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Is it wrong to power game?


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1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

 

That's why 3rd and 4th edition champions characters all had 23 DEX and higher, because the opponents in the Enemies books all had that kind of DEX.

 

For whatever it's worth, this bugged me enough when I started out that I actually deducted a flat 6 points of dex from every character that had a dex higher than 16.
-6 Dex and back in the older editions I docked them the two points of OCV/DCV that bought them.  Simple to do in your head and the PCs no longer needed to have superhuman Dexes to hang in a fight with Ogre.

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5 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

I built a few Supers inspired by the Public Domain of Super Heroes. The benchmark I used was Skilled Normal-gangster as I feel that was the abundant villain at the time. Well the Supers didn’t have spectacular values in all the characteristics just a few necessary ones.  It seems to me that building with that paradigm results in a different build than with the paradigm of having your hero be able to take in any other Super. Has any one else built like this? Wondering if my results were flukes.

 

I built an Invisible Woman character once, and played her in a short-lived campaign (lasted maybe 5 or 6 sessions).  I decided to try something along these lines.  In a 350 point campaign where most people were throwing 13 or 14D6 attacks, with 30+ Defense, I had something like an 8D6 Invisible to Sight Energy Blast (force ball) and 9 PD and ED with 2 levels of Combat Luck (15/15 total).  But she could turn invisible, she could turn other people invisible, she could suppress the invisibility of others (this never came up), and she could turn normal objects invisible (like walls).  She also had an 18/18 Force Wall that was invisible to sight.

 

The problem with the character is that it was a huge pain in the ass for everybody.  If an enemy had the right powers, they could spot me easily.  I could still put up a Force Wall, but I was way weaker than the rest of the group and the enemies we fought.  I couldn't really hurt anyone tougher than an agent with my force blast, unless I caught them by surprise (as in out of combat) to get x2 Stun.  I wasn't a combat monster by any means.  But if nobody in the other group had enhanced senses, I could do whatever I wanted.  Nobody would target me.  People would run face first into invisible walls.  I could disarm somebody and turn their focus invisible so they couldn't find it.  

 

It was really frustrating for the GM, and the other players, because I couldn't contribute to the fight in normal ways, so the traditional ways of balancing combat didn't work.  I was either mostly useless (if people had other senses), or could be overwhelmingly powerful (if I decided to make our whole team invisible).  Mostly I just chose to harass the villains and tried to think of new and creative ways to use my very non-offensive powers.  The problem with making a character who can only beat up agents is that the rest of the characters in the game aren't set up for that.  If your GM doesn't feed you a steady supply of agents, you don't have anything to do.  Characters that break too heavily from the traditional mold end up being a big pain in the butt to the GM, because he has to go out of his way to make the game fit your character.

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41 minutes ago, Jhamin said:

 

For whatever it's worth, this bugged me enough when I started out that I actually deducted a flat 6 points of dex from every character that had a dex higher than 16.
-6 Dex and back in the older editions I docked them the two points of OCV/DCV that bought them.  Simple to do in your head and the PCs no longer needed to have superhuman Dexes to hang in a fight with Ogre.

I've noted in the past that, if we dropped every Champions character  by 9 points and 2 SPD, they would interact pretty well with each other, and agents could hit them.

 

That would put slow Bricks at 8 - 11, 3 OCV/DCV and 2 SPD.  Typical Supers would be 14 - 17 DEX, 3-4 SPD, 5-6 CV.  Really fast/agile characters would be 20-26 DEX, 6-7 SPD, 7 - 9 CV.

 

But that ship sailed with the sample characters in 1e.

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There are various ways of power gaming, though. There is squeezing in every appropriate advantage and limitation, to get the most bang for the points. There is making an attack that is irresistible to almost all defenses, there is tweaking things until you never miss, and then there is piling on DeX and skills so they never miss. What did was spend less so I had fewer disads-attatchments, built with mostly had higher defenses and stun, as my builds prioritized being the last man standing. Offense was variable, but depended on the concept.   So there are different degrees of power gaming where a 241 pt. Armored suit could go toe to toe with 300 pt. Villains. 

