Do Defense/Toughness balance?

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mightybruce
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Do Defense/Toughness balance?

Postby mightybruce » Sun Jul 17, 2005 10:05 am

I beg forgiveness if this has been hashed out before, but my numbers crunching mind couldn’t resist. (And I didn’t find any other posts to this effect.)

Suppose there are two characters, The Indestructible Bulk and The Astounding Arachnid Boy (hehe), that are exactly the same, statwise, except Arachnid Boy has +10 Defense/+5 Toughness (i.e. Damage) save and the Bulk has +5 Defense/+10 Toughness save. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but Arachnid Boy will cost 5 more points because Defense is 2:1 and Toughness is 1:1 (at least in 2nd edition).

Now suppose Mook #25 has a gun and is reasonably good shot, say +5 to hit/+5 damage. He shoots at Arachnid Boy. Mook #25 hits on a roll of 15 through 20 and Arachnid boy fails his Toughness save (i.e. takes some damage) on 1 through 14. That means the probability that Arachnid Boy takes damage is 6/20 * 14/20 = 21/100 = 21%. Now Mook #25 shoots at the Bulk. He hits on a 10 through 20 and Bulk fails his Toughness save on a 1 through 9. So, the probability the Bulk takes damage is 11/20 * 9/20 = 99/400 = 24.75%.

Some interesting things pop up here. First, not getting hit trumps the ability to take damage, but only by a little bit. Bulk takes damage 3.75% of the time Arachnid Boy does not. Secondly, both characters are hurt by Mook #25 more than 1 out of 5 times.

So here’s the question: Is this balanced? In other words, is Arachnid Boy’s 5 points worth what he gets and do either of these characters shape up against a mostly underpowered nobody the way they should?

I have some thoughts, but I want to know what you guys think first. :D
Last edited by mightybruce on Sun Jul 17, 2005 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Steve Kenson
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Postby Steve Kenson » Sun Jul 17, 2005 11:50 am

Couple other things to take into account:

- A thug with a +5 attack bonus is more than a little skilled (for comparison, the archetypal thug in M&M 2e has Attack +2). Likewise, a gun that does +5 damage probably isn't a pistol; a medium-caliber pistol is +3, a heavy pistol +4. Not that the mechanics of the example don't work, just wanted to point out it's not quite a "typical" situation.

- High Defense protects against attacks other than just damaging ones; many powers and effects requiring other saves also require attack rolls.

- Impervious Toughness costs the same as Defense, but is more all or nothing; i.e. you're either Impervious to an attack or you're not, while Defense is useful all the time. If the sample powerhouse had Impervious Toughness, the thug with the +5 gun wouldn't even scratch him.

- Defense varies more with the situation than Toughness. Loss of mobility, dodge bonus, etc. can adversely affect Defense. Few things other than Penetrating Attacks affect Toughness.

Overall, experience has shown that the values balance out so long as they average to around the same amount. As folks have mentioned, characters can lose some effectiveness at the extreme ends of things.
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mightybruce
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Postby mightybruce » Mon Jul 18, 2005 11:51 am

First let me say that I didn’t mean my example or questions as any sort of indictment. One of the things that continues to impress me about M&M is how balanced it is. I would say it is as good, in this respect, as the HERO system. (Coming from me, that's a big compliment.)

[end shameless apple-polishing]

- High Defense protects against attacks other than just damaging ones; many powers and effects requiring other saves also require attack rolls.
. . .
- Defense varies more with the situation than Toughness. Loss of mobility, dodge bonus, etc. can adversely affect Defense. Few things other than Penetrating Attacks affect Toughness.


This is the thrust of what I was getting at with my example/questions. Is the increased cost of Defense over Toughness justified given that Defense protects against other powers (like Snare, Drain, etc.) not effected by Toughness but can be negated by some circumstances (area attacks, being flat-footed, etc.)

And let me ask this question. How will being flat-footed footed effect Defense in 2nd ed? I know this has been answered, but I don't remember.

Incidentally, a character is better off raising his Defense if his Defense is already higher and, inversely, is better off raising his Toughness save if his Toughness save is already higher. This means it’s easier for characters that rely on Toughness to make themselves less likely to take damage than it is for characters who rely on Defense (ignoring any sort of PL cap, of course.)
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Postby Greyman » Tue Jul 19, 2005 1:20 am

mightybruce wrote:And let me ask this question. How will being flat-footed footed effect Defense in 2nd ed? I know this has been answered, but I don't remember.
I beleive you will lose dodge bonuses to defense when you are are flatfooted, or stunned et cetera. Half of your purchased defense, rounded down, is a dodge bonus. Any defense from ranks in the Dodge Focus feat is also dodge bonus.

[edit:]Ah... here's the quote:
Steve Kenson wrote:from Chapter 2 of Mutants & Masterminds 2e...

Dodge Bonus
Half your defense bonus (rounded down) is a dodge bonus, which is lost under certain circumstances, such as when you are stunned, flat-footed, surprise-attacked, or otherwise unable to defend yourself normally. Other circumstances—such as when you are helpless—cause you to lose your entire defense bonus, and may apply additional penalties to your defense. Specific circumstances are discussed in Chapter 8: Combat.


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