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Customizing Powers
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:35 am    Post subject: Customizing Powers Reply with quote

This is something Jordan and I brainstormed on in a series of back-and-forth emails.

Power Customization
You can tweak your powers with trappings (as per the usual Savage Worlds rules for trappings) and with Power Customizations. Each Power Hindrance and Power Advantage has a value, either negative or positive. You may select any number of Hindrances or Advantages, but the final value must equal +0.
The customizations below are only suggestions.

• Decreased Duration (−1): For a power with a duration, the base duration is decreased by 1 round, without decreasing the cost to use the power. This Hindrance may be taken any number of times per power.

• Decreased Range (−2): For a power with a calculated range, the range is halved. This Hindrance may be taken any number of times per power (e.g., the second time makes it 1/2 range; the third time makes it 1/4 range.)

• Easier Acquisition (+2): The Rank of this power is reduced by one step (not available if the power is already Novice level).

• Easier Activation (+2): The Spellcasting roll to activate this power has a +1 bonus. This Advantage may be taken only twice per power.

• Easier Maintenance (+1): For a power that can be maintained beyond its initial casting, the cost per round is reduced by 1 Power Point (minimum of 1). This Advantage may be taken any number of times per power.

• Extended Duration (+1): For a power with a duration, the base duration is increased by 1 round, without increasing the cost to use the power. This Advantage may be taken any number of times per power.

• Extended Range (+2): For a power with a calculated range, the range is doubled. This Advantage may be taken any number of times per power (e.g., the second time makes it Χ4 range; the third time makes it Χ8 range.)

• Harder Activation (−2): The Spellcasting roll to activate this power has a −1 penalty. This Hindrance may be taken only twice per power.

• Harder Maintenance (−1): For a power that can be maintained beyond its initial casting, the cost per round is increased by 1 Power Point. This Hindrance may be taken any number of times per power.

• Improved Effect: (+2) The power is more effective then usual. This effects the actual function of the power, such as damage die type, template size, and so on. For example, a bolt power with this hindrance would do a base of 2d8 damage rather than 2d6.

• Less Taxing: (+1) The Power Point cost of this power is reduced by 1 (minimum of 1). The cost to maintain the power is unchanged, however. This Advantage may be taken any number of times per power.

• Limited Effect: (−2) The power isn't as effective as usual. This effects the actual function of the power, such as damage die type, template size, and so on. For example, a bolt power with this hindrance would do a base of 2d4 damage rather than 2d6.

• More Taxing (−1): The Power Point cost of this power is increased by 1. The cost to maintain the power is unchanged, however. This Hindrance may be taken any number of times per power.

• Ranged (+1): For a power that normally has a range of Touch, it now has a range equal to the caster’s Smarts in game inches.

• Self Only (−1/−2): For a power that normally works on the caster and others, it now only works on the caster. The value for this Hindrance is −1 if the original power has a range of Touch, and −2 if it worked at a range.

• Touch Ranged (−2): For a power that normally has a range, it now has a range of Touch.

• Usable on Others (+2): For a power that normally only works on the caster (e.g., invisibility, shape change), it now has a range of Touch. This range can be further modified by the Ranged Advantage.
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's an example. This is a "D&D" style invisibility that ends when you attack.

Easier acquisition (+2, available at Novice), limited effect (-2, power ends if you make a Fighting, Shooting, Spellcasting, or Throwing roll).
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Merlin_Sylver
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting stuff... though the D&D style invisibility still allowed for non-damaging spellcasting (though any verbal component would definitely clue in anyone in the area).
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MightyCthulhu
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome!
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like it but I definitely see the potential for abuse. For example, at Legendary Rank, you could take Harder Acquisition x5 to make Bolt a Legendary power (for -10) and then add 3x Improved Effect (for +6), Easier Activation x2 (for +2), and Extended Range (for +2) to make Bolt able to do 3x 3d12 bolts with an effective short range of 48, but nigh impossible to miss (without other penalties) in less than 24. You could apply similar effects to Blast to make it a 3d12 area of effect within 24.

