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Buying a Smart Phone with Points


DeathSheep
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10 minutes ago, DeathSheep said:

So how would you guys build a smart phone as a device in Champions bought with points. I kind of want one, but what powers would it have?

Phone calls

Wireless

Texting

Media streaming

Internet

Camera/Video

What else?

Depends on what apps you wish it to have.

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10 hours ago, JackFlash said:

Lightning Calculator, Eidetic Memory, Absolute Time Sense, High Range Radio Perception (Limited to Cellular or Wifi, Transmit), some kind of fuel thing to represent battery power, OAF? Maybe?

 

Images, 1m cone, only to generate light

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I think at the point you're making players pay character points for a cell phone your game is probably dead.

 

It's one thing to have to pay character points for high-tech gadget that is part of your super persona and another thing altogether to have to pay for every day items that are possessed by hundreds of millions of people.

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2 hours ago, ScottishFox said:

I think at the point you're making players pay character points for a cell phone your game is probably dead.

 

It's one thing to have to pay character points for high-tech gadget that is part of your super persona and another thing altogether to have to pay for every day items that are possessed by hundreds of millions of people.

 

Yeah, it's one thing to build it out of idle curiosity. But it's another if the GM is requiring it.

 

The main problem with using an actual cell phone as a superhero is that your communications can be tapped and every app you use plus your carrier knows your location all the time. That's a severe problem even if your character has a public identity.

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My besides camera/video, communication and internet,  my phone has a

 

light

a level, ruler, camera ruler, tape measure

a calendar

a clock

makes noises on command

makes noise based on a timer

compass

calculator

weather app

books and podcasts for download

an app which can control home appliances and presumably other things if I were skilled enough to be able to tell the phone that the gadget is really a home appliance

language translator

photo editor

locate ipad, earbuds, and presumably other bluetooth items

can act as a wireless mouse

 

 

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5 hours ago, JackFlash said:

but you're supposed to pay for everything in Superheroic campaigns.


Not in most games. In fact, it isn't even by the book.

 

I don't know what edition of the game you play, but Champions Complete contains the following sections of text. There is similar text in other editions.

 

Page 7: "This also means that characters should only pay CP for things that actually have an effect in the game. If a character uses something a lot in the game, he should probably pay CP for it. (One general exception is when all characters get the same thing for free, such as a game where no character pays CP for weapons and armor.) The opposite point is equally true: an ability that doesn’t have a significant impact on the game, shouldn’t cost CP (or the GM should reduce the cost to reflect its utility). For example, if your character’s background makes him an expert on the courtship rituals of South American spiders, the GM should allow you to simply add that Knowledge Skill at no cost. It adds flavor, but it’s highly unlikely to affect the outcome of many adventures."


Page 10: "WHAT NOT TO SPEND CP ON
Characters should spend CP on anything that’s likely to have an effect during the game, including Characteristics, Skills, superpowers, and so forth. Characters typically don’t spend CP on:
1. Anything the GM agrees probably won’t ever have an effect on the game. For example, a Knowledge Skill reflecting specific expertise on the courtship rituals of South American spiders.
2. Anything the GM needs to make an adventure work. For example, a cutting-edge scientist who’s friendly with one of the heroes doesn’t have to be listed as a Contact on the hero’s character sheet just because the GM wants the scientist to get the hero involved in an adventure. The key here is that the gamemaster wants the scientist to know the hero; if the player wants the scientist to know the hero, so the hero can call on him as a resource when he wants to, then he does need to buy a Contact with the scientist.
3. Anything that all characters get for free, including Everyman Skills (page 22) or other “Everyman abilities.” For example, the GM might decide that characters don’t have to pay CP for mundane equipment, or that all characters get 2 points of Mental Defense for free."

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ES: High Range Radio Hearing/Perception, OAF: Smart Phone (-1)

6 Points

 

Absolute Range Sense, Absolute Time Sense, Bump of Direction, Cramming, Eidetic Memory, Speed Reading, OAF: Smart Phone (-1)

 

9 Points

 

Universal Translator [Common Human Languages Only] (-1), OAF: Smart Phone (-1)

 

7 Points

 

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I'm going off of Heroic 5E Revised. Page 25, emphasis mine:


 

Quote

 

Superheroic campaigns include any campaign in which the majority of the characters have unusual or superhuman abilities and tend to rely on them more than on Skills. [...] Superheroic characters are usually built on many more points than Heroic characters.


