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# Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

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This has to do with active costs. I don't understand why advantages that equal limitations are "better." Let me give an example.

If I start a new campaign (genre is irrelevant) and I set the attack point cap at 40 points, with two players, here is what happens.

Captain Simple: OK, I'll take an 8d6 lightning bolt.

The Mathlete: I'll start out with an 8d6 LB, but I want to add; penetrating, area effect (line), and a couple of other things that add up to plus two. And then I'll take no range, and a few other things that total out to -2. So my cost is 40 points, x3, for 120 active points, divided by three, for a real cost of 40.

DM (me): Sorry, I can't take your build.

Mathlete: Why not? It costs no more than Simple's, and I even have to cough up extra END.

DM: It's against the rules. Your forty point build is over the limit, while his forty point build is OK.

Logically, 40 points equals 40 points. As someone who hates the fiat: "Because I said so" argument, why is the second build unacceptable?

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Point Caps are for Active Points, not Real Cost.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

First thing:

The rules are set by the GM. If he does not want's to use limits, he does not uses limits. If he wants to, he does.

The problem is still the power:

That Mathlete LB has about 3 times the DC. Would you allow him to built a 24d6 Blast instead? If the answer is no, then you propably should not allow him a 8d6 Blast with +2 Advantages.

While the math with Active Points isn't perfect, you can asume a power with twice or even three times the Active Points (and the same base Power) will be a LOT more power.

That Power you have wil ldo around 8 STUN regardless of Defenses agaisnt Multiple Opponents and can't be blocked. When the Limit is 40, that is clearly to powerfull.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Because while the second build is more limited, it is also more powerful; as an illustration of why this is viewed with suspicion, see this third build

The Diceflinger: I'll take a Blast at 120 pts, doing 24d6, and then the same Limitations the Mathlete used, for 40 Real Points.

If the campaign assumptions, including defenses, are set up for 8d6 attacks, someone doing triple that damage could prove overwhelming. So, more subtly, might the Mathlete - or at least that is the concern.

Whether this proves that Active Point Caps are justified in their popularity and really a great way to manage games is another matter, but there is a reason people choose them.

Lucius Alexander

The palindromedary doubts Lucius could fit an Active Point Cap on his oversized head

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Point Caps are for Active Points' date=' not Real Cost.[/quote']

I think he knows that. His question is, why?

Lucius Alexander

The palindromedary wants to measure Passive Points and Unreal Costs

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

A) It's not against the "RULES", it's against the campaign limits that the GM chose to impose.

If you are the GM you don't have to impose any limits if you don't want to (aside from total points, though you don't have to impose that limit either if you don't want to).

The point structure exists to help GM's balance the play experience. The fact that this works across multiple genres (by twiddling limits and "ground rules") is a beneficial side effect.

However, "balance" is easy to define and assess in simplistic scenarios, and very difficult to define and assess as the number of variables and the variance of those variables grows. The HERO System takes the approach of abstracting everything to points and judging equivalence by comparing points. Like all abstractions, granularity is lost and the interface becomes more coarse and less nuanced.

Ultimately, the best judge of balance is an informed human judgement. The GM always has the option to use their judgement over arbitrary and abstract rules and imposed limits...especially self-imposed limits.

Also, the given assumption is that a GM is most concerned about "balance" in the first place. Some GM's (and playing troupes) are more concerned with other things such as story / narrative, or verisimilitude, or even just "kewl"-ness and are less concerned about accounting irregularities. In such a group, the rules exist to provide structure to the extent that it is useful, and not to the extent that it obstructs the other thing(s) considered to be more important.

Personally, I only use limits when they help me structure a setting or define a concept or allow / "unlock" some cool thing that would be too powerful if left unchecked...thus I use hard limits at the microlevel and soft limits at the macro / game-wide level...or not at all.

