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Killer Shrike

HS 6e is mechanically the best version of the rules; dissenting views welcome

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On 2/15/2019 at 6:15 PM, Killer Shrike said:

Let character A have an X AP attack power

 

Let character B have a multipower  with Y AP Reserve and 3 or more fixed / ultra slot attacks with Y AP.

 

Omit consideration of other abilities character A or character B may have spent their points on. 

 

Observation: if X == Y, character B can have a slot with exactly the same power as character A's only power (or a functionally equivalent power)

 

Conclusion: character A is not competitive or viable compared to character B.

 

Let X > Y

 

Question: How much greater than Y must X be before character A becomes competitive / viable compared to character B?

 

Question: How much greater than Y must X be before character A becomes more effective than character B in terms of defeating campaign typical enemies in combat?

 

Tangent: do NOT omit consideration of other powers character A or character B may have spent their points on. 

 

Let L == Real Cost of character A's one power

 

Let M == total Real Cost of character B's multipower reserve and slots

 

Let N = M-L

 

Question: how much greater than 0 must N be for the other abilities character A can afford to be enough to improve their competitiveness and validity compared to character B? 

 

16 hours ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

Let d be the distribution of defenses in the campaign. 

 

Let x(d) be the mean damage of a successful attack by character A's attack.  For a Blast or similar power, this would be (X/5)*3.5-DEF where DEF is whatever defense applies against this attack.  So long as (X/5)*3.5-DEF >> 0, this is a good approximation.

Let var(x(d)) be the variance in x(d), which in turn is just the variance in DEF.

 

Let y1(d), y2(d), y3(d) be the mean damages of B's attacks.  Let y(d) be the maximum of y1(d), y2(d), y3(d).  Let var(y(d)) be the variance in y(d), which will be lower than var(x(d)).  Computing this is a bit harder, but still doable. 

 

Let W be the value given to mean damage-per-phase and V be the value, likely negative, given to variance. 

The relative value of A's powers and B's powers can be expressed as W*(mean(x(d))-mean(y(d))) + V*(var(x(d))-var(y(d))).  If this has a positive result, character A is optimal for this distribution of d and choice of W and V.  If this has a negative result, character B is optimal. 

This is a bit unsatisfying to me since it's admittedly just a fancy way to say "depends on the campaign and how much you want stable damage output", but it's a fancy mathematical way that could be made into a computer program to very decisively answer the question for a given d X Y W and V. 

 

Character A == One Blast Man

Character B == Multipower Blaster Man

 

No caps, 350 points, standard supers guidelines on AP ranges, DEF

 

I am going to plug some numbers in and go. Based upon a 3:2 ratio I would expect a character with 90 AP in their Blast to be about twice as effective on average as a character with 60 AP in their best Blast. So, if Character A is rocking a 90 AP Blast, and Character B has a 60 AP reserve MP, then I would expect Character A to be more effective than Character B in terms of raw power and Character B to be more effective in terms of flexibility. I mean, obviously, we would expect that to be true.

____

If Character A has one very simple 18D6 blast (for ease of calculation)

 

Big Shot: Blast 18D6 (90 AP); Real Cost: 90

Vs an opponent with 23 ED, 18-108 STUN & 0-36 BODY, 63 STUN & 18 BODY avg rolled; 40 STUN & 0 BODY taken past defenses avg.

 

Character B has a Multipower with 60 Reserve and 5 fixed slots costing 6 each for a total Real Cost of 90

 

They have a standard 12D6 EB, an AoE EB, an NND EB, a Flash, and an RKA, each with 60 Active Points.

 

Slot 1: Energy Beam: Blast 12d6

Vs an opponent with 23 ED, 12-72 STUN & 0-24 BODY, 42 STUN & 12 BODY avg rolled; 19 STUN & 0 BODY taken past defenses avg.

 

Slot 2: 

Blast 8d6, Area Of Effect (8m Radius; +1/2) 

Vs an opponent with 23 ED, 8-48 STUN & 0-16 BODY, 28 STUN & 8 BODY avg rolled; 5 STUN & 0 BODY taken past defenses avg.