Superheroic characters can buy Characteristics, Skills, Perks, Talents, Powers, or anything else they want (subject to the GM’s permission, of course). Depending on the type of campaign, they may be able to do things like teleport, fire bolts of energy from their hands, survive the impact of tank shells or dragon's breath, and so on. However, they must pay Character Points for everything they want to have or be able to do. This includes mundane equipment like cameras, handguns, radios, gas masks, and the like. They don’t get any abilities or equipment “for free.” This doesn’t mean your character can’t grab an enemy’s weapon in combat and use it briefly — no mystical force prevents him from acquiring equipment. But if he wants to continue using that piece of equipment game after game, he has to pay Character Points for it.

 

 

Looks like different books say different things, though. I don't have Champions Complete.

Edited by JackFlash
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Well, there you go. They do say different things.

I still wouldn't go with the really hard line interpretation though. It gets weird very fast. For example, a character should, theoretically, pay points for their standard civilian car, if they drive to where an adventure is happening. Without that, they can end up having to catch a bus...

Apparently this actually happened in some early (1st edition) campaigns. While amusing, it's rather silly.

 

I'd suggest a more moderate approach, where "Everyman" equipment is treated like "Everyman" skills. The most important thing to remember is that if you don't pay points for something, the GM can take it away at any time. (Break it, steal it...)

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I have always had the belief that noncombat tech that is commonly available should be given at no CP. This will include things such as the smart phone, unmodified vehicles and buildings, CCTV system, ordinary dining sets, standard playing cards (Gambit anyone), or any of the millions of conventional items that one can come up with. If any of these items get modifications, then the player will need to pay the full CP of the item, including the modifications and base costs.

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15 hours ago, assault said:

I'd suggest a more moderate approach, where "Everyman" equipment is treated like "Everyman" skills. The most important thing to remember is that if you don't pay points for something, the GM can take it away at any time. (Break it, steal it...)

 

And this is the point where paying points is of value.  If you rely on "free" kit then the GM has narrative control over that kit.  If you get hit with a flame blast and the GM wants to remove your access to the cellphone, then he can say that the heat causes it to fritz out and may indicate when you might get access to it again.  If you pay points and use the focus limitation to make it cheaper then you cede a little bit of narrative control and bring the functionality within the rules.  If you simply pay for it then you should expect to have the functionality at all times - you have narrative control.  With a weapon bought with a focus, you may be disarmed but expect the GM to provide you with access to it when you escape.  If the weapon was given to you as kit from a patron then when it is removed from you there should be no expectation that you will ever get it back.

 

Doc

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1 hour ago, IndianaJoe3 said:

 

Heck, they might be able to afford a smart phone even if they are poor. Mine was only $20.

 

The US government gave out free cell phones and cell phone service to the poor during the Obama administration. I had to look into it when my wife lost her job due to disability and the disability insurance company, to which she'd paid monthly premiums for 25 years, denied she was disabled. Apparently, by their standards, someone who is physically unable to stand in front of a classroom and who is physically unable to speak to the students isn't disabled despite the fact that her school district required the teachers to stand continuously and move around the classroom rather than sit and required that the teacher be able to communicate verbally to students.

 

Note: she purchased that disability insurance through the school district. Her initial application was denied and her appeal was denied. A few years later the federal government fined that insurance company for inappropriately denying claims on the disability insurance they were selling and required them to pay out on the rejected claims over the previous couple of years. Of course our appeals process had ended a few months before the date in history that the government chose for the company to be forced to go back and do the right thing...so we got nothing. 

 

< grumble, grumble, rant, rant >

 

Don't know the current rules for that program but Google "Obama phone" if you think you (or your character) might qualify.

 

 

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On 9/19/2019 at 12:00 PM, Doc Democracy said:

 

And this is the point where paying points is of value.  If you rely on "free" kit then the GM has narrative control over that kit.  If you get hit with a flame blast and the GM wants to remove your access to the cellphone, then he can say that the heat causes it to fritz out and may indicate when you might get access to it again.  If you pay points and use the focus limitation to make it cheaper then you cede a little bit of narrative control and bring the functionality within the rules.  If you simply pay for it then you should expect to have the functionality at all times - you have narrative control.  With a weapon bought with a focus, you may be disarmed but expect the GM to provide you with access to it when you escape.  If the weapon was given to you as kit from a patron then when it is removed from you there should be no expectation that you will ever get it back.

