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System quirks (your favorite or least favorite)

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 Actually if you have DESOLIDIFICATION  you walk through walls etc but never "fall" through the area  beneath you. Does the Earth's gravity NOT affect DESOLID?

 

Why should it? It doesn't affect Phantom girl (or all the natives of Bgtzl who don't have flight rings), Flash (or any speedster who can 'vibrate' thru matter), Kitty Pryde (who couldn't airwalk in her early days). or the Ghost (who I don't believe has any special movement power). The only time I remember gravity affecting anyone was a one-shot villian in Batman Beyond who discovered Batman's secret ID (and so had to be bumped off).

 

Heck, I don't remember any RPG suggesting that you need a special power simply to walk on the ground while insubstantial.

 

Just remember that the game is intended to cover fictional reality, not real reality.

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Desolid does allow you to swim through the ground if you choose... but in many cases the special effect means you have reduced or no mass, which covers superhero physics good enough for me.

 

Reduce your ground pressure/average density enough and a person can walk on water (ie by wearing water shoes) - that's pretty much how I'd read a desolid character having the option of standing on or sinking into the ground.

 

Falling is a special case. Unless the character has *zero* mass they should fall normally... but probably have a much lower terminal velocity. For simplicity's sake I'd probably cap it at 10m/s.

 

Desolid types also often buy a small amount of flight (a la Kitty Pryde) to "airwalk". A falling Flash wouldn't gain any benefit by his style of desolid (vibrating between air molecules would in fact increase his terminal velocity) but typically uses other means to survive.

 

Other types of desolid answer the question due to their special effects. Turning into smoke doesn't let you walk through walls or sink into the ground, nor does turning into a swarm of bees.

 

Another special effect would be that the character isn't becoming insubstantial themselves, but has selective control of the tangibility of other objects around them, or creates wormholes.

 

But largely, density/mass control would cover the "walking on ground" issue.

 

Next: How to handle the unwanted buoyancy problem :)

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A judgement could be made that a character who was falling before turning Desolid keeps the falling velocity they were at before they turned Desolid and keep falling until they turn the power off (at which point they take damage equal to the velocity they were traveling at and may take damage for turning solid in an object if they've fallen into the earth before turning it off).  I guess they'd fall through the center of the planet and then rubberband back and forth before eventually chilling in the core.  Hope they bought a point of flight?

 

A judgement could also be made that since 'cannot pass through solid objects' - which only provides the 100% damage reduction to most special effects - is a LIMITATION that the non-limited version of the power can *choose* to not pass through an object while Desolid if they want - thus 'hitting' the ground for 0 damage and stopping if that's what's desired.

 

A limited version of a power, in my opinion, shouldn't do anything better than the full power it's limiting so I like this idea better.

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A judgement could be made that a character who was falling before turning Desolid keeps the falling velocity they were at before they turned Desolid and keep falling until they turn the power off (at which point they take damage equal to the velocity they were traveling at and may take damage for turning solid in an object if they've fallen into the earth before turning it off).  I guess they'd fall through the center of the planet and then rubberband back and forth before eventually chilling in the core.  Hope they bought a point of flight?

 

 

Totally depends on special effects. Sticking to RAW a desolid character falls normally, doesn't incur any damage when they hit the ground, but also can choose to keep falling or stop. They are also able to use any appropriate movement power, so even if they need to burn off residual momentum, they could do so using Swimming or Running in most cases.

 

Worth noting that the default terminal velocity assumes a normal adult human. Size and density does affect that, and letting a "density control" desolid character fall at a relatively slow terminal velocity is a fair SFX perk, like allowing a Fire Blast to light campfires or Magnetic TK to wipe magnetic tapes. This *isn't* free Flight - they can't maneuver and have to drop at the velocity the GM decides on per segment - but is in effect part of what they paid for to be immune to normal damage.

