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CrosshairCollie

Potential Campaign Pitfalls

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Two things I'm pondering for the new game that I fear might generate unforeseen issues, one mechanically, one more narrative.

 

1. What I've heard called 'Normal Characteristic Maxima' Champions; the characters don't get beyond-NCM characteristics without a justification.  The main thing I think of is that lower-than-typical CONs mean more Stuns thrown about.  Anything else anybody can think of?

 

2. I wanted to mimic an episode from the Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon and have the Champions 'killed' (no bodies, of course), and the PCs are recruited as the New Champions.  The problem is, I have only three players, and it seems like one would be replaced with at least close to the same number of heroes.  I was pondering the idea of each player having two characters.  Not at the same time, though, but choose whichever one they wanted to use on a 'mission-to-mission' basis, but that seems pretty cumbersome.  Any thoughts on that potential issue?

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1: The effects of that are going to depend entirely on what constitutes "a justification" and the power level of the game. 

I worry that Player A will bring a good justification for high values and Player B won't, leading to Player B feeling horribly out-matched or unfairly penalized.  Concept Superiority is a bad thing.  Don't punish somebody for not having a "strong idea"! 

Being capped to 20 CON and 8 PD in a game where 8d6 attacks are the norm is going to lead to unpleasant combat.  Being capped to the same values in a game where 5d6 is the norm will be a lot less of a problem. 

Overall it seems like a giant pile of problems waiting to happen, and I'd advise against it.  What was the perceived benefit you were hoping these caps would provide your game? 

 

2: Character creation is involved enough that I'd expect some players to balk at the idea of doing it twice for one game.  I'd also expect some of your players would decide to permanently sideline one of the characters they made just because they like the other more. 

Other options that come to mind would be to make it a plot point that they're understaffed, to introduce some NPC members of the team they could call on if they wanted (or not if they didn't), or just not bring it up. 

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Ok anything less than 18 can be problematic however if you want people have a little higher CON,  let them buy the normal CON then say + 5 CON as a Power. Then justification is they are the Players/Heroes. 

 

Having a second Character isn’t that bad of an idea.  And it doesn’t have to be that involved either. Do you have any villain books or old rulebook sample characters?  See if any of them strike their fancy and snip and cut-new character. The advantage is that if the players have different style of characters and if they don’t always get together, you can swap as needed or wanted. Btw a favorite character of mine was a heroic version of Pulsar.

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1 hour ago, Gnome BODY (important!) said:

What was the perceived benefit you were hoping these caps would provide your game?

It makes sense, for starters.  It also fits the comics better.  Most superheroes don't have superhuman characteristics, unless that's an aspect of their powers.  If you're a well-trained normal, your characteristics should reflect that, IMHO.  Black Widow or Hawkeye would not, IMHO, have any superhuman characteristics.  Ant-Man would only have them as a side-effect of Growth.  Iceman, Cyclops, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Batman, Green Lantern (human ones, anyway), Green Arrow ... on and on and on, and that's just in general.  Most Bricks shouldn't have superhuman DEX.  Most blasters and martial artists shouldn't have superhuman STR.  This is also going to apply to the villains, as well, if that was a question.  Also, 6e seems first edition where it's even possible, due to decoupling figured characteristics.  In my first Champs game, 26 DEX was bottom of the initiative order and I've often thought that was absurd.

 

Having a strong character concept doesn't require having a strong character mechanically.  Again, looking at the source material, you've got Ant-Man and Thor hanging around together and it works just fine.  Not everybody has to be a powerhouse, everyone just has to be able to contribute.  And besides, a 60 STR and a 12d6 Blast still do the same damage, the second character's STR attribute is irrelevant.

 

20 CON and 8PD would suck if that 8 was their entire PD score.  There's going to be Combat Luck or Resistant Protection.  I've been playing since 1989, I understand the concept of attack/defense ratios.  Smaller numbers are also just, in my experience, easier to deal with, and if nothing else, the points not spent on out-of-character attributes get spent other places.

