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Buiding a Race with the new SWADE Power(U) Ability?

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  • Buiding a Race with the new SWADE Power(U) Ability?

    I'm currently building my final 2 races for a setting I'm homebrewing. The setting draws analogy to a mythology which has 2 races with the ability to magically shape change themselves into another creature or object. In previous homebrews (using SWD or SFC rules) when I allowed a single innate racial power like this, I typically allowed it to be evoked once every 6 hours. That worked well enough, because with the recharge rate of 1 power point/hour in SWD, that translated into roughly 6-10 pp's for the innate power - with the idea that the PC would sleep for at least a quarter of a day. I usually costed such an ability as +2 points; +3 in some case. With the new Power racial ability in SWADE though, it gives a heckuva big boost to an innate power like this by its use of the new Gifted AB. That +2 racial ability now grants the AB and it's 15 PP, which with the new recharge rate of 5pp/hour seem way too OP to me; that's a lot of potential activations per day!

    One of my problems with this being handled with the Gifted AB, is the need for the Focus skill. In my previous homebrews, I always allowed an attribute like Smarts or Spirit to activate an innate racial power, which meant a PC based on that race wasn't required to buy a skill; I allowed them to associate an AB skill if they wanted to. I'd like to do something similar, but it seems that the SWADE requirement for the PC to acquire the activating Focus skill might be a balancing factor for this new & powerful racial ability. Another problem I have, is that even though one of the 2 races is small, they both have the ability to shape change into a Size 0 creature. So allowing that for a Novice rank PC might skew game balance. TBH though, were I still building these races for SWD, I'd probably use the Disguise power instead, due to the very restrictive nature of the old Shape Shift. Then there's the problem that in my setting there really isn't a Focus skill - powers are clearly magical and activated with a Spellcasting skill, or arcanely technical and arcane device based like Weird Science. Based on the ancient history of the setting there really isn't a Gifted ability, but if push came to shove it's an area where I could compromise.

    Anyhow...SWADE allowing the Gifted AB for a racial ability like this iis nice and generous, but it seems like it's made allowing an innate racial power too OP. This is my 1st time building with SWADE though, so maybe I'm missing something obvious. If anyone could provide some feedback or make some suggestions, I'd appreciate it.
    Last edited by kronovan; 01-19-2019, 06:03 AM.

  • #2
    +2 is the cost of an Edge. So you could just as easily give a race AB Magic or Miracles at the same cost. It's balanced.

    Comment


    • #3
      Let's break this down

      1. Gifted/Focus is not a normal feature of your setting
      2. 15PP lets the race change too many times for your idea of the ability
      3. The ability to become Size 0 is too powerful for a Novice character

      So,

      1. Guess what, Gifted/Focus is the manner that SWADE uses for the mechanics of this ability. That doesn't mean any other character gets access to the ability.
      1a. Since these characters have an AB, the default is that they can't have another. Does this work in your setting?
      2. How often do you want these characters to be able to Shapechange? You can always shift the PP down. Alternately, you can have them use the No Power Points rules, perhaps with an additional caveat that multiple uses per day add additional penalties to the activation roll. In any event, consider dropping this to a 1 point ability if you significantly reduce its availability.
      3. I don't understand your concern with Size 0. Please elaborate on what the race can do and any restrictions you see. For example, is the small race (or both races, for that matter) only capable of taking on a single alternate form?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Brickulos View Post
        +2 is the cost of an Edge. So you could just as easily give a race AB Magic or Miracles at the same cost. It's balanced.
        Thanks for replying

        True an Arcane Background is an edge that only costs +2 like any other, but IMO an AB edge is a heckuva powerful ability to be granting a race. That's something I'd never do for any setting unless it was High magic, with magic permeating out of every nook & cranny. Typically, only humans can get such an AB at race creation without the cost of a hindrance. Giving it as a racial ability seems too generous - at least for the setting I've created. Which is one of my concerns with Gifted, since it's basically an AB that's restricted to 1 power.

