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Chris Goodwin

Shapeshift, Transform, and You

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So... why not try allowing Transform to transform the self?  

 

I mean, you still need to exceed twice your own BODY score to Transform (and no buying BODY with the "Not Vs. Own Transform" Limitation... or maybe that Limitation is -0, so you can't cheese it).  

 

Cosmetic Transform, 1d6 (Standard Effect: 3 BODY), Self Only, would cost 2 points, and for a character with 10 BODY it would take 7 Phases of this for them to cosmetically Transform themselves.  7d6 of that would hit 21 BODY, in one use, for 21 Active, or 14 Real Points (or 10 if you allow No Range as well) at 2 END per use.  14 (or 10) points for the ability to cosmetically Transform oneself in a single Phase?  That sounds pretty good to me.  Not too much, not too little.  If we want, we can require that to be against one Sense Group, and increase the cost per die by +1 base point per additional Sense Group, maxing it at 5 points per d6 which is Minor Transform, which brings it to 35 Base Points for 7d6, or 23 Real Points with Self Only (18 with Self Only and No Range).  3 END per use.  

 

If you want to change everything about yourself, we're up to Severe Transform, for 15 points per d6.  7d6 of that is 105 Base Points.  70 Real Points for Self Only (52 for Self Only and No Range).  Note that those 70 points spent on Multiform will get you a 350 point form, so I'm not seeing much of a problem.  And it's 10 END per use.  Here I'd feel comfortable requiring the character to buy more dice, to increase the Transformation BODY requirement, in order to Transform to a form with more points than their base form, or require them to buy enough dice to double their BODY in one use.  

 

You'd still have to define the condition for turning back.  I'd require it to be something like: the base condition for turning back is either re-Transformation (possibly requiring the alternate form to buy its own Transform to turn back), or the passage of time (max of 1 Day), or unconsciousness/sleep.  Something that's either not entirely under the character's control, or something that someone could use against them.  

 

I'll note that the END cost is Instant, because Transform is an Instant Power with continuing effect.  I'm okay with that as well.  

 

This also does away with Multiform, which -- I think -- I'm also okay with.  Again, requiring other forms to spend some of their points on Transform to turn back seems fair here as well.  

 

Further, as of at least 6th edition (I can't remember if 5th does this as well?), Transformations are required to be against Body, Mind, and Spirit, if those are to be part of the self-Transform.  At the very least, this increases the cost and required dice, or the amount of Phases, or this could even be handled with an Advantage.

 

Comments are appreciated.  :) 

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46 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Forgive me, Chris, but....

 

as a solution to what? 

 

Seriously; I am not sure what this is in reference to. 

 

At least three different Powers that change the self or other people, using different mechanics, that a number of us (including you and I, to different degrees) don't really care for.  

 

Is Transform usable on the self really going to break the game?  We've always been told that, but... it can be cheap and slow, or expensive and quick, but to me it looks better than at least the version of Shapeshift that made it through to 6th edition.  It looks like it can stand in for Multiform as well; it can pretty explicitly be something like "Multiform Usable Against Others".  

 

Mainly I'm asking here, what breaks if we let us use it on ourselves?  

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6 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

At least three different Powers that change the self or other people, using different mechanics, that a number of us (including you and I, to different degrees) don't really care for.

 

 

Ah!  Yes; I see.  Thank you for the clarification.

 

I apologize in advance for what you have just cut the straps on.  ;)*

 

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Is Transform usable on the self really going to break the game? 

 

Loaded question, Sir, but I suspect you already knew that. ;)

 

So let me answer it as objectively as I can:

 

_mmmmMaybe_....

 

See, the thing is, I-- I, you, Doc, Hugh, LL-- anyone who knows the system, really-- can _easily_ paint you a thousand-and-two pictures  of a game broken by T-form on self.  Hell, we can all paint you a picture of how Energy Blast can break the game!  All you have to do is....  take the controls off of it.   Combine NND and Does BODY.  Make it exempt to damage caps.  Put a freakin' AOE and an auto-reset Trigger and even a couple of Autofires on there for good measure.  That's break the _hell_ out of a game right there.

 

And that's it.  That's the whole thing.  We don't use "T-form (self)" because we don't want to impose limits on T-form.  Ironically, we do it all the time.  Even know, T-form is broken into three district classes (you know: to make it _cheaper_ for a lot of things that are actually _more_ useful than a dead guy, which is still going to cost you 15 /die as a Killing Attack.)

 

But for some reason, when we see T-form (self), we don't see those limits.  We don't see the GM saying "I want a list of what you can and can't T-form into before game time" or "fine, but no more than X AP in your new form" or _any_ sort of ruling or guidance.  What we see is "holy crap!  he can turn himself into anything; have any power; touch any cap--!  We can't allow that!"

 

So do I think it's possible to have T-form (self) and it _not_ break the game?  Sure.  Of course I do.

 

Do I think T-form (self) is just automatically going to break the game?

 

No more than "Power Pool."  Seriously.  Power Pool can do exactly what T-form (self) can do:  it can give you any power, any ability, touch any limit or cap....

 

If you take the controls off.  I don't know any GMs who don't limit pool size right off the bat, and most of them demand some sort of thematic thread running through whatever gets pulled out of the pool.  T-form can do it cheaper (if you wait long enough); Power Pools can do it faster (zero phase change?  No problem.  :)  )

 

Put some heavy borders on T-form (self), and you've got a different sort of Power Pool, and not much else.  So for my money, T-form self is no more broken or dangerous than an unregulated Pool or really, an unregulated anything else.

 

 

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but to me it looks better than at least the version of Shapeshift that made it through to 6th edition.

 

Why'd you go and do that?  :lol:

 

The only problem with Shapeshift is that it's not valid because it makes you pay for a special effect.  Well that, and you don't actually shift shape: you just convince everyone else that you did.

 

You asked for it, my friend.  Please forgive me for doing it this way, but I actually have a "standardize rant" on this subject that I just save and re-paste as needed.  I really didn't want to do that to you, but it's stupidly late here, and I've got to go to work in the morning.  I hope you can forgive this, or at least excuse it long enough for me to have time to think up an all-new rant on this topic.   :lol:

 

Enjoy:

 

 

First and foremost, I have no idea what edition of HERO / Champions anyone started with.  Most of the membership seems to have started with 3e, but there are few that started with 2e, and a few less (like me) who started with 1e.

 

The problem I have with the new "official shape shift" is twofold:

 

1) there was already something in place that worked extremely well.

 

2) it's not necessary.  You're quantifying and then paying for the quantification of what amounts to a special effect.  I have no idea why this isn't anathema to more people.

 

 

So to get a summary that might start a conversation, let me offer this:

 

Only in Heroic ID. 

 

This is a Power Limitation that I _know_ has been around since 2e, and may have appeared in 1e as well (I really don't remember; I haven't played 1e since I got my first 2e book).  It wasn't in the main book, but was a found in a write-up -- I can't recall if it was a sample of "how to" or an actual character in a supplement; Chris Goodwin could help you with that, if you're interested.  Guy has a mind for details like Hugh does for math. 

 

Anyway, only in HERO ID rather readily becomes "Only in X ID."  pair it with something like Instant Change, and poof!  Shapeshifter.   Seriously.   Had a character way back when who wanted to emulate some comic book guy (I'm not much up on comics; I love Champions, but never got into comics.  Accordingly, my take on superheroes may be a bit skewed.   ) who had the power to turn into various animals but they all had to be green or grey or-- anyway, they were all the wrong color.

 

So how did we do that?  How did we do that in any edition prior to 5e?  

 

Well there was multiform in 4e.  I can't remember where that came from, either.  I want to say it was an old Adventurers Club article, but I could well be wrong.  It could have been Champions III for all I remember-- sorry; when I get tired, my memory gets terrible.  I actually know this answer, and just can't think of it right now.  Not that it's terribly important, of course: the final answer is that Multiform became "officialized" in 4e.

 

Ironically, we didn't really need _that_, either, as it's pretty much Shape shift all over again:  

 

I have a guy who turns into different things!

 

Cool!  A shapeshifter!

 

No; he doesn't shape shift.  He just turns into different things.

 

So he turns into multiple forms?

 

Right.

 

And each form has a different shape?

 

Well sure!

 

Shape shifter.

 

No!  You're not listening to me...!

 

 

 

You see how that goes?   

 

 

Between you and me, I can't help but think that Multiform was implemented to make shape shifting somehow "cheaper," but it bit them in the backside, as it limits the number of shapes into which you can shift.  Perversely, it lets you make a limited number of forms that are extremely powerful, which you may or may not be able to pull off "old school."  You can _certainly_ do it cheaper than new-fangled Shape Shift!