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CC doesn't mention this explicitly like 6e1 does (unfortunately):

"A Desolidified character falls at normal velocity (see 6E2 140). He takes no damage from impacting the ground... but he doesn’t stop at the ground, he just keeps falling into and through it! This could cause serious problems if he doesn’t have Life Support or a Movement Power that can counteract the fall. He can use the same “force of will” that lets him walk on the ground to stop his fall when he hits the ground, but he takes normal falling damage." - 6e1 pg. 191.

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I'd argue that once he's underground they can use Running, just as they would be able to if they hadn't fallen. Or allow them to bleed off the momentum at a rate they can withstand, over time. But it's pretty much up to the GM. It's hard to find good examples in the comics as classic desolid types almost always have some form of limited flight and the issue doesn't come up.

 

Special effects would very often suggest doing it differently. If your desolid is "turning into a cloud of mist" I can't see how your terminal velocity is going to be more than a gentle cascade. 

 

The key point here is what terminal velocity should be imposed? Shrinkers get a break, Giants and density increasers get slugged, Stretchers who can change their body to have a bigger cross section and desolid defined as decreased density should get a smaller terminal velocity.

 

This doesn't change their falling rate, or the damage they take when they hit, just the velocity cap.

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If a character's method of Desolidification is "Turning Into Mist", I would require they also bought Flight to move in 3d (and decelerate from falls). However, if they fail to decelerate in time and cannot pass through solid objects, than they take falling/collision damage when they impact a solid object. Desolidification doesn't make you immune to Velocity based-effects, it simply limits what classes of objects you still interact with.

 

I can't recall any rules for modifying Terminal Velocity (or Falling Acceleration) based on Size, Mass, or Form (powers such as Growth, Density Increase, Stretching, and Shrinking). Maybe it is hidden somewhere in an APG or toolkitting Side-Bar. Isofar as I am aware, the rules treat all automatons, characters, vehicles, and objects the same in this regard. a Size 20 Vehicle (the size of an Aircraft Carrier), falls at exactly the same velocity as an unfolded bed sheet, a sheet of paper, a single brick, or an unconscious human. 

 

Per RAW, all modes of movement work 'normally' while desolidified, with the exception of now being able to pass through solid objects while using them. None of the other qualities of the Movement Power change. Since I wouldn't allow a Solid character to use Running or Swimming to decelerate from a fall, neither will I allow a Desolidified character do so. Also note that being Desolidified should not allow you to 'swim' through whole gaseous and solid volumes (I.E. it doesn't become cheap Flight.). You still have to be immersed in a fluid volume for swimming to function (naturally you can still pass through intervening solids, and you could also use Running to walk along the bottom of a body of fluid).

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Falling acceleration is independent of mass, that's just basic physics, but terminal velocity is affected by density and size. In a vacuum you keep accelerating until you hit the ground. It's why a parachute works.

 

As far as rules go, you probably won't find it anywhere. But the terminal velocity formula is easy to find and the effect of density is simple. This came up a little while ago in (of all things) a discussion on Captain America's shield. This is what I wrote then:

 

v = the square root of ((2*m*g)/(ρ*A*C))

 

v=velocity, m=mass, g=acceleration due to gravity, p=density of the fluid the object is falling through, A=the projected area of the object (i.e. area perpendicular to the direction of fall) and C=drag coefficient.

 

So... turns out the relationship is pretty simple when all you're changing is the area. Terminal velocity is proportional to the inverse square of the area, so squaring the area halves the terminal velocity. And if you quarter the area you'd double the terminal velocity, all other considerations being constant.

 

In other words, with my example of using Stretching to double height and width, terminal velocity should be about 30m per segment, or 15d6 on impact. There is a caveat, though... changing the character's thickness would probably affect the drag coefficient. But for a quick and dirty calculation this should do.

 

Terminal velocity has a square relationship with mass, so quartering the mass halves terminal velocity, and likewise quadrupling mass doubles terminal velocity.

 

That should suffice for most HERO purposes - density increase, growth and shrinking are couched in terms of doubling and halving already.

