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About Multiform and a sane version of Duplication


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So, first off a fairly basic question about Multiform. Here's the second paragraph about it on Champions Complete p80 and thje first on p81:


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The player must choose one of the character’s forms (depending on character concept) to be the true form, and other forms are alternate forms. Only the true form pays the cost for Multiform, and the true form need not be the most expensive form.

(...)

Each form a character can change into has its own character sheet and is as free-willed as the true form. Forms may have different abilities, personalities, or Complications than the true form or each other, though the character does retain memories from form to form. Alternate forms must be regular characters (not Vehicles, Bases, Computers, Automatons, or the like), and are built on the same Total CP (including Matching Complications) as the true form (or fewer CP, if desired)



So can you have an alternate form that's more expensive than the base form or not? Coming from Mekton the idea of building your "true form" as the most expensive and any others as the same or less is hardly an unfamiliar one, but the text outright contradicts itself here, and there's a certain logic in having the Power represent civilian form turning into a hero or monster and as the "true form" being what the character reverts to when shocked/knocked out/etc., as is common in many, many examples across all kinds of media. Champions Powers doesn't go into it, sticking to a 300cp pool for the alternate form, and it's short on explanations anyway; I don't have 6e1 or 6e2 to see if it's worded differently there. I dug my #451 Big Blue Book out of the closet finally, and it does specify that the base form should be the most expensive, but presumably the power descriptions were changed between editions for more than the sake of adding more words, so the question is still open.

Now, as for Duplication... I have never once in any media seen it handled like Champions, with a duplicate that gets killed being permanently lost. Frankly, it's insane in game design terms as well, to have some of the CP invested into an ability just up and vanish in what is usually considered a super-common event for duplicator characters (since it means you can show them eating lethal attacks and not have to come up with a new one for the next issue/episode/etc. or deal with parents' groups screaming about age-inappropriate themes in Little Jimmy's cartoon show) with no means to recover them. Champions Powers has a variation that resurrects dead duplicates as long as part of the body can be recovered, but that is 200 Active Points and still treating the dupes as real separate bodies made of normal body stuff and so on.

So, short of being the GM and just ruling that no, that's stupid, duplicates aren't permanently lost, though they might only recover between scenes or with down time, how would you design a power to work like (for the most obvious example) Naruto shadow clones? My immediate thought is Image+Telekinesis so they can look, sound, and feel real and affect things normally, adding some Clairvoyance or Mind Link or Telepathy for the information transfer if keeping that aspect as well, but as previous experience on these boards has shown me my immediate thought (and second and third) is usually still bassackwards to the way HERO System is supposed to work and either drastically oversimplified or overcomplicated. So, I put the question before the Council of Grognards.

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I toss the duplication rule out personally.   You can create a form that's more expensive iirc. It's been a while since I've read it.

Duplicate as written makes sense for, say, a villain with a cloning machine Usable As Attack and built from a VPP for Evil Gadgets of the Month to be disposed of when his scheme is complete, who then

6e resolved the KA being the go-to to pound STUN through high defenses with a Stun Multiple of 1-3.  Hit locations still range up to 5, but normal stun is also modified by hit locations.    

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Most duplicators also don't create "living" copies;  they create non-biological constructs.  Quite often they're treated as essentially energy constructs.  I built one where the duplicate was fundamentally built as an automaton form, with the full-on "takes no stun" advantage.  Low def but high BODY;  they'd soak up several hits but eventually get dissipated.  I really don't understand the sources underlying Hero's duplication.

 

One thing you could do instead of Duplication...is Summon.  Very specific form of Summon, so build in a big limitation for that to cancel out the honkin' big cost of Amicable.  That lets you blow off the perma-death aspect.  One thing to note, tho:  a Dup under the rules, with little/no change from the character, is pretty hard to kill...and easy to replace.  +5 points for 2x the number of duplicates.  Of course, you can do that with Summon too...and you get all of them at once, for free.

On the Multiform...even if you build them both on the same base CP, overpay on the true form.  For example, if you're building on 400, then drop 100 of the true form's points into the Multiform, and might as well toss in the 5 for Instant Change.  That lets you spend the first 100 XP on the alternate form, even if you're building on 400 to start with.  Or, the GM should allow you to leave 20 points unspent on the true form;  as needed, you just bump up the points on the Multiform from that, and assign the XP to the true form.  So yeah, ok, they might start at the same number of points...but they might not *stay* there.

