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Old 08-03-2017, 03:43 AM   #1
Pentaclegram
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Default Alternate Form And Once On Stays On

I'm currently building a magical girl with an alternate form, and while messing around with it I found what seems to be a pretty big issue with the Once On Stays On (OOSO) enhancement. If this has already been discussed and solved, please refer me to the solution; I did check the google machine but I wasn't able to turn up anything relevant.

Now, normally, with Alternate Form you apply only a flat 10% cost reduction to the alternate form point value, which makes sense as a combination Accessibility and Requires Time limitation that prevents point-crock abuse. However, with the +50% OOSO enhancement clarification in Powers, you pay full price for the abilities of the alternate form.

Now, I agree that limitations that don't actually limit anything shouldn't be worth points. Being able to stay in your alternate form forever, with no way to change you back against your will, should be worth more points than the default Alternate Form. But having OOSO on an alternate form is MORE expensive than just buying up the powers on your base form, even though it requires a 10 second concentrate to shift into or out of. There should be some sort of limitation that should be applied to those points, especially if it's unfeasible for the character to remain in that form forever due to social constraints (magical girls with parents and school, supers with a secret identity and dependents, etc).

I understand that this is much more cost-effective when you have multiple templates on your Alternate Form, but what about for characters with just a single template? In the case of the magical girl I am constructing now, having Alternate Form (OOSO) actually costs me more points than buying the abilities straight, which I would prefer not to do for thematic reasons.

Is there something I'm missing, or are single-template Alternate Forms just not balanced for OOSO?
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Old 08-03-2017, 05:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Alternate Form And Once On Stays On

The OOSO special modifier only applies to the base cost of the form, increasing it from 15 to 23 (assuming no other modifiers). See the second paragraph under Shapeshifting in Powers p74.
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Old 08-03-2017, 06:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Alternate Form And Once On Stays On

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Originally Posted by Not another shrubbery View Post
The OOSO special modifier only applies to the base cost of the form, increasing it from 15 to 23 (assuming no other modifiers). See the second paragraph under Shapeshifting in Powers p74.
That's true, but it also takes the "difference in point cost" and make it go from 90% to 100%. Which means, essentially, you pay full price for the abilities you only get to use in your AF. This isn't bad if you have 2+ AF's, but if you have only one AF there's not a lot of incentive to pay full price for abilities you can only use part of the time.
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Old 08-03-2017, 06:41 AM   #4
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Default Re: Alternate Form And Once On Stays On

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That's true, but it also takes the "difference in point cost" and make it go from 90% to 100%. Which means, essentially, you pay full price for the abilities you only get to use in your AF. This isn't bad if you have 2+ AF's, but if you have only one AF there's not a lot of incentive to pay full price for abilities you can only use part of the time.
But you can use them all the time if you want by staying in the alternate form forever. If there are reasons you can't stay in an alternate form all the time, those reasons are disadvantages either on the form template or your character as a whole - i.e. the Social Stigma (no legal identity) on your trans template, or your embarrassing Secret ("is a magic girl") or Duty (go to school) which you can't do in your legally not you trans form and still get marked present on you normal one. You get your point savings from those.

But sure, costing Alternate Form is all kinds of broken, mostly because it has to be in order to get away with treating it as something separate you can "add" to a character sheet rather than something that has to be built in with different limitations for different features from the beginning.
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Old 08-03-2017, 06:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: Alternate Form And Once On Stays On

Alternate Form is an alternate appearance power that also can swap out some traits. Even if you don't swap out your traits, you still look different.

It desperately needs a limitation to help distinguish between "I look nothing at all like my other form" and "I'm nearly impossible not to recognize as my other form". Having switchable traits is an enhancement in GURPS and Alternate Form + OOSO is basically a big wad of Switchable traits with a combination of obligatory Link +10% and Accessibility: Only when using $trait, +10% as appropriate - except you can have switchable disadvantages and mutually incompatible traits via this build, which is an important bit of rule breaking.