I still like the idea of a Legendary spell-slinger able to do that, but I thought it warranted pointing out.
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps we could limit it by saying that any one effect can only be applied twice?

Also, as with anything like this, the GM is the final arbiter in what is allowed. If a GM lets a player tweak a power like that, s/he gets what s/he deserves.

Of course, if players WANT to be able to do that, it means that the NPCs can do it, too. Twisted Evil
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re: Abuse:
I had surmised that there might be some value in having a sort of framework for adding bonuses or hindrances to existing powers, similar to how in Slipstream there's a give-and-take system to design alien races. However, just as I would be leery about letting players design their own races (My entire race has its bonuses and drawbacks designed ESPECIALLY to min-max my character role!), I'd be reluctant to come up with a broad framework meant to be used with all powers and just let players loose with it.

Re: Harder Acquisition:
I had imagined that there could be a benefit ("Easier Acquisition") wherein one would be willing to take a disadvantage for the sole purpose of getting a power at an earlier Rank you'd be able to otherwise ... a worthwhile goal, perhaps, if you're designing a character for a one-shot, or you're using the Superpowers framework, and you plan on having one and only one power for the entire campaign (and THAT is the one you want).

However, I don't think having the inverse to be true ("Harder Acquisition") is the way to go. If you aren't high enough Rank to get the power now that its Rank has been raised, it's moot: You aren't going to get the power. If, however, you ARE high enough Rank to get this power at its new, increased Rank, hey, you've just figured out a way to get some free benefits on the same power. Even worse, it's treated as a "-2" hindrance, so you get a pretty awesome deal for what is quite potentially no actual drawback to the character at all.

The only exception, I think, would be if there were any purely Rank-dependent mechanics, such as if you were using a no-Power-Points system where the Rank of a power determined its difficulty in casting.

The principle here is that someone might be willing to pay more to "get it now." That principle is already seen in the Savage Worlds game design in that you can, if you really want, buy up your Fighting to d12 even as a Novice character, and even if you only have an Agility of d6, but this comes at significant expense to your overall skill points. Fast-forward to Legendary Rank, and compare to a character who started with Fighting d6, but increased his Agility at every opportunity, and then increased Fighting to match it ... and the "slow-and-steady" character is probably going to be more powerful, Advance for Advance. The difference is that the now-"Weaker" character who blew a bunch of skill points on that high Fighting skill at character creation got to spend more of his career with that d12 Fighting.

If, however, we started a campaign with all Legendary characters (everyone starts with enough XP to allocate Advances to bring them up to Legendary), one's choices might change. There's a difference between having the advantage of getting to pick and choose all your Advances to work in concert with each other, toward a specific goal ... and having to actually LIVE with each of those interim steps over the course of a long campaign. (I witnessed this same phenomenon with D&D 3.5's "Feat trees," when we'd have players join our gaming group late into the campaign, and starting at higher than level 1; they could be far more efficient in their Feat selections when they could make all those choices at once, and get the benefits immediately.)

Limit of Modifiers:
Therefore, the idea of limiting all modifiers to the powers to "one step only" or "two steps only" might be a good suggestion to make in general, but I think in this case "Harder Acquisition" is just especially susceptible to the cheese factor by its very nature.

My interest in this would be to have some sort of guideline to the GM so he can figure out a way to fine-tune powers to give them flavor, without getting too far out of balance (or internally inconsistent). I don't know if the particular benefits listed are balanced (only playtesting could give a good idea of that), but I like the general concept.

After all, I've thought of situations in which, for instance, it would be neat to play some sort of "bard" type of character who can cast spells of protection or healing on his listeners, but the armor and heal powers have a range of touch only. Being able to protect or heal at range would represent a pretty significant benefit; it's not the sort of thing I, as a GM, would want to be giving to a player "for free" just because he happened to be lucky enough to pick a trapping where it "made sense" that it should be that way. There should be something to offset it, so that this "bard" isn't all-around better than playing a priest who has to actually touch the recipient to bestow magical benefits.
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Kendermage
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gotta love escalation. It's an ongoing rule in my games. I'm open to pretty much anything players want to suggest so long as they realize it can and will be used against them.
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jordan Peacock wrote:
Re: Harder Acquisition:
I had imagined that there could be a benefit ("Easier Acquisition") wherein one would be willing to take a disadvantage for the sole purpose of getting a power at an earlier Rank you'd be able to otherwise ... a worthwhile goal, perhaps, if you're designing a character for a one-shot, or you're using the Superpowers framework, and you plan on having one and only one power for the entire campaign (and THAT is the one you want).

