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Old 04-02-2016, 03:19 PM   #1
Mailanka
 
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Default Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

Quite a few powers systems are modelled on the idea of Alternate Abilities. Sorcery certainly works that way, and Divine Powers seems to, at least when it comes to "Learned Prayers."

If you are using one of these systems, how does Alternate Forms work? It seems plausible that some form of shapeshifting might be allowed as an alternate ability, in the sense that while you are using your shapeshifting abilities, you cannot use your other powers... but losing access to your other abilities could well be one element of your shapeshifting (ie, if you turn into a wolf and a wolf can't throw fireballs, you can't throw fireballs. That's part and parcel of what an alternate form is).

Are there any canonical examples of these power frameworks using Alternate Forms? How do they handle them? Are they full price or 1/5, or is there a better way to handle something like that?

(Specifically, I'm tinkering with the idea of an angelic/avatar state bestowed by divine powers. That, like a "Super Saiyan" form or any "super-powered" form, seems to be an alternate power, and it seems a plausible Divine power, but what would the cost of a learned prayer be? The full alternate form cost, or 1/5, or I am looking at it the wrong way?)
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

Alternate Form is already kind of an Alternate Ability as it gives a -10% discount for the first form and all subsequent forms cost only 15 points base.

Personal traits carry over, so you would keep non-species magics.
The shapeshifting power is only active when changing. It's not an ongoing ability. Negating it would lock you in your current form.

I don't have Divine Powers, so I can't suggest anything about that.
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
Alternate Form is already kind of an Alternate Ability as it gives a -10% discount for the first form and all subsequent forms cost only 15 points base.

Personal traits carry over, so you would keep non-species magics.
The shapeshifting power is only active when changing. It's not an ongoing ability. Negating it would lock you in your current form.

I don't have Divine Powers, so I can't suggest anything about that.
Well, in a sense, you don't need to spec divine powers. If God wants to turn you into a wolf (or a tree or an angel), He can do so and that's what you are, which is one of the fun things about Divine Powers. It's an omnipotent patron (and costed like an omnipotent patron), so He can do whatever the GM wants Him to do. But if it becomes a learned prayer, then you have to pay cost for it.

I agree with you on alternate forms being a form of alternate abilities. Perhaps it's better to just apply say "Look, you're an angel, here you go" and apply the template. The fact that you can't use any other powers is inherent in the fact that it's an alternate ability. Say being an angel gives you +10 ST, winged flight, homogenous, appearance (transcendant) and terror. So you get those (at 1/5 the cost), no muss no fuss. When you call upon that learned prayer, you just get those traits, and boom, you're good.

But then how do you handle things like maximum duration, and perhaps the ability to force someone out of it (like, if you step into a place where God's power is no longer relevant, your angelic template should go away. How is that costed in?), and adding disadvantages (vulnerabilities, specific behavior, etc). So, obviously, the simplest and easiest way to handle all of that is via Alternate Form: You get a 15 point alternate form, minus limitations like "Divine -10%", and your form can have +10 ST, winged flight, homogenous, appearance (transcendant), terror and, say, Honesty, Pacifism (cannot harm innocents), Code of Honor (Angelic), whatever, and you apply 90% of the cost.

But then should this form be an alternate ability? If not, is it legal as a learned prayer (or a sorcerous ability) only at full cost rather than 1/5?
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

I'm working on (but have not solved) basically this kind of problem, along with a few other problems with Alternate Form.

Some thoughts though: If it's an Alternate Ability (ie a Learned Prayer), your entire Divine Favor probably goes away in the place where God Cannot Reach You; this means all parts of the AA go away, so you no longer have the Alternate Ability and ffft you're a non-angel again. Hope you weren't flying. Doesn't matter about reversion conditions. All your other DF powers go away too.

Alternate Form and Shapeshifting basically have a Power Modifier baked into them; that's the requisite reversion conditions. I'm not really sure how legit it is to stack another PM on it.

Minimum and Maximum Duration were specifically written for Alternate Form back in 3e (in GURPS Shapeshifters). The fact that during 4e things went a little weird and now they're hard to apply to AF but are available for other traits is dryly amusing to me.

Sometimes I think the only way to deal with AF and whether it is Transitional or Switchable is as a ( 0%? ) switch, chosen at character creation, which has several consequences.

