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Quantum Bolt - Artillery?

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  • #16
    Okay, here's the dealio. QBolt is good. It's real damn good. It's not as good as you think it is.

    I did some math here. First of all, I am assuming that every character has Quantum 5, the commensurate power at 5, and both the associated attribute and mega attribute at 5.

    Now, we've got our force field brick. He has no other soak powers but forcefield and what Stamina/Mega Stamina give him. He rolls his stamina, his mega stamina, and his forcefield. Let's say he rolls okay and his 5 dice for stam, 5 dice for forcefield, and 5 mega dice come up with 2 successes each. That's fair, right? 2 + 2 + 4 (mega is double, remember) gives you 8 x2 for forcefield successes gives you 16 for a total lethal/bashing soak of 21 thanks to quantum giving you 5 automatic.

    But wait, there's more! Stamina will give you 5 bashing and 2 lethal soak, and mega-stamina will give you 5 bashing and 3 lethal soak. So our soak totals right now look like this.

    Bashing: 31
    Lethal: 26

    Now lets get our QBolting badass out here. He has Mega Dex 5, Dex 5, and QBolt 5. And he rolls even better than the brick did! His Dex, Mega-Dex, and QBolt all came up with 3 successes! That gives him 12 successes. One is used to hit and the rest roll over to dam... wait, no, only 5 can do that, by RAW. So okay he gets 5 more dice to damage. Still, hell of a roll, blaster!

    So let's compare.

    Bashing QBolt: 15 Automatic, 25 dice (yay good roll). Automatic are lost first, so those are just gone. 16 of his dice are gone too, 'cuz of the remaining bashing soak. He's now rolling 9 dice of bashing. That's good! It's not world ending.

    Lethal QBolt: 10 Automatic, 25 dice (good roll again). Those automatic die immediately though, and so do ... 16 of his dice! He's rolling 9 dice of lethal. That's much worse, but it's still not world ending. Though it COULD be if your boy gets a damn good roll.

    Of course, this is assuming that our brick only has forcefield. One dot or armor later and our blaster is having a bad day. And there's nothing he can do to juice up his QBolt unless he wants to jack it up to a level 3 power with an extra. And that's esspensif. Cuz blaster has to buy soak powers too, otherwise he go'an die.

    See what I'm getting at? QBolt is awesome. But it's not perfect.

    Now if you wanna talk quantum 6+ and Mastery? yeah, now we're getting stupid. When things start getting doubled and quintupled and ... yikes? Yeah. It breaks there. But at base game? It's workable.

    Protip: have more than one source of soak. It's totally worth it.

    Edit: Oh, and forcefield is much, much better than armor unless you don't have any useful stam to speak of.

    Edit 2: You want broken powers though? Aggravated Psychic Blast. Now THAT is broken :P Pretty much nobody has an impervious Psychic Shield, and it's super rare for someone to bother taking ... that... stamina thing that lets you soak agg as lethal... And I'm not even sure that enhancement WORKS on psychic blast, in retrospect!
    Last edited by Jetstream; 09-05-2015, 12:21 AM.

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    • #17
      ... It's possible I haven't explained my purpose clearly enough. For that, I apologise. I will attempt to address that failure now.

      I am trying to come up with ways to handle QBlast so it's workable, but not as disturbingly overpowered as it seems, without getting into a "my numbers are better than your numbers!" contest, which unless you want a game to devolve into a min-max contest (which I don't), is a really, really bad idea.

      So, while I can see your intent is to be helpful, your comparison of two hyper-specced characters isn't really all that helpful to me, because 1) that is not the situation I'm facing, and 2) I really, really loath it when an ST pulls that on me, so I refuse to do it myself. Plus, it means when it comes to combat, which I do want to have some of, it forces it into the binary of insta-win vs pointless and unwinnable battle, which is just a fantastic way to kill any engagement. Sure, I could throw hyper-defensive characters in, and maybe it'd take the QBolt a couple shots to kill him. Shame about the other guy who took Elemental Blast or physical attacks, who are now pretty much guaranteed to be pinging and feeling totally pointless next to the guy who happened to take this one power. And even if they didn't because they're boring, so we have "I blast, you soak. You blast, I soak. Rinse and repeat until tedium becomes too much to bear." I hated that in Exalted 2E, and I was hoping to find a way around it in Aberrant.

