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Sean Waters

Indirect discussion

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

 

So, preliminary question: is that how you understand AoE to work: as an emanation from the point of origin?

 

Yes and no. This depends on FX. An AoE Line or Cone could be simulating normal super energy blasts, in which case they do emmanate out from their point of origin (hands, eyes, whatever), but in terms of abstract mechanics, not really. An explosion emanates outward from its point of origin by definition, but an AoE attack has range and area, but nothing in the mechanics inherently mandates someone apply an FX that behaves in this fashion. It only emanates outward if the FX says it does. It could be the character hyper-charges the positive and negative electrons in a given area, for instance. And it seems like Indirect, under those circumstances, is implicit in the power's FX and shouldn't be needed, but mechanically we still have to buy it.

 

Incidentally, from surveying your threads, which normally aren't for me (nothing personal, its just a question of individual interests), I think a conceptual common denominator you chew on in a many of your threads is fact that FX play a much more prominent conceptual role in 5th Edition, but haven't been carried all the way to their logical conclusion. This may be because it would be hard to balance the system without tacking those advantages and limitations onto a power. I'm not sure how to carry it through to the final conclusion without breaking the system, personally. It may well be it can't be done.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

 

Couple of thought experiments for you sfx-philes:

 

Force Wall Girl (FWG) gets thrown out of an airlock in space and throws up a force wall to englobe herself, hoping to trap some air long enough for her to try and make it to the shuttle craft. The FoWa is not built with LS: extended breathing.

 

Would you rule that the FoWa has no effect at all or that it slows down (not stops) the disspiation of the air around her for a couple of phases, long enough to provide some protection from the cold and vacuum?

 

Power skill roll!

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Having a logical basis for your powers justifies spending the points to have access to the relevant mechanics. It does not grant those mechanics free of charge.

 

But, as you said:

 

Your SFX justify you purchasing such a movement power. However' date=' if you don't actually purchase it, you don't get the power.[/quote']

 

SFX provide a foundation for the application of powers (including Naked Advantages), but do not mandate their acquisition.

 

I will post a proper reply later. I just wanted to quickly interject: what I'm trying to explain here has nothing to do with that "SFX can have any power level" thread I'm going to start. It occurred to me this morning that this was a potential point of confusion, and might interfere with comprehension. Neither, actually, should be taken as context for the other (this won't be needed for that thread, either).

 

I'm glad, by the way, that I didn't convince you yet - I haven't even begun to raise my best points, and I have so many of them that when I turn my head to the side, half a dozen fall out of one ear. I need to sort through them to evaluate which were the best ;)

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Actually it doesn't say that although I can see how it can be interpretted that way: it is making an injunction against defining an 'airtight' FoWa as a weapon. A normal force wall allows the diffusion of gas' date=' but then gas is a sfx, and FoWa is a mechanic. This kind of lack of differentiation in defining the terms of Hero is what leads to almost all the confusion that exists int he game.[/quote']

Although it does state that reason' date=' it's not just that, it makes it clear that the like can pass through, the way it's phrased, it says "They do not prevent gases, mists and the like from passing through them, nor do they cause an englobed character ... to suffocate." Note that it is making a rather definitiive statement, despite adding some intent.[/quote']

Regarding your last answer, is that a "No" to both questions?

 

In other words, NNDs can not pass through normal barriers like walls, but they can pass through Force Walls, assuming the Force Wall does not have the defense that would stop the NND?

My answer is no' date=' they cannot pass through barriers, period.[/quote']

Hmmmm....

 

- Christopher Mullins

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Hmmmm....

 

- Christopher Mullins

 

My thoughts exactly.

 

All my books (like USPD) except for 5ER have been packed up in preparation for moving in 2 weeks. Because of this I have held off on posting a 3rd followup on the rules thread with a sfx example (unlike the first 2.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Hmmmm....

 

- Christopher Mullins

 

Well, it is unusual, but I do seem to have read the book right this time.

 

Now bearing in mind what HyperMan posted earlier about indirect not letting AoEs pass through barriers, just the point of origin of the AoE, it seems we need a new advantage, or at least a modification to existing ones, say +1/2: Bypass: when applied to an AoE, a power with Bypass is not stopped by barriers inside the area of effect and targets everything inside as if the barriers were not there.

