Monday, January 31, 2011

Big List of Attacks

Here's the latest cut of the "Big List of Attacks" now that I've gone through and re-done the Periodic attacks. The difference was substantial (it reduced Sonic Scream from 66 IMP down to 29). This is in keeping with our current thoughts.

The ones in yellow are  because our simulator doesn't handle beam-attacks and autofire correctly yet. The green means it was tested. The blue on white means the attack qualifies as Periodic due to its Rate of Fire. 
I believe the rule will be that if you can fire more than 1 Periodic attack per Round, any Round, then you must pay 1/3rd the cost of your full-price attack for each such back-up attack. I'm still not sure exactly how to phrase the "1 attack for even Rounds and 1 attack for odd Rounds" combination (I could just say that but I think there's a larger issue at work).

This is the same as Thomas' notes about attacks that work on "different clocks." Yes: if you have one attack that works every other round and a second that works "in the gaps" you don't get the second one for just 1 AP. So as I said above, we need to figure out how best to address that.

On the other hand, there are some things we do want to encourage.

Some Notes About Range
Thomas notes that there's a big difference between having a lot of ranged or hand to hand attacks vs. a mix. That is true--but it's a distinction we want to encourage. Why? Well, a few reasons. The first is that we feel flexibility is a net good for the game. Even though some characters will come out better than others (the strong guy with laser vision is 'better' for just 1 AP than the strong guy with +1 Strength) we feel that that's a feature, not a bug.

Does it mean everyone will have a ranged attack just because? Well, maybe. But our experience shows that's not the case and even if it was that would be okay by us. Our experience with a multitude of games suggests that the general best build is to find one thing to do in combat and excel at it so having there be a few good alternate modes doesn't seem like a problem to us.

It's also true that in our tests even 1 AP can make some significant differences at moderate AP levels so if that extra attack takes the place of, say, an extra point of Armor, for example, that's a serious trade-off.

What Else Might We Encourage or Not?
Attacks that ignore armor are a gray-zone right now. If for +1 AP you get the ability to ignore armor that's a pretty significant strike against Armor. Now, granted, right now Armor is "the best defense" (in quotes because it's definitely not always true but is true enough to be a concern)--but the legion of armor ignores would be a problem.

Allowing you to pay 1/3rd AP-cost of your most expensive attack for an equal Ignores Armor Attack seems fair though. That's a big price to pay.

Attacks that mix damage with Resisted Attack effects are also suspect: they have special bite against low-DP targets (especially if the RA effect ignores armor as well). They are also a lot more complex in terms of handling time (there is not just a regular damage check but then the whole RA thing and keeping track of RA effects is non-trivial for the GM if there are lots of opponents). So those might go down as well.

Perhaps there will be an "E" for Exotic attack type which always costs 1/3rd your most expensive attack and is never cheap (even other 'E' attacks would fall into this rule).

On the plus side, though, effects like lightning and burn won't count: having a good mix of these attacks is within bounds. If a character has an Armor Piercing arrow that does less damage than a normal one but ignores Armor if a save is missed we're okay with encouraging that.



  1. I should probably mention that the majority of my experience with power build systems is in a superhero context, so that probably colors my view. So I have to admit still being slightly bothered by a system that passively discourages certain kinds of conceptually sound builds (all melee attack variants, for example)because they cost the same but are less effective.
    You can always argue that people will sometimes do them anyway (because they will) but I just find it unfortunate when a system passively steers you away from good, in-genre concepts because they aren't too cost effective.

  2. What are you specifically referring to? I'm not aware of us "discouraging" a conceptually sound build (rather, we are strongly encouraging some kinds of versatility but we aren't discouraging anything that doesn't seem like an uber-build).


  3. In practice, when there's a low buy-in cost to versatility, it passively discourages focus because the benefits of the latter are outweighed by the former. You can argue there's a certain semantic difference between "encouraging" one and "discouraging" the other, but the practical effect is pretty much the same.

    Some cases of this are trivial, but I don't really think this is one of those; while you can have campaigns where range is trivial, in a game with relatively short round cycles and limited movement speeds (as JAGS has), I don't think I can really buy from past experience that the benefits to a ranged attack is in this category.

    (A similar effect can occur in your last comment with armor piercing and non-armor piercing attacks, but there's less of an all-or-nothing situation there).

    Basically, I think there's a difference between treating some attacks that are more efficient in some cases than others as the same, and treating those that just don't work at all in some cases.

    As I mentioned before, that doesn't mean there's any good way to judge what goes in one and the other that's really easy, but I do think the effect of there being no such difference is sometimes unfortunate.