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Skip Navigation LinksHERO System>Threshold Framework
Custom Framework: Threshold Scale
Following are rules describing a new Power Framework for the HERO System called a "Threshold Scale".
Threshold Scale Advantages Usage Sample Character

         Threshold Scale

Cost:     1 Character Point per 5 Points of Capacity. Slots in the Framework are bought as normal Powers, but have a Threshold Limitation applied to them based upon a variety of options.
A character with a Threshold Scale has one or more Powers that have a potential magnitude that is achieved by building up a charge via exposure to a defined circumstance or stimuli, or some other concept by which the character must accumulate up to a maximum effect.
Typically the Powers in a Threshold Scale share a common special effect, such as "rage", "chi", "energy absorption", "rapid adaptation", and so on. This allows a character to create a selection of powers and effects that are conjoined to a common motivating force.

Buying a Threshold Scale

A Threshold Scale is defined in terms of a point Capacity that represents the maximum number of points that it can aggregate or charge up to; a character pays 1 Character Point per 5 points of Capacity in a Threshold Scale. Thus a Threshold Scale with a Capacity of 50 points costs 10 Character Points, for example.
A Threshold Scale has 0 points in its natural state, but exposure to a single defined circumstance, called a Condition, causes it to accumulate points up to its Capacity. At any given time a Threshold Scale will have an accumulated total of between 0 points and its purchased Capacity.
CONDITION
The Condition that causes a Threshold Scale to accumulate a charge (up to its Capacity) must be defined. When a Condition is satisfied, the Threshold Scale gains points based upon the Severity of the stimuli that satisfied the Condition. The Severities of stimuli and the number of points generated by them are explained in the below Condition Severity table.

THRESHOLD SCALE
CONDITION SEVERITY

Mild 10 Marginal or weak stimuli; if a Power then 15 AP or less*
Moderate 20 Average or typical stimuli; if a Power then 45 AP or less*
Strong 30 Powerful or unusually potent stimuli; if a Power then 60 AP or less*
Intense 40 Very high magnitude or focused stimuli; if a Power then 75 AP or less*
Extreme 50 Absurdly high or focused stimuli; if a Power then 90+ AP or less*
NOTE: A GM might prefer to use less than 10 point increments; for example if a stimuli is between Mild and Moderate, a GM might indicate that 15 points are accumulated rather than 10. In this event it is recommended that 5 point increments be used for ease of bookkeeping when tracking FADE rates.
* AP guidelines are based on an assumption of 60 AP caps on Powers; in campaigns without AP caps the GM should adjust the scale as appropriate to their campaign.
Thus if a character that had a Threshold Scale with a defined Condition of "When Affected By Electricity Damage" were to stick a fork in a light socket they would get a Mild stimuli and add 10 to their Threshold Scale. However if they were to get hit by a natural lightning bolt they would get a Strong stimuli and add 30 to their Threshold Scale, for example.
By default the Frequency of the Condition that causes a Threshold Scale to accumulate points towards its Capacity is assumed to be Uncommon. What constitutes an Uncommon Condition will vary by campaign, but generally circumstances that would not seem out of the ordinary when they occur or are present, but are not so common that they are seen or present a majority of the time. As a general rule of thumb things that would normally be worth around a -1/4 Limitation if taken as a Limited Power are generally equivalent to an Uncommon Condition.
FADE
 By default a Threshold Scale's accumulated points FADE at a rate of 5 points per Turn, similar to most Adjustment Powers and Absorption.
Thus if a character had a Threshold Scale and had accumulated 30 points in it, at the end of the Turn 5 points FADE away leaving the character with 25 points in their Threshold Scale.

Buying Powers

A character that has one or more Threshold Scales can opt to have one or more of their Powers use a particular Threshold Scale by taking a Threshold Limitation on them, the value of which varies as explained below.
There are three different varieties of Power slots used with Threshold Scales: Actualized, Interim, and Surge slots. A Threshold Scale can support all three types of slots in any combination; thus a character might have one of each type of slot, several Surge slots and one Actualized slot, or any other combination desired.
ACTUALIZED SLOTS
 A Power that only works when the Threshold Scale is at or above a given level is called an Actualized slot. A Power in an Actualized slot takes a Limitation based upon what level the Threshold Scale must be at or above for the Power to be used.
The Limitation value for a Power to be made into an Actualized slot is rated as a cumulative -1/4 for every 10 points the Power requires the Threshold Scale to be at in order to function.

