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So ... about that Dragon Juicer

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  • So ... about that Dragon Juicer

    I really hate to start off with this, because there is so much great stuff in the Arcana & Mysticism draft. But it is the first thing in the book. So ...

    (Deep breath, lead with a compliment ...)

    Well, it does what it says on the tin: "All that a Juicer is ... and more." It is 95 percent of the Juicer, plus 50-75 percent more, in terms of build points.

    I won't rehash the points breakdown I did of the core Juicer, which is discussed here:®/new-release-feedback/23383-informing-overall-philosophy?p=25139#post25139

    Instead, using the Juicer (42 points, and which everyone more else seems to think is right on) as the starting point, here's what the Dragon Juicer gets in addition:
    • Armored Hide: +6 pts (2 levels of Armor + Heavy, and it stacks with worn)
    • Dragonborn Senses: +4 pts (3 pts like Expanded Awareness + Infravision)
    • Healing Factor: +6 pts (Regen 4 + Regrowth, compared to the regular Juicer's Regen 1 + the equivalent of a built-in IRMSS)
    • Inherently Magical: +2 pts (As if you gave a Juicer AB: Magic but cybernetics kept you from using powers)
    • Strength of Dragons: +3 pts (for the extra die of Strength and causing Mega damage with unarmed)
    • Super Endurance: +21 pts or just +3 (1 pt for disease immunity, 10 each for cold and heat immunity. If, as I suspect, this is meant to be only immunity to cold and heat hazards, I'd value it as 1 pt each)
    • Super Speed: -2 pts (Lose x2 Speed, keep half of Leaper)
    • Dragon Blood is Life: -2 pts (It’s a Major Hindrance, same as Habit, totally dependent on GM)
    • Dragon-Related Disorder: -2 pts
    • Enemies: -2 pts (same as most casters)
    • Weakness: -1 pt (Similar to Environmental Weakness)
    • Doesn’t Have Drug-Induced Euphoria/Tranquility: +2 pts

    That's a total of either +16 or +34 points better than the core Juicer, depending on how the immunities are handled. And while it may be true to the original source, I really, really hope power creep is a feature that Savage Rifts doesn't import over from Palladium. Despite the back-and-forth debates over the TLPG updates, you guys have done a commendable job of keeping a really disparate range of classes in the same ballpark power-wise, and I really hope to see that continue with this first set of expansions. What I don't want to see is "Like XXXX Iconic Framework, but better."

    To get ahead of the potential arguments that Dragon Blood is Life somehow offsets 18+ points of abilities: Yes, it's a potential hurdle, in exactly the same way as any other Major Hindrance (Habit can kill you, too) that the GM may use to keep a character humble and/or busy. But it's easily bypassed -- Dragon Hatchling party member, work for the Tomorrow Legion or Kingsdale or Federation and get blood from allied dragons -- and completely dependent on GM fiat. The need to get some expensive blood a couple of times a year has no practical effect on the character's effectiveness round by round or session by session, but those 18+ points of extra positive qualities certainly do.

    So, what to do? There's lots there that could be scaled back. Reduce Armored Hide or don't let it stack. Healing Factor can definitely be scaled back a couple of steps (1/day instead of 1/minute). Lose the extra Strength. Definitely go with immunity to hazards vs. energy types. And introduce some kind of mechanic (or more than one) similar to Drug-Induced Euphoria/Tranquility that assesses, on a regular basis, some mechanical penalties, rather than narrative ones.

  • #2
    I am a big fan of harrowed in deadlands, maybe something like that would work where it is some upfront bonuses abet you now have habit major dragon blood. But then you get access to a handful of dragon juicer edges that over time get you to the top end dragon juicer. Maybe just keep the str die, inherently magical, scale back the regen to something that could be improved thru edges, keep the complications. Then toss in Armor, senses, further regen, heat resistance as edges.


    • #3

      I...ugh...agree with Tribe of One

      His math is correct. I like tbone9581 's approach as an alternative. Or, if I heard correctly during the AMA, other juicer upgrades reduce burn. Perhaps that is a way to go here as well.



