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Old 08-10-2014, 05:36 PM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#5): Affliction

Last Week: Acute Senses
Next Week: Ally; Ally Group

This week we tackle a difficult one for me: Affliction. Why is it so challenging? It not only is it an Advantage that can be tailored to represent a variety of real world and fictional abilities, but its also something that (to my recollection) didn't exist in 3e, where essentially all of my play experience comes from.

For someone often playing the third edition of GURPS in what would later best qualify as "Power heavy" settings, distillation of so many Advantages used to represent some form of attack into three generic fields (Affliction, Binding and Innate Attack) was huge. Afflictions (Basic p.35-36; Powers p.39-41) cover baneful, nondamaging effects... and potentially some positive ones. By default an Affliction is treated as a ranged attack with 1/2D 10, Max 100, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A and Recoil 1: these can all be changed by using Modifiers, including causing them to work more like the Spells of the standard Magic system via Malediction (Basic p.106).

Under the default design guidelines, a target hit by an Affliction rolls again [HT+1-(Levels of Affliction)]: so a single level of Affliction means a roll against HT, two levels means HT-1, etc. If the target makes its HT roll, it is unaffected, while failure means the target is stunned, plus possibly more depending on the Enhancements that may be on Affliction; using its many modifiers, Affliction can cover the natural defenses of many animals, the supernatural, superpowers, technological devices, and probably some other areas I think fall under those headings but shouldn't. Unless you take an Enhancement, Afflictions don't stack; the strongest effect takes precedent. Multiple effects can even be inflicted at the same time if the Affliction is designed as such, and in those cases some effects can be secondary, which only kicks in if the subject fails its HT roll by five or more. This reduces the value of any such Enhancement by a factor of five; the +300% Enhancement "Heart Attack" drops to +60%... and yes that means an Affliction can directly kill you if it is designed as such.

Afflictions can reduce Attributes, negate Advantages, or inflict Disadvantages... but also can also be designed to Enhance a targets Attributes, negate Disadvantages or grant Advantages! The material is quite extensive, and at the risk of seeming lazy, I will simply allow everyone to look up the finer details themselves, though I will address such things upon request; I am never certain where I should draw the line when transcribing rules.

So how have Afflictions functioned in your campaigns? Do you regularly have to prohibit certain Enhancements or how many levels? Do you find it easy to represent existing things with Affliction or is it a pain tailoring it to the reality (even the fictional reality)?
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Last edited by Otaku; 10-28-2014 at 03:04 PM. Reason: Corrected typo on Max Range pointed out by tbrock1031
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Old 08-10-2014, 05:45 PM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

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By default an Affliction is treated as a ranged attack with 1/2D 10, Max 1000, Acc 3, RoF 1, Shots N/A and Recoil 1
Check your numbers; I'm pretty sure you hit an extra 0 on the Max Range.

As it is, the biggest issue for me with Afflictions is the default price of 10/level; with modifications allowing for afflicting advantages, I've hit prices of 80/level. That makes it extremely pricey.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

IIRC, Kromm once weighed in on 10 points for the first level and 2 or 3 for each additional level.

I've tried it at 3/additional and it works pretty well.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

Affliction can be extremely overpriced or extremely underpriced. It is the latter that players tend to purchase, which causes problems, as they end up much more powerful than the GM had intended the characters to be, and much more powerful than the other characters in the campaign.

The underpriced abilities are those with Maledictions, those with large areas, and especially, those that grant Advantages to others.

The overpriced are those Afflictions that are purchased in levels, or that have expensive enhancements that make the afflicted condition marginally worse. There's very little difference on the tactical level between being stunned and having a heart attack, but there's a major difference in terms of the price of the Affliction.

Further, offensive Afflictions are often easily replicated by technology. It's not worth a hundred points to replicate a grenade. In modern, sci-fi, or supers settings these are also overpriced.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:34 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

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IIRC, Kromm once weighed in on 10 points for the first level and 2 or 3 for each additional level.

I've tried it at 3/additional and it works pretty well.
He posted two different pricing ideas here, http://forums.sjgames.com/showthread...on#post1067049 with other options on how to price it as well.
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

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So how have Afflictions functioned in your campaigns? Do you regularly have to prohibit certain Enhancements or how many levels? Do you find it easy to represent existing things with Affliction or is it a pain tailoring it to the reality (even the fictional reality)?
I'd like to hear reports about/from players who have purchased multiple levels of Afflictions and are happy with that from a cost-benefit point of view.
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

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IIRC, Kromm once weighed in on 10 points for the first level and 2 or 3 for each additional level.

I've tried it at 3/additional and it works pretty well.
My initial house rule for this, if I were to try to fix GURPS, would be to say that each additional level, beyond the first, imposes a -2 penalty to the HT roll, not -1.

Kromm's suggestion, if implemented like that, would mean that each additional level would impose a -3 or even a -5 penatly, rather than -1.

Also, if I were to house rule Affliction, I'd split out Beneficial Affliction and make that a separate trait, with its own mechanics. And while I was at it I'd expand Blessed (Heroic Feats) to be more versatile, to become a Self-Buff trait, and probably recycle most if not all mechanics from Beneficial Affliction (which would then be Buff Other).

But if ignoring the problem of players (or GMs) wanting to have a "punchier" Affliction but being understandably uwilling to pay double cost for -1 to the HT resist roll or triple cost for -2, Affliction looks reasonably good to me.