 

 

So...   absolutely no one before 4e made a shape shifter, ever.

 

 

Well that's a damned lie, and I can prove it, because I had several players make shape-shifters even before there was a _third_ edition, let alone a fourth.  Plastic Man is a character I am passingly familiar with, and in the mid-eighties, he had a Saturday morning cartoon, and clones just _kept_ popping up in my games for a while. And of course, person-to-an-arkload-of-animals never really went away completely.

 

 

How where we doing it?   Well that's pretty simple, really:  Only in X ID became "Only in appropriate ID."  Call it "only in Hero ID," if you want, because when he was shifting shapes, well that wasn't as Joey Bagadonuts; that was as the hero!

 

 

 

Let's back up a bit and examine something:

 

When you're building a character, what does it cost to be a normal human male?  Wait--- "Nothing?"  Are you _sure_ about that?  Woah-- seriously?  It really costs _nothing_?  You can just say "okay, my guy's a normal human male, about six-foot two (so Batman can still feel tall), two-hundred sixty pounds, thirty-two years of age, brown hair, green eyes-- you can just _be_ all that, and it costs _nothing_?!  Dude, that is _cool_.  I mean, that's just an awesome game right there!

 

No; wait-- can't fool me!  I've got it now-- what's it cost to be a normal human _female_?   WHAT?!  "Nothing" _AGAIN_?!  No; something can't be right here.  You can be a man or a woman and neither one costs _anything_?

 

Oh!  It's because I said "normal," right?   So what would it cost to be like, a cyborg or something, with like mechanical legs and an electric heart?  Dude, you are LYING to me!  It can't possibly be _NOTHING_!

 

 

All right, how about an _alien_?!  Yeah; I want to be a blue-and-red-skinned alien with like a big shark fin on my head and webbed hands and my eyes on like snake stalks and four arms.  How much does _that_ cost?  Wha-- this is BULL, Man!  That can't be free!  Well how about if I wanted to be a robot?  That, too?!   A mannequin possessed by the tormented soul of a Victorian orphan child killed in a ritual satanic sacrifice?  A multi-dimensional hyper-intelligent barracuda?  How about the _car_ Barracuda?  Hemi-cuda?

 

Dude, how is all that free?!  It doesn't make sense!   Wait?  What's this about "just being?"  So...  'what I am' is just the special effects of 'being'?   That's pretty deep, man...

 

Oh!  How about if I want to be like, really short, like dwarf tall?!  Free?!  

 

Well okay, but in what _way_ am I a female alien cyborg?  No, I mean, like, do I just _look_ like one; do I just _sound_ like one; do I just _feel_ like one; do I---?

 

I "just am?"  So there's no way that someone is going to look at me or put me under a magnifying glass or examine my nostril leavings and go "Oh, wait!  It's just a guy in female alien cyborg suit---- WAIT!  What if I wanted to be a _black guy?_!  That's got to cost, right?   Are you _kidding_ me?!  So I can just _say_ that I am something, and I _am_ that thing?!

 

 

All right.  I think that horse is as dead as it's going to get. 

 

Now let's look at that in the context of powers:  If I have -- forgive me if you started with 6e; I don't use much 6e terminology as I didn't start with and don't really use it-- Energy Blast.

 

If I say "It's fire from my hands," then it's fire from my hands, period.  No other player will question it; no GM will question it.  It _is_ fire, period.

 

If I say "it's fire from a flame thrower," the exact same thing happens:  it just _is_, and it is because I said it is.  If I say it's gun or a taser or a lightning bolt, that's what it _is_, period, and no sense-- not even the special ones-- is going to determine that it is anything else, because that's the special effect I have chosen.

 

 

Now let's say that I have a gun that shoots poison-- liquid poison, directly into someone's eyes?  I build it as a Linked attack: it does damage, and it has a Flash Attack, and possibly even a Transform: sighted to blind-- all rolled into one.  No one will for a moment doubt that that gun is real, because that gun _is_ real.  It's the special effect for that attack:  I whip out my "what the hell kind of sick twisted person invented something like this?!" gun and I start doing evil things to every person I can see.  It's valid, because it's the real special effect for my power.

 

 

Now suppose my character is an alien snake man who "just do" this thing:  maybe he's got little ducts in his teeth and he just spits a venom that does damage, contains a flash and does Transform: sighted to blind.  Who doubts that he-- my character, the alien snake man-- is a real alien snake man?  No matter what "sense group" I probe with, the result is always going to be "alien snake man who isn't a cyborg or a guy dressed up like an alien snake man," right?

 

 

Now suppose I have that _identical_ power, but my special effect is that I turn into a spitting cobra to do it?

 

 

Suddenly there's a problem?  Suddenly I _look_ like a spitting cobra, but I smell / feel / taste / sound like a six-foot-two two-hundred-forty pound normal human _camoflagued_ as a spitting cobra?

 

What the heck, Man?

 

It's ridiculous.  You are not only being required to pay for a special effect, you are being required to pay _multiple times_ for a special effect: you want to appeal to all eleven possible HERO System senses, right?   _all_ of them!  Not just sight, but infrared sight, too!  It would suck to _look_ like a snake, only to show up in IR scans as a rather large guy in his late thirties.....

 

So how did we handle shape shift before "the rules finally allowed it?"

 

Just like that:  it was the special effect for your powers, period.  We could get creative:  if we wanted to "lock out" certain things and "lock in" certain things, "Only in appropriate form." You know:  Only in Heroic ID.   Animal guy (I swear, I _think_ he called himself "Animan," so that we wouldn't realize he was ripping off "Manimal" from the then-popular TV show) had a laundry list of powers, all bought with the limitation "only in appropriate form."  Seriously:  a list of powers and bonuses to his Characteristics, all with that limitation.  If he wanted to fly, he turned into something that could fly.  If he wanted to fly and have excellent perception, he turned into something like that-- a hawk or something: Flight and +4 PER (sight) and telescopic sight (x100), but he had to be a winged raptor of some variety.

 

If he wanted to be strong, he could turn into an ox.  If he wanted to be strong and have a manipulable appendage-- Gorilla!  Or an elephant...  Bonus!  As an elephant, he could use that +4 PER (Hearing) he has listed for "only in appropriate form".   He could be a cow, a dinosaur, a mule-- whatever he wanted, so long as it was appropriate to the power or powers he was wanting to use at that time.  More PD and Shrinking?  Tortoise!  (no bonus to his movement, though).   Ultimate move-through?  Cheetah, launching itself into the air and becoming a buffalo!

 

 

All that with a handful of powers.  Strangely, cheaper-- way cheaper-- than just having four or five multi forms, and _better_, too, because he had _unlimited_ forms!  UN-STINKIN'-LIMITED!  

 

 

And he _was_ those things, because "just being" those things was his special effect, and there was no "versus this off-the-wall sensory concoction reveals that you're an old Brittish sketch comic in a dress and bad wig" nonsense that the current pile that Shape Shift is.

 

Suppose we had that, back in the old 250-point superhero days (which I still play, incidentally)?  By the time you bought _all_ of your shape shifts and a metric boatload of modifiers to use against your opponent's PER, -- well, you actually _couldn't_, because getting it nearly fool-proof would cost you more points than you actually had at your disposal, and there'd be nothing left to actually buy _useful, functioning_ powers with!

 

Note that, and note it well:  No matter _how_ much you spend on your Shape Shift under the 5e / 6e rules, you will never actually _be_ the thing.  You will always look / smell / taste / feel / sound like the thing, but never actually _be_ the thing.  There are many, many board members who will tell you that "it's the same," but it is _not_ the same, at least not if you are playing by the rules, _because_ ---

 

if anyone examining you rolls a natural 3, you're still a female alien cyborg trying to pass yourself off as a designer coffee table.  Amusingly enough, though, by the rules, they will _never_ disprove that you're a female alien cyborg, even if you're actually a middle-aged fat guy string around a table with his friends and some dice, and they will never disprove that because that was the special effect that you chose for "just existing" in the game world.

 

 

Shape shift is _nothing_, and I mean _nothing_ but a special effect for something else.  At no point in my gaming career (started mid-seventies, with the rest of us old fat guys) have I, in _any_ game system or any character conception, seen "Shape Shift" be the means to its own end: it was _always_ an enabling device for something else, _always_.   And what do we call enabling devices for skills and powers in the HERO System?

