We want to encourage characters to have multiple attacks (a dragon with claws, teeth, a tail bash, and a breath weapon) because it is cool and colorful and gives deeper tactical options. However, if the character must pay for these separately the cost is prohibitive since they cannot use all of them at once (and some things, like the breath weapon may require a round to charge up and have an activation roll to fire even then).
The Basic Solution
The easiest thing for us to do is say this: "if you have a weapon that you can use twice a round and that's all your REA (action points) then you can have other, similar weapons that take the place of that attack at the same level or lower for just +1 AP (point-cost)." This means:
- If the dragon's claws and teeth are interchangeable in terms of rate of fire and stuff (the claws hit more accurately but less hard, the teeth hit harder but less accurately) then there's no real additional cost.
- If the tail-bash is really close to the same cost (say, it's longer range, does IMP damage, but costs 6 REA instead of the usual 5) then ... hey ... uh ... maybe it's okay--but how do we write the rule?
The Problem With The Basic Solution
The problem with the above is that the Breath Weapon gets hosed. It hits /much/ harder (maybe 3x as hard as the claws/teeth) but it's so hard to use that paying full points for it will sink the character. It doesn't fit into the simple rule--but it shouldn't cost full points either.
Active Cost From Champions
Here's what Champions did: they had a concept called a "multi-power" where you could group abilities and so long as they all operated at the same "active cost" they could all be put, very cheaply, into the multi-power. This allowed someone like "The archer" to have a bunch of different arrows (explosive, normal, 'stun', armor-piercing, etc.) for a very cheap cost. This is perfect so far as it goes.
Why doesn't it work, exactly, for us? Or ... would it?
Issue 1: We don't have "active cost."
The first problem is that we don't have a simple "active cost" calculation. We can figure it out empirically for each attack but that'll take a lot more testing. Active Cost is, in essence, The Basic Attack Type multiplied by ALL ENHANCEMENTS but none of the defects.
Let's look at "disintegration beam" to see how this would work.
Disintegration is defined as: PEN damage, ignores armor, and, on a hit by 4+ (a vital hit) the Base Damage is multiplied by 4. This is an attack you do not want to get hit by. Not even a little. In "the wild" it will usually: fire one time a round, take a round to "power up" in the first place and probably cost 10 REA to charge up that first round. Something like that.
These defects bring the cost back down to something reasonable.
So by using the Champions theory a guy with "Claws" for 10 PEN damage might for a 'nominal cost' get a 3 PEN damage Disintegration Beam. Note that it does a lot less damage numerically than the "Claws Attack" but it should come out "about equal" since it ignores armor and does a lot more on a good hit.
That's all good--and, in fact, that is operating correctly. That's what a multi-power was designed to do.
In fact, this sort of analysis is good--ideally, although it's a lot more work, there should be an Advanced Rule that allows you to get an "equivalent attack" for 1 AP (a minimal cost) equal to your most expensive fully paid for attack. If we can tell you how to figure that out and make the rule clear enough, we ought to.
Issue 2: That's Not Our Key Use Case
In the dragon scenario we don't want our dragon's breath to be equal to the claw attacks--as in, interchangeable but just "happens to be better against some target." No, we want the rarely active Breath Weapon to be more fearsome and hit much harder.
The dragon's damage-per-Round output should go up when the Breath Weapon is active forcing characters to fight defensively for that Round.
How do we do that?
Well, that's harder. So I've done some testing. Here's the results:
Here I took the three herds and gave them a "Standard Issue" Attack and then added on a "once in a while" attack for "the same cost." I tracked what the "win percent" was (POV--Percent of Victory) and what the increase (Delta) was above the character without it.
NOTE: for new readers, the POV starts around 60 due to the way the challengers are built. That's okay.
I compare the "Delta" (how much better the new attack made the character) to what the character without the attack but more armor would win at--and, because the cost of Armor is tested at +1pt Armor for +1 Archetype Point (Cost-point) I have estimated what the attack's victory-increase would cost in terms of armor and that gives me an estimated AP cost for the attack.
I will note: it appears that on a spectrum from 16 AP to 64 AP for the character the value of an "even points" back-up attack is about 1/3rd the AP cost. It does vary--and at the lower end it's more like 1/2 or so. But still, the cost-curve is reasonably clear:
It looks like if you have paid full points for Attack-A you can have any other attack at the "same point cost" for 1/3 the cost.
NOTE: We are still going to say you can have an attack that is "exactly the same and interchangeable" in terms of rate-of-fire and such for a mere +1 AP. We should also say you can have the same "Active Cost" (we'll probably call it "Effective Value") of a different attack type for +1 AP. But if you want to back-up a standard issue attack with a once-in-a-while super-blast? You pay a third.