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How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?


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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

If the Batman homage can't take Attack X' date=' then the villians, for some reason, just don't target him with attack X or pull their punches. There doesn't have to even be an in game reason for it, that's just the "way it is".[/quote']There are plenty of example of this even in the source material, such as Darkseid casually backhanding Batman rather than using a full power attack because "this puny mortal is unworthy to face the mighty Darkseid." Furthermore, when said dark knight falls it is inevitable that megalomaniacal and overconfident villains assume they've put said hero down for the count and turns to stomp other heroes. The canonical result is that the "unworthy" hero becomes the one who figures out how to beat Darkseid or his fall spurs the Justice League to greater efforts. Plenty of megavillains consistently refuse to use their mightiest attacks against what they see as unworthy adversaries.
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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

I may be unique in that I don't pour extra BODY or defenses on to trained normal type humans- I have a few "almost brick" types who approach normal maxima in those areas, and they wear some armor, because I think a sane person WOULD do so if they had it to wear- But they generally can't stand there and be peppered with machine gun fire.

 

But trained normals in my campaigns are TRAINED- They almost always have higher DEXes and CVs than normal schmoes who happened to get bitten by radioactive wombats or exposed to Deusexmachinium, and so I have really NEVER had a super hero or villain get outright KILLED in play. (I've had them take a lot of BODY- One poor schlub martial artist villain got hit with a speedster's Move By with a very good damage roll- Think YATZEE- And would have bled to death without medical attention, but he got it. Running gag afterward was "Somewhere, Mantis takes a recov".)

 

Anyone remember the Guilt Complex, from an old issue of Adventurer's Club?

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

I may be unique in that I don't pour extra BODY or defenses on to trained normal type humans- I have a few "almost brick" types who approach normal maxima in those areas, and they wear some armor, because I think a sane person WOULD do so if they had it to wear- But they generally can't stand there and be peppered with machine gun fire.

 

But trained normals in my campaigns are TRAINED- They almost always have higher DEXes and CVs than normal schmoes who happened to get bitten by radioactive wombats or exposed to Deusexmachinium, and so I have really NEVER had a super hero or villain get outright KILLED in play. (I've had them take a lot of BODY- One poor schlub martial artist villain got hit with a speedster's Move By with a very good damage roll- Think YATZEE- And would have bled to death without medical attention, but he got it. Running gag afterward was "Somewhere, Mantis takes a recov".)

 

Anyone remember the Guilt Complex, from an old issue of Adventurer's Club?

Yeah, I remember Gilt Complex. It was a dirty trick to pull, but probably the only way to get through to some hack n' slash players.

 

My MA Zl'f once finished a fight down to -1 BODY. First she got hit by some life-draining shadow demons, then a short time later she was next to a car bomb which detonated. Even after all that, she was still able to play a decisive role in winning the battle by figuring out roughly where the invisible villain was hovering over a rooftop. She cartwheeled down the rooftop, and then our brick Silhouette did a held action Move Through at the exact spot Zl'f bounced off the villain. Result: 1 KO'd badguy. :)

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Yeah' date=' I remember Gilt Complex. It was a dirty trick to pull, but probably the only way to get through to some hack n' slash players.[/quote']

 

Most importantly, I hope everyone who remembers the characters remembers the article that went along with it. The designer did not intend them as a "dirty trick" to be played on the characters, but as a last resort when talking to the players about their unheroic lack of restraint had failed. A player in a game where, until now, every adversary had more than adequate defenses, is justified in feeling that hauling out fragile targets with no warning constitutes an unfair shifting of the campaign ground rules.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Most importantly' date=' I hope everyone who remembers the characters remembers the article that went along with it. The designer did not intend them as a "dirty trick" to be played on the characters, but as a last resort when talking to the players about their unheroic lack of restraint had failed. A player in a game where, until now, every adversary had more than adequate defenses, is justified in feeling that hauling out fragile targets with no warning constitutes an unfair shifting of the campaign ground rules.[/quote']Occasionally I like to throw supers up against agents and other normals just to remind the heroes why they're called supers. My Dark Champions character Justicar got an example of that when he blasted a teenaged gang member and literally hospitalized the kid (and felt guilty enough about it to sneak into the kid's hospital room and Heal him). Besides, it can be a lot of fun to stomp hordes of bad buys and hardly break a sweat.