However, I don't think having the inverse to be true ("Harder Acquisition") is the way to go.


Maybe that's just my desire for symmetry talking. I can see your points and they make perfect sense, but it feels odd to me to have a modifier go one way and not the other.

I think I'll let less persnickety heads prevail and do as you suggest and drop the Harder Acquisition modifier. Laughing
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Skyrock2
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great work.

There _are_ certainly loopholes if those guidelines are played to the hilt, but as a cheatsheet for modifying existing powers and deriving new ones, it sure should come in handy to get at least a ballpark figure. Snagged.
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Jordan Peacock
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SavageGamerGirl wrote:
Maybe that's just my desire for symmetry talking. I can see your points and they make perfect sense, but it feels odd to me to have a modifier go one way and not the other.


I can definitely sympathize with the desire for symmetry. My instinct is to see symmetry as an ideal design factor. The problem here, however, is ... hmm ... not sure if I'm applying the term correctly, but "selection bias"?

In this one particular instance, the power hindrance doesn't actually affect the utility of the power itself. It only affects WHEN you can get it (and you are by no means COMPELLED to get it at all). All other things considered equal, it doesn't impact the power's utility once you have it.

It's ... a weird exception, yeah, compared to the others. Wink
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EddieTheThird
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmmm... you can use this to cast a touch power at a range of 1/2 smarts with a +1 to the spell casting roll. interesting...
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take it that you only get the modified power, you don't also get the unmodified base power?




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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snate56 wrote:
I take it that you only get the modified power, you don't also get the unmodified base power?


As written, that's how I'd take it. Otherwise, this would represent pure net gain to Arcane Background users, if you get the normal power PLUS some customized bundle of pros-and-cons tailored to your liking. Why take plain old ordinary healing if you can take this new, improved healing that works exactly as the current one, OR you can take a -1 activation penalty to heal someone at range?

If you could SWITCH, that would be yet another advantage, but a modest one. It could add another interesting tactical layer, but it'd also be another layer of complexity. I'm not sure what would be the best way to balance it out. This is another one of those situations where I find myself wishing that, where powers were concerned, there could be "half-Advances."

(E.g., certain powers just don't seem quite as valuable as others; light is one example where I find it hard to imagine someone spending an entire Advance or power choice to get that one as opposed to bolt or healing, especially in a setting where flashlights are available and batteries abundant.)

Perhaps an Edge could let you add two "variant" powers to your repertoire. Each "variant" power would have to be the same as some power you already possess, but you get to change the trappings (if desired), and/or change the bonus-hindrance combination.

Forcing a character to spend a whole Advance to get New Power just to get essentially the SAME power but with some minor trapping differences seems a bit overly expensive, to my mind. Getting a "2-for-1" deal seems the easiest compromise to my mind (similar to how an Advance can let you increase two skills as long as they're less than their linked Attributes).
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snate56 wrote:
I take it that you only get the modified power, you don't also get the unmodified base power?


Right. As soon as you add one of the modifiers to a power, it becomes a new power.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:11 am    Post subject: Re: Customizing Powers Reply with quote

SavageGamerGirl wrote:
• Easier Activation (+1): The Spellcasting roll to activate this power has a +1 bonus. This Advantage may be taken only twice per power.


I would take this for every single power I had. There will be some -2 modifier worth a +2 bonus to the Trait roll. That's an automatic success barring a critical failure and almost doubles the chance of a raise on a d8 Spellcasting.

If kept, I'd suggest upping it to a +2 per +1.
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Definitely good advice. Thanks!

