Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

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squirrelly-sama
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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by squirrelly-sama » Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:23 pm

Jabroniville wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:52 am
A big issue with Communication, to me, is how expensive all the non-psychic variants are. I would argue that Telepathic Communication IS priced fairly, as that's a huge benefit to any group for 10-12 points. But Radio and the other things? That's pretty weird. A single radio costs 1/5 PP- a single Equipment Point (and Equipment is 1pp/rank). This is absurdly out of whack compared to almost everything else in the system.

The stuff about senses being showcased through the Link is interesting, and I hadn't really thought of that. It is, however, a feature of Telepaths in comics at times- sort of Affects Others Remote Sensing in a way. I also hadn't noticed that RAW says you can't communicate freely but they hand-waved it and said you could... that's kind of hilarious, lol. Like they couldn't just add another Extra to it? Did they feel it was pricey enough already?

The thing that annoys me most about it (since I don't pay much attention to the final points-cost of a character, as I'm more trying for "comics accuracy" than anything else) is all the stuff you have to add to it, THEN link to "Mind-Reading", in Telepath builds. EVERY TIME I have to either type all that out... or just cut & paste from Professor X or Saturn Girl. It ends up being a fairly pricey, word-heavy "Main Event" in an array for Telepath characters. It clogs up the builds a lot.

Annoyingly, the power can't really activate the "Pheromone Trail" ants leave, so I was left using a Feature for that trick, lol. I guess you can throw in "Communication 1 (Scent) (Triggered- Walking By) (Flaws: Limited to Ants, Touch Range)" or something.

Ideally, were I to create my own Communication Power:

COMMUNICATION (base: 1pp/rank, range: 1 mile, Area as default, can go back & forth)
Ranks: 1-5 (1 mile, several miles, nation-wide, planet-wide, universal?)
Extras: Selective, Mental +3

That way, an internal Radio that reached several miles would be 2 points, 4 if you wanted it to be Selective and nobody else with a radio could just overhear you. Someone with Telepathy would use cost 4 pp at one mile, 8 pp at several miles, etc. A solid charge, but not overwhelming and "never take this, ever".
The issue with Mental as a sense is that the game system just seems to give it all the benefits of other senses and then gives it even more without any downsides. Id's say rather than just having a mental sense extra at 3 per rank it might be a bit better to just split that up between the core benefits of the Mental Sense, it allows 2way communication, the target needs no reciever, It can be used to communicate more than just a single sense type of information, and I guess it's also subtle but that's more a flat extra.

Id' argue against the uses of Communication justifying it's price, even for Mental ones. In real life it is very important but in a game, especially one where the players are right next to each other the ability of the characters communicate is rather minimal and limited to what you can't get the GM to handwave away as in-character behavior when acting on OOC knowledge. And unlike Remote Sensing it doesn't allow the user to see things without all the effort of having to go to the location themself, your character or at least a character needs to actually scout it out to do so since they can only report what they saw.

And yeah, Pheromone trail sounds like a feature, it could also be Affects Others Only, Smell Dependent, Triggered Tracking.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by Woodclaw » Sat Sep 28, 2019 4:12 pm

squirrelly-sama wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 12:23 pm
Jabroniville wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:52 am
A big issue with Communication, to me, is how expensive all the non-psychic variants are. I would argue that Telepathic Communication IS priced fairly, as that's a huge benefit to any group for 10-12 points. But Radio and the other things? That's pretty weird. A single radio costs 1/5 PP- a single Equipment Point (and Equipment is 1pp/rank). This is absurdly out of whack compared to almost everything else in the system.

The stuff about senses being showcased through the Link is interesting, and I hadn't really thought of that. It is, however, a feature of Telepaths in comics at times- sort of Affects Others Remote Sensing in a way. I also hadn't noticed that RAW says you can't communicate freely but they hand-waved it and said you could... that's kind of hilarious, lol. Like they couldn't just add another Extra to it? Did they feel it was pricey enough already?

The thing that annoys me most about it (since I don't pay much attention to the final points-cost of a character, as I'm more trying for "comics accuracy" than anything else) is all the stuff you have to add to it, THEN link to "Mind-Reading", in Telepath builds. EVERY TIME I have to either type all that out... or just cut & paste from Professor X or Saturn Girl. It ends up being a fairly pricey, word-heavy "Main Event" in an array for Telepath characters. It clogs up the builds a lot.

Annoyingly, the power can't really activate the "Pheromone Trail" ants leave, so I was left using a Feature for that trick, lol. I guess you can throw in "Communication 1 (Scent) (Triggered- Walking By) (Flaws: Limited to Ants, Touch Range)" or something.

