[SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

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Deskepticon
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#61 Postby Deskepticon » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:09 pm

pkitty wrote:
2. Mental Force: Mind Melters have access to a special Trapping, "Mental." Powers with this Trapping have no obvious link back to the psi, and require no ritual or effort on his part (not even a furrowed brow). The effect of beneficial abilities are completely invisible. Ranged attacks also cause an unseen effect, unless the target is normally able to defend himself, in which case they are visible but originate some distance from the Mind Melter (usually close to the target). Touch-ranged abilities require subjects to be within reach (adjacent, on a map), but the psi does not have to actually touch them. The net result is that no one can definitively tell that the psi is responsible for the effect, unless the onlooker is using Detect Arcana.
...
#2 is a free Trapping

I objectively disagree. You are just glossing over a concept that would essentially make a Melter invisible. That's a very powerful ability and should certainly not be relegated to a simple "free" Trapping. It is at least worth an Edge, but very likely two the way you have it written. I would also include some type of tell: the MM needs to look at their target for the duration, etc. This should be handled like invisibility, so a Notice roll at -4 and only if the observer has a reason to look. Being hit by an invisible truck is a pretty good reason.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#62 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:18 pm

To be clear, I wouldn't require any roll for the target, or someone watching the target, to realize that he'd just been hit by some powerful supernatural whammy! It's just that the beam doesn't emanate from the MM. That said, if the MM is the only one not shooting, running, etc., it would be reasonable for someone to put two and two together, so a Notice roll at -4, if you can clearly observe the MM, sounds reasonable to me. Added.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#63 Postby Deskepticon » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:28 pm

pkitty wrote:To be clear, I wouldn't require any roll for the target, or someone watching the target, to realize that he'd just been hit by some powerful supernatural whammy! It's just that the beam doesn't emanate from the MM. That said, if the MM is the only one not shooting, running, etc., it would be reasonable for someone to put two and two together, so a Notice roll at -4, if you can clearly observe the MM, sounds reasonable to me. Added.

I would say the beam doesn't visibly emanate from the MM; otherwise it sounds like you're changing how certain powers work. Semantics! :wink:

Still, not a free ability. This would bring the Melter's build cost to around 33 or 34.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#64 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:35 pm

Deskepticon wrote:
pkitty wrote:To be clear, I wouldn't require any roll for the target, or someone watching the target, to realize that he'd just been hit by some powerful supernatural whammy! It's just that the beam doesn't emanate from the MM. That said, if the MM is the only one not shooting, running, etc., it would be reasonable for someone to put two and two together, so a Notice roll at -4, if you can clearly observe the MM, sounds reasonable to me. Added.

I would say the beam doesn't visibly emanate from the MM; otherwise it sounds like you're changing how certain powers work. Semantics! :wink:


Except "changing how certain powers work" is exactly what some Trappings do in Savage Worlds. Observe the Mystic's special Healing rules or the many liberties taken in the Savage Arcanum (which I realize is not "canon," but it's widely accepted as a useful and reliable resource). What matters is making sure that it's balanced against other Trappings; I think this is.

At any rate, my phrasing for the purpose of rules can be found back where I edited the original (see one page back). It now says:

pkitty wrote:Mental Force: Mind Melters have access to a special Trapping, "Mental." Powers with this Trapping have no obvious link back to the psi, and require no ritual or effort on his part. The effect of beneficial abilities are completely invisible. Ranged attacks also cause an unseen effect, unless the target is normally able to defend himself, in which case they are visible but originate some distance from the Mind Melter (usually close to the target). Touch-ranged abilities require subjects to be within reach (adjacent, on a map), but the psi does not have to actually touch them. The net result is that Detect Arcana is needed to definitively tell that the psi is responsible for the effect; however, anyone who can clearly observe both the target and the Mind Melter may roll Knowledge (Arcana) at -4 or Notice at -4 to make an educated guess that the Mind Melter was behind it.


Deskepticon wrote:Still, not a free ability. This would bring the Melter's build cost to around 33 or 34.


While I disagree with you, it's a moot point, because 33-34 is still significantly less than the MARS Personal Concept and even further behind the other comparable IFs. So these fixes are pretty much the minimum needed to make the Mind Melter truly viable.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#65 Postby Deskepticon » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:32 pm

pkitty wrote:
Deskepticon wrote:I would say the beam doesn't visibly emanate from the MM; otherwise it sounds like you're changing how certain powers work. Semantics! :wink:


Except "changing how certain powers work" is exactly what some Trappings do in Savage Worlds. Observe the Mystic's special Healing rules or the many liberties taken in the Savage Arcanum (which I realize is not "canon," but it's widely accepted as a useful and reliable resource). What matters is making sure that it's balanced against other Trappings; I think this is.

