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Author Topic: [Notebook] Mass(ter)craft 2nd ed: Getting the ball rolling  (Read 6756 times)
MilitiaJim
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« Reply #120 on: May 17, 2012, 02:07:03 PM »

You have to be careful.  Sometimes things get lost in those intertubes.

Yes, having less to track is nice, but shields are a rather central mechanic of the game's combat engine, and a nice touch.  Worth the minor difficulty, if you ask me.
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« Reply #121 on: May 17, 2012, 04:05:15 PM »

What if you did shields = vitality and increased refresh and medicine checks to something like say 25% of vitality.  Add in an end of combat refresh and maybe use Morgenstern's idea of having a kind of "res point" or at least use the control of the battlefield to determine whether there is some kind of setback.

You get something similar to the action of the in game shields and a reason to take cover.
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« Reply #122 on: May 17, 2012, 04:18:33 PM »

That would make Overload and Disruptor ammo badly overpowered or fairly worthless.

What about powers like Barrier and Tech Armor that layer defenses on along with shields?
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« Reply #123 on: May 17, 2012, 07:46:08 PM »

Shields take a round to recharge for PCs. Sounds like a simple change to the Refresh action: Drop an AD to get back 2 Wounds OR reset your Vitality to half max OR recharge shields to full.

This allows you to implement Ops Survival Packs (use with a refesh action to restore 4 wounds or full vitality) and Shield Cells (expend in lieu of an AD to fuel a Refresh action that recharges shields to full) as expendable gear items, and minimizes record keeping while removing the need to constantly wear down shields (as shields don't recharge unless you Refresh).

Cells that reset their charges at the end of a scene instead of needing to be replaced with newly purchased ones then become desireable Prizes.
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« Reply #124 on: May 17, 2012, 09:37:13 PM »

Having shields or vitality behave that way would make the whole vitality system pointless.  Combat would just become a contest to determine who could roll a pair of 20s first (or one 20 plus good damage) because no one would ever run out of vitality, so only critical hits would matter.

Maybe instead we should look at shields from the perspective of how Overload (and similar) interacts with them, vs how it interacts with health.  And other powers for that matter.

In ME 2, Overload does extremely high damage to shields, no damage to health, and high damage to everything else.  In 3, it does high damage to shields (and barriers and synthetics), and low-ish damage to health.
Disruptor ammo substantially increases damage to shields, and slightly increases damage against everything else.
Warp ammo is basically the same, but against barriers instead of shields.
With the fire based powers (incinerate, incendiary ammo), they do high damage to everything, more to armor and health, less to synthetics.  Shields make it much less likely (maybe impossible) for targets to catch on fire.
With cold based powers, they simply don't have any effect on shielded enemies.

Most Biotic powers also have no effect on shielded targets (pull, lift, throw, singularity).
Warp does high damage to barriers and armor, medium damage to everything else.  Warp also explodes when it encounters other biotic powers, but I'm not sure that's relevant just yet.
Charge doesn't seem to care about shields or barriers.

The biggest benefit of shields seems to be that they protect against most status effects.  So maybe shields should give a bonus to saving throws, then.  They also provide some protection against certain damage, but do hardly anything against overload and disruptor ammo.  So perhaps shields should also provide a little DR, or maybe resistances, but not against the overload damage type.  Someone suggested electrical damage for overload and disruptor, and that would seem to be a good fit.

Assuming shields work that way, the question then becomes "what determines how long a shield lasts?"  I have some ideas there, but I'm not really sold on any of them.  Disabling shields could become a critical hit benefit, or it could get a place on the table of ouch.  Or, perhaps shields just last some number of uses (the first X saves, or until it prevents Y damage).  In that last case, it might then be more appropriate for shields to have electrical resistance, so that they prevent more damage from overload, and thus wear out faster.
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« Reply #125 on: May 17, 2012, 10:05:03 PM »

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'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.
That sounds good to me.  I'm happy to offer whatever help or advice I can, otherwise I'll just wait to see what you come up with.

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.
...
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.
I consider it to be very important that a newcomer to the game who is familiar with Mass Effect would be able to look at the final product and be able to easily see the Mass Effect classes, and recognize the general pattern of them from the video games.  So, while I agree that the ammo powers could all be optional enhancements to a central ammo power, or that the telekinetic powers could all be enhancements to a central telekinesis power, I think doing that is the wrong decision because it distorts things from the way they are presentation in the video games.