 

 

Special Effects.  They are completely _real_ in game terms, and they are completely _free_.

 

 

 

Honestly, today-- I mean right up through 6e, if I didn't already have a thirty-year "only in appropriate form" habit, I'd do it with Power Pool  and be done with it.  The only draw back to that approach is that there wouldn't be a laundry list of "pre-boughts" already written out on the C-sheet.  Sure, I could request them, but I'm not likely to change at this point.

 

 

 

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It looks like it can stand in for Multiform as well; it can pretty explicitly be something like "Multiform Usable Against Others".  

 

Mainly I'm asking here, what breaks if we let us use it on ourselves?  

 

 

Yep, and nothing.  It's a matter of perspective:  Oh!  T-form can give you powers you don't have!"

 

So can Power Pool, and no one bats an eye.

 

It's all about where you put your controls.

 

Good night, All.

 

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Duke Bushido is a man after my own heart. I love shapeshifting characters (like Mystique), but 6ED Shapeshift sucks for that. I transform into a Schwarzenegger-sized thug or a slinky asian female. If I want it to be convincing, it's gotta cover sight, hearing ,smell, taste, touch--and those are just the basic senses. If you to want to cover *everything*? It's ridiculous. And as DB points out, you never *really* turn into whatever it is, you just pretend to.

 

There's gotta be a better way.

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10 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

When you're building a character, what does it cost to be a normal human male?  Wait--- "Nothing?"  Are you _sure_ about that?  Woah-- seriously?  It really costs _nothing_?  You can just say "okay, my guy's a normal human male, about six-foot two (so Batman can still feel tall), two-hundred sixty pounds, thirty-two years of age, brown hair, green eyes-- you can just _be_ all that, and it costs _nothing_?!  Dude, that is _cool_.  I mean, that's just an awesome game right there!

 

No; wait-- can't fool me!  I've got it now-- what's it cost to be a normal human _female_?   WHAT?!  "Nothing" _AGAIN_?!  No; something can't be right here.  You can be a man or a woman and neither one costs _anything_?

 

Oh!  It's because I said "normal," right?   So what would it cost to be like, a cyborg or something, with like mechanical legs and an electric heart?  Dude, you are LYING to me!  It can't possibly be _NOTHING_!

 

 

All right, how about an _alien_?!  Yeah; I want to be a blue-and-red-skinned alien with like a big shark fin on my head and webbed hands and my eyes on like snake stalks and four arms.  How much does _that_ cost?  Wha-- this is BULL, Man!  That can't be free!  Well how about if I wanted to be a robot?  That, too?!   A mannequin possessed by the tormented soul of a Victorian orphan child killed in a ritual satanic sacrifice?  A multi-dimensional hyper-intelligent barracuda?  How about the _car_ Barracuda?  Hemi-cuda?

 

Dude, how is all that free?!  It doesn't make sense!   Wait?  What's this about "just being?"  So...  'what I am' is just the special effects of 'being'?   That's pretty deep, man...

 

Oh!  How about if I want to be like, really short, like dwarf tall?!  Free?!  

 

Well okay, but in what _way_ am I a female alien cyborg?  No, I mean, like, do I just _look_ like one; do I just _sound_ like one; do I just _feel_ like one; do I---?

 

I "just am?"  So there's no way that someone is going to look at me or put me under a magnifying glass or examine my nostril leavings and go "Oh, wait!  It's just a guy in female alien cyborg suit---- WAIT!  What if I wanted to be a _black guy?_!  That's got to cost, right?   Are you _kidding_ me?!  So I can just _say_ that I am something, and I _am_ that thing?!

 

Duke, my friend, you are a poet! This is the best laugh I've had in a couple of weeks. Thank you for your uniquely stream-of-consciousness way of posting!

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10 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Cheetah, launching itself into the air and becoming a buffalo!

 

So this was a game breaking element last time I played Pathfinder (the first and last time, actually). A buddy had a character who could transform at will with no time delay. So when we were on a ship that got boarded by pirates, he turned into an eagle and flew as far up as he could, then dove back toward the ship and transformed into a mammoth at the last second, cannon-balling his way through the pirate ship, sinking it, and then simply transforming into a shark until he could get all the drowning pirates, and then transform back to himself to re-board our ship. This took him a couple of turns, and nothing more, and he pretty much single-handedly ended that encounter. 

 

It seems like your example could lead to something like this, which makes me a bit uneasy. Don't get me wrong: I'm pretty much convinced by your overall argument. I love it in fact. But there ought to be some limitations on the instant change part of shapeshifting. Of course, those are campaign limitations that the GM ought to define anyway. But I'm not very experienced in these sorts of builds, so I'm not too sure how "unbalancing" it might be in HERO. It most definitely was, however, in Pathfinder

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22 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

So... why not try allowing Transform to transform the self?  

 

I mean, you still need to exceed twice your own BODY score to Transform (and no buying BODY with the "Not Vs. Own Transform" Limitation... or maybe that Limitation is -0, so you can't cheese it).

 

Let's assume we allow the character to reduce his own BOD score to 10 for this purpose.  Even if we do not use Transform specifically as the mechanic, we can assess a pricing model for "self-transform" much as the Instant Change talent.  After all, we would  not want someone to Transform into a character with Power Defense and then be told "HAHAHA - now your Transform is useless until you heal back"

 

22 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

Cosmetic Transform, 1d6 (Standard Effect: 3 BODY), Self Only, would cost 2 points, and for a character with 10 BODY it would take 7 Phases of this for them to cosmetically Transform themselves.  7d6 of that would hit 21 BODY, in one use, for 21 Active, or 14 Real Points (or 10 if you allow No Range as well) at 2 END per use.  14 (or 10) points for the ability to cosmetically Transform oneself in a single Phase?  That sounds pretty good to me.  Not too much, not too little.

 

Let's call it 10 for simplicity.  It's minor, and it is just one effect.  From RAW, "changing a person’s hair, eye, or skin color".  So for 2 END, you  can become a blonde, a brunette or a redhead.  Normally, it only covers one effect, as well.  We can, however, get 5 points' distinctive features or 2 levels of Striking Appearance with a Cosmetic Transform.

 

So if we want to fully change form, that's probably Minor (no other abilities gained or lost), so 35 AP, but we also want Anything, so we need +1 Improved Results Group, bringing us up to 70 AP.  And then we Limit back to 35.  What do we get?  For 7 END and a half phase attack action, you can change to any basically humanoid form.  That does not seem unreasonable.  Slap on some further costs like 0 END and "reduced time" (call it +1/2 to move from "attack" to "instant", or +1/4 to make it not an attack action, but still a half phase), and we are at 105 AP, 52 RP to effortlessly and instantly change form.  True Mystique-style shapeshifting.

 

 

22 hours ago, Chris Goodwin said:

If you want to change everything about yourself, we're up to Severe Transform, for 15 points per d6.  7d6 of that is 105 Base Points.  70 Real Points for Self Only (52 for Self Only and No Range).  Note that those 70 points spent on Multiform will get you a 350 point form, so I'm not seeing much of a problem.  And it's 10 END per use.  Here I'd feel comfortable requiring the character to buy more dice, to increase the Transformation BODY requirement, in order to Transform to a form with more points than their base form, or require them to buy enough dice to double their BODY in one use. 

 

That 52 point version (no range and self only)  is a 10 END attack power to change to a single 350 point alternate form.  A 70 point Multiform that costs END only to activate would be 56 points, and not require a phase, so I don't see 52 as out of line.  We lose Multiple Forms, but you can buy Improved Results Group.  At +1, that's 210 AP, 105 real points and you are spending an attack action and 21 END to change.  At +2 (tacking on "zero phase" and "0 END"), it's  315 AP, 157 RP,  A 155 point MultiForm would give you over 131,000 forms - that seems pretty close to infinite to me.  And you probably would have gone to a VPP, only Multiforms before hitting that level of doublings anyway.

 

I think this one is a clear winner, Chris.  Whether it's directly "Transform" or a variant "Transform Self", we get rid of Multiform and ShapeShift.

 

Now, we are broadening the base Transform to allow you to also Transform yourself - but if you wanted to turn yourself into a frog for some reason, that's really not a huge deal.  No, you don't get better than -0 for "not self" if the transform would rarely if ever be beneficial - but you DO risk Missile Reflection if you don't shell out for Personal Immunity.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

So this was a game breaking element last time I played Pathfinder (the first and last time, actually). A buddy had a character who could transform at will with no time delay. So when we were on a ship that got boarded by pirates, he turned into an eagle and flew as far up as he could, then dove back toward the ship and transformed into a mammoth at the last second, cannon-balling his way through the pirate ship, sinking it, and then simply transforming into a shark

 

Its not a game breaking element in HERO, though.  What he did was a move-through.  Pathfinder apparently did not require him to apply damage to _himself_.  In HERO, he probably wouldn't have done as well. 

