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Shapeshift, Transform, and You


Chris Goodwin
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Yes! Thank you!  The bit about growth momentum is why I pray there is never a 7th Edition Hero.  It appears that some may have been traumatized by mini-maxers,  or have fallen in love with the villains carefully planned traps, but as has been said, no plan survives contact with the enemy. As a GM, I accept I am but one brain in competition with 5-6 other brains at the table, I am going to lose, and I am okay with that. Take your game seriously, but don’t take it personally.

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First and foremost, I want to remind you and everyone else who might still be tagging along (we'll have to quit soon: traditionally, by page four, the threads become too philosophical and game-theory to be any actual use when discussing a particular mechanic and / SFX)  one more time that I am _not_ attempting to single you out, pick on you, shout you down, or any of that stuff right there.

 

All I want to do is answer your questions. The other quotes are because different people used different words and examples, and maybe something they said will be more helpful to you than something I said. ;)  

 

I _do_ want to answer your questions, as best I am able, and as time permits, because this has been a personal crusade of mine since Shape Shift (this, and Growth Momentum, but that's not really for right here) since it showed up in Campions III.

 

 

That being said, let's move on:

 

On March 24, 2020 at 5:52 AM, Shoug said:

Than what is the cost of the power to effortlessly obscure your identity and/or commandeer another one?

 

The cost of of whatever skill or power allows you to do that, obviously.  There are Skills for it, and Skills-as-Powers has been a valid concept since day one, if not formalized until more recent iterations.

 

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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?

 

No.  

 

I am not talking about Mystique's _POWER_ at all.  I think that's where the difficulty lies:  HERO is extremely unique in the complete and total divorcing of SFX and mechanics.  I am saying the exact same thing the rule books (All of them, from every single edition) say:  Special Effects are _FREE_.  Period.  _That's_ what I'm saying.  

 

As "Shape Shift," the power in 5, re5, and 6, as presented, _is nothing more than a special effect_, but this time you have to pay for it.   When has anyone turned into a refrigerator because they wanted to turn into a refrigerator?  Because their ultimate goal was _nothing_ but to be a refrigerator?

 

Never.  There was another goal.  Was it to hide amongst the kitchen appliances?  Was it to create a large void inside themselves in which they could conceal purloined cheeses?  Was it because they wanted to cool off the barley sodas before passing them around in celebration?  It doesn't matter; I bet you dollars-to-dimes it was _never_ "just" to be a refrigerator.  If that's not the purpose of the power, if that isn't the desired mechanic, it's a special effect of something else, why do I have to pay an absolutely _gross_ amount of points to do it, and still have no better odds of success than using mechanics that have existed, unchanged, since the first edition?  I _don't_.  I don't have to do it at all, and I (personally; this is just me talking about the Shape Shift power itself, and not anyone inclined to use it, okay?)-- I find it asinine to assume that I all of a sudden I have to buy this _one_ special effect-- a fallible, foil-able special effect, no less-- to do something I've already been doing for thirty years-- more importantly-- buying a special effect, which the rules have never failed to stipulate are free.

 

But getting back to your Mystique question (which I missed completely the first time through, and I'd like to take a moment to thank Scott, who picked up on it and quoted it, as that's where I saw it.

 

The mystique question was already addressed, way back on page 1 (I think it was 1; might have been 2).  Shapeshift is _extremely_ inappropriate for Mystique, as she doesn't really change shape.  She might change size a bit; I don't know.  But she is always people-oid in shape.   That's Disguise; that's what it does.  Can she do the voices in the source material, or do I just think that because they use a whole different actor in the movies?  If she can do the voices-- Mimicry.

 

Done.

 

Why are these not effective?  They have no more and no less chance of failure than Shape Shift, as written, and even fail on the _exact same mechanic_: it's all about perception: roll a 3 and boom-- six-foot-two white guy, right there.  Or six foot blue woman, if she's pretending to be a 6'2 white guy; I don't know.

 

I'm not the only one thinking this:

 

 

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If you are shapeshifting like Mystique, who is really doing a super-powered version of disguise

 

 

 

In fact, I think you addressed that question above to me, since I started this snowstorm, but you weren't the first person to ask that question:

 

On March 24, 2020 at 9:28 AM, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

On March 24, 2020 at 6:09 AM, Doc Democracy said:

 

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.

 

Here's GB(i) making the exact same Shapeshift / Disguise correlation in the other direction:

 

 

On March 26, 2020 at 1:15 AM, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

Alternatively, buy Shapeshift as a good Disguise roll, then add levels with it that have Limitations like "Only to Disguise Faster" or "Only to cancel bonuses provided by exotic senses". 

 

 

No matter which side of this we are on, no one seems to be able to deny that these two are effectively the same thing.  What makes them the same?

 

Well, one of them lets you disguise yourself as something else.  The other lets you disguise yourself as something else.

