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Quantum from Dragon Magazine #111, 1986 by George MacDonald


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3 hours ago, assault said:

The "standard" values are set by the game system itself, through there being optimal values for certain characteristics.

 

As a result, if you try and force characters into a particular (non-optimal) range, you will end up with character concepts that cluster at the high end of the range.

 

Have to respectfully disagree. There were cost-efficient break points, which are less efficient under 6E. But the "optimal range" is set by a given campaign's baseline and maximum, not by the system itself.

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1 hour ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

Have to respectfully disagree. There were cost-efficient break points, which are less efficient under 6E. But the "optimal range" is set by a given campaign's baseline and maximum, not by the system itself.

True enough. And that’s is what was set up in Third Edition.  (Not sure about earlier editions). Hence the legacy of Standard Superheroes.

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2 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

 

Earlier editions said "here's a hundred points.  You can get up to another hundred-and-fifty if you really load up on Disadvantages."

 

That was everything you needed to know about minimums, maximums, and your campaign levels.   :lol:

 

 

 

Third Edition  has a section in reasonable builds. Tells you 40-50 pts decent and 60 great. Also states that 23 DEX is the best for the price. 

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One of the supplements had a running insert box: Goodman's School of Cost Effectiveness-- that mentioned that same thing.

 

The first two editions had no such guidelines, but I have to admit:

 

figuring them out was fun, too:

 

You'd dump all your points into one or two things, thinking "I will make the god of this one thing," only to find out that you couldn't win a pillow fight because of the END costs of actually using your thing....  being stuck with the (at the time) typical mindset of BODY = Hit Points, so you'd buy _way deep_ on BODY, without really thinking about your Def or your STUN...  or your CON....  and viola!  You've made a Chumbawumba!

 

Good times, Dude.   :D

 

And has been mentioned several times now in the past few days: eventually, you started sort of paying attention to that one character sheet for Crusader (1e and 2e) and the villains in the Viper's Nest booklet (2e).

 

I didn't own 3e for years-- I actually owned 4e before I got 3e.  :lol:   I even got lucky and managed to get both the perfect-bound single book _and_ the boxed set (separate Rule and Campaign books, map-- Roses, natch  ;) ) and six dice.  Alas, the box hasn't survived....   Don't think I ever read either one until ... last year?  Year before?

 

Go figure.     :rofl:

 

 

 

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@Duke Bushidothat’s another point. The way the cost structure is in the earlier editions, whether suggested (3rd) or organically (1&2) the math suggests certain benchmarks if you want an “effective” character. (Effective can be subjective-I know). I would be curious to figure out how the creators for the Original Enemies (I think both 1&2 are 2ed). And see why they built them that way before guidelines started to gel together.

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Just to put it out there, Enemies was written for 1e.  

 

It was re-written to the new rules and then all non-Williams art was replaced with Williams art for 2e.  (1e Enemies included art from Williams, DaChelle (forgive what its likely a grievous spelling error) and Loubet (again: probably spelling.  Interesting note: Loubet's art is very energetic, and easy to spot, as most of his characters are extremely "leggy.").

 

Enemies was tweaked again for new rules (almost no changes, really) and the cover changed (for the first time ever) for 3e  (3e was the one that looked kind of like a wrestling match with a mostly black cover).

 

Enemies 2 only ever existed in 2e formatting, but all the characters inside are still (I have been told by people who used it with 3e) completely book-legal with the 3e rules.

 

 

I am desperate to know the rest of your thought: to figure out how the creators ....  what?  if it's statted them out, I can help!  If it's about their thought process....  well, I have no idea.   :lol:

 

 

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55 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

I am desperate to know the rest of your thought: to figure out how the creators ....  what?  if it's statted them out, I can help!  If it's about their thought process....  well, I have no idea.   :lol:

 

 

My wife says I say things in midstream. Anyways, yes, why did build them the way they are Characteristic wise. We’re they built to their game assumptions? How did they get to those game assumptions? For Example Frisbee has a DEX 33! Which since there was no Benchmarks at the time, could be considered ok for a Normal to be. Was she a little higher than the creators group to be a threat? Or was she just a little better or even equal to a PC. That sorta thing. Iirc a majority of villains are about 10DC in those books, again when the creators made them were they considered Average with the Heroes or perhaps a threat to the Heroes? If you look in the BBB, there’s a section called Playing By The Numbers. champions had a poll back in the day and the numbers were averages of what people sent in. I contend now that those numbers are majorly influenced by materials being out since third.   

