[50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

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JamesG
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[50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#1 Postby JamesG » Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:07 pm

I'm gearing up to finally run 50 Fathoms for my crew. Partly inspired by this thread started by Jounichi, I've decided to rebuild and rebalance the races based on the standards in the Science Fiction Companion (aka the SFC). Some races ended up unchanged, some got a boost, while some got the reverse of a boost. Note though that I strove to not wield a heavy nerf hammer to any of the races.

I guess I'm posting this thread to get feedback on math or balance errors. I recognize that many many people have run 50 Fathoms with no changes to the races, so these tweaks are not "needed". But it is something I want to do, and maybe my work will be of some value to others.

The first thing I’d like to mention involves below average attributes. 50 Fathoms was written before Savage Worlds changed the way it handles races that are below average in one or more attributes. The old way, as indicated in 50 Fathoms, was to make it more expensive to buy up the below average attribute. The new way imposes a penalty on Attribute Rolls against the below average attribute (-1 or -2, depending on just how below it is). This penalty is NOT imposed on linked skills, just when rolling the attribute itself. With the new way, raising a below average attribute does not cost any more than other attributes. I’ll be using the new methodology.

General Notes on semi-aquatic and aquatic:
In the SFC, semi-aquatic grants a character the ability to hold his breath in 15 minute increments for [1] build point. And aquatic grants the ability to breath underwater, to swim at a Pace equal to their Swimming skill, and a free d6 in Swimming, all for [2] build points.

50 Fathoms does not break things down exactly like that. For instance there are semi-aquatic races who get the free d6 Swimming but not the increased swimming Pace. Plus, for obvious reasons, these abilities are probably “worth” more in a setting like 50 Fathoms than a generic setting.

So I’ve broken it up and costed it as follows:
  • Semi-Aquatic (hold breath for 15 minutes) [1]
  • Aquatic (breath underwater) [1.5]
  • Free d6 in Swimming [1] (which is the standard value for a free d6 in a skill per the SFC)
  • Swim Pace equal to Swimming skill [.5] (no direct analog in the SFC. May be costed too low but I didn’t want to make the full set of these abilities too expensive).
So to be fully Aquatic, with a free d6 in Swimming, and a swim Pace equal to the Swimming die, costs [3].

Now onto the races.

Atani
Agile (starting AG d6) [2]
Gliders [2]
Weak (-1 Strength rolls) [-2]
Total [2]
Notes: The cost and effects of Agile and Weak is exactly as specified in the SFC. For Gliders I used the cost of Flight from the SFC. I did not charge for the “free” d6 in the Flying skill, since that as no other use other than for gliding and true Flight would not need the skill at all. Gliders may not really be “worth” a full 2 build points. To make up for this, and the fact that Weak is a particularly punishing Hindrance in a melee focused setting, I’ve decided to add:
Keen Eyes: +2 to vision based Notice rolls. [1] (justification: the Atani evolved superior eyesight as hunters from the air)
The cost and effect of this ability are per the SFC and brings the total “value” of the Atani to [3].

Doreen
Coup [1]
Racial Enemy [-1]
Sea Hunter [1]
Swim d6@Pace equal to Swimming skill [1.5]
Semi-Aquatic [1]
Total [3.5]
Notes: Probably the toughest race to cost out. Racial Enemy has the same cost and effects as the SFC and Semi-Aquatic and Swim d6@Pace equal to Swimming skill are costed as outlined in the opening text above. For Coup I cost it as half an Edge, since it seems fairly restricted in its use. Sea Hunter is similar to Professional Edges that grant bonuses to two skills, but unlike those Edges is limited to a single environment. So, again, I cost it as half an Edge.

Grael
All Thumbs [-1]
Blubber [1.5]
Dumb (-2 Smarts rolls) [-3]
Swimming d6 [1]
Semi-Aquatic [1]
Size +1 [1]
Slow [-1]
Strong (Strength d8) [4]
Total [3.5]
Notes: Blubber was costed based on its component parts from the SFC. 1 point of Toughness is [1]. +4 vs. cold is [1]. -4 vs. heat would be [-1], but since Grael are only -2 vs. heat I cost that as [-.5]. Swimming d6 and Semi-Aquatic are costed as outlined in the opening text above. Everything else is straight out of the SFC, except Slow also imposes a d4 Running die which is not mentioned in the 50F write up.

Human
Free Edge [2]
Masaquani d6 [0]
Total [2]
Notes: I did not charge for getting Masaquani for free because it does not give humans an actual advantage, and other races like the Kraken who have their own language also get Masaquani for free. This is not mentioned on their race page but is noted on page 10.

Kehana
Swim d6@Pace equal to Swimming skill [1.5]
Fully Aquatic [1.5]
Dehydration [-2]
Habit (Unwholesome Appetite) [-1]
Racial Enemy [-1]
Teeth and Claws (d6) [1]
Total [0]
Notes: The Swimming/Pace/Aquatic items are costed as outlined in the opening text above. Dehydration, Habit, and Racial Enemy are straight out of the SFC, though Habit is costed based on the Outsider Hindrance since mechanically it matches that better than the Habit Hindrance. I made Teeth and Claws a full d6 (up from a d4 as in the 50F book) and the cost is per the SFC.
The total of 0 indicates the Kehena need some help. I’m thinking of adding these abilities:
Regeneration [2] (justification: the “fish” men are part reptile too. This not canon, but does not seem too out of line with their appearance.)
Low Light Vision [1] (justification: very little light penetrates the murky depths and the Kehena’s visual abilities evolved to compensate)
These are costed per the SFC and the new total for the race is [3].

