Author Topic: Gradual & Binary Defenses  (Read 14109 times)

Offline x

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2011, 02:45:20 AM »
Interesting thread. I think the binary vs gradual defense argument is probably the simplest and most logical explanation of the balance issues that seem to be inherent in D&D, at least in 2nd and 3rd ed which I'm most familiar with.

I don't think there is any great cure for this problem; at least, no easy one.

You could hope that the next edition rebuilds the core mechanics from the ground up, but I'm used to playing an asymmetric system. If they make deep changes to the system to the point where mundanes and casters are mechanical equivalents, I'm not sure it will still feel like D&D (which is probably why 4E didn't feel quite right to me).

Or, you could re-write all the spells and abilities to have gradual outcomes, but that seems like a total nightmare. I think the time spent testing and re-writing everything would be better spent switching to another system that doesn't have these issues.

Or, you could try to fix the problem with a patch. Historically, D&D isn't so much of a system as it is a series of kludges, so what does it hurt to pile one more patch onto the mess?

If the issue of casters vs mundanes is really an issue of binary vs gradual damage dealers, one kludge that might improve the balance issue would be to give casters a gradual side effect to gradual damage. Make each spell have a % chance to fail equal to current HP / Total HP. Or you could add a binary effect to gradual damage. Each time damage is taken, there is a % chance equal to damage taken / Total HP that the person goes into shock or dies.

These aren't great solutions, nor would they be easy to implement, but I think something in this ballpark could help bridge the gap.

Offline veekie

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2011, 03:28:23 AM »
^^
Well one 'quick' cludge is to take the basic Mutants & Masterminds conflict resolution/design concepts and port it over. Its mostly compatible since the dice mechanic and degree of variety is similar, but you'd still need to rewrite the spells and powers in play.

After all, thats whats screwed up about the system to begin with.
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Offline oslecamo

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2011, 09:01:45 AM »
I would just like to point some initial flaws in this discussion.

While taking ability damage hurts your power, no conditions are truly gained until they reach zero (unless your STR lowers enough to increase the severity of your load). As such, they are gradual defenses.

HP and ability scores are gradual defenses, and Saves and AC are binary defenses.
Not exactly true. Casters for example demand a mental ability score of 10+X to cast a spell of level X. Thus casters are very vulnerable to their main mental stat being lowered, as they can find themselves unable to cast their best spells, then their secondary spells, and then even their minor spells fall out of their grasp.

If you had a small HD to begin with, Con lowering can result in you droping dead even before your HP lowers.

That means that, action-by-action, mundanes are mechanically less effective than casters from the start.

Altough that's true, mundanes also get a lot more attacks than casters barring the most extreme cheese. Even a level 1 mundane can pick two weapons or rapid shot and/or combat reflexes. Casters won't be geting quickened spells before much later.

This means that any boost to a melee's attack will always be multplied by the number of attacks he can do. If a mundane can reliably inflict a status effect with each attack, then oponents will find themselves forced to save multiple times per round. And we all know about uberchargers that vaporize anything that isn't outright immune to damage by combining some kind of pounce with damage bonuses.

Offline veekie

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2011, 11:14:11 AM »
Quote
Not exactly true. Casters for example demand a mental ability score of 10+X to cast a spell of level X. Thus casters are very vulnerable to their main mental stat being lowered, as they can find themselves unable to cast their best spells, then their secondary spells, and then even their minor spells fall out of their grasp.
Indeed, if casters were in a position to have their scores lowered easily. Their weakness is also kind of their strength though.

EDIT: In that they just got to protect that one score. Mundanes have a lot more angles that can cripple their ability in combat, especially due to the multiplier factor, if you diminish the pre-multiplier.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 11:26:19 AM by veekie »
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Offline sirpercival

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #24 on: December 05, 2011, 12:54:42 PM »
A friend and I were working on a system for a Zombie Apocalypse survival game; the goal of the mechanics was to be as streamlined as possible.  Our solution to the damage problem was somewhat niche, but I'll relay it here for comparison/discussion.

