Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

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Stormson
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Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Stormson » Mon Jul 22, 2013 9:08 pm

A friend has purchased the first DC book for me, and while some of the stuff seems straight forward, (I'm grasping the abilities and skills and advantages part fine) I'm really boggling at power creation. I see the finished examples, and see how they add up at times, but I'm having trouble understanding how to use the powers to create effects.

Some examples:

1. A Character has an "energy shield" that is mounted on their forearm. It not only provides them additional protection from ranged and close quarter attacks, but can also be used to protect others nearby. I get that it should be a device, but how would I represent the effects of the shield? Enhanced Parry and Dodge seem like natural choices, and I'd considered deflection, but it says deflection is a ranged only power?

2. How would I stat up a power that provides multiple benefits? IE, Speedball from marvel comics has a kinetic aura that allows him to be near invincible to conventional kinetic damage, as well as allowing him to smash into enemies with increased force, but it has the drawback that it's triggered with any forceful physical contact at times, and once the power is triggered and active, he can't control it completely, because it causes him to bounce around the battlefield erratically.

3. If a character's "natural" strength rating is 14, you would just spend it in the ability points part of creation, but if they get a boost to their strength due to wearing a magic cape, they'd have a lower base ability, with a separate power of enhanced strength with the added strength ranks? The key source of confusion here is Captain Marvel. Even with the removal of his enhanced abilities, his stats do not quite drop to the billy batson level listed in his sidebar, so Im not sure how the ability totals listed were reached. Does this mean that Captain Marvel actually has an Awareness of 17, because his ability score is 10, and he has Enhanced Awareness of 7?

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Re: Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Earth-Two_Kenn » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:29 pm

1. You seem well on your way with the forearm shield, actually. Enhanced Parry and Dodge are the way to go. Reflection might make a good Alternate Effect, though.

2. The protective part of the aura would be best reflected by the power Protection. The other part of that ability would probably best be described as Leap with both the Triggered and Uncontrolled modifiers on it. The smashing into things would be done with combat maneuvers like Charge.

3. The numbers shown in the Abilities are the final Ability totals, not just what was paid for as Abilities. Using your Captain Marvel example, his abilities shown should come to 118 points, but the Abilities Cost shows 96. 22 points of Abilities weren't paid for as Abilities. But in his powers one finds Enhanced Fighting 4 (which is 8 pts.) and Enhanced Awareness 7 (which is 14 pts.) It is confusing, and does seem inconsistent. Given that they show us Billy's stats why wasn't Enhanced Strength 19 part of the Strength of Hercules and Enhanced Stamina 14 a part of the Stamina of Atlas? That's what I would have done. I can't explain it. The overall cost is the same though. Just remember that the "numbers shown in the Abilities are the final Ability totals" part and realise the rest is bookkeeping decisions.
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Re: Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Tholomyes » Tue Jul 23, 2013 3:52 pm

1) The Enhanced Dodge and Parry works for you, but due to the way PL limits work, if you want to protect others nearby as well, you'd either need to buy deflect or Interpose. I'd personally recommend interpose, but deflect could work as well. You'd need to spend a standard action to do so, but it would work fairly well, and you could buy it down to touch range if you only wanted nearby allies to gain the benefit: my build for it would be:

Energy Shield: Enhanced Dodge 3, Enhanced Parry 3, Deflect 8 (-1 Reduced Range); (Removable -2pp) [8pp]

You can't buy down deflection to less than a standard action, but you could buy triggered for it, to allow you to somewhat replicate a reaction-deflect.

2) I mostly agree with Kenn, but I think Slam would better replicate speedball's power than Charge.

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Re: Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Earth-Two_Kenn » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:59 pm

Yes, Slam would be better than Charge.
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Re: Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Stormson » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:13 pm

Thanks guys. I've been statting some of my friends City of Heroes characters (RIP) with this system, and have been amazed at the flexibility of it.

Am I correct in that, if I wanted to represent an offensive power, like for example, energy blasting, but I wanted the character to have multiple types of blasts, it's best done as an array?

