How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

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How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby Wheeljack » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:11 am

Ordinary martial artist and brawler characters, without real superpowers... there are a variety of ways to represent them, but which do you prefer, which has the best simulation of a well-trained normal human in the system?

My usual approach is to do a +12 to hit/8 damage cap swap, but Strength to 2 or 3, then make up the rest with an innate close damage power called "Brawling" or "combat training" or the name of a martial arts style.

When I got the DC Adventures character books, I saw a number of people had huge to-hit bonuses and minimal, strength-only damage. Batman is +20/4, Batgirl is +15/3, both at their power level caps. Dream Girl, a top unarmed combatant in the Legion of Super Heroes, is +15/2 at PL 10. They're all have the Power Attack advantage and the setup is clearly meant to take advantage of it.

It's a bigger swing than the usual M&M characters though... Rook is below the cap (so he can get full effect from his talons at 15/5) and the Crime Fighter template is 14/3.

Has anyone played with the really large to-hit numbers on a character? How did it work out?

Also, a good way to enhance the Batman-level to-hit would be to buy Multiattack on Strength, call it "Combo move" or something to that effect. You'd likely be able to get the +5 DC on a normal attack and it'd be a fun way to take out mooks surrounding you. Combine that with Takedown 2 and you have Chun Li's Spinning Bird Kick!

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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby Nillaman » Tue Apr 15, 2014 5:54 am

PL 8 character. Strength and Stamina 4 to cover peak physical prowess. Protection 2 for body reinforcement training. Defensive Roll 2 covers further knowledge on how to take hits. Strike 2 with a Variable Descriptor extra covering Strength Damage represents overall fighting prowess. Strength-based Damage 2 specifically covers mastery of unarmed techniques. So, Toughness 8, Unarmed Damage 8.

That's just one idea. Another is to use a Cumulative Affliction that targets Fortitude and has the Dazed, Stunned, and Incapacitated conditions to represent a fighter who strikes nerve bundles, the servo motors in powered armor, and other weaknesses in even the strangest of beings.
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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby digitalangel » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:33 pm

Characters are usually assumed to be exceptional in any game system. Even "normal" trained fighters are assumed to be near the top of the curve if they are "super" heros. This means that whatever stats the character is built around for a highly trained fighter are all probably 3-4 maybe even in the 5-7 range for 1 or 2 stats. After all 6-7 is best in the world/peak of human potential, but it is still in the range for human with low superhuman starting around 8 in a stat.

Realistically, once you hit above about PL 8-10 though you are only going to go so far without either some nifty devices or powers at a level that you are no longer "normal", but well trained "normal" characters can match or beat most opponents they wound see in the PL 4-8 range and even be a threat to a lot of PL 10 foes depending on the setting.

There are all kinds of real fighting moves that can be modelled with powers. Ear claps for hearing affliction, eye gouges or sand in the eyes for dirty fighting techniques for affliction on vision. Hyper extend an elbow or knee for drain on agility/speed/strength. Nerve strikes for drain on toughness/strength or an immobilize effect on affliction.

Even for a well trained "normal fighter" could validly claim a couple ranks of toughness or even a rank or two of speed from physical conditioning. Go watch some of the old film footage of Bruce Lee if you doubt this, he was literally so fast that they had to use high speed cameras to capture half his moves, fun to watch the film in slow motion and see all teh fients and extra moves that you can't see at normal speed on the film.

Really low ranks in area on your attacks could model spinning or sweeping attacks where anyone within a few feet of you. Don't forget multiattack as well. Parkour moves for a few ranks in movement powers.

Add in some basic martial weapons as equipment and let a well trained fighter loose with the reach of a staff or the snare effects of knowing how to really use whips and chain weapons and you can get pretty bad ass with still being a "normal" human especially once you add in a lot of combat advantages on the character.


Say you are in a PL 10 setting with a realistic (yet still once in a couple generations) level of ability. We are talking olympic gold medalist, devoted their life to the perfection of their craft level athletes here. Dex and Agl at 6 (maybe even 7) for a speed based fighter, probably Str and Sta both around 4 maybe 5 pushing it.

Defensively:
Add in a couple ranks of defensive roll and a rank or 2 of toughness from physical conditioning and defenses are up around 8-10 with a toughness of 6-7. You are hitting defensive caps for PL8 right there without any form of armor, equipment or powers beyond extreme training. Add in even some basic armor with doesn't restrict movement too much and you are about maxed out on PL 10 caps. A well trained martial artist probably have either a decent will save to represent mental discipline or maybe even a partial immunity to pain based techniques to represent to high pain tolerance built up over years of training and battles.

