June 23, 2013

Moderating Modules

There are a few editorial mistakes that I need to fix, mostly concerning example characters, and I could do that right now and leave it at that, but I could also just as well ask what do people think about the game in general and see if I should change anything else while I'm at that.

The one thing I am more or less sure I want to touch up a little are Modules.

After limiting Enhancements, Modules are the last thing up there in the list of 'things too good to not always get'. Now, they can be Maimed, which has always been their one balancing factor to compensate for their reduced cost, but much like with Sub Units they are always good to have around for basically every character... And since they're just stat-ups that's both powerful and boring. Not a good combo.

With that said, Modules are the only way to represent Alternate Forms with different statlines, they make crafting Grunts a lot easier, and of course sometimes you just want to make the guy who really really is the fastest or toughest and they let you do that. They need to exist, and also to be affordable.

Possible workarounds include making them only applicable to Alternate Forms, making it so you can only grab 10 UP of them, and making them join Sub Units in costing up Archetype slots. Those are the quick and easy solutions, and they need not necessarily be exclusive to each other.

A slightly more involved one is to merge the four existing modules into two, a Speed Module for Evasion and Accuracy and a Power Module for Armor and Penetration. It could cost 10 and grant +2 to both Attributes. Either option keeps them affordable while reducing their power level (slightly) and making the Evasion and Penetration ones less exploitable due to the increased cost.

Or I could leave things as they are if it really is not as much of a problem as I imagine it is. Feedback would be appreciated.

June 11, 2013

Another Update for Good Measure

No big rewrites this time, though there's a good number of tweaks toning down the mechanics more prone to being exploitable and tons of clarifications for rules that weren't too clear. Also with this one update we have a number of additional goodies, including:

-A Grayscale version of the game for ease of printing.
-Editable Pilot and Mecha Sheets in PDF form.
-A printable PDF of Ability Cards to reference the rules text of Powers and Weapons and whatnot without checking the book.
-A Mapmaker PSD file to aid in creating your own maps.

All are in the Downloads and Links section.

The Grayscale version is something I have been owing people since basically forever, and it comes with the Ability Cards PDF. Those are functional and not particularly good looking - I chose to skip out on making the cards fancy and colorful or giving them their own art because, well, they need to be printed out.

The new Editable Sheets are much like the other ones but page-sized so you can download and edit them then print them out or just upload your own edited copy for online use.

Lastly there's the Mapmaker PSD (PSD stands for PhotoShop Document, which requires Adobe Photoshop) which is a simple file with Hex and Square grids overlayed on top of example maps made to fit a Letter-sized page if you choose to print it. It is also bundled with two transparent grids (Hex and Square) in PNG format if you would like to take them to another image editor program of choice.

And now, for the Changelog.

General Changes

-Typo fixing, etc. The Enhancements section for Mecha had costs in PP. Seriously. I had to laugh when I found out about that one.

Character Creation

-Limited the number of Enhancements Characters can get to three per Episode Arc.
-Masterwork Tools may now be used as Proxies if applicable.
-Clarified when precisely might Backup Bodies be used.
-Clarified there can't be two instances of Come at me Bro on the same side
-Clarified that Hidden Power can't give you more of something you cannot possibly get more of.
-Buffed Got Your Back and Retroactively Prepared.

Mecha Construction

-Limited the number of Enhancements Mecha can get to three per Episode Arc.
-Increased the limit of Archetypes to 3. However, now Sub Units beyond the first take up Archetype slots. That means you can have 3 of one type and 1 of the other or 2 and 2. This counts your starting Archetype.
 -Sub Units can no longer be combined into one godly Sub Unit.
-Assistant no longer grants Genre Powers.
-Sidekicks cost 5 more UP but can now be repaired at the beginning of your Turn.
-Tweaked Stealth Field a little.
-You can attack while docked to a Base Unit.
-Small buffs to Incinerator, Divine Wind, and to Weapons with the Defective quality -Tweaked Micro Missiles and Nega-G Rounds to make them more attractive.
-Nerfed Disruptor Cannon
-Implemented a limit of one Custom Weapon with a cost less than 5 at a time. You can get around this limit during the initial construction of your Mecha and take multiple cheap Custom Weapons as long as they all have different Costs and no drawbacks whatsoever.
-You can now Enhance Custom Weapons that cost 1-4 until they cost 5.

Playing the Game

-Clarified that any abilities that automatically roll 10 ignore Advantages and Disadvantages entirely.
-Expanded the Time Management sidebar with rules for taking longer in exchange for Advantages.
-Assist cannot be used with area of effect Weapons any longer.
-You can now move after taking a Suppress Action but you take the other half of the Damage it would have dealt.
-Clarified that you cannot escape a Duel through Engaging a different target.

Running the Show

-Toned down Nanoskin Shell and Telekinetic Strike.
-Buffed Hypersonic Striker with the ability to hit and run.
-Changed 3G-Bomb to be a superweapon with high base stats and huge radius.
-Streamlined Payback to use the Damage taken as a workhorse.

And here I was all happy and content thinking 1.7 would be the last one, what with nothing being inherently broken. And then some really embarrassing editorial mistakes happened and I figured you know what might as well touch things up some more. Will there be more changes? If there are, they won't be for several months down the line, because I have a lot less time these days and anything that needs a change would require a large rewriting.

So about the changes proper, for the most part anything that isn't a clarification or a buff is a limitation to just how much you can stack up some of the best options in the game. Sub Units, Enhancements, and Cost 1 Weapons all fit this criteria.

