Sunday, December 2, 2012

More Special Abilities in Year of the Phoenix

In last week's installment, your humble host discussed 'special abilities' in Martin Wixted's role playing game Year of the Phoenix.  This week, your humble host continues the discussion!

Each Phoenix character receives 2 to 3 'Ability Points' to spend on one or more special abilities.  If a character acquires more than one ability, they must be of the same type (i.e., mechanical, physiological, or mental).  Each point spent on an ability increases its effectiveness; your humble host referred to this last week as 'level' – a term which Wixted avoids.  Aside from type, a player must determine the “approach” of the ability – the way it functions and its limitations.  A 'Skilled' approach requires a skill roll to activate; failure prohibits another attempt for twelve hours and extreme failure may cause damage to the character.  An 'Erg Loss' approach – appropriately enough – causes the character to lose Ergs each time the ability is used.  (We discussed Ergs in this post.)  With an 'External Stimulus' approach, an ability requires some condition to activate “such as a drug or a hypnotic trance.”  A 'Limited Duration' approach means “While the hero can turn on the Ability at will, it functions for a limited (and often varying) time and then shuts down;” usually, a recharge period is imposed.  With a 'delayed Activation approach, the duration is usually “more predictable” but “it takes quite a while to activate.”  Lastly, the 'Side Effect' approach means that use of the ability is accompanied by a condition that “severely impairs the character.”

Although Wixted encourages players and gamemasters to create their own “unique powers,” he provides three pages of examples.  The ability descriptions that Wixted presents come from (within the context of the game) “the Top Secret military report:  The Project Phoenix File.”  Provided below is a listing of special abilities not mention in the earlier post.

Body Armor (As a 'physiological' ability, requires an herb-derived drug)
Enhanced Muscle
Machine Empathy (Allows a character to diagnose problems with a “vehicle or device”)
Heal Other (Can also be used on one's self)
Animal Communication
Control (Allows a character to take over a target's “gross motor activities.”  As a
          'physiological' ability, it is described as an “intense pheronome [sic] emanation”)
Interface (Can ”operate electronic equipment intuitively”)
Electrical Touch
Directional Sense
Thermal Touch
Death Simulation (As a 'mental' ability, it is accomplished by “cellular telepathy”)

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