THRESHOLD SCALE
ACTUALIZED LIMITATIONS

-1/4 Threshold Scale (10) and higher
-1/2 Threshold Scale (20) and higher
-3/4 Threshold Scale (30) and higher
-1 Threshold Scale (40) and higher
-1 1/4 Threshold Scale (50) and higher
... etc
Thus if a Power required a Threshold Scale of 80+ to function, it would take a -2 Limitation.
As long as the Threshold Scale the slot belongs to is at or above the indicated points an Actualized slot may be used in the normal fashion for that Power; but as soon as the Threshold Scale FADEs below the necessary points the Power turns off immediately and cannot be reactivated until the Threshold Scale is again at or above the required point level.
EXAMPLE: A player creates a Power to be used as an Actualized slot in a Threshold Scale Power Framework. The Power requires the Threshold Scale to have at least 20 points in it to work, and thus a -1/2 Limitation is applied to the Power. As long as the character's Threshold Scale is at or above 20 points the Power may be used normally; however the Power cannot be used (and shuts off if in use) if the Threshold Scale is at 0 to 19 points. This is annotated as: Threshold (Actualized (20); -1/2).
INTERIM SLOTS
A Power that only works when the Threshold Scale is at (not above) a specific point band is called an Interim slot. For purposes of an Interim slot a Threshold Scale is looked at in 10 point band increments, so a Interim slot that required 30 points would be usable while the Threshold Scale was between 30 and 39 points.
The Limitation value for a Power to be made into an Interim slot is rated as a cumulative -1/2 for every 10 points the Power requires the Threshold Scale to be at in order to function.

THRESHOLD SCALE
INTERIM LIMITATIONS

-1/2 Threshold Scale (10)
-1 Threshold Scale (20)
-1 1/2 Threshold Scale (30)
-2 Threshold Scale (40)
-2 1/2 Threshold Scale (50)
... etc
 Thus if a Power required a Threshold Scale of 80-99 to function it would take a -4 Limitation.
OTHER MODIFIERS
-1/2 Interim point band is at terminus of Threshold Scale
-1/4 Each additional 10 point band
However, an Interim slot that occupies the terminus of the Threshold Scale is reduced by -1/2 due to the increased likelihood that the Scale will hover in that area in practice. For instance, in a Threshold Scale with 50 Capacity, the Limitation value for an Interim slot that required Interim (40) or Interim (50) would be reduced by -1/2. EXAMPLE: A player creates a Power to be used as an Interim slot in a Threshold Scale Power Framework. The Power requires the Threshold Scale to be between 30 and 39 points to work, and thus a -1 1/2 Limitation is applied to the Power. As long as the character's Threshold Scale is between 30 and 39 points the Power may be used normally; however the Power cannot be used (and shuts off if in use) if the Threshold Scale is at 0 to 29 points or 40+ points. This is annotated as: Threshold (Interim (30); -1 1/2).
As long as the Threshold Scale the slot belongs to is at the precise point band indicated, the Interim slot may be used in the normal fashion for that Power; but as soon as the Threshold Scale rises above or FADEs below the necessary point band the Power turns off immediately and cannot be reactivated until the Threshold Scale is again within the specified 10 point band.
EXAMPLE 1: A player creates a Power to be used as an Interim slot in a Threshold Scale Power Framework. The Power requires the Threshold Scale to be between 30 to 49 points to work and thus a -1 1/4 Limitation is applied to the Power. As long as the character's Threshold Scale is between 30 and 49 points the Power may be used normally; however the Power cannot be used (and shuts off if in use) if the Threshold Scale is at 0 to 29 points or 50+ points. This is annotated as: Threshold (Interim (30,40); -1 1/4).
EXAMPLE 2: A player creates a Power to be used as an Interim slot in a Threshold Scale Power Framework. The Power requires the Threshold Scale to be between 30 to 39 points or between 60 to 99 points to work and thus a -1/2 Limitation is applied to the Power. As long as the character's Threshold Scale is between 30 and 39 or 60 and 99 points the Power may be used normally; however the Power cannot be used (and shuts off if in use) if the Threshold Scale is at 1 to 29, 40-59, or 100+ points. This is annotated as: Threshold (Interim (30,60,70,80,90); -1/2).
The point band in which an Interim slot is functional can be widened; every extra ten point increment that the slot remains functional in reduces the Limitation value by -1/4. The bands do not have to be sequential but the Limitation value is based on the lowest point band. Thus if an Interim slot required a Threshold Scale of 20-49 it would be a -1/2 Limitation, while an Interim slot that required a Threshold Scale of 20 or 40 or 60 would also be a -1/2 Limitation, but an Interim slot that required a Threshold Scale of 30 or 50 would be a -1 1/4 Limitation.
SURGE SLOTS
A Power that uses a Threshold Scale that always works, but has an affect in direct correlation to the current number of points in the Threshold Scale is called a Surge Slot. A Surge Slot functions similar to a linked Power; the functionality of the slot is at 100% effect when the Threshold Scale they use is at 100% Capacity, and proportionately less in evenly rounded increments when the Pool is at less than full Capacity.
The Limitation value for a Power to be made into an Surge slot is a cumulative -1/4 for every full 50 points of Capacity in the Threshold Scale that the slot uses.

