simply change a hero, but don’t improve the hero like some of the other options (like gaining a third Red ability). Thus, heroes who take the former sort of retcon end up weaker than those who take the latter variety. So, here’s a house rule that should help to alleviate that issue:

  1. During the retcon step, a hero may perform one of the following options:
    • Add any :d6: power or quality from any category.
    • Increase your Red status die by one size (maximum :d12:).
    • Gain an extra Red ability, as described in Step 5.
  2. Then, a hero may also perform any number (including zero) of the following options (maximum once each):
    • Swap any two dice within your powers.
    • Swap any two dice within your qualities.
    • Choose a different power or quality used in one of your abilities.
    • Change either of your principles to any other principle.

As you can see, what I’ve done is separate out all of the retcon options into those that make a hero stronger (1) and those that simply modify the hero (2). This way, every hero gets one of the “stronger” options—so they’re all on the same footing (and they’re still no stronger than heroes made using the old method)—and gets to use each of the “switching” options once.

Variants of this houserule could include giving heroes one 1 retcon and only one 2 retcon, instead of one of each of them; or giving heroes one 1 and unlimited 2s, letting them use any given option as many times as they like. But I think that the way I’ve presented it—as a medium betwixt those two extremes—would most likely work best.

I think this is a really swell idea, as it’s still ~95% the Constructed Method, but with enough added flexibility to hopefully alleviate some of the complaints about the system’s character creation constraints. I’m think I’m very likely to utilise it next time I GM players through the character creation process.

I am very curious to hear your thoughts on this; do y’all think it’s usable? Do you think it breaks anything in some way, or creates an unfun experience? Thanks!


It sounds good to me! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a reason to do any of the #2 options by themselves. Like… you can just take the powers or principles you want during character creation. The first three options just sound so much better, and this has been reflected by what I’ve seen people take for the retcon, unprompted.

I don’t agree with the base assumption, so I’m pretty uncertain about this idea. I’ll grant that the category one retcons are much more obvious (and popular) improvements than category two, but that doesn’t mean the latter aren’t making the hero stronger - and in some cases they’ll be more impactful than category one stuff (particularly the extra d6 P/Q choice, which mostly seems to be taken to fit a conceptual gap or qualify for Red ability you couldn’t access otherwise).

When you’re using Methods 1 or 2 the system is actually pretty restrictive about what dice can go where in each step, as well as limiting what P/Q is keyed with what ability. For ex, the dice you gain at the end of Background have to go to the powers (and only powers) you chose in Source. They can’t be allocated to options from your Archetype, where you’ll have powers and possibly qualities. Your Source abilities can’t be keyed to powers you’ll gain in Archetype either, and it’s very common to have to choose to use different powers/qualities on different Yellow and sometimes Green abilities as you go through Source and Archetype. You often wind up with dice in the “wrong” spots (both mechanically and conceptually) and the category two RetCons are a way to partially fix that if you really want (say) that big d12 you had to assign in Archetype to a power from Source - which will probably also radically change at least one Source ability that d12 is now keyed to.

It’s getting kind of late here and I’m running sick today, but if I’m conscious tomorrow I’ll try to put together a practical example of what I’m talking about. Pretty sure the amount of added potency you’re handing out with the ability to select all four of category two’s options is more than you think.

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Well, yes, but if you’re using the Guided or Constructed Methods, you’re somewhat limited in what you can choose. It’s only with the Secret Third Option that you can select exactly what you want, and I’m personally loath to use that. If other folks are happy using the S3O, though, that’s fine, it’s just not something that I’m eager to partake of.

I’m fairly confident saying that, in theory, every Principle is created equal. (Whether that’s true in practice is neither here nor there.)

I will admit that letting heroes replace the P/Q used in an ability could lead to that “all my abilities use my best die” problem, so you do have a good point there. And more generally, I suppose that all of the options can lead to more minmaxing than is possible in the default system, which is almost surely bad . . . then again, any increase in flexibility is usually accompanied by an increase in the potential for optimization, so . . . hmm.

I suppose the most prudent approach is usually to not mess with a system’s structure until one has accrued enough experience with said system, which I currently lack. And even then, changing rules can always have wholly unexpected consequences that no veteran could anticipate.

Get well soon. : )