Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Monolith » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:29 pm

Doresh wrote:I'm not familiar with 2e. I just don't think it's much of a point to create new Advantages that have the same effect as a power.

You do realize that many of the advantages on the list are simply powers/features? Close attack is simply enhanced fighting, offense only. Diehard, attractive, instant up, and many more are simply features that grant a circumstance bonus. And as I said above, there's plenty of examples of that in the power profiles.

The higher PL of heroes does make sense:

1. The heroes usually win.
2. The villains have lots of minions.
3. The villains usually have no scruples and use dirty tricks to exploit the heroes' ethics.

Games require die rolls not writer's fiat to determine outcomes. When you're going into a combat knowing you have a 10-30% combat advantage because of pl differences it doesn't make for much playing drama. Why play at all if you know Wonder Woman can wipe the floor with Cheetah by rolling below average? When you remove the element of chance you take away a lot of the fun for players.

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Doresh » Sun Jan 05, 2014 3:57 pm

Yeah, I was avoiding bringing up that a lot of advantages only exist to justify this remnant of the d20 system and this "normal guys don't have powers"-mantra :roll:

And "removing the element of chance" is a bit harsh. Games might require die rolls, but that doesn't mean every conflict only ever includes both sides going all "No Items. Fox Only. Final Destination". A GM can have the villains create situations that put the heroes at a noticable disadvantage. Have you never read the tale of "Tucker's Kobolds"?

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Monolith » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:18 pm

Doresh wrote:Yeah, I was avoiding bringing up that a lot of advantages only exist to justify this remnant of the d20 system and this "normal guys don't have powers"-mantra :roll:

The game is what it is. It's not trying to be anything other then what it is: a d20 variant.

And there's a reason why the game gives you so many choices. Combat attack advantage, as an example. Why do you need the advantage when you can buy close combat skill or buy enhanced fighting as a power with a flaw? It's so you can represent the abilities in different ways. For some it might be a power, for others a skill, and for others some type of natural ability. Why condemn a process for giving your character choices?

And "removing the element of chance" is a bit harsh. Games might require die rolls, but that doesn't mean every conflict only ever includes both sides going all "No Items. Fox Only. Final Destination". A GM can have the villains create situations that put the heroes at a noticable disadvantage. Have you never read the tale of "Tucker's Kobolds"?

There's only so much effort any gm wants to spend in trying to make battles interesting and to make up for poor villain design. How many times can you trick or setup Superman so that the pl 13 he's fighting seems tougher then he is? When your 50% chance to win is constantly 75% due to pl differences all the gm's 'interference' just becomes obvious. Yeah, some players want to win and they don't care how. But many players like to feel some sense of threat and challenge when fighting a foe. The majority of villains in the dc books aren't a challenge to their primary hero threat.

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby saint_matthew » Sun Jan 05, 2014 7:39 pm

Monolith wrote:There's only so much effort any gm wants to spend in trying to make battles interesting and to make up for poor villain design.


Because really there are only so many things the GM can do with his epic Cosmic Avengers game, when you are opposing Thanos complete with Infinity Gauntlet, and your Avengers team is made up of Forbush Man, Stunt-Master, Gin Genie, Eye Scream & Wolverine (because wolverine is in everything). :lol:

Just because you can build something, doesn't mean its always going to be suitable for the game the GM is looking to run. Batman's the perfect example of that: The Batman you are running in a Gotham City Knights game is going to be very different from the Batman you are going to be running in a Batman Inc game, or a Justice League Game, or a Animated Batman game, or a Animated JLU game, or a Arkham Asylum/City/Origins game.

Otherwise you end up with a Aquaman out of water character. :lol:
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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Elric » Sun Jan 05, 2014 9:36 pm

Monolith wrote:Games require die rolls not writer's fiat to determine outcomes. When you're going into a combat knowing you have a 10-30% combat advantage because of pl differences it doesn't make for much playing drama. Why play at all if you know Wonder Woman can wipe the floor with Cheetah by rolling below average? When you remove the element of chance you take away a lot of the fun for players.


A character 1 PL up ("vanilla" characters and combat; see http://atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.ph ... 85#p714185) will win about 72.0% of the time. A character 3 PLs up will win about 95.6% of the time. So three PLs is a major difference; it's quite rare for the lower PL character to win (and note that if each character had a hero point, this would be even more skewed towards the higher PL character due to the lower likelihood of losing the fight due to an errant low Toughness roll, which gives the greater stats more time to win out).
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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby hypervirtue » Sun Jan 05, 2014 10:54 pm

There's only so much effort any gm wants to spend in trying to make battles interesting and to make up for poor villain design. How many times can you trick or setup Superman so that the pl 13 he's fighting seems tougher then he is? When your 50% chance to win is constantly 75% due to pl differences all the gm's 'interference' just becomes obvious. Yeah, some players want to win and they don't care how. But many players like to feel some sense of threat and challenge when fighting a foe. The majority of villains in the dc books aren't a challenge to their primary hero threat.


