Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Steeple_jackuk on Thu Dec 02 2010, 08:46

Admin wrote:So using something like 5 EA points would buy 10D6Htc and 5D6htk? That depowers strength by quite a bit, especially with the reduced dividers. Not sure why anyone would be daft enough to take strength after that. Or have a read that wrong - every extra EA point you add gives and extra +1D6 to Htk and Htc, in which case the same attack (5EA points) would give 6D6Htc and 5D6Htk, a bit of a boost with that free +1D6Htc, but no great shakes. We have to bear in mind that if you want more dice to play with, just get a higher grade of Energy Attack. Grade 1 is the minimum, so it's not designed to flatten buildings or invulnerable bad guys. Keep hitting them with powerful blasts of 10D6 or more though and they'll soon wither, thanks to those -2 and -3DD

Can barely type. My hands are shaking after 40 minutes of non stop snow shovelling, so will add more to the mix later on.

Actually the way I read it is this (unless I've misread what you've written, this isn't really my thing as such. Although I like playing I've no head for the details - you'd need a math geek for that ;-). Basically you get 15d6 energy over five rounds. But you also get free 2d6 HTC or 1d6 HTK 1d6 HTC as long as the hero puts in 1d6 of that 15d6 per action, so you can't use up all your energy I guess it means you get 10d6 over 5 rounds with at least 1d6 being kept back per round to continue to power the 'regular' attack. You are right though that would in effect mean the equivilent of 20d6 over five rounds - I think at grade 1!

I like the idea of doing a minimum amount of damage per round the only ways around this I can see are that when its tapped out it does a straight 2d6 HTC or 1d6 HTK & HTC as per field manipulation. I guess the other way around it is to regulate it so you can't do more than a certain amount in a given round/per grade so you are forced to eek it out over more rounds.

I'm not a maths geek but I wonder what the average would be for strength grade 1 over five rounds v grade 1 energy over the same period and what you'd have to do to the energy dice to get that to be the same? I guess the only other thing is that strength doesn't have the dividends that energy attack does - ie. range, gimmicks and divided dividers - but that ain't much cope if you've got no energy left to use!

Hope your hands warm up soon. We've had loads of cold weather but today our first real sprinkle of snow. Its just been terribly icy otherwise.

Sj
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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Admin on Thu Dec 02 2010, 08:26

So using something like 5 EA points would buy 10D6Htc and 5D6htk? That depowers strength by quite a bit, especially with the reduced dividers. Not sure why anyone would be daft enough to take strength after that. Or have a read that wrong - every extra EA point you add gives and extra +1D6 to Htk and Htc, in which case the same attack (5EA points) would give 6D6Htc and 5D6Htk, a bit of a boost with that free +1D6Htc, but no great shakes. We have to bear in mind that if you want more dice to play with, just get a higher grade of Energy Attack. Grade 1 is the minimum, so it's not designed to flatten buildings or invulnerable bad guys. Keep hitting them with powerful blasts of 10D6 or more though and they'll soon wither, thanks to those -2 and -3DD

Can barely type. My hands are shaking after 40 minutes of non stop snow shovelling, so will add more to the mix later on.
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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Steeple_jackuk on Thu Dec 02 2010, 07:40

I sent Simon the thoughts and discussions we've been having about the game, he did pick up on one thing re energy attack he said,

"One quickie tho. An old revision of Energy Attacks was that every EA does 1d6 HTK and 2d6 HTC minimum as long as the Hero puts in at least 1 die themselves. They then got 12d6 to spend over 5 rounds but this could be put up to anything you wanted."

I don't know how you think this works out in terms of game balance Paul, but all the same its something to consider for energy attackers, whether villain or hero!

Sj
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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Steeple_jackuk on Tue Nov 30 2010, 08:47

Wow some really great ideas and some 'nail on the head' observations. We know that GH/SQuk is a great game but since its release some many areas have got weak points and its not just the unoptimised. I know of someone on the mailing list who'd played for years, and there are only so many gimmicks and upgrades you can give to a power, before someone reaches a ceiling.

Your so right about energy and magic and any points based stuff. It seems that if you are a martial character you can dish out pretty consistent attacks - the only plus point to energy attacks being range, gimmick and lower Damage Dividers. But I think that it would be better to say you have a pool of energy or a minimum you can do. So at least as a base line you get to do something. I feel that Frostbite has been where Wandafar was in terms of his attacks. And even in a solo comic, against a Robot I was struggling to win through based on what I had at that time. I think that anything knew that we do is fine, as long as we can put it out there as 'testing' so if it overpowers the game one way or another no one gets uppety if its pulled or reworked for the sake of balance.

