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Why do Chi Masters get so heavily penalized?

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  • Why do Chi Masters get so heavily penalized?

    I'm trying to make a cool Chi Master character for a Deadlands game and just finding it very difficult. Here are the major issues:

    • They get fewer powers than everyone else
    • The powers they do get are limited to self only, and include zero ranged powers—we can't get a chi bolt or anything?
    • They have to purchase two Edges just to even be one
    • As stated above, they're limited to melee only

    Why do they get so many limitations compared to basically any other hero type? If in exchange for the Internal Focus limitation they got some kind of bonus to powers or something else to compensate, it wouldn't be so bad. But in a game and setting wherein ranged attacks are often the order of the day, they're doubly penalized for no reason. You have to either talk to the GM into allowing a chi bolt (which I'm trying to do) or you end up with a character that is limited in powers, limited in range, and has zero benefits to make up for it, on top of character creation taxes.

    I love me some cool mystical martial artists. Can someone explain why the character type is so heavily discouraged by the RAW?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Claire Redfield View Post
    • They get fewer powers than everyone else
    Huh? They have the same three (3) starting powers as all the other arcane backgrounds. (If that's not true in your copy then you need to update your files.) If you mean they have a shorter list of available power then that's true, but that's an issue of style not game balance.
    I passionately argued for some changes to the power list that were consistently dismissed without explanation, but some good changes were made as a result of the efforts of everyone involved.
    Originally posted by Claire Redfield View Post
    • The powers they do get are limited to self only, and include zero ranged powers—we can't get a chi bolt or anything?
    This is speculation, but probably because the intended scope of Chi Master is less Dragonball and more Kill Bill or Kung Fu (TV series). I agree that it is kind of silly that they don't have a single 'ten foot punch', 'white tiger stance', or other ability to affect foes beyond the range of a pike, but that's what PEG settled on.
    Originally posted by Claire Redfield View Post
    • They have to purchase two Edges just to even be one
    True, but the required Martial Artist Edge is a good Edge already. Having to take a good Edge to take a specific (synergistic) Arcane Background is not a handicap.
    Originally posted by Claire Redfield View Post
    • As stated above, they're limited to melee only
    So carry a pistol. Or a bow and arrow. Use your kung fu magic to butcher foes up close and a $15 pistol to kill foes at range. That's very Western.

    Originally posted by Claire Redfield View Post
    If in exchange for the Internal Focus limitation they got some kind of bonus to powers or something else to compensate, it wouldn't be so bad.
    Talk to your GM about maybe getting to activate one power per round without MAP, like Two Fisted but for powers. That will help a lot more (with deflection, protection, or healing) than getting to throw around kamehameha blasts.
    I hope you find the above post useful. And not insulting, because I was trying to be helpful, not insulting; being a pedantic jerk, that isn't always clear.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      If you mean they have a shorter list of available power then that's true, but that's an issue of style not game balance.
      The shorter list, yes. Though I must disagree: that very much is an issue of game balance. They have fewer available powers than every other type, and the ones they do get are heavily limited at no cost break. That's the very definition of a balance issue.

      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      This is speculation, but probably because the intended scope of Chi Master is less Dragonball and more Kill Bill or Kung Fu (TV series). I agree that it is kind of silly that they don't have a single 'ten foot punch', 'white tiger stance', or other ability to affect foes beyond the range of a pike, but that's what PEG settled on.
      I think there's a lot of middle ground there. This is a setting where shamans and hucksters go around slinging very overt spells and undead PCs are better at melee than the Chi Masters. You could certainly have a Hadoken fireball or similar sorts of chi bolts without breaking any kind of flavor or turning the game into a high-powered anime spectacle.

      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      So carry a pistol. Or a bow and arrow. Use your kung fu magic to butcher foes up close and a $15 pistol to kill foes at range. That's very Western.
      Personal preference, but in a setting with spell-slingers and gunslingers (and some people who are both), if I as a master magical martial artist have to use a pistol to fight at range, that's a complete failure. I'd literally rather not play the character than use guns; that's part of why I want to make something like a martial artist. This is a personal preference, certainly, but it's a strong one for me.

      Originally posted by ValhallaGH View Post
      Talk to your GM about maybe getting to activate one power per round without MAP, like Two Fisted but for powers. That will help a lot more (with deflection, protection, or healing) than getting to throw around kamehameha blasts.
      I gave up on the concept. The limitations are just too crippling. No range, short power list, zero compensation. I'd just rather play a shaman, which is the current concept I'm developing (plus, she'll be cool). The problem is that I can't likely convince the GM to ignore these really arbitrary restrictions; it is about more than a chi bolt, though that's a pretty easy fix.

