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Old 01-18-2019, 12:51 PM   #1
arnej
 
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Default Invoking Limitations

So if I were a GM running a Supers game, and some of my players took their super powers with the limitation "Super -10%", and say I wanted to use that to deactivate their powers, how would I go about that?

Obviously, I could just handwave a 'non-super' field and call it good.

What if I wanted to construct a gadget that would target that limitation in a large area? Is that using powers like Static? Neutralize? Neither seems a particularly good fit out of the box.

Am I missing something here?
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Old 01-18-2019, 01:05 PM   #2
Kelly Pedersen
 
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

The standard "Super" power limitation is composed of -5% for the existence of "anti-powers", paranormal abilities that can cancel abilities with it, and -5% for power-neutralizing technology. The first would definitely include Static and Neutralize, but would also include things like Affliction (Negated Advantage, Flight with the Super limitation) and other builds like that. The second means that it's possible to build devices and technology that can shut down abilities that anyone with the appropriate technical training can use.

So if Super, -10% is a thing you allow in your setting, it implies that characters like Rogue or Leech exist in the setting, and that even enemies without superpowers of their own could deploy "power dampeners" or something like that to potentially shut down the heroes' abilities.

As to how to deploy them, bear in mind that you don't have to build everything with points, particularly if they're not characters at all, but rather equipment. You can just say that Null-Woman emits a power-dampening field that forces everyone within 100 yards to roll against Will or lose all their abilities with the Super limitation, without specifically working out how much that would cost or which modifiers to use on the Neutralize ability.
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Old 01-18-2019, 01:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

Super is intended to imitate the way things work in the comics. For example, during the Justice League's trial run, close to 60 years ago, five of the members—Aquaman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman—experienced momentary shutdowns of their powers. (Fortunately, Aquaman wasn't hundreds of fathoms under water!) It turned out that there was a criminal scientist, Professor Ivo, who had constructed an android, Amazo, as a controllable vehicle for superpowers, and he needed to use some sort of ray to tap their abilities and confer them on Amazo. Now, this made no sense, because Aquaman's and the Martian Manhunter's abilities were racial traits—they weren't modified humans—and Wonder Woman's were, well, Divine, and Green Lantern's came from a device. But to the comics writers they were all "super" and could be nullified, or swapped around, or stolen by a device.

So you can either look at the devices in Psi-Tech for doing those things with psi, and adapt them to work with super; or do Neutralize or Static or maybe an Affliction with Gadget modifiers, and figure out what level of invention you want it to be. Either way it's going to be kind of handwavy.

Or you can not use Super. I wrote a Pyramid article a while back that presented a timeline with over a dozen power modifiers for "supers" of different sorts; I think it's Pyramid #102. In some ways that's more comic-booky, in that supers don't all have the same origin or power source.
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Old 01-18-2019, 01:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

I think those limitations are supposed to exist where abilities can be from different sources. If it's a supers campaign, and everyone's powers are from the supers source, then it's sort of meaningless.

If for example, someone's power is from psionics, and they can read thoughts, their target might have a resistance that works against psionics, but not magic... and the guy that can read thoughts magically won't go up against the resistance.

Or a neutralize might only work on magic, but not psionics.
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Old 01-18-2019, 01:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
I think those limitations are supposed to exist where abilities can be from different sources. If it's a supers campaign, and everyone's powers are from the supers source, then it's sort of meaningless.
That's not necessarily the case at all. Super, for example, just needs to have abilities and devices that can negate it. It doesn't say anything about whether or not other types of powers can be negated. Even if Super is the only power source in the world, the fact that someone with a power neutralizer collar or the Null-supers ability can shut down those abilities makes them more limited than unmodified abilities, which is what they're being compared against.
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Old 01-18-2019, 02:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
I think those limitations are supposed to exist where abilities can be from different sources. If it's a supers campaign, and everyone's powers are from the supers source, then it's sort of meaningless.
I find that's rarely the case. Usually player concepts will cross a spectrum of racial, tech, chi, super, and magic. Sure, the very earliest X-Men were all mutants, but it didn't take long before they Wolvie that had pop-out blades and unbreakable bones even if you took away his mutant powers.