Basically, in a game like that where every resource is scarce, everything got rolled into one stat: Stamina.  Your stamina determines how fast you can run away from the zombies, so it's very important.  Each character had something like 20 stamina, and then everything reduced it -- everything you carry, any damage you take, thirst, hunger, tiredness, psychological exhaustion, and zombie infection points.  Different items or actions could remove certain types of stamina reductions: eating & drinking removed hunger & thirst, medicine removed infection points or damage, sleeping removed tiredness & psychological exhaustion, dropping your equipment reduce encumbrance.  Also, things like backpacks made your encumbrance more efficient, so you could carry more stuff.

If you dropped to 0 stamina you had a few options -- you could fall unconscious, you could drop some stuff to keep going, etc.  If your zombie infection points overwhelmed everything else you had, you turned into a zombie.

The skill system was also streamlined -- you either had a skill proficiency or you didn't, and if you had the skill you would receive a flat bonus.  Skill checks were effort-based.  You roll 3d6 against a target number, with bonuses based on skill proficiency, circumstance, and "effort".  You could gain a bonus this way by using up your stamina to get effort.
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Offline SneeR

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #25 on: December 05, 2011, 03:28:27 PM »
@ sirpercival:
That system is definitely based on a gradual defense; nothing bad really happens until you drop below 0 stamina. It's actually very interesting in its simplicity. Once you pass a certain level of dissociated mechanics, everything loops back around and just associates right with the game again!

@veekie and oslecamo
Stats are definitely gradual defenses, though less so, perhaps, than hp. Even though each loss of a stat point hurts you, there aren't many "you aren't tall enough to play here anymore" case. The only exceptions are spellcasting and feats. A fighter could unqualify for a feat, sure, and a wizard could be forced to cast lower-level spells, but that is not necessarily an immediate effect of taking a hit to a stat. It is a binary condition caused by loss to a gradual defense. Think about it: any wizard worth his salt has well over 25 INT. That'll take quite at least rays of stupidity to start losing 9th level spells.

Looking at it purely pragmatically, a fighter doesn't need to have just a 15 STR so he can wield a bastard sword. A fighter should well have at least a 16 or more. So, he has STR to spare before the binary condition kicks in of "no 1h bastard sword." Because it is not a binary defense (one failure then means automatic loss of feat, no matter how high STR is), it is a gradual defense.
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Offline oslecamo

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #26 on: December 05, 2011, 03:41:23 PM »
@veekie and oslecamo
Stats are definitely gradual defenses, though less so, perhaps, than hp. Even though each loss of a stat point hurts you, there aren't many "you aren't tall enough to play here anymore" case. The only exceptions are spellcasting and feats. A fighter could unqualify for a feat, sure, and a wizard could be forced to cast lower-level spells, but that is not necessarily an immediate effect of taking a hit to a stat. It is a binary condition caused by loss to a gradual defense. Think about it: any wizard worth his salt has well over 25 INT. That'll take quite at least rays of stupidity to start losing 9th level spells.

Looking at it purely pragmatically, a fighter doesn't need to have just a 15 STR so he can wield a bastard sword. A fighter should well have at least a 16 or more. So, he has STR to spare before the binary condition kicks in of "no 1h bastard sword." Because it is not a binary defense (one failure then means automatic loss of feat, no matter how high STR is), it is a gradual defense.
Well, by that logic, every character worth his salt will be boosting his saves as much as possible so the chances of failing binary saves are reduced to single percentile digits.

On the other hand, something like an empowered ray of enfeeblement at CL 10 will knock down around 12 Str in one go. Status reductions rarely knock you down by a single point at a time. Most noncaster characters are heavily based on stuff like Power Attack/Combat reflexes/Rapid Shot that all have a "you must be this tall" sign.

The skill system was also streamlined -- you either had a skill proficiency or you didn't, and if you had the skill you would receive a flat bonus.  Skill checks were effort-based.  You roll 3d6 against a target number, with bonuses based on skill proficiency, circumstance, and "effort".  You could gain a bonus this way by using up your stamina to get effort.

This is something quite important to take in mind. One of the main problems in D&D it's the rampant stacking of bonuses that easily gets things out of the roof. Like attack scaling much faster than AC. Sometimes I wonder if the game wouldn't be better if we just put more limits on what stacks, or "ceilings" on much bonus you can get on some stuff.

