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Duration Modifying Drawbacks


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I was wondering if duration can be a factor akin to frequency in terms of determining the points value of a power loss drawback. For instance, if a situation occurs fairly rarely, but its effects last for weeks, would that increase its value to that of a drawback that occurred more commonly, but cleared off quickly?

The idea I have regards Fleur de Joie's hair. It's waist-length, though she usually keeps it pinned up, and as it's the only green part of her body, it seems like the obvious place for her photosynthesizing to occur. I'd like to give her a Power Loss drawback that says that she loses her immunity to starvation and thirst, as well as her ability to regenerate, until her hair grows back. Even if her hair grows back quite quickly for a normal person, it will still take six weeks to three months to grow back. This would be represented on the PbP boards by her having the power loss in every thread that is put on the timeline during those six weeks.

Having such an unusually long duration seems like it would make it a candidate for more than a 1pt Drawback. That is the way I would prefer to lay it out, but if duration has no effect on the severity of a drawback, I think I will simply say that her hair grows back very, very quickly, so that the power loss would only last a few days, more in line with other power loss drawbacks.

For reference, here are the two Drawbacks I've worked up that I would like to add to her. I've never written drawbacks before, so any commentary that helps pound them into shape is welcome.

Power Loss, uncommon, moderate:

Having her hair cut to a length of less than six average inches (shave head, chop off braid, stylish summer cut) will remove her ability to photosynthesize (immunity to starvation and thirst) and regenerate until it regrows. Her hair grows much more quickly than a normal person's, but only about an inch a week, and the abilities will not come back until hair is again 12 inches or longer.

Weakness, uncommon minor

The last six inches of Stesha's hair are dead and inactive cells, like normal hair, and can be trimmed normally. The rest of her hair is much more alive than normal hair, and hurts if it is damaged. Damaging her hair invokes toughness saves the way damaging her body does.

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If Doc Samson has taught us anything, it's don't cut green hair if you're super-powered!

I think you've got a good case for your moderate drawback. It would take some policing and use of the timeline to make sure you were getting the full cost value for it, but it could still work. (You're active enough that having the character impeded across contemporary threads would be more than feasible, and a serious impediment to boot!)

I don't quite know how to model Weakness for straight Instant damage, though, the book isn't very specific in that area. You might have to adapt it to a check or bonus penalty. (Or even make it a little worse; being 'out of breath' all the time could easily hurt you enough to be a moderate drawback.)

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On the one tentacle, when I asked Kenson something similar, he had this to say:

Sure, sounds reasonable to me.

On the other tentacle, Fleur having her hair cut as described would, I'd imagine, be such a rare occurrence -- maybe happening once or twice in her entire adventuring career/life, not once every three-to-five adventures -- that it wouldn't be worth any points; it'd be more of a Complication. ("Her hair hasn't grown back yet for this adventure, so she starts with an extra Hero Point.")

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Oh, I think I can guarantee that Fleur's drawbacks will come up in threads I'm running. And everyone else's too. :twisted: Though I did miss Belphegor's last time, I'll have to get him next time... :D

Anyway, the major problem is having Fleur's power loss happen so bad guys know to exploit it. It's not as obvious as waving a cross at Avenger, or grappling Belphegor's wings, but it's still very easily doable. There are a lot of ways Fleur's hair could get lost in the busy life of a superhero. A well-placed Blast of any number of descriptors could burn off her hair; Bee-Keeper (or any other strong baddie) might rip it off in melee next time he's out in the field with her. And that's just by accident, a science-savvy villain who figures out she photosynthizes could make the intuitive leap to do it as well. Perhaps the Green Man, no doubt as part of a larger scheme to steal the powers of plant-manipulating heroes?

And once word gets out that it's a weakness of hers, it's something her enemies would work to exploit. Plus, there's always the luck of the vulnerable. Just as Mr. Immortal is the core GLA member who takes the atomic bomb to the face on every mission, so too it's the person who'd be hurt by losing her hair who gets it toasted off.

Besides, the advantage of the play-by-post structure is that Electra (and her GMs) can set the drawback's frequency by actually having involuntary hair loss happen to her every three-to-five adventures. In fact, if Fleur gets her hair ripped or burned off in her very next fight, that would explain why she hasn't gotten points for the drawback yet: it hasn't come up yet. makes a mental note for Fleur's next fight with the Bee-Keeper

In a world where Avenger got three points for a drawback that hasn't actually come up in play yet (though probably will soon, there just hasn't been a thread where it would realistically happen), I'd think Stesha could get a point or two for a drawback coming up next fight. :)

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Unfortunately, despite Avenger's zeal to depilate my character, there is a problem with applying the "3-5" adventures standard. Stesha is an active character and gets into at least 3-5 threads every month. If she gets her hair chopped or her head shaved once a month, then she is facing a situation with 42 days of drawback for every thirty day period. She will be bald for the rest of her life, and owe extra days besides. That seems like rather more than "uncommon frequency."