 

Slot 3:

Modulated Energy Beam: Blast 6d6, NND (ED Resistant Protection that Costs Endurance; +1) 

Vs an opponent without the NND defense, 6-36 STUN & 0 BODY, 21 STUN avg.

Vs an opponent with the NND defense, 0 STUN & 0 BODY, 0 STUN avg.

 

Slot 4: 

Sight Group Flash 12d6

Vs an opponent without Flash Defense, 12 segments of blindness on average.

Vs an opponent with 10 Flash Defense, 2 segments of blindness on average.

 

Slot 5:

Killing Attack - Ranged 4d6

Vs an opponent with 23 ED & 15 rED, 4-24 BODY, 14 BODY 28 STUN on avg; 0 STUN & 0 BODY taken past defenses avg.

Vs an opponent with 23 ED & 0 rED, 4-24 BODY, 14 BODY 28 STUN on avg; 5 STUN & 14 BODY taken past defenses avg.

____

 

So, as expected, Character A is roughly twice as effective in simple terms while Character B is more utilitarian and can situationally have the edge but lacks the raw impact of Character A. Character A will burn END a bit faster than Character B, but will also tend to end fights twice as fast on average so that shouldn't be an issue generally.

 

We can step down from there, subtracting 3.5 STUN from the avg STUN per D6 dropped. If we reduced Character A's attack from 18D6 to 15D6 we'd come down to 30 STUN & 0 BODY taken past defenses avg, and gain 15 cp to spend on some END, REC, and an OCV level. At that point, it is still arguably competitive with Character B, but losing ground. 

 

Obviously this is an insufficient sample size, but in the interests of chopping down the problem I'm going to posit that the minimum ratio for a standalone power to be competitive with an MP that could contain that power as a fixed slot is:

 

let MPR == Multipower Reserve

let SPAP = Standalone Power Active Points 

 

MPR + (MPR / 4) = SPAP

 

and that the optimal ratio for a standalone power to be strongly competitive with an MP that could contain that power as a fixed slot is:

 

let MPR == Multipower Reserve

let SPAP = Standalone Power Active Points 

 

MPR + (MPR / 2) = SPAP

 

Punching some numbers into that as a sanity check, if a MP has 40 reserve, we would expect a standalone power with between 50 and 60 AP to be competitive. If an MP had 90 Reserve, we would expect a standalone power with between 112 and 135 AP to be competitive. 

 

At a high level this seems plausible. But we're not taking into account the cost of slots. Just to keep things simple, I'm going to assume that each slot costs 1/10th the reserve. In the model we're currently in, 5 slots in the MP will work out to be the same RC as the optimal competitive standalone power. For instance, for a 40 reserve MP the optimal standalone power would have 60 AP; if the MP had 5 slots of 4 points each that's 20 RC on top of the reserve. Similarly, a 90 reserve MP with 5 slots of 9 points each for + 45 RC  is equivalent to the Real Cost of the 135 AP standalone power.

 

The impact of the slot costs should be a curve, with too few slots undermining the value of the MP as a whole, and too many slots running up an overhead cost and competing with each other for play time.

 

An MP with only one slot is obviously invalid. 

 

An MP with only two slots frees up (MPR / 10) x (5-2) points, but arguably two slots is only marginally worth taking a MP for.

 

An MP with three slots frees up (MPR / 10) x (5-3) points and offers enough utility to make sense to have.

 

An MP with four and five slots fall within tolerances of competitiveness with the standalone power.

 

An MP with six or more slots is costing +(MPR / 10)  points per slot, which (non-intuitively) actually makes the standalone power more competitive with the MP. As each MP slot is competing with every other MP slot, it spirals into the standalone power's favor as the number of MP slots ratchets up above five slots.

 

Of course, powers that are less straightforward than Blast have other considerations, and applying limitations to lower Real Costs might move the needle one way or the other, but I think MPR + (MPR / 2) = SPAP is a good starting point for analysis of how much Active Points a standalone power might need to strongly compete with an MP containing a similar power in one of its slots.