 

No; seriously: _read_ the shape shift description: you are paying a _crap ton_ of points to buy Disguise, over and over and over, versus each sense group, then special senses, etc, etc, etc-- but at _no point_ do you _actually_ "become thing thing."   You look / feel / sound / smell / taste like the thing, but you will never _be_ the thing.  How can you get found out?  Why, using the same foils that Disguise has.

 

Fascinating.

 

I would like to point out that in the past when I mentioned that, by the rules of Shapeshift, you never actually _shift shape_, you just fool the senses of any perceiver in the area (like Disguise ;)  ), I have quite often been told "well once you buy all that, you can just assume that you have _become_ the thing, since that is the special effect of this power.

 

Wait a minute?  If I buy a power that specifically states I don't become the thing, I can just assume that my SFX is becoming the thing?  Well why can I _not_ do that with some other power?  SFX are free, right?  The mechanics, per the rules, do _not_ lock me into a particular SFX, right?  (except Shape Shift, which violates the Hell out of that, mostly because it's not a power: it's a special effect that you are paying for, but have to actually apply the special effect on top of the build to make it work right in the first place....    oouuuhh....  wait a minute... I'm getting dizzy......)

 

 

The best thing I can point to is this:

 

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

 

 

If I grabbed the correct one (I _am_ still dizzy, so pardon my if I've messed up), that is Changeling, a shape shifter from Teen Titans.  He was written up in Different Worlds #30, in 1983.  That's the year after the Champions second edition was released (in a lovely box, with dice, maps, and an adventure!  :)   ).  That write up was done by Steve Peterson. Actually, he wrote up all of them (at least the 1983 version) for that magazine.  I don't know if you follow any of the history of the game (Lord Liaden once said I was a frustrated librarian.  If he was wrong, it wasn't by much ;)  ) , but if case you don't, Steve Peterson is the man who wrote the game.  Seriously:  He wrote Champions.  (He and George MacDonald, actually, but I couldn't tell you who was responsible for what.  Scott might be able to; I don't know).  He created the Hero Game System (That's what it was called in the 2e era).  He wrote three editions in total, _none of which_ included Shape Shift.  For what it's worth, 4e was little more than collecting all the 3e stuff and beating it with a large stone until it all worked together, so in effect, he wrote the bulk of that, too.  And still no Shape Shift.

 

Why not?  Seems like an odd omission.  There are lots (I assume, based on the existence of this power in the Long editions) of shape shifters in the comic books.

 

Well being as how he wrote up at least one (There may be others published; there may be who-knows-how-many unpublished at his own table) without it, I'm going to go out on a limb and guess he didn't really think it was necessary.  When you look at the Changeling write-up, he pretty clearly thought Shape Shift was a special effect.

 

I do, too.

 

Funny aside:  I didn't know that write-up existed until about two months ago, when I finally got my hands on a copy of that magazine.  I won't say I felt vindicated, but I _did_ feel like I was in some pretty good company.   :lol:  Glenn Thain (one of Peterson's players and play testers, by all accounts, wrote up the X-Men and Magneto (Magent-o!  Gad, that costume was hideous!), but apparently Mystique wasn't an X-Man then or something, because she's not one the ones listed.  :(   I can't get you any "official" confirmation on Mystique's "Super Disguise," but the concept holds up to reason.

 

 

 

I think Doc gave a nice, succinct explanation of when it's an SFX for Disguise and when it's an SFX for something else:

 

(yes; I quote Doc a lot, even when we don't agree, because he is an astoundingly good sport about such things ;)   )  

 

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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

 

 

 

 

This, though:

 

 

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

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."

 

If this is really the case for you, then Shape Shift isn't right for you any more than Disguise or anything else, because this is exactly who Shape Shift works, as presented.  Seriously:  It's fifty points worth of Disguise, with way less modifiers than you can get for actually just throwing fifty points into Disguise.

 

 

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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.

 

I'd like to say "I don't know where you're getting this."

 

I can't, though, because I _suspect_ it's from reading more into this than is applicable.  Remember:  In HERO, SFX and _mechanics_-- i.e., abilities-- are completely separate.  You will make a lousy fly if you're using that as your SFX for -- I don't know: Clinging:  "Hey, Boss!  That there fly just landed onda winder and broke it!  What gives?"  "Why ain't dat fly makin' no buzzin' sounds?  And, as Hugh points out, "Hey; ain't dere a hero what can become a fly?"

 

If you didn't by _all_ the appropriate things, you've only increased your chances of getting discovered.  If you didn't by Disguise and perhaps Mimicry, if you intend to make sounds, then your chances aren't very good to begin with.  Can someone suddenly "just realize" that there's a hero who can turn into a fly?

 

Good God, Man!  We are postulating people who shoot lasers from their eyes and throw battle ships at one another.  It's a _comic book_.  Of _course_ they can just realize it; that would be just one possible special effect of you blowing your disguise roll-- or not having disguise at all.

