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How powerful are your agents?


dsatow
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How powerful are your agents?  

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  1. 1. In general, how powerful are your agents (built on 50-75% of player total points)?

    • 1) One or two agents can take out a super.
      0
    • 2) 3-5 agents can take down a super.
      8
    • 3) They are like kobolds, just random damage to help whittle down some stun.
      2
    • 4) They are annoyances in terms of damage but are very useful in tactics. (entangles, flashes, drains, etc.)
      5
    • 5) They are effectively window dressing when fighting supers. They are there more for doing objectives (holding hostages, cleaning out the bank, property damage) rather than stopping the heroes.
      2


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In general, how powerful are your agents compared to the superheroes they fight?  This is not to say all your agents are like this, just a majority (a reminder: majority is 51% or just over half).  If your agent team is of mixed usage but are still DESIGNED to knock out a hero (like a 5 man team with 1 AoE Entangle or Flash, 1 Drain, 2 Blasters, and 1 Tank) then the answer is #2 even if they can do other things like #3-#5.  Knocking out a hero means a fairly good probability of knocking out a hero (say at least 1/3 of the time) and not by random dice rolls.  Most of my single agents with killing attacks could stun or knock out a hero by rolling max damage on killing attacks but that's less than a 1% chance of the damage generated. 

 

For me, back in college, the majority of agents were 20% less powerful in CVs and Damage compared to the heroes.  A group of 3-5 could take down the hero.  Today, my players will probably say they fall in the #2 category still, but I see them more as #4.  While they still do stun and can be taken out easily, they can make life annoying to players from a tactical point of view.  They tend to flash, entangle, or drain characters to the point that if the players don't address them within the scope of a turn, the villains will generally win.

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I used to go with the idea of the agents being a credible threat where five or so agents could take out one super (this was 125-150 pt agent vs a 250-300 pt super).  

 

Now I would make villanous agents fairly weak (100 pts ) compared to a 250- 300 pt super, but the hero agency operatives (Until) being at 150 pt minimum.  But the hero agents would be much less populous and the villanous agents would have NUMEROUS operatives.  This goes back to the waves of opposition idea in the older comics and the hero agents being competent but much fewer in number!

 

So originally I would be #2, but today more #s 3-4

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It varies with the agents in my campaign. Some are pushovers that need numbers, others are credible threats. I kind of take a video game mentality in some aspects, with Lieutenants and Commanders, or specialized troops, being more capable than standard agents. 

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I have always believed the concept tiers.  Agents generally start essentially as cannonfodder and as they gain xp (and their numbers get reduced) the threat level increases. Eventually they will get to the point where that one leads several lesser agents against the heroes regardless if he has either powers or tech that balances the score. 

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I guess, like 2/4... teams of agents that are trained & kitted out to take down supers, especially to deal with a specific super, can do so with sufficient numbers.  But mostly they're there to overwhelm normal security or provide security against anything short of supers (and raise the alarm if it is supers) or provide cannon fodder/specific tactical support ("when Cpt Everything enters the room, throw this switch, then that switch, you'll be fine, I promise... no, really, there's an invisible force field....") or commit well-orchestrated crimes be it for gain, terror, or whatever else their masters' objectives may be.

 

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One of the reason I asked this question is I was remembering at a Con using agents in a game which were compared to the the heroes just Kobolds swarming the area.  Players seemed to take great glee and wiping the map with them before taking on the larger menace.

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1 hour ago, dsatow said:

One of the reason I asked this question is I was remembering at a Con using agents in a game which were compared to the the heroes just Kobolds swarming the area.  Players seemed to take great glee and wiping the map with them before taking on the larger menace.

were they human hirelings or robots or what? If they were humans, I'd have some thoughts about the players' mindsets...

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4 minutes ago, BNakagawa said:

were they human hirelings or robots or what? If they were humans, I'd have some thoughts about the players' mindsets...


    I agree that if my regular group were getting like this it might be a sign of trouble ahead.  But Dsatow said this was at a Con and play one time/never see each other again groups are usually hyped up on adrenaline and caffeine and get into a “no consequence’s” mindset. 

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I want my agents to act like classic comics where you can have a pile of Hydra agents on top of Captain America and he throws them off with a massive effort, wiping the floor with them all.  I want them to be a realistic threat to normals but not dangerous to superheroes.  I want them to make my heroes look badass.  Look, if every single battle is a huge effort, nobody feels powerful and nothing ever seems like a major threat.  Realistically, Cap in that elevator in CA 2 should have only taken that long and had that much trouble because he was trying not to kill them or do serious permanent harm.

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Depends on the Organization.  Viper, and UNTIL would have very skilled agents and good equipment, same with domestic and foreign Militaries. Some might have skilled agents but poor equipment. (New Villains, and Martial Arts based villains), And some may have good Equipment and poor skills (Like AIM in the comics, they are competent, but not very skilled tactically), or they may have have poor skills and poor equipment, (Like a Criminal gang, hired by a single villain, the typical popcorn minions). The level of the agents the Heroes are going up against, should reflect the level of the opposing BBEG they are going up against. I tend to make competent agents a threat to give pause to the heroes, that they have to take seriously, but then I tend not to do Silver Age flavored campaigns.

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1 hour ago, Tjack said:


    I agree that if my regular group were getting like this it might be a sign of trouble ahead.  But Dsatow said this was at a Con and play one time/never see each other again groups are usually hyped up on adrenaline and caffeine and get into a “no consequence’s” mindset. 

I took the wipe the floor as in knock them out or just take them down. In classic Supers game this is done with no killing attacks. I don’t see the problem. 

