# Fiddling with ECs

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Should you ever split up an Elemental Control?

For example, I'm working on a telepath PC with two low-cost powers and two higher-cost ones; at what point would it be better to keep them in a single EC or split the EC so that the low-cost powers get a low-point EC, and the high-cost powers get a higher-point EC (and thus a higher point savings)?

And - assuming that splitting up the EC frees more points... would you, as a GM, let a player get away with such a construction?

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

Not taking into account any Limitations, it looks like the breakoff point for point efficiency is 1/2 the active points in the larger powers.

If you have, for example, two 60 point powers and two 30 point powers, they will have the same total cost if you put them all in one EC for 30 point powers, or put the two larger ones in a seperate EC for 60 point powers and kept the two smaller ones in an EC for 30 point powers.

If the smaller powers are smaller than 1/2 the active cost of the larger, it's cheaper to put them in their own EC. If they are more than 1/2, it's cheaper to put them all in the same EC.

This comparison is only done by comparing four total powers, with the two larger having the same active cost and the two smaller having the same active cost. The actual point of efficiency will change if you have more powers than this, or the active point cost of each power is different.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

I actually allow powers inside an Elemental Control that are not of the minimum Active Point values. The EC just can't more than double the Active Points in the power. Why this wasn't the way the rules were built to begin with is beyond me. With this modification, it really doesn't become necessary to split or merge ECs at all unless it makes sense for the concept/SFX of the powers. That's as it should be IMO.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

To illustrate Dust Raven's point:

2 Powers @ 30AP, 2 Powers @ 60AP requires a 15 Point EC:

15 EC Pool

15 Power 1 (30 AP)

15 Power 2 (30 AP)

45 Power 3 (60 AP)

45 Power 4 (60 AP)

Total = 135 Points

Split:

15 EC Pool

15 Power 1 (30AP)

15 Power 2 (30AP)

30 EC Pool

30 Power 3 (60 AP)

30 Power 4 (60 AP)

Total = 135 Points

On the other hand if you have

2 20 AP Powers and 2 60 AP Powers:

10 EC Pool

10 Power 1 (20 AP)

10 Power 2 (20 AP)

50 Power 3 (60 AP)

50 Power 4 (60 AP)

Total = 130 points

vs

10 EC Pool

10 Power 1 (20 AP)

10 Power 2 (20 AP)

30 EC Pool

30 Power 3 (60 AP)

30 Power 4 (60 AP)

Total = 120 Points

saving you 10 Character Points.

The more powers you have at either side the more the point costs will diverge.

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• 2 weeks later...

Re: Fiddling with ECs

I actually allow powers inside an Elemental Control that are not of the minimum Active Point values. The EC just can't more than double the Active Points in the power. Why this wasn't the way the rules were built to begin with is beyond me. With this modification' date=' it really doesn't become necessary to split or merge ECs at all unless it makes sense for the concept/SFX of the powers. That's as it should be IMO. [/quote']

I seem to recall that once upon a time, it was just this way. You had your big ol' pile o' powers, and the most expensive one was full price; all the others were half off. To me, this makes the most sense. The current setup seems more intended to be "balanced" with Multipowers and VPPs, and less a viable build in and of itself.

Now, I'm sure someone has a good and valid reason as to why ECs aren't the way they were and are better now, and I'd like to hear it. If you don't want to waste bandwidth here, just PM with it.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

I seem to recall that once upon a time' date=' it was just this way. You had your big ol' pile o' powers, and the most expensive one was full price; all the others were half off. [/quote']

IIRC, 1e EC's cost a certain level of points. Each slot cost the same number of points, and got you double the cost in AP. There was a minimum of 3 slots. So you paid 30 points for an EC and 30 points for each slot, with each slot having 60 AP. Later editions opened up the possibility of some slots having more AP than the norm, so you could pay 45 for a slot in the above EC having 75 AP.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

I seem to recall that once upon a time, it was just this way. You had your big ol' pile o' powers, and the most expensive one was full price; all the others were half off. To me, this makes the most sense. The current setup seems more intended to be "balanced" with Multipowers and VPPs, and less a viable build in and of itself.

Now, I'm sure someone has a good and valid reason as to why ECs aren't the way they were and are better now, and I'd like to hear it. If you don't want to waste bandwidth here, just PM with it.

That's the way I recall it as well. I believe the change was made because the old way placed almost no restriction at all on what you could put into an EC, and thus created far too great a discount. With the current method, you don't get quite so much. Yes, I like a bargain as much as the next guy, but I think the current method if far more balanced.

Essentially, the current method means you pay full price for the *least* expensive power in your EC, and the rest of them have a discount of half that lowest price.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

That's the way I recall it as well. I believe the change was made because the old way placed almost no restriction at all on what you could put into an EC, and thus created far too great a discount. With the current method, you don't get quite so much. Yes, I like a bargain as much as the next guy, but I think the current method if far more balanced.

Essentially, the current method means you pay full price for the *least* expensive power in your EC, and the rest of them have a discount of half that lowest price.

Well, if we keep the rather stringent boundaries of the current EC, but allow for smaller powers, I don't think it would be so bad. I mean, you're going to have to vet any frameworks anyway, so having to double check whether or not Player!Guy is trying to slip one past is part and parcel.

Using this concept, one thing I would probably do in my own game is round to the players' detriment. There are often a number of "appropriate but minor" powers that usually cost less than 10 Active Points; Senses, Life Supports, Flash, Mental, and Power Defenses*. Making these powers round up would keep the cost a little more reasonable.