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As it were, yesterday I wrangled my boys into playing a scenerio with their Supers and my own villains. It was a pretty even fight. They hated it. So I’m going to revamp said villains so they have the edge. I like that agents are one hit wonders. The problem was everyone had the same speed and my oldest got frustrated that after he hit, the villain could also hit and then he was stuck and couldn’t dodge. I understand that they want quicker combat which is fine. As a side they were on the way of taking out the villain just not quick enough for their tastes. (Also my grinning like the Cheshire Cat and laughing manically when I hit and rolled damage might have something to do with it also. 😁)

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9 hours ago, Killer Shrike said:

Hard limits on AP or RC cause defining abilities with powers to become a metagame exercise to work within the caps rather than an attempt to model the character's concept as accurately as possible.

 

Just this line from an excellent post...  At some point in pre-6e discussions, there was a mention of an issue that some build or another would have high AP that would be a problem in games with an AP cap.  Steve noted that there are no rules in the 5e book for AP caps, there would be none in 6e, and there is no intention that Hero have an AP cap.  Some builds require a lot of advantages and limitations, and are about as effective as the same RP with no advantages and limitations.

 

The only issue I have with that is the Multipower aspect (VPP as well, but it was adjusted to alleviate this to some extent).

 

8 hours ago, Killer Shrike said:

So...if the Assault Rifle is 6 DC and the brick punch is 12 DC, is the game trying to tell us that a punch from a brick is supposed to be twice as dangerous as getting shot with an assault rifle? After some discussion we agree that this doesn't make sense to us; in most comics characters that aren't invulnerable generally must at least respect the presence of a gun even if the writer never allows them to get shot.

 

We eventually just decide to roll with it in the interests of playing the game, and let Punisher-wannabe have a 4D6 KA to quell the whinging. But something is clearly a bit fishy vis a vis definition of real world / mundane structures and weapons vs superheroic powers and "weapons" bought as powers.

 

While we often say Hero has no built-in setting assumptions, the provision of stats for real-world items does set some assumptions in the setting.  Like "few guns will instantly kill a target", or "here is the DC required to reliably crush a vehicle".

 

6 hours ago, Killer Shrike said:

Anyway...the main point is STR is anomalous in giving concrete quantification of real world values (weight) tied to a specific STR value. None of the other characteristics do this and don't need to do this. As a particular STR value also grants a specific # of Damage Classes in Normal HtH damage, and possibly because Marvel superheros used to identify their top end superstrong heroes as having "Class 100 Strength" defined as "lifting 100 tons or more over their heads" or possibly for other reasons unknown to me, 60 STR to reach 100 tons (eventually clarified to represent the maximum amount of weight the character can just manage to lift off the ground, stagger with for a step or two,  then drop vs press over head, but we didn't know that yet) seemed to become the norm, and once that value was pegged the bog-standard 12 DC campaign spawned.\

 

Two things. First, many gamers expect that "here is what STR can lift" chart.  Reaction time for hitting the brakes based on various PER and DEX combinations, not so much.  I did not find the lift chart spawned the campaign norm DCs so much as the sample characters did.  If my character is supposed to be a strong Super, it seems like he should be at least as strong as that Ogre guy in the back of the rules (or that Obsidian guy for 4e).

 

Second, I find a lot of games struggle with the "lift versus damage" element of STR.  High STR in V&V massively ramped up damage on a scale no other attacks could match.  M&M tossed in the "super-lift" type power to compensate for the limited lift a high STR would grant under d20 charts.  Hero has moved to the "maybe it should be less outside Supers games", but the idea that a person of average STR can stagger a few steps under the weight of another person, or drag them along with some effort, does not seem unrealistic.   The doubling scale may be an issue, but if you ramp it up faster, we get 20 STR "normal humans" lifting, say, 900 kg.  Part of the problem is the seeming insistence that we should be able to explain world record weightlifting, Hulk-level STR and a normal human bench press.  Are all of these truly necessary for a cinematic action game?  Maybe a STR roll should be unmodified to heft your maximum weight and stagger a half move forward, under great encumbrance.

