[SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

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[SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#1 Postby pkitty » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:47 pm

THE ISSUE

If you want to play a Mind Melter and are okay with Novice and Seasoned powers, you're usually better off building it with the M.A.R.S. Personal Concept option. The Mind Melter comes with eight Edges (AB, Major Psi, Master Psi, New Power* x 3, Arcane Resistance + Improved**), three skill points, three minor Hindrances, and four HJ rolls***, for a net 20 build points. The M.A.R.S. psionic ends up with six Edges, five skill points, no Hindrances, four M.A.R.S. rolls***, and three HJ rolls***, for a net 28 build points! As the footnotes below show, some of these benchmarks are estimates, but even if I'm off by a few build points, the disparity here is significant enough to bother me.

* One of which is Detect/Conceal Arcana with the trapping "can only detect, but does so for free."
** With the drawback "only against psi" balanced by the benefit "doesn't hurt friendly use."
*** I'm ballparking these at 1 build point for a HJ roll and 2 for a M.A.R.S. roll.

FIXING IT

I don't think the answer is to add 4 Edges to the Mind Melter, or anything so radical. I think what's needed is to give it something cool and unique that no M.A.R.S. build could ever have -- in the same vein as its free Detect Arcana and Mental Resistance. That way, players can choose between "iconic power" and "more experience."

Here's what I was thinking of adding. I'd really like to hear opinions on it.

Compartmentalized Mind: A Mind Melter is adept at managing countless mental powers at once. He suffers only half the usual multi-action penalty for activating powers while doing something else. For example, if he activated Boost Trait and Quickness on the same turn in which he made an attack, all of his rolls would be at -2 (instead of -4). In addition, Mind Melters do not suffer the usual -1 to Psionics skill for each maintained power.

(EDIT: This topic has turned into a discussion of whether M.A.R.S. characters should have access to the two Master... Edges. See posts #28-30.)
Last edited by pkitty on Sat Sep 03, 2016 9:40 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#2 Postby ValhallaGH » Wed Aug 31, 2016 1:28 pm

The discrepancy is actually worse than that.
By my calculation the difference is about seven (7) Edges. Most of those are the Fortune & Glory table. :P
Of note, Mental Resistance is so much better than a psionic-only Improved Arcane Resistance because it has no downside. The penalty of Arcane Resistance applies to friendly magic as well; Mental Resistance only affects hostile effects, since it gives a +4 to resist and +4 armor, but doesn't impose a penalty to affect the user.

I do agree that cool abilities is the way to bulk up the Framework.
Compartmentalized Mind is pretty freaking powerful, and allows a highly skilled Mind Melter to reliably activate five powers per round (at -4 multi-action); for an Expert (Psionics) that's doable (need 6+ five times). For a starting character, that can be all of his powers in one round, for multiple rounds, which honestly leaves me leery. I'd suggest dropping down to Two-Fisted levels (reduce MAP by 2 for powers activation), and create an improved version for an Iconic Edge. Similarly, I'd reduce the maintained power penalty instead of eliminating it entirely; ignoring 2 points would be the same as ignoring it for two powers.
Throw in another Hero's Journey roll; it's an easy buff and brings them to the "standard" five rolls.
Then it feels like it still needs something, but something distinctly Mind Melter. Something that really pushes them into their own realm.
... Maybe give them the Mentalist Edge as an ability (call it Mind Weaver, or Mental Tapestry, or something), and it stacks with actual Mentalist. That would put the Mind into Mind Melter.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#3 Postby Fponkdamn » Wed Aug 31, 2016 2:29 pm

Now, onto what I consider the BIGGEST fix for the MMs. Best of all, this requires no rules changes at all, just the GM choosing to invoke authority over trappings. I allow MMs to take a specific trapping to their abilities that I don't allow any other Iconic Framework or any other character with AB (Psionics) - not even Masters. Call it "Mind Melting," and the basic premise of the trapping is that it's totally invisible, with absolutely no clue that the Mind Melter is responsible.