 

 

 

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It seems like your example could lead to something like this, which makes me a bit uneasy.

 

 

Yes and no. 

 

There is _no_ chance of any character using a power or ability he doesn't already have:

 

If Animan turns into a bird, he is using his Flight, which he has already bought and paid for.  If he then turns into a mammoth, he is using his STR, his Growth, and possibly his Density Increase--  all of which he has already bought and paid for. 

 

So why is it "game breaking" when one guy does it by turning into two animals, but perfectly fine for SuperDude to do the same thing with his flight, growth, and Density Increase. 

 

SD activates his Flight (instantly) and soars skyward.  He turns off his Flight and activates his Growth (also instantly).  As he drops earthward, he wonders if he has the mass needed to crush completely through the deck and the hull below.  Why take chances?  He turns on his DI.  Instantly. 

 

Nobody has a problem with this. 

 

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Don't get me wrong: I'm pretty much convinced by your overall argument. I love it in fact.

 

 

Thank you; that's kind of you to say. 

 

 

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But there ought to be some limitations on the instant change part of shapeshifting. 

 

Assuming you are talking about the way we used to have to do it-- the way I still dot  there is no need because it is already limited: it is not a power.  It does absolutely nothing.  It is a special effect for some _actual power_ that is limited by its own build and rules desription. 

 

What's the _game mechanic difference_ between I punch him, my fist glowing with the power of my additional +4 hand to hand attack. 

 

And I turn into a gorilla and lay one on him? 

 

None.  Only the special effect.   And we don't charge for those. 

 

 

 

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Of course, those are campaign limitations that the GM ought to define anyway. But I'm not very experienced in these sorts of builds, so I'm not too sure how "unbalancing" it might be in HERO. 

 

The only time you have issues is if you are an over-builder:

 

Someone turns into a mouse as SFX for Shrinking and you insist that he can't be a mouse because he doesn't also have Climbing Skill. 

 

The problem comes when you demand someone pay for every potential ability that you personally can justify that animal having.  He doesn't need them.  Being a horse is his special effect for using his breath strength and running to carry a wounded comrade to safety.  He doesn't need Leaping just because horses can leap.  I mean, they don't talk or think like people either, but few GMs will require you lose those abilities just because you're a horse, so why does he need to by "wiggle skin at will to shake off house flies" to be a horse? 

 

He doesn't.  Being a horse is the sfx for being strong and fast.  Period. 

 

Being instantly able to change shape is exactly as balanced or unbalanced as being instantly able to activate the particular power he is using, period. 

 

So try this: Entangle, no range. 

 

I touch him and freeze him in a block of ice. 

Vines sprout from my finger tips and wrap him securely. 

I draw the Earth from  beneath his feet and it rises and traps him.

I use my stretching Power to enlarge my hand and wrap him up. 

I turn into a giant python and wrap him up. 

 

 

Why the Hell is one of these just automatically wrong? 

 

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15 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

You asked for it, my friend.  Please forgive me for doing it this way, but I actually have a "standardize rant" on this subject that I just save and re-paste as needed.  I really didn't want to do that to you, but it's stupidly late here, and I've got to go to work in the morning.  I hope you can forgive this, or at least excuse it long enough for me to have time to think up an all-new rant on this topic.   :lol:

 

I am well acquainted with your views and your standardized rant, and largely agree.  :) I am wondering what else we can do, though.  (I am an inveterate system tinker... hey, that could be contracted to "s'tinker"!  S'tinkers of the world unite!)

 

If we look at a number of different combinations of Skill and Power (for a learned ability and "super skill" or just improved version), we can see some pairings.  Climbing and Clinging,  Stealth/Concealment and Invisibility, Lockpicking and Tunneling.  A reasonable pairing for changing one's appearance and physical form could be Disguise/Contortionist/Mimicry and Shapeshift, but I fully agree with you that the Shapeshift vs. senses is unsatisfying and unsatisfactory.  

 

The reason we have three different Powers (Shapeshift, Multiform, and Transform) is that somewhere along the way, it was decided that (a) at least one Power was required to do some or all of this, and (b) Transform shouldn't work on the self.  I just wanted to take a closer look at Transform and ask, why not?  We allow Transform to change one's own clothes to replicate earlier editions' Instant Change, and the best way I've seen to do a "mind swap" Power is Transform, with a Side Effects: Transform that affects the self.  

 

Transform also has a number of limiting factors: differing costs for different degrees of Transform; increasing costs to permit additional targets and results; built in limiting factors on the result (total point value) and ways to increase that; and the use of BODY as a factor in either a slow change or all at once.  

 

Multipower with "only in form X" would have been the way to do it, given 1-3e corebook and Champions II supplement only, but even back then I thought that was okay for a werewolf but not quite for a Mystique-style shifter, and we still had nothing at all for transforming others.  

 

And about the only factor I see keeping us from using Transform on the self is the idea that we should never do that lest we break the game by Unbalancing.  But I don't know that there even exists any data that this could happen.  

 

(N.B.  In the one session so far in which I've played my cartoon ostrich character, I've discovered that in the interaction between Disguise Skill and non-concealable Distinctive Features means that while I can disguise myself as a robed cultist, and anyone seeing me will believe I am a robed cultist, they will see a humanoid ostrich that sounds exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but will 100% accept him as one of them!)

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5 hours ago, Brian Stanfield said:

 

So this was a game breaking element last time I played Pathfinder (the first and last time, actually). A buddy had a character who could transform at will with no time delay. So when we were on a ship that got boarded by pirates, he turned into an eagle and flew as far up as he could, then dove back toward the ship and transformed into a mammoth at the last second, cannon-balling his way through the pirate ship, sinking it, and then simply transforming into a shark until he could get all the drowning pirates, and then transform back to himself to re-board our ship. This took him a couple of turns, and nothing more, and he pretty much single-handedly ended that encounter. 

 

OK, I am going to take the other side of this argument.  Can you provide me with the rules citation under which this tactic was successful?  Not the rule for a druid who can shapechange, nor for whatever combination of feats, spells, traits, racial elements, archetypes or what have you which permitted him to shapechange instantly. 

 

The specific rules under which his tactic was determined to automatically sink the pirate ship.

 

Because it seems to me that a Hero character could use his Flight to dive down onto a pirate ship, then Reserve so that, the moment before impact, he activates his Growth and his Density Increase to crash through the ship.  The GM would then have to adjudicate the results of that action.

 

Just like a Pathfinder GM would have to adjudicate the results in your example.

 

Would the mammoth, in fact, cannonball through the upper and lower decks and through the hull?  Would it do so much damage in its passing that the pirate ship would instantly sink, or would it founder, allowing the pirates a chance to board the enemy ship (which, presumably, they would be in a much bigger hurry to do, with their own ship holed)?  Would it really do so in such a controlled manner than no harm was done to the other ship, to which it is close enough to allow the pirates to board, or would a big chunk of pirate ship ram into the PCs' ship? 

 

I doubt we will find rules for these possibilities in either Hero or Pathfinder.  Please cite the rules in question if I am in error in this regard.

 

I suspect, more likely, that the GM may have decided "that's pretty cool - I will allow it". Or maybe he just let himself get fast-talked by a player with a clever plan and a glib tongue.  But that could happen in either game system.

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21 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

Why the Hell is one of these just automatically wrong? 


I have used this construct for a long time. My issue, as GM, is that players push the envelope always.

 

My players began using the animal forms as ways of fooling folk.  Who would think that a sparrow was a superhero?  What chance does the super-powered lookout have to spot that the oncoming sparrow is Captain Multiform?  SFX of powers have to be obvious to more than one sense, does your construct meet that?  If the sparrow is trapped in a cage can Captain Multiform escape by changing into a rhino?  Or does the cage prevent that happening?  The bars crushing a growing sparrow before the armour and strength of the rhino come into play??

 

playing devil’s advocate simply because these are some of the issues I have had to adjudicate on...

 

Doc

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You make excellent points, as always, Doc, and I do _not_ claim that your concerns are invalid.

 

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:


I have used this construct for a long time. My issue, as GM, is that players push the envelope always.

 

I _do_ maintain, however, that these concerns are not unique for shapeshift-as-special-effect.

