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  • Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    I never looked carefully at the statted totals starting on page 212 of the handbook heavily until today. The Power Points vs PL ratio varies wildly (from 10.7 Lex Luthor to 23.5 Batman). It lead me to believe that I missed something about PL. Yet the rules have PL*15

    I did see the page 209 sidebar which does mention that PL caps combat abilities. I also see page 3 of the heroes and villains volumes. But whats the point of having starting point point totals if you can stay at a low PL and just have however many PP worth of abilities that you want? I registered here to ask what the heck is going on. An internal and external search on power point totals revealed nothing useful.

    PS does Lex Luthor really need to be PL14 rather than PL13?
    Last edited by LeSigh; 11-09-2017, 02:03 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Power Levels and Power Point totals have no inherent connection. The 15 PP / PL is a suggestion of what a starting PC character might look like. An NPC sometimes doesn't need the depth that a PC does (why bother with something like Investigate or Profession (Burglar) if they're not going to use it? And if they don't have every possible power in their array, it's easy enough to use Fiat to gain the power, and the players get a Hero Point out of it), so they might have a lower ratio. They don't need to budget points, so they might have a power that costs a lot per rank. And that might also indicate that they're far from a starting character (Note that a GM is not forced to keep players at a 15 PP / PL lockstep at creation, or as they gain in power).

    Lastly, for PCs, PL is proscriptive. For a given campaign's PL, they can't go past those limits. For NPCs, it's descriptive. They are at whatever PL their abilities describe. Note, though, they might reach their PL on different axes. An enemy with a +14 Ranged / Rank 14 Blast is technically PL 14, but if they're rocking an 8 in Dodge and an 8 in Toughness, they're the proverbial Glass Cannon, and aren't really operating at PL 14 (some people average the values out for a rough idea). And skills very seldom tip the balance.
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    • #3
      Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

      Originally posted by LeSigh View Post
      PS does Lex Luthor really need to be PL14 rather than PL13?
      The only things in Lex's build that push him that high are the Warsuit Blasters (when he's in the suit) and his Science and Tech Skills. They could have trimmed that down easily enough, but he is supposed to be Superman's nemesis; for his part, Supes is PL15, but only in close combat and Fort/Will saves. Overall, they come out somewhat equal.

      Both have a lot of points (if you include the Warsuit, not to mention all the villain-type resources guys like Luthor essentially get for free to make stories work), and both are closer to 20p/PL rather than 15. However, both also have over 75 years of published stories to incorporate into their characters, so a little bit of power bloat and embellishment is to be expected.

      The PL10/150pp is a good guideline for a relatively new and relatively powerful hero (at least as effective as a tank, or an elite swat team), and is a good place to start for new players in the default contemporary superhero setting assumed for M&M; it's also an interesting exercise to take existing characters (like every comic book/cartoon/TV/movie/video game character ever) and see if they fit this structure. However, it's not going to work for every character, setting or gaming group, so you're free to fiddle with the details.
      My old [URL="http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?p=743877#p743877"]Atomic Think Tank[/URL] thread
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      • #4
        Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

        Originally posted by LeSigh View Post
        I never looked carefully at the statted totals starting on page 212 of the handbook heavily until today. The Power Points vs PL ratio varies wildly (from 10.7 Lex Luthor to 23.5 Batman). It lead me to believe that I missed something about PL. Yet the rules have PL*15
        Batman and Luthor are NPCs, which have no limit on PPs.

        The number of PPs NPCs have have nothing to do with the amount of points PCs can have.

        They're also characters with over a half-century's worth of history. PCs have none outside of the head of the person creating them until they're actually used in campaigns (which won't be as long as comic books, which predate tabletop RPGs and will continue on after we're gone). I'll also point out that none of the existing characters one may wish to name are the same now as they were they were first put to paper. Superman was "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound," but after decades of history that's nothing for him now. If you built him for an RPG, building him when he was starting off as just an idea in someone's head first presented to the world would be cheapest, and he would get more expensive to build as time passed. It's not realistic to compare PCs to characters with 50, 60, 70, etc. years of history, development and power increase and expect them to be at that level.
        Last edited by Demiurgos; 11-09-2017, 08:27 PM. Reason: typo

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        • #5
          Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