In generic superhero games in particular I go with more of a Laissez-faire approach without hard limits on powers or where points must be spent and instead adjudicate each character holistically, looking for "un-fun" or "bad fit" constructs rather than applying Active Point limits or Rule of X algorithms. I trust my judgement more than I trust blanket restrictions. I treat the recommended guidelines as guidelines, not as a straight jacket.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Sometimes the appropriateness of the Limitations on attack abilities that go over 'standard caps' is the real issue. If the attack has a limited number of charges it might have a better chance of being accepted than if it has a bunch of limitations like focus, not usable in situation X, etc..

And there really isn't any symetry between Advantages and Limitations on a base power. Your example of 8d6 Blast w/(+2) Advantages has to be considered equivalent of up to a 24d6 Blast (120 Active Points) Advantages that don't directly affect damage 'might' be ignored in some cases (like AOE and Reduced END). Like others have already said, GM judgment is the final arbiter.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

And there really isn't any symetry between Advantages and Limitations on a base power. Your example of 8d6 Blast w/(+2) Advantages has to be considered equivalent of up to a 24d6 Blast (120 Active Points) Advantages that don't directly affect damage 'might' be ignored in some cases (like AOE and Reduced END). Like others have already said' date=' GM judgment is the final arbiter.[/quote']

AOE counts as affectign Damage per Raw. It ignroes DCV and most Defense Maneuvers after all.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

AOE counts as affectign Damage per Raw. It ignroes DCV and most Defense Maneuvers after all.

Yeah, but how often does a character's OCV and CSL's with a particular attack get judged the same way in such comparisons. Not very often. For that reason AOE is a very borderline example imho.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Yeah' date=' but how often does a character's OCV and CSL's with a particular attack get judged the same way in such comparisons. Not very often. For that reason AOE is a very borderline example imho.[/quote']

Unless he has enough OCV to make every possible DCV (inlcuding +3 for Dodge) as easy to hit as DCV 3 (with his base OCV), it will hardly be a problem.

When both start at the same base CV's of 7, that requires about +7 OCV. And he would still not hit as easily agaisnt the Martial Artist with 9-10 DCV.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

During the writing of 6th Edition, Steve made an explicit comment (possibly in the SETAC group and not on the boards, but I don't think this is spilling state secrets) that Active Point limits are not "the rules", and the rules were not being written around active point limits for that reason. As others have noted, it is the GM who decides whether to implement caps based on AP. The rules are not written around an expectation of such caps.

I personally detest hard AP caps. As a GM, I would look at the Mathlete's build and assess whether I am prepared to allow it or not. Given he can do 8d6 to multiple opponents, with DCV providing them with no protection, and a guarantee of damage getting through against most targets, my answer in a game designed around an 8d6 Blast being a typical maxed out attack would likely be "NO". I can, however, envision 120 AP powers that might be acceptable in that game.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

First, I suggest implementing Damage Class Caps instead of Active Point Caps, they'll do a few things for you:

1) sidestep this issue

2) give you a better gauge of a powers capability versus other powers

As for why Active Points are the 'cap' and not Real Points - AP represents a general level of power capability, all things being equal (i.e. the Limitations don't come into play - as they are always situational in implementation) how a Power affects a target (or targets) is dependent on it's overall Active Points and not its Real Cost.

And when considering game balance a major concern is what you can do to a target when you get to use your Powers.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Of course, you could always find out for yourself.

If you want to run a campaign with limits set based on Real points instead of Active points, no one is going to stop you. If your players decide not to take advantage of the change, it'll work out okay. OTOH, they might decide to pile on the limitations and go crazy. I hope you'll get back to us afterwards and let us know how it went.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Of course, you could always find out for yourself.

If you want to run a campaign with limits set based on Real points instead of Active points, no one is going to stop you. If your players decide not to take advantage of the change, it'll work out okay. OTOH, they might decide to pile on the limitations and go crazy. I hope you'll get back to us afterwards and let us know how it went.