If Transitional,
  • you do not change forms when k/o or dead
  • body parts severed from you do not revert
  • you are stuck in your current form (whichever it is) when your "reversion conditions" are met, and when your advantage is suspended, negated, crippled, or removed in some way.
  • both changing to and changing from counts as using your ability - any FP costs are spent both times, any skill or stat rolls are made both times, any cooldown time from Requires Recharge, Limited Uses, any outside sources that interact when it is used (mana levels or mutant suppression collars or whatever)...

If Switchable
  • You do change forms when k/o or dead
  • severed body parts revert
  • you change to your "native form" when your reversion conditions are met, and when your advantage is suspended, negated, crippled, or removed in some way.
  • being in your alternate form counts as use of your ability the entire time. If it costs FP you pay maintenance, but it's free to revert; you only have to roll stat or skill when you change into your form not when you change back, you can be detected as ongoing power use while using it.

Many of these items are only relevant if you have extra limitations - a Power modifier, Costs Fatigue, Requires Recharge, Limited Uses, etc.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

It's not just K/O or dead. It's also during basic sleep which makes shifting to survive inclement conditions for long periods of time impossible.
Such as a hypothetic human-fish shifter trying to hide at the bottom of the ocean. Once he falls asleep, he drowns.
I don't think removing that feature is a zero point change.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:26 PM   #6
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

Maximum duration can be kludged by including Dependency: Natural Form Fatigue Damage Only on the alternate forms.
Minimum Duration could be a cool down Limitation on the base 15.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:26 PM   #7
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

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Originally Posted by Flyndaran View Post
It's not just K/O or dead. It's also during basic sleep which makes shifting to survive inclement conditions for long periods of time impossible.
Such as a hypothetic human-fish shifter trying to hide at the bottom of the ocean. Once he falls asleep, he drowns.
I don't think removing that feature is a zero point change.
Once On, Stays On covers that issue.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:29 PM   #8
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

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Once On, Stays On covers that issue.
I was responding to Bruno's suggestion of two versions both of equal value.
I know the 4th ed. R.A.W. enhancement. It rarely fits most of my ideas of shapeshifters, but I do know of it.
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Old 04-02-2016, 05:33 PM   #9
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
Some thoughts though: If it's an Alternate Ability (ie a Learned Prayer), your entire Divine Favor probably goes away in the place where God Cannot Reach You; this means all parts of the AA go away, so you no longer have the Alternate Ability and ffft you're a non-angel again. Hope you weren't flying. Doesn't matter about reversion conditions. All your other DF powers go away too.
Oh, that's true! So that problem is solved in both models.

As for the rest, I suppose the question comes down to whether or not you can apply blanket modifiers (whatever we choose to apply) to a meta-trait, or if the best way to apply a meta-trait is via Alternate Form (If you can turn into a Fire Elemental via Divine Powers or Sorcery, is it best to just have Body of Fire as the trait itself, or to have it as an alternate form, or some crazy affliction that only affects you?).
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Alternate Forms as Alternate Abilities

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Originally Posted by Hellboy View Post
God doesn't automatically mean omnipotent, I've always preferred the 'very powerful beings' appraoch of GURPS Spirits to 'handwaive them' approach of GURPS Religion. Not sure which of those 3E approaches is taken in 4E.
I do agree, but OTOH, I prefer to avoid the 'it has stats, therefore we can kill it' approach of D&D. Also, for anything that gets put on-line, I really don't want to have gods that people can argue the power levels of (especially beings that are actively worshiped now-in-real-life), because that's a recipe for a flame-war. That's the main reason I prefer to use made-up gods or gods who have no or a very small modern following in the stuff I'm preparing for publication, or use GURPS Banestorm's 'no active gods' approach (because if I allow Divine Favor to a Christian, a Muslim, a Welsh Neopagan, and a Shintoist, and some of them aren't on the same side... well, you can imagine how this could cause problems).

Also why I use a more-or-less 'handwave them' approach in Five Earths: They could have stats, but mortals cannot comprehend them, nor compare the power level of God X to Goddess Y in a meaningful fashion, and the gods of separate pantheons prefer not to directly conflict with each other, anyway.
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