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Paper Tiger

Revisiting the Summon rules

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Good evening everyone! I've contemplated several builds, but the one I most want to take a shot at running is a duplicator. Unfortunately, the duplicator violates a couple of the most restrictive house rules this site imposes on summon and its related powers. I've discussed this in the chat room, and the recommendation was to just man up and present the character for discussion. Who knows, this thread may actually affect changes in the Summon house rules that some players in the chat room (I leave it up to them to come forward) expressed an interest in seeing. To avoid ambushing, the house rules I'm interested in are:

1. Summon and its related powers are NOT allowed as Alternate Powers of other powers (such as Magic). You CAN have a "Summon Array," with Summon being an AP of Summon.

5. There will be a limit of Progression power feat and the PL of the minions you can Summon or have via the Minion feat. You can Summon/have one minion at your PL, 2 minions (Progression 1) at up to [your PL -2], 3-5 minions (Progression 2) at up to [your PL-4], 6-10 minions at up to [your PL -6], and 11-25 minions at up to [our PL-8]. Thus, a PL 10 character could have/summon 1 PL 10 minion, or 2 PL 8 minions, or 3-5 PL 6 minions, or 6-11 PL 4 Minions, or 12-25 PL 2 minions. EXCEPTIONS: The Components summoned by Gestalt are limited to one-half the PL of the combined Gestalt entity, as described in the power. Also, you may not use the Progression feat to increase the number of Sidekicks you have. Duplication will NOT be subjected to the limitation on PL, but they will be limited to a maximum of 10 duplicates (Progression 3).

6. Minions may not use Combined Attack, and as a group, they can never provide more than a +2 bonus to any other character through the Aid Another action. (I.e., Minion A can Aid Minion B, and Minion C could Aid Minion D, but Minions A, B, and C could not all Aid Minion D.)

Next up, the character:

Characters Name: Replay

Power Level: 10 [120/150]

Trade-Offs: +1 Attack for -1 Damage

Unspent PP: 30

Alternate Identity: Trevor Joel Makenzie

Age: 15 (born August 15)

Gender: Male

Height: 170 cm [5'7"]

Weight: 60 kg [132 lb]

Eyes: Hazel

Hair: Dark Blond

Description:

Fairly average in size for a fifteen year old boy, Replay stands at a height of 170 cm (5’7â€) while weighing a fairly average 60 kg (132 lb). Strongly resembling his father, he has hazel eyes and dark blond hair usually worn short with a "fresh out of bed" sort of styled dishevelment. Never one to be outdone, his mother has gifted him with a charming smile capable of reducing anyone to modeling clay along with an almost unearthly allure, both which he uses to devastating effect. Courtesy of his father's rigorous physical conditioning and Krav Maga training, Replay possesses an athletic build comparable to a gymnast or sprinter. Though, this comes at the cost of several long healed injuries ranging cuts and scrapes to broken ribs to even a surgically reconstructed left elbow. Beyond the scars left by the aforementioned injuries, his only other distinguishing mark is a scar left from an appendectomy several years prior.

Regarding attire, Replay usually opts for stylish, business casual clothing with a distinct preference for earth tones over brighter colors. Helping to maintain his usual position near, and often times at, the top of the social ladder amongst his peers, he always remains current with fashion trends and usually even manages designer labels, even after his grandparents assumed guardianship of him. Regardless of what Replay chooses to wear one item always accompanies his attire: a vitreous, teardrop-shaped cut of almandine, dark red in color, which dangles from his neck via a length of black cord. Previously owned by his mother, it was given to him for luck just before the fateful job that led to his parents' downfall. Understandably, the necklace carries substantial sentimental value to Replay. So much in fact, that he never removes it. Meanwhile, a black Apple iPhone 3GS housing a wealth of contacts and sensitive information regarding his illicit operations usually hangs at his waist supplementing things.