So a Ley Line Walker or Mystic casts "Bolt" - they draw together some blue or white energy, form it into a sphere or lance and hurl it at the enemy. A Mind Melter just sips his tea while someone a dozen yards away drops dead. A Ley Line Walker has to chant some strange words and wave his hands around to cast Telekinesis, while the object glows blue and he clearly manipulates it like a marionette. Meanwhile a Mind Melter is across the street when the pins all pull out of grenades on the belts of the soldiers guarding the CS convoy, and no one besides a Psi-Stalker would be able to have any idea what happened.

This reflects the way Mind Melters were in Palladium, and was one of the reasons they were so feared. Unlike magic-users or even Bursters, it wasn't obvious when a Mind Melter was using his or her powers. They could walk among you, controlling minds, altering memories, killing or stealing - an no one had any idea. It made them EXTREMELY dangerous.

By allowing that as a trapping for MM powers in Savage Rifts, you keep well within the rules (trapping selection is already an integral part of defining an Arcane Background user), but give Mind Melters that "something special" that makes them worth choosing over all the other options, even ones that can grant psionic abilities.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#4 Postby pkitty » Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:07 pm

Okay, so if we tone down the bonus (to a flat "ignore -2") on activating and maintaining spells, and add the idea of invisible power trappings, we'd get something like:

Compartmentalized Mind: A Mind Melter is adept at managing countless mental powers at once. Each action, he may ignore two points of multi-action penalties incurred from activating one or more powers. For example, he could activate a power and attack someone, both at no penalty, or he could activate two powers and attack, all at -2. In addition, Mind Melters ignore two points of penalties from maintaining powers.

Mental Force: Mind Melters have access to a special Trapping, "Mental." Powers with this Trapping have no obvious link back to the psi, and require no ritual or effort on his part. The effect of beneficial abilities are completely invisible. Ranged attacks are visible, but originate some distance from the Mind Melter (usually close to the target). Any ability with a range of Touch now has a range of 2". The net result is that no one can definitively tell that the psi is responsible for the effect, unless the onlooker is using Detect Arcana.

Does that seem fair? Balanced?
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#5 Postby Fponkdamn » Wed Aug 31, 2016 3:24 pm

I like it, though I would consider changing the Compartmentalized Mind to just a cleaner "The Mind Melter ignores up to 2 points of penalties on Psionics rolls." That's a clean way of writing it, and covers MAP, Maintenance penalties, wound penalties, etc.

I like the name "Mental Force." I actually have it in my games that even with Bolt, there's no visible effect at all; in Palladium Rifts there was a power called "Bio-Manipulation" that was a Mind Melter staple; it allowed the MM to blind, mute, stun or even kill an opponent without any visible sign or indicator at all. I had allowed that to essentially be the trapping for any offensive power, like Blind, Bolt, Confusion, Stun, etc. A more intense version costs a few extra ISP, but bypasses armor at the cost of only being able to affect things that are primarily organic/living, so you can't hurt vehicles, 'Borgs, etc.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#6 Postby pkitty » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:26 pm

Fponkdamn wrote:I like it, though I would consider changing the Compartmentalized Mind to just a cleaner "The Mind Melter ignores up to 2 points of penalties on Psionics rolls." That's a clean way of writing it, and covers MAP, Maintenance penalties, wound penalties, etc.


Except that isn't quite the same thing, as it's a bit weaker. Consider a MM who's already maintaining two powers; on his turn, he activates a third and fourth power and also attacks someone.

VERSION ONE: He ignores the -2 maintenance penalty. His multi-action penalty drops from -4 to -2. So his actual rolls are against Psionics at -2, Psionics at -2, and Fighting at -2.

VERSION TWO: He has a -2 maintenance penalty and a multi-action penalty of -4, but ignores two points of penalties for his Psionics skill. So his actual rolls are against Psionics at -4, Psionics at -4, and Fighting at -6.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#7 Postby OracleBoyd » Wed Aug 31, 2016 6:11 pm

Great ideas!

