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Author Topic: Atium: Nerfed or Near-unstoppable?  (Read 310 times)
Herowannabe
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« on: July 05, 2014, 05:02:50 PM »

Before I get started, a few quick questions for the Crafty-guys: If you use Atium's ability to see what another character is going to do next beat, and then the next beat comes, the book says that they HAVE to take that action if able. Does that mean they have to declare that action AND take it (meaning they cannot choose to 1. Not take the action or 2. change their action to something else at the cost of half their dice pool)? Or does it mean they are locked into declaring that action, but still have the usual choice to take the action, not take it, or change it, as per usual?

How does this affect a Feruchemist's decision to tap any charges? Does he have to decide how many charges to tap when the Atium-user peeks into their future? Or are they still allowed to tap them at the time they take their action?

Also, at what point during the beat can someone using Atium use that ability? During declaration? Before or after the Seer acts? Before or after the target character acts? At the end of the beat?

Thanks in advance!

EDIT: Asked again and answered here.
[/i]


So the general consensus from people who have read the books and play this game is that Atium was nerfed in the game. After all, in the books characters burning Atium are all but invincible, but in the game you just add a few dice to your dice pools. +4D (assuming that the character is a Mistborn or Inquisitor who hasn't spent AP to upgrade their Atium Rating, which will be the case 99% of the time Atium is used) to your actions for a handful of beats is pretty good, but far from unstoppable. Even at the max of 10D, you still only have a 52% chance of getting a Result of 5.

However, the extra action dice is not the only thing that Atium does for you. I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and I want to lay out some of the potential (and potentially devastating) uses that Atium has. I'm not saying that Atium IS or IS NOT nerfed in this game, I'm just exploring options. So lets talk about all of Atium's uses, one at a time (Note: For simplicity's sake I'm largely ignoring situations where you are fighting another character burning Atium or Electrum in this article, because in both cases they pretty much negate each other. However, yes I am aware of those situations. This article is about using Atium against regular non-Seer/Oracle folk).

Extra Dice
"You gain a number of dice with each action equal to your Atium rating."

There are two ways I have seen this interpreted:

1. That this bonus only applies to Action rolls, but not Defense rolls. If this is the case then yes, Atium is severely nerfed- at least this aspect of it. Generally speaking you only get 1 action per beat, and even if you do catch a beat that's only 2 actions. That means Pewter and Electrum are both about equally useful as Atium (in addition to being far more accessible and long-lasting). I don't think that is the intention of the designers.

2. This bonus applies to all Action AND Defense rolls. This makes much more sense, and is more in line with the books anyway. In the books, characters burning Atium use it almost exclusively for defense, effortlessly sidestepping blows and avoiding strikes by mere inches. This is how I play Atium, and it allows the characters at least a chance of having scenes like in the book where they are dodging past a dozen enemies without taking a scratch.

Either way, the dice-bonus from Atium is pretty straightforward, and very useful. However, like I said above, it's far from unstoppable. It's still possible to get a crappy roll or get overwhelmed by multiple opponents and end up with a Burden or two. But lets look at some of Atium's other abilities.

Stunts
The book lists two stunts for Atium, and while in my experience characters rarely bother to invest AP in Atium-stunts, they're still worth mentioning.
Atium Advantage lets you take away two of your opponent's defense dice whenever you attack them. Pretty sweet. A quick look at the table on page 454 suggests that this one little stunt makes it roughly twice as hard for your opponents to avoid your attacks.. That's nothing to shake a stick at.

Atium Nudge lets you reduce your Atium score by 2 in order to get a free nudge. When I was first getting into this game I severely underestimated the usefulness of free nudges. Then I narrated a mini-campaign called "Futile Efforts" where the players went head to head against the Lord Ruler. Because of all the high-powered characters running around, as well as some misinterpretations of the rules, there were a LOT of free nudges being thrown around, and they had some huge effects on the battle. Needless to say I will never underestimate a free nudge again. One free nudge by itself is pretty useful, and can make it easier to do certain things. However, free nudges get more awesome the more you stack them. Take this stunt twice, get two free nudges, and all of a sudden you can succeed any called-shot roll (assuming you still get a high enough Result on your dice roll). Spending the time and AP to get your Atium score to 6+ and taking this stunt 3 times may be a hefty investment, but if you do you will be able to catch a Beat every round you burn Atium. Let me repeat that. With Atium its possible to catch a Beat EVERY. SINGLE. ROUND.  Shocked

Declaring and Resolving Actions
"... You may declare your action after [other] characters..." and "... Your declared action is resolved before [other] characters."