Kraken
Swim d6@Pace equal to Swimming skill [1.5]
Fully Aquatic [1.5]
Dehydration [-2]
Natural Talent [4]
Total [5]
Notes: The Swimming/Pace/Aquatic items are costed as outlined in the opening text above and Dehydration is straight out of the SFC. Natural Talent is an interesting case. Per the SFC +5 Power Points costs [1], so the Kraken’s +10 PP would be [2]. But the cost seemed off to me, since normally an Edge costs [2] and the Power Points Edge grants +5 PP. I asked Clint if the cost in the SFC was a mistake, and he said no. I found the reasoning that the Racial Ability is discounted because the Edge applies to all Arcane Backgrounds while the Racial Ability is limited to one AB rather dubious (no offense Clint :) ). But in a 50 Fathoms game it is moot, since there is only one AB. Since in 50F “all ABs” and “one AB” are equivalent, I’ve costed Natural Talent as the equivalent of two Edges.
The total for the Krakan of [5] is high but I can think of a couple of ways to bring it down. I am torn on which one to take. Option 1 is simply to give the Kraken only +5 Power Points instead of +10. This drops Natural Talent to [2] and the total to [3].
Option 2 is to add these:
Frail (-1 Toughness) [-1] (justification: per 50F “Kraken are tall, slender”)
Outsider [-1] (justification: per 50F ”they are ill-liked by most for their aloof and mysterious ways”)
This too would bring them to a total of [3].
I think I am leaning towards option 2, though option 1 would make non-mage Kraken more viable.

Masaquani
Iconic [2]
Total [2]
Notes: Not much to say, the cost of an Attribute bump is [2] per the SFC.

Red Men (Half-Ugak)
All Thumbs [-1]
Clueless [-2]
Dumb (-1 SM) [-2]
Outsider [-1]
Strong (ST d6) [2]
Tough (VG d6) [2]
+1 Toughness [1]
Total [-1]
Notes: All costs are per the SFC. Ouch, at [-1] the poor Red Men really need some help. First I would ditch All Thumbs to differentiate them from the Grael. Next I would remove Clueless and let that be a player’s choice. Whether an individual Half-Ugak is Clueless will depend on that character’s background. These two changes bring the total cost to [2]. To bring their cost more in line with the other non-Human and non-Masaquani races the last thing I’d do is remove the +1 Toughness but raise their starting Vigor to d8. Their new total cost is [3]

Scurillians
Pincers [4.5]
Mean [-1]
Keen Mind [1]
Shell [1]
Telescopic Eyes [0.5]
Total [6]
Notes: Another race tough to convert, due to there not being exact analogs in the SFC to some of their abilities. Mean is the only item whose cost is straight out of the SFC. For the Shell, the cost of +3 Armor would be [1.5] but I dropped that to [1] since only the torso gets that full benefit with other locations only having +1 armor. Keen Mind I cost as half an Edge, discounted from the full Edge cost due its rather narrow focus. I also halved the cost of Telescopic Eyes as compared to a regular +2 Notice with a given sense, again due to narrow focus. For the Pincers, it is a combination of natural Str+d6 weapons [1] and Additional Action [3]. The extra action is limited to a melee attack, but the pincers actually allow the option of 2 melee attacks at -2 each and a regular action at no penalty. Plus the pincers allow +2 to Str rolls if used to Grapple. These miscellaneous pluses and minuses I cost at [.5], bringing the pincers total to [4.5]. At an overall total of [6] the Scurillians need to be reined back a bit. I’m going to add this:
Clumsy (-2 to Agility rolls) [-3] (justification: their tough, inflexible shell hinders nimble maneuvers)
The new total for the crab-folk is [3]

Totals for all the races, after making the adjustments I noted, are below. Only the ones with an * have any actual changes from what is in the book, and the only significant change to the Grael was how we will handle below average Attributes.

Atani* [3]
Doreen [3.5]
Grael* [3.5]
Human [2]
Kehana* [3]
Kraken* [3]
Masaquani [2]
Red Men (Half-Ugak)* [3]
Scurillians* [3]

Humans and Masaquani seem to come off as the weak sisters in their point total. But there is an advantage to being a member of one of the two dominant cultures and this was not factored into the costs. Plus Humans and Masaquani have a little more flexibility than other races, being able to choose their free Edge or free Attribute bump, respectively.

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#2 Postby Jounichi » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:29 pm

You know, you could have just performed a little thread necromancy. I know it's generally perceived as bad etiquette, but I honestly don't mind.

In fact, I think I will. If you want to migrate any of this over there go right ahead.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#3 Postby Deskepticon » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:02 am

I'm going to preface this by saying that my knowledge of 50F is pretty rudimentary, so I'm approaching this strictly by the numbers.

JamesG wrote:Atani* [3]
Doreen [3.5]
Grael* [3.5]
Human [2]
Kehana* [3]
Kraken* [3]
Masaquani [2]
Red Men (Half-Ugak)* [3]
Scurillians* [3]

Humans and Masaquani seem to come off as the weak sisters in their point total. But there is an advantage to being a member of one of the two dominant cultures and this was not factored into the costs.