If every single trait on your AF template is already inherently switchable, you don't have problematic things like disadvantages or incompatible traits, you have no disguise value, and you only have one form, and you want OOSO then I would say you don't want Alternate Form at all, you have zero need for it, and you shouldn't use it.
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Old 08-03-2017, 06:57 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Bruno View Post
except you can have switchable disadvantages and mutually incompatible traits via this build, which is an important bit of rule breaking.
This *is* the source of most of the problems. The "proper" way to do an alternate form is probably something like bundle all the positive features (including any Not Disadvantaged traits needed to neutralize any disadvantages of your base form it lacks) into a meta-trait and apply limitations including with any disadvantages you want to have in the trans form as Temporary Disadvantages, remembering the total point savings can't exceed the full value of the disadvantage.
That's a considerably more complex and mathematically fussy build though.

Edit: Most indicative of the problem of the broken costs is does it make a difference which form you pick as your "base"? If picking the most expensive one as your base, paying full cost for that, and taking all your others at 15 points each comes out drastically more expensive than picking one of the others as a base, what justifies the savings? RAW we pretend it's that can be forced out limitation. If you lack that, and there is still a cost difference, there's a problem.
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Old 08-03-2017, 10:43 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
But you can use them all the time if you want by staying in the alternate form forever. If there are reasons you can't stay in an alternate form all the time, those reasons are disadvantages either on the form template or your character as a whole - i.e. the Social Stigma (no legal identity) on your trans template, or your embarrassing Secret ("is a magic girl") or Duty (go to school) which you can't do in your legally not you trans form and still get marked present on you normal one. You get your point savings from those.

But sure, costing Alternate Form is all kinds of broken, mostly because it has to be in order to get away with treating it as something separate you can "add" to a character sheet rather than something that has to be built in with different limitations for different features from the beginning.
Thanks for writing this up, it helped me understand the logic behind the design decisions a lot better. The inclusion of disadvantages in the racial template is something I wasn't even thinking about.

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If every single trait on your AF template is already inherently switchable, you don't have problematic things like disadvantages or incompatible traits, you have no disguise value, and you only have one form, and you want OOSO then I would say you don't want Alternate Form at all, you have zero need for it, and you shouldn't use it.
You are correct. I would like it if all of my character's abilities were switchable and I could ditch AF altogether, but that isn't the case, especially since making normally-constant advantages into activatable ones ends up costing more points (go figure). I ended up not going for OOSO (I just went with a maximum duration for the alternate form as my off button).
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Old 08-03-2017, 11:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: Alternate Form And Once On Stays On

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Originally Posted by Pentaclegram View Post
...especially since making normally-constant advantages into activatable ones ends up costing more points (go figure).
Well, of course that costs more points. You could just leave them on forever if you want to, but NOW you also have the option of turning them off, if and when it suits you. You have more choices, therefore it costs more points. If you can't understand why you'd ever want to on any given trait, then just don't take Switchable on it.
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Old 08-03-2017, 11:19 AM   #9
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Default Re: Alternate Form And Once On Stays On

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Originally Posted by Pentaclegram View Post
Thanks for writing this up, it helped me understand the logic behind the design decisions a lot better. The inclusion of disadvantages in the racial template is something I wasn't even thinking about.
Really? That was literally the biggest draw for my Players when they contemplated Alternate Form characters.
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Old 08-03-2017, 12:00 PM   #10
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Really? That was literally the biggest draw for my Players when they contemplated Alternate Form characters.
I just wanted to have powers that weren't active by default (to simulate a normal person by day) and a magical girl transformation sequence (complete with different outfit, equipment, and hair color). Someone on the forums pointed out Alternate Form, and it happened to be the thing that fit the bill best. I'd never used it or even contemplated using it before, so I hadn't really thought through all the implications.
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