Thursday, June 30, 2011

How Many Damage Points Does A Character Need?

What I am Working On Right Now
Having more or less completed the bio-attack list and refactored the size tables (very slight changes) I am taking a look at how Resisted Attacks (in the case of bio-attack, toxins like Venom) work. The issue is this: Blood Toxins are very, very cheap according to the simulator--but, as I've said here, in some game-configurations that's going to be an issue.

So I want to make sure I have everything right. That means a deeper examination of the test conditions.

The Big Question: How Many DP Will an Average PC Have?
When you are hit with a Resisted Attack there are several steps that determine how/if it effects you. These, in rough order, are:

  1. Did it achieve the necessary pre-conditions to be effective? In the case of poison gas or a "sleep ray" this just means (a) did you get hit and (b) do you have some special condition such as 'robot' that makes you immune? In the case of a blood toxin, as noted, the carrier attack must (a) PEN (you fail an armor save) and (b) do at least 1pt of damage. It turns out that for balanced attacks against well armored targets this is unlikely
  2. The Resisted Attack's STAT is compared to your CON or WIL (in the case of Psionics or things like hallucinogenics). For each point the RA is higher (or lower) there is a +/-1 shift in your roll. Resisted Attacks pretty much have a STAT pegged as 12--so if your CON is 12 you are even. If you are running around with a CON of 10, you are more vulnerable to Resisted Attacks.
  3. The Resisted Attack's INTENSITY score is compared to your Damage Points. This gives the attack a Resisted Roll to effect you. For example: if the RA has an Intensity of 14 and you have DP of 12, the RA's roll is 12- to effect you (a difference of 2). At higher numerical levels there are divisors (so a 60 INTENSITY vs. a 50 DP gives the RA a 12- chance to effect you too since the divisor is 5)
  4. Someone makes the Resistance Roll (the Player using the attack or the Player resisting the attack--usually the Player rolls since our observation through testing is that having the Player roll 'feels more involved'). The Effect is one of 6 levels depending on how well you made or missed the roll (No Effect, Minor, Standard, Major, Critical, or Catastrophic). Usually a Catastrophic Effect takes you out of the fight.
As You Can See ...
The crucial question centers on how the attack's INTENSITY matches up to your DP (BTW: if the above sounds too complicated note that the comparison of STAT can be dropped for basic players and the level of Effect can be simplified too to just a made-it effect or missed-it effect if you are concerned about speed of play. Just center on the "standard Effect."

But even simplified what we want to know is : for a given AP investment in some kind of toxin attack, what INTENSITY score should you get? That depends on how many DP we expect the target to have.

There Are Two Character Sets ...
In our test simulator there are two sets of charactrers: the Herd which are generally well defended and the Test Characters. The Herd are numerical splits of 66% Defense who ALWAYS have some AP in Damage Points and the Test Characters are 50% Defense and sometimes Do NOT have any AP in Damage Points (Both FULL ARMOR and FORCE FIELD Test characters have NO AP's in Damage Points so even if they are 1000 AP--an absurdly high number--they will still have 14 DP and, like 500pts of Armor).

Here is the break-down of the number of DP that each group has.

This table shows a few things. Notably across the top (in blue) the average DP that each character-group has at the listed AP level. As you can see, the HERD characters have a good deal more (the TEST character's average is held down). 

The RED tables show what a Resisted Attack is likely to get with a given investment. Primary means that the attacker put 50% of their AP into the Toxin (or Sleep Ray, or whatever). Secondary means the attacker put about 33% of their AP into the Resisted Attack and has some other attack as well--we think this is more common.

What you can glean from this is, we think, the following:
  1. If you are TEST-like you are taking a pretty big chance at the higher AP levels but your initial (basic) 14 DP will help out at the lower levels.
  2. If you are AVERAGE in expenditure--somewhere between TEST and HERD--at the higher AP levels you are still taking a pretty big chance (Catastrophic) if you are hit by a Primary RA.
  3. The HERD build is pretty effective at all levels. Very effective.
However ...
What this doesn't account for is a few things. Firstly PCs might have a lot of points in defense but it won't necessarily all be in Damage Points. They can have negative Damage Mods, things that insta-heal them, Armor, Force Fields, and so on. So even a character with a "Herd Profile" in terms of how they spent their points would not necessarily give them the defensive DP if they didn't specifically buy DP.

On the flip side, there are a lot of cheap things like "doesn't breathe" that will make you immune to a lot of Resisted Attacks ... assuming you are allowed to buy those and they fit your conception. A character running around with nothing but a "Neural Stunner" is going to be in trouble if they run into robots.

So What Do We Think?
The final observation--from a lot of testing--is that with the increase in DP-value (see several posts back) FULL ARMOR and to a degree FULL FORCE FIELD went from being the best-buys to not-so-good. I don't think we'll see too many PCs with 14 DP and half their AP in Armor. It was never a very good approach to a real game (where you'd fight occasional characters who hit 'harder than the average' and then the excess damage cracks you like an eggshell) and now it's not even the most mathematically effective approach.

In other words, I think something like the AVERAGE level will be what we'll see. And we want to encourage characters at the higher AP scale--especially around 100 DP, which is a break-point for divisiors in JAGS Resisted Attacks--to try to be on the other side of it. If you are playing with 64+ AP and expect Resisted Attacks, consider investing enough to get over 100 DP. You'll hold out much better.

So What About Them Resisted Attacks?

This table shows a breakdown of Resisted Attack "categories" with some proposed INTENSITY Scores. That's the BEAM Divisor. Remember: 'Beam' (Sleep Ray) is pretty much the best delivery system for a Resisted Attack in the game (better is Aura which always hits, goes first in the Round, and hits everyone within range--but those are definitely a special case--like a Basilisk's Aura of Decay). So you'd take your AP investment and divide by the Beam Divisor in order to get the Intensity.

Now I have to test this stuff.


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