Offensively:
Setup an array of moves with a few drain and affliction slots as well as a damage 3-4 strength based attack with a few ranks of improved critical just from being well trained (especially if using a weapon) and you are realistically looking at 8-10 damage that probably has 10-12 attack bonus on it hits PL 10 caps offensievly with their best attack as well even without multiattack. Even unarmed you are very possibly hitting PL 9-10 caps offensively with multiattack.

Your drain and affliction ranks can be a mix of fort and will saves (fort for withstanding the damage or will to withstand the pain of joint locks or nerve strikes). Your fort based saves will probably be shrugged off by the bricks and you will saves shrugged off by other types of opponents, but you will probably have at least 1 technique that has a decent chance of affecting any given opponent with some trial and error (and the assessment advantage).

Especially if you have a character willing ot use poisoned weapons or sneak attacks you have a character that can have better than even odds against a wide range of opponents. If your opponent is a speedster you probably can't catch them unless you trap them first or the paragon or battle armor may just fly off and ignore you unless you give them a reason to stand and fight.
Last edited by digitalangel on Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby danelsan » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:59 pm

Yeah, I tend to use various methods to increase the Damage / Toughness beyond the basic human Strength and Stamina. I dislike having huge swings in the attack and defense shifts. I tend to consider +13 or 14 to be elite in terms of unpowered martial artist attack/defense. Batman's +20 attack is way too much, especially when the Flash has a Parry 4 points lower
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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby digitalangel » Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:22 pm

danelsan wrote:Yeah, I tend to use various methods to increase the Damage / Toughness beyond the basic human Strength and Stamina. I dislike having huge swings in the attack and defense shifts. I tend to consider +13 or 14 to be elite in terms of unpowered martial artist attack/defense. Batman's +20 attack is way too much, especially when the Flash has a Parry 4 points lower


I can partially understand Batman's high hit roll to a point as well as Flash's relatively low parry. Speed (even that much) is only so good if you don't have the combat training to anticipate the strike. Still I agree that the shift should probably be smaller than what's in the book. I know Batman is a HIGHLY trained fighter as well as being able to outthink/anticipate most opponents but a +20 to hit is just insane for a nonpowered human.

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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby danelsan » Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:24 pm

digitalangel wrote:
danelsan wrote:Yeah, I tend to use various methods to increase the Damage / Toughness beyond the basic human Strength and Stamina. I dislike having huge swings in the attack and defense shifts. I tend to consider +13 or 14 to be elite in terms of unpowered martial artist attack/defense. Batman's +20 attack is way too much, especially when the Flash has a Parry 4 points lower


I can partially understand Batman's high hit roll to a point as well as Flash's relatively low parry. Speed (even that much) is only so good if you don't have the combat training to anticipate the strike. Still I agree that the shift should probably be smaller than what's in the book. I know Batman is a HIGHLY trained fighter as well as being able to outthink/anticipate most opponents but a +20 to hit is just insane for a nonpowered human.


Bringing realism when discussing comics works a bit weird at best, but even so I'll say, as a black belt in two martial arts, that against the kind of absurd speed the Flash has even advanced combat training is just about useless. The problem is that Flash also has very superhuman reaction and perception speeds, so he doesn't need the instincts, insights for openings and "reflexive" responses that the training gives you.

Even if I can anticipate exactly where a blow will be, I would only be fast enough to prevent one or two blows at most. But in the time I position myself to prevent prevent those blows, he could deliver a hundred others all over my body. And I try to hit him, if I'm even able to see where he is going to attempt to predict his future positioning or try for a feint, I move so slow in his eyes he could easily evade (like that scene in the Spider-Man movie, only I'd seem much slower). Add to it the fact he has been fighting super-villains for years and training with the Justice league, he must be at least a somewhat decent brawler on top of his ridiculous speed.

That said, it is fact that he gets hit in the comics, even by apes and boomerangs. I imagine that, If I was forced to put an explanation to how anyone manages to hit the Flash, I'd probably say that Flash's actual movement is improved by the speed force in greater proportion than his reaction speed and perception, and/or that the Speed Force doesn't completely remove concerns about inertia, otherwise nobody without super-speed would ever hit him except by basically coincidence or sheer luck. Even so, Batman and other elite martial artists would be fine with a +13 to +16 attack bonus.

Another thing that annoys me with the official Batman is the disparity in the defense and attack. Ok, so he is absurdly well trained and can anticipate and predict his opponents, thus that ultra-high bonus to hit. So, why are his dodge/parry "only" 14? He can only predict people when he is the one punching?

