August 19, 2012

So why are there Classes?

Has it already been a month? Man, time flies. Anyway stuff is happening, though like I said there won't be any updates for a bit.

One thing that might seem odd about the system is that despite being generic and point-buy there's actual character classes (or character class-like things) in the form of Natures. They're not as restrictive as proper classes, like a Barbarian or a Wizard, tend to be but they have a similar effect. The other choices that are only possible during character creation (Archetypes, Chassis, and to a much lesser extent Traits) all have some kind of rule, or ruling, to let you change them or take more of them - Gears can be changed and the acquisition of Traits can always be justified one way or another, but your Nature is a permanent thing that more or less shapes your entire character in and out of the battlefield.

Like everything, this has its pros and its cons. Natures are a template you can customize to your liking, but they're still a template that you have to play with. And if you want someone who is a great fighter but even better with people then none of the choices seem to fit like a glove: You are going to have to use some of your starting points to up Attributes a little. And you better think of what future choices in Genre Powers you want down the line too! The Prodigy is all about endurance and versatility while the Coordinator is all about support, and if you're the leader type you want the Professional.

At the individual PC level this isn't too bad, but at the party level it doesn't work so well. Two characters with the same Nature will step on each other's toes a little, enough that they will have to focus on entirely different extremes of the archetype to be completely different. Three of the same nature makes it impossible. Now granted, this should be obvious and is not really the fault of the system for the most part, but different games focus on different types of scenes. If you know your game will be heavy on the physical action out of the robots, why should you have to choose a Nature that isn't very good at roughing up bad guys just to have different Powers?

On the other hand, it gives you a mechanical focus, and mechanical focus means you will be good at something. Genre Powers can afford to be pretty damn strong because of this, without risking complete imbalance since everyone is good at a couple different things. Which means it is that much harder to end up by mistake with a character that is bad and not actually fun to play. That and having a guide to help you conceptualize a character is very useful, specially when you're starting out and you're trying to absorb all the rules at once. Making your first PC, or making the first enemies if you're the GM, is tough. That's why there's so many pages of fluff and premade content, to show how these rules can be used in different ways.

But there has to be a way to get the good without the bad, right? I mean it sure would be cool to have multiple Designs such as having both health and energy regeneration, or to mix up a Coordinator's supporting with a Professionals' leadership Powers... Without having to water them down to make sure no single character is overpowered. Well, kinda sorta. Designs can just be a thing you buy with UP, much like normal upgrades but without being a thing that can be enhanced. Chassis types along with the bonuses from Natures could let you shuffle their numbers around. What about Genre Powers? Well, what if instead of being tied to natures you were to instead divide them into thematic packages? One for being speedy, another for being tanky, another for keeping your friends alive, another for weakening multiple enemies, and so on and so on. You choose a couple of said packages starting out, and cherrypick powers from them as the game goes on, with the chance to switch out packages later.

The end result of doing away with these pseudoclasses would be a much more customizable game, without being TOO open ended or easily abused.


  1. Is Tension supposed to be so hard to hit 10 with? As it stands the only way to get a Potential ability to activate in any appreciable amount of time is with Learning Computer, Component spam, or both. This tends to make Potential abilities feel mandatory because their effects are so strong and valuable at high Tension, but then feel like a waste in practice.

  2. A ruling clarification: if you Enhance a Component/Aide, is it supposed to be able to still use the extra Action while combined with you to attack with, effectively giving you an extra turn each round, or only to Cooperate?

  3. My experience with Tension-related abilities in general is that they don't quite work as expected for way too many reasons. I am currently trying them out lowering the required numbers to 5 and 7. The biggest issue is that doing this would require the lowering of their power and cost, and anything with a Tension raiser would then have better stats than anything or anyone else after making all those purchases.

    A Sub-Unit you are Combined with can only Cooperate.

  4. To clarify, they would only have the 1 action to Cooperate from the Component half, or would they have the ones from the Aide Enhancement and other sources as well?

  5. Cooperate honestly verges on overpowered because of the Tension boosting effect. It creates a reverse death spiral effect where boosting Tension with Cooperate makes you more likely to succeed with Cooperate to boost your Tension even more. The problem is that Tension boosting is better than nearly any other effect in the game, but without it Potentials are useless. If Potential effects are meant to be taken with the assumption that they will almost never be used, the game needs to much more clearly say so.

  6. Perhaps the most troublesome Potential is Invincible. Put on a Titanic unit, or any unit with appreciable Tension advantage, it does exactly what its name says. It's the only Potential that scales with Tension, especially a problem for Armor because Armor is so much better than Evasion. A static bonus would be less broken by far.

    Also, I would appreciate your rulings on Full Armor and other errata in the previous thread.

  7. Tension modifiers are almost definitely going to be axed, even if they can be countered, they still warp encounters around them and that is more trouble than it is worth.


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