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Playtest - Week 2! (Burn Specifically)

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  • Playtest - Week 2! (Burn Specifically)

    While we did everything else by the book, we had already decided as a playgroup that we wanted to test out a different style of Burn (though again, other groups that playtest should also use the as-written Burn rules just to get more data!). Here are the rules as we used them:

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    The cocktail of performance-enhancing chemicals that gives Juicers their power is commonly known as “Burn.” While the Bio-Comp system regulates the dispersal of this chemical, in times of dire need a Juicer can increase the flow to perform incredible feats even by their standards. However, the supply of this chemical is not infinite, and must be periodically refilled.

    Juicers start with a d4 “Burn Die,” which becomes a d6 at Seasoned Rank, a d8 at Veteran Rank, a d10 at Heroic Rank, and finally a d12 at Legendary Rank. Juicers also start with a maximum “Burn Rating” of 8 at Novice Rank, representing their internal store of the chemical being at full capacity. As the Juicer continues to use the chemicals, over time their bodies develop a resistance and require more and more to get the same effect. Each Rank after Novice, a Juicer’s maximum Burn rating decreases by 1 (so 7 at Seasoned, 6 at Veteran, 5 at Heroic, and 4 at Legendary).

    Any time a Juicer needs extra power, they can spend their Burn for short bursts of incredible strength, speed and stamina. Whenever a Juicer rolls a Strength-, Agility-, or Vigor-based trait roll, he may spend a point of Burn to add his Burn Die to the roll. If he does so, he also adds his Burn Die to ALL Strength-, Agility- and Vigor-based trait rolls for a period of time as he goes into a chemically-enhanced overdrive! This overdrive is somewhat unpredictable; it lasts until the end of any round in which the Juicer is dealt a Club as an Action Card (or when combat is over and the Bio-comp floods the Juicer’s body with sedatives to prevent cardiac arrest).

    If a Juicer reaches 0 Burn, he will perish in short order. There’s time to go out on top, but a Juicer at 0 Burn will irrevocably die by the end of the current game session.

    Juicers can refill their Burn by going to a facility that can recharge the Bio-Comp system. This chemical is very difficult to synthesize, few places can perform this process, and it’s tightly controlled or outright illegal in many areas (including the Coalition States). As a result, getting your Bio-Comp recharged usually involves great difficulty, negotiating with either the Black Market or one of the few kingdoms with Juicer conversion facilities. A refill of Burn can cost as much as 50,000 credits, but prices vary wildly depending on circumstance. Smaller increments of Burn can’t usually be bought – the Bio-Comp system is designed to take a full charge or nothing. Furthermore, the chemical can’t be stored outside of a Juicer body; the components are combined and synthesized as they’re injected into the Bio-Comp reservoir. You can’t hoard refills.

    Last Call (Minor)
    The minor tremors, the hot skin, the strange glow just at the edge of vision…the last days are upon this Juicer.
    She makes the most of her remaining life with every moment she chooses to burn it down further. Her Burn Die becomes a d12. However, at the start of each session the player rolls her Burn Die and if the roll is equal to or greater than the Juicer’s current Burn (Bennies may not be spent on this roll), she must reduce her Burn by one point or she dies, irrevocably, by the end of the session. Once Last Call is upon the Juicer, the body’s tolerance for the Burn chemical has been exceeded; refills of the chemical no longer restore the Juicer’s Burn rating. Once they’re expended, the Juicer dies.
    If she chooses not to spend the Burn to keep on living (or has none left), she’ll probably want to go out in a Blaze of Glory (see Setting Rules); Juicers on Last Call have the ability to declare Blaze of Glory at any time, regardless of whether they’ve taken any damage or not. Only Juicers may take this Hindrance.
    Juicers generally enter Last Call within 5-7 years of the conversion; sometimes sooner, never later. With the GM’s permission, Seasoned or higher Rank Juicers may voluntarily take Last Call at any time in order to gain the Hindrance’s benefit to Burn Dice. Once a Juicer reaches Legendary rank, the GM can decide if it’s appropriate in the narrative timeline to have the Juicer enter Last Call and hopefully bring the Juicer’s story arc to a fittingly triumphant close.

    Dragon Juicers and Burn
    Since the chemical compound mixture of Burn and Dragon’s Blood is so volatile, the body consumes it faster than Burn alone. As a result, a Dragon Juicer’s maximum Burn rating is 6, rather than 8. Otherwise the system functions the same. (This provides a good way to balance the increased power of the Dragon Juicer against the regular Juicer!)
    ================================================== ======

    We noted in the playtest that all the characters except Bane got new gear. This is the reason - to represent the drawback of having to purchase Burn, we ruled that the money the other characters would spend on gear, Bane had to spend on one or more refills during that time. Since she's Veteran Rank, she has a maximum Burn of 6; we started the adventure with her down 1d4 points (and rolled a 3), leaving her with 3 Burn at the start of the adventure.

    We were very happy with the end result. Burn felt like a significant decision, something to invoke only when you really needed it, but it also felt like you got something major for what you paid. We also really liked the Initiative-Card-based duration - it added a ton of tension to every combat round, especially when she got dealt a club and we all gasped, but then realized it was a 4 and she got to draw a new card because of Quick! It ended up lasting 4 rounds, which felt about average but also was a huge boon in the fight against Big Ugly.

    Obviously there are certain aspects of an ability that's balanced against the length of a campaign that are hard to playtest in single sessions, but we definitely enjoyed this version a lot. It was really simple to use, felt intuitive, and felt like the right mix of cost versus reward. Take it as you will!
    Last edited by FponkDamn; 05-17-2019, 02:12 AM.

  • #2
    I understand why you decided to start the session with a random amount of Burn, but I would have liked to see more uses of it during play so you could get a better sample size of the results. Looking forward to more playtest feedback.

    If he does so, he also adds his Burn Die to ALL Strength-, Agility- and Vigor-based trait rolls for a period of time as he goes into a chemically-enhanced overdrive!
    Not overly important, but SW distinguishes between Trait rolls and damage rolls. If the Burn Die is meant to apply to damage as well, you might want to squeeze that wording into the quote above.

    Otherwise, nice job on the description. Requiring more juice as the character Advances in Rank is a nice explanation for the drop in Rating.


    • FponkDamn
      FponkDamn commented
      Editing a comment
      Oooh, fair point on the damage roll. Yeah, it's definitely meant to apply to that, so I'll change the wording.

      It's tricky to playtest how *often* Burn would get used. The way we have it might well be too powerful if used 3 times per session, but that's way more than it would realistically get used in a campaign. It's very tricky to playtest campaign-length abilities in single sessions.

      What I really like about Burn as a GM is that it's a sort of safety-valve for me. It's not something that will unbalance encounters from the PCs' side in most cases, but if I accidentally make an encounter too difficult on *my* side (or even if the PCs just have a run of really bad luck), at least one PC has this extra "beast mode" button to push in order to even things up. It's a good measure for me as a GM; any encounter where Burn gets used is pretty much by definition a "tough" encounter, and I can calibrate future encounters accordingly.