 

Thoughts?

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Well, it is unusual, but I do seem to have read the book right this time.

 

Now bearing in mind what HyperMan posted earlier about indirect not letting AoEs pass through barriers, just the point of origin of the AoE, it seems we need a new advantage, or at least a modification to existing ones, say +1/2: Bypass: when applied to an AoE, a power with Bypass is not stopped by barriers inside the area of effect and targets everything inside as if the barriers were not there.

 

Thoughts?

As an additional modifier to Area Of Effect or Explosion? Sounds ok to me. As a standalone advantage, no.

 

- Christopher Mullins

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

As an additional modifier to Area Of Effect or Explosion? Sounds ok to me. As a standalone advantage, no.

 

- Christopher Mullins

 

As an addition to AoE, like 'Conforming' is :thumbup:

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Of course there's another problem. If I start buying all of my NNDs with indirect to get past the barriers which should not be able to stop them, then won't they now be getting past the barriers which should stop them? My indirect gas attack can now ignore your air filters because it appears right inside your bunker.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Of course there's another problem. If I start buying all of my NNDs with indirect to get past the barriers which should not be able to stop them' date=' then won't they now be getting past the barriers which should stop them? My indirect [u']gas attack[/u] can now ignore your air filters because it appears right inside your bunker.

 

Ahh, but now we're putting the cart before the horse. The mechanics should model the desired effect, not the other way around.

 

I still don't agree with Steve's current ruling since the "Normal Defense" in NND is talking about defenses that would stop normal attacks like punches and fireballs (RKA or EB). Requiring an extra advantage on top of NND and AOE just seems wrong as it would invalidate the intent behind nearly every radiation sfx character ever created with current rules.

 

ex:

In every game I've played this would go right through a FoWa, Entangle or Real Wall with no Radiation shielding.

Reactor Leak: Energy Blast 5d6, Area Of Effect (5" Radius; +1), No Normal Defense (Defense is Life Support: High Radiation; +1) (75 Active Points)

 

But according to this ruling I and everyone else would have to change to something like:

Reactor Leak 2: Energy Blast 4d6, I Can't Believe It's Not Indirect (?; +1/2), Area Of Effect (5" Radius; +1), No Normal Defense (Defense is Life Support: High Radiation; +1) (70 Active Points)

 

It makes no sense.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

So then, what do you do as a practical matter in the follow instance (which I think must come up a lot):

 

The player has written up his character and thought through all the power constructs etc. After the character has been in play for a while, the player realizes that one of his powers (say a grenade or whatever) should logically have an ability that slipped his mind before. Do you say "no, you can't do that", even if it defies logic? Do you grant the ability, but then require that future XP be used to pay for it retroactively? Or what?

 

First off, in my games, my players think through their abilities, so it does not come up a lot at all. As Zornwil notes above, I provided an example of this. I'd be inclined to grant the ability where it is a "clear miss" on the player's and my part with the proviso that XP must now be dedicated to buying it properly. In the interim, I might impose some penalty related to the xp borrowing (say 1d6 Unluck for every 5 xp in arrears, or some minor mishap that reduces some other attribute, such as a strained muscle that reduces STUN or STR until the xp is paid off).

 

Another option is to limit the ability. "Yes, you can arc your arrow, however since you didn't pay the points, you aren't very good at it. If you use it Indirect, you use 1/2 OCV, no levels, 1/5 normal range and doubled normal range modifiers, and you can't use your Ranged Martial Arts", perhaps.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

If a player wants a specific MECHANIC to apply because of his SFX' date=' he should pay for that MECHANIC.[/quote']

 

Game effects are not brought about solely through mechanics. If the issue under debate were whether a specific mechanic should apply, then you would have already convinced me; however, you have yet to show that mechanics are the only rationale which may result in any game effect.

 

In other words, I'm not doing everything with mechanics. I'm not routing SFX through mechanics to get to (create) "the game effect"; I'm going straight from SFX to "the game effect" and noting that, oh yes, mechanics could do this too.

