Jump to content

Defenses in Standard Superhero level games


assault
 Share

Recommended Posts

What range of PD/ED do people give their characters in "standard superhero" 350 5e/400 6e point games?

 

I'm mainly interested in the "squishy" characters - ones that aren't "invulnerable", don't have force fields, and don't wear power armour.

 

Assuming death isn't a major consideration - the GM can always kill or not kill a character - how easily are characters taken out by attacks? How often are characters stunned? How serious is being stunned in your games?

 

Etc.

 

Any rants along these lines are welcome.

 

One thing that I suspect is that the "standard superhero" power level (DCs, etc) is actually a little higher than the system's "sweet spot", which looks to me like it is around 8-10 DCs, with 12 DCs being really tough.

 

Then there's the issue of breaking things, but that is a whole other kettle of fish.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't actively played in a game in quite some time but that range attacks seems perfect for the two most recent street-level supers I've built. 

 

My rookie version of Spider-Man for 6e has a base 11PD/9ED and 3 Levels of Combat Luck. 

My rookie version of Batman for 6e has a base 8PD/8ED, 5PD/5ED Armor (OIF RAR 14-) and 1 Level of Combat Luck.

 

8-10DC attacks from groups of thugs could potentially be handled solo by either.  Higher level attacks in a 'team' environment could be handled occasionally but would demand respect and the occasional Dodge.

 

:)

HM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What I'm thinking about is how long do fights last? And how does this work out in a game?

 

Without game considerations:

The Thing vs the Thing is a long battle of attrition.

Batman vs Batman is a tactical battle, with a fair dose of attrition.

Cyclops vs Cyclops is probably decided by who hits first. (Big attacks, low defence).

 

Cyclops vs Batman:

if Cyclops hits first, he probably wins.

if Batman hits first, whoever hits second probably wins.

 

Cyclops vs the Thing:

if the Thing manages to hit at all, he probably wins.

if Cyclops hits a couple of times (two, three) without that, he wins.

 

Batman vs the Thing:

if the Thing manages to hit at all, he probably wins.

if Batman hits a few times (four, five?) without that, he wins.

 

Or something like that. The question is making all of them viable characters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, my rookie Batman can do anywhere from 6d6 to 12d6 damage using carried 'weapons' hidden in his Utility Belt combined with Martial Arts.  13d6 if counting the 2 Overall Skill Levels used towards damage.

VAL    CHA    Cost    Roll    Notes
20    STR    10    13-    HTH Damage 4d6  END [2]

0    1) Batarangs: Blast 6d6 (30 Active Points); OAF (-1), Range Based On Strength (-1/4), Beam (-1/4), 2 clips of 6 Recoverable Charges (-0) Real Cost: 10 [Notes: Up to 8d6 with Batarang Fu Basic Shot.] - END=[6 rc]
0    2) Tonfa (Billy Club/Nightstick): (Total: 30 Active Cost, 11 Real Cost) Hand-To-Hand Attack +3d6 (Reduced Negation (2)), Reduced Endurance (0 END; +1/2) (28 Active Points); OAF (-1), Hand-To-Hand Attack (-1/4) (Real Cost: 10) plus +1 with any single attack (Tonfa) (2 Active Points); OAF (-1) (Real Cost: 1) Real Cost: 11 - [Notes: Up to 9d6 with Bat Fu Martial Strike.] - END=0
0    3) Taser Knuckles: Hand-To-Hand Attack (vs. Energy Defense) +6d6 (30 Active Points); OIF (-1/2), Hand-To-Hand Attack (-1/4), 4 clips of 8 Charges (-0) Real Cost: 13 [Notes: Up to 12d6 with Bat Fu Martial Strike.] - END=[8]

Cost    Martial Arts
    Bat Fu
2    1)  Weapon Element (Empty Hand, Fist-Loads, Karate Weapons):  Default Element, Fist-Loads, Karate Weapons
[Notes: Empty Hand is Default.  The traditional weapons of Karate are the bo (staff), eiku (staff), kama, nunchaku, rochin, sai, tekko, timbe and tonfa.]
4    5)  Martial Strike:  1/2 Phase, +0 OCV, +2 DCV, 6d6 Strike
5    7)  Sacrifice Strike (Kick):  1/2 Phase, +1 OCV, -2 DCV, 8d6 Strike
    
    Batarang Fu
0    1)  Weapon Element (Boomerangs and Throwing Clubs):  Default Element [Notes: Boomerangs and Throwing Clubs are Default.]
4    2)  Basic Shot:  1/2 Phase, +0 OCV, +0 DCV, Range +2, Strike, +2 DC
4    4)  Trip:  1/2 Phase, -1 OCV, -1 DCV, Range +2, v/5, Target Falls

24    +2 Overall Skill Levels

 

His best general tactic vs. someone like The Thing would be to delay (Block, Dodge, Dive For Cover, Martial Throw or Trip) until one of  'big guns' shows up (ex: Clark, Diana).  If he had to engage a true brick, his most effective attack would be be his Taser Knuckles but they have limited charges and only a low to average chance of Stunning vs decent defenses. It would likely only take one average hit from a brick like Ben to Stun Bruce.