I discussed previously limiting Enhancements to 5 per Arc previously, which was okay... In that it did not really change much. By making it a limit of three per Arc though now they have a considerable opportunity cost, and you have to weigh up whether you want the cheap ones or the good ones more carefully. Mathermatically speaking, a top of the line character will (assuming the guidelines for power level are being followed) not go over fifteen Enhancement total.

That is a big change from not having a limit to Enhancements (other than UP) at all. Fifteen Enhancements is, roughly, a 50% increase in power and is enough to top off three Attributes - or to get +2s to half your Attributes and a +3 to the other half. Either way it is a lot less exploitable and encourages grabbing more toys both as Pilots and Mecha rather than just going for the boring but reliable high numbers.

Custom Weapons under 5 UP are limited to only one of at a time normally, but there's a way around it in a new sidebar (More Weapons for Less, Page 80) that lets you take up to four Weapons for 10 UP total while making a character. Weapons made through this alternative rule may not have drawbacks, making them useful but far from abusive.

Sidekicks can now be repaired mid-battle in exchange for Energy and an Action! That makes them more expensive too, but they're less a waste of points the moment someone looks at them funny. They're still powerful, giving you the equivalent of an extra Turn in a way, but now they cost upwards of 10 UP at a time. Repairing them more than once gets progressively more costly and there is a limit to how many Sub Units you can get now too so it works out.

On Stealth Field, it basically had no drawback if you chose to keep it active while having 0 Energy remaining and that was Not Okay. Now if you can't pay for the Energy cost, you take extra Damage. That it allows energy-draining then comboing an overconfident enemy to death is cool, though I frankly do not expect the extra Damage to come up often - The change is only there so it isn't just free Disadvantages once you're out of juice.

Everything else has already been discussed more or less at length in the previous posts, I think. Well, the Time Management thing didn't but I just forgot to write anything about it and there really isn't much to say anyway. If you have the time for it, you can trade speed for Advantages when it comes to Extended Tests. Pretty obvious stuff.

That's it for now.

June 5, 2013

This is not a Rules Update post.

I got delayed with a few exploitable rules issues that needed handling, plus life getting in the way of explaining all of it in a proper blog post. On the plus side, I've gone over everything so many times by now that if there are any editorial mistakes left I will be surprised.

(I actually won't be surprised, I will just shake my head a little and sigh)

Now though I've got the chance and energy so I might as well discuss what exactly are the rules concerns that delayed the update. Issue one is that there needs to be a limit on how many cheap Custom Weapons you can have. Issue two is that Enhancements need a limitation on how many you can purchase early on. Issue three is yet another adjustment/clarification to how stacked Advantages and Disadvantages work.

Let's get to it.

Limiting Custom Weapons

Custom Weapons are alright as is, assuming you're not actively trying to abuse them. They are the bread and butter to the premade ones' silver bullets and build-arounds. Plus, they can be used to fill up space if you've got spare UP left thanks to their optionally lower cost. This is good.

The bad part is that there is nothing in the rules stopping you from packing only 1 UP Weapons and just leaving them there, spending the UP on Enhancements to buff up your offense that way instead. Suffice to say this is not their intended use, so adjustments need to be made.

Obviously there cannot just be a limit of one Custom Weapon of each type because not only would that not really solve the issue (you can still cover pretty much every angle with just one of each type, after all)  it would also make it impossible to represent anything that has a rocket punch and a sword

The simplest way around it is to make it so you can only have one Custom Weapon that costs less than 5. You can still use them to fill space and represent non-gimmicky weapons, you just will have to pay full price for all but the last of them that you get.

There is another way though, and a more complicated one at that: You cannot have more than one Custom Weapon if the one you have costs 1 UP, should you want to have two they have to cost at least 2, and if you desire three then they need to be 3 UP each. And so on and so forth. This one does not solve the issue itself, but mitigates it considerably and allows more freedom in weapon loadouts.

Odds are the former will be the official one, but the option is there to use the latter.

Limiting Enhancements

Attributes are the core of any character and mecha, so it is no surprise that Enhancements are powerful stuff. They are also cheap, because Upgrades and Weapons are expensive and you need to spend your UP on something. Because of that they can be used to mitigate the weaknesses of your starting Chassis or ramp up their existing strengths.

With the cheaper Enhancements out there, it is possible to do both at once from the start. It is not much of a big deal on its own right now, but coupled with the Custom Weapons exploit it is borderline ridiculous. Even with that one solved, I figure I can apply a relatively benevolent limitation just in case. You should be able to do one or the other, but not both.

You can purchase up to any 5 Enhancements with a new character, and may get up to 5 more per each Episode Arc. This works well with the last change in that it frees up more UP to spend in Weapons early on and should not negatively affect anyone who wasn't ignoring Upgrades altogether. There is not much to say other than that, really.

What about Advantages and Disadvantages now?

There are a few abilities that eschew dice rolls entirely, mostly Weapons that automatically get a 10. These exist to provide a way around enemies that have ludicrously high Evasion and stack Disadvantages to hit them. Some Bosses, for instance, can be downright untouchable through normal means that way, so having a few of these Weapons around (plus One Shot, One Kill) is good.

And they do work pretty well at countering the former! The latter, though? Not so much. Mostly because stacked Disadvantages can be converted to extra difficulty, making an automatic roll of 10 inadequate. I will be adding a clarification to the Advantages and Disadvantages section stating that anything that eschews dice rolls to get a specific result ignores both Advantages and Disadvantages entirely.

Micro Missiles are getting a small touchup as a consequence of this. They will automatically roll a 10 from now on, no longer benefitting from Advantages in the form of a static bonus, but neither will they be penalized from Disadvantages.

That is pretty much it. Hopefully this will be going up on Sunday, but it might have to be during the week.