I spoke up about this on the Facebook page after the initial release and the result of that discussion was that they got an increase from 3 background rolls to four. Not really enough to make me choose one over the MARS version.

I think the idea of the trappings goes a long way towards evening the disparity without actually changing anything that's in print (unlikely at this point). The Compartmented Mind could be added via another book as an Iconic edge.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#8 Postby ValhallaGH » Wed Aug 31, 2016 9:48 pm

pkitty wrote:Okay, so if we tone down the bonus (to a flat "ignore -2") on activating and maintaining spells, and add the idea of invisible power trappings, we'd get something like:

Compartmentalized Mind: A Mind Melter is adept at managing countless mental powers at once. Each action, he may ignore two points of multi-action penalties incurred from activating one or more powers. For example, he could activate a power and attack someone, both at no penalty, or he could activate two powers and attack, all at -2. In addition, Mind Melters ignore two points of penalties from maintaining powers.

Mental Force: Mind Melters have access to a special Trapping, "Mental." Powers with this Trapping have no obvious link back to the psi, and require no ritual or effort on his part. The effect of beneficial abilities are completely invisible. Ranged attacks are visible, but originate some distance from the Mind Melter (usually close to the target). Any ability with a range of Touch now has a range of 2". The net result is that no one can definitively tell that the psi is responsible for the effect, unless the onlooker is using Detect Arcana.

Does that seem fair? Balanced?

The only issue I have is extending the range of Touch effects. That has some horrible cascading effects thanks to Major Psionic. Put those back to Touch and that looks fantastic to me.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#9 Postby Fponkdamn » Wed Aug 31, 2016 10:46 pm

Side note: One thing that bothered me in the conversion from Palladium to SW is that Mind Melters no longer start with Sixth Sense. Every MM got it in Palladium; it was a core to their concept, the heightened extra-sensory perception. And they even converted Sixth Sense into an awesome Edge, but then didn't give that Edge to the MMs. I think it's minor, but I'd give it to them.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#10 Postby pkitty » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:48 pm

ValhallaGH wrote:The only issue I have is extending the range of Touch effects. That has some horrible cascading effects thanks to Major Psionic. Put those back to Touch and that looks fantastic to me.

My thought is, though, that if the psi is walking around touching everyone who then suddenly acts with a potent boost, it'll be really obvious who's doing it. So I feel like there has to be a little bit of range just to keep up the "it's not me!" act.

What about just changing it to, "Touch spells don't require an actual touch, but you must still be within touching distance of the subject"?
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#11 Postby pkitty » Wed Aug 31, 2016 11:49 pm

Fponkdamn wrote:Side note: One thing that bothered me in the conversion from Palladium to SW is that Mind Melters no longer start with Sixth Sense. Every MM got it in Palladium; it was a core to their concept, the heightened extra-sensory perception. And they even converted Sixth Sense into an awesome Edge, but then didn't give that Edge to the MMs. I think it's minor, but I'd give it to them.

Okay, but that means adding two Edges to the Framework: Danger Sense and Sixth Sense. So now I'm a bit worried that adding those and the stuff we've been talking about here would be too much. So maybe instead of adding the Edges, we could add something like:

Extrasensory Perception: During character creation, the Mind Melter may take one fewer power to begin with Danger Sense, or two fewer powers to begin with Danger Sense and Sixth Sense. If he acquires Sixth Sense later, he ignores its rank requirement and may take it at Novice.

Alternatively, we could add both Edges and scale back the bonuses from Compartmentalized Mind -- but then there's just a little bit less "unique awesome" to him.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#12 Postby Fponkdamn » Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:53 am

Well, this is your project so by all means do what you feel most comfortable with. I wouldn't give Compartmentalized Mind to my MMs, personally - it just feels too complex to me, but that's a personal taste preference not a comment on the power itself. I prefer things "by the book," (more or less), so any MMs in my games are just going to get the Trappings I described, no other changes.