 

Doc

 

This is exactly why a character should buy the cell phone insurance plan.

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On 9/18/2019 at 12:46 PM, JackFlash said:

Depends on the genre they're running. In Heroic campaigns, they can just buy it, but you're supposed to pay for everything in Superheroic campaigns.

 

Did you pay points for that hamburger?  LS: No need to eat, expendable focus.  You didn't?  Oh well I guess your character starved to death.

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Okay, that was a lot of wasted effort--

 

not you guys; the wall of text I just wrote and deleted.  My apologies, but upon proofing it, I realized it sounded far more adversarial than I ever intend _anything_ (not work-related) to sound.  After a couple of attempts at tweaking it, I realized it just couldn't be salvaged, and frankly, with the down votes already being thrown around, I'd have to say that things are already adversarial enough in here without accidentally contributing to it.

 

So let me try again, if you would be so kind as to bear with me.

 

First, I'd like to say that I'm human.  I'm willing to be that everyone here is _human_-- except possibly Hugh-- who isn't here yet-, and may well be a web-based AI whose sole purpose is to remember every single detail of a rulesbook and several thousand conversations, all the while mathing our entire universe down to it's base prime number.  :)   (Love ya, Hugh.  Seriously: thanks for all the times you've been a great sport, and hopefully will be one for this, too.  :lol:  ).  Because of that, and because this is a both an informal and a  conversational format for communicating to people who have at least one thing in common (appreciation or at least interest in some incarnation of the HERO System), our opinions are _going_ to leak out; they are just going to leak out.

 

And before anyone points out that I have no right to speak for everyone, you're absolutely correct.  That was my opinion leaking out.  It's going to happen a _lot_ throughout the rest of my life, and while we can all protest otherwise, I am willing to be that makes me the very-most-possible opposite of unique here.  When you see my opinion leaking out, I implore that you do _not_ assume that I am presenting it as any kind of fact; more importantly-- much, _much_ more importantly, I humbly request that you do _not_ read it as any kind of insult to anyone in any form or fashion.  For example: do not assume that I insult the way you or someone else is playing the game.  I play 2e, for Pete's sake!  I _know_ I play it different than most of the people here; I'm not going to call you out for doing your thing different.  So again, I ask that you take no offense at opinions leaking out: that's all they are: conversation, sometimes offered as quips, humor, lightening tension, or something that I personally (you know: in my own opinion) thought might be interesting to think about to perhaps one person who might read it.

 

And that's _it_.  No insult; no sarcasm; no attack.

 

You know, if I was Canadian, I wouldn't have to make such a preamble.....

 

 

Second, I almost _never_ get involved in these "how do I build an everyday thing" threads.  Why?  Because they end up adversarial.  Assumptions get made, down votes get tossed around, and people start getting their feelings hurt.  (No: I will never down vote anyone for anything but the most extreme and offensive of personal attacks (against anyone who isn't me.  I genuinely cannot get too terribly worked up over a total stranger's opinion of me, so have fun with it ;)  )-- well, and that one NGD thread where we are all passing out down votes for fun.  That was damned amusing  :lol: .  I tend to think of the down vote button as a special kind of passive-aggressive dickishness that I just can't get behind.)

 

At any rate, these tend to break into two camps:  the camp of "I just want to play with this idea" and the camp of "you must do this."  I only decided to post to this one because, after a quick read of the thread, the OP doesn't say at any point that he is either going to require players to do this, or that he is being required by a GM to do this.  Without that direct statement, I'm going to work on the assumption that this is one of those "fun ideas I want to play with" posts, and run with that.

 

That being said: 

 

I'd build a smartphone using the computer rules of whatever edition you're using.  That will cover pretty much all your apps-- they're just programs.  Your processor is just INT.  I'd take a really hard look at what actually _is_ an app, and what is actually web-based: while they may be out there, I've yet to see a phone where "Translate" was hard-coded into the phone as opposed to being something web-based that is accessed through your phone.  Now you can build a special "internet accessing device" perk for your gadget (I wouldn't), or just let that fall into the SFX of your HH Radio Communication: Phone, Text, internet access.  Ho-yeah!