It should be. If their "advantage" is not having a disadvantage then it's not a bonus; it's the status quo. It's my opinion that all the starting races should be at a level field numerically (at least within 0.5 points of each other). I would give both humans and masaquani a free d6 in one skill.

Plus Humans and Masaquani have a little more flexibility than other races, being able to choose their free Edge or free Attribute bump, respectively.

That flexibility doesn't really translate well into an actual bonus though. Regardless of their choice, they aren't more better off than if they just received a pre-determined bonus.
While it's true some Attributes/Edges/Skills have more utility than others ---and players can optimize their character by taking those abilities over others--- that is largely the exception, not the rule.

I mean, if you're fine with the numbers, great! But I would suggest bringing the humans and masaquani more in line with the other races.

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#4 Postby Jounichi » Tue Apr 04, 2017 10:36 am

Some of those above values can be chalked up to the idiosyncracies of the setting. Masaquani are the dominant species in Charybdis, and their language is the dominant trade language. Literally everyone speaks it. The only other ones explicitly stated to have their own tongues are Humans (because of their different countries of origin), Kraken, and Keehana. Every single member of those races just starts with a d6 in the Masaquani language skill for free so they can functionally communicate. It does limit their social interactions some, at least at my table, as I rule their social skills (taunt, intimidation, persuasion, and streetwise) can't be higher than their relevant language die. But that's relatively minor. It's almost a non-issue, and I dare say it might actually be a handicap. But that's just another idiosyncracy. The language rule is a sort of setting rule, defined in the Making Heroes section, and not factored into the racial abilities. If I were to change it, I'd either implement the Multiple Languages setting rule from SWD or roll the language into the races; balancing it out with Humans with Outsider (like in DLR with non-native English speakers). The only hiccup with the latter is I don't know how I'd balance it with Kraken and Keehana, so the former option might be the best. It would certainly add a little more flair to the setting.

I wound up balancing out the Grael's semi-aquatic at +2 because the Swimming d6 wasn't standard and without it, they lagged behind at only +1 (under the FC/SWD rules). Depending on your love of fractions, they either come out to +3 or +4 in the SFC. I'm largely fine with that as I don't consider it to be game-breaking, but if you think it's better to try and balance all the races out to +3 then, by all means, go ahead. I would like to point out, however, that Kraken balance perfectly at +2 and the Atlanteans in SWD are +4 using its own rules.

The only thing I really wanted to address was some of the more obvious changes. The SFC's adjustment of attribute penalties makes it easier to play a "smart" Grael or Red Man, or a "strong" Atani. Likewise, Tough as Nails was, I feel, weighted more heavily than it should simply because it's Legendary Edge and not for its intrinsic value. I wasn't looking to reinvent the wheel, here.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#5 Postby Freemage » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:15 pm

I honestly think the extra flexibility of the Human Edge/Attribute is worth a single point, above and beyond the value of a Racial Edge or Die-bump. It means not having to tank a trait (a generally more serious proposition in SW than in most systems) in order to pump another to that oft-important d8 threshold (a possibly erroneous fast-count ID'ed roughly 25-30 Edges that require either a d8 in an Attribute, or in a Skill--the latter, of course, is much cheaper to get if the linked Attribute is also a d8). Particularly in a Born a Hero setting (which I believe 50F is), this is critical, as it means you can build to a level of competency that your inhuman peers will be kept just shy of, unless they are willing to take the risk of a dump-stat. Of course, if you're not trying for one of those Edges, then you have the freedom to pick an Edge of your choice--including Power Points for AB characters (putting you a notch ahead of EVERY inhuman spellcaster of your Rank you will ever meet).

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#6 Postby Jounichi » Tue Apr 04, 2017 12:57 pm

Freemage wrote:I honestly think the extra flexibility of the Human Edge/Attribute is worth a single point, above and beyond the value of a Racial Edge or Die-bump. It means not having to tank a trait (a generally more serious proposition in SW than in most systems) in order to pump another to that oft-important d8 threshold (a possibly erroneous fast-count ID'ed roughly 25-30 Edges that require either a d8 in an Attribute, or in a Skill--the latter, of course, is much cheaper to get if the linked Attribute is also a d8). Particularly in a Born a Hero setting (which I believe 50F is), this is critical, as it means you can build to a level of competency that your inhuman peers will be kept just shy of, unless they are willing to take the risk of a dump-stat. Of course, if you're not trying for one of those Edges, then you have the freedom to pick an Edge of your choice--including Power Points for AB characters (putting you a notch ahead of EVERY inhuman spellcaster of your Rank you will ever meet).

A d8 isn't hard to get, and it's not uncommon for characters to start with at least one attribute at a d8 while still maintaining several Edges. The human racial advantage simply guarantees they'll have an Edge, while nonhumans have the option of not starting with any. Then again, considering how powerful Edges are I'd find it astounding that anyone would make a character without a single one.