Don't know. Especially as a beginner, I would just follow the guidelines. Hero is a toolkit. Without proper guideliens or experience it is inherently broken (simply because you can't make sense out of anything).

It might not have been designed with Ap caps in mind, but there is logic behind those guidelines. They and all the rules togehter are balanced.

Once you actually got the context - why a AOE Autofire is considered a potentially abusive combination you can still modify the rules. But modifiying a ruleset that you barely grasp will likely not produce a usefull or fun result.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Of course, you could always find out for yourself.

If you want to run a campaign with limits set based on Real points instead of Active points, no one is going to stop you. If your players decide not to take advantage of the change, it'll work out okay. OTOH, they might decide to pile on the limitations and go crazy. I hope you'll get back to us afterwards and let us know how it went.

Don't know. Especially as a beginner, I would just follow the guidelines. Hero is a toolkit. Without proper guideliens or experience it is inherently broken (simply because you can't make sense out of anything).

It might not have been designed with Ap caps in mind, but there is logic behind those guidelines. They and all the rules togehter are balanced.

Once you actually got the context - why a AOE Autofire is considered a potentially abusive combination you can still modify the rules. But modifiying a ruleset that you barely grasp will likely not produce a usefull or fun result.

He was adressing the OP whose join date on this forum precedes yours by over six years. I hardly think assuming Hero is "a ruleset that [he] barely grasps" is the best approach here. In fact, I'd say it's a little rude.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Maybe he's referring to himself as "a beginner".

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

In my case it would depend on the limitations.

It would have to be bought outside any MP or VPP so cost the actual real cost.

If it was a one shot wonder, possibly.

As other people say for a attacks it is better to limit the AP for game balance.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Maybe he's referring to himself as "a beginner".

But he was responding to Xavier's suggestion to ignore guidelines altogether, which was aimed at the OP, not him...

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

He was adressing the OP whose join date on this forum precedes yours by over six years. I hardly think assuming Hero is "a ruleset that [he] barely grasps" is the best approach here. In fact' date=' I'd say it's a little rude.[/quote']

He has 6 times the years. I have 12 times the posts. I guess that equals it out.

And honestly I regard that as a beginenrs question.

We have alreay pondered a dozen times that in specific cases and depending on the Limitations (especially Charges) the hard Cap is not the best answer, but overall it's better to have a guideline (even if it is not a cap).

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

He has 6 times the years. I have 12 times the posts. I guess that equals it out.

And honestly I regard that as a beginenrs question.

We have alreay pondered a dozen times that in specific cases and depending on the Limitations (especially Charges) the hard Cap is not the best answer, but overall it's better to have a guideline (even if it is not a cap).

I find a lot of questions people ask on here silly at best*, often with answers that are blatantly obvious if you simply read the rules, including many questions asked of Steve, but I don't go around publicly declaring that they "barely grasp the rules".

*EDIT: And no, I'm not counting the OPs question in this description...

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

"There are no stupid questions."

There are, however, many a stupid answer to those questions. Often reading the book is enough, but even then there are aspects that may not be apparent, and hence, require questions for clarification.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

"There are no stupid questions."

There are, however, many a stupid answer to those questions. Often reading the book is enough, but even then there are aspects that may not be apparent, and hence, require questions for clarification.

I never said all answers were in the book with no clarification needed. Heck, I've asked my share of dumb questions and worse, given my share of stupid answers, usually due to simply not remembering something properly and not having my book(s) to double check and occasionaly simply due to completely mis-interpreting something. Most board members haven't taken me posting a single dumb question as a sign to rudely declare me someone who doesn't have the slightest grasp of the rules. Maybe I'm being overly defensive, especially considering the remark wasn't even aimed at me. I wasn't trying to play mini-moderator or anything. It just struck me as rude and I pointed that out. IME when someone accuses someone else of being a complete novice or of not having even a basic understanding of something even though they are obviously at least somewhat experienced with it, it usually ammounts to a round-about way of calling them an idiot. Perhaps that impression is just because of some of the less savory forums I frequent...

