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In a recent discussion on Reddit, a few of us asserted that Equipment, unlike Powers and Devices, can be removed without warning by the GM, whether it's a temporary removal (the gun jams, or runs out of ammo) or more permanent (your sword breaks or your disarmed knife skitters off the side of the roof. For some reason, I would swear that the 2E books specifically cited the knife falling off of the side of the roof as an example). You can generally take an action to reload or unjam your gun, or buy another knife between scenes. And then it was pointed out that in the 3E documentation, it seems that you might get a hero point for a GM-induced Complication.

Lots of equipment has a limited lifespan: guns run out of ammo, cars run out of gas, SCUBA tanks run out of oxygen, and batteries run out of juice. However, it can be a hassle to keep track of the lifespan of every piece of equipment the heroes may have (to say nothing of all the villains and supporting characters). So these rules pay fairly little attention to equipment running out or breaking down except when the Gamemaster wants to make things interesting for the heroes with a complication or two. Thus equipment failure—either due to running out of fuel or simple malfunction—is a dramatic issue rather than a matter of cost-accounting and keeping track of things like ammo and how much gas is in the tank of the hero’s super-car.

Thinking there was an edition change, I checked the 2E materials, and while it's a bit closer to saying that there's no Hero Point, the last line kind of indicates differently.

Equipment is vulnerable to damage, malfunctions, and loss, moreso than devices. One use of a power like Disintegration or Transform can turn a character’s equipment to dust, for example, and equipment tends to be delicate when it comes to super-powered attacks. Equipment may be lost or taken away from the character with impunity, and the GM may sometimes arrange circumstances to separate characters from their equipment as a GM fiat or setback (see Chapter 6).

Upon more exploration, it turns out that almost all of this is present in the core book for both editions, almost verbatim (there are some minor textual differences in the copying and pasting when they made 3E), complete with the odd dichotomy of stating that equipment can be removed or destroyed with impunity, but that having an item just run out of ammo is a complication.

For some reason, I thought that 3E still had text indicating that Equipment, unlike Devices, didn't get Hero Points when it was taken away. Is there any evidence for that viewpoint, maybe a post from someone from Green Ronin? I have checked through Steve Kenson's archived ORQ answers, but haven't found anything.

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Equipment can be destroyed or stolen by enemy action (Disarm, Smash, etc.) with impunity.

The quoted sections highlight that if the GM takes away the equipment by fiat, declaring that it is out of fuel or has broken down, then that is a Complication. Because the GM declared a normal resource unavailable to make the scene more difficult.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is at odds with how people are actually playing, but it is the most technically correct answer, so accepted. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Sean Duggan Apr 23 at 15:23
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It looks like they have it both ways. In the section entitled "Damage and Loss", they have the original 2E text:

Equipment is subject to damage, malfunctions, and loss, even more so than devices with the Removable flaw (see the flaw description in Powers). Equipment may be lost or taken away from the character with impunity, and the GM may have equipment fail, run out of ammo or fuel, or otherwise malfunction as a complication.

Complicating things, they don't capitalize Complication much of the time, so it could be interpreted as that this is a lower-case complication, making things more difficult for the player. And, bizarrely enough, they seem to indicate that entirely removing the equipment gives no compensation, but just having it jam does.

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