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Beasts vs. Princesses - game balance question

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  • Beasts vs. Princesses - game balance question

    So I'm gearing up to run a Princess: The Hopeful fansplat campaign featuring three antagonist factions.

    Two factions have Beasts among their ranks, along with Darkspawn (low-end supernaturals rom the fansplat).

    One faction is led by an Anakim Tyrant, with an Anakim Ravager, a Namtaru Predator, and two Mnemosyne (from the fansplat) as his lieutenants.

    A second faction is led by a powerful Mnemosyne with an Anakim Collector, an Anakim Predator, and a Namtaru Nemesis among his lieutenants.

    There is also a fourth faction of Beasts that the PCS can potentially ally with against the other three factions and the campaign's Bigger Bad.

    ***

    The idea is to force the PCs into a moral quandary. They can work with the other faction of Beasts, who are unabashedly predatory (4 Predators, a Ravager, and a Nemesis) but have some semblance of morality when picking their prey....

    ...or they can go it alone against two groups of heavily armed mortals led by supernaturals.

    ***

    However, I'm trying to figure out if I created a balanced set of opponents for the PCs, should they choose not to ally with the third faction.

    Is a group of 4-5 Princesses with Inner Light 2-3 going to get TPK'd by 2-3 melee-oriented Lair 3 Beasts? Especially since those Beasts have mortal and low-end supernatural backup? Or are the Beasts going to get curb-stomped?

  • #2
    OK, I don't know Princess really well, so I'm not sure how any of my read-only impressions and memory is going to be as accurate as possible, but I know Beast really well.

    And.. maybe? I would say, on average, the Beasts have the advantage in a straight up fight. Beasts, unlike Princesses, aren't easy to categorize just on Lair, because Atavisms (their more combat oriented powers) aren't capped by Lair, Lair just makes them better and better. When a Beast drops to Low Satiety, their Atavisms get even better, and there's no obvious powering up like a Princess transforming.

    As well, you're giving the Beasts back up, which is always a tough thing to throw into the mix for the other side. Beasts don't really have to worry about holding back to avoid hitting their allies for the vast majority of their powers, and doing stuff in front of mortals isn't penalized for them in any fashion (at least not that's going to come up with them as NPC antagonists, and I doubt you want Heroes storming the scene).

    But they're NPCs... so you can tailor their stats however you want. You don't have to combo Looming Presence, Limb from Limb, Lightning Strike, Unbreakable, and the Advanced Killer Instinct Merit at 3 (this is a TPK machine of a Beast at Lair 3) just because that's what a Beast after maximum close-combat power is going to want to get ASAP.

    I'm not sure how much this is helping. It's just hard to be specific because there's no simple guide to what a Beast might have up their sleeves based on Family/Hunger/Lair rating.

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    • #3
      This actually is helping. It's cementing my resolve that the PCs really need to ally with SOMEBODY to deal with the two evil factions.

      I tried not to make the enemy NPC Beasts ridiculously combat-optimized - the guy with the nastiest combo of Atavisms only has Str 2 or 3 and 2 dots in Brawl. (Said combo: Unbreakable, Looming Presence, Crushing Coils, and Ravenous Maw)

      However, you're definitely making me think that I should test the waters with a couple of Horrorspawn first, or throw the PCs at some Darkspawn to gain experience before they go up against the major bad guys.

      I'm also thinking that the PCs should definitely work on their diplomacy skills. Allying with a Hero is an option if I use one of the less reprehensible ones. Jones the ex-Navy SEAL from the corebook springs to mind, especially given that his followers are veterans who wouldn't much like either of the two evil factions.

      Of course, then they might lose the option to ally with the more moral faction of Beasts...

      Alternatively, Task Force Valkryie or VASCU could come sniffing around. The Union or Network Zero could also be options.

      One of the things I'm trying to do in this campaign is keep things complex. The PCs are in an interconnected world, after all.

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      • #4
        So the first thing to remember is that, statistically, at least one of those Beasts can single-handedly TPK anyone who makes the mistake of fighting them where they want to be fought. Lair Traits just do that.

        Any more than that I’m going to need to see some Callings and Courts. 4-5 Troubadours of Clubs are going to be a red mist before they can even warm their vocal chords. 4-5 Champions of Storms is what the Dark Mother has nightmares about.

        Which version of P:TH may or may not prove particularly relevant but it can’t hurt to say.

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        • #5
          Its gonna be *rare* that a full brood of beasts can't obliterate a parking lot full of enemies, likely without even a roll. The fact that beasts can turn up anywhere they want makes them exceptionally hard to deal with.

          I like the nice touch of some of the beasts having darkspawn, beasts and their creations really do resemble various permutations of darkness dudes. I can imagine them getting along well in some cases.

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          • #6
            This is probably the one complaint about beast i have that can never really be changed. There is a massive power gap between beast and most other splats, and if it was classic i wouldn't really have an issue with it. But Chronicles has for the most part been trying to keep the gap between them as small as possible, as in it's a design goal stated by the developers. Liars not really having a cost to use (Dim the lights and watch the chaos all for the low low cost of... does it have a satiety cost?), combined with having no easily exploitable weaknesses like Fire or Iron makes dealing with a beast a hassle. Anathema being a hero exclusive ability is also kinda weird, most other splats have the debuffs occur do to their own actions, such as getting to strong or overusing their powers, beast need to have it applied while in combat by a very weak enemy. Kinda why i like Incarnates more as antagonist, they have a very real weakness in their myth, that if you break will leave them helpless.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Penguinbowler View Post
              But Chronicles has for the most part been trying to keep the gap between them as small as possible, as in it's a design goal stated by the developers.
              This is the exact opposite of the case, they’ve been saying for fourteen years that intersplat balance is not a thing.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                This is the exact opposite of the case, they’ve been saying for fourteen years that intersplat balance is not a thing.
                This. That the "weaker" splats have had upgrades (especially vampires) has created a somewhat more even curve, but the changes have been for those individual gamelines and not because they strived towards more balance between splats.