Ideally, were I to create my own Communication Power:

COMMUNICATION (base: 1pp/rank, range: 1 mile, Area as default, can go back & forth)
Ranks: 1-5 (1 mile, several miles, nation-wide, planet-wide, universal?)
Extras: Selective, Mental +3

That way, an internal Radio that reached several miles would be 2 points, 4 if you wanted it to be Selective and nobody else with a radio could just overhear you. Someone with Telepathy would use cost 4 pp at one mile, 8 pp at several miles, etc. A solid charge, but not overwhelming and "never take this, ever".
The issue with Mental as a sense is that the game system just seems to give it all the benefits of other senses and then gives it even more without any downsides. Id's say rather than just having a mental sense extra at 3 per rank it might be a bit better to just split that up between the core benefits of the Mental Sense, it allows 2way communication, the target needs no reciever, It can be used to communicate more than just a single sense type of information, and I guess it's also subtle but that's more a flat extra.

Id' argue against the uses of Communication justifying it's price, even for Mental ones. In real life it is very important but in a game, especially one where the players are right next to each other the ability of the characters communicate is rather minimal and limited to what you can't get the GM to handwave away as in-character behavior when acting on OOC knowledge. And unlike Remote Sensing it doesn't allow the user to see things without all the effort of having to go to the location themself, your character or at least a character needs to actually scout it out to do so since they can only report what they saw.

And yeah, Pheromone trail sounds like a feature, it could also be Affects Others Only, Smell Dependent, Triggered Tracking.
I would argue that the general problem with all Mental senses (and some effects by extension) is that the game doesn't provide a good framework to start with.
Visual senses are by default Ranged, Accurate and Acute.
Auditory senses are Acute, Ranged and Radius.
Etc.
With mental senses we don't have a frame of reference. This should mean that a default mental sense should have no modifier at all, but this seem counterintuitive given the usual representation of these powers in the comics.
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Power Talk: Comprehend

Post by squirrelly-sama » Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:56 pm

COMPREHEND (SENSORY)
Action: None • Range: Personal • Duration: Permanent • Cost: 2 points per rank
You can comprehend different sorts of communication. Each rank in this effect allows you to choose one of the following options:
  • ANIMALS
    You can either speak to or comprehend animals. You can ask questions and receive answers, although animals are not any more friendly or cooperative than normal. furthermore, wary and cunning animals are likely to be terse and evasive, while especially stupid ones make inane comments. If an animal is friendly toward you, it may do some favor or service for you. For 2 ranks you can both speak to and understand the “speech” of animals.
  • LANGUAGES
    You can either speak or understand the language of any intelligent creature. You can speak only one language at a time, although you can comprehend multiple languages at once. This effect does not enable you to speak with creatures that don’t possess a language. For 2 ranks you can both speak and understand all languages. For 3 ranks anyone able to hear you can understand what you’re saying, regardless of language. Being able to also read any language you comprehend requires 1 additional rank.
  • MACHINES
    You can communicate with electronic devices, making inquiries and understanding their replies. This requires two Comprehend ranks. Most are limited by their programming and peripherals in terms of what they “know,” and may not be able to answer some inquiries with anything other than an “unknown” or “not found.” At the GM’s discretion, you can use the Technology skill as an interaction skill when communicating with machines.
  • OBJECTS
    You can communicate with inanimate objects, granting them the ability to speak to you or simply “reading” impressions from them. This requires two Comprehend ranks. Objects only “know” about events directly affecting them or occurring in their immediate area. Gamemasters can apply the guidelines for Postcognition to this effect.
  • PLANTS
    You can communicate with plants, both normal plants and plant creatures. This requires two Comprehend ranks. A plant’s sense of its surroundings is limited, so it won’t be able to give (or recognize) detailed descriptions or answer questions about events outside its immediate vicinity.
  • SPIRITS
    You can communicate with incorporeal and normally invisible and inaudible spirit beings, such as ghosts or certain extradimensional entities, depending on the context of the setting. Rank 1 essentially allows you to function as a “medium” of sorts, able to perceive spirits and relay what you see and hear. Rank 2 allows you to be clearly under-stood by denizens of the spirit world, as well. At the GM’s discretion, this effect may extend to undead creatures, demons, or other supernatural entities, depending on the setting.
FLAWS
  • Type: You can only comprehend a broad type of subject (only elves, canines, avians, or sea creatures, for example). For an additional flaw, you can only comprehend a narrow type of subject (dogs, falcons, or dolphins, for example). Broad –1 cost per rank. Narrow –2 cost per rank.
------------------------------------------------------------

Comprehend, the power to communicate. ...wait.