As to the alignments, Solder is already the all Combat alignment, Engineer is the all Tech alignment, and Adept is all Biotic.  Each of those alignments has only powers from one tree and (except for some that unique to a class or squadmate) has all of the powers from that tree.  So, making a new Combat Master alignment would either be identical to Soldier, or it would be Soldier++ and make Soldier irrelevant.
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« Reply #126 on: May 17, 2012, 10:43:18 PM »

Shep has been accidentally shot point blank by a mass accelerator (which is basically what all the conventional weapons currently in use are) and only saved from serious injury because her shields ate the damage. That's pretty much the definition of damage reduction in action.

Having shields or vitality behave that way would make the whole vitality system pointless.  Combat would just become a contest to determine who could roll a pair of 20s first (or one 20 plus good damage) because no one would ever run out of vitality, so only critical hits would matter

That's pretty much FC combat now if you have access to healing magic I really can't see what your problem is.
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« Reply #127 on: May 17, 2012, 11:28:55 PM »

A high level soldier can reasonably have 300 vitality.  Cure Wounds IV is the best healing spell in the game and it restores 40 vitality, or about 13% of the soldier's total.  Even at medium levels when that spell is first available, that soldier would have over 160 vitality, and so Cure IV would represent about 25% of that total.  A keeper in the same party as that soldier would likely have 120 vitality at max level and 66 when Cure IV is first available.  So, at the other end of the scale, healing magic represents between 65% and 25% of a character's vitality.  That makes the suggestion for a refresh action to restore 50% vitality as much as 2x more effective than healing magic.  That difference seems substantial to me.  Even if the end result is the same, it will considerably reduce the level at which it becomes an issue.

And I did suggest that perhaps shields should provide some DR, just not ablative DR, which I find to be unusual and cumbersome.
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« Reply #128 on: May 17, 2012, 11:44:30 PM »

Shep has been accidentally shot point blank by a mass accelerator (which is basically what all the conventional weapons currently in use are) and only saved from serious injury because her shields ate the damage. That's pretty much the definition of damage reduction in action.

Vitality...

Quote from: Page 28
Vitality: This is a measure of your character’s ability to avoid injury (see page 206).

Doesn't say anything about precisely how you avoid injury.  You may also note that a value that reduces each time you are damaged until it's gone (at which point you lose actual Health) does sound somewhat familiar.

Just sayin'.
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MilitiaJim
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« Reply #129 on: May 18, 2012, 08:11:10 AM »

Vitality...

Quote from: Page 28
Vitality: This is a measure of your character’s ability to avoid injury (see page 206).

Doesn't say anything about precisely how you avoid injury.  You may also note that a value that reduces each time you are damaged until it's gone (at which point you lose actual Health) does sound somewhat familiar.
Which means Shepard has about twice as many Wounds as Vitality....

Shields come and go during a several times during a scene, in a way that Vitality does not.  Calling the shields vitality also bumps into trouble with classifying biotic barriers and makes powers that don't work on shielded targets all but worthless.
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« Reply #130 on: May 18, 2012, 08:34:40 AM »

Shields come and go during a several times during a scene, in a way that Vitality does not.  Calling the shields vitality also bumps into trouble with classifying biotic barriers and makes powers that don't work on shielded targets all but worthless.

So why not say that shields provide temporary vitality?

One of my favourite games is Corporation which has Hard Ion Shields (portable shields vs firearms basically) and Telepathic Shields. Both operate in the same way by providing X hit points which must be depleted first before damage is applied to the character.
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« Reply #131 on: May 18, 2012, 05:12:34 PM »

That's been suggested, and it may be what we go with.

As I see it, these are the ideas thus far.  In each case, the idea applies equally to barriers as well:

1. Shields work like extra health that sits on top of your vitality.  Your "health bar" looks essentially like this: (+ is wounds, = is vitality, ~ is shields)
+++==========~~~
As long as you have shields, you are immune to the special effects of most powers.  Shields don't benefit from DR.

2. Shields overlap with your vitality, and shields provide part of the explanation for how vitality works.  Your "health bar" looks like this: (+ wounds, = vitality, = shields)
+++==========
Until you lose the shielded part of your vitality pool, you are immune to the special effects of most powers.  Shields do benefit from DR, and possibly provide a small amount of additional DR.  In addition, they might provide some other benefits, like making crits more expensive or giving resistances.