 

All that said, you do raise some tersely-worded valid points, and given me things to thank about, thank you.

 

To the second response, I'm the only person in the group who knows how to put a character together, so all the number-crunching is on me.

 

EDIT: Looking through the Solo villains book, it looks like most villains in there follow the 'no superhuman stats without a reason' principle.  Blowtorch, NCM. Alchemica, NCM.  Ambush, Buzzsaw, Capt. Chronos, Doubledealer ...

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If you're making the characters, then why even bother with caps?  Just give the character the values you feel are reasonable. 

If a PC later wants to increase something beyond what you expect for their concept, that suggests that the player is viewing the number or concept differently than you are and thus you two should be sitting down and figuring out where the difference in opinion stems from. 

 

2 hours ago, CrosshairCollie said:

Only if the players choose to do so, and mine don't think like that.

Then it's a tactical choice the players are deliberately blind to.  Pretending concept superiority doesn't exist doesn't make it go away. 

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I would say Crosshair Collie that even though a skill roll 11- is considered professional, depending on the skill and Power it may be attached to, 11- is too low. I can see low being  considered 13-. Here I would favor game play over Meta. Again if you need a justification,  their players.

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7 hours ago, Greywind said:

You do realize that Black Widow was dosed with the Russian version of the Super Soldier Formula, don't you?

I did not.  I'm going to assume this is a recent retcon or an MCU invention, because she definitely was not in her original comics incarnation.

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

Then it's a tactical choice the players are deliberately blind to.  Pretending concept superiority doesn't exist doesn't make it go away. 

Or we're not pretending and it doesn't.  The more I think about it, the more I really don't understand what you're on about.  Not having superhuman characteristics does not mean one character is going to hog the spotlight or make everybody else feel superfluous.  To grab numbers out of thin air, compare someone 50 STR as his best offense with someone with a 20d6 EB.  The former has superhuman characteristics, the latter does not.  And yet, in terms of raw offense, which is more powerful?

 

Please explain what 'concept superiority' means in at least some detail.

 

 

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C. Collie I get where you your going with this. (Thumbs up btw). I figured out what SFX is when I suggest “Normal” but high side of “Normal” is Cinematic Normal. So I’ve come to the conclusion (for myself) that if someone wants Swarchennegger strong from Commando, then 25 STR isn’t unreasonable however, Even Jon Stewart GL shouldn’t have 25 STR. 

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Btw Crosshair Collie i feel that you are going to be generous with justification. For example say I would come to you with a Stretch type guy. I say rubber is strong.  I know that that shouldn’t allow me with say 60 STR but I feel that could justify anywhere from 20 to 35 Max STR. 

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1 hour ago, CrosshairCollie said:

I did not.  I'm going to assume this is a recent retcon or an MCU invention, because she definitely was not in her original comics incarnation.

 

Quote

Different than the Black Widow of the MCU that was born in the 80s, the official Black Widow of the comics is unique because superheroes are often ageless as they move through the decades. Other than Captain America, whose key trait is being a man living in a different time, Natasha is one of the only heroes with a clear birthdate in the comics, and that’s because it’s so integral to her backstory.

Born in 1928 and orphaned during an attack on Stalingrad during WWII, Soviet soldiers rescued her and she was eventually induced into a secret USSR sleeper agent program. Trained with a team of elite female agents, Natasha was brainwashed, implanted with false memories, and continually refined to eventually become a bad-ass killing machine. And from there she became the Black Widow, which wasn’t just a cool name she got to pick, but was rather something not very creative at all considering the next fact…

 

Quote

File this one under “not in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet” but Black Widow is very much a traditional superhero in the sense that she’s biologically advanced and not your average human. Having been given a serum very similar to Steve Rogers’ Super Soldier Serum during her time in the Black Widow Program, Natasha Romanoff is actually resistant to aging and disease, and she has the same super-human strength and agility that Captain America has. That explains why she’s got to keep her 1928 birthdate this long.