 

Oh, and there's this...

 

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Alternately, with the GM’s permission a character could buy an alternate form with fewer Matching Complication points than it would ordinarily require by paying for the points not balanced by Complications as part of the cost of Multiform. The cost is 1 Character Point for every 5 Character Points not balanced by  Complications in addition to the normal cost of the Multiform.

 

The example is building a 450 point character, which would normally require 125 points in complications.  BUT, by the text, you could also do this AND buy off the core complications in the first place, if you like.  So if basis is 400 points, the true form could spend:

--80 for the basis character

-- +10 to reduce the basic complications from 75 to 25, if desired, and then

--  +15 to build at 475.

Of course, this is why the GM is advised...several times...to check what the player's trying to do.  This in itself feels like it warrants at least the yellow Caution sign, as this is a big loophole.  

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Duplicate as written makes sense for, say, a villain with a cloning machine Usable As Attack and built from a VPP for Evil Gadgets of the Month to be disposed of when his scheme is complete, who then decants a copy of a politician and messes with the laws, or a corporate officer and embezzles a load of cash, or a hero and proceeds with the standard reputation-blitz and mirror fight, but doesn't fit the "easy come, easy go" mook horde duplicator type at all - you'd be better off refluffing a speedster and swapping the actual movement power for a big chunk of Stun/Body so he can soak lots of hits "with disposable copies"  and maybe END/REC to spam a lot of powers per round. Which, yes, works, but  not too well and feels like a backwards work-around compared to flipping straight to the power whose actual name is what you want to do. Having multiple rules options for any IC SFX is one of the system's biggest strengths, but can also be very obtuse and confusing when you just want to do the thing and not mess around trying to be clever about it. Arrrgh...

 

Your borderline-abuse example is why requiring that the most expensive form be considered the base for Multiform makes sense - though Champions Complete does specify that to qualify as a "lesser" cost character, it must be lower than the base character's cost minus the points spent on Multiform, probably specifically to head off that kind of trick.

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Trying to pull off Duplication in a VPP is gonna cost HUGELY!!!!  Dup, UAA, of a 400 point character?  UAA is the most expensive aspect of UBO;  plus, you'd have to do something to force the duplicates to be on your side, so it sounds like Altered Duplicates.  You're looking at something like a +1 1/2 advantage...on something costing 80 to begin with.  So that's 200 Active, meaning your Control Pool is 200 or more.  OK, if it's Duplicate a norm...nothing near as pricey, but still not cheap.  Plus...drop the Duplication points from the VPP?  Bye-bye duplicate.  Wouldn't it just generally be easier to use Mind Control for many of those?

I think Duplication is an implicitly hard power;  by its core nature, it's hard to balance at best, and will often net out as unbalanced.  There are at least 2 models, the "biological clone" and the "energy construct" and they really share very little.  The system may have adopted the bioclone notion because the construct approach strongly hints at more extensive changes;  the construct doesn't feel like STUN should be a problem.  You don't knock something like that out, do you?  You disrupt it and force to to disappear.  And a construct duplicate would seem to have quite a bit of Life Support...immune to disease, aging, no need to eat or sleep, POSSIBLY self contained breathing.  

 

One thing you can do...the rules suggest that you should be spending your char ponits / 5...that the points spent on the duplication are still covered in the duplicates, but they're largely meaningless.  Well, ok...instead of that, how about saying those points *do* cover the Resurrection regen and the LS?  Shouldn't need to do Altered Dup to do this.  Then you can use a bio-clone approach, spontaneously creating/absorbing back as needed.  They have enough notions of a body to take STUN, to become stunned, to be subject to killing.  The downside might be that you always send in a clone because you don't care if it gets killed;  it costs you nothing, and you're never at risk.  That's something to consider..especially given that extra dups cost nothing, really.  It's expensive, but that can be mitigated to a great degree.  

So...yeah.  Duplication as written may well need to be discussed, and if the campaign dictates a different model, adjusted.

