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  • 11twiggins
    started a topic Why are Elder Powers so... awful?

    Why are Elder Powers so... awful?

    Seriously. Some Elder powers are so mind-bogglingly terrible that I have ZERO clue how anyone thought they were worth the Generation, EXP and Freebies associated with them. Plenty of Level 6 powers are potent, such as Farsight and Loyalty and Flesh of Marble... but most, in my experience, are hyper-situational and underpowered.

    Lore of the Bloodlines has some really... wonderful examples.

    Calling Song is a contrived plot device power which is clearly not for PCs, yes, but it's also not very powerful at all. It's a Level 8 power and it's just... Presence 4? With some minor and situational benefits which could easily be outstripped by taking Presence 6?

    Marrow Sucker... makes me angry. It upsets me how awful this power is. It lets your PC/NPC (a member of the 7th Generation, who is old enough to have Mastered Thanatosis up to level 6) get a meager amount of totally unsatisfying blood... from bones. Note that this is written in the same book as a 3 point merit which lets you get 5 points of blood from the bones of a body, and this power gives you 1 point from the bones of a body. This feels like a Thanatosis 1 + Necromancy 1 Combination power. And it cost the dumb NPC who chose it 25 EXP!

    Rewind and The Re-Embrace are not TERRIBLE powers, but they are level 8 and 7 (respectively) and deliver... situational and under-whelming benefits.

    Vicissitude is a bloody treasure trove for this. Cocoon. Ever worried you might be killed? Well now you're utterly immobile and protected by an underwhelming layer of defensive goop! That's certainly better than, I don't know, taking Blood Form. Wait, actually, yeah, you could just take Blood Form. Kraken's Kiss. Ooh! Your face is Cthulu now! And it's... mechanically underwhelming. You need to succeed in a difficulty 8 roll to just summon them, and they do lackluster damage and drain some blood, and are a bit harder to break out of than a normal Grapple. Or you could, I don't know... grapple and bite them? The silly bit is that you've grappled someone 4 feet away (yeah, they're not that long)... oh, wait, that was a joke. It's 1 foot. A 1 foot long set of tentacles. Regardless, someone just has to chop the calamari off of your face and you're now looking like the silliest Tzimisce (say that fast 10 times in a row while drunk) in the Pack. Breath of the Dragon? Wow! Something inferior to Lure of Flames 3, a power you can get for far less EXP? Definitely worthy of being a Level 8 power.

    Thanatosis. Oh, you thought you were off the hook? No. At level 7 you have a power that makes Ash Form... not shit. It literally just makes Ash Form somewhat akin to Mist Form, as you can move and retain your senses. Oh, but you are still a clumsy pile of ash traipsing across the floor. Ash Form should just do this stuff already. Level 8, you get Putrescent Servitude. Oh, a Ghoul who is utterly mindless and obedient, and looks like a bloody zombie. Oh, how wonderful. Except you can get a Ghoul who is mindful, fully obedient and looks like a normal person using Dominate, Presence or just the bloody blood bond! This is a slap in the face of game-balance, piss in the mouth of mechanical consistency, vandalism of the very concept of Elders being potent unstoppable forces of destruction and manipulation.

    Valeren and its cousins... nothing feels horrifically underpowered, just boring powers which fail to stick to any coherent theme, making you a Bard at level 7 who can help other people heal and overcome derangements and fight and march etc. using the Power of Song. I wonder what power this is stepping on the toes of?

    Serpentis. Hello you beautiful mess. Cobra's Fangs at level 6 requires you to grapple to bite, making it worse than the DA version of 2. It's also one of those potent powers which... kills mortals. Hurrah. Its effects against Cainites are good, killing most Neonates easily, but are you really struggling to kill Neonates? It's a good power, but in some regards it is clearly inferior to a Level 2 power. Ooh. Divine Image. Nice idea, but it's just horribly underpowered. +2 and +1 to a few Attributes. Hurray for level 7 powers. +2 Willpower, but limited to 10, because it's not like the Manifestation of a God could ever exceed the limits of human Willpower, is it. Heart Thief is nice and I won't rag on it, but I feel like Level 8 is overkill despite it being a cool power.

