Mixed Power Levels

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Mixed Power Levels

Postby Strand0 » Mon Apr 07, 2003 2:59 am

Apex wrote:
Strand0 wrote:Stunt his character? What an odd notion... I thought it was characterization.
Yes, stunt.

In a perfect world most gamers would play the super-esoteric, some-what-powered, and strange. They would also be ok mixing a group of PL 5s, 10s, and 20s (the Avengers anyone?). But sometimes when a recovering slash-a-holic leaves the dungeon to its dragons and starts something new they still want the engine to purr at the extremes of their PL.
I hope APEX will forgive that I've cut down his original paragraph. But, I thought it was an interesting topic. "Mixed Power Levels".

I have only given it a passing thought. Kind of a "In a few years some players will a have characters at PL 15 or 16, and some will be trying new PC at tenth level."

So, what do you think? Is it something that we should push for in our games, or should we just let it come along in the future as it will?
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Re: Mixed Power Levels

Postby rstehwien » Mon Apr 07, 2003 7:05 am

Strand0 wrote:I have only given it a passing thought. Kind of a "In a few years some players will a have characters at PL 15 or 16, and some will be trying new PC at tenth level."

So, what do you think? Is it something that we should push for in our games, or should we just let it come along in the future as it will?

Actually in my games the worst someone will be is ONE PL behind the other players. So in a few years when I have PL 15 supers and a new player joins, they will be PL 14.

Why do I do this? Well after playing in one D&D game where I was a first level character among 12th level, I learned how annoying it is to be useless (oh my character had plenty of personality and it was almost amusing, for a little while, to flee at the sight of any monster but being KOed or dead on the first wack and only being able to contribute ideas not actions got old really quick).

MnM looks like it could easily have the same trouble. PL 10 characters in the PL 15 universe are likely to have troulbe effecting their more powerful counterpart - especially if you use protection as written where a PL 10 character probably won't effect a PL 11 character unless they use power attack or have a Str based attack power.

This sort of thing works in comics because of writer's plot devices. The weaker heroes are only useful because the writers constantly come up with some way for them to be - sure a GM can do this, but I would think it would get old for both players and the GM (much like Wesley constantly saving the Enterprise in Star Trek Next Generation).

Even if you find a way for the weaker characters to be useful there are sometimes when an even vaguely realistic plot would force you to pimp slap the weaker characters. Take the JLA for example. Batman is just a highly trained normal man, but he does offer the JLA much needed tactical leadership and his amazing detective skills. The JLA often fights Darkseid and if I were him and figured out that Batman's deductive skills were often the reason my plots were foiled, I'd just kill him (after all I am just about the supreme evil god). There would be nothing that Batman or anyone else could do to stop Darkseid from killing Batman. Why is Batman alive, because the writers don't want him to die.

In my games I often run them pretty 4 color without many questions, but one of the things I like to do is play NPCs with something resembling real motivations and actions. If I introduced my Darkseid, eventually Batman would have to die.

Actually my game world is 4 color with superheroes, supervillians, costumes, and secret ids (none of which are very realistic), but I spent some effort trying to come up with some hand waving on why things are that way - earth is the battleground for the forces of light and darkness and the supers are their champions, secret ids are protected by fate and the powers.
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Postby Tesuji » Mon Apr 07, 2003 7:17 am

I ds not see any inherent advantage for me as a GM or my players in having sigiificantly diverse power levels amoung the PCs. As such, i see no reason to push for it at all.

If a players wants to design a "less combat" oriented character, he can and often do. Then as GM I spend effort making sure their "other abilities" come to the fore. I would tend to suspect that in a number of cases, the apparent power level difference is merely a focus difference.

Sure, the obvious super-friends things exists, but I do not see the headaches involved in plotting for such a group to be so much outshone by other advantages as to make pushing for it a GM goal.

At least, not for me.
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Postby zornwil » Mon Apr 07, 2003 7:42 am

I haven't started running M&M but in general I have the characters at lower levels grow in experience at a faster rate than their higher-level counterparts, so they catch up somewhat quickly, untli they are within a certain range and then they grow at the same rate. In M&M I'd expect to keep players within 1 or 2 PL of the top character.

The rationale has real-world equivalent, if you're hanging out with experienced top-of-the-line guys, you tend to learn quicker than toughing it out on your own or with others who similarly lack experience.
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Postby Ironhand » Mon Apr 07, 2003 8:58 am

Lots of hallowed comic book conventions, like the "mixed power level" team, only work because the writers make them work in the framework of their plots. For instance on the Superfriends TV cartoon, in every story there was always some underwater thing that required Aquaman and so on. Doesn't work like that in games. I agree with Tesuji, I don't see any reason for significantly diverse power levels within a game.
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Postby CPXB » Mon Apr 07, 2003 9:53 am

I actually suspect that if in a PL 10 game that was run up to a PL 15 game, a new PL 14 C would be more powerful than the PL 15 Cs.