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Maybe mix in some Barrier with the Images and Telekinesis I started from? That at least gets you BODY and ED/PD, though even with Non-Anchored, Mobile, and Reconfigurable it's still a bit of a logical stretch, and if anything is costing the points for Barrier to make it less effective than an Image backed by TK to affect real objects. Then, with Barrier specifying that it has to be contiguous it's also an obstacle to having more than one clone, where the Images could fill however big an AoE you buy to use them with.

 

(And on that note, is the listed "one meter cube" default for Images supposed to be the maximum bounds of the effect, or configurable volume? It would be plenty of volume for a even a very beefy single human and the 2m AoE modifier could support eight at 2m tall by 1m wide and 1/2m deep, but if it's maximum bounds you'd need the 2m version just to fit all the positions a human can get into, and that's assuming the area is mobile to suit the Image rather than fixed to the ground or the user.)

 

The Barrier rules do suggest a possible way forward for a new energy-clone Power if you want to go that road, at least.

 

Either way, it's still the one character running them, with the same number of actions and so on, so while they'd probably be effective decoys and an arbitrary number of extra hands for all your pet-bathing needs it's still not a real solution for Naruto-like independent shadow clones. Including some Barrier and Entangle fluffed as having a bunch of copies form a human wall or dogpile a target works, though it's strapping even more disparate bits together with, at best, Unified Power, to try to achieve a relatively simple SFX concept.

 

Can you buy Speed limited with "Only to have clones act independently?" Would that even be a meaningful Limitation, anytime the character wasn't in their secret civilian ID and intent on preserving it? (Which would of course be covered by the Complication of having a secret ID in the first place, not a Power Limitation.) Honestly the effect on the action economy is the only reason I can see to have Duplicate so expensive as it stands, but all the same justifications for adding more actions here apply as in the "Playing a horde" thread, as that aspect is exactly the same.

 

Maybe Summon: Copy of Self? That still ends up costing hugely as well, by the time you buy all the CP and a decent level of obedience so they won't just flip you off when you tell them to go jump in front of that attacking doombeast for you.

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1 hour ago, dialNforNinja said:

Maybe Summon: Copy of Self? That still ends up costing hugely as well, by the time you buy all the CP and a decent level of obedience so they won't just flip you off when you tell them to go jump in front of that attacking doombeast for you.

 

Perhaps instead of going through the expense of buying obedience,  buy Teleport and Shapeshift to move yourself out of the way and leave your summon as the only person in the area who looks like you? :D 

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I found a post on Stack Exchange about building a massmind character that suggested using the Follower perk, which seemed like a reasonable approach as explained. It also mentions the (fantastically expensive) 4e villain Tyrannon who had an entire army of transdimensionally Mind Linked subordinates, which sounds like a great enemy idea. I'll have to see if I can find the relevant book somewhere for cheap.

 

I'm posting the link to both the Playing A Horde thread and my own about Shadow Clone not-Duplicates-like-HERO-does-them copies, for the benefit of later searching.

 

https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/125324/how-to-build-a-hive-mind-character-in-hero-system-any-edition

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Old comics are apt to be hard to find and (in enough numbers to actually follow a storyline or two) not exactly cheap, but I can look him up on internet at least. I also finally remembered that TriStat dX (and I think Silver Age Sentinels) had an explicit Swarm Form power that was pretty cool, and could work with a nominally-single Duplicate-like-HERO-does-them to not be totally awful for the more common disposable horde type clones - basically, each point of Stun or Body would become "a separate copy" for SFX purposes, popping when damage is done to the swarm as a whole and not lost unless all of them were killed at once. How you'd represent that in the mechanics, though...

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Desolid is an obvious answer for a character who turns in to a swarm of small critters, but this would be a bunch of normal-sized copies that are just very vulnerable to damage, so they can't really do any of the usual Desolid things like going through small openings or ignore attacks, and they both affect and are affected normally by normal physical items. I guess you could combine it with Size Increase and use Desolid (swarm at normal human size) though. That would also handily cover the ability to have a bunch of clones work together to lift something, or do increased damage in hand to hand combat, and includes some extra reach and movement that could represent being spread out. Getting a few extra clones from the added Body and Stun is nice, and might actually be all the clones you get if you just take the power directly on the character who uses the clones.

