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Author Topic: How powerful can a personal lieutenant/animal partner be?  (Read 1224 times)
Bhurano
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« on: July 27, 2011, 06:49:27 AM »

Hi there,

at least two of the players use animal partners and personal lieutenants quite heavily. Since our very first round of FC one at least uses personal lieutenants. So I set some basic limitations to ensure that the personal lieutenants doesn't overshadow the player characters. Most of these limitations are just that a personal lieutenant can't have better stats than the top-dog classes (e.g. no better saves than 12, no better BAB than 20 and so on). We also decided that if someone has two or more animal partners (e.g. through beastmaster) he uses an experience pool to create his minions, instead of creating up to 3 beasts with full xp.

The animal partners on the other hand give me a little pause. One of the players uses currently two vargr/wargs - essentialy he copied and pasted them out of the forum - for now they are quite easy to hit, but they will end up with loads of vitality. Since he plans to aquire more feats to strenghten his animals and support the group his animals will grow stronger. The question is will their high vitality - especially if he ups their DEX - be problematic? Might they become nigh unstopable beasts of war or will it even out?

Thanks for the help.
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aegis
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2011, 07:38:22 AM »

My advice would be: increase the NPC stats yourself. Let the PC choose his animal partner when he first picks the feat, then take care of its evolution based on what happened during the adventures.

Second thing: an animal partner is still ... an animal! It has weaknesses, including no Comp trait, which can be an issue against some actions, and it is not intelligent. It is not a personal lieutenant that would respond immediately to any command. So normally, it can not realize complex strategic choices like changing opponent in the middle of the fight just because he would flank him with the scout - unless his master takes a half action to direct him.

That would be my call anyway.  Smiley
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Sletchman
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2011, 08:20:52 AM »

We also decided that if someone has two or more animal partners (e.g. through beastmaster) he uses an experience pool to create his minions, instead of creating up to 3 beasts with full xp.

Re-read the Beastmaster - that's actually the rule.  If you decide to take a 2nd / 3rd pet you make them all out of your total xp value (ex: 2 pets at 55xp + 50xp = 105xp (from Beastmaster 9 + Animal Partner)).  The only way to have additional pets that have their own xp pool is by taking your first level as Lancer, and then picking up the feat seperately (per the core ability) - in which case Beastmaster specifies that the +50 xp from Exotic Partner over the 9 levels specifically goes towards only one of those feats.  Yes, if you added +50xp to 2 seperate instances of Animal Partner, it would be quite abusive, but thankfully you can't.

As to power - unless your player has Priest 7 (w/ Path of Beasts 4) / Beastmaster 9, being 4 levels lower then the PCs (and enemies) means they are almost never going to outshine the PCs, especially if the Beastmaster uses the multiple pets route.  In the last game I played, everyone had a Personal Lieutennant / Animal Partner, and with the exception of Coordinated Strike abuse, they never unbalanced the game, or outshone any of the players (and my GM let us make whatever powergamed monsters we wanted).  The stuff that will wreck games is obvious - Natural Spell: Wish should be a no-go.  It does say "with GM approval" so check what your players make, you'll see straight away if someone is amiss.

Finally, if your player wants to invest most of their characters options into having a kick-ass pet, I say let them.  Whatever the concept / reason - they invested a bunch into having something awesome they can command / ride / direct in battle, just as the guy with the full fencing chain and Swashbuckler levels invested a bunch into kicking ass with a fencing weapon.  Don't take that away from them because you're worried that they have an NPC, give them a chance to shine - just like any other player with more conventional weapons.

TL;DR - Don't worry, Animal Partner is not gonna fuck up your game.
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Sheena-Tiger
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2011, 09:01:49 AM »

I guess i need to round somehting up here ^^

the initial plan was 2 animals as we allow to let go the lieutenant or animal partner for a second of the other.
as my beastmasterlevel is still only 2, my plan was one beast with 90 xp the other with 80 xp as sharing one for more animals is not available (and i doubt i will go this route... but i will see how things will go)

as Bhurano pointed out, he was worried, so we decided to create a pool if someone picks 2 (or more) NPC's of the same kind with only the first adding 100% XP and all other only 50% of their value.
so i have 90+40 --> 130 XP for 2 NPC's (i did choose to use 65 for each)

with more levels in Beastmaster i could up the number of pets to 4... sacrificing max-xp for each of course ^^
i not evne know what i will do, RP-wise, if i loose any of them... but that is something to decide if it happens ^^
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Crafty_Alex
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2011, 09:16:33 AM »

It's worth noting that Personal Lts, Followers, and Animal Partners cannot control other characters - so you can't give a Personal Lt. an Animal Partner, for example.
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Rhishisikk
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2011, 09:18:14 AM »

Only at low levels do Followers, Lieutenants, and Animals risk outshining the PCs.  

If it really bothers you, use Tire, Trip, and other "nonstandard" actions to slow the NPCs down.  In our game with Red Hand of Doom, a squad of Tengu flying behind the lines took out nearly half the Followers.  

The ONE time I've had problems with NPCs was when I changed the Feat types to "make sense".  

In summary, there's a LOT of game balance that isn't blatantly obvious.
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2011, 11:29:10 AM »

Keep in mind that the system, as written, is incredibly robust and balanced.  If you use the published Fantasy Craft material, without house rules, nothing will break.  Crafty deserves some serious cudos for this achievement.

