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  • Crossover issues

    Hi!
    I ran a crossover chronicle with the following PCs composition: a Mastigos/Thearch mage, a Messenger/Tempter demon, a Darkling/Autumn changeling, a Makara/Punisher beast and an Eshmaki/Predator beast. After 12 or so game sessions we finished the chronicle with a satisfactory ending. However, my own impression is that neither Demon nor Beast are a good choice for a crossover game. I'm gonna set aside Demon for another thread, but these are some of my thoughts on Beast:

    - I don't like the way a Beast can supercharge their Atavisms. For a starting PC party, the Eshmaki could easily invoke his Darkness Lair Trait after killing the power source of a place, and then use Shadowed Soul to teleport anywhere in the buidling to attack their enemies with Limb from Limb and his Birthright. Now, I've never been too preoccupied for "game balance", but this tactic quickly became a winning combination for every combat situation and it started to steal the show for the rest of the party. As I see it, the issue is not with the player, because he just played his character in a smart way, not specifically a min-maxer (he was a solid roleplayer all around). But the worst part to me is when a player starts to use the same technique over and over, killing suspense and stifling creativity.

    - Nightmares are not very exciting. Despite my initial reading, both Beast players made very little use of their Nightmares, and they focused instead on using and learning Atavisms. Is this a general trend, or it's just an particularity of my own chronicle?

    - Willpower became a serious cap on their powers, more so than Satiety. Since this was a crossover game, both beasts tried frequently to open Primordial Pathways. Yet the mechanics still are a bit unclear to me, especially the other options of Skeleton Key, Under the Bed and Hold the Door start to blur in my head and all use slightly different mechanics. Has anything like that has happened in your games?

    - Beats acquisition became beat farming. I have a serious issue with this one. While every other gameline more or less have the same ways to earn beats, Beast kind of sidesteps this by using Satiety Conditions. Both beasts in my game made aggressive use of Satiety expenditures to force a rapid change of Satiety Conditions, and since changing levels is one of the stated resolution comdition for all of them, in combat-heavy scenes they reapt a larger amount of beats than the other supers. And the worst part is, many times you could not tell the Hunger level they were in because they were not really roleplayed, at least to fulfill the specific beat-earning Condition of each one. So, in essence, a powerful set of mechanics for promoting drama and pacing didn't really delivered the expected game experience.

    I'm not approaching this post from an absolute, "this is my truth" stance. I really want for Beast to work in crossover games, and I think the book suffers from some presentation and thematic issues, but I did not expect that their mechanics would actually hurt my crossover experience. I'm willing to consider other approaches, ideas and houserules to make the games work, but after this last chronicle I'm considering relegating Beast to an NPC-only status.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Zooroos View Post
    I don't like the way a Beast can supercharge their Atavisms.
    Do you have an objection beyond the nastiness of an specific combo?

    For a starting PC party, the Eshmaki could easily invoke his Darkness Lair Trait after killing the power source of a place, and then use Shadowed Soul to teleport anywhere in the buidling to attack their enemies with Limb from Limb and his Birthright. Now, I've never been too preoccupied for "game balance", but this tactic quickly became a winning combination for every combat situation and it started to steal the show for the rest of the party. As I see it, the issue is not with the player, because he just played his character in a smart way, not specifically a min-maxer (he was a solid roleplayer all around). But the worst part to me is when a player starts to use the same technique over and over, killing suspense and stifling creativity.
    OK, you seem to have conflated resonance with similarity.

    Resonance is when one of your Lair Tilts is already applied to the scene. If you've killed the power source and thus the lights, making the place dark? You don't use that to impose the Darkness Trait, you use that to impose your other Lair Trait; making the room dark and then invoking more dark is redundant. For the "shadow strike" Eshmaki, the point of resonance is something like having their Lair Traits be Cramped and Darkness, and then finding someplace very naturally cramped to impose Darkness more easily. It's important to remember that the bonus of resonance is how many Lair Traits you can impose at once (that is, all of them you want up to your max with a single action rather than one at a time), not that they impose freely.

