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Dave ST

Aberrant RPG - Body Mod: Increased Attribute, What's the Big Deal?

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Maybe I'm opening up a can of worms here, but, seriously... what's the big deal with this Body Mod?

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I know some of you guys just hat it with a seething passion, why?

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The issue is that it's five extra dice in the die pool, and that's incredibly OP in actual gameplay.

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Take Puck. Even had we followed the RAW (which was my bad for not reading closely enough) and I had dropped his Megas off of die rolls where he didn't have a point in the skill, he still would have had a 10 die pool for every skill roll in the game that he didn't have a point in the skill. So, as a nova with IA, he is as good at untrained skills as any baseline ever has the chance of being with their Attribute + Skill, before he adds in any skill or Mega Dice. Baseline max: 10 dice, no megas. Nova dice pool w/AI option: 20 dice, 5 megas or (@ Q6+) 25 dice with 10 megas.

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Had he had more combat powers, that would have shown up in the rolls for power use as well. With Strength-based attacks, it's a little less impacting because of the auto-successes from M-Strength, but it's still a major advantage in my opinion. For the way the system is designed, I don't think it's appropriate to allow a character to have both IA and Megas. If you want to run a more "street" level heroes game, go for IA. Want the four-color superheroes? Just stick with Megas.

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Because attribute dice apply to nearly every roll in the game, something that raises the cap on that (whether it's IA or Megas at Q6+) vastly affects the balance of the game. Taking IA becomes rather like taking Adaptability - it's so useful, it almost feels like your character is penalized if you don't.

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Disclaimer: We did not follow the rules pretty much at all in QF, now that I've had a good sit-down with the books. 5-10 ratings available through IA are only supposed to be purchased via xp, making it a major investment for the character to buy up the stats (as opposed to being able to spend NP to max out all the attributes at the start of game). That does help balance the benefit some as the character is sacrificing improving other areas of the sheet and must take time to build up high levels/multiple stats, just as putting the Q Rating requirement on Megas also helps keep the insanity somewhat contained. Still, I think the basic premise is flawed and leads to highly unbalanced characters.

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From a ST's perspective, as I was the storyteller for that game, the characters were already exceptionally powerful, so I didn't see any reason not to allow it, but as the game further developed, the ability grew to be the must have one, like Mala said, it reaches the point where your penalized by not having it. I think it's ok in a game without mega's, but combining IA with mega's allows the insanity of 15 dice in a dice pool before abilities are taken into account.. you can pretty much guarantee that I'm unlikely to ever allow it in the same way should I ever run another Aberrant game.

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Also take in to consideration the affect those larger die pools have on resistance rolls that by their very nature do not gain any benefit from IA. The first example that comes to mind is Mental Blast. A character with IA who then maxes out Intelligence, Mental Blast and Mega Intelligence now has 15 Regular Dice, and 5 Mega dice for a die pool vs. his target's willpower, which has a Maximum of 10 (not counting any psychic defense the target may have). Most likely that willpower is going to be much lower.

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Keep in mind that +5 dice is a statistical average of only 2 more successes per roll, so it's not *that* OP.

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Keep in mind that +5 dice is a statistical average of only 2 more successes per roll, so it's not *that* OP.

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Two sux doesn't sound like much but I've had plenty of rolls where 2 sux would have completely changed the outcome of the roll. I agree with Mala that IA are perfect for running a street-level game, in that it allows you to go above human without going superhuman.

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I see where it could be an issue: increased base attributes do mean increased derived values and massive power success rolls, but frankly the problem is not IA as much as it is a total lack of suitable resistance pools. If we had pools for resistance that were something other than your etheric stats (Willpower, Quantum, Node) then IA would balance itself.

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Disclaimer: We did not follow the rules pretty much at all in QF, now that I've had a good sit-down with the books. 5-10 ratings available through IA are only supposed to be purchased via xp, making it a major investment for the character to buy up the stats (as opposed to being able to spend NP to max out all the attributes at the start of game). That does help balance the benefit some as the character is sacrificing improving other areas of the sheet and must take time to build up high levels/multiple stats, just as putting the Q Rating requirement on Megas also helps keep the insanity somewhat contained. Still, I think the basic premise is flawed and leads to highly unbalanced characters.

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See, this is what I was curious about. The Mod itself is quite clear that you have to buy those attributes up on your own, you can't purchase them at character creation. It costs 105 XP to purchase an attribute from 5 to 10 using the body mod. 140 if you buy it up without it. It costs 55 to purchase a mega-attribute from 1 to 5. While one guy is spending his time and energy focusing on a single attribute for 105 XP, other characters are spending their 105 XP on other things, so it balances out.

