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Author Topic: [Notebook] Mass(ter)craft 2nd ed: Getting the ball rolling  (Read 7045 times)
MilitiaJim
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« Reply #105 on: May 16, 2012, 11:23:55 AM »

So an additional path could just give a free Feat at each step?
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« Reply #106 on: May 16, 2012, 11:40:29 AM »

In theory?  Sure.  In practice though, that prospect makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable (as a GM, but extroadinarily happy as a player).

I think, to start, some of those steps in tfwfh's sample powers are a little below feat power level, but that's not a hard fix.  My bigger concern is someone can Supremacy 4 feat chains by level 6.
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tfwfh
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« Reply #107 on: May 16, 2012, 01:36:27 PM »

^ Yeah.  If you want an alternative for characters who aren't going to have powers, then my first suggestion would be to consider the combat alignments.  Of course that won't be for everybody, so something else could be made, but I really wouldn't suggest anything like an "all feats all the time" alignment.  That would be entirely too many feats.  Maybe a feat at level 1,5,10,15,20, instead of taking one of the alignments?
It's also possible that characters could get access to the paths some way other than just being given an alignment and steps by a campaign quality.  The only thing that comes to mind there is feats, and I don't really like the idea of having to divert feats away from the rest of your concept just so you can feel like you're playing mass effect, rather than fantasy craft in space.  I suppose they could be taken as proficiencies or interests, but neither of those feels like enough of a cost for a path + 5 steps, and both feel like to much of a cost for just 1 step.

Re: Sletch's other comments.  Quite right about the fire damage powers.  I had been thinking fire worked more like cold while I was writing those.  I'll correct that shortly.  For tech armor, I'm less sure.  Blowing up your shields on command works fine in the video games when you just have to keep your head down for 4 seconds to be a max shields again.  In a tabletop game though, I'm not sure how well that would work.  There's also the fact that Tech Armor is supposed to be unique among the powers that give a shield bonus in that it lasts forever.  Although, for simplicity's sake, maintaining that distinction may not be feasible.  I'll give it some thought.
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« Reply #108 on: May 16, 2012, 04:27:54 PM »

Again, this is a fundamental flaw of assuming everyone is the same level. Theyaren't.

I had a very long post but it really boils down to this.  I don't find your argument compelling.  However, if you want to change the name of the specialty for your use it doesn't offend me.  If you post a Battlemaster class that I like, I'll almost certainly use it under a different name.

With that in mind, I can see how this iteration of paths would be dissatisfying.

How many design points is a step along a path worth?

Equal to a feat, so about 3.  In theory.

Even that only holds true for species feats.   I guess the other feats are close but probably vary.

In theory?  Sure.  In practice though, that prospect makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable (as a GM, but extroadinarily happy as a player).

I think, to start, some of those steps in tfwfh's sample powers are a little below feat power level, but that's not a hard fix.  My bigger concern is someone can Supremacy 4 feat chains by level 6.

How does that work? Shocked

Oh, do you mean using their regular feats and such? 

tfwth:  This is really good.  Have you considered using some feats for different steps?  For example:

Tech Armor
Step 1:  When you activate your tech armor, you are considered to be wearing full armor of DR {{{WHATEVER + your path step}}} as long as the power remains active.  Activation is a half action and cannot be done if your tech armor has been active in the last 3 rounds.
Step 2: You gain the Armor Basics feat
Step 3: You may end your tech armor power early to make an attack against everyone in {{{RANGE maybe 10 or 20'}}}} dealing {{{DAMAGE}}}.  You make a single attack roll and each target resists individually.  Your allies are immune to this attack.
Step 4: You gain the Armor Mastery feat
Step 5: You gain the Armor Supremacy feat.

Adrenaline Rush
Step 1: You gain a stance:
     Adrenal Fury(stance): While in this stance, you may take an additional half action each round.  This stance ends after a number of rounds equal to your path step {{{Optional: or if you miss an attack}}} and can not be activated again for a number of rounds equal to 6 minus your path step.
Step 2: While in your Adrenal Fury stance, you gain +1 threat range, DR 2, and your melee attacks do additional damage equal to your path step.
Step 3: You gain the Angry Hornet feat.
Step 4: When in your Adrenal Fury stance you take only half the normal penalty for multiple actions.
Step 5: You gain the Blackened Sky feat.