    Similarity is how hard it is to actually impose Lair Traits, and is based on similarity to one of your Chambers. Resonance might let a high Lair Beast impose a ton of Traits in a single roll, but you still have to spend a WP and pass a Wits + Resolve check with a penalty based on similarity. If our Cramped/Darkness Eshmaki's Lair is styled after a cramped cave system, squeezing into a school locker to get cramped is still a -5 penalty on that roll for just being descriptively similar.

    This isn't the best explained part of the book, but this came off as too potent because you were letting it be too easy. Being able to reliably use your Lair Traits in the field takes preparation, luck, or very good stats.

    - Nightmares are not very exciting. Despite my initial reading, both Beast players made very little use of their Nightmares, and they focused instead on using and learning Atavisms. Is this a general trend, or it's just an particularity of my own chronicle?
    It's a playstyle thing in my experience. Nightmares are good, but they're a commitment to higher Satiety levels. If you have a Beast that's focused on physical stuff (not just combat) Atavaisms are totally the way to go... but if you're a more social/mental focused character then Nightmares get a lot more appealing.

    A lot of people make physical Beasts on their first go IME. Which is fine. But as people play more and play around more with less physical ones, Nightmares get more prevalent. It takes a bit of playing to realize that, yes, the shadow strike Eshmaki is an utter murder machine... but they still have to get in there an fight, and rely on being low Satiety which means they don't have a lot to fall back on if something goes bad.

    Meanwhile Behold My True Form is one of the scariest assassin powers in the whole CofD. Make eye contact, implant the Nightmare, spend a Satiety or two, and most targets die in their sleep. No fighting, no personal risk of combat if they survive... and you can keep doing if they do.

    It also helps when people get the hang of the "meta" Nightmares like Fear is Contagious or You Are Infected and get really nasty.

    Longer running games also tend to see more Nightmares because low Satiety focused Atavism happy characters can start having a few social/mental Attributes high enough to have good dice-pools without having to jack their Satiety up to 7+ first.

    Basically? Atavisms are simple to understand, and thus tend to be where people start, while Nightmares are more complicated powers that take some getting used to before you see people start making Nightmare focused characters.

    - Willpower became a serious cap on their powers, more so than Satiety.
    No more than any other game IME. They tend to cap more depending on what you're doing.

    Since this was a crossover game, both beasts tried frequently to open Primordial Pathways. Yet the mechanics still are a bit unclear to me, especially the other options of Skeleton Key, Under the Bed and Hold the Door start to blur in my head and all use slightly different mechanics. Has anything like that has happened in your games?
    Haven't had any real problems since they're all fairly distinct. Skeleton Key lets Beasts open existing gates between worlds. Under the Bed lets them enter the Primordial Dream by mucking around in a normal person's head rather than going to their Lair. Hold the Door and Be My Guest let people into your Lair.

    Beats acquisition became beat farming. I have a serious issue with this one. While every other gameline more or less have the same ways to earn beats, Beast kind of sidesteps this by using Satiety Conditions.
    This feels like overstating things... lots of game lines have Conditions meant for this exact purpose too (even if they tend to generate splat Beats instead of general ones). The two common solutions are group Beats (thus it doesn't really matter) and/or capping Condition rewards to one Beat per scene (so tearing through a bunch doesn't cause this sort of disparity).

    Both beasts in my game made aggressive use of Satiety expenditures to force a rapid change of Satiety Conditions, and since changing levels is one of the stated resolution comdition for all of them, in combat-heavy scenes they reapt a larger amount of beats than the other supers.
    This seems a bit extreme... this would be at most 3 Beats to do regularly (remembering that Satiety 10 and 0 are not things you enter lightly): 1 for Gorged to Sated, 1 for Sated to Starving, and 1 for coming back up to Sated/Gorged for feeding at the end of the scene if you can.

    Even if they're trying this, it means maintaining Gorged, which isn't easy and has a lot of RP to pull off.

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    • #3
      I don't really know the specifics on the other character types ,excluding the Unchained, so I apologize I can't speak on what they can do.

      Well some of it strikes me as a counter scenario, ie if its known that one of your enemies can just pop in anywhere there's a shadow then you start cracking out the extra generators, glowsticks, battery lanterns, etc. Since Shadowed Soul requires the shadows be connected for a singular access then anything that will break them up means it doesn't work. Also the rule is that they can see and while they can shift perspective they can only focus on an area at a time, this can potentially work to counter scenarios where the player seems to just have unfettered access to an area with little work.

      As for the supercharging itself that is supposed to be mitigated by how much and how quickly a Beghotten can gain Satiety back. Like the example you listed above seems to be that it was just a routine thing, cut power lines, burn point of satiety to ensure easy access to building pop in rend people alive, lather rinse repeat. Something like that is probably a base of 1, at least once it starts getting routine like you're describing it. Hell feel free to add or alter the list of modifiers as the story goes on, it does say things are up to ST approval. So I mean check with the players, so they know if you're making an alteration, but if something has become boringly routine argue they're not getting as much Satiety out of it.

      This one is a potentially weird concept, and not a thing I've tested to see how it plays, but what about extended feeding scenes? Like if your players are going after different areas of a facility then you might set up check points where the action has calmed and the Beghotten are able to feed as opposed to just feeding at the end of each fight scene as I'm perceiving your scenario. (Like I said just a thought haven't tried it no clue how well or poorly it might go.)

      Nightmares. Okay I'll be honest that seems a bit more like a character build scenario then a problem with the abilities. Like you have Nemesis, and a Predator the only Nightmares out of the core that I see normally going into their feeding habits, are You Deserve This, Run Away, and You Cannot Run. Other things are more up to one's tastes. The thing is it sounds like the two Beghotten built themselves to be combat focused and probably stuck closer to lower Satiety than high. (Just a guess based on description and likely play style based on desired feeding preferences) Don't worry too much about them using or not using Nightmares if they don't seem to want to use it or if they aren't having issues with it.

      The Group Beat Table might work for the issue of Beasts being able to generate lots of beats quickly, that or you can discuss and impose a cap on number of Beats the Beghotten can gather in a session through shifting of Satiety levels that aren't 0 and 10.

      Honestly, can't speak on the Pathway opening scenarios. I had cards for the rules on opening a pathway and Skeleton Key. (Under the Bed was like Mother's Kiss potentially useful, but we tended to forget we had it.) *

      *On a more silly bit of insanity that occurred to me. Depending on how extreme the Beat generation got for the Beasts you could always work out a metric to let them trade beats for WP. Probably a bad idea, just something that sounded amusing.

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      • #4
        Nightmares are great, but not everyone gives a damn. They don't give away your horror, high satiety is a better place to be in than low satiety (imo), you can supercharge them with Satiety for crazy effects. And they're "subconscious hard leverage," where you can blow open many doors at once... without the victim having any way of telling its you or that someone is trying to manipulate them into doing things. I like the idea of You Will Never Rest + Fear is Contagious to put the masses to sleep. But there are so many good combos.

        As far as easily dealt with conditions, doesn't get easier than Paradox Conditions. Do a spell that causes a risk of paradox, contain it, and scour it. I don't buy that beasts are remotely OP compared to mages in general. A chargen mastigos can render him effectively invincible (Co-Locate), keep tabs on everything from miles away (Outward and Inward Eye), and Psychic Dominate or whatever his foes into oblivion while he casually sips his margarita. If somehow they do find him there (effectively a 0% chance), he can reflexively teleport to a different resturant. Don't forget that he can also veil himself and his sympathetic ties, so even most supernaturals would have no way of detecting him, and no way of harming him if they could detect him.

        Also, why didn't the mage restore the beasts' willpower?

