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SFX's Result Uncertainty


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Hello! I've got a short question, but from looking on the forums in the past it sorta feels like I may be poking a proverbial 800kg Hulk Knockoff. So, bear that in mind

 

The question is, "What do SFX do?"

 

Now that itself is horribly broad, so I'll try to explain further.

 

I was reading through an argument about Transform, Multiform, and Shapeshift earlier, and I was somewhat confused. The prevailing question in it was whether Shapeshift's SFX, of shapeshifting, provided abilities with it. The general conclusion was that, no, it did not, as while it might seem to, it is up to the GM to generally limit abuse in that manner, or for the player to buy supporting abilities. Many people brought up and were frustrated that shapeshifting in previous editions one could define their SFX as Shapeshifting, which would not provide an effective Disguise, but would be "shapeshifting" themselves to provide said effect.

 

However, and forgive me if I'm wrong, I'm not seeing anything actually in 6ed that prevents one from having a shapeshift sort of SFX. So I am both confused whether I do have to buy Shapeshift for... changing shape, or if I don't.


Very literal example and why I am asking: I, for a shortly upcoming game (Yay! Got in one!) have built a character who's main power is Growth. This Growth is defined as a rather painful looking transformation into a Giant Monster. I did however, purchase it with both Persistent and 0END cost, so that the shift functionally lasts until they stop it. This, I presumed didn't provide anything beyond simply being how they look, and providing a unified Special Effect for other Powers. Resistant Protection from a monstrous hide? Pay some points and with Unified Power and treat the Growth form as a Alternate Identity esk Hero Form, rather than Linking all the powers to it. That felt more appropriate. Want Giant Claws? Purchase some KHA for the form with the limitations. Extra Presence? Same song and dance.

Now, while all this is... at least as far as I can tell, how it is supposed to be done. You purchase powers, define their Special Effect, and there you go. The special Effect doesn't provide anything. It can shape how people Interact with the character, sure! But that isn't quite what the SFX Provides.

 

A better way of putting that. If I have Blast, a Fire Blast... It blasts Fire. Hurrah. If I want to use it to burn something, I probably can. Maybe buy Power Tricks if you are going to be using it for some special stuff, or a Change Environment if you are broadening it. But, The Fire Blast, as a whole, shoots fire. One could call it as providing an advantage against someone who is weak to fire, or a disadvantage to someone who is immune to fire. I consider this bizarre and backwards. The Fire Blast interacts with the world in the same way regardless. By blasting fire at it. It is the other person who is interacting with the Fire in a different way. They have bought a Weakness to Fire, or Damage Resistance to Fire. You didn't pay for it, they did. They are... in a very broad term, targeting that SFX in the same way someone with Drain:Fire Powers is.

 

That's how I think of SFX's. They flavor either by what means you are doing something, supernatural or otherwise, and/or, they provide an explanation for an effect. They don't get you anything, but they let you flavor it in whatever way you so desire.

 

 

Back to my literal example: The Monsterous Shifter has the SFX defined as shifting into a Monsterous form with their Growth, and everything that entails. The intent is for this to be a literally transformative act. They were a human, then they grew an extra few meters, and are now a monsterous thing. I'm not presuming it grants anything. Just that it lets them literally change shape and form. No Mental Transformations here, they have a Psychological Limitation: Fractured Mind in both forms thanks. The only thing that it might have in justification for needing... something, is that I took  Alternate Identity as a Limitation. But, since it includes changing powers, or rather, having access to powers more readily, I don't think it should require Shapeshift as a whole.

 

But I don't know.

 

Yes yes, GM clarification aside, as they have signed off on it being A-okay, I'm not certain whether I'm being actually compliant. I am hiding my identity with it after all. But, is that not just the whole... Clark Kent has glasses so he's clearly not Superman line? I honestly don't know.

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No, you don't require Shapeshift or Multiform for this power.

 

You took care of all of that by making using Alternate ID and it seems you purchased Complications and Limitations to make it play as you want it to.

 

The previous thread you are referencing was about any benefits that SFX gave you that you didn't pay for like Flight with the SFX of being a sparrow letting you sneak around or fit into small places. The issue was being approached from the other direction.

 

 

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There is a tribe of Hero gamers who are worried that somebody might get something in the game without paying for it.  These poor lost souls will try to require every possible point expenditure that they can think of.  If they can think of a power that might possibly be related to the one you already have, they will want to see it on the character sheet as well.  This mentality seemed to hit its peak in the Steve Long 5th edition character books.  Unfortunately, all it does is limit the characters that people actually choose to play, by making cooler concepts too expensive to be competitive.