        Thanks for the reply; those were perceptive interpretations.

        Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
        1. Guess what, Gifted/Focus is the manner that SWADE uses for the mechanics of this ability. That doesn't mean any other character gets access to the ability.
        1a. Since these characters have an AB, the default is that they can't have another. Does this work in your setting?
        The answer is...that only partly works. In the setting there are 2 paths to the arcane (I'll forgo actual AB names because they use a foreign language) that equate to AB Magic and AB Weird Science. Those are 2 separate/distinct paths and a character can only effectively pursue one - a foundation aspect of the setting outside of the SW play mechanic to only allow one AB. The 2 races that can shape change, can do so because they're born to the path of Magic by means of having that power; albeit they only have that 1 power, they need to train to master it, and if they wanted additional powers they would need to have AB Magic. Gifted partly works in that its linked Focus skill is Spirit based, because in the setting the Spellcasting skill and Magic are also Spirit based; Weird Science is Smarts based. Gifted doesn't work, in that it intro's a 3rd path in a setting where there's clearly 2 opposing, arcane paths; Magic and Weird Science are really opposing arcane poles. As I type this, I'm starting to think It might work better to use AB Magic instead of AB Gifted for this innate power; just not sure how much that might skew game balance?

        2. How often do you want these characters to be able to Shapechange? You can always shift the PP down. Alternately, you can have them use the No Power Points rules, perhaps with an additional caveat that multiple uses per day add additional penalties to the activation roll. In any event, consider dropping this to a 1 point ability if you significantly reduce its availability
        The No Power Points option doesn't work, because in the setting/mythology the use of Magic and Weird Science draw upon a character's ability to resist Fatigue. Characters have a pool of stamina that Magic activation and Weird Science siphons from; exhausting it causes them to become incapacitated. Because Fatigue is damn dangerous in SW, I've compromised by just using a pool of Power Points instead. To keep some of the flavor though, I've created a more dangerous version of Shorting, in that a true critical failure while shorting forces a roll on the Dynamic Backlash table. Interesting enough, I previously ran something similar with SWD based upon another mythology and had created my own equivalent of the shorting rule.
        The idea to shrink PPs down is a good suggestion and that might lessen any impacts on game balance if I did use AB Magic in place of Gifted.

        3. I don't understand your concern with Size 0. Please elaborate on what the race can do and any restrictions you see. For example, is the small race (or both races, for that matter) only capable of taking on a single alternate form?
        Yep, my reference to the small race was a bit misleading. The issue is that in the flavor of the mythology, both races should be able to shape change into a +0 size create at Novice rank. Otherwise the rank scale for that power is fine. Only allowing -2 or -1 size might need to be a compromise I need to live with though. Although, if I'm going to shrink power points, maybe allowing +0 size at Novice wouldn't be so unbalancing? There are some aspects of the mythology that just can't be adapted, like the ability to remain shape changed for days on end. As well, one of those races can shape change into inanimate objects such as household items, but when doing so they still maintain their racial attributes. Again as I'm typing I'm pondering (funny how that works) and I'm beginning to think that Disguise might be a better power. It's just that the -2 and -4 penalties to Notice a disguise don't seem steep enough for races that are so gifted at altering form - maybe those penalties need to be increased?
        Last edited by kronovan; 01-19-2019, 07:50 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          What are you trying to accomplish here? What is the closest equivalent to the shapechanging races and what can they change into? It is very difficult to answer questions in the abstract without understanding what you want to accomplish narratively.

