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  • Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

    Why is shapeshift represented as a variable? It's much cheaper to do it as an array with four or five settings. You're probably not going to use more than that. If you need another after that, just power stunt it.
    "She has trouble acting normal when she's nervous." - Round Here, Counting Crows

  • #2
    Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

    Often, it's because the shapeshifter in question frequently finetunes their form, or mixes them. *shrug* And yes, you can always stunt it, but that incurs Fatigue or use of a Hero Point.
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    • #3
      Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

      If the shapeshifter has a finite number of forms that they can take, then arrays work great. If it is the tradional "assume the form of anything in this broad category" then sometimes Variable is just easier, especially if they can mix forms.

      If you build a shapeshifter similar to Beastboy that can assume any possible animal then that can be a really big array unless you plan on stunting on a regular basis. If the character can mix and match forms on the fly "crabs claws, a rhino's head for the horn, and the lower body of a horse for speed all at the same time" then anything other than Variable will have a hard time keeping up.
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      • #4
        Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

        Batgirl III actually has a ready to play Beast Boy build that uses 13(!!!) Alternate Forms in an array rather than a Variable. I would dare say it has all the flexibility you would expect from an animal-based shapeshifter and is still cheaper than using an equivalent Variable, and in fact you could probably pick a handful of favourites to put in the array and keep the rest as notes for power stunts.
        My old [URL="http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?p=743877#p743877"]Atomic Think Tank[/URL] thread
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        • #5
          Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

          I've seen her build and it is pretty nice. Honestly 13 forms and the ability to power stunt would cover what most players would use unless you get into the mix and match stuff I was talking about.

          There are VERY few things that can only be done with Variable if you are willing to have 15-20 AEs on an array. For a shape shifter Morph 3 with Metamorph extra would let you do any animal and change stats in the process. Morph 4 with Metamorph on it basically is Variable linked to alternate form.
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          • #6
            Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

            The answer of when you would chose one over the other is simply one of convenience, really. Someone with a nigh infinite capacity for shapeshifting, like Plastic Man, Beast Boy, or Mystique should have Variable.

            However, Variable is an incredibly open-ended power which can really slow down gameplay if you attempt to fine-tune it too much round after round, are unfamiliar with all the options M&M presents, and/or are new to the game. Veteran players may sometimes get a bit... Well, munchkin-y with it.

            Hence, my Ready to Play Beast Boy and the conceptually similar Ready to Play Vixen both use a really large number of Alternate Effects. I tried to give them enough to cover most of the more fun forms you see in the comics and suggest a few fun, fluffy Alternate Alternates. I mean, mechanically speaking, does it matter if Gar transforms into a green Allosaurus or a green Tyrannosaurus Rex? Both a big, stompy, chompy dinosaurs.

            Ultimately, both powers are equally legal rules-wise (there in the same dang rulebook after all!) but I tend to discourage people from picking Variable. It's kosher, but it's on my "be careful of this power" list along with Summon.

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            • #7
              Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

              Morph would work for most shapeshifter, but the trick with Gar is that he's always green, so the +20 Disguise aspect of Morph is of limited use to him. Metamorph is essentially Alternate Form that happens to be for the entire character minus the Morph Effect. A common desire for shapeshifters is that they get all the physical changes and advantages but keep all of their mental abilities and skills intact, so Whole PC minus Morph Effect minus Mental Stuff.

              On BG3's build, Gar has 100p without his power, and about 45p of that would be "mental stuff". Using Morph 3 and Metamorph, you'd think he could use any animal build under 55p, but animals get a lot of points back from negative mental abilites, so most are going to cost about 10-20p more. You could increase that effective pool by making his base form more beefy, but that doesn't really fit his concept, since he does practically all of his physical stuff in animal form.
              My old [URL="http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?p=743877#p743877"]Atomic Think Tank[/URL] thread
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              • #8
                Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                Gar does posses strength far beyond his natural frame/build and superhuman endurance in his "human" form, as a beneficial side effect of the sakutia serum's increasing his muscle density. It also left him with an increased healing factor comparable to that of the Creeper or Deathstroke.