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If Puck has a an App of 5 and wants to max it to 10 and Pick has a Strength of 5 and a Stamina of 5... by the time Puck reaches 10 App, Pick has a mega-strength of 4 and mega-stamina 4. Extremes in attributes, sure, but it helps to gain perspective. Sure, Puck is prettier now, but other nova have moved on and done their own thing too.

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Another thing I've found is that, and this might sound dickish, but several players have used it improperly and when they did they found that it messed things up they chose to blame the power, not the player. If used improperly this will unbalance a game, however, in a game where it's allowed and it's become common, from the one example I've seen, then there should be challenges arranged that match those particular players skills and pools. If one guy has access IA, then everyone does and they should use it. Yes, it is unbalanced if you are the only guy using it to run roughshod over the world.

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In my TT games, (I know, I know... Dave and his TT games...) the opposition had an average attribute range from 2-7 and it worked. It worked beautifully. Skill ranges were still in the 2-5 range depending on the character's area of expertise. On the flip side of that coin though... so did the players. When Primal was attacking with a 12 dice pool plus his mega pool, the player was dodging with a similar pool plus their megas as well or were power blocking to get their ass out of Dodge so someone more suited to deal with him could step in. All the PCs has survivability. Could Primal walk into a room of baselines or even weak novas, lock the door and kill them all without breaking a sweat? Damn straight he could. In fact, the only they might be able to hurt him is if one or more were packing a grenade and was in good standings with Jesus. But the PCs and the NPCs that mattered, knew they could fight or escape if need be. Give or take a die on either end of the pools, the conflict would be fair. They knew the only way they were getting hosed completely was if I needed one of them to take a bullet for the sake of a good story, and they were okay with that.

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It's not a flawed premise. The premise is a simple one: If you're going to use this, we assume the ST (or you if you're running it) are going to balance things out to match the use of this Body Mod. If that hasn't been done, it's not the fault of the Body Mod. It didn't do anything.

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I see where it could be an issue: increased base attributes do mean increased derived values and massive power success rolls, but frankly the problem is not IA as much as it is a total lack of suitable resistance pools. If we had pools for resistance that were something other than your etheric stats (Willpower, Quantum, Node) then IA would balance itself.

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QFT.

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Increase Attribute may not be the offender in that regard, but I can say this, I had no expectation of it becoming the problem it did, nor did I realize how much balancing that it would require.. that may be my fault as the ST, for allowing it into the game without understanding how much of a game changer it was going to be, but as it was added later, as fan material in 'the New Flesh', I think, as a human being I can be allowed a few mistakes, of course, Quantum Fire was a very high powered game and an experiment in high powered games, I was playing with the rules for high power play, and if you'll excuse the pun (and even if you won't), I was burned a bit by playing with 'quantum fires'.

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To be honest, there were plenty of other powers and abilities that proved problematic in that game, some of which also managed to convince me not to play with them in the future, but IA managed to make some of them worse then I expected.. as to not following the rules for the ability, I was creating rules for things left and right to make things work there, I missed a small bit of text in the ability, that to be honest, I'd have ignored anyway.. mainly because I was using a different rule that required the regular attribute to match the mega-attribute even when it went over 5, and was using IA to cover it. Most of the time it was applied with my apotheosis concept, which I admit in retrospect was somewhat flawed, and I'd never do it that way again.

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However, you are misunderstanding the effect of Mega-Dice within more then 5 attribute dice, allow me to point out that you can flat out use mega-dice to reduce penalties instead of rolling them.. so if you have more then 4 mega's, and lets say the difficulty on an action is 7, which you then lower to 3 or less, those extra attribute dice really start to mean something.

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I think the way I look at it, it's a quantity over quality situation. A person who designs their character to be skilled can be outdone RAW by someone who just stacks the dots and throws them at a problem. Someone with 1 dot in medicine but 15 dots in Mega Intelligence and Intelligence total could technically do brain surgery... successfully, with the same ability as a MInt 5, Int 5, Medicine 5 + Neuromedicine.

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To be honest Bodymodding to dot superiority is more costly in the long run. You are paying extra NP for the right to have a baseline attribute beyond a mere mortal's highest potential.

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To be honest, at least to me, it's a fool's errand to show off dots. Objectively it is an expensive proposition that breaks the game in a way that can ruin things for people that do it right.

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The primary balance of Improved Attribute comes from having to purchase it via XP during play (where it winds up costing as much as purchasing the 6th through 10th dots in an L1 power due to the 25% discount on XP it provides). If you remove that, then it has the potential to be abusive out of the gate, unless steps are taken to balance gameplay through other means (which Dave covered quite well, so I'm not going to).

