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Badass Normal / Tabletop Games

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  • Games Workshop games:
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • Sisters of Battle have about the same gear as Space Marines, but none of the physiological enhancement that makes the latter more than human. What they lack in extra organs and other body modifications, they more than make up with faith and determination alone. For a specific example, Canoness Praxedes of the Order of Our Martyred Lady, who led a hit and run campaign against a Tyranid hive fleet on the shrine world of Okassis to allow an evacuation. As the Tyranids overwhelmed the cathedral, she faced a Hive Tyrant, a monstrous creature towering at six metres tall and armed with blades of living chitin that can slice clean through adamantium in single combat, and they killed each other. No wonder she was sainted after the battle.
      • Due to consisting mostly of ordinary human men and women in a galaxy where humanity is severely outclassed by almost everyone else, the Imperial Guard have a well-earned reputation for being Puny Earthlings and the Butt Monkeys of the setting, but they can be this. With little more than a laser gun and flak armour they are forced to do battle with the enemies of the Imperium with nothing but their vast numbers and a variety of tanks to press the advantage. And sometimes, that's enough. While less successful or badly-run regiments are reduced to Red Shirt Army status, the more successful ones are famed for their Heroic Willpower and impressive accomplishments.
      • Stormtroopers, Kaskrin and Grenadiers. Ordinary humans with slightly better gear than the rest of the regiment. On the battlefield they will do everything they can and beyond to match the Space Marines. And often they will succeed.
      • Catachan Guardsmen are a level of badass most other Guardsmen can only dream of. Their homeworld is a Death World that eats other Death Worlds for breakfast, where surviving to the age of ten is considered an accomplishment equivalent to graduating from boot camp, and the ones sent to the Guard are the best of the PDF forces. Possibly somewhat expected, the average Catachan Guardsman is basically Rambo. The special characters Sly Marbo, Gunnery Sergeant "Stonetooth" Harker and Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken exemplify it to a suitable degree. For example, Harker carries a Heavy Bolter as his weapon of choice. He carries it alone, with no superhuman enhancements or power armor and he can run with it (Space Marines can't). He is also known for crushing in an arm lock a Ravener that tried to sneak attack him.
      • The Tau Empire manages to qualify as a whole. They're physically weaker than even humans, yet they've managed to conquer a crapton of worlds while taking on Orks, Space Marines, Imperial Guardsmen, Eldar, Chaos Daemons, Chaos Marines, Tyranids, Necrons, and whatever other horrors are present in the grim, dark world of Warhammer 40,000, and you know what? They're kicking a lot of ass. Even more impressive when you realize they're doing all of this with nothing but hyper-advanced technology and a firm believe in the Greater Good. Not bad for a xeno species.
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    • Eldar Guardians. Guardians are strictly a civilian militia used to supplement and support the more well-equipped and professional Aspect Warriors, as well as serve as vehicle and artillery crews. However, even these unassuming weekend warriors are amazing fighters by human standards.
    • The spin-off RPG Black Crusade features the most awesome woman outside of the Sisters of Battle: a corrupt Imperial aristocrat who became obsessed with control over others and over herself, and eventually became convinced that she could allow a Keeper of Secrets (one of the most powerful of Slaanesh's daemons) to possess her body and then use sheer willpower to not only overcome the possession but also use the daemon's energy to extend her life... and she was right. Over the course of decades, she trapped the Keeper of Secrets in her body and painfully sucked it dry until it was cast back into the Warp. Then she did this with two other demons, to prove this wasn't a fluke. To wit, this is an untrained and completely ordinary human woman who ate three Eldritch Abominations. And she was going to go for a fourth until Slaanesh hirself took notice and made her a Daemon Prince out of respect (and as a Stealth Insult to hir own daemons).
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    • In Necromunda, with the exception of the stimm-enhanced citizens of House Goliath, the members of the various House gangs tend to be regular humans chosen from the regular population of the House for their violent tendencies who then go on to fight each other, and the various dangerous mutant lifeforms, in the game's underhive setting.
    • Warhammer:
      • The armies of The Empire fight against the daemonic hordes, massive armored followers of Chaos, and their less superpowered allies with nothing more than plain steel armor, swords, and occasionally matchlock muskets.
      • Bretonnia is effectively medieval England or France, dropped into High Fantasy, with some Arthurian legend sprinkled on top for flavour. They still hold their own through faith and valour. Heck, the whole kingdom was founded by an ordinary man uniting the Breton tribes under a single banner and against all odds beating the Orcs, mirroring the real life English king Alfred the Great. The only exception are the Grail Knights, who were this trope before becoming Empowered Badass Normals.
