Going It Alone

19th Aug 2022, 12:00 AM in Trials Of The Tesseract
Going It Alone
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Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)
Load my Place Save my Place

Author Notes:

19th Aug 2022, 12:00 AM
Pragmatism may often succeed where sentiment stumbles. But the opposite is equally likely, so just use both.


19th Aug 2022, 7:38 AM
Captain Nukem
I wasn't able to comment for some time. So I wasn't able to complain about the stupidest moment in the movie. I could do this now, or be lazy.

For the lazy!
19th Aug 2022, 10:20 AM
I feel "for the lazy" on a deep philosophical level. Unfortunately productivity anxiety sucks, so it's rare I can live by it. XD

I am curious what the stupidest moment is, though. I feel like it HAS to be something related to the USO show tour, but I'm not 100%
20th Aug 2022, 10:20 AM
Captain Nukem
Fine, because you asked nicely, I'll fight my inner lazy for the great justice. Here's the rant:

US military get their hands on a super soldier, someone who would be a great value on the frontlines. So what they do? They put him in a mascot suit and send him on a tour. Such show tours tend to take a lot of time, time he is not fighting on the frontlines - a place where he is best to use.
Look, I understand the importance of propaganda when you send your troops over the ocean to the other side of the globe. Propaganda is here to tell the soldiers that white is white and black is also white. BUT. Couldn't they hire an actor? Or volunteer some poor sob that wasn't able to enlist due to health issues? If the US military want to promote them having a super soldier so bad, why not have an actor punch "Hitler" in the face, while your super soldier is getting close to do that with the real one?
If I remember it right, when Steve finally gets to meet frontline soldiers, they react with "who is this clown and what is this bullshit" expression, causing the opposite effect of what was intended by the high-ups that came up with this BRILLIANT idea.

You may argue that this is not THE stupidest moment of the movie, as it has its share of those, but this is a solid candidate for a first place.

Disclaimer: I'm absolutely fine with Steve's player coming up with this idea in the game. My players did crazier things.
19th Aug 2022, 9:52 AM
I see that Kevin no longer allows pre-gens to have their sheets altered, after what Rob did to Tony's character sheet.
19th Aug 2022, 12:17 PM
I think it's more a case-by-case situation. If, hypothetically, a newer player picked a pre-gen that was horribly sub-optimal, he wouldn't be opposed to letting them make changes within reason.

He just can't trust Gwyneth or Rob to stay "within reason" anymore. ;)
19th Aug 2022, 12:44 PM
Ah, me and writing what I think will be a quick response, only to have found two hours have evaporated as I research the topic! XP

Okay, so I'm about to bring up GURPS again, and it will sound like it is even less relevant than usual but it might come in handy for future comics, because I'm going to highlight a trait that is pretty convenient to "borrow" and graft onto other games:

Modular Abilities

GURPS is a "point-buy" system. You spend Character Points to build your character. So improved attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, Health), other "things" derived from the core atrributes (Perception, Speed, etc.), Advantages (beneficial traits) and Skills (sounds like what it is) beyond the human baseline all cost Character Points. The short version of Modular Abilities is a way to switch around what CP you have invested after character creation. The catch is you have to spend a lot of CP in order to move around a much smaller amount of CP. In other words, kind of Granting Gwyneth's wish.

There is a message board thread here discussing it, and I'll copy/paste the opening post as it says what I wanted to say:


Modular Abilities [variable] is an exotic advantage that can be mental or physical. It creates a “pool” of character points, usually fairly small, that you can use for skills and/or advantages, and re-arrange under specified conditions. This advantage appeared at GURPS 4e, as a generalisation of abilities like Cyberpunk chip slots, and Transhuman Space AI skill software.

This ability comes in “slots”, whose cost has two elements, a base price, and a price per point of ability it can hold. Different types of Modular Abilities have different costs. For example, “Computer Brain”, downloadable computer programs for an AI to run on its host computer, costs a base [6] for the slot, plus [4] per point of ability, while “Super-Memorisation” from a book or other reference material costs [5] for each slot, and [3] for each point of ability. The type of modular abilities determines these costs (the design system is in Powers, and quite simple), the time it takes to re-arrange the abilities, and any monetary cost, such as the price of computer programs or reference books.

A point that people often miss is that you can use Modular Abilities to improve abilities you already have, such as adding points to a skill, or buying a higher level of an advantage, provided this falls within the limitations of your Modular Abilities. Another is that you can use it for Techniques, which can boost skills at low cost, and for perks, if you can do mental advantages.

Specific modifiers for Modular abilities include Physical, +50% for physical advantages only, or +100% for any mental or physical ability; Spells Only, ‑20%, usually requiring memorisation from a spell book, or Virtual, ‑50%, for abilities that only work in virtual reality, the astral plane, or some other special realm where you don’t reside. You can use Preparation Required to increase the time needed to re-arrange abilities, and Limited Use for abilities that you lose when used. Combining limitations allows you to build D&D-style spell casters who must prepare their spells, should you want to.

The Basic Set has two more forms of Modular Abilities: “Chip Slots” lets you plug cyberpunk-style skill chips into your nervous system, which cost [5/slot] and [3/point], and “Cosmic Power,” which only allows one slot, which is free, but costs [10/point] for the abilities. Since you can use Cosmic Power for anything, including multiple abilities at the same time, it’s pretty flexible, but you do need to be quite good with the character design system to get the best out of it.

Powers has more, of course. It adds a Divine Inspiration type of Modular Abilities (which isn’t how Powers: Divine Favor works), an enhancement for Social abilities, limitations by focus (e.g. “Fire”, and this is usually limited to Physical advantages), Environmental limitations that require something be present before you can use it, limitations by the kinds of traits you can add, and rules on limiting advantages you add. You can combine focus and trait limitations: the example is super-science gadgeteering, whose focus is gadgets, and whose traits are limited to “ones with Gadget limitations.”

