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Old 02-11-2016, 01:41 PM   #1
phayman53
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

I was wondering how you more experienced GURPS GMs would adjudicate this limitation. I'm thinking of building a character with a divine power [-10% power modifier] that increases his striking and lifting strength by +7, but only in situations where his life or the lives of others are at stake. I was thinking that the Emergencies Only limitation for -30% would work perfectly for this, but I wanted to make sure I understood the limitation properly. Basic says that an ability with this limitation "is triggered by your fear or excitement; you cannot use it under 'routine' conditions" (Basic, 112). To me that would be any fight where people are trying to seriously hurt or kill each other (or even capture someone if the stakes are high enough). However, Powers, pg. 102 further refines the rule by saying:

Quote:
An "emergency" is any event that causes severe mental, emotional, or physical stress. Most situations involving self-control rolls for disadvantages, Fright Checks, or HT rolls for major wounds qualify. The GM should also let a hero with a Code of Honor, Sense of Duty, or Vow that compels him to protect others use his ability to aid an innocent person who's in immediate danger (being mugged, falling to his death, suffering a heart attack, etc.).
So for a power with the Emergency limitation to kick on, does the character have to make one of those checks or be required to act by a CoH, SoD, or Vow? Or is it simply the possibility of needing to make a HT roll for major wounds (as might happen in any fight where people are trying to seriously harm or kill each other) enough to trigger the situation as an emergency?

An example to clarify: this hypothetical Holy warrior is by himself and attacked by a single assassin. There is no CoH, SoD, or Vow that compels him to act, it is only self-defense. Also, he does not have to make any fright checks or self-control rolls. Does his increased strength work, or does he have to wait until he makes a HT roll for a major wound or some other issue?

In the above example, I would think that a life-or-death fight would count as an "emergency", regardless of how skilled a warrior is, but the wording of Powers makes me doubt my initial interpretation.

Thanks!

Last edited by phayman53; 02-11-2016 at 01:42 PM. Reason: clarification
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Old 02-11-2016, 01:47 PM   #2
Mark Skarr
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

If you, as the player, said you wanted the power to work "only in situations where his life or the lives of others are at stake," as the GM, I would allow you to take "Emergencies Only" limitation as part of the social contract.

I would supersede the listed rules and just go with your explanation. You wouldn't be able to use the powers if you had to make a self-control roll, but you wouldn't need a CoH, SoD or Vow as well.

Basically, you've defined the limited use of the power in a fair, and effective way (to me).

So, yes.
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:13 PM   #3
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

The quoted text is a list of examples, which are (as usual for GURPS) not exhaustive or exclusive. I think the point of the text is to clarify "severe mental, emotional, or physical stress" and emphasize that "emergency" does not mean only "combat". I don't think there was any doubt that combat would qualify. The key point is that the character would feel severe stress of some sort.

And as you say, by "combat", we're talking about "any fight where people are trying to seriously harm or kill each other". Sparring, bar brawls, and hopefully non-lethal duels of honor may well not qualify -- because they're not severe stress.

I, too, am happy with your "life or lives of others" definition. That's actually somewhat narrower than the full range of possibilities (assuming the character has other mental disads likely to cause those sorts of stress).
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Old 02-11-2016, 02:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

Quote:
Originally Posted by phayman53 View Post
An example to clarify: this hypothetical Holy warrior is by himself and attacked by a single assassin. There is no CoH, SoD, or Vow that compels him to act, it is only self-defense. Also, he does not have to make any fright checks or self-control rolls. Does his increased strength work, or does he have to wait until he makes a HT roll for a major wound or some other issue?

In the above example, I would think that a life-or-death fight would count as an "emergency", regardless of how skilled a warrior is, but the wording of Powers makes me doubt my initial interpretation.

Thanks!
All combat doesn't count as Emergencies Only. It would have to be a situation he's stress out or in severe danger. The example of the HT roll is "You've been hit for LOTS of damage". A flight or fight response essentially is an emergency.

This could also be the fact a giant monster is about to step on you.

It shouldn't be like, run of the mill combat. It shouldn't be just because someone wants to punch you in the face. It would be the idea that their life is truly in danger, someone else's life is in danger, or stress on the character. An emergency!
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Old 02-11-2016, 04:04 PM   #5
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

Quote:
Originally Posted by phayman53 View Post
I'm thinking of building a character with a divine power [-10% power modifier] that increases his striking and lifting strength by +7, but only in situations where his life or the lives of others are at stake. I was thinking that the Emergencies Only limitation for -30% would work perfectly for this, but I wanted to make sure I understood the limitation properly.
I am harsh on this one: my advice to a player who wanted to use it would be "don't, I don't like this one, and it will not work at times when you want it to."