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

I don't think the OP is an idiot... but the impression I got from reading his post was that his mind is made up already.

My point (and I did have one) was that regardless of the join dates, years spent playing Hero, number of posts, whatever, of those replying to their questions... some people have spent that extra 3 points on Life Support: Immune to Advice and the only way they'll learn anything is to try something for themselves and find out the hard way whether it works or not. (I used to be one of them. Occasionally I have a relapse, and it sucks.)

So, because I'm basically a shameless evil git, I encourage the OP to try doing it his way. As long as I won't have to participate in said campaign, I'm fine with it....

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Yeah' date=' but how often does a character's OCV and CSL's with a particular attack get judged the same way in such comparisons. Not very often. For that reason AOE is a very borderline example imho.[/quote']

Very true. In a game where DCV's range up to, say, 15 and the typical attack is 12 DC's, it would cost 30 points to make that 12d6 Blast 1 area-accurate or 15 to make to make it the smallest AoE. Either would target DCV 3. For 15 points, I could have +7 OCV with that attack (2 point skill levels), probably not enough to completely negate a 15 DCV, but enough that a character with a typical OCV in the game would be pretty likely to hit. For 30 points, I could have purchase +15 OCV. Assuming I have my base 3 OCV, I now hit on a 14-, and have an even better roll for a target with lower than campaign max DCV. My AoE blast hits on an 11- whether the target has a 15 DCV or a 5. Which character is better?

But the one with the advantage is the one that will fail the AP Cap and even DC cap test.

I prefer to look at the whole character. Maybe a character with a lower than average SPD and OCV can have a higher DC. Part of the problem is that caps are typically set low enough that you can be at the maximum in everything with lots of points left over, so everyone has max OCV, DCV, DC's and defenses anyway. That's not a maximum - it's a predefined campaign level for those abilities.

He has 6 times the years. I have 12 times the posts. I guess that equals it out.

Sure. Of course, every stupid question, and every request for clarification, is a post, isn't it?

I don't find post count much of a measure. Years on the boards isn't either, but I think the point was that assuming someone who has been on the boards for six years is a raw newbie seems presumptuous. How many actual games have you played, and with how many other gamers? That's a much better test, albeit one the Boards can't track. More games means more opportunities to see the rules in action. More gamers means more opportunities to see how others use (or abuse) the rules.

I've played Hero for a long time (I played a bit of 1e, for example, but really got rolling under 2e). However, I've played with two pretty stable player groups, so breadth isn't as strong. An example of that is the fact I'd never really seen pre-6e killing attacks abused because our group just didn't play the numbers that way.

And honestly I regard that as a beginenrs question.

So what?

So what, indeed? I'd say, however, that there's a significant difference between "a beginner's question" and "a ruleset that [he] barely grasps". I would agree with bigbywolf that the presumption that the poster is not only a raw rookie (and why should that matter - we all started as rookies to the system, even the authors of 1e), but "barely grasps" the ruleset comes across as being a little rude. It also does not escape me that you're pretty quick to complain when you feel someone else is not according you the respect you deserve. Perhaps you might give similar respect to others and see how that impacts the respect you receive in return.

The more experience one has, the more one tends to realize that none of the rules and interpretations are "the one true way" for every game, and that the impact on the specific game needs to be addressed, not just some overarching rules of thumb (I dislike those - I'm never sure where the poster's thumb may have been).

'nuff said on that front - it's not central to the post.

We have alreay pondered a dozen times that in specific cases and depending on the Limitations (especially Charges) the hard Cap is not the best answer' date=' but overall it's better to have a guideline (even if it is not a cap).[/quote']

Many questions recur frequently. Things we "ponder a dozen times" typically recur because they have no One Right Answer.