 

As long as he had some cover to begin with, Batman could deal with Cyclops by using his Batarangs to get close.

 

The big issue with including a Batman-type in a team game is that a choice has to be made between having the useful non-combat skills and such vs. having a decent combat effectiveness vs. true supers.  My version is modeled on a combination of Batman:TAS and the Batman:Year One comic book.  The version that joins the Justice League would need 50-100 additional XP to really be viable in that setting (better Martial Arts including a couple of Martial DC's and better Utility Belt gadgets by upping the slot active points to 60).

 

I think it's a worthwhile experiment in balancing to figure out but I sometimes think 'schtick' enforcement is more important than 'starting points' or active points of various attacks.  In other words, if Batman has to actually fight in a team game it usually means he's on a solo mission or the rest of his teammates are already engaged in fights of their own.  He's far less likely to engage in the direct team on team skirmishes like Captain America does with the Avengers because he hasn't figured out how to add a shield like Cap's to his Utility Belt.

 

:)

HM
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's a worthwhile experiment in balancing to figure out but I sometimes think 'schtick' enforcement is more important than 'starting points' or active points of various attacks.  In other words, if Batman has to actually fight in a team game it usually means he's on a solo mission or the rest of his teammates are already engaged in fights of their own.  He's far less likely to engage in the direct team on team skirmishes like Captain America does with the Avengers because he hasn't figured out how to add a shield like Cap's to his Utility Belt.

 

 

Agreed, but my goal is to create "snap together" characters that don't need any particular mastery of the system to create and play.

 

An obvious problem is that some characters require more tactical skill to play than others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want snap together characters then it seems to me the place to start is to define your assumptions.  I once published a long discourse on "the Rule of X" trying to come up with mathematical formulae to ensure power balance, but I think that was under the old forums in 4th edition.  In any event, I think your proposed match ups gives you a great insight into how you want your Rule of X to work.

 

1.  High Damage takes out Squishies in 1 shot

2.  Very High Damage takes out Very Hard targets in multiple shots

3.   High Damage takes out Very Hard targets in 2 or 3 shots

4.  Very High Damage takes out Squishies in 1 shot

5.  Low Damage takes out Squishies in 2 shots

6.  Low Damage takes out Very Hard targets in 4-5 shots

 

Of course, using these assumptions, it appears that Ben Grim is simply based on a whole lot more points than either Cyclops or Batman.  So not thinking much about it, say Ben has a STR 60, or 12d6, assume 42 Stun on average, means Batman/Cyclops probably have a pd of 12 or less and 35 Stun or thereabouts.

 

But Cyclops also beats Batman in 1 shot and has less damage so assume 11d6, 38 Stun on average, means Bats has a pd of 8 or less and 30 Stun.

 

Bats beat Cyclops in 2 strikes and so perhaps Bats does 8d6, assume 24 Stun on average, and Cyclops has a pd of 8 or less and 30 Stun

 

Cyclops beat Ben in 2-3 strikes,  11d6 assume 38 Stun, so Ben has a pd of 12 or less, 1/2 physical damage reduction and 40 stun.  3 hits

 

Bats beats on Ben for ever,  8d6, assume 24, so Ben has a pd of 12 or less, 1/2 physical damage reduction and 40 Stun. 7 hits

 

Ben beats on Ben, 12d6, assume 42, 12pd, 1/2 physical damage reduction and 40 Stun:  3 hits

 

So, seems like you've got pd range from 8 to 12, and DC's from 8 to 12.  

 

Anyway, that's the short hand way that I did it, though I made it more complicated adding in advantages like Armor Piercing, Area of Effect, and modifiers like dodge, dive for cover, etc.  My ultimate resolution of the problem of X was to turn opponents more into larger sacks of Stun and Body than massive tanks with high resistant defenses.  It made for some inefficient designs to be sure, but who cares about NPCs?  It was more important for me that the dodgy, tanky, glass canon, etc.  characters could all be effective in the same team fight.

