Player who wants to 'absorb' some monster powers - help adjudicate?

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I have a quirky player in my group who wants to eat some of the monsters she kills, in order to absorb some traits or powers. We talked about it, and I told her we may have to compromise sometimes so that she doesn't gain any unfair advantages because of this. However, I think it could be a really fun table rule for her.

So far, she ate some dragon, and now speaks Draconic. I thought that was pretty fair and not a big deal. But I'm still wary of what she may want to do in the future.

What sorts of limitations should I place on it? It brought to mind some thoughts about what other types of abilities she should be allowed to absorb in the future, or how it could affect some of her skills. 
Use it as a justification for the abilities the character gains from levelling up.  to use your example, at her next level, she could spend skill points/whatever to learn Draconic without having to seek out a teacher.
What edition are you playing?

If you are playing 4th edition maybe let her replace one of her encounter powers with one of the monster's powers, but just for the next encounter.

Or give sometype of small bonus that lasts a short time, like Resist Fire 3 if she ate a creature with fire resistance or +2 to hide if she ate a shadow creature etc...
"The great epochs of our life come when we gain the courage to rechristen our evil as what is best in us." - Friedrich Nietzsche
Your instinct appears to be to say "Yes, and...." For that I commend you.

First of all, do you trust the player? Are they likely to want to absorb powers that do things you're not prepared for? When you prepare do you take all PC powers into effect? What if they do pick up a power that you didn't plan on, and the adventure goes a way you didn't expect?

Check out the power Beneficent Transformation. That power lets a wizard give someone the movement, immunities or senses of a target creature. This could be the kind of thing your character does.

Or, just let them have the ability for a little while. Start small, and I bet nothing will really break too badly.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Used the idea before in one of my games in totum 'form.' Great opportunity to add some good fluff to the PC and game. It does not have to be some uber ability. +1 to 'arcane' checks from eating a dragon flank, +1 to hide and a shadey look due to that displace beast shank, or just plain scaly skin from the leg of lizard folk.

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Some monsters do not make for good eating.  There are some monsters where even attempting to eat the meat makes someone violently ill.  If she wants to eat monsters to get powers, a limitation might be that she risks getting sick, even if the meat is cooked.  Furthermore cooking the meat in general might weaken its potential.  The more raw the meat is the better the power but the more likely she is to get sick.  The more cooked the meat is the lesser the power but she is less likely to become sick.

Something else to consider is her ability to control the new ability.  Much like Rogue from the X-Men, she can absorb powers but she can rarely control them.  So yes, she can speak draconic, but maybe at random she switches to draconic mid-sentence.  The longer she holds onto an ability the better she gets at it - encouraging her to find abilities and stick with them.

Which leads into...I also would restrict the stacking of abilities.  I would classify abilities into tiers  like minor ability (like speaking the language of the monster), medium ability (like one DR ability the dragon has), and major ability (like being able to use a breathe weapon like the dragon does).  Then I would limit the number of each type she can have at any one time.  Something along the lines of four ability slots: minors take up one slot, mediums two, and majors three.  The result is that she can have combinations of abilities equating to: four minor, two medium, two minor+one medium, or one minor+one major.  Maybe as she levels she can get more "slots."

 

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Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
Some monsters do not make for good eating.  There are some monsters where even attempting to eat the meat makes someone violently ill.  If she wants to eat monsters to get powers, a limitation might be that she risks getting sick, even if the meat is cooked.  Furthermore cooking the meat in general might weaken its potential.  The more raw the meat is the better the power but the more likely she is to get sick.  The more cooked the meat is the lesser the power but she is less likely to become sick.

Something else to consider is her ability to control the new ability.  Much like Rogue from the X-Men, she can absorb powers but she can rarely control them.  So yes, she can speak draconic, but maybe at random she switches to draconic mid-sentence.  The longer she holds onto an ability the better she gets at it - encouraging her to find abilities and stick with them.

Arbitrary open-ended downsides are basically the same as discouraging the idea altogether.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

4e is a nicely balanced system that doesn't require you to stick to the fluff.

If she ate a dragon, refluff her next spell as coming out of her mouth in a torrent of flame.

If she ate a golem, refluff the next attack that missed as it bouncing off her crystalline skin etc.

