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Steve

The Power Of Presence

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In my last session of my CU campaign, the PCs were in Faerie and entered Dracula’s castle, expecting to meet the Count and slap him around for information on a case they’re working on (all the PCs are 700+ Points). To their surprise, the arch-lich Takofanes was waiting in the throne room when they burst in, with Dracula acting as his right-hand man.

 

i opened things up with a PRE attack, using Takofane’s bonus PRE from the crown he wears (120 PRE total!). Rolling an 89 (putting everyone on the team in the +40 range), the three supers were immediately overwhelmed with fear (and two ran away in blind terror, leaving the group’s paralyzed with fear supermage to Takofane’s non-existent mercy). :)

 

i use that as an example to wonder if anyone imposes limits on PRE in their campaigns, or if a limit should be imposed.

 

One of the PCs has a 40 PRE, so he’s usually immune to villainous shock and awe of this sort and can be pretty intimidating to VIPER agents and even many supervillains.

 

It’s been a while since I got a PRE attack this high, so I didn’t remember that the effect lasts for an hour per the chart. That’s pretty potent.

 

 

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To answer your question, I have never played at 100+ attributes before.  So your Presence roll is 60+ of effect?

Seems kind of silly to either have complete strangers swear their life to you or give people strokes by glaring at them. At that level, every human is automatically your slave so I must presume this character is the beloved God-King of your world. If it works in your campaign more power to you, but that seems to be pushing HARD against what we call "willing suspension of disbelief" at the movies.

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Well, the Archlich Takofanes was at one time literally the hated and feared God-King of his world. So, same idea, from the other side. ;)

 

I apply limits to dice for all types of attacks in my campaigns, including Presence. As there's never been enough official guidance for me to how long the effects of Presence Attacks should linger, I also apply Breakout Rolls to their targets, as with Mental Powers.

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I generally play the NPCs as written in the books, so Takofanes was not tweaked down. The PCs as a team could do enough damage to hurt him (and could even be classed as Avengers-level at 700+ points each). The players are quite capable when it comes to dealing out damage and taking it, but PRE is an area some are a bit weak in. While two of them have 40 PRE plus some bonus dice for things like Reputation and Striking Appearance, the other two are in the 20-30 range. They're fine dealing with the likes of Eurostar, but If Doctor Destroyer glared at those two, they would not be able to meet his gaze.

 

They did get breakout rolls, but by then I had plenty of time for Takafanes to do his Emperor Palpatine impression on the supermage and turn him into an undead horror. "Arise, my young apprentice," and all that.

 

Those that ran away are dealing with a bit of PTSD now, and I was reminded of old Call of Cthulhu campaigns from back in the day.

 

The PC wears a full-body costume and mask, so his change in life status is not readily apparent. Takofanes left him his free will for the most part (since he's arrogant that way), but he can call upon the PC's services when he wishes. The PC now has a quest to find the phylactery holding his soul and get back his full freedom.

 

I was just surprised at winning a battle without a single shot being fired.

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I usually treat PRE attacks in a vein similar to other attacks, so most of my villains will not do more than base PRE dice than the DC of the campaign. 

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700pt characters or not, a 24d6 PRE attack is ludicrous for a GM to have thrown at a team when he KNOWS their PRE levels cannot withstand anything near it. An average roll on 24d6 would be 84 pts of effect (i.e. +44 effect on average against the character with the 40 PRE ... who was presumably the strongest of the bunch, Presence-wise).  Thus, as a player, I'd say that rather than GM'ing fun for all, you intentionally (either by design or by omission/negligence in thinking through what you did) GM'd a one-shot fight that you knew (or should have known) your PCs could not withstand -- which is typically fun for no one, save maybe you.

 

Presence is arguably the most cost-effective combat ability in the game -- especially given that PRE-attacks take no time (see 6e2 p18 under Actions Which Take No Time) and, therefore, per RAW may be done whenever a character wishes, as often as a character wishes ... without any regard to the character's SPD. (i.e. PRE attacks can be done on Segments where one does not have a Phase -- making them useful for setting things up in advance of a character's Phase.) With that in mind, most GMs who understand the power and cost effectiveness of PRE ... impose reasonable limits on PRE.

