Look at Vulnerability and Weakness Disadvantages. That's when it moves from flavor to too powerful as presented. Once again, it all depends on how the GM builds enemies. If he makes frequent use of these two Disads to define them, then Variable becomes extremely powerful. If not, then it's really just flavor.
It is actually IS flavor, then would you have to pay for it? Couldn't you just say you have Ice Control, the then stipulate it is "cold, blue flames of ice?" Just curious about that, as paying for it infers and advantage beyond flavor, and certainly being able to use heat instead/in place of cold would be an advantage sometimes.
There are two separate questions on the table. The first concerns what sort of damage or effect a power has on a foe. An ice slick and a fire blast, mechanically speaking, work exactly the same way - especially if you are using Energy Control as the attack power (rather than say Webs for one and Energy Control for the other). In both cases, the DEFENDER has control over how any resultant damage is applied. Usually this is applied to Fortitude, Reaction, or Composure. Where the attacks vary is in the narrative, rather than the mechanical, realm. A creative player should be able to come up with good explanations for how Fortitude, Reaction, and Composure damage can all be caused by either a fire bolt or an ice slick. They have to narrate how the damage expresses itself, and that matters, but they really have choice. Neither the ice slide or the fire bolt, however, does MORE damage than the other. At most, the different expressions of the power forces the defender to exercise their imaginations more. That's a win-win for everybody, as far as I'm concerned. The ice slide and the fire bolt only do different amounts of damage (or effect) if the defender has a Weakness or a Vulnerability (causing them to lose actual dice on their Resistance roll).
The second question is: why charge anything for a cosmetic effect? Because I don't think it's JUST a cosmetic effect. It CAN, on occasion, have a dramatic in-combat effect (like when there is a Vulnerability or Weakness in play). I think that merits charging a 1D Boost. I don't, however, believe that it is game-changing enough to merit the type of cost you were suggesting. In short, it matters more than nothing, but less than everything. :-)
I get what you're saying, Fly. However, I should point out that I'm not concerned about where the damage come from. I understand the power's damage potential is unaffected by the power's flavor. What I am more concerned about are the defenses the player may choose based on that same flavor, because I feel the flavor of an attack has a great deal to do with how one defends against it. And while you can justify almost any use of a Power, Aptitude or a Resistance to defend from something, the book does say you have to defend with what "makes sense for the situation" (I looked this up to make sure). I interpret that to mean that I cannot, as the target of an attack always choose the defense I want in every situation, because certain attacks affect certain things. For example, I may have 4d Super Strength, but that won't help me against toxic gas in and of itself. Of course, I can get creative with it, and say I rip out a portion of a wall to fan it away or something. In that case, I'm fine with it, I suppose.
But let's look at something where my choices may be more limited, say, a variable effect in which I choose, say, a Sonic burst over my typical explosion. Such an attack sort of mandates that defenders use Composure or Will to defend, among resistances, at least. I would further offer that damage form such an effect would also damage Composure, regardless of what the power is actually supposed to do, because a sonic screech attacks indirectly. I'd have to consider that as a GM, at least.
So, a variable effect -- which I really like as a part of the game -- really can let me tailor my attacks toward my enemy's weakness in some manner (and when I say weakness I don't mean stated vulnerabilities, but rather areas my enemy may not have built as strongly as others). So, it just seems rather Swiss-Army-Knifish to me, and I worry that maybe it will enforce a dependence on a single power for everything. Regardless of how it actually plays out (and I think only playtesting will really settle the question), this whole discussion has given me a greater appreciation for the modular construction of the game as far as builds and applications. Having to mix and match many different powers to get what I want definitely balances the game out well, so I'll have to think twice when it comes to considering combinations of things.
(I STILL think the "1d for each additional Element-Energy type" is a GREAT idea, though, and do intend to use that one--it has some of the advantages of variable, but is limited to what I actually purchase)..