You would really be best off not fiddling with the mechanics at all. 
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Arbitrary open-ended downsides are basically the same as discouraging the idea altogether.



true, but if the player is a quirky one she might even like suggestions such as the switching languages mid-sentence, I don't think there are any bad suggestions for this as long as the player is involved in how her character plays as a result and stuff isn't just imposed on her
4e is a nicely balanced system that doesn't require you to stick to the fluff.

If she ate a dragon, refluff her next spell as coming out of her mouth in a torrent of flame.

If she ate a golem, refluff the next attack that missed as it bouncing off her crystalline skin etc.

You would really be best off not fiddling with the mechanics at all.

I tend to agree with this, but it also doesn't hurt to add little other effects, along the lines of Beneficent Transformation.

Arbitrary open-ended downsides are basically the same as discouraging the idea altogether.

true, but if the player is a quirky one she might even like suggestions such as the switching languages mid-sentence, I don't think there are any bad ideas for this as long as the player is involved in how her character plays as a result and stuff isn't just imposed on her


Right. Get the player buy-in to the downsides or even have the player control them, and trustworthy players will balance themselves.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

What edition are you playing?

If you are playing 4th edition maybe let her replace one of her encounter powers with one of the monster's powers, but just for the next encounter.

Or give sometype of small bonus that lasts a short time, like Resist Fire 3 if she ate a creature with fire resistance or +2 to hide if she ate a shadow creature etc...



4e. I like this idea, especially the last part. Temporary absorption would solve quite a few of the issues I was worrying about. 

Your instinct appears to be to say "Yes, and...." For that I commend you.

First of all, do you trust the player? Are they likely to want to absorb powers that do things you're not prepared for? When you prepare do you take all PC powers into effect? What if they do pick up a power that you didn't plan on, and the adventure goes a way you didn't expect?

Check out the power Beneficent Transformation. That power lets a wizard give someone the movement, immunities or senses of a target creature. This could be the kind of thing your character does.

Or, just let them have the ability for a little while. Start small, and I bet nothing will really break too badly.



I do trust her not to run away with it. She's a very "everyone needs to have fun without stepping on toes" kind of person. The Beneficient Transformation sounds viable. Where would I find it? Is it a feat? Or is it somewhere with wizard powers?
I do trust her not to run away with it. She's a very "everyone needs to have fun without stepping on toes" kind of person. The Beneficient Transformation sounds viable. Where would I find it? Is it a feat? Or is it somewhere with wizard powers?

It's a Level 16 Mage power.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

@Centauri

I was just spit-balling.  But you are right that player buy-in would be required for any limitations placed on her ability to absorb abilities.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/19.jpg)

Are you really "entitled to your opinion"?
RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
There is an indie game called Beast Hunters where the characters hunt a monster and use its blood to etch a tattoo in their skin, which gives them a power based on the beast's abilities.

In 4E I would use the monsters as treasure, allowing things like magical tattoos or boons to represent the power gained from consuming part of the monster's essence.

You also could easily retheme consumable items, such as potions, dusts and words of power, as parts of monsters. Alchemical agents also would work well.
DMG2 has optional rules for boons.
Instead of gaining a magic item of GP value X a PC gains the powers of a magic item of GP value X (but not ENHANCEMENT bounuses).
You could search through the books and find an magic item power close to what the monster could do. 
This would also be fair to the rest of the party if no one else wants to canibalize the mystic essence of their enemies.
  
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
DMG2 has optional rules for boons.
Instead of gaining a magic item of GP value X a PC gains the powers of a magic item of GP value X (but not ENHANCEMENT bounuses).
You could search through the books and find an magic item power close to what the monster could do. 
This would also be fair to the rest of the party if no one else wants to canibalize the mystic essence of their enemies.
  


This is also what I would highly recommend.  Instead of calling it a Divine Boon or a Grandmaster Training, it could be Absorbed Monster Traits, or Monster Hunter benefits.  Easily fits into the parcel system no problem If you're taking monster powers from the Monster Manual or other printed material, perhaps at-will abilities can become encounter powers, encounter and recharge abilities would become daily powers, and daily powers would be once-only-then-disappears-forever.  Heck, let's take it even a step further by allowing the PC to grow into this sort of master survivalist chef (Bear Grylls?), eventually gaining bonuses to Nature and/or Dungeoneering, in addition to the situational benefits of absorbing monster abilities (probably around Paragon tier, maybe making an entire Paragon Path from it).  Then come Epic tier, perhaps that knowledge of how to absorb monster abilities through the digestive system is so intricate that the PC's culinary arts are brought to epic proportions, allowing the player to create their own powers based on the monsters previously consumed.