 

Thankfully, most players buy as much PRE as makes sense for their concepts without munchkinizing the hell out of it like you appear to have done with your lich (especially buying it on a focus, IMHO) ... and most GMs tune their villians' PREs appropriately for the PRE levels of their campaign (which you appear not to have done with your lich).

 

Plainly put:
I feel you loaded your baddie with an 'I Win' button ... and then you pushed it. If your players enjoyed it, there's a term I'd use for them: masochists.

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I guess I have to look at this the way I'd look at any other attack... how does it stack up against the accepted defenses and level of play the group has accepted?  24d6 Pre Attack is crazy powerful if you know that 1) even at 700 pts, the players have never bought PRE defense to match their other defenses, and never were lead to expect to need it... and 2) with their actual PRE stats being 40 or less... that is like having 40 or less stun.

 

So, not only are PRE attacks END free, can happen in 0 phase, and have no RAW way to recover from them except time... oh, and also Area Effect for free as well... and automatically hits... the attack was against people with no defense and very little "stun".  Would you have hit the team with a 0 phase, automatically hits, 0 END, are of effect 24d6 Energy blast against a team that had practically 0 defenses and 40 or less stun... and call that fair? Oh... with the added effect of a near permanent side effect of mind controlling one of them.

 

hmmmm...

 

I mean... I get it... everyone games differently... but I'd feel it totally justified if my players punched me in the face real hard and quit the game if I did that to them.

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I've always felt PRE and the PRE Attack were seriously broken RAW (any edition).  1 pt cost, 0 time to attack plus the ability to still use a combat/mental attack. 

 

So I generally put a lid on it and its use and apply caps to keep it from breaking the game. 

 

But YMMV.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RDU Neil said:

So, not only are PRE attacks END free, can happen in 0 phase, and have no RAW way to recover from them except time... oh, and also Area Effect for free as well... and automatically hits... the attack was against people with no defense and very little "stun".  Would you have hit the team with a 0 phase, automatically hits, 0 END, are of effect 24d6 Energy blast against a team that had practically 0 defenses and 40 or less stun... and call that fair? Oh... with the added effect of a near permanent side effect of mind controlling one of them.

A minor-sounding but hugely important correction: Presence Attacks take no time -- meaning they can occur at any time, as often as desired.  (This is not the same as 0 Phase Actions, since 0 Phase Actions happens only on one's Phases ... while PRE Attacks that take no time can happen at any time, including Segments where one does not have a Phase ... just like talking/monologueing.)

 

Every other point was salient ... and I absolutely agree with them.  I thought the "automatically hits, 0 END, area of effect 24d6 Energy blast" example was an especially nice touch to drive home just how unfair the setup was ... by way of comparable example.

 

Now back to our regularly scheduled discussion. :)

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To give Steve his due, Takofanes' massive Presence Attack is on his official character sheet. It's not like he deliberately created a villain to be unfair to his players. And it sounds as though the aftermath of the PCs' encounter with the Archlich has led to some potentially interesting plot developments and role-playing opportunities.

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If the official character sheet was not properly scaled to the campaign levels, then he negligently created a villain that was unfair to his players.  i.e. Whether his act was one of willful misconduct due to intent ... or thoughtless negligence ... is largely irrelevant.  The man threw something that would AVERAGE +44 effect on top of what is apparently the highest PRE character among the players.

 

There are better ways to get 'potentially interesting plot developments and role-playing opportunities' than screwing over players through either intent or neglect ... IMHO. PRE Attacks are stupidly efficient, and any/every thinking GM knows it.  (RDU Neil's comparable Blast example helps underscore why ... just in case it wasn't blatantly obvious, before...)

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I don't know enough about this specific incident to categorize it as "screwing over players."

 

On the subject of Presence Attacks generally, it's worth keeping in mind that it's not exactly comparable to the Advantage-laden Blast example cited earlier. There are numerous situational modifiers which can reduce a Presence Attack's dice of effect considerably. Repeated attacks suffer -1d6 of effect, cumulatively. Presence Attacks also require at minimum, clear sight of the attacker, and usually clear hearing as well, like Mental Powers.