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Just now, Scott Ruggels said:

There are various ways of power gaming, though. There is squeezing in every appropriate advantage and limitation, to get the most bang for the points. There is making an attack that is irresistible to almost all defenses, there is tweaking things until you never miss, and then there is piling on DeX and skills so they never miss. What did was spend less so I had fewer disads-attatchments, built with mostly had higher defenses and stun, as my builds prioritized being the last man standing. Offense was variable, but depended on the concept.   So there are different degrees of power gaming where a 241 pt. Armored suit could go toe to toe with 300 pt. Villains. 

 

This is a good point, but it also means that any character you build is subject to accusations of "power gaming".  Part of the problem is that there's a breed of gamer out there who will whine and bitch any time somebody gets something they don't have.  I was in a D&D game once where a grown man threw a fit for an hour because the GM let one of the other players start with a horse.  Not a magic horse, just a regular horse.

 

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1 hour ago, massey said:

 

This is a good point, but it also means that any character you build is subject to accusations of "power gaming".  Part of the problem is that there's a breed of gamer out there who will whine and bitch any time somebody gets something they don't have.  I was in a D&D game once where a grown man threw a fit for an hour because the GM let one of the other players start with a horse.  Not a magic horse, just a regular horse.

 

That seems more of a personality problem than a problem with power gaming. Did they bitch about the later distribution of magic items? 

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25 minutes ago, Scott Ruggels said:

That seems more of a personality problem than a problem with power gaming. Did they bitch about the later distribution of magic items? 

Every. Single. Time. :)

 

And you're right, it is a personality problem.  My point is, some people will complain about everything.  You can't make them happy.  At the beginning of this thread, there were comments about buying an 18 Dex instead of a 17.  If that's someone's measure for powergaming, then there's no solution.

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I think a range of 4-5 SPD for superheroes is fine, with 6 for fast, agile characters like a martial artist, and 7 for speedsters is good.  There's a huge difference between 7 and even 5 speed.

 

There is sort of an opposite problem related to this where some players just will not buy anything that does not directly make them effective in combat.  Skills?  Do they make me fight better?  THEN AWAY WITH YOU!  I combatted that by first giving INT in free non-combat skills, so you got literally more points if you bought non combat stuff.  Then I changed it to just "you get x points, and then y more points only for non combat/background stuff".  But some players just want nothing but to be able to fight.

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This sounds like a Campaign Guidelines issue rather than a moral one.

 

One of the things you need to be mature about before playing HERO is the idea that you are there to have a good time and not there to "win".

 

Most RPGs have specific guidelines about what is and isn't OK and there is a low-level war between the designers trying to make content and the players who are trying to Power Build.  The GM has to enforce how wild things get.

With Hero, there is *NO* attempt to say its illegal to build this that or the other character.  The rules are a toolkit and The players & GM all agree what they want to do & they build characters that are fun for all.  If someone is trying to showboat, it is because they are trying to showboat, not because they are more or less enlightened.

If you don't like the ranges, change them.  It's HERO dammit!

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35 minutes ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

I think a range of 4-5 SPD for superheroes is fine, with 6 for fast, agile characters like a martial artist, and 7 for speedsters is good.  There's a huge difference between 7 and even 5 speed.

 

There is sort of an opposite problem related to this where some players just will not buy anything that does not directly make them effective in combat.  Skills?  Do they make me fight better?  THEN AWAY WITH YOU!  I combatted that by first giving INT in free non-combat skills, so you got literally more points if you bought non combat stuff.  Then I changed it to just "you get x points, and then y more points only for non combat/background stuff".  But some players just want nothing but to be able to fight.

Wellll... if you look at things up through Champions III, that was normal. Skills were for detectives and rarely did anything important happen outside of Hero ID and only gadgeteers and detectives bought skils. 

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I admit that I started with Champions 4th, and that tends to color my view but I'm really starting to wonder if looking at what was normal in various editions is holding us back.