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Getting back to Quantum...

 

I very much enjoyed the article and squirreled away the idea of Quantum Levels to use later. And did: Devil's Advocates member Shadowfire, in Creatures of the Night: Horror Enemies, has quantum levels set by how many black lotus addicts he can gather near himself. Design goal being that sometimes you have to attack this mob of helpless but controlled people before you can defeat him.

 

I used the idea again in my new campaign for a villain called Apostle. He's a mentalist who can brainwash people by placing mind control widgets on the back of their necks, and the more brainwashed victims he has, the more powerful he gets, until the PCs are facing a guy who throws around 10d6 Ego Attacks and 20d6 Mental Illusions, with insanely high Defenses and DCV. The PCs take him seriously -- though they have figured out ways to fight him that don't leave hundreds of grievously wounded innocents.

 

Dean Shomshak

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On 9/18/2020 at 4:11 PM, Ninja-Bear said:

Well when Agents are set at Speed 3, being Speed 2 ain’t fun-even if you’re a Brick.

 

Again, an assumption arising out of the sample characters in 1e.  If VIPER agents had been SPD 2, DEX 11, CV 4, having a slow Brick who was also DEX 11, CV 4 and SPD 2 would be a lot more palatable, with heroes who were faster, more agile and had better CVs not needing to be as much better to show they were better than one of the Hordes of Agents.

 

We could also have had more elite agents - high school student Barny Blake would not need better stats than an elite Special Forces member to be a competitive novice superhero whose powers did not revolve around speed, agility and/or massive combat training and experience. 

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@Hugh Neilsoni get what your saying and it’s a big point. We’re Viper agents included In the original book? I don’t know because if they weren’t then considering how much slower information flowed, it would still be interesting to see what influenced the authors of the original Enemies books. Did the authors have access to or even used Viper as a threshold? It would be interesting to know.

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3 minutes ago, Ninja-Bear said:

@Hugh Neilsoni get what your saying and it’s a big point. We’re Viper agents included In the original book? I don’t know because if they weren’t then considering how much slower information flowed, it would still be interesting to see what influenced the authors of the original Enemies books. Did the authors have access to or even used Viper as a threshold? It would be interesting to know.

Both Viper and Until agents were in the original book.

 

Enemies I included GENOCIDE agents.

 

The authors of Enemies I were the old school Hero Games people.

Going through the table of contents, they were:
Glenn Thain, Bruce Harlick, Steve Peterson, George Mac Donald, Ray Greer, Steve Goodman, and Stacy Laurence.

 

Enemies II added Steve Perrin, Kevin Dinapoli and Mark Williams.

 

We know that Steve Goodman crunched the numbers before 1e Champions was published. Other people repeated this once it was published (I did, too, partially.)

 

The only way that low values could have happened would have been if it had been enforced. Otherwise, the maths just doesn't support it.

 

Most of the "problem" is the mismatch with later published normal focused games. Without those, nobody would care.

 

 

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I'd say it's the way the game evolved in design and playtest.  We'll set normal people here, thugs and agents here, and Supers start a bit higher than that.

 

If we had started with lower SPD, DEX and CV across the board, that would have become the norm.. If you dropped agents by 1 SPD, about 3 DEX and 1 CV, then dropped all Supers by 2 SPD, 10 or so DEX and 3 CV, they would still interact similarly to how they do now, with agents becoming a bit more able to hit. 

 

But that was not an option after the 1e characters were published.  A wholesale change to all published characters is impractical, even from one edition to the next with the level of reverse compatability Hero adopted.

 

It would have scaled better with the eventual design of the non-Supers games as well, so Conan from Fantasy Hero, Nick Fury from Espionage! and Doc Savage from Pulp could have stood in reasonable comparison with the Supers.

 

It would also have freed up points - drop the spend on DEX by 30, plus another 10 back for the second SPD point (all pricing prior to 6e), while leaving you with the same relative CV, action order and spread of actions in a turn, and you can spend that 40 points on things more specific to your character.  As well, the spend on END, reduced END and REC could be reduced.

 

How that would ultimately have evolved is anyone's guess, and the ship sailed on first publication, so it's a thought experiment at this point.

 

But I don't think having a 23 DEX, 8 CV, 5 SPD, 12 DC attack and defenses of 25 makes the character Super.  How those stats compare with normal, highly skilled and other Super people makes the character Super.  If the slow Bricks in my game have DEX 26, 9 CV, 6 SPD, 80 STR and 35 PD/ED, those stats won't feel very Super.