          What I understand is
          • AB (Magic) and AB (Weird Science) are metaphysically opposed schools of magic, with Spellcasting based on Spirit instead of Smarts.
          • The shapechangers are aligned to the Magic school. Focus is Spirit based, so maybe that's okay.
          My missing pieces
          • What narrative limits exist for the shapechangers' shapechanging? This is the most important question. What do you want them to be able to do?
          • Is their shapechanging an inborn ability or a spell they all learn growing up? (Are they lycanthropes or druids?)
          • Can shapechangers learn other magic?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
            What are you trying to accomplish here?
            I'm really just trying to find a way to provide an innate shape changing ability that fits the 2 races, but at the same time isn't too OP for the setting.
            What is the closest equivalent to the shapechanging races and what can they change into?
            The truth is that the 2 races are analogous to an Eastern mythology and there really isn't an equivalent in any western/European mythology - at least none I've read. To add to that, the 2 races are not portrayed consistently in the surviving works of that mythology, so it's challenging and I have to be creative. The ability of heroes in Norse mythology to shape change into animals (like what Tolkien ran with in LotR) is the same as 1 of the 3 aspects of their shape changing. The ability of lycanthropes to shape change from Humans into werewolves really isn't like my 2 races. In a sense it's actually the reverse - while they do have a humanoid form with animal features, it's their common, benign form and not at all terrifying or menacing.

            What narrative limits exist for the shapechangers' shapechanging? This is the most important question. [I]What do you want them to be able to do?
            The 2 races are capable of being in animal form (albeit only 1 specific species), a humanoid form where they preserve some of their animal physical features and a mimic form where they're undistinguishable from humans and indeed any other race they mimic. In some of the writing from the original mythology they're more often present in the animal form, but in my setting in order to make them playable characters, I have them in their humanoid form by default. I should probably mention, that they can explore my setting's world in that humanoid form without hindrance; i.e. they're not uncommon and don't have hindrances like Ugly or Outsider. Narrative-wise, it's not always clear in the mythology writings if they always gain the racial features of the animal or race they shape change into. There's certainly some cases of morphing where it benefits or diminishes their physical attributes, while in other cases it's portrayed as a clever, sly disguise. TBH I could run with either flavor in my setting, but I lean towards the direction of true morphing.

            Is their shapechanging an inborn ability or a spell they all learn growing up? (Are they lycanthropes or druids?)
            They're shape changing ability is inborn, but they must practice it to truly master it . Which is why the scaling size by rank for the Shape Change power fits for the most part; just not so well at Novice rank.
            Can shapechangers learn other magic?
            Indeed both can learn other magic, with some becoming powerful Shamans or Mages. Both races are more innately attuned to magic, in that they have a jump on effectively using magical devices and magically enhanced weapons - not all characters can in my setting can. On the other hand, they're poor at tech & mechanical devices and both races have the All Thumbs hindrance.

            Anyhow, I hope that helps explain it better.
            Last edited by kronovan; 01-19-2019, 10:03 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Honestly, it sounds like your world has had Gifted all along, as racial magic. "... innate abilities that don’t fit into the usual tropes of magic, miracles, or psionics," that, "are often very unusual or unique for their setting."

              Originally posted by kronovan View Post
              I'm currently building my final 2 races for a setting I'm homebrewing. The setting draws analogy to a mythology which has 2 races with the ability to magically shape change themselves into another creature or object.
              Based upon your latest post, it sounds like you've got a couple of "werewolf" type races with an animal form, a human form, a hybrid form, and possibly an innate disguise effect.
              I'm going to ignore that last for now, since it's pretty OP to give that out for free, and balancing that needs it's own attention (for my mind).

              Racial Ability: Shifter (once; +2)
              Shifters utilize the Form Control (Spirit) skill to control their racial ability.
              Shifters have 15 Form Points. These recover at 5 per hour of rest. Power Points and Rapid Recharge do not affect Form Points.
              Shifters can use the shape change power to turn into a specific animal, based upon their Shifter species, using Form Points in place of Power Points.

              I'm not sure what Size 0 creature they're turning into. Dire wolves? Pythons and boa constrictors?
              Dogs and wolves are Size -1, cats are Size -3, most birds or prey are Size -3 or -2, and venomous snakes are mostly Size -3.
              Size 0 should be fine, unless the creature is unbalanced.

