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Old 08-02-2014, 09:48 AM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#4): Acute Senses

Last Week: Absolute Timing; Chronolocation
Next Week: Affliction

This week we'll be covering Acute Senses (Basic p. 35), though there will be heavy referencing of the Discriminatory Senses (Basic p.48) and Sensitive Touch (Basic p.83) Advantages; I vacillated between whether to cover them all at once or restrain myself and wait until later. In particular, there was some specific rules text that influenced me:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Powers p.47
If a high Sense roll is what matters, Acute Senses (p. B35) are more costeffective. Discriminatory Senses are priced as much for the ability to distinguish things non-visually as for their bonus to Sense rolls.
Combined with the way the Advantages work suggests to me that ultimately Acute Senses and Discriminatory Senses may best be thought of as some multifaceted, multi-tiered "thing": the former provides simple bonuses while the latter also provides bonuses because it takes the underlying sense to its next logical level.

Acute Senses represents superior senses compared to the norm, so each level grants +1 for all Sense rolls you make that pertain to that Sense. Skills that rely heavily on a specific sense will also gain a similar bonus. In most ways an Acute Sense functions as an extremely limited, improved Perception score for that specific sense. Back in 3e, Acute Senses were capped at 5 levels: I was unable to find such a rule for 4e but have a vague memory that could be based on 3e or could simply mean I embarrassingly and repeatedly kept overlooking it in my searching. You can buy an Acute Sense for any of the major human senses, and if a character possesses a non-standard sense (like Vibration Sense), with GM permission one can purchase the Advantage for that sense as well.

All Acute Senses have the same 2 points/level cost structure, and unless it involves an already Exotic or Supernatural Advantage, is Mundane. The four generic Acute Senses are:
  • Acute Hearing
  • Acute Taste and Smell
  • Acute Touch
  • Acute Vision

Of note, there is no distinction between primary, secondary or tertiary senses. Impairment of any of these senses is a Disadvantage, but the values are diverse: total Blindness (Basic p.124) is a -50 point Disadvantage while complete Deafness (Basic p.129) is valued at -20, No Sense of Smell (Basic p.146) is only worth -5 and Numb (also Basic p.146) is worth -20.

Similarly, the value of Discriminatory Senses (of which I would include Sensitive Touch as it provides similar bonuses for the sense of Touch as the others do for their respective senses) also vary, though significantly less. Discriminatory Hearing costs 15 points. Taste and smell are bundled together for Acute Senses but separate in this more advanced state: Discriminatory Smell is also worth 15 points while Discriminatory Taste is only worth 10 points. Taste and smell being combined into one Acute Sense both reflects their overlap in much of biology and perhaps suggests that separated out the two wouldn't be as valuable. In some creatures there are similar overlaps between other senses: apparently "smound" is a thing for at least rodents, where sound and smell are blended together in perception.

Sensitive Touch, as stated above, aligns with the Discriminatory "Sense" model. There is no equivalent for Vision. Powers p.47 suggests Hyperspectral Vision, but that seems more in line with hearing being augmented by Supsonic Hearing and Ultrahearing. A major point is that much of what a Discriminatory Sense adds is already part of standard vision.

So let us discuss the Acute Senses. Please share experience and thoughts over them. If someone has a list of Skills enhanced by Acute Senses handy, please share them! I won't bother with excuses or explanations; I don't have such a list handy and it would be most conducive to this discussion. I am particularly interested in knowing if the experience (or analysis) of other players indicates that the Acute Senses are indeed evenly matched or if some are simply better than others despite being priced the same. How well they have performed in general is also quite pertinent; are all are some bargains or are they a waste and you should just invest in a better Perception or Skill level?
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Last edited by Otaku; 10-28-2014 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

I don't think I've ever had a character with any Acute Senses.

I've seen another player with one, a Felicia-2 catgirl in THS, who had three different sense rolls for vision, hearing and smell, which actually slowed play owing to the potential for confusion.

Tactical Shooting made Acute Vision far more useful in several ways, and made me sorry that it can't be bought on existing characters, without special excuses. Still, there's always next time.
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Old 08-02-2014, 10:39 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

Maximum levels of Acute Senses achievable without being a freak of nature or a parahuman can be found in Bio-Tech: up to 3 levels.
----
Acute Vision is a good deal. There's a PC in my campaign with several levels, and it's good. He's not trying to munchkinise it, though. I'm betting that a fully visually-oriented character can get an even better deal out of it. Of note, the following skills take vision modifiers: Body Language, Lip Reading, Search (when visually searching for something), Tracking, probably others whenever visually trying to find something important.
And Quick Contests against several skills benefit from it: Camouflage, Filch, Holdout, Invisibility Art, Shadowing, Slight of Hand, Stealth (if in FoV), Traps (if in FoV).
----
One thing that often gets lost or forgotten:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Space 162
Some organisms on Earth have
polarized vision, which helps cut glare
and allows them to see better through
clouds and haze. Such creatures typi-
cally have two to four levels of Acute
Vision (Accessibility, Only to compen-
sate for glare and haze, -50%) [1/level].
That should probably help against some forms of Obscure.
----