As for the idea that the human advantage puts them a head above everyone else, I disagree. Atani may have poor strength, but even if they left it at a d4 they could easily begin the game with two other attributes at d8 and still have two Edges. That's comparable to a human's capabilities, plus they can glide. A Kraken mage, simply by virtue of being a mage, begins with so many power points a human would have to spend all three of their potential Edges just to match it. And the Kraken still has two Hindrance points to spend, something the human cannot brag about. Taking advantage of another race's disadvantage, a Grael can handily have both Whaler (requiring Agility d8) and Strength d10, allowing them to throw a harpoon for 2d10 damage while rolling d8+2 for their Throwing skill. Scurillians are, quite simply, nasty in a fight. They have 3 natural Body Armor and can attack with their pincers. That's better than most any melee combatant even after spending several hundred pieces of eight, and they can use magic.Teach it to use fire magic for damage field and just watch as their enemies run away in sheer terror.

Competency is more than just the sheer number of Edges a character has. It's about knowing your characters strengths and weaknesses and how to best use them. A Red Man with Smarts d4 might be vulnerable to some tricks, but if he's got 8+ Toughness from leather (or better) armor and 8+ Parry from Oversized Weapon Master, a buckler, and a spear, then is he really going to act that concerned against most foes? Likewise, a mage isn't going to care about having a high Strength if they can keep their distance and avoid Push maneuvers.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#7 Postby Freemage » Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:02 pm

Jounichi wrote:
Freemage wrote:I honestly think the extra flexibility of the Human Edge/Attribute is worth a single point, above and beyond the value of a Racial Edge or Die-bump. It means not having to tank a trait (a generally more serious proposition in SW than in most systems) in order to pump another to that oft-important d8 threshold (a possibly erroneous fast-count ID'ed roughly 25-30 Edges that require either a d8 in an Attribute, or in a Skill--the latter, of course, is much cheaper to get if the linked Attribute is also a d8). Particularly in a Born a Hero setting (which I believe 50F is), this is critical, as it means you can build to a level of competency that your inhuman peers will be kept just shy of, unless they are willing to take the risk of a dump-stat. Of course, if you're not trying for one of those Edges, then you have the freedom to pick an Edge of your choice--including Power Points for AB characters (putting you a notch ahead of EVERY inhuman spellcaster of your Rank you will ever meet).

A d8 isn't hard to get, and it's not uncommon for characters to start with at least one attribute at a d8 while still maintaining several Edges. The human racial advantage simply guarantees they'll have an Edge, while nonhumans have the option of not starting with any. Then again, considering how powerful Edges are I'd find it astounding that anyone would make a character without a single one.

As for the idea that the human advantage puts them a head above everyone else, I disagree. Atani may have poor strength, but even if they left it at a d4 they could easily begin the game with two other attributes at d8 and still have two Edges. That's comparable to a human's capabilities, plus they can glide. A Kraken mage, simply by virtue of being a mage, begins with so many power points a human would have to spend all three of their potential Edges just to match it. And the Kraken still has two Hindrance points to spend, something the human cannot brag about. Taking advantage of another race's disadvantage, a Grael can handily have both Whaler (requiring Agility d8) and Strength d10, allowing them to throw a harpoon for 2d10 damage while rolling d8+2 for their Throwing skill. Scurillians are, quite simply, nasty in a fight. They have 3 natural Body Armor and can attack with their pincers. That's better than most any melee combatant even after spending several hundred pieces of eight, and they can use magic.Teach it to use fire magic for damage field and just watch as their enemies run away in sheer terror.

Competency is more than just the sheer number of Edges a character has. It's about knowing your characters strengths and weaknesses and how to best use them. A Red Man with Smarts d4 might be vulnerable to some tricks, but if he's got 8+ Toughness from leather (or better) armor and 8+ Parry from Oversized Weapon Master, a buckler, and a spear, then is he really going to act that concerned against most foes? Likewise, a mage isn't going to care about having a high Strength if they can keep their distance and avoid Push maneuvers.


That low Smarts is going to make the Red Man more than a little vulnerable to Smarts tricks--he's going to be frequently Shaken by them, and that's as good as knocking down his Toughness by 4 for every attack that follows, in terms of getting that first Wound. (Sure, in one-on-one combat, this is less of an issue, but a swarm of weaker foes is going to play havoc with his ability to track what's going on around him.)

I'll also note that "Red Men are easily confused in combat" is something that anyone who can succeed in a Common Knowledge roll would be aware of. That's a key bit of playing up Racial Hindrances; unlike those chosen at creation, your opponents are likely to be aware of them, and play against them deliberately. Similarly, "Don't rush the Red Man" is going to be standard knowledge, too--you use bows and bolts. Established races should be known quantities, and exploiting that is part of what any intelligent opponent would do.

(Similarly, if your GM isn't enforcing encumbrance, he has no one to blame but himself if the mages are taking d4 Strength with no consequences.)

My point is that, IMO, a highly flexible advantage with no forced downsides is, overall, worth about half again as much as a 'set' bonus Edge or Attribute Bump. That makes it a 3-point racial ability, making "Human" (or Masquani) a +3 race. (Note that this is explicitly the value of "Choose Any Novice Edge" in Savage Rifts.)