I think most players overlook this aspect of Atium. You always know what your enemies are going to do before you decide what you want to do, and you always get to take your action before they do. This allows you to react to enemies and often preempt their actions before they can take them. In fact, when burning Atium, if you're doing it properly your opponents should rarely ever get to use their declared actions against you. For example:
  • An enemy thug declares that he will rush you and smash you with his club. What do you do? Stab him with your glass dagger then steelpush yourself 1 step into the air. He can't smash you if he can't reach you.
  • Enemy Archers going to shoot a volley of arrows at you? Shoot a handful of coins at them then duck behind a wall.
  • etc.
Because you act before your opponents you can disrupt their action in almost every situation. This is even more true when paired with a stunt like "steel-running" or Pewter's "Extreme Speed." At the very least, you should almost never be in a situation where you have to face your opponent's full dice pool. Take a step away from them and force them to change their declared action (losing half their dice in the process) to reach you. Combine that with Atium's dice bonus, and Atium starts to look a little less nerfed and a little more unstoppable. But we're not done yet.

Future Sight
"Once per Beat, you may ask the Narrator or any other player what a single character under their control plans to do in the next Beat. They must answer and- unless the action becomes impossible- they must take the action as described in the next Beat."

If the last ability is sometimes overlooked by players, then this one definitely is. Mainly because, in my opinion, it's pretty vague about a lot of things (as is evidenced by my questions to the Crafty-guys at the top of this post. At what point does the Seer get to peek into his target's next action? If it happens at the beginning of the Beat, then how does that affect the target's action in THIS Beat? If it happens at the end of the Beat then how is that any different from just waiting for the target to declare their action next Beat, since they will declare before you anyway? How does that affect the normal rules for deciding whether to take your action, not take is (get defense dice instead), or changing your action? What about deciding when to burn or flare metals, or how many feruchemical charges to tap? I eagerly await a response from team-Crafty to help clear these questions up, because once we understand this ability we can then start capitalizing on it.

I believe that this ability- to essentially lock one character into a certain action 1 Beat in advance- has some seriously powerful, even game-breaking, potential uses. Depending on what Team-Crafty says I can see situations where a character is literally swinging at the air while the Seer is 2 or 3 steps away, EVERY beat. If you know where your opponent is going to be and what action he is going to take a full Beat ahead of time then there is no way he should ever get close to touching you, or to accomplishing whatever his goal may be. Even if Team-Crafty rules on the side of limiting Atium's power, this ability can still offer up some nice benefits. For example, you'll know for sure if you need to worry about character X for the next little bit because you'll know what they're going to do. It also makes escaping from situation much easier. Lock your opponent into an action (ie: attacking you) for the next beat, then high-tail it out of there. At minimum you'll have a 2-Step headstart on him before he'll be able to start pursuing you.


EDIT: Update: Crafty-Alex graciously answered my questions, clarifying a lot of things. See the other thread for some ideas on how Atium's future-peeking can be implemented in fun and non-game breaking ways, all while allowing the Seer to do awesome Atium-esque things.

So, at the end of it all, what do you say? Is Atium worth it? How does it compare to how Atium is described in the books? Hopefully, if nothing else, you've learned that if all you're using Atium for is the extra 4 action dice, you're doing it wrong. Atium has so much more potential.

Thanks for reading, and thanks in advance for any comments,

-Herowannabe
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 12:15:42 AM by Herowannabe » Logged


lord Claincy Ffnord
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« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2014, 08:17:04 AM »

A well thought out post Hero Smiley You have convinced me that atium in the MAG is more powerful than I had thought, it is still weaker than in the books in my opinion though that isn't a bad thing as book atium is completely broken Tongue

Sure a MAG seer can effectively make 1 enemy completely unable to touch them by forcing their action then making it impossible. But in the books a character burning atium can effectively do that to everyone around them and they don't have to take steps away from said enemies (or similar action) to do so Smiley

My thoughts on your questions:
-I think that they cannot change that action and lose half their dice unless the action becomes impossible. However, the enemy moving out of range could be considered as making the action impossible as the attack was declared against the enemy, not as a swing at a specific point in space.

Tapping is a good point, er, I don't know, I could see it both ways. But maybe that wouldn't have to be declared just like normal.

-If I had to say I would guess that you would force a character to declare their action during your part of the declaration phase. This means that it is after they have already declared for this beat so they cannot use this beat to make their declared action impossible or other similar tricks that don't make a lot of sense from a narrative perspective.

Regarding extra dice I would say option 2. The rules imply option 1, but from a canon standpoint 2 makes a lot more sense and seems more like what was intended.

Just my thoughts anyway. Smiley
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Kadrok
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« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2014, 04:54:54 PM »

So, at the end of it all, what do you say? Is Atium worth it? How does it compare to how Atium is described in the books? Hopefully, if nothing else, you've learned that if all you're using Atium for is the extra 4 action dice, you're doing it wrong. Atium has so much more potential.
My dream is to get Atium to 10, and have 3xAtium Nudge. With +4 dice to any action, and the 3 free nudges, I'm always doing 2 actions per beat, with more than 4 dice per action. And that is phenomenal.

