Why is the game such low level?

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Why is the game such low level?

Postby Babylon 5 Aide » Thu Oct 16, 2003 12:32 pm

Why is this game so low level? Most d20 games top out at 15 levels or so, and many go beyond. I have discussed it with my players and I can't see a reason why things would be that way and was wondering what the thoughts are behind it. After all, things like the officer class have huge gaps where the player gets nothing in the line of abilities... Could you explain that one too please?


Thanks
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Postby hassanisabbah » Thu Oct 16, 2003 3:13 pm

Prehaps theres only so much they can learn to do without multi/duel-classing (ie going off to learn something different)

Or prehaps its because when they get to a certain level they quit the show....
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Postby Babylon 5 Aide » Thu Oct 16, 2003 3:52 pm

I was actually wondering about a game mechanic reason that mongoose wrote it up the way they did. Any takers on that one?

Good explanation IC though.
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Postby CARTMAG » Thu Oct 16, 2003 3:57 pm

my opinion is that atleast in the show.. multiclassing is very common.. if you look at the main characters.. most of them.. have multiple classes... personaly I think the game is very much geared twards that end.... if you look at all the people most of them are multiclassed.... Garabaldi.. Stars out as Solder and becomes Officer i belive unfortunatly i dont have the book right infront of me so i cant 100% confurm im right.... Marcus would also start out as a Worker and took the Range PRC... thats just my take on the whole thing.... just my 2 cents.... hell i might be completely off my rocker.. i have in the past.. and probably will be again in the future.
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Postby Babylon 5 Aide » Thu Oct 16, 2003 4:05 pm

Wouldn't that result in higher total levels per character though? Even if they are just taking a few here and there it would stack up - at least the way I am looking at it.
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Postby Eryx » Thu Oct 16, 2003 7:13 pm

Don't forget that the game isn't meant to be as powerful or ability-based as D&D is. In fact I like the idea of it being the way it is. A nice job on the part of Mongoose.
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Postby KDLadage » Thu Oct 16, 2003 7:57 pm

Eryx -- in keeping the characters relatively low on the power scale, I agree with you. But the point I think (and I could be wrong here) that the original poster is trying to make is this:

d20 games, by default, are games of play and reward. For my play, I am rewarded with XP; for enough XP, I am rewarded with levels, and in each level I get to add things that are cool to my character.

B5RPG seems of two minds on this concept. On the one hand, they appear to not want to allow for, or at the very least discourage, high level characters... on the other hand, the core classes are 20-level progressions and a great many of the Prestige classes are 10-level progressions.

Now, the game curbs power gaming by limiting hit points; this is a good thing in my opinion. Yet, if you allow for higher level characters, suddenly it is possible to have a Soldier, for example, who can take around 70 points of damage, and thus can shrug off PPG rounds like they are not even there.

So, as you can see, the game seems to be trying to pull in two directions at once. In my opinion, and please keep in mind that this is simply my opinion and not a slam on anyone, the game or anything else -- it is just the way I would have personally liked to have seen it... in my opinion, the game should have borrowed much, much more from the D20 MODERN rule set, and much, much less from D20 FANTASY rule set.

They should have had more generalized, and internally customizable core classes (i.e.: the profession and the ability track concepts) that were limited to 10 levels (or if they really wanted to curb levels in the game, limit the base core classes to 5 levels and have 10 level advanced classes, and 5 level prestige classes); hit points should have began at the CON level and then let the character be granted anywhere from 1 hit point per level, down to 1 hit point per three levels... keep the idea of massive damage threshold and set that to CON; raise the damage on most weapons by 1 die and be done with it... this way, everyone has to worry about the idea of a PPG shot... especially critical hits.

But this did not happen.

The game, as it is, is playable. Some of the classes are front loaded with little benefit following first level. OK... the companion promisses to flesh things out a bit. I trust them, I have seen the stuff they plan to include in it. I made a lot of suggestions for that book.

But like I said, the game can be played. It has some odd things that you may need to rule-0, or house-rule over. But this was true for every RPG ever produced. There are enough good ideas in there that they have managed to keep me around (although sometimes I think they wish I would go away).

