Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Stumondo
Shrew
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Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Postby Stumondo » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:25 pm

One of my players has a top TL combat Arm. It give +6 armour and Strength 18. After making it immune to emp, invisible to sensors and very difficult to spot with the naked eye, the cost is under 400k.

I didn't mind it at first, as his lifepath story had involved losing an arm.

This seem to compare positively with say subdermal armour (0.5M) and +3 Strength enhancement (5M, and assuming your natural strength was already 15).

Am I missing something, as I see no reason not to allow the armour to stack either.
JNJ
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Re: Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Postby JNJ » Thu Aug 02, 2018 6:00 pm

Very difficult to spot but very bad situation for the traveller if spotted...I think Third Imperium doesn't like this kind of prothesis.

In 1st edition Central Supply Catalog, IIRC, partial armor added only a quarter of its protection, rounded down. Would make 1 point.

That's how I would manage it if I found it overpowered in my campaign.

Just my thoughts...
CaladanGuard
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Re: Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Postby CaladanGuard » Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:28 pm

One of my players have one in my current game.

With regards to the armor, I just give them the full amount in melee (where they have a solid bit of control over what is going where), and roll a d6 for ranged. 1, it hits that arm, armor counts. Anything else, it's landing somewhere else, can't help you if the round lands on his head.

Players have been happy with it so far. They haven't gone anywhere advanced enough (Or Imperial enough) that the legality of killy-arm has come into question yet.
steve98052
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Re: Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Postby steve98052 » Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:24 pm

A limb that is vastly stronger than the body it is attached to would need safety features that prevent it from hurting the rest of the body. For example, suppose the arm is strong enough to lift a two ton ground car. In the absence of a safety override, an attempt to do such a lift might apply two tons of force between the vehicle bumper and the person's feet. That would not be good for the human's spine. An extremely strong broadsword by a super-arm might cause damaging rotational force to be point in the body where the arm is attached. The most useful use would be something that doesn't apply much force on the rest of the body, such as crushing grip or a powerful wrist snap when throwing something.
Epicenter
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Re: Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Postby Epicenter » Fri Aug 03, 2018 4:56 am

It's a bit overpowered, but that's mostly because writers of RPG materials tend to have big problems understanding the limitations of cybernetics (and when it is pointed out to them, instead of fixing it they just shrug it of as "it's sci-fi").

As others have pointed out, you need to be pretty wary of strength ratings on an arm, particularly strength ratings that increase a character's overall strength. To go into this further, the arm is just an arm - the majority of tasks we imagine involving arm strength also involve muscles of the upper body. The arm is still anchored to the squishy human body - long before the arm fails, the human body will fail. So I question the bonus of any strength. Now, perhaps at high TLs the installation of a cybernetic limb assumes the laying a very complex internal network of artificial tendons, muscles, and ligaments stretching from the point of attachment across the entire body to support this new arm - but that's up to you (at the cost of these arms, this might very well be happening especially at high TLs).

* There is a huge difference where the arm is mounted on the human body as well. For instance, an arm that is mounted on the stump of his upper arm is going to be far less capable than an arm that replaces that entire limb as well as being mounted to an artificial socket mount that replaces/reinforces the muscles, bones, and other internal structure related to that shoulder. The 'stump arm attachment' is much more likely if the arm is replacing a limb lost due to injury. The arm/shoulder replacement is much more likely if the character decided he wanted to go the full monty and paid out of pocket for true enhancement rather than just a limp replacement.

* A character who has a cybernetic arm, or even two cybernetic arms is not going to be able to dead-lift more than he can currently, nor will he be able to hold up more weight than a human body or even his natural strength can - the human muscles of the rest of his body, such as the shoulders, abdomen, and so on (so necessary in lifting) wouldn't be able to lift the weight. Again without some sort of supermaterial reinforcement, the flesh and bone of the rest of his body would break if he tried to lift something far beyond human limits, but long before that his human muscles wouldn't be able to take the weight.

* He wouldn't be able to roll a car or a truck or a train over, unless he used his brain and perhaps set up some sort of lever appropriate to do it (but with that, even a normal human could do it).

* He would be able to punch slightly harder than he does now by pistoning his forearm, but it'd still run into the human body's limits, but again the limit is based on the mounting base of the arm. An arm attached to the arm stump wouldn't be able to punch much harder than a normal arm. An arm attached to a reinforced shoulder mount that with some reinforcement to the skeleton around it could probably punch quite hard, probably a bit beyond human limits. Of course, his cybernetic might be made of much harder stuff than flesh and bone, so a punch might hurt more, easily break someone's jaw and so on - basically his blow would be like getting hit by someone with a steel gauntlet. If the limb has some special "punching attachment" - like the forearm has a pistoning function that can telescope out another 25% its length might be able to punch pretty hard - but again, the countermass to that has to occur on his body, so it's unlikely he's going to punch through steel bulkheads. He might be able to punch through a wooden door but he'd feel it in the form of bad bruising on the attachment point for his arm.