 

The tactics can't be taken out of the fight.  In the Ben v. Cyclops example, chances are Cyclops would keep Ben at range with the ridiculous amount of knockback his eye beams have, then again Cyclops might have to dive for cover to avoid thrown cars and the like.  Bats is rather more likely to use a surprise attack or an entangle against Cyclops, etc. etc. 

 

It doesn't work out, probably requires some complicated use of Damage Negation or conditional defenses for the Ben v. Ben fight.  As far as snap together, easiest lazy way to do it is:

1.  Squishy:  base pd/ed

2.  Not so Squishy: 1/4 damage reduction

3.  Hard:  1/2 damage reduction

4.  Very Hard:  3/4 damage reduction.

 

The advantage of the above is everyone get hurt at least a little by almost every attack and you avoid the "this does absolutely nothing to X but vaporizes Y."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But Cyclops also beats Batman in 1 shot and has less damage so assume 11d6, 38 Stun on average,

 

My assumption would be that Cyclops does more damage than Ben, so 14d6, 49 stun on average.

 

Another factor that has occurred to me is that Batman and Cyclops aren't atypical, low-end characters when it comes to defenses.

 

I'd say that roughly half of all characters are "tough", and the other half are "squishy", and Batman is actually at the top end of the squishies. What we are looking at, then, is how average, or at least common, characters perform versus damage.

 

My original thought would be that Batman could take a couple of 10 DC hits, but would probably be stunned by a 12 DC hit. But that doesn't work if he is a "typical" character, and the "typical" attack is 12 DC. It means that half the characters in the campaign will be routinely stunned by the most common attacks. That doesn't really work for me. (It makes for short combats, though, so isn't entirely bad.)

 

Batman, in other words, should probably not be stunned by an average 12 DC attack (42 Stun).

 

If his Con is 23, he would need a minimum of 19 PD/ED. Preferably a little bit more.

If his Con is 20, or even 18, he could even need up to 24 PD/ED.

 

This roughly coincides with the suggested range for defenses in the rules, which is unsurprising. (Except the table in which this is suggested doesn't seem to be in Champions Complete?!)

 

So the question seems to be: how can squishy characters justify buying defenses up to this level?

 

Is it really necessary to hand out bulletproof spandex to everyone and their super-dog?

 

Am I just showing my age when I notice these were Brick level defenses in earlier editions?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well before I discuss range of defense I want to ask about type. I've noticed and tend to put resistant defenses on all charecters. Spiderman has none and can get away with it, because with his spider sense he's dodged the machine gun before it's fired. However original Batman and someone like Daredevil don't. Would you build a character with no resistant defences?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would you build a character with no resistant defences?

 

The main thing is to make sure that the character's normal defenses count against the Stun from Killing attacks.

 

6e defaults towards them doing so regardless of whether or not a character has resistant defences. This is a change from earlier editions. I'd still give characters at least some resistant defence anyway.

 

I would go as low as +3/+3 Combat Luck. It takes the edge off bullets, which are the main "environmental" source of killing damage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PD and ED don't have to represent 'tanking' the hit.  They can instead represent 'reducing the damage' of the hit but 'rolling with the punch' or 'mostly dodging' or similar things.  In theory, Spiderman isn't much more bulletproof than the man on the street.  But Spiderman can get into fights where people shoot at him and not die.  So Champions Spiderman needs sufficient defenses to be able to be in a fight where people are shooting at him. 

 

In theory, Spiderman just dodges all the bullets (a high DCV), but we know that a really out of bounds DC is terrible to have in the game, and is easy to beat with AOE 0 attacks.  In fact, a lot of attack multipowers in badly limited games will have an AOE 0 attack option simply to smash high DCV sillyness.  In properly managed games, Spiderman has a 'high' DCV, and 'moderate' or 'low' defenses.  In a normal Champions game, that's something like DCV 9 and PD/ED 20 (assuming CV 7 and Def 25 are normal).

 

The problem with simply placing limits on DC, CV, SPD, and Def is that it's very easy for a 'properly built character' to meet all of those limits.  Any set of campaign limits should include explicit trade offs so that a single character can't meet all the limits at once.

 

Example:

-----------

The following are the characteristics of the average hero:

CV 7

DC 10

Def 25

Spd 5

 

The following are assumed to be of equal value:

CV 2

DC 2

Def 5

Spd 1

 

Any character is allowed to be a total of '1' up from average in any category, and further raises above average require reduction in another.

