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Fireg0lem

The Rule of F(X)

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This is the rule our group uses for balancing PC power; it's also pretty helpful for balancing NPCs quickly and not worrying about their point totals. I'm putting it up for two reasons:

 

If anyone else wants to use it, feel free.

 

I'd like, as much as possible, for it to be comprehensible to new players. So if you don't understand what a line is trying to say or think something is unclear and could use an example, it would be appreciated if you let me know.

 

 

Rule of F(X) Overview

This system is intended to limit vertical power. It is a more formalized version of the guideline "if you're at the high end of the guidelines in one area, be at the low end in another area," and is more complicated than various rules like SPD+DCs = X.

 

A campaign has Campaign Default Caps. These are referenced in some places, so for example “default attack cap” means “the attack cap in the campaign default caps you are using.” Here are some possible Campaign Default Caps; when giving examples, this document assumes you are using Standard Caps. Guidelines for making your own are included below.

 

Standard Caps (these are the ones we normally play with in 500-point Superheroes games)

25 Defense

4 Exotic Defense

4 SPD

31.5 Attack (default distribution is 12 DC, 6 OCV, 6 DCV, 6 MDCV, 6 type 2 CSLs)

Damage Reduction cap cost: 6/12/24 for 25/50/75% Defense Damage Reduction, 10/20/40 for 25/50/75% Mental Damage Reduction.

 

Champions Caps (these are designed to make characters about on par with the Champions, for a 400-point superhero game)

21 Defense

0 Exotic Defense

5 SPD

27.75 Attack (default distribution is 12 DC, 6 OCV, 6 DCV, 6 MDCV, 3 type 2 CSLs)

Damage Reduction cap cost: 7/14/28 for 25/50/75% Defense Damage Reduction, 14/28/56 for 25/50/75% Mental Damage Reduction.

 

Gritty Superheroes Game (these are designed for a fairly lethal low-powered superhero game, with 250-point characters, and are the one constructed in the example of a campign default cap creation below)

6 Defense AND Defense picks are 1 pick for 3 Defense

0 Exotic Defense AND Exotic Defense picks are 1 pick for 1.5 Exotic Defense

2 SPD

16 Attack (default distribution is 8 DC, 4 OCV, 4 DCV, 4 MDCV, 0 CSLs)

Damage Reduction cap cost:8/16/32 for 25/50/75% Defense Damage Reduction, 9/18/36 for 25/50/75% Mental Damage Reduction.

 

Cosmic Superheroes (these are designed for a very high-powered superhero game on 800 points)

36 Defense

5 Exotic Defense

6 SPD

45.5 Attack (default distribution is 18 DC, 10 OCV, 10 DCV, 10 MDCV, 6 type 2 CSLs)

Damage Reduction cap cost 9/18/36 for 25/50/75% Defense Damage Reduction, 19/38/76 for 25/50/75% Mental Damage Reduction

 

You also start with 2 picks to spend. 1 pick buys +.5 SPD cap, or +1 Attack cap, or +7 Defense cap, or +3.5 Exotic Defense Cap. Some Campaign Default Cap systems might also change the value of some picks (such as the Gritty Superheroes Game and defenses, above). You can also take "negative picks" at the same price. Thus, a balanced character might have 25 DEF and 4 Exotic Def (+0 picks), 6 SPD (+4 picks), 29.5 Attack (-2 picks). Having large amounts of negative picks is not frowned upon but is considered a Stop Sign and will get your character scrutinized more thoroughly. You may, if you choose, purchase half-picks or third-picks or what-have you. Caps never round - if you would have a maximum of 3.5 SPD, this means you cannot have 4 (since 4 > 3.5).

 

Having a different number of picks in Exotic Defense and Defense is a major warning sign. In particular, be aware that if you sell back Exotic Defense for more Defense, you can expect the GM to specifically target you with those attacks (just like if you bought defenses with Not Versus Fire or what-have-you).

 

What these caps mean: The SPD cap is obvious (don't have more SPD than the SPD cap). See Section 1 for Secondary Speed.

 

You can't have more DEF than the DEF cap, and you can't have more (Power Defense + Mental Defense)/2 than the Exotic DEF Cap. Damage Negation counts for 3 defense of its type. Damage Reduction counts some amount of DEF of its type, that varies based on the campaign default caps (and is listed with them above).

 

The Attack Cap is a cap on your effectiveness with each attack. Each attack's Attack Cap Value can't exceed your attack cap. Attack Cap Value is calculated as follows:

 

Attack Cap Value = DCs of attack + (OCV[see below]) with attack + .75* DCV when using attack + .25* MDCV when using attack + Type 1 CSLs with attack + 1.25*Type 2 CSLs with attack.

 

Attack Cap Value and Non-Attack Powers: Despite not being attack powers, Aid, Barrier, Healing, Mind Scan, Summon, and Telepathy are considered “attacks,” with DCs calculated normally, for the purposes of attack cap value (and some have special rules listed below). Other non-attack powers are not restricted by this rule. Note that Aid costs 8 points per die (not 6), and thus Aid is 8 DCs per 5 dice.

 

CSL Types: A type 1 CSL with an attack is defined to be one that can apply to either OCV and/or MOCV and/or Damage; or to DCV and/or DMCV. A type 2 CSL with an attack can apply to at least one of OCV and MOCV and Damage, and also to at least one of DCV and DMCV.

 

Mental Attacks, Aids, and Summons: An attack that uses OMCV rather than OCV uses OMCV in the above formula. An "attack" that uses neither, such as Aid or Summon, uses the campaign default OCV (in the standard caps, 6) in place of OCV.

 

Variable Power Pools: Variable Power Pools that can be used to make attack powers and that have Half-Phase to Change or 0-Phase to Change count as attack powers of 2 DCs higher. For example, a VPP with a 60 AP Max and a 60 RP max is a 14 DC attack power. This is, of course, only for the purposes of caps. VPPs that can be used to make attack powers but that require at least a full phase to change count as attack powers of their normal DC. At the GM's option, if the character has a VPP that requires a half-phase or less to change but cannot control what powers go into it well enough to pick "optimal" powers for a given situation, it may count as only regular DC, not DC+2.

 

Picks and Limitations: If a character can break a cap under select circumstances, count the picks it costs as follows: figure out the characters picks without the cap-breaking, then take the difference, figure out the cost in picks, and then apply limitations to the cost. To figure out if this rule applies, remember that you are checking the circumstances when the character can break the caps and then assessing how much of a limitation that is. For example, if a character has a 29 Attack Cap Value power that is Only At Night (-1), and a different 29 Attack Cap Value power that is Only In Daytime (-1), then this rule does not apply because the circumstances during which they can use some power with an Attack Cap Value of 29 is daytime or nighttime, which is -0. The same applies to defenses with some sort of “Only Against [sFX]” limitation, CSLs that only apply against certain types of enemies, or other circumstantial powers.

 

Example: Power Ring has 25 DEF, 4 Mental Defense, 4 Power Defense, 4 SPD, 6 OCV, 6 DCV and DMCV, and 4 OSLs. He has a 10d6 Energy Blast, and a 7d6+1 Ranged Killing Attack with 1 Charge (-2). Normally, he has 0 DEF picks, 0 SPD picks, and his Energy Blast has an Attack Cap Value of 10+6+4.5+1.5+7.5= 29.5, which corresponds to an Attack pick of 29.5(-2). His Ranged Killing Attack has an Attack Cap Value of 22+6+4.5+1.5+7.5 = 41.5. To figure out his Attack pick value, 41.5-29.5 is 12, and 12/3 =4, so he has to pay +4 picks, balancing him at +2. If Power Ring had a third, different attack power that was 22 DCs and also had 1 charge, then his ability to make an attack with an Attack Cap Value 12 higher than normal would be evaluated with the limitation 2 Charges, not 1 Charge. If, instead, he had a third, different attack power that did 18 DCs and had 1 charge, then he would be doing 8 extra Attack Cap Value with 2 charges, and 4 additional extra Attack Cap Value with 1 charge, for a pick cost of 8/2.5 + 4/3.

Note that, as mentioned above, picks never round, and this is not an exception: +1 pick with a -2 limitation is 1/3 of a pick. The GM should be careful about allowing this, and should definitely not count limitations like No Knockback, Beam, No Hit Locations, or other limitations that affect the flexibility of a power rather than when it can be used.