Jokes aside Comprehend as an effect grants the power to communicate with something or someone you would not normally have the ability to. This power can range from useless to story breaking under the right circumstances to a way to ruin an entire type of gameplay forever if allowed. The effect is rather simple and straightforward this time, with little nuance to it's rules to play with. You pay a few points and you can go up to talk to plants, or dogs, or ask the villains computer what his search history looks like. At first glance this is a ...not entirely useless fluff power as it also opens up a lot of options that normally wouldn't be there and probably weren't just seeds planted by the GM to make your point investment not seem so pointless. At least in most cases. It only really becomes a nuisance when either the GM forgets you have it when trying to hide information (the old classic of asking the victim who killed him) or the GM has to plan around this ability in such a way that makes the power feel worthless (The murder took place in a ghost free zone, the first one you've ever encountered!).

The Power is divided into several distinct options to choose from each with their pre-defined rank requirements and interpretations.

Your Options
Animal: Requires 2 ranks to both speak to and understand animals, by RAW it's only purchased at 2 ranks rather than one rank for each. A 4 point investment normally to simply talk to animals as the power doesn't actually make the creatures any more receptive. The effect even recommends to the GM that they make most animals very unhelpful as well, either being too stupid or being entirely unwilling. This wouldn't have been so bad if the effect itself wasn't 4 points, the cost equivalent of turning invisible or seeing into the future or past. Just use Animal Empathy. Sure that sounds like a joke but it functions pretty much identically in most situations for a quarter of the price.

Animal as an option is fairly useful, one of the better picks actually. It's both ...moderately functional and offers good fluff you can't get entirely through other cheaper options. Even Animal Empathy doesn't allow full communication between the PC and animal making it more limited in sharing or gathering information. You can somewhat reliably get otherwise hidden information from animals or convince them to do useful things for you if you're persuasive enough. It offers the GM some fairly believable leeway in that they can keep animals out of places with important secrets or have them not be able to give too much away for various reasons like a lack of understanding of complex things or being shooed away during investigations or otherwise falling prey to something related to their animal nature rendering them believably unhelpful.

Languages: Requires 3 ranks, one each to speak, understand, and Read/Write in all languages. Technically cheaper than buying up ranks of language but practically it's about as expensive with very little benefit. Information about Languages is found in the Advantage section of the SRD and is rather eye opening. For one it outright admits that language barriers are something that would only ever come up if the GM deliberately wants to keep information from the group, making the power worthless as in that case the GM will likely come up with another gate as Language isn't really a thing comes up outside the rare MnM module. It tells the GM to just throw the owner of a language some pity for their purchase by giving them the occasional scene to show off they can speak another language which would never come up otherwise if you spent that point on something else.

A bit of a digression but this is something I feel is a general problem in MnM and one I rarely see anyone actually talk about, since when people do they just get called Min-Maxers or power gamers. The problem is that the game seems to charge a lot for fluff while still making powerful and general or even functionally identical abilities rather cheap and making it easy to compare the two in a cost/benefit analysis. Since the game is Effects based it is a valid argument to ask "Why can't I build it as this and describe it as that when the outcome of both is the same?" where the answer tends to be be "Because that's cheaper therefore you're a min-maxer!". In this case Languages, at least in small amounts, feel like they should really just be a given in some situations. It feels wrong to charge for very minor things that will likely never come up as really beneficial with out a lot of impractical set up. The latino hero shouldn't have to waste that extra point on the Spanish Language, Captain Sparkles shouldn't need to spend a point to constantly shed glitter, and Gross Out shouldn't be forced to shell out because you'd thought it'd be funny to say he can fart the alphabet.

The Language Comprehend power is admittedly more useful, being a collection of enough overly situational benefits to be somewhat commonly applicable, but not by enough to justify it's rather hefty Price Tag of 6 points. As a point of reference 6 points in the Language Advantage is 32 languages which given most people can't even name more than a dozen that's incredible over kill.

there are some situations where having mastery of all languages would be useful. A "World Tour" sort of campaign would realistically necessitate multiple languages be spoken in order to communicate with the locals. However this sort of falls apart in a fictional setting, as in comics, cartoons, and really most media, language barriers are just ignored and forgotten for convenience. Apparently everyone on earth is fluent in english, or in a fantasy setting there's a common tongue that 99% of the population share. A universal Translator is also a useful sort of power in a Galactic/space travel game, but is often something that's also just handwaved as a mater of course, as either everyone already just has one installed in their space suit by default or the setting just follows the common sci-fi trope of aliens all knowing english even on random planets that have never been in contact with the rest of the universe.

One of the more useless selections, it requires a higher investment to get something that is often just given for free. It doesn't even offer the same sort of extras as the other Comprehend options, which let you influence things you probably wouldn't normally be able to interact with and gather information from unique sources. Where the rest expand your options, this one just unlocks something that was blocked just to force you to buy this power.