THRESHOLD SCALE
SURGE LIMITATIONS

-1/4 Threshold Scale 50 Capacity and under
-1/2 Threshold Scale 100 Capacity and under
-3/4 Threshold Scale 150 Capacity and under
-1 Threshold Scale 200 Capacity and under
... etc
Thus if a character had a Threshold Scale with 50 Capacity then all of that character's Surge slots in that Threshold Scale would take a -1/4 Limitation, while all the slots in a 100 Capacity Threshold Scale would take a -1/2 Limitation.
EXAMPLE: A player creates a Power to be used as a Surge slot in a Threshold Scale Power Framework. The Threshold Scale has a Capacity of 90, and thus the Power takes a -1/4 Limitation. This is annotated as: Threshold (Surge; -1/4).
ADVANTAGES ON THRESHOLD SCALES
Standard Advantages are not applicable to the Capacity of a Threshold Scale, however, there are a few Advantages specific to a Threshold Scale that control general behavior as follows:
CONDITIONS
By default the Frequency of the Condition that causes a Threshold Scale to accumulate points towards its Capacity is assumed to be "Uncommon". However this can be modified.

THRESHOLD SCALE
FREQUENCY MODIFIERS

-1 Rare Condition
-1/2 Very Uncommon Condition
n/a Uncommon Condition
+1/2 Common Condition
+1 Very Common Condition
A "Common" Condition requires a +1/2 Advantage, and a "Very Common" Condition requires a +1 Advantage. Conversely if a Condition is "Very Uncommon" then a character may take a -1/2 Limitation on the cost of their Threshold Scale; if the Condition is "Rare" then a character may take a -1 Limitation instead.
By default a Threshold Scale has one Condition that causes accumulation of points towards their Capacity; however this can be extended by taking an Advantage for each additional Condition.

THRESHOLD SCALE
ADDITIONAL CONDITIONS ADVANTAGE*

+1/2 Additional Rare Condition
+3/4 Additional Very Uncommon Condition
+1 Additional Uncommon Condition
+1 1/4 Additional Common Condition
+1 1/2 Additional Very Common Condition

