Monthly Archives: May 2014

Test Driving OVA Revised

We got our Kickstarter backer preview edition of OVA* Revised, so I decided to make a character with it to see how it differed from the original. To make it a thorough test, I decided to make the most complex of my current characters: “Rat” (Russel Andrew Thompson), my fantasy super in my wife’s GURPS campaign. His nickname comes from the fact that he is a homeless orphan. His super power is psionic luck, which enables to him to find regular food and shelter from weather. One day, as he was settling in to sleep in an alley, a man running by suddenly stumbled just as he passed Rat’s hiding place, dropping something as he recovered. On his heels were two security guards waving guns. Come morning, he discovered the dropped item: a watch, or so it seemed.

Long story short: it turned out to be an Omnitrix-like device that lets him transform into various elementals. Unknown to him, the device is powered by psionic energy (he doesn’t believe that magic or psionics exist, even though he can use both), and has tuned itself to his particular energy, so it wouldn’t work for anyone else even if he could take it off. (The campaign started in near future Earth, but with magic and psionics. Early in the first session we got teleported to fantasy world.) One major drawback to the watch is that the other forms sometimes whisper to him in the back of his mind, despite not being sapient in their own rights.

In GURPS the watch is Signature Gear that gets slightly more expensive as he unlocks new forms, because its point cost is determined by the total of his available forms. As of now he has Fire and Earth, and will be unlocking Air in the near future, triggered by a stressful situation the GM will put us in. Since we are supers, we started as 250 point characters; his Omnitrix currently cost me 91 of those. His super luck is represented by Serendipity (once per session, something improbable just happens to go my way), Luck (once per hour of game time I can make a roll three times and keep the best), Danger Sense (think Spidey Senses), and Enhanced Dodge. Everything else about him is what you’d expect from an 18-year-old kid who’s been homeless for most of his life.

As I said a moment ago, his Omnitrix’s cost is determined by his other forms. Each of them is built as a racial template using the rules for Alternate Form. I have each written on a separate index card for quick reference during the game. His Earth form gets extra Strength, Health, and HP, and damage reduction due to being made of mud. He can reshape his hands into any shape they could reasonably make, allowing him to deal crushing or impaling damage. His only special attack is Flying Fist, which, as you might imagine, involves him launching his fist at someone. It has a relatively short range, and it takes him a full round (second) to reform it again.

Fire gets extra Strength and HP, and also Dexterity. His brawling attacks are all deal half their damage as burning and the rest as crushing. He can fly 5′ off the ground by surfing on a stream of fire like Iceman does on ice, leaving a trail of fire behind him. His two special attacks are Flamethrower and Nova. Flamethrower does exactly what you think. Nova does a relatively massive amount of fire damage (4d6 in a game where the average human has 10 HP) to everyone within 2 yds. In D&D 4e it would be a close burst 1. Both forms are Monstrous, Ham-fisted (lacking proper fingers), and have Disturbing Voices. Both are also difficult to damage due to not having vital organs (Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous)). They also have a couple of other small things each, but you get the idea.

In OVA, Rat’s a bit of a challenge simply because I’m not sure how to even create the watch. I could choose to either buy each form as a separate transformation, but then each could only be used once each session, or buy the watch itself as Gear. The advantage to Transformation is that each point in it gives you two points to build the other form, but Gear is one for one.

So I chose to make it Gear, just like in GURPS, but I’m not sure how to handle the costs for the various forms. For now I have figured out the cost of everything they have in common, and added in the most expensive list of how they differ (In GURPS you pay for the most expensive and then 15 per additional, so I’m doing sort of the same thing in OVA). Gear is not my only option, though.

Naturally, the PDF isn’t complete, but in original OVA, you can attempt to use any ability in the game as long as it makes sense and the GM says yes; no telekinesis if your concept and background don’t include psionic potential, for instance. If Revised has the same rule, I won’t need to buy the equivalent of Magery 0 Rat has in GURPS (it represents his innate magical talent, although he hasn’t used it yet because of his disbelief).

Our standard OVA chargen option is Ground Zero with leeway: try to have your character come out to 0 points, but don’t compromise your character concept to get there. Thus I aimed to do the same here, but he ended up being 4 points, simply because the Omnitrix itself is 5. His psionic luck is represented by Lucky, Sixth Sense, and Evasive (Psi). His general thievishness by Art of Invisibility, Perceptive, and Dextrous. Because of his life on the street, he’s rather thin (but always lucky enough to find just as much food as he needed to live) and looks quite a bit younger than he is, thus Ageism and Weak. His Code of Conduct in both games is that he will never steal from anyone else who is poor, and will try to help such when he can.

