Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Some stuff to figure out

I got back from a heavy-duty week of travel for work and had nothing done on JAGS. Even back at the hotel I was exhausted. I'm now starting to recoop and figure out what to tackle next. Here are the issues:

  1. Combat Buffs - GATs. I can add the GATs that buff certain things (extra Init for your side, extra CON rolls, lend ADP, stuff like that). One of the things I need to do, though, is figure out how these work both at the meta-game level ("you get extra ADP, son--don't ask") and the in-game reality ("you're hit--but the commander's morale keeps you going!" "But I hate him!"). This isn't a big deal--we even say there are differing levels of meta-game so it's not absurd for different groups to handle it differently ... but still. There's also the question of cost (if +1 Initiative for your character is worth about 1 AP, what is +1 for the whole team? 2 AP? 3 AP?).
  2. Success Point Pools For Combat: These also have a meta-question: what are they? Are they chi power? Are they "combat stance" (and if so, why can't you replenish them by regaining your footing?) Are they "just luck"? There are several different kinds ... but still.
  3. Add-On-Powers. This is the real question. Suppose I have an attack that's hard to block. One of the things we want to give Boss-type characters is one or two un-blockable attacks each Round. Yes: these are expensive (probably) but when doing 2 or 3 on one it makes sense for the guy taking the incoming attacks to block a lot (especially if he has a good block) and the other two or three characters to wail on the single target. This can be mitigated if a few of those shots from the Boss character are a lot harder to block.

So Here's The Question
My current thinking is this: I can calculate exactly, in the simulator, how much "hard to block super strength" is worth. But it's hard to calculate "how much ANY ATTACK that's hard to block is worth." I mean, I can get close and do estimates--and the answer is a decimal multiplier. If your attack did 13 PEN damage before it was hard to block, it now ought to do 11 PEN for the same points (or so).

That's okay: if it's right, it's right. I can sell the attacks like that in the book ("Hard to block strength, hard to block sword, etc.) but that doesn't really work too well since there are like 100+ attacks and combinations (charge-up Chi Strength + Armor Piercing Claws ... which are poisoned!--do I do that combo with Hard-to-Block? No.)

So what I'd come up with was this: you pay an extra 'tax'--buy an enhancement--based on the A-Cost of the attack group (the cost of your STR + Claws + Poison). That's great--except: it involves fractional AP's. Instead of the damage going from, say 13 to 11 the cost goes from 8 AP to 9.4 AP. Now, sure: you round normally (you do with damage anyway) so it's 9 AP--but we usually don't ever deal with fractional APs.

Worse: these sorts of things (hard to block, adding, say, automatically-hits or 'does 1pt of damage EVEN IF blocked, or Armor Piercing) aren't back-of-the-book type super-secret advanced rules. They're just Generic Archetype Abilities that happen to be really good for boss-type characters (but anyone can buy them, of course).

Are we going to force our players to do fractional math? 

I think the answer is YES.

But I'm not too happy about that.

Also: in the Big List of Attacks (not to mention the big list of bio-weapons ... and so on) there are lots of things that work the same way: you take an attack (PEN damage, Medium Reach) and then put all kinds of modifiers on it: +1 Back Swing REA cost, can be used to Grapple and Worry, Etc. and that's called a Pincer Bio-weapon. We don't have you "buy a 'sword' and then do all that math yourself. We've done it for you and wrapped it into the cost.

We're nice that way, eh?

So when I get to the actual back of the book for the complex rules for power customization do I do this the way we did it? Give you decimal multipliers or dividers for the damage itself? Or do we do it the way things like Hard-to-Block will likely work? Dividers or multipliers for the cost?

The good part about doing it for the cost is that it's conceptually like saying "you want your antlers to be armor-piercing antelopium alloy? Fine--pay 8 AP for antlers and then another 2 AP for adding the Armor Piercing to them. That's easy to grasp conceptually even if the math uses decimals. Also: you pay it against the full A-Cost of the group of attacks.

If you go the other way you need to adjust not only the cost of the antlers but also the cost of any super strength of special extra AP-based "martial art" type damage or whatever. That is more complex.

So I'm leaning towards doing what was suggested (even though I initially was biased against it) and listing these power-modifications as extra costs with decimal modifiers for the A-Cost. Which ... is ... kinda complex.


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