      Also, my issue was never QBolt is too powerful (Ok, it is a little bit, but not mostly), it's that it seems uncharacteristically powerful when compared to other, superficially similar, powers, and I was hoping there was some drawback I was missing.


      My Commandments for GMs My Commandments for Players

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      • #18
        Okay well, first of all, you and I have a vastly different definition of "hyper specced," so that's going to be a permanent point of disagreement. Far as I'm concerned, you should be maxing your basic schtick as best you can, or at least matching it to the base power of the game. Anyway, the numbers were intended to be illustrative of relative power. You've gotta compare like to like. Max numbers is a good way to do that.

        However, on a second note, there is a drawback to QBolt that soak powers don't have. You have to spend 2 Quantum every single time you want to use a QBolt. That includes if you multishot it, and yes you can do that under certain circumstances that I can't remember right this second.

        By contrast, forcefield is sustained so you only spend that Quantum every so many turns. I think Quantum + Power turns. Suite soak powers are also sustained, and all other soak powers are just flat permanent.
        Last edited by Jetstream; 09-05-2015, 03:13 AM.

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        • #19
          Max points in Attribute, Mega Attribute and Power as a starting character = specced. But putting that aside.

          Yeah, I've seen some references to your pool draining faster than expected, and maybe that is the counterbalance. But even with your example, it's unlikely for the Forcefield-user to stand up for more than, what, three blasts? Four at most? Obviously there's some variance depending on dice outcome, but either way, let's say it takes 5 blasts to take them out. At 2 q-points a blast, that's 10 q-points to win out of 30-odd pool. Yeah, the Forcefield user is better off in terms of points (barring him using any other powers in the meantime, of course), but he's still unconscious/dead, all else being equal.

          And it still doesn't help my problem of rendering those who haven't taking QBolt totally ineffective in the same fight.


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          • #20
            Ah, screw it, i'll go on a bit of a balance rant:

            In comparison to the 3rd level 'mastery suite power' projectiles, Q-bolt has no versatility. Someone who payed for Gravity mastery, for example, can mimic a Q-bolt, but a Q-bolter can't use their power as a shield (or something even more versatile) with a +1-2 difficulty on the roll.
            That's probably why Q-bolt has its specialist edge - it's a wild haymaker (Wolfgar.already mentioned 'pulling' the damage, like any other attack).
            I feel there is room for a level one version even less powerful (and cheaper) than the mastery suite bolts, but the limitations would be more exacerbated at level one.
            Aggravated damage leads to the proliferation of M-Sta: Hardbody in the long run.
            I saw some success from running games in hostile off-world environments, space-habitats, where Q-Bolt would cause collateral damage that nightmares are made of. And having a setting where the entire world would go apeshit on them if they were to actually use a Q-Bolt in public (or that left evidence). But, that's the 2120s, so those solutions were more available than they are in 2008. So, i had it easy in some ways.

            Narrating around Aberrant powers is a novelty at first, but after playing for a while it's kind of like preparing encounters against a D&D spell caster. I'm sure you'll figure it out, but the first few sessions will have a couple of suprisingly lethal moments. Playtest a bit more with your brother if you can, a few different solutions will become apparent. The temptation to spec for combat is that arms war i was mentioning, it's a siren song i've seen a group devolve into in the past - after a few years of play, the system started to fray and dissolve at the highest levels i ever let it get to. And i never really let the players anywhere near the Player's Guide powers and Quantum levels, although i had started using some of them for NPCs so the door was opening, albiet slowly.