 

The purpose of the Shapeshift power is to let you assume a variety of different forms.  A character with Shapeshift and appropriate levels of Growth can look like a regular guy, a small asian woman, a big dog, a motorcycle, a leather recliner, an elephant, a big monster, etc.  Is your Growth power this versatile?  Probably not.  Do you always change into the same big monster every time you use your power?  Probably so.  If that's the case, in my opinion, you don't need Shapeshift.

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Holy rabbit holes, Batman!

 

What?

 

These rabbits. They dig holes. All over the yard.

 

Massey kind of nailed this, actually, and you have caught onto the gist of it; a power, in a very real sense, “is” its special effect. When we talk about reason from effect, this is precisely what we mean. If it gives your ego a boost, and I hope it does, when I built my dragon transformer, I did it in the exact same way you did. Bought a bunch of growth, flight, and he can shoot lasers from his mouth (I based him on the “race” of Bahamut from FF VII). When those powers activate as a suite, he turned into a dragon. I bought Striking Appearance: Dragon (OIAID, -1/4) to help his PRE attacks, but that was it. Because Shapeshift would be a waste of points, he’s not a shape shifter. He turns into a dragon. He could have been Godzilla, the Hulk, an orange dude in blue underwear made outta rocks (...the underwear, super chafing). 

 

Your second question is “fire blast?” Correct. You purchase EB and define the special effect at that time. Per 6E1:

 

The special effects of a Power define how it 
works, what it looks like, and any other inci-
dental effects associated with it. Sometimes a 
Power receives minor benefits and drawbacks 
because of its special effects. These minor modi-
fiers don’t change the cost of the Power, but if 
the special effect provides a major benefit, you 
have to pay Character Points for that to buy an 
Advantage (6E1, Chapter Six)

 

So your blast is “fire.” It behaves like fire at no additional cost. Your blast is magic, but the setting says “all magic attacks are inherently armor piercing,” so by saying “this is magic” you also must, per the campaign, purchase Armor Piercing. The excellent 5th Edition Ultimate Energy Projector is both a treasure trove of options and a positive nightmare if you approach with the “poor lost souls” mentality. 

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Jim with Shapeshifting which alters his form: people who see him think to themselves, "Gee, I wonder who this is?"

 

Jim with a power whose special effect alters his shape: people who see him think to themselves, "Gee, Jim is using his superpower today."

 

Jim while wearing a domino mask and using  a power whose special effect alters his shape: people who see him think to themselves, "Gee, who is that masked man?"

 

:D 

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Another reason for SFX is that, sometimes, they directly interact.

 

You can buy...let's say, Absorption, Energy, with the limitation Only Vs. Fire.  If my energy blast is defined with an SFX of "fire"...you get to absorb.  If it isn't, you're SOL.  Vulnerability and Susceptibility also are often tied to specific SFX.

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Massey pretty much nailed it with his comments on the problems of "Oh good Lord; under some obscure circumstance, you might dig a bit of utility out of that once or twice!  No; not until you buy that, too, because it might someday happen."  That seems to get worse every time HERO fans get together.  :lol:

 

Vlad pointed out how they can interact with the mechanics of the game.

 

I would like to offer that they are randomizers of a sort.  They make a power more or less effective in certain situations.  (Yes; this is that "potential utility; you'd better by that, too" stuff, in spite of the fact that this very potential is a baked-in and very interesting point of the game).

 

Some examples:   3d6 RKA

 

"Man, my Six Guns of Justice just aren't making a dent in this steel wall!  The water is going to rise until we drown in here!"

"Wait!  Let's see if my Plasma Blasts could possibly melt a hole large enough to wriggle through (presumably after the water cools it a bit.  ;)  )"

 

 

Flight:  Oh no!  I have run out of Endurance Fuel for my rocket backpack!  I sure wish the ground wasn't such a long way away....

My wings.... So tired....   I can't keep flapping....   What's it going to take to glide a circular pattern to the ground?

  GM:  Uhm...  tell you what, make an EGO roll for strength of will every Phase.  If you make it, you can burn two STUN pips in place of your END to just glide down in a circle-- no acrobatics or going somewhere else; just to get safely to the ground.  At this altitude, I think you should get there in...  let's say three Phases....

But what about me and my rocket pack?

Don't sweat it.  You'll be burning lots of Stun as soon as you find the dirt.

 

Resistant Defense:

 

Okay, as you stand there looking off the side of the ship, the merfolk beckon to you.  "Down here!  This is where that strange craft came to rest on the ocean floor!  Come quickly!"  You begin to struggle into your SCUBA gear, checking each other's equipment.  Suddenly, from the deck above you, gunshots!  Okay, Sam, Adventure Man has...  eighteen points of Resistant Defense?

    Right!  He uses his Secret ID's wealth to ensure that all of his Adventure Man gear and clothing-- like this diving suit and the Tuxedo he was wearing a few minutes ago-- are all manufactured from a secret blend of supple composites--

   Okay, I get it.  Cool!  So unless you get hit in the face, you should be okay.  Carl, you also have Resistant Defense, right?