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On 2/15/2019 at 7:37 PM, Killer Shrike said:

I'll grant you are older, but I'd be interested in a system to quantify wisdom if you have one.

 

Anyway, we have indeed "known" each other for many years virtually, and you may or may not realize it but you're on my short list of people whose opinion on this game I most respect. 

I very much appreciate that.  As for a system for quantifying Wisdom, well, that is probably what honest obituaries are for.  I so want to put a smiley face in there, but, again, I'm not going to.  I could probably build something in Hero to make me look wiser, but it would almost definitely involve Mental Illusions.

 

On 2/15/2019 at 7:37 PM, Killer Shrike said:

 

I'm ok with that; I tend to distrust people who "smile too much". In all seriousness, I did not mean to offend with terseness; I assumed that your long-demonstrated thick skin and long familiarity with my communication style would be sufficient for you to take me at face value in asking a clarifying question. So, apologies, and in future I'll refrain from posting if I don't have the time to be less direct / terse. 

No need to apologise to me: it wouldn't be half as much fun if we couldn't have a frank and honest discussion or were worried overly much whether out opinions and way of expressing them might offend anyone.  It's been a weird week: I became a grandfather.  Normal service will be resumed soon.

 

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2 hours ago, Sean Waters said:

As for a system for quantifying Wisdom, well, that is probably what honest obituaries are for.  

 

This statement appeals to me.

 

2 hours ago, Sean Waters said:

it wouldn't be half as much fun if we couldn't have a frank and honest discussion or were worried overly much whether out opinions and way of expressing them might offend anyone. 

 

That's how I see it as well.

 

2 hours ago, Sean Waters said:

It's been a weird week: I became a grandfather.  

 

Congrats!

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3 hours ago, Hugh Neilson said:

While we often say Hero has no built-in setting assumptions, the provision of stats for real-world items does set some assumptions in the setting.  Like "few guns will instantly kill a target", or "here is the DC required to reliably crush a vehicle".

 

Ya. Regardless of setting the game intrinsically has an assumption of "normal" in the form of normal people with 10's down the line (or 8's, later on). What "normal" people can do, what they can interact with in their world, what can hurt them, etc, all derive from there. Scaling up from that baseline works out best in my experience for actual usage of the system, rather than trying to come in from the top and just slap down some numbers with no attempt to reconcile them to "normal".

 

I have a tangent on that re: relative SPD but it will take more time than I have right now to type out, so maybe Uncle Shrike will do another storytime tonight after the fam is asleep.

 

Quote

Two things. First, many gamers expect that "here is what STR can lift" chart.  Reaction time for hitting the brakes based on various PER and DEX combinations, not so much. 

 

I imagine that may be true. Personally, I want everything of the same general category of thing to be at the same general level of granularity. So if one mechanic is concretely defined I would expect its peer mechanics to be concretely defined and everything derived from them to be concretely defined.

 

If all the other mechanics are loosely defined and then I bump into an anomaly that is concretely defined, it's a red flag of inconsistency, and I would expect to discover things derived from the concretely defined mechanic and things derived from the abstractly defined mechanics to either be at odds with one another or incompatible or at least to find problematic issues in the grey areas between them and where they overlap. 

 

Quote

I did not find the lift chart spawned the campaign norm DCs so much as the sample characters did.  If my character is supposed to be a strong Super, it seems like he should be at least as strong as that Ogre guy in the back of the rules (or that Obsidian guy for 4e).

 

I may have had an (dis?)(a)dvantage there as I used #500 Hero System Rulebook, and also was using the Hero System for things other than Champions Universe from the jump. 

 

Full disclosure, I did acquire a BBB as well, but the binding broke pretty early on and I 3-hole punched it; I put the Champions stuff in one binder that I rarely looked at and the rules stuff in another binder that I let the players use as a table reference and to borrow. I initially had one copy of #500 Hero System Rulebook that was my copy, highlighted. I started to acquire more copies whenever I could, and used them as bait to hook new players.

