March 7th, 2010
Published on March 7th, 2010 @ 05:00:35 pm , using 878 words, 286 views
Here is something someone asked: What can we take out? Which of our new rules for applying modern technology to 4th Edition can a GM ignore (or alter) without affecting game balance. In truth, there are only a few rules we added, mostly dealing with moving and firing with heavy weapons. We didn’t insert armor penetration or hardness or the resilience of cover (we do that in NeuroSpasta). But if a group believes a certain rule is uninteresting or too complicated, can it be removed without breaking the game?
This topic was discussed at length in the development of the rules. One co-developer insisted that our disruption rules be a game-balancing effect. The rest of us were adamant that this not be the case. As I stated in an earlier post, disruption rules are optional (even in an Amethyst game) and should only be implemented if the group is being irresponsible with their technology in the fantasy world. You can ignore them as you see fit, regardless of which game you are running. Other rules of question include ammunition usage, move and fire penalties with two-handed weapons, and the advanced rules regarding explosives and vehicle combat. Everything else in the book are based on rules already present in the GSL, so removing them is ignoring rules from core D & D (so do so at your peril).
I believe whole heartedly that players keep track of ammunition as its acquisition and management is a key issue of the Amethyst setting. However, this may not be a necessary if you are running a modern setting with these same rules. I still would prefer people track their ammunition as it does force an additional level of skill. If a GM is expected to track the hit points of a dozen monsters, I am certain said GM can ask his/her players to track how many bullets they fire. If you are reenacting the Mogadishu conflict of Black Hawk Dawn, I would still suggest you enforce the tracking of ammunition usage. If you have to do that when playing Fallout 3, you can do it here. It’s simple common sense. Now that being said, if you still insist on claiming this rule as clumsy, you can still ignore it without breaking game balance. The only power I think it would affect would by the aforementioned Passing Kill power available to the Stalker. I could consider amending it to a move action but personally, I wouldn’t bother. So technically, ammunition usage can go.
Move and fire rules are present only to offer realism to those untrained in how to effectively use two-handed and heavy weapons. This is why these move and fire rules are ignored with the grounder class. You can choose to disregard them for all classes, but then the grounder looses a class feature (as it is shared by the whole party now). I would still insist heavy weapon incur an attack penalty when moved. Once again, it’s not game balance. It’s just common sense.
Vehicle Rules are complicated and only present for those wishing to take advantage of it. With these, I figured there were too options: Not make them detailed and offer the opinion we didn’t care or make them detailed and allow you to make the judgment on how you wish to implement them. If you just want a basic skill challenge without the math, please go right ahead.
Explosives may feel complicated but they are actually only there when someone dives into their use. Meaning, if a PC doesn’t take the Demolitions skill and purchase the necessary explosives and detonators, he/she would never encounter the complicated layers of planting explosives.
Finally, I’ll end off with several rules which I DO believe would break game balance if they were ignored. The first and most obvious one deals with firearm damage. Beyond the argument comparing damage outputs of arrows versus firearms (ignoring their damage in comparison to melee weapons), some people still insist that a bullet should do two or three times more damage than a sword. Obviously adjusting these damage values would greatly affect game balance. The same goes for our unique weapons. These are speciality weapons which can only be used with a ranged basic attack. If you choose to overlook this rule and allow their use with an encounter or a daily power, the results would be…well…biblical.
Here is another argument toward using ammunition. Let’s say your character finds a high tech weapon (higher tech = higher enhancement) early on. This can be a plot point or a connection to his or her back-story. I am doing this currently in my Amethyst game. By using ammunition (in this case, an energy cell), you allow that PC a weapon that is impressive and potentially game breaking…until it runs out. I made it perfectly clear to a player that was given a +5 Plasma pistol that once said weapon runs out of shots (he has used about 4 of its 10 charges already); he will not find another power cell until ohhh....about level 20. I also then don’t have to worry about him being near a store which could sell technology that high when he achieves that level.
March 5th, 2010
Published on March 5th, 2010 @ 07:17:03 pm , using 790 words, 181 views
One of the complaints I am actually looking forward to fielding involves the usage of ammunition. Last session, my rogue activated a close burst ranged ability involving thrown daggers but hadn’t accounted for the number of daggers required to fulfill the power. He was trying to make the argument that ammunition usage is not covered in the rules. You use the power and disregard the specifics. He was joking. I wasn’t laughing.