    Potence. Oh dear.

    "What if an Elder could show off their strength by leaving their hand print on solid steel?"
    "That sounds like something they could do anyways by blood pumping their Strength a bit, since their Generational Maximum blood expenditure is at least 4 and their Potence is at least 5, making leaving a dent in Steel a small jump upwards... and speaking of jumps, can't they just do a literal jump, which their Potence will make laughably easy, rather than squeezing handholds into the surface? Besides, you're leaving the imprints behind, which is a horrific Masquerade Breach (if an odd one) and also makes it easy for someone to pursue you."
    Imprint lets you do incredible things like... crushing a gun in your hand. You know, you could use that gun. Or throw it away. I mean you have Potence 6, is someone successfully taking anything you're holding?

    Presence is... surprisingly solid. I can't find any dumb V20 ones.

    Protean. Restore the Mortal Visage is like a shitty excuse for Obfuscate 3, at level 7. Purify the Impaled Breast is just... no. You're talking about a Level 8 power, and stakes are utterly useless against someone with (I don't know) Fortitude 5 and Flesh of Marble. There is NO chance of a stake actually putting a Generation 5 Gangrel into Torpor. At one level lower you have a power which lets you turn into Mist at will for an automatic dodge; that's infinitely superior and far less limited! This power feels so niche and pointless.

    Obtenebration. How can you go from utterly broken to laughably weak? The Darkness Within is a joke of a power. Each turn someone is enveloped they need to roll Stamina (6) and failure means you get a point of their Blood. It's not like you can, I don't know, pin them with your OP Tentacle Powers and drink them dry using your... phangs? Fangs?

    Scrawl! Obfuscate now Malkavians leave coded messages that only certain people can read! Or you could... IDK, meet with them? Talk to them? Use an actual code with redundant symbols and cryptographic methods which make it nearly impossible to decipher without the key? You could have taken Obfuscate 6; Conceal, which would make covert meetings nearly 100% safe (meeting in an invisible car after walking invisible to the car), but instead you go for... this?

    Personal Armour. You roll your Fortitude (difficulty 8) and if your successes beat those of the person who attacked you, their weapon shatters. If they have so few successes on the attack roll that your 5-6 dice against difficulty 8 can trump it, then their attack was no threat at all and likely neither are they. It's impressive and showy, but Fortitude 6's vanilla power is pretty showy as well. Utter waste of EXP. Curse the Laurel. Outside of being thematically odd (reshaping the heart feels like Protean or Viccisitude, but okay) it's not going to be a problem since no stake is breaking through an Elder with Fortitude 6. Alabastard is... okay? Ignoring Wound Penalties implies that you've taken damage in the first place, making this a tad situational for someone with Fortitude 6. Another level 6 power lets you invert Wound Penalties, making them positive, so this feels like a bit of an odd choice. Adamantine is an okay power built on a foundation made of pure bullshit. It's like Personal Armour, but if the power works you take no damage. Tell me, if you have Fortitude 8 and the attack you face has so few successes that you can override it with a Fortitude roll (difficulty 8), what are the odds of you not just soaking the damage anyways?

    All of the Elder "you're insane now top bant" powers are nothing when compared to the RAW version of Dementation 5 that all STs houserule. Babble is nice as it's like a walkie talkie but invisible, and I'll admit that it's a fair level 6 power. Restructure is cool since you can totally recreate a person, but with Auspex 7 you could find the correct person rather than renovating one you already know. Personal Scourge is DEADLY against most powerful Cainites, well worth the investment, since the stronger your mind is the harder it is to beat. Lunatic Eruption (9) says "f*** you" to a whole city. It's... good as a plot device and I won't harp on how over the top it is, since lower level powers grant you scalpel-like precision, having a nuke in your arsenal is still useful even if it's crude.

