Strength and armor based initiative penalties

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MetalBoar
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by MetalBoar » Thu Dec 22, 2016 1:26 am

etherial wrote:Technically yes, but they did that by throwing out the absurdly easy ones.
It looks like they are both less frequent and measurably easier to resist now:

3rd edition -
A character can be Knocked Down if he suffers a number of
Damage Points equal to or greater than his Wound Threshold
in a single attack, after armor has been accounted for. The player
makes a Knockdown Test, using his Strength Step to determine
the Action Dice rolled, against a Knockdown Difficulty equal to
3 + the number of Damage Points taken in excess of his Wound
Threshold.
4th edition -
If the damage dealt exceeds a character’s Wound Threshold by five or more, he
could be knocked down. The player makes a Strength test against a Difficulty Number
equal to the difference between his Wound Threshold and the damage dealt.
So, if I read this correctly, in 3rd edition your base target number was 3 to avoid knockdown if you took a wound and in 4th your base difficulty is 5 if you take 5 points more than your wound threshold (and that would have been an 8 difficulty in 3rd edition).

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The Undying
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by The Undying » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:02 am

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.

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etherial
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by etherial » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:25 am

The Undying wrote:But not all fighters need to be the fastest on their feet - they can just embrace their slowness.
So much this. I once played a Troll Troubadour with an 8 DEX. I could only hit targets on the ground, but if I hit them, they stayed down. Playing cleanup crew can be darned fun, especially when the Cacofian starts messing with your mind...

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The Undying
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by The Undying » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:50 am

Someone also made the [very good] point that discussion has kind of shifted from the original question/thought about strength and armor initiative penalties. Here are my thoughts on that in particular:

Ever had to handle something that is very light but very big? I'm pretty much sure we've all had this experience. Re-positioning a plastic clothes hamper, moving a box filled with pillows, receiving a shipment from Amazon filled with 30 package of Cheetos, etc. Remember what a pain that is? Getting your hands around it, making sure you aren't about to bump into anything, toeing the floor because you KNOW the stairs are almost there but you're not sure just where, etc.

Armor and shield initiative penalties aren't JUST because the things are heavy, it's also because it's just plain awkward. Your body is not meant to be encased in inflexible plates of metal or have a massive rectangle pinned to one arm throwing off your balance. In some cases (armor, helmet), you just can't see your surroundings as well.

So, personally, I don't think Strength should be available as an offset for armor/shield initiative penalties.

MetalBoar
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by MetalBoar » Thu Dec 22, 2016 3:50 am

You all definitely have some good points and I would not be unhappy to play in a game using the rules as written, but I'm still not sure I'm convinced.
Ever had to handle something that is very light but very big? I'm pretty much sure we've all had this experience. Re-positioning a plastic clothes hamper, moving a box filled with pillows, receiving a shipment from Amazon filled with 30 package of Cheetos, etc. Remember what a pain that is? Getting your hands around it, making sure you aren't about to bump into anything, toeing the floor because you KNOW the stairs are almost there but you're not sure just where, etc.
Interestingly enough, it's my almost opposite take on this that makes me want to offset the initiative penalty from armor. I've lifted weights on and off for 30 years now and more than once have taken a year or three off. I am always shocked by how much easier all things physical become after I've been lifting again for 2-3 months. A lot of things that seemed clumsy where much easier as soon as I was stronger and in fact some things that you describe go from feeling near impossible or impossible to relatively easy or at least do-able. Now modeling this is complicated by the fact that games stats are abstractions and in the real world it's basically impossible to improve strength without also improving dexterity and toughness all at the same time and even defining and measuring them as distinct things (and as things separate from skill) might very well be impossible.

To sum up, it still seems to me that strength is the closest thing to a dump stat that Earthdawn has so adding something that makes it a little better shouldn't be a big problem, as some of you have rightly pointed out initiative isn't THAT big a deal so allowing strength to offset armor penalties isn't that powerful and isn't as powerful as dex just flat out granting higher initiative whether you're in armor or not, and it matches with my own personal experience. Is there a downside to this? It means that in heavy armor a very strong, middling dex obsidiman is about as fast as a very dexterous, middling strong elf and that the elf is flat faster if they're both in light or no armor. Is this going to require that creatures and horrors that don't wear armor be buffed a little to maintain balance or suddenly make strength too valuable in comparison to the other physical stats? Are there other considerations that I'm not seeing? Any other thoughts?

