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Thread: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

  1. #21
    Hierophant FuzzyBoots's Avatar
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    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Quote Originally Posted by LeSigh View Post
    nm
    ^_^ Sorry. You stepped in on a recurring debate.
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  2. #22
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    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    It's my fault. I put a real post there instead.

    @the debate: I should have seen it coming. Unfortunately I don't have the background to participate much in said debate. Other than the massive time investment required to learn M&M, I hope I have enough objectivity to say that if a system has difficulty doing its main job (statting superheroes), then that's a big tick against it.

    I get that comics are a mess (inconsistent abilities, recons, etc) and that they aren't made to conform to a tabletop RPG, but a good system should be able to accurately quantify the more solid aspects. Again, I don't have the M&M experience to trust my instinct but they say that the statting problems mentioned in the debate is due to not trusting the system and adjusting the numbers based on interpreting what it tells you.

  3. #23
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    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Hurm. Building a character with maximum problem areas is probably beyond my energies right now, but I can probably point out some of the most severe PL sidesteps that still exist.

    Concealment: This one is always sticky, because in a campaign with a lot of Accurate non-visual senses it can be not only not a PL sidestep, but virtually useless. But barring that, it has the effect of introducing a secondary roll to miss the target. In practice, this supercharges defense so that what you're trying to do with any defensive power (don't get "hurt" using the term broadly) is immensely more effective. On the other end, it allows a lot of surprise attacks which reduce the effective Defense (the don't-get-hit part of the Defense/Resistance duo) significantly. So any full PL character with visual Concealment, especially full visual (that is to say, covering the whole vision group rather than just normal vision) is operating above PL in most encounters.

    Insubstantial, mostly rank 4 but an argument can be made for 3: As long as the user has an Affects Corporeal modifier on the power, it simply makes them immune to anyone who does not have the appropriate descriptors on their attacks or Affects Insubstantial. Particularly in the case of Insub 4, that's going to be the majority of opponents. I think its easy to see why that one makes something of a mockery of defensive PL.

    Multifire: The important element of this one is that this means that a percentage of attacks do more damage than the PL would suggest (based on how well the attack roll is made). It won't come up all the time, but it still statistically means that the character will be averaging over multiple hits more damage than his PL would suggest.

    Improved Critical at higher values: Since criticals push up damage in the first place, if you get this up toward the max permitted, the character will be doing so more often, and again, doing more damage/effect than his PL says he does.

    Perception Attacks: The perception range attacks do not make a to-hit roll. This means they lose some capability (note the comment about crits above), but since they hit all the time, they damage-to-target still goes up significantly. Its a case where you can make an argument that this isn't a problem with a subset of builds (characters who have only Perception range attacks) but some of the reasons that was sometimes true in 2e don't apply in 3e/DCA.

    Linked Attacks: This allows you to launch two (or potentially more, though that gets very expensive quickly) effects with one attack roll. Because of the limitations on what you can apply it to you can't normally do this with two damage effects, but it still means, in practice, that you can hit a target with two Afflictions of different types or (the more common case) an Affliction and damage at once. This is probably the most overpowered (offensively) of the PL sidesteppers.

    My suggestion in all cases was to, essentially, reduce the permitted value of the PL component (Attack, Defense, Effect or Toughness) for characters who are using one of these (though with the offensive abilities, only on those offensive abilities where its present) by 1-3 points, depending on the case. Note you have to be careful here, though; if you overdo it, you can make the ability actively counterproductive (for example, its probably a bad idea to reduce Multifire powers by more than one rank).



    The more general discussion is a different issue. The problem with the starting points compared to the published characters in DCA is that when writing up the other, there's a tendency to just do things the easy way, and give them any capability they've ever shown, at least within whatever timeframe someone was using when figuring those iconics.

    But as I noted, a lot of that information is informed by solo book runs of characters. You really don't want characters played in a group environment to be set up that way, because the broader you build a superhero character, the less he needs to actually work with others. And its notable that often the same characters are not depicted as nearly as broad in the team books they're in as they are in their solo books.

    I do think there's an argument that in the transition from M&M 2e to 3e (and DCA) there was a slight shrinking in capability, mostly because of the change in skill point yield (which was not, in all cases, made up by the compression of some skills together). But the question is muddied in DCA because you still need to look at the fact there's some significant difference in overall capability and power that creates characters who, honestly, don't look like they belong in the same book/game, and only work in the former because the writer either actively underutilizes them (which you can't assume a player in a game will do) or comes up with reasons to make them ineffective to let other characters shine (which would get old to a player of said character pretty quickly in a game, I think).