    Chimerstry... they're all great, to no one's surprise. There's a reason I write out Chimerstry and make it a set of Elder Obfuscate powers which only the Ravnos know, by and large (Chimerstry 1-3 is a level 6 Obfuscate power at my table). They're nice additions to the way the powers currently work, and each is scary in its own right.

    All of the Celerity Elder powers are neat, except for Tireless Tread, which can be emulated using Animalism 1 and a single point of Blood. That's in the DA. In modern nights it can be emulated by a car or motorcycle. You're telling me that the Elders of the Anarchs during the Revolt couldn't get a Horse ghouled and just use it? Much less of a Masquerade issue, much cheaper, much simpler.

    Flight... I can't see the appeal of Level 6 and higher in Flight. I'd argue that moving beyond Level 2-3 in Flight is a push. Yes, an ancient Gargoyle with Flight 7 would be terrifying (moving at 180kph), but they'd be scarier with literally any other set of powers. Save yourself a tonne of EXP and invest in... Thaumaturgy? Celerity? Protean? Anything but Flight. If you wanted to fix this, make the upgrades exponential rather than linear.

    Obedience lets you Dominate through skin contact. Eye contact is much more subtle and useful. If you can touch someone's skin, you can usually see their eyes. Overly situational, and feels like a Dominate 1 Auspex 3 combo, or a 3 point Merit.

    Animal Succulence would be awesome, if feeding were an issue for Generation 7 Gangrel/Ravnos/Nosferatu. Situationally good for those seeking Golconda, but beaten by Bardo 3. Shared Soul is a pile of fluff with no real crunch. Species Speech fixes a Problem with Animalism 1 that Animalism 1 doesn't state. Eye of the Szlachta is Dominate 5, but more expensive, and attached to a worse Discipline. On top of that, it's more specific and only works on your Ghouls. Conquer the Beast is mechanically inferior to Having Instinct. It's also a Level 7 power. Level 8 can make someone Frenzy, how cool! Except you can easily do that with many, many powers which don't cost tonnes of EXP to reach, like Way of Sorrow 2 and Melpominee 5 and Dementation 4. For Level 9 powers, Unchain the Beast and Flesh Bond are laughably weak. UtB does Aggravated damage to a pitifully low degree, and would easily be outcompeted by MANY other powers at level 6 and lower. Flesh Bond is... dumb. Very specific, and very dumb. If you're a Generation 4 Tzimisce you do not need to hide inside of an animal. Stop being silly. Blood Form. Disguising yourself. Using Auspex to find a place to hide.

    Mummification... if you have someone incapacitated, you don't need to wrap them in Bandages and Mummify them. You could just put them in a man-made structure which is inescapable. Utter waste. Boon of Anubis is very situational since it relies on you knowing someone might be Embraced beforehand, and only saves them if their method of death was blood-draining. And since their Sire won't have left them, their coming back to life will be short-lived (pun intended).

    Auspex. They're all great. Not necessarily balanced against eachother, and they vary in strength, but they're all worth the investment.
    Last edited by 11twiggins; 04-06-2017, 01:32 PM.

  • Herr Meister
    replied
    Originally posted by Matt the Bruins fan View Post

    That wasn't created in V5, it was created in 2nd Edition. But it was a sixth dot Protean power rather than Fortitude. V5 (rightly) ported it over to Fortitude instead and changed the mechanics up somewhat.

    No, man, lol! I know full well that there's a protean power called Skin of Marble(in fact there's basically no power in the WoD that I'm not aware of...), but I mean the mechanic and the fact that they finally made it into a Fortitude power instead of a Protean power. The first variation of Skin of Marble was a passive level 6 Protean power that reduced the damage the vampire took by half, then Revised made it cost blood, instead of being passive. The system of the new Skin of Marble (that is now a Fortitude power) is very interesting and new and is something that should have been created long time ago. I mean Fortitude should have powers to ignore damage and/or create resistance to certain kinds of damage or whatever, instead they never created anything interesting, even though one might argue that Knight's Bane is a somewhat good power, it doesn't improve the resistance to damage, only make the weapons shatter if they cause no damage. The new Skin of Marble does something interesting and something that should be a thing long time ago.