 

I have seen very, _very_ few fire-themed characters who have gone out of their way to purchase a power that specifically lets them start fires, controlled or otherwise, of even light a cigarette.  I have seen only _one_ in forty years that bought Change Environment to be able to use his fire powers to use himself as a sort of torch-- lighting up dark areas.

 

Now I _have_ seen GMs that allow this (for the most part, I am one of them.  Not always, but usually).  I have let "Chick with ice powers" use her powers to lower another character's core temperature enough to slow their "rate of death" while being transported for medical care.  This was _nowhere_ on the character sheet, but I allowed it.

 

I have _also_ seen GMs who flat-out _won't_ allow it: You didn't build it; you didn't buy it; you can't do it.  Honestly, I have seen a massive upswing in this sort of GM since the addition of the "Power tricks" Skill (I was one of the opponents of that, because I kept thinking "a lot of people are going to get shafted on really novel ideas because they didn't buy this Skill, even though it's something we used to just _let_ people do").

 

And there are camps everywhere in between:  Do you have Power Skill?  Okay, then I will let you try this.

 

Or (with or without Power Skill): okay, you can do it this time, but I want you to put at least one EP per session toward buying a more specifically-tailored power to do it if you ever want to do it again.

 

All those things.  I'm willing to be you have, too.

 

They are _all_ completely correct.  Some are more permissive; some more exclusionist; some more compromise-oriented (I can't say "compromising" with a straight face anymore)-- you know you have made a perfect compromise when everyone is equally unhappy. ;)    But they are all correct.  It's up to the sort of game you want to run.

 

 

 

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

My players began using the animal forms as ways of fooling folk.  Who would think that a sparrow was a superhero?

 

 

So what sort of GM are you?  Can Fire Guy light a cigar?  Can The Electrocutioner use his abilities as an ersatz defibrillator?  Can what-was-her-name-with-the-alien-choker-that-gave-her-sonic-powers use her super scream to match some sort of resonance pattern and solve a unique puzzle?  Can Spiderman use his webbing to make a parachute and jump from a plane?

 

Doesn't matter if you need power skill or not, or if you allow it every time or not-- it's a matter of if you _would_ allow, at least _once_, under ridiculously extenuating circumstances-- is there a set of circumstances under which you see yourself allowing it?  Or is it a straight up "no?"  You didn't buy it; you don't have it.

 

Odds are you have "yes-ed" at least once to something and you have "no-ed" at least once to something similar.

 

And none of these involve shape shifting.  You still have to make a judgement call; you still have to deal with players being creative--  I don't say "sneaky" or "sly" because I don't think the majority of it is intentionally trying to "get something for free;"  I suspect the bulk of it is creative people trying to find a solution with the tools they have at hand.  But because of that, you are going to have to make these judgment calls _all the time_.  That's why GM is a vital role:  you are not just "the guy who knows the rules best" or "the guy who tells cool stories," but also the guy who has to decide how far is too far; what's plausible and what isn't-- and more importantly, to what degree, how often, and why.  Adding a special power specifically to be seen / heard / felt /tasted / smelled as a certain thing is _not_ going to change that, particularly when there are _still_ ways to demonstrate that this shape shift is _not_ actually a perfect "turned into something."

 

I am going to assume that changing shapes doesn't come up in every single campaign you're involved in.  Are those campaigns without shapeshifting completely free of the GM making judgment calls on the actions or suggestions of clever players?

 

 

 

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

What chance does the super-powered lookout have to spot that the oncoming sparrow is Captain Multiform?

 

What chance does the research time at Gamma Research Tech have to identify that the Hulk is actually Bruce Banner?   I think you may have switched gears here and moved directly to Multiform, in which case there is _zero_ chance, unless the observer is aware quite specifically that the good Captain has these two specific forms.  The Multiform rules specifically state that you become something / someone else.  You don't look / taste / sound / feel / smell like someone or something else; you actually _are_ something else.  Much like my chance to determine that an actual dog is not an actual dog is _zero_ because an actual dog _is_ an _actual dog_.  Multiform does that.

 

But to cover all the bases-- modern shape shift does _not_ do that.  So your odds are going to depend on what your PER modifiers are, what the simulated shape shift penalty modifiers are, and what senses you are using to detect and if they have bought an appropriate simulated shape shift to deceive that sense-- or at least apply some penalties to it.  Or roll a 3 on a PER check with pretty much _any_ sense.  Whatever.

 

 

And third base (yay!  I'm boobies!  :D   )  

 

If you're doing it old-school, unless you bought Disguise or Stealth or Concealment or even-- perhaps with a penalty-- Acting, well....   You are going to be a sparrow, but you are going to be an obvious "what the hell is wrong with that sparrow?!" kind of sparrow.  

 

Look at it this way:  I am using Flight and I want to be a sparrow.  Poof!  I'm a sparrow.  PER checks to find me are unchanged from when I was a person.  

 

I am using Shrinking and I want to be a sparrow.  PER checks are modified by my Shrinking.  I can't fly.

 

Wait-- I am using Flight and Shrinking, and I want to be a sparrow.  I am now flying around, with PER checks against me modified by my shrinking, but if I _am_ spotted, there's going to be "something not quite right here."  So I add Disguise (the way we used to build the Mystique clones, and Chameleon clones, way back when-- or now, if you're me) and maybe Acting?  maybe just a KS: habits of sparrows."  Actually, I like that a lot.  Now I've got some skill rolls to, and the odds are good I am going to be a very convincing "just another sparrow."

 

_Again_---  the problem comes from the ideas that grow from over-building.  Just because my special effect for flying is turning into a bird (sorry; I've type 'sparrow' too many times now), that's all it is:  the special effect for flying.  It doesn't _automatically_ give me other abilities that _I don't have_.  (presumably, sparrows do something other than fly and crap on things.)

 

 

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

SFX of powers have to be obvious to more than one sense, does your construct meet that?

 

Using sparrow one more time:  I look like I'm flying.  if you're close enough, I probably _sound_ like I'm flying-- little floopity wing-beats and my heart thumping painfully in my chest while I gasp "Holy *$$%! don't look down!  don't look down!!"  My altitude and my flight speed can be measured.  I...  taste like I am flying?  I probably feel like I am flying, since you'd have to reach really high in order to actually touch me.  How does Superman taste when he's flying?  Or smell?  Sight and possibly sound; that about covers it.  Or if either of us should stop flying directly overhead, you could feel us crash down on top of you (in which case, you better hope it's the sparrow  :lol:   )

 

Let's stop there, because I am pretty certain you already know the answer to this anyway, and while we might be having a lot of fun picking it apart, i'm sure we've already alienated the audience, so we'll just move on and hope they forgive us.   ;)

 

 

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

If the sparrow is trapped in a cage can Captain Multiform escape by changing into a rhino?

 

If Antman is trapped in a cage, can Antman escape by becoming the gigantic version of himself he was in that movie?  (who knew ants got so damned BIG?!)

 

 

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

Or does the cage prevent that happening?  

 

Or does the cage prevent that happening?

 

_That's_ the question.  That is _the_ question.  You are focusing on the special effect and _not_ the mechanic.  if being a different shape makes it harder to visualize, apply the mechanics to something else more comfortable, or just look at the mechanics themselves:

 

If someone who is using Shrinking is trapped in a cage, can they escape it by using Growth?

 

However you answer _that_ question, that's the answer to the situation every single time, no matter what the SFX are.

 

 

2 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

playing devil’s advocate simply because these are some of the issues I have had to adjudicate on...

 

 

 

Oh yes; I totally get that.  And I am perfectly happy to discuss it with you at whatever length you might want, so long as you are willing to accept my time constraints.  

 

As always, it's been a pleasure, Sir.   

 

:)

 

 

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19 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

I suspect, more likely, that the GM may have decided "that's pretty cool - I will allow it". Or maybe he just let himself get fast-talked by a player with a clever plan and a glib tongue.  But that could happen in either game system.

I confess, the guy who did it is an inveterate game-breaker on purpose. He does these things exactly because they break the rules. That’s his MO. The GM didn’t even bother trying to adjudicate anything since it was a one-shot, and I don’t know the rules at all anyway, so it was probably all illegal as hell. I think the GM just washed his hands of that encounter and moved onto the next scene rather than limit the questionable tactics. 

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One more random question RE: disguising oneself through Transform/Shapeshift/Multiform: isn’t it assumed that Powers by default are visible when they are used? The source of all Powers is presumed to be detectable unless an Advantage is taken. I’m too lazy to look he rules up right now, but are they only perceivable while the change happens, or the entire time the Power is . . . I guess “empowered”? Like, would the floppity sparrow have a little penumbral glow around it?