 

Let's look at it another way:

 

I remember a silver-clad Captain Marvel in the old TSR Marvel Superheroes game.  She could fly by turning into a beam of light.

 

Do you have a problem with that?  No sarcasm; no antagonism.  Do you take issue with this idea?  There are characters who turn into actual meteors and columns of fire-- not just _ride_ them, but _become_ them-- just to fly.  There are characters who don't have wings who suddenly just sprout them when they leap into the air.  Do you have a problem with those?  All of those things _are_ shape shifting.  They are also _just special effects_.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

Not even close, and not exactly.

 

If you don't have an appropriate way to deceive them, then they will just somehow know that you are not a fly.  They may or may not know that you are shapeshifting ninja (that's up to the GM and the way the story is going at that moment, of course), but you not be able to fool them that you are fly if you don't buy a mechanic that will fool them.

 

Look at this another way:  I buy shape shift!  Now I can turn into a fly (if I make the logical leap that I have bought enough points to ignore the fact that I actually don't turn into a fly, but have to actually just "declare it as so," which I can't accept for any other reason).

 

I look like a fly!

I feel like a fly!

I smell, sound, and taste like a fly!

 

But I can't fly.

I can't cling.

I don't have 360 vision.

I _will_ live more than two days, and that's a definite plus, so I'm not going to complain there.

 

I _just_ look like a fly.

 

How is that better?

 

Second best part?  It cost me half my build points to pull this off.

 

Best part?  If they make their PER roll, I'm not a fly anymore.  I'm a 6'2 white guy.

 

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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.

 

 

That's going to be problematic, because "only in appropriate form" is a valid limitation.  Only in HERO ID; Only in Armored Form; Only as Mr. Hyde, etc, etc.  I don't know how to help you get things to click on that one, but it's a valid limitation.  It's worth -14 to -1/2, depending on what the GM determines to be the relevance to the campaign and the frequency with which you will truly be limited.

 

And why would your STR be cheaper because you were a fly?  A fly is _totally_  _not_ an "appropriate form" to be particularly strong.  Granted, "Hey, Boss!  Dat fly just opened the door and left" would not only be a dead give-way, but hilarious as a departure.   :lol:  

 

Look at the Changeling write-up:  fairly basic stats (for the time; DEX's were almost always inflated in the older editions), then lots of "Plus this" and "plus that."  _Those_ are a bit cheaper (-1/4) and they have the "only in appropriate form" limitation.  (See Doc's "turn into an elephant" examples, above)

 

 

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It only seems logical that there would be some kind of rigorous cost structure to the obfuscation of your identity.

 

There is.  It's Disguise.  The thing you have to pay for ten-times over before you can call it Shape Shift.

 

For what it's worth, this was the comment that lead me to believe that you're sticking point is your own assumptions that changing shape automatically brings other things with it.  It doesn't.  Separation of SFX and Mechanics.  Guy A has fire-based powers.  He has Flight and a fire tornado attack.  Guy 1 Has fire-based powers: he has fireballs and a fire-shield force wall.  (Barrier, if you're a 6e guy).

 

Neither of them got _anything_ automatically because they had fire powers.  They don't even have the same powers.  If you don't assume that "fire powers" means you have certain things, why would you assume "looks like a fly" means you have certain things?

 

Going a bit further:  let's say they're both cyborgs.  What powers do they automatically have?

 

Excellent!  None!  That's absolutely correct.  They don't have anything they didn't buy.  Just because we have always pictured all cyborgs as having two mechanical legs and one mechanical arm and one mechanical eye and usually a chunk of metal somewhere on their head doesn't mean that we are remotely correct  (Why the hell do we do that, anyway?  Steve Austin, maybe?  Jared Synn?  Yeah, probably Jared Synn.....).  Hell, one of those guys might have tank treads and no legs!  Or cannons where _both_ arms used to be!  Who knows?  All we can say for sure is if he didn't buy it, he doesn't have it.

 

Changeling doesn't have Disguise.  Everything he turns into is bright green (thanks, whoever clued me in to that!  ).   Hey Boss!  Dat fly is bright green!  I bet it's dat hero, Changeling!

 

See how that happens?  He didn't buy it; he can't expect to get it.

 

 

 

 

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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."

 

 

Sure.  One could equally logically infer that because it's not mandatory, identity isn't special.

 

On April 12, 2020 at 10:33 PM, Shoug said:

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.

 

Why not?

 

No; seriously.  I'm not baiting or taunting: as I said way up at the top, I want to answer your questions as best I am able, as time permits (which I am running out of now, and have gotten no writing done, so I will have to wrap this up shortly.