 

Certain strong limitations may, at the GMs option, reduce the DC of an attack for the purposes of evaluating its Attack Cap Value. If an attack directly impacts the way opponents take damage and in the GM's opinion, significantly weakens the offensive value of the attack power, it may count as "DC-reducing" in this sense (and only in this sense). Examples include "Knockback Only" and "Reduced Stun Multiplier." Note that limitations like "Inaccurate" just reduce a character's OCV with the attack, and should be evaluated that way instead. This also applies to similarly significant limitations on defense powers, speed, CSLs, or the like.

 

Picks and Different Caps/Point Totals: There’s some example campaign default caps listed at the start of the section. Here’s how you create a set of campaign default caps.

 

1) Set base SPD to whatever you want.

 

2) Set base Attack Cap Value (ACV) to whatever you want, and figure out the campaign default assumption of DC, CV, and CSL. It is suggested it be distributed roughly DC = .4*ACV, OCV = DCV = MDCV = .2*ACV, Type 2 CSLs = .2*ACV.

 

3) Set the Defense cap to whatever you want. Set the Exotic Defense Cap to about (Defense Cap) - 1.75 Default DCs; this causes base-DC exotic attacks to do the same damage to base-defense characters as base-DC regular attacks. Thus, if you want the base Exotic Defense to be 0, that is, you want most people to have no exotic defenses, you should have your Defense Cap be about 1.75 times your default DCs.

 

4) If there is some attribute you want to specifically encourage or discourage, for example, if you want to make a very lethal game with low defenses and high DCs, you should proportionally reduce or increase both the base amount and the value per pick.

 

5) Adjust the cost of Damage Reduction in picks. 25% Defense Damage Reduction should count as about (7/6*Default DCs - 1/3*DEF Cap) points of DEF, with 50% and 75% Defense Damage Reduction costing 2 and 4 times that much. 25% Mental Damage Reduction should count as about (7/6*Default DCs - 1/3*Exotic DEF Cap) points of Mental Defense, with 50% and 75% Mental Damage Reduction costing 2 and 4 times that much. This keeps Damage Reduction approximately balanced with other forms of defense.

 

This assumes that a character with default total Defense who uses 50% or 75% Defense Damage Reduction risks taking BODY from average attacks (for example, this would mean 13 DEF/50% Damage Reduction), which balances out the slightly lower STUN damage such a character would take. If that is not the case at the Defense and DC totals you set, you should instead make 50% and 75% Damage Reduction cost enough that it is the case (ie, set 50% to about DEF-DC, and 75% to twice that), up to a maximum of 3 and 9 times as much as 25% Damage Reduction.

 

6) Where you set the point totals versus the caps determines how flexible characters will be and how much they have available to spend on noncombat abilities or on other things that don’t influence the caps. Generally, you’ll be fine if you set the base caps in the midrange of the suggested HERO 6e guidelines for a given point total. This is ultimately more a matter of taste than anything else, but be aware that if you set the point totals very low, it favors SPD and CV over everything else, since they have the best pick-to-CP ratio.

 

Example: Jane wants to run a lower-powered superhero game with 8 DC powers as the standard. She also wants combat to be quick and reasonably deadly, and for players to be mostly ordinary humans other than their superpowers.

 

Jane decides to set the default SPD to 2, reflecting “normal person who suddenly got superpowers” as the norm.

 

The DC, as above, is 8. This suggest OCV, DCV, and MDCV 4 as the standard. Jane decides to assume 0 CSLs as the default (reflecting most characters having no combat training), so this means an attack cap value of 8+4+4 = 16.

 

Jane wants attacks to be much stronger than defenses. Normally, 8 DCs would suggest around 16 Defense, but Jane sets it at 6 DEF, and also makes a pick worth 3 DEF or 1.5 Exotic DEF: roughly 6/16 of the normal values (but rounded to be easier to work with).

 

Jane’s exotic defense cap is suggested at 6-1.75*8 = -8 (because defenses are so low, bypassing them is not a major advantage). Jane makes the Exotic Defense Cap 0.

 

The formula suggests that 25% Defense Damage Reduction should count as about 8 Defense, and 50% and 75% should cost 16 and 32. Jane decides this is fine - with defenses so low, Damage Reduction should be a major investment requiring picks, or be conditional. Mental Damage Reduction counts as 9/18/36 for 25%/50%/75%.

 

 

Picks and Barrier: By default, Barrier needs to obey the Attack Cap Value rule. In some cases (such as a barrier that cannot Englobe), it might be more appropriate to treat it as part of a character’s defenses.

 

Picks and Duplication: A Duplicator (and duplicates) are built on less picks than other characters. First, a duplicator needs GM permission to have duplicates built on more points than the base character.

 

Step 1: Calculate, separately, the character point cost of the Duplication other than points spend on the adder “x2 number of duplicates”, and the character point cost of any “x2 number of duplicates” adders.

 

Step 2: The character and all duplicates are built on one pick less per 50 points or part theoreof spent on the CP cost of duplication without the doubling adder, and another one pick less per 5 character points or part thereof spent on the CP cost of the doubling adder.

 

Step 3: If the duplicates are built on less points than the base character, the duplicates get 1 less pick per 50 points less or part thereof.

 

Example: Captain Polyhedron is a 500-point Superhero with 32 250-point duplicates, but with the limitation OAF: d32 (-1) on his Duplication power. He paid 25 character points for the base cost of his duplication, and 12 character points for the "x2 number of duplicates" adders. Thus, he and all his duplicates are built on 1 pick less (for the base cost), then 3 picks less (for the doubling cost), and his duplicates are built on another 5 less picks (because they are 250 points less than him). Thus, Captain Polyhedron is built on 2-4 = -2 picks, and his duplicates are built on 2-9 = -7 picks.

Picks and Healing: Heals Limbs and Resurrection are not DC-increasing. Increased Reuse Rate is DC-increasing.

 

Picks and Summon: Summons are built with less picks than a normal character. A summon built on 25*Default DC Cap (300, in a standard cap game) points has -4 picks, and they lose an additional pick for every 50 points less than this that they are built on (or part thereof). Summons built on more than this many points gain a pick for every full 50 points more than that they are built on. For the standard cap values, this is:

 

Chart:

Points Picks

0-49 -10

50-99 -9

100-149 -8

150-199 -7

200-249 -6

250-299 -5

300-349 -4

350-399 -3

400-449 -2

450-499 -1

500-549 0

 

Furthermore, a summon calculates caps slightly differently. They start with the same SPD, Defense, and Exotic Defense caps as anyone else, and with an Attack Cap equal to the default attack cap reduced by .25*(default number of CSLs). For a game using the standard caps, this means 25 DEF, 4 Exotic DEF, 4 SPD, 30 Attack Cap Value.

 

When calculating Attack Cap Value, they use the campaign default (in the standard caps, 6) if their own DCV and/or DMCV are lower. Summons count all CSLs as Type 1. In addition, Summons don't receive negative picks for lowered Defense Cap.

 

The DCs of the summon power itself are calculated as follows:

 

Step 1: Find the base AP of summon, with the x2 number of summons adder, but without Loyalty advantages or any other advantages unless the GM rules they are DC-increasing (few advantages should be DC-increasing).

 

Step 2: Multiply by 3/10 - this is the AP for determining the base DCs of the power.

 

Step 3: If the summon has at least +1/4 Loyalty, you are done. If not, and the summon must be beaten in an EGO-vs-EGO contest, then reduce the DCs as if the summon had the DC-limiting disadvantage “Activation Roll (10+Summoner’s EGO Roll - Summon’s EGO Roll - Active Point Penalty on Summoner’s EGO Roll).”

 

Picks and Follower: A Follower is built on less picks, just as if they were a Summon with the same point cost. However, Followers use the normal pick rules otherwise (ie, they can take negative DEF picks, and calculate the value of CSLs and DCV normally).

 

A character who purchases a Follower takes a penalty to picks equal to -1 per 5 picks or part theoreof the follower has over -10. For example, a character with a -10 pick follower incurs no pick penalty, a character with a -9 to -5 pick follower incurs a -1 pick penalty, and a character with a -4 to 0 pick follower incurs a -2 pick penalty. Note that a follower need not actually use all the picks available to them.

 

For multiple followers: in the simplest case (all the followers are the same number of picks), every +5 point “double number of followers” adder effectively makes the follower worth one more pick. For example, having 8 followers built on -3 picks is the same as having 1 follower built on -0 picks.

 

If the followers are built on different numbers of picks, use the rule that a follower built on x picks is the same as “half a follower” built on x+1 picks, combine all the effective values, and then round up.

 

Example: Catman is a 500-point superhero. He wants a follower, Manfred, his loyal butler. Manfred is built on 100 points, and so could have up to -8 picks. However, Catman doesn't want Manfred to help him in combat, so Manfred has few combat abilities and doesn't have any weapons or armor, making him a -13 pick character. Hence, Catman takes no pick penalty. If Manfred were built on -8 picks instead, Catman would take a -1 pick penalty.