                This abilities haven't been mentioned much since his Doom Patrol days, hence, I dropped them from my Ready to Play Build.

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                • #9
                  Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                  Batgirl III pretty much has the right of it; the reason its based on Variable is the assumption that the character will regularly use a wide enough variety of forms for it to be painful to do with the Array-plus-stunting thing. That's just as true with every other form of Variable; if you don't think you're going to be doing a wide range of things regularly, Variable is a bad way to go, but if you are, nothing else will really do.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                    Originally posted by Darkdreamer View Post
                    if you don't think you're going to be doing a wide range of things regularly, Variable is a bad way to go, but if you are, nothing else will really do.
                    The crux of that is knowing what range of regular things you'll need or not. Lack of familarity with the system or the setting or even the GM may push players to creating builds which can handle every contingency. The simplest rule is always going to be "Variable should be last resort", if not a flat "no".
                    My old [URL="http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?p=743877#p743877"]Atomic Think Tank[/URL] thread
                    My current character thread: [URL="https://roninarmy.com/threads/6194-The-Sound-of-My-Eyebeams-JDRook-s-builds-and-blather?p=233536&viewfull=1#post233536"]The Sound of my Eyebeams[/URL][URL="http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?p=743877#p743877"]
                    [/URL]
                    I will build characters in HeroLab for you! Send me [URL="https://www.fiverr.com/jdrook/transcribe-a-mutants-and-masterminds-pc-in-herolab?funnel=6e71f15f-207e-49f4-bf35-9ceb23b979a7"]your finished design[/URL] or even [URL="https://www.fiverr.com/jdrook/create-a-mutants-and-masterminds-pc-in-herolab?context=advanced_search&context_type=rating&funnel=2014103117123522519608360"]your original concept[/URL]!

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                    • #11
                      Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                      Even "mix-and-match" can be handled by having arrays covering the individual features: all you attacks in one, all your defenses in another, etc.

                      Don't discount Variable Descriptor: do you really need to have different builds for what will amount to several different flavors of Protection?

                      Variable is good for any power where there's little point in Power Stunting: minor effects like magic "cantrips".

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                      • #12
                        Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                        Originally posted by SilvercatMoonpaw View Post
                        Don't discount Variable Descriptor: do you really need to have different builds for what will amount to several different flavors of Protection?
                        Heck, you might not even need Variable Descriptor depending on the basic concept of the Effect itself... Off the top of my head, a character who has some Absorbing Man like ability to grant himself Protection based on touching a suitably durable object in his immediate vicinity might have a varying descriptor for wood, stone, steel or the like without any mechanical difference in his Protection Ranks. The descriptor would change, but not necessarily warrant the Variable Descriptor extra.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                          Originally posted by JDRook View Post
                          The crux of that is knowing what range of regular things you'll need or not. Lack of familarity with the system or the setting or even the GM may push players to creating builds which can handle every contingency. The simplest rule is always going to be "Variable should be last resort", if not a flat "no".
                          Yeah. If anything, some people are prone to buying too many Array slots as it is. I have one player who's obsessed with it to the point where she'll cripple herself just so she doesn't find herself in a situation where she needs to power stunt to do something.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                            Originally posted by Darkdreamer View Post
                            Yeah. If anything, some people are prone to buying too many Array slots as it is. I have one player who's obsessed with it to the point where she'll cripple herself just so she doesn't find herself in a situation where she needs to power stunt to do something.
                            In 2e it was kind of a deal since Fatigue was reasonably bad. In 3e it's almost a joke (which is bad for using Fatigue/Exhausted as Affliction conditions, but that's another issue).

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                            • #15
                              Re: Shapeshift: Array vs Variable

                              Originally posted by Darkdreamer View Post
                              Yeah. If anything, some people are prone to buying too many Array slots as it is. I have one player who's obsessed with it to the point where she'll cripple herself just so she doesn't find herself in a situation where she needs to power stunt to do something.
                              Guilty! Of course my GM never wants to give out Hero Points, so we horde them for when things get ugly.
                              Besides, I have always hated the part of comics or any genra that asspulles a stunt out of no where, only to have it forgotten the next time it could be useful.

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