Well, I mean, the truth is that you are looking at things with a non-super hero setting mindset.

I'm going to reach over to my shelf right now and grab a comic book.
Randomly.
Without looking.

The winner was...

Superman 224 November 2006

In this issue we have 2 examples.

Story A:
Luthor is flying in his leer jet when an OMAC slams into it. He's forced to take down a lone OMAC without the use of his battle armor.

Story B:
Superman is attacked by Blackrock. He's forced to contend with a villain that is, pound for pound, way more powerful than him.

Now here is why these are fairly good examples. In both stories the protagonist couldn't "duck it out" with the villain. Luthor was denied his armor, Superman was simply outpowered, in each case each protagonist had to figure a different way to win than simply relying on their damage bonus.

Luthor had to take his Omac down by using a normal gun and causing a cave in to squash it.

Superman had to push Blackrock into a room he located that was lined with lead to cut off Blackrock's power source.

These are actually fairly rare cases where the villain is stronger than the hero.

-----

Here is another example, an issue of Batman.

In the issue the Riddler has kidnapped a DA. He's trapped him in a labyrinth. Batman bursts in and EASILY dispatches the Riddler, but he still has to solve the riddle of the labyrinth in order to rescue the DA.

In this case we have an example of a villain who, physically, is no match for the hero at all. The threat isn't to the hero, but to the DA.

-----

This is how you write for a super hero story even if it is a Tabletop RPG.

Seriously people stop thinking of it like a video game. This is not an MMORPG not every character has to be able to deal the same damage in order to be considered valuable. Not everyone has to be the same toughness in order to be considered viable.

Seriously, the games have to be insanely boring if that is how you are playing it.

"I want to make a guy with "Unstoppable optic blasts!" aside from that he's going to be a normal guy."

"Really? Cool! I plan on making an Alien who is really tough and virtually invulnerable!"

Well good luck because at the end of the day the guy with "Unstoppable optic blasts" can't hit any harder than the Alien, and the "Invulnerable" Alien is more or less just as tough and durable as the "normal guy" is.

If a player makes an "invulnerable" type, then he's doing it because he wants to be invulnerable. This is not just flavor text. M&M really, really, wasn't designed (especially judging from the official DC books and such) for every character to hit every cap. Some characters are heavily damage shifted, some characters are heavily accuracy shifted, some characters simply aren't at cap.

Characters are supposed to be played differently. Batman shouldn't go in and try to stand up fight. If he tries that then he should lose.

I presented a perfect example of Batman competing, contributing, and helping out in a highly mechanically viable manner against an enemy way higher PL than he is. It can be done. Simple as that.
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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Doresh » Mon Jan 06, 2014 2:56 am

This also reminds me of how in the Arkham Series (excluding Origins; haven't played that one), the only villains posing a direct threat to Batman were Bane, Killer Croc, Mr. Freeze and Ra's (EDIT: oh, and Grundy of course). Harley never stood a chance, the Joker had to hulk out, the Penguin had to use Mr. Freeze's gun, Scarecrow, Riddler and the Mad Hatter had to rely on their respective shtick, and Deadshot wasn't any more durable than a normal thug once Batman sneaked up on him.

Monolith wrote:The game is what it is. It's not trying to be anything other then what it is: a d20 variant.

And there's a reason why the game gives you so many choices. Combat attack advantage, as an example. Why do you need the advantage when you can buy close combat skill or buy enhanced fighting as a power with a flaw? It's so you can represent the abilities in different ways. For some it might be a power, for others a skill, and for others some type of natural ability. Why condemn a process for giving your character choices?


That's what I meant with "remnant of the d20 system": M&M is effects-based. Effects don't care how they're described. Let's look at "Multiattack Damage" for example:

As a Power: Punch stuff with super-speed!
As a Skill: Martial arts!
As a natural ability: Snikt!

Choices are good and all, but that doesn't mean you have to limit people's imagination by putting the choices into arbitrary boxes.

There's only so much effort any gm wants to spend in trying to make battles interesting and to make up for poor villain design. How many times can you trick or setup Superman so that the pl 13 he's fighting seems tougher then he is? When your 50% chance to win is constantly 75% due to pl differences all the gm's 'interference' just becomes obvious. Yeah, some players want to win and they don't care how. But many players like to feel some sense of threat and challenge when fighting a foe. The majority of villains in the dc books aren't a challenge to their primary hero threat.