Sure do!  Twenty points worth!

   I didn't see armor on Brute's character sheet-

I'm a lead golem, remember?

Uhmm....  Why are you on this mission, exactly?

 

Conversely:

 

I'm sorry, Sam; Adventure Man's polymer Arrow shirt and khaki jodhpurs aren't much good against the potent radiation leaking from the meteorite.  Even as you feel the warmth touch your skin, you start to feel...  woozy--

"Quick, Adventure Man!  Get behind me!  I'm made of living lead!"

 

 

I will put my traditional plate mail up against your fancy high-tech gadgetry any day, Sir!

I think you'll find my hermetically-sealed computer-controlled powered armor far superior.

My armor will repel an evil-doer's sling stone as easily as does yours, Good Sir!

They are not using stones.  Those are bags of fleas.....

 

 

"I'm nearly done for...  We're taking such a beating...  Who _are_ these guys?!"

I don't know.  Maybe, maybe we can rest here...  just for a minute...

"Wait!  Look!  In that mirror!  I can see one of them....   he's just down that corridor, with his back turned...."

What?!  Sweet!  I want to try to zap him with my laser eyes by bouncing it off his image in the mirror--

"No; wait!  You're laser eyes are only 8D6 normal damage!   Let's try bouncing my AK47 off his reflection in that mirror!  Full auto, Baby....."

 

 

That sort of thing.

 

That's what SFX do.  Weirdly, there is an impressively large portion of the fandom thinks you should pay extra for that once-in-a-great-while _potential_ utility  (I say potential, because even when it's there, the character has to actually think of it).  Compounding that weirdness is that most of these guys fall into a larger chunk of the fandom that thinks lost points are the greatest crime since spilling Cheeze Wiz into a character binder.  And yet.....

"No!  If you want to defend Adventure Man from the radiation of the meteor, you need to buy "Armor, only versus Radiation (or whatever the NND might happen to call for as a defense), Usable by others!  Otherwise, the radiation goes right through you and you both die!"  Okay, fine.  I'll pony up the seven points.

 

 

AND THEY ARE _GONE_!  They are _LOST_!  They will never, ever be used again; they are just trapped there on "Armor, only versus Radiation, Usable by Others.......

 

But this kind of lost forever seems to be okay, with the justification:  You might run into another radiation-based macguffin.  Maybe.  It could happen.  You never know...

 

I'm the freakin' GM; of _course_ I know!  I am the guy who actually decides what they will run into again!   At least, with respect to the characters of my players, and I'm not a jack hole enough to make them pay for the ability to temporarily shelter someone during a retreat by keeping his lead body between the source of the radiation and another character.  Frankly, since the 80s, none of my players have ever had to pay a single point because some aspect of their SFX _might_ be useful once or twice, maybe someday.

 

If you want to look at it from a mechanical point of view, then consider it this way:

 

the SFX are the bloom on flowers.

 

 

Here are four characters:

 

Flight 15"

Energy Blast 12d6

 

 

Flight 15"

Energy Blast 12d6

 

Flight 15"

Energy Blast 12d6

 

Flight 15"

Energy Blast 12d6

 

 

 

 

 

Here are those same characters with Special Effects:

 

Accitiper:

large feathered wings sprout from his back, and he can strike at a distance with his claw-themed Shredarangs.

 

Doc Rocket:

After recovering from his nasty fall, his jet backpack now needs no fuel, and runs on a tiny fusion plant of his own creation.  It generates so much power that he taps that energy to plug in various devices, such as his famous Irradiator Ray Gun

 

WindWalker:

Heir to the shamanic secrets of his great-grandfather, wind walker literally strides across the sky.  His medicine bag is perpetually filled with charms and herbal mixtures that deliver varied and devastating results upon the wicked

 

Flux:

Using her ability to shift her body's physical form into any of a thousand kids of energy, she zigs and zags through the sky like an iridescent pinball, pausing only long enough unleash electromagnetic fury on her opponents.

 

 

 

 

That's the other thing that special effects do.  ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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@Duke Bushido, oh I agree that somewhere paying for every little affect sfx has gotten outta hand. The reason I think this has happened is a combination of three points;

 

1) You get what you pay for has been taken too far in intent.

 

2) You’ve gotten burned by bad GMing whether intentional or not. This can range from a GM not rolling with it I’d say a Radiation event came up in a published scenario and the GM is like uhhh don’t you have Radiation Protection? I’ve played with GM’s that if it isn’t on the sheet, it doesn’t count.

 

3) You play  with multiple GM’s or you’re playing with an unknown GM. 
 

4) Or you play with weasels who will take advantage of this and try squeeze so much for free.

 

one reason I like Power Skill now for free is it gives both the GM and player a mechanical resolution for this. Personally I give Power Skill at 11- for free not 8-.