 

Now, none of this provides free flight, and doesn't even provide free gliding unless the terminal velocity is reduced to a few metres per second. Shrinking a few levels will just make the impact more survivable. My old character Dwarfstar shrunk while keeping normal mass and should actually reach a much higher terminal velocity than normal.

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That is way more calculation than I think I would want to run during a combat. I'll stick to the (perhaps) unrealistic RAW over trying to supplant the game mechanics with physics. Perhaps a simpler (but more realistic than the current) mechanic could have been worked into the game, but that would require a unified system for quantifying Size and Mass which doesn't currently exist (akin to what is used for Bases and Vehicles). By default a character's Size and Mass and no game effect whatsoever, so changing them shouldn't either (beyond what is already prescribed by the powers which create such effects).

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The simple rule of doubling terminal velocity for a fourfold increase in mass should be all the guideline you really need.

 

But it really doesn't come up in normal fights, which very rarely need the terminal velocity rule anyway. Mass Man increasing his mass by x16 isn't going to accelerate any faster, so the usual simplified falling rules for 20m or less affect him the same as regular guy. He'd have to be falling for more than 6 segments for it to make any difference.

 

A level of Shrinking (quartered area, 1/8 mass) will reduce the terminal velocity by the square root of 2, every two levels will halve it. Microlass can help herself survive a long drop by shrinking down, but again it won't help with short falls before she reaches her modified terminal velocity. Two levels of Shrinking would just mean reaching the terminal velocity of 30m/s after three segments. Four levels of shrinking still wouldn't affect short falls, though that's starting to get into "walking away from a long fall" territory; but they're still plummeting at 15m/s and would take two segments to reach that velocity.

 

They'd still suffer 1d6 normal per 2m fallen from 20m or less.

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If a character's method of Desolidification is "Turning Into Mist", I would require they also bought Flight to move in 3d (and decelerate from falls). However, if they fail to decelerate in time and cannot pass through solid objects, than they take falling/collision damage when they impact a solid object. Desolidification doesn't make you immune to Velocity based-effects, it simply limits what classes of objects you still interact with.

 

I'm not certain I can get onboard with that interpretation (the damage part - they definitely need to buy flight):

 

 

When Desolidified, a character is immune to most physical

and energy attacks, including attacks such as Drains and
AVADs.

 

 

 
It then gives a very specific list of things that do still affect a character and doesn't including falling damage among it... and the limitation itself provides more info
 

Cannot Pass Through Solid Objects (-½): Removes aDesolidified character’s ability to pass through completely solid

objects, though he can squeeze through very tiny openings, and
remains immune to damage as per standard Desolidification.
 
 
 
Falling damage is damage. I suppose someone could rule that it's not an 'attack' but that seems to violate the intention of the power.
 
If you turn into water, for example (taking he 'cannot pass through' limitation) why should splashing all over the ground hurt you?  It doesn't hurt water (at worst it displaces it all over the place so it evaporates easier - but that's a side effect of the displacement, not a result of impact).
 
How about particles like visible light? It's a perfectly legitimate 'cannot pass through solid objects' (they can't get into room if it's perfectly sealed shut - but given a crack or keyhole light can get into the space, and so can they).  
 
I'd just have a hard time justifying being able to have a bus thrown through *you* without incident but taking damage if *you* were thrown by something (like gravity - in example, fall) at the bus.

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Falling damage is damage. I suppose someone could rule that it's not an 'attack' but that seems to violate the intention of the power.

You missed the qualifier "most". Desolidifiction doesn't make you immune to "all physical and energy attacks" it makes you immune to "most physical and energy attacks". The description notes that the bullet-pointed list in inclusive, not comprehensive.

To reuse my previous example, Nerve Gas is a physical attack that works on desolidified character because they still have to breath, and it is an attack that targets their breathing.

 

 

If you turn into water, for example (taking he 'cannot pass through' limitation) why should splashing all over the ground hurt you?  It doesn't hurt water (at worst it displaces it all over the place so it evaporates easier - but that's a side effect of the displacement, not a result of impact).