 

I genuinely would appreciate an earnest attempt to be the first person to make me understand why this isn't valid.  No: I am _really_ not kidding.  What you look like has always been free; your special effects have always been free.  No one thinks about a teleport that turns you into a bolt of lighting-- completely into a living bolt of lighting-- or a Flight that turns you into a ball of pure fire.  No one (except me) complains about a Summon that lets your feet hop several miles away and your hands carry things to the ends of the earth without the benefit of your eyes showing them what's going on.

 

All that said, I heartily encourage you to explain to me what it is I am missing in the grand scheme of things, and why I cannot declare that my special effect for flight is turning into a bird?

 

 

 

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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.

 

In which case?  That is valid both with the Shape Shift *ahem* Power that is in the Long Editions and it is the case with the way I have been doing for decades now.  I haven't had any trouble with it.  That doesn't mean I _won't_, of course, but I haven't yet-- at least, not any that aren't exactly as likely to pop up with Shape Shift if you _also_ stick to the letter of the rules and note that "the rules don't actually let you shift shape."  If you can bend that rule, why can't you bend the other, particularly when the desired results are _identical_?

 

 

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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.

 

I'm just going to leave this right here:

 

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

 

Yes; you've already seen it.  But it seems to imply that I very much can, since Shape Shift is just special effects.  Would it feel more proper to let me take "appropriate form" and then charge me "variable special effects" because I can do a multitude of forms?  I mean, it doesn't to me, because then it's actually _cheaper_ to just buy everything straight and declare my special effect is that I turn into a bolt of lightning when I do anything.

 

 

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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, 

 

 

Cool.  Someone else who doesn't like Power Pools.  Sweet!

 

Oh, no; wait.  You said something about changing your character.  You don't have to do that with a Power Pool.  Just declare you want it.  Hell, it's actually _cheaper_ that way, as you don't have to buy the individual bits you want to use-- you can do _anything_.....!  And the only concept you need is "I bought this Power Pool....."

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

No; you're reading things into again: you are assuming a flawless disguise _on top of_ the special effects for a particular power.  I'm not sure why-- sincerely; I'm really not sure why-- you can't seem to get away from doing that, but you're reasoning from _special_ effect as opposed to _game_ effect.  It doesn't hold up, and it's not how the system is designed to work.  If you want a _game_ effect, you buy a mechanic, then you can pick any special effect for that mechanic that you want.  Those are the rules, and have been for six-and-a-half editions.  And the Complete book.

 

 

 

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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.

 

uhmmm... 

 

yeah.  That's pretty much what I've been trying to get across for three pages now.  To be fair, that's a bit more extreme than I go  ( I assign penalties, etc, but I like to keep the game moving, so I'm a bit more on-the-fly, if you'll pardon the expression, and just sort of do a "summation modifier" of "everything wrong with this picture" and call it good).  I have had a shapeshifter be just as easy to hit as a hummingbird as he was as a human because he didn't buy Shrinking.  I've also had that same player decide he wanted to simply be a "man-sized hummingbird" so that he could use his STR to carry a wounded a bystander to a hospital.  I allowed it, once, and told him not to make a habit of it-- again, GM call as appropriate to the situation, but clearly _not_ a hummingbird in either case:  Hey, Boss!  Howcum dis hummin' boid is so much easier ta hit den dat udder one?  It's like he don' know how ta be a hummin' boid!  

 

 

 

On April 13, 2020 at 12:52 AM, 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

 

Why?  Isn't that just the mechanic for having a STR30?  Nothing creative about that.  Or does he have a special effect for using his STR?  Most people don't think of that, but the rules allow it.

 

Say that when he uses his full STR, he is surrounded by an aura of flame!  What to get creative?  Perhaps he knows there's an invisible opponent in the barn, and makes a full-STR strike against a dry hay bale.  The GM rules "this is creative enough that I will allow it this one time (ala 'man-sized hummingbird')."  The hay bale begins to smolder, and his speedster companion grabs the bale and races around the barn, filling it with smoke, and suddenly the invisible assailant begins to cough and reveals his position!

 

Now _that_ would be a creative use of his STR.  However, I'm betting he wasn't creative enough to assign a special effect to is STR beyond "Barney hit bad guy!"  Am I right?

 

 

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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. 

 

 

Yeah.  

 

Nobody here is suggesting that, either.

 

At least, not as far as I now.  That's all on you, reading way more into the SFX than is in the mechanics they are attached to.  HERO works the other way around.   ;)

 

 

 

I've gotta run.  I shot my "me time" doing this.  You should feel flattered!  I haven't done anything of this length since the last time I was bantering with Hugh to test my commitment to an idea or two.   :lol:

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

If this is really the case for you, then Shape Shift isn't right for you any more than Disguise or anything else, because this is exactly who Shape Shift works, as presented.  Seriously:  It's fifty points worth of Disguise, with way less modifiers than you can get for actually just throwing fifty points into Disguise.

 

Let me tell you  why I might choose to buy shapeshift rather than disguise.

 

As I said, in my head, it is the super-power version of disguise.  What does that mean?