            Maybe others have different experiences, but my Aberrant game did suffer from cookie cutting (min-maxxing/speccing/whatever) at the highest levels. A pity, because i know there was more story to tell and the universe was buckling before i ever got to a satisfactory conclusion.
            -worlds tiniest violin-
            Just one gamer's tale of caution. My second and third campaigns were able to avoid those pitfalls and even play with them, but the peril is real for first timers. The game can be enough fun to ignore these details, but recognizing them early is good veteran insight. Asymmetry is in the very core of this system and frankly, it's one of the thrills. I hope the new system's Q-Bolt equivilent leaves my jaw dropped as well, i just hope the end-game is a bit better balanced this time.
            Elites and Space-mad War-vets are meant to be scary - they are meant to redefine battle and war with their mere existence.

            I hope some of my posts in here were helpful, but i feel i wrote many words saying very little.
            -shame-
            Good luck, Allan53. I hope to see you post some of your experiences going forward here, it's always interesting to hear from a new perspective.
            Last edited by Nihilist; 09-05-2015, 08:52 AM. Reason: It's still loads of fun, regardless...

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            • #21
              Power is hard to balance versus versatility; it's one of the core conflicts of game design. While yes, a character who takes a Level 3 Suite of powers will not be as good at just blasting than someone who took Quantum Bolt, she does gets a certain versatility in options to be considered. For instance, Invulnerability usually has to be chosen for energy or physical attacks at it's most expensive form; an Aberrant with Gravity control could use either Gravitic Blast against someone who is physically resistant, or use Gravitokinesis to hurl objects at someone with energy resistance. She can also fly out of close combat reach of that Mega-Strong dude and avoid the 25+ Crushing attacks.

              Costing is always a bit strange. Essentially, the blended techniques give you a discount on nova/experience points. Buying a Level 3 power at a rating of three and taking a Blast, Flight, and Shield Technique will only be 15 Nova points, where as buying the equivalent Quantum Bolt, Flight, and Force Field powers separately at rank 3 each would be 27 Nova points, so there is a great cost saving there. Experience is a little wonky, but interpreting "current rating" to mean "new rating" :rolleyes: it's a cost of 44 XP versus 93(!) XP. So the initial cost of purchase is half as much; however, for that savings all of the techniques are inferior to the base powers, AND cost more quantum points to activate.

              Really, it makes sense that Elemental Blast isn't as good as QB, because in the long run it's cheaper than buying multiple powers.

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              • #22
                Thanks, that's actually been really helpful

                So the main 'drawback' of QBolt is that while it does offensive well, that's pretty much all it does (power block aside)? While the other offensive-type powers tend to have other uses in addition? That makes sense, and based on a very quick leaf through the powers, it seems supported. Coolio, I can work with that.

                With regard for min-maxing, there does seem to be some tendencies in that direction, given the concepts and stats I've seen so far (Aside: why is it, when I say to players while they're free to start thinking of concepts, I want to do a group character-creation session, at least half build their characters first? I can understand doing a little bit, or familiarising yourself with the rules, but it's irritating. I know it's reasonable and such, but I'm still irritated). I'm a little concerned, particularly because about half seem to be combat-focussed despite the fact I've mentioned there probably won't be a lot of combat, and I know at least one of the combat-players tends to make combat monsters and use his combat-monstrosity to enforce his view on the other characters. Which can be interesting once, but around the third time it gets old. Thankfully, I'm the ST, so I'm immune this time around. Does mean that I may need to tweak my intended game more than I expected: was supposed to be diplomacy/mystery/characters-affecting-the-world, but if half the party just wants to punch the problems into submission that could be problematic.

                I'll have a think and get back to you.

                If people are interested, maybe I'll do up one of those play summary threads?


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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Allan53 View Post
                  Thanks, that's actually been really helpful

                  ...

                  I'll have a think and get back to you.

