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My stab at build balance rules for supers


Panpiper
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My basic balance guidelines for supers.  The idea is to keep characters roughly in league with published examples of supers at this point range. These are not rigid rules as exceptions might be made in exceptional circumstances, but they should give an idea as to what to shoot for. The idea here is to give new players a basic idea of what I consider reasonable. Characters still need to be approved and I will help beginners make sure their character is viable.


Characters MUST have at least 20 points in skills. This does NOT include any sort of skill levels. No pure combat builds.


Only in alternate ID and OIF power suit characters (and the like) MUST have a reason in their backgrounds and disads to NOT always be in their alternate ID or power suit. (Changing into an alternate ID will always take at least a phase and an OIF may take longer. Be warned.) If you use unified to save points, expect the bad guys to figure this out and find a drainer, just for you. Be very wary of using 'gratuitous' limitations. They WILL be used against you and will haunt you.

 

The following are the basic standard which characters should hover around. I'll refer to these limits as 'Campaign Limit Points' or 'CLP' so as to differentiate them from the actual character points spent. 


60 CLP - 12 damage classes maximum. This includes advantages like armor piercing, etc. Reduced endurance does not count against this, buy that as you will. 


50 CLP - An average total of 50 divided between PD & ED. As much of that 50 points of defenses as you want can be resistant. Mental, power, flash defense etc., can be bought with no limit.


100 CLP - 5 CLP for each OCV or DCV for a total of 20 between adding OCV, DCV 'and' skill levels. So 10 OCV/10 DCV, or 8 OCV/8 DCV & 4 CSLs, etc.. Negative penalty skill levels do not count against this, within reason.


50 CLP - Between 4 & 6 Speed. Speed 5 is the norm. 50 CLP is equal to 5 speed. You can drop one speed to put 10 CPL elsewhere or or raise speed by one and take 10 CLP from something else.  However... See below.


These point limits can be modified in a few ways. The first way is that for every 5 points you remove from one limit, you may boost another by five points. None of these categories can be boosted by more than 10, except for strength based bricks (see below). (Players are strongly cautioned to not drop any category by 'more' than 10, lest you severely hamstring your character.) The other way is that you may buy a custom talent called OP Boost. For however many points you spend on that talent, you may increase any of these limits by the same number of active points. This functions much like characteristic maxima, except for powers. No limitations of any sort may be taken on this custom talent.


A tweak to these rules, just for strength based bricks; if you restrict yourself to a speed of four and have no ranged attacks other than throwing cars and the like, you may boost either strength or defense by 15 CLP dropping some other category by only 10 CLP.


Spending 10 AP out of the above allows the character to buy Martial arts maneuvers, as many as they want. These do NOT otherwise count against the limits. 10 AP covers it. This does NOT allow the purchasing of additional HTH damage classes to exceed the 60 AP limit. Any such would count against the limit, 5 AP per.

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41 minutes ago, drunkonduty said:

I like it! Only thing that I would worry about is buying all martial arts manouevres for only 10 points. It seems really cheap to me. Does that 10 points lower one of the maxima from the above categories?

It's not 'all' the martial arts maneuvers, it's the 'right' to buy 'any and as many as they like' martial arts maneuvers. None of the above are actual points spent, but are spent in the abstract to establish a relative balance. They establish ceilings to which the various stats/powers may rise, but they may not reflect the actual points spent. 

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9 hours ago, Panpiper said:

50 AP - An average total of 50 divided between PD & ED

So you have 60 AP attacks and 25 PD / 25 ED? Probably half that in resistant, minimum. So roughly 37 PD, 37 ED.

Average non-killing attack that hits does 0 Body, 0 Stun.

Perfect non-killing attack does 0 Body, 23 Stun. 

Average killing attack that hits does 2 Body, 0 Stun.

Perfect killing attack does 12 Body, 0 Stun. 

 

Those are going to be some long drawn out fights if the players just stick to the basics. 

 

How do you work Martial Bricks? Can they have a 50 STR plus martial arts and added damage classes? 

When you say 12 DC max, does that mean that CSL's can't be used to raise beyond 12 DC? Haymakers? Teamwork Skill? Multiple Attackers bonus? Etc.

 

9 hours ago, Panpiper said:

5 AP each - A total of 20 between adding OCV, DCV 'and' skill levels. Negative penalty skill levels do not count against this, within reason.