          Originally posted by Demiurgos View Post
          They're also characters with over a half-century's worth of history. PCs have none outside of the head of the person creating them until they're actually used in campaigns (which won't be as long as comic books, which predate tabletop RPGs and will continue on after we're gone). I'll also point out that none of the existing characters one may wish to name are the same now as they were they were first put to paper. Superman was "faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound," but after decades of history that's nothing for him now. If you built him for an RPG, building him when he was starting off as just an idea in someone's head first presented to the world would be cheapest, and he would get more expensive to build as time passed. It's not realistic to compare PCs to characters with 50, 60, 70, etc. years of history, development and power increase and expect them to be at that level.
          This isn't true at all. Publication history is only one factor in the pp cost of a character, and simple character concepts can still be exorbitant in cost despite a small number of traits if they happen to need expensive ones. Two good examples are characters who need several expensive traits that conventionally aren't accepted as being allowed in an array (e.g. high skills and superhuman abilities), and characters who for reasons of descriptor or concept can't array certain big-ticket powers. More generally, point costs in M&M have little to do with how many traits you have: they are dependent on how well the traits you choose can be arrayed to save vast numbers of points (see the end of this post for an explanation of how one character can pay more and yet have less than another character). NPC's don't usually undergo this kind of cynical build engineering, which is a big part of the reason why their pp costs are so high.

          It's not just reasonable, but desirable and natural to compare PC's to iconic characters that represent the superhero genre to the world, attract people to the game, and inspire players to tell the kinds of stories they see in superhero movies and comic books. Someone picking up a superhero game is a lot more likely to want to play Superman than Stilt-man, and while I can see why a high-PL Superman would be problematic in most games, a PL 10 version that still keeps all the background and ancillary powers should not only be possible but encouraged. Player characters should have fully realized concepts and themes just as NPC's do.

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          • #6
            Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

            Just fair warning, I am brand new to MnM. Like, very new. Please correct me if I'm making statements that are wrong or asking questions that aren't framed correctly.

            So I think I'm being told that NPCs can have almost infinite power points at a nice low PL after a while but that they do start at 15*PL PP. Doesn't this create balance problems for the PCs if they will be up against opponents of their PL that may have wildly inflated power point totals? Or perhaps worse, some NPCs that should be a challenge but just don't spend their power point totals well end up being a cakewalk.

            Is there a d20/D&D analogue to Challenge Rating that I'm missing in MnM? My primary interest in MnM is actually balance. It's amazing flexibility was a secondary interest only after I learned the system.

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            • #7
              Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

              Originally posted by LeSigh View Post
              So I think I'm being told that NPCs can have almost infinite power points at a nice low PL after a while but that they do start at 15*PL PP. Doesn't this create balance problems for the PCs if they will be up against opponents of their PL that may have wildly inflated power point totals? Or perhaps worse, some NPCs that should be a challenge but just don't spend their power point totals well end up being a cakewalk.
              In most cases this doesn't, because combat power is limited by power level and not pp. There are many exceptions however, and a character with unlimited pp can buy more of these exceptions and be stronger than their PL might indicate. A good example are the Majestic-20 NPCs in EC Secrets: they all have damage linked to weaken toughness blasters and are more dangerous than normal enemies of their PL.

              A good discussion of things that subvert PL is Paragon's old thread, The Limits of PL. It was written for 2e, but essentially everything still applies to 3e. I personally think he does not emphasize some things enough, like the Luck advantage and the power of linked attacks, and some other things unique to 3e aren't discussed, like the power of progressive afflictions, but otherwise it's very comprehensive.

              Is there a d20/D&D analogue to Challenge Rating that I'm missing in MnM?
              I suggest Elric's system, also written for 2e but still usable and relevant in 3e. He never publicized the mathematical basis of his threat rating system, but I use it myself and find it generally reliable.

              My primary interest in MnM is actually balance. It's amazing flexibility was a secondary interest only after I learned the system.
              M&M depends a lot on the GM and the players for balance. Some rules, like the ones for alternate effects and variables, don't bother laying out pages of legalese and simply say not to allow anything clearly abusive; and you'll also find rules, like those for the reaction extra, which don't attempt to define every possible abuse and only say that the GM should veto such uses. Having played Pathfinder, I really appreciate M&M's commonsense approach to balance. It wouldn't last a day in the hands of players determined to exploit the system, however.
              Last edited by Ysariel; 11-11-2017, 12:36 PM.

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              • #8
                Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                That CR thread looks great. Its suspiciously close to D&D's CR, so it makes sense that it would work out of the box.