When acting as a superhero, Replay instead opts for loose-fitting attire more appropriate for the role consisting of a hooded leather vest and leather pants. Hiding a sleeveless black shirt underneath, his zippered vest is decorated with a carnelian red pattern of stylish, but ultimately nondescript, interconnected polygons encircling matching Rs on its front and back set against a black background with taupe gray accents. This color scheme continues on to Replay’s pants, albeit with more dichotomy between the black sections and carnelian red ones and more prominent taupe grey sections. Largely hidden underneath the veil of darkness perpetually cast by his hood, he also wears either a black domino mask or a pair of mirrored black wraparound sunglasses with the decision dictated by time of day and lighting conditions. Adding a pair of slip on combat boots and full-fingered gloves, both black in color, to things, Replay rounds out his costume with a pair of black bracers fashioned from vulcanized rubber and a black belt styled to accentuate the geometric patterns of his vest and pants.

History:

Born in Bologna, Italy, Replay is the only child of Trevor Tate, a former Secret Service agent turned assassin and thief, and Sarah Makenzie-Tate, a world-class assassin and thief. With his parents possessed of such unusual professions it should be little surprise that Replay's childhood was…interesting, to put things lightly. Constantly shuffling from not only city to city but country to country, he found it absolutely impossible to make friends despite inheriting his mother's unearthly magnetism because he rarely spent more than four consecutive months in a single location. Tiring of the frustration and loneliness, Replay eventually concluded that he was best off using people to maximize his own enjoyment rather than attempting to form friendships. Since, barring his parents and nanny, everyone he met would return to being nobodies after a few short months time anyway.

Over the next few years Replay transitioned from heartbroken to heart breaker as he learned to use his talents for less than honorable means becoming a grade A troublemaker in the process. Taking notice of this shift in his personality, his parents began training him to eventually join them in their exploits. Though, only their larcenous ones. Since, they'd made it a point to keep their status as assassins hidden from him. Under his mother's tutelage Replay refined his social interaction skills, while his father worked with him on physical conditioning and self-defense. By the age of 12 Replay's glibness and guile could make even the legendary Machiavelli jealous. Meanwhile, he could subdue the average adult male with relative ease for the times where he couldn't talk his way out of a confrontation. As a reward for his progress Replay's parents began allowing him to assist them on low-risk operations to further bolster his skills.

Following a couple of easy, virtually zero-risk jobs Replay finally got his opportunity to join his parents on a riskier, but still low risk, job in Freedom City following the emergence of his duplication power shortly after his fourteenth birthday. However, his big day deteriorated into a nightmare when it became clear that the job was a trap devised by the world renowned detective, Noël. Armed with the knowledge that the Replay beside them was only a duplicate, Replay watched through his duplicate's eyes as his parents attempted to fight/escape the dozens of law enforcement agents surrounding the warehouse they were in. Unfortunately, the final images he received from his duplicate before it died from injuries suffered during the chaos were of his parents falling to gunfire in the distance outside the warehouse. Following the tragedy, Replay and his nanny attempted to flee the city only to find Noël one step ahead of them as they were arrested at Jordan International.

Following the worst day of his life, Replay was relieved to find that his parents weren't killed in the shootout. Unfortunately, they were sentenced to death for their crimes following a lengthy trial that received little media attention. Though he understood that the death penalty effectively amounted to life in prison in the United States, it did little to comfort Replay. Since, he also knew that, barring some miracle, he'd never again see his parents outside of a detention facility. On the bright side no charges were levied against Replay, since his involvement in his parents' crimes couldn't be proved. So, he was released and relocated to Freedom City after his paternal grandparents gained custody of him. It wasn't long after moving to Freedom City that Replay tried his hand at heroics, primarily out of boredom due to the figurative choke chain wrapped around his neck by his grandparents. Now, a few months after relocating to Freedom City, he secretly prepares to embark on a serious career as a superhero following a little research on his new school: Claremont Academy. Though, one can't help but wonder if Replay will truly commit to the life of a superhero or grow bored and return to the life he's most familiar.

