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A Proposed Collection of House Rules Regarding Character Creation

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  • A Proposed Collection of House Rules Regarding Character Creation

    I think M&M (3rd Ed) is a great game. Here are some thoughts about how to make it even better, with a focus on changes to make the value of attributes line up more closely with their cost.

    HOUSE RULES.

    House Rule 1. Replace the Dodge and Parry substats with a single Defense substat, which both Fighting and Agility contribute to.
    • Base Defense: Fig + Agi
    • Cost to Increase: 1 pp/rank
    • PL Cap: Defense + Toughness = PL*2
    • Source: variant of a suggestion by SilvercatMoonpaw

    Rationale: In general, high Toughness characters will do better than high Dodge/Parry characters. (For example: Against a +10 attack that does 10 damage, the expected damage (weighted by degrees of failure) against a Parry/Dodge 5-Toughness 15 character is around 0.36, while the expected damage against a Parry/Dodge 15-Toughness 5 character is around 0.74.) That's not great. But this looks even worse when we remember that a point of Toughness is half the price of a point of Parry and a point of Dodge. So it costs only 20 pts to get that Parry/Dodge 5-Toughness 15 character, while it costs 35 pts to get the Parry/Dodge 15-Toughness 5 one.

    How does this bear on attributes? Suppose a point of Toughness is worth about the same as a point of Parry and a point of Dodge. If we take Parry and Dodge to be worth 1 point per rank and Toughness to be worth 2 pts per rank, then a point of Stamina is worth 3 pts (+1 Toughness and +1 Fortitude), but only costs 2. So Stamina seems underpriced. Alternatively, if we take Toughness to be worth 1 pt per rank and Parry and Dodge to be worth 1/2 pt per rank, then a point of Fighting is really worth about 1 1/2 points (1 Close Combat Advantage + 1 Parry) but costs 2. So Fighting is overpriced. (And, for similar reasons, Agility is overpriced.)

    This house rule increases the value of Fighting and Agility by having both contribute to Defense, a substat which contributes to defense against both ranged and close combat attacks.

    House Rule 2. Remove the Ranged + Close Combat skills and the Accurate power modifier. Add an Attack substat, which both Fighting and Dexterity contribute to.
    • Base Attack: Fig + Dex
    • Cost to Increase: 1 pp/rank
    • PL Cap: Attack + Damage = PL*2
    • Source: Rogue Republic, variant of a suggestion by SilvercatMoonpaw

    Rationale: The overwhelming majority of characters only use one kind of close or ranged attack. Given the cost of close and ranged combat skills and the Accurate power modifier, this makes a +1 to hit worth about 1/2 a point. But (again) this makes Fighting seem overpriced, since spending 2 pts on a rank of Fighting gives you (+1 to close attacks and +1 Parry), which you can get for 1 1/2 points. (And, for similar reasons, Dexterity seems overpriced.)

    This house rule increases the value of Fighting and Dexterity by having both contribute to Attack a substat which contributes to both close and ranged attacks, and by removing the (cheaper) skill and Accurate power modifiers options.

    A second rationale for this change is offered by the Rogue Republic: "In the rulebook, it's possible to hyper-specialize in either ranged or melee attack through advantages and skills at a fairly steep discount. While this isn't inherently bad, it unfairly rewards system mastery and unfairly punishes generalist builds that actually resemble real comic characters. The vast majority of superheroes are roughly equally good at ranged and melee (even Hawkeye can fight close up if need be, and the Hulk has never shown any difficulty tossing a car at something that needs smashing) and it feels wrong to discourage this sort of design."

    House Rule 3. Modify the Will substat, so that both Awareness and Presence contribute to it.
    • Base Will: Awa + Pre
    • Cost to Increase: 1 pp/rank
    • PL Cap: Will + Fortitude = PL*2
    • Source: ronyon

    Rationale: The value of a rank in Presence is less than its cost. At best, investing in all three Presence skills, a point of Presence is worth 1 1/2 pts of skills, and yet costs 2 pts. And most characters won't want all 3 Presence skills. This house rule boosts the value of Presence so that it's roughly on a par with Awareness.

    House Rule 4. Gain 1 free Advantage (of any kind) for every 2 ranks of Intellect. (I.e., gain 1/2 pt of Advantages for every rank of Intellect.)

    Rationale: It seems the value of a rank of Intellect is less than its cost. The only thing Intellect contributes to a character is a bonus to the four Intellect skills. So in order to "break even", point-wise, you need to get all 4 of the Intellect skills and/or get multiple kinds of Expertise. Since most characters won't have that many Intellect skills, Intellect often ends up being a dump stat. (See also the rough estimates below.)

    This house rule shores up the value of Intellect. (Thematically, the idea is that having a high intellect provides you with various insights, which in turn provide you with advantages---a smart warrior might come to realize a clever way to grab his foe more efficiently, and so on.)

    House Rule 5. The cost of adding additional powers through power arrays is 1/10 of the total costs of the added powers (instead of a flat 1 pt per power). The cost of adding dynamic power arrays is 1/5 of the total cost of the added powers (instead of a flat 2 per power). (GMs facing a real problem with arrays could increase these costs to 1/5 and 2/5, respectively.)

    Rationale: Players who make use of power arrays can skew things heavily with respect to optimization. This house rule allows players to still employ arrays, but doesn't make it as obscenely cheap to do so. It also pays attention to the *costs* of the array powers. So adding a few low-powered thematic abilities won't cost much, while adding several equal-point abilities will cost a fair bit.

    ATTRIBUTE VALUES.

    Given these house rules, here is a rough assessment of the value of each attribute. Given these house rules, the value of each attribute falls within a third of a point of its actual cost:
    • Strength Value: ~ 2 1/3 pts/rank
      = Close attack damage (1 pt/rank) + Strength "Limited to Lifting" (1 pt/rank) + Strength Skills (Athletics) (~1/3 pt/rank)
    • Stamina Value: 2 pts/rank
      = Toughness (1 pt/rank) + Fortitude (1 pt/rank)
    • Agility Value: ~ 1 11/12 pts/rank
      = Agility Skills (Acrobatics, Stealth) (~2/3 pt/rank) + Defense (1 pt/rank) + Initiative (1/4 pt/rank)
    • Dexterity Value: ~ 1 2/3 pts/rank
      = Dexterity Skills (Vehicles, Sleight of Hand) (~2/3 pts/rank) + Attack (1 pt/rank)
    • Fighting Value: 2 pts/rank
      = Defense (1 pt/rank) + Attack (1 pt/rank)
    • Intellect Value: ~ 1 5/6 pts/rank
      = Intellect Skills (Expertise, Investigation, Treatment, Technology) (~1 1/3 pt/rank) + 1 Advantage every other rank (1/2 pt/rank)
    • Awareness Value: ~ 2 pts/rank
      = Awareness Skills (Perception, Insight) (~1 pt/rank)* + Will (1 pt/rank)
      *(Awareness skills are among the most frequently used, so I've used a default value of 1/2 per skill rank instead of 1/3 per skill rank.)
    • Presence Value: ~ 2 pts/rank
      = Presence Skills (Deception, Persuasion, Intimidate) (~1 pt/rank) + Will (1 pt/rank)
    Last edited by whimper; 12-08-2014, 01:34 PM. Reason: typo
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