IE:
Ranged Blast for Single Target
Ranged Burst Area for targeted AOE
Ranged Cone Area for a targeted Cone
Ranged Line Area for hitting multiple targets in a straight line

All under a "Energy Blast" array? This seems to make it so the power is costed at the rate of the highest power in the array, with a 1 pt cost for each additional power, regardless of their own rankings (as long as they don't exceed the highest cost power)?

Part of me thinks this seems potentially abusive, with the more powers you add to the array, but Im guessing it's just making sure the powers fit the array? IE, not putting a frost based affliction in the same array as the energy blasts sets.

Or am I missing a major downside to the use of arrays?

IE, can the character in round one, use the cone, round 2, free action to change to burst, use burst, round 3, free action to change to line, use line?

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Re: Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Tholomyes » Tue Jul 23, 2013 6:25 pm

The purpose of arrays is the fact that the most expensive power in an array that you buy is paid for by the points which it costs. Essentially to understand the reason arrays aren't overpowered, you need yo look at it through a lens of opportunity cost: Every other power you put in that array gives a benefit of variability, but also has an opportunity cost of the cost of the base power in the array. Thus the fact that you're not paying for the points of the subsequent powers covers that opportunity cost, and all you're paying for is the utility of having different powers in that array. For powers that can't be used simultaneously, by the very nature of the powers, such as Different attack powers, this still isn't broken, since the opportunity cost still exists, whether they're in an array or not.

And, so it's not abusive to put a frost-based affliction in the same array as energy blasts, since it being in an array covers the opportunity cost associated with not being able to use them simultaneously.

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Re: Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Greyman » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:24 pm

Spiderman swings on his webbing, uses it to ensnare villains, toss cars around, catch falling bystanders, and even occasionally para-glide or perform other astonishing feats.

The ability to use the same power in many different ways is expected of the genre, and the game simulates it using the Alternate Effect flat extra for routine variations, and Power Stunts for exceptional ones. Arrays add the versatility for which superheroes are renown without the build cost becoming exuberant.

Comparing it to opportunity cost is good. There's also the matter of diminishing returns. While a single alternate effect can add great utility to a power, the more that are added the less impact each addition will seem to have.

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Re: Having trouble understanding powers, new to the system.

Postby Fists of Dorn » Sat Jul 27, 2013 12:14 pm

Stormson wrote:1. A Character has an "energy shield" that is mounted on their forearm. It not only provides them additional protection from ranged and close quarter attacks, but can also be used to protect others nearby. I get that it should be a device, but how would I represent the effects of the shield? Enhanced Parry and Dodge seem like natural choices, and I'd considered deflection, but it says deflection is a ranged only power?



Typically there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat when it comes to realizing the idea of a power into game mechanics, so don't be too concerned if your way of doing something doesn't match someone else's preferred way of doing that same thing.

As an example using a shield as a device we can look at Captain America's shield, the benefits it provides him and the ways we can reproduce those effects in game mechanics:

1- The ability to better evade attacks
This can come through using Enhanced Trait to increase the user's dodge and parry defenses, thereby allowing him to avoid being hit in a meaningful way (i.e. able to deflect/parry the attack enough to not have to resist its effect[s]).
Combined with this we can include something to increase his Toughness as his Vibranium shield manages to absorb much of the damage. This can include adding ranks of Impervious to his Toughness to show how the shield is able to completely negate low-level damaging attacks (able to completely ignore most bullets and the like).
Instead of adding ranks of protection, I would recommend using ranks of the Defensive Roll advantage to represent that Captain America can only benefit from the protective functions of his shield when he is aware of the attack and is able to react to get the shield in to position where it can protect him. So if a foe catches him unaware and attacks him from behind, he suffers because the shield isn't in position to soften the blow. If the toughness ranks applied all the time, it wouldn't really mate well with the concept of a shield; instead it would be more like Iron Man's battlesuit.

Back to your specific inquiry on using an Energy Shield to be able to protect others, there are again a few ways to do it, each depending on how you envision the power working and the descriptors it has to work with.

1- If it is something that the character can throw to intercede an attack (with it either returning to him, reforming on his forearm, or what have you) then Deflect would be suitable for that.