                That PL thread though is almost unreadable for someone like me who doesn't know and has never played 2e. He talks about advantages that exist as feats in 3rd edition D&D, but it seems like most of the problematic stuff has all been dropped in 3rd edition of M&M. For instance "On the defensive end, even if the proper square can be located (not a given depending on other features of the user) there is a fifty percent chance of missing, barring melee attackers with Blind-Fighting." But there is no blind-fighting advantage, and I can't find any rule that allows targeting a square (or hex) in M&M. There are such rules in D&D, though.

                Sadly none of that thread was useful to me, aside from obvious things like ranged attack minions are better than melee ones and going insubstantial 4 basically forces you to spend a ton more power points to affect corporeals. The power attack, autofire, growth having gargantuan & colossal sizes, healing not requiring an action, obscure, slow fade, changes to the defaults for the effortless modifier, independent, no saving throw, total fade, vampiric, etc discussion doesn't seem that helpful for me. I thought heal triggered by damage was too broad and therefore illegal in 3e? Maybe I'm just missing how the thread is helpful for 3e.

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                • #9
                  Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                  I'm the poster who used to be called Paragon.

                  I actually did a sequel post to that post-3e: If you'd like to read it, its here: http://www.atomicthinktank.com/viewt...hp?f=1&t=37963.

                  The answer in regard to whether 3e fixed those problems I addressed is "sometimes, and to some degree". Most of the 2e feats exist in some form in 3e, as do the powers. Some have been fixed (most grapple-related issues I mention in that thread, along with some of the issues regarding powers that used Power Checks have gone away, for example), but nothing about 3e fixed the fact that Concealment fundamentally improves your overall defense (and often offense) in a way that PL doesn't account for, for example. Nor is 3e Multiattack significantly less problematic than 2e Autofire in that regard.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                    As a note, the big thing high point values will do is make it really easy to purchase some otherwise-expensive PL end-runs. For example, it can be very useful to have a Perception range Fortitude resisted damage effect in some cases (a lot of martial artists and such will be Defense shifted and probably Will shifted), but its a bloody expensive power, even in an array, at 4/rank. But it operates at full PL if you can.

                    One particularly gross place high points can cut in is fixed value powers of high value; for example, in most 150 games its a real challenge to buy something like "Immunity to Fortitude effects" at 30 points. Even if you're PL 10, if you've got 600 points that's pretty trivial.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                      Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                      This isn't true at all.
                      Not to derail the thread, but "isn't true at all?"

                      So it isn't true then, that "none of the existing characters one may wish to name are the same now as they were they were first put to paper?" It isn't true that Superman as he originally appeared in Action Comics #1 back in 1938 wouldn't cost less to build if you quantified his displayed capabilities and put numbers to it than when he was tugging planets around and racing Flash? It isn't true that Batman as he originally appeared in Detective Comics in 1939 wouldn't cost less to build if you quantified his displayed capabilities and put numbers to it than after he became a master of 127 martial arts (which is ridiculous, as it isn't useful to have to cycle through options from 127 separate disciplines in real time in an actual fight), had plans to beat the JLA and the whole "Batman can beat anyone with preparation" meme started, and had things like backup personalities? That isn't in fact true?

                      Iceman wouldn't cost less to build as he originally appeared in X-Men #1 in 1963 than he would after Emma Frost was in his body, and when he would become "Omega level" and basically become an ice elemental? Jean Grey wouldn't cost less to build as she originally appeared in 1963 when she was only a telekinetic than later when she would gain telepathy, become Phoenix and do stuff like transmute matter, and later become "Omega level"? Etc., etc? That "isn't true at all?" That's actually a provable true/false statement. Look at what they displayed in the comics when they were first published versus later after years passed, stat it up and see what costs more. Or in lieu of that, we can take a look at a published Freedom City example. Centurion is the Superman analogue, and he's always been the same person from beginning to end, unlike say, Lady Liberty or Raven (to name the other equivalents to DC's trilogy) who have had multiple people use the name, and has published stats from an earlier period than the "current day" version. His stats in Golden Age are explicitly stated to "reflect the Centurion in the 1940s, rather than his traits later in life." He's PL 12 178 PP at that point, while he's PL 16 241 PP "later in life" in the core Freedom City book (and to clarify, when I say "core book," I'm referring to 2E). His build costs more points after 50 years of experience than it did when he was in the 1940s (and the actual Superman first appeared in 1938), which is exactly what I said, and which is common sense. (And note that to make him fit within the 15 PP/PL guideline for PCs [which is simple for a character solely created to be used in an RPG campaign if the creator wishes to do so]—he's actually a point above, but close enough, the Supermanalogue doesn't even have the full suite of Superman powers—he has no ranged attacks whatsoever. He's purely a flying brick with superspeed.) To use RPG terms, when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first "wrote up Superman's character sheet," it didn't cost as many points as it would to build Superman now. When William Marston first "wrote up Wonder Woman's character sheet," it didn't cost as much as it would now. When Bill Kane and Bob Finger first "wrote up Batman's character sheet," it didn't cost as much as it would now. Yet players who first write up their characters' player sheets are looking at the costs of characters as they are after decades of revisions and new character sheets when those characters sheets didn't even look like that when their character's creator was in the identical position of submitting a new character for use in a "campaign"? What room is there for growth if you're already at the level of these experienced superheroes from the get-go?