      • Templar Witch Hunters, it goes without saying. They operate alone and travel the Empire hunting down unsanctioned witches and hedge wizards, mutants, Chaos spawn, cultists, necromancers, undead creatures, daemons and beastmen. Usually relying on nothing more than blackpowder firearms, swords, rapiers, daggers, stakes, holy water and consecrated ashes. Templar Witch Hunters are The Dreaded among the people of the Empire not because they're personally badass (though most of them are of course) but because they bear a sanction from the Grand Theogonist himself - they could if they wished order your entire family to be summarily shot and nobody would officially say anything.
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  • Any high point GURPS Character will be this, if they didn't load up on lots of fancy exotic advantages.
  • Any high-level martial character in any edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Fighters? Yes. Warlords/Marshals? Yes. Rangers? Yes. Barbarians? Yes. Rogues? Yes. Barbarian/Fighter/Frenzied Berserker? OHSHI—
    • In 4.0 there is an epic destiny for Rangers and Rogues called Godhunter. So yes, your halfling armed with shurikens and a dagger may in fact one day murder Tiamat.
    • In 4th edition, there are 14 Epic Destinies, counting the Godhunter, restricted to Martial characters alone (that is, Fighters, Rangers, Rogues and Warlords — Barbarians are Primal in 4e). The Adamantine Soldier is a Fighter or Warlord who has become such a master of heavy armor that they are Nigh Invulnerable; nothing hurts them, nothing can get past them, and they will never be broken in body or spirit. The Beastlord is a beastmaster Ranger who becomes so close to his animal companion that they become a single mind and soul. The Dark Wanderer is a Rogue or Ranger who has wandered so long and so far that they have outrun fate itself. The Eternal Defender is a Fighter who becomes an immovable object in battle, whose courage and duty leads to them taking up arms to protect the world or even The Multiverse for all eternity. The Legendary General is a Warlord who goes on to fight in the greatest battles the planes have ever seen, and if they so desire, may conquer all of reality itself. The Martial Archetype is a multiclassed Martial character who bcomes the ultimate warrior. The Perfect Assassin is a Rogue so skilled at dealing death that even Death itself will not dare to approach them before the Perfect Assassin is ready to die — they may even slay the God of Death and take the throne for themselves. The Undying Warrior is the ultimate Fighter, immortal and unkillable. The Warmaster is a Warlord who becomes so skilled that there is no challenge left in reality — defeating armies of demons or outwitting the gods themselves becomes trite, forcing them to seek the Eternal War, the mythical arena where all of the greatest military leaders who have ever lived spend eternity testing their skills against each other. The Dragonheart is a Martial character who reveres dragons as the ultimate embodiment of martial virtue, devoting themselves to those concepts with such fervors that they transcend their original nature and become dragons in body and soul. The Invincible Vanguard is a Martial character is a warrior who yearns to face the greatest threats ever, and who goes on to defeat them all. The Legendary Sovereign is a Fighter, Ranger or Warlord who goes on to found a kingdom, or perhaps an empire, that will never be forgotten. And the Star-Favored Champion is destined to become, simply, one of the greatest heroes ever known.
    • For Fighters in 5E, the Champion and Battle Master martial archetypes are this explicitly. While the Eldritch Knight combines evocation and abjuration magic with fighting prowess, the Champion is all about training their body to excellence, while the Battle Master is more Weak, but Skilled, applying academics and ancient techniques to the martial arts.
  • In The Witcher: Game of Imagination playing as a human tends to give this feeling. The game is set in a world with powerful magicians utilising Functional Magic, mutated monster hunters, a few different non-human races with physical capabilities beyond those of humans, personified Gaia's Vengeance and tons of monsters who can eat you whole for dinner. Yet you can and often must stand your ground against all of those as an average Joe with some training. Fluff-wise, humans managed to literally beat the other races into submission while having none of their perks and feats.
  • In d20 Modern Urban Arcana, a high level hero without special powers can be this. Despite possessing no surnatural abilities, a Fast Hero 5 Gunslinger 10 Sniper 5 is a force to be reckoned with, able to bring down demons with nothing more than one Barrett M82 shot from more than half a kilometer away, dodge grenades (Evasion) and bullets like there was no tomorrow (Huge class Defense and Dexterity), even if he/she didn't see the shooter, because he/she just had a gut feeling (Uncanny dodge), cannot be flanked (Improved Uncanny Dodge), can use stealth to get the jump on almost anything, spend time to aim an enemy and ignore cover less than one half (Improved Dead Aim), lay down a barrage of fire (lightning shot), is almost invincible when taking cover (Defensive Position)...
  • In the New World of Darkness, the Hunters from Hunter: The Vigil are (for the most part) the ordinary humans who take on the supernatural. And then there are the Slashers, humans that can be just as dangerous as horrors...