I only meant that if a power had a cone template, it should still follow the normal rules. Or are you suggesting you could place the point of the cone anywhere and determine effect from there? That sort of change most definitely takes the ability out of the scope of Trapping.

I get that powers can seem to manifest closer to the target, but range should still be determined as the distance from Melter to target, not from point of manifestation. Regardless, anyone with an active detect arcana should see a clear link back to the MM.

For example, a Melter is using bolt. While the projectile may "form" only a few feet from the target before launching, an observer with detect arcana might see a wispy stream of ethereal energy snaking from the MM and coalescing into a ball at the manifestation site.

While trapping re-imagines how bolt looks (i.e., it doesn't shoot out of the casters hand, etc.) It doesn't change how the power actually works.

pkitty wrote:
Deskepticon wrote:Still, not a free ability. This would bring the Melter's build cost to around 33 or 34.


While I disagree with you, it's a moot point, because 33-34 is still significantly less than the MARS Personal Concept and even further behind the other comparable IFs. So these fixes are pretty much the minimum needed to make the Mind Melter truly viable.
[/quote]
I suppose you can call it moot in the grand view, but a hard fact remains: forcing a roll to locate a power's origin (at a penalty even) grants an ability not shared by any other trapping. It is clearly not balanced with them. Therefore it is clearly not "merely" a trapping. Besides, if it were just a trapping, couldnt a MARS psi simply just choose it as well? No! It's a special trapping availible only to a specific IFW meaning it is a bonus, and should counted as one. Regardless, whether you want to count the points or not its function still brings something unique to the Mind Melter and is a good addition.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#66 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:02 pm

Deskepticon wrote:I only meant that if a power had a cone template, it should still follow the normal rules. Or are you suggesting you could place the point of the cone anywhere and determine effect from there? That sort of change most definitely takes the ability out of the scope of Trapping.


Ah, I see what you mean. No, the template, range, etc. certainly doesn't change. Let's say you fired a Cone Burst at a group of people -- you'd still only be able to target the people within that Cone-templated area! However, in the game, rather than it manifesting as a massive (e.g.) cone of flame from your hand, what might happen is each person is attacked by a force burst that is visible (so they still get their Agility roll) but that generates from a random direction so that it isn't obvious that the MM threw it.

Sorry if that wasn't clear. The statistics of the power don't change in any way; it just manifests in a way to make it nonobvious that the psi generated it.

I suppose you can call it moot in the grand view, but a hard fact remains: forcing a roll to locate a power's origin (at a penalty even) grants an ability not shared by any other trapping. It is clearly not balanced with them.


Please note that this is not a hard fact; it's your opinion. And the fact that I disagree with you means that "clearly" is inaccurate as well. Wherever unique effects are involved (as opposed to hard numbers, such as comparing the AP of one Trapping to another's), the art of comparing them is by definition subjective.

What we have here is a difference of opinion, not a case of one of us being right and the other wrong. It's fortunate that (as I said in my last post) the math works out fairly in the case of either of our opinions.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#67 Postby dentris » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:52 pm

In the core rules, whenever a trapping adds something to a power, it comes with a drawback (less damage, higher pp cost, some creatures have immunity/resistance to it, etc.). In that sense, adding à benefit to this specific trapping (hard to detect) does make it unbalanced in the strictest sense. That is a fact.

Now, this specific trapping was brought forward to compensated for a perceiced flaw (justified or not is not an issue here). Not having drawback makes sense in this context because the stated goal is too boost the Framework. Making this "balanced" from a certain point of view.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#68 Postby Deskepticon » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:12 pm

pkitty wrote:Sorry if that wasn't clear. The statistics of the power don't change in any way; it just manifests in a way to make it nonobvious that the psi generated it.

No apology needed. That's what I had thought you meant. It was only after your rebuttal I raised some concern. I could have certainly been more clear as well. :)

Please note that this is not a hard fact; it's your opinion. And the fact that I disagree with you means that "clearly" is inaccurate as well.