*Yes, I know Defenses can't be used in ECs unless they cost END... without GM permission. As a rule, I tend to give such permission.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

Well' date=' if we keep the rather stringent boundaries of the current EC, but allow for smaller powers, I don't think it would be so bad. I mean, you're going to have to vet any frameworks [i']anyway[/i], so having to double check whether or not Player!Guy is trying to slip one past is part and parcel.

Well, that depends on what kind of players you have. Newbies tend to test the boundaries more. But you can certainly allow what you want. Just be aware that you're giving a *huge* discount that way, which allows ECs to be more easily abused. Vis:

Power A - 60 points

Power B - 60 points

Power C - 60 points

Power D - 30 points

Power E - 30 points

Power F - 30 points

Power G - 10 points

Power H - 10 points

Power I - 10 points

Total: 300 points if bought with no framework.

Book-legal:

30 Point EC

30 Power A

30 Power B

30 Power C

powers D-I don't fit into this EC. Total cost: 240 points

Also book-legal:

15 Point EC

45 Power A

45 Power B

45 Power C

15 Power D

15 Power E

15 Power F

powers G-I don't fit. Total cost: 225 points

Also book-legal:

5 Point EC

55 Power A

55 Power B

55 Power C

25 Power D

25 Power E

25 Power F

5 Power G

5 Power H

5 Power I

Total cost: 260 points

Old (1st Edition) method (no longer legal):

EC:

60 Power A

30 Power B

30 Power C

15 Power D

15 Power E

15 Power F

5 Power G

5 Power H

5 Power I

Total cost: 180 points.

I think it's fairly clear why ECs were changed.

Using this concept, one thing I would probably do in my own game is round to the players' detriment. There are often a number of "appropriate but minor" powers that usually cost less than 10 Active Points; Senses, Life Supports, Flash, Mental, and Power Defenses*. Making these powers round up would keep the cost a little more reasonable.

That can't possibly make much of a difference. How many odd-point powers are they going to have? 45?

*Yes, I know Defenses can't be used in ECs unless they cost END... without GM permission. As a rule, I tend to give such permission.

You can do it this way if you like, but this is definitely something to watch out for. Defenses are pretty cheap already. In an EC of 60-point powers, you could have a 12d6 EB and have 20 PD/20 ED Armor for only 30 points more.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

Remember that there are now more restrictions about what powers can fit in an EC and how they work (and are affected). It's not only the costs that have changed.

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

In general I really like the way EC's work in 5th Ed. It makes it easy to model a group of powers that are basically different aspects of the same power, but I definitely think there's still room for improvement. I'm just not sure exactly how I'd make the changes I want.

I don't like leaving powers out of an EC if I think they belong together. OTOH I also don't like having large powers with a small EC bonus because it doesn't give me the feel of having the EC as an integral part of the power (or more accurately the large power as simply another aspect of the EC).

One option would be to allow the EC base cost to be half the points of the largest power, but to allow lower point powers in with a maximum AP bonus of half (as suggested above). As PhilFleischmann points out this creates some balance issues, and more importantly (IMO) it also makes for some issues with drains since a drain works simultaneously on the base and each slot.

One solution would be to figure the affect of a drain on the EC in percentages instead of just points. For example, let's say you have this EC:

Base: 30

Slot 1: 30

Slot 2: 20

Slot 3: 10

If the 10 pt slot was drained by 5 pts (50%), the base cost and every other slot would be drained by 50% instead of 5 points. That would leave you with this:

Base: 15

Slot 1: 15

Slot 2: 10

Slot 3: 5

On one hand this may make up for the ability to put powers of widely different costs into an EC and get a 50% reduction in cost for each one. OTOH it also potentially makes more math during the game session which I don't like. And of course you also have to decide if it works the other way. If the 30 pt slot is drained 10 pts does the 10 pt slot also get drained 10 pts or 33%? Personally I'd probably say it should only work for higher pt powers. In the example above that would mean that if the 20 pt slot got drained 10 pts you'd have this:

Base: 15

Slot 1: 15

Slot 2: 10

Slot 3: 0

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

One solution would be to figure the affect of a drain on the EC in percentages instead of just points.

I agree with this theory, but unfortunately it makes for more bookkeeping in game. Must easier just to subtract a single value from all Powers in the EC. There's also the problem of what happens if you Drain one of the smaller Powers in the EC. If you Drain one 30 point Power by 15 points, is it fair to have the 90 point Power in the same EC suddenly drop by 45 points?

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Re: Fiddling with ECs

I agree with this theory' date=' but unfortunately it makes for more bookkeeping in game. Must easier just to subtract a single value from all Powers in the EC. [/quote'] Exactly my problem with this solution. If everything were nice round numbers there would be no issues, but as you say it will generally require some annoying math during game sessions because the numbers won't be like the ones I posted above, and while I have no problem with adding math to character creation it's different when it has to be done during play.

There's also the problem of what happens if you Drain one of the smaller Powers in the EC. If you Drain one 30 point Power by 15 points, is it fair to have the 90 point Power in the same EC suddenly drop by 45 points?
You could argue that this is a fair trade for allowing lower cost powers to go into the same EC as higher cost ones, although I don't know that I buy that myself. So maybe the question we should be asking here is whether there's any legitimate balance reason to require a slot to use the entire base cost. If there is then it makes sense that there should be some kind of penalty for using the highest AP of a group of slots with varied AP for the base. Otherwise it makes more sense to simply allow the lower AP powers and not worry about it.

Edit: Actually the more I think about it the less sense it makes to me to use the method I posted above. I don't see anything magically balancing about getting a discount for fewer high AP powers vs. a mixture of 1 or 2 high AP powers with several low AP powers. IME most powers become exponentially more useful with a linear increase in AP.

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