In my opinion, Atium's biggest downside is that it is very hard to justify leveling it up:

Narrator: You've got a fair bit of AP Kadrok, are you looking to get some upgrades this long breather?
Kadrok: I'm going to gain a rating in Atium!
Narrator: So your character is going to spend the long breather training with Atium then, Kadrok?
Kadrok: You bet Mr. Narrator, sir!
Narrator: But the crew doesn't have any Atium. How is your character going to train with it if you don't have any to burn?
Kadrok: Er... resources?
Narrator: Yes, but surely training with Atium is going to take more than just one bead of Atium... and with the highest resources among the crew being 4, I'm not imagining you'd be able to acquire more than one bead...
Kadok: So no Atium upgrade then?
Narrator: Sorry sexy. Try Copper: they make the small change out of that stuff...

EDIT: By the way, I don't mean to suggest this is a bad thing... it's very fitting with the games canon, and very balanced. I just wanted to point out that getting good at Atium is not just about what the players think about it, but how easy it is to get in game.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 04:57:16 PM by Kadrok » Logged

cometaryorbit
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« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2014, 08:25:55 PM »

A well thought out post Hero Smiley You have convinced me that atium in the MAG is more powerful than I had thought, it is still weaker than in the books in my opinion though that isn't a bad thing as book atium is completely broken Tongue

I agree, it's definitely weaker than the books. In the books it mostly seems to make you flatly invulnerable to anyone who isn't using electrum or atium.

OTOH there are a few exceptions. Vin is able to trick Zane into revealing his atium knowledge and then compensate, and in the final fight in HoA the Atium Mistings do seem to eventually fall to koloss as they get too tired to fight. I suppose atium won't save you if you physically can't move to block/dodge the attack, even seeing it coming (which means you could probably kill an atium user with super (probably compounded) Feruchemical speed).

I'm not sure if it really makes sense to have a measure of relative skill in atium or electrum. Electrum seems to be entirely passive, and atium pretty much does everything "for you" IE you instinctively know the right action. Plus, as Kadrok says, no one except the Lord Ruler would have a chance to really practice with it anyway.

I guess it would be weird to have those metals follow different rules from all the others though.
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lord Claincy Ffnord
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« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 01:39:53 AM »

In my opinion, Atium's biggest downside is that it is very hard to justify leveling it up:
I can think of a couple of options Wink But it would get harder the higher rating you were.

and in the final fight in HoA the Atium Mistings do seem to eventually fall to koloss as they get too tired to fight.
Actually they ran out of atium Smiley

I suppose atium won't save you if you physically can't move to block/dodge the attack, even seeing it coming (which means you could probably kill an atium user with super (probably compounded) Feruchemical speed).
Yep, if you can get them into a situation where they physically cannot avoid death you can get them, it is just extremely difficult. Sufficient fSteel would work, but you might need to use fZinc as well to make sufficient use of your speed.
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Bill Whitmore
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« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2014, 11:25:29 AM »

Before I get started, a few quick questions for the Crafty-guys: If you use Atium's ability to see what another character is going to do next beat, and then the next beat comes, the book says that they HAVE to take that action if able. Does that mean they have to declare that action AND take it (meaning they cannot choose to 1. Not take the action or 2. change their action to something else at the cost of half their dice pool)? Or does it mean they are locked into declaring that action, but still have the usual choice to take the action, not take it, or change it, as per usual?

I would allow them to change their action as normal using half their dice pool if only because . . .

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Herowannabe
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2014, 12:16:48 AM »

Updated my original post, in light of Crafty-Alex's answers to my questions in this other thread.
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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2014, 09:18:39 PM »

It is my opinion that Atium is pretty amazing. I don't think it's game breaking, even when you try to do so, because it burns quickly and it's hard to come buy. Even purchasing a single nugget for the current session reduces your chances of getting more, and if you follow a standard rpg time frame with one combat beat lasting 6 seconds, you only get 5 beats out of it.

Of course, as a Narrator looking to control it, you can always set combat to a 10 second Beat, and then you get 3 beats. I think that's more than enough to use Atium to get the advantage on your enemies and having a blast with it while at the same time preventing you from being an unstoppable beast. You can either use it to set your enemies on the defense very fast, to pull yourself out of a bad pinch, or to finish the fight in a spectacular way.


Just don't give more than one or two beads out at a time, lol

As for how it compares to the books, there is always a difficulty in getting something with story flavor to translate well into game mechanics. IMO, they did a very good job in giving it the book feel: sure, you can only select one person a beat to know and force them to commit to an action next beat (which in the books happens to everyone you can see), but you DO get to declare last, so you know what everyone is going to do THIS beat, and THEN you get to act first. That's pretty intense, and i think it's about as true to the books as your'e going to get in a game system.
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