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MARS: Check Out His Package (and Compare It to Hers)

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  • MARS: Check Out His Package (and Compare It to Hers)

    Ahem.

    So, after doing some calculation of relative points values of the IFs (which can be found over here) I wanted to look more specifically at MARS and some possible tweaks.

    MARS
    HJ rolls x3: 6 pts
    F&G roll: 4 pts
    4 advances: 8 pts
    Base TOTAL: 18 pts

    *PACKAGES*

    BODY-FIXER
    Smarts bonus: 2 pts
    Skills: 10 pts
    Healer: 2 pts
    Reroll: 2 pts
    Extra Gear: 1 pt
    TOTAL: 17 pts

    CITY RAT
    Cybernetics: 5 pts (valued at ~1.5 points per Strain, rounded up)
    Edges: 6 pts
    Skills: 3 pts
    Extra Gear: 1 pt
    TOTAL: 15 pts

    HEADHUNTER
    Edges: 6 pts
    Cybernetics: 9 pts* (valued at ~1.5 points per Strain)
    Extra Gear: 2 pts*
    TOTAL: 17 pts

    MERC SOLDIER
    Skills: 4 pts
    Edges: 8 pts
    Extra Gear: 4 pts*
    TOTAL: 16 pts

    OPERATOR
    Skills: 8 pts
    Edges: 4 pts
    Extra Gear: 1 pt
    Vehicle: 3 pts (basically 1.5 Edges since no weapons)
    TOTAL: 16 pts

    PCO
    Skills: 5 pts
    Edges: 4 pts
    Choose F&G: 1 pt
    Extra Gear: 2 pts
    TOTAL: 12 pts

    POWER ARMOR ACE(Reflecting Sean's proposed change so PA is NOT available via Filthy Rich)
    Skills: 4 pts
    Edges: 4 pts
    Lose HJ roll: -2 pts
    Extra Gear: 2 pts
    Power Armor Suit (Assuming a Samson, since it's more or less middle of the pack. Expect a Predator would be a bit more, Grease Monkey a bit less. Applied a -1 Device limitation on a few abilities, since PA generally get to stay in their armor.)
    • Snag a suit of Gladius armor as a base: 2 pts
      +4 Armor/+1 Toughness: 2 pts (-1 Device)
      +4 Str: 4 pts. (Technically 8, but there are diminishing returns)
      Increased Pace: 1 pts (-1 device)
      Leaping 2.5: 2 pts
      Nimble: 1 pt (1/2 the effect/cost of Uncanny Reflexes, -1 Device)
      Sensor Targeting Suite: 2 pts (-1 Device)
      Size: -- (not really a factor, since it doesn't further increase Toughness or affect targeting)
      Skill Penalties: -5 pts
      No Magic/Restricted Psionics: -2 pts
      Weapon Systems: 3 pts (You could snag a comparable set of weapons with Rich/Filthy Rich, -1 Device)
    TOTAL: 18 pts

    PSI-OPERATOR
    Skills: 7 pts
    Edges: 6 pts
    Extra Gear: 1 pt
    TOTAL: 14 pts

    ROBOT VEHICLE ACE
    Skills: 4 pts
    Edges: 4 pts
    Lost HJ rolls: -4 pts
    Robot Vehicle (Assuming a Titan, since it's middle of the road and can be piloted by a 1. Applied a -2 Device limitation on most abilities, since RV operators often have to work outside their armor.)
    • Snag a Mountaineer via Rich as a base: 2 pts
      +4 Armor/+5 Toughness: 5 pts (7, -2 Device)
      Size +3: 1 pt (3 -2 for device)
      Huge: -4* (Stab in the dark, but its a significant detriment against many foes)
      Reduced Speed: -1 pts
      Weapon Systems: 20 pts* (This is nuts to cost out. Per SPC2, the medium railgun comes out in the neighborhood of 25 pts, largely due to the AP, which is wasted against many targets. The other weapon systems and melee are all inferior options that could be covered by Switchable. I ended up just calling it 20 because it's comparable to a Boom Gun -- less juice individually, more versatility.)
    TOTAL: 27 pts* (But with similar issues as the GB: The GM is often going to require you to adventure out of your RV, and when you do get to use it, expect extra tough opposition added just for you.)