Or for example, your typical noncaster character has his Will save increase by 1/3 his level and he'll never boost wisdom. Your typical caster has his save DCs increase by 1/2 his level and he'll surely boost his main stat. This means the chances of the noncaster making the will save go down over the levels.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 03:43:18 PM by oslecamo »

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #27 on: December 05, 2011, 03:44:50 PM »
If you guys are interested in a full write-up of the streamlined system, I can post it at some point.
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Offline veekie

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #28 on: December 05, 2011, 04:10:47 PM »
Quote
This is something quite important to take in mind. One of the main problems in D&D it's the rampant stacking of bonuses that easily gets things out of the roof. Like attack scaling much faster than AC. Sometimes I wonder if the game wouldn't be better if we just put more limits on what stacks, or "ceilings" on much bonus you can get on some stuff.
That was the rationale for the Mutants and Masterminds(3E) systems import, its got stricter relative caps, and the basic numbers just work better than the D&D equivalents, since they're more controlled. Heck, even Exalted has better control over bonus types(it all boils down to internal vs external), and thats saying something.
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Offline SneeR

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #29 on: December 07, 2011, 02:41:14 PM »
@sirpercival:
Sure, post it! If you post it in homebrew, go ahead and link to it here.

@oslecamo
The point is not what should be, as far as gradual defenses, but was is and could be.

See, if you pump your binary defenses, saves, so high that no one can affect you with attacks on them, they might as well not even try. However, an attack on a gradual defense is, in theory, never wasted. The next attack will have that much more chance to affect them with your condition.

It doesn't matter that a PC can have a million HP, only that it is conceivable to overcome those HP. Forms of attack against gradual defenses never become obsolete, theoretically.

With stats, there is still theoretically a cushion between being to short to play and your starting condition. Yes, that may only be 1 or 2 stat points in some situations, but it is the principle of the thing: You could conceivably have 100 STR, and attacks that damage STR would still be worth it, given the right conditions, if only because you can eventually stop them from power attacking, or even render them helpless somewhere down the line.

If someone has an extreme save mod, like +100, then any attempt against that save is worthless without collateral damage. However, if a save is low enough, not attacking that save would be silly because they will probably fail with that save before they are brought to 0 hp. In one situation, binary defenses are too strong, but in the other, attacking gradual defenses is stupid.
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Offline Amechra

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2012, 09:40:14 PM »
I actually had an idea in this direction, based primarily on the Death domain granted power...

A given SoD or SoS only works if the enemy is below a certain threshold of HP (or they have a certain amount of Nonlethal damage applied); otherwise, it will deal a little damage, and all that jazz.

I also... let me see if I can find it...

Here it is; a bit simple, but eh.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 09:55:16 PM by Amechra »
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Offline veekie

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #31 on: March 09, 2012, 12:34:43 AM »
From the other thread before it derailed.
One alternative to stacking is preconditions.
'Advanced' abilities use more resources, but work better when smacked onto a creature with particular conditions(including health thresholds) afflicting them. This way, instead of going to spam-mode, combat would involve chaining debilitating effects so as to unlock more potent options you can use to end it for good. This applies for martial and magical assaults alike, but necessarily needs either wide availability of advanced attack options or else generic prerequisites. Likewise, on the defending end, you would want to take these conditions off because they enhance enemy lethality.

So for example(using a 'strict' conditions example), a Cremation spell might be a evade-or-die, but requires that the target be Bloodied and On Fire, or it'd simply set them On Fire.
Alternative example(using loose conditions), a Wishbone attack might be a fort-or-die, but requires that the target be affected by at least two [Held](a descriptor applicable to any immobilizing condition, such as Entangled, Paralyzed, Grappled or Pinned) conditions or it'd just do a bunch of crushing damage.

Of course, traditional instakills can still exist, if you waive conditions for having significantly lower HD/level/CR than the attacker. The idea is to have significant fights be more dynamic and get more team involvement despite taking longer.
Sorta-binary. But multivalent binary.
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Offline Unbeliever

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2012, 01:03:38 PM »
Quote
This is something quite important to take in mind. One of the main problems in D&D it's the rampant stacking of bonuses that easily gets things out of the roof. Like attack scaling much faster than AC. Sometimes I wonder if the game wouldn't be better if we just put more limits on what stacks, or "ceilings" on much bonus you can get on some stuff.
That was the rationale for the Mutants and Masterminds(3E) systems import, its got stricter relative caps, and the basic numbers just work better than the D&D equivalents, since they're more controlled. Heck, even Exalted has better control over bonus types(it all boils down to internal vs external), and thats saying something.
As someone who plays M&M a fair bit and has spent a lot of time with the system, the PL caps (which are the numbers caps referred to) are a double-edged sword.  I see them as sort of a necessity in the genre:  you need some way to put Superman and Batman -- even though they are not the same PL, but whatever -- types on the same scale so that they can approach the same challenges.  That being said, I do have a rough rangefinder in my head for D&D, but it's a much softer thing. 

But, the game loses something at the level of character differentiation compared to D&D, at least at the level of combat mechanics. 

Contrasting examples.  In Savage Tides I play a Gold Dragon (supermount with some hand-waiving) and my friend plays a God Wizard.  The Dragon is enormously more hardy than the Wizard, practically 5 times his hp, AC tons higher, saves and resistances, and so on.  Attacks that the Dragon can treat as the mere stinging of gnats concern the Wizard, leading to prompt teleports, walls of stone, or veils.  But, if he doesn't take those actions he's in deep trouble.  In M&M we have a Hulk type of character and a Doctor Strange type of character, both PL 12 around 200 points fwiw.  The difference in their hardiness is almost negligible.  It comes down to the Hulk's few ranks of regeneration, and maybe Ultimate Toughness advantage, though I don't think he's ever had cause to use it, and the Mage's superior Will and Reflex saves, although the numbers pretty much balance out to being nearly identical unless you put a lot of work, which usually means creating weaknesses for your character for no reward, into distinguishing them. 

Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #33 on: March 17, 2012, 06:30:35 AM »
FYI.

A.
Like yeah virtually everyone maxes out Toughness and deals max Damage. Rogues all benefit from the same 50% miss chance while sneaking around, all Monk's use the same weapon, 80% of a given optimized Sorcerer has the same spells, or most people take the same feats (only like 40 of them are useful to begin including impossible picks like metamagics as a warblade) so even within D&D you have the same problem, it's just falsely inflated bunch of horrible smelling refuge called stupid choices.

B.
When I said everyone maxed out Damage/Toughness back in A I wasn't meaning everyone has a +10 or +15 bonus. Default rules allow the Hulk guy to have, say, a -5 penalty to Defense Cap for a +5 bonus to Toughness cap, you can All-Out and Defensive Attack together for a secondary cap bypassing bonus, and finally the suggested variants (page 43 of the manual) allow for Sneak Attack/Favored X count as half value towards cap. IE SAx4 allows for +2 past cap. In effect, those "hard caps" of 10 or 15 don't even exist to begin with.

M&M is great and far from generic. It's flaws are simply a person limited to drawing stick figures on the wall with a crayon isn't going to create anything worthwhile and there is 1,001 ways to break anything so it loves to play the ask your GM for approval card. Like even within it's suggested limits (opposed to none) even without trade offs you can have an effective +34 Grapple bonus to force choke the crap out of people whereas normally even a huge at-cap-Str dinosaur however would only have a +15 bonus or the ultimate f*ck it of I'm Peter Petrelli and have every everything ever at once anyway. Which is kind of why the GM card gets flashed around all the time...
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Offline Unbeliever

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #34 on: March 19, 2012, 11:59:08 AM »
I don't know if the above post is intended to come off as dickish but it did. I don't appreciate how pointing out a drawback from a nice system that I've noticed is equated with being an uncreative moron. it's also an uncontentious observation on M&M's dedicated boards.

I did say I play M&M and you seem to miss a number of things about the system. I find it unlikely that D&D characters are as identical as you say. But with M&M with PL caps all characters are mathematically identical when it comes to attack and damage - they both total up to PLx2. And this applies to pretty much all abilities since they almost all involve the equivalent of saving throws. You are allowed trade offs but dice are linear: attack +15/damage +5 is mathematically identical to attack +5/damage +15 which is sort of a Batman/Hulk comparison although they tend to feel different at the table. This is both a strength and weakness of the system.

There are a few exceptions that change up this math a bit - as noted in my previous post - but they are far from ubiquitous. Most things count towards PL caps. All out attack also counts towards PL caps - its just moving things across attack and defense which are both PL capped.