Whether the guide should be AP or DC's (a question often discussed on the Boards, and one where the author of the last two rulesets seems to have come down more in favour of DC's than AP's) is a much better question, and strikes to the OP's question. If a game has a typical OCV/DCV spread of about 2 or 3 points, it seems like sacrificing 1/3 of your damage to strike DCV rather than the target's DCV may be a very poor tradeoff. This is especially so if the game has fairly high defenses.

So, for example, if the game is based on 12 DC's, OCV and DCV of 9 - 12 and defenses of 20 - 25, let's compare:

12 DC Blast, 9 OCV will hit a DCV 9, 25 defense target on an 11- (62.5%), average a roll of 42 stun, 17 past defenses, so inflict 10.62 stun per phase over time.

12 DC blast, 9 OCV will hit a DCV 12, 20 defense target on an 8- (25.93%), average a roll of 42 stun, 22 past defenses, so inflict 5.70 stun per phase over time.

8d6 Accurate will hit either target 62.5% of the time and average a roll of 28 STUN, so 3 - 8 past defenses, or an average of 1.87 to 5.0 per phase over time.

Well, that sucks, doesn't it? Maybe the AP of that Accurate blast, or even its DC's, are not achieving that desired balance. It seems reasonable this attack should be able to punch the same 5.7 to 10.62 past defenses. We know that's 12d6 for the 25 defense target, but it should not be 12d6 for the 20 defense target, so we need to lower the dice a bit. How does 10d6 stack up? 35 gets 10 - 15 past defenses 62.5% of the time, so 6.25 to 9.37, for a smaller spread and a slightly lower average. 10 1/2d6 would increase the average a bit over the 12d6 OCV 9 blaster.

Of course, if we assume our Blaster would have a 12 OCV, all of the above goes out the window and that AoE Accurate blast sucks. And the 25 points spent to make that 10d6 Blast AoE Accurate could have been spent adding 3 OCV and having a 12d6 Blast instead.

My conclusion, which is derived from a lot more play experience than just the above math, is that hard caps breed uniformity and render many choices sub-optimal. They do enhance predictability/balance, at the cost of flexibility. At the ultimate extreme, if every character has the same SPD, OCV, DCV, defenses, DC's and we equalize every other value, we have perfect balance at the cost of all flexibility.

Spreading out the range, and reducing the uniformity, enhances flexibility, but makes balance more difficult to determine.

To my mind, even raw rookie hero players didn't get here without some RPG experience. They are drawn to Hero, most often, by its flexibility, so applying hard caps that excessively constrain that flexibility, while they may enhance balance, tends to constrain the very flexibility that initially draws gamers from other systems to Hero.

Oh yes, the Charges thing - that, to me, is a real rookie mistake. Let's let the character have a 4 charge attack that has twice the campaign DC limit (24d6, 4 charges is the same cost as 12d6 normal). Guess what comes out when we locate the Big Bad? Four shots a day is plenty as long as I have a backup ability for the small fry.

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Re: Point Caps: Why are limitations inferior to advantages?

Very true. In a game where DCV's range up to, say, 15 and the typical attack is 12 DC's, it would cost 30 points to make that 12d6 Blast 1 area-accurate or 15 to make to make it the smallest AoE. Either would target DCV 3. For 15 points, I could have +7 OCV with that attack (2 point skill levels), probably not enough to completely negate a 15 DCV, but enough that a character with a typical OCV in the game would be pretty likely to hit. For 30 points, I could have purchase +15 OCV. Assuming I have my base 3 OCV, I now hit on a 14-, and have an even better roll for a target with lower than campaign max DCV. My AoE blast hits on an 11- whether the target has a 15 DCV or a 5. Which character is better?

But the one with the advantage is the one that will fail the AP Cap and even DC cap test.

True, but I've never been in a game that enforced a AP/DC cap that didn't also enforce a CV cap...

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