Reading Power Profiles has been a time. Relevant text as follows (pg. 100 of Power Profiles)

Lucky Shot - Enhanced Extra (Penetrating), Variable Descriptor (Attacks), Quirk (Limited to Lower of Attack or Extra's Rank, -1 points) - 1 point per rank.

Variable Descriptor in this concept means that this power can buff any of your attacks, including the normal Strength Damage Attacks (unless this isn't Enhanced Trait). This is quite insane, because Enhanced Trait can be given Increased Action 2 to make it so the activation is a Standard Action at -2/R but continue to sustain it and change which attack its applied to as a free action, and any typically flat cost modifiers to powers can be reduced in a similar fashion (similar to how flaws are applied to Senses).

My question is why use the Alternate Effect Extra when you can use Enhanced Trait (Variable Descriptor)? The following are all options you can just do RAW if given the chance and are examples as to how you can use this power.

"Enhanced Power, Variable Descriptor (Ongoing Effects), Affects Other" (Enhance any of your or your ally's sustained, continuous, or permanent powers)

"Enhanced Trait, Variable Descriptor (Defenses), Precise" (Distribute enhancement across any of your defenses)

"Enhanced Extra (Linked: Deflect), Variable Descriptor (Attacks)" (Give any of your attacks the benefit of the Defend Action and more for cheap, melee oriented characters could add Reflect and Close)

"Enhanced Extra Attack (Ranged, Area (Burst), Unreliable 1/1), Variable Descriptor (Attack)" (Apply the Enhancement to a hostile target so that a attack of your choice not only hits them too with the Area effect if they hit you with it, but also can no longer be used until you apply the effect to a different attack. Wonder if this sort of effect would be better conceptualized as a Weaken Extra/Power effect though I'm not sure how you'd do that)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I just now noticed that you are using Increased Action instead of Activation for your activation. I feel like that shouldn't be kosher, but by the strict reading of the rules, as a sustained effect, it just requires a free action to maintain after the initial one. So, yes, that does sound like a valid method of point shaving from a literal reading of the rules. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 19 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ When you're Incapacitated or Countered the effects take longer to reset. Works better when your games use existing mechanics to make for more dangerous combats. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 19 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


First off, I do think that the Variable Descriptor modifier got stretched a bit out of shape with this usage, particularly for broader cases. It was initially written up to allow you to change descriptor, not to apply a power to other powers.

Secondly, addressing cost, adding the modifier to the powers in an array means the cost gets distributed among the powers therein. Buying Split 2 on each power in an attack array adds 2 PP total, since each power can use those points. Doing the same thing with a Variable Descriptor will cost, at the last, 3 PP, 2 PP for the base ability and 1 PP for Variable Descriptor. The chief benefit of using Variable Descriptor is for having it apply to things not in your array, like the gun you just picked up. Side note to this, non-flat extras and flaws get a little bit wonky here, since 10 points of area will cost different amounts depending upon whether or not the power in question has dipped below the one rank per Power Point threshold. Most GMs that I have worked with had simply assumed that what you are buying are not necessarily 10 ranks, but rather X points applied to that modifier.

Lastly, the GM is the sole arbiter for whether a given Variable Descriptor is valid, so that's the last gate against abuse.

The GM decides if a given descriptor is appropriate in conjunction with a particular effect and this modifier.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Personally I think the modifier should have be Broad at +1/R like Weaken, but I figure they used arrays for reference to the cost. Second, while Variable Descriptor Enhanced Trait still can cost more, the cost beyond Variable Descriptor was already going to be on your other power, those Extras that you would've added are just cheaper now that you've added flaws to when and where they can apply, effectively reducing the cost rather than costing 1 per alt effect. Last Strength Based Attacks & Rocket Launchers are both cases in PHB where the extras can differ in rank from the power. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 18 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Will say Enhanced Trait when used in this way is probably better when used alongside arrays, since you can just have a Normal Strength Attack and have different enchantment apply to it rather than Strength Based Attacks where you are forced to pay the full cost for their Extras. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 18 at 23:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FriendlyNeighborhoodChicken You would have to pay full price here as well. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 19 at 1:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Damage 8 (Multiattack, Triggered 8, Improved Critical 4, Accuracy 4) costs 32 points Damage 8 with a Enhanced Power 24: Multiattack 8, Triggered 8, Improved Critical 4, Accuracy 4 (Variable Descriptor: Attacks) (Increased Action 2) costs 17 points total, despite having more versatility. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 19 at 8:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @FriendlyNeighborhoodChicken: Ah. Yes, buying your Damage power separate from your built-in Strength attack, and adding additional Flaws will indeed be cheaper. :) If, instead, one of your array entries was an Enhanced Trait to apply those Extras to your strength damage, as per the part I quoted above, you'd be saving points. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 19 at 12:08

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