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OK, so on the frequency of the drawback issue, it's not that Stesha would lose her hair every three to five adventures, it's that having it happen to her would take three to five adventures to recover from? That seems like a viable way of modifying the drawback, given the confines of PbP, and given how many threads Stesha's in most of the time.

As for it not happening yet, well, I've got a PC who's been in place for six months who hasn't had one of his major drawbacks used against him yet (whew! :D ), and there are others in the same boat. So ideally I'd think you'd be fine there. (OK, I _should_ be hitting Avenger with a flaming cross every couple of adventures, but he still gets the drawback points even though I haven't yet.)

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I understand that setting the requirements for drawbacks is part of running the game, and that you have to draw the line, but I would ask you to take a minute and look at other drawbacks that have been accepted into the game already. I think you're looking at this drawback in a somewhat unjustified light, and it leads to a conclusion that would be inconsistent.

The two drawbacks that jump to mind as very similar to this one are Avenger's weakness against holy symbols and Dalkaresh's weakness against cold iron. Both of those drawbacks are of a higher frequency level than the one I'm proposing here, but they are otherwise reasonably close. All three drawbacks encompass two elements, an everyday life complication and a numerically significant difference in a fight. Avenger can't go into a church, Dalkaresh can't sit down on a wrought iron bench, Fleur can't cut or chemically treat her hair. Those are problems for all of them, but on their own, they wouldn't necessarily be drawbacks, because they can be avoided. All of them complicate everyday life, make certain tasks, such as maintaining a secret identity, more difficult.

The actual drawback arises, in each case, when the circumstance that hurts them is visited upon them, specifically and most likely in an attack. In all three cases, the threat of an attack using the weakening method is always present. In any given battle, someone could run Dalkaresh through with an iron sword, wave a cross at Avenger, or take a swipe at Fleur's hair. The binding similarity is that all of these attacks are extremely unlikely... unless the attacker knows that this is the character's weak point. That's the reason that Avenger can have a common-frequency drawback and not have it trigger in many months of play, because no one has thought to use it on him. It doesn't mean the threat doesn't exist every time he goes into a fight. In each of these cases, the drawback can be seen as a disaster waiting to happen. The first time an attack is surprisingly successful, the antagonist and his allies have a powerful new weapon that they will surely use whenever possible.

You made the point that having one's hair chopped off in battle is a few-times-in-a-career thing. But so is having someone try to stab you with a cross, or come after you with a heavy, inefficient, and hard-to-find cold iron blade. In a normal hero's career, these things don't really happen, much less happen every three to five times the hero goes out to do something. Maybe someone once waved a piece of Kryptonite at Batman to see what would happen, but it surely wasn't a very common tactic. I think that the determining factor in assigning a drawback is how often and effectively it can be employed once it is discovered. I'm all right with having an uncommon frequency because it is a little bit harder to chop off someone's hair than to hit them with a holy symbol. But it can certainly happen, and it certainly would once her enemies figured it out.

Making the drawback such that it has to actually be activated every three to five adventures, and that it must be discovered immediately, would be akin to saying that Avenger must be outed as a vampire in his first thread, and have a holy symbol used against him every second time he fights. It would make the drawback a lot more damaging, but it would also make it much less playable, and go against what seems to have been the norm for characters up to this point.

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As far as your second question, Electra, one good way to represent damage to Fleur's hair as the Weak Point drawback. That's an uncommon, minor drawback that's about bypassing your Protection; critical hits are assumed to have hit her hair, and do the usual additional +5 crit damage in addition to bypassing your Protection so you're only making your Toughness save with your straight Con bonus. That may be a little too ouchy, though, so you might be better off sticking to a Weakness drawback to represent an Instant damage effect.

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Honestly I kinda have to agree with Electra here mostly from the perspective that from what I have seen and heard most peoples weakness/vulnerabilty drawbacks almost never come up in threads particularly since (like a good superhero/villian) they usually keep them very secret.

In comics these things come up often because the knowledge and availability of the substance in question is usually artificially pumped up by story. Really its should be almost unknown that superman is vulnerable to kryptonite and certainly its should be hard to come by (One planet scattered to pieces by a cataclysmic event should not really ever show up one earth). However it is well known by several villians and allies and there seem to be vast stockpiles of the stuff around.

Avenger (to pick on him specifically :D) goes through great effort ot keep his nature secret even from allies no less villians. Thus there is really no reason to have him attacked by his banes without it being fairly metagamed.

Of course my solution would be more along the lines of looking at if any of these kinds of drawbacks really are wortht he points as it seems that in this format they really almost never come up.

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It doesn't matter how secret you keep your Drawbacks: you took them, you got points for them, they will come up as a result.

And the thing about most drawbacks is that they don't require someone to know about it and intentionally use it for it to come up.

Avenger will be going into places that have holy symbols o them, and enough devotion to trigger his drawback.

Grimalkin will be beaten by thugs with iron crowbars.

Fleur will get her hair caught in any of the myriad ways The Incredibles showed us caps can get caught.

At least, that's what I intend.

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