 

Actually, one I've questioned in the past is what the Geodesics were intended as.  They were weak compared to the sample characters, and the other Enemies characters.  Was that what a starting Super was really intended to look like, though - so Dragonfly or Green Dragon as solo opponents would be a challenge?  I don't know - we had no internet to get the designers' input then - and they quickly were relegated to "wimps - use different villains".

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@Hugh Neilsonlike your analysis. Another benefit of lower all stats I think might have been of not having to take all the extra Disadvantages to get points to get to (then) current levels. 
 

@assault thanks too. I knew some of what you posted beforehand but it was still nice to hear again.

 

To sum it up, it seems to me the Math really dictates more of what the game parameters are than the GM. GM of course can change things up.

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3 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

To sum it up, it seems to me the Math really dictates more of what the game parameters are than the GM. GM of course can change things up.

 

 

Pretty much.

 

When the GM said "Okay, X CV, Y SPD, Z Damage dice for this next game," all he was really doing was saying "This next game is build around T points in Disadvantages...."

 

 

;)

 

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I think the system can handle much more powerful characters, but there are mechanics particular to Hero that create conundrums(the Speed chart, e.g.--once you are throwing around enough points, why isn't everyone SPD 12?) and "building to concept" can hit a figurative wall when your PC is defined as human, not superhuman(legendary stats are impressive compared to normal and competent stats, but not to cosmic or godlike stats).  I do think sometimes campaigns get into a kind of "rut" of simulating the equivalent of low and mid-range comic book heroes and shy away from the high end ones, except perhaps towards the end of a very long campaign or as a one-off or short campaign.  

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As for simulating radically different power levels, one of my friends worked out a "scaling" system for Hero. (I think he adapted an idea from DC HEROES, but I've never seen that game.) Characters of the same scale interact with each other as per standard Herp System, but when characters of different scales interact you multiply or divide results based on the scale difference. So Chrysaor, scion of the Greek Gods, has a listed STR of 30 -- but he's Scale 4, one of Earth's mightiest heroes. If he punches another Scale 4 character, he does only 6d6. But with regard to a Scale 2 character, he's effectively 60 STR and does 12d6. Against Scale 1, he's 120 STR, dealing 24d6!

 

What's more, different dimensions can have scales as well. Earth is Scale 1, so Chrysaor has the lifting capacity of a 120 STR character -- while he's on Earth. In Hellas, the realm of Greek myth, he has 60 STR lifting capacity because Hellas is a Scale 2 realm.

 

(Chrysaor and his fellow PCs met only one Scale 8 opponent, who was a very tough fight.)

 

There was quite a lot more to the system. I've urged my friend to try publishing it, or at least post it somewhere.

 

One of the advantages of scaling over just throwing more points at characters is that it can encourage you to keep a lean approach to writing up characters. You're not tempted to to toss just a few points into weird defenses or whatever just because you have so many points to play with.

 

Scaling could also be used for a "Quantum Effect" character -- normally operating at one scale, but capable of wide swings in power based on circumstance, without making the writeup any more complicated.

 

Dean Shomshak

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2 hours ago, megaplayboy said:

I think the system can handle much more powerful characters, but there are mechanics particular to Hero that create conundrums(the Speed chart, e.g.--once you are throwing around enough points, why isn't everyone SPD 12?) 

 

Once you start throwing around enough points, you can have attack powers which trigger whenever you get attacked and effectively more than double your SPD for many purposes.

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@Hugh Neilson I totally agree with point that VIPER as presented set level of agents. One thing though is reading the small blurb on agents, VIPER as presented are supposed to be rough for Superheroes. I know when I started (in 4th) I thought Viper was just normal thugs. And if they are normal then I have to build X better than them.  So if they had an example of normal thugs way back when that might’ve changed on how we built things.

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The first and second ed had a sample combat with Ogre and some more typical thugs, but no one ever used those typical thugs, nor were Crusader and Starburst the templates on which characters tended to be constructed.  If you viewed the examples in the back as mainly "typical Supers", rather than "typical single opponents, maybe with some normal henchmen, to take on a team of four PCs", power inflation started right out of the gate.

 

Leading to specialized VIPER agents and gear designed to make them a better match for Supers than their "rank and file agent" brethren, a great example of how power inflation works in an evolving game.

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