Special Pleading fallacy. Essentially you've taken your own contention as proof of its own validity. "The [holy book] is true because the [holy book] says so."
Wherever unique effects are involved (as opposed to hard numbers, such as comparing the AP of one Trapping to another's), the art of comparing them is by definition subjective.

What we have here is a difference of opinion, not a case of one of us being right and the other wrong. It's fortunate that (as I said in my last post) the math works out fairly in the case of either of our opinions.

You are free to demonstrate your claims. But since I'd really hate for this to turn into an argument, I'll just concede. Namely because I agree the numbers don't really matter. Only how the Framework "feels."

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#69 Postby ValhallaGH » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:11 pm

My biggest issue with the Trapping is on Touch powers.
Normally, those require the caster to beat the target's Parry (with a +2 for Touch Attack) to affect the target. However, the super-secret nature of this Trapping opens up a lot of annoying arguments with players about how they don't actually need to touch the target, so don't need to meet Parry, and the 8 to affect the Cyber-Knight means success with a raise. Sure, I can swat them down, but that crap gets annoying after a while.

Other than that, pkitty, I like your ideas. I'd tweak the language a bit, but they're good. Add in Rapid Recharge, a Hero's Journey roll, and maybe a Power Points Edge, and you've got a solid caster on-par with the Mystic.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#70 Postby Fponkdamn » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:51 pm

Okay, BIG project below, warning! :)

I tried to do a write-up on things I'd give the Mind Melter. I had several design goals in mind:

1. Bring the Mind Melter, power-level-wise, on par with the other "caster" IFWs.
2. Do so with unique abilities that aren't duplicate-able via MARS.
3. Try not to create new abilities out of whole cloth; stick to established lore as much as possible.

So with that in mind, what I ended up doing was going through the original Palladium core book and finding psionic abilities that didn't have a clear analog in the SW power set and turn those into IFW abilities for the Mind Melter. I priced them as accurately as I could using mainly the SPC and SR as guides; I encourage others to check my math. Okay, here goes - what follows is on top of the existing Mind Melter presented in Savage Rifts:

===========================================================

Hypnotic Suggestion: A Mind Melter can subtly drop a verbal suggestion into speech with someone as long as the person can understand what the Mind Melter is saying. The victim must make a Smarts roll, and if the roll fails, the victim will carry out the suggestion or feel the way the Mind Melter wishes them to feel. This can be used to coax someone to sleep, plant the idea you are trustworthy, or get them to let you into a restricted area, for example. This costs no ISP, though if the Mind Melter expends 1 ISP the Smarts roll to resist is made at -2, -4 if the Mind Melter spends 2 ISP. If the Smarts roll succeeds, then that particular suggestion cannot be attempted again, but whether it succeeds or fails the victim does not realize the Mind Melter attempted the subtle hypnosis. This ability generally does not work in combat, but only because it requires subtle verbal cues that are generally impossible in such scenarios; exceptions may apply. (Worth 3 points, basically Mind Control with a Major Limitation)

Presence Sense: Mind Melters are constantly aware of other minds surrounding them. Within a range equal to their Smarts, they always know the approximate location of any living creature that can think (so it applies to animals as well as humanoids, but not robots or undead). This means that such creatures gain no benefit from any level of obscurement (darkness, fog, invisibility, etc.) and a Mind Melter does not need line of sight to affect such creatures with powers. (Worth 2 points, Awareness with a Minor Limitation)

A Beautiful Mind: Mind Melters can read up to 30 pages per minute and automatically remember everything they read with perfect clarity. (Worth 1 point, worth about the same as Speak Language)

Empathy: Mind Melters can sense the constant emanations of emotions that undergird the actions of most thinking creatures. Mind Melters get a +2 on Notice rolls to determine emotional states of living, thinking creatures, including whether or not they are lying. (Worth 1 point, about the same as Heightened Senses: Perception)

Mental Might: A Mind Melter has access to a specific set of trappings unavailable to other Psionics users. (Tough to say – ValhallaGH didn’t actually give Mystics any point value to their special Trappings, but Force of Will clearly deserves something; I’ll err on the side of caution and say this is worth 2 points) They include:
o Pure Force of Will: All Powers used by the Mind Melter have no visible trappings other than the direct effect. There are no magic words, no glowing energy, nothing to connect the Mind Melter to the effects created. If a Mind Melter uses Telekinesis to hurl a car through a storefront, that is obviously visible – but the Mind Melter could be sipping tea across the street. If someone specifically suspects a Mind Melter at work, they may make a Notice roll at -4 to try to figure out who’s behind the activity (and of course Detect Arcana works just fine). Note that some effects will be obvious even if there’s no visible effect – an invisible Damage Field will still be quite obvious as things break and people are harmed around the Mind Melter. Any power requiring a touch still requires it, though the subtle nature means that the touch could be as subtle as brushing up against someone on the street.
o Bio-Manipulation: For the additional cost of 2 ISP, any power that deals direct damage (such as Bolt, Burst or Blast) can target living creatures only but ignore physical armor. Living creatures in this case get to add half their Smarts to their toughness when determining damage from such an effect.