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#8 Postby JamesG » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:37 pm

Thanks to everyone who has responded. Glad to see no major costing/balance issues have been spotted so far. Though I'm sure some people saw the length of my post and moved on without reading it. :P

Rather than quote and reply, I'll just touch on some points bullet style.
  • @Jounichi - I decided not to necro your old thread because I didn't want to hijack it. You had said on it you were not interested in balancing all the races and were just dealing with a few specific ones. But thanks again for inspiring me.
  • On Humans and Masaquani needing a boost to bring them up to the level of other races - Well, I do think the flexibility of choosing the Edge or Attribute bump you want really is worth something more than the fixed Edges and Attributes the other races get. I'm not sure it's worth a full {+1} though, despite Savage Rifts apparently costing it as such. Maybe I can give them a free d4 in a Skill (riffing off Deskepticon's suggestion on a free d6). That, plus flexibility, plus RP considerations based on those being the dominant cultures, all together probably add up to around [+1]. That would bring Humans and Masaquani to [3], in line with other races.
  • On balancing around [3] - that was not my original goal. Originally I just wanted to narrow the spread between Red Men at [-1] and Scurillians at [6]. As I did the work I found that with just few tweaks most races were settling in around [3] or [3.5].
  • On Masaquani being the dominant species and adding Outsider to Humans - Even though Humans are basically the definition of Outsiders, I don't think mechanically that Hindrance is a good fit. The way I see it, the two races are almost co-dominant species, at least on the western end of the map. The premier economic and political organizations there are the British East India Company and the Spanish Guild; both imports from Earth.

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#9 Postby Jounichi » Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:49 pm

Freemage wrote:That low Smarts is going to make the Red Man more than a little vulnerable to Smarts tricks--he's going to be frequently Shaken by them, and that's as good as knocking down his Toughness by 4 for every attack that follows, in terms of getting that first Wound. (Sure, in one-on-one combat, this is less of an issue, but a swarm of weaker foes is going to play havoc with his ability to track what's going on around him.)

I'll also note that "Red Men are easily confused in combat" is something that anyone who can succeed in a Common Knowledge roll would be aware of. That's a key bit of playing up Racial Hindrances; unlike those chosen at creation, your opponents are likely to be aware of them, and play against them deliberately. Similarly, "Don't rush the Red Man" is going to be standard knowledge, too--you use bows and bolts. Established races should be known quantities, and exploiting that is part of what any intelligent opponent would do.

(Similarly, if your GM isn't enforcing encumbrance, he has no one to blame but himself if the mages are taking d4 Strength with no consequences.)

My point is that, IMO, a highly flexible advantage with no forced downsides is, overall, worth about half again as much as a 'set' bonus Edge or Attribute Bump. That makes it a 3-point racial ability, making "Human" (or Masquani) a +3 race. (Note that this is explicitly the value of "Choose Any Novice Edge" in Savage Rifts.)

Being "frequently Shaken" means the enemy has to get a raise on the roll. That's no small feat when you consider you don't just need an 8 or better on your roll, but you also need to beat the defender by at least 4. An Extra with Smarts d6 has only a 50% chance of their attempt even triggering a response. A defending Wild Card with Smarts d4 has a 62.5% chance of matching that threshold. You don't perform tricks assuming you're going to get the raise; you do them because you want to lower the target's Parry by -2. If they wind up shaken that's just gravy. It's why I made a point of just how easy it is to get a high Parry with the Half-Ugaks. Such a player can raise their Fighting to d8 or d10 with hardly any effort, and cheap weapons and shields can bump up that Parry even higher. So even if you do leave them shaken you still have to actually hit them.

As for a mage with only Strength d4, load limits aren't always applicable. The associated penalties only affect Agility/Strength rolls and their associated skills, so they don't impact spellcasting ability in the slightest. The clothing on your back doesn't count, either, and leather armor and a rapier together only weigh 18 lbs. A few extra pounds won't make that much of a difference.

We'll have to agree to disagree on the value of a flexible Edge. Unlike built-in racial Edges, which don't have to meet the prerequisites, the flexible one is held to a higher standard. It's a subtle difference, but one that I think doesn't really throw the balance any one way.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#10 Postby Matchstickman » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:01 am

Jounichi wrote:Being "frequently Shaken" means the enemy has to get a raise on the roll. That's no small feat when you consider you don't just need an 8 or better on your roll, but you also need to beat the defender by at least 4.

That's not exactly the case.
For a raise you need to get 4 above the Target Number (TN usually being 4), but with an opposed roll the TN is whatever the other person rolls, so a roll of 5 could be a raise if the other person rolled a 1.
A d4 Wildcard roll is most likely to be a 3, a d6 non-wildcard has a 50% chance of beating them and a 16.67% chance of getting a raise, which I admit is not "frequently" in my book.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#11 Postby Freemage » Wed Apr 05, 2017 9:24 am

Matchstickman wrote:
Jounichi wrote:Being "frequently Shaken" means the enemy has to get a raise on the roll. That's no small feat when you consider you don't just need an 8 or better on your roll, but you also need to beat the defender by at least 4.

That's not exactly the case.
For a raise you need to get 4 above the Target Number (TN usually being 4), but with an opposed roll the TN is whatever the other person rolls, so a roll of 5 could be a raise if the other person rolled a 1.
A d4 Wildcard roll is most likely to be a 3, a d6 non-wildcard has a 50% chance of beating them and a 16.67% chance of getting a raise, which I admit is not "frequently" in my book.


We're talking about the -2 Smarts Red Man in this case, though. Smarts Tricks are defended with Smarts--and the penalty applies to the Wild Die roll too.

So the Red Man's most likely result is now a 1, and the odds of a Raise is closer to 1 in 3. I believe I mentioned that this was going to be most commonly used by groups of extras, with some doing the set-up and some doing the follow-through, right? Two d6 extras push the odds of a raise by one of them above 50%. Is that 'frequently', yet?