Picks and Vehicles: A vehicle that drives itself by some means is treated like a follower for pick purposes.

 

For a vehicle that needs to be driven, the owner driving the vehicle is considered one character that needs to meet the caps. For most characters, this will mean they can attack at full power but get -3 OCV, so the vehicle can't give them more than 3 picks worth of benefits (usually 10.5 DEF). If the vehicle itself has a weapon, it might be better than the character's weapon (so check that). If a character can't use their best attacks in a vehicle, the vehicle might provide more. Keep in mind you can take "does not protect passengers" on part of a vehicle's DEF to avoid cap-breakage, or you can take a Physical Limitation on the vehicle that reduces the OCV of its driver and/or passengers further than normal. Also, keep in mind that vehicles don't reduce OMCV, so a character who has mental attacks (or attack requiring no roll) would have less benefit they could receive from the vehicle.

 

Furthermore, the vehicle needs to meet caps itself - for this, treat the vehicle as an Automaton, but with either its own attacks or the driver's, whichever is better.

 

Trying to get around this by having a character who can't effectively attack out of a vehicle buy it (so as to let it provide more benefit to passengers), but then having another character who can effectively attack out of it drive the vehicle most or all of the time, is not acceptable. Think of lending vehicles as being like lending Foci - it's OK every now and then, but if you do it frequently it's a problem.

 

For a vehicle that can carry passengers, the vehicle cannot provide more than 2 picks worth of benefits (usually 7 DEF) to them. This is regardless of who the actual passengers are likely to be, but if the GM thinks this is likely to be abused frequently he might require it be built differently. You can take "Protects Driver, But Not Other Passengers" as a -1/4 limit on DEF if you want.

 

GM permission is required to buy a vehicle costing more points than the total character points of the owner minus the character point cost of the vehicle.

 

Example: Menton, Conjurer, and Grond are going shopping for motorcycles. Menton, being a mentalist, has OMCV powers that aren't penalized by riding in a vehicle. Thus, he cannot get any bonus DEF from his motorcycle, or he would break the caps while using it. He would need to take a physical limitation on his vehicle that it reduced DCV, OMCV, or some other statistic that influences his mental powers in order to get extra defense from it. Conjurer uses Summon, which doesn't require attack rolls, so he has the same problem (but can't solve it by taking -OMCV). Grond has only physical attacks, so he can buy an armored motorcycle that protects him with up to 10.5 of its defenses.

 

Now suppose Grond wants a really large motorcycle that can hold some of his friends. It can only give 7 of its DEF to them, but Grond decides this is silly. Thus, he takes "Physical Limitation: Bumpy Ride (Passengers take -3 OCV rather than -2 to fire out of motorcycle)," and now his buddies can get the full benefit of the defense. However, if Grond had take "-10 OCV rather than -2 to fire out of motorcycle" so it could provide +35 DEF, and planned on riding around with Menton and Conjurer all the time providing them with a powerful defensive ability without impairing their powers, the GM might forbid this.

 

Picks and Berserk: While berserk or enraged, a character's Attack Cap Values change. First, reduce all of them by two. Second, all CSLs are considered Type 1. A character may buy abilities "Only While Enraged/Berserk" with a pick cost value equal to the loss in Attack picks while enraged or berserk.

 

Example: Ragemaster has an Enraged. He also has 25 DEF, 12d6 attacks, 8 OCV, 6 DCV, and 6 OSLs. This puts him at the caps with +2 picks, normally. However, while Enraged, his attack cap value drops from 33.5 to 30 (the value his OSLs contribute to each attack drops from 7.5 to 6, and there is another -2). Thus, he can buy 3.5 picks worth of abilities Only While Enraged; he decides to buy an extra 3.5 DCs to all his attacks while enraged.

 

Picks, Multiform, Lockout and Similar Powers: Characters with powers such as Multiform or Growth, linked power sets, and suchlike that have different "forms" need only meet the rule of F(X) in each form taken seperately. This also includes things like defenses that cannot be used while attacking, powers with side effects while in use that lower another value, and so on.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Obviously, this system is more work than "eyeballing," the standard rule of F(X), or various informal guidelines, and the work may not be worth it for everyone. For what it's worth, in using it, we've found it's remarkably good in assessing power levels.

 

It's also very helpful when building NPCs - I've generally found +2 picks = PC level, 0 picks = just below the PCs, -2 to -4 picks = joke villain, +5 picks = noticeably tougher than the PCs, probably a match for 2-3 of them, +8 picks = fair fight with a party of 5 or so PCs. I've found this to save me a ton of time as a GM since it lets me make balancing judgement calls quickly.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

It is a comprehensive approach and I'm glad it's working out for you.

 

My approach is to ditch linear measurables and instead calculate in-game effects.

 

For example - your system counts a +2 OCV to anyone the same way, no matter what the circumstance. My approach is to calculate the hit %, in which the +2 OCV may have 0 effect on hit% (on either extreme) or as much as a +25% if it moves the hit# from 9- to 11-. Granted, this assumes that opponent DCVs are pretty consistent, which is, as assumptions go, pretty reasonable.

 

Similarly, every DC is counted the same, which is a bad assumption. A 6DC NND might still be very useful, whereas a 6d6 EB is pretty much useless in most games. The solution is to calculate damage inflicted, not damage generated. +2 DC to an attack that can't hurt anyone might still be worthless, where +2 DC on an attack that already hurts everyone is very valuable. (unless you've somehow escalated to the point where every attack KOs everyone already) In your equation a 6d6 EB with a 12 OCV is treated the same as a 12d6 EB with a 6 OCV, which just doesn't reflect combat effectiveness. (unless you're only fighting people with 0ED and 10 DCVs) Even in such a bizarre situation, the 12d6 EB guy can always spread his attacks...

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Even in such a bizarre situation' date=' the 12d6 EB guy can always spread his attacks...[/quote']

 

This is an excellent point. Let's consider a couple of options...

 

31.5 Attack (default distribution is 12 DC, 6 OCV, 6 DCV, 6 MDCV, 6 type 2 CSLs)

DCs of attack + (OCV[see below]) with attack + .75* DCV when using attack + .25* MDCV when using attack + Type 1 CSLs with attack + 1.25*Type 2 CSLs with attack.

 

So I could set up an attack that is 23 DC + 0 OCV + .75 [6 DCV] +.25 [6 MDCV] + 2 Type 2 CSL's.

 

So, normally I can Blast at 12d6, spread for +11 OCV and add my CSL's to DCV for 11 OCV, 8 DCV and 12d6. My opponent can get 12d6, 10 OCV (4 levels) and 8 DCV (2 levels). I'm already at a slight advantage.

 

But if he's at 8 DCV, I can instead Spread for +8 OCV, put my levels in OCV (so 10 OCV total and I still hit on a 13-). Now I do 15 DC's instead of 12. I could trust to luck and spread only 5 DC's - I still have a 50% chance to hit, for 18d6.

 

Meanwhile, the best he can do is 15 DC's, and that leaves him a 6 OCV and a 6 DCV. I can put my levels in DCV (he needs 9- now), Spread 7 dice (I'll hit on 12-) and do 16d6. As long as 1 OCV = 1 DC, I should just forego OCV and take bigger attacks.

 

I may as well toss a 12d6 1 hex area Accurate attack in there for high DCV opponents. The same two levels mean I can target that well enough to hit the DCV 3 target half the time.

 

Toss on Concentration and I can have 29d6, 0 OCV, 0 DCV, 2 levels, so Spread 9d6, add my levels (11 OCV) and hit for 20d6 pretty often. Of course, I'm an easy target now, so I may have to Abort back to 8 DCV. Then again, it looks like most opponents will hit most of the time anyway, what with all those skill levels being the norm.

 

With DCV counted as offense, not defense, I can't have a higher DCV at the cost of lower defenses. And I can't have a higher SPD (your SPD caps are less than generous) to make some phases available to abort either.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

My approach is to ditch linear measurables and instead calculate in-game effects.

 

For example - your system counts a +2 OCV to anyone the same way, no matter what the circumstance. My approach is to calculate the hit %, in which the +2 OCV may have 0 effect on hit% (on either extreme) or as much as a +25% if it moves the hit# from 9- to 11-. Granted, this assumes that opponent DCVs are pretty consistent, which is, as assumptions go, pretty reasonable.

