Musings of a Psycho Math Teacher

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Musings of a Psycho Math Teacher

Post by nowhereman2 » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:31 am

I am GMing my first game on this website. (My first game ever really.) I just had to make a ruling on a very powerful bit of ambiguous language regarding the extra - extra mass. (In short, if the power uses rank level to determine mass, you cannot use extra mass.) This ability has made me really think about the power transform and how, mind-numbingly powerful it is in the hands of a power gamer. I created this thread so I can think through the ridiculous ways I can abuse things, given some math and science. Feel free to do the same.

The first obvious thing to note is how massively overpowered Transform (Any to Any 5/r) is. It allows you to transform up to 1.5lbs of any material into any other material. It is concentration, so technically without the permanent extra, anything transformed returns to its original form once concentration is broken or ended. Even without this bonus, the ability is insanely powerful. Imagine a PL 1 villain walking up to your hero. Not scary right? Now imagine him transforming 1.5 lbs of rock into anti-matter. When matter and anti-matter annihilate, they give up the entirety of their mass up as energy. From Einstein, we have the formula E=mc^2. Plug in 3 lbs (1.5 lbs of matter and antimatter each), we have 1.2 x 10^17 Joules of energy or approximately the equivalent of a 30 megaton bomb. That is about half the yield of the largest bomb ever tested. If your GM were generous and let you do this (and willing to calculate the resultant outcome equivalent), the blast would create a crater of approximately 100 m deep and 2km wide. This would move the equivalent of 8 x 10^8 metric tons of rock. This is equivalent to a strength rank of 36 and so (arguably) would have a damage rank of 36 with a DC resistance of 51. Without immunity, you will have four degrees of failure from that (and then some). :twisted:

This ability would come with an obvious caveat. Its use would immediately kill the user (and the target, and the populace within a 3-5 km radius). However, if we add perception range to it, then we have a nuclear character for the low, low, cost of 7pp. Add precise for another 1pp and suddenly it can serve as a tactical nuclear weapon. A GM might try to mitigate this by saying that the matter cannot annihilate in this manner because it is temporary. I would challenge that myself, but for 1 more pp we can get around that complaint by making it permanent. Of course, part of what makes this so insanely powerful is the idea that a GM would allow the use of this ability to create untold damage. The GM could say that you cannot use this ability to directly cause damage. First, the damage is a secondary (and predictable) effect from the explosion. However, with some creativity, you could do the same with other methods.

Enter building, find a supporting pillar, transform into a liquid or gas. Transform is only concentration, however for 5pp + 2pp for perception range (you do not want to be close), you can turn a substance into another substance of any type. It will revert back to its original form, but a smart player could liquify a pillar bit by bit. At a rate of 1.5lbs per round, the pillar could be eroded in about 4 and a half minutes. Most buildings could stand with the destruction of one or two pillars, but a skyscraper would fall after only a few pillars were taken out in a semi-strategic manner. A PL 1 supervillain could bring an entire building to the ground in half and hour at most. Hero base at the top of the structure? Well... hopefully they can fly.

Even if we limit the ability, it would be relatively easy to have a PL 1 supervillain wreak havoc. Instead of wanton destruction, use economic manipulation. Gold holds its value for a number of reasons, not least of which is its rarity. In total, we have mined 190,000 tons of gold. This is a lot, but nowhere near as much as it might seem. Instead of Transform (Any into Any 5/r), we will use Transform (Water into Gold 2/r) with perception range and permanent for a total cost of 5pp. In Las Vegas, the cost of water can reach as high as $5 per 1000 gallons (approximately 8000 lbs). This would be about 120 000 troy oz or about 160 million dollars for a total profit of $159,999,995. Transforming this much gold would take approximately 8 hours if our PL 1 supervillain used a garden hose. However, if his goal was to disrupt the world economy, he could do much better. Transforming into any of the precious metals would have a massive effect on any number of industries, costing 1000s of jobs and devaluing millions or billions of dollars in investments. If we upped our transform to (Water to Metals 3/r) for the cost of one more pp, we could waste entire industries that pay upwards of $30/hour. My home state of Nevada would basically lose mining overnight.

To end this, I decided to show what I mentioned in the OOC of my game. Part of the reason why I said no to use of extra mass with the Transform ability is because it allows the player to bypass the cost of the ability. A Transform 5 (any to any 5/r) would cost 25pp and allow the user to transform up to 25lbs of material per round. A Transform 1 (any to any 5/r) with +20 extra mass would also cost 25 pp, but allow the user to transform up to 400 tons. It is unclear if the rules actually have a limit on the number of times you can take an extra (it doesn't look like it to me, though I may be wrong). However, we could imagine that we have a maximally permissive GM who would no only allow this obviously broken ability, but have no limit on the number of ranks of extra mass. Here is a table that lists things we could transform and things we could explode based upon cost in pp. To calculate this, I assumed we have 1 rank in Transform (any to any 5/r), and that all the rest of the points went into ranks of extra mass for the power. For explosion, I assumed we were transforming rock (not that it matters) into antimatter. With the exception of the first value, everything else is estimated based on scaling the explosion from Castle Bravo. If you would like to survive this, add 2 pp.
  • pp - - - - Transform - - - - Explode
  • 5 - - - - 1.5lbs - - - - A large City (5km, 30MT)
  • 15 - - - - 1600lbs - - - - New York (26km ,4 GT
  • 20 - - - - 25tons - - - - A small state (160km, 1000 GT)
  • 24 - - - - 400tons - - - - Chicxulub Impact Energy (600km ,5YT)
  • 26 - - - - 1100tons - - - - Gravitational Binding Energy of Earth (Everything, Very unimportant)
  • 81 - - - - 1/2 Earth - - - - Gravitational Binding Energy of Sun (and solar system)
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Re: Musings of a Psycho Math Teacher

Post by Ken » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:02 pm

Disallowing the use of the Extra Mass extra on a power where each rank explicitly indicates how much mass can be affected only makes sense. Otherwise, it's doing an end-run around the fact that each rank of the power is supposed to have a different cost depending on circumstance.

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