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Okay! I think I understand the basic sorta... fundamental weirdness now.

If I want my SFX to do something reliably, I should expect to pay for it. If Big Monster wants a scaly HIde, some spooky Claws, and a loud as all get out Roar, I should snag Resistant Protection, KHA, and a Flash attack.

If I then want to use those claws to carve a message into the ground for people who pass, well, that should be fine without requiring a Transform. Maybe Power Skill if so chosen. If others want to try to track the character via.... I guess scale shedding, I don't need to purchase a negative for Tracking Checks based on shedding. Both of those things make sense given the character, but aren't something I generally am thinking of when I consider the character.

 

Or in other words, Pay for what I expect, ask if it makes sense.

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19 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Okay, as you stand there looking off the side of the ship, the merfolk beckon to you.  "Down here!  This is where that strange craft came to rest on the ocean floor!  Come quickly!"  You begin to struggle into your SCUBA gear, checking each other's equipment.  Suddenly, from the deck above you, gunshots!  Okay, Sam, Adventure Man has...  eighteen points of Resistant Defense?

    Right!  He uses his Secret ID's wealth to ensure that all of his Adventure Man gear and clothing-- like this diving suit and the Tuxedo he was wearing a few minutes ago-- are all manufactured from a secret blend of supple composites--

   Okay, I get it.  Cool!  So unless you get hit in the face, you should be okay.  Carl, you also have Resistant Defense, right?

Sure do!  Twenty points worth!

   I didn't see armor on Brute's character sheet-

I'm a lead golem, remember?

Uhmm....  Why are you on this mission, exactly?

 

 

Yeah, he's gonna have fun in the water, isn't he.
I built a character with 2 diametrically opposite multiforms...one was a stellar core (sort of), the other was solar wind (alternate desolid from APG, always on).  The stellar core...I think the last build was 3 levels of APG shrinking (think 1 1/2 levels of regular shrinking, so ~ 1/3 height)...and around 8 levels of DI.  Yeah...2' 2", 2500 lbs.  Density's in the 250 range.  This is Always On (in this form).  What does that suggest?  INSANE hardness and toughness, getting this material to shift would be...not gonna happen.  Well, he can, but that's different.  Deforming it with a blow?  HA!  So he's bought down to 0 PD and 0 ED, and has damage negation, resistant defenses with no advantages, and a good-sized chunk of rPD with both hardened and impenetrable.  It's kind of a pain to build to meet the concept because, if you're trying to honor the notion, the defenses need to be REALLY high, at least IMO.

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30 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

 

Yeah, he's gonna have fun in the water, isn't he.

 

:rofl:    Oh yes; yes.  I believe he will.  :D

 

 

 

30 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

 It's kind of a pain to build to meet the concept because, if you're trying to honor the notion, the defenses need to be REALLY high, at least IMO.

 

I agree, but have to point out (not to you, obviously, but for the sake of conversation) that there needs to be a concession to playability and "fitting in" with the rest of the characters.  By concept, you stellar core should be completely indestructible.  Now obviously, with enough points, we can achieve a very reasonably facsimile of that.  It is equally obvious, though, that we shouldn't.  :lol:  I mean, Every combat is going to become "Quick!  Hide behind Star Man!"  or "Why do the bad guys just keep running away from us?"    Wonderful for crime prevention, I suppose, but not a lot of fun (after the amusement novelty wears off, I mean).

 

I went through this for a couple of _decades_: my very first character was a brick, and really enjoyed the role-playing aspect of the game.  Accordingly, the rest of the group kept saying "No!  You have to play Power!  We _love_ that character!"  So even while campaigns changed and everyone else made new characters periodically, I kept getting roped into playing the same brick.  There are only so many places a brick will spend points, logically.  Twenty years-- and let's remember that this was way back-- college years at first, and single men after-- when we could play three nights a week, and run weekend-long marathons.  By the time I _finally_ convinced the GM to let me just kill off the character and start fresh,-- well, I won't bother with what his stats were at the time, but really:  "indestructible"  and "irresistible" were both accurate adjectives.   And truthfully?  I _hated_ it.  During the first campaign, he was fun.  Even the second and third, he was fun, and there was the novelty of the GM letting me run a character that totally outclassed the rest of the party.  Eventually, I was just window dressing:  I wouldn't _do_ anything because it mean no one else would get to do anything (why roll your security systems to trick the keypad when a STR 245 will _probably_ open the door without any real issue).  And no one bothered with worrying about defenses, because they'd just hide behind Martin Power.

 

It wasn't until I finally got to make a new character that everyone understood that it wasn't that one particular character they were in love with:  it was that I could _commit_ to the character via roleplaying, and _become_ a fully-realized character.  _That's_ what they were in love with.....