In an off tangent, this sounds like an excellent One Unique Thing for 13th Age
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
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This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
DMG2 has optional rules for boons.
Instead of gaining a magic item of GP value X a PC gains the powers of a magic item of GP value X (but not ENHANCEMENT bounuses).
You could search through the books and find an magic item power close to what the monster could do. 
This would also be fair to the rest of the party if no one else wants to canibalize the mystic essence of their enemies.
  



This sounds like it could work. After speaking to my player, she wasn't on board with the mage Beneficial Transformation thing after all. Apparently, what she wanted was the possibility of more choices of powers and to be able to replace one of her class powers with a monster one at some levels, depending on what she had eaten before. This seemed too questionable for my tastes. Would I have to make certain monsters part of an adventure when they group is just about to level up, just so she can eat one? How would it affect her class as a whole? etc.

As has been stated a couple of times, refluffing is your solution to this. Ask her to pick her powers from her class (or race or theme or whatever), then reflavor them based on what monsters she's eaten and "absorbed."

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DMG2 has optional rules for boons.
Instead of gaining a magic item of GP value X a PC gains the powers of a magic item of GP value X (but not ENHANCEMENT bounuses).
You could search through the books and find an magic item power close to what the monster could do. 
This would also be fair to the rest of the party if no one else wants to canibalize the mystic essence of their enemies.
  



This sounds like it could work. After speaking to my player, she wasn't on board with the mage Beneficial Transformation thing after all. Apparently, what she wanted was the possibility of more choices of powers and to be able to replace one of her class powers with a monster one at some levels, depending on what she had eaten before. This seemed too questionable for my tastes. Would I have to make certain monsters part of an adventure when they group is just about to level up, just so she can eat one? How would it affect her class as a whole? etc.



Think about it: magical items (and divine boons) already grant additional powers, and she isn't content with simply refluffing.  While I do agree with you questioning the artificial inclusion of certain monsters just to grant her specific powers, think how Xylar in Heroes handles his ability to gain new powers by consuming the brains of other mutants and go with that.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
As has been stated a couple of times, refluffing is your solution to this. Ask her to pick her powers from her class (or race or theme or whatever), then reflavor them based on what monsters she's eaten and "absorbed."


Seems though she's a bit on the powergaming and wants to add to her powers list, so I don't see refluffing as a viable solution.  It makes more sense that these "bonus powers" would be handled as magic items, boons, grandmaster training, etc. so instead of her getting refluffed powers of her own class, she gets more powers without actually breaking the 4E system in the process.
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You are Red/Blue!
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.

You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what you create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
Powergaming is using the rules to their optimum to make powerful characters. What she wants to do is cheat to be more powerful to be the centre of attention.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Powergaming is using the rules to their optimum to make powerful characters. What she wants to do is cheat to be more powerful to be the centre of attention.


That's a really uncharitable assumption about someone you don't know.


We chatted yesterday about the boons idea, and agreed it's perfect. So instead of giving her physical items, I'm going to allow her to sometimes help write up a boon that would have fit in with an adventure and she can have it for the next game session after eating her monster. 
Yes it is, but the rules are reasonably balanced and wanting something over and on top of the rules means that they want to be unfair on the other players and the DM (or at least doesn't care if that is the case). That was the main reason I asked about refluffing first - to give her the benefit of the doubt.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Yes it is, but the rules are reasonably balanced and wanting something over and on top of the rules means that they want to be unfair on the other players and the DM (or at least doesn't care if that is the case). That was the main reason I asked about refluffing first - to give her the benefit of the doubt.

The rules are balanced, but they are also robust such that a little tipping one way or the other will not upset that balance. Besides which, it's not unfair if the other players are also allowed to gain advantages when they come up with cool ideas. If they don't have as many cool ideas, the DM or other players can suggest them. If the players don't choose to implement those ideas, then that's their choice and they must be happy with their personal ability levels.

When followed to the absolute letter, the game frankly is much less fun than it can be when some DM fiat and table collaboration is applied. The rules, in their effort to be balanced, don't mention or specifically disallow certain things. But they also specifically encourage the DM to say "Yes, and..." to player ideas. The balance and robustness of the rules let the DM do that, to be in the position of accepting ideas, instead of having to be in the position of locking down the things the rules left open ended.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Me and Keithric had a discussion on the topic in ##4eCO.