I don't know what the grapple example is even supposed to establish. M&M is eminently breakable and so requires a lot of restraint. Although so does D&D and a lot of other systems - though M&M is more so than most. It's a little worse in the new edition because things were left out and there is more hand waving. Grappling at least was tamed a bit - I think the most you can do in 3E is PL+5 as opposed to the ridiculousness of 2E.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 12:03:27 PM by Unbeliever »

Offline SorO_Lost

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #35 on: March 20, 2012, 11:34:01 PM »
I don't know if the above post is intended to come off as dickish but it did.
All my posts do, it helps cover up when I actually am. Plus I like being colorful with slander, it gets boring saying the same stuff over and over again. What I'm trying to say is D&D is a more limited scope than you think and M&Ms is larger and overall it's rebuttal to how you think PL caps forces people to be generic.

Like you're forgetting we're talking M&M not D&D, AC/Defense isn't the only number to deal with. An opponent could have shifted his PL caps favoring Toughness over Defense creating a binary yes or no between the +5/+15 Attack and +15/+5 damage examples that you think are exactly the same thing when clearly they are not, it's like saying Rock Paper Scissors Lizards Spock are all the same thing. Oh, and even the game designer disagrees with you in his official FAQ that All Out Attack and such ignore PL caps.

On the same token.
a. Find me a optimized my Cleric thread that doesn't suggest DMM(persist), points it's its about melee and no Ordained Champion.
b. Find me something that doesn't agree Mc Wizard can do everything better than Mc Fighter can.
D&D has more sameness within it's design than you seem to think it does. D&D has a sort of spoiler effect, the less useful it is directly relates to how little it will ever get used and it ultimately encourages a one class to rule them all ideal which M&M's literal core concept is about preventing.

The reason characters are seem different in D&D is because you choose to flaw your character out with no benefits (eg I'm going to play a monk!). Where as the reason characters are different in M&M is because the system encourages you to be, as you have an equal potential to be as powerful as you wish to be as either a swashbuckling pirate or spellcasting wizard. Be who you want to be and excel and what you want to do as you want to do, total absolute freedom without sacrifice. Which is exactly 180 degrees from your current view point.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2012, 01:23:43 AM by SorO_Lost »
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Offline Unbeliever

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #36 on: March 21, 2012, 11:25:07 AM »
Like you're forgetting we're talking M&M not D&D, AC/Defense isn't the only number to deal with. An opponent could have shifted his PL caps favoring Toughness over Defense creating a binary yes or no between the +5/+15 Attack and +15/+5 damage examples that you think are exactly the same thing when clearly they are not, it's like saying Rock Paper Scissors Lizards Spock are all the same thing. Oh, and even the game designer disagrees with you in his official FAQ that All Out Attack and such ignore PL caps.
[sigh] ...  a 10% chance at $100 and a 100% chance at $10 have the same expected value. 

This is the case with attack and damage trade-offs.  That's why PL caps exist, that's how they keep things balanced.  That's like their whole point.  Likewise, defense and toughness are also PL capped.  If Batman gets hit, he gets hit hard, but his defenses are such that he doesn't get hit all that often.  The Hulk is the opposite.  But, their aggregate numbers (meaning the joint probabilities) are the same.

Your citation to Steve Kenson is (1) an edition out of date, (2) borderline incoherent.  All-Out Attack is of course sensitive to PL-Caps, it's just shifting from Defense to Attack.  The aggregate of all your PL capped things are still the same (4 x PL).  Oh, and the citation you listed doesn't even refer to All Out Attack, so ... ummm, yeah.  It refers to Sneak Attack, which was explicitly PL-capped in 2E and no longer exists in 3E.  The defense maneuver does allow you to have a higher defense b/c you're spending your entire round doing nothing else. 

And, Steve does not have much of a reputation as a rules guru ... he's very much an eyeball it kind of guy. 

All-Out Attack does/did cause a but of a furor among M&M players b/c you could alpha strike your enemies and take them out before they could respond, thereby negating the disadvantage of All-Out Attack, to wit, your terrible defense.  This was more of an issue in 2E M&M b/c of the way stunning worked, which is a significant improvement in my opinion with the new edition. 