 

This can work, the main problem is that assumption about people having consistent DCV and defenses can get you in trouble. I'd like a system to be robust enough to allow for a wide range of possible DCVs and defenses among both PCs and NPCs.

 

One of the problems I have with simpler systems is that they tend to produce very similar characters - everyone will be within a 1-SPD range and a 1-2 DC range, or often everyone will be the same SPD and the same DCs. I like being able to have a character with a 3 SPD and a character with an 8 SPD in the same party and not have one or the other dominate combat.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

snip

 

You bring up two points, I think - one of them is about AE attacks, one of them is more about options and combat flow.

 

You can get screwy issues with low OCV characters who rely on one-hex AEs, although it's not quite as bad as you think - instead of making 12d6 AE one hex accurate attacks at OCV 2, you could be making 12d6 attacks at OCV 8 and hit most people more than half the time - but the tradeoff is that against people like Concentration Man, you're still only hitting half the time. This isn't actually an example of the problem - the problem is that AE charges you a percentage of your DC, but gives you a bonus to hit that is effectively linear. You definitely can make whacky characters who have an OCV of 6, no CSLs, low DC, and high everything else (especially SPD) and then rely on small NND AE attacks or other defense-bypassing AEs, but that falls under the "lots of negative picks is a red flag" region.

 

More interestingly:

 

"So I could set up an attack that is 23 DC + 0 OCV + .75 [6 DCV] +.25 [6 MDCV] + 2 Type 2 CSL's."

 

I think you're sort of mixing two things here - one of them can be summarized as "so characters can have less OCV and more DCs, and then 'trade back' by spreading any time they want." The other is "you can have less CSLs and instead get more total OCV and DCV," and those kind of have two different answers.

 

For the first: you are absolutely correct; also note spreading isn't the only way to do this. You could also buy a smaller attack that has 2-point CSLs with it, or Inaccurate on a larger attack, etc. Remember that a single character can have multiple different attacks that meet the ACV differently, if they so desire.

 

My answer to this is that it's a question of flexibility - for which the cost is more character points - rather than raw power. If you compare 18 DC, 0 OCV, 6 DCV, 6 CSLs to 12 DC, 6 CV, 6 CSLs, then the first guy absolutely does have more options - he's like the second guy, but can trade out OCV for DCs on a 1-1 basis. However, he's either got only 1 attack, or he's paying more points (since +1 DC ~ 5 AP for each attack power, +1 OCV is just 5 points), and if he's spreading regularly he's paying more END. Ideally, the second guy has spent those points on other options that give him more flexibility - the big advantage to Guy 1 is not that he can spread to work the same as Guy 2, but that when he runs into something with really terrible DCV, like Concentration Power Man, he can drop a larger attack.

 

For the second - this one is a bit trickier. We definitely observed that having type 2 CSLs is better than having CV, but not by too much. 4 OCV, 4 (M)DCV, and 4 type 2 CSLs is better than 6 OCV and 6 M(DCV) with 0 CSLs. This one merits some discussion.

 

What we found is that the big advantage of type 2 CSLs can be seen when people are careful about things like holding actions, wolfpack tactics, and aborting. Using 4/4 and 6/0 characters above, the 4/4 character can abort up to DCV 11, and be almost unhittable by the 6/0 character. By contrast, if the 6/0 character is caught at a disadvantage, the 4/4 character can attack at OCV 8, and either hit on a 13- or on an abort still hit on a 10- (making aborting usually a bad move). Based on what we saw in gameplay, counting an OCV= a CSL leads to huge power discrepancies and we started to see big problems with people selling their CVs down to almost nothing and buying all CSLs when we just checked the best possible OCV+DCV they could get. It's also pretty clear that 1 CSL is less good than 1 OCV and 1 DCV, and through experimentation we came up with 1 CSL = 1.25 OCV as a good balancing point.

 

To take extreme examples here, this suggests that given 2 characters with the same DC, SPD, and Defenses (say 12, 4, and 25), one of them having 1 OCV, 1 (M)DCV, and 14 type 2 CSLs should be on par with 10 OCV, 9.5 (M)DCV, and 0 CSLs (9.5 CV means a 50/50 shot on each attack of having 10 or 9 CV, which is obviously not something I'd bring to the table, but for analysis purposes, it just means halfway between the hit chance of 10 or 11 CV). I am OK with saying they are equally balanced - if they're trying to fight, say, a group of mooks with flat 7 CVs, the second guy is better off. If they're trying to fight a master villain with relatively few actions (compared to the party) but flat 13 CVs, the first guy is better off. In a one-on-one fight between them, the first character gets the choice of whether they alternate whiffing attacks on each other, or trade blows that always hit.

 

The Concentration power has similar drawbacks - it will definitely blow people out of the water, but like you say - dropping your DCV to 0 has serious consequences, and can get you hammered in return. You can't abort until the next phase after attacking. That said it is most definitely a useful power - if you wait until everyone else has acted, or use wolf-pack tactics against a single villain, having the ability to drop your defenses for an all-out attack will be helpful. If you use it at the wrong time - for example, against an opponent who can abort and when there's enemies who can still act this phase - it will get you in trouble. I'd be fine with allowing a character who had this power, although I might warn them of possible unfun consequences if that was their only attack.

 

"With DCV counted as offense, not defense, I can't have a higher DCV at the cost of lower defenses. And I can't have a higher SPD (your SPD caps are less than generous) to make some phases available to abort either."

 

You can have more DCV for lower defenses. Take a negative Defense pick, and a +ACV pick, then use your ACV pick to have more DCV all the time. The reason ACV lumps together a bunch of things is to simplify the math for stuff like martial arts and CSLs; the idea is that many characters will have a variety of attacks with OCV/DCV/DC tradeoffs. You could break the ACV cap into an OCV cap, a DCV cap, an MDCV cap, a CSL cap, and a DC cap, but then the math makes even me cry if you have a martial artist or a character with Summon, Blast, and Mind Control or pretty much anything even mildly complex.

 

SPD-wise, only relative SPD really matters. Not much changes if you set the base SPD to 6 and it's really more a matter of taste than anything else. Or do you mean that the relative cost of SPD to, say, defense or OCV is too high?

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

You can get screwy issues with low OCV characters who rely on one-hex AEs' date=' although it's not quite as bad as you think - instead of making 12d6 AE one hex accurate attacks at OCV 2, you could be making 12d6 attacks at OCV 8 and hit most people more than half the time - but the tradeoff is that against people like Concentration Man, you're still only hitting half the time.[/quote']

 

I'll put the AoE Accurate attack (AoE 1 hex is a better choice, by the way, as that's a +1/4 advantage) in a multipower with the 18d6 attack. I can use 18d6 against a low DCV target and 12d6 against a high DCV target.

 

More interestingly:

 

"So I could set up an attack that is 23 DC + 0 OCV + .75 [6 DCV] +.25 [6 MDCV] + 2 Type 2 CSL's."

 

Yes, and as you pointed out, the trade of OCV for DCs is not really a "loss," because you can Spread. This is intentional. There are also various other ways of acquiring the ability to trade out OCV versus Damage.

 

Most other approaches, such as skill levels, do not trade OCV for Damage on a 1:1 ratio.

 

The actual drawback of this character is a limited ability to get high DCV - the "standard" spread has enough CSLs to abort up to DCV 15 with a dodge' date=' this character caps out at 11. On the other hand, you get (in effect) an extra OCV or an extra Damage over the standard spread for this tradeoff, which is in my opinion fair. [/quote']

 

Obviously, I haven't seen it in play, and I didn't dig through the "positive picks/negative picks" modifiers. However, with a significantly superior attack, I can probably live with a low DCV (and, if the average opponent can hit DCV 11 - 15, I may as well drop my DCV down further - a 6 or 8 is still going to see me hit most of the time). How much more defenses can I get if I drop my DCV down to 0? As well, if I can survive one attack from my opponent, then hit him with an extra 10d6 over and above the campaign norms, the fact he would have easily hit me a second time if he got a second shot probably won't have a lot of impact. If he's not KO'd from an extra 35 STUN, it seems likely he will be stunned.

 

The Concentration power has similar drawbacks - it will definitely blow people out of the water' date=' but like you say - dropping your DCV to 0 has serious consequences, and can get you hammered in return. You can't abort until the next phase after attacking. That said it is most definitely a useful power - if you wait until everyone else has acted, or use wolf-pack tactics against a single villain, having the ability to drop your defenses for an all-out attack will be helpful. If you use it at the wrong time - for example, against an opponent who can abort and when there's enemies who can still act this phase - it will get you in trouble. I'd be fine with allowing a character who had this power. [/quote']

 

If I'm going to have a DCV of 0 anyway, I'll probably have a low DEX, so I'll end up moving last. If not, I'll likely delay. But more likely, I will rely on defenses and taking the opponents out quickly over avoiding their attacks, since this will clearly put me at a huge DCV deficit.

