When do heroes become too powerful?

Dupont
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby Dupont » Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:43 pm

This is the sort of thing I would like to see in demonstration, like on the Youtube chanel and see how it pans out over a few runs with it.

Its a lot for my Artyfarty brain to take on in one go - I will have to read through this a couple of times I think
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby Dupont » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:26 pm

SkinnyOrc wrote:
Dupont wrote:When running Warlock of Firetop Mountain recently I wished at times a few of the solo monsters were tougher, I get that in larger numbers the modifier turns the tide and that that makes the feel of the setting be about the forces of good being outnumbered but solo monsters fell too easily for my taste. In future I will definitely want to do that a bit more.
I've thought the same, outnumbered by weaker enemies is great but you also sometimes you want the party taking on a single tough creature and it putting up a good fight. The creature having multiple attacks helps but if you have at least four characters they still probably get an outnumbering bonus. So the creature needs a decent SKILL advantage and OotP is weighted towards lower SKILL monsters. It only becomes worse as the characters gain weapon special skill, which are pretty cheap. There's a thread on this here, http://arion-games.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=737&p=5813#p5215.


I answered this here on this thread seeing as it is more relevant than the Module Conversion Thread where I would just be mixing things up. Also I am interested to see where you went with this.

There are other tools too to limit that Special Skill Creeping

Those Crits that crush bone and slice tendon could actually reduce Special Skill score ( with or without being something that heals back)

The Viscera PDF can combine with that too, I really like the idea of Adventurers that yes, they are much more powerful than most but they are a rag-tag group and they look it and feel it. Dependencies on herbs or Potions or Magic is great.

Then theres also story based material. Learning certain levels of skill only being possible through quests, through particular teachers. I think theres a lot to that, it gives players an interest in NPCs ( I had a player until recently that gave no interaction with NPCs and he had no idea despite many attempts that the game he was playing was dependent on good relations with NPCs. We were playing in Middle Earth and he not only balked at interaction he tried steering the entire party away from that kind of 'game'. Clear benefits in having NPC friends is something I like as a player and GM ) It also adds layers to the world.

I find myself these days considering things that drain ability from characters too. I never used to like it, I felt threatened by the idea of losing skill and ability. Overall though as a GM I feel more threatened by players overwhelming monsters and having that early D&D style power-creep where you need more and more monsters just to provide challenge and it becomes messy as a setting. I'm not saying they ( Wights are all I know that do this off the top of my head ) would or should be commonplace, but knowing theres threats that 'drain' your character is also not always a bad thing to keep players a little edgy. That said I like the idea of as players become a bigger deal they are pushed forwards to deal with dangerous threats like this.

I think theres things like this that are useable alongside your ideas above, I would love to see them in play.
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby Ruffnut » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:23 am

Dupont wrote:
SkinnyOrc wrote:
Dupont wrote:When running Warlock of Firetop Mountain recently I wished at times a few of the solo monsters were tougher, I get that in larger numbers the modifier turns the tide and that that makes the feel of the setting be about the forces of good being outnumbered but solo monsters fell too easily for my taste. In future I will definitely want to do that a bit more.
I've thought the same, outnumbered by weaker enemies is great but you also sometimes you want the party taking on a single tough creature and it putting up a good fight. The creature having multiple attacks helps but if you have at least four characters they still probably get an outnumbering bonus. So the creature needs a decent SKILL advantage and OotP is weighted towards lower SKILL monsters. It only becomes worse as the characters gain weapon special skill, which are pretty cheap. There's a thread on this here, http://arion-games.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=737&p=5813#p5215.


I answered this here on this thread seeing as it is more relevant than the Module Conversion Thread where I would just be mixing things up. Also I am interested to see where you went with this.

There are other tools too to limit that Special Skill Creeping

Those Crits that crush bone and slice tendon could actually reduce Special Skill score ( with or without being something that heals back)

The Viscera PDF can combine with that too, I really like the idea of Adventurers that yes, they are much more powerful than most but they are a rag-tag group and they look it and feel it. Dependencies on herbs or Potions or Magic is great.

Then theres also story based material. Learning certain levels of skill only being possible through quests, through particular teachers. I think theres a lot to that, it gives players an interest in NPCs ( I had a player until recently that gave no interaction with NPCs and he had no idea despite many attempts that the game he was playing was dependent on good relations with NPCs. We were playing in Middle Earth and he not only balked at interaction he tried steering the entire party away from that kind of 'game'. Clear benefits in having NPC friends is something I like as a player and GM ) It also adds layers to the world.

