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Cool_Manchu

Darkness and Shadow Powers Questions

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Hi everyone,

 

Thanks in advance for your expert insights and opinions. After a long hiatus, I have started planning out a campaign for my buddies. One of them is creating a character based around darkness/shadow powers. 

 

One of the power modifiers he plans on using is Only Works in Darkness/Shadows (-1/4). Is this worth -1/4 and is it even a disadvantage? What kind of scenarios can you think of where there would be no darkness, nor shadows? I have tried thinking about it, and have come up with very few, but then again, I never said I was smart.

 

For one of the characters powers, he plans on taking the "Clinging Darkness" power from the "Champions Powers" book. Darkness vs Sight 3m Radius; Usable as Attack (+1 1/2), Ranged (+1/2), Personal Immunity (+1/4), 0 END (+1/2) (56). With this power as it stands now makes a target completely blind and they cannot leave the area as with normal darkness. This will allow him to essentially pick off someone very easily in most cases. How would you deal with this power as a GM? most villains aren't suited to deal with this kind of thing what are some good ideas to beat it? I'm not looking to defeat it all of the time, but what fun is it when they beat the villains the same way every time? I know of powers like Dismiss and a few others, but again, these aren't commonly taken/used powers. 

 

 

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Well, the first point is that he would need to hit the target to get the clinging to work, if he targets an area, the darkness clings to the area.  It is not an area effect attack, DCV will be full.

 

Second, it is defeated by a simple UV vision visor, any hunting villain or organisation will be equipped.

 

If the darkness is one of those "only works in darkness/shadows powers, a decent torch/spotlight beats it.

 

This is a continuing attack, he needs to maintain line of sight (I think), cannot take recovery (except post segment 12) and it will stop if he dodges (I think).

 

Doctor Midnight used this schtick in the Golden Age, I would be fine with it.

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Having a PC in my current Champions campaign with darkness powers (Shadow Boxer), I can justify the Only Works in Darkness/Shadows (-1/4) limitation.  Heck, a bright sunny day would severely limit this, depending on the power, and clever foes can work around this.  For instance, Shadow Boxer has Clairsentience with the limitation "Only from darkness/shadow".  One villain group (the New Gods) had covert trucks where their agents were monitored and directed by their field commander.  After the first time Shadow Boxer spied inside a command truck to find out what they were up to, the New Gods started installing LED panels covering the floor, ceiling, and walls of those trucks.

 

Just make sure the situations where the powers are limited are comparable to the amount of the Limitation.  (IOW, if it's -1/4, then it shouldn't happen frequently.)  However, I would say that, if the player tries to weasel out of every instance where you say, "Sorry, there's too much light for you to do that," then he needs to decide -- is the power going to be limited at all, or is he going to have to put all his XP into buying off that Limitation?

 

As to the Clinging Darkness (1) I don't think it should be allowed to have that Limitation, since it's creating its own darkness/shadows, unless you mean that it can't be used against someone who is brightly lit, and (2) it's easily defeated with things like Sonar, Radar, Danger Sense, etc.  Again, not every foe should have these enhanced senses, but it's not outside the realm of possibility, either.  BTW, Doc D, the "Usable as Attack" means the AoE Darkness can be targeted onto an individual, moving with him/her.  It doesn't cling to an area, it clings to the person on which it was targeted.

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"it is defeated by a simple UV vision visor"

Actually it does defeat UV, IR, Nightvision as it targets Sight Group. As noted by BoloOfEarth, you CAN beat it via relatively expensive Sonar, Radar, Danger Sense. Mentallists should be able to defeat it as well. 

 

'If the darkness is one of those "only works in darkness/shadows powers, a decent torch/spotlight beats it."

Both a torch and a spotlight both cast shadows. Nearly everything will cast a shadow unless very specific circumstances are met.

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6 hours ago, Cool_Manchu said:

One of the power modifiers he plans on using is Only Works in Darkness/Shadows (-1/4). Is this worth -1/4 and is it even a disadvantage? What kind of scenarios can you think of where there would be no darkness, nor shadows? I have tried thinking about it, and have come up with very few, but then again, I never said I was smart. 