Machines: Requires 2 ranks to both understand and speak to machines. Like Animal RAW simply just lists as 2 ranks to both but doesn't state you can buy one rank rank for each. This is another option that can either be very powerful or uselessly redundant depending on the GM and setting. Obviously part of that depends on how common tech is, being much more useful in a scifi setting than a fantasy one, so we'll ignore angles like that to focus on more general applications. Machine communication is inherently limited by the Machine's ability to perceive the world and simple understanding. It can only really give information about what has been inputted to it, or in looser settings about the experience of it's peripherals like some amount of additional knowledge about who has been using it even if it may not have any equipment that would be able to have witnessed it. Technology is also noted to allow Technology checks instead of interaction skills to communicate if the GM allows it, likening the power to hacking.

Machines are distinct from Objects, though the book does not go into explaining the difference and just how simple a machine can be while still being under the umbrella of this power option. Presumably this effect is almost exclusively for Electronics and Computers however technically anything from simple levers and and any object with multiple moving parts could count. While it sounds cheesy to wonder if this power could let you talk to your scissors it's a bit less so to question if something like a Steam-punk robot without any electronic circuitry would be applicable. It's at the GM's discretion where the line falls, and depends on how the power is described. Some things are logical and obvious, others less so. In general it is often just notably complicated mechanical or electronic devices, more often than not it's just electronics and computers.

An interesting, if often overlooked, detail about the Machine option is that it doesn't actually specify how you communicate with the target. Presumably you can only speak with them through a sense they can detect and "speak" with but given that other options don't require this sort of limitation you could also just ignore it here for the sake of fairness. What this means is that while the perception of how this effect usually works is likely similar to hacking, where you touch or plug into a device you could instead just talk to it like you would anything else with the other options. Likewise it means that you could also receive back the information you seek through some similar method, like a beep or such from a distance. This gives it an actual advantage over simply just purely using the Technology skill to hack the object in the more traditional method.

As for uses of this power, there's many but nearly all of them are simply just using this power to facilitate hacking in some form or another. Talking to a device to get the info from it or make it stop working for example. Communicating with a central computer to get into the camera's and recording devices. Disabling kill bots with logic bombs or other exploits in their AI. You could use this as a substitute for Technology skill by "hacking" with just interaction skills and doing things like bluffing the robots or disguising your voice to get into the voice recognition locked room but that is awfully specific.

Overall one of the best options for Communication. It does have the weakness of having a lot of overlap with the Hacking skill but offers it's own advantages if one uses it creatively. It also unfortunately overlaps a bit too much with Objects, making it seem a bit more like a limited subset of it though Objects as an option is rather broad. It's niche, but useful most of the time.

Objects: Uniquely you can only really Understand objects without being able to speak to them. I assume this is because the thought process was that objects would not be able to follow any orders or act on their own and the Machine option would handle objects capable of actions. The option however still requires 2 ranks of investment. The use is described as either them speaking to you or you simply just "reading" them to get the information. They are only aware of events that involve them (in other actions they have been used for and actions that have been done to them) as well as events that occurred in their immediate vicinity.

Objects is a very broad category that could and often does overlap and supersede both Machine and Plant communication. It is also one of the more powerful and game-breaking powers, instantly capable of making an entire style of play impossible in a way that's very hard to counter. With the ability to gather information from any object about all events that happened in a given area, or near it if the object is portable, Object Comprehension is just Post-Cognition by another name. The book even admits as much, saying to treat it similar to the Post Cog sense. In any campaign that requires gathering information this power becomes very overpowered, with the only limiting factor being the need to be at the location or have access to an object at the location. Unlike with other comprehend options, when it comes to countering this there's no easy solution. You can't really remove all objects from an area since the area itself could just be considered another object to interact with (I ask the floor who killed the guy for example.) There's some workarounds, moving evidence, disguised purps, but it over complicates things and can strain SoD for this to happen with any frequency unless the PC's power is known.

While the power makes a nightmare out of planning investigations, as a single instance of failure to account for countering the ability causes the whole mystery collapse, the power is really only good for investigations. It exclusively gathers information and nothing else, so those taking this power are often those looking to make some sort of supernatural investigator of some kind. For those who aren't, it could lead to issues, especially if another player is the investigator as it this power can quickly invalidate them. The power is best given an inherit limit, similar to Variable, as it can easily become too good at what it does if left too open ended.

