Monday, March 18, 2013

Trickster Part 1

Trickster is a character in the Worm-verse who presents a variety of special challenges and questions for JAGS.

His basic capability is that given two objects "within his range" (which is considerable) of roughly equal size and mass, he can teleport-swap them with each other. He can do this "instantly" (the closer, the faster) and can, for example:

  1. Swap his team, who is surrounded, with various gun-men surrounding them at the time of fire.
  2. Swap himself with your friend--so as you are about to hit him, you wind up hitting your friend.
  3. Swap a garbage-truck sized monster with an actual garbage truck.
  4. More mundanely, teleport himself or someone else, away from or into danger if there's a mannequin or something available to swap.
There's more--but that's enough to start with.

Teleportation In JAGS
Teleportation in JAGS comes in three or four flavors. There's Tactical Teleport which is just an expensive form of movement and lets you teleport around as a long action (meaning if you teleport away or teleport close to a combatant they can hit you on the way in or out). This is "safe" in terms of the game rules (it doesn't overbalance combat).

There is Strategic / Long-Range Teleport (and gates) which let you cover long distances--again, as a long action.

There is Flicker which is basically the "blink" power which lets you move in or out of combat before you can be hit (it still costs an action) and lets you 'teleport-dodge.'

There is Snatch which lets you teleport someone or something to you.

There is no "swap" power.

How The Game System Treats Teleporting People
Teleporting other people is usually "pretty bad." Sure, maybe you're teleporting your buddy out of danger--but if you can teleport enemies--and, say, teleport them a pretty good distance--then you could teleport them to prison (an inescapable prison--or, I dunno, the Phantom Zone). If that's extreme, how about "up in the air" (if they can't fly or take the fall easily).

If it has to be from one solid ground to another (which isn't terribly unreasonable) then you, at very least, could have an iron box or something to teleport them into. Put a thick lexan window in it if you have to be able to see the target zone.

The way we handle doing unpleasant things to people that doesn't involve outright damage is with a Resisted Attack. This compares your attack's Intensity and their Damage Points and ADP and there's a resisted roll. The more you succeed your roll by (the better you roll) the greater you can screw them over. This is how Mind Control works. This is how Fear powers work. It's how nerve toxins work--and so on (disease, trapping someone in another dimension, and so on).

Resisted Attacks go from A+ (where any success is death or close to it) (Death Ray) to D+ where the best success still leaves someone able to flee, usually (weak tear-gas). There are some pretty good guidelines for making up Resisted Attack levels (there are four) and assigning a letter-grade and figuring out the cost.

Players are expected to be able to do that with some GM assistance--so having a Teleport Other power isn't too hard to figure out.

How bad is the worst case? Well, it's probably distance based in this case. Probably the best roll gives a success when the target is still at an extreme range. It could also be the level of match necessary (a really good roll allows a less-close swap).

NOTE: This changes two things about the character right away. (1) The power's ability is moderated by how bad-ass the target is (so Trickster probably cannot Swap Crawler--a villain the size of a garbage truck--unless he has a very high power) (2) It does not "always work." It can fail on him--something that doesn't seem possible in the Worm-verse.

These rules are here because (a) it's a game--so things that always work on opponents are generally not a big part of the terrain and (b) the based-on-damage-points construction makes the same "Cause Fear" power that works on mooks ineffective against Darth Vader even if the build the GM went with didn't include some special anti-fear powers. I can discuss this more--but it's part of the theory that we'd prefer simpler characters to complex characters and do not want to have large lists of defenses just to make sure that characters don't fall prey to unusual attacks at every turn.

Teleporting Two People
The above power would work fine for just teleporting someone somewhere (a "Beam Me Up" power). However, that's not how Tricker's power works--it hits two objects at once. We could model this as two to-hit rolls, but that doesn't really do the power the way we'd want to. That's certainly not how it plays (and that would suck up a lot of actions).

The most likely way to do it is to treat it as Area-Target with Selective fire. This is used for "smart bomb" style attacks where you can damage just-your-enemies. In this case it can hit "everyone" and then Trickster can pick and choose sets of two people to swap. This makes it (right now) about 1.5x more expensive.

We need to determine if this is the right call: if it was more cost effective for Jack Slash to buy Area-Target, Selective with his knife than to buy extra attacks every other Round that's probably not the behavior we want to encourage. We like having extra attacks every other Round.

But so far, this is how we're doing it.

Teleport As a Defense Or In Response To An Offense
So now we get to the situation where someone says "I shoot Trickster" and he says "I swap your buddy with me and you shoot your friend." This is using the power as (a) a 'Blocking' action. Usually when you block an attack or teleport-dodge out of the way, it just misses (the GM can try to determine where the attack goes--but even if there is another character "roughly in the line of fire" it is in no way guaranteed to hit that target. It is also using it as (b) an attack on someone else when a person shoots at you.

This is a general violation of the JAGS battle rules. However, there's a way: Damage Fields are things like being electrified, or being on fire, or have acidic blood or whatever. When you are hit, they trigger and, usually, damage the attacker.

This is what Trickster has--with the exceptions that: (a) he does have to declare an action unlike a Damage Field--but it's a blocking-style action so he can do it when attacked and (b) it triggers the Area Target so he can, in response to an attack, spend REA on a "block" and then swap groups of two as he wants--if he can make the rolls necessary to do it--which he probably can--all his points are there.

NOTE: to swap someone into the line of fire you probably need a higher-level success than swapping them just to a location.

The 4 levels of success would probably look like:
  1. Standard Level: Target is Teleported
  2. Major Level: Target will miss with an attack (necessary as a Block)
  3. Critical and Catastrophic Level: Target is hit with incoming attack or targets the wrong person.
This rates a B+ which is fairly "kind" to him since directing other's attacks at teammates is pretty effective.

NOTE: this configuration allows him to react to attacks on his person. He can (and would) buy Bodyguard to react to attacks on other members of his 'team.'

What Does This Cost
Right now, let's assume he puts about 64 AP into it--an astonishing half his points. The Rating for Swap is B+ and it has a delivery system of "6" which is Area of Effect Selective. When we add usable as Block Defense that's probably / 1.3. This means:
  1. For 8 Archetype Points he gets 14 Intensity.
  2. With 64 AP invested he gets 111 Intensity. That's ... a LOT.
It's not enough to do a garbage truck though (although he can swap any of the characters created).

No comments:

Post a Comment