3. Shields work more like a condition than health.  Your "health bar" looks like this: (+ is wp, = is vp)
+++========== (shield)
The shield condition either gives a bonus to saving throws, or makes you immune to the special effects of most powers.  The condition also provides some small amount of extra DR and/or resistances.  When the condition is lost isn't certain, but it could be after some number of uses, after a crit, after it fails a damage save, or possibly something else.  I personally think this is the best candidate for duplicating mass effect shields that can be repeatedly lost and regained during a fight.

4. Vitality is shields.  Your "health bar" looks like this: (+ is wp, = is shields)
+++==========
I don't think this has been described in detail, but I think it's likely to cause problems.  Most of the powers become nearly impossible to use because nearly everyone spends all but the last round or two of a fight being immune to them.  I also don't know how this would interact with barriers.
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« Reply #132 on: May 18, 2012, 05:34:20 PM »

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.
That sounds good to me.  I'm happy to offer whatever help or advice I can, otherwise I'll just wait to see what you come up with.

Here's one way, certainly not the only.  It would be possible to swap Mastery into the 6th slot and Powered into the 2/11/19 slot if you were using the fast feats campaign quality.  Mastery would need a few more abilities but that would push the double power acquisition to 19th level. 

(click to show/hide)

I consider it to be very important that a newcomer to the game who is familiar with Mass Effect would be able to look at the final product and be able to easily see the Mass Effect classes, and recognize the general pattern of them from the video games.  So, while I agree that the ammo powers could all be optional enhancements to a central ammo power, or that the telekinetic powers could all be enhancements to a central telekinesis power, I think doing that is the wrong decision because it distorts things from the way they are presentation in the video games.

I think it's important to assure that the system is readily accessible to those who know mass effect and not mastercraft but I also think there are some videogame issues we don't need to copy.  Ammo powers (and grenade powers in ME3) started out as ammo and grenades in ME1.  When the decision was made to scrap the inventory system, they became powers.  Personally, I'd like to see ammo and grenades go back to the ME1 state of being items.  Unlike ME2, we have a functioning inventory system and I don't think using it will scare off those who are familiar with the whole series. 

As far as the powers go, power unlocking is already established so saying you need to learn lift before you learn slam isn't a big deal. MC combat is already going to be different (and the way the evolutions affect that combat will be very different). 

As to the alignments, Solder is already the all Combat alignment, Engineer is the all Tech alignment, and Adept is all Biotic.  Each of those alignments has only powers from one tree and (except for some that unique to a class or squadmate) has all of the powers from that tree.  So, making a new Combat Master alignment would either be identical to Soldier, or it would be Soldier++ and make Soldier irrelevant.

As you say, they lack the squadmate and exclusive powers.  But the Combat/Tech/Biotic alignments aren't intended for representing the ME classes.  They are for people who take Mastercraft classes and want to splash in a few powers.  I'd put them in there own section on integrating Mastercraft classes into a Mass Effect game.

On a side note though, take an asari with a specialty with catfall and an acrobatics boost with the biotics alignment.  Go Martial Artist/Monk for classes.  That's Samara in a nutshell.


Quote
Which means Shepard has about twice as many Wounds as Vitality....

I don't see how that follows.  My last playthrough was as an engineer.  Since I had rocket sentries and drones along with incinerate and squadmates with another incinerate, overload, singularity, and warp, I could stand outside of cover and direct the battle.  It'd take quite a few hits for my shields to go down.  Once they did though, I had very little time to get down before the enemy chewed through my health.  That's a pretty fair representation of VP/wounds, I think.

 
Quote
Shields come and go during a several times during a scene, in a way that Vitality does not.  Calling the shields vitality also bumps into trouble with classifying biotic barriers and makes powers that don't work on shielded targets all but worthless.

I think powers that completely fail to work is a videogameism that wasn't present in the original Mass Effect.  Enhancing damage should work fine.  Here is an example of a Barrier power (not trying to balance, idea only):

Barrier: While your barrier is active, you may not be affected by non-damaging biotics powers and absorbs harmlessly attacks of other sort.  Your barrier falls after absorbing 3 attacks.  Warp powers are particularly effective against barriers, counting as 2 attacks.

I think that the suits everyone wears should not be considered armor mechanically, saving that for the various powers and such.  If need be, there can be a note indicating that barriers must be struck down before other defenses and that while an armor power is active you are considered an armored target.  Otherwise you're shielded, or perhaps you're shielded while you have 50% or more vitality.  Resolve bonus damage accordingly.  The layered NPC defenses can be either eliminated or kept for NPC's.