Personally, my ideal for PL 10 unpowered martial artists (which I consider to be elite. Most martial arts heroes without powers would be PL 8 or 9) is +13 or 14 to attack/ defense and 6 or 7 to damage/toughness. I'm also in favor of using powers with the training/ martial arts descriptor when they make sense instead of refusing to use any effects because it would "taint" a non-powered hero's concept
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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby digitalangel » Tue Apr 15, 2014 2:42 pm

Well I said partially. I was mostly agreeing with you on the stats being absurd. Flash's parry should probably be at least double what it is even without combat experience.

Being the fastest runner in the world doesn't mean much for reaction time in a fight. Physical speed still doesn't equal mental speed and running speed doesn't equal reaction time. Flash is obviously more than just a sprinter, without some sort of enhanced reaction time he would constantly be running into things. Still Flash at even half speed (assuming that he can't accelerate near full speed in the distance for a block) should be much harder to hit than that.

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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby danelsan » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:36 am

I once made a speedster who was also an elite martial artist. To represent this incredible advantage without breaking PL caps, I gave her a Reaction Weaken Fighting limited to against her (it didn't reduce attack or defenses against other opponents), with a quirk that it didn't work in against others with comparable speed (or a power loss complication. Or maybe it was even resisted by speed/quickness, I don't really recall). It made her nearly impossible for other martial artists to fight in hand to hand, since both the opponents attack and parry could be severely reduced, which played right into letting her getting a full +5 damage with Multiattack quite often due to their reduced defense.
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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby digitalangel » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:48 am

danelsan wrote:I once made a speedster who was also an elite martial artist. To represent this incredible advantage without breaking PL caps, I gave her a Reaction Weaken Fighting limited to against her (it didn't reduce attack or defenses against other opponents), with a quirk that it didn't work in against others with comparable speed (or a power loss complication. Or maybe it was even resisted by speed/quickness, I don't really recall). It made her nearly impossible for other martial artists to fight in hand to hand, since both the opponents attack and parry could be severely reduced, which played right into letting her getting a full +5 damage with Multiattack quite often due to their reduced defense.


My hat goes off to you on this one. Congratulations, that is a truly original way to build a cheesy over powered character within the rules (this coming from someone who started in Palladium and played Rifts for years).
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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby Monolith » Wed Apr 16, 2014 8:04 am

I don't really focus too much on the concept of normal/human or superhuman. The truth is if you think about anything too much and try to fit it into a realistic standpoint then it all falls apart. For example, the martial artist with 15 attack and 5 damage can power attack for 10 damage. Now this martial artist is hitting as hard as a tank cannon and can knock over buildings with a single punch or punch his way into a star destroyer. None of that would seem normal.

I give characters the stats I think they need in comparison to other characters of similar ability. I don't worry that anything up to 7 is considered normal levels and I don't focus on the power table. I don't worry that Batman has a 20 attack and 4 damage and that it would be more realistic if he had a 15 attack and 9 damage; because Bats doing 14 damage with a power attack would seem just as wonky. The real reality here is whether you think Bats should be pl 12 or pl 10.

Likewise I don't worry about how hard or easy it should be for Bats to hit Flash. In the comics if the writer wants Bats to hit Flash he'll hit Flash; just as Deathstroke managed to stab Flash with a sword or how most of the people in his rogue's gallery manage to shoot him with ice beams or whatever. In the game player combat is a cat and mouse situation of Bats using power attack to increase his damage while Flash is using defensive attack to increase his dodge/parry; and hero points are being used for rerolls and defend maneuvers and whatnot. You can't really just look at straight numbers.

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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby Foreshadow » Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:40 pm

This topic has come up before. I suggested an advantage (insert whatever name you want for it, call it Combat Prowess if you want) and it adds +1 damage to unarmed strikes per rank.

It is the Strike power, or the damage bonus on the strength stat. The game should have included it since it includes Powerlifting, the weight lifting portion of Strength, but it does not. It could simply be the Damage power. So the answer then that Steve wanted was to stick Damage onto the character, yet that forces you to add an entire entry just for that and as an advantage it is simply another slot in that section. Plus trained descriptor are Innate powers basically and you can't Drain them, so really what and how you do it only matters for stuff like a Mimic who can mimic all powers, yet if things like that were advantages they could not.

So its up to you, and there are the exceptions and Steve, by writing the rules, would disagree with the fact it should be that way, yet other character designers (such as Aaron) have thought otherwise, so really its up to the designer of the character and how they do it.