What does that mean? I get that it is something with OCV / DCV, but does it mean you could have a 5 OCV, 5 DCV and no skill levels outside that?

 

9 hours ago, Panpiper said:

My basic balance guidelines for supers.  The idea is to keep characters roughly in league with published examples of supers at this point range. These are not rigid rules as exceptions might be made in exceptional circumstances, but they should give an idea as to what to shoot for.

What point range are you using? 

 

- E

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2 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

So you have 60 AP attacks and 25 PD / 25 ED? Probably half that in resistant, minimum. So roughly 37 PD, 37 ED.

 

Clearly I need to figure out better ways to phrase all of this. A 'total' of 50 PD/ED of which any amount may be resistant. The 37/37 you referred to would be over the limit by 24.

 

2 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

How do you work Martial Bricks? Can they have a 50 STR plus martial arts and added damage classes? 

 

Yes they can have martial maneuvers. Extra damage classes however would count against the AP limit, 5 points per damage class.

 

2 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

When you say 12 DC max, does that mean that CSL's can't be used to raise beyond 12 DC? Haymakers? Teamwork Skill? Multiple Attackers bonus? Etc.

 

CSLs can be used for anything CSLs can be used for, including boosting damage beyond the limit.

 

2 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

What does that mean? I get that it is something with OCV / DCV, but does it mean you could have a 5 OCV, 5 DCV and no skill levels outside that?

 

It means you could have 20 of OCV and DCV as a combined total, or any variation thereof. So you could have a 10 OCV & 10 DCV. Or you could have an 8 OCV, 8 DCV and 4 combat skill levels. Etc..

2 hours ago, eepjr24 said:

What point range are you using? 

 

This is oriented towards a balance of (standard) 400 point supers.

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I think these are good rules of thumb.  I did something similar, with 325 pt chars.  They all had a limit slightly lower than yours, 50AP for example, but they could boost one area, (AP, DEF, OCV/DCV, or SPD+1)

If they downgraded one , they could upgrade another.  Seems like we agree.  Luckily, my group is green, and I built the characters they described, so shouldn't be any gotchas.

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On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

My basic balance guidelines for supers.  The idea is to keep characters roughly in league with published examples of supers at this point range. These are not rigid rules as exceptions might be made in exceptional circumstances, but they should give an idea as to what to shoot for.


Characters MUST have at least 20 points in skills. This does NOT include any sort of skill levels. No pure combat builds.


Only in alternate ID and OIF power suit characters (and the like) MUST have a reason in their backgrounds and disads to NOT always be in their alternate ID or power suit. (Changing into an alternate ID will always take at least a phase and an OIF may take longer. Be warned.) If you use unified to save points, expect the bad guys to figure this out and find a drainer, just for you. Be very wary of using 'gratuitous' limitations. They WILL be used against you and will haunt you.

 

As an up front note, I find rigid limits tend to create a "sameness" of build as they incent some approaches over others. Assessing synergies is pretty tough.

 

More tone than content, but "They WILL be used against you and will haunt you." sounds pretty adversarial.  To me, a -1/4 limitation will crop up on occasion but not often. The more challenging it is when it does crop up (Unified Power is very challenging), the less often it needs to crop up.

 

I like phrasing like "When you spend points, you are directing me to include challenges that those points will make it easier for you to overcome.  When you save points, you are directing me to include challenges that those points will make it tougher for you to overcome.  The more points, the greater the frequency and/or impact."  That means that you need to write scenarios that make those 20 points of skills just as useful as 20 points spent on, say, exotic defenses.  One reason many players don't like spending points on skills is that they see their combat abilities benefiting them in play, but the GM adjudicates non-combat challenges based on "role playing" (e.g. resolving social interaction based on the GM's arbitrary assessment of the player's social skills, rather than the points spent on the character's social skills; "where do you look for traps", etc.)  Should prudent play be awarded bonuses?  Sure.  If a description that great would merit +2 OCV or +1 DC in context of combat, it should merit a +2 bonus to the skill.

 

Overall, I'd also build a "max in all basic categories" character.  How many points do they have left over?  If I can spend half my points and be "campaign maximum" across the board, then expect everyone to be at "campaign maximum" across the board.  Hmmm...spend Campagn Max across the board, buy an exotic Targeting Sense and a No Range, broad coverage Darkness Field, or just be Invisible...

 

On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

60 AP - 12 damage classes maximum. This includes advantages like armor piercing, etc. Reduced endurance does not count against this, buy that as you will.