I was going to just quote parts of Limited Power (6E1 382). But as it turns out, the Book explicitly advises against that Limitation:

"The GM should also watch out for Power Limitations that are too sweeping. For instance, a character probably shouldn’t be allowed to buy all of his powers with the Limitation Only Works In Darkness. Such a character would be worthless during the daytime and very powerful at night; that’s no fun in a roleplaying campaign, and it’s unfair to the other players. Logically, the player is probably going to ask the GM “Will this adventure take place at night?” before every game — and if the answer is no, he won’t play, or will play some other character"

 

6 hours ago, Cool_Manchu said:

For one of the characters powers, he plans on taking the "Clinging Darkness" power from the "Champions Powers" book.

Even if just a ally is able to cause Darkness, the value of the Limitation would go way down. If he can even cause Darkness himself, it basically becomes worthless. It might fall into the territory of linked in this case.

 

6 hours ago, Cool_Manchu said:

Darkness vs Sight 3m Radius; Usable as Attack (+1 1/2), Ranged (+1/2), Personal Immunity (+1/4), 0 END (+1/2) (56). With this power as it stands now makes a target completely blind and they cannot leave the area as with normal darkness. This will allow him to essentially pick off someone very easily in most cases. How would you deal with this power as a GM?

There are few things I loathe as much as Usable As Attack.

 

The best way to deal with UAA is to plain not allow it for anyone. It is like the Secure Storage of a Doctor, Demolitions Technician or some of the stuff you find in a Military Armory.

The second best way is to ask the players: "Do you really want enemies to use such powers against you?"

Regard it as always marked with STOP sign. There are few things in the book that can break a game quite as reliably as this one thing. Most GM experience with it is about the cases where you got the right combination of players and UAA'd power where you can allow it without instantly breaking the game.

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4 hours ago, Cool_Manchu said:

If the darkness is one of those "only works in darkness/shadows powers, a decent torch/spotlight beats it."

Both a torch and a spotlight both cast shadows. Nearly everything will cast a shadow unless very specific circumstances are met.

 

So this is where you need to talk to the player. If he means, only where shadows exist then this is not a severe enough complication. If it means, when immersed in shadow, then it does. Being in a strong torch casts a shadow from you but you are not in shade.

 

PS: I keep forgetting about the sight group...

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14 hours ago, Cool_Manchu said:

For one of the characters powers, he plans on taking the "Clinging Darkness" power from the "Champions Powers" book. Darkness vs Sight 3m Radius; Usable as Attack (+1 1/2), Ranged (+1/2), Personal Immunity (+1/4), 0 END (+1/2) (56). With this power as it stands now makes a target completely blind and they cannot leave the area as with normal darkness. This will allow him to essentially pick off someone very easily in most cases. How would you deal with this power as a GM? most villains aren't suited to deal with this kind of thing what are some good ideas to beat it? I'm not looking to defeat it all of the time, but what fun is it when they beat the villains the same way every time? I know of powers like Dismiss and a few others, but again, these aren't commonly taken/used powers.

 

OK, 6e Usable as an Attack is typically +1 1/4, so I'm not sure where the extra +1/4 comes from (unless it is an earlier edition change).  He can only use it on one target at a time, and I believe Doc is correct that he has to hit, or the power does not work.  The example on p 359, 6e vol 1, notes that "with an attack roll" a UAA Flight spell forces the target to fly.  It can also have only one target, so he can affect only one opponent, and the target has to stay within line of sight.  He can't take a recovery and maintain a constant power.  Nothing prevents him from dodging.

 

What can the opponent do?

 

If he has the senses to get around the Darkness, this is actually pretty advantageous.  The PC with the power can see through it, but his teammates can't, so that restricts the ability of his teammates to attack the target of this power.  Coming close (or if the target gets close to them) can blind teammates just as easily as opponents.  Getting out of Line of Sight ends the power, which could happen due to the target's actions, or his own teammates (an Opaque barrier, for example).

 

Presumably, he bought the power outside of any framework - having this in a Multipower means it would shut off if he reassigned the pool.  That means it's a significant investment, so it should be pretty useful.  If he's tossing that "only in dark or shadows" limitation on it, to me that would mean the target must be in darkness or shadows before he can use the power.

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7 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Doc isn’t Darkness now by default versus Sight Group so a simple UV googles ain’t going to defeat it. Unless your saying that the limitation-only in shadows limits Darkness to normal sight. Correct?

Indeed all Sense Affecting Powers - Darkness included - cover a whole Sense Group by default. And I think it was that way back in 5E too.

And UV Detects are very likely in the sight group*.

 

*Funny enough I can think of a way to detect UV that does not nessesarily go into the sight Group: Geodi LaForges Visor. It seems to operate more in the Radio Group, IIRC.