              The hybrid form is something else. People have different ideas about what that should do, so it's mechanics are going to change quite a bit depending upon the goals.
              I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
                Honestly, it sounds like your world has had Gifted all along, as racial magic. "... innate abilities that don’t fit into the usual tropes of magic, miracles, or psionics," that, "are often very unusual or unique for their setting."
                Thanks for the reply

                I can see where AB Gifted is the preferable way to handle it, as it's most in line with what the race building rules suggest. It's just all those PP's that the edge grants.

                Based upon your latest post, it sounds like you've got a couple of "werewolf" type races with an animal form, a human form, a hybrid form...
                Well, to go with the werewolf analogy, think of my 2 races this way; in their bestial-humanoid form, like a werewolf, they have some animal features like claws, animal-like eyes, fur, etc. Unlike a werewolf though, their bestial-humanoid form is not a form that other races run screaming from, fearing their seconds alive are numbered.. My 2 races bestial-humanoid form is their common state and the one in which they're most socially accepted and least feared by the other races of the setting. Like a werewolf they can also shape change to a single, smaller animal form; for both it's a size -3 animal. The real difference between them and a werewolf, is that the Human form is something they shape change to from their common bestial-Humanoid form. In that regard they're really the opposite of a werewolf, which shape changes from a Human into a fearsome, bestial-humanoid.

                ...and possibly an innate disguise effect. I'm going to ignore that last for now, since it's pretty OP to give that out for free, and balancing that needs it's own attention (for my mind).
                You know, when I read the new Shape Change power I completely missed this text:
                "...allowing the caster to take the form of any animal (including fantastic creatures such as dragons and hippogriffs if they exist in that setting, but not humanoids..."
                I was so caught up in the new and improved wording for the power, that I somehow missed that it wasn't changed to allow changing into a human, or another humanoid race. That's something my innate racial ability needs to support though.

                Racial Ability: Shifter (once; +2)
                Shifters utilize the Form Control (Spirit) skill to control their racial ability.
                Shifters have 15 Form Points. These recover at 5 per hour of rest. Power Points and Rapid Recharge do not affect Form Points.
                Shifters can use the shape change power to turn into a specific animal, based upon their Shifter species, using Form Points in place of Power Points.
                It's all good, but the 15 pp with 5 recharging per hour seems OP.

                I'm not sure what Size 0 creature they're turning into. Dire wolves? Pythons and boa constrictors?
                Dogs and wolves are Size -1, cats are Size -3, most birds or prey are Size -3 or -2, and venomous snakes are mostly Size -3.
                Size 0 should be fine, unless the creature is unbalanced.
                The size 0 would be Humans or other humanoids, their specific animal forms are size -3 canines.

                The hybrid form is something else. People have different ideas about what that should do, so it's mechanics are going to change quite a bit depending upon the goals.
                Yep that's the challenging part, as it's an important part of my setting. It might just be that I have to make a custom power. Or maybe the way to do it is to have a racial ability based upon AB Gifted, that has both the shape change and disguise powers. That said, it would be challenging to come up with enough negatives abilities to support a +3 one. Not to mention that Disguise is a Seasoned rank power.
                Last edited by kronovan; 01-20-2019, 02:03 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  So, your issue with your races is that you don't like letting them do their cool thing very often? Using the cool thing more than four times a day is something you consider over powered?
                  If that's the case then their ability is over powered and the races either need to be deleted or made not playable.

                  Game mechanics are either balanced or not. They don't magically become balanced because characters have a certain level or number of advances or whatever.
                  What usually happens in RPG design is than an overpowered ability gets introduced at some level of advancement and the counter for it gets introduced at the same level, and then people stroke their chins and gabble about how well balanced and designed it is, completely ignoring that any characters without the counter - or worse, without access to the counter - are completely screwed by the overpowered ability.
                  Locking balanced abilities behind some advancement barriers is an arbitrary, but reasonable, method to make more advance characters feel cooler and more powerful. But a balanced ability is balanced at character creation and at hyper-Legendary.

                  ...