 

Well, I am a master of disguise.  i can create things that you would not believe are not real.  I can walk into a room and look almost a foot taller and a smidgeon smaller than I am.  I can create materials that will make you believe that I have fur, or scales or a slimy mucoidal skin.  I can create perfumes that will make you believe I really am a musk cat, or lion or antelope.  There are limits though.  My disguise as an antelope will not allow me to have spindly legs.  I might fake that from a distance but not up close.  I need time to do these things and access to special materials.  I may also need access to special equipment or materials that are not cheap.

 

In other words, even at its most super, this is still a skill and still bound by what >might< be achievable.

 

Shapeshift? In seconds I can look, feel and smell like an antelope.  With no access to kit, cash or materials.  It just happens.

 

Can I achieve the same effects using other powers, yes, but I would have limitations on them.  When Fariq changes into an elephant to access his superstrength then it will be only for the time he is using that strength.  I would not allow him to walk about using a tiny fraction of the strength just to look like an elephant.  I might be persuaded to do so if there wa some dramatic tension, if there were limits (like it is not a fraction of his strength, he is using the full END cost the whole time, or something else that added to the tension of the room). 

 

There is a value in using shapeshift over disguise, just like there is a value in using invisibility over stealth.

 

Though I am now wondering whether shapeshift is a version of invisibility.  Both are normally used to go places unnoticed by others...  Hmmm...

 


Doc

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Thank you, Doc! 

 

Let me ask you a question, though:

 

Are you making this distinction ("skinny legs" and such) because shape shift exists? 

 

And, if you are okay with it, several more:

 

 

What were you doing before, and what makes that less valid now?  Is it because there is now something with a more appealing name in spite of still not actually doing the job? 

 

Combat Luck is armor, but everyone just accepts that it's Luck, in spite of it clearly not being Luck.  What constructs are not eligible for this same treatment? 

 

What makes one "versus PER" build more valid than another "versus PER" build, if it's not just because the name inspires you to accept that there is "finally!  _Now_ I can shapeshift!"? 

 

Thank you, Sir, for your general good sportsmanship in this sort of thing. 

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I have not had much call for shapeshifters to be honest.  It is a niche product.  The only one I built (and noone played) was built on a huge multipower in second edition with several pages of "allowed power sets" that corresponded to particular forms.

 

Never got played so never ran into the problem of noticing if a form was real or not.

 

I was pointing out the real difference (to me) between skills and super-powers.  I think it is good for the game to make a distinction.

 

Are you aware of any special-effects man that could achieve something that would make you look like a deer?  At a distance, I'll bet that answer is yes.  Up close and personal, with someone that knows deer?  No chance.

 

Buying a super-power allows you to do stuff normal folk can't.  In a comic, that power is absolute, you become the animal.  In a game?  You need something that gives people a chance.

 

How pissed off would your players be if their stronghold was invaded because Doc Menagerie's minions got in disguised as mosquitoes?  What chance did they have to notice those six were not real among the several thousand flying round as it was Northern Canada in the high Summer?

 

Doc

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I lost track there.  Son came and asked me to implement his first home haircut....

 

.... anyway.  I was saying a game needs a way of determining what is real and what is super powered deception.  We accept perception rolls for invisibility because we don't want it to be absolute.

 

I think Duke's drive to be about focussing first on game effect is right.  If I want to pass investigation by an entymologist that I am a fly, then I use Shapeshift. 

 

For 25 points I can look, feel, sound like anything within my weight-class. Growth, NCC (only for appropriate shapes -1) and Shrinking (same limitation)  means for that extra 25 points, I can assume the shape of anything from  25cm to 4m and 25g to 800kg.

 

When I really got down to building the power, I reckon I could bring it all in at about 35 points. The same as 22 or less in Disguise and MUCH more useful. An incredible feat (optional rules for fantastical campaigns) is -10 to a roll, so that master of disguise would still have 12- on virtually impossible stuff, the power just does it.

 

And just looking at the rules, it says

 

"Other characters cannot make PER rolls to 'percieve through' shape shift [which kind of undermines bits of my argument - why has noone looked at the rules!] or determine that a person is shapeshifters.  They have to detect that Shape Shift is being used in other ways".

 

Hmm. Ground has shifted, huh?

 

Doc

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11 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

 

 

Can I achieve the same effects using other powers, yes, but I would have limitations on them.  When Fariq changes into an elephant to access his superstrength then it will be only for the time he is using that strength.  I would not allow him to walk about using a tiny fraction of the strength just to look like an elephant.  I might be persuaded to do so if there wa some dramatic tension, if there were limits (like it is not a fraction of his strength, he is using the full END cost the whole time, or something else that added to the tension of the room). 

 

So, we did grow up watching the same cartoons. 😆 For those who are uninitiated:

 

Quote

 

There is a value in using shapeshift over disguise, just like there is a value in using invisibility over stealth.