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  • Matt the Bruins fan
    replied
    Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post
    One of the few interesting things they created in V5 was that power Skin of Marble, that lets you ignore the damage of the first attack you suffer every turn. It amazes me they only came up with something like that now, after all this time. It's already better than every Fortitude power from 6 to 9 in the previous versions.
    That wasn't created in V5, it was created in 2nd Edition. But it was a sixth dot Protean power rather than Fortitude. V5 (rightly) ported it over to Fortitude instead and changed the mechanics up somewhat.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    While soaking is arguably a problem when one thinks of the concept in the game as a whole, I don't think it's the reason Fortitude sucks. It's more because people failed to come up with anything interesting. Fortitude is even worse than other disciplines when it comes to be resistant to damage (the only thing that Fortitude should be about), even when thinking about elder powers. Serpentis, Protean, Daimoinon and even Thaumaturgy have many interesting defensive powers/rituals and Fortitude doesn't. One of the few interesting things they created in V5 was that power Skin of Marble, that lets you ignore the damage of the first attack you suffer every turn. It amazes me they only came up with something like that now, after all this time. It's already better than every Fortitude power from 6 to 9 in the previous versions. It's not that hard to think of interesting defensive powers, the problem is that they didn't even try to come up with such mechanics. Why not create powers like the werewolf gift Iron cannot bite or Requiem's Juggernaut's Gait? It's inexcusable they never came up with anything better than a power that let you ignore all damage taken during a scene that is not a combat scene (I mean wtf...but whatever, I have already posted a thread about this shitty power). The thing is that it's a huge oversight and nothing else and it's one of the (many) reasons I houserule about 90% of the things in the game and create my own powers whenever I ST.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    The overall problem with Fortitude is the problem with Soak rules. Soak is an extremely hard to adapt mechanic because it is a normal opposed roll for traits that simply aren't equivalent.

    Your soak pool naturally tends to be lower, because it would be impossible to work with if it was really equal to damage pools. They have a similar starting points, but wildly distinct ways to increase. As it is an opposed roll, it gets compared to other rolls and simply can't catch up with them, and as it opposes damage, if it does catch up it creates a problem with bogging fights down with more and more meaningless rolls.

    So, bottom line, it will never be balanced. It will be underwhelming until it suddenly becomes too good to be used.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    If one reads carefully, it's not hard to realize that, in general, V20 (especially DAV) buffed most discipline powers (naturally with a few exceptions, like shitting on Nagaraja's Nihilistics etc.), including elder powers. I see a progression in the editions, where Second Edition powers are the worst by far, most powers got better with every new edition. Fortitude is an odd exception, as I already said, even though it became a bit better, it's still probably the worst discipline in the game.

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  • Jackob
    replied
    Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
    One thing I noticed while going through older edition books is that while elder disciplines have always been a mixed bag, the tendency of elder disciplines to be complete crap wasn't there.

    Look at the Elder disciplines in Player's guides to the high/low clans for example, specifically the celerity elder powers. The elder powers for the physical disciplines are Full of crap in later editions, but in Guide to the high clans there isn't a single celerity power that wouldn't be worth taking.
    That made me smile. Thanks.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    Originally posted by Newb95 View Post
    DAV20 has fortitude changed to being able to soak your fortitude rating automatically then roll for soak with a point of blood.
    Then it is on DAV20 to also change the elder powers to compensate the basic power becoming stronger. As bad as they are, they're meant for the usual mechanics. It doesn't change if there should or not be elder levels for the Discipline.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    Originally posted by Newb95 View Post


