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Old 09-30-2014, 11:08 AM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage Of the Week (#12): Appearance Levels

Last Week: Animal Empathy; Empathy; Empath Talent; Plant Empathy; Spirit Empathy
Next Week: Arm DX; High Manual Dexterity

A character's Appearance can be an Advantage, Disadvantage or zero point feature; the latter is in fact the default. This can be a bit confusing because if one needs to define a baseline, especially when characters of a different species/race are involved; it isn't too bad when humans are the logical point of common reference, but in a setting where they are rare or non-existent it can be "weird" when the mean, median or mode value is not "Average Appearance" because (for example) every Elf has Attractive or every Orc Unattractive as a part of their racial template.

Though there are many related traits, some with very heavy overlap while others are simply similar for giving a Reaction Modifier, Appearance Levels already seem "meaty" enough to be worth highlighting on their own. GURPS Basic Set Characters covers the fundamentals of physical Appearance Levels on p. 21. These levels follow a pattern, though with enough deviations or complications to make throw one off.

In terms of CP value, Reaction modifier(s), and name they are
  • [-24] (-6) Horrific
  • [-20] (-5) Monstrous
  • [-16] (-4) Hideous
  • [-08] (-2) Ugly
  • [-04] (-1) Unattractive
  • [000] (0) Average
  • [004] (+1) Attractive
  • [012] (+2/4) Handsome (or Beautiful)
  • [016] (+2/6) Very Handsome (or Very Beautiful)
  • [020] (+2/8) Transcendent

Appearances levels of Horrific, Monstrous and Transcendent are noted as being with GM permission as they may not be appropriate for PCs; the levels in between are also listed in GURPS Lite.

Values below "Attractive" have a single number while those above have a split to reflect an improved response to those that find your gender sexually attractive; it is worth noting that without applying a Modifier, the best Appearance bonus even a "Transcendent" character can receive from those not sexually attracted to them is a +2, the same bonus as the Handsome (or Beautiful) level.

There are two seeming "gaps" in the otherwise natural progression. The CP value and Reaction Penalty jumps between Monstrous and Ugly; there is no [-12] "Very Ugly" appearance that provides a -3 reaction penalty (which would fit the numbers and approximate naming scheme). Similarly, but not quite the same, on the positive side of Appearance there is a jump from costing 4 CP to 12 CP, where again the usual 4 point increments might indicate there should be a 8 CP value. Unlike on the negative side, here it becomes odd because the +1 for Attractive becomes a +2/4 split for Handsome (or Very Beautiful).

Modifiers are included on p.B21. Androgynous and Impressive allow characters to accept a single bonus instead of the split for the higher Appearance levels. The value is +0% and it changes the split values to +3, +4 and +5, respectively. The "special effect" are that Androgynous individuals, as the term implies, have their good looks in a manner that is equally appealing to both sexes while Impressive more about exceptional physical presence instead of sex appeal.

The Universal Enhancement adds 25% to your appearance and causes it to apply to anything that can see you; this also shifts you to the Modifiers used with Androgynous; this means members of another race/species can appreciate your appearance as well as your fellows. The Off-The-Shelf Looks Limitation (-50%) means your Attractive (or better) appearance obviously patterned after someone established benchmark, be it an actual celebrity or established ideal; whether real world cosmetic surgery, magic, ultra tech, etc. those familiar with your culture react with only half the usual bonus under the assumption familiarity will make it less impressive.

There are multiple Advantages that can effective improve Appearance. Again they will be covered in depth in their on (shared or solo) thread later on, like Fashion Sense, Elastic Skin, Morph, Modular Points (with the Physical Enhancement), etc. At this point they are mostly worth noting because your appearance can be modified by your actions, but intrinsic bonuses still need to be paid for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Appearance was priced so that it would cost the same as a global Reputation (+/-5 points per +/-1 to reactions) when modified with the Universal enhancement. There is no further depth or subtlety to the pricing. It's really that simple!
The above quote explains how the pricing for Appearance Levels works. There was recently a thread discussing some concerns with Appearance which you can read here. Another thread with suggestions for "Generalized Appearance" by Kuroshima can be found here.