It might still be in Sight Sense Group, but I think it is more likely to be Radio Sense Group.

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On 3/9/2019 at 10:48 PM, Christopher said:

The best way to deal with UAA is to plain not allow it for anyone. It is like the Secure Storage of a Doctor, Demolitions Technician or some of the stuff you find in a Military Armory.

The second best way is to ask the players: "Do you really want enemies to use such powers against you?"

Regard it as always marked with STOP sign. There are few things in the book that can break a game quite as reliably as this one thing. Most GM experience with it is about the cases where you got the right combination of players and UAA'd power where you can allow it without instantly breaking the game.

 

Couldn't agree more.  Had a player back in the day that had Usable Against Others - Flight.  Make an attack roll and then move enemy to where you want and they don't get a breakout roll like they would against telekinesis.

 

We quickly decided that non-combat abilities with Usable Against Others (old version of Usable as Attack) just broke the game in ways that were not fun for anyone and banned them.

 

I generally feel that way about game mechanics that do not have reasonable counter-play.  Much like D&D 5th Ed Force Cage.  You're in a magic-proof box that cannot be dispelled and lasts for an hour and allows for no saving throw to avoid.

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I am inclined to give Power Defence a role in these kinds of things.  I also tell players that ask for this kind of power how they will be combated - what SFX might be used to counter them. 

 

Finally I pose to them a counter power, similar to the one proposed that would nerf their character, in this case a light illusions power, UAA only to create a halo of all pervasive light.  That would destroy his ability to use any of his shadow/dark powers...if he is content for that kind of power to appear, and it will, I am happy to allow the proposed power too.  I find that this kind of "if you use, I definitely will use it" conversation leads to a reasonable game.  ?

 

Doc

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On 3/9/2019 at 2:53 PM, Cool_Manchu said:

One of the power modifiers he plans on using is Only Works in Darkness/Shadows (-1/4). Is this worth -1/4 and is it even a disadvantage? What kind of scenarios can you think of where there would be no darkness, nor shadows? I have tried thinking about it, and have come up with very few, but then again, I never said I was smart.

I'd suggest you sit down with him and ask what circumstances he thinks it should work in and what circumstances he thinks it shouldn't.  Once you know when it won't work, you can assess what you feel the limitation is worth.  You also should be very clear up front as to if you'll allow his Darkness power to count as the darkness/shadows his other powers require. 

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On 3/9/2019 at 2:53 PM, Cool_Manchu said:

Hi everyone,

 

Thanks in advance for your expert insights and opinions. After a long hiatus, I have started planning out a campaign for my buddies.

 

Presumably a superhero campaign? Could you post more information on the setting, genre, # of points, etc?

 

Quote

One of them is creating a character based around darkness/shadow powers. 

 

One of the power modifiers he plans on using is Only Works in Darkness/Shadows (-1/4). Is this worth -1/4 and is it even a disadvantage? What kind of scenarios can you think of where there would be no darkness, nor shadows? I have tried thinking about it, and have come up with very few, but then again, I never said I was smart.

 

Limitations such as this are subject to GM interpretation. 

 

If your interpretation is, there's some shadows somewhere in the scene and therefore such abilities work nearly all of the time, then yeah it's not very limiting.

 

If you interpret it as personal powers with the lim only work if the character themselves is in shadow, and targeted abilities only work if the character themselves and their target are in shadow it gets more restrictive quickly.

 

You could further interpret it that for non-indirect targeted powers there must also be shadow between the character and the target. That would be quite restrictive.

 

Also, there is the matter of how you are defining the lim in the first place. By "Darkness" do you literally mean the POWER Darkness or do you just mean "areas with low to no natural light"? I'm assuming the later...you mean poor to no lighting conditions.

 

Mechanically "Night" in the Hero System is basically a label for a -4 Sight PER penalty; shadows / poor lighting conditions are similarly just -1 to -3 Sight PER penalties.

 

Similarly, areas of good lighting are defined as bonuses to Sight PER checks.

 

Fundamentally, light and the absence of light as we colloquially think of them in the real world are represented in the Hero System as PER modifiers.