                      The Hero's Handbook says PC heroes get power points "represent[ing] the experience and confidence the heroes have gained, along with other factors contributing to an improvement in their abilities, skills, and powers" (Hero's Handbook, p. 33), yet it isn't true that "characters with 50, 60, 70, etc. years" of gained experience and improvement in their abilities, skills, and powers wouldn't have more power points if you quantified it and put numbers to it then PCs at the starting M&M power level for "younger superhumans" and the "relatively inexperienced?" The Hero's Handbook clearly puts the PC starting point below "many members of the current Freedom League" ("the big leagues"), "senior heroes," and below "paragons of the Freedom City Universe like Centurion," who's the Superman analogue. Because they have more experience than new PCs who were just created for an RPG campaign and more time to grow into and master whatever abilities they have to become what they are now. And RPG NPCs don't have the amount of material that comic book characters do (and posters both on ATT and other superhero RPG forums have said that one thing they like about RPG characters is the fact that they don't have all the decades of history that the comic book characters they're based on do), for one, with RPGs not even existing until decades after comics books and not having regular ongoing books like comic book characters do, and two, they actually age unlike comic book characters (or at least Freedom City characters do—I don't have enough knowledge of all the superhero RPGs on the market to know if this is the case for all of those which have created characters for their respective universes), who haven't appreciably aged in 50, 60, 70 years, and will continue to have published "campaigns" after we're all gone.

                      The most important thing to understand is that comic book characters are not RPG characters. There are RPGs that provide a way to put numbers to the displayed abilities of comic book (or other fictional) characters and stat them up if one wishes to do so, and Green Ronin got the DC license to be able to release DC books (since this is on the DC Adventures subforum), but those characters exist independently from RPGs and were not expressly created for use in an RPG campaign. They do not have "a budget of power points." No one who created a comic book character ever cared about PLs, or scrimping on points, or how "efficient" the character is. Because they aren't characters created for use in an RPG. Comic book characters don't have a "recommended starting power level." They don't have a guideline for how many points they should have per power level. That's why the vast majority of characters in DC Adventures don't fit neatly in the "15 points per PL" guidelines for PCs. They weren't created for RPGs, they were already preexisting fictional characters statted up to be used in a DC campaign. If you take the displayed abilities for an American comic book character, or a Japanese anime/manga character, or a movie character, and put numbers to them, they aren't all going to fit neatly into "15 points per PL," because, again, they weren't created for use in an RPG. You'd have to start off with the intention of making them fit within 15 pp/PL, but that would be an artificially imposed limit (for instance, I've seen a PL 10/150 Doctor Manhattan, Galactus, and Lucifer Morningstar, and while people can certainly build a character however they want since they're building it [people who don't like how a poster builds a particular character can always build it themselves, but those who go on poster's threads to complain about how the way they've built a character don't typically put in the work to do it "right" as they see it themselves], those characters are clearly not supposed to be in the hands of a player, and it's also equally clear that those characters at PL 10/150 do not represent how they're actually depicted in the source material. It takes a extreme amount of shoehorning to make them fit). Hero's Handbook explicitly states that "non-player characters are not restricted by the series power level and are built on as many points as the GM wants to give them" (p. 26), so it doesn't even matter how many points they have. They have as many as their abilities add up to. Now characters who are expressly created for an RPG and have no independent existence outside of a role-paying game can be made to fit within that framework since they have no demonstrated abilities to be quantified and translated into RPG stats. Their abilities can be limited to fit whatever PL the creator wants them to be. But everyone should understand that non-RPG fictional characters are not created that way.