And again, this should be known to be default tactics against Red Men. The only non-animals dumb enough to engage Red Men in one-on-one, straight-up combat should be... other Red Men.

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#12 Postby Jounichi » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:11 pm

Freemage wrote:
Matchstickman wrote:
Jounichi wrote:Being "frequently Shaken" means the enemy has to get a raise on the roll. That's no small feat when you consider you don't just need an 8 or better on your roll, but you also need to beat the defender by at least 4.

That's not exactly the case.
For a raise you need to get 4 above the Target Number (TN usually being 4), but with an opposed roll the TN is whatever the other person rolls, so a roll of 5 could be a raise if the other person rolled a 1.
A d4 Wildcard roll is most likely to be a 3, a d6 non-wildcard has a 50% chance of beating them and a 16.67% chance of getting a raise, which I admit is not "frequently" in my book.

We're talking about the -2 Smarts Red Man in this case, though. Smarts Tricks are defended with Smarts--and the penalty applies to the Wild Die roll too.

So the Red Man's most likely result is now a 1, and the odds of a Raise is closer to 1 in 3. I believe I mentioned that this was going to be most commonly used by groups of extras, with some doing the set-up and some doing the follow-through, right? Two d6 extras push the odds of a raise by one of them above 50%. Is that 'frequently', yet?

And again, this should be known to be default tactics against Red Men. The only non-animals dumb enough to engage Red Men in one-on-one, straight-up combat should be... other Red Men.

Are we talking about a -2 Smarts Red Man, though? I was under the impression we were still discussing the RAW because (1) the OP was all hypothetical and (2) I heavily dispute some of the math. Still, I suppose I'll bite.

The actual proposal above only afflicts the Red Men (Half-Ugak) with a -1 penalty. As such, there's no longer an incentive to leave their Smarts at d4 to better optimize other abilities, so we can safely assume they'd be rolling a d6-1. This means their mean roll would still be about a 3 as an Extra and a little higher as a Wild Card, all thanks to the possibility of the dice exploding. The whole point behind my original theorycrafting two yeas ago was to make it easier for these races to have a higher Smarts die for certain Edges, thus enabling them to better play against type while still being handicapped.

Yes, they will still have a disadvantage, but it's not as stark as you think it is. Neither is Shaken being the big deal it once was. I don't understand why you're getting so hung up on this idea.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#13 Postby JamesG » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:50 pm

Jounichi wrote:(2) I heavily dispute some of the math.


You heavily dispute some of my math in the OP? I must have missed that. Please elaborate. That was one of the main reasons I posted, for people to point out flaws in the math.

Or did you mean some of the math in the posts regarding chance to shake a Red-Man with a Smarts trick? If that's what you meant then I withdraw the question.

Thanks.

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#14 Postby Freemage » Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:56 pm

Jounichi wrote:
Freemage wrote:
Matchstickman wrote:That's not exactly the case.
For a raise you need to get 4 above the Target Number (TN usually being 4), but with an opposed roll the TN is whatever the other person rolls, so a roll of 5 could be a raise if the other person rolled a 1.
A d4 Wildcard roll is most likely to be a 3, a d6 non-wildcard has a 50% chance of beating them and a 16.67% chance of getting a raise, which I admit is not "frequently" in my book.

We're talking about the -2 Smarts Red Man in this case, though. Smarts Tricks are defended with Smarts--and the penalty applies to the Wild Die roll too.

So the Red Man's most likely result is now a 1, and the odds of a Raise is closer to 1 in 3. I believe I mentioned that this was going to be most commonly used by groups of extras, with some doing the set-up and some doing the follow-through, right? Two d6 extras push the odds of a raise by one of them above 50%. Is that 'frequently', yet?

And again, this should be known to be default tactics against Red Men. The only non-animals dumb enough to engage Red Men in one-on-one, straight-up combat should be... other Red Men.

Are we talking about a -2 Smarts Red Man, though? I was under the impression we were still discussing the RAW because (1) the OP was all hypothetical and (2) I heavily dispute some of the math. Still, I suppose I'll bite.


Okay, before addressing your points, here's the pertinent bits:
Jounichi wrote:A Red Man with Smarts d4 might be vulnerable to some tricks, but if he's got 8+ Toughness from leather (or better) armor and 8+ Parry from Oversized Weapon Master, a buckler, and a spear, then is he really going to act that concerned against most foes?

Freemage wrote:That low Smarts is going to make the Red Man more than a little vulnerable to Smarts tricks--he's going to be frequently Shaken by them, and that's as good as knocking down his Toughness by 4 for every attack that follows, in terms of getting that first Wound. (Sure, in one-on-one combat, this is less of an issue, but a swarm of weaker foes is going to play havoc with his ability to track what's going on around him.)

I'll also note that "Red Men are easily confused in combat" is something that anyone who can succeed in a Common Knowledge roll would be aware of. That's a key bit of playing up Racial Hindrances; unlike those chosen at creation, your opponents are likely to be aware of them, and play against them deliberately. Similarly, "Don't rush the Red Man" is going to be standard knowledge, too--you use bows and bolts. Established races should be known quantities, and exploiting that is part of what any intelligent opponent would do.


So, yeah, I was only ever discussing the Red Man with a -2 Smarts. Sorry if that got lost in the course of the conversation.