 

:(

 

 

14 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

To me I believe what we as a group should do is to encourage on losing up what is given for “free” for sfx. 5th and 6th do still state that based on sfx certain things should be free. It’s the perception that we kust now define everything for point cost that needs to change.

 

 

I _completely_ agree with you!

 

However, we first have to be honest enough with ourselves to acknowledge something.

 

Something related to this, actually:

 

 

19 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

@Duke Bushido, oh I agree that somewhere paying for every little affect sfx has gotten outta hand. The reason I think this has happened is a combination of three points;

 

1) You get what you pay for has been taken too far in intent.

 

2) You’ve gotten burned by bad GMing whether intentional or not. This can range from a GM not rolling with it I’d say a Radiation event came up in a published scenario and the GM is like uhhh don’t you have Radiation Protection? I’ve played with GM’s that if it isn’t on the sheet, it doesn’t count.

 

3) You play  with multiple GM’s or you’re playing with an unknown GM. 
 

4) Or you play with weasels who will take advantage of this and try squeeze so much for free.

 

And us.

 

This board.

 

Other Players.

 

Other GMs.

 

You know: Us.

 

We derive a lot of fun out of statting things up in the system-- characters, cars, gypsum wallboard, 1/8" thick single-strength plate glass-- you name it; someone at some point has sat down and statted it up.

 

People drop by (here or in person, at your table, at a convention, wherever you might have this conversation:

 

So how do I build X?

 

How many times do you see "you should," "you have to," "you forgot about," etc, etc in those suggestions?

 

Yes; you see a lot of "well you _could_" and "have you tried," but how much "you need to" do you see, followed up by multiple sources of agreement?  How many times have you seen Advantages and Limitations expressed as something that you "need" X or Y in order to model your special effect?

 

What would help, I think, is that we stop pushing them as _necessary_, and instead, after the questioner has his answer-- say "you could probably combine Energy Blast and extra movement into a single attack using Linked or Triggered so that they go off as one"-- and let that person then decide if this power actually _does_ routinely (like every or almost every use) have any special effectiveness of drawbacks _as he sees it working in his head_.

 

If it does, then suggest to him _NOT_ that "you need this" or "that" or you "can't model what you want."  Frankly, if I tell my GM I don't want my power to work under a midnight moon, he'll stick with that whether I take that as a Limitation or not.  ;)

 

We should instead suggest that Limitations are cost-saving mechanics he can apply to a power that he already sees as being limited.   Just because I decide my power is "laser beams" doesn't mean that they will lose drastic amounts of efficiency when I go SCUBA diving.  If I _want_ the power to work that way-- if I have already decided that the power will work that way-- then suggest that there are cost-saving bonuses available to someone who has decided to voluntarily limit the efficiency of his power.  We need to _stop_ saying "Well, lasers don't work nearly as well two hundred feet underwater, so you're going to have to take a limitation to model a proper laser."  We need instead to ask "do you see this power having any drawbacks or can you imagine and circumstances under which it might be less efficient, or even unavailable?"  The work from there.

 

Same thing with Advantages: we should ask "do you see this power being more effective that someone else with the same base power?  How so?"  If that "advantage" is something relatively minor and derived from his special effect, state quite clearly (and as pridefully as possible):  "Oh, that's something you should just be able to do;  the distinction between mechanics and special effects is the strength-- the cornerstone upon which the system was built!"  For example:

 

"Well, he shoot fire, so I thought "hey, he should be able to light cigarettes and lanterns, and maybe dry out his clothes if they get wet or warm up his teammates if they get frozen...?"

 

Instead of saying "No; stop; you're wrong.  I count at _least_ three minor Transformations _and_ a Life Support (versus cold): Usable by Others.  You will have to build and buy those separately--"

 

The response should be more along the lines of "check with your GM, but those all sound pretty minor-- little "spotlight on me" moments that either won't come up a lot or will have very little impact on the game.  Check and see if he thinks you should actually have to pay to give yourself cancer or provide yourself with foul-smelling feeble light.  These are more like side effects of your special effect."

 

if the answer is "well, I want him to shoot like a _column_ of fire!  Like be able to fill up the entire hallway with his flames!"

 

Then we can respond with something like "Okay; that's cool.  You might want to look at Area of Effect as an Advantage to your standard power.  There are options there that will let you do just that."

 

I know the standard answer to my stance on this (I bring this up every few years) some variation of "we don't do that!  We only tell them what they need to make the power they are asking for!"  Sure.  I absolutely accept that we all believe that; really I do.  But when you start telling him what he "needs" based on his special effect before he even decides what advantages and limitations he wants the power to have--- well, that's influential.  People don't ask folks questions when they believe those people have a lesser grasp of the subject than they do.  Even if none of us claims expertise, the fact is these questions are asked because the questioner _considers_ us to be more knowledgeable, better versed, -- _experts_, at least in comparison to them.  (for the record, this is why I _always_ start any answer to a 6e question with "I'm not as familiar with 6e as most folks here" or words to that effect:  I am _not_ as familiar with it, and don't want anyone thinking my suggestions come from a place of intimate knowledge).