If I was going to give them anything else, it would be Danger Sense/Sixth Sense, not because I feel the IFW necessarily "needs" it, but just because it was a thing they had in Palladium and I felt it was pretty core. But I already feel Mind Melters rock in Savage Rifts - they're the only IFW that starts with Master Psionic (and the others that can take it - Bursters and Dragons - get a lot less utility out of it than Mind Melters do), they have access to exclusive powers like Illusion, Puppet (well, Mystics can get Puppet but never the Mega version), Mind Reading (same, Mystics can't get the Mega), access to Energy Control and Telemechanics (both criminally undervalued in my opinion) as well as Psi-Blade (though not as potent as the Cyber-Knight's version, still cool). So I think they've got their niche and are a cool choice regardless.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#13 Postby Hida Reju » Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:17 am

I also like the idea of Danger Sense/Sixth Sense but if people fear that is too much the choice of 1 more starting power would go a long way to put them top Tier in my book.

Starting with an extra power would give you a lot more combo choices to rock with and goes really a lot further than it looks with raw point value especially with how many cool powers are on their list.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#14 Postby pkitty » Thu Sep 01, 2016 12:48 pm

Fponkdamn wrote:Well, this is your project so by all means do what you feel most comfortable with. I wouldn't give Compartmentalized Mind to my MMs, personally - it just feels too complex to me, but that's a personal taste preference not a comment on the power itself. [...] If I was going to give them anything else, it would be Danger Sense/Sixth Sense, not because I feel the IFW necessarily "needs" it, but just because it was a thing they had in Palladium and I felt it was pretty core.

Good point. I don't have a strong Rifts background, so I may have been missing out on some of their flavor. Okay, so as an alternative approach:

1. Give them Danger Sense and Sixth Sense, out of the gate. (This brings their build cost somewhat close to the MARS build.)
2. Give them access to Mental trappings. (No charge, but adds some awesome.)

Is that enough to make them balanced against the MARS psionics? I think it might be. Part of me wants to keep the simplified, weaker version of Compartmentalized Mind (your suggested one of "ignore two points in penalties" -- but is that still needed?

(Open question to everyone interested, not just Fponkdamn!)

But I already feel Mind Melters rock in Savage Rifts - they're the only IFW that starts with Master Psionic (and the others that can take it - Bursters and Dragons - get a lot less utility out of it than Mind Melters do), they have access to exclusive powers like Illusion, Puppet (well, Mystics can get Puppet but never the Mega version), Mind Reading (same, Mystics can't get the Mega), access to Energy Control and Telemechanics (both criminally undervalued in my opinion) as well as Psi-Blade (though not as potent as the Cyber-Knight's version, still cool). So I think they've got their niche and are a cool choice regardless.

But that's not true. MARS psionics have access to all of that stuff as well! That's the whole reason for this thread -- it's not a question of whether the MM is a good choice compared to the Mystic, Burster, etc., but whether the MM is a good choice compared to the MARS psi. And the answer with the canonical rules is "No, not even close," as explained in my opening post and in Valhallah's link.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#15 Postby Fponkdamn » Thu Sep 01, 2016 1:28 pm

I guess that's a fair point. I forgot that the MARS psi uses the Mind Melter list by default; I suppose you could change that to be more restrictive, but then you're changing things around anyway. Personally, I would have made "Master Psionic" an Iconic Edge that only Bursters, Mind Melters and Dragons could get, so that MARS Psionics were limited to Major at best (that's also in line with Palladium's version - in the Palladium Rifts setting, nearly ANYONE could be psionic, but at best they had a handful of weaker powers, only the specifically Psionic R.C.C.s could get the Big Gunz, so to speak).

In fact, if you were going to House Rule anything, that's what I'd do. The problem doesn't seem to be with the Mind Melters, it seems to be (much like with the Glitter Boy), that MARS are actually a little TOO good and a little TOO versatile, allowing them to step on other IFWs toes a bit if they want to. This is really similar to the GB discussion, where it was pointed out that other than the actual choice of Power Armor you start with, a MARS PA pilot is just better in every way than a GB pilot. Now granted, the Glitter Boy armor is so freakin' good that it's worth the IFW, but you're right that Mind Melter doesn't really have a similar thing that a MARS can't get access to.