 

Anyway, I'm pretty sure the first few sessions I ran of HS were supers of our own creation as a sort of informal extension of a FASERIP campaign we had previously played set in an alternate dimension of Marvel Earth, but I took the "Any Time...Anywhere...Any Power Level" blurb on the back of the book seriously and started using the system as a system replacement for other games and to express campaigns of my own imagining.

 

Quote

Second, I find a lot of games struggle with the "lift versus damage" element of STR.  High STR in V&V massively ramped up damage on a scale no other attacks could match.  M&M tossed in the "super-lift" type power to compensate for the limited lift a high STR would grant under d20 charts.  Hero has moved to the "maybe it should be less outside Supers games", but the idea that a person of average STR can stagger a few steps under the weight of another person, or drag them along with some effort, does not seem unrealistic.   The doubling scale may be an issue, but if you ramp it up faster, we get 20 STR "normal humans" lifting, say, 900 kg.  Part of the problem is the seeming insistence that we should be able to explain world record weightlifting, Hulk-level STR and a normal human bench press.  Are all of these truly necessary for a cinematic action game?  Maybe a STR roll should be unmodified to heft your maximum weight and stagger a half move forward, under great encumbrance.

 

I don't want to segue into other game break downs on this thread, but it might be cool to start a thread where we all detail how STR is handled in every game we each know of. I know of and have played several games where it either wasn't directly defined or was only vaguely defined, as well as games where it is precisely defined.

 

A lot of it has to do with whether a particular game is oriented towards Gamist, Simulationist, or Narrative. And I know some people roll their eyes and scoff at GNS discussions. But I don't think even the most eye-rolliest GNS hater could deny that a Sim system attempting to simulate real world things existentially wants to stipulate specific values when quantifying real world considerations, while a gamist system just provides bonuses or effect (+1 to hit, +1 to damage, % to break normal stuff, etc) and cares less about measuring or simulating things to a great level of specificity beyond what's necessary to derive game stats, and a narrative system only cares for purposes of justifying impact on a story. 

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On 2/16/2019 at 11:00 AM, Hugh Neilson said:

that "maximum becomes minimum" issue

 

I've been thinking about why I don't quite resonate with the concern over "caps becomes minimums"... but couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then I realized it was simply my perspective was slightly different. If someone says "60AP or 12d6 Cap," or whatever... I realize I never ever thought of them as caps... but averages.

 

When our group short hands "This is a 12d6 game" we aren't talking about caps, we are talking about "The average base attack" and every power/build will be judged against that average. A gut check "Is this particular build/power/maneuver combo more or less or around the same effectiveness as a 12d6 attack? If so, cool. If a weaker than average, does it makes sense/is the player ok with that? If stronger than average, is it too much? Will it unbalance or make the game unfun? 

 

Essentially, I was never giving a "cap" to the game, but the average that players should aim for as a guide to their builds. Flexing around 12d6 effectiveness (as an example) is generally the expectation for that game/campaign/sub-campaign. 

 

Maybe that is a better way to think about it? It just occurred to me, rather than anything I've formally established.

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So I was thinking about DCs and caps and such, and got to messing with an old spreadsheet I started ages ago and got this.  It is a very basic way of comparing two characters and how much difference a point or two of extra Combat Value or DC will make.  There are any number of problems with this approach, of course, as it necessarily runs on averages - it would be more accurate to actually do a breakdown of a hundred combats but I lack the maths and programming skill.  Nonetheless, it is interesting.  There are other factors at play in Hero too: every so often a roll exceeds the targets CON, which usually has a dramatic effect on a fight, or you just keep rolling badly.  Moreover battles are rarely one on one.  It is not a bad gauge of how long combats will go on for though and gives a feel for how tweaking one number or another might impact the game.

 

Most of the games we play in do have DC caps, and often AP caps too.  We are not obsessive about it, and you can trade DCs and CV to an extent, but generally in a 12DC game, most of the characters will do 12DC of damage or less.  

 

Say you have a 12DC game, and one character has a 14d6 attack - only a couple of dice but it hugely increases the chance that they will land a Stunning blow and reduces the number of hits they have to land to KO an opponent.  Upping OCV by 2 or 3 points has a similar but less dramatic effect: a similar reduction in the overall length of combat but without the increased likelihood of stunning an opponent.