If you do run Variable, let me know how it plays out. I'd be happy to hear my own fears are unfounded. It's a cool idea. I'm just not sure of the balance issues yet.
Hmmm, not sure that I agree with the Sonic Burst example. I get the angle that you're taking and perhaps it has merit, but the example doesn't support your position in my opinion.
A Sonic Burst is a physical attack (in that it is energy passing through the air in the form of a pressure wave) so I think it'd be reasonable for a character to defend with Reflexes if there's obstacles they could leap behind to mitigate the sudden increase in air pressure (or leap behind the attacker if the Sonic attack is omnidirectional). I don't see why you couldn't defend with Fortitude either since it's a physical attack. If you allow someone to roll Fort vs an Electric attack, then rolling Fort vs a Sonic attack is equally (if not more) reasonable.
As long as an attack comes at the character physically, I can't imagine a scenario where Fort, Ref, and Comp aren't all valid defenses.
Not picking on you, I just can't think of how you can force someone to defend with a particular Resistance without getting uber specific on how a particular attack works. Maybe another example would convince me?
---------- Post added at 06:43 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:42 PM ----------
Meant unidirectional, not omnidirectional...too much time spent around mikes!
Dustland pretty much said everything I was gonna say. I can certainly see all three Resistances coming into play with the sonic attack example, and I'm far less finicky than you seem to be about insisting that players defend with particular resistances (or what resistance they subtract their damage from). Again, I insist that they apply a narrative explanation, but other than that - anything goes. You sort of prove my point by coming up with a way that Fortitude could defend against the sonic attack.
The reason I don't like the 1D per element type is that a character like Hawkeye, who has tons of different flavor arrows, comes out WAY MORE expensive than he should, and he really doesn't get a proportional in-game benefit for the cost, given the way that I play the game.
I guess I understand your concerns, given that you are far more strict about mandating how characters can defend. That's fair enough. Given that my play style offers more narrative flexibility, however, I'm sticking to my guns on the way that Variable Effect is priced. We'll just have to agree to disagree. I may, however, include some language suggesting options GMs and groups who have different play styles.
P.S. I have play-tested it, and it works fine - at least for my style of play.
P.P.S. As far as the Super Strength vs. toxic gas - you are missing the obvious defense: a thunderous, Hulk-style hand clap to blow the toxic gas away. :-) [no ripping up materials for fan necessary]
P.P.P.S. Super Strength vs. sonic arrow? I like the Hulk catching the arrow, and suppressing the sonic screech with his clenched fist.
P.P.P.P.S. Hulk vs. sonic arrow #2? Hulk defends with Super Leap, leaping out of the area of effect.
Last edited by Dragonfly; 04-13-2012 at 08:49 PM.
Originally Posted by Dustland
The assumption is that the sonic attack is not a the wave, but the sound assaulting the ears. The correct term might have been sub-sonic, since the idea is to incapacitate via the noise. You really can't dodge a sub sonic sound wave. Even so, let's say I DO try to physically resist being overcome by the wave. What type of damage makes sense? If I set off a fire alarm right next to your ear, you might well cover up in time to avoid losing your hearing, but you're going to be flustered. That's Composure. At least I would think it is.
But then, you guys are telling me I can use ANYTHING to defend no matter what (even though the rules say "it must make sense"). I can also take damage from anywhere I want (unless the power says otherwise). The latter is okay with me. As for the former issue (defenses), if this is true, then indeed, the variable effect is not a huge advantage at all. It's no advantage unless there is a vulnerability on the table somewhere.
So now my concern is this--if I can basically defend ANY WAY I WANT AT ANY TIME, there's really no reason why I shouldn't just create one-trick ponies who never have to worry over their weak areas. After all, I am being told I can use Fort to handle obvious attacks against my coordination (ice slick) and Reaction to leap out of the way of a high-pitched sonic attack intended to unsettle me (Composure).
Shoot an arrow at me? Super Strength (seems like Reaction to slap a moving object, but hey, it's my choice right?)
