Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25

Thread: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

  1. #1
    Inceptor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    6

    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 at 02:03 PM.

  2. #2
    Hierophant FuzzyBoots's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    5,846

    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.
    My Builds

    Current games:
    None. Focus issues.

  3. #3
    Keeper of Secrets JDRook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1,397

    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Quote 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 Atomic Think Tank thread
    My current character thread: The Sound of my Eyebeams

    I will build characters in HeroLab for you! Send me your finished design or even your original concept!

  4. #4
    Keeper of Secrets
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Posts
    105

    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Quote 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 at 08:27 PM. Reason: typo

  5. #5
    Hierophant Ysariel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    5,141

    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Quote 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.

  6. #6
    Inceptor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    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.

  7. #7
    Hierophant Ysariel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    5,141

    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Quote 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 at 12:36 PM.

  8. #8
    Inceptor
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Posts
    6

    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.

  9. #9
    Keeper of Secrets
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    1,707

    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.

  10. #10
    Keeper of Secrets
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    1,707

    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.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •