Monday, August 16, 2010

Monsters! Monsters!

Today I started rounding out the Size Decisions by testing +1 CON or +1 Reach (and both) for the 550lb rating. It turned out that 'both' was too much (53% POV) while either one did fine coming in at a balanced 48% POV. I've tentatively chosen +1 CON since it's what I would want.

Then: Monsters
In JAGS Monsters (meaning fantasy opponents) are designed to be fought by a large group of characters who do varying amounts of damage and have varying numbers of attacks. In order to facilitate this we (as, I think, discussed here) created ADP (Ablative Damage Points).

A point of ADP is "like" a Damage Point except it does not impact your Wound or Condition Levels and when you suffer it you don't have to roll for wound effects. In other words a character with 100 ADP and 10 DP will make no rolls until they take the full 100 ADP. Then, any damage is applied to DP (for the rest of the fight, until the ADP regenerates--which usually happens out of combat) and they go down rather quickly.

Having ADP prevents the case where (a) to fight a large number of PCs the creature must have like 100 DP and then (b) no PC can do the 30 damage-in-one-hit to score a minor wound or (once the creature is badly hurt) the 30 damage-in-one-hit to score a Major Wound so (c) the battle takes FOREVER. Even worse: once the creature has suffered 100 DP worth of damage and is now at Injured Condition even 1pt of damage causes a MINOR WOUND which will likely Stun/Daze the creature but not take it out.

This means that not only are fights long--but they are dull as the creature is "on the ropes" for, like, another 100 DP worth of time.

ADP means we can have the creature hang around for a while but once it's "hurt" (all the ADP is gone) it then will be susceptible to the PC's levels of attacks. So: big monsters have ADP.

But Wait, There's More
We have the concept of Low Damage (LD) which means 1/4th of your Archetype Points are spent on a damage-dealing capability (we think most characters will do 1/3rd to 1/2 of their AP on a primary attack). If you are LD you usually get some benefits. We also thought that a standard "monster" would likely be built on more points than the individual PCs anyway and would likely do Low Damage since, hey, you don't want a creature that is supposed to be an entertaining fight for a bunch of PCs to just go and obliterate them in one shot. In this case, if a monster is LD they get to have a lot more ADP than they would normally get DP even though a point of ADP is worth less than a point of DP to begin with!

That's the theory, anyway: I discovered that in practice 1/2 points spent on armor (which is what we call FULL ARMOR) + a lot of DP, even with relatively low damage, totally cleaned up on the Normalized Herds (who have 1/3rd AP spent on damage-dealing capabilities). The other defenses (half armor, nothing but DP, and Force Field) would have like a 35% POV and then the FULL ARMOR guy would have like 78% POV. That did average out to around 50 but it wasn't what we wanted (that would mean anyone who got any defense but FULL ARMOR was a chump if they combined it with LD and ADP).

So I created a new rule: to get the Monster Package you had to have no more than 1/4 of your points spent on Armor. Uhm: call it LOW ARMOR. I guess. It worked out.

The Testing
I'm still letting the testing run but looking at the output so far it appears that a 32 AP character with 16 AP spent on Monster (giving STR, BLD, and ADP) will come out with something like 100 ADP. That's quite a lot and I'm reasonably happy with that.

A Note On ADP
It seems that ADP functions very differently when the average attack is 1/3rd your AP than when it is 1/2. In the original herds ADP was worth almost exactly what DP was--that was because the attacks were generally so overwhelming that the punched right through DP and ADP regardless. If the average attack was doing a hell of a lot of damage then it didn't really matter what you put in front of it.

Those are the kinds of things we have to be cognizant of when building these rules (remember: those battles lasted a too-short 1-2 Rounds where we want a good fight to be around 3-4 rounds.

I'm about 50% done testing Monsters ... it looks like the extrapolation is pretty straight forward so I'm going to be a little more sparse than I was with the original Size testing and spot check to see if the progressions hold up.

ANOTHER NOTE: My Test Characters are Mixed Armor and DP, FULL DP, Force Field, and FULL ARMOR. For the Monster build I was removing Full Armor: it turned out that Mixed Armor had already spent 1/4th their points on Armor--as much as I was going to allow. I already know from experience that a tiny amount of armor (say 1/8th) and then DP is a big-time loser since if you just go FULL DP you get like a 2x multiplier of your purchased DP.

So I wanted a 4th defense. I picked Power Field (which is kind of new) and it performed quite well. 1 AP gets you 5 Power Field, it seems.


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