                  Assuming you keep them playable, make the "hybrid form" the racial base-line; probably with Claws, low light vision, Size -1, and something else to balance that out. Then give them a custom version of the shape change power, that allows them to turn into a chihuahua* for 3 PP or a human for 5 PP, to go with their AB Gifted knock-off.
                  That's +2 for claws, +1 for LLV, -1 for Size, and +2 for Power, for a net +4 without that previously mentioned balancing - which requires more information than you've provided here, so good luck with that part.

                  Sure, they'll be able to transform into a human and maintain it for five and a half minutes, and then do that again in three hours, but it should be fine. Similarly, their rat-dog form is useful for a quick scouting run or hiding for a short time, but it shouldn't destroy your campaign.

                  * The only Size -3 canine I can think of.
                  I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kronovan View Post
                    The truth is that the 2 races are analogous to an Eastern mythology and there really isn't an equivalent in any western/European mythology - at least none I've read. To add to that, the 2 races are not portrayed consistently in the surviving works of that mythology, so it's challenging and I have to be creative.
                    Then what are you talking about???? Various yokai, fox maidens/kitsune/huli jing/kuminho, naga, vanara, what? Don't be coy, just tell us what you're looking for, with specifics to the versions you're specifically looking at. If we can deal with different imaginings of vampires or werewolves, we can deal with different versions of rakshasa.

                    When it comes to Power Points, remember that is takes xPP to initiate the change and maintain it for 5 rounds...30 seconds. Then it's 1PP for another 5 rounds, 6 seconds, after that. Like ValhallaGH said, up to about 5 and a half minutes at the novice level. And you can't regain PP while maintaining a power. Depending on what you want for your narrative, you could easily adjust durations outside of combat to minutes instead of rounds and I don't think you'd have a problem. (This would obviously then let them maintain an alternate form for 55 minutes.) Or, you could seriously tank the PP (or even do away with them and go to x uses/day) and change the duration of each change to permanent if you want greater facility as "infiltrators."

                    And this brings us back to the core question. What are you trying to adapt to your setting? We aren't stupid, and if you tell us what you want, we will be much better able to help. If we don't know, we can ask or use the google machine, or pull out a real book. Yes, even like a Time-Life book, if Briggs or Bulfinch of Goldman or Hamilton are unavailable.
                    Last edited by paladin2019; 01-20-2019, 04:09 PM. Reason: Fat-fingered ValhallaGH's handle

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by paladin2019 View Post
                      Then what are you talking about???? Various yokai, fox maidens/kitsune/huli jing/kuminho, naga, vanara, what? Don't be coy, just tell us what you're looking for, with specifics to the versions you're specifically looking at. If we can deal with different imaginings of vampires or werewolves, we can deal with different versions of rakshasa.
                      If I had to guess, I'd say the hengeyokai from Oriental Adventures. That's hard to adapt. Their shapeshifting is limited to only a few times per day, but it lasts until they do it again or someone undoes the previous transformation. Relying on AB (Gifted) and the included Power Points seems overpowered until you realize they can't maintain any shifted form for long. If their hybrid form is the default assumption, then they can't walk around a human settlement for very long without revealing who they are.

                      If my assumption is correct, then they should probably have AB (Super Powers). In any case, they'll need both Shape Change and either Disguise (Gifted) or Chameleon (Super Powers) to cover the mimic quality.

                      Comment


                      • ValhallaGH
                        ValhallaGH commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Yeah, if they're supposed to be shifted for hours or days then the SPC is the way to go.

                    • #12
                      Okay, so if I understand the problem right, you want a power that these guys get automatically whether they take ABs or not, but if they do, it uses the same pool of resources as that magic. The powers that exist don't fit. So let's make a new power and we can tweak it from there.

                      Altered Form
                      Rank: Novice
                      Cost: Special
                      Range: Self
                      Duration: Special

                      This power lets the user change into another form that is chosen when taking the power or back to their original form. The form must be equal or less in Racial ability points as the user. Non-living forms must be okayed by the GM. The form is always the same, they cannot modify the form to look like a different individual or version of form. The transformation is permanent until the power is used again. The cost starts at 1 PP and increases by 1 for each time used after the first. The cost will reduce by 1 every 24 hours.