Gas Attack? Super Strength (I'll clap my hands or wave them REALLY HARD)
Goading me with Presence? My Super Strength scoffs at your petty annoyance!
Ice Slick beneath my feet? I'll bust it with my (you guessed it) Super Strength
Is that a ring of fire around me? I'll fan it out with my hand clap that my, yes, Super Strength gives me.
Eye Beams? Super Strength!
Elaborately disguised Trip Mine? I'll detect by beating it up!
Fighting in low gravity? My Super Strength is stronger than physics!
Okay, I'm going off the deep end here, but it really is disconcerting. Maybe I'm interpreting "defend with what makes sense" a different way. Maybe my players always make sense and I never noticed. Maybe I really don't make sense. All I know is, Variable effect is not that big of an advantage, because it doesn't force the defender to play differently at all. Then again, maybe none of them do.
If I'm creating an attack that attacks the senses directly (so reaction and fortitude should not be able to defend), wouldn't that be something along the lines of a Mental Blast attack? It only damages Composure and Will, cannot be defended by purely physical means, etc...
I actually think most of your examples I would say yes to with proper narrative explainations on the part of the player. Create a pressure wave using Super Strength? Perfectly reasonable to me. Using Super Strength to blow really hard (since presumably your lungs are super strong to-Superman) to put out the flames? Yep. Breaking ice with Super Strength? About as basic as it gets (or leap over the offending ice). Etc. Imagination and flexibility wins!
Presence attack? Well what kind of Presence attack? Did you just try to goad my brick by saying he was a 90lb weakling? Did my brick just throw that car at you? Did you panic and run, giving my brick the satisfaction and ego boost to overcome your silly taunt? Yep.
It all depends on the narrations. I think saying "You can't do x with y EVER" is lacking in imagination. Now if the player can't give me a reasonable excuse for doing something, then doom on him/her.
"But I want to use Super Strength to defend!"
"I don't know, but I have lots of dice in it."
"Well when your brain starts to grunt out a thought, I'd give it a listening to."
I think in a game where you can be taunted into submission, it's easy to wade too deeply in the logic pool
By Jove I think you've got it! Seriously speaking, although you were trying to be extreme, MOST of your examples are perfectly legit as far as I'm concerned.
Originally Posted by honestiago
The gas attack and ring of fire examples are things the Hulk does ALL the time in the comics - and yes, they ARE a function of his Super Strength. I can TOTALLY see Iceman creating an ice slick in front of the Hulk, only to have the Green Goliath stomp the ground and destroy it along with the rest of the city block. If I were reading a comic and saw that I'd say, "That's so freaking cool!" Goading with the Presence attack? I probably wouldn't allow it (GM's call), unless the player comes up with an explanation that I can't think of right now. However, if a high presence villain tried to intimidate the Hulk with a Presence attack, I might allow the Hulk to resist that with Super Strength. How does it make sene? Well, being the strongest one there is should give you some level of confidence. I'd say that the Hulk could stand there for a round, flex all his muscles in a threat display, roar at the top of his lungs, and thus psyche himself OUT of having to bow on one knee before Doctor Doom. Eyebeams? Rip out a chunck of earth and block the eyebeams with it, or - in truly Superman fashion - catch the eyebeam in your hand and walk into it as you press back your assailant! (THAT'S FREAKING COOL!) The arrow? You're right. Batting it out of the way might be more of a Reaction check. My thing with the sonic arrow in the previous post is that I like the the idea of the Hulk or Superman or someone like them suppressing the sonic waves with the power of their clenched fists. Let's reserve that for sonic grenades, which are easier to catch, and rule that Hulk should probably use his Reaction (or Fortitude, or Armor) to overcome the arrow attack.
You are just being extreme with the fighting in low gravity (even though Super Strength in comics IS depicted as being stronger than physics). Beating up the trip mine is purposefully silly too. It doesn't make any narrative sense.
Those two examples aside, however, I think the rest of the situations you describe actually get at precisely how SUPERS! was meant to be played.
