Saturday, April 23, 2011

Breaking Stealth

(Warning: LONG post ahead)

Time to see how awesome the stalker’s stealth ability is… and how to fix it because it’s probably broken. Ooh! It’s fun breaking your own game…

Before I even start, I’m going to use some of what I learned during my Judah Marakev playtest about the penalty based on your margin of failure; stealth allows you to take your margin of success against the target each turn as long as you’re stealthed; once the target sees you, you must spend 1 turn to re-establish stealth.

Tashya, Moon Elf Stalker (60 CPs); Soak physical +6; bow +8 (attack +7/damage +8/range 15)
Arms +6 (missile +8/armor +6/melee +4); Intuition +6; Precision +7; Stealth +8

Tashya is going to take on a huge threat far beyond her capabilities: a frost giant inquisitor. This foe is built on 90 CPs, so should wipe the floor with her.

Frost Giant Inquisitor
(90 CPs); soaks phys +8/magic +4; two-handed sword +9 (att +12/dmg +17); throws rocks +9 (att +12/dmg +9/rng 12); treas +2
Arms +7 (armor +7/melee +9/missile +5); Immunity (cold); Evade +2; Intuition +3; Invulnerable +4; Might +12; Weapon Specialist (two-handed) +8
Towering over every adversary, the 20’ tall frost giant overseer wields a mighty sword and throws huge stones, grinding humans and other lesser foes beneath his heel.

We’ll stack the deck in her favor; she is stealthed and 15 units away from the frost giant who stands watch. She positions herself on a slope 150’ away and opens fire… we’ll use static 7 for the frost giant here, since this emulates ‘typical’ results more effectively.

She rolls stealth and gets 7+8=15 vs. the DR 10 (from his intuition +3). She gets +5 to her attack; she rolls 10+7+5=22 to hit, and the giant evades at 9. She hits by +13; for damage, she rolls 7+8+13=28 wounds. The giant’s armor soaks 7+8=15 wounds, and he suffers 13, leaving him at 77 wounds.

Sequence: Tashya goes on 4+6=10, and the giant goes on 10 as well. We’ll let Tashya go first.

Round 1

Tashya attempts to continue to stealth, rolling 8+8=16 vs. the giant’s intuition resist of 10. She gets +6 to her attack; she rolls 7+7+6=20 to hit vs. the giant’s evade of 9; she hits by +11. For damage, she rolls 8+8+11=27 wounds; after the 15 wounds its armor roll soaks, she deals 12 wounds, leaving him at 65. The giant (unable to see her), throws a rock at her; she is 15 units away, so is 3 units beyond his range (giving her +3 to evade). She also gets to add her stealth +8 to her evade. It attacks at 19, and she rolls 3+0 (she didn’t take evade) +8+3=14 to evade- and gets hit with a big rock! For damage, the giant deals 7+9+5=21 wounds; she rolls 10+6=16 to soak, and suffers 5 wounds, leaving her at 55.

Round 2

Tashya keeps her stealth going, rolling 3+8=11 vs. the giant’s static intuition result of 10… she will only lose stealth in this situation with a natural 2. My curiosity gets the best of me, and I roll for him instead of taking the static 7 on this roll; he rolls 6+3=9. Nope. She only has a margin of success of +2, so adds +2 to her attack (the giant almost sees her after the rock careens into her). She rolls 6+7+2=15 to hit; the giant evades at 9, so she hits by +6. For damage, she rolls 9+8+6=23 wounds; it soaks 15 and suffers 8, leaving him at 57. The giant throws another stone at a result of 19, and she rolls 4+0+8=12 to evade; again, she is hit - this time by +7. For damage, the giant deal 7+9+7=23 wounds. After her armor soaks 7+6=13 wounds, she suffers 10 and is now down to 45.

Round 3
She continues to use stealth, rolling 3 (again!) +8=11 to stealth. We’ll let the giant roll again to see her, and he gets 4+3=7… poor giant! She succeeds by +4, and rolls 7+7+4=18 vs. his evade of 9; she hits by +9. For damage, she rolls 9+8+9=26 wounds, which after his armor soaks 15 means that he suffers 11 wounds, leaving him at 46. She has to dodge another boulder, and rolls 10+8+3=21. This one she manages to duck.