* This Advantage may be taken multiple times

If a Threshold has multiple Conditions that cause it's Capacity to aggregate then each additional Condition is a +1 Advantage modified up or down in 1/4 increments based upon the frequency of the extra Condition starting from "Uncommon". Thus an additional Rare Condition on a Threshold Scale would be a +1/2 Advantage, while an additional Very Common Condition would be +1 1/2 Advantage. The most common Condition must be used for the original Condition; additional Conditions must be of at least equal or less frequency than the most common Condition.
NOTE: A given Condition could be "Common" in one campaign and "Rare" in another, like "exposure to Chi Powers" for instance. As always, the GM is the final arbiter of what commonality applies to a particular Condition.
DELAYED FADE RATE
By default the points accumulated in a Threshold Scale normally return to zero (i.e. FADE) in increments of 5 points every Turn. This return rate can be cumulatively moved one level down the Time Chart for a +1/4 Advantage. For example, a Threshold Scale that loses points at the rate of 5 points per 20 minutes is three levels down the Time Chart, and thus requires a +3/4 Advantage.
LIMITATIONS ON THRESHOLD SCALES
Standard Limitations are not applicable to the Capacity of a Threshold Scale, however the Frequency Modifiers table previously given summarizes a Limitation that can be taken on a Threshold Scale if the Condition allowing accumulation towards Capacity is Very Uncommon or Rare. Additionally the following Limitations are applicable to Threshold Scales:
DISSIPATED
By default the points accumulated in a Threshold Scale are not reduced by using Powers based on it; the points are only lost via the FADE rate. However a -1/2 Dissipated Limitation may be applied the Capacity cost of a Threshold Scale to indicate that each Power slot in the Threshold Scale reduces the Threshold Scale when it is used by an amount equal to its Real Cost when it is activated.
MITIGATED
By default the points accumulated in a Threshold Scale are only lost via the FADE rate. However a -1/2 Mitigated Limitation may be applied the Capacity cost of a Threshold Scale to indicate that exposure to a defined Mitigating Condition reduces the Threshold Scale by an amount equivalent to its Severity in the same fashion that exposure to its Conditions causes the Threshold Scale to accumulate points.
The Mitigating Condition must be of equivalent Frequency to the most common Condition defined for the Threshold Scale by default. However, if the Mitigating Condition is of a greater Frequency than the most common Condition on the Threshold Scale then the value of the Limitation is modified by an addition -1/4 for each level of Frequency between them. Similarly if the Mitigating Condition is of less Frequency than the most common Condition on the Threshold Scale then the Limitation is modified by +1/2 for each level of Frequency between them.
Thus if a Threshold Scale has an Uncommon Condition "Exposed to Heat/Fire", then a matching Mitigating Condition might be "Exposed to Water"; this would be worth a -1/2 Mitigated Limitation since the two Conditions are roughly equivalently Frequent. On the other hand if a Threshold Scale had a  Condition of "When in Zero Gravity" that would be Very Rare in most campaigns, and a Mitigating Condition of "When affected by Gravity" that would typically be Very Common, a -1 1/2 Mitigated Limitation would be taken on the Threshold Scale's Capacity.
EXAMPLE: The character Anger Mouse gets stronger, tougher, and faster the more angry he gets; he has a Threshold Scale with the Uncommon Condition "When insulted or antagonized". However melodious music soothes this savage beast; he has a Mitigating Condition "When soothing music is heard", which is also Uncommon. One day the dastardly fiend Stash Twirler makes fun of the diminutive Anger Mouse, uttering a stream of vituperous mockery (as part of a large PRE attack) that the GM judges to be Strong, and Anger Mouse's Threshold Scale accumulates 30 points. Anger Mouse proceeds to show Stash the error of his ways, but their battle carries the two mortal enemies within hearing range of a Church from which pours the sounds of a choral that the GM declares to be of Moderate Severity; Anger Mouse's Threshold Scale is reduced by 20 points. Hopefully Stash will do something to irk him again! 

