Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Attack Abilities and Wolverine

Another of the key differences between the supers and fantasy systems –and between heroes and monsters in the fantasy system- is the use of weapons. We have to go one of two ways with this…

1. The ability to wield weapons is an ability you have to purchase. Melee Weapons (+2 CPs) is linked to your might; missile weapons (+2 CPs) is linked to your Precision. Without these abilities, you cannot wield weapons. This is rough, because everyone would have to pick this up in the fantasy game… and a wizard who never purchases either of these cannot wield weapons at all? Even a dagger? It doesn’t really make sense.

2. The restriction from wielding weapons is a limitation you get bonus CPs for. I like this one better; Batman doesn’t take this limitation, and gets to throw Batarangs; Thor doesn’t take it and gets a big hammer; Superman takes this limitation, meaning that he always defaults to his hands (or improvises weapons; more on that at some point). Enough super heroes wield weapons (Batman, Wolverine, Hawkman/Hawkwoman, Aquaman’s claw, the Wrecker’s crowbar, Absorbing Man’s Wrecking Ball, Backlash’s Whip, heck, even Captain America’s shield) that this limitation would be considered one. Just because a monster doesn’t routinely use a weapon doesn’t mean that it always buys this limitation; a giant spider doesn’t get to take this limitation, nor does a snake.

I love that in the fantasy system, you automatically get to wield a weapon rated at your might +1. It makes things simple and clean; you have might +5? You can wield an axe up to +6.

The supers system and monsters start to really complicate the whole thing considerably. A bear attacks deals damage with its bite… so it adds might to what exactly? Does it just double its might? This works in general, except when you get to Wolverine.

He’s a huge problem. Wolverine may only have might +3 or so… he takes strike (+2 CPs), allowing him to deal damage with his claws at double his might rating. How nice… he gets to deal +6 damage… that’s about as much as the night watchman in Beldin Mere. Wow. That sucks.

We have two options here… he can purchase the claw as another ability that stacks with his strike. Again, this doesn’t make sense… why does he have to buy this ability when the night watchman does not? The claws and the sword are both sharp weapons…

I’m thinking you almost need a “Wolverine Rule”… an ability you can buy for something like this. What about “Armor Piercing”? This is a ranked ability that allows you to completely ignore your target’s armor/invulnerability a number of times per scene equal to your rating? With armor piercing +8 (20 CPs), wolverine gets to ignore the target’s armor or invulnerability 8 times per scene. If he’s fighting the Hulk, he has 8 times he can just slip his claws right past the Hulk’s prodigious defenses. This is a huge ability, but it offsets his relatively low typical damage output… he’s only dealing an average of 13 points of damage each claw strike (7 on the die +3 might +3 from strike). The Hulk is soaking all of this (7 on the die +10 =17 wounds typically soaked each hit). However, Wolvie gets to hit 8 times for full damage- the full 13. He can decide to save his chances for when he deals exceptional damage; he rolls 10 on the die +6 =16 points, and burns one of his armor piercing attacks to rip through the Hulk, completely ignoring all of his protection, dealing the full 16 points. This effectively gives him +17 to damage several times; the ability is more effective against heavily-armored or high-invulnerability foes, but it’s limited by the number of times you can use it (your rating).

Even better, Wolverine would pick up finesse (2 CPs), using his precision rather than his might to determine weapon damage. He’s about speed and accuracy rather than pure power with those claws. Now, with his precision +5 (+10 damage from his claws), an average attack is going to be just barely soaked by Hulk’s invulnerability, but when he uses his armor piercing attack option, he’ll do in the neighborhood of 17 points on average. Since he can do that 8 times per scene, he knows that he’s going to deal an average of 136 wounds over 8 rounds. Wow. Okay, I’m no longer worried about his damage output! Maybe this should still allow the target to roll to soak, but it ignores the armor or invulnerability ability rating… the target rolls an unmodified soak. Now, the Hulk soaks an average of 7 wounds from an average damage roll of 17… it’s a solid attack, but not overwhelming. Wolverine is going to bump his precision to +6 (or even +7… this is Wolverine) to offset that.

Here’s a rough build for him…

Wolverine (99 CPs) Armor Piercing +8; Fighting +8 (Bonus Attack); Might +2; Precision +7 (Finesse; Claw Strike); Stamina +5; Intuition +6 (Nature; Stealth); Resolve +4; Regenerate +3

Wolverine can do a whole number of things:
- Attack with one claw, rolling +8 to attack and +14 for damage.
- Attack with both claws, attacking with the first at +4 and the second at +4 (for instance), dealing +14 damage with each.
- Choose on any attack (up to 8 per scene), to completely ignore the target’s armor or invulnerability rating on the soak roll, dealing the full damage (an average of 14 wounds; damage of 21 vs. a soak of 7).
- Use a resolve point to add his fighting +8 to this damage, now dealing an average of 22 total wounds.

It’s really important that the game be fully compatible between the two systems- you don’t have to tweak the rules when you move from one system to the other. A fantasy wizard is the same as a super-heroic wizard in every way. It seems like I'm getting closer with this build...

FYI, Regenerate allows you to recover your rating wounds every round. This regenerate +3 is pretty considerable, but it’s only 3% of his total health that he recovers every round. That’s about right for Wolverine, who heals very, very quickly.

One more thing about this… maybe for beasts, rather than purchasing a specific physical attack type (“Bite”), you simply purchase “Strike”, since it works in the same way, and you can explain what the strike is in the beast description. This keeps the terminology from getting confusing (“Uh, Mike, how exactly does a spiked tail swipe work?” “Oh, the same as a bite… or a claw… or a gore attack…”) “Strike” covers it all, and keeps it from getting confusing. Then, in the Wild Boar’s description, referring to its Strike +5, it will say “the boar’s primary strike is a gore with its formidable tusks; it uses its bonus attack to either kick with its hooves or trample a foe.” Now, I can decide that this turn the boar will gore at +4 to attack, and kick at +1 to attack.

I especially like how each layer of the game gives more tactical options through combat without adding to the amount of paperwork you need. You get a lot of mileage out of those few character stats.