 

When we say "need to," "have to," "must," and "should" to someone who considers our opinions better grounded than his own...,    Well, that's _powerful_.  It sticks, and ultimately it influences the way the questioner will view the process _forever_. 

 

So the overbuilding thing?  _We_ started it, ultimately.  Not on purpose (I don't believe), but by letting our exuberance (damn!  I really thought there was an "H" in that!) overwhelm our caution: we get so excited to provide help or provide answers that we don't pay enough attention to _how_ we package that help and express those answers.

 

Even the examples we point to can have influence on a new player.

 

 

CAUTION!  I AM GOING TO _REFERENCE_ A DISCUSSION HERE.  PLEASE, I _IMPLORE_ ANYONE STILL READING, DO _NOT_ MISTAKE THIS WITH AN ATTEMPT TO _REVIST_ THAT DISCUSSION!    From the very blackest parts of my heart, THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING! :)

 

I believe you were here for the last big blowout discussion of Shape Shift.  You remember my stance on it, I'm sure (let's not revisit it), and I even posted a published write-up-- to my knowledge, the first ever published write up-- of a shape shifting character, written up by one of the co-creators of the game.  It did not influence my stance, but it _did_ reinforce it: when one of the authors does it the same way you do it, you tend to feel like you fell into a sweet understanding of the rules.  :lol:

 

Several years later, a different author of a later edition-- thereby, "one of the authors of the game" created an actual shape shifting power.  I can't remember if he published an example of a character other than the example in the text (not a complete character, though   :( ), but I _promise_ it would look radically different from the one I put up.

 

So which do you show to someone who asks "I'd like to see an example of how to do this"?

 

Remember that what he sees will affect how he does it from that point on-- possibly even more than anything we could say: after all, _this_ example was created by "the guy who wrote the rules."

 

(Sure, we can revert to "well, which edition are you playing," but even then: there is no reason that _both_ methods can't work in any edition, _except_ for that which has influenced how you think about creating something.)

 

 

Anyway, already _way_ longer than I had meant to be, but this problem, above all others, is something I feel does not get enough attention nor enough thought:

 

The problem-- the creeping increase in rules and "must" and "can't"---  it's us.  We are the creators of the problem we are wrestling with.

 

If only we had listened to Pogo all those years ago.....

 

 

 

:rofl:

 

 

 

 

 

19 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

 

one reason I like Power Skill now for free is it gives both the GM and player a mechanical resolution for this. Personally I give Power Skill at 11- for free not 8-.

 

 

The above I presented as something of an analysis.

 

This I present _entirely_ as opinion:

 

I don't like Power Skill.

 

I protested it before it came out, and I don't use it to this day. 

 

(okay, those are facts, but the opinion is coming, I _swear_ it is!  :lol: )

 

I personally feel that Power Skill makes the SFX problem worse:

 

For one, it reinforces  (since it's free now, it's not quite the reinforcement it once was, but the absence of it entirely would solve the problem it presents.  Hunh.  I guess that's actually true with _anything_ that presents a problem, so let's just forget some accidental tritisms, if you will...  :rofl:  ) the idea that there _must_ be a mechanic.

 

The idea that there _must_ be a mechanic reinforces the idea that there _must_ be a cost.  Mechanics cost, right?

 

It _denies_ that even if your special effect absolutely _demands_ a certain thing, there's no chance it will actually happen unless you have the right mechanic.   If my special effect is spraying glue onto my opponents, there is absolutely no chance that I will be able to glue a poster to a wall if didn't buy (or, in the free edition, write on my character sheet) this one mechanic.  

 

I feel that Power Skill reinforces the placing of mechanics _over_ special effects as opposed to complementary to them simply be introducing a mechanic to see if your special effect can be used to do something that just makes sense to _everyone_ at the table:

 

Okay, even though the criminals have boarded the chopper, the boat full of drugs is still sitting out there, waiting to be picked up.  The diesel continues to spill from the holes Tommy Gunn put in the fuel tanks.

"Oh!  I want to destroy the boat so they can't get the drugs!"

From here?

"I want to shoot my fireballs at the spilled diesel to light it on fire!"

Roll to hit

"I hit!"

"I haven't told you--"

"Natural 3, Dude.  I _hit_"

"Okay; you hit it.  Roll your Power Skill."

"What_?"
"Dude, that's an Energy Blast you're using, not a match."

"It's a fireball!  It is literally a large ball composed entirely of fire!  Fire ignites diesel!"