New types of Modular Abilities in GURPS supplements include “Reading the Akashic Record”, from Banestorm, “Book-Learned Wisdom” from DF4 Sages, “Spirit Trapping” from Fantasy, “Renshaw Method” from Madness Dossier, plus “Gear Stash” and “Social Networking,” both from Monster Hunters: Power-Ups 1. Meanwhile, Power-Ups 1: Imbuements lets you put your Imbuement skills into a Modular Ability, which is cost-effective if you want a lot of them. Further types include “Epigenetics” (altering your own genetic expression) and “Runes of Power,” both from Powers: The Weird, “Slotted Cosmic Power” and “Telepathic Learning,” both from Psionic Powers, “Friend of the Week” from Social Engineering: Keeping in Contact, “Improvisational Spell Magic” from Steampunk 3, plus “Grimoire” and “Reconfigurable Mechanisms” from Supers. The cost of Thaumatology: Sorcery's Sorcerous Empowerment was set using Modular Abilities, but it should not be modified in the same way. Transhuman Space: Changing Times adds Limited Integration, ‑30%, which makes access to software skills slow enough to give penalties in combat, and Skills and Languages Only, ‑10%.


The reason I say it "might" come in handy is because I kind of lost interest in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Iron Man 3 was the first MCU film I didn't watch (I tried, but the opening few minutes was just "Nope".) Since that film, I've begun picking and choosing, and how they butchered Thanos' motivations led me skip the "must see" Avengers films, Infinity War and End Game. However, I was a big Marvel Zombie - wait, they turned that into an actual in-comic thing fanboy during the 90s, so I remember things like Iron Man's remote control armor... but relevant here, some of his suits having modular designs, so he could add specific gear he thought he needed for that mission.

19th Aug 2022, 11:03 PM
I now really want to start looking into this system for my own personal enjoyment if nothing else... but I couldn't even convince my group to stick with Pathfinder so there's no way I ever get to play it. I both thank and curse you for this knowledge. XD

Tony's a bit less modular in the MCU, particularly in Iron Man 3; generally if he needs something done that his current suit won't do, he builds a new suit (or maybe that's still modular, though I can't figure out if it's the bare minimum or taken to the extreme). For the time being I'm planning to follow that mindset, I just won't get into the mechanics yet since IM3 is still a movie and a half away.
20th Aug 2022, 1:34 PM
Heh, I can relate. I've never actually played a game of GURPS using the current (Fourth Edition) rules. The short version is it released shortly after I had to leave my original gaming group (college) and due to the combination of scheduling constraints, health constraints, financial constraints, and me just being a snowflake all too often, I never found or founded a replacement group. I still enjoy reading about GURPS and thinking through its rules.

Maybe you'll luck out, learn about GURPS, learn about GURPS Dungeon Fantasy (GURPS style D&D), and it'll actually give you and your friends what you want. XD
21st Aug 2022, 5:51 PM
Pardon the double response, but something to consider: GURPS Lite. Free .pdf with the... er... basics of the game.

20th Aug 2022, 10:45 AM
Captain Nukem
I'm sad that a fellow GURPS player hates Iron Man 3. I consider it the best film from Iron Man trilogy. Maybe the best in whole MCU. You should give it another try... It still possible that you wouldn't like it, as I read people that didn't, but I believe they hate it for wrong reasons. What the movie wants to do, it does perfectly.
20th Aug 2022, 1:42 PM
If it makes you feel better, I haven't actually been able to play GURPS since Third Edition, Revised (see my reply to TheScarletTroll, above). Plus, I don't hate Iron Man 3, I just found the opening flashback scene to be cringe inducing, and even if I hadn't been spoiled (by that time) on major plot points, you could tell who was being foreshadowed as the main villain. Throw in the bait and switch with the Mandarin, and it is more "Well, I no longer care" than me actively hating it.

Now, what they did with Thanos, transforming him from the Mad Titan who was in love with Mistress Death (cosmic embodiment of death in their universe) to Thanos, the stupid Titan who doesn't understand logistics or resource management... yeah, that I legitimately loathe.
21st Aug 2022, 5:42 PM
Captain Nukem
Oh, I absolutely agree about Thanos.

Flashback: shows how much of the prick Tony was before becoming Iron Man. Shows how much character development he undergone on the way. That's why I like it.
Mandarin: I never liked him anyway. I think the plot twist is good.
21st Aug 2022, 5:48 PM
Then we really aren't that far apart, save I

1) Already had an excellent idea of how much of a jerk Tony Stark could be.

2) Like (not love) Mandarin as a villain

3) Maybe would have enjoyed the twist, maybe not... but I never actually got to it. Having it spoiled is as likely to have made it better as it is to have ruined it.

Someday I'll probably try watching it again. Since you understand my views on Thanos, that is the part that I really care about. XD
21st Aug 2022, 5:52 PM
I have a lot of things to say about the Mandarin, but I'm hoping to save most of it for the chapter proper/retrospective.

I WILL say though, I agree that the twist is good in and of itself. The issue is the movie still has to keep going even once the twist has been... twisted. I'm not sure if I'm wording this in a coherent way, but basically: if you're going to market the movie with the promise of Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin, and Ben Kingsley spends a good chunk of the movie being damn good as the Mandarin, the twist should ideally be better than what we would have gotten if you'd just played it straight and given us Kingsley as the Mandarin, otherwise the only point is to have a twist.

Killian... is very much NOT a better Mandarin than Kingsley would have been, so once the laughs have worn off from the initial surprise we just have a worse villain.

... Actually maybe I don't have a lot to say about the Mandarin. Maybe everything I have to say is just "Killian sucks". XD
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