On the same token.
a. Find me a optimized my Cleric thread that doesn't suggest DMM(persist), points it's its about melee and no Ordained Champion.
b. Find me something that doesn't agree Mc Wizard can do everything better than Mc Fighter can.
D&D has more sameness within it's design than you seem to think it does. D&D has a sort of spoiler effect, the less useful it is directly relates to how little it will ever get used and it ultimately encourages a one class to rule them all ideal which M&M's literal core concept is about preventing.

The reason characters are seem different in D&D is because you choose to flaw your character out with no benefits (eg I'm going to play a monk!). Where as the reason characters are different in M&M is because the system encourages you to be, as you have an equal potential to be as powerful as you wish to be as either a swashbuckling pirate or spellcasting wizard. Be who you want to be and excel and what you want to do as you want to do, total absolute freedom without sacrifice. Which is exactly 180 degrees from your current view point.
I agree with the bolded statement.

The rest -- that all clerics have DMM(persist) and so on -- I vehemently disagree with.  Furthermore, I cited actual examples in my post, which you blithely ignore, of two totally optimized characters (arguably too optimized) who have radical differences in their mechanics and numbers.

In M&M, that will simply not be the case.  You will not see a character who had radically more defenses than another b/c their aggregate "defensiveness" will all total out to PL x 2.  That's intentional.  So, yeah, you're right that your M&M pirate and wizard will be on the level playing field.  But if "excel" means "better at it than the other guy" then no, you're wrong.  Their aggregate combat numbers will be, in aggregate, the same.  That's the whole point of PL caps.  There's a good thing (as noted) and a bad thing to that. 

Frankly, I don't know how that's even contentious.  It's like among the most obvious things from playing M&M.  There are exceptions to it, namely the exceptions to the PL caps, but they are (1) very few, you can probably count the on one hand, and (2) a cause of wariness. 


P.S.:  I say this as someone with deep affection for M&M (even though I have some annoyances with the 3rd edition) and who runs and plays it pretty regularly.  It's a great system, and the best one for superhero, and probably for many other genres (e.g., many anime-inspired ones).

Offline SneeR

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #37 on: March 21, 2012, 12:54:00 PM »
I actually had an idea in this direction, based primarily on the Death domain granted power...

A given SoD or SoS only works if the enemy is below a certain threshold of HP (or they have a certain amount of Nonlethal damage applied); otherwise, it will deal a little damage, and all that jazz.
This is actually quite nice. If the entirety of a system worked like this, things would be great. I have always disliked the Death Domain Touch of Death because it either kills them or doesn't do a thing--it is effectively turning hp into a binary defense. You either die or nothing. Completely misses the point of hp.

However, having hp be a binary defense for conditions besides death is a fantastic idea! Keying it off of certain percentages of health would make abilities more scaling, but having particularly powerful abilities only requiring less than X hp would mitigate spamming later in levels when hp is much larger. Sort of like the power word series, I guess.
Need to think on that idea.

Quote from: Amechra
I also... let me see if I can find it...

Here it is; a bit simple, but eh.
I understand the need to limit bonuses from spells so casters don't beat skillmonkeys at their own game, but why cap skills at all? This question extends to Unbeliever and SorO_Lost, too.

From the MnM discussion, we can see that caps introduce homogeneity. Why cap skill bonuses or damage? Wouldn't capping skill bonuses from any one source be better? So, in the skill example, one could never receive more than a +10 from any one source, be it magic, circumstance, race, etc. and the specific types don't stack with themselves as normal.

But how does limiting skill, the realm of mostly mundanes, help address binary gameplay?

From the other thread before it derailed.
One alternative to stacking is preconditions.
'Advanced' abilities use more resources, but work better when smacked onto a creature with particular conditions(including health thresholds) afflicting them. This way, instead of going to spam-mode, combat would involve chaining debilitating effects so as to unlock more potent options you can use to end it for good. This applies for martial and magical assaults alike, but necessarily needs either wide availability of advanced attack options or else generic prerequisites. Likewise, on the defending end, you would want to take these conditions off because they enhance enemy lethality.

