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Chris Goodwin

Shapeshift, Transform, and You

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The way that I have always seen the Transform \Multiform argument is that they are effectively the same thing. Transform targeted at self would be multiform and multiform UAA (or any of its various forms) would be transform. Shapeshift is effectively a form of multiform that allows one to shift while maintaining the same form.

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2 hours ago, Asperion said:

The way that I have always seen the Transform \Multiform argument is that they are effectively the same thing. Transform targeted at self would be multiform and multiform UAA (or any of its various forms) would be transform. Shapeshift is effectively a form of multiform that allows one to shift while maintaining the same form.

 

Except that it's not. I agree with Duke Bushido on this. Transform *actually* turns you into [whatever]. Multi-form *actually* turns you into [whatever]. Shapeshift only presents the ILLUSION that you have turned into someone or something else. And illusion that, unless you buy every sense group in existence, will always be seen thru eventually.

 

Next time I want to play a shapeshifter, I'm going to use Transform vs Self.

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These are real suggestions, but I still can't help but balk at, "They will always be able to look closely enough at you to find out that you're really just a 6'2" white guy." I think this is fair, you shouldn't be able to just abandon your identity at no cost. Oh, I turn into a fly. Now, because I look like a fly, literally nobody will ever look twice at me. Nobody will be able to tell that I am a dangerous shapeshifting ninja, and all I had to do was declare that I am a fly. I buy all my normal characteristics with "only in appropriate form" and now I can turn into a fly for free *and* all my characteristics are cheaper, because they only work when I'm a fly. It just doesn't make any sense to me. It only seems logical that there would be some kind of rigorous cost structure to the obfuscation of your identity. Logically speaking, one could look at Distinctive Features as an example of the game acknowledging the importance of your identity, by saying that "Having one which is extra memorable is actually so bad it's worth points."

 

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To play the Devil's Advocate, how much does it cost to look like a little old lady?  How much does it cost to look like a cute little 5 yo blond girl?

 

I'd look sideways at "I look like a housefly".  Really?  Yet you have the DCV of a 6'2" human being, take knockback like a 100 kg human being, are perceptible as if you were a 6'2" human being, can't actually fly or cling  to walls - a housefly that just runs along the floor, and pretty fast given those itty bitty legs - and can lift 100 kg.  Seems like a pretty odd character concept to me.

 

But if you paid nothing, expect to receive benefits commensurate with that cost.  "Hey, there's a housefly on the floor.  Ain't there a SuperNinja what can look like a housefly?"

 

If you took DF: Housefly, then expect the world to notice and recognize you - that's what DF does.

 

You wanted all the stealth and infiltration opportunities that logically come along with taking the form of a housefly?  Then you logically spend the points to buy that ability.

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IMO shape change only changes your shape. At the basic level, you don't turn into a fly; you become fly-shaped. Shrinking may allow you to become fly-sized and flight may allow you to fly, but you still don't look like an actual fly.in fact, the difference between you and an actual fly is a Special Effect unique enough to identify that it is actually you. E.g. Beast boy can change his shape and size into any animal, but they are all a very distinctive shade of green.

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Beast Boy was a great example, given that I put up a link to his write up-  that is, his write as done by one of the people who actually created this game. 

 

It's like anything else: you don't have any mechanics you did not buy: if you want to fool someone, add a really, really high Disguise Skill; if you're using a Steve Long edition, then add a really, really high Disguise Skill-as-Power. (same thing, longer explanation). 

 

Remember that things you _dont_ have will work against your disguise:  Shrinking and flight, great.  If you don't have Clinging, you're going to make a very strange fly. 

 

Further, you might consider requiring things like Variable SFX (owls fly silently; house flies do _not_) on everything the character buys, power-wise, if you are looking offset that _massive_ - 1/4 cost savings.  

 

 

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On 3/24/2020 at 2:52 AM, 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?