I find myself these days considering things that drain ability from characters too. I never used to like it, I felt threatened by the idea of losing skill and ability. Overall though as a GM I feel more threatened by players overwhelming monsters and having that early D&D style power-creep where you need more and more monsters just to provide challenge and it becomes messy as a setting. I'm not saying they ( Wights are all I know that do this off the top of my head ) would or should be commonplace, but knowing theres threats that 'drain' your character is also not always a bad thing to keep players a little edgy. That said I like the idea of as players become a bigger deal they are pushed forwards to deal with dangerous threats like this.

I think theres things like this that are useable alongside your ideas above, I would love to see them in play.

That is why I divide xp rewards by 10, but half the cost to learn a new one or a talent.
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby SkinnyOrc » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:33 am

Ruffnut wrote:That is why I divide xp rewards by 10, but half the cost to learn a new one or a talent.
The draw back of this is there would be very little character progression of any sort. It's only the AS bonuses from weapon special skills that I believe cause a problem.

Dupont wrote:Also I am interested to see where you went with this.
The short version is the monsters in the Pit books were designed for a character Attack Strength of up to 12, but AFF2 allows AS 18 and getting to 13 quite quickly through Weapon Special Skills. My opinion is rather than re-stat two books worth of monsters you just change the AS bonuses from Weapon Special Skills.

I have two alternative fixes that both work well enough. The simple one:

Weapon Special Skill 1 – Does not suffer a -2 penalty for fighting without the relevant Weapon Special Skill when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 2 – +1 to Attack Strength when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 3 – No change to bonus
Weapon Special Skill 4 – +2 to Attack Strength when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 5 – No change to bonus
Weapon Special Skill 6 – +3 to Attack Strength when using these weapons

The slightly less simple but I think better one:

Weapon Special Skill 1 – Does not suffer a -2 penalty for fighting without the relevant Weapon Special Skill when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 2 – +1 to Attack Strength when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 3 – +1 to Attack Strength and +1 to Damage Rolls when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 4 – +2 to Attack Strength and +1 to Damage Rolls when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 5 – +2 to Attack Strength and +2 to Damage Rolls when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 6 – +2 to Attack Strength, +2 to Damage Rolls and a Critical on a roll of 11 or 12 when using these weapons

The nice thing about increasing character damage is it doesn't much change what's tough enough to take them on but it does get fights done quicker.
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby SkinnyOrc » Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:53 am

I updated the encounter difficulty tables on the previous page to show the difference two attacks make. http://arion-games.com/bb/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=737&p=5813#p5813
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby Dupont » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:26 am

SkinnyOrc wrote:
Ruffnut wrote:That is why I divide xp rewards by 10, but half the cost to learn a new one or a talent.
The draw back of this is there would be very little character progression of any sort. It's only the AS bonuses from weapon special skills that I believe cause a problem.

Dupont wrote:Also I am interested to see where you went with this.
The short version is the monsters in the Pit books were designed for a character Attack Strength of up to 12, but AFF2 allows AS 18 and getting to 13 quite quickly through Weapon Special Skills. My opinion is rather than re-stat two books worth of monsters you just change the AS bonuses from Weapon Special Skills.

I have two alternative fixes that both work well enough. The simple one:

Weapon Special Skill 1 – Does not suffer a -2 penalty for fighting without the relevant Weapon Special Skill when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 2 – +1 to Attack Strength when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 3 – No change to bonus
Weapon Special Skill 4 – +2 to Attack Strength when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 5 – No change to bonus
Weapon Special Skill 6 – +3 to Attack Strength when using these weapons

The slightly less simple but I think better one:

Weapon Special Skill 1 – Does not suffer a -2 penalty for fighting without the relevant Weapon Special Skill when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 2 – +1 to Attack Strength when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 3 – +1 to Attack Strength and +1 to Damage Rolls when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 4 – +2 to Attack Strength and +1 to Damage Rolls when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 5 – +2 to Attack Strength and +2 to Damage Rolls when using these weapons
Weapon Special Skill 6 – +2 to Attack Strength, +2 to Damage Rolls and a Critical on a roll of 11 or 12 when using these weapons

The nice thing about increasing character damage is it doesn't much change what's tough enough to take them on but it does get fights done quicker.



Ok well I am tempted to try the latter, it looks balanced, the modifier to damage is challenging to look at, but you have to remind yourself of the loss the player is taking overall with incremental advances like this, so it looks balanced.

