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Author Topic: Running a new game - Balance issues?  (Read 1590 times)
Agent 333
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« on: March 10, 2012, 06:24:39 PM »

So I'm running a game now, and we're on session two and something has come up that seems like it could be a balance issue in the future. Out of three characters, one is a kandra that has no interest in combat, a mistborn specced out for combat, and a feruchemist not specced for combat.
We had a brief combat, where it became apparent that the Feruchemist was way more effective than the mistborn. I realize that the feruchemist won't be able to sustain combat effectiveness as long as the mistborn, but I don't think combat goes on long enough for that to matter, and I don't want to have to have more combats per session just to keep the Feruchemist from stomping the crap out of everything.

It seems to me that the biggest problem is feruchemical Pewter and Steel's ability to add dice to rolls one-for-one. The rest of feruchemy doesn't seem like a problem (yet), but that ability to just instantly max out your dice pool each turn seems a little too powerful. Has anyone else ecountered this problem? Is there a way within the rules to prevent a Feruchemist from doing this every combat other than making it so there's almost never downtime?
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Dawnblade
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« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2012, 06:31:02 PM »

HELP!!

My Mistborn is afraid of his keeper!!

In skyrim terms I am a Dragonborn and he is a GIANT...
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ReaderAt2046
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« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2012, 09:52:58 PM »


No way to fix this I know of, other than GM'ing.

Three game style changes i'd suggest.

1. Make more use of ranged attacks. A mistborn will do a lot better than a Feruchemist against archers or Coinshots, since he can shoot and deflect metal.

2. Use a lot of extras. Feruchemist will quickly drain his reserves.

3. If the Feruchemist habitually maxes out his pools, have the Steel Ministry get word and come looking. Remember, one of the two primary functions of Inquisitors and the whole Canton of Inquisition is finding and killing Keepers.
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MistbornDave
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2012, 10:19:59 AM »

Something that may not help this time out but possibly in the future, is use of their "events".  That time when they first found out they have powers or the event that triggered them.  I plan on using this in my campaign.  Dont let everyone start out as mistborn or as a powerful character, make them earn in a matter of speaking.
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Dreamstreamer
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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2012, 02:05:08 PM »

There is a nice seven page thread that tries to address this topic, concluding with a few changes that will be made for the printed version. Here is a link to the thread: http://www.crafty-games.com/forum/index.php?topic=5938.0

Have you tried talking to the player about their character? Can the issue be resolved through communication? Something that I would do is look at the drive and motivation of the character. Are they the equivalent of a social outcast to the Terris people, inclined to physically resolve problems? Is the character aware of the consequences his/her actions will have on the rest of the Terris people? Perhaps there is a crackdown on a Terris village by Steel Inquisitors (or worse, Koloss) because of a public display of Feruchemy? Their actions might also lead to censure by the Synod.
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Stubbazubba
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« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2012, 02:51:47 PM »

Ideally, you shouldn't have to punish your PCs with fluff hammers for making optimal tactical decisions and using their Powers in combat.  Lives are on the line, after all, and the player can only guess how much use of Feruchemy will draw the ire of the Inquisition.  For that matter, so does the Narrator.  So the game must be bound by a social contract.  But the more you have to rely on the social contract to regulate character decisions, the less value you're getting out of the ruleset you just paid money for; at what point would you be better free-form RP'ing?

Beyond that, what kind of horrible game gives you cool powers but then doesn't let you use them or punishes you for using them?

Nevertheless, what you might do is roll for the investigators to see if they can identify the work of a Keeper or Mistborn.  Keepers have even more problems, because while Mistborn making a ruckus in a noble mansion is of no concern to TLR, a Keeper so much as breathing is.  Ratchet up the opposition accordingly.  Though, you would do that normally, wouldn't you, as the PCs get closer to accomplishing their goal, huh?  So, really, this is just saying in what form does the increased opposition arrive in, and thus may lose some of it's power as a deterrent.
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Dreamstreamer
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« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2012, 04:40:32 PM »

Ideally, you shouldn't have to punish your PCs with fluff hammers for making optimal tactical decisions and using their Powers in combat.