As is often the case, I am holding back on some of my burning personal questions until the general discussion gets underway. So before I risk taking us to some strange places, what are your thoughts on Appearance Levels? How they are named, how they work, etc? Do you find that you or players you know favor certain levels over others?
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Last edited by Otaku; 11-03-2014 at 05:53 AM.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:18 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

I only know characters to have Attractive from being elves or pixies and Unattractive or Ugly from being monster races.
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth Latrans View Post
I only know characters to have Attractive from being elves or pixies and Unattractive or Ugly from being monster races.
Some players really have no interest. On the other hand I feel like I "need" to take Attractive [4] if at all possible unless my character is intentionally "plain" or of course a higher or lower Appearance. It is very hard to design a character to be "plain" in my experience. Illustrations (in my experience) always look above or below Average Appearance just because most lack the detail necessary to precisely hit "average".
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

I usually take positive appearance as I like cute characters, unless some particular idea calls for non cute
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

I tend to, when I think about Appearance, fret about Appearance across species and in cases where there may be more than one important standard in effect.

Actually, that Kromm-quote could point the way to complicating things if so desired. You can use the 'build as Reputation' basis to slice your Appearance up by what categories it applies to.


I would speculate that the reason the +2 level doesn't exist is that it would either be a too-tempting +2 to all (without specifying androgeny) or a perhaps unimpressive +1/+3. Or maybe I'm just projecting my bias in favor of reliability.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
Some players really have no interest. On the other hand I feel like I "need" to take Attractive [4] if at all possible unless my character is intentionally "plain" or of course a higher or lower Appearance. It is very hard to design a character to be "plain" in my experience. Illustrations (in my experience) always look above or below Average Appearance just because most lack the detail necessary to precisely hit "average".
I wonder whether this is actually a property of the art, or of the observer. That is, are the pictures really at least Attractive or Unattractive, or are you just seeing your own Reaction result as objectively supported? Plus or minus 1 is not enough to reliably swing random Reactions either way, after all. (The test would be to take a bunch of pictures and a bunch of viewers and see whether the consensus agreed with your calls.)
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Old 09-30-2014, 11:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

I always tend to think at least some measure of appearance would be cross species and that dragons kidnap the cute princesses first. Or do dragons have connoisseur ( princesses ) and thus know the difference between cute and not cute but not have their reaction rolls nodded?
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Old 09-30-2014, 12:06 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalzazz View Post
I always tend to think at least some measure of appearance would be cross species and that dragons kidnap the cute princesses first. Or do dragons have connoisseur ( princesses ) and thus know the difference between cute and not cute but not have their reaction rolls nodded?
Depending on your fantasy the princess may have Universal appearance. Check how non-sapient wildlife reacts to them...
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Old 09-30-2014, 12:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
I would speculate that the reason the +2 level doesn't exist is that it would either be a too-tempting +2 to all (without specifying androgeny) or a perhaps unimpressive +1/+3.
I tend to favor continuity and consistency over attempts to avoid 'good break points in the mechanics'. If something is "too tempting" doesn't that imply that it is something that players would value and want to play? Wouldn't that make the game more fun? In any case, if it competed with Combat Reflexes for points and offered a way for some 'bash bash' players to become a little more non-combat focused by giving them better odds at peaceful resolution is that really a bad thing?
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Old 09-30-2014, 12:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

Come to think of it, I can't imagine why Elastic Skin or Morph (even with Cosmetic Only) shouldn't let me change my appearance level. Would I then be obligated to buy improved Appearance with an Accessibility limitation?
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Old 09-30-2014, 01:07 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage Of the Week: Appearance Levels

Quote:
Originally Posted by benz72 View Post
I tend to favor continuity and consistency over attempts to avoid 'good break points in the mechanics'. If something is "too tempting" doesn't that imply that it is something that players would value and want to play? Wouldn't that make the game more fun? In any case, if it competed with Combat Reflexes for points and offered a way for some 'bash bash' players to become a little more non-combat focused by giving them better odds at peaceful resolution is that really a bad thing?
If the reason that they want it is that it's four points less than Handsome/Beautiful, that's not really about what would be fun to play, it's just point-scrounging. An activity I most certainly engage in, which is why I think suppressing a breakpoint might be desirable. Mechanically favored breakpoints make it harder to play characters who don't line up with them.

It is very difficult to imagine that +2 appearance for [8] would either offer an interesting tradeoff to Combat Reflexes or have any effect on the behavior of players inclined to violence as a first resort.

EDIT: Though +2 for [8] isn't a particularly interesting breakpoint if you don't see Androgynous +0% as carrying any load beyond the de-splitting effect.
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