 

In our campaign most agents might as well be wearing a red shirt à la the original Star Trek. :D

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

I may be unique in that I don't pour extra BODY or defenses on to trained normal type humans- I have a few "almost brick" types who approach normal maxima in those areas' date=' and they wear some armor, because I think a sane person WOULD do so if they had it to wear- But they generally can't stand there and be peppered with machine gun fire.[/quote']

 

There's a wide space between someone who can survive being hit by a machine gun blast and someone who can "stand there and get peppered with machine gun fire". Machine guns listed in the equipment guide do 2d6K, the top doing 2d6K+1. 8rPD will on average stop body from getting through, not an unusually high number for a Batman type. Even if he's hit by a burst of 3 bullets that do max damage each, he's going to take 12 BODY (or 15 from the 2d6+1 guns). If he can't survive that, as a GM I wouldn't allow him in a Superhero campaign where he was likely to be exposed to it.

 

A gritty military game or Dark Champions action hero game is a different kettle of fish.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

In my campaign agents are competent and dangerous. Mixed Forces battles drive my players nuts.

 

And here's why I have to make agents competent and dangerous.

 

Agents are the counter to damage reduction. Let's look at this seriously.

 

Character A has 30 points of defense. He takes nothing from the agent's 8d6 EB. Character B has 20 in defenses. He takes 4 from the agents 8d6 EB on average. If you use agents a lot, DR loses a lot of the potency that people ascribe to it.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

In my campaign agents are competent and dangerous. Mixed Forces battles drive my players nuts.

 

And here's why I have to make agents competent and dangerous.

 

Agents are the counter to damage reduction. Let's look at this seriously.

 

Character A has 30 points of defense. He takes nothing from the agent's 8d6 EB. Character B has 20 in defenses. He takes 4 from the agents 8d6 EB on average. If you use agents a lot, DR loses a lot of the potency that people ascribe to it.

That's a good idea when Damage Reduction is common in your game, but you can do the same thing with Penetrating attacks. In any case only one PC in our campaign has DR, and that's only against Energy attacks.

 

It's not a matter of making agents incompetent; I build them as competently and well-equipped as they'd be IRL. OTOH, no amount of training or realistic defense is going to allow agents with 5 or 6 PD and a 12 CON to take a typical super's 8d6+ attack.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Hero has several manuevars to choose from when you absolutely, positively need to not be hit. When in doubt, dive for cover. But none of these manuevars are fool proof, there's always a chance of failure, even with a luck mechanic, power, or houserule.

 

Hero has special effects divorced from mechanics, so there's no reason why a mere mortal has to have low defenses. He could have defenses with the special effect of being so lucky all his hits turn into near misses. But some players are going to insist one playing squishy characters, with low defenses, and putting those points somewhere else.

 

But if the real question is what to do when all else fails, and a player built their character squishy, and got unlucky and got hit by a big attack, then this may be harsh, but I say let them get squished.

 

Sure, its no fun to get knocked out in the opening phase and sit out the rest of the fight.

 

It's also no fun (for many of us anyway) when there's no challenge, no illusion of danger. Failure makes success taste better. Squishy characters as supposed to have to fight that much more intelligently to survive. To me, that challenge is the attraction of playing such a character. They need teamwork and decent tactics to make sure those big guns can't even find them. And with the points they save on defenses, the character should have all the skills and abilities they need to pull that off. The rest is up to the player.

 

This scenario is a bit extreme, but consider, it's also no fun to have to spend points on something the other characters get for free. "Hey everybody, I'm the brick, I bought up my defenses to somewhat above average levels." "Okay brick, your job is to stand there and take punches for us as the villian targets you exclusively for no reason. The rest of us won't buy any defenses at all and spend the points on cool stuff because we know the gm doesn't have the heart to hit us."

 

Yeah, that's example is a little silly, but it really is doing the players a diservice if you show favoritism by having the villains never pick on the little guy regardless of their motivations. If the brick wants to jump in the way and take the hits for his friends (because that really is the bricks job) then let him. But don't make it automatic.

 

When I gm games, I try to make villians fight as dictated by their personalities. Sadistic villains hit people when they are down, vengeful types attack whoever hurt them the most, cowards pick on weaklings, overconfident types attack the most impressive target and ignore everybody else, real crazies pick their targets at random. I don't pull any punches and I let the dice fall where they may, but at the same time, I never use a problem without a solution or an unstoppable foe. Let the players form their own tactics, and use teamwork, ingenuity, and their own strengths, instead of learning to rely on GM mercy to make sure their weaknesses and disadvantages never come up, weaknesses they chose to have in exchange for strength and power in another area.