"Well, that doesn't mean that you know how to make your fire land in just the right place to cause ignition, or that you can make the _right kind_ of fire--"

"Wha-- Are you _serious_, Tony?  The right kind of _fire_ to ignite a diesel slick?!"

"Well, it _is_ an energy blast, and setting something on fire would _usually_ require a T-Form, which you don't have--"

"Yeah.  Look, I've got work in the morning.  I think we're good.  I'm gonna scoot on out now...."

"It's only fifteen points per die!"

"Good night, Tony!"

 

 

Sure; I confess it's a super-simple, overly-obvious example.

 

But some of the discussion of SFX versus mechanics on this very board lead me to think it's not a-typical, either.

 

 

In much the same way that we are all, ultimately, responsible for loss of clarity on SFX, I think Power Skill shares some responsibility, too.

 

 

 

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Another aspect of the extensive use of the RP, or allowing manipulation of the power skill, is that it creates an uneven playing field...not based on the characters, but on the players.  And how creative and they are, specifically.

 

The extreme example here is Images.  If the player's good at thinking on the fly, the illusionist style is generally FAR more effective than against a pretty straightforward thinker.  It's the same comparison as the smooth talker using his patter to get past security, versus the guy who's out of his depth, either because he's not got great personal skills, or maybe because he's unfamiliar with the situation.

 

And it's not like we're saying you can't ever do it.  One of my most memorable sessions at Gen Con was that my character HATED!!!!!! his father.  (Yes, for THAT reason.)  So, boom, all of a sudden, I see him across the clearing.  Grunts between me and him.  So I tell the DM I'm cutting my bloody damn way through those grunts!!!  So he gave me a Cleave on the fly...in 2nd Ed D&D where Cleave did not exist.  Just because the grunts were nothing, and the fight between the two of us was a Very Big Deal.

 

We were both in the low single digits when I got the last strike in...dropped him into major negatives...and I figured at that point the adrenaline rush would evaporate...so I collapsed. :)

 

I might buy the Power Skill use as mentioned, but I personally would say that it's modified by the active point cost.  And if you miss the power skill roll?  The whole power fails.  Spend the END.  I'd also be more inclined to let you do things if you've shown dynamism in the power you're trying to use...like, if you have a single target Blast and a Radius Blast, I'd probably let you try for a Cone or Line from time to time, on the fly.

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38 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

Another aspect of the extensive use of the RP, or allowing manipulation of the power skill, is that it creates an uneven playing field...not based on the characters, but on the players.  And how creative and they are, specifically.

 

The extreme example here is Images.  If the player's good at thinking on the fly, the illusionist style is generally FAR more effective than against a pretty straightforward thinker.  It's the same comparison as the smooth talker using his patter to get past security, versus the guy who's out of his depth, either because he's not got great personal skills, or maybe because he's unfamiliar with the situation.

 

And it's not like we're saying you can't ever do it.  One of my most memorable sessions at Gen Con was that my character HATED!!!!!! his father.  (Yes, for THAT reason.)  So, boom, all of a sudden, I see him across the clearing.  Grunts between me and him.  So I tell the DM I'm cutting my bloody damn way through those grunts!!!  So he gave me a Cleave on the fly...in 2nd Ed D&D where Cleave did not exist.  Just because the grunts were nothing, and the fight between the two of us was a Very Big Deal.

 

We were both in the low single digits when I got the last strike in...dropped him into major negatives...and I figured at that point the adrenaline rush would evaporate...so I collapsed. :)

 

I might buy the Power Skill use as mentioned, but I personally would say that it's modified by the active point cost.  And if you miss the power skill roll?  The whole power fails.  Spend the END.  I'd also be more inclined to let you do things if you've shown dynamism in the power you're trying to use...like, if you have a single target Blast and a Radius Blast, I'd probably let you try for a Cone or Line from time to time, on the fly.

 

From what I've seen, am seeing, heard, and am hearing, this falls solidly in a very very difficult to allocate camp. Cause it seems to be trying to do two things that make every game so much sweeter if done well, and so much bitterer if not.

1: Having the players try to reach interesting and hopefully organic conclusions and trying to take action based off that

2: Having a GM who is comfortable with a little mechanic wiggling in the sake of story/engagement/fun.

 

This creates a drastically different playing field depending on the comfort level and willingness to engage of some players. If one player has known the GM for a fair amount of time, they are probably way more comfortable asking, "Hey, I don't have this power, but it seems like I might be able to do XYZ, can I give it a shot?" Than the new person who is still trying to get a feel for the dynamics of the group. 

 

The fact that social skills assist a Roleplaying game is... well, it makes sense. The better you can get into the mindset and play up the role you've got, the more immersed that you will probably get, and the more deep you will try to pull things.Just because I know on my character sheet that Blaster McGee the Third doesn't have a means to weld the door shut to stop the goons from getting to them, Blaster McGee isn't thinking in terms of Transform Powers. He's thinking in terms of, "Crap, Mister Evil's Ninja Henchmen got the drop on me! I need a second. Can I weld this shut? Damn it, dunno, but I gotta try something!"