But back to the topic at hand: the game could have given a more graduated set of bonuses and such, so that the increadibly skilled characters of the show could be show to have the skills they seem to have. Since skill levels are directly limited by the character level (max ranks = level+3), I would have said that Sheridan should have been about a 16th-20th level character near the end of the show. Granted, from a pure "kewl powerz" perspective, this might have been the equivalent of a 6th-8th level character in D&D or some other d20 game... but that just means you need to hand out benefits in a gradual scheme. Right now, the game seems to assume you will never advance above 8th or 10th level and makes you skip 6 levels where you gain nothing...

I think this is the what the poster is asking about.
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Postby Judge Walker » Thu Oct 16, 2003 8:42 pm

I don't have the book, yet. What levels do they give the main characters?

Also (OT question), I remember reading that Ivanova had a feat listed in the Corebook, that wasn't relased until a later publication, what was the feat?
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Postby Babylon 5 Aide » Thu Oct 16, 2003 10:48 pm

Judge, I don't have mine in front of me or I would tell you, I'm sorry.

KDLadage:

Thank you, you were pretty close to what I was referring to. THat and the question as to why someone would do that (keep the levels low) and at the same time give out advantages only rarely. If you look at the officer class for example, it has many levels with nothing, but when you look at some others they have only a few levels which are missing things. I had not heard about them being fleshed out, and that's one of the reasons for my post. I was curious if there was something more coming.

Thanks for the info!
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Postby psyclonejack » Fri Oct 17, 2003 12:36 am

Well in regards to the something more coming . . . I don't have the EF Book, yet. But if it shows us the Mold for all the 'RACE' books. We will see if there is something more. For Instance what classes are in the book, prestige classes, added feats, skills, etc?

In regards to getting nothing for 6 levels. You get two feats, and an ability point increase, and LOTS of skill points. The game is more about skills than combat ability. But think about it another way.

Imagine the power a level 20 Cleric has. His powers, abilities, and skills would compare to who in the REAL world's history? The only people I can come up with is Jesus. Imagine now a Level 20 Fighter, real world figure to match him to? I can think of none. The common man that is walking around on the street is suppose to be a level 0-2 NPC. But the heroes can go to 20 and higher. If you grant them lots of extras, as well as the normal you receive for leveling. You have someone who is so far above the common man that its unrealistic.

B5 needs a way to keep it rational, yes they are heroic figures, but they are still human, not gods. The ability to think on their feet, to be willing to go into danger, to stand for the right, and live with Honor. The idea is not, crush them with strength, dazzle them with weapon mastery, outfly, outshoot, and force them to bend to your will with mind power.

But again lets take this from a different angle. The Firefighers that rushed the building on 911. The cops that take care of homicide bombers daily. The troops serving in various locations all over the world. What level would you say they are? The generals - level 20 and the privates are level 1-2?? If so, then what separates the General from the private.

Experience. What else?
Knowledge. Okay, what else?

Certainly the ability scores of a general would not differ from those of a private. HPs? Those would be close as well. Special powers or abilities? Other than Rank, and contacts. I fail to see any.

JMS wasn't creating a world where superheroes saved the day. JMS was creating a world in which a few, common, everyday people saw the tragedy, saw the drama, and decided. Decided they are not going to stand by and let it happen. They were going to try and stop it with every bit of frail, delicate power there mortal bodies held. All they had was determination, a since of right, and a whole lot of chances to back down. None of which they took. A hero is a person who does what he feels is right even when he knows the world will hate him, and try to stop him.

Mongoose I feel captured this with a system that allows moral traps, rather than magic pit traps.

Just my thoughts,
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Postby August » Fri Oct 17, 2003 4:24 am

Psyclonejack has hit exactly my rationale for the game mechanics being the way they are right here. I cannot think of a better way to reflect the real world variances that existed wholecloth in JMS's wonderful universe than by keeping levels within a certain middle ground. Now this is NOT an absolute, and as the season books will show, a progression of power does occur.

For example, there is a big difference between the Captain John Sheridan of 2259 and the President of the IA John Sheridan in 2262. If we had stareted these characters out high, where could we have advanced them?