 

Though I am now wondering whether shapeshift is a version of invisibility.  Both are normally used to go places unnoticed by others...  Hmmm...

 

I would say this is so.  A super power superseded a skill in terms of its "thoroughness" of  purpose.  Disguise has to be plausible.  Shapeshift does not.

 

And to continue, if the rules say you cannot perceive the shifter as shifted, with a Perception role, but figure it out by other means, well yeah  Some Northern Canadian Superhero's base is going to have a bad summer. Having to buy ones "human consciousness" back after shifting is kind of against comic book precedent, but the detect by other means does play into the comic tropes.  "Why did that dog run to the radio room?"  "Why is that bird pecking at the morse key?"  "Hey that small  monkey is flipping the switch to the roll up door!"  Behaving "out of character' for the animal, would be how to detect.  But Dr. Brainmelter  probably has psychic detectors all around his hide out, to detect invisible heroes by their brain energy, would also be able to detect a "life form" with Human Brain energy. so there are ways around it.

Two final notes. Mystique first appeared in Ms. Marvel  #16  in 1978.  But she was a re-occurring  villain in Chris Claremont's run of the X-Men for several years.  She can appear as anyone, not anything, so just has a really really high disguise roll (Disguise as power). While Farique is just an Elephant )or any other  animal) with obviously human intelligence.

 

The second Point. In the future, can people please cite the rules for the power on the first page? Please?

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3 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

Hmm. Ground has shifted, huh?

 

The shape of the ground has, at least.  

 

There's a lot of shapeshifting in source material in which one or more senses are left out.  When Mystique shifts into an exact duplicate of General Whoever, no one even has a chance to figure it out, except Wolverine who always seems to be able to smell her.  Plastic Man can change his physical form, but he always has his Plastic Man costume, mask, and flesh colored bits.  To that extent, I can see how the shape change vs. particular senses aspect was derived.  

 

The part I've tripped over, forever, is making "physical form" equal to Shape Shift vs. the Touch Group.  Meaning, if I can change my skin to feel like fur to the touch, I can also change my physical form into that of a furry worm.  

 

I can easily see some shape shift abilities done as super-Disguise, if the shapeshifter has to "get it right".  But in most of the source material I've seen, either the shapeshifter doesn't care (i.e. Plastic Man) or can't be detected except through other senses (dopplegangers, Mystique).  

 

And I too still want the super-power equivalent to Disguise.  (Or Disguise, Mimicry, Contortionist, if the character can change into a worm in order to escape through prison bars.)  

 

Is it worth separating physical form changes from appearance changes?  They're combined in 6th edition Shape Shift, but weren't in 3rd edition (Champions III) and 4th edition.  

 

Or might it be worth implementing a "fringe effect" the way Invisibility does?  Like with the living metal T1000 in Terminator 2.  If you get close enough to him, you have a chance to make a PER roll to tell that something isn't right.  No Fringe Effect would do the same thing it does for Invisibility, to give you Mystique's no-really-you-can't-tell change.  

 

The thing is, the other super-power equivalents to Skills do have ways to overcome.  We don't have Spider-man buy Climbing 22- to represent wall-crawling; we use Clinging.  Clinging can be overcome with sufficient STR.  Stealth and Concealment can be defeated with a sufficiently well made PER Roll; Invisibility takes a different sense, really.  Maybe...

 

11 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

Though I am now wondering whether shapeshift is a version of invisibility.  Both are normally used to go places unnoticed by others...  Hmmm...

 

...this is the way to go?  

 

However, I'm still liking Transform, Self Only.  And Duke, I do see your point about sufficiently high Disguise skill, but it still doesn't -- quite -- work for me for the above reasons.  

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35 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

 

 

However, I'm still liking Transform, Self Only.  And Duke, I do see your point about sufficiently high Disguise skill, but it still doesn't -- quite -- work for me for the above reasons.  

 I do like your cost breakdown for Transform Self.  Try some builds and point costs for suggested advantages and limitations (no Fringe, is probably a good one  to add.)

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5 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

And just looking at the rules, it says

 

"Other characters cannot make PER rolls to 'perceive through' shape shift [which kind of undermines bits of my argument - why has noone looked at the rules!] or determine that a person is shapeshifters.  They have to detect that Shape Shift is being used in other ways".

 

The reason noone else has noticed it is because it's only clearly stated in Champions Complete - It's almost completely hidden in the giant slab-o-text that is HERO System Sixth Edition vol. 1 and isn't in either 4th or 5th editions. Which means that for at least 2 editions, Shape Shift has been treated like Images, No Range, Self Only by pretty much everyone - including me...

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Let's not forget that in the overly-verbose 6e write-up, it even specifically says a character reaching out to examine a shape shifted someone by touch would see a snake, but _feel_ a person.  Perhaps human skin, perhaps cloth (from clothing, presumably) and maybe even a man-shaped man-sized man while seeing a snake.