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Assuming that characters are buying them with XP, then having a full 10 dots in an Attribute is going to represent rather a lot of work and effort spent towards advancing that attribute that could have been spent advancing powers or mega-attributes. Advancing mega-attributes, in particular, provides a much greater "bang for your buck". A character with 10 dots in an att, plus 5 dots in a given skill, can expect to match, occasionally surpass - but just as often to be surpassed by - another character with 5 dots in the same att and 5 dots in the same skill, plus 2 dots in the appropriate mega-att. The same character with Improved Attribute going up against a nova with 10 regular dice and 5 mega-dice will lose pretty much every single time. And badly.

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Obviously, if the IA-using character adds mega-atts to their pool, the above situation will change, but that only proves my point. Mega-attributes are where the action's at. Five extra regular dice are nice, but when they cost as much as buying dots 6-10 of an L1 power, and they only ever provide a single success per die (or two, if you're really milking your Attribute's qualities and you manage to roll any 10's, and assuming you remembered to not only write them down on your PC's sheet, but also to use them during gameplay), they're not that great. I purchase them for my own PCs almost purely for the flavor aspects. They do little, mechanically, but provide a nice narrative justification for playing up that particular attribute as being particularly impressive or effective.

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I gather that the implementation used in QF was either heavily house-ruled, or badly flawed, given the comments that it was apparently possible to raise atts over 5 using IA during chargen, and given Seraph Orissa Harmony's comments about difficulty, above. As mentioned by Dave, IA dots must be purchased with XP, seriously limiting their in-game usefulness right away. Furthermore, Seraph's comment about reducing difficulties with mega-atts is either a house-rule, or else badly mistaken (or perhaps I'm misreading what Seraph is saying). Mega-atts will allow you to reduce the number of rolled successes needed to beat the difficulty of a roll (default, and lowest possible, diff is +0, needing 1 rolled sux to succeed), so if a roll has a difficulty of +4, requiring 5 rolled sux to succeed, you can sacrifice up to 4 mega-dice to reduce that to a +0 difficulty, requiring only a single rolled sux to succeed. Mega-atts do not allow you to reduce the target number of 7 that must be matched or beaten on a rolled die for it to count as a success. (Seraph, if I misunderstood what you were trying to say, I apologize in advance.)

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The only areas I can think of where IA is going to become a problem, even for a prepared GM, are when they're being added to the handful of rolls for which no good resistance is provided (such as some of the mental and social powers in the game, like Domination, where Willpower is the only available choice for resisting), and when combined with the Mega-Wits enhancement Multitasking and the rules for multiple actions. A maxed out att+skill/power pool of 15 dice, combined with Multitasking, can be used to effectively "ping to death" otherwise unbeatable opponents. Both problems do have solutions, but provided the actual rules of the game are being followed, these are the only two issues I can think of that would truly threaten to unbalance gameplay.

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Yes, but you cannot purchase the actual dots in the Improved Attribute during character creation. :)

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Yes, Sakurako, you can, but that only gives you the option to buy up the attribute points. The points themselves must be purchased via XP by the RAW.

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,, ,, However, you are misunderstanding the effect of Mega-Dice within more then 5 attribute dice, allow me to point out that you can flat out use mega-dice to reduce penalties instead of rolling them.. so if you have more then 4 mega's, and lets say the difficulty on an action is 7, which you then lower to 3 or less, those extra attribute dice really start to mean something.
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Actually, this is an incorrect understanding of the rules (one I've made myself before) that comes from confusion with other (World of Darkness) versions of the Storyteller system.

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In World of Darkness games, Difficulty can be altered with two sliders: target number and number of successes required. Aberrant streamlined this system to only a single slider. Whereas in World of Darkness the default target number is 6, and can be increased or decreased by the ST or with certain merits, in Aberrant, the target number is ALWAYS set to 7, and doesn't move.

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The core rules are clear and specific that when the term "Difficulty" is referred to, it refers only to the number of successes required for success. So a standard difficulty is 1 success, a difficulty of +1 means you need 2 successes, a +2 means 3 successes etc.

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What Mega Attributes do is NOT reduce the target number (which does get obscene...in World of Darkness the target number of a perception roll is reduced by 2 with a merit, and by 1 per dot in Auspex meaning that at 5, you could have the ST set the target number to 10, all but impossible, and the PC needs only roll a 3 or higher, so goodbye plot secrets), but any increased difficulties.