Champions 4th came out in 1989. 

Champions 5th came out in 2002 and is now old enough to vote.

 

I think it's fine to pick an edition and play within it's assumptions, but gaming tends to evolve over time.  5th edition D&D is a very different game than 2nd edition was and Champions 6th edition is not the same game as the one from 1982

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1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

There is sort of an opposite problem related to this where some players just will not buy anything that does not directly make them effective in combat.  Skills?  Do they make me fight better?  THEN AWAY WITH YOU!

A thought: maybe non-combat stuff shouldn't be bought with points. (I'll ignore directly adventure-related stuff like Detective Work.)

 

Points in HERO are, in general, a balancing tool. But what actually needs to be balanced, and what doesn't?

 

Obviously, combat needs to be balanced, or at least able to be objectively assessed. Points are relevant here.

But what about social things? Does it actually matter that Tony Stark is a billionaire and Peter Parker a struggling press photographer? It obviously does in plot terms, but what does it mean in game terms? Does it mean anything that needs to be specified in points?

 

In HERO not everything needs to be bought with points. "If you haven't paid points for it, you don't have it" is a caricature. Nobody is that hard line in reality. The question is where do you draw the line.

 

Maybe the pre-Champions II approach, when skills were few and far between might be worth revisiting (for superhero games).

 

---

An extreme case: Wonder Woman's invisible plane is Awesome - but if it is only used as a way for WW and friends to get to the next scenario, it's not necessarily worth any points. They could just as easily catch a bus.

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@masseythanks for sharing about the Invisible Woman. The question I have though in my mind is “what would’ve the game look like if everyone was built to her concept in build levels?” As you noted, your teammates were throwing around 13DC so a GM who didn’t want a villain one shorted needs what 25 DEF? No wonder your 8D6 isn’t going to touch them. 

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1 hour ago, assault said:

A thought: maybe non-combat stuff shouldn't be bought with points. (I'll ignore directly adventure-related stuff like Detective Work.)

 

Points in HERO are, in general, a balancing tool. But what actually needs to be balanced, and what doesn't?

 

Obviously, combat needs to be balanced, or at least able to be objectively assessed. Points are relevant here.

But what about social things? Does it actually matter that Tony Stark is a billionaire and Peter Parker a struggling press photographer? It obviously does in plot terms, but what does it mean in game terms? Does it mean anything that needs to be specified in points?

 

In HERO not everything needs to be bought with points. "If you haven't paid points for it, you don't have it" is a caricature. Nobody is that hard line in reality. The question is where do you draw the line.

 

Maybe the pre-Champions II approach, when skills were few and far between might be worth revisiting (for superhero games).

 

---

An extreme case: Wonder Woman's invisible plane is Awesome - but if it is only used as a way for WW and friends to get to the next scenario, it's not necessarily worth any points. They could just as easily catch a bus.

 

It's a legit point, but there's problems.  First:  I love the definition of an encounter that, IIRC, dates back to my RPGA days...so 2nd Ed, maybe 3rd.  But not 3.5.  An encounter is anything where the PCs have to overcome an obstacle, and failure has a consequence.  This can simply mean not getting certain information;  it isn't limited to risk of injury or the like.  In addition, the PCs have to face a legitimate challenge or obstacle;  if it's "don't roll a 1 and you succeed" it's not an encounter.

 

So with this in mind, most of the 6E skills *can* become encounter-significant.  Some will be rather unusual;  others could be quite common.  But there are certainly many that have no real encounter-usable benefit...Profession skills, quite a few Knowledge skills.  They might become hooks for the GM to use in building a scenario...but that's different.  BTW:  Wealth becomes important if players want to use it in lieu of powers.  Figure that the rules take a pessimistic, restrictive view;  the GM can relax things, particularly Wealth, if the players aren't going to use it abusively.  I love, for example, to buy 2-3 points so I can say "we've got an off night?  I'm making reservations at Del Posto for me and my Significant Other."  For a lot of fun things, money gets removed as an obstacle.  Or with a big, like 10 point, wealth perk..."I want to build a company that specializes in post-combat cleanup and repair...and price it fairly.  I don't care about losing SOME money along the way."  

