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SalmonMax

[Mass Effect: Legacy] OOC and Comment Thread

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A little something for you Mass Effect fans out there:

6fr3x3.jpg

"Rich industrialist. Secretive agenda. Environmental catastrophe?! Need to see files. Infiltrate party at spacious villa." *sniff* "Should get tux."

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Are "classes" restricted to their defined powers of the game or can we choose what fits the characters?

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There are no classes in this game. There are occupations, and there are some standard training packages, but the packages are optional and meant to aid in character creation.

Focus on concept first.

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Ah yes! Excellent question.

I'll put this in the character generation thread in more detail, but the shorthand is that the Citadel races, by dint of long association, have a sort of 'common' language that's a pidgen of Asari, Turian and Salarian, along with influences from other languages. There are also languages unique to each species (most have more than one, though there's generally a 'dominant' one for each).

Translation software is available for your omnitool, which essentially means that you don't HAVE to spend points on knowing most major languages, as long as you don't mind the associated complications of depending on not-always-perfect translations.

It's good for diplomats to learn a cross-section of languages though, since people always react better to someone who actually speaks their tongue.

I'll get a basic list up asap, and if you need more detail it can be made available.

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Didn't see in the character generation-thread how medi-gel will work. Will it be a part of basic treatment or a heal-effect with a complication?

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Using Medi-gel will be covered in a section about house rules, under the Treatment skill.

Basically, anyone who has ranks in Treatment and has a supply of medigel (which will be an item of Equipment, not a power), can produce a minor Heal effect in a victim. It will also affect long-term recovery rates (though I suspect the values given in the book...meant for cinematic fast-healing superheros...might actually work) if available.

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Hey Max, two possible reservations I have with your proposed house rules as stated so far: Kinetic Barriers and weapons/armor not having PL limits.

As written, Kinetic Barriers are essentially a slightly weakened form of 2e Impervious, which is fine as far as it goes and which I normally wouldn't have any problems with. However, given that this is a PbP game - and given its apparent ubiquitousness - I do see a potential problem with it in that it's kind of likely to slow down combat by a large (potentially very) margin. Even a three-round combat in a PbP setting seems to take days at a bare minimum, and usually more like weeks, to complete. With Kinetic Barriers in play it seems likely that most combats will be extended by at least a handful of rounds in every combat, lengthening said combat by a corresponding amount. This seems... un-fun. (Not the combat itself, the prospect of a combat that drags on for weeks or months at a time.)

My primary concern with the no-PL limits thing is largely tied into my concern about Kinetic Barriers. Without the barriers I think it'd be less of an issue for me. With the barriers the potential for extremely lop-sided characters and fights is increased tremendously. It's easy to imagine situations where a low-damage/high-accuracy PC would have to spend 2-to-3 rounds whittling away at some highly shielded NPC's barriers before they could even begin to force damage saves - and even then the barrier would still be reducing the damage effect making the first few Toughness saves essentially gimmes. Additionally, because PL limits for armor aren't really in place, it would theoretically be possible for PCs/NPCs to have both high Toughness and high Dodge/Parry Saves, further exacerbating the problem. The fact that PCs/NPCs can also potentially have both high Damage ranks and high Accuracy ranks only slightly offsets this. Again, this also sounds un-fun.

Finally, the rules for Kinetic Barriers are a little unclear. It says that they stop 'attacks'. Does this mean they stop all attacks, or only Toughness-based damaging attacks?

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It's good to have some feedback!

I'll explain what I'm trying to accomplish with the existing rules for kinetic barriers.

First - I like the 'game mechanic' where certain weapons are particularly useful against certain defenses. The reason for this is to discourage overspecialization, and to encourage teamwork. I'll get into that more in a bit.

Second - I want kinetic barriers to be more 'force fieldy' than armor. I like the notion of it being a little like Impervious, but also that it's ablative...it drains away with use. This is another area where my aesthetics for the RPG are essentially in line with what I experienced in the game. My hope is that having your barriers at full will give you a round or two to move or attack without worrying about getting ganked...but then you'll have to get under cover or otherwise protect yourself.

First I want to clarify how barriers work, since my blurb in the Chargen thread was perhaps not as clear as it could have been. Barriers protect against Damage ranks only (though some biotic abilities will not work through a barrier) and are reduced by every Damage attack that hits them. Whether it penetrates or not. If I have 7 ranks of Barrier, and someone punches me, I take no damage, but my barrier is now 6. This means even very strong barriers fall quickly to focused fire, and especially to multi-attacks. Automatic weapons like assault rifles and SMGs bring them down in a hurry. Once a barrier is at zero, it provides no protection at all. The armor provides a toughness save bonus, but that's it. Barriers take a little time to start recovering, but are still weak for several turns after they start recharging. This gives attackers time to move in advantageous locations, or press the attack.

Also, there are powers that are very good at removing barriers, sometimes without even doing damage. Overload, for example, is a Nullify. It can wipe out even a strong barrier with one attack. Weapons can have the Disruptor enhancement to reduce the effectiveness of barriers, or biotics can use a 'Warp ammo' effect.