I know that balance can be a bit bland but this is where D&D 4e has excelled in trying to make things tough - but fair no matter what Character you play. I also agree with you Dave on average stats, no hero should have stats less than the average but dice can be cruel. The other thing is to take an array, a choice of two good stats and two average.

Weaknesses are another worthwhile way to introduce character and RPlaying. And why is it that magic, psi and energy based character take such a pounding for playing such characters gaining powers as you pointed out at a higher cost, and then being limited in how they use them by the points pool.

Anyway I will mention some of the things here to Simon, the mood takes him to write stuff up sometimes and yes maybe he may consider rewriting the rules for ver 3, but that shouldn't stop you Paul if you want to modify the game. I think you've done remarkably well with what is a very old system, but perhaps the time has come to start into fresh waters. Tailoring what you do for our campaign, a bit like the way D&D was tailored for Dark Sun or Forgotten Realms etc. Same basic engine but with these house rules...

Anyway great discussion

Dave
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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Admin on Mon Nov 29 2010, 23:18

You make a number of good points, especially one that stands out for me is weaknesses. You hit that right on the head. I gave Lionheart weaknesses all those years ago (2003 I think, according to the Word .Doc I wrote with the character stats) but they felt rather like giving something away for nothing. The GM back then (Joel) pretty much ignored them though, which was fine by me Smile

The bimbo/hero points sound interesting too. You get something to pull your fat from the fire when you need it, but after the 3rd time something weird/unexpected/bad happens... nice twist on that.

Magic has always been kind of iffy in supers games. More like a bodge to give it something resembling the scope and power you see in the comics. Every time you think you could classify what Doctor Strange or Fate, or the Spectre or Zatanna or any other mage might do in terms of one power or another, they'd come out with something you'd never seen before. Great for the comic and the story, gets you scratching your head for the game.

Maybe a system where you'd pick a speciality (Earth - Physical powers, Fire - Energy powers, Wind - travel powers, Water - mental and shapechanging powers) and casting a spell/gaining a grade or two in that circle is easy. Going around the ring to earth from wind would be harder, say, and to cast an 'opposite' spell, that of fire casting a water spell, would be very hard, i.e. need a very good roll against ego. Probably needs more though than that. Anyhow, I'd best hit the sack before I knuckle down to start typing stuff and before I know it 3am will pass by...
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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  DavidMcMahon on Mon Nov 29 2010, 22:47

This game system has its flaws and its strengths. One of the things I discovered very quickly when I played Wandafar back when, was that for a PBEM game, having only an energy attack pretty much left you out of the fight once you shot your two rounds worth of energy and then had to wait for the other 3 rounds to pass by before you recharged. Its one of the main reasons I went with superstrength this time, plus I had already played with energy attacks and weapon attacks.

A few tweaks is what is needed in the game system, IMHO. Such as not having an energy pool or having one that's a lot bigger. Why can a brick pound away every round yet an energy blaster can't fire every round?

Hero points could also be useful. I don't know if anyone besides me ever got the game Superbabes, which was based on the Femforce Comics by AC comics, but they had a system called "bimbo points", which was their version of hero points.

If you needed to do something that your powers might not normally would do but could conceiveably do, then you got a Bimbo point and suceeded. Such as an archer who is tied up, gets partially loose and needs to stop the doomsday device that is all the way across the room and half hidden and can't get across the room in time to turn it off. Normally, he wouldn't be able to hit a half hidden button to stop the device but by spending a Bimbo Point, he would be able to bank his arrow off the walls, some furniture or what have you and succeed in hitting the button to turn off the doomsday device.

To use your powers in ways that they really aren't intended to be used as or should never work that way, you would get two Bimbo Points. If Putty, for example, needed to get to the otherside of the city to stop a bomb from going off, he could spend two Bimbo Points and then use his stretching powers to stretch himself and sling himself across miles of the city to arrive in time to stop the bomb, something his powers don't allow him to do.

Once you got 3 Bimbo Points, a Bimbo Event occurred to you. It could be something totally embarrassing, some kind of weird sub-plot, lost of powers for a time, mix up of powers, whatever. Once the event was over, you start over again with zero Bimbo Points.