Even where it would be the case, it's useful to know what abilities they have without use of their powers if those can be taken away for any reason.
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

I just mean that if "super" is the only power source, it's a campaign feature, not something characters should get points back for. Whether or not there are things that can resist or shut down a super power is up to the GM at that point.

I'm also not a big fan of the power sources in general. It feels like the kind of thing that leads to Players vs GM very easily. It's one of the things that happened when I ran a high point campaign a long time ago. The characters were so powerful that really nothing was a challenge, and to challenge them I would find things to negate their abilities. Those are the things the players paid points for... negating those abilities so that their characters have a challenge is a broken way to do things that feels antagonistic to me.

So, having an official way in the rules for GMs to screw over the characters feels weird to me. And seeing it used to make abilities cheaper feels wrong to me too. The only way for those points to mean anything is if the GM specifically does something to screw over the characters.

Maybe there's a gray area in the middle I'm not seeing... I just don't like it.
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

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Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
I just mean that if "super" is the only power source, it's a campaign feature, not something characters should get points back for. Whether or not there are things that can resist or shut down a super power is up to the GM at that point.
And, again, I would disagree. The power limitations mean that the abilities taken with them are less useful than the same advantages without those limitations would be, so a discount is appropriate. Compare, for example, a setting where humans can be genetically modified to have wings and fly, but only in 0.5 gravity or less. If that's the only way for characters to buy the Flight advantage, they could still claim the -25% for Winged and -25% for Requires Low Gravity, and shouldn't have to pay the full 40 points for unmodified Flight. Its the same with power modifiers - someone with Super, -10% on their Flight is more limited than someone with unmodified Flight, so they should pay less.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa
It feels like the kind of thing that leads to Players vs GM very easily.
I don't see how this is different than any other limitation, though. Limitations are explicitly supposed to be used - a limitation that doesn't limit you isn't one. Someone who buys Flight with Winged should expect there to be times when they can't fly because the space is too small for their wingspan, or to have enemies target their wings, or to not be able to fly at all because their wings have been restrained. Similarly, if someone takes Flight with Super, they should expect to run across power-dampening fields that can make them suddenly plummet, or similar hazards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa
The characters were so powerful that really nothing was a challenge, and to challenge them I would find things to negate their abilities. Those are the things the players paid points for... negating those abilities so that their characters have a challenge is a broken way to do things that feels antagonistic to me.
While I definitely understand the desire to not simply deny characters their powers, I don't think the answer is to avoid using the limitations inherent to power modifiers. For starters, I would say its very possible to challenge even high-point-value characters with things other than power loss - just scale up the enemies' abilities as well. If Punch-Woman can crack a battleship's armor in one hit, make sure Bunker-Lady has DR higher than a battleship. You can still use ability-negating things as a challenge too, however, without always actually negating people's powers. The key, I think, is to let the characters know ahead of time that its a possibility, and let them take it into account. If the characters are changing their behavior and not using the most optimal solutions, the limitations are still limiting them, even if their abilities aren't actually suppressed. For example, if a hero team is infiltrating the lair of Doctor Null, but they know that she has power-suppressing traps and guards with power-negating beams, they probably won't lead with Punch-Woman just knocking down the front door. Instead, they'll be forced to rely more heavily on stealth and planning. Thus, their abilities have been restricted, but still can be used.
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Old 01-19-2019, 01:19 PM   #9
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Default Re: Invoking Limitations

Quote:
Originally Posted by kdtipa View Post
I just mean that if "super" is the only power source, it's a campaign feature, not something characters should get points back for.
It can be and it's certainly one opinion. Not one most GMs ascribe to, but it's a valid approach.
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