[15:50] <Keithric> heh. The uncharitable is probably accurate, tbh. It's definitely a rules aberration, but it's not a bad alternative to gaining magic items

[15:50] <Keithric> That said, it's a ton of work for the DM, so I'd expect _most_ to say "Hell no"

[15:50] <Benedict> lol

[15:51] <Benedict> It would be a pain to balance against gaining magic items

[15:51] <Benedict> And we'll she if she'd be keen to take that instead

[15:51] <Benedict> I got the impression that she wanted that on top of everything normally

[15:51] <Keithric> Yeah, I'd basically tell the player that I'm willing to give her one thing a level, replacing the magic item they'd otherwise get

[15:52] <Keithric> so, maybe they eat a red dragon heart and gain some fire resist and a higher effective AC. Y'know, whatever.

[15:52] <Benedict> Or even say "what do you think you should get? I reserve the right to veto but you do the leg-work"


[15:55] <Keithric> ayep
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
I have a quirky player in my group who wants to eat some of the monsters she kills, in order to absorb some traits or powers. We talked about it, and I told her we may have to compromise sometimes so that she doesn't gain any unfair advantages because of this. However, I think it could be a really fun table rule for her.

So far, she ate some dragon, and now speaks Draconic. I thought that was pretty fair and not a big deal. But I'm still wary of what she may want to do in the future.

What sorts of limitations should I place on it? It brought to mind some thoughts about what other types of abilities she should be allowed to absorb in the future, or how it could affect some of her skills. 




Reminds me of the final fantasy tactics "Blue Mage". I would advise looking at the ability the player wants to absorb.

1. How does this ability look "toned down" (nerfed)?
2. Can this ability "work its way up" to monster status and above?
3. Is there an NPC in the world already doing this or something similar?

Creature Abilities are often categorized. Maybe you can design a class that functions like so:

Learn Ability 1: Learn a monster ability. This ability functions as perfomed at -4 levels.
Learn Ability 2: Learn amonster ability. This ability functions as perfomed at -2 levels.

You can treat "Learn Ability" like the Rangers "Favored Enemy" in this sense.

Another Option:

Learn Ability (Physicial)
Learn Ability (Arcane)
Learn Ability (Divine)
Learn Ability (Psionics)

This feat (Learn X) Allows you to "learn" one monster ability at a time of the descriptor. Thus, a dragons breath might teach the player a 10 foot cone of reduced power. Look at some spells, look at the monster abilities. Ask the player what monster abilities they want, go through the Monster Manual with the player and come up with a list of...

Monsters:

Level 1 - 3
Level 4 - 7
Level 8 - 12
Level 13-18
Level 19-20

Find some "abilities" by "rank level" or ECL. Then, ask if "this ability, functioning at this power level, is it fun?"

There are several ways to approach this. My favorite answer to this kind of question is "Yes, however..." (the devil is in the details).

Also, I keep my players in the "poor house" on loot, often providing story rewards and other things. I would rather give players an ability than an item, and would rather "level" an item the player has than provide a new one. Just me.

Within; Without.

Yes it is, but the rules are reasonably balanced and wanting something over and on top of the rules means that they want to be unfair on the other players and the DM (or at least doesn't care if that is the case). That was the main reason I asked about refluffing first - to give her the benefit of the doubt.

The rules are balanced, but they are also robust such that a little tipping one way or the other will not upset that balance. Besides which, it's not unfair if the other players are also allowed to gain advantages when they come up with cool ideas. If they don't have as many cool ideas, the DM or other players can suggest them. If the players don't choose to implement those ideas, then that's their choice and they must be happy with their personal ability levels.

When followed to the absolute letter, the game frankly is much less fun than it can be when some DM fiat and table collaboration is applied. The rules, in their effort to be balanced, don't mention or specifically disallow certain things. But they also specifically encourage the DM to say "Yes, and..." to player ideas. The balance and robustness of the rules let the DM do that, to be in the position of accepting ideas, instead of having to be in the position of locking down the things the rules left open ended.



I really don't mind doing a bit more work if my players are going to enjoy it. I love this game, and it's my summer holiday from school, so it's not like I'm busy. 

Anyway, I wish I was able to close a thread once I got my answer, because I got it about a page ago. Thanks to iserith, Centauri, and chaosfang.
Anyway, I wish I was able to close a thread once I got my answer, because I got it about a page ago. Thanks to iserith, Centauri, and chaosfang.

Ah, it gives us something to do. You can always unsubscribe from it. Good luck.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy