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Cross Splat Balance with Crunch

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  • Cross Splat Balance with Crunch

    So, I've been trying to find information on how people generally balance cross splat games, but the advice I find typically relies on roleplay and STing solutions, rather than homebrew crunch. Which... isn't really my speed, especially since I tend to like games played with a semi-open world and lots of players, where it's a bit more difficult to manage like that.

    So, what's typically your homebrew solution to bring Mages and Demons in line with other majors, without over-nerfing them to where they're notably weaker?

    Note: Please don't give me an answer that relies on roleplay or STing solutions. I've heard those from other sources.
    Last edited by Tzauri; 09-30-2020, 08:37 PM.

  • #2
    I think it might help to establish a few more aspects to this topic to get the answers you want:
    • Exactly which splats are involved?
    • Are we talking "party balance" or "PvP balance"?
    • Do Mages and Demons have to be "pulled down" or is "raising up" other templates an option?
    • It could help if you had a bit more input on just what kind of scenarios you are thinking of. One reason why crossover balance can be difficult to establish is because no template is just flat better at absolutely everything that could come up in a chronicle.


    Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.

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    • #3
      I think that we could start by making a list of issues or weaknesses that bothers you, then we could examine them and find a solution

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      • #4
        Splat comparison
        As the others said: Why bother? As different XP-Levels are also a big issue.
        As for starting characters - I simply would at least convert the "awesome powers &merits" dots of the mages/vamps/demons and give the difference of it to the other splats.
        - but it´s hard to calculate the innate powers and frailties any splat in XP.

        Mages (I don't know Demon good enough)
        Rotes 3 = 6 xp
        2 x5 10, 3x 7 = 21, 1x5 = 36xp
        Occult: 2xp
        High Speech: 1xp
        =45xp

        Vampires:
        2 x3= 6, 1x4 = 4 = 10xp
        = 10xp

        Thus a starting mage has 35xp of buyable features in advantage to a starting vampire.

        Not measurable:
        Mage Sight
        Healing with blood & mana
        Damage increase/decrease for vampires, just “torpor” for alst health box
        Daytime limits for vampires.
        No fatique for vampires. (air, food))
        Paradox for mages
        Mana more rare but not morally conflicting
        Blood easily conflicting but morally conflicting
        Vampires without active touchstones get malus on Humanity, but an active touchstones helps keeping Humanity and getting
        etc...

        Just by dishing out the difference in xp - will make a very capable vampire, let a vampire exploit things like blood adiction, blood bonds and creating of ghouls.

        Side note:
        Even in my all-vamp home games: only freshly bitten ons have Blood Potency 1, Every Somewhat established vampire (with status, retainers, stable hunting method) is BP 2.
        Thus I make it very easy for a vampire to get the first 30 XP. Just the fact that any vampire can create blood bonds, blood addicts and ghouls should yield even a young vampire a massive influx of resources, influence and possible allies and retainers.


        Gamelines: Requiem, Lost, Awakening, Trinity Continuum: Aeon, some V5.
        Likes cheesecake (quark-based)

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        • #5
          While I'm not going to violate the gist of the thread, I must point out that this is a fool's errand. One I'm happy to go along with, because it's been a while since I played with the experiment (not counting that one Form that didn't make it into the Clade Companion), but mechanics have a bad tendency to fall short for these sorts of problems.

          That out of the way, by and large it depends on the sort of team you're building, the sort of game you're playing, and what issues are you trying to work around. Once we have that stuff down, we can get creative with mechanics.
          Last edited by ArcaneArts; 10-01-2020, 11:21 AM.


          Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
          The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
          Feminine pronouns, please.

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          • #6
            Mage and Demon vs Vamp, Woof, and Lings mostly. The idea is more a sort of 'general' balance, and how the first two basically blow away the latter three in post circumstances. I'm talking about, well, party balance. Raising up other templates is an option as well.

            By general balance, I mean a general sense that the splats as a whole are the same 'weight class'. Not in a fight, mind, but it essentially is the idea that some splats excel in some things more than another, but aren't indomitable. I guess the general idea is.
            1. The overall capabilities of the splats should be loosely comparable. A vampire is probably going to be better at social shit than a werewolf, but the werewolf might excel over vamps in others.
            2. In broad areas of specialty, they shouldn't be able to run roughshod over others. Again, more niche aspects are okay to be far and away better. A werewolf is going to be far better when dealing with spirits than a changeling, but the changeling has an edge as an escape artist. Broad areas are a different matter. However, most of the time, if you take a Rahu and a Summer Warrior, the Rahu shouldn't be able to completely trivialize most fights if the Summer Warrior was lucky to escape with his life.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
              (not counting that one Form that didn't make it into the Clade Companion)
              Is this something you’re at liberty to elaborate on? O.O

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post

                Is this something you’re at liberty to elaborate on? O.O
                I had a fairly clear quota of [REDACTED] with some fairly broad, flexible, and cool concepts that had to make their way into write up for my chapter in the Clade Companion, and I was fairly sure those would eat up my word count no problem-buuuuut always have a back-up. At one point it actually did look like I would have to fill in space, so I sketched up the [REDACTED], but then quickly found out how the [REDACTED], the [REDACTED], and the [REDACTED] were really gonna eat up my word count, so [REDACTED] ended up back in the drawer and ultimately ended up the the cutting room floor. Once the Clade Companion is out proper, the [REDACTED]'ll be part of my Cutting Room extras, but for now the main thing to know is that my inspirations were Phoenix and Silver Surfer from Marvel (not in role, but scale of power let's not confuse them with Primordial's Heralds), Elsa from Frozen 1 and 2.....annnnnnnnd the Awake from Don't Rest Your Head. They were a quick and dirty hack to bring Deviants up to par with the big three. Probably better they didn't make it into the book.


                Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                Feminine pronouns, please.

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                • #9
                  Word count is always a limiting factor. I'm very pleased with how the Forms in The Cades Companion turned out, but yeah, there just wasn't enough space for another Form beyond the ones needed to keep the promises we made during the Kickstarter - Automaton, Myriad, Outsider, and Uplift. </threadjack>


                  Onyx Path Freelancer and Fantasy Author

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Eric Zawadzki View Post
                    Word count is always a limiting factor. I'm very pleased with how the Forms in The Cades Companion turned out, but yeah, there just wasn't enough space for another Form beyond the ones needed to keep the promises we made during the Kickstarter - Automaton, Myriad, Outsider, and Uplift. </threadjack>
                    NANI?! A spoiler from the Dev?!


                    Sean K.I.W./Kelly R.A. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Sean, Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                    The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                    Feminine pronouns, please.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Tzauri View Post
                      Mage and Demon vs Vamp, Woof, and Lings mostly. The idea is more a sort of 'general' balance, and how the first two basically blow away the latter three in post circumstances. I'm talking about, well, party balance. Raising up other templates is an option as well.

                      By general balance, I mean a general sense that the splats as a whole are the same 'weight class'. Not in a fight, mind, but it essentially is the idea that some splats excel in some things more than another, but aren't indomitable. I guess the general idea is.
                      1. The overall capabilities of the splats should be loosely comparable. A vampire is probably going to be better at social shit than a werewolf, but the werewolf might excel over vamps in others.
                      2. In broad areas of specialty, they shouldn't be able to run roughshod over others. Again, more niche aspects are okay to be far and away better. A werewolf is going to be far better when dealing with spirits than a changeling, but the changeling has an edge as an escape artist. Broad areas are a different matter. However, most of the time, if you take a Rahu and a Summer Warrior, the Rahu shouldn't be able to completely trivialize most fights if the Summer Warrior was lucky to escape with his life.
                      One thing that in my experience could help you in managing mages character is changing a detail in the mana economy.
                      Instead of improvised non ruling spells costing 1 mana if not praxes/rotes, i prefer them to cost the highest arcana level in mana and ruling spell/praxes/rotes to cost 1 mana.
                      Obviously other mana costs (duration, special options of the spells) still applies.
                      This makes the mages more careful in casting spells, as they always cost at least 1 mana UNLESS when casted with an Artifact.

                      For demons, i feel that they are mostly balanced by their frailty in combat+compromise roll if showing off too much, so i need to know in which sense do you feel that they are overpowered in comparison to other splats

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tzauri View Post
                        Mage and Demon vs Vamp, Woof, and Lings mostly. The idea is more a sort of 'general' balance, and how the first two basically blow away the latter three in post circumstances. I'm talking about, well, party balance. Raising up other templates is an option as well.

                        By general balance, I mean a general sense that the splats as a whole are the same 'weight class'. Not in a fight, mind, but it essentially is the idea that some splats excel in some things more than another, but aren't indomitable. I guess the general idea is.
                        1. The overall capabilities of the splats should be loosely comparable. A vampire is probably going to be better at social shit than a werewolf, but the werewolf might excel over vamps in others.
                        2. In broad areas of specialty, they shouldn't be able to run roughshod over others. Again, more niche aspects are okay to be far and away better. A werewolf is going to be far better when dealing with spirits than a changeling, but the changeling has an edge as an escape artist. Broad areas are a different matter. However, most of the time, if you take a Rahu and a Summer Warrior, the Rahu shouldn't be able to completely trivialize most fights if the Summer Warrior was lucky to escape with his life.
                        Then I think a good first step is to balance out the effective starting Experiences as maekkel mentioned. You will be surprised how many more Discipline dots a vampire has if he gets the effective starting Experiences of a mage. However, I recommend simply giving them equivalent traits whenever possible, instead of just straight Experiences. So instead of giving the vampire 2 Experiences for the Order mage's extra Occult dot, give the vampire a Skill dot fitting their covenant. This will still leave lots of extra Experiences from the mage's 6 Arcana dots.

                        For more specific advise, see below:

                        Mages
                        If I understood you correctly, you like that each splat has a niché, you just do not like it when one splat can outperform another in their niché. I think most people would count "investigation" as the mage niché, so we will leave mage sight untouched. This mostly leaves social encounters and violence as areas where a mage supposedly needs to be toned down.