I promise that we are taking all of these things into consideration, but understand that we are not writing to power gamers and rules lawyers. Those are not and NEVER WILL BE my priorities; I (and thankfully Matthew and everyone else working on this great project) aim my work directly at the people who love this series as much (and often more, not that I can comprehend how) as I do.

Levels and power mean nothing when someone is roleplaying, and if they are roleplaying, they are playing the game I want to write.

I hope that, and psyclonejack's excellent post, answers your question.

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Postby KDLadage » Fri Oct 17, 2003 1:11 pm

psyclonejack wrote:In regards to getting nothing for 6 levels. You get two feats, and an ability point increase, and LOTS of skill points.
And so does the Diplomat (plus a bunch of other stuff); and so does the Agent (plus a bunch of other stuff); and so does the soldier... ok, you get the idea.

This speaks directly to class balance. And right now, I fail to see a lot of it.
psyclonejack wrote:But think about it another way.

<snip cleric and fighter descriptions>
I agree; and never have I suggested that the power level of characters in B5 should match that of the typical Dungeons and Dragons Fantasy character. What I am saying is that benefits of leveling up should be a graduated, rather steady increase in overall capability. I am not suggesting that the rate of these bonuses be the same as shown in D&D; I am just saying that there should not be 6 levels of nothing (with the exception of the *every characters gain these* abilities) while other classes have no such gap in benefits. It really is something that shows a lack of balance in character class design.
psyclonejack wrote:The common man that is walking around on the street is suppose to be a level 0-2 NPC.
Minor nit-pick: Since 3.0, the system has had no 0-level characters (granted, the Star Wars variation has a pseudo-0-level character concept for NPCs, but this is due to the split in Wounds and Vitality).
psyclonejack wrote:But the heroes can go to 20 and higher.
But, according to many posts on these boards, are not intended to do so...
psyclonejack wrote:If you grant them lots of extras, as well as the normal you receive for leveling. You have someone who is so far above the common man that its unrealistic.
Then why do agents, diplomats, soldiers, telepaths... and so on, get just that?
psyclonejack wrote:B5 needs a way to keep it rational, yes they are heroic figures, but they are still human, not gods.
Agreed. I just happen to disagree with the methods chosen. This is not to say that the methods chosen are wrong, per se, They just are not how I would have done them, and they are not (always) to my liking.
psyclonejack wrote:The ability to think on their feet, to be willing to go into danger, to stand for the right, and live with Honor. The idea is not, crush them with strength, dazzle them with weapon mastery, outfly, outshoot, and force them to bend to your will with mind power.
Funny. Because the areas they did not temper in B5 were:
  • Attributes ('crush them with strength')
  • Base Attack Bonus progressions ('dazzle them with weapon mastery', 'outshoot')
  • Skill rank progressions ('outfly'), and
  • Psionic power progressions ('force them to bend to your will with mind power').
Thus, it can be argued that the game is doing exactly what you have just claimed it does not.
psyclonejack wrote:But again lets take this from a different angle. The Firefighers that rushed the building on 911. The cops that take care of homicide bombers daily. The troops serving in various locations all over the world. What level would you say they are? The generals - level 20 and the privates are level 1-2?? If so, then what separates the General from the private.

Experience. What else?
Knowledge. Okay, what else?

Certainly the ability scores of a general would not differ from those of a private. HPs? Those would be close as well. Special powers or abilities? Other than Rank, and contacts. I fail to see any.
Yet, if you use level as a measure of rank (which is dubious at best, but you brought it up), a typical 1st level character here (that private you are talking about) has 1d6+2 hit points; average 5-6 HP; grant his a second level and he would have an average of 7-8; make sure this is in a '+3 HP' class, and you are looking at 6-7 at 1st level and 9-10 at 2nd level.