Stripping the priest down to make a single base class for all six mass effect classes is probably the way to go.  It does mean that a ME soldier would have a lower BAB than a MC soldier.  That can be fixed although.

What made each power tree its own interest?  You might still have your Engineer alignment but other specialties might simply grant access to the Tech and Combat trees.
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tfwfh
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« Reply #109 on: May 16, 2012, 05:12:00 PM »

tfwth:  This is really good.  Have you considered using some feats for different steps?  For example:

Tech Armor
Step 1:  When you activate your tech armor, you are considered to be wearing full armor of DR {{{WHATEVER + your path step}}} as long as the power remains active.  Activation is a half action and cannot be done if your tech armor has been active in the last 3 rounds.
Step 2: You gain the Armor Basics feat
Step 3: You may end your tech armor power early to make an attack against everyone in {{{RANGE maybe 10 or 20'}}}} dealing {{{DAMAGE}}}.  You make a single attack roll and each target resists individually.  Your allies are immune to this attack.
Step 4: You gain the Armor Mastery feat
Step 5: You gain the Armor Supremacy feat.

Adrenaline Rush
Step 1: You gain a stance:
     Adrenal Fury(stance): While in this stance, you may take an additional half action each round.  This stance ends after a number of rounds equal to your path step {{{Optional: or if you miss an attack}}} and can not be activated again for a number of rounds equal to 6 minus your path step.
Step 2: While in your Adrenal Fury stance, you gain +1 threat range, DR 2, and your melee attacks do additional damage equal to your path step.
Step 3: You gain the Angry Hornet feat.
Step 4: When in your Adrenal Fury stance you take only half the normal penalty for multiple actions.
Step 5: You gain the Blackened Sky feat.
I had not considered that, but it is worth doing so.  At first glance I have a few concerns with doing that.  1 is that it makes the steps considerably more powerful than they are, and I had been intentionally trying to limit their power.  2 is that the powers in Mass Effect are very narrowly focused.  When you first gain one, it gives you a new ability to use, and investing further in it improves that ability, but has virtually no effect on any other part of the game.  I was trying to duplicate that behavior.  Lastly, as they are the paths are all fairly consistent with each other.  But if some grant feats and other don't or grant different numbers of feats, it loses some of that consistency.

Still that's all just my initial reaction, those may not be problems, and even if they are, they are probably not insurmountable.

Stripping the priest down to make a single base class for all six mass effect classes is probably the way to go.  It does mean that a ME soldier would have a lower BAB than a MC soldier.  That can be fixed although.
Also not a bad idea.  My first reaction there is that even with feats, Priest only gets something like 12 steps, and in the video games, over the course of the game you get the chance to fully invest in 5 or 6 abilities.  If people are comfortable with only being able to fully invest in 2 abilities, then I suppose there's no problem there.  In that case, each step of the powers would need to be more powerful than they are.  Or, as an alternative, these paths could have less than 5 steps.  If each only has 3, then the Priest derived class could fully invest in 4 powers.

What made each power tree its own interest?  You might still have your Engineer alignment but other specialties might simply grant access to the Tech and Combat trees.
I'm not sure what you mean here.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #110 on: May 16, 2012, 11:15:43 PM »

For tech armor, I'm less sure.  Blowing up your shields on command works fine in the video games when you just have to keep your head down for 4 seconds to be a max shields again.  In a tabletop game though, I'm not sure how well that would work.  There's also the fact that Tech Armor is supposed to be unique among the powers that give a shield bonus in that it lasts forever.  Although, for simplicity's sake, maintaining that distinction may not be feasible.  I'll give it some thought.

In ME3 all the shield powers last forever (I think I got them all in my original post) - you turn them on and then you gain a DR % (and slowed power use) until you purge them.  It's a bit of a departure from ME2, but it's far easier to balance for the tabletop.  Plus I just think it's easier and faster to track as "I currently have DR5" then it is to track two different vitality (or pseudo-vitality) types and when the autopurge occurs.