Moving on:

The actual proposal above only afflicts the Red Men (Half-Ugak) with a -1 penalty. As such, there's no longer an incentive to leave their Smarts at d4 to better optimize other abilities, so we can safely assume they'd be rolling a d6-1. This means their mean roll would still be about a 3 as an Extra and a little higher as a Wild Card, all thanks to the possibility of the dice exploding. The whole point behind my original theorycrafting two yeas ago was to make it easier for these races to have a higher Smarts die for certain Edges, thus enabling them to better play against type while still being handicapped.

Yes, they will still have a disadvantage, but it's not as stark as you think it is. Neither is Shaken being the big deal it once was. I don't understand why you're getting so hung up on this idea.


Whoops, I misread the entry in the OP--I apologize for that, it should just be -1, with the resulting adjustments. But the dice themselves are only part of it. My key point is that being outsmarted should be a regular part of life for a Red Man; tricking them, Taunting them and so forth should almost always be part of the tactics used against them by intelligent opponents. At that point, the effects of large numbers kick in--even a small disadvantage becomes something that comes up frequently, simply because everyone tries it.

That's where the other advantage of being human comes from--you have no generally known exploitable weaknesses. If the GM isn't hitting those racial Hindrances whenever it makes sense to do so, then he's giving them an advantage that isn't factored into the numbers. If he is, then the 'free Edge/Die-bump" ability of the humans puts them on a par with the rest of the group.

As for 'getting hung up' on the idea... Well, this is a conversation between two people, so I'm apparently not the only one.... :P

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#15 Postby Jounichi » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:29 pm

JamesG wrote:
Jounichi wrote:(2) I heavily dispute some of the math.

You heavily dispute some of my math in the OP? I must have missed that. Please elaborate. That was one of the main reasons I posted, for people to point out flaws in the math.

Or did you mean some of the math in the posts regarding chance to shake a Red-Man with a Smarts trick? If that's what you meant then I withdraw the question.

Thanks.

I apologize for not actually discussing that sooner, but some of it boils down to how I approached the abilities. Using the Atani as an example, I wound up reverse engineering a cost for Glider because it was an unknown quantity while their other racial abilities were known. I priced it as +3 for the setting while you priced it as +2. That's why you added a vision bonus to them, which I think is superfluous and unsupported by the lore. You also overpriced the aquatic abilities. In the SFC, Aquatic by itself includes Swimming d6, swimming pace equals your swimming skill, and you can't drown in oxygenated water...all for +2 build points. You priced that package as +3. I can kind of understand why given the Semi-Aquatic abilities of the Doreen and Grael are (by RAW) also +2 abilities, and maybe Aquatic should be +3. But just glancing over the Kraken means that's clearly not the intent.

Speaking of the Kraken, you price them at +5. Partially for the Aquatic and partially for the bonus to their power points if they're mages. The reason why it's only supposed to be a +2 ability and not a +4 ability is because they don't have to be mages. A player can instead choose to be a warrior and never take up elemental magic over their entire life. It's discounted because, unlike Aquatic in a flooded world, it's not always applicable. A Grael will always have blubber's Toughness and massive Strength (even an Elderly one has no less than Strength d6). A Scurillian will always have pincers and a hard shell for armor. A Keehana will always have their teeth and claws (which are d4 each because they get both instead of one or the other at d6). A Kraken will not always have power points.

Still, if it bothers you that much you can always introduce other forms of magic. I played around with adapting voodoo as a proper AB for Red Men and Half-Ugaks in Torath-Ka, instead of simply giving shaman a "shadow bolt."
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#16 Postby Jounichi » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:46 pm

Freemage wrote:
Jounichi wrote:The actual proposal above only afflicts the Red Men (Half-Ugak) with a -1 penalty. As such, there's no longer an incentive to leave their Smarts at d4 to better optimize other abilities, so we can safely assume they'd be rolling a d6-1. This means their mean roll would still be about a 3 as an Extra and a little higher as a Wild Card, all thanks to the possibility of the dice exploding. The whole point behind my original theorycrafting two yeas ago was to make it easier for these races to have a higher Smarts die for certain Edges, thus enabling them to better play against type while still being handicapped.

Yes, they will still have a disadvantage, but it's not as stark as you think it is. Neither is Shaken being the big deal it once was. I don't understand why you're getting so hung up on this idea.

Whoops, I misread the entry in the OP--I apologize for that, it should just be -1, with the resulting adjustments. But the dice themselves are only part of it. My key point is that being outsmarted should be a regular part of life for a Red Man; tricking them, Taunting them and so forth should almost always be part of the tactics used against them by intelligent opponents. At that point, the effects of large numbers kick in--even a small disadvantage becomes something that comes up frequently, simply because everyone tries it.

That's where the other advantage of being human comes from--you have no generally known exploitable weaknesses. If the GM isn't hitting those racial Hindrances whenever it makes sense to do so, then he's giving them an advantage that isn't factored into the numbers. If he is, then the 'free Edge/Die-bump" ability of the humans puts them on a par with the rest of the group.

As for 'getting hung up' on the idea... Well, this is a conversation between two people, so I'm apparently not the only one.... :P

Taunts and tricks have limited uses. A Taunt only grants the person doing the taunting a +2 bonus to their next action and is okay in single combat, but best if you're not following up with a Fighting roll. A Trick lowers the target's Parry by -2. Both can afflict with the shaken condition if successfully pulled off with a raise. They also don't have ranges, so while you could do either from a distance you have to know which is the better option at the time.