 

Then-- now keep in mind that this is assuming it's an off-the-shelf phone-- I'd mandate that it be a fragile/breakable focus.  Yep: you get hit with the fire blast or whatever it was that Doc D mentioned up above, there's a good chance you'll break it.  However, you paid points for it (in a game run by someone who wasn't me), and I'm not going to keep you from your points; I am merely applying the Foci rules.  You will be able to replace it-- without the expenditure of additional points-- by either handing it to the team gadgeteer (if you have one) or stopping at the next phone store (or Wal-Mart, or Dollar General, or Family Dollar, or pharmacy, or large, upscale gas station-- or pretty much anywhere that doesn't sell building materials, potpourri, or gold chains by the foot (14 or less for the gold-by-the-foot kiosk selling them anyway))  you pass.

 

I would implement the other disadvantages of a "real" cell phone, too: as mentioned above, you can be tapped, traced, hacked, located, and telemarketing robots can call mid-stealth roll.  You _did_ remember to silence it, right?  NO, DAMNIT!  I _don't_ mean put it on vibrate, since that seems to be the loudest damned setting the things have!

 

All that being said, I wouldn't do it, period.  If my game was still set in 1982, sure: these things would be _amazing_ game-changing devices that could provide a _huge_ advantage over the bad guys!  Well, except for translation, streaming, texting, and anything else that's internet-based.  If memory serves, the internet was a pretty dull place in 1982.....

 

But let me explain why I wouldn't charge for it, at least not one bit more than HH radio com, as a phone, if someone really felt that was a game breaker or charged more than a single point for a team communicator:

 

What can we do with it?  We can put books in it!  Cool.  So we first have to find out the point value of a single book.  Then we can charge that much for each book that's loaded into the phone.  Or we could, since you'll never read more than one at a time, charge for that one book and sort of "gadget pool" it out via the internet when you need a different book.

 

So let's build a book in HERO.  To use something I think most of us are familiar with, let's use HERO System 5e book.  What value does this book have?  Well, it's bulletproof; we know rPD is worth some points.  So let's day that books have what--?  3 rPD?  Was it a high-powered rifle?  We'll give books 5 rPD, just in case.  Having access to this book at a moment's notice means we effectively have the all-important skill set all superheroes and adventure characters need:  KS: how to use the HERO System, 14-  (because you were probably wrong, and should look it up); Extra Time (you have to look it up, remember?)  Okay, now what's that skill?  Well, for most of us, I guess it would be a KS-- just a couple points.  But for those who have to be _way_ more familiar-- those who write for or about good ol' HS, well it's going to be the source of a Professional Skill: some part of their income depends on getting everything right, after all.  You know, let's just call it 2 pts anyway.  We know now that books are worth character points, the same value as a die of blast or doubling your lifting strength.

 

Seems right.

 

But there are disadvantages to books, too: they catch fire.  They hate water.  They fall apart under extreme abuse.  So let's call them fragile foci, too.  What's the final value on 5 points of OAF fragile/breakable in your favorite version of the game? What other advantages or limitations are there to carrying around books?  I'm not going to worry about that simply because this has already gone on far too long; I have little doubt that anyone more interested than me could justify both books that cost 30cp and books that were completely free; possible even books that give you a point back just for owning it (I'm looking at you, Deepak Chockra or however you spell it).

 

But once we have that cost, we multiply it be the number of books we want in our phone: using the base five points determined above by not-quite-completely-arbitrary means, I decide I want sixteen books in my phone  (I cheated: I just looked at how many books I actually have in my phone right now  :lol:  ).  At five points each, my phone-- before anything else gets bought-- costs 80cp.  I think I'm going to build a gadget / book pool instead: after all, I can only read one at a time, and I can switch back and forth almost whenever I want; it's a nice simulation of downloading / deleting, too, so... Bonus!  :)  .   Of course, if I just pay the 80 cp, then my phone now has 80 rPD, because five per book, right?  No?  Is it because different books have different rPD and we have to figure all sixteen of them individually?  I'll need to make a cheat sheet for my book pool, then.

 

That wasn't the problem?  Ah, of course: the STR minimums for the books!  I could never hope to carry sixteen copies of HS 5e without suffering an encumbrance penalty.  What was I thinking?  So let's round it off and say that with these sixteen books my phone now weighs  one-hundred-and-twelve pounds.  That's not going to cut it.  Fine.  We'll use PDFs.  No STR minimum; no encumbrance, much more powerful reliance on electricity.  So now we've got to figure out the value in CP of PDFs.  For simplicity's sake, let's say that they are the same AP as books, minus that rPD.  Sounds like a savings, but you don't get to down-cost with STR Min, either.  :(  

 

Yes; that's gone on _way_ to far.  Thanks for indulging it.  Sincerely: thanks for putting up with that.  But it does come down to what do you charge a superhero for a book?  What do you charge him for a calculator?  What do you charge him for the world's absolute crappiest flashlight?  What's the END cost for lighting up the screen?  How does it vary when it auto-levels the brightness?  How much END for each additional window / tab / program you have open?    We're going to have to keep up with that if we build the thing.

