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When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

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  • When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

    I've been running M&M 2e for quite a while with my tabletop group, who are overall easy-going and more concerned with making up novel character concepts than the nitty-gritty details of building. Which works out great because I'm all about the nitty-gritty details of building, and this way I can give advice on my preferred constructions and everyone is happy.

    But as always, once you accumulate a large amount of builds, inconsistencies start sneaking in - in this case, related to the use of autofire. Frankly, it's an extra I often like to use because it makes defense more valuable, and it helps compensate for attacks that might be a little undercapped for descriptive reasons - a martial artist who's not allowed to break steel with his bare hands can still lay down the hurt on villains with an Autofire Strike and a high attack bonus.

    But if I'm too permissive about it, and I'm also striving for consistency (which I am) it threatens to get out of hand with Autofire effects becoming more common than not. So, which of the following attacks do the good people here on the boards think it's appropriate to build with Autofire?

    a) automatic weapons with a high rate of fire.
    b) The attacks of a super-speedster like Quicksilver or the Flash.
    c) rapid-fire attacks by a skilled energy controller like Starfire or Zuko.
    d) The attacks of a fighter with superhuman speed and reflexes, but not "super-speed", like Spider-Man or Deathstroke.
    e) The attacks of someone with multiple weapons ("claw/claw/bite", Doctor Octopus, the Hydra) bringing them all to bear on a single opponent.
    f) The attacks of someone armed with two weapons and skilled at using them in tandem -"two-weapon fighting".
    g) The attacks of a master martial artist with no superpowers, using a "flurry of blows"
    h) Others?

    Worth mentioning that I've tried to rank them in descending order so that, while I'm not sure where to draw the line exactly, wherever I drew it, I would then not allow autofire for anything further down the list - but of course, there's no requirement that you have to agree with me on that point, especially when it comes to point "h".

    Also perhaps worth mentioning that Autofire in 2E was a ranked extra, so I could differentiate by building some attacks as Autofire +2 or even +3. I'm reluctant to do that both because the second and third applications of Autofire seem to me to have diminishing returns, and because it would require rebuilding a lot of Equipment and other common effects, since automatic weapons and super-speed attacks are among the attack forms with the highest "rate of fire", by quite a wide margin. But it might still be the best solution.

    Thoughts?

  • #2
    Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

    All of those can be applicable for Autofire.

    A lot of them would not necessarily be good places for Autofire as part of equipment, but on a device or as a character ability (Archer with a skill based power for Autofire X limited to bows for example) they are all fine.

    A lot of people will simple model dual weapons as Split instead of Autofire and maybe a feature on the weapons that the first successful disarm only removes Autofire and maybe some portion of the damage ranks and it takes 2 successful disarms to completely disarm the character.
    Last edited by digitalangel; 01-03-2019, 11:17 PM.
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    • #3
      Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

      Thank you! To be clear though, I know they all can be, and I have my ways of building so I don't end up with Hawkeye being helpless without his own spesific bow or whatnot, but I'd very much like feedback on whether they all should be; if you would build them with autofire. Just because I'm a little concerned that I end up overusing it on my builds, and I'd like the opinions of other builders and GMs, since when I asked my own players they all mostly shrugged.
      Last edited by Nite_Owl; 01-03-2019, 03:27 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

        If you feel you are overusing it, you can always choose to use it less. It may simply be that you like playing the character types that Autofire/Multiattack works well for.

        It does get used a lot for accuracy shifted characters, because in M&M mechanics Damage and Toughness shifted characters tend to be more effective in combat over Accuracy/Defense shifts. Autofire/Multiattack is part of how the system balances accuracy shifted characters against damage focused characters. To take an extreme example, even a PL 10 character with 20 Damage and +0 to attack will occasionally hit with a natural 20 (and probably decimate the target in a single hit), but a character with low damage ranks and an ungodly bonus to hit may never actually succeed in doing damage to the target no matter how often their attacks connect. Autofire helps raise that effective damage rank and balance that out some.