If everything else fails, you can always give the villain a temporary or permanent power boost. M&M makes this ridiculously easy. Just add +X on EVERYTHING.
Last edited by Doresh on Mon Jan 06, 2014 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby saint_matthew » Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:07 am

Doresh wrote:This also reminds me of how in the Arkham Series (excluding Origins; haven't played that one),


Don't bother. Its an inferior version of Arkham City, with a much less interesting story, an artificially enlarged map (having to cross the bridge over and over) & with technical features that just weren't up to par.

No to mention the fact its a huge resource drain when you are playing it.
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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Beleriphon » Wed Jan 15, 2014 8:12 am

saint_matthew wrote:No to mention the fact its a huge resource drain when you are playing it.


Unless you play it on XBox 360 like me. That said it is a good example of the kinds of gadgets that Batman can, and probably should, have to fight criminals as strong or stronger than himself.

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby saint_matthew » Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:21 am

Beleriphon wrote:
saint_matthew wrote:No to mention the fact its a huge resource drain when you are playing it.


Unless you play it on XBox 360 like me. That said it is a good example of the kinds of gadgets that Batman can, and probably should, have to fight criminals as strong or stronger than himself.


Right up until someone gives you that Bane Boss-Fight... Dear god was that a poorly designed fight, but even that teaches us something about M&M 3E.... Okay, yes, it mostly teaches us "don't do this, or your players will punch you in the face & no your GM screen will not protect you & yes you did in fact deserve to be punched."
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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Shadowchaser » Sat Jan 18, 2014 11:05 am

I'm going to step in and offer a little philosophical advice to the original question, just because it seems like most people have covered the player-centric point of view. When a GM decides to run a game where the players have varying power levels, I think a lot of the burden to make sure everyone has fun is going to fall on the GM.

The GM needs to look at people's builds and figure out what they're good at, and give them the opportunities to shine at those tasks. In this case, Batman's going to stand out taking on street-level thugs and minions and doing detective work. Those are all things that happen in a Justice League book, so it should work fine as long as the work gets spread around and the various players all have tasks suited to their characters.

By definition, a Power Level balancing tool is designed to help the Game Master establish a baseline for determining how characters measure up against each other from a numeric standpoint. If you're going to have one character at PL 12 and other characters at PL 15, you're talking about a significant disparity between them, no matter how many points are spent. The GM is going to have to scale the challenges based on each character's strong suits.

One way to do this is to actually base challenge ratings on who faces the challenge. That's right, it's kind of a cheat, but hear me out: determine the skill roll needed or the combat stats of a foe based on the character who squares off with that foe! In those situations, you can keep everyone busy by giving them all a challenging foe. I find that sliding attack and defense bonuses up or down is the easiest way to adapt a pregen villain, though tweaking all of their PL capped numbers based on a quick overview of their build is more balanced.

For example, say there's a group of minion robots at PL 10 and a few villains like The Joker and Lex Luthor in his power suit, and the Justice League arrive to stop them. Trying to be clever players, Batman and Superman decide to trade out from their usual foes, with Superman taking on The Joker and Batman taking on Lex Luthor. This is something the GM might have foreseen, or it might be a complete surprise. Either way, he might choose to slip a Hero Point to each of the players and do a quick bit of number juggling. Suddenly the Joker's stats are a bit different because of his unpredictable nature. Superman expects him to try and duck a punch, but he runs right towards him, pulling these unpredictable and crazy stunts (and maybe producing a Kryptonite-powered joy buzzer). The GM eyeballed Superman's PL of 15 and scaled up the Joker's Defense bonus to put him in the same category. It gives Superman a few rounds of a challenge he wasn't expecting, but doesn't completely break the scene. After the scene is over, if Superman ever faces the Joker again, he'll probably not be taken in by his crazy actions again, so the GM will probably want to leave his stats normal for future encounters. This gives Superman a chance to one-shot the Joker on a future encounter and actually feel some satisfaction doing it.
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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Doresh » Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:37 pm

Excuses to explain the PL shifts:

- Joker got a bit of Kryptonite from Lex, weakening Supes with a special venom

- Batman used a gadget to mess around with the power suit's electronics.

(Both are more of a debuff instead of a buff, but it's effectively the same)

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby Foreshadow » Wed Jan 29, 2014 6:28 pm

The real benefit for batman is the wide array of things he can accomplish. From wealth, to intelligence he fills a roll similar to other characters like him, such as Tony or Reed in some ways. If a certain challenge the team faces and you have to figure it out more than likely Batman will do so. Much like Thor is your not intellectual powerhouse of the Avengers, That is Tony's deal. Superman is fine and all but also realize he is also one of the most easily thwarted characters via his vulnerabilities.