At 20th level character (this General you are talking about) that is supposedly kept 'rational' would have, possibly, 1d6+(20x3)=66 hit points, and can then shrug off an average of 9 direct-to-the-chest PPG blasts before he needs to worry about anything. None of these numbers take the possibility of the Toughness feat, for example, into account.
psyclonejack wrote:JMS wasn't creating a world where superheroes saved the day. JMS was creating a world in which a few, common, everyday people saw the tragedy, saw the drama, and decided. Decided they are not going to stand by and let it happen. They were going to try and stop it with every bit of frail, delicate power there mortal bodies held. All they had was determination, a since of right, and a whole lot of chances to back down. None of which they took. A hero is a person who does what he feels is right even when he knows the world will hate him, and try to stop him.
First, let me say I agree with you here. And you say it poetically. The point is that the rules, as written, seem to pull in six separate directions, not quite sure where it wants to go.

Keep HP down, it seems to try and do, then allows for HPs that would allows for 9+ PPG strikes without major injury. This could have been avoided with the threshold rules. Not used.

Keep levels down and reasonable, it seems to try and do, then makes you wait six levels before the abilities of one of the classes are granted. The Worker, a class that would be gaining virtually no experience, does not gain its one and only real class benefit until 6th level... The core classes are presented as 20-level progressions... This is counter-intuitive to the maximum.

Do not give out the types of abilities that are granted in other d20 games, so we can have reasonable and realistic characters. Then it grants lots of abilities to a few classes, several abilities to others, and virtually none to the one class that should, as members of a highly trained military, be gaining at least moderate ability advancement.

And so on.

I agree with you, Psyclonejack. I really do. And I think the guys at Mongoose had every intention to create the rules to do what you are describing. But I (and others like me) feel that much of the rules were written without reaching a lot of those goals.

But I have made all of my thoughts on this known before.
psyclonejack wrote:Mongoose I feel captured this with a system that allows moral traps, rather than magic pit traps.
Yes they did. It just missed the mark in few areas.

Again, I would like to express that I have talked with these guys, and I think that as the game evolves, it will reach many (if not all) of the goals that we all agree it set out to reach. It is just fairly far from a few of them at the moment.
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Postby Myddrin » Fri Oct 17, 2003 5:07 pm

In response to Judges second question.

In the core book they had one of Ivonova's feat listed as <classified> or something to that effect. It is revealed in the Coming of Shadows book that this feat was latent telepath.

They did this because in Season One - Year 2258 - no one besides Ivonova new that she was a latent telepath. It wasn't reveled till closer to the end of Season Two, in the episode where Lyta first reappears and Talia has her grand exit from the show :wink:

However, the I beleive the rules say you can only take the latent telepath feat at character creation(which is logical), so they had to 'reserve' the slot for the reveal in the second year book 8)
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Main Character Levels

Postby El Cid » Fri Oct 17, 2003 7:57 pm

As I recall the Main character levels in season 1 ranged from 1 for Vir, 3 to 6 for most and a few as high as 9.

The second season book listed most with an increase of about 3 more levels.

That's off the top of my head.

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Postby psyclonejack » Fri Oct 17, 2003 9:32 pm

Oh the fun we could have if you or I just lived closer to each other KD. Prolly a good thing I am in Northern Iowa and your in Southern. We would never play we would just discuss things for hours on end and have tons of fun. :D But now . . . its go time . . .
KDLadage wrote:
psyclonejack wrote:In regards to getting nothing for 6 levels. You get two feats, and an ability point increase, and LOTS of skill points.
And so does the Diplomat (plus a bunch of other stuff); and so does the Agent (plus a bunch of other stuff); and so does the soldier... ok, you get the idea.

This speaks directly to class balance. And right now, I fail to see a lot of it.
Well lets do some math with some classes in an attempt to speak directly to class balance. Quick to the way back machine!

Agent 20th level | 43-48 hps | 4 class feats | 6 bonus feets |
138 Skill Pnts (IQ 10) | 5 attribute increases | +15 BAB

Officer 20th Level | 43-48 hps | 6 class feats | 6 bonus feats |
88 Skill Pnts (IQ 10) | 5 attribute increases | +20 BAB

Soldier 20th Level | 64-68 hps | 4 class feats | 6 bonus feats |
46 Skill Pnts (IQ 10) | 5 attribute increase | +20 BAB

Telepath 20th Level | 24-29 hps | 5 class feats | 6 bonus feats |
184 SP(P1-2) 138(P3-5) 88(P6-8 ) 46(P9-P12) | 5 att inc | +15 BAB

BAB - Balance Check - OK

Class Feats - Balance Check - OK (plus or minus of 3 to 4 would have been okay with me. In Fantasy DnD you have wider gaps than these.)