Personality & Motivation:

Given his upbringing and heritage, and Lilinette's machinations, it should come as little surprise that Replay is best described as an antihero who can be one's best friend or worst enemy. Constantly struggling against the sinister desires of his tainted blood, he isn't above using the most underhanded of tactics to achieve his goals. In fact, the only limit to his unscrupulousness at the present is killing. Despite this, Replay genuinely does have good intentions driving his actions. Moreover, he attempts to amend mistakes whenever he makes them.

When it comes to heroics the sheer thrill of the adventure appears to be Replay's greatest motivation. However, this is just a facade. The reality is that Replay's trying to prove to himself that he's a good person. While he easily rationalized his parents' larcenous activities, as well as his own, the recent revelation of his parents as assassins with the blood of hundreds on their hands has caused him to view them as the “bad guys,†causing him a great amount of confusion and heartache. This new perspective has driven him to question whether he too is one of the “bad guys.†Is he wrong for still loving them? Does coming from murderers like his parents automatically make him bad? These and many more questions remain unanswered in his mind. So, Replay has taken up heroics to feel less like a villain while wading through the maelstrom in his head and heart.

Powers & Tactics:

Replay is a metahuman with the mutant ability to harness ambient mystical energy around him. Unfortunately, his demonic blood twists this ability causing him to siphon mystical energy from the Lower Planes instead. The full capabilities of his power currently remain a mystery, as Replay limits himself to summoning dozens upon dozens of duplicates of himself for unknown reasons. Viewing his power as rather mundane, Replay prefers to use his words to defuse when conflicts arise. Barring such an option he instead hangs back and assesses the situation, often via his duplicates, before acting on what he deems the best course of action. Upon entering combat Replay utilizes gang tactics to dispatch foes often resorting to distracting enemies to set up allies or simply subduing enemies through the sheer volume of his attacks when a supporting role isn't ideal.

Complications:

Enemy – Lilinette the Diabolical:

An agent for the enigmatic demon responsible for corrupting Replay's bloodline, Lilinette is a master manipulator possessed of skill that would make even the great Machiavelli envious. From the shadows she's manipulated circumstance after circumstance to keep her master's impure progeny pariahs in human society before seducing the most promising into embracing their demonic heritage once they're at their most vulnerable. Sporting a perfect record thus far, Lilinette's struggled with converting Replay, most evident by his decision to take up heroics despite recent events in his life. However, she isn't prepared let such a setback blemish her record. Especially when she has many more tricks beyond subtlety and guile at her disposal.

Hatred/Temper – Noël (Noel Irvine):

One of the world's greatest detectives, Noël's true identity remains a mystery to all, even the world's governments. First appearing to law enforcement agencies around the world only a few years ago, Noël has provided clues and evidence leading to the arrest of some of the world's most infamous criminals, including Replay and his parents. As a result, Noël serves as the focal point for quite literally all of his anger and pain over his current situation. So intense is his grudge that even the mention of Noël's name can send him into a rage. Moreover, Replay has many times vowed great violence against Noël if they should ever meet in person. While he is currently receiving counseling to help manage his feelings, the wounds inflicted by Noël aren't easily healed. Thus, for the foreseeable future, any meeting between the two is certain to be…eventful.

Prejudice – Lineage:

As the son of such infamous assassins and thieves, it goes without saying that most people familiar with Replay's parents' exploits or, Heaven forbid, directly affected by them are likely to assume him no better. Moreover, his roguish ways certainly do little to motivate people to assume differently.

Responsibility – Grandparents:

While Replay's grandparents are fully capable of taking care of themselves, they place significant demands on his time through chores and regular tabs on his activities. Put simply, they don't want to see him disappoint them the way his father did. Plus, they simply don't trust him. Who can blame them? He has spent virtually the entirety of his life raised by two of the world's greatest thieves and assassins. Though Replay has managed to mitigate his grandparents' impact with his Duplication power, slipping and deceiving grandparents who've retired from law enforcement is easier said than done, even with his unfair advantage.