UPDATE 2014-06-06: Using Clay’s suggestion and replacing Gear 7 with Transformation 4 + Walking Arsenal 4, Rat now costs 5 points instead of 4. I have also updated his elemental forms.

So here he is in all his glory (DX (Damage Total originally) is multiplied times your attack’s margin of success to determine how much damage you deal):

Abilities (17)
Lucky 2
Sixth Sense 2
Evasive (Psi) 1
Art of Invisibility 2
Perceptive 1
Dexterous 2
Combat Expert 1 (A couple of months of on-the-job training…)
Gear (Omnitrix) 7-2 = 5
Transformation 4 + Walking Arsenal 4 = 8-2 = 6
*Endurance Use (5) -1
*Room for Two (other forms’ voices whisper frequently) -1

Weaknesses (-12)
Ageism 1
Poor 3
Weak 1 (-1 DX) (…but still has a weakened constitution.)
Coward 1
Code of Conduct 1
Overconfident about his thieving abilities 1
Secret (Omnitrix) 2
Pacifist 1
Doesn’t believe in magic or psionics despite having both 1

Gear (Omnitrix)
Combat Expert 2 (+2 to attacks)
Vigorous 2 (extra Endurance)
Life Support 2
Tough 2 (extra HP)
Bizarre Appearance -3
Focus -3

Earth Form (17-10=7)
Combat Expert 2 (+2 to attacks)
Vigorous 3 (extra Endurance)
Life Support 2
Tough 3 (extra HP)
Armored 2 (-2 attacker’s DX)
Resistance (Earth) 2
Strong 3 (+2 DX)
Affinity (Earth) (affinities are free)
Awkward Size -2
Can’t hold anything -1
Slow -1
Bizarre Appearance -3
Focus -3

Fire Form (17-9=8)
Combat Expert 2 (+2 to attacks)
Vigorous 3 (extra Endurance)
Life Support 2
Tough 3 (extra HP)
Flight 1
Agile 1
Strong 3 (+2 DX)
Resistance (Fire) 2
Vulnerable (Water) -1
Awkward Size -2
Bizarre Appearance -3
Focus -3

One nice thing about Rat’s OVA version is that it takes up less than half the space of the GURPS original. All told, creating Rat was about equally complicated in both games. The only major difference is that I had already figured all of the details (especially the elementals’ appearances and special attacks) while making him in GURPS; making him in OVA would have taken quite a bit longer, otherwise, but that would have true regardless of system.

One major change over the original OVA is the removal of the Power Move ability. Previously you took ranks of PM that determined your various special attacks’ DT, then created the actual attacks using various modifiers just like in GURPS, modifying the amount of Endurance each attack costs. A separate ability increased your damage with other attacks. In Revised you build the attacks in the same way, but every attack you make is affected by the new Attack ability, which folds in Martial Arts (+DX bare-handed), Power Move, and Weapon (+DX for weapon attacks), all of which were removed as redundant in Revised.

That kind of simplification and clarification was one of Clay’s main goals when creating the new edition, and he’s done a pretty good job so far. For instance, previously there was a lot overlap between Acrobatics and Agile, so it was hard to know which to use. They have now been mostly combined into Agile, and some parts moved to the new ability Dexterous, but it applies only to skills requiring fine motor control.

All told, I really like the new OVA – it improves greatly over its already-great predecessor. That said, if we were starting that campaign anew and my wife asked us which system we’d like to use, I’d still have to vote for GURPS, simply because I actually found it much easier to create his alternate forms in GURPS than in OVA. But with the improvements to OVA, I can’t see anything else replacing it as our go-to game for pick-up games, one shots, and mini-campaigns.

* (For the non-otaku among you, OVA means “original video animation” (or sometimes “original animated video”, OAV), what we Americans might call a “Direct-to-video release”. In this case it’s a pun, and the full name of the game is Open Versatile Anime.)

Choosing Bliss and Pokémon

For a couple of years now, I’ve been following a blog written by someone else who tries not to let her disability get in the way of what she wants to do. One of those things is a blog where she posts words of encouragement to everyone, among other topics (that link is one of my favorites). She and her daughter also send out care packages to strangers in need of encouragement all over the country, absolutely free. For details, check out her facebook page or website.

On an unrelated note, I was informed by one of my Pokémon Leaguers that I messed up one of fairy’s resistances on my pocket type charts, and was also unaware that steel no longer resisted ghost or dark, since I haven’t yet had a chance to play X or Y. The updated charts are available from my Scribd library as usual.