Versatile Masters: Mind Melters are not defined by any one archetype – there are as many kinds of Mind Melters as there are Mind Melters themselves. At character creation, a Mind Melter may choose 3 additional Power Edges (If the Power Points Edge is chosen, it does not suffer the usual “once per Rank” restriction, meaning it could be taken multiple times, and does not count against the once per Rank restriction). (6 points).

===================================================

That adds 15 points (by my valuation), bringing Mind Melters up to 40 while giving them several cool abilities that can't be duplicated by a MARS. Let me know what y'all think!
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#71 Postby Freemage » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:13 pm

ValhallaGH wrote:My biggest issue with the Trapping is on Touch powers.
Normally, those require the caster to beat the target's Parry (with a +2 for Touch Attack) to affect the target. However, the super-secret nature of this Trapping opens up a lot of annoying arguments with players about how they don't actually need to touch the target, so don't need to meet Parry, and the 8 to affect the Cyber-Knight means success with a raise. Sure, I can swat them down, but that crap gets annoying after a while.

Other than that, pkitty, I like your ideas. I'd tweak the language a bit, but they're good. Add in Rapid Recharge, a Hero's Journey roll, and maybe a Power Points Edge, and you've got a solid caster on-par with the Mystic.


On touch powers, maybe allow a delayed effect as part of the trapping? The MM can delay a touch power's manifestation by up to Smarts die type in rounds.

This makes them very scary, since you may not realize you're dealing with a MM (and thus, have no reason to not shake his hand). It's not a huge help in combat, of course, unless the MM is posing as, say, a medic for the opposition's team, somehow. But it amps up the paranoia about them right through the roof.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#72 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:26 pm

dentris wrote:In the core rules, whenever a trapping adds something to a power, it comes with a drawback (less damage, higher pp cost, some creatures have immunity/resistance to it, etc.). In that sense, adding à benefit to this specific trapping (hard to detect) does make it unbalanced in the strictest sense.

This is incorrect. Reread the trappings in the core rules and you'll find that they either add a minor benefit (with absolutely no drawback) or they add a significant benefit with some sort of drawback.

Example: Boost Trait lets me improve my or my friends' skills. Boost Trait + Jolt (Electricity) lets me do so and give them a free roll to recover from being Shaken. What's the drawback? There is none.

Basically, Trappings are a reward for taking the time to customize your powers and adding some flavor to the game (and giving some teeth to things like "vulnerable to cold" and "immune to heat/fire").
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#73 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:29 pm

ValhallaGH wrote:My biggest issue with the Trapping is on Touch powers.
Normally, those require the caster to beat the target's Parry (with a +2 for Touch Attack) to affect the target. However, the super-secret nature of this Trapping opens up a lot of annoying arguments with players about how they don't actually need to touch the target, so don't need to meet Parry, and the 8 to affect the Cyber-Knight means success with a raise. Sure, I can swat them down, but that crap gets annoying after a while.

Dang, good point. I think I may just steal Fponkdamn's wording instead; you still have to touch the target, but out of combat, that can just be a light brush as you pass by. (In combat against a wary foe, the only fair ruling is that you have to make that attack roll.)
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#74 Postby Fponkdamn » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:37 pm

Also, what touch powers are folks talking about? None of the offensive powers have a range of touch to begin with, except for the offensive use of Damage Field. And in that case, yeah, the description is that even if there isn't a visible fiery aura or crackling electricity there's still stuff breaking and other such clues. But I didn't see any other powers beside that actually require touching a victim - am I missing one?

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#75 Postby Deskepticon » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:39 pm

pkitty wrote:Example: Boost Trait lets me improve my or my friends' skills. Boost Trait + Jolt (Electricity) lets me do so and give them a free roll to recover from being Shaken. What's the drawback? There is none.