                        General
                        • Exceptional Success on spellcasting: This can never be used to fully negate Withstand. (Honestly, this is a houserule I think is necessary even in a Mage-only game. It is just ludicrous either way, especially when Praxes are a thing.)
                        • Universal Withstand boosting: All subjects, even Sleepers with nothing special to them, instinctively and subconsciously know when a spell tries to mess with them, no supernatural senses necessary. This means everyone can spend Willpower (if available) to raise their Withstand against a spell. Depending on the Duration of the spell, this might only be a minor inconvenience for the mage, however, it is still a problem if the person you are psychically dominating lashes out at you for a turn or two in between fulfilling your commands.
                        • Addendum: As an addition to the above: When a Sleeper spends that Willpower, they immediately trigger their Dissonance. This makes long-term control much harder for a mage than, for example, vampires (who have that as their niché).
                        • Spell Upkeep: Something similar to what Neos01 suggested, but with a slightly different spin: I do not believe mages should be discouraged from casting spells in general, especially their non-Ruling Arcana, which often are already treated as the red-headed stepchild by players (something I do not really like). I think the bigger "problem" is that mages with even middling Gnosis can stack advantages for long times very easily. I would suggest introducing a Spell upkeep: At the end of every Scene, a mage has to pay 1 Mana for each spell on their spell control. You may want to adjust the numbers here based on how the Mana economy works in your games (which I have seen shake out very differently, depending on Storyteller and how they see the setting). You could make the pay time at the end of a Chapter, other options could be setting a max upkeep, making 1 Mana suffice for a couple of spells or only requiring more than 1 Mana when spells are over spell control.
                        Violence
                        • Remove the Mage Armor Attainment: If a mage wants protection, they have to use a spell for it. This highlights their mortal fragility without spells (and of course when Mage Armor was combined with Shielding spells, mages' were able to reach rather heavy Defense/Armor ratings very easily through stacking). They either have to have a nearly constant Shielding (or in some cases Weaving/Perfecting) spell up to keep themselves protected or they have to spend their first combat turn to cast it. Even if they have an indefinite protection spell (or perhaps have even safely relinquished it), the spell may cause problems in everyday life, depending on the nature of the protection (and of course it can always be subject to Dissonance). This is otherwise a very neat removal, as they still get other Attainments at 2 dots, so no weird holes in progression show up.

                        Demons
                        I am no expert on Demon, but I generally agree with Neos01 that Demons are not actually that "overpowered" as long as the Storyteller makes sure to play up failed Compromises and losses of Cover appropriately. I am aware you specifically asked for mechanical incentives, in which case it can be as simple as adjusting the negative penalties on Compromise rolls and maybe making particularly egregious Compromises automatically downgrade into Dramatic Failures when failed. Adjusting the Compromise rolls can be as simple as changing the table on p. 114 to start at only +1 (or even +0!) and then scaling down from there.
                        Be aware though that this approach has the downside of potentially seriously derailing ongoing plots. If the Demon in the group has to basically bail on the group for multiple sessions to be on the run from the God-Machine, then there is little the player can actually do to help the group. But of course the group could help them fight the hunter angels, which may of course be entirely okay for the player group.
                        Last edited by saibot; 10-02-2020, 05:22 AM.


                        Politeness is the lubricant of social intercourse.

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                        • #13
                          Another house rule that can keep mages a bit more manageable without any drastic changes (I say because we were playing this as how we read the rules until the Dev clarified it to be otherwise):

                          Once a mage had to roll Paradox in a scene, the +1 cumulative Paradox dice per Paradox roll means every future spell that scene has to roll for Paradox; instead of that increase only applying if you would have had to roll Paradox without it.

                          This means, somewhat like demons, mages have a lot more reason to keep their powers well below what they're capable of doing because once they go big, it can quickly cost them a lot in the long run.

                          --------

                          As far as buffing the others go, one of the big things you can do is change how vampires relate to sunlight. RAW, the "sun burns vampires," thing works fine for Vampire as a solo game, but gives them a major flaw that becomes the whole group's problem. Since we're not just doing narrative fixes like only running things at night, changing things to "sunlight weakens vampires," lets them operate during the day and depending on how you choose to change things not be too much weaker than at night/away from sunlight.

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                          • #14
                            A common house rule for Mage is to limit the purchase of Arcana and Gnosis to Arcane Experience only. This would probably help balance crossovers as well, since Arcana give you more flexibility per experience point than any other splat's powers.

                            Experience acquisition is another thing to consider as a whole. Most splats have different ways of gaining experience on top of the normal systems. A nuclear solution there would be to just use group beats, to make sure every splat is progressing at the same rate. Edit: that is assuming you trust that the experience points are worth the same to different splats. Which might not be a safe assumption, especially with with Mages, but I don't have enough actual experience with long-term play to say for certain.
                            Last edited by Scriptorian; 10-03-2020, 07:00 PM.


                            The longer I study science the more I am convinced that it is functionally indistinguishable from what our ancestors would refer to as sorcery. And I would know, being both scientist and sorcerer.

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                            • #15
                              I posted my take here if you're interested: http://forum.theonyxpath.com/forum/m...clarifications


                              My ideas are bad and I should feel bad.

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