Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Knife Tax

What I Am Doing Right Now
I'm plowing ahead with the (3rd time) revised TAP GAT list. This one is more structured than ever before and I am now tackling an unpleasant question: what happens when I stack several of these? Do they add "normally" or does something else happen?

The reason this is unpleasant is that it is highly unlikely that we will ask JAGS Players to do anything other than "add up the points." As such, if the effect of having several of these is not equal to the sum of the points then, well, things are going to be wrong in some direction. I've decided to do some spot-checks to determine 'by how much' if that is indeed the case.

Thoughts On Knife
Another problem has plagued me for some time: what to do about Knife Skill and Archetype Abilities? We do not, as a rule, change your AP-costs of things based on how you spend your CP. If you spend enough CP to have a 14 REA and a L3 combat skill you can take 3 attacks per Round with any attack without paying extra AP for it (on the other hand, if you use AP to buy the extra REA, well, that costs AP--obviously).

This is all well and good: the rules are very strong on charging a lot for things that give you extra attacks (and they will become even more precise on it when we adjust the basic rules). There's only one hole: Knife skill.

In the basic game Knife Skill gives you an extra knife-strike at L3 for 1 REA. This is the cheapest extra attack in the game. The reason is obvious: in the realm of weapon-using characters, a knife is about the weakest there is. In games with armor, a knife will almost certainly not penetrate and may not even breach the DR.

However: if you are building an Archetype character you could build the "nuclear knife"--it would be just like the "nuclear sword" but cost less because it has less reach. Oh, and you'd get an extra strike each Round with it. It'd ... 'balance.' (the nuclear knife would be much, much better).

My original thinking on this was to force players to buy a special +1 Attack Archetype ability (possibly at a slight discount) if they also had Knife L3 (or L4) and had any AP-base powers that used the knife. This was ugly, but it was balanced.

The problem was two-fold: (1) it was ugly and (2) what if the game was a Have-Not post apocalypse game and I find the "Proton Knife"? I don't actually pay points for it--so does my character have to pay points to wield it? That could be the case--but it's odd and at odds with the rest of the game system.

So today it hit me: I don't make the character pay points for Knife Skill--I make the Knife itself cost more points. Because we assume L3 combat skills for PC-grade characters then the cost to take an effect and "make it into a knife" would include the cost of an extra strike. This would make Knife super-powers cost more than Sword super-powers ... which is counter-intuitive but makes game-balance sense.

What about found treasure? That works out too: our work suggests we can correctly 'cost' Treasure in terms of AP and, indeed, need to in order to make the levels system balance out (characters in Level-using games have an 'Expected Wield' for weapons and 'Expected Wear' for armor that is presumably bought or found). So the Proton-Knife simply isn't "first level" treasure.


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