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        • #5
          Well, thank you all for their responses, now I'm beginning to realize many things I initially perceived as problematic may have not been that bad after all.

          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          Do you have an objection beyond the nastiness of an specific combo?
          Only that I find it odd that any Beast can pull such a powerful combo while the rest of other supernaturals can only activate their starting levels. I understand Beast does not follow the usual powers progression, but for a game that is meant to be crossover-friendly, such disparity in their initial capacities (perhaps later on it stops being a problem, idk) makes it somewhat problematic provide a suitable challenge for all the PCs.


          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          OK, you seem to have conflated resonance with similarity.
          Oh, I'm sorry, I got confused and mixed up some traits (I wrote from my cell phone, in a rush). The Eshmaki in question has Lair 2 and the Lair Traits of Poor Light, Maze and Currents. He very cleverly acts at night, kills the power of the building he's in and then invokes Maze to confuse their targets. Then, of course, he activates Shadowed Soul with Satiety and uses Limb from Limb either with Low Satiety or with another Satiety expenditure. I didn't know about Resonance and invoking all of your Lair traits in a place resonant with one of your chambers, however, so thank you! I stilly think that an initial Lair Tilt easy to create can create a terrible damage with very little resource expenditure.

          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          It's a playstyle thing in my experience. Nightmares are good, but they're a commitment to higher Satiety levels. If you have a Beast that's focused on physical stuff (not just combat) Atavaisms are totally the way to go... but if you're a more social/mental focused character then Nightmares get a lot more appealing.
          That's good to know. We all are still fairly new to this game, so there's a learning curve we are engaging still. And boy, Nightmares are nasty!


          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          Haven't had any real problems since they're all fairly distinct. Skeleton Key lets Beasts open existing gates between worlds. Under the Bed lets them enter the Primordial Dream by mucking around in a normal person's head rather than going to their Lair. Hold the Door and Be My Guest let people into your Lair.
          I get it know that you summarize them in simple terms, thanks again.



          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          This feels like overstating things... lots of game lines have Conditions meant for this exact purpose too (even if they tend to generate splat Beats instead of general ones). The two common solutions are group Beats (thus it doesn't really matter) and/or capping Condition rewards to one Beat per scene (so tearing through a bunch doesn't cause this sort of disparity).
          Yeah, my personal preference is limiting the number of beats for resolving any Satiety Condition to one per scene.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
            Well some of it strikes me as a counter scenario, ie if its known that one of your enemies can just pop in anywhere there's a shadow then you start cracking out the extra generators, glowsticks, battery lanterns, etc. Since Shadowed Soul requires the shadows be connected for a singular access then anything that will break them up means it doesn't work. Also the rule is that they can see and while they can shift perspective they can only focus on an area at a time, this can potentially work to counter scenarios where the player seems to just have unfettered access to an area with little work.
            See, I really don't like the vagueness of that Atavism. If the whole building is in darkness, then any point is accesible, right? I don't like to argue with my players about minutae like this, either. I guess I can make him roll to see if he's spotted if he tries to jump many times from shadow to shadow, but they've never fought a prepared enemy before, so...

            Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
            As for the supercharging itself that is supposed to be mitigated by how much and how quickly a Beghotten can gain Satiety back. Like the example you listed above seems to be that it was just a routine thing, cut power lines, burn point of satiety to ensure easy access to building pop in rend people alive, lather rinse repeat. Something like that is probably a base of 1, at least once it starts getting routine like you're describing it. Hell feel free to add or alter the list of modifiers as the story goes on, it does say things are up to ST approval. So I mean check with the players, so they know if you're making an alteration, but if something has become boringly routine argue they're not getting as much Satiety out of it.
            I probably need to be more strict with how they sate their Hungers, you are right. Since they have kept themselves mostly at Low Satiety levels, hunting has been a relatively straightforward approach, in a few cases where the feeding pool is too small they just kill the victim at the end. And not having an Integrity-analog stat also bothers me, but that's a different matter entirely.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Deinos View Post
              Nightmares are great, but not everyone gives a damn. They don't give away your horror, high satiety is a better place to be in than low satiety (imo), you can supercharge them with Satiety for crazy effects. And they're "subconscious hard leverage," where you can blow open many doors at once... without the victim having any way of telling its you or that someone is trying to manipulate them into doing things. I like the idea of You Will Never Rest + Fear is Contagious to put the masses to sleep. But there are so many good combos.
              All very good reasons, I never thought about them, thank you.