      • Tribe of One
        Tribe of One commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm going to print this out and have it tattooed somewhere special, VV!

    • #4
      Tribe of One thank you for putting this together. This was one of the biggest bugs for me in the new book. I would say outside of adding the new enchantment to the TW it was the only other big one. I knew you could articulate it better than I, so I kept to myself waiting.


      • #5
        Here here! Great analysis and potential fixes on this thread.


        • #6
          How many points is the Burn mechanic worth?
          From my reading, Dragon Juicers don't have that ability. The burn mechanic could be the leveling factor.

          As for the math, I agree that the immunity's are probably the meant to just be environmental hazards, not weaponized heat and cold.


          • Tribe of One
            Tribe of One commented
            Editing a comment
            They do, it's just in a counter-intuitive place: Under the "All that a Juicer is ..." heading, rather than under "Dragon Juicer Abilities and Bonuses." The original Juicer write-up is the same way, with the Burn rules in an area I personally associate with flavor text rather than rules.

        • #7
          From a game perspective, I really want to see mechanics attached to all these "immunities".

          Immune to Fire? +8 to Vigor to resist Heat and heat-based Fatigue and +8 Toughness against heat/fire damage.

          Otherwise it sounds like the DJ can take a bath in lava and be fine. +8 is "virtual" immunity against most attacks, but leaves room for truly devasting damage to get through.


          • ValhallaGH
            ValhallaGH commented
            Editing a comment
            Given the relative density of liquid-hot stone and biological tissue, the Dragon Juicer would be lounging on top of the lava.

          • Deskepticon
            Deskepticon commented
            Editing a comment
            ValhallaGH +1

        • #8
          I am hoping for some changes and clarifications with this framework. If you look in the nice section they all only regenerate 1 per day not every minute so I am hoping that their healing might be brought down to manageable levels. When I read the immunities I just assumed they were for hazards it wasn't until seeing other people's reactions that I began to question so that need to be clarified and since they are not mentioned for his dragon juicers I am assuming they are just for hazards. I think if they did that and stated that the Tomorrow Legion did not supply dragon blood for them or did but it cost them 3 mill credits from their mission payments then the framework might feel more balanced.


          • Deskepticon
            Deskepticon commented
            Editing a comment
            Environmental Resistance (see SWADE p.18) adds to the Vigor roll and reduces damage. Saying a DJ is "immune" without applying an actual mechanic means just that... Immune.

            Personally, that erks me. I'd rather see a massive damage reduction than handwavium mechanics. It would make for cool scenes... like a Burster facing off against a DJ, unleashing seven kinds of hellfire, with the Dragon Juicer taking the hits like a champ... until that one flamebolt smashes into his face, causing a Shaken result. The Dragon Juicer then looks up and says, "All that for a bit of blood?"

            All the nerds at the table smirk uncontrollably and the player gets a Benny for coolness.

        • #9
          My thoughts:

          "Dragon Blood is Life" isn't even worth 2 points. Habit affects you every day; that's relevant in a campaign. Dragon Blood is Life only affects you every three months, which can mean some campaigns might go their entire length without it ever coming up. (And as an aside - if dragon blood is worth 3d4 million credits on the market, then groups like the Tomorrow Legion are really missing out on a major revenue opportunity! As a PC, what if I play a Dragon Hatchling? I'd hella sell some blood! I think no matter what else, it should be defined that only ADULT dragon's blood will sustain the Dragon Juicer. Not only will that make more sense from an in-world perspective, but it also goes a long way towards making that an actual hindrance if you need to hunt or bargain with an adult dragon.)

          "Dragon Juicers do not possess the same push-beyond-the-limits desperation so notable in regular Juicers; the dragon blood coursing through their veins make them believe not only that they are invincible, but immortal. Dragon Juicers simply do not instinctively feel death on their heels as Juicers do, and the result is a certain level of overconfidence even in their final hours. As a result, a Dragon Juicer's Burn Die starts at a d4 and remains there regardless of how much Burn he has remaining."
          That's one way to do it. If you want to stick with the canon that they're pretty much just better than regular Juicers along every metric except raw running speed, then reduce the impact of the core mechanic. That way, Juicers keep something that makes them special even when compared to their uber-variants. Dragon Juicers might be better *on average,* but a true Juicer can sometimes perform those absolutely astronomical feats that get spoken of in barroom legend.