    ROGUE SCHOLAR
    Skills: 14 pts
    Edges: 6 pts
    Extra Gear: 1 pt
    TOTAL: 21 pts (although multiple Scholar edges, Investigator, etc. are of limited value)

    VAGABOND
    Skills: 4 pts
    Gifted: 3 pts
    Edges: 6 pts
    +1 HJ roll: 2 pts
    TOTAL: 15 pts

    WILDERNESS SCOUT
    Vigor: 2 pts
    Skills: 12 pts
    Edges: 4 pts
    Extra Gear: 1 pt
    TOTAL: 19 pts

    TOTALS: From 26 points (RA Ace) to 39 points (Rogue Scholar) With the fix RE Filthy Rich, the range is 30 (PCO) to 39 (Rogue Scholar), not counting RV Ace (at 45) which has caveats similar to Glitter Boy.


    Anyway, there's more detail about the method at the link. Short version is that most of the MARS packages come in at between 12 pts and 21 pts (for a total in the 30-39 range), with those on the upper end being the ones that "feel" the most balanced, based on previous posts/playtester feedback. Based on the calculations, that high 30s to 40 range seems like the sweet spot with regard to balancing with other IFs.

    So, with that in mind, some observations and suggestions for tweaking the base IF and packages to be more internally balanced:
    • Reduce the number of Hero's Journey rolls MARS get by 1 and add a second Fortune and Glory roll. (@PEGRoberson suggested this somewhere I can't find now). F&G is MARS's unique thing, and this change also makes 2 HJ rolls a consistent thing across all IFs (except Dragon). It gives MARS characters back a little bit of their capacity for higher starting traits, and has the tertiary benefit of giving us a nice, 20-point base on which to add package abilities.
    • Body-Fixer (17), Headhunter (17), Wilderness Scout (19) are all mid-to-high and probably fine as is.
    • City Rat (15), Psi-Operator (14) and Vagabond (15) might need a smidgen of love. I'd give the Operator (16) his vehicle weapons back.
    • Extra skill points for the Merc Soldier (16) should return to 5, rather than the 4 in v.3. The extra skill points for the Rogue Scholar (21) could stand to be scaled back from 6 to 5, otherwise I think the scholar is fine on the high end b/c they have a ton of points sunk into non-combat skills and edges like Scholar/Investigator. It's Erin Tarn's game, anyway!
    • Arguably one of, if not the strongest package in SR1.0, the poor MARS PCO has fallen far. However ... giving them a third HJ roll, and modifying the "choose your F&G result" ability to "choose ALL your F&G and HJ results" would give them a unique niche for recreating original Rifts OCC/RCCs. (Consider how you could use Psionics HJ table results to expand power lists, etc.)
    That just leaves the Power Armor Ace (18) and Robot Vehicle Ace (27). Both of these packages took a big hit from the v.3 change to Filthy Rich that allowed other characters to pick up PA or RV with a couple of Edges. PEGRoberson has said that option is going to be reversed/removed, however, so I've attempted to value their PA/RV as unique class features, rather than equipment just anyone can pick up cheaply. I picked middle-of-the-road models for each, and I'm sure folks can and will quibble. But here are my suggestions:
    • The Power Armor Ace compares well, points-wise, to other MARS, but falls a few points shy of other Lords of War types, who are probably the better comparison. In addition to the base MARS change suggested above (starting them with 2 F&G and 2 HJ rolls) I'd say they could still use a small, unique piloting ability, roughly equivalent to an edge (@PEGRoberson and others have brainstormed this in another thread). Also, instead of removing an HJ roll across the board, I'd allow them to select a suit of Size 1 power armor (ie. the Flying Titan or Grease Monkey from the base book) at no cost, or lose on HJ roll if they want to take a Size 2 or 3 suit (to reflect that the Samson, T-31 and Predator are tougher/stronger/better-armed).
    • The RV Ace, meanwhile, has special limitations like the comparatively high-point-value Glitter Boy and Dragon -- namely, they often may be forced to leave their big toy behind and adventure with only a portion of their power. So the higher value overall is fine. I'd do the same for them: Give them a small, unique ability to reflect their ace status. Then have them lose 1 HJ roll if taking a robot up to Size 6, or lose 1 F&G roll if they take a robot Size 7+.
    EDITS: For formatting. We need a spoiler tag!
    Last edited by Tribe of One; 07-09-2019, 10:54 PM.