Examples:

CV 9, DC10, Def 25, SPD 5 is one up in CV, and a legal character

CV 7, DC 12, Def 30, SPD 4 is one up in DC and Def and reduces SPD by one, making it legal

CV 9, DC 10, Def 20, SPD 6 gains CV, SPD, loses Def

 

In general, characters shouldn't be more that one up or one down from average in any given category.

 

-------------

 

That set of limits means that your character can't meet all the campaign limits, they explicitly have to trade things off.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are different ways to make Batman or other "human" superheroes survivable.  An easy one is damage reduction.  Instead of the 20+ Con and 20+ pd you suggested above for Bats, you might try:  Assuming 42 Stun on an average attack:

 

18 Con, 8pd and 1/2 damage reduction:  42-8 = 34/2 = 17.

or you could drop the damage reduction and use the optional "roll with the punch" rules.

 

Another is to use Ablative defenses, which allow such characters to rush through a hail of bullets, but not stand in it.

18 Con, 8 pd + 12rpd Resistant Protection -1 Ablative (15- diminishing).

 

From Dark Knight Rises, there's always narcotics:

"Feelin' no Pain":  Aid Self Con, Body, Stun simultaneously, 1 Continuing Charge lasting 1 hour.

 

Limited Damage Negation:

-2d6 Damage Negation, only negates DCs in excess of 10.

 

Alternatively, you can address the Stunning part

"Why won't you go down?"

+x SPD only for the purposes of recovering from being Stunned.

 

You don't have to issue everyone bulletproof spandex, but those without it need to play more cautiously or at least tactically than those with it.

 

In my experience, you end up having to spend a similar amount of points on defenses in the broader sense whether you create a tanky character that laughs off Sidewinder Missiles or a flesh and blood "normal" character.  Sometimes that takes the form of "defensive offense" flash, darkness, surprise attacks, entangles, knockdown/back, etc.  I still think Resistant Protection is far and away the most cost efficient form of defense by a significant margin, but there are ways to make Bats less corpse prone without giving him superhuman Con or Brick level pd.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The average Defenses that I use and that seem to be what the Published Villains are built around. The CV assumes 2 skill levels one applied to OCV and the other to DCV.

Averages: DC 12,  Def 20-24 (resistant 10-16). CV 9. this would be what an Energy Projector is built with.

For Bricks I allow them to go to DC 14, Def 28-32 (fully resistant). CV 8

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The average Defenses that I use and that seem to be what the Published Villains are built around. The CV assumes 2 skill levels one applied to OCV and the other to DCV.

 

Averages: DC 12,  Def 20-24 (resistant 10-16). CV 9. this would be what an Energy Projector is built with.

 

For Bricks I allow them to go to DC 14, Def 28-32 (fully resistant). CV 8

If bricks are at CV 8 and EP's CV 9, what CV do Dodgy characters have?  or do they double up on Speed because they're dodging all the time?

 

Ack got my math wrong:  If I'm vaguely correct now:  Assuming a standard single target attack with opposing attack rolls of 12 DCs.

 

Avg Stun Net of Resistance   DEF                Net Reduction                    DCV Gap                 Net Reduction

42                    37                    5pd                    11.90%                         1 DCV                              12.50%  

42                    32                   10pd                   23.81%                         2 DCV                              25.00%  

42                    27                   15pd                   35.71%                         3 DCV                              36.58%  

42                    22                   20pd                   47.62%                         4 DCV                              46.30%  

42                    17                   25pd                   59.52%                         5 DCV                              53.25%  

42                    12                   30pd                   71.43%                         6 DCV                              57.88%                              

42                     7                    35pd                   83.33%                         7 DCV                              60.65%                                

42                     2                    40pd                   95.23%                         8 DCV                              62.04%

 

It seems, with respect to attacks that have to make an opposing attack role, DCV is far more cost efficient than Resistant Protection early on, though it becomes less efficient at the higher end and has a hard cap of 62%.  Assuming, of course, that the character can actually get that gap.  DCV becomes more efficient as the average DC's increase.  Bear in mind this assumes that for non DCV specialists all CVs are equal and attacks rolls are the default 11-, and in essence all characters get 37.5% damage reduction for free.  DCV being additive and Resistant Protection being ... gah forgot the math term.... anyway, DCV gets one shot so is additive, Resistant Protection is independent so you get 2 separate defenses, first the opportunity to be missed, and then the reduction if it hits.  Yeah, my math's wrong.  I need to discount somewhere but I'm too sleep deprived to figure it just now.

