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Campaign settings - Speed


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I am toying with an idea I had when thinking about a new superhero game for my group.

 

I am thinking that I will set the campaign speed. That is, the default speed will not be 2, it will be whatever I decide it to be. I am thinking that for a Golden Age campaign I might set it at 4. The idea is to think how many turns folk are likely to have between recoveries. In a Bronze Age, I might set it at 6 and in Iron Age possibly nine.

 

You then spend/recoup 10 points for a 1 speed variation, 20 points for a 2 speed variation, 40 points for a three speed variation.

 

I think this begins to better reflect the play value of Speed. After all, twice as many phases gives you twice as much spotlight....

 

Doc

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I like the idea.

 

The higher the speed caps / base, the more attractive reduced endurance looks.

 

I've used 'set speeds' in games before - people were mostly thankful that everyone acted at roughly the same time and nobody felt a 'point tax' to keep their speed near campaign average when they had things more in line with their concept to do with their points.

 

40 points on speed 6, for example, is a sizeable investment even in a 400 point game - but if you don't pay it you might be put on the defensive or be out of play more than you'd like.  Campaign speeds are good at alleviating that. 

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Agreed! I typically prefer to limit the starting SPD of 400-point Standard Superheroic Characters to SPD 4 for Non-Speedsters, and SPD 6 for Speedsters. I also set Velocity Per Turn Maximas for Non-Speedsters such that if I do allow them to have higher SPDs, they eventually have to start selling back their Movement Rates to keep those hypercompetent normals and such from out-running cars.

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I have long thought that all the numbers ought to be rationalized to begin with.  In otherwise, I have required a "powers justification" for every characteristic above what used to be considered a "competent normal." 

 

However you set the default campaign Speed, I think the most important considerations are rationalizing how much better the characters are from normals and how much individual characters are from other characters (including antagonists).  Speed is a relative value, 6 is great when most everyone is 3, is annoying when everyone else is 12.  The only other consideration is how much of "a tax" to use Hyper's terminology do you want to put on Recovery and Continuing Charges 1 Turn, Drain End, etc.

 

And Cantriped is totally on point with the problem of Speed and velocity.

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Allowing anyone to purchase SPD values of 5 or greater essentially puts a 'tax' on playing Speedsters. Limiting the overall SPD values in a game (at least at the start of the campaign) allows the pure Speedster to be a more viable character in play.

 

HM

I think that is only true if you consider a speedster to NEED more screentime than other characters.

 

I have come to consider SPD as a screentime measure, if a comicbook page had 12 panels, how many would your character feature in. So Batman and Wolverine might actually be higher SPD than Flash or Quicksilver.

 

Players hate being allowed to do fewer things than their friends. My speedsters will have autofire and other tricks, they may exceed the campaign SPD by one. Nothing more necessary.

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After all, twice as many phases gives you twice as much spotlight....

 

This is only true:

a] in combat and 

b] if the intensity of the light only reflects speed (i.e. number of actions).  

 

Sorry to say, but a speed 4 brick can hold just as much spotlight as a speedster moving at speed 8 in combat if the brick is built and played properly -- and the measure of spotlight also entails the intensity of said light. 

 

While the speedster peppers things with light hits (or blocks, or whatever) at high speed ... the brick smashes the heck out of them (or absorbs inbound surface to air missile hits) at low speed.  This is what I mean by intensity -- the spotlight's intensity should always vary based on more than just speed or number of actions in combat ... and the measure of screen time shouldn't just be about the quantity of it, but also the intensity of it.  (If it isn't, then something's kind of wrong in the game, IMHO ... and it's probably not a game in which I'd want to play -- because it's basically just an arms race of SPD.)

 

Heck, I play a very viable SPD 2 character among SPD 4-6's in one campaign.  What I lack in number of actions I make up for in wallop when I do something with that character.  Do I get less spotlight in combat?  No.  Do I get less screen time in combat?  No.  Why not?  Because the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long (or, in this case, often)...

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There is also the oddity inherent to the Velocity Rules that makes it such that the Speedster's most iconic tactics, the Passing Strike (and other Velocity-based maneuvers), favor a Lower Speed and Higher Movement over a Lower Movement and Higher Speed; assuming for the sake of example that both characters have equal Velocities Per Turn.

 

In that regard It is entirely possible to build a Speedster with the same SPD as everyone else and have them function perfectly well within their role. Such a speedster simply displays their Speed differently: such as by having even higher combat and noncombat velocities, even more Autofire shots, and even more skill levels limited to overcoming Rushing penalties. It just feels inherently 'wrong' to us for the same reason a Martial Artist without Martial Arts feels wrong... Its all in the name (and our heads).

The argument that Speedsters need more SPD to burn actions on defense and recovery is something of a vicious cycle. They need to Abort to Dodge more often because they spent points on SPD that might otherwise have gone to DCV and Defenses. Likewise they need to take more Recoveries because they are taking more individual actions in between their free Recoveries, and therefore spending more END, sometimes inefficiently because a percentage of every attack is simply being soaked by their enemies defenses.

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Oh, rather than getting caught up in speedster rights and wrongs, the other thing a campaign speed would be useful for us continuing environmental effects. Everything bought as an environmental effect would default to the campaign speed rather than any particular PC or NPC speed. That would make things like that work more consistently in-game.