My hope is that barriers will encourage tactical thinking and team work, since some characters will be be better suited to deal with them by virtue of powers and/or weapons.

I also want to stress that not all foes will have barriers. Not even a lot. Kinetic barriers of a grade heavy enough to resist weapons are not off the shelf tech. Similarly, it's not my goal to superdesign bad guys with massive bonuses and no frailties. I realize that some of this is a trust issue, but in the same way that you trust me not to make a dude with 20 Impervious armor, I ask you to trust me not to have a guy with 100 barrier rating. :)

All that said, I concede none of this is playtested, and your concerns about barriers have merit. It might be worthwhile to run a trial combat or two involving barriers and different mixes of abilities and see what happens. It may be that the toughness bonus conferred by armor should be reduced, so that a character without intact barriers is more vulnerable. It may also be that the entire framework is irrevocably flawed, and I should just make barriers work the same as Impervious that can be turned off and on, and not worry about it. :)

What do you think?

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Well again, my primary concern is with the added number of rounds that Kinetic Barriers are apt to bring to any given combat that sees them in use.

As written, Kinetic Barriers are reduced by 1 rank for every damaging attack that hits them, 2 ranks for every damaging attack that hits them and is a higher rank than the Kinetic Barrier itself is. So if a player has, say, Kinetic Barriers at rank 6 and they get shot with a standard Carnifex pistol, their Barrier now drops down to rank 5. Seeing that his intended target is obviously tougher than he was giving credit for, our shooter switches to the much more appropriate M-8 Avenger, which has Multiattack and has a damage rank of 6.

Now here let me stop and point out that - aside from uses of Extra/Extraordinary Effort - there are no 'multiple attacks' in Mutants & Masterminds! You get one Standard Action per round, end of story. The Multiattack Extra is meant to descriptively represent multiple attacks (or attacks that in some other way can inflict extra damage above-and-beyond the norm when an attack succeeds by multiple degrees of success), the Extra does not actually give you multiple attacks in a round. Instead, when you succeed on an attack roll by 2 or more degrees of success (meaning that your to-hit roll beats your target's Active Defense Save by 10 or more) you get a bonus to the Toughness Save DC that your target has to roll against. You get +2 for 2 degrees of success, +5 for 3 or more.

So, back to our example above. Our armored character with Kinetic Barriers (reduced from 6 to 5) has just been hit by an M-8 Avenger. Since it has a damage effect of 7 and Multiattack - and let us say for the sake of our example that the shooter rolled very well and actually managed to beat our shield character's Dodge save by +10 or so - so his final damage effect is a 9. This means that 4 ranks bypass the Kinetic Barrier, requiring our shield character to roll Toughness (DC 19...), and his Barriers are reduced multiple tim- oh, wait... no... that's not right. They're still only reduced once, by -2 (which is still better than -1, I admit) - exactly as they would've been if they'd been hit with basic damage 6 attack - for a final remainder of 3 ranks.

Now, at this point we're in our 3rd round (this does assume that our shield character hasn't been getting targeted by multiple enemies but - unless all of our fights are going to be the PCs vs. some smaller number of NPCs - this is a reasonable assumption). So far our shielded character's Kinetic Barriers are still holding at Rank 3 and he's had to make one Toughness Save of DC 19. Given that he started with a Kinetic Barrier rating of 6, he's probably got a base Toughness rating of 8 at the lowest, and probably more like a 10 or higher (if you include Toughness gained from Stamina or Defensive Roll, or what have you). What this means is that, while he might have failed on his Toughness check, he probably didn't, and if he did he most likely failed by only a single degree, meaning his Toughness rating rating has been reduced by -1.

Granted, the dice could cause this scenario to go rather differently - I'm trying to make a point, so my scenario is somewhat 'idealized' - but this is by no means an unlikely outcome: 3 rounds into combat and our shielded opponent has suffered a -1 penalty to their Toughness rating, they still have 3 Ranks left of their Barriers, and now - maybe - we can begin the real business of putting this guy down (a process that, itself, could easily take another 3 rounds).

Anyway, there's a fairly simplistic example of why I have reservations about the system. I don't know that any of this would matter in a TT setting, but this is PbP, so the example above probably represents something like 2 weeks of play if this is a team combat we're talking about (possibly more).

And that is really my only concern - the extended timeframes that are likely to result.

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Hm! I should have read those rules again beforehand!

Okay, not to get tangled up in another discussion of things that turn out to be irrelevant, lets tackle the time issue head on.

I see a few possible ways to address this:

1) Equip foes with only weak barriers, or no barriers in most cases. This does give PC's...all of whom will have access to some kind of barrier...more powerful in comparison. Compensation will cause time delays of its own.

