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Old 09-23-2014, 08:08 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Talent

Greetings, all!

Not seeing the usual weekly post for some days (it should've appeared around 20th), I'm posting this one.

Animal, 'normal person', Spirit and Plant Empathies seem like one of the more interesting traits there are in the game. There are slight differences between how they work, but the important similarities are:
  • They allow you to bypass Indomitable.
  • They allow you to bypass mutual non-Influencability barriers unrelated to Indomitable (e.g. between non-sapient dogs and sapient humans).
  • They give you an overall 'feel' of what the entity before you is like, emotionally speaking. Suffering? In anger? Friendly?
Then there are the differences. Only regular Empathy and Empath Talent include skill bonuses. Plant Empathy used on non-sapient plants tells more about health of the plant, since 'emotions' is a word that is hard to apply to plants. Animal/Plant/Spirit Empathy is much more often used as an enabling trait for Influences.

Empathy has an interesting synergy with Luck, since a successful Empathy roll allows one to call the GM to roll Reaction more-or-less in the open (SE26, "After a successful roll for one of these traits, make the reaction roll as
soon as the reaction occurs."). And thus it's easy to figure whether one needs to request a Luck Reroll.

Empathy has two big modifiers (applicable to all forms, except maybe the Empath Talent): Hypersensory -50%, which makes it suffer significant penalties unless the user can focus three senses on the target (so don't take it if your PC is blind/deaf/lacks a sense of smell), and Remote +50%, which allows one to use Empathy without a personal meeting (as long as you can either hear or see the target, even over phone or video).

There are at least three poor man's substitutes for Empathy: Discriminatory Smell with +50% Emotion Sense, Body Language (the skill) and Detect Lies. There are some differences in how they work, of course. Most notably, Detect Lies and Body Language can be resisted by Acting and other skills, which means that fooling a true Empath is harder; conversely, Empathy can't tell which part of a statement is a lie - it merely alerts the user that there is at least one lie in the statement.

I'm currently playing a character with Empath Talent 4, and I consider it totally worth the cost. In a way, knowing what NPCs 'feel like' is probably better than spending the same [20] on Reaction Bonuses, as long as one uses the knowledge to push their buttons properly (it takes some effort to pull off right). The boosted skillset helps too. SOP:Read People [1] is a must-have, IME.
Conversely, I've seen players have Empathy mostly lying around because they do not put their PCs into positions where they would benefit from the trait. I feel that it's one of those traits where you can't hope it'll just passively help you out all the time like Charisma or Serendipity does.
IME, people are less inclined to take Animal and Spirit Empathy (but not unheard of), and almost never Plant Empathy. I also feel that it's generally a better idea to shell out [20] for Empath Talent 4 than to get Empathy [15]. Sensitive [5] is kinda very, very meh.

What experiences do others have with the traits?
Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-23-2014, 03:23 PM   #2
johndallman
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

The nearest thing to a character with any of these abilities I've ever had is a Dependent - a teenage daughter who has Empathy and Healer talent and is currently on track to become an excellent psychiatric nurse, for whom there'll be plenty of work when WWII ends in a couple of years game time.

The main effect the spooky Empathy assessment has had was her realisation that one of the PCs is not quite as nice a chap as he presents himself as, and thus keeping herself and her sister safely out of his immensely attractive and glamorous way.

Empathy is much more useful if you have above-average IQ, since that improves your Empathy roll, and since all the skills Empathy boosts are IQ-based, the combination gives very good skills for relatively few points each.
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Old 09-23-2014, 03:34 PM   #3
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

I designed a super villainess who used Gadgeteer to create plant gadgets that would attack everyone or refuse to work for anyone who didn't have Plant Empathy.
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Old 09-23-2014, 04:04 PM   #4
simply Nathan
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

I've built NPC spellcasters to have Empathy as an enabler to buy lesser healing spells and PC spellcasters with Animal Empathy to skip certain prerequisites to the Animal spells they wanted.
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Old 09-23-2014, 09:02 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Greetings, all!

Not seeing the usual weekly post for some days (it should've appeared around 20th), I'm posting this one.
Apologies for running so late; I actually was finally going to get it up this evening. Despite referring to it as a Basic Advantage of the Week, I allow myself quite the range for when to post it because life gets in the way. I try not to jump the gun and post before Friday and I allow myself until Tuesday. It is splitting hairs, but I consider a post on Friday or Saturday to actually be for the "next" week. Probably because I struggle with deadlines so this way I've got a five day window. ^^'

I kept fighting to start this one early, so wouldn't you know it since I didn't and instead participated in some other threads I kept running out of time to do this thread justice and yesterday and most of today, I was simply busy. In short: My bad! Sorry for keeping everyone waiting.