 

"With DCV counted as offense, not defense, I can't have a higher DCV at the cost of lower defenses. And I can't have a higher SPD (your SPD caps are less than generous) to make some phases available to abort either."

 

You can have more DCV for lower defenses. Take a negative Defense pick, and a +ACV pick, then use your ACV pick to have more DCV all the time. The reason ACV lumps together a bunch of things is to simplify the math for stuff like martial arts and CSLs; the idea is that many characters will have a variety of attacks with OCV/DCV/DC tradeoffs.

 

OK, that comes from me not digging through the Picks, then. Which also leaves me unable to assess cost of SPD vs other options.

 

I see that I only have to count powers used in tandem, so I could slap a +23 DCV slot in that Multipower with a 23d6 Blast, or perhaps a big Defense Screen, Barrier or the like. Attack at Max; Abort to Turtle Mode.

 

I don't have to pay Picks for high CON, STUN or REC, and I can have a pretty big Healing power in my multipower, so that seems like a way to bump my "defenses" (staying power) without investing picks. +1 SPD costs me 2 OCV/DCV/DC or 14 defenses(! Don't sell back defenses to buy SPD!) Going up 2 DCV for 14 defenses doesn't seem wise either, especially given the OCV/DCV spread you set out.

 

Is my DEF cap average PD and ED, or the sum of PD and ED?

 

I can probably get a pretty good Summon or Aid counting 6 as the base OCV, especially if I am a high OCV character otherwise.

 

That "1 charge costs very minor picks" example brings back bad memories of a player whose characters always had some "last ditch limited usages" attack.

 

Where, if anywhere, does Regeneration fall in?

 

While I see some potential problems, only actual play experience would bear out their significance. I find that, often, structures like this are seriously tested when a brand new player joins, and does not have the "groupthink" assumptions. Sometimes, they use a different style which exploits a weakness in the structure that those who grew up with the system, and with the specific group's playstyle, don't see.

 

Looks like Flash defense counts for nothing, but considering enhanced senses can also override flash, that would be a tough one to balance out.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

I'll put the AoE Accurate attack (AoE 1 hex is a better choice, by the way, as that's a +1/4 advantage) in a multipower with the 18d6 attack. I can use 18d6 against a low DCV target and 12d6 against a high DCV target.

 

This is a perfectly legitimate tactic - note that the threshold for the 12d6 AE being better than spreading the 18d6 down to 12d6 is DCV 9. I think paying a slot to have an attack that's better against people with DCV 10+ is fair.

 

 

Most other approaches, such as skill levels, do not trade OCV for Damage on a 1:1 ratio.

This is true - the "best" tradeoffs are Spreading, Rapid Attack, and Called Shot.

 

My standard of judgement is "is the guy with 12d6 EB +6d6 0 End EB balanced with the guy who has a multipower of 2-3 different 60 AP attacks and +6 OCV?" Both have their advantages and both represent having options in combat.

 

Obviously, I haven't seen it in play, and I didn't dig through the "positive picks/negative picks" modifiers. However, with a significantly superior attack, I can probably live with a low DCV (and, if the average opponent can hit DCV 11 - 15, I may as well drop my DCV down further - a 6 or 8 is still going to see me hit most of the time). How much more defenses can I get if I drop my DCV down to 0? As well, if I can survive one attack from my opponent, then hit him with an extra 10d6 over and above the campaign norms, the fact he would have easily hit me a second time if he got a second shot probably won't have a lot of impact. If he's not KO'd from an extra 35 STUN, it seems likely he will be stunned.

 

If I'm going to have a DCV of 0 anyway, I'll probably have a low DEX, so I'll end up moving last. If not, I'll likely delay. But more likely, I will rely on defenses and taking the opponents out quickly over avoiding their attacks, since this will clearly put me at a huge DCV deficit.

 

It will depend on who you're fighting. A master villain might just have a flat 13 OCV, and so the difference between being able to abort to an 11 and abort to a 15 matters a lot when you're trying to dodge his attacks.

 

The problem with dropping your DCV to 0 is not just that you'll get hit, but that you'll get hit with everything - if you run around with 0 DCV all the time, you can expect to get Rapid Attacked, Headshotted, etc because people can take -4 to -8 and still reliably hit you. It also means that groups of relatively low-OCV mooks can hit you every time, which can be a problem.

OK, that comes from me not digging through the Picks, then. Which also leaves me unable to assess cost of SPD vs other options.

1 SPD is worth 2 DCs.

 

 

I see that I only have to count powers used in tandem, so I could slap a +23 DCV slot in that Multipower with a 23d6 Blast, or perhaps a big Defense Screen, Barrier or the like. Attack at Max; Abort to Turtle Mode.

 

Yes, we consider this a legitimate tactic; a fair number of characters have a multipower of attacks with a Barrier or the like in it. I'm pretty sure this is actually fairly common - I've seen a lot of generic energy blasters with EB, Barrier, and a few other things in an MP.

 

 

I don't have to pay Picks for high CON, STUN or REC, and I can have a pretty big Healing power in my multipower, so that seems like a way to bump my "defenses" (staying power) without investing picks. +1 SPD costs me 2 OCV/DCV/DC or 14 defenses(! Don't sell back defenses to buy SPD!) Going up 2 DCV for 14 defenses doesn't seem wise either, especially given the OCV/DCV spread you set out.

 

Is my DEF cap average PD and ED, or the sum of PD and ED?

 

This is partly a misunderstanding and partly something that didn't translate because of a different houserule.

 

The misunderstanding: Defense and Exotic Defense (MD/PowD) are seperate. +1 SPD would cost -7 PD, -7 ED, -3.5 PowD, -3.5 Mental Defense (or since you can't have half a MD, you would probably take -4 to one and -3 to the other), and having different levels of picks in Defense and Exotic Defense is a yield sign (I'd evaluate this like a character with something like +10 PD/ED, Not Versus Magic).

 

The missing explanation: we combined PD and ED into Defense. If you're not doing that, you would average PD and ED to check against the defense cap.

 

I did, at one point, consider trying to work something for Rec/STUN into the formula. I eventually decided that I didn't think it was worth the extra complication. I have considered something like a STUN cap, with 1 pick = 10 stun, which does have the nice advantage of letting people do something with 1/5 of a pick or whatever.

 

 

I can probably get a pretty good Summon or Aid counting 6 as the base OCV, especially if I am a high OCV character otherwise.

Ironically, that 6 OCV is a nerf. We originally had it count as your real OCV, then someone tried to make a dedicated summoner (as in, a guy whose main contribution to combat was Summoning), and we realized it was a problem because he could just have 1 OCV, no CSLs, and ridiculously large summons. We also (separately from this) have Aid houseruled to 8/die.

 

 

That "1 charge costs very minor picks" example brings back bad memories of a player whose characters always had some "last ditch limited usages" attack.

 

I can see the problem with someone always making their characters have the same schtick, and honestly a lot of uses of that rule are going to wind up being unfun in the same way that Only At Night Man is unfun, but not really unbalanced. I'd be more likely to veto something like that as "sucking all night and then being awesome for 6 seconds isn't very fun, are you sure you want to do that?" rather than being too powerful.

 

Where, if anywhere, does Regeneration fall in?

I've always seen Regeneration as much more utility than power, since it only heals BODY, slowly, which isn't typically a limiting factor for superheroes.

 

 

While I see some potential problems, only actual play experience would bear out their significance. I find that, often, structures like this are seriously tested when a brand new player joins, and does not have the "groupthink" assumptions. Sometimes, they use a different style which exploits a weakness in the structure that those who grew up with the system, and with the specific group's playstyle, don't see.

That is totally true. I think that it's possible to make Sucks Terribly Man in a couple of ways (selling back more than about 1 point of speed, and having very low DCs and only direct damage attacks are the two I know of), but it's pretty hard to make a character who outshines someone who just took, say, +2 DC and no negative picks without either abusing something independent of this system (eg, having only 12 DCs but relying using ridiculous levels of advantage stacking) or the aforementioned "sell back OCV and DCs, use AE NNDs" trick.

 

That said, if you can come up with one, I'd like to see it.

Looks like Flash defense counts for nothing, but considering enhanced senses can also override flash, that would be a tough one to balance out.

 

That was my reasoning as well.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Seems like defenses drop fast to boost DCV. Do you see a lot of lower defenses, higher DCV characters?