I guess I still have the idea of a +1 or even a +2 being not so impressive as a holdover from d20 games. I need to untrain myself of that. Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jordan Peacock wrote:
Perhaps an Edge could let you add two "variant" powers to your repertoire. Each "variant" power would have to be the same as some power you already possess, but you get to change the trappings (if desired), and/or change the bonus-hindrance combination.


Are you talking two variants of an existing power you already have?

If not, the ability to take two powers, I would make them both have a net cost of -1.



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Snate56 wrote:
If not, the ability to take two powers, I would make them both have a net cost of -1.


Sorry, I'm not quite able to work out this particular statement.

Regarding my own clarity issues:

New Edge: POWER VARIANTS
You may gain two new "powers" that are just variants of powers you already possess, with a different trapping and/or a different power customization.

Example:
Evan the Elementalist has the ice bolt power, which the GM has defined in this setting as the bolt power but with trappings of conjuring icicles out of the air and hurling them at a target. By taking this Edge, he can add two "new" versions of the bolt power to his repertoire, from those the GM has defined for the setting.

Fire bolt is the typical bolt power, only now it's fire.

Thunderclap is treated as bolt but it's a burst of air (and as a "trapping" detail, the GM has declared that this attack deals nonlethal rather than regular damage, which could be handy if the Elementalist is up against enemies he wants to subdue rather than kill).



Example:
Sister Mary, a Miracle-worker, has the healing and boost trait powers, with trappings of praying over the recipient to confer a blessing. She takes the Power Variants Edge, in order to pick up a couple of "variant" powers the GM has defined for this setting.

One of those is divine intervention, which is really just the healing power, but at range, offset by the drawback of being harder to activate.

The other is spirit infusion, which is really just the boost trait power, but limited to Self Only, and with Limited Effect (the GM decides that a suitable limitation would be that it can only be used on Spirit or on a Spirit-based trait, rather than ANY trait as is normally possible), in order to get some added bonus such as Extended Duration and/or Easier Activation.


So, the general idea here is to facilitate the ability to get another variation on what amounts to the same basic power, but with alterations that still might be worth getting. Evan the Elementalist is in one of those weird fantasy settings that's just chock full of monsters who are weak against fire but immune to cold damage, or immune to fire, but vulnerable to water (and "ice" is close enough), etc. Sister Mary's power variants really aren't about "trappings" (since she just prays and beneficial things happen for the faithful), but this way she can have a version of healing useful at range (for those times when she just can't reach everybody in need of help in a fight), but without compromising her ability to administer healing outside of combat.


That, I hope, helps to clarify what I was aiming for?

My first consideration had been something along the lines of, "Oh, just add a new +1 benefit to the power because you have variable options," but then I'd have to wonder what that would mean, exactly.

If it means that you get a healing power that still works exactly like the normal healing power when you want, but you have the option of applying healing at range (but with a penalty to your casting roll), then it's a net gain over just getting a plain healing power the normal way.

If it means that EITHER version of the healing power is saddled with some sort of hindrance, then, depending on how it's weighted, it might have been better to just stick with the "ranged healing" and take that lesser penalty.

E.g. Ranged Healing: Ranged [+1], More Taxing [-1] ... ranged healing, but +1 PP cost to cast.

OR

Ranged Healing: Ranged [+1], Variable Effect [+1], More Taxing x2 [-2] ... ranged healing, but +2 PP cost to cast. Alternate Version Healing: Variable Effect [+1], More Taxing [-1] ... Usable as regular healing power, but with the same penalties I would have had if I'd just gone with the ordinary, non-variable Ranged Healing version above.


By the way - is it just my imagination, or did the modifiers get edited? I thought that Harder Activation was a -1 earlier, but now it seems to be a -2.
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SavageGamerGirl
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jordan Peacock wrote:
By the way - is it just my imagination, or did the modifiers get edited? I thought that Harder Activation was a -1 earlier, but now it seems to be a -2.


You're not imagining things. I'm adjusting the OP based on input. You'll also notice that the "Harder Acquisition" modifier is gone, too.
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