Friday, December 25, 2015

Powers: Super Mario

Today, I want to try designing a Super Mario power modifier and talent using the rules from the Powers book. Mario has been in many RPGs and very many different spin-offs where he and his friends exhibit exceptional talent in a variety of pursuits. For the sake of this article, I want to focus on the typical platformer Mario and his abilities.

Building a Power

I have typically built a lot of advantages using Powers as a reference, but haven't dived into building a power from nothing. So, today, I'll be trying this for the first time. As a matter of fact, even if the Mario universe is somewhat simple compared to the somewhat realistic assumptions of GURPS, a more "serious" implementation of these abilities might be useful somewhere else. Or at the very least, modifying this power a little bit might help you design a power to suit an alchemist or similar.
Starting with the recommendations from GURPS Powers, the anatomy of a power is:
  1. The advantages the power bestows.
  2. A modifier that applies to all powers.
  3. A talent to help the execution of each of the advantages.


So starting off with the advantages element, let's start off with a couple of simple abilities.
  1. A fire flower allows Mario to launch fire projectiles.
  2. A super leaf gives Mario a new attack, and two slightly different flying mechanisms
  3. A star gives Mario invulnerability and the ability to defeat any opponent in a single touch.
Statting these advantages out are an exercise I leave for the reader.

Power Modifier

Next we need to come up with a modifier for the power. Generally, a modifier is almost always a limitation, and it describes all the strengths and weaknesses of Mario's abilities. For the most part, his abilities are granted when he finds certain items, and lost when he takes damage. Sometimes if an ability granting item is acquired in a very specific way, Mario can keep it for later. In the field, he does not have this ability. The power granting items are exhausted and unusable after being consumed once.
Starting with p.20 of the Building Powers chapter, we look at countermeasures of the power. It is very common that Mario and friends lose their powers when hurt at all by any means. In my opinion, this is a common mundane countermeasure. and it is worth -10%.
There are no specific special abilities that can disable Mario's abilities, so the modifier accrues 0% in the anti-powers category.
The next section is required disadvantages. No one specifically needs a particular code of honor or sworn vow to execute a Mario Power, so this section is also worth 0% to the modifier.
The channeled energies section is also not applicable, and is worth 0% to the modifier.
Under Other Factors on p.25, Costs Fatigue and Nuisance Effect do not seem to apply, but accessibility might. Each power requires Mario to consume one easy to find item. This specific item is a 0 point feature of the ability. This is worth an additional -5% to the power modifier.
The total modifier for Mario Power is -15%.


Pricing the talent has no explicitly hard mechanics to it. Based off of the fuzzy feeling it gives, 5 points a level for Mario Talent seems about right.

Example Constructed Advantage

So, going with an easy one just to demonstrate how this all comes together, let's do Fire Mario. As said earlier, this is an exercise left to the reader, but I came up with the following.
Fire Mario (+85%): Burning Innate Attack 2 (Homing, Detect Bad Guys +70%; Ricochet +10%; Reduced Time 1 +20%; Feature, Catalyst Item: Fire Flower +0%; Mario Power -15%) [37]
When someone consumes a Fire Flower they can launch fireballs that bounce repeatedly, with all the implied advantages and restrictions of Mario Power. Being a homing ball (like in the latest Mario games where the trajectory slightly curves towards the enemy) instead of using an innate attack, roll against 13 + Mario Talent and ignore distance modifiers. Less Time in this case represents being able to aim and fire in a single turn. If an enemy fails to defend, they receive 2d burning damage.

Final Thoughts

This was totally a thought experiment, and in hindsight, I don't think this is a good way to tackle Mario's abilities. I have the notes here for someone to look at just for learning purposes though. If someone really wanted to do things this way, I'd suggest using alternate abilities to represent how Mario is never able to have 2 powers simultaneously. If I were to do it my way, I'd stat each item out as a power that afflicts the user with the special advantage they give, convert that to an item using crafting system of choice, and cut the price to 20% to represent the single-use discount. Mario normally finds items incredibly easily, so I wouldn't know how to account for that. Maybe a Naturalist or Scrounging roll with a roll modified by the price calculated in the first step divided by some number... maybe, for example, if a fire flower costs $200, and I decide the divisor is 40, the modifier for finding one is a -5.
On topic with the idea of powers though, I'm not sure if I'll ever need to handspin my own, but this has been an enlightening exercise, nonetheless.

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