I came away from Warlock thinking theres just no profit for bad guys of any worth to fight solo, they will have to have minions. If I replayed it now I would either have Zagor join the Dragon ( But that would undersell both and be way too over powered imo), or preferably summon a bunch of Undead early in the fight and run it as is, in his chambers. It was partly me being new to the system that let it down too, and a difficult player in the group who is now gone, but overall yes its true, those poor solo monsters dont last long as things stand. I will return to Firetop one day, with the return of the Warlock and re populate it myself along similar lines of course but also in ways that I have thought out hopefully with more experience by then to provide a stronger challenge for them. Also though I will have him being the problem he is supposed to be long beforehand out in the surrounding world and give the players reasons to want him gone. I plan on doing this for the Snow Witch and other named bad guys too a little more, they deserve the attention I think. There were a few things they avoided, the Giver of Sleep among them which is a nice touch and something I can think about. However, the weaker monsters by chance alone were the ones that often caused most damage in that run. A pack of Rats in the corridor taking out two adventurers with crits in one go. Obviously the odds are higher its going to happen with more dice being thrown due to there being a pack of monsters. Its not a bad thing, it keeps players on their toes and respectful of any fights, I do like the idea of there being lots of low level nasties in Titan that are a challenge for non adventurers, and the world largely being unexplored for the good guys. I like that feel of small clusters of habitation and sanity with long roads between, long unguarded roads, and that lends itself to that without being too over powering.
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby SkinnyOrc » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:16 pm

Dupont wrote:the modifier to damage is challenging to look at, but you have to remind yourself of the loss the player is taking overall with incremental advances like this, so it looks balanced.
Yep compared to +6 to AS the damage bonuses are namby pamby. End of the day more damage only matters if you're landing blows.

Dupont wrote:I came away from Warlock thinking theres just no profit for bad guys of any worth to fight solo, they will have to have minions.
It's especially true for spellcasters. Not only are they likely to have a lower SKILL that means that with outnumbering they'll go down even faster, the casting penalties for being attacked mean they may not even get a spell off! Maybe some summoned or enchanted creatures rather than undead for the Warlock? The undead tend to be kind of smelly :)

Dupont wrote:I like that feel of small clusters of habitation and sanity with long roads between, long unguarded roads, and that lends itself to that without being too over powering.
Me too and Allansia is great for that. But the nice thing with Titan is you have pretty much everything else somewhere on it too.
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby Dupont » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:31 pm

SkinnyOrc wrote:
Dupont wrote:the modifier to damage is challenging to look at, but you have to remind yourself of the loss the player is taking overall with incremental advances like this, so it looks balanced.
Yep compared to +6 to AS the damage bonuses are namby pamby. End of the day more damage only matters if you're landing blows.

Dupont wrote:I came away from Warlock thinking theres just no profit for bad guys of any worth to fight solo, they will have to have minions.
It's especially true for spellcasters. Not only are they likely to have a lower SKILL that means that with outnumbering they'll go down even faster, the casting penalties for being attacked mean they may not even get a spell off! Maybe some summoned or enchanted creatures rather than undead for the Warlock? The undead tend to be kind of smelly :)

Dupont wrote:I like that feel of small clusters of habitation and sanity with long roads between, long unguarded roads, and that lends itself to that without being too over powering.
Me too and Allansia is great for that. But the nice thing with Titan is you have pretty much everything else somewhere on it too.



Yeah Summonings you are right, and yes, the spell casters ( They have had two now, the Warlock and the Necromancer in the Well) are particularly vulnerable. Interestingly the Necromancer put up more of a fight. But I will have my revenge.... For me its also about learning the system but there is that clear issue with power levels. I don't want to compensate with cunning plans alone, thats a little too much like gamesmanship, I want tactics sure where they are warranted but I also want story as a main theme , not the mindset of 'Hmm what monster can I throw at them to provide a challenge in my mega dungeon' week in week out.

In retrospect I am glad Warlock was a very close rendering of the orignal, I think it had to be done like that to please nostalgia. However it had problems running it as is, it and other retellings of gamebooks need optional elements I think. 'Run it like this for a pure retelling but playtests showed that actually Zagor should have summoned monsters in order to challenge a regular party, the dragon should similarly be treated etc' and give some support to GMs to be able to modify the setting for a tabletop play through. Things like your AS graph fit the bill there nicely too with suggestions paired with it to help.
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby Dupont » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:38 pm

Ruffnut wrote:That is why I divide xp rewards by 10, but half the cost to learn a new one or a talent.


Yeah I am not giving out as much Exp now as I was initially
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby SkinnyOrc » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:34 am

I was reluctant at first to break the nice elegance of having all the special skills add their level to whatever roll it was, but I got over it :) The book says "all actions with the exception of combat are handled using one of two simple resolution mechanics", unopposed and opposed tests. Point is combat is a special case, and in fact the Armour special skill is already handled using a table. So I think it's okay Weapon special skill bonuses being read from a table, and it doesn't slow down play because you write the current bonuses down on the character sheet. All it needs is "+2 AS, +1 DR" or whatever against each weapon group you have a skill for. It would be good to have space on the sheet for that.