  • #2
    Extensive breakdown! And solid work. I’d quibble with some point values here and there, but I like your ultimate suggestions, so I’m just interested to see what others think.

    Comment


    • #3
      Solid work, good assessment. I like all your suggestions, too - except for letting the PCO pick everything. The problem I see with that is it can make the PCO way more attractive than the other MARS options at filling the same roles. Personally, I'm okay with the most flexible class option also being the weakest - in general I think that's good design. If it needs any boost, maybe give it an extra roll on one of the charts, so it has a greater chance of getting a desired result without directly choosing?

      Thanks for putting in this work!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by FponkDamn View Post
        The problem I see with that is it can make the PCO way more attractive than the other MARS options at filling the same roles. Personally, I'm okay with the most flexible class option also being the weakest - in general I think that's good design. If it needs any boost, maybe give it an extra roll on one of the charts, so it has a greater chance of getting a desired result without directly choosing?

        Thanks for putting in this work!
        The problem is that as it stands it's not just that the PCO is a little weak it is that it is always better to pick one of the other options and just tailor your concept around that. You want to play a weird scientist, then just take the rogue scholar, body doc, or operator and then spend your human edge or one of your 4 advances to buy it. You end up with a stronger more well rounded character by doing that than taking the PCO. You want to play a gifted the take wilderness scout, vagabond or Marc and once again you end up with a stronger and more well rounded character that using the PCO. The Marc give you 4 skills and 3 combat or leadership edges of your choice. For any build that is combative that is better than 5 skill points and 2 edges of your choice. For any intellectually focuses character there are several mars options that could be picked that would be better than using the PCO.

        Comment


        • #5
          Yeah, I don't think choosing everything lets the PCO outclass the other packages -- its still several points behind most of them. But it would allow you to pursue some unique concepts you can't really do otherwise. For instance, maybe you want a psionic sniper: take the Psionics roll that gets you Smite, and the auto-raise result, too, and a multi-optics scope off the Ranged Weapons table.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hrm, excellent points. I suppose as long as the PCO is the lowest point option, letting it pick certain random things does let you play with a lot of concepts without accidentally out-shining any of the other packages. I can dig it!

            Comment


            • #7
              Non random is almost universal better than random regardless of points value.

              Comment


              • Tribe of One
                Tribe of One commented
                Editing a comment
                Exactly, which is why the "Choose your rolls" ability would be valued at a couple of more points, putting PCO in the same range as other packages. Also, the HJ rolls are a lot more standardized now toward a value of 1 Edge -- there's nothing quite like the SR1.0 magic staff anymore.

              • Radecliffe
                Radecliffe commented
                Editing a comment
                Not all edges are created the same. The value of most edges are highly subjective. Pick any [Category] Edge is a lot more useful than "hey you're good at climbing and here's some rope." They are not as bad as they were but please don't try to tell me they are in any way uniform in utility.

              • Tribe of One
                Tribe of One commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes. Everyone understands that. Hence valuing "Choose your rolls" as being worth several points.

            • #8
              Just to put in my two cents: I like the idea of going to 2 HJ rolls and 2 FG rolls. Makes Hero's Journey consistent across IFs and gives a little more "oomph" to MARS builds.

              A little extra loving for the robot/power armor types and we're pretty close mathematically.

              See what playing actually brings.

              VV

              Comment


              • Café Truck
                Café Truck commented
                Editing a comment
                This was one of my favorites of the suggestions Tribe made in the OP, and I'd really like to see it come about.

              • Tribe of One
                Tribe of One commented
                Editing a comment
                I can't take credit for it -- it was something Sean mentioned. I just put a provocative headline on it.
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