                Bloodline: The Stygians
                Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
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                • #9
                  We also have two very rough categories of splats. Some splats are very "innate" focused where you can make some significant assumptions as they get more powerful. There's things most Elder vampires are going to have at their disposal because they're available and useful to any vampire so even if they didn't start with it, they picked it up over time, or it's a thing that naturally gets more powerful (ex: physical intensity). Other splats are very "concept" focused where it's really hard to generalize about them. "This changeling is powerful enough to be the Monarch of their Court," tells you so little about what sort of powers they'd have at their disposal. You really need to know what a Lost's concept is to have any idea what tools they're going to bring to the table when things get serious.

                  Beasts are in the second category. They have no innate weakness in combat... but they have no innate advantages either. Even something like Lair Traits have to be relevant... a lot of them could be meaningless when fighting a member of a different splat. They can't throw down vitae to boost their attacks (and they don't keep getting a bigger pool of blood as they age), or have the innate ability to take on a form that regenerates all bashing and lethal damage every turn, etc.

                  Combat heavy Beasts come from combat heavy concepts that Beast allows you to make, not just by playing a Beast.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Penguinbowler View Post
                    Liars not really having a cost to use (Dim the lights and watch the chaos all for the low low cost of... does it have a satiety cost?)
                    "Watch the chaos" of… usually two to three other stage hazards at most, and the more dangerous ones inevitably lock you out from invoking them freely in any circumstance but dimming the lights. If you want to draw down the Lair, say, outside during the day, you're spending Satiety and Willpower and rolling at a substantial penalty unless you've been hunting in the area and it's the same type of location as one of your Chambers.

                    Beasts are built around home field advantages. The cost is that they have to be at home to take advantage of them.


                    Resident Lore-Hound
                    Currently Consuming: Hunter: the Vigil 1e

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                      "Watch the chaos" of… usually two to three other stage hazards at most, and the more dangerous ones inevitably lock you out from invoking them freely in any circumstance but dimming the lights. If you want to draw down the Lair, say, outside during the day, you're spending Satiety and Willpower and rolling at a substantial penalty unless you've been hunting in the area and it's the same type of location as one of your Chambers.

                      Beasts are built around home field advantages. The cost is that they have to be at home to take advantage of them.
                      Thanks, still dislike anathma being hero exclusive (mostly because heroes tend to be a lot weaker) but knowing the actual cost is great (I checked the lair section of the corebook and couldn't find it

                      As for them not caring for multisplat balance, that's new to me, guess the circles i was in were wrong as they said it was a goal (Maybe it was the fact compared to the Classic world of darkness counterparts everything is a lot weaker) but eh, authorial design choices change over time.

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                      • #12
                        Keep in mind that while inflicting an Anathema is a Hero exclusive power, a Beast is stuck with it until they can resolve the Condition. Other creatures might not know what it is, but during that period anyone that happens bring it to bare will cause the appropriate effects on the Beast.

                        It was never balance as much as making the different splats sharing the same world and game systems make more sense. While this certainly lead to some increase in balance in general (knives aren't randomly more deadly in the rules for some splats than others) and in more specific cases (Clash of Wills and Supernatural Tolerance being standard for everyone and powers that can affect anything never targeting a trait that doesn't exist/have a counterpart for everything), it was never stated as a goal in the 15 years of the game lines to balance them against each other.

                        I'll also challenge anyone that thinks CofD PCs are "weaker" compared to the WoD, but that's getting off the rails of this thread.
                        Last edited by Heavy Arms; 05-28-2019, 04:40 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Satchel View Post
                          "Watch the chaos" of… usually two to three other stage hazards at most, and the more dangerous ones inevitably lock you out from invoking them freely in any circumstance but dimming the lights. If you want to draw down the Lair, say, outside during the day, you're spending Satiety and Willpower and rolling at a substantial penalty unless you've been hunting in the area and it's the same type of location as one of your Chambers.

                          Beasts are built around home field advantages. The cost is that they have to be at home to take advantage of them.

                          Or the Beast has the Death of Light Atavism, in which case they can do it at will with no expenditure and no roll in all circumstances except supernatural light. There are a looooot of ways to combo Atavisms and Lair traits. Siren's Treacherous Song for Thunderous. Vengeful Earth for Earthquake. Dragonfire can create Infernos. Storm Lashed for... a bunch of possible traits. This is not an exhaustive list.

                          Not every Beast is going to have that kind of synergy, sure, but it's not a difficult thing for them to achieve.

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                          • #14
                            Having an area resonant with your Lair because through whatever means makes it easier to impose Lair Traits, but it still isn't free. You're still also capped by your Lair rating on how many you can impose in a scene, and you still have to find ones that are relevant. That can be hard since imposed Lair Traits are 'natural.' Blanketing an area in darkness doesn't stop flashlights or supernatural light powers from making things visible.

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