Fun With Descriptors

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cochramd
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Fun With Descriptors

Postby cochramd » Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:06 am

As the designers said in the appendix of Ultimate Power, Mutants and Masterminds was made as an effects-based system with descriptors existing to fill in the specifics of any given effect. This was done so we wouldn't have a system where electric attacks didn't need a modifier for "“Conducts Through Metals,” another for “Conducts Through Water” (or Area, Limited to Under Water, or what have you), another modifier or feat for “Can Recharge Batteries” (or “Can Overload Electronics”), ad absurdum." Similarly, Fire attacks don't need a modifier for 'can set things on fire', or a modifier for "can melt, weld, boil, sublimate and ionize things" that it would share with heat powers, ice and coldness powers don't need a modifier for "can freeze, condensate, deposit and deionize things", etc. It's all implied to be something that the GM and the players can work out between themselves, agreeing on whatever makes sense.

So, what fun can be/has been had with descriptor use?

The most interesting thing that happened to me was when my PL 8 Juggernaut expy was on the run from the settings anti-superhuman oppressive authority. It ended with him running along an abandoned highway with a PL 12 brainwashed mutant serving said authority on my tail. His descriptors were chains and not fire, but really intense heat. The first thing he did was melt the section of road in front of me, which I go right through thanks to 3 ranks of surefooted. After a few ineffective blasts, he inflicts on me an aura of rank 5 damage that affects myself....which doesn't do any good, what with my Impervious Toughness save of 17, but the GM notes that every step I take leaves a footprint of molten tar behind. After an unsuccessful Trip, he finally uses a Snare against me (to save points and to give the character an actual weakpoint, I gave him a Dexterity score of 1 and no points in Reflex saves). It takes multiple snares, because I'm quite good at breaking out of them, but he eventually gets me; on the second snare, the GM notes that the tar is melting beneath me, and that with my 5 ranks of Growth and 6 ranks of Density I'm sinking into the tar. The fourth Snare holds me long enough for to completely sink into the road, and the next session begins with the rest of the gang getting me out of the ensuing sticky situation.

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FuzzyBoots
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Re: Fun With Descriptors

Postby FuzzyBoots » Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:37 am

Sounds like an interesting way of handling things. My point of view on descriptors is that players can suggest a particular interpretation, but the GM always has the final say. Clever occasional use of descriptors is to be rewarded. Abusive attempts at getting extra powers for free due to descriptors are to be slapped down. Honestly, I had a player in a game I was in who tried to claim his character got free Immunity to electricity because his character was made out of rubber, and that a second character was immune to an acid-based attack because he had a Feature of "costume doesn't get dirty".

It's a matter of common sense. Speaking of common-sense, what PL are you playing at such that Impervious Toughness of 17 would be an acceptable setup?

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kenseido
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Re: Fun With Descriptors

Postby kenseido » Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:09 pm

Cochramd actually posted that in an earlier thread. Defense 0, Toughness 16 and Impervious 17 so he bounces all attacks 16 or lower - all with GM approval.
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Re: Fun With Descriptors

Postby Rabbitman » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:44 pm

In one of my games I allowed a player to use a steel railing to conduct his electrical paralyse attack, we discussed it beforehand and I essentially decided that using the touch power on the railing and rolling for it as normal against the guard who was leaning on the same railing 10 ft away was acceptable under the descriptor, but if he wants to use to it affect more than one target it would require a Power Stunt.

With all the descriptor stuff it really swings on a case by case decision for me.
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FuzzyBoots
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Re: Fun With Descriptors

Postby FuzzyBoots » Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:54 pm

{nods} FWIW, if he wants to do it more often, there is the Conductor Extra in Mecha and Manga, although admittedly, it's kind of a poor man's Ranged for the most part.

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Re: Fun With Descriptors

Postby cochramd » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:58 am

I do agree that the Conductor extra from Mecha and Manga is pretty overpriced, especially when you consider that the Medium flaw already exists and can be used to create a similar, perhaps better, effect. (Touch-range Damage effect+Conductor extra=2 points per rank, works at touch range and as perception for 5xrank feet when both you and the target are touching a medium. Touch-range Damage effect+ranged Damage effect with Medium flaw=1 point per rank plus 1 point for AP, works at touch range and 10xrank feet when there's sufficient medium between you and the target. Additionally, you might convince your GM that you deserve some sort of drawback on the ranged Damage for requiring a path of a medium instead of just the presence of a medium) But yeah, letting electric attacks be conducted through metals is one of those things you'd have to be a really anal rules lawyer to even blink at.

Haven't seen much action lately, as a series of misfortunes have prevented the group I'm in from having the last 3 of our bi-weekly sessions, so I've got no new incidents to share....though I don't think I've mentioned the time we went vampire hunting and the group scientist made a sunlight gun.

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Re: Fun With Descriptors

Postby FuzzyBoots » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:06 am

cochramd wrote:But yeah, letting electric attacks be conducted through metals is one of those things you'd have to be a really anal rules lawyer to even blink at.

On an occasional "neat power stunt" basis, yes. When they start doing it all the time and arguing that because you let them do it once... maybe I just got stuck with a player who constantly tried to push the envelope to get extra powers wherever he can.

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Re: Fun With Descriptors

Postby Rabbitman » Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:16 am

Either it doesn't affect mechanics and is only flavour, or they pay for it with HP or PP.

In the example I mentioned the player could have moved to the guard and rolled a touch range attack in that turn, instead we used the descriptor of conducting the attack through the hand-rail, but mechanically it still took him a single turn, and a single attack roll as if it were touch range against a single target.
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