Like with Machine, while the common image of Object Comprehension would normally be done with physical interaction there's nothing that prevents the user from simply treating it like normal communication and just simply holding a seemingly one-sided conversation with some random item. It doesn't go into detail as to what an object can do, again it's likely the designers seemed to split up Objects between normal Objects that cannot ever act in Objects and any Construct that can take actions as Machines, but if the GM allows it simple machines could possibly be capable of activating themselves or altering their functionality. Though I suppose this is against RAW as the description of the power indicates that Object Comprehension is strictly one way. This could be a good way to supplement the power if the GM plans on limiting it's intelligence gathering potential in some way, using the power to set up traps or sabotage non-electronic devices like telling lock to not open or convincing a toaster to burn secret messages into bread to communicate in secret.

Plants: Another 2 rank requirement, it allows you to talk to plants. Like the previous option Plants are only aware of things in their immediate vicinity though is appears to have a more limited ability to perceive the world for no real reason. The language here is a little different from Object as it implies the plants can communicate back, answering questions and such though this hardly leads to much additional benefit.

Plant Comprehension is probably the least useful effect option of the list. Plants are immobile, not common enough in the more traditional urban setting to make up for it, and can't really do much if asked. It comes off as a much more limited version of the Object option but for the same cost. The only real way to make up for it is to cheese what Plants may be able to do, such as giving the plant the ability act in some way which is something best left to other powers since in most situations this would equate to making it attack in some form like doing tangling vines or releasing poison spores.

Spirits: It has 2 ranks, but unlike other options this one does explicitly point out that you can buy them separately instead of packaging them together. The language used in the book can be a bit confusing, but in effect it's the similar to the others. One option lets you "understand" spirits and the other lets them understand you. From the way it's portrayed it functions a bit differently even if the outcome is the same, as the "Understand" option works by letting the user simply perceive spirits but the spirits apparently are unaware of them while the second allows them to directly talk to the spirits allowing them to perceive the user. The book is rather vague and unhelpful in clarifying what this actually entails, using even more confusing wording such as referring to the ability to understand spirits as being a medium which would normally still just be someone who can do both or is possessed by the spirit to let it communicate through them.

From the context clues we can sort of piece together the general limits of the power. Spirits seem to not truly be aware of the normal world, why is not really answered. Are they in a different plane and you're listening in on their whispers or seeing fleeting glimpses of them in the afterlife? Are they restless spirits that just normally don't pay attention to the real world? Are they Fae who don't really just don't comprehend humans and language? Depending on how this power is interpreted and what it applies to, and how the thing it works on functions some or all of this power can be rendered pointless as part of it is given. Spirits could just ghosts floating about and perfectly capable of understanding and perceiving the real world and just incapable of talking to people due to being permanently concealed(if even that). On the opposite side of the spectrum it could be poltergeists that are perfectly capable of broadcasting their message but don't or maybe just won't listen to those without a rank of comprehend spirits.

Spirits is potentially one of the most generally useful comprehend options. Granting access to undetectable, unblockable spies or useful minions. However in practice this doesn't often happen as the more often then not the more capable and independent a spirit is the less the Comprehend ability is needed. If the type of "Spirit" is treated as broad, like the book says a GM could allow, more options open up to allow the ability to communicate and potentially disarm offensive threats such as undead and demons but this is rather niche.

Comprehend, What can be done?
There's many little tricks to how to use Comprehend, however most of them are very dependent to how the GM interprets the power and more so how the target is allowed to react. Convincing the target to help you is always a fun one, and probably the most straight-forward. Getting the favor of an animal, hacking a computer/robot to do something at a specific trigger, convincing objects to perform or not to perform a task, asking a ghost to gather information for you.

Often the power is treated as a means to an end instead of a roleplay tool, something this can easily facilitate. A GM can use the power to feed information to players without needing them to ask, which could be a good gateway if they are having trouble with PC's breaking mysteries by simply preventing most troublesome active uses while still feeding useful information passively so the power doesn't feel too useless. They quite literally heard a bit of important gossip from a little birdy. It could also be used to sprinkle a little flavor into descriptions, Object Comprehension letting the user know the villains' knife has been used to kill hundreds of people to make them look deadlier for example.

Inanimate objects can be allowed to act in some manner that normally wouldn't be possible. Doors locking themselves on command, plants quickly growing fruit out of season if asked, convincing a target's phone to always dial you into all it's user's calls. In extreme cases it could make the inanimate object effectively a construct, uplifting them and doing things like bringing a toy soldier to life so it can watch and guard a door, or having a tree raise roots to trip enemies.

These things can be given their own personalities, fleshing them out a bit. They don't need to be full characters in their own right but creative interpretation of the concept can be a fun way to add spice to a seemingly dull power like this. Hearing from loyal pets and hearing how some objects view being used to perform their intended purpose, or even just going full "Brave Little Toaster".

Still a lot of this is reaching, and for most GM's it's unlikely to be bothered with. Shut down for what it allows or what it requires of them.