        As a GM, I personally absolutely limit shifts between rank/accuracy and Toughness/Defense to 1/2 PL. Especially at higher PLs, I usually caution players to really think about their choices if they want to shift more than 1/4 to 1/3 PL when they submit a character for review. For any character shifted toward accuracy by more than 1/4 PL, I just expect Autofire to be considered in the build, even if it is not for their primary attack, just because not doing so would make the character much less effective in lots of situations.
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        • #5
          Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

          I am not crazy about Autofire/Multiattack as a mechanic; it's undoubtedly useful but it feels at least overly versatile if not completely overpowered. Potentially PL-breaking single-target attacks plus multiple targets all taking full damage plus the oft-forgotten Covering Fire that doesn't really make sense with many concepts. Actually that might be a good rule of thumb for you; if it can't be used for covering fire, it shouldn't use AF/MA.

          I came up with alternatives for most AF/MA builds as an exercise.
          Originally posted by Nite_Owl View Post
          a) automatic weapons with a high rate of fire.
          Any automatic weapon could be defined as an array, with a single target and area effect mode. Single target can still be condtionally more damaging with either a higher damage rank or Improved Critical. Area Effect can be a Close Range Selective Cone for the same cost as a Ranged AF/MA.

          Medium Machine Gun (Easily Removable) - 16p
          . . Single Target: Damage 5 (DC 20, Advantages: Improved Critical 4; Extras: Accurate 2: +4, Increased Range: ranged; Flaws: Custom: Improved Critical damage cannot overcome Impervious defenses) - 1p
          . . Spray of Bullets: Cone Area Damage 5 (DC 20; Extras: Cone Area: 60 feet cone, DC 15, Selective) - 15p

          The Custom Flaw is a -1 flat to make the single target attack work slightly more like the standard AF/MA attack that doesn't allow the additional ranks to overcome Impervious. This can easily be forgotten or ignored, so you might not even need that Flaw and could remove it and a rank of Accurate for the same cost. Alternatively, you can swap Accurate for Damage Ranks to have a more powerful base damage, but you can always use tradeoffs instead. You then end up with a machine gun that is 1p more costly than the normal build, but slightly more accurate and IMO easier to resolve.
          b) The attacks of a super-speedster like Quicksilver or the Flash.
          Largely the same idea: ST attacks can just be bought as more damaging, while group attacks are Selective Areas. I personally think multiple Selective Areas or possibly a custom Variable Area flat extra similar to Variable Descriptor is better suited to something as flexible as a speedster's running path.
          c) rapid-fire attacks by a skilled energy controller like Starfire or Zuko.
          I've always liked Split for energy controllers because shooting out of both hands at different targets is awesome, but some players balk at the split damage ranks. I know at least one GM who uses a house rule of split attack bonus ranks so you can do full damage to multiple targets but are more likely to miss. Close Selective Cones or Bursts for the fast rapid shots; admittedly the range is more limited, but they are more likely to be used with a close group of opponents anyway.
          d) The attacks of a fighter with superhuman speed and reflexes, but not "super-speed", like Spider-Man or Deathstroke.
          Split, Takedown (which has its own issues, but is still a viable multiple target attack effect), or just higher Accurate or Damage ranks combined with tradeoffs like Power Attack. Incidentally, you can use Power Attack with Split easily enough.
          e) The attacks of someone with multiple weapons ("claw/claw/bite", Doctor Octopus, the Hydra) bringing them all to bear on a single opponent.
          Multiple attacks on a single opponent is kind of like a Team Attack with yourself. A mode that just does 5 more ranks of damage is going to be more consistent and probably cheaper than AF/MA. If you're already near PL throw a few Improved Crits on it.

          Doc Ock's Tentacles
          . . Coordinated Tentacle Strikes
          . . . . Long Reach: Elongation 2
          . . . . Slams and Crushes: Damage 12 (DC 27; Extras: Accurate: +2, Split 3: 4 targets)
          . . Grabbing Tentacles: Burst Area Move Object 6 (3200 lbs.; Extras: Burst Area: 30 feet radius sphere, DC 16, Selective; Flaws: Reduced Range: close)