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The Undying
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by The Undying » Thu Dec 22, 2016 5:56 am

Saying "initiative isn't that big of a deal, you'll hit like a truck thanks to your high Strength" is a bit different than "initiative isn't that big of deal, so go ahead and buff Strength to get more initiative." :D

I just don't think you're finding much agreement that Strength is a 'dump' stat. It's extremely important, it's just niche in application compared to the other stats. Just because Strength is "only" used to determining how hard you hit, doesn't make it a 'dump' stat - how hard you hit makes an INSANE difference in whether you damage something (gotta get through that armor), whether you wound something (higher strength means better chances), and how long it takes to kill something (which has a huge impact on group survival). Combat comes up more than enough that being able to hit harder makes an immense difference, even if that's 'only' what Strength does.

If anything, I'd say that Charisma is still more of a dump stat than Strength, even in Earthdawn. If you're not a social class, the 'only' thing Charisma does is give you Social Defense, at a fairly low rate of return. You can easily make up that deficit more cheaply with thread items or group pattern threads that buff Social Defense.

As a side note, I weight trained, too, for a few years. Got down to an insane 4% body fat. I kid my wife that I sold her a false bill of good because she met me and we got engaged during that time. Gyms are a lot harder to come by in Tokyo as a foreigner on a weird VISA. Regardless, bulky and awkwardly-shaped things were just as bulky and awkward, despite whether I could toss them the extra ten feet thanks to the muscles.

Regardless, though, if you think it makes sense, more power to you. Personally, I'd be worried that my "floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee" character suddenly gets to go up against a "floats like a butterfly, stings like a Shadowmant, takes damage like a steel beam" enemy thanks to the fact that their massive strength allows them to dance in their superior armor.

MetalBoar
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by MetalBoar » Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:53 am

If anything, I'd say that Charisma is still more of a dump stat than Strength, even in Earthdawn.
Interesting. In my games I'd say we see more social interaction than combat and that even in combat taunt and similar talents frequently play a very large part in deciding the outcome. Now that may be in large part because people have built characters for intrigue and political maneuvering and so have high charisma and use the tools that work with it, but in my experience a swordmaster's taunt is far more effective than an extra step or two of damage, so charisma is almost never a dump stat in our games. Perhaps that's also why initiative seems more important to me, if you taunt the most challenging target and knock them down 2-3 steps on all action tests and 2-3 steps on social defense before they can act it makes for a seriously miserable combat for the other guy, especially when they just get taunted again with the lowered defense rating the next round.

Now someone might build a low charisma character because they have a concept that call for it, but it's a little like taking a low dex because you have a concept that revolves around a clumsy character or a low willpower because, Hey! low impulse control can be fun.

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The Undying
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by The Undying » Thu Dec 22, 2016 7:47 am

I really think you identified the root of your problem: your party composition makes Strength low value, and allowing Strength to offset initiative penalties would give it more value. I'd say this isn't a system failing, I'd say it's specialization of your group. When you're wearing rose-tinted glasses, everything looks red, that doesn't mean everything IS red.

Might be good for you to think how this would impact NPCs, since your group doesn't seem Smash-heavy. What would happen if you faced off with an Obsidimon Warrior with halfway decent DEX and with Crystal Plate and a Tower Shield? Then, what would happen in combat with the same Warrior no longer burden by that huge (what, 7?) initiative Step penalty? Good luck even damaging the guy if you beat him out on initiative, and enjoy the steady accumulation of wounds when he beats your initiative (which should be even-ish chances).

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Flowswithdrek
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by Flowswithdrek » Thu Dec 22, 2016 10:27 am

This is similar to a lot of gaming discussions. The rules are mostly abstract, but as players we tend to focus on a single real life element we feel we know something about and then want to change the rules because it doesn't fit with what we know. The initiative penalty is because armour is encumbering not because it is heavy. I could probably argue that my characters back pack is both heavier and more encumbering than any suit of armour because of all the stuff its got shoved in there. I could argue because my character has a very high Dexterity score that it should offset initiative penalties. I say its your game, make the changes you want. Just be fair and apply the rule to the NPC's as well.

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The Undying
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Re: Strength and armor based initiative penalties

Post by The Undying » Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:08 am

Totes, mah goats.

It's hard to weigh in objectively. I'll entirely admit that I am fairly strongly against system modification. I generally start picking at the edges of what people think is a good idea to demonstrate where it could cause problems, which tends to need more modification, until a "simple" addition becomes a monster.

But, as I've said so many times: you do you. As long as everyone is having fun.

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