That is how people usually spend their holidays, right? Shutting themselves in and writing stuff, no? Anyway.
Today I have for you a middle of the road update. The text has less typos, is better organized, and in general things are clearer. There's still a lot of layout work to do (the current page backgrounds and sheets are placeholders) so I will probably do another of these updates with 'quality of life' improvements in 1-2 more months. Hopefully after that the game will be finished.
A few weeks ago I brought up what you were going to see today, and the grand majority of it remains the same. A few things did change between then and now though, so let's go over them quick.
Two Promotions and two Demotions
The grand majority of changes are buffs, and they are either pretty inoffensive buffs or obviously necessary. Those are 'Stable' changes, while the more adventurous and dramatic changes are called 'experimental' and have their own separate pdf.
Two supposedly Stable changes stood out in discussion as being perhaps more strong than intended: Interference Bomb and Electro-Sapper Pods. To ensure that their power level is fine they'll go in the experimental manual for now. In the meantime, Interference Bomb will halve the Might of all Units in an Area, while the Pods remain as-is because a bonus 1-3 points of Damage isn't a bad deal anyway.
Because sometimes you just need to shoot beyond the horizon.
Changes I Forgot to Mention
Tweak things back and forth while testing them out long enough and you will forget to note down some of them. While checking out feedback and comparing it to my notes I realized that I forgot to bring up a few more changes. Here they are:
-Experimental Reactor got a slight nerf to cost 2 Energy instead of 1.
-Got you Where I Wanted lets you move the target a number of Zones equal to the entirety of the Damage.
-Take One for the Team lets you redirect all of the Damage towards the user.
-Bloodlust was missing its Level 2 buff, now it grants 5 Might.
Two are welcome buffs, one is a moderate nerf to basically the game's best damage increasing ability, and the last was kind of obligatory. There really is not much else to say.
An Absolute Barrier works pretty well with Take One for the Team.
Expanded Experimental Material
Three weeks was more than enough for me to notice some of the more obvious problems with the first draft of the Experimental Content I posted. It was also enough to come up with some more things to try out. The most dangerous change (yet also the most exciting) was by far the buff to Commander Type, I did say that it was potentially extraordinarily powerful... And that's basically what it was.
At the end of the day the only way to effectively counter a Commander Type User was to cut off their energy supply... Through another instance of Commander Type. In consequence I retouched and weakened it a little. It is still very powerful though, so be careful if you want to allow it in a game.
That's the bad news. The good news is that there are two new buffs: Don't Give Up now restores an amount of Threshold equal to the user's Systems and Overcharge costs 5, so that you can combo it with the Experimental Commander Type.
Closer and closer to a viable Mecha concept.
And last but definitely not least...
Attribute Advancement Changes
All PCs under the Experimental rules start with 100 Character Points and 100 Mecha Points to spend however they wish at Power Level 0. Each Power Level also grants them 20 Character Points and 20 Mecha Points, plus a Genre Point and a Genre Power. Attributes start at 0, and you Enhance them in instances of +2 each, as shown in the table below.
I pinky swear that any resemblance to mechanics from GGG is coincidental.
Let's quickly go over what this accomplishes:
Elimination of leftover points: The way the math worked previously it made getting 4's and 5's the one surefire way to avoid having a leftover of points. I was aware from the beginning that low PL characters would look a bit same-y Attribute-wise, but even after that the increases tend to come in '15s' (4 to 6 or 7 to 8) because otherwise you'd have 1-4 spare points you can do nothing with. With everything coming in multiples of 5 that would no longer be a problem.
Starting characters have more XP and can spend it on whatever they wish: This allows for a little bit more variety in what starting Characters and Mecha can do. The total XP at Level 1 is basically the same amount, but being able to do whatever you want with it does help. It is also less confusing because you don't have to manage a predetermined amount for Attributes, a predetermined amount for abilities, and then the amount you can do anything with. This one is all upside as far as I'm concerned.
High Power Level characters have less XP: This one is half upside and half downside. On one hand it cuts down on some of the more powerful strategies that PCs of PL 4 and 5 could get away with... On the other hand, that's not always a bad thing. Having less XP at the high end makes things easier to balance and also weakens Grunts and Bosses, not just PCs and Rival NPCs.
Your Attributes can only be in even numbers: Again this one has its pros and cons. The con is that there is less freedom in how you can distribute your Attributes and you can't really make a Character with slightly under or above average Charm, it has to be strictly average, bad, or great. The game already grades your Attributes by twos, though, so it is not really a big change in that regard. Also, by having all Attributes be always even, we could reinstate the old rule of always rounding halved values up. I'm not entirely sure this is the right call yet, but the main reason BCG roundes values down is that there is a lot of Attribute halving going around and the balance of the game is better when Attributes are rounded down, not up.
Attributes are slightly cheaper to increase and more convenient to manage: Even if there is less XP to go around, Attributes are actually cheaper to increase now so endgame PCs can end up with builds that are pretty similar to the ones in the current version of BCG. It might sound like a loss of 40 points, but it is really more like a loss of 20-30, and it is spread through five Power Levels. It does not hurt that much, but it does mitigate the commonality of some late game obscene combos.
There's a few more side effects, and honestly I should go more in depth into the numbers there, but I think it should get a post of its own if I am going to do it justice.
That it feels similar to this is a nice bonus.
One More Thing
Terrain. Yes, that thing is Terrain. There has been some (quite a bit of) confusion over how Terrain and Terrain-like effects work. The troubleshooting section does clarify this, but it keeps coming up so perhaps I ought to rewrite how they work so that they're more intuitive. Currently abilities like Flyer and Anti-Gravity let you ignore Terrain, but not Terrain effects like those of Incinerator or Ensnaring Trap. Terrain effects also do not stack, so you can't be set on fire twice but you also can't be set on fire while having mines detonated under you. Well, you can, but the second effect will not do anything.
The general idea was that I could let the effects be stronger if they couldn't stack, for example Ensnaring Trap halves two Attributes when I originally was going to make it only halve Speed. I do like the way Terrain itself works, but the abilities that cause Terrain effects might be in need of a touchup. Hence the poll you see to the right.
I could rewrite abilities like Incinerator or Ensnaring Trap so that they create Zones of Extreme or Difficult Terrain, thus they would function in the way that seems to make the most sense, without having to change any other rules. But I could also change Terrain slightly and make the negative conditions stack if you apply multiples of them on the same Zone or target.
I hope to get the production gears spinning a little bit faster in what is left of this month and the next. I have a schedule more or less planned out, so there'll be lots of things to discuss in the near future. The schedule itself should be the subject of a post coming soon, as well.
But that's for another day. Today Easter awaits. Have a Happy Easter if you celebrate and a Pleasant Sunday if you don't.