 

OK, I'll bite...

 

3 OCV, 3 DCV, 35 PD, 35 ED (1.5 pick in defenses), 1pick into exotic defenses, 4 SPD Attack is limited to 31 (-0.5 picks)

 

Multipower of several 25 DC attacks, +25 DCV, a Barrier, and a Stun and END Heal with a short reuse time advantage. They are flexible, not fixed, slots.

 

Take a pretty low DEX, high STUN, CON and Rec. I can fire an 18d6 Blast at OCV 10 near the end of the phase, and next phase Abort to +25 DCV (I don't need OCV since I'm not attacking - I'll also Dodge). With higher than game norm defenses, I should weather the occasional hit, and it's backed up with, I expect, an average SPD. I can fire an OCV 16 12d6 Blast to take advantage of Multiple Attacks against a low DCV opponent, or just ramp up the base DC's.

 

Of course, for all I know, this is a typical build in your game. However, it's more effective than skill levels. I can freely choose between OCV, DCV and DC's at a cost of 1, instead of 1.25, to the Attack Score. Given that, I find skill levels are overpriced.

 

I also note that, whether I have one attack or a wide variety, as long as I can't change them more or less at will (the VPP), I can have the same attack score. I'd expect a lot of attack choices on the effective characters.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Like all Rules of X or any campaign guidelines are made to help the Players make reasonable characters. They are never there to replace the GM. A PC written to the spirit of the Rule of X or my Character Creation Guidelines, still need to be looked at by a GM. Hero is a very easy to abuse ruleset, one can always come up with a character that takes advantage of any guideline. I am not sure that I agree with a system that trades CV for DC or vice versa.

 

CV is something that is self correcting. If the PC's have high DCV, then the villains will need to have high OCV to challenge the heroes. CV is one of the easiest things to deal with in the system. DC and SPD inflation are harder and get out of hand quickly. Which is why as a GM I tend to clamp down on DC and SPD tightly and don't worry so much about CV.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Obviously, this system is more work than "eyeballing," the standard rule of F(X), or various informal guidelines, and the work may not be worth it for everyone. For what it's worth, in using it, we've found it's remarkably good in assessing power levels.

 

It's also very helpful when building NPCs - I've generally found +2 picks = PC level, 0 picks = just below the PCs, -2 to -4 picks = joke villain, +5 picks = noticeably tougher than the PCs, probably a match for 2-3 of them, +8 picks = fair fight with a party of 5 or so PCs. I've found this to save me a ton of time as a GM since it lets me make balancing judgement calls quickly.

 

I guess it's an ok system. but anything that doesn't get right to the point loses me. There's something about picks and gaining some and getting some at the beginning. I guess the basic rule for using picks is in there somewhere, but is lost in all of the examples. Please, state the rule clearly FIRST, then give me examples. Or give me a piece of the rule, then an example that shows what you mean.

 

Basically that wall of text critted my DMCV and Stunned me.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Actually, I think you do have a good point. I think your character is largely based around abusing two things: CSLs are overvalued relative to other ways of exchanging offense and defense, and selling back DCV for DEF.

 

1) The "CSLs cost 1.25 picks" thing has the issue that you can get around it by using other means to trade offense for defense. Technically speaking, you can't put +DCV in a Multipower I think, but that's not really a flaw in your point. The value of abort to huge DCV is not that much bigger than the value of abort to huge Barrier or whatever.

 

I think it is the case that the ability to make trades between OCV and damage is fairly inherent to the system, but I think this system has a major inconsistency where some methods of trading offense for defense (ie, CSLs) cost more than other methods (a multipower with attacks and defenses, or even just "rebuilding" CSLs with OCV and DCV that have lockout or something like that.

 

In summary I think you are right that this is a problem and it needs fixing.

 

2) Seperate from this, I think, is the issue of DEF versus DCV. Assuming that I hit the "CSLs are magically fixed and that whole side of it works fine" button, is this still a problem?

 

The math works out to taking -1 to DCV and MDCV gets you +3.5 DEF and +1.75 XDEF. Or if we want to make it round numbers, -4 (M)DCV = +14 DEF, +7 XDEF.

 

NNDs can bypass DEF, but AEs can bypass DCV. Dropping down to 0 (M)DCV would get you +21 DEF, +10.5 XDEF. 46 DEF is enough to just not care about 12 DC attacks pretty much. Now, there still are drawbacks - KA's to the head (even with a -8, not that hard to hit), Flashes, Entangles, etc will all hit you all the time... but you can probably afford to defend yourself against the few reasonably common tactics that cause you problems (AP teleport, extra sense, and No Hit Locations would cover most of it).

 

Meanwhile, the opposite trade - dropping yourself to 11 DEF for +4 (M)DCV - is kind of asking to get gooshed by a one hex AE. A 9.5d6 One Hex AE attack will average 22.5 damage, which is more than a 12d6 blast against 25 DEF. That's probably a bad sign.

 

We've kind of been debating this one for awhile. Part of it is that pscyhologically, most players would rather take some damage each time (low DCV/high DEF) than no damage, but occasionally go splat (high DCV/low DEF) which doesn't necessarily translate into game balance. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it - possibly there needs to be some tweaking of the DCV vs. DEF ratio.

 

The VPP thing - the idea is that you can, at worst, easily enough set your VPP to "NND: Something That Guy Doesn't Have," and so it's always going to better than a static set of attacks. We definitely found that without that, VPPs really do dominate. With that, VPPs are still totally good.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Like all Rules of X or any campaign guidelines are made to help the Players make reasonable characters. They are never there to replace the GM. A PC written to the spirit of the Rule of X or my Character Creation Guidelines, still need to be looked at by a GM. Hero is a very easy to abuse ruleset, one can always come up with a character that takes advantage of any guideline.

That is true. My goal is always "if you're trying to abuse it, it should be blatantly obvious" rather than "you can't abuse it," but without making it impossible to make some types of characters.

 

I am not sure that I agree with a system that trades CV for DC or vice versa.

 

CV is something that is self correcting. If the PC's have high DCV, then the villains will need to have high OCV to challenge the heroes. CV is one of the easiest things to deal with in the system. DC and SPD inflation are harder and get out of hand quickly. Which is why as a GM I tend to clamp down on DC and SPD tightly and don't worry so much about CV.

 

The problem is if the CV is uneven - if you wind up ramping villains up to 11 OCV to challenge the 11 DCV PC, then the 6-8 DCV PC's are going to be getting hit every time.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

I guess it's an ok system. but anything that doesn't get right to the point loses me. There's something about picks and gaining some and getting some at the beginning. I guess the basic rule for using picks is in there somewhere, but is lost in all of the examples. Please, state the rule clearly FIRST, then give me examples. Or give me a piece of the rule, then an example that shows what you mean.

 

Basically that wall of text critted my DMCV and Stunned me.

 

Fair enough. I'll try to write up a "Here's the basic idea" fairly short summary, and maybe a few examples, before the details.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

First off, I agree with Tasha that editing the presentation would help a lot.

 

Actually' date=' I think you do have a good point. I think your character is largely based around abusing two things: CSLs are overvalued relative to other ways of exchanging offense and defense, and selling back DCV for DEF.[/quote']

 

Yes. Yes, it is. However, I question the use of the word "abusing". If, in fact, the tradeoffs are reasonable, then it should not be an abuse to trade off. That is, the fact that certain tradeoffs are considered abusive seems to indicate the system is not functional in encouraging/enforcing character balance.

 

1) The "CSLs cost 1.25 picks" thing has the issue that you can get around it by using other means to trade offense for defense. Technically speaking' date=' you can't put +DCV in a Multipower I think, but that's not really a flaw in your point. The value of abort to huge DCV is not that much bigger than the value of abort to huge Barrier or whatever. [/quote']

 

I believe you can put characteristics in a multipower. However, if you pull the DCV and instead make that rDEF or a Barrier (one through which I can attack, or one which I can dismiss), you will get a similar result - a character who switches from glass cannon to turtle mode as needed. Or buy DCV that cannot be used if attacking. Or buy Desolid or "Enter the Phantom Zone" EDM.

 

In summary I think you are right that this is a problem and it needs fixing.

 

2) Seperate from this, I think, is the issue of DEF versus DCV. Assuming that I hit the "CSLs are magically fixed and that whole side of it works fine" button, is this still a problem?

 

The math works out to taking -1 to DCV and MDCV gets you +3.5 DEF and +1.75 XDEF. Or if we want to make it round numbers, -4 (M)DCV = +14 DEF, +7 XDEF.