Looking at it through the lens of only powers and numbers, not overall capabilities.

It is like reading discussions like who would win in a fight Big Barda or She-Hulk. Apparently people who talk about that stuff on the internet only think that whomever is 'strongest' wins, or who has 'strongest' + best fighting skills = winner, plus they'll pepper in stuff like one or two times a character did something that is over the top, like Hulk lifting a mountain (ie he only really held up part of it) or superman, wonderwoman and manhunter pulling the Earth.

Guess what, all that is: one or two writers writing a BS story element, and some editor decided not to shoot down, and does not represent the normal standard capabilities of a character, if anything in game terms that is the player handing all the hero points to the GM saying 'can we make this happen'. I can write a comic having many characters do many over the top things, and it doesn't mean much, plus real characters are really re-booted and and retcon happens so all those past stories don't be jack crap really. Plus the fact that back in the day DC and Marvel had writers who had different ideas about what was possible in their respective universes. Thing has lifted much more than whatever he normally is listed as, and the fact that when you see DC and Marvel cross overs you see the most stark thing stressed is how equivalent and roughly equal many characters are. The comics prove that, if they prove anything.

I'd say in the game players like the idea of being on some level playing field, and the points are really for them, and we as gamers like the idea of character advancement, which really isn't what happens much in comics. So MnM really only partly emulates the comics, and partly is a roleplaying experience. Many players really don't care the guy next to them is playing superman and you are playing Batman. If anything you can expect more from these other players, but in the end it boils down the whom your playing with, and the group dynamic.

I suppose that is why MnM has all these game mechanics I don't really care for sometimes, like Power Attack, suddenly you can deal out a bunch more damage than normal, and for a character like Batman with his high attack, doing a full power attack isn't that big of a deal most of the time. In comics or in animated you do see Power Attacks. That is when Robin does one of those anime style kicks where the screen behind him moves rapidly and he makes some grunting karate chopping noise.

Because things like that exist in the game, and critical hits, and other means to increase, a character like batman can put the hurt one quite a few characters, he normally would not be able to. True, a character running around with rank 18 powers has a huge amount of power in most cases, but that is why its a team effort, and not simply a contest among heroes and players.

If anyone is the 'joke' character of the JLA, its aquaman, not batman, though personally I like aquaman and in a game on a Spider-man type level he isn't that bad, but again many Green Arrow, Aquaman, Black Canary types are going to find in a high powered game they do have some things they simply can't do. But that is how it is in the comics. When Despero shows up, he beats most of the heroes for a reason. In the end, does he win? No as the GM, like a writer is gauging the whole team and story/plot. So batman loses a battle, finds he is not that effective against a direct attack with Despero. His chief ability is his planning ability, much like Lex and so perhaps the GM gives Batman's player a view gifts of insight because he is Batman and can do that, that the other characters don't get, as they aren't batman and don't have his capabilities. Call that an Intellect or Awareness check and a note passed to the player by the GM.

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby HustlerOne » Mon Feb 03, 2014 2:24 pm

I just wanted to put my own opinion on the matter of Batman being able to compete.
Most of the time he doesn't need to compete in the area of combat. Heavy hitters
such as Superman and WonderWoman fulfill that role already. As people have already
mentioned Batman's forte relies on other skills such as stealth and intelligence.

That being said I do think he does need some kind of powered armor to keep up. He
doesn't need it for the likes of street level villains such as joker. However, I do think
that he should be expecting to go up against someone like Bane, KillerCroc, and Clayface
from time to time.

Ironman like armor is completely out of the question. I really dislike the power armor
from Frank Miller's Darkknight returns. It just seems totally unbelievable for batman to be
able to take on superman like that. The best powered armor for Batman were either the
Batbot from The Batman or the Batman Beyond suit. Both suits were pretty realistic and even
then they do have some drawbacks once in awhile.

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Re: Justice League campaign - How can I have Batman compete?

Postby saint_matthew » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:06 pm

Foreshadow wrote:The real benefit for batman is the wide array of things he can accomplish. From wealth, to intelligence


He can be, if you build him for it. But you have to choose specifically what elements you are going to build into him. Fact is that its impossible to be THE Batman, there just isn't enough build points in the world for it. The best you can hope for is to build A Batman. The people who try to build & play THE Batman quickly become almost as annoying as the battleboarders who announce Batman can win every fight because "planning."

Is your Batman detective Batman, or is he Gadget Batman, or maybe he's martial artist Batman, or maybe Year One Batman. Because those are just some of the builds that make up THE Batman.
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