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I'm wondering how to emulate a "gadget of the week" concept for a Mutants & Masterminds 3e character. A Device or Equipment that the character builds or has built herself or that is given to her and which cannot change for a given amount of time (probably once per session or only changeable when in the character's workshop or back at the base).

Do note that I'm not talking about the Inventor advantage: even if it's built by the character, it should be happening off-screen, probably between sessions and not require checks or anything. The character just has one gadget choice per session/adventure.

The gadget could potentially be anything, that is have any sort of Effect(s).

Not looking for a multitool / Sonic screwdriver which would probably be done with Alternate Effects and changeable at will.

Examples:

  • "Good news everyone! I have just built the Marvel-o-tron, capable of beautifying anything!"
  • "We need to go to the center of the Earth? Perfect! I've been wanting to test out my Tunnel Maker forever!"
  • "Well Jameson, didn't W give you some useful gadget for this mission?" "Hmm, he did give me this pen which is also a grappling gun."

I suppose this could even include actual powers bestowed by fickle deities ("okay, yesterday I could breathe in water, today I can fly"). I have the feeling it won't change too much whether it's about magic, powers, devices or equipment sets.

Possible variations:

  • The effects you get are out of your control: it's given by a higher entity such as The Agency or Athena the goddess.
  • The nature of the gadget is defined beforehand (beginning of session, when accessing workshop) OR can be defined conveniently before the first use in a "I happen to have this in my pocket" fashion (much more powerful, should probably cost more). Those who know Spirit of the Century might recognize the Universal Gadget stunt.
  • The gadget could be a set such as a toolbox with various Alternate Effects. That said, all effects should still be defined once for a given amount of time.

My current thoughts:

My first idea is Variable with a limitation of "once per session" or "only changeable while in workshop", but often Variable is too broad and there are more elegant ways to emulate the concept, so there might be something better. Is there?

I'm looking for the best way to emulate the concept first (being able to do exactly that), then the most cost-worthy way. I value emulation of concept over min-maxing.

Help with the variations is also welcome: Quirk, Limited, ...?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In 3E, the effect you are looking for is (as in 2E and Scrollmaster's answer) Variable.

Variable: Action: Standard, Range: Personal, Duration: Sustained. 7points/rank.

There is a -1point/rank flaw called 'Slow' which means your power can't be reconfigured during an action scene, only between scenes. It states that the GM will determine the time, but it should be short enough to happen within a game session but long enough to not happen in combat (it also suggests you can spend a Hero Point to reconfigure in a desperate situation).

You might also want to apply the -1point/rank flaw 'Uncontrolled' to the power, meaning that your character doesn't control the allocation of these points. This would mean the GM would decide how they are spent.

So if you, the player, spend the points once (or possibly twice) per story, it's a 6 point/rank power that gives you 5 points/rank to spend during 'downtime' on a new Device/Power/etc.

If the GM spends the points on your behalf and Q hands you a brand new Austin Martin with a bundle of doohickeys that you have no say over, it's 5 points/rank and gives you 5 points/rank of powers. Just be prepared for it to sometimes be a flying car when you're going to end up being teleported to Atlantis (and be ready to spend a Hero Point and some down time to reconfigure it to a submersible car).

As with any power which can be reconfigured during a session, it may be good to have a basic 'set' of things it can do prepared beforehand (for instance, a set of vehicles with their base cost, and how many points they have left over for customizations) so that it doesn't slow down gameplay too much.

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1  
Nice catch on the Variable-specific Slow flaw. I'm thinking it might turn into a -2 cost per rank if you need a really long time (not changeable between scenes but only during very long downtimes, usually between scenarios). –  leokhorn May 28 at 18:07
    
@leokhorn: Yeah, I could see that. It would, of course, be up to the GM to say the final value. –  Jeff May 29 at 1:34

Well, if you are looking for a way of having a Power that can have any Power in it... Variable is the way to go. It is a broad Power, but your examples are broad. Now, to try and make it elegant:

  • Variable 6pts/rk: Multiple powers at the same time, so long as the total do not add up to more than (rank * 5) points.
  • Flaw: Fade, Permanent
  • Extra: Total Fade
  • Power feats: Slow Fade *6

So you have a Power that costs (5pts/rk)+6, and lasts 5h/rk, at which point it suddenly stops working. The character activate it again by spending some time on it (representing the time to make up a new machine, or whatever). You can take Slow Fade *5 instead, and have it last around 100mn/rk.

Once activated, the character decides what is in the Variable. Since it is Permanent, it cannot be stopped until it fades.

Now for the variations:

  • The effects you get are out of your control: it's given by a higher entity such as The Agency or Athena the goddess: Add Flaw: Uncontrolled (note that the Power will last only 4hours/rk then).

  • The nature of the gadget is defined beforehand (beginning of session, when accessing workshop): Just use the version above

  • OR can be defined conveniently before the first use in a "I happen to have this in my pocket" fashion (much more powerful, should probably cost more). Those who know Spirit of the Century might recognize the Universal Gadget stunt: Remove permanent, so the character can change the Powers. Maybe put some Drawback: Action, so the user has to take some time to change the Powers.

  • The gadget could be a set such as a toolbox with various Alternate Effects. That said, all effects should still be defined once for a given amount of time: Simply put Alternate Powers inside the Variable. They would have to be defined when the Power is activated anyway.

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I think your examples are based on 2e and I was going for 3e. Oh well, no big deal :). 3e does not have any official time limited Flaws though. What's the exact restriction Permanent imposes in 2e and in this example? Cannot change setup until it fades completely? –  leokhorn Feb 13 '13 at 17:01
    
@leokhorn Whoops, my bad. Does 3e have the Fading flaw, where a Power starts degrading? In the example Permanent made it impossible to stop the Power once it starts; since the Powers inside the Variable have the same Duration as the Variable, they are Permanent too and can't be stopped/changed until the Variable end. Alternatively, you could just make the Variable changing action really large, like a couple of hours or something. –  Cristol.GdM Feb 13 '13 at 17:36
    
There is a Fades flaw, losing 1 rank per use (per round for sustained+ durations). Then you need to somehow recharge the power at the GM's whim, with a recommended 1 hour downtime. Would a simple "Limited: can only reconfigure when recharged" work maybe? –  leokhorn Feb 14 '13 at 19:44
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@leokhorn: I don't think the Fades flaw is appropriate for your power in 3E, which lacks the Total Fade concept (where a power doesn't fade at all until it's totally gone) - your car doesn't slow down just because you've been driving for 2 hours (given fuel), and you won't see Captain Marvel's speed of Mercury fading during a race against Flash. –  Jeff May 30 at 13:21

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