Slipping in some technological enhancements along with her biological ones, the Black Widow Program did a good job of creating the Black Widow we all know and training her to utilize her added skills. Having been broken down and built up to become the ultimate weapon, Black Widow is very much the Russian version of Captain America; which could explain why they get along so well as two sides of the same coin. And on top of all of this, Natasha was trained by Bucky after he had become the Winter Soldier. And that’s when she really came into her own and learned to fight, including with weapons we’ve yet to see on-screen…

Quote

Though the Black Widow of the Marvel Cinematic Universe may seem to have two pistols and (more recently) some type of electric suit, in reality (or comic book reality at least) Black Widow can do a heck of a lot more than shoot people. Adept at nearly every type of martial arts, Black Widow doesn’t even need a weapon if she wants to take someone down. Sure, we’ve seen some of her hand-to-hand combat skills in the MCU, but thanks to the serum she was given by the Black Widow Program she’s also a world-class athlete and is gifted with agility greater than any Olympic gold medalist.

Add to all of that an arsenal of weapons that were designed specifically for her by Soviet scientists as well as S.H.I.E.L.D., and you have a superhero who can do a whole lot more than shoot a gun. Armed with “Widow’s Line” grappling hooks, aerosol knock-out gas, a belt of plastic-explosive-charged discs, and tear gas pellets, Black Widow has a variety of ways to take down enemies. And if getting to those enemies is an issue, she also has a costume outfitted with micro-suction cups which allow her to adhere to walls and ceilings, very much like an actual Black Widow. And like a Black Widow, Black Widow is not someone you’d want to see coming near you, especially in her early days when her bite was directed at the good guys…

 

There ya go.

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39 minutes ago, CrosshairCollie said:

Please explain what 'concept superiority' means in at least some detail.

 

Damage is easy to get around - lots of attack powers are out there other than STR. 

 

I typically see issues like the following:

 

 - CON - how much STUN are you expecting the average Supers attack to pass through after defenses?  In a typical 12 DC, 20 - 25 defenses game, an average hit passes 17-22 STUN through to the target.  Most players will not like the idea of being stunned by a third or more attacks that hit them, much less having it be the norm.  The only ways around that are higher defense to DC ratios (so maybe that 12 DC game has 30-35 defenses, and only a tiny bit of STUN damage from each attack, so fights now take forever) or allowing higher CON.  If you went with an 8 DC norm for attacks, and 15-18 defenses, then an average attack would do 8-13 STUN, and CONs of 18-20 would keep most attacks from stunning.

 

 - CV - how many Champions characters are in the 6-7 CV range?  That's about the top of NCM.  And the ones in the source material who seem to have superior CV are the Hawkeyes and Black Widows who seem much more agile than their superpowered (and not NCM restricted) teammates.  Does Captain America have markedly better OCV and DCV to Hawkeye?

 

 - The Big One - SPEED - capping speed at 4 in a typical Supers game just does not work.

 

When my "highly skilled normal human" cannot have SPD or CV comparable with other characters, and is stunned by the average attack (or is forced to buy CV through the vastly more costly combat skill level), then he cannot compete,, is no fun to play and the concept is relegated to the trash heap.

 

 

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Hugh I don’t believe that what Crosshair Collie is doing is “typical” game.

 

And (Perhaps I missed it) I didn’t see where he was capping anything either. CC is just asking to justify higher stats 

Edited by Ninja-Bear
Another thought

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Probably the best way to check damage in a NCM game is to make powers no greater than martial arts, since you will probably let martial arts in the game.  Cap damage at 8d6N(a 20 str person doing an offensive strike).

 

The next step is to determine how much focii defenses are available.  If you look at Western Hero, pistols did about 1d6 to 1d6+1 Killing.  While those same weapons in a modern game would do about 1.5d6 to 2d6 Killing.  This is probably due to the fact that there isn't much resistant defenses in Western games for characters to wear.  In a fantasy game where there is heavy metal armor, you will notice the amount of killing damage going even higher.  Thus you either want to make resistant defenses available as common focii, allow lots of Combat luck, or reduce the cap for Killing.  Otherwise, every character will have a killing attack if not several.