But since Mind Melters do objectively rule, and they compare favorably with other IFWs, then what I would actually change is limiting Master Psionic (and maybe Master of Magic just to be consistent) to their relative IFWs as Iconic Edges, rather than giving MMs a boost.

EDIT: In fact, now that I've thought about it some, I think this is how I'd do it: I would leave Master Psionic and Master of Magic as Edges anyone could take as long as they met the prerequisites, BUT I would change what it does. By default, Master of Magic or Master Psionic give you the Mega version of ONE power you know (though you can take the Edge multiple times). Any IFW that starts with Master, however, automatically gets to apply it to all their powers, including new ones they gain in the future. So Mind Melters, Ley Line Walkers, and Mystics automatically are Masters will all their powers, but TWs, Dragons, Bursters, and MARS power-users will at best get a smaller handful of Mega powers, allowing them to build around concepts if they want but leaving the "masters" their niche. This lines up with Palladium lore and doesn't seem to too heavily hinder the existing IFWs (Bursters would rarely bother with Master anyway, Dragons might but their opportunity cost is huge, and TWs are already meant to be weaker-but-more-versatile casters), and keeps the MARS from stepping too heavily on the toes of the specific IFWs. Thoughts?

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#16 Postby shinryu » Thu Sep 01, 2016 2:06 pm

Fponkdamn wrote:I like it, though I would consider changing the Compartmentalized Mind to just a cleaner "The Mind Melter ignores up to 2 points of penalties on Psionics rolls." That's a clean way of writing it, and covers MAP, Maintenance penalties, wound penalties, etc.

I like the name "Mental Force." I actually have it in my games that even with Bolt, there's no visible effect at all; in Palladium Rifts there was a power called "Bio-Manipulation" that was a Mind Melter staple; it allowed the MM to blind, mute, stun or even kill an opponent without any visible sign or indicator at all. I had allowed that to essentially be the trapping for any offensive power, like Blind, Bolt, Confusion, Stun, etc. A more intense version costs a few extra ISP, but bypasses armor at the cost of only being able to affect things that are primarily organic/living, so you can't hurt vehicles, 'Borgs, etc.


For those of you with Hell on Earth Reloaded handy you could easily repurpose Aztec Surprise into a Mind-Melter specific power to really drive home that nastiness. Alternatively, why not make the Soul Blast trapping available to Mind Melters and Mystics exclusively? The invisibility trapping is absolutely appropriate, especially for Bio-Manipulation as it was very versatile.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#17 Postby Damian Magecraft » Thu Sep 01, 2016 4:11 pm

Fponkdamn wrote:I guess that's a fair point. I forgot that the MARS psi uses the Mind Melter list by default; I suppose you could change that to be more restrictive, but then you're changing things around anyway. Personally, I would have made "Master Psionic" an Iconic Edge that only Bursters, Mind Melters and Dragons could get, so that MARS Psionics were limited to Major at best (that's also in line with Palladium's version - in the Palladium Rifts setting, nearly ANYONE could be psionic, but at best they had a handful of weaker powers, only the specifically Psionic R.C.C.s could get the Big Gunz, so to speak).

In fact, if you were going to House Rule anything, that's what I'd do. The problem doesn't seem to be with the Mind Melters, it seems to be (much like with the Glitter Boy), that MARS are actually a little TOO good and a little TOO versatile, allowing them to step on other IFWs toes a bit if they want to. This is really similar to the GB discussion, where it was pointed out that other than the actual choice of Power Armor you start with, a MARS PA pilot is just better in every way than a GB pilot. Now granted, the Glitter Boy armor is so freakin' good that it's worth the IFW, but you're right that Mind Melter doesn't really have a similar thing that a MARS can't get access to.

But since Mind Melters do objectively rule, and they compare favorably with other IFWs, then what I would actually change is limiting Master Psionic (and maybe Master of Magic just to be consistent) to their relative IFWs as Iconic Edges, rather than giving MMs a boost.