* He would be better than he was at arm wrestling, but again, it'd be within human limits (as again, the arm would get ripped off otherwise).

* He would be able to crush a steel cylinder or a man's head in his palm.

* He'd be able to pulverize someone else's arm by wedging in the crook of his elbow and squeezing, how useful this would be in grappling I'm not sure.

* He could dangle on a ledge by his fingertips alone "indefinitely" -- for periods of time encountered in most gameplay he'd be fine. Yes, if you hang by your arms long enough you'll dislocate your arms and so on by overstressing ligaments and muscles - that would still happen - but that's not something you run into in most games. However, hanging by his fingers for an hour or three would be no problem for this character. Similarly, he'd be able to maintain a grip on something forever without cramping up. For instance, he could probably hang on the outside of an airplane moving at moderate speed for a very long time. As it nears the speed of sound, I think his body would be ripped off his arm by drag.

* Within the constraints of his human body, he could do some very odd things, however. Like he could handstand on his cybernetic arm by collapsing the elbow then straightening it out quickly to leap into the air, likely a two, maybe three meters. Probably not much more than that without causing some sort of dislocation. If the cybernetic arm replaces his entire arm and part of the shoulder, this would be very possible. If it is attached to a stump of his upper arm, much less possible. In essence, he might be able to do this "handstand jump" much higher than he could jump using his legs.

EDIT: One thing, if you choose to introduce these kinds of limits, be sure your player knows these limits well before game sessions begin - don't spring them on him when he tries to do something cool with his arm only to be told "no, you can't."
Old School
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Re: Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Postby Old School » Fri Aug 03, 2018 3:43 pm

I played a character with the TL 13 arm with 15 strength. Lost his arm in character creation but was given a new one. Maybe from the expanded scout events/mishaps? When mustering out he got the combat upgrade, so he upgraded from TL11 to TL13. 15 is within the range of human strength, so limited need to determine what was possible without hurting himself. The ref allowed the +3 bonus to melee attacks. Also allowed the full armor bonus for melee, akin to using it as a shield. Strength checks were dependent on the actual task. If the physical task could reasonably be performed with one (superhuman) arm, then the +3 was allowed. If not, the bonus was lowered or even disallowed.

For ranged attacks, I think I had the option of a partial armor bonus or rolling to see what body part was hit. The body part thing was too much detail, so I think he got a +1 or +2 armor against gunfire.

These changes give somewhat more realistic benefits, and reduce the overpowered aspect of it. Full bonus for swinging a heavy sword (a decidedly full body action if done correctly) was questionable under our logic, but you gotta have a little fun!
arcador
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Re: Combat Arm - Overpowered?

Postby arcador » Fri Aug 17, 2018 1:30 pm

I will repeat what others said.

Purely by game rules, it is damn overpowered, both as net effect and listed price. But traveller was never a game to be played purely by game rules (at least classic and mgt).

What the other people here said makes a lot of sense. For a year, I train with weights, mostly conditioning training. My strength in most exercises increased dramatically. My average strength increased far less - I can lift x2 weights compared to when I started, but with special techniques. Without those techniques, perhaps 25% maximum, with the risk of injury. So, in my view, in essence, a big portion of the strength comes from techniques. Improve the techniques and you improve your strength. Also, techniques usually involve the use of the full body - various other muscles working in sync. When I do deadlifts (a variation), probably only my face muscles don't contribute.

So, an artificial arm, in theory, would not grant that much of a boon since the rest of the body will remain out of balance. The risk of injury will be high, and also it will have to compensate (usually happening naturally) with some strange postures, that might also lead to injury.

As in terms of game mechanics - a varying bonus is perhaps the most elegant solution. Some actions, as others mentioned, can be 100% done with the arm. Others, barely. Also, this is a bonus and is in no way the Traveller's STR score, which remains unchanged.

Also, the armour is getting too much IMO. Others provided good solutions to the armour bonus.

I would allow the bonus for handling Bulky weapons and doing melee attacks, and perhaps some isolated STR checks. In my view, the arm comes with a shoulder and is significantly attached to the torso.

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Another modification is to consider that it comes with a heavy torso and spine modification (thus the armour bonus) and increase the cost x20.

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