 

a character does not and should not get the advantage of ignoring gravity (again' date=' the default) without paying the points for an ability that allows him to avoid gravity.[/quote']

 

Here's where your pursuit of "points for value" halted, though:

 

Who paid the points for gravity?

 

You call it "default", but that's handwaving; gravity is a force that has major effects on the game world. To be default, it had to be established in the first place. What established that effect? Did someone pay points for it? Noone I know. Did anyone pay points for it? Then why do we have it? Common sense? Or did the universe pay for it?

 

Gravity: Telekinesis, Area of Effect (Radius), Megascale (universal), Explosion (effect is reduced by distance from center), Set Effect (pulls inward towards the center), Zero Endurance, Continuous, Always on, Conditional Power (effect only occurs in proximity of large physical masses), Limited Power (effect is proportionate to the mass of what generates it)

 

Noone paid for this, but everyone can take advantage of it. But why should they get it as a freebie? They have to pay for counteracting (or altering) its effects, don't they?

 

Is light a force unto itself, or merely the absence of darkness? Is darkness a force unto itself, or merely the absence of light? According to the mechanics, neither is a default; characters who wish to create light must buy it as Images, and characters who wish to create darkness must buy it as Darkness, though neither of the conditions these powers are meant to counter will necessarily be true when the power is not in use.

 

A character can buy Silence (as Darkness to normal sound) even when noise is not the default condition. It can be useful sometimes, when other characters are using their Sense (auditory) with Transmit, but what did those characters pay for their ability to speak? Another "default"? So, yet again, they gain the benefits of an ability that they did not have to pay for.

 

A character uses their speech to convince another character of something? Did you make them buy this ability within the system?

 

Conversation: Mind Control, No Normal Defense (defense is having a mind that does not take externally sourced ideas into consideration when thinking/acting; another defense determined by conversational tactic), Affected as Sound Group, Does Not Provide Mental Awareness, Limited Power (effect dice are proportionate to persuasiveness of speech), plus

EGO defense doesn't apply when you voluntarily listen: partially Limited power (dice roll is capped at EGO, applied before main power), only for Mind Control, plus

Sometimes hand motions help . . . : Aid to Mind Control, Gestures, Activation Roll, Side Effect: . . . and sometimes you're better off keeping them still: Suppress for Mind Control, plus

Let's just talk, okay?: Naked Advantage (conversational tactic), IPE (subject is unaware of power being used or having affected them), defense is not listening, plus

Reverse-psychology: Naked Advantage (conversational tactic), IPE (subject is aware of power being used, but not that it affected them), Accidental Activation (subject may decide to react with perversity to intended effect), plus

Obfuscatory: partially limited Power, Suppress Intelligence, plus

whatever else we think of

 

These are, of course, not the only ways to build all this, and the writeups are far from complete. But think of this as a concrete, "play" example of the concept ;)

 

Speech isn't a balanced ability. Some characters can use it more effectively than others. But do we put all that on their sheets? I know I don't. Do we insist on statting out the exact effect they are having on the game, every time they have any? I know I don't. Do we insist that they pay for every effect that enabled them to affect anything or anyone in the game? I know I don't.

 

You don't either, but maybe that's only because you hadn't even realized what you were overlooking. If statting all this out is what you think is the most important thing in the game, then, by all means - go for it. If it takes you two years to plan a session and one year to run it, but you know that no stone was left unturned when it came to modelling what the characters could do, great. I hope you find players who are just as interested in that as you are. It's when you start telling the rest of us that anything less is "not doing it properly" that we'll step up and say "Hey, I think design intent was way over there."

 

I may be underestimating the range of your ambitions. Perhaps your idea is that, once you stat out everything (perfectly), you'll never have to build a power again. That's an admirable (and lofty) goal, but any GM will tell you that it's a pipe dream. Restricting PC's from having any effect on the game unless they've paid for it leads to conversations like the following:

 

GM: "That's a very clever plan, but I don't think your character is smart enough to have come up with it."

Player: " . . . what? Okay, then - how high does my INT need to be?"