    The werewolf example was facetious, in a normal vampire game where the ST doesn't hate the players, fortitude 8 will be more than enough, especially considering the fact that you are most likely going to have other disciplines and skill beside fortitude (DAV20 made the physical disciplines available to everyone without needing to find a teacher or drinking blood) of course if the ST is a dick and wants to stick werewolves and mages in it just to be an asshole than it's another thing, vampires in oWoD are paper tigers, you are not supposed to run them side by side with either werewolves or mages, hell even changelings can be more versatile than them.
    Well, first and foremost, "in a normal vampire game" no PC is going to have Fortitude 8, it's very rare to find tables with such levels of disciplines. Second, if a PC has Fortitude 8, that means he's most likely not going to run into conflicts with fledglings and neonates, that's usually not exactly how to write a good story. The ST doesn't need to "be an asshole" or "hate the players" to present a challenge for the PC (arguably, he needs to present a challenge for the group), what I pointed out is that your logic is flawed, there's not such thing as "more than enough" and then I pointed out the fact that given the way Fortitude powers were terribly designed, it doesn't make a vampire sufficiently resilient even when he has 8 in that discipline. Thirdly, vampires are not really "paper tigers", if you swap the Fortitude 8 for Celerity 8, then there are very few things in the setting who can pose a threat to such a vampire. The problem is how terribly designed elder Fortitude powers are, what, as I pointed out, is very strange given the fact that "resilience" is one of the trademarks of vampires in folkore around the world, arguably, even more so than speed.

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  • Newb95
    replied
    Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post


    Well, werewolves have many ways of dealing more than 8 Aggravated per attack, not only werewolves, but also vampires and mages, changelings and the list is long lol. So, I'd say that even without thinking of terribly designed "one win button" gifts, the vampire is far from being that hard to damage. In any case, I don't even think Dam the Heartflood is that "stupid" like you called it, the problem is the developers forgot to give the other part a resisting roll, like they did with Paws of the newborn cub. That being a werewolf gift in a werewolf game isn't a big deal, but when you think about crossovers you need to at least make it a contested roll to give these powers at least a semblance of being well devised at all and not just a "fuck this splat" kind of power lol

    The werewolf example was facetious, in a normal vampire game where the ST doesn't hate the players, fortitude 8 will be more than enough, especially considering the fact that you are most likely going to have other disciplines and skill beside fortitude (DAV20 made the physical disciplines available to everyone without needing to find a teacher or drinking blood) of course if the ST is a dick and wants to stick werewolves and mages in it just to be an asshole than it's another thing, vampires in oWoD are paper tigers, you are not supposed to run them side by side with either werewolves or mages, hell even changelings can be more versatile than them.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    Originally posted by Newb95 View Post


    DAV20 has fortitude changed to being able to soak your fortitude rating automatically then roll for soak with a point of blood. short of pissing off a bunch of high ranking werewolves with the stupid gift that doesn't let you spend blood, I can't think of anything realistically capable of dropping you at that point.

    Well, werewolves have many ways of dealing more than 8 Aggravated per attack, not only werewolves, but also vampires and mages, changelings and the list is long lol. So, I'd say that even without thinking of terribly designed "one win button" gifts, the vampire is far from being that hard to damage. In any case, I don't even think Dam the Heartflood is that "stupid" like you called it, the problem is the developers forgot to give the other part a resisting roll, like they did with Paws of the newborn cub. That being a werewolf gift in a werewolf game isn't a big deal, but when you think about crossovers you need to at least make it a contested roll to give these powers at least a semblance of being well devised at all and not just a "fuck this splat" kind of power lol

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  • Newb95
    replied
    Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post
    I wonder in which alternative reality do these people who think Fortitude 8 makes you only vulnerable to plot device levels of damage, lol! Any pulp still poses a threat to vampires with Fortitude 8 without special powers. In fact, I once had a game with a friend with Fortitude 8, and he took damage from a group of Constantinople's guards in the game and he complained a lot about the fact, after that I decided to make Fortitude auto soak, instead of rolling dice. By the way, if you go with stupid 3rd edition rules (God forbid!), you'd only roll your Fortitude to soak any kind of aggravated damage and as such even with 8, you'd still be FAR from "invulnerable".