I don't mind either way, honestly.  Just looking for the easiest way to do things at the table.

I also think Blankbeard is possibly onto something with the priest-like class option (but that's only because that's what I did at home).  Just remember - just because the priest only gets 1 step at 3/5/7... doesn't mean you have to use that framework.  It would only be an issue if you were balancing it against the priest itself (and I can't imagine ME having the Miracles quality).
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« Reply #111 on: May 16, 2012, 11:50:49 PM »

I also think Blankbeard is possibly onto something with the priest-like class option (but that's only because that's what I did at home).  Just remember - just because the priest only gets 1 step at 3/5/7... doesn't mean you have to use that framework.  It would only be an issue if you were balancing it against the priest itself (and I can't imagine ME having the Miracles quality).

If ME powers are to be gained through a Priest-like class, then I would want to use Priest as a sort of template; not to balance against priest, but rather to balance against all of the other classes.  And I do think it's a good idea, except for my concern that it doesn't offer much space to develop multiple powers.  Or am I the only person who is concerned by that?  As a thought, I kind of like the idea of these mass effect paths only having 3 steps.  It would make them trivial to convert into a series of basics/master/supremacy feats, for people who only want to dip 1 or 2 powers, rather than make them the focus of their whole character.

Also, if these things are to be handled as classes, do you think building expert classes around the special companion powers is a good plan?
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« Reply #112 on: May 17, 2012, 12:23:27 AM »

I'll try explain what I did to see if it's helpful (and hopefully make what I was trying to say clearer):

Sample Tree:
Tier 1) Throw -> Heavy Throw // Double Throw
Tier 2) Shockwave -> Wide Shockwave // Reaching Shockwave
Tier 3) Slam -> Heavy Slam // Incapacitating Slam

Each tree is kinda like the ingame where you have to have points in one power to get another.  So to unlock Shockwave you have to have Throw.  The stuff after the arrow is a power evolution - you select the power again when you level up to evolve it into one of those two new ways to use it (Heavy Throw works on larger targets and inflicts more damage, Double Throw lets you target two targets).  I want to name each tree something evocative based on it's function (but I'm shit at that) - so you might have a tree with Slowfall, Barrier, and Charge that is the "Self Applied Force Tree".  (Now you see what I mean about being shit about coming up with names?)

At level 1, 3, 5 etc of my generic "Biotic" class you gain 2 power selections - so you can start at level one with Throw and Shockwave, or have Double Throw.  So far there's 6 tree's (so a total of 36 "powers", thus far) - each player will have access to around 24 of them (with certain origin options giving more).  I'm looking at ending with more then that though (so characters won't all have 2/3rds available powers and become kinda samey).  You could also feat/origin gate certain powers (ie. This is only available to Synthetics. // This is only available via the [PLACEHOLDER] feat.)

With your framework, you could just say that at those levels you gain [X] Steps, spread as the player wishes (the way that leveling up in game gives you more then one skill point).  Shouldn't be a problem with a 3 stage power either, just find a good number for the power unlocks at given levels.  By the same token part of the Asari package (within your framework) could be "Gain 1 step on the path of your choice" making them all at least a little biotic.

This might not be helpful though.  Hopefully someone gets some use out of it.

EDIT:
Also, if these things are to be handled as classes, do you think building expert classes around the special companion powers is a good plan?

Personally, no.  I'd allow free access.  Most of them aren't that special (ME3 MP allow access to many of them for standard MP characters).  At most I'd feat gate them, but probably not even that.

I'd build expert classes around a core specialised concept (whatever that may be): Ex:  a theoretical Shock Trooper class might require Charge at a certain rank and then build new abilities off Charge, Barrier and Shotgun usage (focusing on mobility and carnage).  Just off the top of the head.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2012, 12:27:57 AM by Sletchman » Logged
tfwfh
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« Reply #113 on: May 17, 2012, 05:49:37 AM »

That is a more accurate translation of how mass effect powers are gained, but it's also an aspect of the games that I never liked, and I personally feel it could stand to be ignored.

