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HorizonTheTransient

Attribute Dots And You: Why Mega-Attributes Don't Require Maxed-Out Normal Attributes

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I'm sure everyone reading this has come across this sentiment before, the sentiment that a Mega-Attribute placed on a normal Attribute that isn't already at 5 dots makes no sense. It has some merit, but personally, I think it's wrongheaded, and if you'll indulge me, I'd like to tell you why.

First and foremost, we need to accept that the rules of this game, of every game, are abstractions. How many dots you have in Strength isn't an objective, scientific measure of your musculature. Nor does your Intelligence rating actually indicate how smart you are. When you toss aside the glib descriptors for the dot ratings that comes with each Attribute(and you should, they're altogether not very useful), you'll find that what dots really indicate is how successful you are when leveraging a particular attribute or skill. Yes, in general your Strength rating is a good indicator of how physically strong your character is, but it might not indicate raw strength- someone who is a walking slab of beef who nonetheless chokes up when push comes to shove could have a low number of Strength dots, whereas someone with a very good working knowledge of leverage and only moderate physical strength could have a high number of Strength dots. All those dots really, truly mean is how many dice you get to roll, and therefore how likely the thing you're trying is to succeed.

The disconnect I'm proposing is a slight one, that doesn't matter in most situations, but it is a useful one to keep in mind, I feel- dots have no "objective" real-world grounding. They're just a measure of how likely you are to succeed at certain tasks. Viewed through this lens, you'll see that Mega-Attributes don't necessitate maxed dots- someone can be Mega-Strong without necessarily being good at using their strength, which can describe more than a few character concepts.

So, what's my point with all this? Well, basically, that yes, it does make sense for a character to have Strength 3 and Mega-Strength 3. You just need to be willing to ignore some of the flavor text to draw your own conclusions in its place.

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fine if you wish to ignore/change the RAW. in what you are describing you might as well get rid of all attributes and abilities and just give each player a single number of dice to roll for everything. which is ok but then you are not playing aberrant.

 thats my opinion

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For the record, I have never max a base att before buying a m-att. IMO, the real power of m-atts, especially at low levels, is enancements.

Also, you said, "whereas someone with a very good working knowledge of leverage and only moderate physical strength could have a high number of Strength dots. " That actually reflects a good Might ability score, not strength dots.

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34 minutes ago, Nina said:

fine if you wish to ignore/change the RAW. in what you are describing you might as well get rid of all attributes and abilities and just give each player a single number of dice to roll for everything. which is ok but then you are not playing aberrant.

 thats my opinion

But I'm not ignoring or changing the Rules As Written. The Rules As Written, on Page 154 of the Aberrant Core Rulebook, are very clear that you don't need a maxed-out Attribute to get dots in the corresponding Mega-Attribute.

"Mega-Attributes supplement, not replace, normal Attributes, and a nova's normal Attribute level must match his Mega-Attribute level. For example, if a nova wants to buy Mega-Strength 3, he must have Strength 3 first; if his Strength is only 2, his Mega-Strength cannot exceed 2, either. Of course, the normal Attribute can exceed the Mega-Attribute if the player desires."

The rules are pretty clear on that part: you can have Mega-Strength 3 without having more than Strength 3. You don't need Strength 5 to get Mega-Strength 3. That's the RAW. What I outlined above is a perspective that's coherent and explains the apparent disconnect between the RAW and what some people's intuitions tell them.

Incidentally, the perspective outlined above dictates exactly zero changes to the Rules As Written. In fact, to an extent, it advocates in favor of the Rules As Written: the numbers aren't real measurements, they're mechanical abstractions that dictate outcomes, so if the mechanics lead you to a seemingly illogical conclusion, then you stick with that conclusion and spin up a narrative explanation for why it happened that way. Give the dice the opportunity to surprise you and lead you to strange outcomes; it generally produces very dramatic(or very funny) moments.

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well yeah no one should be telling you you need a 5 base to have a one mega. RAW spells it out quite clearly as you say, but again i completely disagree with what it seems you are implying about removing or divorcing the dot descriptions from the dots. if you do that  yes you have completely altered the RAW

 

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2 minutes ago, Nina said:

well yeah no one should be telling you you need a 5 base to have a one mega. RAW spells it out quite clearly as you say, but again i completely disagree with what it seems you are implying about removing or divorcing the dot descriptions from the dots. if you do that  yes you have completely altered the RAW

 

I don't really agree with the notion that the blurbs alongside each dot in the Attribute rules is "Rules As Written." They are, in my opinion, flavor text- useful for giving you a quick general understanding, but aren't strictly necessary, and thus would be left out of most quick reference documents or cheat sheets. For them to qualify as Rules As Written, then they'd need to be, well, Rules. A statement that tells you how to play the game, in some small way. "To punch someone, roll either Strength or Brawl against their Defense, and if you hit, do Strength + 2 points of bashing damage" is a rule. "You cannot have more dots in a Mega-Attribute than one plus your Quantum score" is a rule. "••••• Superb: Olympic Gymnast" isn't. It's a simile made for the sake of explaining the rules, not a rule itself. Dexterity works the same way in Aberrant as it does in Adventure!, and- I just went to check and found out that in Adventure!, the blurb for Dexterity 5 is "Superb: You never miss" and I think that's a stark illustration of why you shouldn't take those blurbs completely seriously.