          There are some people who won't see that as much of a hindrance and will still feel like a Dragon Juicer is an obvious upgrade, but I know at least a few that would pick Juicer over Dragon Juicer if that rule were in place. And that's the important thing - if literally no one would pick Juicer if Dragon Juicer was on the table, then that's an issue.

          I also think that making their dependence on Dragon's Blood more regular and tying it to the Burn mechanic will help this. So instead of escalating Fatigue levels, make a pint of Dragon's blood required every month, and for each month you miss you lose a Burn. Not only does that make the Hindrance more likely to actually come up during play, but it puts some desperation into it, since missing a month causes irreparable damage.

          Lastly, even though I'm not normally a fan of social penalties to combat mechanical advantages, in this case it might be warranted - *EVERYONE* hates Dragon Juicers. To the CS, they're an obviously supernatural, ultra-powerful menace that needs to be put down. But nearly every magical power in North America, good or evil, reveres dragons and despises the idea of an insane hunter that can only live by killing them. Dunscon hates them, Dragonwright hates them, the Splugorth hate them, Lazlo hates them. Some sort of just plain universal penalty might be appropriate.

          And they should definitely keep Drug-Induced Euphoria. There's no good reason to remove it, and this IF doesn't need more improvements.

          So, to sum up, to help counter these super good bonuses, here's what I'd slap them with:

          1. Burn die is always a d4. Leave something special for the Juicers.
          2. Be clear that ADULT Dragon Blood only can sustain them. Make bargaining or hunting for their sauce an actual danger (in both cases). Get rid of any potential power-gaming from one player being a DJ and the other playing a Hatchling and being buddies, totally eliminating the penalty.
          3. Split the blood requirement up so they need a pint per month instead of a gallon twice a year, and make them lose a Burn each time they miss. Make a note that there's no easy way to store dragon blood so it keeps, either.
          4. Give them a -4 penalty to Persuasion all the time forever, because these jerks are HATED. Heck, even *other Dragon Juicers* hate you, since you compete for the same ultra-limited resource. I would honestly also add a note that Adult and older Dragons can pretty much always sense what a Dragon Juicer is, and smell him out from afar.
          5. Return Drug-Induced Euphoria.


          • Deskepticon
            Deskepticon commented
            Editing a comment
            Tribe of One Can you please clarify what you mean by "Hazards only"? Because the Environmental Protection ability (from SWADE) applies to both the Hazard resistance roll and damage.

            "Hazard only" would suggest the DJ could walk through an inferno completely unscathed, but a lucky roll from a firebolt can cause him a Wound. Frankly, that just sounds silly. Also, what happens if a Burster assumes control of the inferno? It goes from being a Hazard to an attack, without the need to even increase in intensity.

            Just wondering what you meant, because I see some issues with the "Hazard only" language.

          • FponkDamn
            FponkDamn commented
            Editing a comment
            I honestly think the immunities could probably be scrapped entirely. I know it's canon, but it's not a really core part of their identity and it's eating up a LOT of balance points. Besides, it's not a stretch. They get dragon *blood,* not dragon *scales.* It's thematically okay for fire to still hurt them.

          • Tribe of One
            Tribe of One commented
            Editing a comment
            Ah. I'm talking about clarifying the immunity language so they're immune to disease and to cold- and heat-based Hazards, from p.125+ in SWADE. It's literally just (lower-case) hazards that cause Fatigue/Exhaustion. So your Dragon Juicer would still freeze if an ice dragon breathes on him, but can run around in Siberia in his underwear. He can run marathons in Death Valley and not worry about overheating, but magma or a fireball will still turn him into toast. I *think* that was the intent, but the current language suggests they're instead immune to cold/heat *energy* types.

        • #10
          And this is why DJ should be an AB (Gifted) variant rather than an IF.