 

I apologize ahead of time for the perhaps obvious question. 

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Shapeshift is always a questionable issue.  It is OBVIOUS your shape has changed.  It is not obvious that your current shape is not your original one.

 

How do the SFX rules come into this.  I would rule that, in Duke's example, there would be obvious SFX like Gar Logan's (Beast Boy) animals all being green.  With Shapeshift the rules for noticing are in the power (and part of Duke's issues with the power).

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1 hour ago, Brian Stanfield said:

One more random question RE: disguising oneself through Transform/Shapeshift/Multiform: isn’t it assumed that Powers by default are visible when they are used? The source of all Powers is presumed to be detectable unless an Advantage is taken. I’m too lazy to look he rules up right now, but are they only perceivable while the change happens, or the entire time the Power is . . . I guess “empowered”? Like, would the floppity sparrow have a little penumbral glow around it?

 

I apologize ahead of time for the perhaps obvious question. 

 

 

no-no; it's a good question, actually, and it goes back to the perceivability of Invisibility.    If I am using my invisibility, shouldn't, by the rules, other people be able to see that I am using my invisibility?   ;)

 

So we can either force-fit things:  They can hear you walking / breathing / brushing your teeth; they can bump into you and _feel_ you're there even when they don't see something there.  They could walk around with their tongues hanging out and bam!  "I smacked into something and bit my tongue!  I taste blood and spandex!  Someone's here!"

 

Those are all rather contrived and forced so as to be able to say "therefore, the rules of perception are satisfied" when in reality it's just us saying "look how clever we are!  We fooled the teacher." ;)

 

The Power being used is Flight.  You can see the bird flying.  Why does he need to glow?  So you can see him glowing while you see him flying?   As I mentioned in reply to Doc above, the power being used is not "disguise: sparrow, 21- " nor is it "Acting: sparrow, 17-," both of which might help anyone seeing you to believe you actually _are_ a sparrow.  Even a Knowledge Skil: sparrow behavior and flight strategies" would really help sell it.   

 

SparrowMan would have the same chances of being seen as a bird as he would if he were a person.  If he also has Shrinking, then he gets modifiers there as well.  Most importantly, is someone actually looking for SparrowMan?  I don't live in a large metropolitan area, but for those of you who do have to wade through throngs of people as a matter of course, do you see each and every person you pass?  Or notice each and every thing in your line of sight?  While I genuinely have no personal experience to draw on, googling up some research suggests the answer is "no."   If someone is actively on the watch for SparrowMan, then they are more likely to pay attention for sparrows.  It's the same way we notice friends across a crowded theater.  If someone doesn't know SparrowMan is about, then what are the odds they are looking for sparrows?  Yes; there is validity here, but in the same way that "I breathe fire.  I did not buy the power "set wooden ship on fire," but is it something I can do?" has validity.  You have to make the judgement call.  Is the guy watching for the Flash going to be particularly mindful of Barry Allen?  Your call, and that only involves a half-mask-- no shapeshifting at all.

 

For me, just because you fly and have the body of a sparrow doesn't mean that you know how to act like a sparrow or go about sparrowing in a perfectly sparrow-like way.  As I mentioned, there's nothing wrong with the villain going "what the hell is wrong with that bird?" or "why is it pink?"  Presumably, when you are spotted against an unmodified roll (which is to say that being a sparrow doesn't affect someone's PER to notice you or to recognize you any differently than in human form, with dramatically-appropriate rationale:   not "It's Sparrowman!" as much as "That bird is acting 'wrong' for a bird and has captured my attention.  Holy smokes!  I think it's SparrowMan!"

 

There's nothing wrong with that.  It's up to the player to minimize this via the builds available to him:  he can be a Sparrow by selecting _any_ appropriate power, such as Flight, or Shrinking," "lays eggs,"or "Disguise as a Power," or anything you and he agree could be appropriate,  but the only things in play are the character and the mechanics of those powers he is actually _using_.  If for some reason-- let's say he wants to save END or something, he has decided "Flight is enough!" and he sails off, then he will not the mass or PER modifiers he would have if he had turned on Shrinking, meaning that he will stand out amongst sparrows (no Shrinking-based PER modifiers to those who might see him) and he will utterly _wreck_ a clothesline (no mass reduction from his Shrinking).

 

Now to be fair, I don't think there has ever been an official HERO shape shifter, at least not from the early days, I can point to.  I have an unofficial one, but it's from Steve Peterson, so I am inclined to allow it.  It's from Different Worlds Magazine, issue 30, published in 1983; I acquired a copy just a few days ago (anyone keeping up with my attempt at cataloguing may have noticed when it went up).  The article writes up the Teen Titans for three different then-popular superhero games.  CHANGELING!  That was the name of the kid my player was trying to emulate way back when-- Changeling!

 

I don't think it's in violation of Fair Use (that doesn't cover what most people _think_ it does, but I have taken the liberty of making a lo-rez scan and cropping it just to his entry.

 

I can't get it to post in this post, but you can view it here:

 

https://drive.google.com/open?id=17vsVRhoXu4voqIj32aZCyuRIi7dw2ttm

 

 

I was quite delighted to note that it was done by putting various powers into a multipower with the limitation "only reasonable creatures."  His lack of "disguise" skill (which did exist in the second edition, which "Endurance Battery" suggests is the rules set for this write up) might be why all his shapes were grey.  (green?  Probably green.  He's green on the cover.)

 

 

Anyway, I see Doc has posted, and I want to see what he had to say before I log off for a bit, so good by for now, Gentlemen.

 

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33 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

Shapeshift is always a questionable issue.  It is OBVIOUS your shape has changed.  It is not obvious that your current shape is not your original one.

 

RAW says

 

Body-Affecting Powers and Size Powers are Obvious.Their Obvious nature is represented by how thePower physically affects the user: he becomes taller or shorter, changes shape, Duplicates, grows some Extra Limbs, Stretches part of his body, or the like. They typically don’t have Obvious perceivable manifestations such as glowing lights,


odd sounds, or the like.

 

So I think it is obvious when his shape changes, but not that he shape-shifted five minutes ago, just as we cannot see whether Giant is always that big unless we see him grow or shrink.

 

35 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

How do the SFX rules come into this.  I would rule that, in Duke's example, there would be obvious SFX like Gar Logan's (Beast Boy) animals all being green.  With Shapeshift the rules for noticing are in the power (and part of Duke's issues with the power).

 

I would classify Gar (and he has been Beast Boy and Changeling in his career) as having Distinctive Features:  Green, which he cannot Easily Conceal with shapeshifting.

 

21 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

no-no; it's a good question, actually, and it goes back to the perceivability of Invisibility.    If I am using my invisibility, shouldn't, by the rules, other people be able to see that I am using my invisibility?   ;)

 

6e tells us

 

Invisibility is an exception to the general rules about the perceivability of Powers (6E1 124). It should be considered Invisible to all Sense Groups it affects, and the ability of characters to perceive an Invisible character with other Senses is governed by the rules below.

 

Which is pretty much common sense - if turning invisible made you glow and emit a piercing whistle, its cost should be a lot lower.

 

21 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

For me, just because you fly and have the body of a sparrow doesn't mean that you know how to act like a sparrow or go about sparrowing in a perfectly sparrow-like way.  As I mentioned, there's nothing wrong with the villain going "what the hell is wrong with that bird?" or "why is it pink?"  Presumably, when you are spotted against an unmodified roll (which is to say that being a sparrow doesn't affect someone's PER to notice you or to recognize you any differently than in human form, with dramatically-appropriate rationale:   not "It's Sparrowman!" as much as "That bird is acting 'wrong' for a bird and has captured my attention.  Holy smokes!  I think it's SparrowMan!"

 

I don't think the average bird viewer is likely to notice anything but extreme "not like a bird" behaviour.  Same as Barry Allen or Clark Kent are not obviously superheroes.

 

21 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

I was quite delighted to note that it was done by putting various powers into a multipower with the limitation "only reasonable creatures."  His lack of "disguise" skill (which did exist in the second edition, which "Endurance Battery" suggests is the rules set for this write up) might be why all his shapes were grey.  (green?  Probably green.  He's green on the cover.)

 

I remember that issue as well.  I think his colour is his Unusual Looks, not any inability to look like the animal he shifted into  But pick a green animal if you want to be inconspicuous.

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On 3/20/2020 at 10:07 PM, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

Ah!  Yes; I see.  Thank you for the clarification.