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Well, If your Dex is 5 and 2 is the average # of successes on 5 dice when you need ≥7 for a success, then "you never miss" is not really inaccurate.

And that is not even figuring in skill.

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It is inaccurate, though- sure, if you roll 5 dice, then on average you roll two successes every time, but rolling no successes happens nearly 8% of the time, and therefore, no matter how high your Dexterity + Firearms is, any time you try to shoot someone in combat, the Storyteller is still going to make you roll for it, and there's still the possibility that you miss.

On a tangential note, by the rules as written, if you have dots in Firearms, then you don't roll Dexterity when shooting at someone.

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4 minutes ago, HorizonTheTransient said:

On a tangential note, by the rules as written, if you have dots in Firearms, then you don't roll Dexterity when shooting at someone.

Correct. You roll Dexterity + Firearms, so even moore dice.

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5 minutes ago, Noir said:

Correct. You roll Dexterity + Firearms, so even moore dice.

Really? Because as far as I can tell, on page 199 of the Adventure core rulebook, it says the following:

"Attacks are the meat of the combat turn. An action's success or failure and potential impact on the target are determined at this stage. You use a certain ability depending on the type of combat in which your character is engaged.

"-list of combat types and associated abilities-

"Like any other action, if your character doesn't have points in the necessary Ability, simply default to the Attribute on which it's based."

It doesn't say anything about Attributes in there, although I suppose I might be missing something from early on that'll make me feel like an idiot when I realize it.

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All abilities are rolled with a governing attribute. The attribute they are listed under is the one most often used with it, in the case of Firearms that is Dexterity. They are just saying that if you lack the a specific ability, you can still roll just the associated attribute, in this case if you lack Firearms, you can still roll just Dexterity.

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I see what what your saying, and frankly, if you want to do it that way, feel free.  I've never required people to have a 5 in a base Attribute before allowing them to buy a Mega.  I generally ask that they have at least a three in the relevant Attribute, but for the most part I don't care.  The only reason I ask for a three is because a three is the accepted 'above average' and since powers generally tend to eflect the person that gains them, I find it unlikely that someone would gain power in area which they were mediocre.

Now, before everyone tells me 'that's exactly where they should gain their power, in all their weak areas!', exceptions exist.  Like characters who are essentially a Zero going to Hero, but generally I stick with the assumption that you're not going to develop a Mega in areas you are just average or below average, at least not without tossing me a good story as to why.

Quote

I don't really agree with the notion that the blurbs alongside each dot in the Attribute rules is "Rules As Written." They are, in my opinion, flavor text- useful for giving you a quick general understanding, but aren't strictly necessary, and thus would be left out of most quick reference documents or cheat sheets.

This tickled me because those little 'blurbs' are not RAW, they are exactly what you said they were: flavor text.  They are there to give you a general idea of what someone is capable of at that level of dots.  I guy with a 5 Strength can bench or dead lift about 220lbs.  Flip to the next installment of a White Wold book and it's 400lbs, or 180 lbs... those numbers give you the base median for what that dot level equates to in the Aberrant Universe.

Noir was also right, Might factors a great deal into the Strength argument, as well as leverage.  Equating science to attribute dots however, is nuking it.  As Noir pointed out, with no Mega but some basic Strength and Might an 'average' character could pull off something extraordinary, as good that science nerd with an iron pole and few friends help him pull.

The point is, don't nuke (over think) the rules to the point of saying 'because logic says [this], my new rule is [this]'.  That road is littered with folly and gru's.  Imagination, quick thinking, and fun is what the game is about.  If it's the nerd's time to shine with his leverage idea... let him have his moment, rules be damned.  We've had NPCs in our game that were 4 years old with Str1/Mega 1 to reflect that infant Clark Kent vibe of a kid who could lift up one side of a truck.  It fit, so we went with it and the only reason he had a Strength of 1 was because he had to in order to have a Mega of 1 because technically an infant, in accordance with the 'blurbs' can't lift (or shouldn't be lifting) the 35lbs.

Use what fits your game, but trying to apply logic to gaming rules is just a waste of time.  It's hard for me to take someone seriously when they're playing a game where people fly and shoot fireballs from their ass, but are hung up on the simplest things like logic, justifications for, and science.  There's nothing wrong with Mega's or what dot you can acquire them at.

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