Skills - Balance Check - OK. (They gave the classes that would need more skills more points, lowered the classes that would be more specialized, and limited the telepath by reducing said skills. So they would be forced to rely on others.)

Hps - Balance Check - Ouch. I actually thought there would be more, silly me! A PPG pistol deals 32 pts on a crit. For Telepaths insta kill, Agent and officer, well they wont be doing much after taking a hit like that. Soldier - Well, hmm take two and die. A PPG rifle could dish out up 6-48 pnts. If you had all max crits a whopping 96 pnts of damage. With feats like marksman, improved critical, weapon spec. Ouch. Any hit is gonna leave a mark. I would OK this big time!

I could bring up the old DND hp arguement about what Hps represent, the ability to move and dodge, blah blah, but I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.
KDLadage wrote:I agree with you, Psyclonejack. I really do. And I think the guys at Mongoose had every intention to create the rules to do what you are describing. But I (and others like me) feel that much of the rules were written without reaching a lot of those goals.

But I have made all of my thoughts on this known before.
Yikes! Okay we will agree to agree. Thanks for that, I am marking it on the calendar we agree! :D But to be honest its not like it has never happened. We agreed on several combat issues as well. I still would like to see Signs and Portents to do a sample combat for B5 like they did for Total War. And I want you to know KD that I REALLY am thankful to you for making me think about the system, and giving me another perspective. To be honest I think I learned more about the system trying to defend my arguements than actually GMing the system.

A thankful,
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Postby KDLadage » Fri Oct 17, 2003 11:40 pm

psyclonejack wrote:Oh the fun we could have if you or I just lived closer to each other KD. Prolly a good thing I am in Northern Iowa and your in Southern. We would never play we would just discuss things for hours on end and have tons of fun. :D But now . . . its go time . . .
We still need to plan a trip to meet each other. Perhaps we can carpool to the next Gen-Con or something...
psyclonejack wrote:
KDLadage wrote:
psyclonejack wrote:In regards to getting nothing for 6 levels. You get two feats, and an ability point increase, and LOTS of skill points.
And so does the Diplomat (plus a bunch of other stuff); and so does the Agent (plus a bunch of other stuff); and so does the soldier... ok, you get the idea.

This speaks directly to class balance. And right now, I fail to see a lot of it.
Well lets do some math with some classes in an attempt to speak directly to class balance. Quick to the way back machine!
Way back machine set to Season 1, Mr. Peabody!
psyclonejack wrote: Agent 20th level | 43-48 hps | 4 class feats | 6 bonus feets | 138 Skill Pnts (IQ 10) | 5 attribute increases | +15 BAB

Officer 20th Level | 43-48 hps | 6 class feats | 6 bonus feats | 88 Skill Pnts (IQ 10) | 5 attribute increases | +20 BAB

Soldier 20th Level | 64-68 hps | 4 class feats | 6 bonus feats | 46 Skill Pnts (IQ 10) | 5 attribute increase | +20 BAB

Telepath 20th Level | 24-29 hps | 5 class feats | 6 bonus feats | 184 SP(P1-2) 138(P3-5) 88(P6-8 ) 46(P9-P12) | 5 att inc | +15 BAB
OK... I count these a bit differentlky than you, so I will try this again (and include the other classes as well). First, I will eliminate attribute increases and bonus feats as these are common to all classes:

Agent
20th level | 48 hps | 09 class feats (04 distinct) | 138 Skill Points | +15 BAB

Diplomat
20th level | 26 hps | 17 class feats (03 distinct) | 138 Skill Points | +10 BAB

Lurker
20th level | 47 hps | 13 class feats (09 distinct) | 138 Skill Points | +15 BAB

Officer
20th level | 48 hps | 06 class feats (06 distinct) | 092 Skill Points | +20 BAB

Scientist
20th level | 26 hps | 06 class feats (03 distinct) | 184 Skill Points | +10 BAB

Soldier
20th level | 67 hps | 09 class feats (04 distinct) | 046 Skill Points | +20 BAB

Telepath
20th level | 27 hps | 20 class feats (14 distinct) | 184 Skill Points | +15 BAB

Worker
20th level | 27 hps | 02 class feats (02 distinct) | 138 Skill Points | +10 BAB
psyclonejack wrote:BAB - Balance Check - OK
I would say that the Diplomat, Lurker, Scientist, and Telepath all have BABs that are too high. I would have 20th level max out at Diplomat (+5), Lurker (+10), Scientist (+5), and Telepath (+10).

