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Old 04-06-2023, 03:39 PM   #1
johndallman
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

See Invisible [15] is an exotic physical advantage. It allows you to see creatures and objects that are invisible to normal vision. If there are multiple kinds of invisibility in the setting, you need to buy this advantage separately for each kind you want to see through. This advantage first appeared in GURPS Aliens for 3e.

Types of Invisibility are designated in the Basic Set by the kind of vision they affect, rather than their power source. This seems to imply that Invisibility is “physical,” done by making yourself transparent to the energy or field used by vision, or bending it around you. By default, all the kinds of vision that use the electromagnetic spectrum, from ultravision to radar, are “electromagnetic” vision, although static magnetic fields are different, as is sonar.

Powers refines the “types” of invisibility. They can either be descriptive, where See Invisible (Deception) would let you see through any kind of mental influence, irrespective of the power source. Alternatively, they can be specific to a power source: See Invisible (Magical) would let you see through any kind of magical invisibility, done by bending light, bending minds, or in any other magical way. Horror clarifies descriptive categories: if you have (Ghosts), you can see invisible ghosts, no matter how they achieve invisibility, which might be magic, psionics, other-worldliness, or other means. The Powers and Horror additions seem sounder than the Basic rule to me, and I’d use them under all circumstances.

Powers also adds an important enhancement. True Sight (+50%) lets you see through all kinds of deceptions related to the kind of Invisibility you can defeat. As well as Invisibility, this counters camouflage, disguises and illusions.

In GURPS supplements, Discworld uses the (Magic) and (Spirit) forms, and allows any form of See Invisible to counter its special Unnoticed advantage. DF14 Psi provides (Extradimensional) and DF20 Slayers has ‑50% “specialised” limitations for demons and ghosts. Horror builds mythical abilities on top of this advantage, and Infinite Worlds adds (Quantum Flows). Magic has a See Invisible spell, while Powers: the Weird offers (Hyperspatial). Psionic Powers adds (Astral) and the Exclusive limitation, which makes sense for other power sources.

I have experience with two forms of this advantage. As a player, my character in the occult WWII campaign had abilities related to vision, including Invisibility, so See Invisible (Magic/Spirit) was a natural upgrade after a few years. This was mostly useful for seeing what spirits were doing. There weren’t many living invisible opponents, but at one point, the borders of Germany were guarded by a great many ghosts.

As a GM, one of the characters in Infinite Cabal was built on the World-Walker template and had See Invisible (Quantum Flows). This was an excellent tool for me to give figurative descriptions of what was going on, with colour-coding of the kinds of things that were happening to the universe. An early high point was the description of the sky over an alternate Imperial Rome, which was simply a huge symbol of an eye, looking down at the city. The players decided for themselves that this required fright checks.

How has See Invisible played in your games?
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Old 04-07-2023, 12:40 AM   #2
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

A truly ancient GURPS worldbook, GURPS Riverworld, had an advantage which allowed characters to see otherwise invisible alien markings. That would best be modeled as a Quirk based on See Invisible or the advantage with a hefty Accessibility limitation.
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Old 04-07-2023, 08:42 AM   #3
whswhs
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

I actually prefer the Basic Set. I particularly don't care for the ability to see (invisible) ghosts regardless of how they achieve invisibility.
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Old 04-07-2023, 09:33 AM   #4
malloyd
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

I'm not too fond of the way the ability has been stretched either, but understand the temptation. Most GURPS visual sense advantages are more specific, Scanning Sense is active, and the generic sense advantage, Detect, doesn't work anything like vision at all, so if you are trying to build an ability to just [see] things it is perhaps the most logical choice, it's just stuck with an unfortunate name and cost.

A Visual Sense advantage, with See Invisible as an example alongside Infravision and the like, grouping this stuff and not actually specifying the cost structure very closely, same way Scanning Sense groups some rather different abilities, would've been better.
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Old 04-07-2023, 11:55 AM   #5
Phil Masters
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

Note that DF9 (Summoners) also makes extensive use of this advantage in the form of See Invisible (Spirits), giving it as an option to demonologists, necromancers, and shamans, and also to various spirits and spirit-adjacent supernatural beings which should obviously be aware of others of their kind.

My DF character, a necromancer, has the advantage. Frankly, it's been of limited use in situations mostly full of classic very material dungeon monsters, but it's all part of his style.
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Old 04-07-2023, 12:08 PM   #6
Anthony
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

I'm not a big fan of 'See Invisible' as an advantage at all. Usually the ability to see invisible creatures isn't a function of vision at all, it's a detect (likely with discriminatory, imaging, precise, and passive -- not all of which actually exist as enhancements AFAIK). Seeing invisible creatures is only an upgrade to vision when the creature isn't actually invisible, there's just some effect (such as an illusion) preventing spotting it and it's possible to be immune to the blocking effect.
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Old 04-07-2023, 12:58 PM   #7
Ulzgoroth
 
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
I'm not a big fan of 'See Invisible' as an advantage at all. Usually the ability to see invisible creatures isn't a function of vision at all, it's a detect (likely with discriminatory, imaging, precise, and passive -- not all of which actually exist as enhancements AFAIK). Seeing invisible creatures is only an upgrade to vision when the creature isn't actually invisible, there's just some effect (such as an illusion) preventing spotting it and it's possible to be immune to the blocking effect.
It's pretty common for seeing invisible things to be depicted as literally just seeing things where other people don't see things.
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Old 04-07-2023, 01:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
It's pretty common for seeing invisible things to be depicted as literally just seeing things where other people don't see things.
It's also pretty common to call that ability sixth sense, and it's almost always "see a very specific class of invisible things" -- which is the logical domain of a detect anyway. The core problem with "see invisible" is that invisibility isn't a quality, it's the absence of a quality.
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Old 04-07-2023, 01:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
It's also pretty common to call that ability sixth sense, and it's almost always "see a very specific class of invisible things" -- which is the logical domain of a detect anyway. The core problem with "see invisible" is that invisibility isn't a quality, it's the absence of a quality.
That is making assumptions about the base state and the nature of visibility that don't apply in all settings...

Or in GURPS' framework, though that isn't binding.


Also, I'm not sure it's true, except in the sense that many stories only have one class of invisible things.
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Old 04-07-2023, 02:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: See Invisible

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Also, I'm not sure it's true, except in the sense that many stories only have one class of invisible things.
Just about every story has air (which is invisible) and usually the person who can see invisible has no special ability to see air (they might be able to see air spirits).
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