 

Steven can type out "but not with PER" all he wants, but what Frack are you doing when you reach out to investigate with a sense if it is _NOT_ "using your perception," which per the rules-- the originals and his own-- has a damned roll to determine success or failure.

 

To flashback a bit, Shape Shift is tore up from the floor up.  I suspect because he's trying too damned hard to create a mechanic out of a special effect.

 

 

And that's it for tonight, guys, I'm afraid.  I have lots more, of course, but it's been a brutal, _brutal_ workday, and my heart is on nothing so much as another shower and going to bed.

 

 

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On 3/21/2020 at 4:50 AM, 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).  

 

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.  :) 

Personally, I have no problem with this approach and your logic shows that point wise, all three powers are very well balanced (kudos to HERO).

 

That being said, I really do not care for the fact that you need to beat your own BODY to transform  yourself. It reminds me of Superworld where you needed to buy enough levels in flight to counteract your own size so you could take-off. Also, once you select Severe Transform, what is the maximum value (real cost) you can transform yourself into?  You allude to it in your post above but that point still needs to be clarified. My own conclusion is that Multiform already does what you are trying to recreate and does it better but it is still nice to see a power repurposed to mimic another within a similar cost bracket.

 

As for Shapeshift, the only really issue with it is the wording chosen which led some people to believe the power was not modifying your "shape" (as defined by how you look, sound, feel, smell, etc...) but was modifying how people perceived you. The "versus the Tough Group" clearly exacerbate the confusion. Aside from that, the power works perfectly fine.  

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3 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Let's not forget that in the overly-verbose 6e write-up, it even specifically says a character reaching out to examine a shape shifted someone by touch would see a snake, but _feel_ a person.  Perhaps human skin, perhaps cloth (from clothing, presumably) and maybe even a man-shaped man-sized man while seeing a snake.

 

Steven can type out "but not with PER" all he wants, but what Frack are you doing when you reach out to investigate with a sense if it is _NOT_ "using your perception," which per the rules-- the originals and his own-- has a damned roll to determine success or failure.

 

 

 

 

You seem to misunderstand what is written in the 6E write-up.

 

Rubber-Man can shape-shift to modify how he looks (as perceived by the sight group) but not how he feels (he always feels like rubber). If he shapeshift into an old lady, irrespective of how perceptive you are with your Sight group , you could not use it to "see through" the shapeshift because Rubber-man looks and have the shape of an old lady. A successful, even critical, perception roll using sight would reveal an old lady... because it is precisely how he looks.

 

However, if you shake "her" hand, you might be clued in by how rubbery she feels (using another sense). A perception roll would absolutely be legal and , depending on the special effect, the GM might let you know without even rolling.

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On 4/14/2020 at 10:04 AM, Duke Bushido said:

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:

 

6E does not assume shrinking (or growth) automatically provides growth momentum. You need to buy it separately if it fits the special effect you are after. 

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Quote

Other characters cannot make PER Rolls to “perceive through” Shape Shift, or determine that a person is Shape Shifted. They have to detect that Shape Shift is being used in other ways, such as a PER Roll using a Sense the Shape Shift doesn’t affect (“He looks like Bob... but he sure doesn’t sound like him”).

6e1p279, emphasis mine. 

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4 hours ago, DreadDomain said:

You seem to misunderstand what is written in the 6E write-up.

 

Rubber-Man can shape-shift to modify how he looks (as perceived by the sight group) but not how he feels (he always feels like rubber). If he shapeshift into an old lady, irrespective of how perceptive you are with your Sight group , you could not use it to "see through" the shapeshift because Rubber-man looks and have the shape of an old lady. A successful, even critical, perception roll using sight would reveal an old lady... because it is precisely how he looks.

 

However, if you shake "her" hand, you might be clued in by how rubbery she feels (using another sense). A perception roll would absolutely be legal and , depending on the special effect, the GM might let you know without even rolling.

 

Yup, and for a pretty miniscule addition to the cost, touch will not work either.

 

If you see an old lady and shake her hand, it will look and feel like an old lady.  It would require then some other sense, she might smell of musk cat.

 

I think the sixth edition shape shift does address Duke's issues as to the efficacy of the shape-shift.  Players will want all-encompassing shape-shift, GMs want shifting with an option for players to notice something.  "It is amazing that in every crime scene there is the scent of musk, yet there is no obvious source of the scent"

 

He remains correct that, there are vanishingly few cases where shifting shape is the primary reason for changing shape - it is usually to accomplish something else.  Shape-shift is for the character who has doubled down on this as a schtick.  It can be done, in more limited ways, by other mechanics but this is the premium service.

 

Doc

 

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13 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

He remains correct that, there are vanishingly few cases where shifting shape is the primary reason for changing shape - it is usually to accomplish something else.  Shape-shift is for the character who has doubled down on this as a schtick.  It can be done, in more limited ways, by other mechanics but this is the premium service.