Technically Batman is fine how he is, but he is also the silver age slimmed down version without all the 'stuff' like we see in a more modern and 'arkham' version of batman or the one in the movies. Instead he just has Defensive roll 4 ranks, and call it done.

Its hand wavy and somewhat lazy to call it 'iconic' but that is what it is.

Batman should have a costume that grants some type of protection and can have a rank or two in defensive roll but if he has a limit it would boil down to how much you want to stick in both. If he is PL 12, and he has a 14 defense, then +10 is is toughness limit and he is listed +4 and 4 ranks of defensive. If this were Arkham batman clearly his suit would be +4 (or +3 if you want), whereas an earlier suit like you see pictured in the HnV vol 1 guide I'd go with +2 (or +1), and the suit adds a Strike damage bonus of at least +1 or +2 (let's say +1) and if it were me, I'd give him like 2 ranks in Combat Prowess OR just give him Strike 2 (as a power with Training). Either way he'd do 4 + 2 = 6 damage and his suit would give him +1 so that is 7 damage, of course I don't think he needs 4 strength really the way the game works out. He could have Strength 3, Combat Prowess 2 and +1 Strike (gloves) so that is 6 strength or if you want 3 ranks for combat prowess (or you could say his gloves are +2. There is not 'right' way, just how you like it, just pick something and stick with a pattern to use on other characters.

His toughness would be 4 Stamina, +4 costume, 2 ranks of defensive roll (Toughness +10) so he is only +14 defense (same as a lot of hard to hit characters) but he is clearly tougher than most of them (which is why he is batman and has an edge in that regard when compared to characters who are also hard to hit).

But it doesn't matter, the only person whose opinion that matters is Steve's as he wrote the character up and by doing so made it official, yet as I just demonstrated it largely is personal opinion in exactly how you do that. So just tweak it to fit as you see fit, there is no 'correct' way, only an officially sanctioned one.

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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby saint_matthew » Wed Apr 16, 2014 6:55 pm

Wheeljack wrote:Ordinary martial artist and brawler characters, without real superpowers... there are a variety of ways to represent them, but which do you prefer, which has the best simulation of a well-trained normal human in the system?


This is a common question but its always predicated on the idea that a normal human can't have effects, because the effects section is marked as "powers" in the book.

There are any number of "powers" you can build that a normal martial artist can have, including throat punches (suffocation), eye gouging (dazzle, sight), round house kicks (Strike, area burst, selective, immunity own power), leaping (leaping, half strength flaw).

Then you can move up to the wuxia martial artists which would include all of the above, but also would contain light step (feature 1, supernaturally light, can stand on things incapable of supporting human weight), leaping (without the half strength flaw), wind walking (flight 1, gliding), paralysation nerve punch (snare, but with a different descriptor) & any number of non weapons used as weapons of great power.

Then moving it up a notch we end up at full superhero martial arts & that can practically do anything. :D

I hope that helps.
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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby danelsan » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:33 pm

digitalangel wrote:
danelsan wrote:I once made a speedster who was also an elite martial artist. To represent this incredible advantage without breaking PL caps, I gave her a Reaction Weaken Fighting limited to against her (it didn't reduce attack or defenses against other opponents), with a quirk that it didn't work in against others with comparable speed (or a power loss complication. Or maybe it was even resisted by speed/quickness, I don't really recall). It made her nearly impossible for other martial artists to fight in hand to hand, since both the opponents attack and parry could be severely reduced, which played right into letting her getting a full +5 damage with Multiattack quite often due to their reduced defense.


My hat goes off to you on this one. Congratulations, that is a truly original way to build a cheesy over powered character within the rules (this coming from someone who started in Palladium and played Rifts for years).

:lol: Hey, at least I purposefully made it so it didn't apply to ranged stuff to give her a non-cheesy opening. And it was a really expensive power. Besides she wasn't even invisible and insubstantial! :wink:
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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby Wheeljack » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:33 am

saint_matthew wrote:
Wheeljack wrote:There are any number of "powers" you can build that a normal martial artist can have, including throat punches (suffocation), eye gouging (dazzle, sight), round house kicks (Strike, area burst, selective, immunity own power), leaping (leaping, half strength flaw).


What's the immunity for on the roundhouse kick? Don't you get automatic immunity to damage from area attacks already? (but only damage).

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Re: How do you prefer to do "normal" fighting characters?

Postby saint_matthew » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:15 am

Wheeljack wrote:What's the immunity for on the roundhouse kick? Don't you get automatic immunity to damage from area attacks already? (but only damage).


No, you don't get an immediate immunity to your own powers. An technically you don't need immunity to your own power if you take selective, you just select not to kick yourself. :lol:
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