On a separate note, I've been thinking about your opinion regarding shields and barriers, that having them function as extra vp is more complicated than it needs to be.  I'm not sure I agree that it's overly complicated, after all losing all of your shields is functionally quite similar to becoming bloodied in 4e DnD, and people seem to find that easy enough to understand.  Still, I do agree that it might not be the best way to handle them.  So I was thinking, about what it is shields actually do in Mass Effect, and I came to the conclusion that their job is basically to absorb attacks before they can do any real damage.  Which is exactly what vitality does.  So rather than stacking on top of vitality, what if shields and barriers overlap with it?  The idea is that shields will have some rating X, and until you lose X vitality the cost to activate critical hits against you increases by 1 action die.

So for example, low level Tali has 15 vp and 20 shields.  Until she takes 20 damage, it costs +1 AD to activate a crit against her.  That's more vp than she has, so it lasts for as long as she has any vitality.  After that, crits become fairly pointless anyway because she's already taking wound damage.  Then later on, medium level Tali has 50 vp, and still 20 shields.  As long as she has lost less than 20 vitality, it costs an extra AD to activate a crit against her.  Once she's taken 20 or more damage, her shield has run out, and things proceed as normal.

I suggest this because beyond a certain point, having more vitality doesn't do very much good.  You're much more likely to be critted to death than you are to lose 200 vitality, so what's the point of adding more vitality on top of that?  This way, shields have a substantial benefit by preventing most crits at the beginning of a fight.  I also suggest this because just piling on the damage reduction can easily get out of hand.  If ME armor operates on the same scale as FC armor, then a high level soldier can have 12 DR without trying very hard.  Stacking on to that with shields and powers can easily make that character all but immune to damage.  And if you then bump up the armor piercing of the weapons to compensate, what was the point of adding on the DR in the first place?

Anyway, I bring all this up because without knowing how shields and barriers should work, I don't know how powers that affect them should work.  Not just tech armor and its ilk, but also things like overload and disruptor ammo.
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« Reply #114 on: May 17, 2012, 06:00:25 AM »

You could very easily ignore the trees and just have them as stand alone powers, shouldn't unbalance anything.  I kept it because I liked that part of the leveling mechanic in game - the idea that you can use the forces generated for more elaborate tricks appeals to me.  I can see why people wouldn't like it though.  I also wanted to show that I did them as branching powers (again, because that was something I liked in the game, and it would mean that two Adept PCs can be quite different because of their chosen branches).

Shields are a puzzler.  My gut says keep it simple and just go with VP = Shields.  Overload effects organics in ME3 (damage, plus benefits against them if evolved that way) and that means you can call it Electrical Damage and be good to go.  I can see benefit in other methods though (and your idea is an interesting one).
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« Reply #115 on: May 17, 2012, 08:12:30 AM »

Shields are ablative DR, surely?
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« Reply #116 on: May 17, 2012, 08:40:26 AM »

If I edit things out, I'm not trying to take you out of context, I'm trying to direct my comments and keep things readable.  I am verbose Smiley

I had not considered that, but it is worth doing so.  At first glance I have a few concerns with doing that.  1 is that it makes the steps considerably more powerful than they are, and I had been intentionally trying to limit their power. 

I'm not insisting on a power level, but the feat level step was easy because it's a common unit of power in Mastercraft, it's comparable to existing paths, and it let me use feats as steps.  The Charge power can almost be built of a combination of the Charging Basics tree and the Cleave tree.  Of course, that would leave out the wall-smashing goodness you could incorporate from Jack.

2 is that the powers in Mass Effect are very narrowly focused.  When you first gain one, it gives you a new ability to use, and investing further in it improves that ability, but has virtually no effect on any other part of the game.  I was trying to duplicate that behavior. 

I'm not sure I follow.  The tech armor I posted has activate and explode buttons, just like the ME3 power.  The rush is all stance, though I guess you'd have to activate the multiattack feats.  I'm not sure that having a bit more buttons for the player to push is a bad thing though.  Tabletop combat is going to be slower and making sure players have an active option each round.  If this isn't what you mean, sorry.