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For example, the difficulty to shoot someone in the eye is +3...you need 4 successes to just hit. A Mega Dex 3 Nova has the choice of rolling her Mega Dice in the hopes of getting more successes, or subtracting Mega Dice on a 1 for 1 Difficulty, down to standard. If you had Mega Dex 4 you could reduce the difficulty to standard and still roll a Mega Die.

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So, still good, but not nearly as broken in RAW as you had been interpreting.

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All Improved Attribute does is make numbers bigger. Next, how about we make Even More Improved Attribute, and let normal Attributes go up to 15. It's hardly necessary. Also, it's like having a power that lets you double the scale of base attributes. Rev had a reasonable fix in MH, but normally and by RAW, normal Attributes only go up to 5. You need Improved Attribute to go up to 10.

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Unless everyone gets the power, it would be like playing in any other system, were there is a limit of Attributes going up to 12, or 18, and somebody taking a feat or quality or whatever, that lets them double that limit. Aberrant already has rules for having stats higher than 5, namely Mega-Attributes. If people want to change the scale of Attributes, just start off that way in the first place.

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Otherwise, you get other issues. Say Nova A has Improved Attribute: Strength and Growth 4 and base Str of 3, and Nova B is the same, but without Improved Attribute - what happens when their normal strength goes over 5? Does one go up to Strength 10/Mega 1 and the other to Strength 5/Mega 5? Boosting Strength is the most common (Absorption, Density Increase, Q-Vamp, Growth) but there are others.

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Yes, you can make fixes for all this, but if you have to make numerous fixes for one power, the problem rests with the power, not the system.

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Yes, Sakurako, you can, but that only gives you the option to buy up the attribute points. The points themselves must be purchased via XP by the RAW.

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Well yes, I think IA barred the use of NP to buy the dots that would take up the IA "slots". That's why it's a waste to buy IA in general as you got to dump NP into a power that won't see it's full benefit for a while due to XP being required (and a boatload of it).

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Perhaps QF was doing it wrong, or there was a boatload of XP floating around because IA really now that I look at it seems a over-expensive way to play the quantity > quality ratio game.

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It's actually something that probably shouldn't exist as there's far more efficient ways to do things in Aberrant, that also are better balanced.

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Sonja Bahaar: The arguments and examples you cited are examples of ambiguous rules, not so much a problem with IA. As per pg. 154 of Aberrant core, in order to purchase a mega-attribute of 6 or higher, you must also have a base attribute of 6 or higher; therefore it is possible to raise base attributes over 5 without having IA (although the writers of TNF seem to have been unaware of that fact). Unfortunately, neither A:core or A: TPG ever specifically states which traits can be raised over 5 after purchasing Q6+, and which cannot be raised over 5, so while it's clear that base attributes and mega-attributes can be, it's less clear for skills. The most common interpretation, whether or not the person doing the interpreting is aware of what the RAW actually states, is that mega-atts and powers can be raised over 5; those of us who're aware of what the RAW actually states also include base atts in that list; most of us, however, assume that base skills cannot be raised past 5 or 6, but I think that's mostly due to the Skill Mastery rules outlined in Adventure!.

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So yes, IA does make numbers bigger, but those are numbers that can get bigger anyway and without their intervention - and in fact must get bigger if 6-dot or higher mega-atts are to be used.

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As for your questions about how to handle Sizemorph, Boost, and similar, the character should not be able to raise their base atts higher than what their Q-rating will allow. So if the player has Q6, then their base attributes should be able to go to 6, after which they become mega-attributes (which should only be able to go to 5, regardless of Q-level, unless an Extra is involved that states differently) etc. Yes, that's a houserule, but it's one that auto-balances and self-corrects, and that applies to all of the "problem-powers" in question, so I think it's good enough to apply as a general answer.

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Yes, the mention of M-Strength and M-Sta going above 5 suggests that you can get more than five dots in Megas, at least (though there isn't otherwise a single mention of getting anything other than Quantum rating and Willpower higher than 5 in the Core or APG) and the rules for limits on Megas infers that base Attributes can go above 5... somehow. And I'm aware of the common House-rule that base Attributes can go as high as your Quantum Rating. Allowing that already, what need do we have for IA then?

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All it does then it allow you ignore the Quantum Rating limit and gives you a cost break to boot? Does that mean someone making Mega-Man can make up a Body Mod that lets him buy up Mega-Attributes higher than the usual limits, and get them cheaper too?

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There is no real cost break with IA as you still have to pay for each dot at 6, 7, 8, etc... That and don't you have to pay for IA for each dot?