So yes, in a gang up situation one enemy could perform a Smarts trick and drop the target's Parry by -2. They could all also just Wild Attack (+2 Fighting, +2 Damage) for the same net math and actually inflict good damage. Tricks are best used when the target is hard to hit in melee, but a direct attack might still be the better option. The very idea that a Half-Ugak should always be getting outsmarted in combat just seems silly. Yes, they have a slight disadvantage. No, statistically they won't always lose. And no, constantly trying to outsmart them is not the smartest move you can make. It's not the smartest move a GM can make.

You have a love for a relatively weak mechanic I cannot begin to understand. And maybe I don't have to. Maybe you just aren't that familiar with the rules, I don't know. But yeah, you're hung up on the idea it should be attempted constantly because the raise is practically a sure thing. The math just doesn't support it.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#17 Postby JamesG » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:58 pm

All the talk about odds of tricking someone with Smarts-2 (or Smarts-1) has me thinking about how I want to handle NPCs. The simplest is to just ignore the minus method and just use the stats as written in the book. But I think that might be too punitive to PCs, since a minus to a roll can be more severe than a drop in die type. In terms of failure rate, a d4 is similar to a d6=1 (d4 slightly worse) and a d12-2 (d12-2 slightly worse though the d12-2 has a higher chance to get a Raise). That assumes a Wild Card with a wild die.

So I think I will be adding a -1 or -2 to the "weak" attribute rolls for races with "weak" attributes. Though I may bump the die type up a level from what is listed for the NPC. For instance, I might leave Smarts for Red-Men warriors at d4 but bump it up to d6 for Cheiftans and Witch Doctors, and then add the -1. I might even bump that to -2 on the grounds that full blooded Red-Men are dumber than the half blooded ones.

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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#18 Postby ValhallaGH » Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:59 pm

Trick to lower Parry by -2. Your five friends immediately rush in (+4 Gang Up bonus) and attack ferociously (Wild Attack).
All of that stacks for a net +8 on the attacks.
If you can somehow make the target Prone (possibly with Push) then that's another +2 to hit, and you're looking at a nearly automatic Raise.

Tricks are always good in a fight, and the more people you brought the better they become. Being able to do them reliably (+2 for Dirty Fighter, and foe has -1 or -2 to all Smarts rolls) or quickly (some ability to do them as a free action or without MAP) makes them worth using regularly. If you can do them reliably and quickly then you should be using them every single round of combat.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#19 Postby Jounichi » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:04 pm

An extreme situation, Val, and if that's what the GM is throwing at the players then they're trying to kill the game.

Pirates might behave that way as they do all have Dirty Fighter in the setting, but by the time you're engaging them you likely have a full crew to even the odds.
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Re: [50F] Recosting/Rebalancing the races

#20 Postby JamesG » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:52 pm

Jounichi wrote:I apologize for not actually discussing that sooner, but some of it boils down to how I approached the abilities.


No problem, and thanks for getting to it now. Though as you say, we definitely have different approaches on some things.

Using the Atani as an example, I wound up reverse engineering a cost for Glider because it was an unknown quantity while their other racial abilities were known. I priced it as +3 for the setting while you priced it as +2.
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You also overpriced the aquatic abilities. In the SFC, Aquatic by itself includes Swimming d6, swimming pace equals your swimming skill, and you can't drown in oxygenated water...all for +2 build points. You priced that package as +3.


Interesting. You choose to cost Gliding more than Flight (from the SFC), even though Gliding is objectively worse than Flight, because of setting considerations. But at the same time you think placing more value on the components of Aquatic is overpricing them, despite the setting being a mostly water covered world.

{Regarding the Kraken racial ability that gives them +10 PP}
The reason why it's only supposed to be a +2 ability and not a +4 ability is because they don't have to be mages. A player can instead choose to be a warrior and never take up elemental magic over their entire life. It's discounted because, unlike Aquatic in a flooded world, it's not always applicable.


Well if you look at Clint's answer as to why +5 PP is discounted as compared to other Edges in the SFC, the above is not the reason. It was due to most settings having multiple Arcane Backgrounds, which does not apply in 50 Fathoms.

But I do see your point. However, I prefer to balance things assuming a PC is going to play to his strengths. If you discount PPs because a player may choose NOT to play a mage you are giving a pretty big boon to the players who DO play a mage. And most PC Kraken are going to be mages from what I've seen in various campaign logs. If one of my players came to me and really wanted to play a non-mage Kraken, I'd work something out to help him so he would not be too hindered by "paying" for useless PPs. And while not all NPC Krakens are mages, that is immaterial since point costs really only matter for PCs.

A Keehana will always have their teeth and claws (which are d4 each because they get both instead of one or the other at d6).


Good catch, I never noticed before that Natural Weaponry is supposed to be either tooth or claw, but not both. So yeah, the Keehana having both is better off than the standard Natural Weaponry race that has just one. Though note I did not increase the cost of Natural Weaponry for the Keehana when I upped the damage to d6.

But I do feel that the benefit of having both tooth and claw is much smaller than the drawback of dropping from a d6 to a d4 on the damage. So I'll keep the damage at d6, and let Keehana getting both tooth and claw be "free". They don't seem to be a very popular race so I doubt that will lead to a stampede of people wanting to play one.


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