Trust me - I struggled with that at first myself. The narrative nature of the game seemed too slippery and imprecise. I've surrendered myself to it, though, and now I recognize that dimension of it as the game's greatest strength.
---------- Post added at 08:28 AM ---------- Previous post was at 08:10 AM ----------
Originally Posted by Dustland
I didn't see your post when I replied to honestiago. I see you beat me to just about everything that I wrote in my last post. I wanted to highlight your dialogue above, however, because it gets at the basic demand that the GM should make of every player. Use whatever you want, but explain how it makes sense. Otherwise, it's a no-go.
BTW, honestiago. Keep in mind that the Hulk can only defend with his Super Strength ONCE per round. Also, if he uses it for defense, he can't use it for attack that round. In my experience, this keeps "brick" types from defending with their Super Strength too often, as it's their primary attack. I mention this because you've mentioned one-trick ponies as a problem. In my experience, one trick ponies tend to be very inflexible and even ineffective in combat. Having a few viable defenses (and even attack powers) is usually a good idea.
I swat away your replies using my (wait for it) SUPER F****ING STRENGTH! :-)
On the pricing thing, 1d for Variable might be about right, but it will let a character really swing things his way if he knows the vulnerability of a character. Speaking of vulnerability, what about this from the movie: [Hawkeye is] the only one who can really take down The Hulk with his tranq tip arrows,"
Read more: http://www.worstpreviews.com/headlin...#ixzz1sFa02bVE
Thanks, movie Avengers...
Now, I know it's sorta bullshit, but how is this gonna work in the game? Assuming I can variable a tranq arrow right in, and that Hulk can defend with anything to stop it, how can a tranq arrow bring him down? I am assuming this would have to be a special device brought along just for the purposes of bringing down the Hulk? What if a player tries to use the whole "creative narration" thing with variable and whips up a tranq arrow? Assuming it gets to Hulk, then what?
My first reaction is that Hawkeye either used "I brought this along" or someone used Super Science to create the tranq arrow and gave it to him. At that point I'd say Paralysis, Webs, Mental Blast (with a limitation that it CAN be resisted physically, it just damages Will or Composure), or my super awesome Lingering Damage power (if it takes a while to bring him down).
Hawkeye has Wizardry, it's renamed and reflavored to Gadgetry, and he uses one of the above powers.
If it's just Hawkeye with Super Weaponry (bow and arrows), then it's just flavor text (unless Hulk has a weakness/vulnerability to tranquilizers) and the fight is resolved as normal (Was it the tranquilizer that caused the Fort/Ref/Comp damage, or the impact of the arrow, or the Hulk stubbing his big toe when he dodged the arrow? Who cares?)
Of course RPGS don't do "this absolutely works every time vs X" very well like you see in movies/comics because that makes for really boring gaming.
Well, my version of Hawkeye has Super Weaponry (with Variable), Webs (with Variable), and Paralysis (with Variable). The fact that it's a tranq arrow is just flavor text (brought to you by Variable).
That being said, MY Hawkeye CAN'T take down Hulk with ANY of these attacks, nor should he be able to. That scene you describe sounds like movie lameness (even though I'm very much looking forward to the movie). Another possibility is that Hawkeye took down the Hulk after the other Avengers pounded on him. If that's the case, then the tranq arrow might have done a mere 1D of damage to an already weakened Hulk. (That COULD happen with my versions of the characters.)
Besides, maybe there is something about the scene that makes Hulk unable to resist with his Super Strength. I haven't seen it, obviously, so I don't know. There is an old Avengers annual where Hawkeye takes down She-Hulk by tricking her into inhaling the full effect of three of his sleep gas arrows. It was a really neat scene, but it wasn't as simple as hitting her with the attack. The way the scene was set up, it wouldn't have made narrative sense for her to use her Super Strength as a defense.
BTW, honestiago, SPOILER WARNINGS, MAN! I didn't want to know that until May 4th!