              Originally posted by Deinos View Post
              As far as easily dealt with conditions, doesn't get easier than Paradox Conditions. Do a spell that causes a risk of paradox, contain it, and scour it.
              Not quite, IMO. If a mage provokes a paradox condition (which requires for him to fail his Wisdom roll and potentially suffer damage), then he has to wait for the paradox condition to lapse, which tipically can last from a scene to a whole day, and in that time he can still suffer from the effects of the Condition, and lastly after all this he can finally scour it, whick lowers one of his Attributes temporarily or inflicts more damage. So no, beat farming is not a Mage problem at all, I think.

              Originally posted by Deinos View Post
              A chargen mastigos can render him effectively invincible (Co-Locate), keep tabs on everything from miles away (Outward and Inward Eye), and Psychic Dominate or whatever his foes into oblivion while he casually sips his margarita. If somehow they do find him there (effectively a 0% chance), he can reflexively teleport to a different resturant. Don't forget that he can also veil himself and his sympathetic ties, so even most supernaturals would have no way of detecting him, and no way of harming him if they could detect him.
              In a way, mages are the exact opposite of Beasts: mages are nasty IF they have time to prepare and stack the deck in their favor; beasts too need to prepare things in advance, but they can whip up some powerful Atavisms and feed from the chaos and terror he produces.

              Originally posted by Deinos View Post
              Also, why didn't the mage restore the beasts' willpower?
              This was not a high-trust party. The mage and both beasts kept each other at arms length, and for good reason. So besides some occasional mutual buffing, there was no in-depth combo synergies.
              Last edited by Zooroos; 06-17-2019, 03:22 PM.

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              • #8
                Correction/clarification on the “similarity” thing: that’s for if none of your Lair Traits are already present naturally, in which case you can spend a Satiety and attempt the (very hard) roll in question to impose some anyway. If the place you’re in is already Poorly Lit, then imposing Maze is indeed free and doesn’t require a roll.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Zooroos View Post
                  See, I really don't like the vagueness of that Atavism. If the whole building is in darkness, then any point is accesible, right? I don't like to argue with my players about minutae like this, either. I guess I can make him roll to see if he's spotted if he tries to jump many times from shadow to shadow, but they've never fought a prepared enemy before, so...
                  Actually I can break this down for you, since its a useful power.
                  Base form: You step into a sufficiently sized shadow and merge with it. At this stage you are incapable of actually moving around the shadow without returning to a physical state. Perception and communication are still applicable in the shadow, however it centers on the location you merged with the shadows in. In the event that said area is illuminated with bright light or some form of magical attack harms you the ability ends.

                  Low Satiety: In addition to the above you are able to expand your perceptive abilities and can observe from those other areas. IE if you were in the top left corner of a darkened room , you could read over the shoulder of a person in the bottom right corner so long as the shadows are still connected. However, your proverbial camera is now centered on that location, so if the other corner had a the ability to see out the open door and your new location doesn't then you'll need to center your view at another location in order to be able to see out the door again. However, despite the roaming perception you are still in the same location. So essentially you're playing FNAF with a shadow based drone.