Other than that...
psyclonejack wrote:Class Feats - Balance Check - OK (plus or minus of 3 to 4 would have been okay with me. In Fantasy DnD you have wider gaps than these.)
If we exclude the Worker, which is an NPC class, technically, then we have a range of 06 feats to 20 feats, a range variation of 14 (+/- 6 or 7 feats). Distinct feats range from 03 feats to 14 feats, a range of 9 feats (+/- 4 feats).

So yes, we disagree on this one.
psyclonejack wrote:Skills - Balance Check - OK. (They gave the classes that would need more skills more points, lowered the classes that would be more specialized, and limited the telepath by reducing said skills. So they would be forced to rely on others.)
I find it odd that the Lurker and the Worker have as many skills as a trained officer. I guess I can see the Soldier as being about right, if we define that class as a soldiers combat training class, and that only. Meaning that most soldiers would be Soldier/Workers (enlisted), or Soldier/Officer (officers). Other than that, all is OK I guess.
psyclonejack wrote:Hps - Balance Check - Ouch. I actually thought there would be more, silly me! A PPG pistol deals 32 pts on a crit. For Telepaths insta kill, Agent and officer, well they wont be doing much after taking a hit like that. Soldier - Well, hmm take two and die. A PPG rifle could dish out up 6-48 pnts. If you had all max crits a whopping 96 pnts of damage. With feats like marksman, improved critical, weapon spec. Ouch. Any hit is gonna leave a mark. I would OK this big time!
I would not. First, a PPG deals 2d6 (x2 crit); so a crit will deal a maximum of 24 points. On average a crit will deal 14 points. Based on this, a typical "General-level" character can take:

Agent 3-4 critical hits.
Diplomat 2-3 critical hits.
Lurker 3-4 critical hits.
Officer 3-4 critical hits.
Scientist 2-3 critical hits.
Soldier 4-5 critical hits.
Telepath 2-3 critical hits.
Worker 2-3 critical hits.

Thus, I disagree with this as well...
psyclonejack wrote:I could bring up the old DND hp arguement about what Hps represent, the ability to move and dodge, blah blah, but I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.
The D&D and HP argument cannot be used to apply to a game with Armor Class/Defense rising with level. It no longer makes sense. If AC/Def increases with level (as this game does), then a hit is a hit, not a near miss.
psyclonejack wrote:
KDLadage wrote:I agree with you, Psyclonejack. I really do. And I think the guys at Mongoose had every intention to create the rules to do what you are describing. But I (and others like me) feel that much of the rules were written without reaching a lot of those goals.

But I have made all of my thoughts on this known before.
Yikes! Okay we will agree to agree. Thanks for that, I am marking it on the calendar we agree! :D But to be honest its not like it has never happened. We agreed on several combat issues as well. I still would like to see Signs and Portents to do a sample combat for B5 like they did for Total War. And I want you to know KD that I REALLY am thankful to you for making me think about the system, and giving me another perspective. To be honest I think I learned more about the system trying to defend my arguements than actually GMing the system.

A thankful,
PsycloneJack
I still think we should get together.
"It really doesn't matter what I think. In the end, I'm just one of a million insignificant cogs, and the machine is going to do what it meant to do. No matter what."
- Capt. Robert P. Hickey, USN, Commanding Officer USS RANGER
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August
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Postby August » Sat Oct 18, 2003 4:24 am

My turn.