 

Doc

 

But is it an issue? Shapeshifting enables to change shape... well big deal if you are alone in your bedroom. You shapeshift for a reason and that reason usually involve others. Often it involves deception.

 

it's like Flight. The primary reason is not really to fly. It's to go somewhere... or at the very least to prevent you from going down.

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27 minutes ago, DreadDomain said:

But is it an issue? Shapeshifting enables to change shape... well big deal if you are alone in your bedroom. You shapeshift for a reason and that reason usually involve others. Often it involves deception.

 

it's like Flight. The primary reason is not really to fly. It's to go somewhere... or at the very least to prevent you from going down.

 

It is an issue if a GM requires a player to purchase Shape-shift when the shifting is really just SFX.  It is another place where there is a need for conversations.  If the player is going to want to exploit this extensively in game then it is probably appropriate to insist on the shape-shift power or some other method that costs points.  If it is all about how things look and might only rarely be exploited - like using your light blast to light up a room in an emergency - then it can be zero cost as part of the main power (or powers) that do have points bought for.

 

It adds some uncertainty to the application of the rules.  That is always something to be alert to.

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30 minutes ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

It is an issue if a GM requires a player to purchase Shape-shift when the shifting is really just SFX.  It is another place where there is a need for conversations.  If the player is going to want to exploit this extensively in game then it is probably appropriate to insist on the shape-shift power or some other method that costs points.  If it is all about how things look and might only rarely be exploited - like using your light blast to light up a room in an emergency - then it can be zero cost as part of the main power (or powers) that do have points bought for.

 

It adds some uncertainty to the application of the rules.  That is always something to be alert to.

Ok, I get it but I am not sure Shapeshift is anymore problematic than any other powers. Not trying to argue, I understand your point but don't think SS is a special case.

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1 hour ago, DreadDomain said:

Ok, I get it but I am not sure Shapeshift is anymore problematic than any other powers. Not trying to argue, I understand your point but don't think SS is a special case.

 

So, a player comes to you with a character called Animal Man.

 

I want him to be able to turn into an eagle and fly, to turn into an elephant and be strong, to turn into a tiger and claw people.

 

Do you require shape-shift?  Multiform? Or Flight, STR and Killing attack in a three slot multipower that locks each other out? 

 

(though the idea of being able to mix and match two from three and get a griffon or roc or wyvern is attractive...)

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3 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

Yup, and for a pretty miniscule addition to the cost, touch will not work either.

 

If you see an old lady and shake her hand, it will look and feel like an old lady.  It would require then some other sense, she might smell of musk cat.

 

I think the sixth edition shape shift does address Duke's issues as to the efficacy of the shape-shift.  Players will want all-encompassing shape-shift, GMs want shifting with an option for players to notice something.  "It is amazing that in every crime scene there is the scent of musk, yet there is no obvious source of the scent"

 

He remains correct that, there are vanishingly few cases where shifting shape is the primary reason for changing shape - it is usually to accomplish something else.  Shape-shift is for the character who has doubled down on this as a schtick.  It can be done, in more limited ways, by other mechanics but this is the premium service.

 

 

I recall one of Mystique's early X-Men appearances.  Wolverine sees two Nightcrawlers fighting.  He slashes at one without hesitation because the other one smells right.  I don't think there is a more classic shape-shifter than Mystique, and she was missing a sense she could fool.

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14 hours ago, Doc Democracy said:

 

So, a player comes to you with a character called Animal Man.

 

I want him to be able to turn into an eagle and fly, to turn into an elephant and be strong, to turn into a tiger and claw people.

 

Do you require shape-shift?  Multiform? Or Flight, STR and Killing attack in a three slot multipower that locks each other out? 

 

(though the idea of being able to mix and match two from three and get a griffon or roc or wyvern is attractive...)

That's a trick question right? Everyone knows there are no single, definitive answers on how to build a power in HERO :) 

 

More seriously, my knee-jerk reaction is that it is not Shapeshift (or at least not only Shapeshift). Shapeshift clearly stated (emphasis mine) "A character with Shape Shift can change his form as perceived by one or more Sense Groups without altering his powers or other abilities." But what else? When they change into a elephant or an eagle, are they changing size, weight, etc. Does DCV change because of size, do they become easier or more difficult to hit? When the power is not in used (flight, STR, HKA) can they still change (look, smell, feel like) an eagle, an elephant or a tiger? Can it prevent others to recognize them?

If the answer is no to all of these questions, it could be a three slot multipower that locks each other out. If some answers are yes, then it needs a multiform or it needs these individual powers to be only accessible when others are also used (like Shapeshift and Growth).

 

Did that support, that Shapeshift is somewhat more problematic that other powers? I believe not. A similar example could be given where the question is "so, is this a Blast, a RKA or a Drain?" 

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