 

I agree that a lot of this comes down to campaign guidelines, tho.  I admittedly look to min-max somewhat, in part to have points for skills, some talents, and even some powers like many of the life support options that won't come into play very often, if ever.  For campaign guidelines, this is also why I like to encourage *minimal* limitations, particularly on the generally highly efficient brick or martial artist builds.  (Maybe I'm not great at building them, but mentalists just never seem to be cheap.)  So a compensation is to say...put the points, without trying to chisel a ton more, and everyone gets 20-30 points for non-combat purposes.  

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It's a legit point, but there's problems.  First:  I love the definition of an encounter that, IIRC, dates back to my RPGA days...so 2nd Ed, maybe 3rd.  But not 3.5.  An encounter is anything where the PCs have to overcome an obstacle, and failure has a consequence.

 

Yeah from my perspective as a GM and how I try to design adventures (and modules) I want there to be a variety of different kinds of challenges, not just "beat this monster and take his stuff" over and over.  So locks to pick, traps to circumvent, puzzles to figure out, information to gather, etc.  I want people to take odd, obscure skills and have a background fleshed out with skills, and give them a reason and benefit for them in the game.

I ran a game once, the mage took geology as a skill.  He just knew rocks.  Well by Crom I was going to find a way for that to matter, and it came up every so often.  And that's why I think that stuff is worth points.  Sure, you can bash the lock open and break things, while attracting every monster for miles, or you can hire a PI or beat the information out of the thugs at Rosie's bar, but they might be lying.  Better if you have persuasion, detective skills, can pick a lock, etc.

 

And then there's the other parts of the game, like the time as your secret identity when the boss demands you get this work done and you need to get into your power armor to stop the Mad Marauder again: persuasion to get a co worker to do it, or a really good skill roll to get the job done faster.  And interpersonal stuff, like the wife is mad at you for skipping the family get together because you had to meet that knight and joust him to save the princess, or whatever.

 

All of that is worth points because the game isn't just balanced around beating things up.  At least, it shouldn't be.

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5 hours ago, assault said:

Obviously, combat needs to be balanced, or at least able to be objectively assessed. Points are relevant here.

But what about social things? Does it actually matter that Tony Stark is a billionaire and Peter Parker a struggling press photographer? It obviously does in plot terms, but what does it mean in game terms? Does it mean anything that needs to be specified in points?


Well, it's an old joke in the Hero System that baseball bat (+2d6 HA, OAF: Stick of Wood) costs 4 points, or you could be Immortal for 5.

I'd say that most of the "non combat" powers are already crazy cheap.  Batman dropped 10, maybe 15 points on wealth but it comes up all the time.  Being close personal friends with the Head of UNTIL costs like 10 points.

I personally think it's fine that Tony Stark is loaded & Peter Parker isn't.  Tony paid 10 points for the privileged and if Spiderman's player tried to get away with Social Complication: Almost Broke I'd allow it.  (Parker's bank account creates about as many problems for him as Doctor Octopus does)

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9 hours ago, Jhamin said:

I admit that I started with Champions 4th, and that tends to color my view but I'm really starting to wonder if looking at what was normal in various editions is holding us back.

Champions 4th came out in 1989. 

Champions 5th came out in 2002 and is now old enough to vote.

 

I think it's fine to pick an edition and play within it's assumptions, but gaming tends to evolve over time.  5th edition D&D is a very different game than 2nd edition was and Champions 6th edition is not the same game as the one from 1982

 

Is it the assumptions of the system or the assumptions of the people at the table? Take NCM, for example; as has been stated, some people take that as a hard line maximum for normals. Whether or not that normal is a superhero, a PC, or whatever. While others look at it as merely the point at which stats start to cost double for that character. And for other it is barely a blip on the radar because either the players don't use it or the GM doesn't.
 

