Thursday, May 24, 2018

Review: Powers - Enhanced Senses

The decadent illustration
on this cover is an eye
pictogram. A sumptuous
bouquet to pique
your imagination.
I was on the fence about this book for a while, and then on a whim when I was a little bored and in the mood for some GURPS reading, I decided to get it. Somehow, it precisely met my expectations; that it would cover the material it meant to cover but not in the way I wanted. I will not say it is a bad book though; I will say that I think it could have been perhaps more interesting and perhaps more helpful if it took a slightly different path. What it is is a small explanation of sensory advantages and how they might be impacted by applying different powers, so if that is what you want, then it might be a book for you. Let's take a closer look.


This is a 36 page PDF with 2 pages of front matter, and 5 pages of back matter, included a two page table of abilities and a two page index. The book is broken up into three chapters; 7 pages to describe different powers; 17 pages for abilities directly related to the senses; and a 4 page final chapter to applied benefits of enhanced perception. The book looks at several typical realistic and popular fiction abilities based on most of the traditional and a few of the fantastical senses; it looks at them through the lens of different powers described in the first chapter.
  • Biological - Realistic property of a species, like an eagle's eyes, or a rabbit's hearing
  • Savant - Superhuman ability through laser guided focus
  • Electronic - Abilities granted by installing devices
  • Chi - Near-supernatural abilities bestowed by looking at Magic Eye books on a mountaintop in Tibet.
  • Super - Incredible abilities like those found in comic books.
Not bad at all for a table of contents.
The book itself is a great catalog of examples of the application of powers and advantages, but I kinda wish it focused on some of the more guidance like elements that it starts out with instead. For example, devoting a section to what discriminatory taste and smell could mean for a character, or concrete examples of applications of Subsonic Hearing. A lot of time is spent on vision, but I think it's a little bit of a misguided effort; vision is intuitive to most people that can see; if that effort were devoted to something more obscure or exotic, it could have had a bigger impact with me. In short, the book is a good catalog, could have had a bit more guidance  and inspirational or exploratory material.

Sensory Powers

This chapter covers the basics of powers and game mechanical applications of perception (the concept and the secondary characteristic.) It explains the "more important" sensory power sources (but includes an aside for a few other popular ones if you like) The discussion on appropriate applications of modifiers, and mechanical bonuses to skills from abilities are really good, and among other parts of the book, probably the most valuable in my opinion.

Sensory Abilities

This chapter applies power modifiers to the various sensory advantages to make thematically appropriate abilities for the main power sources. Take a look at the table of contents, there is a lot of stuff here. In general, the abilities are put together well, so I have no big complaints. I personally think that a lot of these aren't too hard to put together, so most are something someone could have put together given enough time and effort, but hey, why do it yourself if it is already done? There are some interesting tables for decibel levels and vision penalties from lumens; but realistically, I can't imagine they are too game helpful by themselves - I don't intend to memorize the lux level of an Indicator LED, but maybe you will? The supernatural senses at the end are pretty cool though.

Sensory Applications

These are abilities that one with especially good senses might have as a result of their application; the title says it all. The abilities here are pretty creative and it is an interesting read through to see how one might massage the definitions of particular powers to get some more useful abilities.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

Simply put, this book is pretty much all right, but it's not one I'd specifically recommend to anyone. I do not regret buying it, but I don't believe it is going to level up my gaming.

1 comment:

  1. It was nice when it came out since it had a full light table. Since many of my games are outdoors, the little differences in light matter in them.


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