Lastly, as they are the paths are all fairly consistent with each other.  But if some grant feats and other don't or grant different numbers of feats, it loses some of that consistency.

Still that's all just my initial reaction, those may not be problems, and even if they are, they are probably not insurmountable.

I think we lose some consistency but we gain easier balancing (I can firmly say 3 of the steps of tech armor are no more powerful than feats Smiley ).  But please, take everything I post as opinion.  I'm no expert at this stuff.

Stripping the priest down to make a single base class for all six mass effect classes is probably the way to go.  It does mean that a ME soldier would have a lower BAB than a MC soldier.  That can be fixed although.
Also not a bad idea.  My first reaction there is that even with feats, Priest only gets something like 12 steps, and in the video games, over the course of the game you get the chance to fully invest in 5 or 6 abilities.  If people are comfortable with only being able to fully invest in 2 abilities, then I suppose there's no problem there.  In that case, each step of the powers would need to be more powerful than they are.  Or, as an alternative, these paths could have less than 5 steps.  If each only has 3, then the Priest derived class could fully invest in 4 powers.

In ME2, Sheppard can max 5 powers and squadmates can nearly max 3.  In ME3, Sheppard can max 8(!!!) powers, squadmates 4 with a bit left over.   In ME3 multiplayer, each character can max exactly 4 powers.  I think 4 is a reasonable number to shoot for.

I think a combination of limiting each power to 4 steps and trading some priest abilities for more path steps is going to do it.  The 2/11/19 and 6/9/12/15/18 are both possibilities.  Given the thinness of the ME classes, you can almost remove all the priest abilities.  Anything not removed of course will need to be changed.

I also don't think there's any reason to limit the "gain a step in a power" feat to being a one time only deal.  If our steps are close to feats in power, that's self balancing too.  The extra power feat (gain a new power and take the first step) might need to be once only.  Maybe not if we're allowing any character to gain powers, rather than trying to simulate Sheppard's bonus power.

It may be nice to move some things, like ME2's selectable 4th level evolution, out to tricks.  Reave and Channel are essentially Warp tricks, while Lift, Throw, Slam, and Pull should all be tricks on the same power.  I'd argue that Combat Drone and Sentry Turret could share a power too and all of the ammo powers might be stances or tricks.

I'll work on hacking up the priest.  (There's a line that will be repeated should I ever be arrested.)  I think we have enough tools to accommodate those who want a power or two and those who go power crazy.

What made each power tree its own interest?  You might still have your Engineer alignment but other specialties might simply grant access to the Tech and Combat trees.
I'm not sure what you mean here.
[/quote]

You made an alignment for each ME class.  Also make one for each tree.  This would allow those with non ME classes to have powers too.  They purchase the alignment, then use the extra power and gain a step feats.  That has the nice side effect of restricting non-ME classes to one tree.

Regarding shields, I think base shields = vitality is the best solution.  I think defensive powers should be split among Defense, DR, and Damage Resistance.  If barrier needs a non time based timer, it might negate a certain number of hits before it stops working.
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« Reply #117 on: May 17, 2012, 11:12:24 AM »

Shields are ablative DR, surely?

I'm quite surprised that this is your position.
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MilitiaJim
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« Reply #118 on: May 17, 2012, 12:34:38 PM »

Shields are ablative DR, surely?
I'm quite surprised that this is your position.
They soak up ALL the damage until they are gone, and can recharge in the middle of a firefight.

The way shields are described in the equipment section seems to support this:
Many of these armors have a new statistic called ‘Shields’. Shields are energized kinetic barriers that provide additional points of damage reduction, which are lost as soon as they reduce the damage that you suffer from an attack. These additional points of damage reduction return at a rate of 1 per round in any round in which you are not struck by an attack. Shields granted by different sources stack.
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« Reply #119 on: May 17, 2012, 01:46:26 PM »

What the heck?  Like half my comment just didn't show up.  I wrote that I thought, from his previous comments, that he was generally in favour of having less things to track during gameplay (ablative DR would provide an additional variable that the players would have to track throughout the fight).  I have no idea what happened or where it went.
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