Active Limitations and Disadvantages in BASH – The Superhero RPG:

Clint Staples

Currently, Limitations and Disadvantages in BASH are passive things, largely left in the hands of a GM who may have too many other things to think about, such that he forgets to tap them when the time is right. Now some players might be snickering inside at that, thinking they are getting away with something.

Actually they are losing out - especially if you adopt the advice in this article.

The idea of active Limitations and Disadvantages is to give a measure of character responsibility and control back to the Player. Instead of making the GM keep track of your character’s shortcomings. You do it – and you get a reward for it. Here is the basic notion:

Subject to GM approval, a player may choose to evoke a Disadvantage or Limitation on their turn as a free action. The player describes how the Disadvantage or Limitation comes into play, and, if the GM allows it, the character immediately is rewarded with a number of Hero Points. Hero Points gained in this way do not accumulate from session to session.


The first time in a session that a player evokes a Limitation or Disadvantage, they gain 3 Hero Points. Each subsequent time the reward drops by 1. This may be modified in play by how much of a hindrance the limitation or disadvantage imposes, but after the third evocation by a single player, the Hero Point Reward is at Zero until next session for that player.

Here are Examples of how this could be used in play:

Weapon – Anhk-Blade: Limitation - Item: Easily Taken - Ankh leaps to the defense of a vampire's victim wielding his signature weapon. After driving back the undead monster, the player states that as the vampire is repulsed, it lashes out, knocking the weapon out of Anhk’s grasp - the Player receives a Hero Point reward and must take some action to retrieve the item before he can use it again.

Deflection: Limitation - Burnout - Moonscar dodges desperately to evade the hail of bullets from a horde of minions. The player decides that the bullets tear his Mantle of Moonlight to shreds. The burnout on Deflection triggers automatically [without a roll] and Moonscar's player gets a Hero Point reward.

Disadvantage - Ward: Precocious Little Sister - Adrenalynne is on patrol in her neighbourhood when she spies a drug dealer on the corner sporting the tats and colours of a new gang. She drops from the rooftop to confront the gangster. The GM states that the thug draws on Adrenalynne. Adrenalynne's player adds that little sister Miki steps out of the shadows sporting a new tattoo. The GM approves the addition to the scene and Adrenalynne's player gets a Hero Point reward to go with her character's headache.

This mechanic would not replace the regular rules for Disadvantages or Limitations in BASH, just add to them. So a player could roll for Burnout normally, or choose to have it happen automatically for a Hero Point reward. And obviously, some Disadvantages and Limitations are more conducive to this sort of Activation than others. The GM will let you know if what you want to do is within the scope of your shared reality.

Options: It may be that, depending on the game, the Active version described here becomes too tempting, in which case the GM can institute a limit of once per character per encounter. Another possible limitation is to require that the current reward be used in the current encounter.

Art: Bloodwork, by Ross A. Campbell.