 

Other considerations are hit locations, impairment/wounding, and levels.

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10 hours ago, CrosshairCollie said:

Please explain what 'concept superiority' means in at least some detail.

A concept which permits a greater range of desirable traits. 

 

Alan describes his character as "Bruce Lee, but in spandex and a mask". 

Beth describes her character as "Female Bruce Lee, but with super soldier serum".  She's got a justification for superhuman Characteristics that Alan lacks, but can justify any kung-fu Alan can since she's also playing a martial arts type. 

Carl describes his character as "The bastard child of Ares, taught temperance and virtue by the family of immigrant monks who raised him (kung-fu monks of course, this is comicland)".  He's got a justification for everything Alan and Beth have, plus magical powers since his character is a demigod. 

 

Alan describes his brick as being strong due to being made of metal. 

Beth describes her brick as being strong due to being an alien robot.  She's got just as much "metal brickiness" as Alan, but can also include laser guns, jetpacks, and other super-science gadgets in her powerset. 

 

Alan describes his character as a person surgically grafted to a wolf, the result of a supervillain's surgical experiments. 

Beth describes her character as a werewolf.  She's got as much wolf-man cred as Alan, but also magical strength and transformation.  (Just needs to be careful around silver)

Carl describes his character as having been blessed by the ever-changing moon and thus able to freely change his shape in turn.  He's got the same wolf-man gimmick, but can hot-swap that "wolf" out for any animal he feels. 

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11 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

C. Collie I get where you your going with this. (Thumbs up btw). I figured out what SFX is when I suggest “Normal” but high side of “Normal” is Cinematic Normal. So I’ve come to the conclusion (for myself) that if someone wants Swarchennegger strong from Commando, then 25 STR isn’t unreasonable however, Even Jon Stewart GL shouldn’t have 25 STR. 

 

 

Forgive me if the STR Chart has changed (I straight-up don't know; I yet again admit to only skimming the majority of 6e.  I won't live long enough to have the spare time to read it the way things have been going since its release).

 

Champions (4e)

 

Quote

25          800kg           5D6          5"

 

 

Wikipedia, regarding Paul Anderson

 

Quote

The Guinness Book of World Records (1985 edition) lists his feat of lifting 6,270 pounds (2,850 kg) in a back lift as "the greatest weight ever raised by a human being".

 

(emphasis not added by me or wikipedia; just a weird result of the search).

 

I could have gone with less impressive numbers, but Paul Anderson is a local hero where I live, so that's where I went.  :lol:

 

At any rate, while truly exceptional, 800 kg is within the range of humanly possible.  It even reinforces the idea of a "maximum" when compared to the number of people who have managed to do it.

 

Not looking to start a storm here.  And in the interest of full disclosure, I am one of the people totally opposed to NCM in a supers game.  Or any other game, really, if it's taken as a points-worthy Disad.  Rather, I find it should be either in the campaign guidelines for everyone (i.e., most Heroic stuff) or it should not be there at all.   From my own experience, if someone _truly_ wants to play a "normal human," they will make a normal human without any Rule Hammer being invoked.  I did want to point out, though, that while neither I nor likely anyone I'll ever know can "just barely lift and stagger around a few steps" with 800 kg, there really are normal people who have managed to pull it off, and I have no problem including it into the "maximum humanly possible."

 

 

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Duke as someone else suggested this, I agree. In the movie Commando (I still remember my dad complaining that no one could carry that log) you saw Arnie flip a car and carry a huge  log, yet he was “Normal”-or in this case Cinematic Normal, so I’m fine with 25 STR. Is it correct by the STR chart? No. I still feel though that it’s still within the spirit of Benchmark and Justification (Cinematic Brick Normal) that Crosshair Collie mentioned in the original post. Now if a player came with 25 STR and justification was bookworm with magic ring? Then no.

