MetalBoar wrote:We do track weight pretty closely and extra carrying capacity has value, it just hasn't ever seemed to be worth enough for even our min-maxers to want to play an obsidiman warrior when it costs 15 build points to have a 16 DEX and they can have an elf with a 19 DEX for 12 build points and 1/3 more karma for free. My experience has been that even with better armor and the benefit of strength lessening initiative penalties that faster, lighter armored, higher karma races fare better in combat than trolls and obsidimen and that's with NPC's that can effectively spend all their karma in a single battle because they aren't trying to conserve any for the next encounter. ... Am I missing something, or are the big races just a bit hobbled (for close combat roles anyway) in Earthdawn?
So, my first response to this would be (especially if you're GM) that players should be encouraged to play what they think is FUN. For some players, min/max is fun, so they want to play what they can min/max. Aside from that, though, there SHOULD be a HUGE difference in the game experience for an Obsidimon versus a T'Skrang, regardless of their Discipline. Part of that is on the GM to highlight this aspect, but part of that is also on the player to try to be their character versus using their character as a bag-o-stats.
Now, that said, addressing the crunch, which appears to be your biggest concern, let's take Obsidimon, since it's the one that's always appeared like the biggest balance problem for me.
In average base states, Obsidimon have the highest average of all races. I don't see it as logical to point out that it take more character creation points to bump DEX for an Obsidmon and call this a weakness - they are not fast, if you want to make them fast, then it's going to cost you, and if you want a race that's fast by default, or can be made very fast, then you're playing in the wrong gene pool. This high base average is offset by their low karma - this is a balance thing, one that can easily be characterized as "Obsidimon can achieve things more often as a rule because of higher base states, but other races can achieve better things infrequently because of greater karma pool." Now, though, we get to the biggest point: Obsidimon can one-handed wield larger weapons than any other race. This allows Obsidimon to put out much greater damage than other races while still tanking with a shield. If a character chooses not to take advantage of this, that's fine, not every Obsidimon needs to one-hand the largest weapon they possibly can, but that player should also realize they've just opted to buy a semi tractor trailer for touring the US when a Civic would've been a MUCH better choice. Obsidimon, from a mechanics point, are great at being a brick wall that hits like a mac truck (when they hit); trying to shoe-horn them into a different combat role is possible, but it's like trying to turn a Wyndling into a tank.
Finally, initiative isn't the end all be all of combat. Yes, going earlier in combat affords you more options, and yes, some Talents rely on higher initiative. But not all fighters need to be the fastest on their feet - they can just embrace their slowness. Furthermore, an Obsidimon CAN strap on that Crystal Plate, but they don't HAVE to, they get a natural bonus armor, so if anything, it also makes sense for them to wear LIGHTER armor with their natural armor, allowing them to get equal armor with less penalty. Yeah, if you want to carry as much armor as Obsidimon-ly possible, then your slow Obsidimon is going to be even more slow.