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Variable Power help

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hey, gang, it's ex3 again. I was wondering if anyone with the Ultimate Powers book could help me out with some questions regarding Variable Powers, such as cost and what it/they do exactly.

EDIT: OK, let me rephrase that last part there. I know each rank gives you 5pp worth of stuff, like Alternate Form, but my real question is how to define what that stuff does exactly, and how it differs from Alternate Form.

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What you can buy with the Variable Power is defined by what the Variable Power in question is. A Shapeshifting power allows you to buy any physical trait under the sun, it is often constrained to a narrower focus such as Only Animal forms. Breakdown's Music Mastery is basically anti-Shapeshifting. Jester's Gadgets allow him to create any effect with the wacky or zany descriptors.

Variable Powers have a premium because they allow you to essentially change your character sheet every round if you so wish.

Alternate Form is essentially 1 singular form you change into, as Shaen said, and this form has the same traits every time. A Variable Power is exactly that, Variable.

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I too have a variable question!

You must also place a particular descriptor on your Variable structure, limiting its scope to traits suited to that descriptor. For example, a Variable structure that mimics other’s traits is limited to the traits its subject(s) possess, a Variable structure providing adaptations is limited to the stimulus to which it adapts, and so forth. This descriptor does not reduce the cost of a Variable structure unless it’s particularly narrow, and the GM is the final arbiter of what constitutes a suitable Variable descriptor and what descriptors are narrow enough to be considered flaws. Use the powers based on the Variable structure in this book for examples of descriptors.
OK, to my understanding, this makes 7/rank and 8/rank superfluous to 6/rank*. 7/rank and 8/rank also goes against the spirit of the quoted section.

4/rank: Pick a trait (abilities, saves, skills, combat, feats, powers) you can have anything that qualifies as that trait one at a time. (you can pick abilities and pick either Dex or Con [but not at the same time]. you cannot pick anything other than abilities of you pick abilities.)

5/rank: Same as 4, but you are not limited to picking one trait, you are still limited to one trait at a time. (you can pick abilities and pick either Dex or Con [but not at the same time], then switch to combat to pick attack or defense [ditto].)

6/rank: you can pick multiple traits and have multiple things out of those traits

* I MAY be reading this wrong. I can also see it being read as "like 5, but with the the trait you pick, you can have different traits in it (if you pick abilities you can have Con and Dex, then you can switch to combat to pick attack and defense)

7/rank: You can pick any power and have multiple powers, but no descriptors attached

8/rank: Same as 6 (the first interpretation), but no descriptors attached

See, 7/rank is 6/rank limited to powers, but with no limits. 8/rank is fully 6/rank, but no limits. This no limits thing is contradictory to the rules quoted. You HAVE TO have a descriptor for your variable. Am I wrong anywhere here?

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I think - I think, mind you - that you're confusing the descriptors on the Variable structure with the descriptors on the power you get from the Variable structure. My interpretation (possibly flawed, but while we wait for a ref with the answer anyway...) is this:

(all these are limited by Variable power's 5*rank pp budget, so I'm assuming that goes without saying on each entry)

4/rank: Pick a type (a class of traits [ability scores, skills, etc], or type of power ['damage', 'speed'], or descriptor ['magic', 'technology']). You can have any single trait from that type at a time. If you pick ability scores, say, then you can boost any one ability score at a time.

5/rank: You're no longer restricted by type. You can boost any trait, but only one trait at a time. You could boost STR one minute and Investigate the next.

6/rank: Pick a type. You can have any number of traits from that type, in any combination. If you pick ability scores, you could boost STR, STR and CON, or whatever other combo platter of ability scores you like.

7/rank: You can have any number of powers of any type, in any combination.

8/rank: You can have any number of traits - that is, ability scores, skills, feats, or powers - in any combination.

If I'm right, then there's a fairly regular increase in power as you go up in rank, from specific to extremely general.

Descriptor on the power you gain should not be confused with the descriptor on the variable structure; one describes the power you copy, and one describes the power you copy with.

Let's say I'm an Alien, and I have this:

Variable ? (7/rank level) (alien, mimic, visual)

This means that my absurd and likely ref-rejected alien can copy any power he sees, replicating its effects. His Variable power has descriptors that limit how the copying functions, without decreasing the cost of the structure (because they're very broad - if he can see it, he can copy it). The descriptors on the power he copies, though, don't matter; he could recreate anything from a magic fireball to a high-tech laser blast. I'm just speculating, here, but when he uses that power it probably has applicable descriptors off his Variable power ('alien', in this case, and maybe 'mimic').

A practical example here is the Mimic power itself. It's variable, and can give you all kinds of things with all kinds of descriptors, but only if you can see it/touch it/whatever it first. The mimicked power's descriptors describe the power; the Variable power's descriptors describe how you accessed that mimicked power, and by what means.

On the other hand, let's say I gave my alien:

Variable ? (8/rank level, powers) (alien, physical, at-will evolution)

In this case my absurd alien can pick up anything he pleases, but his Variable power has limited the scope: he can only make physical changes to himself by 'willing' comic-book evolution*. It doesn't matter what the descriptors on the power are (acid, fire, brute force, whatever), but I have to be able to justify them as physical changes to the alien himself.

Variable structures at, say, 4/rank add a third layer of descriptors to the mess. Let's say our alien is a magic alien! And also a blue mage.

Variable ? (4/rank level, magic) (alien, magic, mimic, touch)

This means that our magic alien can copy any trait he's touched that has the 'magic' descriptor - in most cases, this'll be a power of some sort. If he gets hit by a fireball, he can choose to 'learn' how to cast that spell, and use the enemy's own fireball on them. However, he can only 'remember' one such spell at a time. The descriptors:

THE FIREBALL: This thing almost certainly has 'fire', and likely picks up 'magic' from the Variable power's descriptors.

THE VARIABLE POWER ITSELF: Alien is who he is, and maybe describes his magic; 'magic' is what he's using to copy spells, 'mimic' is the limitation (without a cost reduction, remember!) on how he can exercise his Variable power, 'touch' is a further limitation (possibly with a cost reduction, per GM approval if it's deemed limiting enough, in which case it'd become a Flaw or Drawback inside the power) on when he can do the mimicking.

THE 4/RANK DESCRIPTOR OPTION: This says what kind of things we can copy - in this case, anything with the 'magic' descriptor, regardless of what other descriptors it may carry. We could have also, say, chosen Power (Damage) as our type. In this case he could copy any power he touched, regardless of that power's descriptors, but only if said touched power was a Damage effect of some kind.

* This might actually be fun to play. Also suddenly tempted to make some sort of alien hero made completely of nanites or machinery, who can reconfigure himself to suit his needs at the moment. "You aliens are so weird. You're made of MEAT! So gross."

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