Comprehend, What's so Bad About It?
The power comes across as fairly half baked and made without much care. The point costs aren't really balanced to the power's usefulness even internally. The options aren't really fleshed out. The way ranks are handled is rather baffling, with all the options requiring 2 ranks for some reason. But probably the worst of all is a problem that crops up in a few other effects.

Comprehend isn't open ended. Oh sure you can add descriptors to how you communicate with things, or creatively interpret what certain things belong to which categories, but in the end there's only a limited number of categories of things you can communicate with and no given option to add to it. It tries to leave the categories open ended enough that you could fit everything into one of them but in the end kind of fails. Even if it succeeded one would have to ask why bother with the predefined categories?

A sad fact is that the more useful the ability to communicate with something would be the less likely the PCs are to need to invest in the power as the GM will likely handwave away the issue. If ghosts are a major part of the universe then the more likely it is that they can just inherently speak with the PCs and be spoken back to. If you're going to be going around the world or galaxy, all the PCs will either have a universal translator just given to them or else everyone just speaks English. If there's a sapient robot or computer then odds are it is capable of listening and talking back on a PA system or has a screen and key board that you can use.

Overall, the power seems pointless. Sure it fits a specific niche but not really in a way that really adds anything new enough to deserve to be it's own power. It feels like it could have been an option that could have just been rolled into the Sense effect. One point to Comprehend something, a second to have the ability to communicate back.

Comprehend, how it can be improved?
If I had to redesign the power, and couldn't just roll it into Sense, I'd probably remove the predefined categories. They all function similarly as is, where they cost 2 ranks, one presumably lets you understand and the other lets you be understood. The pricing would also be changed.

It'd be 1pp per rank for a relatively broad version of each of the earlier categories. Like terrestrial creatures, covering most if not all animals above ground. Comprehend Electronics, Comprehend Ghosts, Comprehend Fae, Comprehend mundane languages and such would fall under the category. There'd be an extra to make it more broad for an extra point per rank. There'd be 2 ranks, one to understand and another to be understood.

In the end it's just be a simplification of what's already there, removing the needlessly added predefined categories and their weird limitations.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by Jabroniville » Tue Dec 17, 2019 5:23 am

Hooray! More of this topic!

Given that I just build characters without caring about the cost, and since 99% of character never bother with this Power, it's one I usually give little thought to. I mean, how many characters in fiction can talk to blenders, ghosts or plants? And yes, you're correct- it can often accidentally break the story of the game if the GM has this big, complicated mystery planned and forgets that a player can ask the murder victim's chrysanthemum who killed him. Similar issues happen with Mind-Reading. So yeah, you get the "Oh but you're powers DON'T WORK TODAY, because _____" stuff that Star Trek always does because their ships and gear are wayyyyyyyyyy too powerful for everyday situations.
A bit of a digression but this is something I feel is a general problem in MnM and one I rarely see anyone actually talk about, since when people do they just get called Min-Maxers or power gamers. The problem is that the game seems to charge a lot for fluff while still making powerful and general or even functionally identical abilities rather cheap and making it easy to compare the two in a cost/benefit analysis.
This is an interesting point and one that became clear to me when I started GM-ing. Though new at that, I knew there were certain clues that someone was Power-Gaming immediately (inventing Feats; Powers that affected every save using Alt-Effects; lots of "I use X stat instead of Y stat for Z power"; the use of "Affects Insubstantial" on every power), but I'd also see bits of that.

Case in point, almost half of my players took the "Languages" Advantage for 1 rank, as they were from other countries- I told them all I would consider that "Free" since I think paying a single point for being bilingual is ridiculous.

"Comprehend Languages" thus becomes a bit tricky, and probably over-costed for usefulness. I mean, most campaigns where the ability to talk to aliens is important give a "Universal Translator" to everyone as Equipment (thus costing a bit more than 1 point for the whole thing!). And... you're right- it's almost never useful to have that power, unless the GM wants to deliberately give "Language Guy" something important to do. There's a reason most of the heroes who have it either use it as gear (Legion of Super-Heroes) or as an example that their powers are wimpy (Doug Ramsey).

Buy yeah, you bring up the interesting point that there's a score of minor Powers (mostly Features and stuff like this) that are borderline useless "Flavor Text" extras for characters, things that improve the game and its world and are just plain FUN to add to characters... that feel "not worth it" because many basic powers are ALSO cheap and it's an effects-based system.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by squirrelly-sama » Tue Dec 17, 2019 6:08 am

Jabroniville wrote:
Tue Dec 17, 2019 5:23 am
Hooray! More of this topic!