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All it does then it allow you ignore the Quantum Rating limit and gives you a cost break to boot? Does that mean someone making Mega-Man can make up a Body Mod that lets him buy up Mega-Attributes higher than the usual limits, and get them cheaper too?

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If you allow that as a house-rule and/or player-created power/bodymod then yes, it does. If that thought bothers you, I would suggest not allowing it as a house-rule/player-created power/bodymod.

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Well keep in mind the design thoughts of White Wolf. In the World of Darkness rules you could boost attributes above 5 with blood to a certain point but only permanently increase attributes above 5 with decreases in generation (analogous to Quantum). I don't recall if skills could also be increased this way past 5. ONly in Mummy I think were such things allowed, as the game lines weren't made to be be 100% seamlessly compatible with each other.

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All it does then it allow you ignore the Quantum Rating limit and gives you a cost break to boot? Does that mean someone making Mega-Man can make up a Body Mod that lets him buy up Mega-Attributes higher than the usual limits, and get them cheaper too?

Actually, as a house rule we allowed PCs to buy Attributes up past 5 without a body mod. You could just do it. Some liked the idea, others went the M-Att route. All options were fine. I still limited any and all things related to powers and Megas and all things 'super' to the individuals Quantum Score.

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Had a player recommended lifting that restriction, I would have said 'no'.

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As Cent pointed out, yes, in theory, you can make anny mod you want. I could go extremes and say I want a Body Mod that doubles my quantum points... can I make it? Yes. Is it a good idea? Some migh think so, and smoe might not... but it's up to the people playing (ST especially) to decide if such a Mod belongs in the game.

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Max - That sounds all fine and good, reasonably balanced (especially because you have the good sense to make Resistance rolls equal to the attack powers), but with that, I just don't really see the need for Improved Attribute other than making increasing attributes cheaper. Though considering their costs relatively to Mega-Attributes, it would make it somewhat more attractive to buy (but you could just as easily let anyone have to cost break to attributes over 5 and I think it would stay as balanced as making by 3xp for the privilege).

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To be fair Body-mods should be just that: Body Modifications. No crazy quantum stuff.

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COnsider though that many creatures have attributes greater than a human maximum: Gorillas, Elephant, Cetaceans, etc...

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Yes but we don't see Gorillas and Elephants lifting cars. As for Cetaceans... do we know if they have their own understanding of physics?

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We're treading into Simulationist territory, and that means rules. Do you want a 10,000 page rules patch to a system that is supposed to simulate humans with super powers? I mean... how can we simulate someone that can lift a mountain? Or fire energy blasts from their hands?

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When distilling a world into a simple set of rules something will invariably get thrown out. you just have to make sure the rules make sense.

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Right, throwing cars is where Megas come in. Oridinary humans have been shown to be able to lift cars. I'm sure a gorilla would outperform a human weightlifter if you were somehow able to train it to do so. Elephants have long been used to haul trees for example. Of course I'm speaking in terms of physical attributes here. I wouldn't speculate on Cetacean's understanding of advanced mathematics (though I do believe they are far more intelligent than we have historically give them credit to be). ;)

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Yeah, but what a mega attribute is supposed to represent is a Nova's "supernatural" ability. Supposedly at MDex 1 you're supposed to be able to dodge bullets, for instance. Dex 6 doesn't allow that. MDex 1 does.

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Just realized RAW someone with Dex 3 and MDex 1 is pretty much capable of what M Dex 1 allows...

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Is it fair to say the real limit here should be that if someone has a Mega Attribute they should have a minimum of 5 for their base attribute?

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Is it fair to say the real limit here should be that if someone has a Mega Attribute they should have a minimum of 5 for their base attribute?

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Well...speaking personally, and for that exact reason, I never take a mega-attribute unless my regular attribute is maxed. To do otherwise to me just seems silly. Just my personal feeling though. I know others don't see it like that.

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Is it fair to say the real limit here should be that if someone has a Mega Attribute they should have a minimum of 5 for their base attribute?
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That would be a houserule, and would be up to the player group actually considering such a rule.

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The actual RAW states (on pg. 154) that you need to have a Q-rating equal to your desired mega-att rating, minus one, and that you must have a base attribute rating equal to your desired mega-att rating.

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You did misunderstand, apparently I didn't say it right, I didn't mean lowering difficulty number as in lowering the number required on the dice, but lowering the number of successes required... looking back at what I said, I can see how that error was made, but in my defense I was fairly tired when I posted that.

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difficulty of an action, as in number of successes needed *sigh* been reading to many different rpgs lately, must be mixing together in my head.

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