 

Sorry if that came off a little preachy. I'm just saying, characters have strengths and weaknesses. If a player doesn't like his character's weaknesses, then maybe he shouldn't built the character that way. If its not genre appropriate for this type of character to get knocked around, but the mechanics and the way he's built say he will be, then build him differently to properly emulate the genre.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Hero has several manuevars to choose from when you absolutely, positively need to not be hit. When in doubt, dive for cover. But none of these manuevars are fool proof, there's always a chance of failure, even with a luck mechanic, power, or houserule.

 

Hero has special effects divorced from mechanics, so there's no reason why a mere mortal has to have low defenses. He could have defenses with the special effect of being so lucky all his hits turn into near misses. But some players are going to insist one playing squishy characters, with low defenses, and putting those points somewhere else.

 

But if the real question is what to do when all else fails, and a player built their character squishy, and got unlucky and got hit by a big attack, then this may be harsh, but I say let them get squished.

 

Sure, its no fun to get knocked out in the opening phase and sit out the rest of the fight.

 

It's also no fun (for many of us anyway) when there's no challenge, no illusion of danger. Failure makes success taste better. Squishy characters as supposed to have to fight that much more intelligently to survive. To me, that challenge is the attraction of playing such a character. They need teamwork and decent tactics to make sure those big guns can't even find them. And with the points they save on defenses, the character should have all the skills and abilities they need to pull that off. The rest is up to the player.

 

This scenario is a bit extreme, but consider, it's also no fun to have to spend points on something the other characters get for free. "Hey everybody, I'm the brick, I bought up my defenses to somewhat above average levels." "Okay brick, your job is to stand there and take punches for us as the villian targets you exclusively for no reason. The rest of us won't buy any defenses at all and spend the points on cool stuff because we know the gm doesn't have the heart to hit us."

 

Yeah, that's example is a little silly, but it really is doing the players a diservice if you show favoritism by having the villains never pick on the little guy regardless of their motivations. If the brick wants to jump in the way and take the hits for his friends (because that really is the bricks job) then let him. But don't make it automatic.

 

When I gm games, I try to make villians fight as dictated by their personalities. Sadistic villains hit people when they are down, vengeful types attack whoever hurt them the most, cowards pick on weaklings, overconfident types attack the most impressive target and ignore everybody else, real crazies pick their targets at random. I don't pull any punches and I let the dice fall where they may, but at the same time, I never use a problem without a solution or an unstoppable foe. Let the players form their own tactics, and use teamwork, ingenuity, and their own strengths, instead of learning to rely on GM mercy to make sure their weaknesses and disadvantages never come up, weaknesses they chose to have in exchange for strength and power in another area.

 

Sorry if that came off a little preachy. I'm just saying, characters have strengths and weaknesses. If a player doesn't like his character's weaknesses, then maybe he shouldn't built the character that way. If its not genre appropriate for this type of character to get knocked around, but the mechanics and the way he's built say he will be, then build him differently to properly emulate the genre.

Well said. :thumbup:
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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

In my campaign agents are competent and dangerous. Mixed Forces battles drive my players nuts.

 

And here's why I have to make agents competent and dangerous.

 

Agents are the counter to damage reduction. Let's look at this seriously.

 

Character A has 30 points of defense. He takes nothing from the agent's 8d6 EB. Character B has 20 in defenses. He takes 4 from the agents 8d6 EB on average. If you use agents a lot, DR loses a lot of the potency that people ascribe to it.

 

That's a good idea when Damage Reduction is common in your game, but you can do the same thing with Penetrating attacks. In any case only one PC in our campaign has DR, and that's only against Energy attacks.

 

It's not a matter of making agents incompetent; I build them as competently and well-equipped as they'd be IRL. OTOH, no amount of training or realistic defense is going to allow agents with 5 or 6 PD and a 12 CON to take a typical super's 8d6+ attack.

 

 

Damage reduction isn't the issue for my players either. Agents require different tactics. Against typical villain teams or master villains, hitting him with everything you've got is generally the easy tactic of choice. A well-placed Flash or Entangle can also be very effective in placing an opponent at a disadvantage.

 

Against agents, these tactics are no longer effective. The Brick can certainly take an agent out in one hit. But that's 1 of how many agents? The rest still get to fire at him. You can Flash/Entangle an agent, but the rest aren't blind/trapped. Finally, those 12 to 14 DC's we hurl so casually at the villains can kill an agent. So that Brick needs to tone down his attack, or pull his punch, if he wants to KO the agent rather than hospitalize him.

 

Ahhh, but now other abilities come to the fore. That 6d6 AE Radius attack can inflict damage on agents - and on a lot of them at once! That average 21 STUN that villains scoff at is enough to Stun agents with 6 DEF and 13 CON. A 3d6/3DEF AoE Entangle will hold those 15 STR agents for quite a while. Don't have AoE attacks? Well, you can always Spread your attack to fill multiple hexes. Drop 12d6 down to 6d6 and you can target 6 adjacent hexes. The AoE was far better, but spreading will do in a pinch.