 

 

Now I'd like to take a minute to revisit an earlier comment: I would charge for this sort of super crime-busting equipment were my game set in the world of 1982 because of the advantages it presents.  Maybe not much, because of the disadvantages it has as well.  To be equally straightforward, I would charge _today_ for a no-limitations custom, super-device with none of the inherent problems of an off-the-shelf phone.  But I can't charge for a cell phone because it doesn't provide an advantage or a leg-up or anything that your villains don't already have.  In fact, unless you were born super, you probably had this amazing device-- or something not unlike it-- before you actually became a made character.  It's something that, in the first world, at any rate, a staggering number of adults and pre adults have.  I might actually consider giving a _disadvantage_ to a character who refuses to have one in a modern setting.  (which, interestingly enough, is another rules-legal way to give everyone an "everyman" cell phone that works the way the GM says it does).

 

 

And this whole thing-- well, mostly the reactions of "you have to build it and charge points for it"-- is what drove me away from this board years ago.  In my heart, I truly believe it's why HERO died in popularity:  when I hear or read people complain about the "complexity" and the "math" involved, I ask questions.  More times than not, it is not the actual math (though that comes up a lot-- unfairly, I think-- with regard to character creation),  it boils down to being sick to death of "_having to_" build every little piece of the universe.  Not GMs so much (we tend to enjoy that nonsense, just as a thought exercise), but even as players who suddenly find themselves required to "build" a costume that stays clean or a cape that always moves as if stirred by a soft breeze, or being told that their secret ID character cannot use the spike of her high-heeled shoe as a weapon applied to the temple of her assailant because she hasn't paid points to assign damage to it as a weapon, so she just gets STR damage.

 

  "No, Jimmy: you're clothing never has dryer lint!  No; I would _love_ to charge you for dryer lint, but I haven't had the time to build dryer lint just yet.  Give me a couple of weeks; things will slow down some, and I'll get right on it."

 

Cell phones.  Home furniture.  A place to live.  These are super-ubiquitous items that I just _can't_ charge for.  Doing so just drives home that nitpickiness that outsiders hold against the system to begin with, and ultimately, except as a fun thing to wonder about, it's a huge waste of both my time and the players' XP.  I won't charge for a cell phone anymore than I would charge for a domino mask.

 

 

Oooh!  Domino mask!   Concealment, 22 or less...    Or maybe +5 to the character's existing concealment?-- personal identity only... OIF-- OAF if we're feeling risky.....   Maybe plusses to PRE, since no one is _really_ comfortable being yelled at by  a stranger?  Actually, that sounds good:  Concealment 22 or less, personal identity only, +5 PRE.  Oooh-- would the Reputation Disadplication hinge on that mask?  If Robin showed up without his mask, would people still know he was Robin?  If not, then the value of the Reputation total should be reduced to show it's Linked to the mask.  Linked?  Only in HERO ID?  Does anyone have a reputation that only applies in HERO ID?  We should retcon all the characters in this campai-- nah; too much work.  We'll start it with the next campaign.  Maybe the Reputation has a Dependance on the domino mask?  Or it's like a spell ingredient?  Have to give that one some thought. :/  Wait!  Reputation:  Triggered by viewing the domino-- eh.. I think that has some problems, too.  Granted, when Robin's not there, he's still got the reputation when people speak of him...  Though they are going to see him as having the mask, every time.....  So the mask is important to it....

 

Oh-- can he get accidental change if the mask is prone to fall off?  Or take the same value as the focus and remove that value from his super-heroic physical and psych lims....?

 

 

It just goes on.

 

Some stuff just isn't worth doing, and for my games-- do yours how you want, obviously-- everyday stuff-- the things you have in pocket (unless you're like me enough to have a couple of knives on you as you sit here) as you sit down to browse a good book....   I'm not going to charge for, period.

 

(Cue Hugh finding some really clever and highly lethal combination of the stuff in my pockets that's worth at least 30pts as a combat-usable something or other.   :lol:     (You can't use the knives; I've already copped to those))

 

 

 

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