Secret – Identity:

Like most superheroes, Replay keeps his true identity a secret. However, he has more incentive to do so than most. Since, law enforcement agencies around the world have Trevor Makenzie on their radars. Moreover, Freedom City law enforcement has monitored him like vultures circling over a carcass from the day he relocated to the city. Given the suspicion and mistrust levied against his normal identity, it goes without saying that Replay desperately wishes to keep his superhero identity unassociated with it.

Trouble Seeker:

For as long as he can remember trouble has always followed Replay. Sure, he has caused more than his fair share of trouble, but there have been plenty of occasions where he was accused or found guilty of things he genuinely had no involvement in. It was as if the world was out to get him during those times. While things have quieted a bit for Replay since coming into his grandparents' custody, it's only a matter of time until trouble, deserved or not, finds him once more.

In Brief:

Replay is an antiheroic duplicator struggling to escape the chains of his parents' sins, as well as those of an ancestor he's never even known.

Stats: 4+4+4+2+2+10 = 26pp

Str: 14 (+2)

Dex: 14 (+2)

Con: 14 (+2)

Int: 12 (+1)

Wis: 12 (+1)

Cha: 20 (+5)

Combat: 8+8 = 16pp

Attack: +4 Base, +5 Melee, +9 Powers

Grapple: +7

Defense: +8 (+2 flat-footed, +4 Dodge Focus)

Knockback: -1 Base, -7 Force Field

Initiative: +6

Saves: 3+3+3 = 9pp

Toughness: +2 (+2 Con, +0 Other)

Fortitude: +8 (+2 Con, +3 Base, +3 Enhanced)

Reflex: +8 (+2 Dex, +3 Base, +3 Enhanced)

Will: +8 (+1 Wis, +3 Base, +4 Enhanced)

Skills: 64r = 16pp

Acrobatics 08 (+10)

*Bluff* 06 (+11)

*Bluff w/Attractive* -- (+15)

*Diplomacy* 06 (+11)

*Diplomacy w/Attractive* -- (+15)

*Disable Device* 08 (+09)

*Disable Device w/MW Tools* -- (+11)

*Gather Information* 10 (+15)

Knowledge: Pop Culture 04 (+05)

Knowledge: Streetwise 04 (+05)

Notice 09 (+10)

Sense Motive 09 (+10)

Feats: 15pp

Attack Focus – Melee (+1 Melee attack rolls)

Attractive (+4 Bluff, +4 Diplomacy when attractiveness helps)

Connected (DC10+ Diplomacy check to call in favors)

Equipment 1 (Gain 5 equipment points)

All-Out Attack (Trade Defense for Attack up to a maximum of +/-5)

Improved Grab (Initiate grapple with melee attack)

Improved Pin (Opponents suffer -4 to escape grapples and pins)

Power Attack (Trade Attack for Damage up to a maximum of +/-5)

Improved Initiative (+4 to Initiative rolls)

Move-By Action (Take Standard action at any point during Move action)

Set-Up (Transfer combat interaction skill bonuses to an ally)

Skill Mastery - Bluff/Diplomacy/Disable Device/Gather Information(Take 10 with listed skills even under pressure)

Teamwork 3 (+3 bonus when using Aid action)

Cell phone (Apple iPhone 3GS) [1ep]

Laptop (15â€, 2.53 Ghz MacBook Pro) [1ep]

Masterwork lock picks [2ep]

Multi-tool (Victorinox Swiss Army Knife) [1ep]

Powers: 26+10+8 = 44pp

Duplication 7 (Mutation/Mystical; Extras: Horde; Flaws: Feedback; Power Feats: Absorption Healing, Alternate Power 5, Mental Link, Progression 4, Sacrifice) [26pp]

AP1: Blast 5 (Duplication/Mutation/Mystical; Extras: Autofire 1; Power Feats: Accurate 2, Attack Focus - Ranged, Mighty 2)

AP2: Snare 7 (Duplication/Mutation/Mystical; Extras: Constricting, Feedback; Power Feats: Accurate 2, Attack Focus – Ranged, Obscure Sense 2 - Sight/Sound, Reversible, Tether)