Look at all the different philosophies of the members here that have tossed out for making Batman. What matters in the end is how YOU would build him for use within your world/game.

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3 hours ago, Greywind said:

Is it the assumptions of the system or the assumptions of the people at the table? Take NCM, for example

 

Not sure if that is a good example. :)

When I'm talking about assumptions in various editions I'm talking about buying 2 skills or buying 9 for a starting character, or if powerful villains should have multiple multipowers, or similar.  Is wealth worth buying or not?  That kind of thing.

NCM (and Does Batman/Captain America/Tarzan have it?) is one of the great disagreements of the Hero ages...... If we have to solve that to figure out Hero we will be here forever.

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4 hours ago, Jhamin said:

 

Not sure if that is a good example. :)

When I'm talking about assumptions in various editions I'm talking about buying 2 skills or buying 9 for a starting character, or if powerful villains should have multiple multipowers, or similar.  Is wealth worth buying or not?  That kind of thing.

NCM (and Does Batman/Captain America/Tarzan have it?) is one of the great disagreements of the Hero ages...... If we have to solve that to figure out Hero we will be here forever.

 

Because there is no wrong answer. Just answers that some won't/don't agree with.

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 The funny thing is that skills were not a thing until Espionage came out and that was the first Non- Superhero  Hero Games product. The rules were mostly the same, but this introduced foreign languages and skill sets. Before Espionage, Champions skills were rather broad, and vague (Reed Richards has "Science" on a 14 or less). ^th edition has gone a long way away from that, which I think isn't really true to the comic book source material, but... well it's what Steve wanted with the bifurcation of "science" into a vast array of somewhat expensive specialist disciplines. Works for Modern heroic level games, though.

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2 hours ago, Scott Ruggels said:

 The funny thing is that skills were not a thing until Espionage came out and that was the first Non- Superhero  Hero Games product. The rules were mostly the same, but this introduced foreign languages and skill sets. Before Espionage, Champions skills were rather broad, and vague (Reed Richards has "Science" on a 14 or less). ^th edition has gone a long way away from that, which I think isn't really true to the comic book source material, but... well it's what Steve wanted with the bifurcation of "science" into a vast array of somewhat expensive specialist disciplines. Works for Modern heroic level games, though.

 

 

Thanks for that, Scott.

 

The rep cannon has run out, but I'll get back to tag you for that.

 

As I have been periodically accused of Steve-bashing (fortunately, not by anyone who is still regular on this board), I _always_ feel obligated to preface this sentiment with "I am not Steve-Bashing."---

 

I have no way to prove this unless someone wants to track down my players, but as a direct sign of appreciation for his efforts to keep things alive, every other throw-away character (you know: that guy who yells "they went that-a-way!" or the like) is, if asked, named some variation of Steve.  Drove a few players batty until they just kind of fell into the groove).  Anyway---

 

This is not Steve-Bashing.

 

I agree with you regarding 'the skills problem.'  I say "problem" because, as you note, it's not particularly true to the comic book material, and given the fact that a in a supers game, characters pay points for _everything_, and tend to have many more "things" and at higher levels, it makes it extremely expensive to build that super-skilled person, be it super-scientist like Reed Richards or that multi-talented Batman homage  (I know this isn't popular, but "skills pools" make me break out in nervous tics and are generally disallowed in my games.  They give me the same sort of ire as the story Chris Goodwin told of the guy who turned in a character sheet with "Standard Disadvantages" written on it.)

 

Yes; there's a book about Skills.  Yes; there's lots of ways to do it.  When we are playing Supers, I still do the old school "Science 14-" and trust the players to determine if the needs of the moment match their characters' backgrounds- i.e., "Is this the sort of science my character might know?"  For Heroic stuff, we get more and more specific, depending on the flavor of the game.  Frankly, I wish there had been some discussion (and examples) of doing this in the core rules-- not add-on books, but the core rules.  Even just two paragraphs would open a world of possibilities for players so that they can have that "okay; this system doesn't _have_ to be this complex if I don't want it to be" moment before they start adding up points.

 

 

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