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Old 03-20-2006, 11:12 AM   #1
silverjoker
 
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Default Alternative ability, free points?

Ok, could someone explain what is the real purpose of ''Alternative Ability''. How it really works cause except for one specific situation or two, I find it totally unbalancing.

Say, if you buy a fire attack (5d burning bla bla bla...) and you mention that as well as overheating the place you can chill it. Then you can purchase a cold attack (5d burning bla bla bla...) for the fifth of the price.(As a part of a temperature control power) Sounds good. Since anyways you'd make a five dice attack and you can adapt it so it worth point but not the full for the attack.

But for an unrelated effect like a laser beam (5d burning bla bla bla...) turned into blinding ray (affliction blinding bla bla bla...). Isn't it unbalanced to save 80% of the cost just because crippling one ability would cripple the other.

Plus, there is many other ways to craft this effects. Selectivity, Variable, Link... Which all have a balanced cost. So why?

I must have miss something of this rule cause it is totally alien to me. Please tell me what you understood of this rule!
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Old 03-20-2006, 11:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Quote:
Originally Posted by silverjoker
Ok, could someone explain what is the real purpose of ''Alternative Ability''. How it really works cause except for one specific situation or two, I find it totally unbalancing.
It's optional. If you don't like it, don't use it. There are significant drawbacks to using Alternate Abilities - the most severe of which is probably the requirement of a Ready maneuver to switch among them - but yes, they're cheap. Like Super-Effort for Lifting ST, they exist to make modeling certain types of characters cheaper, but the GM doesn't have to allow that.
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Old 03-20-2006, 12:05 PM   #3
Kromm
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Alternative Abilities exist to avoid these kinds of situations:
"I dial my laser attack WAY back to dazzle the guy and blind him."
"Sorry, you can't."
"But I have Variable."
"Yeah, that just lets you change the number of dice. Blinding is an Affliction, and totally different."
"Er . . . okay, I burn his brain out and kill him, like all the others."

"I modulate the waves from my Radar ability to send a signal."
"Er, you can't. Radio is Telecommunication. You have Scanning Sense."
"But I could turn Radar off and on to send Morse Code?"
"Um, technically, no . . ."
"Lame."

"I shoot my icy Binding at the overheated machine, cooling it down."
"Ice is just a special effect. You can't cool anything with Binding."
"But it's ice . . ."
"It isn't Temperature Control, sorry."
"So how does this non-freezing ice work, then?"
If you don't see the problems there, then don't use Alternative Abilities. However, they've been playtested and most people think that they're fair. (And don't play Hero, because Multipowers with ultra slots will really scare you.)
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Old 03-20-2006, 02:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm
(And don't play Hero, because Multipowers with ultra slots will really scare you.)
And ECs and VPPs will terrify you beyond rational thought.
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Old 03-20-2006, 03:36 PM   #5
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Yeah, this Saturday is my last session in a Hero System campaign that I am running. While I have never ran GURPS, other than a false start campaign several years ago, I don't think GURPS is quite as easy to munchkin out as Hero System. Also, in reading it seems that you reach a point of diminishing returns much faster with Alternative Abilities in GURPS than you do with Multipower Ultra Slots (and even faster than with the similar construct in Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition). I believe that you are much less likely to see what I had players try to get away with in my Hero System game. I don't recall the last time that I had to say "hell no" so much.

Don't get me wrong, I am not bashing Hero System (or Mutants and Masterminds 2nd Edition). I think that it is a great system and I had a great time using it. I just agree with Kromm's assessment. I am considering trying GURPS next to see if it suits what I want better. God, I just hope the fights are faster!
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Old 03-20-2006, 05:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kromm
Alternative Abilities exist to avoid these kinds of situations:
Isn't that what "Using Abilities at Default" on p. PO173f. is for?
I don't think you need Alternative Abilities for it. If the player in your examples wants to use Affliction, Telecommunication or Temperature Control on a regular basis, he should pay full points for it IMO. If he only wants to use it every once in a while, "Using Abilities at Default" is fine.
Silverjoker, I find Alternative Abilities very unbalanced, too, and don't allow them in my campaign.
But I suppose that is a question of tastes...
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Old 03-20-2006, 05:56 PM   #7
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nikolai

But I suppose that is a question of tastes...
Entirely so.

But after running GURPS for close to 20 years and working on it for over 10, I've come to believe that when it comes to rating PC power from advantages, it's a fairly good model to say, "Consider his single, biggest ability, plus a small delta for all the other crud. Because, let's face it, if a player has spent 50% of his points on something, he'll try to use it for everything, all the time, anyhow." Attributes and skills don't really lend themselves to this view of things.

The main thing that Alternative Abilities does is acknowledge this and at least charge 1/5 cost for some of the tenuous stretches that the player would otherwise pay zero points for and bother the GM with (either succeeding and ticking off the other players or failing and sitting there being a fun-destroying lump). It also gives a real bonus to players who take the time to come up with consistent, focused character concepts where everything is linked together. Finally, it gives weapons and gadgets with multiple, related settings a point cost that roughly tracks dollar cost; a ray gun with "stun," "kill," and "flambé" settings rarely costs more than a separate stunner, death ray, and flamer . . . so why not do the same with points?

Anyhow, I consider it to be to advantages what DX, IQ, and Talents are for skills: a way to buy a lot of linked-together stuff at once, for cheaper than buying it one piece at a time. I can't see accepting that but not accepting Alternative Abilities, to be honest.
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Old 03-20-2006, 05:58 PM   #8
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

I will qualify my earlier post with this addition: while I am in favor of the "alternative attack" option on page 61 of GURPS Character, I couldn't see myself utilizing the "alternative abilities" option on page 11 of GURPS Powers, which seems a bit broader in scope. I can see the discount for variants of Affliction, Binding, and Innate Attack (and any combination of the three) but not for other Advantages.
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Old 03-20-2006, 07:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Hmm... I think I have an example.

Say a guy has a really weird power- he has a fire wisp he can summon at will, which can either propel him into the air (don't ask me how, though) or fly at someone doing 6 dice of burnination.

The catch is, the fire always has to be under his butt in order for him to fly. Therefore, he cannot do both at the same time- if he tried, he'd likely fall to his messy doom.

That's Alternative Abilities.
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Old 03-21-2006, 01:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Alternative ability, free points?

Exactly.

If I have the ability to manipulate gravity then I could have binding and flight. But if I can only do one at a time, then thats what alternate abilities covers.
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