Given that I just build characters without caring about the cost, and since 99% of character never bother with this Power, it's one I usually give little thought to. I mean, how many characters in fiction can talk to blenders, ghosts or plants? And yes, you're correct- it can often accidentally break the story of the game if the GM has this big, complicated mystery planned and forgets that a player can ask the murder victim's chrysanthemum who killed him. Similar issues happen with Mind-Reading. So yeah, you get the "Oh but you're powers DON'T WORK TODAY, because _____" stuff that Star Trek always does because their ships and gear are wayyyyyyyyyy too powerful for everyday situations.
A bit of a digression but this is something I feel is a general problem in MnM and one I rarely see anyone actually talk about, since when people do they just get called Min-Maxers or power gamers. The problem is that the game seems to charge a lot for fluff while still making powerful and general or even functionally identical abilities rather cheap and making it easy to compare the two in a cost/benefit analysis.
This is an interesting point and one that became clear to me when I started GM-ing. Though new at that, I knew there were certain clues that someone was Power-Gaming immediately (inventing Feats; Powers that affected every save using Alt-Effects; lots of "I use X stat instead of Y stat for Z power"; the use of "Affects Insubstantial" on every power), but I'd also see bits of that.

Case in point, almost half of my players took the "Languages" Advantage for 1 rank, as they were from other countries- I told them all I would consider that "Free" since I think paying a single point for being bilingual is ridiculous.

"Comprehend Languages" thus becomes a bit tricky, and probably over-costed for usefulness. I mean, most campaigns where the ability to talk to aliens is important give a "Universal Translator" to everyone as Equipment (thus costing a bit more than 1 point for the whole thing!). And... you're right- it's almost never useful to have that power, unless the GM wants to deliberately give "Language Guy" something important to do. There's a reason most of the heroes who have it either use it as gear (Legion of Super-Heroes) or as an example that their powers are wimpy (Doug Ramsey).

Buy yeah, you bring up the interesting point that there's a score of minor Powers (mostly Features and stuff like this) that are borderline useless "Flavor Text" extras for characters, things that improve the game and its world and are just plain FUN to add to characters... that feel "not worth it" because many basic powers are ALSO cheap and it's an effects-based system.
Yeah, there's always that one jackass who tries their hardest to "Win" a co-op game, though I will admit to doing a few of the things you mentioned in the list of signs when I designed some characters. It was in the Template builds, though I think most of those were interaction based effects for Presence style builds or mostly there for style.

I will admit I sometimes do splurge on useless FX features and advantages, since does give a character sheet that added bit of flavor to have it mechanically say you can do some minor but interesting thing like vomit rainbows or play guitar hero acoustically. In those cases honestly there should have just been an option for 0pp features for dumb crap like that.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by Jabroniville » Tue Dec 17, 2019 8:13 am

Yeah, features like that are what I tossed into my "Weapon Builds", as each one had positives & negatives best expressed outside of "Points Cost".

It'd actually not be a bad idea to include that with some of the negatives of certain powers. Fire having the ability to light the way, with the down side being that... it melts stuff, sets fires, etc.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by Woodclaw » Tue Jan 07, 2020 6:23 pm

A bit of thread necromancy here.

As a professional translator, Comprehend is a power that is near and dear to me... when I'm not pissed off by it.
Unfortunately, the problems of Comprehend are actually something that has way deeper roots than this game, they go all the way to the beginning of fiction itself. If you look at any kind of fiction, it's extremely rare for characters to hit any kind of language barrier. Why? Because it would be extremely problematic for the audience to handle it. For example, try to imagine reading one of the issues of Wolverine set in Japan and having the actual dialogue written in proper Japanese. It would be really cool for a one-shot deal, but it would drive most of the audience nuts in the long run.
In general, Comprehend is a "silent game killer", because it gave the PCs access to additional information that the GM rarely consider while working on the story. As a result, the notes to the power are designed to make most of these extra sources unreliable or flat-out useless, which is actually against the underlying narrative of the genre and the power. Even without going full Tolkien (the animals of the Middle Earth display normal levels of intelligence), usually animals, plants and machines seem able to provide a host of information.
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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by FuzzyBoots » Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:12 pm

I'm curious... do you have any thoughts about Leaping as a power?
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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by squirrelly-sama » Mon Mar 09, 2020 11:17 am

FuzzyBoots wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:12 pm
I'm curious... do you have any thoughts about Leaping as a power?
I covered it a bit in the Burrowing power explanation.

In general Leaping is a rather lackluster Movement type power. It grants less distance than Speed and less elevation than Flight for equal ranks meaning that Limited Flight is in every way better than leaping. What makes that worse is the arbitrary limit that was attached to Leaping where you can't go faster than 7 distance ranks in a single turn, you just stay airborne. It's something often paired with Speed for characters who explicitly can't fly because reasons, but then runs into the mechanical limit of Movement Powers as a whole where the exponential growth of distance ranks means that they double pay for the overlapping ranks of both. So 5 speed and leaping is still just 5 distance ranks of additional movement. Sure you could make it an Array but honestly at that point you may as well just make Leaping a 1 point feature to put on Speed.

