June 3, 2012

Points in the Middle

Genre Points add to your survivability by reducing the damage your Plot Armor takes during an Intermission, they are the only modifier to Initiative in the game, and - of course - fuel Genre Powers during mecha Operations. They are the one mechanic that links the Pilot with the Mecha by design, and in doing so they also ensure that PCs are that much better than the average NPC. So far, so good.

The problem with the benefits that Genre Points provide is that they're contradictory. You want to stack and conserve them to be unbeatable in the ground and to avoid having to use them out in the field as much as possible. As a stopgap measure, Genre Points reset back to three at the end of every Arc to at least encourage people to not worry about this for longer than a few sessions at a time, but the issue is still present: You don't want to use Genre Powers.

Given that they are one of the game's key features, I think that is a bit of a problem. There is also the issue that, for all the wacky things you can do with Genre in your robot, Points cannot be spent to do any cool stuff at all in Intermissions. Not even rerolls. While I don't intend for every power to have a pilot-scale equivalent effect, some way to be able to contribute to Intermissions would be nice - specially if we're diminishing or removing their defensive contribution.

Luckily, there are a ton of relatively simple to implement solutions to these issues, some of which I have already posted - though they were intended as variant systems to replace the Episode Arc structure and as such don't address more than that. Unfortunately they have considerable drawbacks to them, such as removing the Episode Arc structure entirely. The most obvious solution of all, to simply remove the bonuses granted to Defenses, makes it so that NPC enemies have a very easy time murdering the PCs thanks to Tension bonuses. Fixing this by increasing PC Defenses in turn messes up the math with the DNs and starting Modifiers from Attributes and Skills, though perhaps Genre Points can be spent to mitigate some of that.

While I generally like to stick to the simplest and most elegant solution, there isn't a satisfactory one here from what I can see. Redoing some of the Intermission math would be preferrable to avoiding the issue and sticking to half baked resolutions, and I am thinking of combining multiple ideas into one.

This was my first idea:

-Defenses are now a fixed number independent of Genre Points, a 5/8/11 array that cannot be boosted with further PP.
-A Genre Point may be spent to reroll any one Test at an Advantage or to force someone else to reroll one Test with a Disadvantage, you may do this any number of times per Intermission or even per Scene, but only once per Test.
-Genre Points spent during Intermissions turn into Temporary Genre Points at the beginning of the very next Operation, still providing a bonus to Initiative.

This one fixes all issues in a relatively elegant way, unmodifiable Defenses hurt a bit (specially the one at 5) but you can still buff up your Plot Armor and can now force the higher rolls made against you to pretty much fail. Why stop there, though? Another alternative also springs to mind, a slightly more radical one:

-Genre Points are now a fixed number (starting at three) that is reset after each Operation. The number increases with every Arc by one. You can still gain more by roleplaying, but they will be reset back to three if you don't use them the next chance you get.
-Defenses use the fixed numbers from current Plot Armor (the 4/5/6 array) and can be boosted with PP up to 10 times, Plot Armor now runs off your Attribute entirely and may not be upgraded further.
-You can spend a Genre Point to roll an additional d10 on top of a Test you have already rolled, or to add 5 to the DN of any one Test (as in the optional rules for stacking Advantages and Disadvantages), you may do this multiple times per Intermission or Scene but only once per Test.
-Genre Points spent during Intermissions turn into Temporary Genre Points at the beginning of the very next Operation, still providing a bonus to Initiative.

This one changes the flow of gameplay to a much more faster paced one. Sure, Defenses can get much higher and every character with Genre can now outright say "No." to anything by increasing DNs on the spot, but you can also overpower them that much harder. Potentially, anyway. The one issue I have with this is that it might get repetitive since the same Powers might be spammed every single Operation, likely in the same order to boot.

I don't think either of these is going to make the final cut though, but they're a start, and will probably both help shape the final version.

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