AP3: Strike 5 (Duplication/Mutation/Mystical; Extras: Autofire 2; Power Feats: Accurate 2, Mighty)

AP4: Super Movement 2 (Duplication/Mutation/Mystical; Traits: Slow Fall, Swinging)

AP5: Teleport 1 (Duplication/Mutation/Mystical; Extras: Accurate; Flaws: Short Range; Power Feats: Change Direction, Change Velocity)

Hard to lose Device 3 (Enchanted Tear, Mystical/Profane; Traits: Dodge Focus 4, Enhanced Fortitude 3, Enhanced Reflex 3, Enhanced Will 4, Evasion 1; Drawbacks: Power Loss – Hallowed ground) [10pp]

Force Field 6 (Duplication/Mutation/Mystical; Extras: Impervious 6, Linked – Mirror Image; Flaws: Ablative; Drawbacks: Power Loss – Whenever Duplication power is unavailable) [8pp]

Drawbacks: 2+2+2 = 6pp

Vulnerability – “Holy†Descriptor Attacks [F]:

Due to the introduction of succubus blood into his mother's bloodline centuries ago, Replay suffers additional damage from attacks with the “holy†descriptor. Fortunately for him the demonic blood has been greatly diluted by the centuries that have passed since the incident, thus he suffers a reduced effect compared to even half-demons. To this effect, Replay suffers only 50% more damage, as opposed to the doubled damage demons take.

Weakness - Hallowed ground/objects [F]:

Due to his tainted blood Replay finds hallowed ground and objects discomforting. Though he's still able to walk on hallowed ground and touch sacred objects he falls ill whenever he's merely within their proximity. In game terms, Replay suffers a cumulative -1 penalty to all checks, attack rolls, and defense every minute he remains within 30 feet of hallowed ground or a sacred object.

DC Block:

Blast 5 --- 22-27/Toughness --- Bruised, Staged

Snare 7 --- 17/Reflex --- Staged

Strike 5 --- 22-27/Toughness --- Bruised, Staged

Unarmed 2 --- 17/Toughness --- Bruised, Staged

Costs: Abilities (26) + Combat (16) + Saves (09) + Skills (16) + Feats (15) + Powers (44) - Drawbacks (06) = 120pp

Well, after digesting all of that, I'm afraid I have a little more. House rule 1's (HR1) issue should be fairly obvious. However, beyond the obvious is the fact that Replay actually winds up stronger, yet more expensive, with HR1 in effect. Moreover, HR1 prevents several logical applications solely for fear potential abuses. I suppose my question here is why isn't this a case-by-case thing instead of a blanket one? HR5 is a rule whose spirit I agree with, but I feel it actually misses the mark. With the ban on heroic summons (which I agree with under most circumstances) is it really necessary to ban the maximum number of summons? If the intent is to control action economy, wouldn't it be better to simply restrict the number of summons that can be active in a combat instead? This makes the minions only rule less harsh, since their relative fragility would be offset by reserve capacity, which is further balanced by action consumption. Lastly, HR6 just seems to defeat the design intent of a duplicator. You know the whole mundane Joe whose threat comes from quantity not quality bit? While HR6 doesn't hit Replay very hard at all, a more traditional duplicator is forced to include combat abilities in the concept or be absolutely hosed here given civilian benchmarks. Why not just institute PL-based caps instead? That way, a player can actually make a mundane Joe duplicator using just the Duplication power instead of having to sidestep it. Meanwhile, you guys don't have to worry about bonuses skyrocketing out of control. Finally, I'd like to make it clear that I truly feel you guys have done a wonderful job here, and I understand that the rules are in place to maintain balance. I'm only asking that you guys consider my arguments here today. I'll go hide in my corner now. :|

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I'll go ahead and start a discussion on this in the ref cave but these kinds of things don't generally happen quickly as a warning.

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Hey, I've waited all of this time. What's a little more waiting? I'm just glad this didn't go sour immediately. Anyway, I guess I'll just sit tight and wait for you guys to mull over things.

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