Round 4
Still with her stealth active, Tashya rolls 5+8=13; we’ll give the giant back his 7+2=9, so she gets +4 to attack; she fires her bow, rolling 7+7+4=18 to hit vs. the giant’s evade 9; she hits by +9. For damage, she rolls 7+8+9=24; its armor soaks 15, so it suffers 9 wounds and is down to 37… I like her odds more by the second! It throws another boulder, and she rolls 6+8+3=17 to evade; it hits her by +2. She has to roll to soak the damage of 7+9+2=18 wounds; she rolls 10+6=16, and suffers only 2 wounds, leaving her at 43.

Round 5
For stealth, Tashya rolls 8+8=16 vs. his intuition of 10, so she takes +6 to attack; she rolls with her bow, getting 5+7+6=18 to hit vs. the giant’s evade of 9; she hits by +9. For damage, she rolls 6+8+9=23 wounds; after the giant’s armor soaks 15 wounds, it suffers 8 and is down to 29. It throws another boulder, and she rolls 4+0+8+3=15 to evade; it hits by +4. She has to roll to soak the damage of 7+9+4=20 wounds; she rolls 8+6=14 and suffers 6 wounds, leaving her at 37.

Round 6

Tashya rolls a natural 2, and fails her stealth roll! The giant sees her. She can use a turn to re-stealth, but it will not take effect until her next turn. She does that, but gets no evade bonus this round. Rut Roh Raggy! The giant hurls a boulder, and she rolls 3 (!) +3 (from range) =6 to evade; the giant hits by +13… ouch! She rolls to soak the damage of 7+12+13=32 wounds, and gets 5+6=14… she suffers 21 wounds, and is down to 16. One more failed roll, and she’s done.

Round 7
Tashya rolls 4+8=12 to stealth. I’ll give the giant the chance to see her; he rolls 11+2=13 to see her! She tries to duck for cover, but cannot. He’s keyed in on her now. Without stealth (and some good rolls with it), she really has little chance to do much to this guy; she’ll hit by an average of +5, so she’ll deal an average of 5 wounds with each hit without the benefits of stealth. However, it only has 29 wounds… this is a difficult strategic choice. She cannot hope it will keep missing her, so she goes for it; she rolls her attack and gets 4+7=11 vs. its evade of 9. She hits by +2. For damage, she rolls 12+8+2=22 wounds; it soaks 15 and suffers 7 wounds; it’s down to 22. She’s done a good job so far, but her luck has run out! The giant throws a boulder at her, and she rolls to evade, getting 7+3=10. It hits by +9. Its damage is 7+9+9=25 wounds; she needs a good soak roll here. She rolls 8+6=14; she suffers 11 wounds, and is down to 5.

Round 8
She looses another arrow, rolling 7+7=14 vs. the static evade of 9. She hits by +5. For damage, she rolls 6+8+5=19 wounds; this means the giant suffers only 4 wounds after factoring in his armor, so he’s down to 18. It throws a boulder, and she rolls 9+3=12 to evade, giving the giant a +7 margin of success; she rolls to soak its damage of 7+9+7=23 wounds, and gets 7+6=13; she suffers 10 wounds, taking her to -5. She has to roll might to continue, and gets 7+0=7. She’s still up- barely!

Round 9
She fires and gets 8+7=15 to hit, so her margin of success is +6. For damage, she rolls 6+8+6=22 wounds, so the giant suffers 7 wounds and is down to 11. She’s so close! She has to dodge another boulder, and rolls 4+3=7; it hits by +12. Against its damage of 7+9+12=28, she rolls 7+6=13… she suffers 15 wounds, and is now at -20. She falls. The giant strides over and delivers a final death blow with his club, and then drags her bloodied corpse inside to have for dinner…

With the changes I made, I no longer feel that stealth is broken! It’s a great ability to be sure, but when it goes away, it leaves the hero with a big gap in his defenses, and takes away his primary combat advantage!
With some evade, Tashya would have been able to sidestep several of the giant’s attacks; even dropping her intuition to +5 would free up a few points for evade that would make a considerable difference. This 3 CPs would have been better distributed to give a few points of evade and just 1 resolve point; that would have allowed her to re-active stealth as a free turn, or take a bonus to a stealth roll that would have saved her bacon. Without it, she had to rely completely on the dice, and they REALLY let her down.