Yes.  Maybe acting so as to be able to mqintain the persona over a certain time., but yes.

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Transform Versus self seems to be an elegant solution. Especially with the  limitations put on it.  It also blessedly reduces the number of rules in 6e, and forces the specificity into a single power.  Elegant, elegant.

I have been loving this discussion.  Thank you all.

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On April 9, 2020 at 10:48 PM, Shoug said:

, but I still can't help but balk at, "They will always be able to look closely enough at you to find out that you're really just a 6'2" white guy." 

 

 

 

On this we agree completely.

 

The problem is that you spend upwards of fifty points on the new Shape Shift power if you want, and that same exact problem exists.  So why accept that you have to pay it at all?

 

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5 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

On this we agree completely.

 

The problem is that you spend upwards of fifty points on the new Shape Shift power if you want, and that same exact problem exists.  So why accept that you have to pay it at all?

 

Don't get me wrong, I prefer the "It's all just SFX and Identities." way of doing things massively over multiform and shapeshift and whatnot. I'm just wondering what the point value of being able to fool others is. "Disguise" is a perfectly serviceable answer, but "You should be able to look like whatever you want whenever you want, it's all just SFX," is not. The reason somebody could always look closer at you and find out that you're really *not* a fly or a cyborg or whatever to me seems valid, because the idea is that you are only what you are. You aren't whatever you want whenever you want, you have to choose who you're playing as at the start. It can't cost nothing to be able to just... morph into something else such that nobody knows what you are anymore. Like, you can't just say, "I'm a shapeshifter." and then just buy any powers and stuff that you want, because you can always contrive a form that makes the power make sense. That's like... bypassing having a character concept. You're like, "Instead of having a character concept, I'm just gonna buy whatever mechanics I want, and then when I need to use them I will change my character into something that would have those mechanics, and nobody will know that I'm capable of anything else, because no matter how they look at me, I'll convincingly be whatever form I have chosen.

The thing is, I would also be fine with that, if you took everything about those statements at face value. Say you wanted to shapeshift into a fly, so you take shrinking, and say "Only when in appropriate form." and then just become a fly. But I would make that player *roleplay* as a fly if he wanted people looking at him to only see a fly, thus trapping him in fly form for all eternity. And if he wanted to "become a fly, but retain his human consciousness," I would make onlookers see "A fly with human consciousness," at a glance and become wary and suspicious. *But*, I would also allow a kind of "Pretending" roll, something like "Acting" or "Disguise" or both, which allows the player to convince onlookers that his character is something that it is not. Then I would impose modifiers to the pretending rolls based on how well his character sheet at the time resembles the thing he is trying to look like. So, for example, if he turned into a fly but didn't shrink (or lose PD, STR, etc. whatever), I would make him take a modifier so extreme for trying to pretend to be a fly that I wouldn't even allow a crit success. What I'm trying to say is, I would say, "No." But if he pretended to be a fly and also made himself look like one, shrunk, and gained flight, I would make the pretending roll very easy, almost impossible to fail. I don't know, that's one way it could be done.

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If I can become a wolf, those who know me as Chris the Human might not necessarily know me as Chris the Wolf, but I'm always going to be the same wolf.  If I can turn into a different wolf every time, that's qualitatively better than me turning into Chris the Wolf every time, thus worth points.  Plus, I don't think turning into a different wolf necessarily means someone might see through my not-Chris-ness; it would depend on how my power was defined, and how many points I paid for it.  (I would postulate that everyone has an "Everyman" Distinctive Features: Self for zero points.)

 

I'm going to point back at the Skills analogy again.  Climbing is to Clinging as Concealment is to Invisibility as Disguise is to... something.  Regardless of what that "something" is called or how it's defined in game terms.  

