Dec 17, 2017

BCZ Retrospective VII: New General Powers.

The New General Powers are... Well, they're New and they're Powers alright. They don't have a specific purpose or theme, they're just ideas that I thought would make for good Powers or stuff that people commissioned. Not the most exciting origin story, I know, but that's how it happened.

Hang in There!
This Power is the kind of ability that the expansion was made for. As a countermeasure against a very specific kind of enemy (Invasive ones), it is either a lifesaver and nearly obligatory (because you're fighting them often) or almost a waste of a Power slot because you're not fighting them at all. These are what I call 'feast or famine' abilities, where they're either great or terrible with little room for a middle ground. I think it is best when a core book sticks to stuff that more or less everyone can use and the binary or niche rules content is expansion material. There are some feast or famine powers, upgrades and weapons in BCG, but none to the extent of this Power.

I Am a Loose Cannon and Stake My Life on It
Attack bonuses are badass, and attack bonuses that hurt the user are even more badass. The problem with balancing them is that, should you win the battle after using them and before the enemy gets to counterattack, their risk factor is negated. Hence, I think these bonuses are best when you don't have full control over neither the damage boost nor the kickback you get from it. Of these two Powers, the former is highly variable in effectiveness while the latter depends on the status of your current Threshold Level. I think that's the right way to go about them. With that said, they're still very exploitable and an instrumental component of some overpowering builds which I'll get to later. Some fun facts about both powers: I Am a Loose Cannon is a commissioned ability that went to print as it was conceived after my first chat with the creator. Stake My Life on It used to be a Weapon in an early draft of BCG (and in GGG, before that) but was discarded because it was a bit too complex and difficult to use properly.

I Am Your Opponent
Another commissioned ability. This one is a staple of the anime action genre and the mechanics go very well with its flavor. It is an okay option for duelist builds, but I think this could have been a bit stronger.

Take Cover!
By far the easiest way to break the game is to stack attack bonuses with a crowd control weapon and nuke the entire enemy force all at once. This is a huge no-sell to those strategies. Arguably, it is too much of a hard counter, but it is a necessary one. I have said in the past that defensive abilities need to be stronger than offensive abilities, partly because there's less of them (so you can stack offensive buffs to overcome them) and partly because there's no point to bothering with a defensive ability if it can't negate the kind of attack it is supposed to defend against. Having around NPCs with Take cover! means that Blast-and-Burst happy PCs must get rid of those NPCs first or at least make them use the Power before going all-out. Which, in turn, means that the PC squad need to spend more GPs scanning enemies to figure out who are the Take Cover! users and how many there are in each given fight. It makes combat much more cerebral and forces PCs to work together so they can make the huge blowouts possible. I don't think that's the right approach for every kind of game, but it is the one I prefer for a point-buy system like BCG.

You are Already Dead
I don't know how it took until the expansion for a Power with this name to get made, but somehow it wasn't in the core book. Unfortunately, I think it ended up a little bit on the weak side, as all it really does is hit an Enemy for moderate Damage once per battle. At high levels, the Damage is very high indeed, but it is only to a single target and at that point enemies are much bulkier than low level ones. It is simply more practical to take Signature Weapon (which does about the same total Damage, if not more, at all stages of the game) and Impetuous Style (which almost always does more, though only with specific Weapons) But then, what would be the right Damage number? Might + Tension? That would probably be overpowering with all the Tension bonuses in the game. Might + Half Tension? Probably unnoticeable without the aforementioned bonuses making the halved Tension large enough. Half Might + Tension? This one is more interesting, as it is more useful at mid and low levels, but it remains exploitable. I'd be interested in hearing ideas for this Power, if you my readers have any.

That's the General Powers. These didn't have to commit to any strong particular themes and could largely be anything they wanted. They ended up being rather strong and, for the most part, perform their jobs very well.

Next: Rush Powers.

Gimmick Out.

5 comments:

  1. I can see YaAD as a nice finishing move of sorts. Get 7+ might and combine it with It's Over. It's a nice flat damage bonus that ignores enemy defences. Maybe instead of basing it on the player's stats, it's on the enemy's? Deal damage equal to enemy threshold attribute, or half remaining threshold, or something similar?

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    1. Basing it on the threshold stat could be an interesting boss killer ability. It is a stronger version of "destroy the target's current level of threshold", since that also does damage based on threshold but, well, it is almost always lower than the full value.

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    1. I think you're pretty damn wrong about You are Already Dead, my dude. I remember two players in a game both got might up to 10 and then would just kill bosses by hitting them once each and then already dead them.

      EDIT: Not sure how I missed that error.

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    2. I'm glad to hear that! And I'd love to be wrong, I personally think the numbers are a bit on the low side compared to other powers, at least with optimized characters.

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