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8 hours ago, ChaosDrgn said:

Off topic I know was just having a memory of DC One Million...the Atom of the 854th Century is able to split himself into duplicates...the catch? He shrinks for each duplicate he creates.

 

I've worked on that;  the total mass is conserved during the duplication.  In Hero, the problem can be that you need Rapid Duplication to do this, and that ain't gonna be cheap.

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10 hours ago, ChaosDrgn said:

Off topic I know was just having a memory of DC One Million...the Atom of the 854th Century is able to split himself into duplicates...the catch? He shrinks for each duplicate he creates.

 

The Wild Cards universe had someone similar who showed up as a contestant on American Hero (a Survivor-styled TV show).

 

For every duplicate, he got slightly smaller and also stupider because he divided his intelligence between each of the duplicates.

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6 minutes ago, archer said:

 

The Wild Cards universe had someone similar who showed up as a contestant on American Hero (a Survivor-style show)

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Try Wildguard by Todd Nauck. A hero team is built on a reality show. One of the wildcats had growth and became less intelligent the more he grew.

 

Normally I toss out some of the duplication rules. I'll sit down with the player and talk about what he wants the character to be like and work out a pointage. I have a set list of comics I go by (mainly 70s-90s) and if it works in there you can do it. Sure you can move the sun, got the str for it? Yes I want to do this like the flash, ok work with me and we'll stat it out the best we can.

 

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6 minutes ago, ChaosDrgn said:

 

 

Normally I toss out some of the duplication rules. I'll sit down with the player and talk about what he wants the character to be like and work out a pointage. I have a set list of comics I go by (mainly 70s-90s) and if it works in there you can do it. Sure you can move the sun, got the str for it? Yes I want to do this like the flash, ok work with me and we'll stat it out the best we can.

 

 

I've only built one character with duplication that I was satisfied with. And he was a brick so the build was fairly simple and straightforward. And I didn't have to worry about duplicates falling over dead.

 

That's sad for such an iconic power.

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I think it's telling that even in the Duplication Powers section of Champions Powers, the only ones that actually use Duplication are the example of it, and the variation that works like a planarian or a starfish where losing a body part means both parts regenerate into a full body and can't recombine. Everything else is just other powers fluffed as the action of a bunch of short-lived duplicates; this is of course perfectly in line with the way HERO system works, but a disappointing look behind the curtain when it comes to realizing the IC action you want your character to take as rules mechanics.

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2 hours ago, ChaosDrgn said:

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Try Wildguard by Todd Nauck. A hero team is built on a reality show. One of the wildcats had growth and became less intelligent the more he grew.

 

Normally I toss out some of the duplication rules. I'll sit down with the player and talk about what he wants the character to be like and work out a pointage. I have a set list of comics I go by (mainly 70s-90s) and if it works in there you can do it. Sure you can move the sun, got the str for it? Yes I want to do this like the flash, ok work with me and we'll stat it out the best we can.

 

 

Maul in WildC.A.T.S. was the same. Genius at normal size. Imbecile at mountain size.

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The problem is that, the comics don't care about points.  Each duplicate is exactly as effective as the writer wants him to be in that issue/book...and that may not hold true next time.  Sure, that's always true...but duplication doesn't readily translate to simple comparisons and numbers.  And writers aren't bound by the action economy, so for Company Man to split into 30 duplicates is nothing.

 

And they want the rules to be as decidable as possible.  To mimic a lot of the comic styles, the dups aren't as powerful.  They've got a subset...but what they take is under the writer's control.  If I as GM say, ok, you use your character sheet as a basis but you don't have to buy everything...the player tosses anything fluffy first.  Or does things like drop Variable FX or Variable Advantage for specific ones...which might vary from dup to dup.  Or, as archer noted...bricks and tough martial artist types are cheap to build to most reasonable XP and DC caps.  (An air squadron isn't bad either;  Blast supports some very straightforward Limitations that can be combined with Ranged Martial Arts nicely.)

 

Writers do things that simply cannot be translated into points sanely because their conception simply doesn't match the rules.  Or, force you into, IMO, serious distortions to try to make them work.

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2 hours ago, Greywind said:

 

Maul in WildC.A.T.S. was the same. Genius at normal size. Imbecile at mountain size.

Thats who I was talking about, couldn't remember his name. Sooo many of those d**n characters to remember....

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