 

 So I can have a 12d6 Blast, or a Multipower of a dozen different 12 DC attacks.  Why would I not choose flexibility? You recognize this for the isolated case of the Brick, but not for anyone else.

 

On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

50 AP - An average total of 50 divided between PD & ED. As much of that 50 points of defenses as you want can be resistant. Mental, power, flash defense etc., can be bought with no limit.

 

How do things like Hardened, Damage Negation, Damage Reduction factor in?  What about limited defenses (my character is more resistant to fire)?  Ignoring point costs, may as well make 24 defenses resistant, and Harden them, so KAs cannot harm me.

 

And I can be invulnerable to exotic attacks, since there is no limit there.  With a 12DC standard, 25 Mental Defense and Power Defense seems like it should generally do the trick.  Maybe 30 just to be safe.  Probably some Flash Defense in there as well - do I just want to avoid blindness or should I avoid damage from AVADs as well?  Decisions, decisions.  I'd probably cap these at about half the PD/ED caps.

 

With 12 DCs and 25 defenses, I can expect an average attack to pass 17 STUN past my defenses.  If I choose a 30 ED and a 20 PD, I'll need a pretty high CON, or some way to avoid physical attacks.

 

On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

5 AP each - A total of 20 between adding OCV, DCV 'and' skill levels. So 10 OCV/10 DCV, or 8 OCV/8 DCV & 4 CSLs, etc.. Negative penalty skill levels do not count against this, within reason.

 

So 5 AP is +1 OCV, +1 DCV or +1 Skill Level, and I can have 20 x 5 = 100?  Did I get that right?  This is the only one with a "per" definition instead of a flat amount (60, 50, etc.)

 

Define "within reason".  +6 PSLs against Range is a pretty effective DCV enhancer for a fast flyer, and I see no restrictions on movement.

 

Why would I take 10 OCV/10 DCV when I can instead choose 3 OCV/3 DCV and 14 CSLs for massively improved versatility?  Can my Mentalist have a 3 OCV, 17 DCV and 10 mOCV and mDCV?  One hex accurate AoE is also looking pretty good if I want a high DCV character (or want to trade points into other categories - a 12 OCV, 3 DCV and 25 more points into defenses, say).  And I may as well max out both DCV and Defenses, and OCV and Attacks, as there are no tradeoffs in there.

 

On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

50 AP - Between 4 & 6 Speed. Speed 5 is the norm. However... See below.

 

Again leaving point costs aside, why would I choose a 5 SPD?  I can have a 6 SPD and lose nothing else.  Why bother including this when it is static?  Everyone has 4 - 6 SPD, so there's no way to add to or subtract from that 50 points.

 

On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

These point limits can be modified in two ways. The first way is that for every 5 points you remove from one limit, you may boost another by five points. The other way is that you may buy a custom talent called OP Boost. For however many points you spend on that talent, you may increase any of these limits by the same number of active points. This functions much like characteristic maxima, except for powers. No limitations of any sort may be taken on this custom talent.

 

I've never liked paying to exceed the campaign limits.  Tradeoffs are a lot more palatable.

 

As I look at this, I finally realize the nomenclature issue.  Rename the "points".  Call them Campaign Limit Points (CLP) or Character Maxima Points (CMP).  Pick ANYTHING that does not have the same acronym as Active Points, Character points, Experience Points or Real Points.

 

Speaking of Experience Points, do my maximum CLP increase?  I count 260 for these characters (60 + 50 + 100 + 50)

 

On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

A tweak to these rules, just for strength based bricks; if you restrict yourself to a speed of four and have no ranged attacks other than throwing cars and the like, you may boost either strength or defence by 15 active points.

 

60 STR and a huge multipower of 3 DC No Range Attacks is looking really good right about now.  That depends, of course, on where you are drawing the line.  A 75 STR and some Stretching, or very high movement, is looking pretty good as well.

 

On 3/10/2021 at 9:59 AM, Panpiper said:

Spending 10 AP out of the above allows the character to buy Martial arts maneuvers, as many as they want. These do NOT otherwise count against the limits. 10 AP covers it. This does NOT allow additional HTH damage classes to exceed the 60 AP limit. Any such would count against the limit, 5 AP per.