 

I think I definitely need to give this a go...and when I do, will let you know if I see fewer speedsters, or if they have been nerves by the setting. :-)

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and the measure of screen time shouldn't just be about the quantity of it, but also the intensity of it.  (If it isn't, then something's kind of wrong in the game, IMHO ... and it's probably not a game in which I'd want to play -- because it's basically just an arms race of SPD.).

I guess me and my group my must be having BadWrongFun then....

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The longer I've played Hero, the more I think movement based on speed is odd and doesn't work for me.  I'd rather movement (other than station to station movement like leaping or teleport) was bought per turn and cost less.

 

That is, you don't buy 12m running per phase on a character, you buy 24m per turn at half price.  Then you proprate the per turn move by the character's speed. You have speed 6?  You move 4m per phase base and can buy it up so you're not so slow each phase.

 

The problems with this are obvious: people with high speeds become terrapins, moving almost nowhere on their action phases, and that seems to benefit everyone with lower speed more.  In the end everyone's the same but each phase it feels like a penalty.

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I guess me and my group my must be having BadWrongFun then....

I qualified my remark with 'IMHO' ... and I stand by my opinion that I believe there's something inherently wrong with a game that measures spotlight solely in terms of quantity of actions without considering intensity or quality of actions.  Such a game would seem to be just an arms race of SPD.  You may not like or agree with that opinion, but it's my opinion regardless...

 

If you and your group have fun playing in an arms race of SPD ... and only measuring spotlight by quantity of actions without regard to intensity or quality, so be it.  I would not enjoy such a game.

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I have used default campaign speeds before. They work fine. If you want a faster character, buy extra Speed with Costs Endurance, Charges, or some other limiting factor. On the average, the Speedster will move faster but not more often. If they want to move more often, buy the extra Speed or use things like Autofire on Strength to simulate punching really fast or something. It's the Gamist in me that has seen far too many Shadowrun combats get boring from people with Wired Reflexes XXIV going time after time, while the unaugmented guy goes once or maybe twice. Hero allows for each to go the exact same number of times, but with vastly different special effects. Speedster does a Move By w/Autofire on a bunch of targets, Brick pummels one or (maybe) two bad guys, Energy Blast guy lobs an AoE at a group of mooks, etc.

 

That's not to say that variable Speed is bad, just that universal Speed is just as viable.

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The only problems I've seen with guys who have really high speed is indecision.  For some reason this guy in one campaign who was the smartest guy in just about any room (he literally was a nuclear physcist, worked at Hanford while at college) wanted to play a speedster, so I helped him build one.  He had 7 speed, but the problem was, every time his phase came up -- and with that speed, it came up a lot -- he wasn't sure what to do, so he'd hold or waffle indecisively and I would assume he held and move on.  

 

One of the most frustrating things for me as a GM is players who get frustrated because it takes longer than they want for their phase to come up... but then aren't ready when it does.

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Decision paralysis makes for frustrated players and GM, no matter what the character's SPD is. You could have a 3 SPD character and the player can still be overwhelmed by all their options. I've seen it happen more times than I can count.

 

One option I'm considering using in a martial arts campaign I'm working on is having a set SPD of 4 (and maybe starting at 3 for beginning characters) for PCs and major NPCs and then characters can then only buy one or two points of limited SPD (only to attack) to go above that.

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I have always loved the SPD chart. That is why I left the option of buying up or down an individuals SPD. It is likely that the only people buying lots back would be kooks, which would buy off their kit and skills. I think some players will drop one SPD below because they have other things they want. Some players will want the added value, the increasing cost should make it unlikely for many to buy two steps and almost definitely not three, though some may see an additional three actions to be just as valuable as desolidification...

 

I do therefore see the SPD chart still being a part of my game.

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The longer I've played Hero, the more I think movement based on speed is odd and doesn't work for me. I'd rather movement (other than station to station movement like leaping or teleport) was bought per turn and cost less.

 

That is, you don't buy 12m running per phase on a character, you buy 24m per turn at half price. Then you proprate the per turn move by the character's speed. You have speed 6? You move 4m per phase base and can buy it up so you're not so slow each phase.

 

The problems with this are obvious: people with high speeds become terrapins, moving almost nowhere on their action phases, and that seems to benefit everyone with lower speed more. In the end everyone's the same but each phase it feels like a penalty.

That's not my experience at all. I suppose it would be true if you picked a certain velocity at which you wanted your character to run (say, 32 mph), and then if you increased your Speed, you sold back Running. But I don't know anyone who does that.

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The longer I've played Hero, the more I think movement based on speed is odd and doesn't work for me.  I'd rather movement (other than station to station movement like leaping or teleport) was bought per turn and cost less.

 

That is, you don't buy 12m running per phase on a character, you buy 24m per turn at half price.  Then you proprate the per turn move by the character's speed. You have speed 6?  You move 4m per phase base and can buy it up so you're not so slow each phase.

 

The problems with this are obvious: people with high speeds become terrapins, moving almost nowhere on their action phases, and that seems to benefit everyone with lower speed more.  In the end everyone's the same but each phase it feels like a penalty.

It took me some time to parse this properly

 

So, if I am right, you are saying every character should start being able to run the same velocity regardless of their speed? So everyone begins, able to run 48m in 12 seconds. Their move per phase starts on that basis, so a SPD 6 character moves 8m each phase and a SPD 2 character moves 24m. Is that right?

 

I don't think it is a terrible place to start. When you buy movement thereafter, it is prorated by your SPD. Everyone should purchase it by turn and use it by phase? I kind of like the principle...

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