 
How about particles like visible light? It's a perfectly legitimate 'cannot pass through solid objects' (they can't get into room if it's perfectly sealed shut - but given a crack or keyhole light can get into the space, and so can they).  

Humans are already mostly Water. When we "splash all over the ground" it hurts us because we cannot put ourselves back together (I.E. Regenerate the BODY Damage). Actual water is no different, if you look at a volume of water as a single object like a human (as opposed to countless loosely connected objects piled on top of one another), than when it "falls" it takes falling damage just like a Human. Every part of its 'body' is blown in different directions and it lacks the Regeneration to put itself back together (I.E. it is destroyed by BODY Damage).

 

Being made of water (or gas) doesn't make you immune to "most physical and energy attacks" all by itself, you also have to be able to reform (I.E. Regeneration) any part of your body dissipated by an attack, or eventually an enemy will have displaced too much of you to remain of cohesive object (I.E. you take BODY damage and die). However reformation is generally the assumed special effect used to describe why Desolidification provides immunity to most physical and energy attacks. To be fair this is also why Desolidification is sometimes used as the Actual Effect for powers whose special effect is Instant Regeneration.

 

Regarding Light: I wouldn't allow Light-Form Desolid to take Cannot Pass Through Solid Objects because there are transparent solids which Light can pass through. I might allow a lesser version of the limitation, such as Cannot Pass Through Opaque Objects (-1/4).

 

I'd just have a hard time justifying being able to have a bus thrown through *you* without incident but taking damage if *you* were thrown by something (like gravity - in example, fall) at the bus.

In either case you only take damage if you choose to interact with the object while Desolidified. If a bus is thrown through you, you may choose to let it pass harmlessly through, or stop it. Likewise, if you were thrown (or fall) through a bus, you may choose to pass harmlessly through, or let it stop you. If you stop it, or let it stop you, than you take the appropriate amount of damage.

As noted in 6e1, you can choose to fall through an object or the ground, but if you don't  you take Falling Damage normally (I extend this logic to all collisions, but the rules are not so explicit unfortunately).

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If my desolid character can choose whether to interact with a solid surface when falling, extending it to all collisions makes sense. But given I can choose to interact with those aspects of the solid world, why can't I choose to interact with a solid weapon, picking it up and attacking with it, or a solid target, hitting him with an attack? By the rules I need "Affects Solid World" on my STR to interact with the solid world. So why would I be able to choose whether I want to interact with some solid objects, but not others?

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In either case you only take damage if you choose to interact with the object while Desolidified. If a bus is thrown through you, you may choose to let it pass harmlessly through, or stop it. Likewise, if you were thrown (or fall) through a bus, you may choose to pass harmlessly through, or let it stop you. If you stop it, or let it stop you, than you take the appropriate amount of damage.

As noted in 6e1, you can choose to fall through an object or the ground, but if you don't  you take Falling Damage normally (I extend this logic to all collisions, but the rules are not so explicit unfortunately).

 

 

Fair enough and the expanded text about falling IS in 6e but not in CC, which I was quoting from.  Sometimes they're farther apart than they seem.  

 

As Hugh notes, though, what's to stop a Desolid character, if you extend it to all collisions, from using Move Through without buying Affects Physical World (or turning it off, which is definitely a 'chooses to' condition, but one that technically they can't use off turn (such as when the bus is thrown at them while they have Desolidification on) ? 

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If my desolid character can choose whether to interact with a solid surface when falling, extending it to all collisions makes sense. But given I can choose to interact with those aspects of the solid world, why can't I choose to interact with a solid weapon, picking it up and attacking with it, or a solid target, hitting him with an attack? By the rules I need "Affects Solid World" on my STR to interact with the solid world. So why would I be able to choose whether I want to interact with some solid objects, but not others?