Using a Threshold Scale

Threshold Scales are easy to use; they primarily exist to provide a metered scale that various Powers can use as a criteria for their own functioning. A player using a character that has a Threshold Scale merely needs to keep track of their current Threshold Scale as it accumulates and FADEs in a fashion that is very similar to playing a character with the Absorption Power.
Following are a couple of sample Power sets based upon the Threshold Scale Framework.
Example 1 RAGE METER:
Growing Fury: Threshold (50 Pool); Condition 1: When BODY Damage Taken (Common; +1/2)*, Extra Condition: When Insulted (Uncommon; +1)**; (25 Active Points); Real Cost: 25  
a) Furious Strength +30 STR; Reduced END (0 END; +1/2); (45 Active Points); Threshold (Surge; -1/4), No Figured Characteristics (-1/2); Real Cost: 26 
b) Furious Aura +30 PRE; (30 Active Points); Threshold (Actualized (30); -3/4); Real Cost: 17
c) Angry Rush +2 HtH levels; (10 Active Points); Threshold (Interim (10); -1/2); Real Cost: 7 
d) Red-out Mental Defense 30; (30 Active Points); Threshold (Actualized (40); -1); Real Cost: 15
e) Beyond Pain Armor 10 PD; (20 Active Points); Threshold (Surge; -1/4); Real Cost: 16 
TOTAL REAL COST: 106 Character Points
* + ** : Commonality for these Conditions would vary by character, taking into account any relevant Disadvantages or other abilities. In this case an assumption is in affect that the character taking these abilities lacks considerable defenses normally and thus can expect to take BODY damage somewhat frequently, and lacks any Psychological Disadvantages or Berserks indicating that they are particularly prone to being insulted. A more well-defended character that was easily insulted might have the same Conditions, but with frequencies of Occasional and Very Common respectively (and also therefore have "When Insulted" as the first Condition, as it would be the more frequent Condition), for example.
Example 2 CHI COLLECTOR:
Chi Vampire: Threshold (100 Pool); Condition 1: When Near\Exposed to Strong Chi Sources (Common; +1/2)*, Extra Condition: When Meditating (Occasional; +3/4)**, Delayed FADE Rate (5/Hour; +1); (45 Active Points); Real Cost: 65
a) Ghostly Journey Desolid (Affected By Chi Powers); Reduced END (0 END; +1/2); (60 Active Points); Threshold (Actualized (50); -1 1/4); Real Cost: 27
b) Chi Aura FF 10 PD 10 ED; (20 Active Points); Threshold (Actualized (10); -1/4); Real Cost: 16
c) Chi Blast 10d6 EB; Variable Advantage (Must take +1/2 in Advantage; +1) (100 Active Points); Threshold (Surge; -1/2); Real Cost: 66
d) Taint Chi I Drain PRE 3d6; Ranged (+1/2); (45 Active Points); Threshold (Interim (30); -1 1/2); Real Cost: 18
e) Taint Chi II Drain INT 3d6; Ranged (+1/2); (45 Active Points); Threshold (Interim (60); -3); Real Cost: 11
f) Taint Chi III Drain EGO 6d6; Ranged (+1/2); (90 Active Points); Threshold (Interim (90); -4); Real Cost: 18
g) Chi Leaping Gliding 30"; (30 Active Points); Threshold (Surge; -1/2); Real Cost: 20
TOTAL REAL COST: 241 Character Points
* Assumes character is in a Chi oriented campaign
** Assumes that while the character might Meditate often, it will only Occasionally have an impact on events.
Example 3 HERO TOKENS -- ARCHER:
Archer Token Pool: Threshold (50 Pool); Condition: When doing Heroic things for a Phase; Common Condition (+1/2); Dissipated (-1/2) ; (15 Active Points); Real Cost: 10
a) Precise Shot: Killing Attack - Ranged 4d6+1 (vs. PD) (65 Active Points); OIF (Bow & Arrow of Opportunity; -1/2), Arrangement (-1/4), Threshold (Actualized (20)) (-1/2), Required Hands Two-Handed (-1/2), Extra Time (Full Phase, -1/2); Real Cost: 20
b) Bounced Shot: Killing Attack - Ranged 3d6 (vs. PD), Indirect (Same origin, always fired away from attacker; +1/4) (56 Active Points); OIF (Bow & Arrow of Opportunity; -1/2), Arrangement (-1/4), Required Hands Two-Handed (-1/2), Threshold (Actualized (20)) (-1/2); Real Cost: 20
c) Rapid Shot: Killing Attack - Ranged 3d6+1 (vs. PD), Area Of Effect (5" Any Area; +1), Selective (+1/4) (112 Active Points); OIF (Bow & Arrow of Opportunity; -1/2), Arrangement (-1/4), Threshold (Actualized (30)) (-3/4), Required Hands Two-Handed (-1/2), Extra Time (Full Phase, -1/2), Can Be Missile Deflected (-1/4); Real Cost: 30
TOTAL REAL COST: 80 Character Points
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