GM: "Don't misunderstand - very stupid people have managed to come up with some truly inspired ideas in the past, and very smart people have failed to come up with the obvious. I just need you to roll your INT to see if you came up with that idea this time."

 

Countless GM's have learned, through experience, that they cannot anticipate every single idea their players might come up with. But, to accurately model all these ideas in advance, you would need to do so.

 

I may have misunderstood your ambitions; perhaps the goal is not to leave the rules behind, but to embrace them, expressing every conceivable player action within a single beautiful formula that uses only one language: HERO mechanics. This needn't mean you're trying to obviate the players; just because you have accounted for everything they can do, doesn't mean you have any idea what they should do. Dice are one random element, but one you can (within an understood range) predict: other people, with all their myriad possibilities, are the ultimate unknown factor.

 

To me' date=' this carries the risk of turning the game into a contest to pick the SFX that grant the most freebies,[/quote']

 

This is basic tactical thinking. On the battlefield, you look for the cliffs, so you can push your opponent over. In conversations, you seek out the most persuasive speeches, so you can have the greatest effect upon your listeners. Everything is a contest; having tactical advantages to seek is what keeps everything from turning into an exercise in dice-rolling.

 

There is equality, though. You move closer to the cliffs, hoping to push your opponent over; but your opponent can push you over! If you wish to avoid this risk, you can stay away from the cliffs. You did not pay points for the ability, but you do not enjoy a sole, exclusive right to its usage - and it can even be used against you.

 

When a grenade is tossed over a wall, were points paid for this ability? Well, first, evaluate the "ability". Is there a dome on top of that wall? Oops. Second, is the grenade being directly tossed over it, or is it being tossed up, and (once its inertia runs out) into the effect of another power, which takes over? It wouldn't take much to modify the Gravity power above by "only affects objects with physical mass", which results in an interaction between the Gravity power and some other powers with matching SFX.

 

Is it unbalancing to allow players (and their characters) to learn what criteria some powers use for applying their effect, and use this knowledge in conjunction with their own powers to decide what to do? Absolutely. But is it without precedent in commonly accepted gaming practice? No.

 

As stated in one of the siglines here, game balance (to paraphrase) is not determined ahead of time by points - it emerges during play. I am, to that end, fully confident that most of us can manage without rules to tell us exactly what to do.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Hmmmm....

 

- Christopher Mullins

The problem is that the answer to "what stops an NND" has always been "based on SFX."

 

To say that FoWa de facto stops an NND regardless of whether it fulfills the NND's qualifications creates a brand new and odd hole in the NND attack and creates new questions on why FoWa is a very different barrier than any other in the game world.

 

With all due respect to Steve, I don't think that's so well thought-out an answer, I think the answer is "depends on the GM" as far as Ican read HERO history and meaning. Otherwise, it suggests that a gas attack or sonic attack cannot go through a FoWa that does not stop air or sonics, which doesn't make sense.

 

OTOH, it certainly suddenly makes FoWa a much better buy!

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Bypass: when applied to an AoE, a power with Bypass is not stopped by barriers inside the area of effect and targets everything inside as if the barriers were not there.

 

Thoughts?

 

Sounds a bit like Stretching with "does not pass through intervening space".

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

I'm glad' date=' by the way, that I didn't convince you yet - I haven't even begun to raise my best points, and I have so many of them that when I turn my head to the side, half a dozen fall out of one ear. I need to sort through them to evaluate [i']which[/i] were the best ;)

 

How about starting with the one that clearly and concisely indicates how the player whose character has been painstakingly constructed to pay appropriate points for all advantages of his abilities balances nicely and equitably against the one who did a slipshod job and now needs 100 extra points' worth of advantages to replicate the logical effects of his abilities. Assume both characters are built on 200 points for the sake of illustration.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

How about starting with the one that clearly and concisely indicates how the player whose character has been painstakingly constructed to pay appropriate points for all advantages of his abilities balances nicely and equitably against the one who did a slipshod job and now needs 100 extra points' worth of advantages to replicate the logical effects of his abilities.

 

I think this is going the wrong direction. At the time you realize someone is taking as one of their powers something that they don't need to, you refund them the points and say "This is already taken care of."