 

I apologize in advance for what you have just cut the straps on.  ;)*

 

 

Loaded question, Sir, but I suspect you already knew that. ;)

 

So let me answer it as objectively as I can:

 

_mmmmMaybe_....

 

See, the thing is, I-- I, you, Doc, Hugh, LL-- anyone who knows the system, really-- can _easily_ paint you a thousand-and-two pictures  of a game broken by T-form on self.  Hell, we can all paint you a picture of how Energy Blast can break the game!  All you have to do is....  take the controls off of it.   Combine NND and Does BODY.  Make it exempt to damage caps.  Put a freakin' AOE and an auto-reset Trigger and even a couple of Autofires on there for good measure.  That's break the _hell_ out of a game right there.

 

And that's it.  That's the whole thing.  We don't use "T-form (self)" because we don't want to impose limits on T-form.  Ironically, we do it all the time.  Even know, T-form is broken into three district classes (you know: to make it _cheaper_ for a lot of things that are actually _more_ useful than a dead guy, which is still going to cost you 15 /die as a Killing Attack.)

 

But for some reason, when we see T-form (self), we don't see those limits.  We don't see the GM saying "I want a list of what you can and can't T-form into before game time" or "fine, but no more than X AP in your new form" or _any_ sort of ruling or guidance.  What we see is "holy crap!  he can turn himself into anything; have any power; touch any cap--!  We can't allow that!"

 

So do I think it's possible to have T-form (self) and it _not_ break the game?  Sure.  Of course I do.

 

Do I think T-form (self) is just automatically going to break the game?

 

No more than "Power Pool."  Seriously.  Power Pool can do exactly what T-form (self) can do:  it can give you any power, any ability, touch any limit or cap....

 

If you take the controls off.  I don't know any GMs who don't limit pool size right off the bat, and most of them demand some sort of thematic thread running through whatever gets pulled out of the pool.  T-form can do it cheaper (if you wait long enough); Power Pools can do it faster (zero phase change?  No problem.  :)  )

 

Put some heavy borders on T-form (self), and you've got a different sort of Power Pool, and not much else.  So for my money, T-form self is no more broken or dangerous than an unregulated Pool or really, an unregulated anything else.

 

 

 

Why'd you go and do that?  :lol:

 

The only problem with Shapeshift is that it's not valid because it makes you pay for a special effect.  Well that, and you don't actually shift shape: you just convince everyone else that you did.

 

You asked for it, my friend.  Please forgive me for doing it this way, but I actually have a "standardize rant" on this subject that I just save and re-paste as needed.  I really didn't want to do that to you, but it's stupidly late here, and I've got to go to work in the morning.  I hope you can forgive this, or at least excuse it long enough for me to have time to think up an all-new rant on this topic.   :lol:

 

Enjoy:

 

 

First and foremost, I have no idea what edition of HERO / Champions anyone started with.  Most of the membership seems to have started with 3e, but there are few that started with 2e, and a few less (like me) who started with 1e.

 

The problem I have with the new "official shape shift" is twofold:

 

1) there was already something in place that worked extremely well.

 

2) it's not necessary.  You're quantifying and then paying for the quantification of what amounts to a special effect.  I have no idea why this isn't anathema to more people.

 

 

So to get a summary that might start a conversation, let me offer this:

 

Only in Heroic ID. 

 

This is a Power Limitation that I _know_ has been around since 2e, and may have appeared in 1e as well (I really don't remember; I haven't played 1e since I got my first 2e book).  It wasn't in the main book, but was a found in a write-up -- I can't recall if it was a sample of "how to" or an actual character in a supplement; Chris Goodwin could help you with that, if you're interested.  Guy has a mind for details like Hugh does for math. 

 

Anyway, only in HERO ID rather readily becomes "Only in X ID."  pair it with something like Instant Change, and poof!  Shapeshifter.   Seriously.   Had a character way back when who wanted to emulate some comic book guy (I'm not much up on comics; I love Champions, but never got into comics.  Accordingly, my take on superheroes may be a bit skewed.   ) who had the power to turn into various animals but they all had to be green or grey or-- anyway, they were all the wrong color.

 

So how did we do that?  How did we do that in any edition prior to 5e?  

 

Well there was multiform in 4e.  I can't remember where that came from, either.  I want to say it was an old Adventurers Club article, but I could well be wrong.  It could have been Champions III for all I remember-- sorry; when I get tired, my memory gets terrible.  I actually know this answer, and just can't think of it right now.  Not that it's terribly important, of course: the final answer is that Multiform became "officialized" in 4e.

 

Ironically, we didn't really need _that_, either, as it's pretty much Shape shift all over again:  

 

I have a guy who turns into different things!

 

Cool!  A shapeshifter!

 

No; he doesn't shape shift.  He just turns into different things.

 

So he turns into multiple forms?

 

Right.

 

And each form has a different shape?

 

Well sure!

 

Shape shifter.

 

No!  You're not listening to me...!

 

 

 

You see how that goes?   

 

 

Between you and me, I can't help but think that Multiform was implemented to make shape shifting somehow "cheaper," but it bit them in the backside, as it limits the number of shapes into which you can shift.  Perversely, it lets you make a limited number of forms that are extremely powerful, which you may or may not be able to pull off "old school."  You can _certainly_ do it cheaper than new-fangled Shape Shift!

 

 

So...   absolutely no one before 4e made a shape shifter, ever.

 

 

Well that's a damned lie, and I can prove it, because I had several players make shape-shifters even before there was a _third_ edition, let alone a fourth.  Plastic Man is a character I am passingly familiar with, and in the mid-eighties, he had a Saturday morning cartoon, and clones just _kept_ popping up in my games for a while. And of course, person-to-an-arkload-of-animals never really went away completely.

 

 

How where we doing it?   Well that's pretty simple, really:  Only in X ID became "Only in appropriate ID."  Call it "only in Hero ID," if you want, because when he was shifting shapes, well that wasn't as Joey Bagadonuts; that was as the hero!

 

 

 

Let's back up a bit and examine something:

 

When you're building a character, what does it cost to be a normal human male?  Wait--- "Nothing?"  Are you _sure_ about that?  Woah-- seriously?  It really costs _nothing_?  You can just say "okay, my guy's a normal human male, about six-foot two (so Batman can still feel tall), two-hundred sixty pounds, thirty-two years of age, brown hair, green eyes-- you can just _be_ all that, and it costs _nothing_?!  Dude, that is _cool_.  I mean, that's just an awesome game right there!

 

No; wait-- can't fool me!  I've got it now-- what's it cost to be a normal human _female_?   WHAT?!  "Nothing" _AGAIN_?!  No; something can't be right here.  You can be a man or a woman and neither one costs _anything_?

 

Oh!  It's because I said "normal," right?   So what would it cost to be like, a cyborg or something, with like mechanical legs and an electric heart?  Dude, you are LYING to me!  It can't possibly be _NOTHING_!

 

 

All right, how about an _alien_?!  Yeah; I want to be a blue-and-red-skinned alien with like a big shark fin on my head and webbed hands and my eyes on like snake stalks and four arms.  How much does _that_ cost?  Wha-- this is BULL, Man!  That can't be free!  Well how about if I wanted to be a robot?  That, too?!   A mannequin possessed by the tormented soul of a Victorian orphan child killed in a ritual satanic sacrifice?  A multi-dimensional hyper-intelligent barracuda?  How about the _car_ Barracuda?  Hemi-cuda?

 

Dude, how is all that free?!  It doesn't make sense!   Wait?  What's this about "just being?"  So...  'what I am' is just the special effects of 'being'?   That's pretty deep, man...

 

Oh!  How about if I want to be like, really short, like dwarf tall?!  Free?!  

 

Well okay, but in what _way_ am I a female alien cyborg?  No, I mean, like, do I just _look_ like one; do I just _sound_ like one; do I just _feel_ like one; do I---?

 

I "just am?"  So there's no way that someone is going to look at me or put me under a magnifying glass or examine my nostril leavings and go "Oh, wait!  It's just a guy in female alien cyborg suit---- WAIT!  What if I wanted to be a _black guy?_!  That's got to cost, right?   Are you _kidding_ me?!  So I can just _say_ that I am something, and I _am_ that thing?!

 

 

All right.  I think that horse is as dead as it's going to get. 

 

Now let's look at that in the context of powers:  If I have -- forgive me if you started with 6e; I don't use much 6e terminology as I didn't start with and don't really use it-- Energy Blast.

 

If I say "It's fire from my hands," then it's fire from my hands, period.  No other player will question it; no GM will question it.  It _is_ fire, period.

