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Old 07-01-2021, 01:14 PM   #1
johndallman
 
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

Obscure [2/level] is an exotic physical advantage. You can produce some kind of effect that “jams” a human sense, or a sensory advantage, giving people using that sense ‑1 per level of your Obscure to detect you. This advantage appeared at GURPS 4e, as a generalisation of the 3e advantage Smoke.

Examples of Obscure include fog, radar jamming, and white noise for vision, radar and sound respectively. Ten levels of Obscure will block the affected sense entirely. By default, Obscure affects a two-yard radius, centred on you, but this can be modified with the Area Effect enhancement. By default, the boundaries of this area are easily detected with the affected sense (+1/level to Sense rolls).

Special modifiers for Obscure include Always On, ‑50%; Defensive, so that your own senses are not affected, +50%; Extended, +20% per extra sense affected; Ranged, +50%, which allows you to place the effect as a ranged attack (unlike most ranged powers, you can use it again before the duration expires and it thus costs more) and Stealthy, +100%, which makes the effect “invisible” and removes the bonus to detect the boundaries of the effect.

Ten levels of Obscure (Vision) with Stealthy costs the same as Invisibility, but doesn’t give the same effect. With Obscure, witnesses can’t see through you, so there’s clearly something going on; with Invisibility, there are no such clues. Obscure with Stealthy works better with senses that don’t form images.

Powers adds considerable detail, about types of senses, effects on Telecommunication that uses the same means as the obscured sense(s), stealth fields, weapons and other ranged attacks, and boundaries with other traits. It adds Limited, ‑20% or ‑40%, which limit its effects to a power source, or a specific power.

Obscure is used to model natural abilities like a squid’s ink glands, or skunk spray, as well as many kinds of equipment. It isn’t widely used in GURPS supplements, but Martial Arts suggests it as a chi power, and Monster Hunters Power-Ups 1 uses it to affect memories. Power-Ups 1: Imbuements provides ways to use this advantage via weapons, and PU5: Impulse Buys provides a way to make it permanent. Hippos can do Obscure with mud in Powers: Totems and Nature Spirits, and Psionic Powers reminds us that Obscure can make it harder to hit you, provides Anti-Targeting, ‑20%, which doesn’t make you harder to see, just harder to hit, plus a version that does provide Invisibility. Thaumatology: Chinese Elemental Powers uses Obscure for Power Blocks, and Thaumatology: Sorcery uses Obscure (Information Spells).

I don’t think I’ve ever used Obscure, as a GM or a player. I’ve used Chameleon, Invisibility and Silence as concealment powers, but never this one. Have you?
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Old 07-01-2021, 01:20 PM   #2
Christopher R. Rice
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

I expand on Obscure quite a bit in Pyramid #3/99: Death and Beyond (p. 9). Among the specialties for Obscure listed is Memory (which is where it appeared before Monster Hunters Power-Ups), Emotions, and Mundane Predictions.
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Old 07-01-2021, 02:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

Not only have I never used this disad, I don't think I've ever even noticed it.

How appropriate.
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Old 07-01-2021, 03:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

GURPS Furries includes Obscure for smell as one of the effects of skunk spray.
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Old 07-02-2021, 05:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

A couple of characters in my occult WWII game Irresponsible and Right have it – both from the same player, in fact. But that's it; I generally play at a high enough tech level that if you want an obvious concealment you can just drop a smoke grenade.

The only thing this (plus Stealthy) has over Invisibility for me is the area effect, and that's rarely something I want when I'm designing a character. (Though it might be used to justify the Got You Covered rule from Action 2, which one group immediately christened "Group Stealth".)

It seems more useful, really, as a baseline for specific effects from real or fictional sources that one's trying to model in GURPS than as a power in its own right.
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Old 07-02-2021, 05:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

I recall using it once to create a mage who couldn't be detected by magic.
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Old 07-02-2021, 08:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

Back in the Advantage of the Week: Invisibility thread, we talked about obscure a LOT. Probably about obscure as much as invisibility.

I like obscure. It doesn't come up too often, but when it does its dead useful.

In my current game about psionic agents trying to take over a spaceship, two of them have obscure. And they've both used it heavily for sneaking around.

I've represented kinetic fields of energy protecting a user from projectiles as obscure: the obscure gives a penalty to attack rolls from ballistic attacks. A very skilled attacker can place a bullet dead center in the field to get through, but its generally a fairly useful build.

Quote:
Obscure 10 (Pysical Projectiles, Defensive +50%, targeting only -20%, psi -10%) [22]
(this is also from the dreadstormer game, oddly enough)



I've toyed around with letting obscure represent weather granting generic penalties over an area to more than vision. Never run it in a game though. For example, wind giving a penalty to certain actions. Still haven't worked that out all the way though.
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Old 07-02-2021, 06:56 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
I've represented kinetic fields of energy protecting a user from projectiles as obscure: the obscure gives a penalty to attack rolls from ballistic attacks. A very skilled attacker can place a bullet dead center in the field to get through, but its generally a fairly useful build.
That's interesting. That's *very* interesting.
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Old 07-02-2021, 08:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

A small weakness in Obscure is that it assumes that all senses are created equal.

That isn't the case for relatively short-ranged senses like Smell or Vibration Sense, or a non-ranged sense like Taste.

I think it would be fair to apply a -20% Accessibility limitation to Obscure if it can only "jam" a relatively short-ranged sense, or a -40% limitation if it can only affect a non-ranged sense.
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Old 07-02-2021, 09:04 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Obscure

"Tasteless"
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