So for example(using a 'strict' conditions example), a Cremation spell might be a evade-or-die, but requires that the target be Bloodied and On Fire, or it'd simply set them On Fire.
Alternative example(using loose conditions), a Wishbone attack might be a fort-or-die, but requires that the target be affected by at least two [Held](a descriptor applicable to any immobilizing condition, such as Entangled, Paralyzed, Grappled or Pinned) conditions or it'd just do a bunch of crushing damage.

Of course, traditional instakills can still exist, if you waive conditions for having significantly lower HD/level/CR than the attacker. The idea is to have significant fights be more dynamic and get more team involvement despite taking longer.
Sorta-binary. But multivalent binary.
This is fantastic. It makes the binary thing less direct of a problem and introduces more combo tactics. In fact, if this was mixed with the hp-based system Amechra mentioned earlier, then damage would retain a fantastic role in D&D without SoDs losing their flavor. The fighter would have to chop the enemy down to 75% hp before the sorcerer could set the enemy on fire with a spell, then the enemy would need to be at at least below 50% before they could be Cremated by the wizard... TEAMWORK!

Obviously having it so formulaic would be inadvisable, but that makes the gist of what I'm saying clear: hp, the best gradual defense in the game, stays relevant despite binary attacks in a direct fashion!
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Offline PlzBreakMyCampaign

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #38 on: July 15, 2017, 11:16:29 PM »
The danger of linking a post in your sig, Sneer, is that people might click on it and reply 5 years later. I also bumped the originating thread.

Historically, D&D isn't so much of a system as it is a series of kludges, so what does it hurt to pile one more patch onto the mess?

If the issue of casters vs mundanes is really an issue of binary vs gradual damage dealers, one kludge that might improve the balance issue would be to give casters a gradual side effect to gradual damage. Make each spell have a % chance to fail equal to current HP / Total HP.
Does anyone have an opinion on this? Assuming he meant SoS / SoD instead of all spellcasting, this would make SoDs feel like more of a team effort. On the other hand, hitting players before laying SoS's on them would feel a bit "practiced" might break suspension of disbelief...

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Was this ever completed? It's basically worthless, except as inspiration, if it isn't polished an ready for play.

If there is such a thing as a "win/lose condition" in RPGs, it's whether or not your character dies -- at which point, you make up a knew character and keep driving on.  If you can't accept loss, then you probably don't have any business playing the game.
Very nicely said. This is compounded by the fact that campaigns die no matter how well built your character is, and many DM's don't allow characters directly brought from other campaigns.

the PL caps (which are the numbers caps referred to) are a double-edged sword.

Contrasting examples.  In Savage Tides I play a Gold Dragon (supermount with some hand-waiving) and my friend plays a God Wizard.  The Dragon is enormously more hardy than the Wizard, practically 5 times his hp, AC tons higher, saves and resistances, and so on.  Attacks that the Dragon can treat as the mere stinging of gnats concern the Wizard, leading to prompt teleports, walls of stone, or veils.  But, if he doesn't take those actions he's in deep trouble.
Nicely put.

Also anyone who has ever browsed 3e builds with an open mind knows their incredible variation, especially in the feat department. There are far more than 40 useful feats in D&D. With a list of any 40, I could point out 10 more off the top of my head (or just by looking through some of my own, idiosyncratic builds) that are incredibly useful.

EDIT: I feel the need to index the threads on this board. Would anyone find that useful? It would help lurkers figure out what they want to read.

Offline Eldritch_Lord

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Re: Gradual & Binary Defenses
« Reply #39 on: July 17, 2017, 01:18:06 AM »
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Was this ever completed? It's basically worthless, except as inspiration, if it isn't polished an ready for play.

No, it wasn't; it got stalled about two-thirds of the way through because my group at the time wasn't interested in playtesting those mechanics and I was already homebrewing a bunch of other stuff for them that took priority.

I 'brewed up some similar but less all-encompassing mechanics for my current group, though (it's a "travel to an unexplored continent, clear out the monsters, and establish a settlement" kind of campaign, so it has the same basic number/type/effects of the condition tracks but is focused mostly on implementing things like called shots, wounds, environmental hazards, mass combat, etc. that aren't present or are badly implemented in 3e, rather than converting existing spells/feats/class features/etc. to use the new mechanics), and with what I've learned from that version it might be a good time to dust this version off and finish it.