Shields come and go during a several times during a scene, in a way that Vitality does not.  Calling the shields vitality also bumps into trouble with classifying biotic barriers and makes powers that don't work on shielded targets all but worthless.

So why not say that shields provide temporary vitality?


Vitality inflates with level.  A 10 point shield is pretty good at first, but at 15th it's not worth using disruptor ammo on.  If the shields level with you, you never get through them and you end up playing "who crits first" and the shields are again useless.

My objection is that I don't want to keep track of wounds, vitality, shields, armor, and barrier, all with their own refresh cycles.


Hmm.  How about this:

Defenses in Mass Effect: Your character may possess several defensive powers as well as the shielding unit incorporated in every species combat uniforms and many forms of civilian clothes.  Each power has a quality associated with it:

Reinforced: Barriers provide this quality.  You take no damage from attacks while the barrier is up.  Barriers are vulnerable to warp powers and warp ammo as noted in each power's description.  Reinforced overrides armored and shielded.

Armored: Armor powers (not just DR) provide this quality.  You receive DR and or Damage Resistance as noted in the power.  On a critical hit, an attacker may spend up to 4 action dice to end all armor powers for that many rounds.  Incinerate and fire based damage does bonus damage to armored targets.

Shielded: You have this quality while you have more than 50% of your vitality.  Overload and disruptor ammo does bonus damage to you.  On a critical hit, an attacker may spend up to 4 action dice.  Your vitality drops to 50%, losing the shielded quality and you may not refresh for 1 round per action die after the first spent. Shielded overrides armored.

Exposed: You have this quality all the time.  You take damage according to your type.  Critical hits do wound damage.  This quality is overridden by the other three qualities.
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« Reply #133 on: May 18, 2012, 06:34:38 PM »

Here's one way, certainly not the only.  It would be possible to swap Mastery into the 6th slot and Powered into the 2/11/19 slot if you were using the fast feats campaign quality.  Mastery would need a few more abilities but that would push the double power acquisition to 19th level. 

(click to show/hide)
Nice.  I think my only suggestion is that for most classes, the level 6/9/12/15/18 ability is one you get to choose from a list.  If I was playing this class, I would still want to have that.  Taking an extra step along a path could be one of those options.  That would be especially true if there are feats that let you take steps along ME paths.

I consider it to be very important that a newcomer to the game who is familiar with Mass Effect would be able to look at the final product and be able to easily see the Mass Effect classes, and recognize the general pattern of them from the video games.  So, while I agree that the ammo powers could all be optional enhancements to a central ammo power, or that the telekinetic powers could all be enhancements to a central telekinesis power, I think doing that is the wrong decision because it distorts things from the way they are presentation in the video games.

I think it's important to assure that the system is readily accessible to those who know mass effect and not mastercraft but I also think there are some videogame issues we don't need to copy.  Ammo powers (and grenade powers in ME3) started out as ammo and grenades in ME1.  When the decision was made to scrap the inventory system, they became powers.  Personally, I'd like to see ammo and grenades go back to the ME1 state of being items.  Unlike ME2, we have a functioning inventory system and I don't think using it will scare off those who are familiar with the whole series.

As far as the powers go, power unlocking is already established so saying you need to learn lift before you learn slam isn't a big deal. MC combat is already going to be different (and the way the evolutions affect that combat will be very different). 
My understanding is that mass effect weapons work by using a mass effect field to shave little slivers off a big lump of steel (or titanium, or tungsten, I forget which metal), and then accelerate it up to absurd speeds.  So, mass effect weapons don't really have ammo in that sense.  Also, without the ammo powers, the combat tree looks kind of sparse compared to the other 2.  Requiring some power be taken before others are available is fine.  It always annoyed me, but as a Vanguard I just want Charge and Shockwave, screw all the other powers.  It's also a bit of a departure from the way paths and alignments work, but then so is 4-step paths, so I guess it's not a big deal.  If I was just doing this for me, I'd leave out the power prerequisites, but I'm not so whatever other people want is fine by me.

I think powers that completely fail to work is a videogameism that wasn't present in the original Mass Effect.  Enhancing damage should work fine.  Here is an example of a Barrier power (not trying to balance, idea only):

Barrier: While your barrier is active, you may not be affected by non-damaging biotics powers and absorbs harmlessly attacks of other sort.  Your barrier falls after absorbing 3 attacks.  Warp powers are particularly effective against barriers, counting as 2 attacks.