                  If people are interested, maybe I'll do up one of those play summary threads?
                  More than welcome, i'd be game on your thoughts going forward, if you don't mind some backseat Storytelling.
                  -smile-
                  Last edited by Nihilist; 09-06-2015, 01:49 AM. Reason: Removed portion of quote

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                  • #24
                    Feel free to do a play summary.

                    Partly,what you have from the description is a social conflict, and there the game can't really help you. Basically you have the game you want to run, and the game they want to/expect to play. Your options are going to be:

                    1) Play what you want, and have them tear through it like tissue paper. Ultimately unsatisfying for everybody, really.

                    2) Change streams and play what they want. Peaceful but maybe not satisfying for you.

                    3) Adjust your game to account for them, so you can show them that taking a bunch of combat specs was stupid. If you don't want them punching problems, don't make problems punchable, and make fighting an expensive and useless waste of time. It might work, but it can come off as high-handed if executed poorly, and can basically boil back down to option 1 again.

                    4) Not play with people who are incompatible with what you want to run. Sucks, but no gaming is better than bad gaming.

                    5) Negotiate, and hopefully cut them off at the pass. This is ideal, if it works. If it doesn't work, then it's back to the drawing board.

                    If you don't like playing with min-maxers...don't play with min-maxers.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Jetstream View Post
                      You want broken powers though? Aggravated Psychic Blast. Now THAT is broken :P Pretty much nobody has an impervious Psychic Shield, and it's super rare for someone to bother taking ... that... stamina thing that lets you soak agg as lethal... And I'm not even sure that enhancement WORKS on psychic blast, in retrospect!
                      I'd have to say I'm not sure I would allow that just based on how Mental Blast is supposed to work versus how aggravated damage is supposed to work. Agg in Trinity universe is normally damage so bad you are destroyed on the molecular level. That seems to violate Rule of Stupid a bit too much to combine with "mental" damage.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Allan53 View Post
                        Max points in Attribute, Mega Attribute and Power as a starting character = specced. But putting that aside.

                        Yeah, I've seen some references to your pool draining faster than expected, and maybe that is the counterbalance. But even with your example, it's unlikely for the Forcefield-user to stand up for more than, what, three blasts? Four at most? Obviously there's some variance depending on dice outcome, but either way, let's say it takes 5 blasts to take them out. At 2 q-points a blast, that's 10 q-points to win out of 30-odd pool. Yeah, the Forcefield user is better off in terms of points (barring him using any other powers in the meantime, of course), but he's still unconscious/dead, all else being equal.

                        And it still doesn't help my problem of rendering those who haven't taking QBolt totally ineffective in the same fight.
                        Generally speaking, Aberrant combat is super lethal in my experience.


                        Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post

                        I'd have to say I'm not sure I would allow that just based on how Mental Blast is supposed to work versus how aggravated damage is supposed to work. Agg in Trinity universe is normally damage so bad you are destroyed on the molecular level. That seems to violate Rule of Stupid a bit too much to combine with "mental" damage.
                        We often banned it in our games as well, or reworked the Agg damage rules entirely.

                        I've been involved in several very heavily house ruled games of Aberrant.

                        That said, I bring it up specifically because there is at least one canon character that has it (Anna Devries) and probably more than that if I could be bothered to dig through my books to find it.

                        Edit: Actually thinking about it, Scripture almost certainly has it too. And probably Psyche.

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                        • #27
                          Considering the low quality and lack of play testing of source books from the time period and the way NPCs were just crapped out for Aberrant at the time, I wouldn't take anything in a sig character's stat block as a glowing recommendation. I doubt the writer even took two seconds to look at the power before penciling it in.

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                          • #28
                            For those that were interested: play summary is up. Well, it's really more a summary of the setup, there was very little actual play in the first session.

                            Thankfully, none of the players took QBolt, so I only need to be concerned about it from NPCs, which I can handle with much more options. Also, despite my concerns, while there was some min-maxing, it's all of the kind I can work with.


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