Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bio-Weapons Again

What I Am Working On Now
We have a pretty big list of bio-weapons. Claws, teeth, stingers, horns, and so on. Each of these is slightly different from the others--and several of them come in some different 'varieties.' What do I mean by that? Well, there are a few users of bio-weapons. Let's look:

  • Animals: In this case, if you are creating a real-world animal you want the animal to function as 'realisitcally' as possible. Also: as simply. If you create a lion you want a bite that can (with some worrying) kill an antelope and you want a claw-swipe that is better at range (and offers a defensive position) and can rip up a human. You are not worried about the "combat profile" of the animal--you just want something that ball-park works.
  • Mutants:Whether they be post-apocalypse wasteland mutants or non-human super heroes ... or aliens / fantasy races (who are not properly mutants at all--but are the same thing for now) you want (probably) some basic attacks ... and some mildly fantastic ones (armor-piercing or poisoned claws, short range energy pulses, maybe the ability to set your body on fire?). Again: a key thing here is to make the set of attacks work for the race, not be too expensive, and fairly easy to work out.
  • Monsters: Monsters are complex. The "combat profile" for a monster may be very different than for a standard PC (remember: a monster can be a PC--so it has to work in the game). Things that a monster may want are: attacks that are only operational on some Rounds (so they change up what they do). Also we have the concept of "Quick Strikes" for some weapons (like claws) so that you can get a 1 REA Claw Strike with another Claw-Strike that Round (giving the monster a Claw-Claw-Bite attack profile with a reasonable amount of REA).
Monsters In General
I've written about this before--but I'll lay some extra information out here. Monsters are generally looked at in the "fantasy game" context: we expect JAGS to create creatures which a group of fantasy adventurers will have a fun time fighting. This implies a few things:
  • They need to be able to be hurt but have a huge amount of variance in how hard they are to kill. This implies Ablative Damage Points (ADP) which give you "DP" that 'goes away' but doesn't increase your Minor Wound to the point where no one can inflict one on you. ADP is the solution to how you make really big things that are hard to kill--but can be killed by a group of reasonably low-damage attackers over time.
  • Lots of Attacks--But not Much REA: Monsters may need to be able to lash out at a lot of PCs but we don't want them all to be lightning fast. This means (see above) 1 REA strikes where appropriate.
  • Variance In Attacks. Having a dragon that can breathe fire once every two rounds or a giant scorpion that'll get to attack with its venomous tail sometimes is, we think, good for the game. In some cases recharge or charge-up times for attacks means you don't have to face that dragon's breath every round (and it can be dramatic when it happens) but also some things like "activation rolls" that turn on attacks on a given Round will make there be some variance (and drama) as you go from one Round to the next.
  • A nod to the Agile. We believe there's a role for the "acrobatic" character in monster-battles. If you buy Acrobatics at L3 you can Dodge for 3 REA--just like a Block. However, since Acrobatics is a combat skill most combat characters don't have it: it's expensive and they'd (usually) rather put more of their points into their combat skill ... which gives you a Block too. So we've designated some of the attacks "easier to Dodge." You still block them normally--but if you have a dodge you get +2 against it. Maybe there's a 'Monster Slayer' GAT that increases it to +3? Something like that? I'm not sure.
  • Other Stuff? Monsters usually can't block a huge swarm of incoming attacks. They won't have the REA for it. I've thought about "scales which deflect blows" giving them "free blocks" but mostly normal character armor doesn't do that so why would 'monster armor?' Maybe it's magic--but I prefer to give monsters a lot of ADP and let them eat the incoming attacks. Being blocked a lot isn't fun for players anyway. There's also issues of Grapple Defense. A dedicated PC grappler can grapple a LOT better than most monsters will be able to. Maybe they get "Grapple Defense" for being 'a monster.'?
Anyway--that's the current thinking on Monsters.



  1. Interesting enough, when building mutant creatures for the Morrow game I'm talking about, I found that with many of them you really didn't want to get in a grapple. Of course many of them were larger than human (and therefor stronger than anything resembling a normal human would be), but I'd expect that with a lot of fantasy monsters too.

  2. Really big things are--yes--pretty immune to grapples. But a lot of things aren't and we like the "boss + minions" pattern so we need ways to make sure that even fairly small things can be grapple resistant if designed that way.

    In our have-not game one of the characters is a stretching mutant who has a phenomenal grapple for the character's size. A lot of robots and things could well just be taken out of the fight if they aren't carefully monitored.