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Old 05-06-2017, 02:00 PM   #1
GreatWyrmGold
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Default Custom Modular Abilities

GURPS: Powers lets you create new types of modular abilities, or to restrict them in various ways. This is a powerful little tool, letting you create a wide variety of flexible powers. Recently, I decided to try and put together a GURPS version of a magic system that I eventually decided would be best built with modular abilities, but got hung up on one little detail.

The per-slot cost for a custom Modular Ability is based on the breadth of available module abilities. There is also a limitation, Limited, which reduces the breadth of available module abilities. Both the slot cost and trait-limited limitations (herein referred to as trait-limitations, because it doesn't sound as stupid) restrict the variety of traits which can be taken.
I have two questions about how to use slot costs and trait-limitations when designing custom modular abilities. My first question is how these two differ. They seem to do the same thing, just in different ways. My second question is about the slot costs themselves. Trait-limitations make it fairly clear how narrow a limitation the limitation represents, but the slot costs only specify for "nearly anything" and "literally everything". How short is "a short list," how lengthy a "lengthy catalog"?
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Old 05-06-2017, 02:19 PM   #2
zoncxs
 
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Default Re: Custom Modular Abilities

Good questions, I always wondered this myself. My answers are what I came up with to justify them, so it will be different from what others might say.

I will use metaphors for the answers.

imagine M.A. slot cost being a circle, it can do everything inside said circle, the smaller the circle the less the slot cost costs.

The Trait-limitation would then be another circle inside the first, limiting the choices further.


Why would you do this? well a player won't, but a GM would.

Lets say I wanted to create a power, the core ability is M.A.

This power can do anything, so I set it at the highest cost (what was it? 7 and 5? which Psionic Powers labeled "Slotted Cosmic Powers") But I do not want my players to be able to do everything with it, I just want a core power to build from.

So I put the limitations on it to narrow the power for players. They can only use it for physical advantages and said advantages need a common theme like "Fire" or "Ice".

Does that make sense?
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Old 05-06-2017, 02:30 PM   #3
GreatWyrmGold
 
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Default Re: Custom Modular Abilities

I guess, but the point-cost differences between having an outer circle and an inner circle and just having an outer circle the same size as the inner circle* make me think that the circles are supposed to be encircling different kinds of things.

*Building off your example:
The hypothetical Cosmic Psion modular ability would cost seven points per slot and an additional five points per point in the slot. (That's 12 points for a 1-point slot, 57 points for a 10-point slot, 257 for a 50-point slot...) An elemental focus limitation would give a -10% discount (reducing the example prices to 11, 52, and 232 points). On the other hand, the same ability with a more restricted list would cost something like 5 points plus five per point in slot. Those same examples cost 10, 55, and 255 points, despite representing the same range of abilities as the first.
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Old 05-06-2017, 02:47 PM   #4
whswhs
 
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Default Re: Custom Modular Abilities

GURPS Powers recommends that a power should have two attacks, two or three major defenses, two or three major movement abilities, two or three mental abilities, and an unspecified number of physical transformations. If you call the last "two or three" again, you're looking at around a dozen abilities. So I'd say that maybe ten to fifteen is the boundary between "a short list" and "a long list": Go over that level and your modular ability gives you more options that an entire power.
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Old 05-06-2017, 03:20 PM   #5
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: Custom Modular Abilities

I found the premise a little hard to follow. Breadth of ability isn't the only factor in slot cost.

In fact, it's not even the main cost. Ease of switching abilities is important -- compare the difference between the Cosmic slot (just wish new abilities into being) compared to Super-Memorization (1 sec per CP of ability) or chip slots (in addition to the 3s time, there's also the physical item, the "chip", to obtain with in-game resources, carry about, and protect). And the few points for a slot are rapidly outweighed by the point multipler for the size of the ability the slot holds.

The Physical Enhancement is really an inverse sort of Limited. MA is one of those cases where the base form of the ability given in Characters is neither the least limited nor most limited form. So there are both Enhancements and Limitations that affect the breadth of the ability. Still, that does give some basis for comparison for other sorts of scope limitations.