If you want it only for emergencies in fights, and you're someone who expects to have fights in the normal course of business, I'd say it cuts in when you, or someone with you and close by, takes a Major Wound. That's a reasonably objective definition of a fight that is not going to plan. I'd listen to requests for other circumstances, like that giant monster about to step on you, but they'd need to be emergencies.
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Old 02-11-2016, 08:02 PM   #6
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

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Originally Posted by GodBeastX View Post
All combat doesn't count as Emergencies Only. It would have to be a situation he's stress out or in severe danger. The example of the HT roll is "You've been hit for LOTS of damage". A flight or fight response essentially is an emergency.

This could also be the fact a giant monster is about to step on you.

It shouldn't be like, run of the mill combat. It shouldn't be just because someone wants to punch you in the face. It would be the idea that their life is truly in danger, someone else's life is in danger, or stress on the character. An emergency!
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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I am harsh on this one: my advice to a player who wanted to use it would be "don't, I don't like this one, and it will not work at times when you want it to."

If you want it only for emergencies in fights, and you're someone who expects to have fights in the normal course of business, I'd say it cuts in when you, or someone with you and close by, takes a Major Wound. That's a reasonably objective definition of a fight that is not going to plan. I'd listen to requests for other circumstances, like that giant monster about to step on you, but they'd need to be emergencies.
I see your points, and -30% initially seemed generous to me if the ability worked in all life-or-death fights. However, compare it to Accessibility limitation, -30%, which work for "Only while flying, Only while swimming, Only in hypnotic trance" (Basic, 110). These are situations that you can often, but not always, control by GURPS rules (sometimes only with suitable skills or abilities, though). To me 'Only while someone is tryng to do serious harm to you/someone you have an obligation to protect' seems to fit into a similar category. The situation is not under your sole control and is inherently risky. As well, not being able to use the ability outside of serious combat is a real limitation, even with striking and lifting strength, is a real limitation: you cannot use it carry things, move stuff, break things, or use it for non-lethal fighting.

That said, I could see an argument for making it a -20% Accessibility limitation for "Only in serious combat or to aid someone in deadly danger", on par with "Only while playing the trumpet" and "Only during the day", simply because it is so combat-centered an ability.

Last edited by phayman53; 02-11-2016 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 02-11-2016, 10:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

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Originally Posted by GodBeastX View Post
It shouldn't be like, run of the mill combat. It shouldn't be just because someone wants to punch you in the face. It would be the idea that their life is truly in danger, someone else's life is in danger, or stress on the character. An emergency!
It is a rather unusual person who regards someone wanting to punch you in the face as 'run of the mill' or 'routine' in any way. Takes some boxers five or ten fights to get over prematch nerves.
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Old 02-12-2016, 01:14 AM   #8
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

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Originally Posted by Toptomcat View Post
It is a rather unusual person who regards someone wanting to punch you in the face as 'run of the mill' or 'routine' in any way. Takes some boxers five or ten fights to get over prematch nerves.
And then they get combat reflexes =) Thus fear disappears and combat becomes run of the mill.
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Old 02-12-2016, 02:49 AM   #9
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

Actually, background is a valid consideration to bring up. An veteran archer of the Battle of Crecy is likely not going to be as phased by the sight of a column of French knights as a green conscript. However, I think we want to avoid having a lot of bookkeeping in general. I like the poster's "my or others' lives" limitation and would call that a valid Social Contract/Emergencies circumstance.

What about Unconscious only? That overlaps, as they both trigger during periods of high stress. Obviously it can't be an ability that only turns on when your character is unconscious
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it can only come into play under GM control, as a result of stress.
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Old 02-12-2016, 09:05 AM   #10
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Question about a power with the "Emergencies Only" Limitation

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Originally Posted by Mithlas View Post
What about Unconscious only?
The definition of "stress" is more or less the same. But Unconscious Only is tied to Uncontrollable, which as the bit about "undesirable and inappropriate times" and "prankish or hostile nature". Use of the Emergencies Only power is still under control of the player once it activates.

Uncontrolled Strength bonuses might have the character doing things like crushing someone's hand at an important job interview or meeting, or crushing glasses or smashing tables during an argument at a restaurant.

("Unconscious" here is used in its sense of "not deliberately planned", not the physical state of being without awareness.)
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