                      So starting with this, it is a little more bookkeeping and a little more changing form than originally asked for, but the growing cost should keep that in line and allow it to be used with the new power point values and regen without unbalancing badly.

                      What do you think?

                      Comment


                      • ValhallaGH
                        ValhallaGH commented
                        Editing a comment
                        So, the player gets to build an entirely new Race when they take this power. And the cost is N + 1 - Y, min 1, where N is the number of times this power has been used and Y is the number of in character days since the player first used this power.

                        That's way too complicated.
                        The model isn't terrible but the execution is really clunky.

                      • Hannigan Rex
                        Hannigan Rex commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Well, I tried making it a general power that could be used beyond this specific instance. The intent of the racial build is for Kronovan to plug in human, or his special were-thing. If you want to just say, "change to a human" or "change into a choice from the core book", that works too. But I was trying to leave it applicable to other settings. In Low Life, you could be a Croach that changes into a Cremefillian. It is X turns into Y and back again. Aside from when the power is taken there is nothing else to track.

                        The cost is something you would have to track, yes. I don't find it any more difficult to track than say when I get to make natural healing rolls. The mechanic is central to the character type, so it wouldn't be something rarely referenced and forgotten to adjust. It would be addressed regularly. I think it is no more complex than tracking wounds, power points, or ammo. I understand some people don't want to do this.

                        So how would you modify it to work? Or do we just scrap the whole thing and start over?

                    • #13
                      If there is only one possible form, I would simply built it as a race, then add a +1 modifier (may take the appearance of a normal human, losing all special abilities and drawbacks). Sounds pretty balanced to me, no limit on how many times it can be used and wouldn't steal the show for any other races.

                      Comment


                      • Brickulos
                        Brickulos commented
                        Editing a comment
                        There's a negative racial trait in the Goon RPG called Altered Form where you have secondary form that you have transform into to enjoy the positive racial traits, but always suffer the negative traits. Seems like that might be altered to fit.

                    • #14
                      Originally posted by Hannigan Rex
                      So how would you modify it to work?
                      Hannigan Rex I like where your head is with this power idea, the implementation just needs refinement. Though I'm not sure it's the right fit for kronovan's issue.

                      Altered Form
                      Rank: Novice
                      Cost: 5 PP
                      Range: Self
                      Duration: 24 hours
                      The character can change races, temporarily. Choose one of the other available races in the setting; this power transforms the user into a unique, specific member of that race.

                      With a duration of 24 hours, it will last all day and you can get another entire day for just 1 power point. Only Disruption will end it prematurely. With an initial cost of 5, it shouldn't be used lightly or too frequently. By limiting it to other payable races you've ensured that the race balance is the same (unless the setting has unbalanced races, which is a different problem) without the danger of letting players create new races.
                      I'm not sure if it's actually balanced against disguise but the fact that it's limited to one, identifiable, person feels like it balances the lower rank and superior duration.
                      I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Thanks everyone for all the feedback and sorry for taking some time getting back - Mondays are challenging days for me to find the time to check forums. I feel I have enough to move forward. I'm going to use AB (Gifted) for these 2 races and also make it an AB of the path of Magic in my setting. I'm going to work around the Shape Change and Disguise powers and stay as close to their descriptions in SWADE as I can. There'll be some compromises, but after putting some thought into it I don't think it'll be so compromising that it'll significantly detract from the flavor of these 2 races.

                        And no, neither of their animal forms is a chihuahua - by "canines" I meant the Canine family, or more correctly Canidae.

                        Comment


                        • Jounichi
                          Jounichi commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Well, they *could* be a chihuahua. They're still part of that family.

                        • Brickulos
                          Brickulos commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Bet it's a fennec. Everything else is too big.
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