 

Including Power Skills, and providing the Trick Rolls is something that, no, it shouldn't really be necessary in my eyes. It's something you as a player and as a character are going to try either way though. BUT, it does give people who are less familiar, or still trying to figure things out a way to ask, "I'm out of options, but I do have this Power Skill. Can you guys think of something that might be helpful there?" It is a way to mark on the sheet that you can try things you think of. Cause, well, some people need that. 

A nice GM might let them get those points back with some Bonus XP for Impressive Roleplay, which in turn promotes them to act more on those impulsive and hopeful thoughts, and gets those points back after a while without anyone the wiser. It's a tool. You just gotta figure out how it's useful. And in this case, that might also include to whom it's useful.

 

If I had a way to let everyone at the table have a high level in communicable skills, I would. I would also be able to sell that stuff like candy on a black market because of how useful that is. But I can't. So, I have to figure out how to promote that sort of interaction. Both as a Player, and GM.

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There's no balancing mechanism possible to make a bad player equal to a good player.  Nor should there be.  I used to play D&D with a guy named Matt.  Nice guy, but basically a bump on a log.  Matt knew how to roll a D20, but couldn't figure out what Armor Class he hit.  We had been playing together for years.  Matt just liked to be in the group, killing monsters and having fun.  He was never late, and showed up every single game session.  Don't ask Matt to come up with a plan though.  He knew when it was his turn to attack, and he knew what damage dice to roll.  Anything beyond "I hit it with my sword" was a mystery to him though.  Fortunately Matt had some great stats and he seemed to roll really well.  But really there's no way to make a player like Matt as effective as someone who really understands the game and thinks in imaginative ways.  And you wouldn't want to play a game that had such a mechanism.  As nice as Matt was, he was a 100% reactive player.  He never made any suggestions or came up with any ideas.  The simplest of riddles would be an impenetrable enigma to Matt.

 

There's nothing wrong with creative use of powers.  And yes, it's true that the Matts of the world are not going to be as effective as those who push the boundaries of what they can do.  But that's a sacrifice you make for having people of varying skill levels in the game.

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Regarding the Matts of the world:

 

Even then, does that not simulate the source material?  Some characters are more creative with their abilities than others. 

 

Yes; it's an imbalance.  Yes; it is possible (though not a certainty, particularly not in every single case) that it feels crummy to be less creative with your friends, but likely no more so in the game than at any other point in your relationship with them. 

 

But I digress!  The point is that you _cannot_ resolve that with a mechanic.  A good GM, if he cares enough, can moderate things to ensure that this hypothetical player is having a good time, too, but you can't do it with a mechanic _unless_ you remove the interaction of SFX all together. 

 

Even then, creativity will still pay off:   just because all energy blasts are them doesn't mean that all players will realize that dislodging the keystone will send the arch crashing down upon their assailants. 

 

Mechanics, even if they could change it, aren't any better as a solution:

 

"I know there has to be a way out of this thing,  but I can't think of it!" 

Okay, roll your Power Skill. 

"I got a seven...." 

It works!  You're free!  Amazing! 

"how'd-- what ju-  why am I free, again?" 

You rolled your power skill to use your powers in a different, creative way that allowed you to escape! 

"Cool!  What did I do?" 

I don't know; I'm  it sure how your powers could have helped, really, but I guess that just shows ya: there's always a way! 

 

Where is the player's joy in that victory?  What story will he tell at game  night a year from now? 

 

 

Alternatively:

 

You have to let me do it! 

Why? 

Because I made my Power Skill roll!  You can't violate a mechanic just because you don't think it sounds right! 

Dude!  I don't care _what_ you rolled, your telepathic command of housecats is not going to help you de-orbit the laser death ray! 

But the _dice_, Terry!  The _dice_ say something else! 

No, okay?  NO! 

 

If I can't think of anything, but I check against the mechanic and I succeed, then _something happens, right?  So if _I_ can't think of anything, then it's on _you_ to explain it, right? 

 

Those three, and more, spell out so much of what I find wrong with Power Skill, or really any mechanic to determine the interaction of special effects and the universe. 

 

 

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@Duke Bushido, I reread Power Skill and sfx. It’s suggested that it should only be really used (as making roll) when in combat. I know this falls in line (and I’m working on reversing the trend) of making rolls outta combat. I’ve seen (and guilty done) have characters make rolls out of combat when in reality they should automatically succeed.  So I believe the intent is can Firebrand (a sample fire using hero) light a cigarette? Sure, no problem. Should he be able to light a fuse to detonate a bomb while being shot at? Well make a Power Skill roll. 

Or use a Hero point!

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