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6 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

If I can become a wolf, those who know me as Chris the Human might not necessarily know me as Chris the Wolf, but I'm always going to be the same wolf.  If I can turn into a different wolf every time, that's qualitatively better than me turning into Chris the Wolf every time, thus worth points.  Plus, I don't think turning into a different wolf necessarily means someone might see through my not-Chris-ness; it would depend on how my power was defined, and how many points I paid for it.  (I would postulate that everyone has an "Everyman" Distinctive Features: Self for zero points.)

 

I'm going to point back at the Skills analogy again.  Climbing is to Clinging as Concealment is to Invisibility as Disguise is to... something.  Regardless of what that "something" is called or how it's defined in game terms.  

This is my point exactly. There has to be some sort of point cost for what is essentially "Superpowered disguise." It can't just be... free.

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1 hour ago, Shoug said:

This is my point exactly. There has to be some sort of point cost for what is essentially "Superpowered disguise." It can't just be... free.

I'd say it is, if they paid points for a power. I'd limit disguise to having to  assume the character of another sentient (human) being. Assuming the shape is one thing, being "In character' is another.  As for animals, I'd give it a pass for the player gbeing clever and creative.  Once again Sparrow-man gains valuable reconnaissance for the rest of the team. by birding around the supervilains' fortress.


I much prefer "rewarding creativity" than issuing "Thou shalt nots" to my players.  But then My mean and unpleasantness comes out at the beginning sessions, where I vet the prospective players, and if i feel something is amiss, I decline their participation. (My mean-ness appears in other manifestations, such as using DNPCs and the Authorities but that's often just to entertain myself. )

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19 minutes ago, Scott Ruggels said:

I'd say it is, if they paid points for a power. I'd limit disguise to having to  assume the character of another sentient (human) being. Assuming the shape is one thing, being "In character' is another.  As for animals, I'd give it a pass for the player gbeing clever and creative.  Once again Sparrow-man gains valuable reconnaissance for the rest of the team. by birding around the supervilains' fortress.


I much prefer "rewarding creativity" than issuing "Thou shalt nots" to my players.  But then My mean and unpleasantness comes out at the beginning sessions, where I vet the prospective players, and if i feel something is amiss, I decline their participation. (My mean-ness appears in other manifestations, such as using DNPCs and the Authorities but that's often just to entertain myself. )

I suppose I should consider the 6d6 a character does with his punch a reward for his creativity in using his fists on the enemy... /s

 

I don't really consider, "Guys, we could easily sneak past/hide in plain sight if we were just birds instead of our normal characters. Later, we just turn back into our normal selves + all that useful information." so shrewd that any player deserves to be able to do it without paying for the ability to disguise himself as a bird somehow. 

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5 minutes ago, Shoug said:

I suppose I should consider the 6d6 a character does with his punch a reward for his creativity in using his fists on the enemy... /s

 

I don't really consider, "Guys, we could easily sneak past/hide in plain sight if we were just birds instead of our normal characters. Later, we just turn back into our normal selves + all that useful information." so shrewd that any player deserves to be able to do it without paying for the ability to disguise himself as a bird somehow. 

Well I think a lot of folks are way to hung up on point costs and totals for non combat skills and powers.   For me, the combat is the heart of the game, and Non combat is what gives the combat flavor or context, so I am not tight about. The non combat in my mind has to be dealt with mainly with role play, and clever problem solving, and then get exacting and calculating for the combat. I really dislike stumping the players out of combat, because then the game bogs and people's attention wavers. So yeah, screw it, they figure it out that "birding around" gets them valuable intel and so they do it.

Then the villain sitting in Stronghold tells a cel mate what happened, and maybe they can't do it the same way the next time. Or Doc Destroyer puts up a damage shield around his base that annihilated wildlife and any normal that blunders across it, but then they have a different problem to solve, next time, yes?

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25 minutes ago, Scott Ruggels said:

Well I think a lot of folks are way to hung up on point costs and totals for non combat skills and powers.   For me, the combat is the heart of the game, and Non combat is what gives the combat flavor or context, so I am not tight about. The non combat in my mind has to be dealt with mainly with role play, and clever problem solving, and then get exacting and calculating for the combat. I really dislike stumping the players out of combat, because then the game bogs and people's attention wavers. So yeah, screw it, they figure it out that "birding around" gets them valuable intel and so they do it.