                      Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                      Publication history is only one factor in the pp cost of a character, and simple character concepts can still be exorbitant in cost despite a small number of traits if they happen to need expensive ones. Two good examples are characters who need several expensive traits that conventionally aren't accepted as being allowed in an array (e.g. high skills and superhuman abilities), and characters who for reasons of descriptor or concept can't array certain big-ticket powers.
                      Irrelevant to what I was talking about. The OP was talking about the 15 pp/PL ratio and the fact that most of the characters in DC Adventures didn't adhere to it, specifically naming Luthor and Batman, one of whom is 77 years old and the other 78. As previously aforementioned, Hero's Handbook explicitly states that "non-player characters are not restricted by the series power level and are built on as many points as the GM wants to give them" (p. 26). Since these are preexisting fictional characters translated to an RPG system, not characters created by a GM or a company that produces superhero role-playing games (they were created by DC, who gave permission for them to be translated to the M&M system for a DC campaign), they have as many points as their abilities add up to, from whatever period in that character's existence was chosen (not only will they cost more PPs to build than they did at the moment of their creation, but they're also subject to fluctuation since they're being written by multiple writers who won't necessarily be consistent with how the previous writer depicted them). As stated above, comic book characters are not expressly created for an RPG campaign, and are not subject to the same guidelines as PCs created for an RPG campaign, who have no previous existence and whose sole existence is entirely within the context of an RPG.

                      Furthermore, regarding the 15 pp/PL ratio DC Adventures explicitly states: "many of these characters can be run by your players. We've highlighted the ones that are exactly the right power point total for new characters of their power level" (emphasis mine). Hero's Handbook explicitly states that the starting M&M power level is for younger, relatively inexperienced heroes, and DC Adventures explicitly states that the 15 PP/PL is "right for new characters." It's right there in black and white, so there shouldn't be any ambiguity.

                      Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                      It's not just reasonable, but desirable and natural to compare PC's to iconic characters that represent the superhero genre to the world, attract people to the game, and inspire players to tell the kinds of stories they see in superhero movies and comic books.
                      What was stated to be unreasonable is the expectation that starting PCs should have the same PL/PPs as NPCs (which the core book explicitly states isn't the case), especially when those NPCs are preexisting fictional characters who predate RPGs entirely (the two characters explicitly named in the OP, Batman's first appearance was 1939, Luthor's was 1940, the first commercially available RPG was published in 1974, Green Ronin was founded in 2000, and M&M was first published in 2002. So Luthor and Batman predate RPGs entirely by over 30 years, and M&M by over 60. They have over 60 years in real time of experience and improvement in skills and abilities before M&M even existed to have power level guidelines put to paper, but somehow it's reasonable to expect a brand spanking new PC to be able to have the same amount of points as preexisting fictional characters whose existence predates the system the PC is built in by over a half-century and have had the entirety of that time to accrue "power points" and experience from over a half-century's worth of "campaigns" while the PC has... absolutely nothing because the player just thought them up?).

                      Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                      Someone picking up a superhero game is a lot more likely to want to play Superman than Stilt-man, and while I can see why a high-PL Superman would be problematic in most games, a PL 10 version that still keeps all the background and ancillary powers should not only be possible but encouraged. Player characters should have fully realized concepts and themes just as NPC's do.
                      Of course more people are going to want to play as Superman than Stilt-Man (who's a villain anyway, not a hero). With all due respect, that's just silly, and none of that actually has nothing to do with my quoted post. (Apparently though, there have been ATT builders who cared enough about Stilt-Man to stat him up.) I said, "The number of PPs NPCs have have nothing to do with the amount of points PCs can have." Which is true and explicitly stated in the rulebook. So if someone looks at a published NPC and says, "Well, x NPC has this amount of points, which is more than 15 PP/PL, so why does mine have to be?" it has nothing to do with the allotment of points a PC has. (The same applies if a player looks at a particular power an NPC has. All the warnings for powers apply to player characters, not non-player characters. No PC should ever have an Omega Effect, for instance, and the fact that Darkseid has it is irrelevant.) I also said that it isn't realistic to expect a PC you just whipped up to have the same amount of points as fictional characters with over a half-century's or over three quarters of a century's worth of real time experience, and had all that time to gain PPs. Which is also true, and DC Adventures explicitly states that the 15 PP/PL is right for "new characters," a direct quotation from the book. DC characters aren't "new"—again, the big names everyone thinks about predates RPGs as a whole, and there are far less characters that just so happen to fit within that restriction than there are of those that don't. Some do because the cost of their demonstrated abilities is low enough to fit within that guideline, but those aren't the characters players are looking to play as, or the ones power gamers are looking at. No M&M NPC has even 20 years of existence yet, and you don't see Centurion with the same amount of PPs as Superman, Lady Liberty with the same amount of PPs as Wonder Woman, or Raven with the same amount of PPs as Batman (and the intent behind DC Adventures isn't even to represent the characters at their most powerful, but "to present an 'iconic' view of the characters." There have been ATT builds, for example, of Superman's most powerful incarnations that cost several thousand points). There was never a "Pre Crisis Centurion," Centurion actually died and stayed dead, and Raven never had a "Raven goddess" period nor came up with plans to take down the rest of the Freedom League. And since Freedom City characters actually age, it isn't even possible for them to attain the amount of PPs their inspiration could, since comic book characters will never get too old for superheroing, and thus are capable of getting new powerups (which would increase the amount of PPs it would take to build them) instead of physically declining and eventually retiring like Freedom City characters have.