Given the fuzziness of how exactly Parabolic Hearing works, it's commonly a better deal to take Acute Hearing instead.
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Old 08-02-2014, 11:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Acute Vision is a good deal. There's a PC in my campaign with several levels, and it's good. He's not trying to munchkinise it, though. I'm betting that a fully visually-oriented character can get an even better deal out of it. Of note, the following skills take vision modifiers: Body Language, Lip Reading, Search (when visually searching for something), Tracking, probably others whenever visually trying to find something important.
For comparison, the estimated best human visual acuity is a bit better than 20/10 (or 6/3 in metric scales). A 20/10 level lets you ignore a -2 range modifier, which I'd call Acute Vision +2; so I might go for Acute Vision +3 tops. Eagles apparently run around 20/4, which is five times range, which I'd call Acute Vision +4Śnot as a rare exception but as the species norm.

On the other hand, a cat's visual resolution is around a tenth as good as human, or 20/200Śworse than my uncorrected right eye but better than my uncorrected left. That's probably a -6 modifier to vision. The best compound eyes around, those of dragonflies, are down around 1/40 of human acuity, which would be -9 or -10; probably the simplest way to describe that would be to say that insects don't get the +10 "plain sight" modifier for the Mark I Eyeball.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:00 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
For comparison, the estimated best human visual acuity is a bit better than 20/10 (or 6/3 in metric scales). A 20/10 level lets you ignore a -2 range modifier, which I'd call Acute Vision +2; so I might go for Acute Vision +3 tops. Eagles apparently run around 20/4, which is five times range, which I'd call Acute Vision +4Śnot as a rare exception but as the species norm.

On the other hand, a cat's visual resolution is around a tenth as good as human, or 20/200Śworse than my uncorrected right eye but better than my uncorrected left. That's probably a -6 modifier to vision. The best compound eyes around, those of dragonflies, are down around 1/40 of human acuity, which would be -9 or -10; probably the simplest way to describe that would be to say that insects don't get the +10 "plain sight" modifier for the Mark I Eyeball.

Bill Stoddard
That all makes sense.
There should be a limitation for spotting movement only, especially for Compound Eyes.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

I like acute senses, but I often find myself picking and choosing which are available. Like, I don't much like acute smell/taste, as I'd rather have discriminatory smell/taste (unless we're all playing critters with that as a racial trait). Similarly, more than one and I think it's easier to simply raise perception.

So, my experience: EITHER Acute Sight OR Acute Hearing OR Perception, and never Acute Taste/Smell, only Discriminatory Smell. I also rarely bother with things like Telescopic vision or Parabolic hearing unless I'm doing something really specific.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
That all makes sense.
There should be a limitation for spotting movement only, especially for Compound Eyes.
You could call it Targeting Vision Only, maybe.

Expanded Arc, 360░, is +125%, and 240░ is +75%; the comparable visual advantages are 25 points and 15 points. Targeting Only is -40%, which suggests that Targeting Vision Only might be -8 points.

Bill Stoddard
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

Limiting realistic levels to a specific value of Acute Sense as opposed to a specific value of sense roll always bothered me. Why is IQ 12, Acute Vision +2 realistic, where IQ 10, Acute Vision +4 not?
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:16 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
I like acute senses, but I often find myself picking and choosing which are available. Like, I don't much like acute smell/taste, as I'd rather have discriminatory smell/taste (unless we're all playing critters with that as a racial trait). Similarly, more than one and I think it's easier to simply raise perception.

So, my experience: EITHER Acute Sight OR Acute Hearing OR Perception, and never Acute Taste/Smell, only Discriminatory Smell. I also rarely bother with things like Telescopic vision or Parabolic hearing unless I'm doing something really specific.
I have used Acute Smell for tracker types but yeah, most of the time I will go for Alertness/Perception unless its just bumping up 1 sense for concept.
Racial templates are where I see these used the most.
I disagree with you on Telescopic though, its great for snipers, spies, etc. Especially in a low tech game where you may not have gear to do it.
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Old 08-02-2014, 12:17 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Acute Senses

Quote:
Originally Posted by corwyn View Post
Limiting realistic levels to a specific value of Acute Sense as opposed to a specific value of sense roll always bothered me. Why is IQ 12, Acute Vision +2 realistic, where IQ 10, Acute Vision +4 not?
Sensing vs. Perceiving. Different processes.
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