      Comment


      • ValhallaGH
        ValhallaGH commented
        Editing a comment
        Overt spells that can get them lynched. At a minimum, obvious magic should get the characters politely run out of town. Kind of like the sheriff did to Rambo at the beginning of First Blood. Knowing player characters, probably to similar results.

    • #4
      If you are the GM just add in ranged powers, if you're not the GM talk to them about the issues you see and discuss adding in ranged powers.
      Ultimately it's your game and rule 1 applies: use or don't use any rules you like.
      Like what you have read in someone's post? Hit that like button and let everyone know.

      I run Deadlands Reloaded. One of my players writes an incharacter blog here --> http://ballgownsandbattleskirts.blog...deadlands.html

      Comment


      • #5
        Yeah, this was a topic of some contention during the prerelease. I’m of the opinion that Chi Masters are asked too much for too little benefit. They’re heavily skill and attribute taxed, and are essentially forced to take the same three edges at character creation if they expect to be of any unique use at all.

        Personally, their power list doesn’t really bother me, though I think they’re missing Fly (Monkey Goes to the Mountain!). What bothers me is that they’re forced to take Limitations without seeing the benefit. If I were to house rule anything about Chi Masters, it would be at least letting them get the benefit of Limitations.

        Comment


        • #6
          In the previous Deadlands version Chi Masters had bolt and the trapping was: "Pebbles or other small projectiles are hurled at tremendous speed. Calles stones fly from the hand". So this wouldn't be a chi bolt, it would still be thematic. The first impression would be, wow, that guy is really skilled with those stones.

          Comment


          • ValhallaGH
            ValhallaGH commented
            Editing a comment
            What I really miss is "Seize the Pearl of Death"; allowing deflection to reflect ranged attacks like some kind of bullet-snatching Jedi.

          • Augusto Antunes
            Augusto Antunes commented
            Editing a comment
            ValhallaGH - AND there's actual filmic precedent for it in the 1973 martial arts spaghetti western classic The Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe. ;-)

        • #7
          In my straight SWADE Fantasy game, where I added Chi Masters from Deadlands, I've changed them a little and I like that change:
          They only get the normal 10 Power Points like Mages, but for their casting limitation they get the benefit of being able to cast without MAP, like Hexslinging in Deadlands.

          Comment


          • #8
            I for one am very happy that Chi Masters are no longer throwing Bolts in combat. "Thrown pebbles" or whatever other justification notwithstanding, it made them feel like wizards instead of martial artists.

            As for mechanical balance, I think the idea here is that they start with 3 powers instead of the normal 1 power for Gifted, which is a full Edge of benefit, so there needed to be an inherent drawback to balance this out, like how the Blessed has Sinnin'.

            The thing is, those extra PP are basically canceled out by the lost PP savings from those Limitations! So I do think this was a poor design choice. To fix it, you could allow Limitations to work normally but then either (A) reduce the Chi Master's starting PP to 10, or (B) find a different drawback that's at least as serious as Sinnin or Internal Focus.

            Comment


            • Radecliffe
              Radecliffe commented
              Editing a comment
              This. Just let Limitations work normally and the endurance of a Chi Master should improve noticeably.

          • #9
            One of the big things about Chi Masters in older versions of Deadlands is that their subtlety is supposed to be a big deal. They're generally the only type of Arcane Background that isn't in real danger of getting lynched, along with the Blessed, since their magic is generally supposed to be subtle and easily explained as being just a really skilled person. That's why they have a Hindrance that makes their powers non-subtle; because by default they're supposed to be non-obvious.

            This subtlety is sort of a hidden non-stated bonus ability in the AB, so if you're playing your Deadlands games in a way that doesn't penalize Hucksters if they're flinging soul blasts in the middle of town and treating them like any other D&D wizard, it makes sense that Chi Masters seem underwhelming. Huckster magic is supposed to be both dangerous to the practitioner in terms of "the demons might win a hand and blow you up" and "the normal people around you might kill you for practicing in black magic". Weird Science is supposed to drive you crazy. Blessed and Shamans are supposed to be walking a hard road of personal sacrifice and putting themselves on the forefront of a war for humanity's collective soul. By comparison, Chi Masters have to invest a lot in it (they need both Focus and Fighting, two Edges to even get started, and their only real opportunity for a bad stat is Smarts) but in exchange they're the only AB that's not risking their souls, sanity, or safety when they use their magic.