                      So I never said that a player couldn't have a PL10 Supermanalogue. What I did say is that it isn't reasonable for a player to expect his PC Supermanalogue in a collaborative role-playing game (with other players who have characters of their own) to be PL15 289 PP because he's looking in DC Adventures and sees that the official DC build is.
                      Last edited by Demiurgos; 11-14-2017, 07:05 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                        Originally posted by Darkdreamer View Post
                        As a note, the big thing high point values will do is make it really easy to purchase some otherwise-expensive PL end-runs. For example, it can be very useful to have a Perception range Fortitude resisted damage effect in some cases (a lot of martial artists and such will be Defense shifted and probably Will shifted), but its a bloody expensive power, even in an array, at 4/rank. But it operates at full PL if you can.

                        One particularly gross place high points can cut in is fixed value powers of high value; for example, in most 150 games its a real challenge to buy something like "Immunity to Fortitude effects" at 30 points. Even if you're PL 10, if you've got 600 points that's pretty trivial.
                        Yep. So I would suggest limiting the maximum size of arrays, such as specifying that no array slot can have more than a certain number of points, or limiting the pp/rank value of powers. I'd also suggest keeping an eye on the amount of points players spend on things that have significant effect on combat, like immunity, regeneration and improved critical. I did both for my unlimited pp game.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                          Originally posted by Demiurgos View Post
                          ...
                          Your constant and tedious repetition of simple statements, as if you were speaking to the hard of hearing, is condescending and ill-spirited. I don't tolerate disrespect; if you want an honest discussion, I suggest watching your attitude. Otherwise, I'm done replying to you.

                          This argument feels like it hinges on the assumptions that comic-book superheroes should be treated as if they were actual M&M characters, having gained pp through the ages and levelling up; and that their builds should represent all the traits demonstrated over that long history even though many may have been power stunts, plot devices or even mere descriptor. While one can choose to build that way, that's just a personal decision of the builder, neither necessary nor even always a good idea.

                          I find the argument especially odd since you also know that the builds in DCA are 'iconic' ones -- which I take to mean that they include the most recognizable and representative bits in the public imagination, the ones that have survived reboots and capital-C crises. These are the kinds of builds most relevant for people who come to the game and want to play real superheroes, characters that call to mind the archetypes of the genre. When you think of an 'iconic' Superman for example, most people might think of something like super strength, super speed, flight, eye beams, bulletproof skin, X-ray vision, maybe an AE or stunt of freezing breath, and a day job as a reporter. This build is expensive, not primarily due to 70 years of the character being in print (the core elements were in place for most of that), but because the suite of powers is both hard to afford at full cost and hard to array in a way that intuitively or conceptually makes sense.

                          That says something about how suitable 15pp/PL is as a starting point. It demonstrates that significant compromises and cuts are needed to get a PL 10 homage to a loved character. Being a new superhero or younger and less experienced isn't an excuse; player characters must be fun, iconic and super from day 1, and in any case that limitation is hard to swallow in a genre where you can play anything from immortals to aliens. It's true that one usually won't want PC's to have the high PL of NPC superheroes, even iconic ones. PL governs combat power, and high PL characters can be problematic in their own way (usually by limiting the kinds of encounters you can hand them). But pp is a different issue entirely.