 

I'm not saying they're not potentially unbalancing, or don't have to be watched carefully. But not everything is stacked in their favor.

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Good grief. People are taking this way too seriously. I was only asking about how others treated PRE in their campaigns, if they used caps of some kind, not incite accusations against me as being some kind of killer GM.

 

This event took place in a campaign that has been running for almost three years now. My players know me, that I’m not out to screw them over. Sometimes they get overmatched, and even dying is not the end for their character, much like it is in the comics. I’ve had one PC die in the campaign, and he was later brought back during a time travel storyline where the PCs met the CU’s Archmage back before he died (and warned him of what was coming, saving his life). That death/resurrection was used as the excuse for that player to buy some new powers and abilities that wouldn’t have made as much sense otherwise.

 

Two PCs fled in the encounter against Takofanes and the remaining player has been turned into an undead horror. I gave the player a temporary bonus of 50 Points to use for buying undead powers, and I’m prepared to give him more to fit whatever concept he comes up with for his now undead supermage. I’m expecting he’ll come up with something quite awesome.

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As the PC that that was hit in the face with a 24 dice blast and who is a masochist I do not hold anything against Steve for doing it. I might bitch and moan a little and of course berate my teammates for running and leaving me to my doom. With that being said I will have a lot more PRE next time when I face that bag of bones Takofanes.

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2 hours ago, Surrealone said:

If the official character sheet was not properly scaled to the campaign levels, then he negligently created a villain that was unfair to his players.  i.e. Whether his act was one of willful misconduct due to intent ... or thoughtless negligence ... is largely irrelevant.  The man threw something that would AVERAGE +44 effect on top of what is apparently the highest PRE character among the players.

 

There are better ways to get 'potentially interesting plot developments and role-playing opportunities' than screwing over players through either intent or neglect ... IMHO. PRE Attacks are stupidly efficient, and any/every thinking GM knows it.  (RDU Neil's comparable Blast example helps underscore why ... just in case it wasn't blatantly obvious, before...)

 

Disagreeing with someone's way of doing things is fine but there is no need for the snarky insults. Act like a adult ok.

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8 minutes ago, L0rd_Magg0t said:

 

Disagreeing with someone's way of doing things is fine but there is no need for the snarky insults. Act like a adult ok.

Nothing snarky or insulting intended.  Lord Liaden indicated there was no 'intent' ... which, therefore, strongly suggests neglect (by throwing something at a team whose PRE could not possibly hope to cope with it). 

 

Objectively speaking, the GM might as well have used GM fiat and not even bothered rolling dice, as the outcome would have been the same.

 

You will notice (if paying attention to my word choices) that I qualified my opinions as such ... and left facts stated as facts (based on the information presented to me, thus far, anyway).  You will also notice that I did not accuse him of screwing over players; I was very specific in saying there are better ways to get 'potentially interesting plot developments and role-playing opportunities' than by doing so (IMHO).  

 

Please don't put things I didn't write into what I wrote; I choose my words fairly carefully most of the time. :)

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9 hours ago, Spence said:

I've always felt PRE and the PRE Attack were seriously broken RAW (any edition).  1 pt cost, 0 time to attack plus the ability to still use a combat/mental attack. 

 

So I generally put a lid on it and its use and apply caps to keep it from breaking the game. 

 

But YMMV.

 

 

 

 

I actually love the use of PRE in my games, but I make PRE Attacks actually take time and need to go off just like any other attack. And I give players an "Ego Roll" to shake off the effect, (with minuses or after time passes if high enough) though I can't remember whether that is in the rules or not. I've done it that way so long.

 

Also, I encourage appropriate PRE attacks by players... beating down several thugs then pointing at the rest "Who's next" and they all start running away, whatever.

 

The concept of PRE attacks is awesome... it is just the RAW is grossly broken.

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I eliminate the +30 effect (capping the max effect at the +20 level) and limit them to once per turn per target.  That fixes most of the RAW problems - in this situation when faced with the glory of Tako Bell the team would have missed their phase in segment 12 in horror, taken their lumps from some sort of nasty attack to capitalize on their 1/2  DCV, weathered it, and rallied.