          This is a 19p array that allow Ock to grab multiple targets with STR 6 or slam up to 4 targets with up to 12 Damage; both have a 30' reach.
          f) The attacks of someone armed with two weapons and skilled at using them in tandem -"two-weapon fighting".
          I am all about Split for this. I usually add the damage ranks of two weapons and then Split that, with a maximum of strongest weapon +5 to match the similar team attack bonus, although it's usually for standard ancient melee weapons with base damage 5 or less each. Combine with tradeoff Advantages for extra flexibility (ie Defensive Attack to simulate attacking with one weapon while using the other defensively). Alternatively, you can make a nice "gun-fu" array with a high-rank Split Ranged Damage and a Close Selective Area Damage (could also be other ranged weapons: crossbow, shuriken, boomerangs, etc).
          g) The attacks of a master martial artist with no superpowers, using a "flurry of blows"
          Split w/extra Damage, Takedown, maybe a Selective Area. Incidentally, I'm a bit of a concept stickler, so Area Effects that are actually a lot of Close Attacks should really targeting Parry, not Dodge IMHO. They should also make the user susceptible to things like Auras, but that's up to the GM.

          Personally, I think most of these are better defined and occasionally cheaper than AF/MA and if you used all of these alternate methods and never introduced AF/MA to a new player, they probably wouldn't even notice.
          Last edited by JDRook; 01-07-2019, 06:01 PM.
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          • #6
            Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

            I also think part of the issue is that M&M is very heavily descriptor based. Your example of the Flash vs Spidey is a great example. Spidey is a goon sweeper and the Flash, by definition can also do the same. I think its a matter of describing it - The Flash is a blur and strikes everyone, Spidey on the other hand is jumping and flipping, using webbing to pull multiple people together and throw things at people while hitting with feet, fists and body slams at the same time.

            Mechanically, the same thing, but visually quite different.

            IMO, Thorp sums it up nicely...

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            • #7
              Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

              At the risk of derailment, arguably Autofire/Multiattack is necessary for balancing accuracy-shifting since the game mechanics does nothing to incentivize surpassing the target DC.
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              • #8
                Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

                Remember multiattack, single target, is just performing a Team Attack with yourself. So there's no reason to be too strict with it. Anyone who can "logically" team attack with themselves should be allowed to use that Extra.

                Originally posted by FuzzyBoots View Post
                At the risk of derailment, arguably Autofire/Multiattack is necessary for balancing accuracy-shifting since the game mechanics does nothing to incentivize surpassing the target DC.
                <derail>Should it? Should there be a levels of success on the attack roll that grant effect bonuses?

                1 successes, as normal
                2 successes, +1 effect
                3 successes, +2 effect
                4 successes, +3 effect
                etc.

                Or
                1-2 Successes, normal
                3 successes, +1 effect
                4 successes, +2 effect
                5 successes, +3 effect
                etc.

                Or
                1-2 Successes, normal
                3-4 successes, +2 effect
                5+ successes, +5 effect
                etc.

                All of these have a certain charm to them. #1 and #2 are formulaic and slow. Will a +1 effect @ 2 successes really unbalance the game? If so, how about @ 3 successes.

                #3 has synergy with the combat maneuvers. But it might be too powerful along side the combat maneuvers.

                And the best way to see what works would be to make it a house rule and give it a shot. The defense shifted characters will rarely hit with 2 or 3 successes. Affliction, Weaken, and Nullify might be best with #2.

                </derail>

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                • #9
                  Re: When is it appropriate to use Multiattack/Autofire?

                  Originally posted by FuzzyBoots View Post
                  At the risk of derailment, arguably Autofire/Multiattack is necessary for balancing accuracy-shifting since the game mechanics does nothing to incentivize surpassing the target DC.
                  That was basically my conclusion too. And because of the skill and damage benchmarks I use, most of my builds end up accuracy-shifted to some degree, apart from bricks. I use a house rule that helps mitigate the issue though: Critical hits occur when you exceed your target's defense by 10 or more, not on a natural 20. That gives defense-shifted characters protection from critical hits, and makes degree of success relevant for accuracy the way it already is for damage. (To go with this rule, objects cannot be critically hit, Improved Critical is limited to a max of 3 ranks, and Immunity to critical hits costs 2 points. Also minions can, in theory, critically hit heroic characters, but most of them have low enough attack bonuses that they will never be able to. It just simplifies things.)

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