                          I don't think anyone is suggesting that PC's must be shoehorned into 15pp/PL while NPC's be exempted. That would be fundamentally at odds with putting concept before mechanics. But I think there needs to be more acknowledgement that there are many, many reasons why a newly-created PC might not fit into 15pp/PL either due to concept or the quirks of the pp system, that there are significant difficulties to playing analogues of the most well-loved superheroes under these limits, and that a harsh pp/PL limit only rewards abusive build design and cynical optimizing for point-efficiency. M&M 3e itself says that 15pp/PL is merely a "guideline" (Hero's Handbook, pg. 24) and that gamemasters can vary it as suits the series, and it's sad that it has mutated into some kind of ironclad rule. A fun and thematic character that both players and GM will enjoy playing with should always take precedence over blind adherence to an arbitrary number.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                            Well, I'd argue the reason you see some of the discrepancy is often that many comic heroes you see in the DC Adventures write-ups were written for solo books, where how they compare to each other is irrelevant; and when in team books if you want them together, you can simply downplay any practical advantages they have over each other.

                            The tools for doing that in a game (at least a non-heavy-duty narrative game) are far more limited. So at some point you have to decide whether you really want to support higher point base characters or not; otherwise you're in the situation where you're asking for people to try to game you to allow them to play a higher point character than someone else for no reason than they sell you its "in concept".

                            As noted above, you can certainly manage that through brute-force methods at the GMing end--but I'm pretty willing to say only a subset of GMs are willing to do that, and I suspect most of those are going to prefer games that already make it easier for them than a game like M&M or DCA.

                            Edit: That said, there's certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with starting a game at, say, PL 10 and 200 points. You just need to be aware that has its own set of issues.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

                              Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                              Your constant and tedious repetition of simple statements, as if you were speaking to the hard of hearing, is condescending and ill-spirited. I don't tolerate disrespect; if you want an honest discussion, I suggest watching your attitude. Otherwise, I'm done replying to you.
                              My intent wasn't to be disrespectful. I try to thoroughly clarify where I'm coming from, providing examples to illustrate my point. Internet forums are solely a written medium, so one has to clearly convey what one is trying to say, since no one else will know what you mean unless you make it clear. That's why when I said the comparison between Superman and Stilt-Man was silly, I made sure to preface that so that it didn't come off the wrong way. It wouldn't benefit me in any way to attack someone who's been here longer than me, and this is, after all, a forum for a role-playing game, so it would be senseless to do so over a game. I apologize if it came off the way, but, again, such was not my intent.

                              Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                              This argument feels like it hinges on the assumptions that comic-book superheroes should be treated as if they were actual M&M characters, having gained pp through the ages and levelling up; and that their builds should represent all the traits demonstrated over that long history even though many may have been power stunts, plot devices or even mere descriptor. While one can choose to build that way, that's just a personal decision of the builder, neither necessary nor even always a good idea.
                              Well, I was saying that comic-book superheroes (or any fictional characters that exist outside of RPGs) weren't M&M superheroes, and since they're preexisting fictional characters and not characters created for an RPG, they might not easily fit within the 15 PP/PL guideline for PCs created specifically for an RPG. What I was doing was putting it in RPG terms, by making a parallel between an RPG character's campaigns and a comic book character's comic book (which superhero RPGs are emulating with campaigns) in illustrating the point I was making. Comic book characters have had so many "campaigns" (i.e., adventures in their respective book), that they would have gained a lot of experience, become more skilled in their powers, and also become more powerful (i.e. the "power ups" they've received over the years). I wasn't saying a comic book character's build should represent everything over the years, but I did say that any character will necessarily be more expensive to build than they were when they were first created, since they've grown past what they were when they were first created. Since M&M was specifically designed to emulate a comic book, I was simply putting it in those terms because this is a superhero RPG forum. Both a player and a comic book creator made character sheets for their respective characters. The former for an RPG campaign, and the latter for a comic book "campaign." It's just that only the GM and other players will see the former (unless it's broadcast on the internet), while the latter will be read by thousands of people, and will be ongoing. Both had to submit those "sheets" to a higher-up for approval. The GM approves the player's character, and the comic book character's creator is approved for publication. I put them at the same point in time. Both characters are brand new. Now, the comic book character creator's character has gotten past the initial campaign, gained experience and PPs and increased their powers—solely to put it in equivalent M&M terms. The iconic characters you see in DC Adventures are not the same as they were when the creator first submitted the character sheet. They've grown since then. But the RPG's character is still a rookie because they haven't had the opportunity to grow yet. So a player making a new character sheet is looking at the character sheet of a character who's already long past the "character creation" stage—again, to put it in equivalent M&M terms, and has had a chance to grow into what they are. That was the comparison.