EDIT: In fact, now that I've thought about it some, I think this is how I'd do it: I would leave Master Psionic and Master of Magic as Edges anyone could take as long as they met the prerequisites, BUT I would change what it does. By default, Master of Magic or Master Psionic give you the Mega version of ONE power you know (though you can take the Edge multiple times). Any IFW that starts with Master, however, automatically gets to apply it to all their powers, including new ones they gain in the future. So Mind Melters, Ley Line Walkers, and Mystics automatically are Masters will all their powers, but TWs, Dragons, Bursters, and MARS power-users will at best get a smaller handful of Mega powers, allowing them to build around concepts if they want but leaving the "masters" their niche. This lines up with Palladium lore and doesn't seem to too heavily hinder the existing IFWs (Bursters would rarely bother with Master anyway, Dragons might but their opportunity cost is huge, and TWs are already meant to be weaker-but-more-versatile casters), and keeps the MARS from stepping too heavily on the toes of the specific IFWs. Thoughts?
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#18 Postby Dionysos » Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:18 pm

I also feel that balance is better if Master Psionic and Master of Magic are restricted to the Iconic Frameworks that start with them. It keeps MARS from being better psions than Mind Melters, and it keeps Techno-Wizards from having near instant access to Mega versions of every power on their list as needed (a ridiculously good ability that is worth something like 30 edges).

It also keeps Bursters and Crazies from being a couple edges away from having all the important Mind Melter stuff plus a whole bunch of other awesome stuff Mind Melters can't touch.

Techno-Wizard flexibility is so great that they'll be fine without Master of Magic. Indeed, they'll be much better balanced with other casters. And this way Mind Melters get a big niche as the only Master Psionics users in the game.

But this is important: applying straight buffs to the Mind Melter is a bad idea. The framework is pretty well balanced with Ley Line Walkers and Mystics. Buffing it just overpowers them relative to those other casters.

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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#19 Postby ValhallaGH » Fri Sep 02, 2016 10:02 am

Dionysos wrote:The framework is pretty well balanced with Ley Line Walkers and Mystics. Buffing it just overpowers them relative to those other casters.

It's well balanced with other casters, but bland as heck, with only two things that a MARS psion can't do (and the combination isn't worth missing 20 xp, let alone those sweet Fortune & Glory rolls). By contrast a Ley Line Walker has six things that no MARS mage can do, all of them related to Ley Lines, and the Mystic is a thing that no MARS character can do.

As long as the buffs don't make it into a super-caster then it can stand to have a few of them.


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... Heck, given how many cool Mind Melter abilities are now various Edges, it might actually make sense to give the Mind Melter some free Edges to pick from a list. Something like, choose two Edges from, bu must meet requirements: Combat Sense, Danger Sense, Energy Control, Mentalist, Psi-Blade, Sixth Sense, and Telemechanics. This would have the benefit of specializing the individual and making the Melter closer to equal with Ley Line Walkers and MARS psychics.
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Re: [SR] Making the Mind Melter worth choosing

#20 Postby Dionysos » Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:56 pm

If you restrict Master Psionics to Mind Melters, they have one HUGE thing MARS psions don't have: Mega powers. And if you do it that way, you don't overpower them relative to Walkers and Mystics.

The thing you are forgetting is that psionics is, as a baseline, better than magic. They get more power points, and can spend some of those extra power points for bonuses to power rolls and huge range increases.

Ley Line Walkers and Mystics get more Framework benefits (various Ley Line abilities, Mystic trappings, etc), and that keeps them balanced with Mind Melters, who have few Framework benefits but enjoy the cool stuff that psionics has over magic (the aforementioned extra power points, bonuses and range).

Adding additional framework benefits to the Mind Melter screws up that balance. It's a bad idea. Better ideas are either restricting mega powers on other frameworks or just adding some Mind Melter Iconic edges. Either of those solutions gives Melters niche protection without upsetting their balance relative to other frameworks.

But, your game. Do what you want.


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