The idea of one bullet per attack roll seems pretty basic—following the same logic of one arrow per attack roll for the ranger or rogue. But where the ranger only fires one arrow at a time (mostly at least), a stalker or a grounder have the capacity of firing multiple weapons multiple times. I asked both my group and my playtesters if our ammunition usage was too strict. The unanimous response was “no”. You can increase damage with Akimbo, a feat which uses the same ammunition in your secondary hand as your primary hand. You can do likewise with the Burst Fire feat, which increases rate of fire to 5 shots per attack roll with autofire weapons instead of 1. If you are wielding machine pistols, these values stack. However, as clearly seen, you just went from using 1 shot per attack roll to 10 shots per attack roll. Despite what you might think, I discovered to my amazement, that players were willingly using this additional ammunition for a very mild increase in damage.
Then comes Passing Kill. Passing Kill is a Minor action power which causes 1 point of damage. Add in Akimbo and Rapid Fire, and it increases to an impressive 3 points of damage. So…10 shots = 3 points of damage for a minor action power. Take into account your standard attack power and you can see where ammunition usage can go out of control. Players may bit--…complain that ammunition usage is too high, that it’s not worth the extra ammo. Well here is the response: You don’t have to do it. If you are down to your last few clips, don’t use the extra ammo. Conserve. From playing first-person-shooters, the idea of conservation may seem foreign, especially in an environment where players can just pick up randomly fallen clips as they venture through a hostile landscape. In the real world, this doesn’t occur, especially in the fantasy landscape of Amethyst, where you have only what you take with you.
So three weeks ago, I started my THIRD Amethyst campaign, dubbed “Cradle” (long story). We’ve been running these games since 2002. My co-writer and friend, Conan, selected a two-pistol Stalker build and was impressed in himself with his 270 rounds of ammunition (9 clips worth for his dual machine pistols) he acquired at 1st level. With both Akimbo and Burst Fire, he had the capacity to rain some impressive damage upon his foes. He was also confident his supply would carry for the duration of the dungeon module I was starting them on.
He employed Passing Kill and Boundary Threshold on a regular basis and after the VERY FIRST battle against a group of Boggs, Conan was slack-jawed at his ammunition usage. He had used 40 rounds in the first battle. 14% of his entire supply gone on the opening encounter. With no capacity to reload until they get back to a town, Conan realized that Passing Kill’s balance is the severe ammunition usage for the promise of a mild increase in the damage he inflicts in a turn. Ammo is quite cheap but not free. He also has a limit on how much he can carry.
We are now into our third session in this dungeon and the module is just hitting the half way point. Conan will be surely out of bullets by the end current battle. Player pressure has prevented him from avoiding the use of Passing Kill. When I informed him a certain enemy had only 3 hit points left, instead of letting one of the other three players (all of whom went before the monster) make the killing blow/shot, Conan activated Passing Kill, fired 10 shots of ammunition, did 3 points of damage, and claimed the kill as his own…because he’s a player…and he’s stupid. This didn’t occur once. It happened numerous times throughout the day.
Point is ammunition is part of the balance of Amethyst and our modern rules as a whole. Yes, we have massive powers which can lay huge effects across many enemies. But to do so requires significant ammunition to accomplish. When I considered that ammunition usage may be a bit steep, I looked at the number of bullets spent in an average conflict in our real world…and I realized we were still somewhat frugal.
March 1st, 2010
Published on March 1st, 2010 @ 03:43:02 am , using 95 words, 758 views
I think I talk too much. Todd from Emerald Press doesn't think so. He interviewed me on CALive a few weeks ago and it finally got posted this week. The link follows. Maybe I just don't like the sound of my own voice.
We talk about the history of Amethyst and upcoming April release, mention NeuroSpasta briefly and dive into why players (at least mine) appear predisposed to create characters that beget the end of days. Maybe it's just my players that find satisfaction in the creation the antichrist...
February 24th, 2010
Published on February 24th, 2010 @ 01:37:35 pm , using 25 words, 337 views
LivingDice.com has posted exclusive coverage of Amethyst including portions of the final cover and its first chapter. This is the most extensive coverage yet!
February 19th, 2010
Published on February 19th, 2010 @ 03:21:10 pm , using 54 words, 253 views
Amethyst is now available through Alliance distribution. Which means your FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) can no order them in. So if I ever asked anything from anyone, now is the time. Call or go down to your FLGS and ask that they carry Amethyst.
The Product Number is GMG4370
Amethyst through Goodman Games