You say punish, I say complicate.  Wink

I believe that consequences should play a big part in Scadrial. Also, that which makes for the optimal tactical decision may have consequences that make it a poor strategic decision. Stereotypically, Keepers appear to choose long term benefits over instant gratification.

Lives are on the line, after all, and the player can only guess how much use of Feruchemy will draw the ire of the Inquisition.  For that matter, so does the Narrator.

Is guessing necessary? I always thought it could be summed up as any overt use of Feruchemy. In fact, you later state that "a Keeper so much as breathing is [a concern to the Lord Ruler]". Exposure pretty much means death, likely with the secondary purpose of granting Hemalurgical benefits to a Steel Inquisitor.

Beyond that, what kind of horrible game gives you cool powers but then doesn't let you use them or punishes you for using them?

Again, I look at it less as a punishment and more as the consequences of overt actions by certain hunted individuals. It's part of the package: You have the potential for near-limitless power, but if you are caught using that power, you're going to be in for a world of hurt. There is a rather large organization obsessed with killing people like you. If they discover your identity, you'll be on the run for the rest of your life. Act accordingly.

Nevertheless, what you might do is roll for the investigators to see if they can identify the work of a Keeper or Mistborn.

Great idea! Especially if the Heroes catch wind that a group of Obligators has been dispatched to investigate their last foray. Then the Heroes could try to create false leads and all kinds of other problems for the investigators.

Ratchet up the opposition accordingly.

Right! I look at "opposition" as more than putting antagonists in a direct (physical?) confrontation with the Heroes. I believe the other suggestions that I made could be viewed as "Ratchet[ing] up the opposition", too.

So, I believe we are rooting for the same side, just approaching from different angles and using different cheers. Maybe?

Oh, and Brandon offers a suggestion for Narrators having problems with Feruchemists using Steel in combat (page 312), which ties nicely into my observations on consequences. Hope that helps!
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Agent 333
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« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 07:27:30 PM »

One of my players came up with the following suggestion, and it's the ruling I'm going with for now. I figured I'd post it here so anyone else hitting the same problem will know my solution. I'll let you guys know how it goes after our next session.

The number of charges listed for Long and Short Breathers is how many charges you end the breather with, no matter how many you went in with. So, for example, a character with a rating 3 could store 30 charges of a metal in a Short Breather or 90 charges during a Long Breather. 

While this has the unfortunate side effect of encouraging you to spend all your charges between each breather, it also has what I consider a positive effect in that it increases the chances that you'll have to deal with the penalties of storing while in game.
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 07:46:29 PM »

The number of charges listed for Long and Short Breathers is how many charges you end the breather with, no matter how many you went in with. So, for example, a character with a rating 3 could store 30 charges of a metal in a Short Breather or 90 charges during a Long Breather. 

That is an interesting solution to your problem. That would be per metal, yes? Also, is that assuming that they use up some of the potential charges generated during the Long or Short Breather?

For example, if the above Feruchemist has an Average-sized metalmind containing 20 Charges and takes a Short Breather, they would come out of the Short Breather with 30 Charges instead of 50, correct? Does that mean the Feruchemist is expected to use some of the charges during the Short Breather?
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Stubbazubba
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« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2012, 07:48:54 PM »