                  Satiety boost: This is where you get the new ability to jump from location to location in the shadows. In this level you'd be able to jump a darkened hallway to under the bed so long as you can see the shadows in the area even if the intervening room is well lit.(And assuming the dark area under the bed is still large enough for you to fit if you weren't a shadow.) That said you would still be working with the camera restriction. So while you would be able to see any point in a completely darkened building they would not be able to perceive the entire building at the same time having to jump from camera location to camera location to observe things there, and provided sufficient shadows existed they would then be able to jump from wherever they entered the shadows to their new camera point ,or the shadow spot they're looking at, but for the majority of it they would be still in the first spot technically frozen to the spot.
                  Last edited by nalak42; 06-19-2019, 05:28 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Zooroos View Post
                    Not quite, IMO. If a mage provokes a paradox condition (which requires for him to fail his Wisdom roll and potentially suffer damage), then he has to wait for the paradox condition to lapse, which tipically can last from a scene to a whole day, and in that time he can still suffer from the effects of the Condition, and lastly after all this he can finally scour it, whick lowers one of his Attributes temporarily or inflicts more damage. So no, beat farming is not a Mage problem at all, I think.
                    Releasing paradox is an absolute joke. Containment is where its at. No Hoobris roll, and no need to wait.

                    Originally posted by Zooroos View Post
                    In a way, mages are the exact opposite of Beasts: mages are nasty IF they have time to prepare and stack the deck in their favor
                    I don't get the "preptime" thing. Mages can just keep their spells up forever. I suppose Co-Locate needs to be recast for new places.

                    Beasts are simply easy to use, but they're not broken or overpowered in any way. Their powers almost never go beyond what a starting cabal can replicate.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Deinos View Post
                      Mages can just keep their spells up forever.
                      Indefinite duration is pretty costly. There's also a limit on how many spells a mage can keep up at the same time without relinquishing (and relinquished spells will either go kaput or costs Willpower dots to maintain indefinitely) before new spells requires additional Reaches.
                      No, they can't keep their spells up forever, and even if they effectively could (by simply recasting spells when the duration runs out) the amount of spells is still highly limited so they can't guarantee to have the right spells for the right situation unless they know beforehand what spells they need. I.e. preptime for the encounter.


                      Bloodline: The Stygians
                      Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                      Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                      • #12
                        Or they can stop pretending to play D&D and skip straight to the spell that actually matters like (*checks Path*) Lelouch vi Britannia Commands You To Die.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Deinos View Post
                          Releasing paradox is an absolute joke. Containment is where its at. No Hoobris roll, and no need to wait.
                          Containment is what they're talking about when they refer to a Wisdom roll and the thing they are saying is that their reading of Paradox Conditions aligns with what the actual section on Paradox Conditions says instead of a literalistic reading of "scouring the Condition is listed as a resolution criterion in the Condition writeups, therefore the Condition Duration chart doesn't matter."

                          Originally posted by Sith_Happens View Post
                          Or they can stop pretending to play D&D and skip straight to the spell that actually matters like (*checks Path*) Lelouch vi Britannia Commands You To Die.
                          Focusing their development on Murder Spells For Murdering is stopping pretending to play D&D, is it?


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

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                          • #14
                            Linear warrior, quadratic mage is the true D&D experience.


                            Bloodline: The Stygians
                            Ordo Dracul Mysteries: Mystery of Smoke, Revised Mystery of Živa
                            Mage The Awakening: Spell Quick Reference (single page and landscape for computer screens)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Tessie View Post

                              Indefinite duration is pretty costly. There's also a limit on how many spells a mage can keep up at the same time without relinquishing (and relinquished spells will either go kaput or costs Willpower dots to maintain indefinitely) before new spells requires additional Reaches.
                              No, they can't keep their spells up forever, and even if they effectively could (by simply recasting spells when the duration runs out) the amount of spells is still highly limited so they can't guarantee to have the right spells for the right situation unless they know beforehand what spells they need. I.e. preptime for the encounter.
                              If you have any willpower granter, the limits on spells you keep up are not actually real. And of course the mage will know beforehand what he needs, as you can pretty safely guess that reflexive teleports, veiling, shielding, buffing, etc. are gonna come in handy.

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