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4 hours ago, BNakagawa said:

were they human hirelings or robots or what? If they were humans, I'd have some thoughts about the players' mindsets...

 

They were humans, but Nazis which seem to be everyone go to punching bags. 

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They were humans, but Nazis which seem to be everyone go to punching bags. 

 

Always useful bad guys, but its an odd thing of modern culture that people seem to think of Nazis as not being truly human so nothing you do to them is bad.  Which is, of course, what made them so evil: treating their enemies as not really human.

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1 hour ago, Christopher R Taylor said:

Which is, of course, what made them so evil: treating their enemies as not really human.

 

Which is why "scr*w these guys" is an appropriate response. You can't negotiate with them without enabling them, so violence becomes an option.

During WW2, say, you could differentiate between a committed Nazi and a Wehrmacht conscript, but not while they are shooting at you. These days, there's no such excuse.

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I hate doing this to you, Dean, but I have to answer with "it depends."

 

What am I going for, campaign-wise?  How powerful are the heroes (not in points, but in relation to "normals" and the like)?  Who are the Players?  How relevant are the agents to the setting?  To this particular plot?  To the characters themselves?

 

Sometimes three well-drilled and well-equipped agents can stymie a super (remember that guns were invented to up our power level.  That trend doesn't just stop because the science is now all comic-book-y.  High tech gear is a great equalizer, realistically, and depending on the game, high-tech gear _is_ a great equalizer).

 

Sometimes six or eight men have a chance of routing or capturing-- or possibly killing!-- a super.

 

Sometimes they're all just a bunch of Joe Anybody's dressed up in matching suits-- like the neighborhood watch with backpack lasers.

 

 

 

Hmm...  All that being reviewed, I suppose they are, after a fashion, set dressing indeed.....

 

 

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42 minutes ago, Duke Bushido said:

I hate doing this to you, Dean, but I have to answer with "it depends."

 

What am I going for, campaign-wise?  How powerful are the heroes (not in points, but in relation to "normals" and the like)?  Who are the Players?  How relevant are the agents to the setting?  To this particular plot?  To the characters themselves?

 

Sometimes three well-drilled and well-equipped agents can stymie a super (remember that guns were invented to up our power level.  That trend doesn't just stop because the science is now all comic-book-y.  High tech gear is a great equalizer, realistically, and depending on the game, high-tech gear _is_ a great equalizer).

 

Sometimes six or eight men have a chance of routing or capturing-- or possibly killing!-- a super.

 

Sometimes they're all just a bunch of Joe Anybody's dressed up in matching suits-- like the neighborhood watch with backpack lasers.

 

 

 

Hmm...  All that being reviewed, I suppose they are, after a fashion, set dressing indeed.....

 

 

Thanks Duke, I was trying to frame my answer but you expressed pretty much what I wanted to say. In the end, as a general statement, I chose They are annoyances in terms of damage but are very useful in tactics. (entangles, flashes, drains, etc.)They are annoyances in terms of damage but are very useful in tactics. (entangles, flashes, drains, etc.)

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19 hours ago, Opal said:

I guess, like 2/4... teams of agents that are trained & kitted out to take down supers, especially to deal with a specific super, can do so with sufficient numbers.  But mostly they're there to overwhelm normal security or provide security against anything short of supers (and raise the alarm if it is suppers) or provide cannon fodder/specific tactical support ("when Cpt Everything enters the room, throw this switch, then that switch, you'll be fine, I promise... no, really, there's an invisible force field....") or commit well-orchestrated crimes be it for gain, terror, or whatever else their masters' objectives may be.

 

 

I definitely like the multi-tier approach. The lowest tier will be effective against normals, but useless against superheroes. The second tier is a credible threat to superheroes, but the heroes should be able to beat them in a straight fight. (Whether the agents will stick around for that is another question.)

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I kinda like the agents of Panther Claw (from the Cutey Honey anime). The lowest agents were male gender androids, all looking alike and wielding guns, but that is it and Honey could cut them down without breaking a sweat.  Then comes the Monster Of The Week, always a female android powerful enough to give Honey a fight, but always on a one-off model. 

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2 hours ago, Steve said:

I wonder. Do GMs ever have specific agents return after gaining XPs? That 50-point minion of VIPER could slowly grow to become an agent leader or special operative.

 

 

Yes.

 

All of villains-- to include agents and henchmen-- get experience.  Not always as quickly as the heroes, since the heroes are-- well, they are in every situation, whereas the villains sort of rotate in and out....

 

I always thought that this was the norm in the source material-- heroes with whacky goofy villains back in the sixties and seventies who are now facing world-shaking foes, and don't give two rips about Calendar Man anymore....

 

 

 

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Do GMs ever have specific agents return after gaining XPs?

 

That is one of the Agent Tricks that has been recommended by Choosy Hero GMs since the old email list.  If an agent does really well, or is really interesting and memorable, have them come back.  Possibly powered up (wearing special gear, etc).

 

Example: In my Golden Age Champions campaign there were generic tough guy mooks that could be hired.  They all had basically the same stats and powers with very few variations: Big, strong, tough.  One mook in particular was memorable and became part of the campaign.  The first fight they ran into him he rolled an 18 on an attack and tripped, crashing through a wall.  The second time he squared off with the wrestler tough guy in the group with lots of boasts and trash talking and got beat to a paste.  The third time he got stomped on by King Kong.  Then he showed up knocking on the door of the superhero base, asking if maybe he could work for them as a guard or something because clearly crime was not paying.

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