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Old 10-14-2022, 03:51 PM   #21
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

I suspect that at least a portion of the motivation for Alternate Abilities is that many of GURPS's exotic and supernatural abilities are badly overpriced for the benefit they give compared to spending equivalent points on skills and attributes.
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Old 10-14-2022, 04:00 PM   #22
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Alternate abilities are expected to be different ways of manifesting the same underlying power, which is quite unlikely for abilities with different power sources.
Well that's one opinion, but as I said, I see nothing in the rules that says that has to be about the power modifier.

Last edited by Donny Brook; 10-14-2022 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 10-14-2022, 04:11 PM   #23
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

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Originally Posted by ravenfish View Post
I suspect that at least a portion of the motivation for Alternate Abilities is that many of GURPS's exotic and supernatural abilities are badly overpriced for the benefit they give compared to spending equivalent points on skills and attributes.
Additionally, many abilities scale in power in power exponentially with the number of points spent on them, which means that the cost of your most expensive ability is often a better gauge of power than the cost of all your abilities put together.

The two places I see power creep in gurps are in Alternate abilities, and in RPM. I generally don't mind it in alternate abilities, because of the overpricing of some traits (your point) and because the pricing produces a fairly good prediction of character power (my point).

But I do think that Alternate abilities was not originally intended to be used that way, and people have warped it beyond its intent. It don't think that's a bad thing though, because it results in extra abilities for PC's that are fun without being broken.

I remember being very resistant to ideas like sorcery and divine favor giving the discount to such large and diverse groups of abilities until I saw the rule in play and realized that its a better predictor of character power than the traditional accounting. Now I long for a way to use the discount on passive abilities that don't stack.
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Old 10-14-2022, 04:17 PM   #24
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

To me alternative abilities are like the Multipower power framework in Champions.
We have Modular Abilities and Wildcard powers as other options for these kinds of builds and I think they all come out roughly equivalent cost wise. Each having their own breakpoints and tradeoffs.

Also alternative abilities itself as a variation called redundant abilities.
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Old 10-14-2022, 06:02 PM   #25
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
The original point of Alternative Abilities (as Alternative Attacks p.B61) was to give you a price break for having two abilities that did basically the same thing.
Well, maybe. The root purpose is to give a discount for abilities that are less valuable than the sum of their parts, or where the inability to use them simultaneously is significantly limiting. The first is usually caused by redundancy, the second more because you would normally both be able to and want to use them at the same time (for example, if you had innate attack and DR as alternate abilities of one another, they aren't redundant, but being unable to use them simultaneously is still pretty limiting).
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Well that's one opinion, but as I said, I see nothing in the rules that says that has to be about the power modifier.
Sentence 1: "it often makes sense to define several abilities as different, mutually exclusive 'settings' of a single, adaptable trait". Later on, it states "The GM shouldn't permit abilities with incompatible in-game explanations as alternatives". In addition, "2. Anything that disables one ability disables the entire collection". None of those explicitly rule out different power modifiers, but it's very hard to meet the first two qualifications, and the third is tends to make power modifiers cumulative -- if you have a "PM: Magic" alternative ability, you won't be able to use any of your abilities in a no mana zone, even then ones that don't have that PM.
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Old 10-14-2022, 06:13 PM   #26
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

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None of those explicitly rule out different power modifiers
Like I said.
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Old 10-14-2022, 10:05 PM   #27
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

Given:
  • A character has a Power (note that that's not an Ability in Powers jargon)
  • That character has multiple Abilities in an AA group, representing the mutually exclusive way that Power can manifest or be employed for that character
  • The Power has a Power Modifier
Then it seems to me entirely logical that all abilities in the AA group would have the same PM. That may not be a black-and-white RAW statement. It's just a consequence of the logic that is the reason for creating the abilities and PM in the first place. If I've got Force Mojo that I can use in three ways, but only one at a time, then all three of those are logically Force abilities, all with the Force PM. If I've got one Force attack and another Force defense which can both be up at the same time (because that's useful), then I don't have an AA group -- again, because of the logic of the concept. If I can Force Push or Force Choke, but not both, then I've got an AA group. And it'd be really weird if both those abilities didn't have the Force PM.

If I can Force Push and Lekku Choke (cause I'm just that kind of special Twi'lek assassin), so I've got a Force PM ability and and a no-PM Choke trait, just a body part, then there's no compelling logic for putting those into an AA just to save point. "The character can't do both at once" isn't really the defining feature. You don't get all melee weapon skills after the first at 1/5 cost just because you can't swing a zweihander and a maul at the same time. You don't get Healing at 1/5 cost because it needs a Concentrate Maneuver, and you can't Concentrate while you're attacking with your lightsaber. The one-Maneuver-at-a-time Limitation is built into the character. That "natural" mutual exclusion isn't by itself a qualifier for creating an AA group.

So, it's back to the logic of the concept. Magic is probably the most versatile (Fireball and Healing both draw "mana"), but it can still have conceptual limits. Can you use two Sorcery spells at once? No, because in theory you can't channel that much mana in two different ways at once. Some sorcerors train to do that; they're the ones that buy the 2/N or 3/N version of the AA instead of the basic 1/N. Other magic systems might insist that Fireball and Healing are in fact different Powers ("life" or "positive energy" instead of "elemental Fire") and thus that you can't put them into a single AA group. The rules don't tell you which way It Must Always Be Done, because there's not just one way to represent the different possible concepts.

The original AA example was a grenade launcher -- either an Obscure (smoke) or an Innate Attack (HE). You couldn't load two grenades at once, or fire two at once, not because the character only gets one Attack but because the equipment doesn't have two barrels or an autoloading magazine. So it makes perfect sense that those are exclusive abilities and you have to switch between them.

If your concept has abilities using a common resource that you have to commit one way or another, it's quite possibly an AA group. And that resource might have a PM, in which case it's almost certainly the same for every member of the AA group, because they're all the same power used in different ways -- which is one of the defining characteristics of an AA group.

If you throw all your abilities into an AA group "because it's cheaper that way", all of which have different PMs because they're conceptually unrelated, then the build is just cheese, not a coherent concept.
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Old 10-14-2022, 11:36 PM   #28
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

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Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
Like I said.
They don't explicitly say anything, it's just pretty much impossible to qualify for alternative abilities without having the same power source.
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Old 10-15-2022, 02:23 AM   #29
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Default Re: [MH] Using Alternative Abilities for Powers

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
They don't explicitly say anything, it's just pretty much impossible to qualify for alternative abilities without having the same power source.
Yes, they do say something explicit. Again, page 11 of GURPS Powers, emphasis mine:

"Find each ability’s final cost after all enhancements and limitations (including the power modifier, if any), apply the divisor, and round up."

Obviously, power modifiers are not required.

Last edited by JulianLW; 10-15-2022 at 02:27 AM.
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