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Old 01-08-2018, 11:19 AM   #1
Otaku
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

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If you're new to this series or just want to leave feedback about it, check out the Introduction Thread. If you need help finding something we've already discussed, johndallman is maintaining an index of which traits we've discussed.

Basic

Elastic Skin (p. B51) is an Exotic, Physical Advantage that costs 20 CP, and allows the character in question to alter its physical appearance in a limited fashion. Elastic Skin allows its user to replicate the features of anyone of your own or a very similar race, including specific individuals. The character with this trait takes 10 seconds to adjust its skin and facial features, and if copying a specific individual, also a Disguise Roll. To change back to your normal appearance takes three seconds. Things like makeup and clothing do not change, but based on some Discord discussion, "features" may include hair and skin tone, with "race" referring to the GURPS term, not the general usage. Thus a human that possesses Elastic Skin can attempt to look like any specific human and even some non-humans if they are close enough; stereotypical elves, vampires, etc. The final sentence of its [Basic] entry states Elastic Skin grants a +4 to all disguise rolls, but I'm not 100% certain that applies to the roll to actively copy someone through Elastic Skin.

There are many traits related to Elastic Skin. None are prerequisites for Elastic Skin and none feature Elastic Skin as a prerequisite, at least in the general rules. Some, like Shapeshifting (Morph), may make Elastic Skin redundant; then again, redundancy isn't always bad when it comes to character abilities.

Other Supplements
  • GURPS Powers gives us more detail on what the baseline form of Elastic Skin entails, as well as how to tweak it for other situations. It also helps to explain its relationship with other similar or alternate traits, power sources, etc. No new Modifiers unique to Elastic Skin are presented, but you will find a few - like Glamour (p. P111) or Once On, Says On (p. P109) - that are meant for traits like (and including) Elastic Skin.
  • Elastic Skin does pop up in GURPS Social Engineering but in the minutiae of other subjects.
  • GURPS Supers contains some new Powers that include Elastic Skin, and it shows up in some of the templates.
  • GURPS Update doesn't detail the trait, but at least it lists it and lets you know the cost and name are the same in 3e.

Past Editions
While the name and CP cost is the same, the Third Edition version Elastic Skin (Compendium I, Page 53) has some notable differences; a fatigue cost (1 FP) to use, and no general bonus to Disguise rolls; the text does mention a Disguise Roll at +4, but that is to copy a specific individual (which may clarify the earlier text).


Useful Links

As always, feel free to suggest additions to this section. :)
Discussion Starters

This is (usually) a generic list of questions for those who want to participate in the discussion but need a little help. If you already know what you want to say, feel free to skip these. ;)
  • Have you ever taken this trait for one of your PCs or NPCs? How did it work out?
  • Is there anything this trait does really well?
  • Is there anything you think this trait could or should do differently?
  • Any related traits you believe are necessary for full discussion? Go ahead and bring them up, but remember that this is a thread for Elastic Skin.
  • Any thoughts on how the 4e version of these traits compares to them in earlier editions?
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Last edited by Otaku; 01-15-2018 at 10:12 PM.
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Old 01-08-2018, 11:56 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

The description of Disguise skill makes it clear that the +4 for Elastic Skin does apply to all Disguise rolls. I think this is because the advantage is "superb equipment" for any kind of disguise.

IF Elastic Skin has the Biological power modifier, it might well have Takes Extra Time. Iain M Banks' novel Consider Phlebas has a character with this combination, with good examples of when it works well, and when it doesn't.
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Old 01-08-2018, 02:24 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

I love elastic skin. Its a fun advantage to play with, its cheap, its versatile, and its really hard to Munchkin.

Elastic skin is often overshadowed by Morph. In particular, I have a pet peeve about people using Morph (cosmetic) when they should be using elastic skin. If all you want to do is change your outer appearance, use elastic skin.

I've never played a PC with this advantage, though I've built a lot of NPC's with it and I constantly suggest it to people who are having trouble with their builds.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
The description of Disguise skill makes it clear that the +4 for Elastic Skin does apply to all Disguise rolls. I think this is because the advantage is "superb equipment" for any kind of disguise.
I think it is a specific case of the Using Abilities with Skills rules in Powers.
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Old 01-08-2018, 04:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

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Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Elastic skin is often overshadowed by Morph. In particular, I have a pet peeve about people using Morph (cosmetic) when they should be using elastic skin. If all you want to do is change your outer appearance, use elastic skin.
Eh, I'd probably reverse that and change Elastic Skin to be a special case of Morph -- it's basically Morph (Cosmetic -50%, Retains Shape -20%, Same Race Only -10%), it just has the problem that if written up that way it runs into the -80% cap on limitations.
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Old 01-09-2018, 01:58 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

An important benefit of Morph is that it includes Mimicry, while ES doesn't.
Also, I'm pretty sure there's a Krommquote comparing Morph and Elastic Skin:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm View Post
Elastic Skin [20] = Morph (Cosmetic, -50%; No Mimicry, -10%; Retains Shape, -20%) [20]
  • Cosmetic, at -50%, is a standard modifier for Morph.
  • No Mimicry means exactly what it says: you can't fake other peoples' voices. You can do this with Morph . . . it's meant to be the all-in-one change. Since Mimicry is 10 points against Morph's 100 points, this is -10%.
  • Retains Shape, at -20%, is a standard modifier for Morph.
  • The limited "slots" of Morph vs. the need for Disguise rolls with Elastic Skin trade off. That's a +0% special effect.
And that's that. Morph with Cosmetic alone does allow voice mimicry and does allow changes in morphology. For game-balance purposes, it's assumed that these effects never grant or remove actual attribute levels, advantages, disadvantages, etc. Those who think this latter point is silly or troublesome shouldn't allow Cosmetic. That's in the very nature of Cosmetic. Anything more is really closer to full-blown Morph.
(It seems subtly linked in the OP.)
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Last edited by vicky_molokh; 01-09-2018 at 02:19 AM.
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Old 01-09-2018, 06:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Eh, I'd probably reverse that and change Elastic Skin to be a special case of Morph -- it's basically Morph (Cosmetic -50%, Retains Shape -20%, Same Race Only -10%), it just has the problem that if written up that way it runs into the -80% cap on limitations.
While it does look like Elastic Skin is a bit more limited than what Kromm's old post would suggest, it seems like Retains Shape is supposed to account for all of what "Same Race Only" would encompass.
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Old 01-09-2018, 07:29 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

Quote:
Originally Posted by Not another shrubbery View Post
While it does look like Elastic Skin is a bit more limited than what Kromm's old post would suggest, it seems like Retains Shape is supposed to account for all of what "Same Race Only" would encompass.
A human should be able to imitate a Vulcan and vice versa, though, so Shape seems more accurate than Race.
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Old 01-09-2018, 11:05 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
A human should be able to imitate a Vulcan and vice versa, though, so Shape seems more accurate than Race.
Certainly that is the case in Consider Phlebas.
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week (#47): Elastic Skin

Quote:
Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
A human should be able to imitate a Vulcan and vice versa, though, so Shape seems more accurate than Race.
Race is hard to define in reality. In fictions with magic and/or pseudoscience biology, I think it becomes near meaningless "fluff".
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