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Powers System

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Anything that happens between entities in City of Heroes outside of simple movement passes through the Powers system. All attacks that you can cast, all shields you can have, all buffs you can grant and your current statuses and other attributes are part of a general combat system, which is modified almost exclusively through the use of Powers. While the full capacity of the Powers system is beyond the scope of the article, the most pertinent information that players will need to know is documented here.


Powers are made available to entities by a variety of means, the most common of which is simple ownership of Powers. When you select a Power through your Power Sets or encounter a dev-defined enemy, Powers are granted to entities. Some Powers expire, while others are permanent.

Power Type

There are three general classes of Power types: Click, Toggle and Auto.

  • Click: Most Powers are Click Powers. The name comes from the usual casting method: you click on the Power's icon in the Powers tray. These Powers execute once and begin their recharge cycle once they finish activating.
  • Toggle: Toggle Powers are activated and kept on until they are explicitly deactivated or until there is insufficient Endurance to maintain them. Toggle Powers technically apply their effects at a periodic rate rather than apply any sort of consistent effect. Certain actions have the ability to "detoggle" a Toggle Power. Generally, this will happen when the caster is affected by a status effect and the Toggle Power in question affects enemies.
  • Auto: Auto Powers function the same way as Toggle Powers, but they generally don't cost any Endurance to run and cannot be deactivated.

Target Type

The target of a power is the entity at which the power is directed. Note: Just because an entity is the target of a power, does not mean that it is always affected by that power.

Every power that activates must have a target. Sometimes this target is not always apparent, but its presence is fundamental to the powers system. Except where noted, if you are an entity targeted that does not match the target type for the power you are attempting to activate, one of two things will happen:

  1. If your target's target is an entity which does match the target type of your power, your power will instead target that entity. This is known as Auto-Assist.
  2. You will receive an "Invalid Target" message and the power will not activate.

The following are the valid types of targets that a power can have:

  • Self: Also known as Caster, self-targeted powers automatically target the entity who uses them and do not require explicit targeting in the UI (in fact, players cannot intentionally target themselves).
  • Player: A power can be set to target only players. There are many variations of this type of target. An example of a power which can only target other players is Mystic Fortune.
  • Teammate: Powers which target teammates may only be used on members of your own team, and cannot be cast on players who are not grouped with you (this includes other teams within leagues). Vengeance is a power which targets teammates, albeit dead ones. Until recently, Recall Friend could only target teammates. Pets are considered alive teammates (but not dead teammates!) for the purpose of targeting.
  • NPC: Powers can be set to only target NPCs, or non-player characters, also known as Critters (or in some rare cases Villains, though this is an artifact from before City of Villains). There are very few powers which have their target restricted this way. The resurrect powers used by a few enemies are set to target NPCs, so that confused enemies will not rez dead players.
  • Friend / Foe: The most basic target types are Friend and Foe. These go hand in hand, allowing powers to target either entities which are friendly to you (players, allied NPCs, pets) or entities which are hostile (enemy players and NPCs, occasionally teammates if confused). Most attack and buff powers use these target types or their variants.
  • Location: Some powers target a location. When activating a location-targeted power, a circle appears under the mouse cursor. Upon clicking a location that is in range, the target is locked in and the power activates.
  • Any: A few powers can target anything. Friends, enemies, it does not matter. The Snowball power from the winter event is an example of such a power.
  • Teleport: The teleport powers use a special target type. It is similar to Location, but more restrictive in the area that can be selected.
  • My Pet: Some powers, for example Mastermind Upgrades, can only be targeted on your pets.
  • My Owner: This is a special target type. It it used only by a few pets which have buffs that are supposed to be cast only on the entity who summoned them.
  • Leaguemate: Recently introduced, the Leaguemate target is similar to the Teammate target, except it extends to the entire league.


Most of the above target types have variants that allow them to be more restrictive. For example, many can be set to only target dead entities, living entities, or either of the above. Though these are technically distinct target types, they act as subsets of each other and are best thought of simply as attributes of a given target.

Affected Entities

Effect Area

A Power's effect area defines the region around the target and/or caster that will be affected by the Power's effects.


Effect areas can be defined with a number of parameters, though they're usually defined with four generic shapes:

  • Point: Only one entity may be affected.
  • Sphere: The Power is centered on an entity and all valid entities within a certain radius are affected.
  • Cone: Converges at the caster and spreads out in the direction of the target as defined by the given radius and spread angle.
  • Volume: Entities within a certain geometric region are affected.

It's important to note that certain effects apply to the caster of the Power regardless of the Power's effect area.


A Power's effect area is defined with a shape and, depending on the shape specified, additional parameters.

  • Range: The maximum distance from the target a Power can be activated.
  • LoS: Abbreviation for "Line of Sight." Powers that require LoS cannot be activated when walls or other objects obstruct the path between the caster and the target.
  • Center: The entity or location that the effect area originates from.
  • Anchor: Used to describe the center of toggle Power when not the caster.
  • Spread Angle: The total size of the angle of a cone at its vertex. Facing forwards with a 90-degree spread angle, for example, the cone will extend 45 degrees to the left and 45 degrees to the right.
  • Radius: The distance from the center that entities are affected by the Power. For cone powers, this is (or should be) universally identical to the Power's range.

Common Effect Areas

Applications of effect areas are referred to by different names. Some of the more common effect area names are as follows:

  • AoE: Abbreviation for "Area of Effect," describes any multiple-target Power.
  • Melee: A distance of 7 feet or less, though may apply to slightly greater distances.
  • Ranged: A distance significantly greater than 7 feet.
  • Single Target: Only one entity (that isn't the caster) will be affected by the Power.
  • Cone: Used to describe only cone-shaped Powers.
  • PBAoE: Abbreviation for "Player Based Area of Effect" or sometimes "Point Blank Area of Effect," describes a sphere-shaped power centered on the caster.
  • Ranged AoE: Used to describe ranged sphere or cone Powers.
  • Location AoE Used to describe a sphere Power centered on a location rather than an entity.
  • Melee Cone: Used to describe a cone Power with a melee-sized radius.
  • Ranged Cone: Used to describe a cone Power with a ranged-sized radius.
  • Target Cap: Most AoE powers have a limit for the maximum number of targets that can be affected by a single activation.

Other Effect Areas

A small number of other effect areas may have significance in certain situations.

  • Volume: Entities within a specific geometric region are affected, such as inside the Ghost Ship or in pools of lava.
  • Zone: A special kind of volume effect area that applies to any valid entity on the current map.

Cast Conditions

Mezzed and Defeated

Activation Interval

Interrupt Time

Auto Hit


Combat Attribute

Attribute Aspect


Attribute Modifiers

Duration and Tick Interval


Target Type




Combo Level


Fiery Embrace


Staff Mastery

Swap Ammo

Temporal Selection

Time Crawl


Power Redirection

Assassin's Focus




Enhancement Sets

Set Bonuses

Procs and Global Enhancements


Alpha Slot

Interface Slot