Note:​ CC is my primary rules reference, I generally only cite 6e1&2 for supplemental rules... but there are a few specific sentences here and there (and one table) which I really wish had made it into CC/FHC. Although technically unnecessary (see below) that clause is one of them.

 

Desolidification wasn't written to be 'realistic', or serve a broad mechanical purpose, it was written to simulate the abilities of specific extant characters. A Desolid character cannot (by default) choose to interact with a weapon to wield it, or perform a Move Through, or any of those other "logical extensions" of my previously cited interactions between Desolid and Solid objects because doing so explicitly violates the RAW. Under "The Drawbacks of Intangibility" (CC 57): "If he wants to attack, he must become solid (...), or have abilities bought with the Advantage ​Affects Physical World (page 96). So it doesn't matter if it makes sense, those are the rules as written.

 

If your character has sufficient control over their desolidification to be able to partially solidify to their benefit​* than they must pay the appropriate cost for such an ability, per "You Get What You Pay For" (CC 7). Almost all of the explicitly defined situations where you can be considered partially solid it is to your detriment (for example: Falling, Collisions, being exposed to Flashes or Gas Attacks).

 

Fair enough and the expanded text about falling IS in 6e but not in CC, which I was quoting from.  Sometimes they're farther apart than they seem.  

 

As Hugh notes, though, what's to stop a Desolid character, if you extend it to all collisions, from using Move Through without buying Affects Physical World (or turning it off, which is definitely a 'chooses to' condition, but one that technically they can't use off turn (such as when the bus is thrown at them while they have Desolidification on) ? 

Desolidification only grants immunity to some types of Attacks. So in the most technical sense, Desolidification never explicitly says it protects you Environmental Conditions (you generally need Life Support for that) such as Falling, Chemicals, Electricity, Fire, High Pressure, Lava, Low Pressure, Radiation, Sunburn, Temperature, etc (CC 139). Therefore you still suffer them unless a GM house-rules otherwise.

 

Collisions are not an Environment Condition (they are an aspect of the General Rules for Movement), although they do have an Environment trigger condition (attempting to move into a space occupied by a "large object"). Once again in the most technical sense, Desolidification makes one (just one) change to the general rules for Movement. It allows the character to pass through Solid Objects while using any Movement Power they possess. However it does not explicitly require them to do so, they can choose to forgo that benefit in order to purposefully collide with an object (taking damage normally).

Under this same logic (and inferable from the clause regarding Running that lets you choose not to sink into the floor), Falling could be considered to be like an Everyman Movement Power for the purposes of Desolidification. So while Desolidification does not grant you Immunity to Falling Damage (which is an Environmental Condition, not an Attack as defined above), it should allow (but not require) you to pass through Solid Objects (such as the ground) while Falling.

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There's another point to consider (depending on special effects) - buoyancy.

 

It may be useful to consider a desolid character's relationship with the ground to be more akin to that of a buoyant object on a liquid. To my mind this is especially valid when the special effect (as it often is) is "density control". Now, this is comic book physics and it's all quite dodgy, but the basic idea would be that their downward motion when falling into the earth would start to be offset by them being much less dense than the surrounding medium, and they'd be able to bob back up. For that reason, I suggest Swimming might count as a "suitable movement power" in this situation if they don't have flight.

 

Aaaand... even if you don't use the above, I'd still consider giving them a break as far as terminal velocity goes. If their power's special effects agree, you can treat ground as providing a lot more drag than air, which can offset the velocity.

 

Although "phased into another dimension" and "vibrate past molecules" Desolid characters might still be screwed :)

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The Hero system is the most non-universal, universal system I've encountered. Seriously. A D&D module written for 4-6 characters of level 4-7 is more universal than Hero. Anybody can pick one up and, with very minor modifications, run it for their group. You start five groups off at 125/75 point fantasy heroes and come back to them in six months, you are probably going to come back to vastly different power levels and expectations between the groups. That feature can also be a bug. Or a bugaboo. 