@Dreamstreamer; of course I want the game to run smoothly, and I'll admit I come down hard on the game for being inherently unbalanced mechanically, relying on the DM to increase the 'complexity' of the situation to 'compensate' for someone outshining the Mistborn, when that's really the setting's fault.  Then again, I could complain that muggles (non-Allomancers/Feruchemists) can only fully contribute to the party through Resources and Spirit, since there are metals that give you superhuman abilities with pretty much everything else, which is kind of lame, but that's also just the setting (as opposed to D&D's fighter/wizard asymmetry, which is a bigger problem because it doesn't have the setting excuse, so a fighter ought to be as deadly as a wizard, for fairness' sake).  You're also absolutely right that there's a key difference between optimal tactics and optimal strategy, and that is a fine trade-off, but it's hard to feel out where that line will be; when will the witness mistake your Feruchemy for just pewter or tin, and when will he realize it is the 'overt' use of Feruchemy?  The game doesn't tell us, so how are players to adjust their tactics accordingly?  Just ask the Narrator?  At that point you're playing a Mistborn-skinned version of Mother May I.  I proposed a mechanical means of figuring out where that line is, albeit a subjective one.  But you can be fairly sure that this untrained House Guard with a low Wits won't be figuring out that you're a Feruchemist, or even know what that is, even though there is a slight chance.

Agent 333's player's suggestion is another good mechanical kludge that keeps Keepers and Mistborn in the same ballpark.  In this case, I'm OK breaking with the setting just a little in order to reign in such asymmetrical abilities.
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ReaderAt2046
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« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2012, 02:05:55 PM »

One of my players came up with the following suggestion, and it's the ruling I'm going with for now. I figured I'd post it here so anyone else hitting the same problem will know my solution. I'll let you guys know how it goes after our next session.

The number of charges listed for Long and Short Breathers is how many charges you end the breather with, no matter how many you went in with. So, for example, a character with a rating 3 could store 30 charges of a metal in a Short Breather or 90 charges during a Long Breather. 

While this has the unfortunate side effect of encouraging you to spend all your charges between each breather, it also has what I consider a positive effect in that it increases the chances that you'll have to deal with the penalties of storing while in game.

What happens if you go into a Short Breather with more than 30 charges?

On the more general issue, the best check i can use is: if the character makes a noticeable use of Feruchemy (say, tapping more than 5 charges in a single action), and any witnesses survive who aren't part of your crew or the rebellion, then have the Feruchemist roll Spirit (the more blatant the effect and the more witnesses, the higher the difficulty). Failing the roll means that the Inquisition gets word and looks into it. The bigger the failure, the more enemies show up and the harder they look. Alternately, an Outcome of -3 or worse means the Inquisition has everyone's descriptions and is looking for all of them.
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Skywalker
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2012, 10:37:18 PM »

Before answering the OP, I will say that I think its important that a Feruchemist should be able to "hulk out" when they are not pressed. So if you have very litle combat and that combat is short in length then Feruchemists should be able to shine.

On saying that, I think the default Breather storing rates should be treated as being set in stone. They are an estimate of how much a Feruchemist will be able to store given normal every day activities and a reasonable length of time.  If these two assumptions change then I think that the rates can be changed.

So, if you are doing frequent Breathers or that there is reason for the Feruchemist to either not store or tap charges during the Breather (for example, if the PCs are being pursued then the Feruchemist is unlikely to be sitting around blind and immobile to store Charges). As such, the rates could be halved or set at x3 and x6 or something.

Extending this idea, I think that a GM is justified in permanently adjusting the base rates based on the style of game being run. If you run games where combat is infrequent, then halving the rates create a more sensible result. After all, you could always increase the rate if the Feruchemist had a breather where they could rest in a secure fashion.
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Lazarus
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« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2012, 06:05:24 PM »

In the one game I have run, the group is run by a Keeper.  His orders are:  "Avoid killing if you can.  Unless I have to use my powers.  Then we kill everyone."

Other quotes from the planning are:
Player 1 (Skaa Mistborn): "Well, we're all under a death sentence already."
Player 2 (The keeper): "Yeah, but if they catch me, they kill my entire race."

So, I have found the threat of the Steel Ministry works in my game.  The steel ministry hasn't even showed up yet.  Of course, it helps that the player understands.  Oddly, he hasn't read the books yet.
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