If your group starts manipulating things - changing the feat types as Rhishisikk mentioned, or allowing players to take multiple Animal Partners / Personal Lieutennants, things may indeed go wonky.  Sheena-Tiger, you mentioned that your group uses a rule about allowing multiple NPC feats of the same type (and I assume you game with Bhurano) - this may very well unbalance the game, especially with things like Path of Beasts and Beastmaster in the mix.  You should also note in the rules as they are, the only way to get a second Animal Partner feat that I can recall is the Lancer's Core Ability - a big cost as you only ever get a max of 2 Core Abilities, so it will define a character.  Honestly, if my GM said I could take 2 Personal Lieutennants or 2 Animal Partners, I would almost never decline - that right there is evidence of a balance issue.

Like I said, my previous games have had some serious NPC use (everyone with a minimum of 1), and my group are massive power gamers (we knew exactly what the errata would be because it's stuff we saw as having abuse potential).  So far the only problem we had with pets was the Coordinated Strike chain, and after everyone who GMs collectively said "no" to that one, NPCs were no longer a problem.  Stick with the RAW and you'll have no problems.
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Sheena-Tiger
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2011, 11:44:41 AM »

If your group starts manipulating things - changing the feat types as Rhishisikk mentioned, or allowing players to take multiple Animal Partners / Personal Lieutennants, things may indeed go wonky.  Sheena-Tiger, you mentioned that your group uses a rule about allowing multiple NPC feats of the same type (and I assume you game with Bhurano) - this may very well unbalance the game, especially with things like Path of Beasts and Beastmaster in the mix.  You should also note in the rules as they are, the only way to get a second Animal Partner feat that I can recall is the Lancer's Core Ability - a big cost as you only ever get a max of 2 Core Abilities, so it will define a character.  Honestly, if my GM said I could take 2 Personal Lieutennants or 2 Animal Partners, I would almost never decline - that right there is evidence of a balance issue.

yes, Bhurano and i are buddies Smiley

we have said for our game, you have the choice of 1 Lt. and Animal Partner or 2 of the same... as for us it not seems as it rules out to have a Lt. if you pick an Animal and the other way arround. The rules only stated you could not pick the same feat twice.
Though up until now we had no character concept were it would match to have differnt ones while 2 of the same fit's into the ideas about our characters. for example a knight/captain with squires or like a goblin i had were i planned to get a second Lt. as it would fit the picture we have about goblins (fighting nasty and in groups)

btw. for now i see absolutely no way my character will ever pick up a class that would get into reach of any kind of magic and thus a spell or miracle to summon another pet. That aside i doubt Bhurano would allow anyone in our group to mixx characters up like that as we try to have our characters in a logical setup (which not means that we never experiment)
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Sletchman
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2011, 12:23:35 PM »

we have said for our game, you have the choice of 1 Lt. and Animal Partner or 2 of the same... as for us it not seems as it rules out to have a Lt. if you pick an Animal and the other way arround. The rules only stated you could not pick the same feat twice.

It's the "2 of the same" house rule that's the problem.  If you have 1 Lieutennant and 1 Animal Partner, you need to take Style (and Basic Combat as a Captain), and Terrain feats to get the most out of them, and then you end up with 2 moderate NPCs, the game goes on fine.  If you can pick 2 Lieutennants, you only need Style feats (unless Captain again), and furthermore your second Lieutennant feat also boosts both of them.  So you end up with 2 very powerful NPCs, as you are getting double the benefit of the normal system.  This can (and at my table almost certainly would) cause balance issues - that's what I was getting at.
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Agent 333
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2011, 12:25:27 PM »

The most powerful thing that PL/AP brings to the table is the extra actions every round. Even being subpar compared to a PC, the PL is still doing MORE for a character than other options.
That being said, as far as I'm concerned the biggest threat that the feats pose is bogging down everything if everyone takes one. If multiple people take both and/or get multiple Animals through beastmaster or Path of Beasts, then the danger increases..
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Krensky
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2011, 04:04:11 PM »

One thing I've found helps is that while the player controls the NPC, it's still a PC so I, as GM, retain a measure of veto power. So the Personal Lieutenant is loyal, but if you tell him to go kill himself... well... he may not tell you to go f yourself, but he'll still probably refuse.
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2011, 06:04:54 PM »

What I did in my games with the stats was limit the Health to 3 in most cases. This kept the PL's vitality from shooting through the roof and in track with the other PCs in the group.

Since the PL was also a char under the PC control and working for their benefit, I used it in the numbers for mobs that attacked the PCs. So a group with 5 PCs and 2 PL/APs found themselves fighting mobs of instead of 5.

This kept my groups PLs from shining too much. Though, in my case, I actually built the PLs as the players involved didn't know the system real well. But after a year and two campaigns, I never found the PLs to outshine the PCs, except through bad dice rolls for the PC and good for the PL.
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Krensky
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2011, 06:21:11 PM »

Since the PL was also a char under the PC control and working for their benefit, I used it in the numbers for mobs that attacked the PCs. So a group with 5 PCs and 2 PL/APs found themselves fighting mobs of instead of 5.

This too. PLs and APs should count towards mob size.
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Golden Dragon
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« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2011, 06:22:02 PM »

Since the PL was also a char under the PC control and working for their benefit, I used it in the numbers for mobs that attacked the PCs. So a group with 5 PCs and 2 PL/APs found themselves fighting mobs [7] of instead of 5.

I think this is actually "by the book."

Sniped by Krensky.
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Krensky
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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 07:14:20 PM »

I'm not sure it's by the book, buy I remember Pat (maybe Alex, but I'm pretty sure it was Pat) say it's how he ran it, and it's how I'm running it.
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We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming. - Werner von Braun
Right now you have no idea how lucky you are that I am not a sociopath. - A sign seen above my desk.
There's no upside in screwing with things you can't explain. - Captain Roy Montgomery
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