In the course of actual play, I've noticed in a lot of point-based RPs that PCs do a fair bit of opportunistic spending. New characters, on the other hand, tend to be much more focused. So I'm reasonably sure in many games that a new PL 14 character would be *more powerful* than a PL 15 character that had started at PL 10. :D
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Postby prophet118 » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:03 am

well... i dont know abut mixing PLs with the PC group, but we have a GM who tends to love throwing out bad asses on us....nearly invulnerable little buggers....

last time it was some group from Champions called Eurostar... but i dont know if that was his creation, or if it was an npc villian group that was in the book...... i dont know anything about that system
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Postby Lord_Anthrax » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:34 am

Eurostar does indeed come from Champions, they're one of the top supervillain teams in that universe. My own heroes will be facing this menace soon enough, and will learn to fear and respect their power.
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Postby prophet118 » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:39 am

Lord_Anthrax wrote:Eurostar does indeed come from Champions, they're one of the top supervillain teams in that universe. My own heroes will be facing this menace soon enough, and will learn to fear and respect their power.


i may be incorrect on the names, so dont hold it against me, but we went up against Durok (big russian brick), White Flame (fire guy, little bugger sure can take a hit)... and.... uhhh ...i think the other was Bora...think that was her name, Air chick..
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Postby Strand0 » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:49 am

prophet118 wrote:i may be incorrect on the names, so dont hold it against me, but we went up against Durok (big russian brick), White Flame (fire guy, little bugger sure can take a hit)... and.... uhhh ...i think the other was Bora...think that was her name, Air chick..
Yup. Those are right. Three of the seven members. Two of it's biggest guns. 8)
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Postby prophet118 » Mon Apr 07, 2003 10:51 am

we could not really hurt them very much...i hit the fire guy with a DC 41 attack....i had to ram him...he took a stun hit out of it....i thik i got stunned..lol

we hit Durok with everything we had..all i got for my efforts, was thrown through a wall
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Postby BeZurKur » Mon Apr 07, 2003 11:58 am

Tesuji wrote:If a players wants to design a "less combat" oriented character, he can and often do. Then as GM I spend effort making sure their "other abilities" come to the fore. I would tend to suspect that in a number of cases, the apparent power level difference is merely a focus difference.


I wholehartedly agree! 8)

I also take it one step farther: if they want to make a "more combat" oriented character, I let them. My goal as a GM is to balance the playing time between combat and non-combat equally in my Super games. My non-Super games have less combat. As a result, I play without Power Levels. I do, however, always give every player the same number of points to build their character.
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Postby Strand0 » Fri Apr 11, 2003 3:04 am

So, on mixed levels for player characters, you could always go the Ars Magica route and have each player playing several characters at different power levels: Wizards, Companions and Grogs. That way, everyone gets a Superman/Thor type, but for that privilege they spend sessions playing street-level vigilantes or baseline heroes as well.
:idea: >:) :evil: :yar: :green:
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Postby corwyn » Wed Aug 06, 2003 11:56 am

Strand0 wrote:So, on mixed levels for player characters, you could always go the Ars Magica route and have each player playing several characters at different power levels: Wizards, Companions and Grogs. That way, everyone gets a Superman/Thor type, but for that privilege they spend sessions playing street-level vigilantes or baseline heroes as well.
:idea: >:) :evil: :yar: :green:


We did this for a champs game years ago - same point values but different focus. One character was part of a recon/infiltration unit, like the Legion's espionage squad and the other, part of a heavy-hitting response team.
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Postby Citizen Arcane » Wed Aug 06, 2003 4:14 pm

Strand0 wrote:So, on mixed levels for player characters, you could always go the Ars Magica route and have each player playing several characters at different power levels: Wizards, Companions and Grogs. That way, everyone gets a Superman/Thor type, but for that privilege they spend sessions playing street-level vigilantes or baseline heroes as well.
:idea: >:) :evil: :yar: :green:


We, too did this in a Champions game some time ago. Every one made their regular super character (built on 250pts) and then everyone made a 75pt super-agent character. Some sessions would just be playing supes, some would just be agent sessions, but on occasion we would do a scene with the agents and then the next scene would be with the supes.

It worked fairly well and it's something I would do again...
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Postby AaronUnicorn » Wed Aug 06, 2003 4:25 pm

The GURPS Supers game I'm involved in has us using 3 different power levels of characters. We have our "Pulp" heroes, with no super-powers, built on 250 points, then we have our Cape & Mask heroes, built with 500 points, and finally we have our Cosmics, built on 700 points.

Radically different games, but they all share a world, and all influence one another. The interesting thing is that on rare occasions there will be a cross-over. So far, it's always worked out ok.
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Postby Strict31 » Wed Aug 06, 2003 6:49 pm

Apex wrote:They would also be ok mixing a group of PL 5s, 10s, and 20s (the Avengers anyone?).


I don't mean to nitpick or start an argument, but I don't think this necessarily means characters will vary widely in Power Level. Admittedly, Black Knight may not be as tough or experienced as Thor or Captain America, but neither one can make a hovering "warhorse". Just because So-and-so only has five ranks of "Whatsis" and Such-and-such has ten ranks of "Whatsis" doesn't mean they are of different PLs. Imagine Batman and Superman are of generally the same PL. Batman will still get flattened by Darkseid, not because of his PL, but because he has the Damage Save/Protection of a normal human, not a Kryptonian. Rock of Ages was a cool way to show just how lethal and vulnerable Batman could be to Darkseid. I think we often confuse Power Rank for power level. PL accounts for more than just how much damage a guy can take or deal out, of course.

That said, I don't have a problem with a one or two level disparity among PCs. You should keep an eye on such groups, but I think careful attention from the GM takes care of most troubles.

Someone mentioned "Troupe Style Play". Having a Thor-level character as well as a weaker character run by the same player, and varying between street level scale and cosmic level scale adventures. I've experimented with this in LUG Star Trek, to allow players to balance a variety of command ranks within the group. It worked out well enough, but was a lot to keep track of. More work for the GM. But this might be a good idea for folks who do want to run groups with PLs that vary widely. One player may have a PL15 powerhouse and also a PL3 sidekick character. Or you could simulate X-Men/New Mutants type bunches: in one session, the players run their high PL, professional team; in another, they assume the roles of the "trainees." Could work, I suppose.

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