 

If I say "it's fire from a flame thrower," the exact same thing happens:  it just _is_, and it is because I said it is.  If I say it's gun or a taser or a lightning bolt, that's what it _is_, period, and no sense-- not even the special ones-- is going to determine that it is anything else, because that's the special effect I have chosen.

 

 

Now let's say that I have a gun that shoots poison-- liquid poison, directly into someone's eyes?  I build it as a Linked attack: it does damage, and it has a Flash Attack, and possibly even a Transform: sighted to blind-- all rolled into one.  No one will for a moment doubt that that gun is real, because that gun _is_ real.  It's the special effect for that attack:  I whip out my "what the hell kind of sick twisted person invented something like this?!" gun and I start doing evil things to every person I can see.  It's valid, because it's the real special effect for my power.

 

 

Now suppose my character is an alien snake man who "just do" this thing:  maybe he's got little ducts in his teeth and he just spits a venom that does damage, contains a flash and does Transform: sighted to blind.  Who doubts that he-- my character, the alien snake man-- is a real alien snake man?  No matter what "sense group" I probe with, the result is always going to be "alien snake man who isn't a cyborg or a guy dressed up like an alien snake man," right?

 

 

Now suppose I have that _identical_ power, but my special effect is that I turn into a spitting cobra to do it?

 

 

Suddenly there's a problem?  Suddenly I _look_ like a spitting cobra, but I smell / feel / taste / sound like a six-foot-two two-hundred-forty pound normal human _camoflagued_ as a spitting cobra?

 

What the heck, Man?

 

It's ridiculous.  You are not only being required to pay for a special effect, you are being required to pay _multiple times_ for a special effect: you want to appeal to all eleven possible HERO System senses, right?   _all_ of them!  Not just sight, but infrared sight, too!  It would suck to _look_ like a snake, only to show up in IR scans as a rather large guy in his late thirties.....

 

So how did we handle shape shift before "the rules finally allowed it?"

 

Just like that:  it was the special effect for your powers, period.  We could get creative:  if we wanted to "lock out" certain things and "lock in" certain things, "Only in appropriate form." You know:  Only in Heroic ID.   Animal guy (I swear, I _think_ he called himself "Animan," so that we wouldn't realize he was ripping off "Manimal" from the then-popular TV show) had a laundry list of powers, all bought with the limitation "only in appropriate form."  Seriously:  a list of powers and bonuses to his Characteristics, all with that limitation.  If he wanted to fly, he turned into something that could fly.  If he wanted to fly and have excellent perception, he turned into something like that-- a hawk or something: Flight and +4 PER (sight) and telescopic sight (x100), but he had to be a winged raptor of some variety.

 

If he wanted to be strong, he could turn into an ox.  If he wanted to be strong and have a manipulable appendage-- Gorilla!  Or an elephant...  Bonus!  As an elephant, he could use that +4 PER (Hearing) he has listed for "only in appropriate form".   He could be a cow, a dinosaur, a mule-- whatever he wanted, so long as it was appropriate to the power or powers he was wanting to use at that time.  More PD and Shrinking?  Tortoise!  (no bonus to his movement, though).   Ultimate move-through?  Cheetah, launching itself into the air and becoming a buffalo!

 

 

All that with a handful of powers.  Strangely, cheaper-- way cheaper-- than just having four or five multi forms, and _better_, too, because he had _unlimited_ forms!  UN-STINKIN'-LIMITED!  

 

 

And he _was_ those things, because "just being" those things was his special effect, and there was no "versus this off-the-wall sensory concoction reveals that you're an old Brittish sketch comic in a dress and bad wig" nonsense that the current pile that Shape Shift is.

 

Suppose we had that, back in the old 250-point superhero days (which I still play, incidentally)?  By the time you bought _all_ of your shape shifts and a metric boatload of modifiers to use against your opponent's PER, -- well, you actually _couldn't_, because getting it nearly fool-proof would cost you more points than you actually had at your disposal, and there'd be nothing left to actually buy _useful, functioning_ powers with!

 

Note that, and note it well:  No matter _how_ much you spend on your Shape Shift under the 5e / 6e rules, you will never actually _be_ the thing.  You will always look / smell / taste / feel / sound like the thing, but never actually _be_ the thing.  There are many, many board members who will tell you that "it's the same," but it is _not_ the same, at least not if you are playing by the rules, _because_ ---

 

if anyone examining you rolls a natural 3, you're still a female alien cyborg trying to pass yourself off as a designer coffee table.  Amusingly enough, though, by the rules, they will _never_ disprove that you're a female alien cyborg, even if you're actually a middle-aged fat guy string around a table with his friends and some dice, and they will never disprove that because that was the special effect that you chose for "just existing" in the game world.

 

 

Shape shift is _nothing_, and I mean _nothing_ but a special effect for something else.  At no point in my gaming career (started mid-seventies, with the rest of us old fat guys) have I, in _any_ game system or any character conception, seen "Shape Shift" be the means to its own end: it was _always_ an enabling device for something else, _always_.   And what do we call enabling devices for skills and powers in the HERO System?

 

 

Special Effects.  They are completely _real_ in game terms, and they are completely _free_.

 

 

 

Honestly, today-- I mean right up through 6e, if I didn't already have a thirty-year "only in appropriate form" habit, I'd do it with Power Pool  and be done with it.  The only draw back to that approach is that there wouldn't be a laundry list of "pre-boughts" already written out on the C-sheet.  Sure, I could request them, but I'm not likely to change at this point.

 

 

 

 

 

Yep, and nothing.  It's a matter of perspective:  Oh!  T-form can give you powers you don't have!"

 

So can Power Pool, and no one bats an eye.

 

It's all about where you put your controls.

 

Good night, All.

 

Than what is the cost of the power to effortlessly obscure your identity and/or commandeer another one? You're saying Mystique's power is all just the special effect of her "being."? Just because her nature is that she changes her appearance into anything she desires, it should be free because it's just special effects?

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8 minutes ago, Shoug said:

Than what is the cost of the power to effortlessly obscure your identity and/or commandeer another one? You're saying Mystique's power is all just the special effect of her "being."? Just because her nature is that she changes her appearance into anything she desires, it should be free because it's just special effects?

 

I think it all breaks along utility lines.

 

If you are shapeshifting like Fariik the Magician on the Arabian Knights cartoon "Strength of an ELEPHANT!" simply to gain a strength boost (not to walk around like an elephant to fool folk) then you are looking at that shapeshift being purely SFX.

 

If you are shapeshifting like Mystique, who is really doing a super-powered version of disguise then you are looking at the shapeshift being a power.  Another example is Odo from DS9 who shifts into chairs etc and snoops on people, is again a power that you want to pay for.

 

It is all down to the HERO fundamentals of what are you trying to achieve mechanically - you buy that and pay for it, then wrap SFX round it.  You can sometimes flex those SFX to achieve other things but that should be less effective either in impact or in how long you can do it than buying the power outright.

 

So Farik and Mystique both change into an elephant.  Both look like an elephant but Fariq has the strength to push down that tree while Mystique does not.  However, I would say that Fariq will have more tell-tales that he is not an elephant to anyone that looks at him than Mystique and be less able to use the form to sneak into the zoo...

 

Doc

 

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49 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

What Doc said.  Mystique's power is Disguise.  Or rather, her "power" is the special effects of Disguise. 

 

 

 

I liken the use of Shapeshift to how people use Invisibility to be a super-powered version of stealth.

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On 3/22/2020 at 12:55 PM, Doc Democracy said:

Shapeshift is always a questionable issue.  It is OBVIOUS your shape has changed.  It is not obvious that your current shape is not your original one.

 

This always makes me think of that scene in Ghostbusters when they're scanning Rick Moranis, and on the video screen it shows his aura as one of Zuhl's demon dogs instead. 

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Duke, I'm just now getting to this thread and after reading your reply, I laughed (not at you). You were so animated there. Please don't hold back your feelings. ;) I agree in large with you and am (and have been) giving consideration to Shape Shift myself. Never liked that way it's built with it's PER-based version - it's a power, not a skill-vs-skill roll! I have to ask: how long did that take to write out? Must've been awhile. 

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You'd think so, but not really.  Fifteen, twenty minutes tops. 

 

I type quickly, and I've had years to proof it for typos (seriously: it really is a cut and paste.  I need to work the "as SFX for Disguise" aspect of it one day....) 

 

I keep it not because I don't want to type it again, but to remind myself that it's possible to be passionate and still civil.  ;)

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