 

With 23d6 he would have made the team skip another full phase sometime in turn 1 and probably in turn 2 (22) and 3 (21) if he made it that long.

 

I would have used those skipped phases to take a recovery action to keep the fight going as befits such a powerful opponent.

 

Nobody can claim that possibly making your enemiies skip a full phase and be at half dcv as a free action once per turn isn't powerful enough.  

 

 

 

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Presence attack has not been updated like the rest of the rules. The original presence attack went as x1, x2, x3 or x4 your PRE stat. In other words, to get x4 presence on someone with a 20 PRE (the effect being +30 nowadays) you would have had to roll an 80 PRE attack. Nowadays, you need only a 50 PRE attack. How you get the various levels is the same. I think how PRE attacks are done needs some more work.

 

I limit the effects at +30. If it's greater, it just has a longer effect on whomever is affected by it.

 

For myself as for Tako, I'd never throw a 24d6 PRE attack; I consider too many of those villains as written to be overwhelming. It depends on your campaign though.

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Wow, I had completely overlooked the old "multiples of PRE" mechanic for Presence Attacks. That might actually address some balance issues. I'll have to test it in my games. It wouldn't be the first time an older rule worked better for what I want than a current one.

 

Thanks for the reminder, Tech! :thumbup:

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Lord Liaden said:

Wow, I had completely overlooked the old "multiples of PRE" mechanic for Presence Attacks. That might actually address some balance issues. I'll have to test it in my games. It wouldn't be the first time an older rule worked better for what I want than a current one.

 

Thanks for the reminder, Tech! :thumbup:

 

 

 

No problemo. Let us know how that works out. If it works out, I'll suggest it to my friends.

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I usually treat PRE attacks as ridiculous and ignore them.  When was the last time you saw a hero type character in a comic just run away screaming?  I'm pretty sure none of The Avengers will be depicted just giving up when they encounter Thanos in Infinity War.

 

It does not make good cinema and it does not make good gaming.

 

For that matter, when was the last time you saw goon level characters surrender just because Captain America showed up?   Might happen if there is just the one, or Cap does something spectacular like take down their superpowered leader with his first hit, but I'd call that role playing rather that build a specific mechanic for it.

 

PRE attacks tend to be one of those unwritten contract things between the players and the GM: I generally do not allow PCs to make PRE attacks without positive bonuses and even then it has to be something out of the ordinary.  Equally I do not hit PCs with PRE attacks very much because they do not like it and (as in the OP) a big result can derail the game - well, assuming the plan was not to have most of the party run away and the remainder get massacred.

 

The problem with PRE attacks - and this applies somewhat to the way Hero deals with mental powers too - is the all-or-nothing nature of the attack.  I say that knowing that there are different levels of effect, obviously, but I mean, it is a single roll result.  Physical combat rarely has that sort of 'one punch' ending - even if you surprise your opponent and get in a good one, they are probably not out of the fight entirely unless they had no defences to speak of working at the time.

 

To an extent it makes sense for a 'shock and awe' attack to be sudden and decisive, but the problem is the mechanic works the same against everyone.  If you have two characters with 20 PRE (which is about as brave as a very brave normal), they will both have the same level of effect from a PRE attack.  In my experience people do not react the exact same way to the same stimuli.

 

If I were doing it from scratch, now, I would either make PRE attacks 'standard' and roll 'defence' PRE as dice (i.e. A 20 PRE attack would be 14 points of effect and each 20 PRE target would roll 4d6 for their PRE against that PRE attack, potentially resulting in very different results) or have a table of results that you dice for depending on the level you get, so you could have anything from surrender to rage: PRE attacking someone might cow them, but it might also push them over the edge...

 

 

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The idea of rolling defensive PRE dice is interesting, and I could also see both sides rolling. Someone with a lower PRE could get a really high roll and then not be bothered by a PRE attack that would have affected them under RAW.

 

Heroic Action Points might be another way to offset high PRE effects. Perhaps by spending maybe one point per level of effect, the hero could drop down the attack’s power against them. Maybe setting a standard cost of two points would let a character ignore a PRE attack.

 

I don’t use HAPs in my campaign, but I am thinking about implementing them.

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