 

Agents are one way of making even combat-oriented characters care about more than the maximum DC's they can cram into a single attack on the master villain. And with all those limitations on their experimental SuperBuster weaponry (it's OAF, 4 to 8 charges, ,maybe bulky, maybe requires Concentration, maybe takes a full phase to fire), Agents can be the ultimate in Eggshells Armed with Hammers.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

One of the problems with the 'squishy' effect is that players rarely notice the 'squishy' bad guys. As a gm we sometimes go to a lot of trouble to make semi - equivalent enemies, and if a pc one shots them they do so with the sublime confidence that they succeeded because they're the good guys.

 

Another problem I find is damage output. One guy is playing a rock elemental and another is playing a blind martial artist, but the martial artist isn't willing to concede that the rock guy can hurt things that he simply can't. So you end up with a much narrower range of damage than sfx would seem to indicate. Your brick hits for 12 d6 and the martial artist does 9d6. This isn't representative of how much harder the Thing can hit than Daredevil.

 

And then since the range isn't very broad, the martial artist goes around attacking and damaging things that by sfx he shouldn't be able to hurt. And that becomes kind of standard and so the villains tend to represent that also. And martial artists, who used to only have to take damage from other martial artists, suddenly have to survive attacks that do nearly as much damage as the brick's.

 

So how do I keep the dark knights from getting squished? I don't. PC or NPC, if they fail to get out of the way of a big attack they go splat. But I also make sure that for every time it happens to a PC they get at least a couple chances to do it to an NPC.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Another problem I find is damage output. One guy is playing a rock elemental and another is playing a blind martial artist' date=' but the martial artist isn't willing to concede that the rock guy can hurt things that he simply can't. So you end up with a much narrower range of damage than sfx would seem to indicate. Your brick hits for 12 d6 and the martial artist does 9d6. This isn't representative of how much harder the Thing can hit than Daredevil.[/quote']This is one of the reasons I dislike damage caps and Rule of X formulas. Both tend to create characters within very narrow confines of damage, SPD, and defenses.

 

In our campaign my MA PC does 10d6 with her best attack while the team brick does 15d6. That's a much better spread IMO (and if I can finally persuade the brick's player to increase his PC's STR, then the brick'll be doing 16d6). Given the threshold nature of damage in Hero, that's a tremendously more powerful attack. I've never had a problem with not being able to hurt opponents any more than the brick should resent opponents she can't hit. There are other ways to positively influence a battle; especially as part of a team. Far too many character comparisons are made as if most combats are one on one arena battles when IME those kind of fights are very rare.

 

To use your example, Daredevil shouldn't hit remotely as hard as the Thing. What he should be doing if allied with the Thing is fighting agents or less powerful adversaries, protecting innocent bystanders, or assisting in other ways. Leave giant robot smashing to the heavy hitters.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

out of pure curiosity Trebuchet' date=' does your MA have Find Weakness, I find it to be a great leveler in these talks[/quote']No, she doesn't have Find Weakness although I've considered buying it at some point in the future. I'm leery of it making her attacks too powerful.

 

She does have a 7d6HA w/Variable Advantage which she most often uses as AP or PEN. However, she generally doesn't use that unless her martial attacks first prove ineffective. (For one thing, it uses 5 END per attack - no small thing when you've got a SPD 9 and END of 36.)

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

.....................

 

 

Balanced or not, if your PC is killed in one blow on the first night of combat, it probably wasn't much of a Superhero campaign.

 

Even a PC with 2 pd and 10 Body will survive a 20d6 EB, so long as they get prompt and effective medical treatment, in a superhero game, or a 5 1/2d6 Killing attack.

 

I do agree though, we wouldn't be having much fun if we were creating new characters every half hour, and I'm not suggesting that we go to those extremes, but, frankly, in a game with even 4d6 killing attacks, I do think that a significant number of PCs (i.e. all the ones not toting the 'invulnerability' schtick, should be very worried about even one hit.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

It would be interesting to know what people think of as a 'squishy'.

 

I'd probably, for a very rough and ready definition, suggest:

 

Anyone you could off with a steak knife if you had a full turn uninterupted and they were not able to avoid you.