 

Hero has so much going for it, but intergame compatibility is not one of them. Heck, just ask people to stat out a Bag of Holding and you end up with some heated discussion about how this or that aspect are bad or not well-defined or any number of other flaws. In the end, a dozen GM's will write up 13 different Bags of Holding. On one hand, that the system can support such diversity is amazing. On the other hand, it is frustrating that there is such a lack of consistency.

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You missed the qualifier "most". Desolidifiction doesn't make you immune to "all physical and energy attacks" it makes you immune to "most physical and energy attacks". The description notes that the bullet-pointed list in inclusive, not comprehensive.

 

To reuse my previous example, Nerve Gas is a physical attack that works on desolidified character because they still have to breath, and it is an attack that targets their breathing.

I would suggest that nerve gas should not be purchased as a 12d6 Blast with no modifiers. It should have an AVAD life support mechanic attached to it, which means the desolid character is still affected, because he needs Life Support to not be affected. That's specific on the list. "I think a fire hose would still push him back" does not mean a 12d6 Water Blast should do damage to the desolid character.

 

One set of attacks "included", but not listed, are the "reasonably common group of attacks" which still affect the character while desolid.

 

I see no reason to consider falling damage to automatically affect the desolid character when that is not on the list of damage that always affects desolid characters, and is not remotely similar to those that do.

 

Humans are already mostly Water. When we "splash all over the ground" it hurts us because we cannot put ourselves back together (I.E. Regenerate the BODY Damage).

A barrel full of wine with a teaspoon of sewage added is a barrel full of sewage, not "mostly wine".

 

Actual water is no different, if you look at a volume of water as a single object like a human (as opposed to countless loosely connected objects piled on top of one another), than when it "falls" it takes falling damage just like a Human. Every part of its 'body' is blown in different directions and it lacks the Regeneration to put itself back together (I.E. it is destroyed by BODY Damage).

What is the power intended to simulate? I don't think HydroMan falls 17 stories, goes SPLASH and is defeated. I think he falls 17 stories, goes SPLASH and then reforms none the worse for wear.

 

In either case you only take damage if you choose to interact with the object while Desolidified. If a bus is thrown through you, you may choose to let it pass harmlessly through, or stop it.

Having made that call, your views lack any sense of logic if you cannot also deflect it, catch it and throw it back, etc. To interact with the thrown bus, the character must become solid - while desolid, a "character cannot affect the physical world in any way. He cannot touch, lift, or move solid objects. His attacks against the physical world have no effect."

 

Done - he cannot affect that solid bus without an ability to affect the solid world.

 

The falling rule is a crock - the result should simply depend on whether the character cannot pass through solid objects. Of course, a character might, based on SFX, include falling damage and similar in "reasonably common" things that still damage him, or apply a limitation that certain types of damage, including falling damage, still affect him. Otherwise, there is no reason his "force of will" should not enable him to interact with other solid objects.

 

I can't believe we could not divorce Killing Damage from STR, nor have Mental Powers lose their default LoS range and Invisibility, in the 5e to 6e transition because that would be too great a strain on a gamer's sense of how things work in the source material, but we had to have the Desolid affected normally by falling damage.

 

I'm pretty sure at least one older edition made Swimming the default movement (no running or leaping) for Desolid characters. Maybe that should have been maintained.

 

Desolidification only grants immunity to some types of Attacks. So in the most technical sense, Desolidification never explicitly says it protects you Environmental Conditions (you generally need Life Support for that) such as Falling, Chemicals, Electricity, Fire, High Pressure, Lava, Low Pressure, Radiation, Sunburn, Temperature, etc (CC 139). Therefore you still suffer them unless a GM house-rules otherwise.

If Falling were an environmental condition, it should have a Life Support immunity. It does not. You refer to movement powers - Falling can be viewed as Everyman Flight - it's pretty limited, coming with "down only" and "No conscious control", but it's really just Flight :)

 

There's another point to consider (depending on special effects) - buoyancy.

That makes as much pseudoscience sense as most comic book logic.

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