I particularly like the idea of being able to induce Ecstacy or Euphoria in targets as a manipulative method, a sort of subtle and insidious brainwashing, and there's an NPC in my Ärth setting who does exactly that. I don't know much about her, but ignoring the fact that what she's doing is a learnable spell in the setting (and the too-low effect of more than one level), it'd be perfectly doable as a writeup in GURPS, an Affliction to induce either Euphoria or Ecstacy in the target, depending on how badly the WL resist roll fails, probably touch-range or with a stronger touch-based version and a weaker (AA) short-ranged version.
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Old 08-11-2014, 01:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

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Originally Posted by Edges View Post
IIRC, Kromm once weighed in on 10 points for the first level and 2 or 3 for each additional level.
That would change my attitude to it. I've looked at Afflictions a few times in a Magic as Powers campaign and they've always seemed too easy to resist at a single level, and very expensive at more than one level.
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

Affliction is an advantage that should be closely monitored by the GM, if the players are allowed to build their own afflictions. The reasons for it are that you can easily shoot yourself in the foot with it, and that you can easily create degenerate builds with it. The line between those two cases is narrow and slippery.
  • The way to shoot yourself on the foot with it, is by taking both enhancements and limitations. Affliction, by it's very nature, will often take over 400% worth of enhancements, and total enhancements in the 4 digit range are not unheard of. However, given it's low base cost, crippling limitations will only save you a pittance. The other way to shoot yourself in the foot is much less common, and much easier to spot, and it's by taking multiple levels if you took any enhancements[1].
  • Most degenerate builds are simply divided in two cases: taking enough limitations that you end up with a total modifier value of -80%[1], and then taking a lot of levels, or taking no limitations and a lot of enhancements [2]. On the first case, resistance becomes basically impossible for a ridiculously low point value, and you can perma-stun someone easily (rolls to recover from the stunning still take the level of the affliction as a penalty). On the second case, you pile up as many enhancements as you can afford, preferably ones that multiply the effect while only increasing the cost in an additive manner. Given that you won't take multiple levels, since the cost per level will be high, Malediction is almost mandatory. Degenerate cases are different, depending on if you're going for a beneficial or a baneful affliction
    • Beneficial afflictions are about giving traits to your friends. Malediction will serve to remove one roll (since they can decide to decline the resistance roll, resulting on an ability that depends only on the user's capabilities) and to remove the DR from the equation, as otherwise being armored would make your friends harder to buff. To make it degenerate, the easiest solution is to provide your friends with some sought after trait, and buff them all all the time. Remember that you can afflict yourself too! Now, for a ~20 point tax (affliction+malediction) you can give everyone (including yourself) your advantage of choice. This means, that in a 500 point supers game, you could end up taking an affliction that gives two levels of altered time rate, and constantly afflict yourself and your allies. You would play as a 480 point character, but your allies would play as 700 point characters.
    • Baneful afflictions are about messing with your foes. Malediction is your friend here too, because it not only makes resistance harder (it's a quick contest instead of an unpenalized resistance roll), eliminates the to hit roll (and you can easily make it so the range penalties for your ability are equal or less severe than the standard range penalties for ranged attacks), lets you ignore active defenses, and lets you ignore DR. Basically, baneful afflictions that take do not aim for -80% total limitations should almost always take Malediction. Beware cosmic, no rule of 16 on malediction afflictions. As for what effects to afflict on your target, well, HT penalty with margin based is stupid cheap, and provides poor man's cumulative effect, where each hit causes the next hit to hit harder (e.g. assume that you have an effective skill of 16 vs HT 14, and on the first attack, you win by 2, thus giving a -2 penalty to HT. The next attack, assuming identical rolls, will replace that with a -4 penalty to HT, since now resistance is two points lower, etc etc). Couple this with stunning, and your target won't ever recover. Area effect is a flat 5 points per level, and lets you cause whatever nastiness you wanted on everyone in the area. Selective area lets you avoid friendly fire.

So, what are the fair afflictions? that's the $1M question. The first rule is that any affliction should be checked by the GM, as newbies will often shoot themselves in the foot (by building overpriced afflictions and then complaining that their character is useless), while munchkins will instead create weapons of mass destruction for ridiculously low amounts of points.

[1] It might be worth taking a small enhancement to afflict an incapacitating condition (as they last minutes, and then result in stunning anyway), and enough limitations to cancel it, but that's one of the few enhancement+limitations builds that does not constitute shooting yourself in the foot. One option worth looking at, is attribute penalty to HT, as it's ridiculously cheap, and opens the target to nastier effects, though it requires going for a one-two punch.
[2] Again, you might take some limitations here that are either needed by some enhancements, such as aura with melee attack, or help you in some other way, such as Emanation and area effect.
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Old 08-11-2014, 04:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Affliction

Excellent points Kuroshima. I was musing about the costs of afflictions, but you put it much more concisely than I could have. This does lead to the question of how to fix the trait. I think the most major change that needs to be done is making the afflicted condition modify the base cost, instead of being a regular enhancement. For example, Affliction (Seizure) would have a base cost of [20], instead of [10] with a +100% enhancement. Additional enhancements and limitations modify this adjusted cost, instead of always going off of [10].
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