Monday, May 9, 2011

What Now?

We're going to be running our Have-Not game tonight (it was canceled by Mother's Day--which is somehow ironically appropriate in a way I'm not sure I can quantify). When last we left our characters they had gone to see an oracle who told us we could go down into "the clock of fate" and have our fortunes read. If we decided to, after the reading, we could go down into the GC complex for an unorthodox adventure.

We, of course, decided to--and we had a pretty epic time of it. The Clock of Fate was built around a 'demon' created by a group of pre-disaster "haters" who had tried to take down a major sports champion (the greatest sport of man was called T-Ball and involved, it seems, a sentient thermonuclear device as "the ball"--it also involved poetry, body armor, and flying out-of-phase motorcycles ... we haven't figured out all the rules yet).

Down there we got "tarot cards" which were normal and gave us a good if somewhat mundane fate-arc. But then there was a schism in the machine and we got Aces of Pin-Ups: 1940's bomber-art girls with cursive legends like "Welcome Intruders, The Complex is Trying to Kill You" (or something like that). This spoke to a totally abnormal fate and the complex tried to correct itself.

The correction was to send us through the Tower of Swords if we didn't hand-back-over the cards (turning our backs on the unusual fate). Of course we refused and had to do an intense Mario-like series of challenges with moving platforms, placed gun robots, flying fireballs you could block to send flying at other opponents, and instant-death bladed pendulums that you had to win a drama to climb on top of.

We battled our way through (the prime opponent was a massive 'Giant Squid' N-Dexer which used it's "empty eyes" to suck in targets and catalog them. The massive super-arena was full of people sucked in by the N-Dexer who were all clamoring for our deaths. You can read about the N-Dexer in the Have-Not monster's book. Thankfully we didn't have to fight that). We went up two levels (16 AP--half of which I got, the other half of which is "expected" in terms of weapons and armor).

So now we're at--almost at--a cross-roads: The characters were not made with the TAP rules and I only very recently have a cut of the excel spreadsheets that contain that data. So what we are doing is this:

  • I and Kenton have re-made our characters using the new rules.
  • Todd and Mike are still using the old rules
  • I plan to do the conversion by hand in the future.
The interesting thing about this was that although my character was somewhat invested in TAP-items (extra initiative and, now extra attack skill) the point costs for things were remarkably similar to what I'd have paid in the old system.

On one had, this is a surprise--why'd it work out like that? On the other hand: not so much: the old costs were estimated with a whole lot of math and some decent thinking and a good deal of experience. I also didn't go for any of the really iffy things like large negative Damage Modifiers or super-dodges or stuff like that. But within certain tolerances? Looks like my original thinking was okay.

Also: How Much is Initiative Worth?
In JAGS Initiative determines when you are likely to go in a Round. Each point of Initiative increases the chance of you going first. The problem is that in the simulator everyone always has the same Initiative: 12 or less roll. If you get a few points above that (say 14- roll) you're often going to go first. The simulator tracks that advantage nicely. But above that? Going first is just going first (okay, and you get a free step action if you make your Init roll by 5+ ... and you are harder to block--but not by that much). 

After a time having a 25- Initiative (super high) and a 17- Initiative (high but not astronomical) are, in the simulator, the same thing. In most games they are the same thing too unless you are up against other very fast characters. Then each point of Initiative becomes an arms-race again.

So how do we price that (considering that my very fast character clocks in at a 19- Initiative for an estimated 4 AP)? The answer is that I don't really know yet. I know that there's a serious diminishing returns to buying Init even in this game (where some things are fast)--but going first amongst the other (fast) PCs is a game-time issue: if you are always or usually first you kind of get more play-time than other characters (battles will usually be over before the slow guy goes for some Round). You also get more over-sight of the battle (you can always choose to wait and then interrupt someone else's actions).

So despite the fact that the simulator peters out, I think that there should be a flat cost and I need to determine what it is.


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