Okay, the balance check on to-hit bonuses seems fine to me for the classes that get a +10 bonus at 20th level. By that point, a character has transcended normal bounds of effectiveness in their fields and have become well rounded characters with abilities in both taking care of themselves and surviving in an increasingly hostile universe. Figuring out how to hit things over that period of time is just part of reality (check out the physical effectiveness of your 'average' 10 year Peace Corps volunteer if you don't believe me).

As for skills being the same for a 'trained' character type and a lurker, I wholeheartedly endorse this. A lurker is NOT an idiot or a dolt; they are just forced to seek out their lessons through other venues. I remember a quote from Henry Ford (a man who spent quite a bit of his life dirt poor), 'I learned more on the street than I ever did putting cars on it.'

Lastly, yes, in Babylon 5, a hit is a hit, but they are not always strikes to the vitals. A 'critical hit' can take a person full on in the chest, but if that character is canny or combat aware enough to twist or move at the last moment, the shot will still be dire but not immediately fatal. For this analogy, I offer the idea of a professional boxer. Very little dodging goes on in a professional boxing ring. Most punches land, but hit the body where they do not inflict must real punishment or on the arms, which get bruised and battered instead of the boxer's face.

Do you really think we should have developed rules that had every character die like a punk after a single PPG hit? The show would have either then become a GI Joe cartoon (where no one, on EITHER side, scould hit a living creature but were pinpoint marksmen against vehicles and buildings) or a very depressing show with Sinclair dead in the Pilot, Garibaldi dead at the end of Season One, and so on.

Personally, I like the idea of a couple of hits on mid to high level characters. In game, I treat it cinematically as getting 'winged' before any real damage occurs. Perhaps not as realistic as some might like, but this is a game, after all, and a game about a TV Show at that...

-August :)
"This is a blanket apology to every god I can think of and all the ones I don't know. I have no idea what I did or in which life I did it, but I am really sorry. Ummm, my bad."
KDLadage
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Postby KDLadage » Sat Oct 18, 2003 7:02 am

Mongoose August wrote:My turn.
Please. Your insights are always welcome.
Mongoose August wrote:Okay, the balance check on to-hit bonuses seems fine to me for the classes that get a +10 bonus at 20th level. By that point, a character has transcended normal bounds of effectiveness in their fields and have become well rounded characters with abilities in both taking care of themselves and surviving in an increasingly hostile universe. Figuring out how to hit things over that period of time is just part of reality (check out the physical effectiveness of your 'average' 10 year Peace Corps volunteer if you don't believe me).
First, I would argue that there is no such thing as an 'average' peace corps member. But that is beside the point. I simply disagree that the combat training of a person in a field that is decidedly non-combatice should be so high. Again, we will just have to agree to disagree.
Mongoose August wrote:As for skills being the same for a 'trained' character type and a lurker, I wholeheartedly endorse this. A lurker is NOT an idiot or a dolt;
Never said they were.

I was in the Navy for ten years. I have seen, known and worked around a lot of officers. I have then seen, known and worked around a lot of people that would be considered "workers." In the end, no, I do not believe that a typical worker should be 40% more skilled that a trained military officer.

Another agree to disagree, I guess.
Mongoose August wrote:Lastly, yes, in Babylon 5, a hit is a hit, but they are not always strikes to the vitals. A 'critical hit' can take a person full on in the chest, but if that character is canny or combat aware enough to twist or move at the last moment, the shot will still be dire but not immediately fatal.
I agree. It should not be. But 5 back-to-back so-called critical hits seems a bit excessive. Remember, the numbers I gave are not the extremes, they are the averages. A high-level soldier could, in theory, for example, take on 17 critical hits. At a minimum, that soldier could take on 2, with a third killing/incapacitating him.
Mongoose August wrote:Do you really think we should have developed rules that had every character die like a punk after a single PPG hit?
No. I have, and will continue to advocate the use of the massive damage threshold rules. Any hit which deals damage in excess of a certain amount (the CON score; 5+CON mod, what-have-you) forces a Fort save; on a failed save, HP is reduced to -1.
Last edited by KDLadage on Sat Oct 18, 2003 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"It really doesn't matter what I think. In the end, I'm just one of a million insignificant cogs, and the machine is going to do what it meant to do. No matter what."
- Capt. Robert P. Hickey, USN, Commanding Officer USS RANGER
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Postby August » Sat Oct 18, 2003 9:30 pm

Fair enough; the massive damage threshhold rule is a fine one and I know a lot of Games Masters who use it. I am fairly sure it is already slated to be included as a variant in the Companion book for Babylon 5, so that should please you.