2) Reduce the effectiveness of barriers. This could be done by making the enhancement more expensive, reducing the possible ranks in the enhancement at any PL and equipment. That would make them easier and faster to deplete, and mean that most weapons could force toughness saves through even a fully charged barrier. Another possibility would be to make barriers easier to deplete. This could be done by increasing the depletion rate for each hit, or for penetrating hits, or by creating a house rule to cover the use of the Multiattack enhancement; giving it enhanced effect against barriers. I'd probably extend that to the Secondary Effect extra too, since I use it on some automatic weapons to represent a very fast, short burst.

3) Drop the currently proposed barrier mechanic entirely, using either established rules for Imperviousness, or some alternative that hasn't yet been discussed.

My plan was to use option 1, with some option 2 thrown in for good measure.

Open to ideas though. How would you suggest trying to preserve this interesting gameplay mechanic, without making battles stretch out too long? Or is the mechanic a bad idea in general?

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I'm not playing this game but ...

MINIONS!

Seriously. They are your greatest tool to making combat not suck in either direction (easy or hard/long)

[interjection]heheheh ... hard/long ... hehehe [/interjection]

If you need/want help or advice let me know, I'd be glad to fire some Knowledge missiles.

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Yeah, that was part of the plan. :)

Things like minions would never have protection like armor or barriers. Even non-minions wouldn't necessarily have that kind of protection.

Still, I don't want it to be a mechanic that forces me never to use it, because then no one would ever want abilities that counter that sort of thing. They'd be wastes of points.

Ideally there's a happy medium in there somewhere.

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as I understand it there's no reason you couldn't use these kinetic barrier things for minions. You'd get minion rules (e.g. 1 damaging hit kills) but also the barrier effect to help show that these guys aren't just a bunch of animated water balloons.

I think people have a preconceived notion that minions must be weak and numerous grunts, but there is no reason why you couldn't apply the minion rules to NPCs of the same PL as the heroes.

Likewise I (and others, I even recall Steve Kenson saying as much) have realized that a step between minion and hero is needed, with simple mechanics, but a clear vulnerability that heroes generally don't have. I've not have a lot of chance to try it, but I -have- tried it, and simply making a handful of "minion+" NPCs that take 2 hits to down instead of one fills that need greatly.

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Interesting...and a good point. Maybe I can experiment with something like that too. Not quite an autokill on hit, but still easy to kill compared to a full Heroic scale character.

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Not a solution but an evasion. Consider tilting conflict resolution away from the tactical and toward the strategic/diplomatic or ship-to-ship. I feel like lots of direct combat isn't ideal for the PbP format and this setting in particular might present some interesting opportunities for other approaches. To be clear, I'm not advocating no-combat, just suggesting less of traditional combat.

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Jameson's suggestion is solid, in my opinion. Using Minion - or even "Minion+" - rules would allow use of the Kinetic Barriers without fear of unnecessarily long combats. At least until you bring in an "End Boss" NPC who takes a hit as well as any PC and has potent kinetic barriers in place; then we have an Epic Battle on our hands (and combat that takes a while because it's epic is totally OK with me)! So if you're planning on that route, Max, then I'd say the crisis has been averted. :)

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Ah yes! Excellent question.

I'll put this in the character generation thread in more detail, but the shorthand is that the Citadel races, by dint of long association, have a sort of 'common' language that's a pidgen of Asari, Turian and Salarian, along with influences from other languages. There are also languages unique to each species (most have more than one, though there's generally a 'dominant' one for each).

Translation software is available for your omnitool, which essentially means that you don't HAVE to spend points on knowing most major languages, as long as you don't mind the associated complications of depending on not-always-perfect translations.

It's good for diplomats to learn a cross-section of languages though, since people always react better to someone who actually speaks their tongue.

I'll get a basic list up asap, and if you need more detail it can be made available.

As Max has already pointed out, the Mass Effect Wiki has tons of information on the Mass Effect universe in general. And today, while researching some stuff for my prospective PC for this game, I found this article covering the question of 'how languages are handled' in the ME universe and I thought would share it with the rest of you.

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Good stuff! Thanks!

I'm glad it specifies that the translation computers don't HAVE to be in an omnitool...which in hindsight I should have mentioned too.

The Citadel common language is that 'simplified trade language.' Because of the easy access to translation software, the trade pidgen never evolved into a real language of its own.

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Sorry to see you go, Mala. You'll be welcome to come in later if you feel like you'd like to.

As for the rest of my players, my apologies for the delays. Some were justifiable...others, perhaps less so. :) Distractions abound, but I have not forgotten.

Thanks for your patience.

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I've been struggling with it. It's one of those things where you find what looks like a minor bump...but when you pick it up, there's a bunch of nasty bugs and yucky worms wiggling around underneath it. A few rules issues...nagging questions about how to do things...mix in COPIOUS distractions from like 4 newly released games and stuff...and yeah.

So let me do this. If y'all are still with me, I will throw off this creative funk, and put the hours in to finish this sucker and make it see the light of day.

And if not, no hard feelings. I dropped the ball on this, so I have no complaints coming if anyone wants to pursue other, more reliable gaming opportunities.

Lets get a quick roll call.

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Just saw this thread for the first time just now, tentatively interested in all things Mass Effect pending more reading...

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