                              Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                              I find the argument especially odd since you also know that the builds in DCA are 'iconic' ones -- which I take to mean that they include the most recognizable and representative bits in the public imagination, the ones that have survived reboots and capital-C crises. These are the kinds of builds most relevant for people who come to the game and want to play real superheroes, characters that call to mind the archetypes of the genre. When you think of an 'iconic' Superman for example, most people might think of something like super strength, super speed, flight, eye beams, bulletproof skin, X-ray vision, maybe an AE or stunt of freezing breath, and a day job as a reporter. This build is expensive, not primarily due to 70 years of the character being in print (the core elements were in place for most of that), but because the suite of powers is both hard to afford at full cost and hard to array in a way that intuitively or conceptually makes sense.
                              My point was that the DC Adventures characters are iconic after decades of superheroing, they weren't iconic when their creators first "made the character sheet" and submitted it for publication, again to put it in RPG terms. PCs are fresh off the character creation stage, so they can't be iconic yet. I used the example of Centurion, because his in-universe history coincidences with Superman's real-world history, and had published stats from different points in time, so he was a published superhero in Green Ronin's superhero universe that illustrated my point.

                              Early in his career, in the Golden Age, Centurion had Super Strength 8 (800 tons). After he gained more experience after years of superheroing, and gained PPs, he bought four more ranks of Super Strength, and in the core book he has Super Strength 12 (50,000 tons). Early in his career, he had Super-Senses 3, one of which was extended vision. By the time of the core book, he bought another rank of extended vision with the PPs he accumulated through the years. Early in his career, Centurion didn't even have Flight. He had Leaping 8. Fast forward to the core book, and he ditched the Leaping and bought 8 ranks of Flight. Early in his career, Centurion had Strength 10. By the core book, it's Strength 50. His Constitution is bought up to 50 from 12. His Toughness and Fortitude increases, he buys +5 Will. He buys Inspire, because he's gained this ability over the years. He buys Second Chance (Will saves against Mind Control). Etc. So if you take Centurion's build in Freedom City to represent the "iconic" Centurion, he's more expensive than he was earlier in his career because he took the PPs he gained over the years and bought abilities to higher ranks, added new ones completely, etc. Centurion's a concrete example of what I was trying to say. The Golden Age Centurion costs 178 PP to build. The "iconic" version in the core Freedom City book costs 241. In between that time, Centurion gained experience and PPs with the "campaigns" he was in, and used them to become the Centurion in the core book. Centurion's based on Superman, and, like Centurion, the Superman in DC Adventures costs more than he did in the beginning. A player making a PC is still "in the beginning" stage, so their character hasn't had the chance yet to grow from—to take it back to M&M since we actually have the numbers—the Centurion in Golden Age to the Centurion everyone knows in the core Freedom City book. Most looking at the NPC builds want to jump right past the Golden Age and straight to the core book character, also skipping the growth that that character made to get to that. A beginning superhero isn't going to have the same points as a superhero who's been doing it for decades, just as the beginning Centurion (reflected in Golden Age) didn't have what he did after decades of in-universe time of superheroing (reflected in the core Freedom City book). Which is why a beginner shouldn't look at the points of an NPC who's been doing it for decades as an example of what they should be able to do. To use a sports analogy, a rookie basketball player entering the NBA shouldn't be looking at the salary of a LeBron James for what they should get. LeBron James has been playing in and been a star in the league for many years. You're a rookie. It isn't comparable.

                              If a player roleplays their character, then they aren't going to stay at starting level, just like none of the published big company characters stayed at beginning level. You'll gain experience and points, be able to upgrade your character, and grow and evolve through roleplaying. Of course this is dependent on whether or not this is a character you're going to be using for years, or whether you use characters for a short time and more on to a new one. In the case of the former, it's satisfying to look and see how far your character has come, and it's your character, not someone else's.

                              Originally posted by Ysariel View Post
                              That says something about how suitable 15pp/PL is as a starting point. It demonstrates that significant compromises and cuts are needed to get a PL 10 homage to a loved character.
                              Putting aside the subject of NPC points entirely, this is true, and there was at least one thread on this board on that subject I chimed in on. If you want to be the iconic big-name character you see in comics at PL 10/150, that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible. That's likely why some builders do it as a building exercise or a challenge, to see if they can make a playable version of a character. And of course it should be understood that they're not going to be able to do everything they do to the same degree they've displayed in the comics, since in the comics there are no restrictions aside from the plot.

                              Though it can be restricting at times if you're building a PC (depending on what you're trying to build), with it being a collaborative storytelling game there do have to be some kind of limits to ensure that everyone gets equal shine. Since the very creation of RPGs was influenced by wargames, there will be players looking for any edge they can get, so you have to make sure all PCs are on the same level.

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