Other Examples of what could occur included: IRS audit. You switch bodies with your major foe and can't convince anyone you are the good guy. A fight totally trashes your uniform and the embarrassing photos show up in a men's [or women's] magazine. A really really bad first date. Character gets the flu. Government agency now considers you a menace. A scathing comedy sketch is done of you on a popular comedy show. Your credit cards are all denied at the worst possible time. You somehow get teleported to another planet or dimension or get tossed through time.

Something like this would allow someone with a weak attack or defense power set up to do some fairly amazing things, and have some really rotten things happen to him on a regular basis too.

The nice thing about doing some solo stories is that it lets a weaker powered character shine in his or her own way. Frostbite or Kitten may not be able to take on a major baddie in their depowered frame, but should still be able to handle a handful of normal crooks, which still means a lot to the people they helped save from such baddies because it is more personal that way.

There should probably be a minimum stat for heroes too, like a 12 in everything. And then throw 1d6 to get a 13 to 18 in each of the four stats. Or a 10 base and throw 1d8. I think heroes should at least be average in all their stats.

Maybe take a major or two minor weaknesses to gain an extra power roll. RIght now, if you take a weakness, you gain nothing but role playing kudos and that doesn't help much in a fight.

The magic system for this game isn't much of a magic system. It's just a lot of already listed powers but now they are "MAGIC" based. Most superhero games have that same problem with magic. I really loved the magic system in the Superbabes game, which had some major flaws itself but was still a fun game. It was simple yet innovative, I thought. You could do anything but at twice the cost. You could do that with the current game, though practically all your rolls would go into the magic system, depending on how powerful a mage you wanted to be. Want magical strength? Grade one Superstrength costs you two power rolls. Want a magic blast? Same thing, two power rolls for Grade one Energy Blast. Want to fly and cast a force field? Four power rolls to have Grade one of each power. A Grade two power would cost four rolls; Grade three would cost six; and on up.
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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Admin on Mon Nov 29 2010, 14:04

I've probably still got it (his email address) somewhere. I think the GH system could do with an update as it's basically still where it was at knocking on for 27 years ago. That's just my own opinion though, and based from the viewpoint that we use it in a PBEM campaign. I'm sure there are players out there that still use it in a face to face way, but there can't be that many what with all the recent flurry of supers games there are out there competing for playing time. My own personal favourite of the genre was DCHeroes, though Marvel got a good run out too. Even that (DC Heroes) had its problems - for lower powered heroes there was a problem where most of the write ups for characters would be the same thanks to the way it scaled (e.g for strength, 1 attribute point lifted 100lbs, 2 APs lifted 200lb, 3 APs lifted 400lbs etc, so most street level heroes had a strength of 3 or 4, making them identical in a fight).

I think my point is, it's had, what, 1 update in 27 years? To inject more interest/life into it (and maybe get a few more sales for Simon, and you as artist/contributor?) the system could do with an overhaul. The old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" is fine, but it's in real danger of becoming 'the forgotten game' along with many others, unless it gets an update to put it back in the public eye. People will play/buy it from a nostalgia point of view, but a ground up update keeping many of the things that made it distinctive (HTC/HTK, frames, campaign ratings, which I never got round to using... Rolling Eyes ) will give it a better chance of surviving. After all, that's the way of things, especially technology, but also including game systems. D&D up to it's 4th edition now? T&T up to 7.5, DCHeroes had 3.5 editions, Marvel had 4, Traveller god knows how many through different publishers and so on.

That said, the group effort on the forum you mention sounds interesting and may bring a few new players in, so best o luck with that and I'll watch out for it on RPGnow. And I have no intentions of swapping system in this campaign unless the agreement is unanimous anyway - without you guys, I wouldn't be here Smile
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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Steeple_jackuk on Mon Nov 29 2010, 13:20

Just to say that Simon and I redid the rules sometime ago, my artwork was the what filled out the rules system and you can still purchase the rules as a pdf or a printed version via lulu. Currently on another list (I think the old GH one has died, but there are a bunch of us writing a cooperative novel. Each of us is writing up a character who gains powers and then as the chapters go on the characters encounter one another and their stories entwine. Dave M is with us on this).

But also there is another guy who is re writing up the published White Dwarf scenarios that Simon wrote, we've got permission from the various copyright holders to republish the adventures, this time as a campaign. I think the first one is going to be called legacy and starts with the Heroes meeting in Peking Duck and moving on through several old WD adventures to end in Legacy (hence the working title). At present I'm the main artist on the job.