 

Just make sure everyone is consistent in what they need to pay for, and you'll be fine. When in doubt, go for shorter (simpler) power descriptions ;)

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Who paid the points for gravity?

 

Who created the Default State depends greatly on one's philosophy or religion.

 

You call it "default"' date=' but that's handwaving; gravity is a force that has major effects on the game world. To [i']be[/i] default, it had to be established in the first place. What established that effect? Did someone pay points for it? Noone I know. Did anyone pay points for it? Then why do we have it? Common sense? Or did the universe pay for it?

 

We have it because it is the default state. The abilities of a character, one and all, boil down to being able to alter a default state. Your default state is "conscious". My Energy Blast exists to alter that default state.

 

A character can buy Silence (as Darkness to normal sound) even when noise is not the default condition. It can be useful sometimes' date=' when other characters are using their Sense (auditory) with Transmit, but what did [i']those[/i] characters pay for their ability to speak? Another "default"? So, yet again, they gain the benefits of an ability that they did not have to pay for.

 

Compare a character who is Mute to one who is not. The first has sold back his ability to speak, and received points for this deviation from the default. The second has not, and thus retains the default. You can trade your defaults away.

 

A character uses their speech to convince another character of something? Did you make them buy this ability within the system?

 

Did he use that voice he did not sell back for disadvantage points? He likely had to use his Presence. If he sold it back, he was less likely to be convincing. If he bought it up, he was more likely to be convincing. He may have used a skill, again using points to alter his DEFAULT likeliness of success. So yes, he has paid for the ability to the extent it is better than the default, or sold it back to the extent it is less effective than the default.

 

Speech isn't a balanced ability. Some characters can use it more effectively than others. But do we put all that on their sheets? I know I don't. Do we insist on statting out the exact effect they are having on the game' date=' every time they have any? I know I don't. Do we insist that they pay for every effect that enabled them to affect anything or anyone in the game? I know I don't.[/quote']

 

As set out above, yes. If your character has a 5 PRE and a disadvantage "Lacking in social graces", and you try to use your PLAYER PRE and social skills through the character, I will not consider you to be playing the character you built very effectively. As the GM, I must somehow translate your very eloquent speech to the Queen into Morris the Uncouth's 5 PRE "lacking in social graces" result.

 

"Your resounding belch silences the room, and you make your speech. The impact of your pretty words appears to be wiped off the Queen's face along with your slobber. Perhaps your speech would have been more effective if you weren't such a spitter, Morris." You want your character to be eloquent, pay the freight. You want his attacks to be Indirect? Again, pay the freight.

 

When a grenade is tossed over a wall' date=' were points paid for this ability? Well, first, evaluate the "ability". Is there a dome on top of that wall? Oops. Second, is the grenade being [i']directly[/i] tossed over it, or is it being tossed up, and (once its inertia runs out) into the effect of another power, which takes over? It wouldn't take much to modify the Gravity power above by "only affects objects with physical mass", which results in an interaction between the Gravity power and some other powers with matching SFX.

 

It takes the same minimal effort to determine that my EB/Explosion should properly have a limited Indirect ability to simulate the ability to toss it over the wall. The defaults are defined in advance. You pay for your character's ability to circumvent, take advantage of, or alter those defaults.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

The defaults are defined in advance. You pay for your character's ability to circumvent' date=' take advantage of, or alter those defaults.[/quote']

 

This is still ignoring the fact that these defaults have not been paid for in the first place. Any placement of "where we draw the line" (for lack of a better descriptor) between things to stat - and not to stat - that falls short of absolute, strikes me as arbitrary. I don't see much difference between one arbitrary placement and another.

 

To address your point, though: because the defaults are attempting to model reality, they are already unbalanced (inherently). Costing abilities is merely an attempt to repair that balance while enabling people to still use what is in place.

 

I am increasingly getting the feeling that anything further I could say at this point would be better said if I simply tracked down some of RDU Neil's old posts and quoted them in their entirety :)

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

As an end note:

 

It takes the same minimal effort to determine that my EB/Explosion should properly have a limited Indirect ability to simulate the ability to toss it over the wall.

 

If you're thinking in mechanics, yes. But the "common sense" part allows us to figure out what happened even if we don't know the system. Statting out gravity closes the gap between mechanics and common sense, using the same principles of power interaction that have been permitted before.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Of course there's another problem. If I start buying all of my NNDs with indirect to get past the barriers which should not be able to stop them' date=' then won't they now be getting past the barriers which should stop them? My indirect gas attack can now ignore your air filters because it appears right inside your bunker.[/quote']

 

Well, no, because an NND is going to be stopped by things you define - mechanically or as sfx, and air filters would do the trick (although I'd require mechanics to back up the sfx i.e. the purchase of LS: extended breathing). Even if you are not buying with NND you can build the power with a limtiation - cannot pass through airtight barriers, worth -1/4 to -1/2, or even -1 or more if the gane is set in space.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

Sounds a bit like Stretching with "does not pass through intervening space".

 

Stretching, does not pass through intervening space can go around a barrier with open ends, just like normal stretching but cannot reach inside an englobing barrier - for that you would need to buy more indirect.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

This is still ignoring the fact that these defaults have not been paid for in the first place. Any placement of "where we draw the line" (for lack of a better descriptor) between things to stat - and not to stat - that falls short of absolute, strikes me as arbitrary. I don't see much difference between one arbitrary placement and another.

 

To address your point, though: because the defaults are attempting to model reality, they are already unbalanced (inherently). Costing abilities is merely an attempt to repair that balance while enabling people to still use what is in place.

 

I am increasingly getting the feeling that anything further I could say at this point would be better said if I simply tracked down some of RDU Neil's old posts and quoted them in their entirety :)

 

 

Gaia paid for them. She is one powerful Momma!

 

Gravity is not a noticeable attribute of most characters. Arguably if you buy enough growth, it SHOULD be but even then you would need to buy the AoE TK effect to simulate it - you would not get it for free.

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Re: Indirect discussion

 

If you're thinking in mechanics' date=' yes. But the "common sense" part allows us to figure out what happened [i']even if we don't know the system[/i]. Statting out gravity closes the gap between mechanics and common sense, using the same principles of power interaction that have been permitted before.

 

You can "play any game" not using any formal system. My four year old does this all the time. The game is called "Let's Pretend". We could play that way as well. However, as adults, we seem to wish more objective determination of events, so that subjective "I hit you - fall down" "No, you missed me" gets replaced with the more objective "My OCV is 7, and your DCV is 5. I rolled a 12, so I hit you."

 

Your approach adds a further subjectivity of "No, my character is made of glass and your attack is a laser beam, so it just passes through my character." Under my model, this is true only if GlassMan has paid the points to create that effect. He may have done so by purchasing a specific power that prevents being hit/damaged by a laser beam. He may have purchased the Power Skill for his Glass Body to enable him to occasionally create a new ability consistent with his SFX with a successful roll. He may have a variable power pool used to acquire any power consistent with his SFX. He might even have a lenient GM like me that will agree that's an ability he should have had that he and I both missed, and let him somehow "borrow" xp for that ability. However, if you want the ability, you pay the points.

 

Under your system, GlassMan need not pay points for abilities which are consistent with his special effects - he simply states his case, and the GM adjudicates that this is consistent with his SFX, so he gets it for free. This is a much less preecise/crunchy system - much more freeform. Since points are not used for all abilities, they become much less useful as a balancing measure, and must be replaced with much more GM judgement. At this point, it makes more sense to me to avoid hybridization of "some abilities bought with points and others obtained through convincing arguments for SFX". This game should be played without points per se, and needs limited, if any, mechanics. Players simply describe their characters in narrative form, and can have any ability (or drawback) which is appropriate under those special effects.

 

That's neither a superior nor an inferior system than a very directed point-based "stat it out" model. Both have their strengths and their weaknesses, and both will have their advocates and their adversaries. However, Hero is not a "describe and debate" system. It is a "stats and mechanics" crunchy system. We wouldn't need a rulebook the size of 5er (or 4e, for that matter) to convey the "describe and debate" system. We do need it for the crunch.

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