Jolt takes effect only on a raise. It's not automatic; the caster needs to do something exceptional. Getting a raise is the "drawback."

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#76 Postby Fponkdamn » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:43 pm

Deskepticon wrote:Jolt takes effect only on a raise. It's not automatic; the caster needs to do something exceptional. Getting a raise is the "drawback."


Not true; since you still get the normal effect of the raise as well. Even if something required you to get 4 raises in order to work, as long as it was an add-on it's still a free benefit, no matter how minor. If "Jolt" said "in place of the normal effect of a raise, helpful powers provide a free roll to recover from being shaken," then it would have a drawback.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#77 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:48 pm

Fponkdamn wrote:So with that in mind, what I ended up doing was going through the original Palladium core book and finding psionic abilities that didn't have a clear analog in the SW power set and turn those into IFW abilities for the Mind Melter.

That's a cool idea. My only hesitation is that so many of them seem like they do have SW analogs. It feels like with a custom trapping or minor tweak, Hypnotic Suggestion = Puppet, Presence Sense = Exalted Darksight, and Empathy = Mind Reading.

I'm a fan of the Mental trapping, obviously, but Bio-Manipulation seems at odds with the Rifts psionic powers that I've read. I'm not an (original) Rifts expert, mind you, so I may be mistaken -- but all of the damaging psionic attacks that I've seen (like Mind Bolt) are external ones that have to penetrate armor.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#78 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:53 pm

Fponkdamn wrote:Also, what touch powers are folks talking about? None of the offensive powers have a range of touch to begin with, except for the offensive use of Damage Field. And in that case, yeah, the description is that even if there isn't a visible fiery aura or crackling electricity there's still stuff breaking and other such clues. But I didn't see any other powers beside that actually require touching a victim - am I missing one?

I didn't actually look through the entire power list before replying, but you're right! There are no "offensive" powers with a range of Touch. (Damage Field isn't offensive; it's a beneficial power that buffs the subject with a damage field.) So I think I'll go back to my own description of "must be within reach but doesn't require touch."
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#79 Postby Fponkdamn » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:55 pm

pkitty wrote:That's a cool idea. My only hesitation is that so many of them seem like they do have SW analogs. It feels like with a custom trapping or minor tweak, Hypnotic Suggestion = Puppet, Presence Sense = Exalted Darksight, and Empathy = Mind Reading.


Absolutely true; of course, the versions listed are more subtle, at-will, and free. The point was to give them low-grade, subtle versions of the powers that were "always on" while still maintaining flavor. For reference, Palladium Rifts had both "Hypnotic Suggestion" and "Control Others" as powers, so there was a distinction between subtle influence and brute-force control. I think it's cool to give them both.

pkitty wrote:I'm a fan of the Mental trapping, obviously, but Bio-Manipulation seems at odds with the Rifts psionic powers that I've read. I'm not an (original) Rifts expert, mind you, so I may be mistaken -- but all of the damaging psionic attacks that I've seen (like Mind Bolt) are external ones that have to penetrate armor.


Bio-Manipulation was a specific Super Psionic power; and one of the better ones, almost a "must-have" for Melters. It allowed you to do damage direct to hit points without any physical sign, wracking them with pain and causing heart attacks, etc. (among other effects!). So by allowing it as an optional trapping, it allows for both flashy "Mind Bolts" that shatter doors and robots, and more subtle "Bio-Manipulation" against living targets. Options!

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#80 Postby pkitty » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:58 pm

Deskepticon wrote:
pkitty wrote:Example: Boost Trait lets me improve my or my friends' skills. Boost Trait + Jolt (Electricity) lets me do so and give them a free roll to recover from being Shaken. What's the drawback? There is none.

Jolt takes effect only on a raise. It's not automatic; the caster needs to do something exceptional. Getting a raise is the "drawback."

That's not a drawback. A drawback would be something that weakens or limits the power itself. Jolt doesn't do that. You get the full effect of the underlying power, plus you add either "nothing" or "a free unShaken roll"; there is zero chance of your power being less useful because it's linked to Jolt.

Imagine the GM announces a new house rule: Every hour she'll draw a card, and if it's an Ace, every player gets a free Benny. Did the game suddenly because harder because it's so unlikely that she'll drawn an Ace? No, things got easier -- that "Ace only" limitation just means that the game only got a little bit easier instead of a lot easier -- but things certainly didn't get more difficult.
Last edited by pkitty on Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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