Characters should be built on what the rulebook calls “Standard Power Level”: 400 points spent, with 75 points in matching Complications. You could theoretically spend only 325 points in order to have no complications, but this will make your character 1) weaker than everyone else’s, and 2) a lot less interesting in play.
All the listed powers are available except the time travel variant for Extra-Dimensional Travel, which will only be allowed if it has a lot of limitations built in. Please talk to the GM before taking any of the powers/abilities marked with a stop sign in the book – they’re all potentially unbalancing in one way or another. I’ll be regulating most of them beyond what’s in the book and don’t want anyone feeling ripped off because they took a power and I won’t let them use it as they’d like. Better for everyone if it’s discussed in advance.
Your main attack power should cost somewhere around 40 to 60 points or do equivalent damage (8d6-12d6 normal or 2.5d6-4d6 killing damage). This is a recommendation, not a rule. Lower-powered attacks will not be very effective, while higher ones will be dangerous enough to draw unwanted attention from the authorities (since they’re likely to splatter non-super opponents).
Some other things to think about:
Origin How did your character become super and what is the source of his/her powers? You don’t have to write up an origin story (though it’s great if you do) but have some idea what happened. The world you’re in has room for mutants, magic, space aliens, people or things from other dimensions, supernatural creatures, ridiculous levels of technology, and pretty much anything else you’ve seen in comics or other superhero media, and a lot of “powers” could come from gadgetry or intensive training. And a “mystery origin”, where the character him/herself doesn’t know what happened, makes a good subplot.
Motivation Being a hero involves taking on hardened criminals and maniacal supervillains at great risk to life and limb. Why does your character do it? A lot of traditional characters are motivated by personal tragedy (Batman, Spider-Man) or simple goodness (Superman) but there are plenty of other possibilities. Less altruistic heroes might do it to test their skills (or inventions, or whatever) in a real-world setting, or as a way to unleash their “beast within” without endangering the general public, or just to show off their cool powers and get to hang around with other supers. More selfish “heroes” might figure it’s a great way to pick up chicks, or hope to make money through corporate endorsements or book/movie deals.
Personal Life What does your character do when he/she isn’t fighting crime? This can have as much or as little detail as you feel like creating. The only requirement is a source of income. Superheroing is a valuable public service, but it won’t pay the bills. Unless you’re a dependent minor or heir to a fortune, this will mean you need a job. Freelance jobs are popular in the comics, but a regular job can lead to entertaining (for the GM, at least) conflicts as your character tries to balance a career with their battle for the greater good.
Noncombat Abilities It’s assumed your hero has the skills, powers, and/or equipment to hold his own in a fight, but consider buying some abilities useful out of combat too (If nobody is able to find the bad guys’ hideout, it leaves everyone standing around in spandex scratching themselves). Stealth, breaking-and-entering skills, detective abilities, knowledge, and interpersonal skills can help keep an adventure moving along. They’re also pretty cheap.
Law & Order Your hero is in a world where superhumans have existed since the 1930’s and laws have adapted to deal with them. So has law enforcement – many police departments will have weapons and tactics specifically designed to bring down supers. Having powers doesn’t make you exempt from the law (though it does make you harder to catch). If you casually kill every hoodlum you encounter, the police will be on your trail and you may eventually find yourself in a prison designed to hold super inmates. If you plan on a lot of illegal activity, you’d be wise to either cover your tracks or get very good at escape & evasion.
Secret Identity Not required but encouraged. Keeping your super and civilian lives separate protects your friends and loved ones from vengeful enemies, and may protect you from legal issues caused by your super activities (whether that be arrest or financial liability for property damage). The secret ID also provides some easy off-duty drama (“Egad! I think Lana suspects that I’m secretly Captain Fisticuffs!”) and, as a bonus, will cover 15 points of your required Complications. Note that your “disguise” needn’t be too elaborate – this is a world where a pair of glasses and minor change in hairstyle are enough to deceive your closest friends for years, and a teeny mask over just your eyes prevents witness identification.
Power vs. Effect When picking out your powers, first think of the effect you want to achieve, then select the power that best matches it. The rules allow for “special effects” to be just about anything. An example: Captain Teleport wants to be able to ‘port heavy objects over the heads of opponents, which will then fall on them. The effect: the bad guy gets smacked. This would best be bought as the Blast power (with the Focus limitation, and maybe some others) but would still fit with the original conception of powers.
Equipment Any equipment your character routinely carries around must be purchased with points if it has an appreciable in-game effect. I’ll be reasonable here – having a watch won’t require buying “Sense Time of Day”, but any weapon and most gadgets will have to be bought. Gear that you find/borrow/steal/confiscate is free short-term, but if you decide to start using it permanently you’ll have to use your XP to keep it.
Final note: the rules are a lot to take in, even just to the point of simply building a character. The new rulebook is very thorough, but at times almost seems to go out of its way to be intimidating. If you have questions or need help (even to the point of sitting down together to build a character), please let me know. I don’t have the rules memorized or anything, but I’ve been building characters with this system since the 80’s.