 

Of course if everyone is OCV/DCV 8 with a 12d6 attack, you might think that it would get monotonous, but that isn't my experience.  Look at the sample superhero characters in 6E2.  The OCV/DCV assumes levels are put on OCV.

 

Taurus: 10d6 attack, 10OCV/8DCV, 20/10 Defences, SPD 5 and 60 Stun 20 Rec

 

Eagle Eye: 12d6 kick 10OCV/9DCV, 21/11 19/11 Defences, SPD 6 and 30 Stun 8 Rec

 

Hardpoint: 12d6 Blast, 10OCV/8DCV, 20/15 Defences, 5 SPD and 36 Stun 20 Rec

 

Maelstrom: 12d6 Blast, 11OCV/8DCV, 23/10 27/10 Defences, 6 Spd, 40 Stun and 10 Rec

 

Out of interest, two of the four have MPs.  Most one on one's between this lot would not last a full turn.  Well, not if they were going all out to take the other fella down, anyway.

 

I'm sure there was more of a point to all this, but I've written it now, so I'll post it...

 

 

Hero Combat Comparator.xlsx

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When I am working on a campaign (as I currently am) I give the kind of average, everyday level of things.  I then have a straw man based on those numbers that I can compare characters to.

 

So if the straw man has a 12D6 attack, CV8, DEF 20 (10 of that resistant), MCV 4, SPD 5, STUN 45 then I can work out how much damage, toe to toe the character might take and dish out.

 

If the straw man fought the straw man I would see an average of 42 STUN and 12 BODY being fired at 20 DEF five times a round, that is 22 STUN through defences 62.5% of the time, five times a round or 13.75 STUN * 5 = 69 STUN a turn.

 

These are short combats if folk just stand and whale at each other.  

 

It is a rough and ready reckoner but useful in that it shows what the baseline combat is and changes to the attacks/defences and SPD all contribute.  I can also see where that leaves the combatants with regard to END (my straw men dont have such a consideration).  I can quickly spot someone dishing out/taking far more than the campaign average and someone dishing out/taking far less than the campaign average and see whether that fits with the rest of the character.

 

My preference is for attacks to be far superior to defences at baseline with characters able to ramp up defence and/or CV with corresponding compromises in offence or END use or something to begin to get a more dynamic combat.  I have found that if defences dominate then it gets very boring.  I want my characters to be worried about a big hit that takes them out and to work to deliver a big hit to take out an opponent.  Obviously there will be the odd character that does have bigger defences (just to mix things up) and they tend to anchor combats for each side.

 

Doc

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Doc, one question for that straw man - what are you expecting that average character's CON to be?  This is a campaign variable that seldom gets discussed - how often will a character be STUNned?

 

At 20 CON, the average hit will stun our typical character.  At 23, he will weather an average hit, but anything a bit over average and he loses a phase.  He probably needs a 30 CON to feel like only an exceptional hit will STUN him (14d6 on a good hit and 15d6 on an average hit - how far will common adversaries deviate from the baseline?).  I find it pretty common that players want being STUNned to be an uncommon to rare occurrence, but I can also see campaign design around that risk having a lot of impact on combat dynamics, in addition to character builds.

 

For example, if we assume a 23 CON baseline, I am more likely to sacrifice some OCV or SPD in exchange for higher damage to more reliably STUN the opponent, and less likely to consider dropping DEF/CON to enhance DCV, as a 37.5% (or 25%) chance of getting hit means a lot less if those hits will virtually always STUN me - and remove my DCV.  Dropping STUN to boost my DEF seems a much better tradeoff.

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Yup.  I had forgotten stunning when I was typing this.  I do look at the idea of stunning and I do like it being a factor.  The CON for this particular straw man is 25.

 

The point of this is that it gives me a baseline where I can talk to my players about what their combat effectiveness or lack of comes to.  I make it clear that they are not likely to face a straw man in combat, their opponents will be a mixture of stuff around these values (as will the characters).

 

Doc

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