I am glad that some are waiting for these threads; given that I personally derailed at least one of these threads, I was afraid people were getting sick of them. Bit worried you may have done a better job than me, vicky_molokh. ;)

While I've had characters with Animal Empathy before (including at least one where we remembered to run it correctly), it was under 3e rules, where it was much more potent, giving bonuses not just to reactions from Animals, but also to Animal related Skills. The modern version brings it more inline with the others and Talents. Oh, can it act as an optional prerequisite for some Animal College Spells still in 4e like it did in 3e? Otherwise it really requires a specific kind of character for Animal Empathy to be worth the price of Admission.
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Old 09-24-2014, 09:35 AM   #6
vicky_molokh
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
I kept fighting to start this one early, so wouldn't you know it since I didn't and instead participated in some other threads I kept running out of time to do this thread justice and yesterday and most of today, I was simply busy. In short: My bad! Sorry for keeping everyone waiting.
Anything I missed and/or you would've done differently?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
I am glad that some are waiting for these threads; given that I personally derailed at least one of these threads, I was afraid people were getting sick of them. Bit worried you may have done a better job than me, vicky_molokh. ;)
Okay that makes me even more curious.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
While I've had characters with Animal Empathy before (including at least one where we remembered to run it correctly), it was under 3e rules, where it was much more potent, giving bonuses not just to reactions from Animals, but also to Animal related Skills. The modern version brings it more inline with the others and Talents. Oh, can it act as an optional prerequisite for some Animal College Spells still in 4e like it did in 3e? Otherwise it really requires a specific kind of character for Animal Empathy to be worth the price of Admission.
Yes, 3e version(s) worked somewhat differently.
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Old 09-24-2014, 10:32 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Anything I missed and/or you would've done differently?
I like page references, especially since we aren't (for the obvious reasons) listing out the exact wording of the Advantages for reference. While it isn't exactly a daunting task to look up the primary entry for an Advantage, it is just a mild convenience.

Also... where is the Empath Talent from? I just haven't been certain as to whether I should do one generic entry for Talents or cover them individually. The latter seems like overkill (plus I only have access to talents from Basic Set and Powers), the former seems too vague. Still, since I wouldn't have included it, it would have been different. Note that I am glad you did include it!

I have been debating adding a number in the title and then including a list of previous week's reviews: that would allow me to work in "bonus" reviews (like when something is thoroughly discussed and done in a day and the thread then sits dead for 72 hours, maybe just 48). Any thoughts on that (from you or others participating)? Since I am trying to cover "like" traits together, I thought the combination of numbers and a list would make referencing discussions easier. Maybe the basic forum search functions are enough...

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Okay that makes me even more curious.
I review cards for certain trading card games on a website; its unpaid work (though when the magazine market was stronger, it lead to paid work); I am kind of obsessed with finding a good format that lets me break down what I am reviewing into its components and then put it all back together to really get an idea of what it has going for and against it.

I have not yet figured out a good format for GURPS Advantages... and perhaps I never will. The downside of my attempts is I worry I make things too drawn out and tedious for more experienced players (and possibly even new/ish players like myself). Also, I tend to get off on tangents unless I really watch myself, like how I think something "should" work, which especially in the first post is a bad idea. >.>

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Yes, 3e version(s) worked somewhat differently.
This was something else I might have included, provided I had the time and didn't think it too confusing. Knowing where these Advantages came from and how they have changed can be quite revealing, and even just knowing 3e and the basics of 4e I've still seen suggestions that amounted to "reversing" an edition change.
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:41 AM   #8
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
Also... where is the Empath Talent from?
I presume it's a Power Talent, from GURPS Powers or the new GURPS 4E Psionics line, rather than a Skill Talent. But I'm not sure, and I too am actually curious.
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Old 09-24-2014, 11:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

Quote:
Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
Also... where is the Empath Talent from?
Originally Pyramid #3/21 Cyberpunk, collected in Power-Ups 3: Talents. It is a bit of an oddity: it is a skill talent that also boosts the IQ roll for Empathy, or gives one at IQ-4 if you don't have the advantage.
Quote:
I just haven't been certain as to whether I should do one generic entry for Talents or cover them individually.
You really need Power-Ups 3: Talents before you can make that decision: it clarifies and extends the Talent rules significantly.
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Old 09-24-2014, 03:38 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Animal / human / Plant / Spirit Empathy, Empath Ta

I really dislike Animal Empathy. It lets you use the same influence skills on non-sapients that you can use on sapients, however somehow these become different skills when you do this: Sex Appeal lets you convince a Goose that complying with you will help it find a mate, but you can't use Sex Appeal to convince a person of the same thing. This also means that you can't easily make a person who manipulates non-sapients without good skills in manipulating sapients too, which seems to make a common enough archetype difficult. I think I'd much prefer it if Animal Empathy just let you use Animal Handling as a cinematic Influence skill.
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