Jul 24, 2016

BCG Retrospective XIII: Anomalies.

Anomalies don't have much of a design story, because I knew from day one that I wanted 0-cost Traits with a positive and a negative side to them. They would represent things that alter the character fundamentally as something different from the norm. All Anomalies do something very distinctive in flavor, mechanics or both. Some of them could, arguably, be regular Traits instead of costing 0 and having a downside. Others, though, just wouldn't make sense without their drawback. Mechanically, I think Anomalies offer a cheap way to get some bonuses but also condition your build in interesting ways, which is a pretty good spot to be in. Let's go over them one by one.

Cyborg
Grants a lot of damage immunities permanently at the cost of being worse off socially. If you're not going to make a social butterfly and don't care about the cost, this is a ridiculously good deal to take. Sure, your PC might not ever be poisoned or go weeks without having anything to eat, but it provides a tremendous safety net that just so happens to cover things like most uses of Miniature Chemical Weapon. The Trait is a little too strong, to be honest, and it should grant one or two Advantages to resisting the Damage it currently prevents. Still, the immunities aren't super common and being immune instead of resistant makes a certain degree of sense, so it is not too overpowered.

Nightmare
This one is for the PCs with a monstrous or creepy side to them, giving the user the rare ability to make attacks using Charm instead of Fitness. It can only make one attack per target, however, afterwards the target is immunized to it until the next Episode Arc... Which makes sense for what is essentially an intimidation attack. The problem is that it penalizes all other uses of the Charm stat, so you're likely making an attack with what is probably one of your worse stats without the appropriate skill, or you've made a gimped build which is probably worse. Flavorfully, this makes most sense as an Anomaly, but mechanically it wants to be a Trait that allows an intimidation attack once per Episode or so.

Undying
This might just be the best example of an Anomaly whose benefit and drawback are intrinsically linked to each other. You can't separate them and make this a regular Trait without spoiling the concept entirely. The mechanics are like a Backup Bodies on steroids and, flavorwise, it might just be the single most powerful ability in the game - few things have the impact that immortality does. The flavor text and the name ("Undying" rather than "Immortal") help convey that, while the benefits are pretty cool, the drawbacks are significant as well. Try this with an Unstable Reactor build!

Technobane
This one is less an anime trope and more of a RPG trope. Much like Undying, the combination of benefit and drawback combine in such a way that it can't be made a regular all-upside Trait without missing the point of the flavor. The ability itself is really powerful in a science fiction setting, but the downsides are considerable. Missing out on Electronics, Vehicles and most Equipment makes for a fairly constraining Anomaly that works with Fitness and Intellect builds but prefers using other stats. All things said, this could have been a little stronger, but the effect is already so powerful that it would take considerable tweaking to figure out just how much it can be safely pushed.

Wild
The ability to communicate with animals is generally more of a western thing than something seen in anime, and it is not a very good fit for most science fiction games. That said, wild childs are relatively common and nobody is stopping you from taking the animal speech thing as a form of intuition rather than a supernatural skill. So how did this come to be? Well, we had room for another Anomaly and the game needed more options for non-Intellect and outdoorsy-type builds, and inspiration struck while discussing Aquarion. In that sense, you could say the inspiration for this ability is Apollo, who is a wild child mecha pilot (as in the concept, not this specific ability) through and through.

Other than Nightmare, all the Anomalies get a passing grade. They are the Traits that change and define a character the most, not bad at all for a bunch of abilities that don't cost any CP!

Next: All that's left for pure Intermission PC content are Themes. Then we'll start August with Genre Powers.

Gimmick Out.

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