In short Leaping has no purpose to it's existence, it does not add anything new and what it offers is completely outdone by better options that can often be done for the same price or cheaper. The only thing stopping people from just taking Limited Flight over Leaping is that GMs would say no because it sounds like bean counting min-maxing even though both cost the same and it just forces the objectively worse option down the players throat like forcing the Marital Artist to take Defensive Roll instead of Protection. They first tried to reach a middle ground between Speed and Flight and made it worse than both, as it couldn't give both equal horizontal and vertical movement since that'd invalidate speed but because Flight is so cheap it makes it the worse option to limited flight. And after that they decided to insert realism into the power, something that seems to always be at the root of several of their most baffling and aggravating design choices (I'm looking at you Defensive Roll), and made the power even worse by capping it's max speed and offering no additional benefit to compensate.

To put simply, Leaping is the Defensive Roll of Movement Powers. A thing the system arbitrarily takes away from you despite logic stating you should start out with some, and then forces you to choose between the obviously bad choice and the equally priced better choice but then tells GMs to not allow that better choice because it's not fitting concept nevermind that they're the ones that forced that terrible decision on you in the first place. Basically it sucks, there's better options, but no one will ever let you use them because the simpler shittier option exists and letting you get away with not taking it is unfair to the players who got suckered into thinking the Devs playtested most of the effects before implementing them.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by Doctor Malsyn » Tue Mar 17, 2020 7:28 pm

I wonder, have you ever considered taking all this and creating a 3.5 of MaM?
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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by squirrelly-sama » Wed Mar 18, 2020 1:26 am

Doctor Malsyn wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 7:28 pm
I wonder, have you ever considered taking all this and creating a 3.5 of MaM?
I have considered it, more so when it started to seem less likely that there would be another addition to MnM, ultimately it's more than just the powers and effects that need to be reworked to improve MnM as there's quite a few issues with various things in the system and also the way that the book itself is put together. I think Jab also commented on it back when 3e first came out and how a lot issues occurred because so many little rulings where hidden away in seemingly random sections of the book or the system makes mention of rules that are never actually stated anywhere in the SRD. There's also parts where they just use the wrong word choice and make something mechanically broken because they used an established mechanical term as part of a description. If an fanmade updated version were to come out it'd have to be a group effort to put everything back together in a workable order.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by Jabroniville » Wed Mar 18, 2020 10:40 am

I do recall trying to re-figure out how battle worked and being unable to find rules for fighting... only because it was hidden in the POWERS section, under "Damage". There are a few cases like that, I think.

A lot of stuff about Robots is way in the later sections of the book under random other rules as well. An issue came up in the game I was running that nobody could find a solid answer for certain things. Like this question about Regeneration, which seems basic but is not covered ANYWHERE, really: https://roninarmy.com/forum/atomic-thin ... -questions

A lot of stuff seemed to be done without much consideration, like how quickly people recovered from harm.

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by FuzzyBoots » Wed Mar 18, 2020 12:26 pm

Between that, and forgetting almost everything established in the ORQs, I feel like they wound up writing the books for people going from 2E to 3E, and that they got rushed by the DC license as well as probably the other licensed games they had to strike while the iron was hot. Steve Kenson did work on it, but it was not his best work. And yes, building a system like this is hard, and 2E definitely had its faults, but still, this could have been much better.
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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by Kevin MacTaggert » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:40 am

I'm eager to see which effects Squirrelly-Sama finds useful :|

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Re: Power Talk: Discussing the Effectiveness of Effects

Post by squirrelly-sama » Sat Mar 28, 2020 4:34 am

Kevin MacTaggert wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:40 am
I'm eager to see which effects Squirrelly-Sama finds useful :|
Well that seems unfair, I've gone out of my way to point out benefits of the effects even if I do point out most of the flaws in how they work. Heck, Burrowing started with a long paragraph on how it is possible to break it. Affliction is basically just one change away from being amazing, to which I supplied a few simple and easy houserules to just make it stick.

Though if I had to make a list of genuinely good effects
Damage, Create, Move Object, Protection, and Speed. All good and fairly balanced effects that aren't too powerful but aren't too bogged down by obscure or obtuse rules. Honestly there's quite a lot of powers that are TOO good. Concealment, Elongation, Flight, Growth, Healing, Insubstantial, Summon, Teleport, Transform, and Variable. Powers that can let you get a massive gain for very little investment. Honestly the system is sort of an even spread between effects that are; Terrible, underwhelming, tricky and weird, good, and broken.

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