 

Perhaps, in your analysis assault, you should ask "how many attacks will it take to take out X character" rather than how many hits that character can take, if you're going to allow some characters to have higher DCV than others have OCV.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My grumpy solution:

 

Build characters at 300 points.

 

Add 50% Resistant Damage Reduction, Physical and Energy. (60 points).

 

Add 2 DC to character's main attack.

 

Fiddle with END usage as necessary.

 

Increase CVs, especially OCVs, by a couple of points.

 

Burn any unused points on junk Skills and Contacts.

 

The resulting character won't be hugely powerful, but will be able to keep up. (Bricks could be a bit unbalanced).

 

Damage Reduction has the benefit of scaling - it has a greater effect against larger attacks, and less against smaller - and so is a good long term investment, despite its massive up front cost. It's the kind of power a "street level" character needs if she wants to hang around with the world savers.

 

However, it's a "nope" power in terms of my goal of building characters using a basic subset of the rules, so this isn't going to fly.

 

Damage Negation, for what it's worth, is also a "nope" power, if only because I haven't crunched the numbers on it.

 

I'll try for a more sensible, less grumpy response later.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So if I understand, the idea is to have a set of rules wherein a street level hero survives in the same combat as world beaters using only:

DCV

pd/ed

Resistant Protection

 

And no:

Martial Maneuvers, rolling with a punch, block, dodge, etc.

Damage Reduction

Damage Negation

Deflection

Barrier

 

1.  DCV = Max Opponent OCV + 5  [Martial Dodge and +2 Spd might work]

2.  Speed = Max Opponent Speed x2 for dodging

3.  Invisibility, or related effects as most attacks require line of sight

4.  Desolid

5.  Wildly outsized piles of Body, Stun and Con.

 

I can come up with all kinds of complicated answers to the keeping Man alive in the Man v. God fight, but not sure I can come up with any other simple ones other than giving the "Man" the same Resistant protection, con, etc. as the "God.

 

1 DC of Damage Negation is slightly more effective than 5 rDEF.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So if I understand, the idea is to have a set of rules wherein a street level hero survives in the same combat as world beaters using only:

DCV

pd/ed

Resistant Protection

 

And no:

Martial Maneuvers, rolling with a punch, block, dodge, etc.

Damage Reduction

Damage Negation

Deflection

Barrier

 

1.  DCV = Max Opponent OCV + 5  [Martial Dodge and +2 Spd might work]

2.  Speed = Max Opponent Speed x2 for dodging

3.  Invisibility, or related effects as most attacks require line of sight

4.  Desolid

5.  Wildly outsized piles of Body, Stun and Con.

 

I can come up with all kinds of complicated answers to the keeping Man alive in the Man v. God fight, but not sure I can come up with any other simple ones other than giving the "Man" the same Resistant protection, con, etc. as the "God.

 

1 DC of Damage Negation is slightly more effective than 5 rDEF.

 

A couple of things:

I have no objection to things like Martial Maneuvers, Deflection (and Barrier).

 

The point is that they don't always work, and a character that relies on them will get hit anyway.

 

Furthermore, characters that are more like Cyclops than Batman usually won't have all these neat options.

 

Finally, 400 point characters aren't "Gods", no matter how you build them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose I should draft up a few characters, so I know what I am talking about.

 

Let's see:

Martial Artist with Gadgets ("Batman")

Martial Artist built around defensive gadget ("Captain America")

Blaster with force field and flight ("Human Torch")

Blaster without force field and flight ("Cyclops")

 

All of these should be viable. The last one would be the trickiest.

 

Mentalists are something else, and I'm quite happy if they are vulnerable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a "Cyclops" type character, I'd probably say: "the Cosmic Oops that gave him his powers also made him a bit more awesome than an ordinary person. He's still less awesome than "Batman"".

 

A "Hawkeye" type, who does the same thing through a focus would have to use "Batman" type options.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I've been being overly dramatic.

 

Doubling up on Combat Luck (6 PD/6 ED), and bumping up CON a couple of points goes a long way towards building a character that won't always be stunned by a 12 DC attack.

 

EG: a character with 25 CON only needs 17 DEF to avoid being stunned by an average 12 DC hit. With +6/+6 Combat Luck, that only requires 11/11 PD/ED.

 

Well within reason, and no bulletproof spandex involved.

 

Of course, this would be a "Batman" type, rather than some mutant shlub. The latter tend to wear matching unitards, even if I care about how easy it is to stun them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...