Dupont wrote:In retrospect I am glad Warlock was a very close rendering of the orignal, I think it had to be done like that to please nostalgia.
True, it had to be. There's an article in one of the Fighting Fantazines talking to the guy that wrote it and he goes into all that. But if I ran it I'd change it a bit, keeping to the spirit of the original but tuning it for the party. All the published adventures are (from memory) for 4 starting characters, so you're going to have to adjust the difficulty anyway if the party is more experienced or a different size.

Dupont wrote:
Ruffnut wrote:That is why I divide xp rewards by 10, but half the cost to learn a new one or a talent.
Yeah I am not giving out as much Exp now as I was initially
For sure everyone needs to figure out what speed of character advancement is right for them and their players.
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Re: When do heroes become too powerful?

Postby Dupont » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:16 am

SkinnyOrc wrote:I was reluctant at first to break the nice elegance of having all the special skills add their level to whatever roll it was, but I got over it :) The book says "all actions with the exception of combat are handled using one of two simple resolution mechanics", unopposed and opposed tests. Point is combat is a special case, and in fact the Armour special skill is already handled using a table. So I think it's okay Weapon special skill bonuses being read from a table, and it doesn't slow down play because you write the current bonuses down on the character sheet. All it needs is "+2 AS, +1 DR" and so on, but for each weapon group you have a skill for. It would be good to have a space on the sheet for that.

Dupont wrote:In retrospect I am glad Warlock was a very close rendering of the orignal, I think it had to be done like that to please nostalgia.
True, it had to be. There's an article in one of the Fighting Fantazines talking to the guy that wrote it and he goes into all that. But if I ran it I'd change it a bit, keeping to the spirit of the original but tuning it for the party. All the published adventures are (from memory) for 4 starting characters, so you're going to have to adjust the difficulty anyway if the party is more experienced or a different size.

Dupont wrote:
Ruffnut wrote:That is why I divide xp rewards by 10, but half the cost to learn a new one or a talent.
Yeah I am not giving out as much Exp now as I was initially
For sure everyone needs to figure out what speed of character advancement is right for them and their players.


I ran Warlock fairly closely, but I did dole out extra Stamina for the odd sorry 'BIG LONE MONSTER'. It didnt really go far in bouying them up though and I think the players left fairly fearless of solo monsters, not quite the case with hordes of rats etc. If I run it again, there will be more Orcs and Goblins in the Barracks, it would have to be a livelier place for a party in future. I think also the challewnge for an experienced group would have to be ramped up with a few ghosts and the like beyond the river, really make that challenging too. On top of that, the lone Troll and Ogre and similar would no longer be lone for sure - they would have Mrs Troll cooking at a pot, or Mrs Ogre nagging poor hubby about the lovely fresh Dwarves he used to bring for her cooking pot.

As far as advancement goes, AFF is certainly not the only system that can be too fast and suffer for it. We haven't played it for a while, but when we go back to The One Ring experience is already vastly changed - for me the amounts are in such small figures its harder to genuinely reward good play ( 1 point for turning up, 1 point for good play and 1 point for amazing play effectively) but those points go a fairly long way too so it is clunky, certainly for our group. Warhammer I have always liked to be fairly stingy with exp, both as GM and player. Both those games suit to one degree or another slow character progression so the focus is more on story. The One Ring definitely benefits from that sense of initially gaining in skill after a few adventures so you are handy but then much slower general gain in skill after that. I think that swings the focus of play, and it also creates value, both in the experience you do get ( So you will be more inclined to work for it - I do not like experience points just for turning up ..) but also focus more on the setting and story. There is a balance though and I am sure different groups react differently, I dont like getting too few experience points myself, but I dont like getting too many either.

I was watching a stream a while back and one of the players hit the nail on the head, he wanted his character ( or any character he played ) to suffer to some degree, thats where a lot of the fun was for him. Theres a lot in that I think, maybe not for everyone, maybe not even the whole story either for one person but being an adventurer often involves fear, pain and challenge. That is the reason we are here essentially, the upside though is yup you get gold, the occasional glowing sword and some sort of experience reward but without unbalancing the effectiveness of those nasty things against you for next time so it doesn't lose it's challenge and charm. I have realise over the years that I am definitely a fan of lower level adventures, my best memories as a player are usually from those times my characters had to do things like borrow and scrape together enough gold for a shield and sword because his rapier got stolen and even then couldnt afford the stupid shield so had to try and clean up a Skaven shield. the poor guy hated having to fight sword and board and the ignomy of using a dead Skaven shield just made it worse, but it was brilliant too. so if I can balance a sense of reasonable gain with proper fear and respect of monsters that would be the ideal. However as I am new as a GM of AFF running something like Warlock and it not going absolutely perfectly is fine for now. It is a reference point to move forward from though without doubt.
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