Then the villain sitting in Stronghold tells a cel mate what happened, and maybe they can't do it the same way the next time. Or Doc Destroyer puts up a damage shield around his base that annihilated wildlife and any normal that blunders across it, but then they have a different problem to solve, next time, yes?

I don't think it's fair, if any noncombat abilities have costs at all, that one should just be free. The ability to shapeshift is not unlike a disguise or invisibility or mind control or blahblahblah, etc. Sure, you don't like the fact that noncombat abilities have costs. But the fact of the matter is that they do in fact have costs. And shapeshifting is a powerful noncombat ability and shouldn't be free.

As an aside, I completely disagree that non-combat abilites are given too much credence. In fact, I'd say they're given too little weight. I wish that costs alone could balance combat characters against noncombat characters, such that if somebody in my group got a bug up their butt to utterly slay all evil and took only CV, Defenses, SPD, RKA, they wouldn't make all the psychics and climbers feel like dumb idiots all the time. The points should produce a result that makes everybody glad about their purchases, and giving away flexible noncombat abilites that easily emulate the effects of multiple existing powers to all the Martials is gonna make everybody who bought invisibility or clairsentience feel like a chump for spending all the points the did. "Wait, so your'e telling me I could have just chosen for my character concept to be a completely clear man? It's part of his SFX, his visual appearance is transparency!" /s

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I look at the point costs of the non combat abilities as indications of two things.  Does it round out the character concept, and the amount paid determines how important it is to the player.  The transform self, has a lot of real costs, but with the limitations it can be brought down some, but not as much as disguise and/or acting alone. I am more attentive to character concept and personality, especially in the Session Zero, than I am about total costs. Is this an interesting construct?   My restrictions in my games are less on the points and construction, and more on the type of players I invite to the table.  For me the points are not a goal, but a guideline and a way to balance things out between characters, and a way to calculate combat effectiveness.  (Also I tend to run FH, or occasionally Star Hero rather than Champions, so I am  somewhat averse to the IRS schemes of current Chapions players and GMs.

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5 hours ago, Shoug said:

I suppose I should consider the 6d6 a character does with his punch a reward for his creativity in using his fists on the enemy... /s

 

I'm assume this means you've never had anyone use their STR to something more creative than bop another character. 

 

 

5 hours ago, Shoug said:

 

I don't really consider, "Guys, we could easily sneak past/hide in plain sight if we were just birds instead of our normal characters.

 

 

What does a Secret Identity cost, because I've got players that pull that shtick all the time. " of course, it won't be Batgirl;  I'll be there as Barbara Gordon...." 

 

Si what should I charge them for having a secret identity?

 

 

 

5 hours ago, Shoug said:

disguise himself as a bird somehow. 

 

To do _what_ himself as a bird? 

 

I think there's an answer to that, and it's a boatload cheaper tha than the current Shapeshift (and if I remember correctly, the odds of failure are identical, and even using the same perception--type mechanic!   Makes you wonder why someone might pay fifty and more points to buy a much more expensive and no more effective version of that. 

 

If only I could remember what it was called...    :lol:

 

 

In all seriousness, though, when has changing shape been its own goal in any of your games?   More clearly: when has the purpose of changing shape ever been nothing but assuming a new shape? 

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7 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

" of course, it won't be Batgirl;  I'll be there as Barbara Gordon...." 

then something happens where you have to use abilities which would look suspicious being done by Babs

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12 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

I'm assume this means you've never had anyone use their STR to something more creative than bop another character. 

 

 

 

What does a Secret Identity cost, because I've got players that pull that shtick all the time. " of course, it won't be Batgirl;  I'll be there as Barbara Gordon...." 