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On 7/12/2019 at 3:33 PM, Greywind said:

You do realize that Black Widow was dosed with the Russian version of the Super Soldier Formula, don't you?

 

While this is actually irrelevant to the main point of the thread, there is an easy explanation for this.

 

Black Widow's (original) origin is tied up with the Soviet Union, which hasn't existed for nearly 30 years. If it is to be preserved, some kind of retcon dodge needs to be applied.

 

The same issue happened with Nick Fury decades ago. If he was still supposed to have fought in WW2 and be active in "the present", he clearly couldn't have aged at a normal rate. So it was retconned that he used a super-soldier formula variant. (Or some other nonsense along the same lines - I can't be bothered looking up the exact details.)

 

There's no need to take this stuff seriously - it's just a dodge to plug a hole in the character's logic. Other solutions would be equally valid/nonsensical.

 

Basically, both characters should still be treated as Highly Trained Normals, IMHO.

 

Which brings us back to the actual point of the thread.

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3 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

May I suggest something radical? Agents should have no more than Speed 2 (unless really special). And perhaps regular people really only act as Speed 1?

 

Not much point. Speed 3 was designed to be the slot for agents, in between normal people and the slowest superheroes/villains. The latter get more screen time because they are the characters the game is about.

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3 hours ago, Ninja-Bear said:

Duke as someone else suggested this, I agree. In the movie Commando (I still remember my dad complaining that no one could carry that log) you saw Arnie flip a car and carry a huge  log, yet he was “Normal”-or in this case Cinematic Normal, so I’m fine with 25 STR. Is it correct by the STR chart? No. I still feel though that it’s still within the spirit of Benchmark and Justification (Cinematic Brick Normal) that Crosshair Collie mentioned in the original post. Now if a player came with 25 STR and justification was bookworm with magic ring? Then no.

 

Assuming NCM, that 25 STR would cost Arnie 20 points (double cost over 20) and his strength would be Legendary (21 - 30).  So now the question becomes whether everyone on the PC team can be legendary at all and, if so, whether they can be legendary in multiple characteristics.  Does everyone have CON like Rasputin, DEX and SPD of Bruce Lee and STR of Arnie? 

 

If the goal is "characters have normal human stats unless their concept is "legendary" or "superhuman" and this is accompanied by dropping DEX, SPD and CON of all published characters across the board, there's no reason that can't work.  Normals, including most agents, get a 2 SPD.  Supers might have the occasional slow Super with a 2 SPD, a standard of 3-4 and only the occasionally superhumanly fast SPD of 5 or 6.  Subtract 2 from SPD of every published Super and you are likely in the ballpark.  Agents are comparable to Supers because Supers don't have Superhuman SPD automatically.

 

Drop CVs  by, say, 3 across the board.  Slow Supers may have a 3-4 (8 - 12 DEX).  Average Supers have 5 (15 or so DEX) and exceptional ones have 6 (17-18 DEX).  Occasionally, we see a 7 CV/20 DEX, and only those for whom agility and CV is part of their SuperAbilities have an 8-10 CV (23-30 DEX).  Again, agents and others don't drop as much - many, even most, Supers are not as or more agile or combat-trained as VIPER agents.

 

CON can work similarly if DCs and defenses are set judiciously.

 

Take away that extra 10 DEX, 3 CV and 2 SPD, then drop END, reduced END and REC for the slower burn of END, and those characters recover quite a few points to spend on something else.  With lower DC and defense caps, and CON, they should be pretty versatile.

 

To me, at least, the key is comparability between the PCs.  If the "trained normal" with a 20 DEX, 7 CV and 4 SPD is exceptionally fast compared to the Norse God, Hulking Brute and Power Armor Genius, that game can work.  If he's the same as them, or lagging behind, "trained normal" becomes "comic relief sidekick".

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