Carl's problem strikes close to home because I was planning my own superhero campaign at the same time Carl was planning his.
The problem is the scale of abilities:
So let's say we have the following non-overlapping Scales:The idea I am playing with is this. Take Heroic and make it twice as good as Normal. So when doing a dice contest Heroic rolls twice and can add 2 to those rolls. Normal rolls once. Normal has to beat both Heroic rolls to win Heroic only has to beat normal with one. Normal can beat Heroic, but it is not very likely.
Heroic always beats Normal, Super always beats Heroic, etc. Extenuating circumstances can change this... multiple Normals combining their efforts might be able to win over a Heroic character, etc. And, of course, this doesn't describe the whole character... just individual abilities. So you could have Great Super Strength, but only Normal Superb Armor, for instance.
I also like dice pools a lot. I will probably give each player a dice pool of 5 to 9 dice for power stunts and the like. If the Normal character really needs to beat Heroic then adding dice from the pool will better his odds but it will still be in Heroic' favour.
Super would roll 4 times and add 4 to the rolls. So Normals chances are really really limited. And Cosmic rolls 6 times and adds 6 to the rolls. Normal just doesn't really stand a chance.
I would also allow for Fudge points to assist the test. I have several ideas I want to test out, where Normal spends a fudge point: to get extra dice for the test, to reduce the opponents addition to the roll by 2 (Heroic adds 0, Super adds 2, Cosmic adds 4), to eliminate one of the opponents rolls (Heroic rolls once, Super 3 times, cosmic 5 times). The one thing I want to block is the use of fudge points to get a ridiculous result. I remember reading on Dragon Magazine (I think) about the Marvel Superheros Game an how it was technically possible for Aunt May to use X number of Karma Points to get an automatic kill result on Galactus.
One final though before bedtime. A lot has been said about Cyclops and how he seems to be a one trick pony, and that a single dimensional hero would not survive in an rpg. I think one of the problems is that Cyclops was designed to be part of the team. I think that if you analyze the comics characters like Thor, the Hulk, Spider-man are designed to be stand alone heros so they have powers that are more fully rounded, offensive and defensive. While the teams X-Men, Avengers, Alpha Flight contain characters that were designed as part of the team. Players can design a single character to play like Thor, or they can design a team of characters to play like New Mutants. The same limits placed on the single character apply to the team but the team is played as a unit but a single player. It allows for Cyclops to be a one trick pony because he is only one aspect of the team he is part of.