 

Sounds like a good buy.  Defensive Strike is +1 OCV and +3 DCV.  That would cost me 20 for the CV bumps.  Do I read this correctly that the +x DC attacks are over and above the 12 DCs (15 DC if I am slow with no range) that I could start with?  No point buying the "extra DC" maneuvers otherwise, but moving my skill levels around to effectively suffer -3 DCV for a +4 DC Offensive Strike to hit 16 (19?) DCs seems like a pretty good tradeoff, especially if the typical enemy is sitting at 25 defenses and 20 - 30 CON.  That Slow Brick just cries out for Martial Grab!  Martial Block (especially with Deflection) would be great if I can move most of my skill level CVs into OCV - one phase lasts a lot longer at 4 SPD.

 

Toss in the UMA maneuvers, and this is a must-have for any HTH character.  And I really need to review Ranged Martial Arts as well!

 

ADDENDUM:  The challenge of balance in Hero is the dizzying array of options.  More variables increase the complexity of any "balance" geometrically.

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I would not pick the specific nits that Hugh has here, but... his general points are valid. I would probably go highly versatile and do something with a mentalist / blaster / martial artist. Multipower of mental and blast powers which I would combine with ranged martial arts. Buy some damage negation based on being able to see me ("Don't hit the mentalist hard"). 

 

All of that assumes the person knows the rules and wants to try to push the limits. Honestly, I seldom find myself trying to push the limits on the combat side, I prefer having skills available for my back story. 😃 But it really depends on the focus of the game as well. If combat is expected every session I am not really interested in letting my team down by being not combat capable.

 

- E

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Oh! Look! A half page of basic guidelines meant to give people an idea of relative balance. I shall then with my superbly honed rules lawyer talents, interpret this then to mean a half page of iron clad rules rife with loopholes to exploit, so I can legally create the most godawful combat monster and lay waste to the very idea of game balance.

 

Anyone taking this approach to an attempt to give people an idea of what I consider reasonable would be kindly invited to NOT play in my game.

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Used as basic guidelines, this makes sense.  But tacking on "oh, you can trade off a reduction here for a bonus there" is moving from Guideline to Rule Structure. 

 

The entirety has to be taken in the context of how you present it to the players, of course.  But if I'm a rookie player, and you tell me it's OK to trade off, say, OCV for defenses, I am taking you at your word.  The result may be Invulnerable Guy with a big AoE attack, offset by low CVs, and I may not even know (as a rookie player) that this is unbalanced.  A player coming from a d20 background might think a glass cannon is as viable here as a Wizard with lousy AC and hit points is in D&D, and build a character that's demolished by a single hit, not realizing how likely that single hit is under the Hero rules.

 

I think one key addition I would make (whether intended as a basic guideline or a hard and fast rule) would be to limit the tradeoffs.  You can increase any of these by lowering the cap on others, but you can't increase attacks by more than (say) 3 DC, or defenses by more than 15 total PD and ED, or CVs by more than 3.  I'd add SPD to that - maybe baseline is 5 SPD, but you can drop to 4 and raise another cap, or go to 6 or 7 by lowering another cap by 10 or 20 "CLM" respectively.  That creates some boundaries with scope for some variability.

 

Adding in a suggestion that you likely need at least x DCs to hit effectively.  Unlike D&D, where that 1d6 attack still plinks a few hp through with its 3.5 average roll, even when small compared to a more combat-ready character's 1d10 + 16, average 21.5, if the standard in a Hero game is 6d6, average of 21, that 1d6 will be worthless.  You should have at least x OCV (to hit an average opponent on an 8-).  A spread of +5 to hit in D&D isn't much compared to a 5 point spread in Hero.  And my AC 12 Wizard in d20 works a lot better than having 3 PD and ED, none resistant, will in Hero.

 

With a reasonable group of players, guidelines can be pretty vague for experienced Hero players, but not as much for gamers with no Hero experience.  With this level of detail, I'm assuming "a standard 12 DC Supers game" would be meaningless to the players.

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On 3/11/2021 at 11:27 AM, Panpiper said:

It's not 'all' the martial arts maneuvers, it's the 'right' to buy 'any and as many as they like' martial arts maneuvers. None of the above are actual points spent, but are spent in the abstract to establish a relative balance. They establish ceilings to which the various stats/powers may rise, but they may not reflect the actual points spent. 

 

Oohhhhh. I see now. Sorry, I misunderstood. Still like it, I think it's a good guide. One I will happily steal next time I get to run a supers game. 

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