  4. #24
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    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Thanks dark dreamer! About your general summaries, I'd say they often fit into a binary nature: full visual concealment is either extremely useful or almost useless. Insubstantial 4 is great until someone affects incorporeal. Linked attacks look overpowered, until someone shows extreme power point savings on an attack array. Etc.

    This seems like default (but bad) tabletop behavior. For instance, Greater Invisibility is hilariously powerful in D&D 3.5 before it becomes useless against opponents with True Seeing. I don't fault M&M for this because it seems to be taking a step in the right direction of less binary counters than D&D.

    But I have to be honest that I initially read the PL rules incorrectly. I thought that PL capped everything that was ranked. After learning it wasn't, I found the 'holes' so unbalancing (and unnecessary) that it finally made me start 10 point house rules list which I feel is necessary for game balance at higher optimization level ... but in full disclosure I was trying to actively break the system.

    In fact, one of the ways to "check" my house rules was to see if anything unbalancing that I had missed could be found in the sample characters, hence this thread. Unlike your system I chose not to tweak all/many of the numbers, but rather just make a few small changes to the system that kept it looking almost exactly the same except at the extreme optimization end. I'll make a separate thread for the house rules, if you are curious about them.

  5. #25
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    Re: Getting a Handle on Stated Power Point Totals

    Quote Originally Posted by LeSigh View Post
    Thanks dark dreamer! About your general summaries, I'd say they often fit into a binary nature: full visual concealment is either extremely useful or almost useless. Insubstantial 4 is great until someone affects incorporeal. Linked attacks look overpowered, until someone shows extreme power point savings on an attack array. Etc.
    You're right about the first two, but unless they're regularly running into people who have the necessary counters, it still adds up to a problem. Ask the question "How many supervillains have a non-visual accurate sense?" to yourself; not how many can you make that way (which is, after all, all of them) but how many does it make sense for? Same with the Affects Insubstantial. We're not talking common powers here, after all (barring unusual campaign design).

    And it doesn't matter how much power savings is in an array, because you still can only use one at a time. At a certain (fairly early point) it becomes serious diminishing returns because you don't use the slots often enough that just power stunting it on the rare occasions when you want to matter. But that linked attack will be incredibly painful for the target in the vast majority of cases.

    No power will be problematic to every target, every time. Its a question of how often, and in all these cases, if these powers aren't better (in some cases seriously so) against 75-90% of targets in a typical campaign, I'll eat my cowl.

    This seems like default (but bad) tabletop behavior. For instance, Greater Invisibility is hilariously powerful in D&D 3.5 before it becomes useless against opponents with True Seeing. I don't fault M&M for this because it seems to be taking a step in the right direction of less binary counters than D&D.
    Well, its hard not to make certain powers a bit binary, but superhero games aren't like D&D; on one hand, you'll hit those kind of counters much earlier, but on the other hand, the counters are unlikely to become universal. Take a look at how many of the archetypes would have problem with Concealment or Insubstantial some time. Its instructive.

    But I have to be honest that I initially read the PL rules incorrectly. I thought that PL capped everything that was ranked. After learning it wasn't, I found the 'holes' so unbalancing (and unnecessary) that it finally made me start 10 point house rules list which I feel is necessary for game balance at higher optimization level ... but in full disclosure I was trying to actively break the system.
    Well, do keep in mind that as far as the game is concerned many of those powers, well, don't matter. Movement powers, for example; barring unusual cases, the degree of movement that's actually normally relevant is well below things like PL capping them. Whether someone has a rank 8 Flight or rank 16 just has amazingly little impact on the game normally.

    PL is mostly supposed to control relative combat power. Everything else is far too situational to take in hand without probably being overly strict to no good reason in many cases.



    In fact, one of the ways to "check" my house rules was to see if anything unbalancing that I had missed could be found in the sample characters, hence this thread. Unlike your system I chose not to tweak all/many of the numbers, but rather just make a few small changes to the system that kept it looking almost exactly the same except at the extreme optimization end. I'll make a separate thread for the house rules, if you are curious about them.
    I'll at least give them a look.

    And for reference, I did this because in one of my two M&M 2e campaigns, I had almost every PL problem child on the list show up in one way or another (including things that are no longer issues, like grapple and shrinking abuse).

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