 

You've already noted that defense picks that don't match normal and exotic defenses are frowned upon. Should Defenses be folded into a single cap? A character with -4 DCV's and +28 DEF seems like he would be impervious to some types of attacks, but not others, and possibly more balanced than one who enhances all defenses in lockstep. By the way, how do I take -7 Exotic Defense, and -14 DEF, to enhance my DCV by 4 when your exotic defense caps are 4 (standard), 0 (Champions) or 5 (Cosmic)? It's easy to increase regular and exotic defenses in lockstep and sell back DCV, but I can only sell back 1 pick of Exotic in any of your models.

 

So getting +4 DCV costs me what, -4 Exotic Defense and -20 DEF (1 Exotic = 2 Regular). I now have no mental defenses or power defenses, and 5 PD and ED. And what did I get? +4 DCV that standard characters in your game crush because they have 6 CSL's that they shift to OCV to hit me. With a 12d6 attack, they can spread 4 dice for another 4 OCV - 8s6 stilll averages 23 past my defenses.

 

Selling back DEF to enhance DCV isn't a great move on my part.

 

NNDs can bypass DEF' date=' but AEs can bypass DCV. Dropping down to 0 (M)DCV would get you +21 DEF, +10.5 XDEF. 46 DEF is enough to just not care about 12 DC attacks pretty much. Now, there still are drawbacks - KA's to the head (even with a -8, not that hard to hit), Flashes, Entangles, etc will all hit you all the time... but you can probably afford to defend yourself against the few reasonably common tactics that cause you problems (AP teleport, extra sense, and No Hit Locations would cover most of it). [/quote']

 

Here we get into campaign rules, as I don't associate hit locations with Supers. How much offense do 8 PSL's for called shots cost me? VorpalMan could be a very effective build. Enhanced senses trump flash, and there are lots of ways to address entangle (especially if you have a base of 25 DC's...).

 

NND's bypass defenses, but I may have the defense, and 6d6 NND averages 21 STUN - I expect to have a high STUN, CON and REC, and I doubt most NND users last long against 18-20 DC hits. And nothing stops me having NND"s in my multipower.

 

Meanwhile' date=' the opposite trade - dropping yourself to 11 DEF for +4 (M)DCV - is kind of asking to get gooshed by a one hex AE. A 9.5d6 One Hex AE attack will average 22.5 damage, which is more than a 12d6 blast against 25 DEF. That's probably a bad sign.[/quote']

 

Agreed,

 

We've kind of been debating this one for awhile. Part of it is that pscyhologically' date=' most players would rather take some damage each time (low DCV/high DEF) than no damage, but occasionally go splat (high DCV/low DEF) which doesn't necessarily translate into game balance. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on it - possibly there needs to be some tweaking of the DCV vs. DEF ratio. [/quote']

 

A definite gamble. The character might buy a Triggered Aid or Healing power, or just high STUN, to allow a couple of hits to be taken.

 

The VPP thing - the idea is that you can' date=' at worst, easily enough set your VPP to "NND: Something That Guy Doesn't Have," and so it's always going to better than a static set of attacks. We definitely found that without that, VPPs really do dominate. With that, VPPs are still totally good.[/quote']

 

Similar issues exist where the VPP can achieve an array of SFX to take advantage of vulnerabilities or susceptibilities. For 2 DC's, the ability to always bypass defenses and/or target a weakness is a very good deal. VPP's in themselves require a lot of balance assessment anyway.

 

I think much of the problem is that, beyond a certain point, selling back more of something is meaningless. If I have a 7 DCV and everyone has a 10 OCV, I'm getting hit 90% of the time anyway. If I'm not going to buy it up, I may as well sell it back so I can better absorb all those hits. Against, say, 12DC attacks and a 25 Defense, the average hit gets 17 past defenses 90% of the time, so I take about 15.5 STUN from an average attack. Drop my CV to 3 and bump my defenses to 39, and I get hit 99.54% of the time for 3 past my defenses. I'll last considerably longer with that structure.

 

Is an NND a concern? Well, 90% of 21 is 19 and 99.9% is 21, so I take an extra 2 points on average. Guess who my first target will be?

 

I think the problem is more that the further down the scale we go, the less it hurts to lose something, and the more benefit it is to enhance something else. Ditching the same 4 DCV and taking an extra 1.5 - 2 STUN from the average attack seems like a pretty good tradeoff to get an extra 4d6 damage and pass an extra 14 damage through their defenses - assuming I hit on 11-, my average damage is up 8.75. And I also raise my average damage if they're hard to hit by trading that damage for DC's and enhancing the chances to hit.

 

Now, the next suggestion is likely to be "Well, all the Bad Guys will gang up on DCV Sucks Man to take him out quickly". Valid - I could spend a lot of time KO'd. But it takes many hits to take him down, so he should last a couple of phases, get a hit or two in (or Abort to Turtle Mode as they all co-ordinate on him, or use Healing rather than attacking). Meanwhile, my teammates are free to attack the opposition while they're busy, so they can put those levels in OCV and/or DC's. By the time I'm down, the opposition should have lots of wounded team members, or a few down for the count. "DCV Sucks Man takes one for the team again - what a hero!"

 

Defenses are similar. Once a typical hit will Stun the target, further defense drops mean a lot less. if he gets hit, he's gone anyway.

 

I suppose you could establish a level below which, or above which, the Picks change. That is, if you want DC's higher than 15, or DCV lower than 4, you pay extra/get back less. But that further complicates what looks to already be a pretty complex structure.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

I've played in games with the rule of F(X) and while I do not speak for Fireg0lem, I can speak of my own experiences. ?I do think that Fireg0lem should post the whole house rules and not just the F(X) in partiality, since

 

I believe you can put characteristics in a multipower. However' date=' if you pull the DCV and instead make that rDEF or a Barrier (one through which I can attack, or one which I can dismiss), you will get a similar result - a character who switches from glass cannon to turtle mode as needed. Or buy DCV that cannot be used if attacking. Or buy Desolid or "Enter the Phantom Zone" EDM.[/quote']

 

You can put DCV in a multipower. 6E1 178: “Characters can purchase Characteristics as Powers, with Advantages, Limitations, and/or in Power Frameworks. For these purposes, treat a Characteristic as a Standard Power, and compute the cost using the regular cost for that Characterstic (see 6E1, Chapter Two).”

 

Here we get into campaign rules' date=' as I don't associate hit locations with Supers. How much offense do 8 PSL's for called shots cost me? VorpalMan could be a very effective build. Enhanced senses trump flash, and there are lots of ways to address entangle (especially if you have a base of 25 DC's...). [/quote']

 

Normally we (Fireg0lem and myself) use hit locations as a default rule, same with bleeding. If fireg0lem had posted the entire rules, you would have been able to see that.

 

Also 8 PSLs is +1/2 advantage (~ +2 stun multiple) (I dont' know if that's an official house rule but it's how I look at it).

 

Now' date=' the next suggestion is likely to be "Well, all the Bad Guys will gang up on DCV Sucks Man to take him out quickly". Valid [/quote']

 

I've actually played a character (in a previous F(X) version before the attack caps got changed) with -2 Speed, -5 CSLs, -6 DCV, +8 OCV, +4 DEF, +3 Dcs.

 

The result of that character (who had 0 DCV and no hit locations), was I got autofired down by mooks my first fight. First phase, took a whole bunch of autofire hits and went down. So autofire does keep you DCV honest (at least that was my experience).

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Yes. Yes, it is. However, I question the use of the word "abusing". If, in fact, the tradeoffs are reasonable, then it should not be an abuse to trade off. That is, the fact that certain tradeoffs are considered abusive seems to indicate the system is not functional in encouraging/enforcing character balance.

I agree with your analysis here; I think it's just a difference of semantics in what each of us means by "abusing." Maybe I should say "highlights the following problems with this system."

 

 

 

I believe you can put characteristics in a multipower. However, if you pull the DCV and instead make that rDEF or a Barrier (one through which I can attack, or one which I can dismiss), you will get a similar result - a character who switches from glass cannon to turtle mode as needed. Or buy DCV that cannot be used if attacking. Or buy Desolid or "Enter the Phantom Zone" EDM.

FREd brain fart I think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You've already noted that defense picks that don't match normal and exotic defenses are frowned upon. Should Defenses be folded into a single cap? A character with -4 DCV's and +28 DEF seems like he would be impervious to some types of attacks, but not others, and possibly more balanced than one who enhances all defenses in lockstep. By the way, how do I take -7 Exotic Defense, and -14 DEF, to enhance my DCV by 4 when your exotic defense caps are 4 (standard), 0 (Champions) or 5 (Cosmic)? It's easy to increase regular and exotic defenses in lockstep and sell back DCV, but I can only sell back 1 pick of Exotic in any of your models.

 

I tend to view a character whose normal defenses are much more impressive than exotic defenses or vice versa the same way one might view a character with, say, 35 PD and 15 ED. Sure, it averages to the same as 25/25, but being invulnerable half the time and made of paper half the time isn't very fun. The separation for pick purposes is more "make the math simpler, and you can't have less than 0 XDEF." It might have the presentation changed, since this seems to be confusing.

 

So getting +4 DCV costs me what, -4 Exotic Defense and -20 DEF (1 Exotic = 2 Regular). I now have no mental defenses or power defenses, and 5 PD and ED. And what did I get? +4 DCV that standard characters in your game crush because they have 6 CSL's that they shift to OCV to hit me. With a 12d6 attack, they can spread 4 dice for another 4 OCV - 8s6 stilll averages 23 past my defenses.

 

Selling back DEF to enhance DCV isn't a great move on my part.

 

Here we get into campaign rules, as I don't associate hit locations with Supers. How much offense do 8 PSL's for called shots cost me? VorpalMan could be a very effective build. Enhanced senses trump flash, and there are lots of ways to address entangle (especially if you have a base of 25 DC's...).

 

NND's bypass defenses, but I may have the defense, and 6d6 NND averages 21 STUN - I expect to have a high STUN, CON and REC, and I doubt most NND users last long against 18-20 DC hits. And nothing stops me having NND"s in my multipower.

 

I think we're going to take a careful look at DEF vs. DCV. I am starting to suspect that DCV is overvalued relative to static defenses in this system, but I want to think it over and get some more opinions.

 

 

Similar issues exist where the VPP can achieve an array of SFX to take advantage of vulnerabilities or susceptibilities. For 2 DC's, the ability to always bypass defenses and/or target a weakness is a very good deal. VPP's in themselves require a lot of balance assessment anyway.

 

It is possible that 2 is too few, and it should be more than that. It's really hard to theorize the exact right value, though. I'm going to file that under "keep a close eye on it."

 

 

I think much of the problem is that, beyond a certain point, selling back more of something is meaningless. If I have a 7 DCV and everyone has a 10 OCV, I'm getting hit 90% of the time anyway. If I'm not going to buy it up, I may as well sell it back so I can better absorb all those hits. Against, say, 12DC attacks and a 25 Defense, the average hit gets 17 past defenses 90% of the time, so I take about 15.5 STUN from an average attack. Drop my CV to 3 and bump my defenses to 39, and I get hit 99.54% of the time for 3 past my defenses. I'll last considerably longer with that structure.

 

Is an NND a concern? Well, 90% of 21 is 19 and 99.9% is 21, so I take an extra 2 points on average. Guess who my first target will be?

 

I think the problem is more that the further down the scale we go, the less it hurts to lose something, and the more benefit it is to enhance something else. Ditching the same 4 DCV and taking an extra 1.5 - 2 STUN from the average attack seems like a pretty good tradeoff to get an extra 4d6 damage and pass an extra 14 damage through their defenses - assuming I hit on 11-, my average damage is up 8.75. And I also raise my average damage if they're hard to hit by trading that damage for DC's and enhancing the chances to hit.

 

Now, the next suggestion is likely to be "Well, all the Bad Guys will gang up on DCV Sucks Man to take him out quickly". Valid - I could spend a lot of time KO'd. But it takes many hits to take him down, so he should last a couple of phases, get a hit or two in (or Abort to Turtle Mode as they all co-ordinate on him, or use Healing rather than attacking). Meanwhile, my teammates are free to attack the opposition while they're busy, so they can put those levels in OCV and/or DC's. By the time I'm down, the opposition should have lots of wounded team members, or a few down for the count. "DCV Sucks Man takes one for the team again - what a hero!"

 

Defenses are similar. Once a typical hit will Stun the target, further defense drops mean a lot less. if he gets hit, he's gone anyway.

 

I suppose you could establish a level below which, or above which, the Picks change. That is, if you want DC's higher than 15, or DCV lower than 4, you pay extra/get back less. But that further complicates what looks to already be a pretty complex structure.

 

Worst case, we could just set absolute maxima/minima, that would be simple if nothing else. But I don't like ruling out character concepts except as a last resort.

 

It's also true that called shots existing (even if regular hit locations don't) makes low vs. terrible DCV matter. And DCV is really the only thing with a "once it's low, might as well bomb it into the ground" issue - do that to your DEF and you risk dying, low SPD always hurts, low DCs and you can't hurt anyone. OCV below a certain point and you can't even hit with AEs.

 

I think the major things that need looking at are offense/defense tradeoffs other than CSLs being underpriced relative to CSLs, and DCV is I think overpriced relative to everything else.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Here we get into campaign rules' date=' as I don't associate hit locations with Supers. How much offense do 8 PSL's for called shots cost me?[/quote']

 

Doubling my damage for a +1/2 effective advantage seems like a pretty good deal, except that I get the sense "No Hit Locations" is pretty frequent in your games. That in itself may indicate that Targetting may be too valuable in your game.

 

I think we're going to take a careful look at DEF vs. DCV. I am starting to suspect that DCV is overvalued relative to static defenses in this system' date=' but I want to think it over and get some more opinions. [/quote']

 

At the other end, high DCV opponents can be extremely frustrating as no one can hit them, and they in turn get frustrated by AoE's that bypass their main source of defense and take them out in one shot.

 

It is possible that 2 is too few' date=' and it should be more than that. It's really hard to theorize the exact right value, though. I'm going to file that under "keep a close eye on it."[/quote']

 

A lot depends on the VPP itself. "Deus Ex Machina Man", who can pull an NND to which you are Vulnerable at the drop of a hat? Maybe that should be a +1/2 advantage (at least equal to always hitting the head shot). Captain Flame, who can only take fire SFX and only logical NND's for that SFX? Maybe not so much. I think the issue here is more VPP specific than a problem from your system.

 

Worst case' date=' we could just set absolute maxima/minima, that would be simple if nothing else. But I don't like ruling out character concepts except as a last resort. [/quote']

 

"Above/below here is a Stop Sign for the GM" might be a rational compromise. You can then rule in respect of specific concepts rather than general presumptions.

 

It's also true that called shots existing (even if regular hit locations don't) makes low vs. terrible DCV matter. And DCV is really the only thing with a "once it's low' date=' might as well bomb it into the ground" issue - do that to your DEF and you risk dying, low SPD always hurts, low DCs and you can't hurt anyone. OCV below a certain point and you can't even hit with AEs.[/quote']

 

If I have enough DC's to take you out, enough OCV to hit you and enough defenses to render your attacks irrelevant, I'm OK with a 1 SPD and 0 DCV. But you don't get enough picks for SPD to reach those heights. And Regenerate with Resurrect means dead is really just KO'd. But I think DCV is the easy one to soak if you can bulk up on defenses.

 

I've actually played a character (in a previous F(X) version before the attack caps got changed) with -2 Speed, -5 CSLs, -6 DCV, +8 OCV, +4 DEF, +3 Dcs.

 

The result of that character (who had 0 DCV and no hit locations), was I got autofired down by mooks my first fight. First phase, took a whole bunch of autofire hits and went down. So autofire does keep you DCV honest (at least that was my experience).

 

With +4 DEF, he's got what, 39 defenses? What's the Attack Sum for those Mooks' Autofire? With 12d6 and 5 shots, that's 18 DC's, isn't it? Hitting DCV 0 reliably three times needs a 6 OCV, so that's 24. Slap on 5 DCV and those are some pretty potent "mooks". And they get 3 STUN through per hit, so 5 of them need 3 hits each to get 45 STUN past defenses. Of course, they don't have CSL's, which we've established are a bad choice, but still - do mooks get an attack score of 29? Or do their DCV, defenses and SPD suck? Slow glass hammers could be an effective choice if there's lots of them.

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Re: The Rule of F(X)

 

Doubling my damage for a +1/2 effective advantage seems like a pretty good deal' date=' except that I get the sense "No Hit Locations" is pretty frequent in your games. That in itself may indicate that Targetting may be too valuable in your game.[/quote']

 

The reasoning here is that +2 stun multiplier (a +1/2 advantage) does about the same thing - it takes you from x3 to x5 average stun multiplier. The +2 stun multiplier is actually a little better in terms of STUN damage alone because it's more volatile, but there are other advantages to being able to always call shots successfully.

 

If you're thinking of Normal damage, it's x2 after defenses - definitely not as good as doubling your damage.

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