    • The Sourcebook "Mirrors" introduces the Extraordinary Mortals template, which gives characters access to "Skill Tricks", specialized abilities within their mundane Skills. The best of these verge on Charles Atlas Superpower.
  • Mutants & Masterminds is explicitly designed so that these can compete with ultra-powerful wizards and Nigh Invulnerable aliens from Xenon.
  • In Callof Cthulhu, *any* PC that survives long enough and defeats some of the Eldritch Abominations of the setting.
  • In Deadlands, any player character who isn't a Huckster or one of the Blessed has to be this. They're expected to go toe-to-toe with Native American demons, Steampunk Mad Scientists, walking corpses, Evil Sorcerers, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and are typically armed with nothing more than a Colt revolver, a Badass Longcoat, and a mean disposition.
  • Any of the non-super OCC from Rifts, but in particular the Rogue Scholar. For people whose sole class ability is "Knowledge is Power", they sure do have quite a reputation with the Coalition. And by reputation I mean "KILL HIM NOW! Now, HE'S the biggest threat!"
    • The most famous Rogue Scholar of them all, Erin Tarn, is in her late 60s, and Coalition Enemy Number One. And she's stared down the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, on top of many other impressive feats.
  • Iron Heroes thrives on this, with 9 out of 10 classes having no magical talent at all.
  • This is the whole purpose of the Guild in Exalted. In a World... ruled by beings so powerful that their original job description was beating up the gods themselves, the Guild's purpose is to provide Puny Humans with a power base of their own. They are so successful that the Guild, rather than the Realm, is the only true power with influence across the whole of Creation, with the wherewithal to bring entire countries to their knees if displeased.
    • The Burn Legend ruleset allows normal people with martial arts training to compete, albeit at a disadvantage, against element benders, shapeshifters, and guys with the power of the Thousand Hells surging through their veins. With a few good clash rolls and some decent timing, they can even win.
  • Corvus Belli's Infinity has this in the form of the Ariadna faction. Lacking the technological advantages of their rivals, the nations of the planet Dawn make due with guerilla tactics, a mean-streak in CQC and an ungodly amount of firepower. Also, this makes them immune to the hackers of Pan O or the Nomads.
  • Sentinels of the Multiverse has three heroes who qualify: The Wraith, who uses a combination of advanced technology, martial arts, and money to match superpowered villains, Expatriette, who uses an enormous amount of guns and raw firepower to deal as much damage as other damage-focused characters (among whom are a Powered Armor clad soldier, an alien who can control wind and lightning, and Ra, the Egyptian god of the sun), and Mr. Fixer, who holds his own against gods, alien warlords, and armies of superhumans with nothing but martial arts and a garage full of tools.
    • A fourth turns up with Ambuscade's Heel–Face Turn into Stuntman. As a villain, he had energy powers, but the alteration in question eventually decayed, leaving him with nothing but an array of guns and a gift for turning up in the nick of time. He's particularly nasty in combination with the Dark Watch version of Mr Fixer, who can set off Stuntman's combos by destroying his Ongoings.
    • Among the villains, the Chairman, Baron Blade, and Sergeant Steel have no superpowers, and while Blade is kind of wimpy as villains go, Steel is one of the toughest team mode villains and the Chairman and his minions make up one of the toughest villain decks overall - being equal to or harder than Progeny, Apostate, Citizen Dawn, and Akash'bhuta.
  • In Mistborn Adventure Game, non-powered characters not only have the strongest Attributes and Standings, but get two free bonus Traits.
  • The Pure Mortal template in Dresden Files is precisely what it says it is: a Puny Earthling in a game where other PC options include shapeshifters, changelings, wizards, and even lesser vampires. However, it has a powerful ace up its sleeve: in return for not taking up any supernatural powers, the character gains two free points of Refresh, which translates directly into Fate Points they can use to buy off compels, tag aspects, make declarations, and generally tilt the odds in their favor.
  • This is just barely possible in Godbound. If you want, a Heroic Mortal can skip out on such things as Legacy talents, cybernetics, Martial Strifes or magical training and stick to abilities that derive purely from personal ability; they'll still get extra hit points and won't be treated as Mooks by Godbound enemies, allowing them (in theory) to face down lesser Godbound toe-to-toe. This isn't likely in the long run, though. Arcem is a world where even a "common mortal" can be a master-level magician, and a heroic mortal will normally be able to acquire some kind of magical items, teachers or allies.
    • The Lexicon of the Thrown introduced the Peak Human Concept Word, making any character who has it just a really, really impressive human. Unlike Heroic Mortals, a Peak Human can stand toe-to-toe with their divine counterparts since they can still purchase Gifts and preform other miraculous feats.

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