We keep in touch via a closed Yahoo group. Squadron uk authors. I post up images there, Kevin does his thing and we (will I hope) being seeing some stuff come down the line for us to comment, edit and then eventually publish through RPG now/Lulu etc or something. Simon did release new rules for WW2 - called their finest hour and also started working on a rulebook for PBEM where he began to refine the rules. Although not always a frequent poster, he is still about and still involved. I can PM you his email if you want it.

Sj

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Re: Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Admin on Mon Nov 29 2010, 12:57

I agree for the most part - the same thing happened with Kitten. Without super strength all she had was martial arts, and despite her speed and agility, she was even less of a combatant than Frostbite when compared to superhumans with high strength, energy attack levels and so on. The dice can indeed be cruel if you don't come up with anything that gives a damage bonus or reduces dividers unless you face similar opponents. Where the Vanguard are at the minute is that, combined, they'll roughly have the power of one or maybe two of their 'normal' selves, and face off against single opponents of the same power. Over time (as Nowhere Man does) you'll regain those powers and be battling armies of the enemy as you did before - especially when your bodies adapt to the stage where you can call on your dark power at will. There's no 'time effect' holding them back now, only the fact that your bodies, at the moment, won't take the power the supply.

It does make the case for a point buy system though with regards the game system - you then get to choose exactly what combination of powers you'd like and how powerful it is (in this one, in terms of grades). I've been playing around with writing my own supers game for a while now, came up with a dice mechanic loosely based on Tunnels and Trolls - both sides roll a bunch of dice, highest total wins and the difference is taken as damage to the loser. I don't know if Simon Burleys that bothered about the game any more with regards making money from it (if he is, I expect he'll have gone bankrupt a while ago as no one seems to make a fortune from publishing small, independent games. You seem to need a large amount of money - in the form of production, advertising and support/quality control - to make a reasonable or small amount of money) but I could have a play about and make our own 'unofficial' SQUK 2.0 rules to use. It would be targeted purely at play by post - I don't play face to face any more, and so any mechanics that slow play down wouldn't be used at all. The system as quoted (both sides roll pile of dice, difference is damage applied to the loser) would, in my opinion, speed up combat no end. It would ensure a 'winner' every round. It's not perfect - armour will reduce damage and slow stuff down - but comic book fights tend to drag on and on anyway. I can't remember the last time a major villain delivered his monologue, launched into the fight and was knocked out in the first panel.

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Unoptimised or low powered characters amongst heavy hitters

Post  Steeple_jackuk on Mon Nov 29 2010, 12:09

My last reply got me thinking about my Character and SQuk in general. You see I find it interesting that we are all depowered at once. As when I first rolled up Frostbite he had all sorts of powers that didn't make him a heavy hitter at all - not even compared to Stormwarden or Nowhere Man etc. And I've recently been wondering what would have happened if we kept him, unoptimised, i.e. low damage output, poor HTC/HTK and tried to make the most of him struggling to get better.

I often think it would have worked (if frustrating at times), but the main problem is I'd be surrounded by Nowhere Man, Stormwarden, Putty who are heavy hitters. An opponent suitable to fight them, would cream FB in his unaltered original form. As was in fact the case when he fought that robot in a solo episode who was giving him a terrible pasting, before we decided he had to have something else to not be turned into slush. But what is interesting about the way things are going is that in many ways that is what is happening now but all at once.

It makes for a challenging role to play as I think SQuk doesn't do well for characters who can't do WC3 attacks, massive energy blasts, add strength to attacks unless everyone else is at that level as well. As I think if you aren't optimised for damage/resistance I think its a real challenge to play the character who is amongst those who are - you become the equivalent of a D&D strength 3 fighter who is so weak he becomes the party's worst liability. And what they his team mates could face and overcome would flatten this Str 3 fighter!

But this is even worse in what I've seen of SQuk. Sure its fine if everyone is only picking 4 powers each! But even then if you elect to go with random rolls (as I did when I first rolled up FB) then you can end up with a very weak character. This is where I think it takes a lot of creative thinking on the part of player and DM to work around this or just throw in the towel retire the character and start again.

Anyway I've often wondered what would happen if FB remained as he was, how would failure have shaped him in the future and even now in this current phase of the campaign. In some ways all of us being depowered gives us a glimpse of that.

Anyway just had some thoughts and wanted to get them off my chest. BTW this is in no way a criticism of Paul or what has happened rather just an observation - but I'd like to hear what everyone else thought as well.

Sj

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