 

The Darkness power on the other hand is impenetrable / opaque to the targeted sense group; it has nothing to do with PER checks and basically nullifies / turns off PER checks for the affected senses across its area. Also, despite the name, a given Darkness based power affecting the Sight Group may not necessarily have the SFX of "lack of light"; it could have the SFX of a magical spell, or sensory overload, or a mental power (blocking the mind's ability to process visual input), or smoke, or whatever. If a target were in a "Dazzling Disarray of D'Azzario" spell which blinded targets with mystical scintillating prismatic sparkly bits...bought as Darkness vs Sight Group, there is no SFX of "no light"...quite the opposite, the SFX calls for brightness. 

 

Coming back around to your situation, if you rephrase the limitation as "Only in Poor Lighting Conditions" rather than "Only in Darkness / Shadows", then it becomes relatively easy to mechanically adjudicate when the limitation does and does not apply...if a normal person would not suffer -1 or more to a sight based PER check to perceive the character or the target due to poor lighting, the limitation applies. If they would suffer at least -1 to PER check to perceive the character / target, the lim does not apply and the power works. Easy to adjudicate.

 

Quote

For one of the characters powers, he plans on taking the "Clinging Darkness" power from the "Champions Powers" book. Darkness vs Sight 3m Radius; Usable as Attack (+1 1/2), Ranged (+1/2), Personal Immunity (+1/4), 0 END (+1/2) (56). With this power as it stands now makes a target completely blind and they cannot leave the area as with normal darkness. This will allow him to essentially pick off someone very easily in most cases. How would you deal with this power as a GM? most villains aren't suited to deal with this kind of thing what are some good ideas to beat it? I'm not looking to defeat it all of the time, but what fun is it when they beat the villains the same way every time? I know of powers like Dismiss and a few others, but again, these aren't commonly taken/used powers. 

 

Your instinct is correct in having some concerns about this power. 

 

However the thing that stands out as problematic to me on this particular build is first and foremost that it is 0 END.

 

0 END on Constant attack powers is pretty much always an issue. As soon as someone slaps 0 END on a Constant Attack power, I mentally upgrade the power to a YIELD sign if it isn't already one, and a STOP sign if it is.

 

Usable On Others is a STOP sign advantage already. Usable As Attack is even more uber than that; even on an already STOP sign ability the rules explicitly re-stipulate "Because Usable As Attack powers can be extremely effective, the GM must approve them". Smacking 0 END on top of that should get something like a RADIOACTIVE sign next to it. 

 

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With this sort of ability, if I allow it at all I typically make players define a reasonable off-switch, something that will turn the ability off or block it in the first place. There must be some kind of control over it. In this case the power isn't Uncontrolled, so staggering / KO'ing the character will turn it off, as will breaking Line of Sight between the target and the character. That's something, but mano y mano it often wont make a difference to the victim if they can't target the character and can't perceive their area well enough to deliberately move out of Line of Sight.

 

I would require the player to tweak that build slightly to make it less of a soft lock. 

 

I would look at the character's origin of powers and specific SFX first and try to derive some sensible restriction on such abilities stemming from the nature of the character's abilities. If nothing presented itself there I would then turn to the mechanics to nerf it a bit. I might only permit the player to take it at 1/2 END, for instance. Or perhaps place some limits around frequency of use...if this character can spam the attack it's obviously much more problematic, but if it takes time or comes at some cost to activate it then it will be less frequently used and thus less of a problem. But long story short, I would want that ability tweaked to put a leash on it before I allowed it into play.

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This may or may not be helpful, but the character "Murk" from a superteam used in one of my past campaigns (5e) called Aegis is a darkforce-type character (in my campaigns the darkforce dimension analogue is called "the murk" and various characters over the years use that as their SFX). It might be useful to you.

 

http://www.killershrike.com/Aegis/Characters.aspx

 

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4 hours ago, Killer Shrike said:

With this sort of ability, if I allow it at all I typically make players define a reasonable off-switch, something that will turn the ability off or block it in the first place. There must be some kind of control over it. In this case the power isn't Uncontrolled, so staggering / KO'ing the character will turn it off, as will breaking Line of Sight between the target and the character. That's something, but mano y mano it often wont make a difference to the victim if they can't target the character and can't perceive their area well enough to deliberately move out of Line of Sight.

 

I actually had thought a reasonable off-switch was a requirement for UAA, but couldn't find anything in the rules that specifies this.  However, that is the way I use it in my campaign -- a character with Teleportation UAA has the restriction that it doesn't work against anybody who also has Teleportation.  For Clinging Darkness, maybe a Flash AoE attack targeted on the center of the Darkness?

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2 hours ago, BoloOfEarth said:

For Clinging Darkness, maybe a Flash AoE attack targeted on the center of the Darkness?

 

That's so incredibly specific and presumably uncommon that it wouldn't amount to much of a counter. A general clause such as "effect ends if exposed to bright light" would be more significant. 

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The more I think about the Clinging Darkness power the more I think it'll bite the PC in the ass frequently enough to be vaguely balanced. 

- It likely impacts his allies just as much as his enemies.  Shooting into the darkness should be horribly inaccurate and anyone in melee is also in darkness. 

- The occasional villain with a non-visual targeting sense benefits from being Clinging Darkness'd. 

- AOEs still don't care.  A Blaze Away maneuver still doesn't care.  Bunches of mooks still don't care that much, there's always more. 

- He'll make himself a priority target if he gets carried away with it. 

- He has to roll to hit the victim. 

 

All in all it shouldn't be that much worse than a 12d6 Flash. 

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Just thinking out loud, but if the victim of a successful 'clinging darkness' attack were to subsequently activate the victim's OWN darkness shield power (throws up a 2m darkness globe centered on the character who has personal immunity) wouldn't this break line of sight and force the 'clinging darkness' to abate.

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BTW, the rules do require a counter.

 

When a character creates a “can be forced on the Recipient” UOO power, he must define a reasonably common and obvious set of defenses that cancels out the attack."

 

This is not under the "Usable as an Attack" model, but under "The Recipient's Willingness" on p 355.

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18 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

I'd suggest you sit down with him and ask what circumstances he thinks it should work in and what circumstances he thinks it shouldn't.  Once you know when it won't work, you can assess what you feel the limitation is worth.  You also should be very clear up front as to if you'll allow his Darkness power to count as the darkness/shadows his other powers require. 

 

16 hours ago, Killer Shrike said:

Limitations such as this are subject to GM interpretation. 

 

If your interpretation is, there's some shadows somewhere in the scene and therefore such abilities work nearly all of the time, then yeah it's not very limiting. 

It is not entirely up to the GM however. Let us take two example Limitations on Telekinesis:

"Only Works on Water (-1/2)"

and
"Only Works on water, but inlcuding the one inside the human body (-1/4)". WIch can be shortened to "Only Works on Water (-1/4)"

 

Player intention does mater a lot.

 

42 minutes ago, Hugh Neilson said:

BTW, the rules do require a counter.

 

 

 

 

This is not under the "Usable as an Attack" model, but under "The Recipient's Willingness" on p 355. 

We have a reasonably common counter for Telekinesis.

Any UAA Power that forces movement will by nature have a less common defense. That is usually why we pick it to begin with.

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I'd allow it in my games, as i see it no more dangerous than a big flash or mental illusions/mind control "Hey you're blind".  A lot of my villains (probably 1/4 to 1/3) have another targeting sense.  A few have combat sense.

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17 minutes ago, dsatow said:

I'd allow it in my games, as i see it no more dangerous than a big flash or mental illusions/mind control "Hey you're blind".  A lot of my villains (probably 1/4 to 1/3) have another targeting sense.  A few have combat sense.

 

I would say, like Shrike, that the continuing nature of the attack, with no END expenditure, with no obvious break-out kind of thing and no limitation on duration means that it is better than flash or illusions/mind control.  Some very small tweaks would bring it well into acceptable for me.  It is a cool power to use on the battlefield and will indeed, like many powers be a fight winner with some opponents - that encourages tactics.

 

Doc

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On 3/12/2019 at 7:03 AM, Christopher said:

 

It is not entirely up to the GM however. Let us take two example Limitations on Telekinesis:

"Only Works on Water (-1/2)"

and
"Only Works on water, but inlcuding the one inside the human body (-1/4)". WIch can be shortened to "Only Works on Water (-1/4)"

 

'Logic' like that simply cannot be argued with. QED indeed, good sir, QED indeed.

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Thank you everyone for the well thought out responses. This truly is one of my favorite forums. :)

 

So this is how it is shaking out, Clinging Darkness is going to be part of a 40 active point Mulitpower that includes the characters Desolidification, Invisibility, Teleportation, all of which are fixed. I don't have an issue with the 0 END as it will still need to be line of sight. 

 

The player and I talked about his vision of how the "only in shadows/darkness" works. He explained that all of the powers listed above only work when he or his target is fully immersed in shadow (i.e. you are fighting downtown, unless it's high noon, a side of the building will be projecting a shadow. So given that he's set a size/parameter, I think it's much more workable. 

 

 

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