Powers p63 spells out the guidelines for slot costs, from 4 for a "short list" to 7 for "anything". (That page also makes rearrangement time a factor for point multiplier, but not the fixed slot cost.) Rounding on such small integers means the numbers aren't quite compatible with the values for Physical, but they're close. (If "Mental and Skills" are base 4, then +50% Physical Only applied to the base slot cost would be 6, and "Mental or Physical" (+100%) would be 8.)

There is little point in having an MA that's limited to very few abilities. It's actually somewhat difficult for MAs to be cost-effective compared to a collection of abilities in an Alternate Abilities set. The main advantage of MA lies precisely in its open-endedness, able to meet any situation that comes to hand, including the potential for a wide variety of abilities (at least 11 to beat an AA; possibly as many as 46 to match the multiplier for a Cosmic slot).
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Old 05-06-2017, 04:59 PM   #6
GreatWyrmGold
 
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Default Re: Custom Modular Abilities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Powers p63 spells out the guidelines for slot costs, from 4 for a "short list" to 7 for "anything". (That page also makes rearrangement time a factor for point multiplier, but not the fixed slot cost.) Rounding on such small integers means the numbers aren't quite compatible with the values for Physical, but they're close. (If "Mental and Skills" are base 4, then +50% Physical Only applied to the base slot cost would be 6, and "Mental or Physical" (+100%) would be 8.)
...So here you display a keen awareness of the exact rules I mentioned in the OP, but only the parts which formed the basis for my questions, and you didn't provide any insight into the questions I asked. (For that matter, you didn't show any awareness that I asked more than "GURPS: Powers lets you create new types of modular abilities?")

Quote:
There is little point in having an MA that's limited to very few abilities. It's actually somewhat difficult for MAs to be cost-effective compared to a collection of abilities in an Alternate Abilities set. The main advantage of MA lies precisely in its open-endedness, able to meet any situation that comes to hand, including the potential for a wide variety of abilities (at least 11 to beat an AA; possibly as many as 46 to match the multiplier for a Cosmic slot).
Which is part of why I asked the second question I asked. Go and read it this time if you want to be helpful.
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Old 05-06-2017, 05:52 PM   #7
Andrew Hackard
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Default Re: Custom Modular Abilities

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
Which is part of why I asked the second question I asked. Go and read it this time if you want to be helpful.
Pull it back, folks. Remember, personal attacks on other posters are not allowed.
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Old 05-06-2017, 06:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Custom Modular Abilities

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatWyrmGold View Post
I guess, but the point-cost differences between having an outer circle and an inner circle and just having an outer circle the same size as the inner circle* make me think that the circles are supposed to be encircling different kinds of things.

*Building off your example:
The hypothetical Cosmic Psion modular ability would cost seven points per slot and an additional five points per point in the slot. (That's 12 points for a 1-point slot, 57 points for a 10-point slot, 257 for a 50-point slot...) An elemental focus limitation would give a -10% discount (reducing the example prices to 11, 52, and 232 points). On the other hand, the same ability with a more restricted list would cost something like 5 points plus five per point in slot. Those same examples cost 10, 55, and 255 points, despite representing the same range of abilities as the first.

Hmmmm... Ok, when it comes to the slot cost it is up to the GM to determine what is a "short list" and everything above that. Also note that the slot cost does not limit what traits are available! The list could be:

innate attacks
DR
enhanced move
mind reading
languages
any skill

but then you could put a limitation on the MA so that it would only be for languages or "fire" as the focus (making languages not an option for that build).

Overall I think M.A. could use a reorganization and some clean up as to what it should be able to do.

I think the cost per slot should not exist because it makes no sense. Keep it at 5 per slot. The cost per point should stay the same but elaborated (what is "slow"? 1 second per point? 1 minute? hour? etc).

Once those have been explained it will be easier to do. As a GM you should have a clear picture in your head as to what you want this MA to do, which you have already. So I would not focus on the cost per slot.
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