My objection is that I don't want to keep track of wounds, vitality, shields, armor, and barrier, all with their own refresh cycles.
Hmm.  How about this:

Defenses in Mass Effect: Your character may possess several defensive powers as well as the shielding unit incorporated in every species combat uniforms and many forms of civilian clothes.  Each power has a quality associated with it:

Reinforced: Barriers provide this quality.  You take no damage from attacks while the barrier is up.  Barriers are vulnerable to warp powers and warp ammo as noted in each power's description.  Reinforced overrides armored and shielded.

Armored: Armor powers (not just DR) provide this quality.  You receive DR and or Damage Resistance as noted in the power.  On a critical hit, an attacker may spend up to 4 action dice to end all armor powers for that many rounds.  Incinerate and fire based damage does bonus damage to armored targets.

Shielded: You have this quality while you have more than 50% of your vitality.  Overload and disruptor ammo does bonus damage to you.  On a critical hit, an attacker may spend up to 4 action dice.  Your vitality drops to 50%, losing the shielded quality and you may not refresh for 1 round per action die after the first spent. Shielded overrides armored.

Exposed: You have this quality all the time.  You take damage according to your type.  Critical hits do wound damage.  This quality is overridden by the other three qualities.
I also like the idea of treating shields, barriers, and possibly even mass effect armor as conditions that you can gain and lose.  I'm least sure about armor, because I think it would be better for it to just provide DR and not worry about the other stuff.  Like you said, MC combat is already going to be different, and I think that's one area where we shouldn't fight that.
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« Reply #134 on: May 19, 2012, 01:39:19 PM »

Nice.  I think my only suggestion is that for most classes, the level 6/9/12/15/18 ability is one you get to choose from a list.  If I was playing this class, I would still want to have that.  Taking an extra step along a path could be one of those options.  That would be especially true if there are feats that let you take steps along ME paths.

Changing the 6/9/etc back to an appropriate list should be good if the feat based step acquisition is repeatable.  I'm also starting to think there will be less pressure to take all of the steps of a path than the videogame too.  Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of ideas for good abilities to put in it.  Thoughts?

My understanding is that mass effect weapons work by using a mass effect field to shave little slivers off a big lump of steel (or titanium, or tungsten, I forget which metal), and then accelerate it up to absurd speeds.  So, mass effect weapons don't really have ammo in that sense.

Here is the mass effect one system.  They didn't go into detail how the upgrades work but presumably they are modules that prep the rounds before being shot.

Also, without the ammo powers, the combat tree looks kind of sparse compared to the other 2.  Requiring some power be taken before others are available is fine.  It always annoyed me, but as a Vanguard I just want Charge and Shockwave, screw all the other powers.  It's also a bit of a departure from the way paths and alignments work, but then so is 4-step paths, so I guess it's not a big deal.  If I was just doing this for me, I'd leave out the power prerequisites, but I'm not so whatever other people want is fine by me.

To be clear, I'm not saying you should have to have step 3 in some power before you buy another.  I think there are some powers that are close enough to be variants and thus we can represent them with a single power and some tricks to change them as needed.  Lift is the poster child for this.  Each of (Pull, Throw, Slam) take lift and add an increasingly violent follow up to it.  Let me list the powers as I see them.  After the power, I will list any powers I think should be tricks targeting that power.

Combat powers
Adrenaline Rush
Concussion Shot
Carnage
Fortification
Marksman

Biotic Powers
Barrier
Charge
Pull (Throw, Slam)
Shockwave (Nova)
Singularity
Stasis (I'd really like to make this a barrier trick)
Warp (Reave, Dark Channel)

Tech Powers
Combat Drone (Decoy, Sentry Turret)
Cryo Blast
Incinerate
Overload
Sabotage (Energy Drain)
Tactical Cloak
Tech Armor

That's five in the combat tree and seven in the others, or five six and seven if stasis goes under barrier.  ME1's Assassination power could help even out the trees.  I think the combat tree can be strong enough with six powers but ME1 has several other candidates if we need one.  

I also like the idea of treating shields, barriers, and possibly even mass effect armor as conditions that you can gain and lose.  I'm least sure about armor, because I think it would be better for it to just provide DR and not worry about the other stuff.  Like you said, MC combat is already going to be different, and I think that's one area where we shouldn't fight that.

The only reason I can think of is to distinguish armor powers (tech armor, fortification) from other abilities that grant DR.

Edit: Added Reave and Dark Channel to the list of Biotics abilities.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2012, 01:44:43 PM by Blankbeard » Logged
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