          • #11
            Honestly, I really wish there was more effort made in Savage Rifts (old and new) to keep these "classes" balanced. I remember when I actually sat down with original Savage Rifts and realized that I could build the Mind Melter as a MARS class and end up with a psi who was so much more skilled and powerful. Just some straightforward accounting prevents stuff like that from happening.


            • PEGRoberson
              PEGRoberson commented
              Editing a comment
              Honestly, this is one of my *big* priorities. Two things to consider though. #1 A&M and B&B were written by a ton of different authors for Deluxe, then converted to SWADE, which was an evolving process. #2 sometimes when writing the more unique classes numbers can feel really fuzzy, especially once you factor in the effect of future Iconic Edges, etc. This is part of the reason why Shane and I thought this playtest period should be a priority, especially with these three massive books of new content for a new core system.

              You guys are helping out a ton with invaluable feedback, and it is very appreciated. Cheers!

            • pkitty
              pkitty commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks. I know it can be really tricky and I'm just glad to know that it's a key priority for y'all.

          • #12
            Bumping for visibility, as this is definitely an issue. If no one will chose the regular Juicer if the Dragon Juicer is available, that's not a good place to be. And currently that's how it looks - most of the drawback to the IF is social and book keeping. Most GMs are not going to bother, and even if they do it relies on a campaign lasting long enough in-world.

            I thought the whole burn mechanic was a way to get away from time keeping while still providing a downside. Can we not do something similar with the Dragon Juicer's dragon supply? I hate adding a second attribute to track, but could it simply be a "Blood" counter in addition to a Burn level, but bring back the original burn mechanics (roll each session, lose a Blood)? Let the points go negative to reflect the various stages of withdrawal (0 is 1 level of fatigue, -1 is 2 levels, etc). Since hitting 0 is not a death sentence like it would be for Burn, I think it would add a reasonable amount of tension and drawback to playing a Dragon Juicer.


            • #13
              It's a tricky thing when a character class has a subtle downside like "needs to find dragon blood..." and role playing downsides like "Dragons hate him...."

              Balancing such a thing is difficult to the point that I would argue near impossible. I would bet the vast majority of Rifts parties never see a gallon of dragon blood in their entire campaign lives, and all of a sudden there's a PC who will need it or die? This of course means the GM needs to somehow make it available somehow when it probably wasn't for years. This is tricky to balance, but it certainly is flavorfull as a gaming concept.

              And it's Dragon Blood... this is supposed to be supernatural steps way above anything future Pfizer could dream up in the lab. If the effects were NOT absolutely striking, it would make the class kind of a dud in its concept. Imagine if this guy literally has dragon blood pumping in his veins.... and his stats are... better than a normal juicer in some things, worse than a normal juicer in others, but all in all pretty similar in power level...... that seems like it would be a bit of a let down....


              • #14
                I am looking forward to seeing how mega juicers ans the like are handled in Empires of Humanity and if thoses are more balanced looming to make changed to the dragon juicer simmilar to hiw the other ones work.


                • #15
                  I still like the idea I had when the DJ sneakpeak dropped and all these same issues were brought up:

                  Treat getting dragon blood as a given (i.e., the Dragon Juicer has his sources), but leave room for the GM to create conflict and adventures around it if they wish (short supply, dragon wants revenge, etc.). Then at each new Rank the DJ automatically gains a new Dragon-related Disorder equivalent to a Major Hindrance.

                  So the Dragon Juicer can be slightly more powerful than a normal Juicer out the gate, but he pays for it in the longterm. No points tracking needing. And the narrative element is still there for GMs that want to push it, but it's not factored into the overall balance.


                  • Radecliffe
                    Radecliffe commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Agreed. I'm not a huge fan of expecting the GM balance unbalanced things such as the Dragon Juicer especially in a system nominally built around balance such as Savage Worlds. In my experience this is how players get frustrated and the group stops playing the game in favor of some other system. The dragon juicer just needs to be mechanically rebalanced to put in more in line with the other juicer variants.

                  • PEGRoberson
                    PEGRoberson commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Deskepticon Thanks for repeating your idea in this thread.

                  • tbone9581
                    tbone9581 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yeah I like the idea!