2- If it is something that he can expand outward to cover an area (something like a Green Lantern expanding his force field to encompass nearby allies), you could still use Deflect if expanding the shield requires additional attention from the character (i.e. explaining why each round he must commit to using the Defend Action in order to keep the shield expanded). Otherwise you are likely to want to use a combination of effects like Enhanced Trait to raise Dodge/Parry defenses, maybe some ranks of Protection to soften damaging attacks, or even ranks of Impervious each with the Affects Others and Area extras to achieve the desired effect.
In situations where a character's defenses are already at PL caps, trying to boost them further is not going to work, so this is not always the optimal method for helping allies. You could even use Create to form a physical barrier over an area, providing some protection that way. I'd be careful about going to Create too often though as it can get abusive in certain situations.




Stormson wrote:2. How would I stat up a power that provides multiple benefits? IE, Speedball from marvel comics has a kinetic aura that allows him to be near invincible to conventional kinetic damage, as well as allowing him to smash into enemies with increased force, but it has the drawback that it's triggered with any forceful physical contact at times, and once the power is triggered and active, he can't control it completely, because it causes him to bounce around the battlefield erratically.


Any power that a character possesses can be made up of multiple effects (called powers in the book, confusing I know, but that's the way of it). So Speedball may have a power called Kinetic Aura which is composed of an immunity to damage effects with the kinetic descriptor along with some combination of effects that allow him to make slam attacks that deal more damage than he normally could.
He might use the Reflect/Redirect extras on his immunity effect to use a damaging effect against someone else. Because those are extras, he must use it (he must target something with the reflected/redirected attack), which shows that he doesn't have complete control of it. On top of that Speedball could have an Accident Complication so that whenever the GM wants to use his ricocheting effect to hamper him temporarily, he can- showing how sometimes Speedball has no control over his power.

Or he could just take some enhanced ranks of Speed and Leaping, each limited to the ranks of the last kinetic-based damaging attack he was hit with (and ignored because of his immunity). Speedball could then use his enhanced movement ranks to make Slam attacks.



Stormson wrote:3. If a character's "natural" strength rating is 14, you would just spend it in the ability points part of creation, but if they get a boost to their strength due to wearing a magic cape, they'd have a lower base ability, with a separate power of enhanced strength with the added strength ranks? The key source of confusion here is Captain Marvel. Even with the removal of his enhanced abilities, his stats do not quite drop to the billy batson level listed in his sidebar, so Im not sure how the ability totals listed were reached. Does this mean that Captain Marvel actually has an Awareness of 17, because his ability score is 10, and he has Enhanced Awareness of 7?


I'd agree with Earth-Two_Kenn's statements on this. It can be a bit confusing on why they gave Captain Marvel ranks of Enhanced Awareness, but at the same time assumed that his Strength was not subject to nullifying (which his Enhanced Awareness is). But this again goes back to my earlier statement regarding differences of opinion in how to realize a character using game mechanics.
Personally I would have used the Morph Power with the Metamorph Flat Extra to make Captain Marvel. It would have taken up more space, having two character sheets, but it's my preferred way of making characters like him that are able to go from one form to another.



As for your questions about arrays, yes you have the right of it on how an array is constructed. The lowered cost is due mostly to the fact that your character is only able to use one of the arrayed powers at a time. So if the character in question has an array of blasts as you've mentioned, then he could swap them around as benefits his current need.
Arrays are a way of allowing a character the flexibility the player desires to have without him having to spend all/most of his power points just to get a few similar effects.

Do keep in mind though that a ranged effect with an area means that the character is able to place that area of effect anywhere within the power's range. So if you are modeling a character like Cyclops, you would want to have a blast using a ranged damage effect for his usual blasts, but a close range damage effect with an area extra like the Line Area extra because the "blast" always originates from his eyes and extends out from there.

While arrays can be abusive in certain configurations (always depending on the game and the players) it is generally assumed that the GM and the Players themselves will work to use effects that accurately reflect the power they represent so that it is fun rather to exploit the mechanics.



-Fists.


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