    With that being said, it's hard to think of a single decent advanced Fortitude power created in the books and that's why I chose to create a bunch and adapt things like Juggernaut's Gait from Requiem in order to have anything useful for the discipline in advanced powers. Celerity, on the other hand, has a good share of awesome powers. It seems the guys who developed powers in the books weren't very fond of one the most defining feature of vampires in most folklores, that is being resilient.

    DAV20 has fortitude changed to being able to soak your fortitude rating automatically then roll for soak with a point of blood. short of pissing off a bunch of high ranking werewolves with the stupid gift that doesn't let you spend blood, I can't think of anything realistically capable of dropping you at that point.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    I wonder in which alternative reality do these people who think Fortitude 8 makes you only vulnerable to plot device levels of damage, lol! Any pulp still poses a threat to vampires with Fortitude 8 without special powers. In fact, I once had a game with a friend with Fortitude 8, and he took damage from a group of Constantinople's guards in the game and he complained a lot about the fact, after that I decided to make Fortitude auto soak, instead of rolling dice. By the way, if you go with stupid 3rd edition rules (God forbid!), you'd only roll your Fortitude to soak any kind of aggravated damage and as such even with 8, you'd still be FAR from "invulnerable".

    With that being said, it's hard to think of a single decent advanced Fortitude power created in the books and that's why I chose to create a bunch and adapt things like Juggernaut's Gait from Requiem in order to have anything useful for the discipline in advanced powers. Celerity, on the other hand, has a good share of awesome powers. It seems the guys who developed powers in the books weren't very fond of one the most defining features of vampires in most folklores, that is being resilient.
    Last edited by Herr Meister; 08-15-2022, 07:07 PM.

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  • Prometheas
    replied
    Originally posted by Newb95 View Post
    Frankly, I was always of the opinion that physical disciplines didn't need specific powers for levels over 5, you are already a physical god at that point, like seriously at fortitude 8 you would be functionally unkillable by anything that isn't plot device, potence above 6 means you are killing or incapacitating most beings in a turn, celerity above 5 speaks for itself, the powers (especially the fortitude ones) are a waste of xp in my opinion.

    On the other hand, the physicals suffer from the law of diminishing returns. The difference between a neonate with the first dot of celerity and one without is night and day as the one without is only taking half as many turns. The difference between a methusela with celerity 9 and an ante with celerity 10 is 1 extra turn, which probably never comes up as one of them will most likely have already met final death by then.


    In this way, elder physical disciplines makes sense conceptually, as they're a way to make physical disciplines more blood-godly than just "hulk smash, Even Harder". The execution left a lot to be desired though.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    Originally posted by Newb95 View Post
    The thing with the physical disciplines powers is that they are all things that you would be able to accomplish with just the dots anyway, you can already touch fire with fortitude 7, you already should cause lethal with potency at 5 anyway, you would already kill someone by running into them if you have celerity at 8, these things should all be natural consequences of giving the normal law of physics the finger, having powers for doing such things is superflous, a different matter for the other disciplines which would definitely fit with the idea that elders have powers aking to gods.
    Unless there's a rule for that, no, they shouldn't do any of those things. And if there is a rule for that, then it is reasonable to have those powers stated as there is a rule.

    You think those effects are reasonable or even required by logic? That's fair, but that's not how the game works. And it isn't even necessarily true. There are many ways to explain why the powers have the mechanics they have and why they don't have other mechanics attached to them.

    Anyway, this is still about the specific list of powers, which is a bad list. They could have other effects instead of those. They could even have those effects instead of increasing the usual. As I said before, conceptually speaking 5 is mastery, there's no need for those Disciplines to still have the same effects above 5. Yet they do, because that's a simple, easy design, even if not necessarily correct.

    But by all means, I don't believe in assuming logic to the point of granting actual non-stated mechanical benefits, as a designer I have many reasons to see this as flawed and riff with problems. So unless there are specified rules I missed (which is possible), I don't think any of those are granted.

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