 

Your defintion may be otherwise.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Even a PC with 2 pd and 10 Body will survive a 20d6 EB' date=' so long as they get prompt and effective medical treatment, in a superhero game, or a 5 1/2d6 Killing attack.[/quote']

 

Exactly. Thus my position that worrying that your Dark Knight will be killed by one shot is pointless in most Champions games; he won't be, unless optional damage rules are being used, damage levels are much too high for the character to have been approved of in the first place, or the GM is intentionally trying to kill him in one shot (in which case the player couldn't have saved him anyway).

 

I do agree though, we wouldn't be having much fun if we were creating new characters every half hour, and I'm not suggesting that we go to those extremes, but, frankly, in a game with even 4d6 killing attacks, I do think that a significant number of PCs (i.e. all the ones not toting the 'invulnerability' schtick, should be very worried about even one hit.

 

PCs should be; pain hurts, and characters don't know the rules. The players shouldn't be, unless high PC mortality is something the GM and Players have agreed on as part of the campaign.

 

It would be interesting to know what people think of as a 'squishy'.

 

I'd probably, for a very rough and ready definition, suggest:

 

Anyone you could off with a steak knife if you had a full turn uninterupted and they were not able to avoid you.

 

Your defintion may be otherwise.

 

I'd define "squishy" as any character likely to be killed or critically injured in one shot by an attack fairly common in the campaign. NPCs are often squishy in my campaigns, PCs very rarely.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

What's "squishy"? Any character who lacks bones, or some form of exoskeleton.

 

Seriously, though, I guess I'd define it ordinarily as someone who could be seriously injured by normals with normal weapons... But really, most every character is "squishy" to SOMETHING. A brick may be able to bounce howitzer rounds off his chest, but keels over when hit with a psychic bolt. The stretcher is immune to physical attacks but can't take fire or cold, The energy blaster can fly through an inferno but a konk on the head will bring him down... And very few characters are inherently resistant to transforms.

 

In a point based system, almost no one is going to be immune to EVERYTHING, it's more a question of how common a character's weaknesses are.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

This is one of the reasons I dislike damage caps and Rule of X formulas. Both tend to create characters within very narrow confines of damage' date=' SPD, and defenses.[/quote']

 

Agreed, and I want to add 'archetypes used for limiting mechanics rather than identifying SFX' to that list.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Yeah, I'm big on using XP as Hero Points. Here's what I allow:

 

A character can, ONCE PER TURN, spend 1 xp as a Hero Point to ...

1) Turn his own failed roll (attack roll, skill check, activation roll, etc.) into a success

-or-

2) Turn his own successful roll (attack roll, skill check, etc.) into a critical success (+3 DCs for attacks, better success for skills)

-or-

3) Turn a successful roll against him into a failure (attack, find weakness, etc.)

-or-

4) Second Wind! -- the character heals 3d6 normal damage (body and stun) and recovers endurance equal to the stun healed

-or-

5) Wake up! -- an unconcious character wakes up with 1 stun and 1 endurance and stops bleeding. If his body is still at zero or less, may perform only half-phase actions and is half DCV (and will lapse into unconciousness again if he performs any stressful -- at the GM's option -- action or takes any damage)

-or-

6) Revelation! -- the character gains some insight into a current dilema (a clue -- or even an outright solution -- on how to beat the villain he's fighting now, how to find his secret base, how to foil his dastardly scheme)

 

All such uses are subject to GM veto (especially the last one)

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

Summon: "Loyal servants" 75+75, fanatical, x8, each has +6 with dive for cover, so they can jump infront of attacks launched at me....

 

I of course have power ups limited: Only to avenge death of servants....

 

What? :)

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

 

I of course have power ups limited: Only to avenge death of servants....

 

You can get those guys practically for free if you take 0 point guys with 75 in Disads. Admittedly, your power ups lose some of their limitation value if your followers are too squishy.

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Re: How do you keep your dark knights from going "squish"?

 

(By the way, regarding "the Gilt Complex"- This to me ws the finest example of piss poor game mastering I had ever read. If your PCs really ARE "throwing around too much damage", then they will ALREADY have seriously injured or killed someone. If not, then clearly you, as GM, are building people who can TAKE such damage, and maybe even NEED to have such thrown at them to bring them down.

 

And even so, to then build a group of villains with SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER BODY and defenses then normal, even throwing in vulnerabilites to normal, common attacks, that even the most RESTRAINED character is likely to kill, certainly isn't going to teach your players any lesson other then "My GM is a douchebag".

 

If your PCs are routinely seriously injuring characters due to lack of restraint, the GM's first response should be to TELL THEM NOT TO, not pull some "dirty trick" in the game- Which, intended as such or not, is exactly what that the Gilt Complex was.)

 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled chat, already in progress.

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