 

Si what should I charge them for having a secret identity?

 

 

 

 

To do _what_ himself as a bird? 

 

I think there's an answer to that, and it's a boatload cheaper tha than the current Shapeshift (and if I remember correctly, the odds of failure are identical, and even using the same perception--type mechanic!   Makes you wonder why someone might pay fifty and more points to buy a much more expensive and no more effective version of that. 

 

If only I could remember what it was called...    :lol:

 

 

In all seriousness, though, when has changing shape been its own goal in any of your games?   More clearly: when has the purpose of changing shape ever been nothing but assuming a new shape? 

In the only other game I play, TFT, being able to appear to be a bird is called Glamor and it's an expensive, high level spell. Shapeshifting has never been an everyman ability in any game I've ever played, I don't know why it would be one in Hero.

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It's not.  You have to buy a power.  SFX are free, though: that's _the_ core of HERO, even more than the speed chart: you pay for in-game effects; SFX are free.

 

The sum of your issue with the topic at hand, I expect, is that you are assigning mechanics that you feel are also appropriate to the SFX; that is to say, you are assuming things that aren't there.  That's not how HERO works.  I became a bird doesn't make it a flawless disguise.  I'm still two-hundred-sixty-five pounds and six-foot one if I didn't buy shrinking.  I'm just as easy to hit if I didn't buy Shrinking (or some extra DCV).  I can't act like a bird-- I can't even _sound_ like a convincing bird if I don't have mimicry.  I'm not less obvious unless I've bought some stealth or disguise-- I don't get _anything_ I didn't buy, period.   Yeah-- it comes off a mechanically wiggy that my six-inch bird is the better part of three-hundred pounds and remarkably easy to hit for some reason, but that's HERO:  mechanics are _not_ SFX; SFX do _not_ define mechanics.

 

try this:

 

I have a guy who is eight feet tall.  He just _is_ eight feet tall.  He gets _nothing_ he didn't buy.  He's not stronger than the dwarf next two him who is four feet tall.  He is also no easier nor more difficult to hit than the dwarf next to him.

 

Now I have a guy who is six feet tall, who has bought Growth and Shrinking.  When he his Growth-- a mechanic he paid for-- to become eight feet tall, he also gets a few other things: Strength and such.  When he uses his Shrinking-- a mechanic he paid for-- to become four feet tall, he gets DCV bonuses, etc.

 

Or examine Growth and Shrinking:  How do they work?  Does a person simply have  massive growth spurt?  Does he absorb magic particles from the air around him to swell his mass?  Is it actually just man-shaped energy field that springs into being from an alternate universe, envelops him and mimics his actions as he floats inside it?

 

Yes.  

 

The answer is yes.  You decide. (it's also why I think the 5e (and I don't remember about 6e, and will probably never check) assumption of "growth momentum" was utter crap: it was a case of the mechanic defining the Special Effect: if you had Growth, you _had_ to physically shoot up through the stages.  Yes; you could take a Limitaiton, woo-hoo.  Never had to before, because it never tried to define your SFX before.  If you wanted "growth momentum," you'd buy additional HtH damage dependent on Growth.  It's a _separate_ thing.  But I digress.  Yeah.  It happens.  A lot. ;)   )

 

Back on course, I expect that the issue is you are assigning things to the SFX that you think "just should happen."  In HERO, if he didn't buy it, it _doesn't_ happen.  But getting back to the two guys in question:  What's the price difference between being eight feet all and four feet tall?  No; no growth.  No shrinking.  I just want two characters: straight 10s, no powers, no skills, no improvements at all (well, maybe some nice formal clothes).  What's the cost difference between those two characters?

 

If one is a cyborg, with three mechanical limbs (isn't it always?) and a glowing eye and one is my daughter's school teacher, what's the price difference there?

 

Same thing:  if the answer isn't "zero," you're assigning things to them that they haven't bought.  

 

 

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