Personally, I don't see it as being a big deal because very few of our games have ever reached the level of extreme that you are mentioning. It's fair to note that a 20th level das-uber soldier can take nearly a dozen crits, but given that NONE of the major characters in the show are anywhere near that level even by the start of Season Three (well, except maybe Kosh, but he does not really count), it's a moot point for us.

Besides, the way I do my math, a 20th level soldier can take -4- critical hits from an Auricon PPG pistol (8 (2d8 damage) x 2 = 16 x 4 hits = 62 points of damage) before any appreciable damage will drop or kill him outright. That works for me. We all know that a single lucky shot in real life can kill anyone, but I feel no need to have that modelled in the game. If an individual Games Master wishes to provide a method by which one critical hit can erase a year's worth of game play, they are certainly welcome to do so.

I think my wayback machine is simply going to stay set for 'agree to disagree'... :)

-August
"This is a blanket apology to every god I can think of and all the ones I don't know. I have no idea what I did or in which life I did it, but I am really sorry. Ummm, my bad."
KDLadage
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Postby KDLadage » Mon Oct 20, 2003 5:40 pm

Mongoose August wrote:Fair enough; the massive damage threshhold rule is a fine one and I know a lot of Games Masters who use it. I am fairly sure it is already slated to be included as a variant in the Companion book for Babylon 5, so that should please you.
It does. I believe that is one of the various optional rules I suggested back in the relevant thread...
Mongoose August wrote:Personally, I don't see it as being a big deal because very few of our games have ever reached the level of extreme that you are mentioning.
And this gets to the heart of the original question; see below.
Mongoose August wrote:It's fair to note that a 20th level das-uber soldier can take nearly a dozen crits, but given that NONE of the major characters in the show are anywhere near that level even by the start of Season Three (well, except maybe Kosh, but he does not really count), it's a moot point for us.
This also gets to the heart of teh original question; see below.
Mongoose August wrote:Besides, the way I do my math, a 20th level soldier can take -4- critical hits from an Auricon PPG pistol (8 (2d8 damage) x 2 = 16 x 4 hits = 62 points of damage) before any appreciable damage will drop or kill him outright. That works for me. We all know that a single lucky shot in real life can kill anyone, but I feel no need to have that modelled in the game. If an individual Games Master wishes to provide a method by which one critical hit can erase a year's worth of game play, they are certainly welcome to do so.
-1 hit point is not dead, it is disabled. This is not "one lucky shot erases a year of game time" it is "any one shot could be the one that causes you to go down, regardless of hit points. Be careful."
Mongoose August wrote:I think my wayback machine is simply going to stay set for 'agree to disagree'... :)
Fair enough.

as I stated above, you have two statements that get to the heart of teh matter. This is best stated as the following dichotomy: on the one hand you have character stats worked out to level 20; you have 10 level prestige classes. Yet you state that no character should ever get that high a level. If this is the case, why have it listed?

You wrote rules to control power in the game; it was once explained that hit points are kept low so that a PPG will always be a theat. I have shown how at the upper levels, PPGs are not a threat, and so the "always" portion is not true. The answer: characters are not intended to get this high a level.

If they are not intended to advance that high, why present the rules that way? If they are intended to get that high, as the rules clearly indicte they can, should these levels not be balanced such that they remain in the realm of semi-realism? 3+ critical hits from an advanced weapon should be well more than enough to bring anyone down.

And, while I am typing, should not the classes all be relatively balanced against one another (possible exception: worker)? I think I have shown that they are not balanced. Some of the areas can be considered personal preference (such as the levels of BAB and skill points), but the class features/feats show a great disparity in my mind.

-August[/quote]
"It really doesn't matter what I think. In the end, I'm just one of a million insignificant cogs, and the machine is going to do what it meant to do. No matter what."
- Capt. Robert P. Hickey, USN, Commanding Officer USS RANGER

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