            That said, I do wish they still had the ability to reflect bullets. I'd give them that as an AB-specific Power Modifier to the deflection power. You could probably give them several other similar bonus PMs to reflect their martial arts coolness, too.

            Comment


            • #10
              Some parts of that simply aren't correct though. It sounds nice to say "the Blessed and Shamans are risking their souls", but so are the Chi Masters if they're fighting demons. There are no "extra" drawbacks in being a holy man that aren't covered by things like Hindrances and Sinnin' -- and the Blessed have powers that are canonically described as being more subtle than the Chi Masters.

              So let's just focus on the "subtle magicians" here: the miracle-workers and the chi masters. Mechanically, for the latter to be fairly built, their "Internal Focus" drawback needs to be approximately as limiting as "Sinnin'" or the need to chant. But Internal Focus means that the Chi Master will literally spend up to 3x as much PP per power (due to them not getting the Limitation discount), and that doesn't seem fair.

              Deflection (Range/Personal) should cost 1 PP. The Chi Master pays 3.

              Lower Trait (Vigor) (Range) should cost 1 PP. The Chi Master pays 2.

              Protection (Range/Personal) should cost 1 PP and give +2 to cast. The Chi Master pays 1 PP and gets +0 to cast.

              This isn't me cherry-picking; it's how all their powers are. The Chi Master either pays between 1.5x and 3x as much or gets the equivalent of -1 to -2 to cast, for every power. In comparison, the Blessed has to follow a Hindrance very strictly (or get -2 to "no more casting" for a while), and the Shaman has to chant or take -2 to cast. And of those three, the Chi Master is in the middle as far as subtlety goes.

              If the Chi Masters had some sort of monopoly on subtlety, I could see that being touted as the thing that makes them fairly priced, but they definitely do not. Heck, maybe that's the way to make them fair and to justify the extremely high PP cost of their powers -- give them a built-in -2 or even -4 for their powers to be detected by arcane methods.

              Comment


              • ellipses
                ellipses commented
                Editing a comment
                Yeah, this is what’s driving me a little crazy. What’s stopping a player from trapping a Blessed as a Buddhist monk who just takes a bunch of limitations, which they benefit from, on their powers. So they don’t get access to “My Kung Fu is Superior?” That doesn’t seem like a deal breaker.

            • #11
              Yeah this exposes what I feel is a problem with the Limitation rules in SWADE - if you're weren't going to cast these powers on somebody else anyway because that's not part of your concept, you get the Limitations for free and it doesn't change anything about how you play. I personally find that Limitations make self-buffing powers TOO cheap for my tastes, so I'm not bothered by the fact that CMs have to spend the normal number of PP for them without getting the benefit of Limitations, but I can see where you're coming from based on the way you're comparing things.

              For Shamans, you're skipping out on the Old Ways Oath, which is pretty significant in terms of what they can and can't do, and generally makes them less powerful for most roles since it prevents metal gear and any use of Weird Science stuff.

              You're right that the Blessed are even less obvious than the CMs are; I had forgotten that. That is a significant bonus on their side. I think Sinnin' is pretty significant too; in my games it's generally close to Heroic + Obligation, since you have to help people who ask for your help and usually have to do preacher-y things that take up your time.

              I wonder if bringing back the old Adept bonus of free action casting that the Hexslinger gets on some powers is the best way to balance things out. Personally I wouldn't give them both a way to free action cast their self-buffs and the free PP for their Limitations, but I can see one or the other.

              Comment


              • pkitty
                pkitty commented
                Editing a comment
                Again, I hate to have to correct you, but Shamans do not have to take the Old Ways vow. In fact, there's no specific synergy encouraging them to do so; Old Ways doesn't direct interact with Shaman powers in any way. So that's a red herring; there's literally nothing stopping Shamans from using metal gear and Weird Science stuff.

              • SteelDraco
                SteelDraco commented
                Editing a comment
                Is v3 of the PDF not the one that went to print? The copy of the PDF I'm looking at shows...

                "Old Ways: If a shaman uses any sort of mass-produced item or otherwise violates the principles of the Old Ways in any way (GM’s call), he takes a level of Fatigue. If the item used ghost rock, including ghost steel, powdered ghost rock, or as fuel, the Fatigue lasts 24 hours."

                Just downloaded the most recent release and you're right; they dropped the need for the Old Ways Oath. That's... not great in terms of balance.
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