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Old 06-27-2018, 09:21 PM   #1
Jinumon
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Default [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

Hey all,

I'm back at my Fantasy setting again after finding out that RPM wasn't right for it, and have decided to move toward working with Advantages instead.

I've always found the rules for Alternative Abilities (GURPS Powers, p. 11) to be particularly appropriate for recreating suits of powers that share a logical root, such as telekinesis. My primary concern is that flagging an Advantage as an "Alternative Ability" has always been an all-or-nothing affair, despite the fact that it comes with 3 separate drawbacks that might not all be appropriate to the power in question. Let's use Jean Grey (X-Men) as an example.

Jean Grey is an incredibly powerful telekinetic. She can move things with her mind. This is described/sold to us as a single power, and indeed if anything interferes with her ability to use telekinesis, all of her applications with it are lost (Flight, Telekinesis, Innate Attack, etc.), as per drawback 2 of Alternative Abilities. However, she can use her different Advantages simultaneously, hurling objects while levitating off the ground and other chicanery.

Other scenarios might depict other options, such as a gadget with numerous components that serve different functions, not allowing simultaneous use (drawback 1) but allowing one to switch from one to another if a component is disabled (drawback 2).

With this in mind, how much of a reduction is each piece of "Alternative Abilities" worth?

Is the allowance of some parts but not others simply too broken to allow? Just something to chew on.

Jinumon
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Old 06-27-2018, 09:54 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

Having abilities all shut down at once is really just a product of their being part of the same power. It's inherent in the modifiers of being shut down by special powers (-5%), being shut down by advanced technology (-5%), and/or being stopped by mundane technology and the like (-10%). It's not a special product of being AAs. (I think you CAN by things like Neutralize and Static narrowed down to just single abilities, but I don't think that's inherent in the way they work.)

The limitation that's special to AAs is that you can't use both of them at once. That's where you get "divide by 5."

I think it would probably be okay to say that if you want to be able to use two abilities at once, you buy the two most expensive AAs at full price, and then pay 1/5 for the lesser abilities. Does that help?
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinumon View Post
With this in mind, how much of a reduction is each piece of "Alternative Abilities" worth?
The way this is dealt with is to determine how many powers you want to use at once, and then buy that many of the abilities at full value starting with the most expensive and working your way down. The remaining abilities are bought as AAs.

For example (numbers completely pulled from whole cloth):

Singularity (a gravity manipulating super-hero) has Binding (Area, Engulfing, One Shot, Selective, Unbreakable) [45], Levitation [26], TK Bullet [30], TK Crush [30], TK Grab [60], and PK Shield [80].

Sing's Player doesn't think they'll need to be able to use anymore than three of these at a time (specifically Levitation, an Attack, and Shield). But they have to buy the three most expensive abilities if they want to be able to swap amongst the entire package 'at will'. So they have to buy PK Shield [80], TK Grab [60], and Binding [45] at full value and the rest at 1/5th cost (total of 203 points). This allows them to use three of their powers simultaneously every turn.

In this particular case they might be better off just buying Levitation and Shield as regular powers separately and then put TK Grab and the other powers in the AA set (in this case the AA set costs 81 points, which when added to Levitation and Shield is only 187 points). In this case they could then use Levitation and PK and one attack power every turn... whereas in the previous example they could use three attack powers if they somehow got three actual attacks (there are various ways of doing this) and wanted to use three different attack powers.
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I think it would probably be okay to say that if you want to be able to use two abilities at once, you buy the two most expensive AAs at full price, and then pay 1/5 for the lesser abilities. Does that help?
This.
Its RAW and you can do something a little more flexible.
For example buy the two most expensive powers at full cost and the next 3 at 1/5 cost. Now you can use any two powers at once.

Another (very expensive) option is a Wildcard power. Say buy TK at *4 cost and you can use it, plus any related power up to the same cost at the same time. This is from GURPS Supers p. 41 see box for Wildcard Powers.
Is more expensive but much more flexible.

Edit: Ninjaed by Eveeyeore while looking for the page number :)
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:48 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Edit: Ninjaed by Eveeyeore while looking for the page number :)
Well, we're even because Bill 'ninjaed' me while I was writing and editing my post... (yes, sometimes I write that slowly)
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Old 06-28-2018, 07:37 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

Have you looked at GURPS Thaumatology: Sorcery? The entire premise of the work is building a magic system using advantages. If you're going that route, I'd suggest also picking up most of the GURPS Power-Ups series, especially Power-Ups 4: Enhancements and Power-Ups 8: Limitations, but all of them can be helpful for flavoring advantage-based magic.
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Old 06-28-2018, 10:04 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

I think AA is one of the best modifiers in GURPS.

In one way it is an expression of the old 3e psi.

Psi:
Telesend, Mind Reading, Mind Probe, Suggestion, Illusion can all be linked together with AA. This means if a character has a resilience or negation of Mind Reading then the whole group is knocked out.

Also Neutralise can be linked together in a similar way:

Neutralise Psi, X, Y, Z
Again the whole group can be knocked out if you knock out one of the chain.

If a character can shoot lighting as an innate attack but also can direct to a single target or an area or rapid fire then they can all benefit from AA. However if the 'Earther' comes and drains one of his abilities then they are all drained.
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Old 06-28-2018, 10:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

AA is a good option for abilities that a character cannot use simultaneously (like attacks) and an adequate option for abilities that could be used simultaneously (such as most non-attacks). For example, you can build a competent psychic who possesses Mind Shield with Affliction and Fatigue Attack as alternate abilities of Mind Shield (representing different 'mental combat stances') and Mind Control with Mind Reading and Mind Probe as alternate abilities of Mind Control (representing different levels of mental contact).
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Old 06-28-2018, 11:12 AM   #9
Anaraxes
 
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Default Re: [Powers] Breaking Down "Alternative Abilities"

Also, a character can have more than one AA group. This would be a way to have several simultaneous powers, even if they're all theoretically from the same "root". Disabling an ability in one group doesn't disable the other groups. It's slightly less flexible than the "M active of N abilities" form, but does have that advantage.

(AAs are meant to be the same ability applied to different effects. The phrasing depends on what you mean by the word "power" -- or "ability", "origin", "source", or "root :))
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